Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Ice Reaper Vol. 4 - Manga Review

Kurasame is now known throughout the land as the Ice Reaper, but his fame comes at great personal cost. Confronted by increasingly dangerous enemies and pain betrayals, he and the Champions of Rubrum fight on in this prequel to the Final Fantasy Type-0 video game.

The Lowdown

Defying his orders as well as Aoi’s pleas, Kurasame raced into battle to find Commander Takasugu. His efforts are in vain, and Takasugu dies in Kurasame’s arms while imparting upon him to teach a new generation of cadets. Hailed as a hero for his actions in taking down the enemy base during the rescue, Kurasame returns to Akademia to confront the new heights his fame has risen to as well as the aftershock of his latest victory in his personal life. In his next mission Kurasame is attacked by a Militesi hero named Morse who has a bone to pick with Rubrum’s newest hero. Confronted by the betrayal of a close friend, Kurasame moves closer to becoming the legendary Ice Reaper.

How Was It?

This volume picks up immediately after the last, showing the final moments of Kurasame’s epic battle to save Takasugu. Kurasame’s victorious return to Akademia kickstarts this volume’s plot off with a heavy dose of Kurasame’s personal problems, but I found this part of the plot as well as the general political intrigue lacking on the whole compared to the other stronger constituent parts of this volume. After spending much of the previous volume focusing on Aoi and Kurasame’s budding relationship, it was pretty surprising to see it unceremoniously jettisoned quickly early on in a couple pages. Even more than that, this emphasized how little their relationship really mattered in the first place because of the complete lack of emotional impact their break-up has, and it’s now fairly clear that the entire plotline was a fairly substantial waste of time.

As a result, the rest of the volume focuses more on the whispers of betrayal that Kurasame received in the previous volume, but this wasn’t all that interesting given how little we know about the overall political state of affairs. It was really difficult to care about this part of the volume, and the lack of an interesting “big-picture” plot-line was a serious problem in making certain scenes make a lot less sense than they otherwise would have. It was unclear to me what Kurasame was really doing in this volume aside from carrying out various missions, and I think author Takatoshi Shiozawa vastly overestimated the solidity of the series’ overall setting in this volume. Scenes such as the advertised betrayal of a close friend just sort of seem to happen, and it felt like the motivations in play for all of the characters were woefully underdeveloped in this volume.

Although the plot fails to deliver an intriguing background to the events of this volume, I was thankful for the number of excellent action scenes which were worked in. Chief among these are a couple excellent sequences where Kurasame takes on a new Militesi adversary named Morse in battle. These scenes are wonderfully depicted by Shiozawa’s art, which continues to lend a distinct grittiness while remaining stylish and easy to follow. However, I really enjoyed the way that Kurasame’s own personal struggle was explored in these fights, and this gave them an extra emotional backing which kept me invested the entire time. Although Morse’s lectures about being a hero were a little bit on-the-nose, I liked the way that their impact was shown in panels subtlety showing their incremental effect on Kurasame by portraying his changing facial expression. This played in nicely with the rest of his character arc throughout the volume as he confronted the meaning of being a hero, and I really liked that we saw him change visibly through these battles.

Shiozawa comes through in a strong way with this volume’s art, delivering the best looking and most cohesive art in the series. I really liked the increased consistency that the characters were drawn with in this volume, and the designs lacked the sense of flatness that appeared at some points in the previous volumes. Additionally, I found Shiozawa’s incorporation of heavily detailed close-ups of the character prior-to and in the midst of battle to be effective in setting the tone for the events, and I enjoyed the additional dramatic flair added in this way. As mentioned before, the battles themselves were extremely well-drawn and easy to follow, and despite having a number of things happening in each panel I found that they weren’t cluttered and that the action was easy to follow. Considering the amount of time the battles got in this volume, I was thankful they were so well portrayed, and they helped to make up for the lacklustre overarching plot.

Final Thoughts

The Ice Reaper Vol. 4 is an enjoyably action packed continuation of Kurasame’s story which will be sure to please those who enjoyed the action scenes in the previous volume. Although the plot doesn’t hold up so well because of the lack of clarity in the larger stakes involved outside the personal lives of these characters, I enjoyed Kurasame’s own personal arc in this volume as he grappled with the meaning of being a hero. The art is a significant improvement, making this penultimate volume the most consistent and perhaps the best in the series thus far.


Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Ice Reaper Vol. 4 was translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley and published by Yen Press on April 26th, 2016. Authored by Takatoshi Shiozawa and supervised by Tetsuya Nomura, the series is a prequel to Square Enix’s Final Fantasy Type-0 video game. The series began serialization in 2012 in Square Enix’s Shonen Gangan magazine, with the series being completed with five volumes released and volume 5 will be published in English on July 26th, 2016.

Verdict:

B

Date of Publication: April 26th, 2016

Translator: Alethea and Athena Nibley

Author: Takatoshi Shiozawa

Publisher: Yen Press



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka