Scarred by the massacre of their classmates, Kurasame and his friends are asked to travel to Concordia on a mission which will put them on the path to becoming the fabled Four Champions of Rubrum in this side story of Final Fantasy Type-0.
Kurasame is still devastated about the loss of his class at the hands of Concordian criminals, but after a great deal of soul-searching he resolves to take on the Concordian government’s request to investigate monsters going berserk in their country. Accompanied by Guren, Kurasame travels to Concordia and arrives at the village in question to a surprising warm welcome. Meanwhile, Miwa is forced to come to terms with her own regrets about the death of her class and resolves to do whatever it takes to prevent that type of tragedy from happening again.
Continuing onward from the action packed first volume, Vol. 2 wastes no time getting underway as Kurasame travels to Concordia. Somewhat predictably, things go south pretty fast but I felt that this volume did a great job disarming me to the extent that when things ended hitting the fan for our merry crew, it didn’t feel mailed in at all. I enjoyed greatly the despondent mood conveyed consistently throughout this volume, giving the story a strong aesthetic of sombreness and tragedy when combined with Shiozawa’s artwork.
One general weakness of this series is that none of the characters are particularly memorable or show noteworthy depth. As the main protagonist, Kurasame is an obvious offender as he receives minimal character development in this volume. Although we see quite visibly how Kurasame reacts to certain situations, it doesn’t feel like we know anything more about his personality or see him grow because of it. While Miwa receives a few scenes, the characters in general feel like they could easily be replaced by any number of standard archetypal fill-ins, taking a backseat in this volume to the action in a big way. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but delivering more on each of these characters motivations would give the story a lot more bite than it currently has.
The story itself continues to be a fairly good vehicle for the action, admirably continuing to avoid the clutter which it inherits from its source material. The first two-thirds of the volume are a standard action sequence which delivers satisfyingly thanks to its slow build up, teasing out a good sense of impending horror before the acts starts in earnest. However, I found it odd that all it took was one mission for our protagonists to become the Four Champions of Rubrum even if the sudden and awkward time-skip is factored it. I was expecting a longer and more-drawn out focus on their journey towards becoming the Champions, so I was a little disappointed at how this ended up as more than an afterthought in the end. The volume ends with a tease for the next story arc, but given the fact that their road to becoming the four champions is all but wrapped up I have to wonder what the overall direction of the series is.
As mentioned above, the art is generally a strong part of this series, with the continued use of coarse penciling and shading giving the world an appropriately gritty feel. This also gives the action a tangible sense of impact, as each sword strike or magic blast actually looks legitimately damaging compared to the more stylized look many other series favour. Additionally, this aesthetic really conveyed the sense of foreboding Kurasame experiences in the first chapter well, enhancing the atmosphere of these scenes. The characters continue to be mostly well drawn and their expressions get the job done, however there are a couple action panels where Miwa is kicking that are oddly drawn and look unnatural.
Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Ice Reaper Vol. 2 continues the series’ strong blend of action set against an undercurrent of horror, continuing the satisfying if unremarkable story of these cadets. I continue to enjoy the way this series isn’t afraid to get right to the action, and although the characters aren’t all that great, the action itself is exciting and is more than enough reason to recommend this volume.
Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Ice Reaper Vol. 2 was published by Yen Press on November 3rd, 2015. Authored by Takatoshi Shiozawa and supervised by Tetsuya Nomura, the series is a prequel to Square Enix’s Final Fantasty Type-0 video game. The series began serialization in 2012 in Square Enix’s Shonen Gangan magazine, with the series being completed with four volumes released and volume 3 will be published in English on January 19th, 2016.
You can find our review of the main Final Fantasy Type-0 manga right here:
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