Other creators involved in the making of this manga include: Translating by Adrienne Beck and Lettering by Lys Blakeslee
Content/Trigger Warning: Violence, decapitation, implication of the elderly being expendable, survival of the fittest themes.
“I neither know nor care what you want, monster. Nor do I care what you intend to do. But I will not allow you to come near this girl.”
In a world that’s divided in two; The Inside and The Outside, we find mortals fighting to survive from the Cursed Ones and the Cursed Ones searching for souls. But in this divided world we follow Teacher and Shiva as they navigate this chaotic world by themselves. In the first volume we left Shiva and Teacher right after Shiva went looking for her Auntie only to be greeted by armed soldiers. That wasn’t all we left the oddly couple to deal with. Just when we thought this pair may have a break to recover from the traumatic events, an unexpected visitor descends upon their cottage. Enter a fantasy realm shrouded with mystery and dark twists in this fairy tale-like setting.
I have to admit, Volume One left off on such an unexpected note. If you haven’t read the first volume or checked out my review for it, stop what you’re doing, go read the first volume and read my review for Volume One! However, if you have read the first volume and even read a few reviews (whether it’s mine or not) then keep reading this review because there’s lots of details for me to spill…once again!
Volume two picks up right where we left our two main characters in Volume One. Shiva had just experienced a terribly traumatic situation and Teacher came to her rescue, protecting her from any possible harm. However, Shiva was struggling to recover from such a highly stressful and horrifying experience. Just when we think our odd pair will get a break to recover from this situation, the unexpected happens and an unwelcome visitor finds themselves in the chambers that belong to a recovering Shiva. To say this guest is highly unwelcome would be an understatement and we get to see first hand just how far Teacher is willing to go to protect the mortal girl after the unimaginable happens. And soon it seems like all of Teacher’s worst fears are beginning to come true!
I loved this volume. Just like the first volume, it’s rich with atmospheric fantasy and dark horror. I mentioned this before in my review of the first volume, but this series reminds me of The Ancient Magus Bride. Even though this book is an increasing sense of foreboding regarding—again, as in the above stories–a vulnerable little girl in peril with some protector to either save her or keep her safe. I enjoy these type of stories so much due to the fact that the girls in these two manga maintain some form of independence and make their own choices. Outside of this, the world building is remarkable. Though we only get bits and pieces of the area that they’re living in, this volume expands on what the first volume delivers to us. In all honesty, it’s freaking gorgeous! They still live in that cottage just outside of the abandoned village near the woods and who would have known there’s a giant lake in the dead center on this forest! The setting is stunning and the artwork is so damn stylish! It makes me want to live where they live!
“Shiva. Shiva. Soul with a name. Who gave your soul back to you? Tell me when next we meet.”
My most favorite thing about this volume is that we learn so much more about the way Teacher and Shiva interact with each other and see how deeply they care for one another. Even though Teacher is this demonic like beast, he deeply cares about Shiva, her well being, and considers her feelings to such a deep and emotional level that it ends up causing Shiva to worry. In response, Shiva wants to make him happy and cheer him up. Even in the beginning when The Outsider and Teacher were fighting, Shiva was genuinely concerned for Teacher’s safety and whether or not he was hurt. Shiva cares so much about Teacher that she doesn’t want him to get sick and even sews up the rip in his jacket. This leads to my favorite moment of Shiva teaching Teacher how to sew. We even get a little section in the back of this manga about Shiva showing and explaining sewing to Teacher. It’s the cutest thing in the world! Not only do we get to see this side to them and see how connected the two of them are to one another, we also see how they individually respond to outside characters. Prime example, when they go to look for the The Outsider that entered their home, we each get a little snippets of both of their point-of-views and then see how the two of them interact. Even as they leave the lake, Teacher doesn’t spare a second thought and begins to leave while as Shiva turns around and waves goodbye to the creatures. I find it fascinating how they’re not only two different “species”, but how their personalities are so different yet mesh so well together!
And those twists and turns! Holy smoke! Okay, okay, I’ll calm down, but when I say some of these little twist come out of nowhere, I felt like I was getting knocked off a horse! Between the details we find out while Teacher is with the other Outside creatures and then that whole ending, I thought my heart was going to stop. These dang volume keep ending on cliffhangers and I’m just going to end up going crazy for not knowing what’s going to happen next! Not only that, but I have so many questions! Where did the Curse come from? Was The Teacher also human before he became a Cursed One? Why The Teacher is unaware of his own origin when the other Cursed Ones seem to be in the know? Will we ever get to see more of that book I talked about in my Volume One review? What will Teacher do when Shiva is no longer with him? And more importantly, will the little girl be alright after she returns to the human society? But also, will Shiva end up abandoning human society to rejoin Teacher?! These are things I need answers to right now!
Most of all, Shiva is just a truly pure and precious gift in this manga series. In volume one she has a very pure and hopefulness that ends up washing over into this volume. She’s just so sweet, innocent, pure, and yes, naive too. But she is absolutely incredible. Even though in the first volume Teacher advises her not to go anywhere, she believes with all her heart that the armed men are good people. Even ion this volume, she doesn’t see Teacher is a negative light after what happens in the beginning of this book. She still genuinely cares about him and takes an interest in him. She doesn’t even give it a second thought when going to find the Outsider who invaded their home. She even refers to the other outside creatures as dogs because of their forms, but she doesn’t see them as a threat or a danger. She has a very beautiful soul when it comes to viewing things and it’s just a wonderful thing to see especially in a dark fantasy read like this manga series. And before I get off this topic, when Shiva describes her Auntie to Teacher and how she hopes one day she can introduce the two of them…my heart nearly went into cardiac arrest because it was the cutest and purest thing I have ever read in a long time! I need more moments like this between her and Teacher. They’re so pure, so light, and so heart-warming!
“She’s soooooooooooo nice Teacher! She’s really, really good at cooking and sewing! She knows EVERYTHING about flowers. Plus, she knows every story! All of them!”
My only true issues I had with this volume was the violence in front of a child and then how near the end of the book, not only were they using an elderly person as bait, but it was also implied that she was expendable. For starters, children seeing fighting/arguing is one thing, but this took it to the next level of nearly over killing the person of conflict and decapitating them. These are things a child should not have to see and I’m surprised it wasn’t addressed at a later time. We get to a point where Shiva goes into a emotional fit literally begging Teacher to stop because she can’t take it anymore. The decapitation was one thing, but then it went to full on over kill. I’m just not a fan of extra unnecessary trauma being inflicted onto a child, even if it was indirectly. I get the over killing was coming from a place of love, care, defense, and wanting to protect Shiva, but I definitely think it did more harm than good. And secondly, I definitely think things could have been worded differently when it came to stating the elderly woman was expendable. I found this was absolutely unnecessary to be added especially when it stated “better her than us”. Wording things by saying, “better her than us” is a lot more forgiving than saying “if things go wrong, think of her as expendable”. It makes you wonder if it’s going to be a common theme in this series of using the elderly as bait. The main reason this is such an issue for me is, not only through literature, but also through gaming and even through history there has been that theme of “survival of the fittest” and while it can make for an interesting read at times, I don’t think it’s necessary to keep enforcing the theme of everyone else who isn’t the fittest is expendable. It’s something that doesn’t sit right with me and it’s one of those things that never will sit right with me. And I most definitely think this one little part could have been reworded better or just removed completely instead of reinforcing that whole cycle of “survival of the fittest”.
Overall, this volume nearly shattered me. It was so good and once again I feel like I need to rush to the book store and get the next volume! The world is so magically built and the characters make you fall in love with them, get attached, and you find yourself rooting for them to pull through all this chaos! With so many questions left unanswered, I’m eager to obtain the next volume! If you don’t mind dark fantasy reads tangled and laced with mystery, heart-warming moments, some horror, and too many damn cliffhangers and questions then you need to pick this series up! I haven’t heard many people talking about this manga series so let me be a first to tell you that this series is worth the read! And if you find yourself planning your spooky October TBR list earlier than you expected, then you better add this one to your list because it’s giving me the chills!