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The Tarot Café, Volume 7 by Sang-Sun Park

The Tarot Café, Volume 7

by Sang-Sun Park

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This is the final volume of The Tarot Cafe. Nebiros offers to take Pamela to Hell to see Belial (she wants to do what she can for Belus, who is still badly hurt - Nebiros, on the other hand, has other motivations). Meanwhile, Belial instructs his people to treat Pamela with respect and kindness when she arrives. During her journey to see Belial, Pamela encounters many dangers and even a warning from her dead mother that she can't quite decipher. When the danger Pamela's in seems to be at its greatest, Belus miraculously swoops in to save her, and she and Belus finally admit their feelings for each other and have sex (and here I thought Park would just keep the tension between the two of them going forever).

Unfortunately, Pamela's world is turned upside down when Belus reveals that he is and has always been Belial. Not only that, Belial was the one behind everything that eventually resulted in Pamela's immortality - it enabled him to enjoy her for a longer period of time. If Pamela wants to die like a normal human, she has to kill Ash - the real Ash this time, not the fake one - to acquire the final gem for Belial. Belial has the real Ash right there, but Pamela can't bring herself to kill him. All of a sudden, all kinds of beings Pamela's helped over the years start appearing around Ash and repay their debts by helping Pamela get away from Pandemonium, Belial's home.

The story jumps forward 60 years, with Pamela still reading cards at the Tarot Cafe. Nebiros visits her and takes her to see Aaron, who is now an old bedridden man. Before he dies, Aaron gives Pamela some advice about forgiveness. Later, Nebiros tells Belial a few things he doesn't want to hear, namely that Belial's feelings for Pamela were less of a game than he thought they were. Belial isn't pining because he lost the necklace, but rather because he lost Pamela. After Belial gets over his anger a bit, he gives Pamela a visit and offers her a new contract, but she knows better - if he's lonely and needs a friend, that's what she wants him to say. The series ends with the two of them sitting companionably side-by-side at the cafe.

I have to say, I really liked this volume. Maybe I would've guessed Belus' true identity sooner if the gaps between my readings of the volumes hadn't been so great, but I'm glad I didn't really get a chance to guess sooner. Being shocked at his identity myself made me feel Pamela's shock and betrayal even more than I might otherwise have. The "we're all here for you and want to repay our debts" ending was a bit more fluffy than I expected, but I'm glad that the series didn't end with death and destruction - some people may find happy endings to be too Hollywood, but I like it when my entertainment doesn't make me depressed.

The 60-year jump into the future was a bit odd, but I thought it, too, was nice. Sixty years is enough time for everyone involved in the final showdown to have gotten a little emotional perspective - I'm not sure that Belial, especially, could've gone to Pamela the way he did in the last couple pages without 60 years to think about things. A part of me had expected Aaron to be as immortal as everyone else, so it was odd trying to see how his usual babyface had turned into the well-wrinkled face of an old man. I liked Aaron, but the way Park did his death, as a sad but natural thing, made it surprisingly painless, for me anyway - not sure how other readers felt about it. The little appearance by Ash seemed a little tacked on. He obviously doesn't remember Pamela, although something about her caught his attention and maybe stirred up a ghost of a memory. He's still as young as he was 60 years ago in Pandemonium - did Belial not release him for a few more decades, or does he not age? Maybe this is the next generation of reborn Ash, but that seems off to me, too.

Despite some of the really nasty things Belial has done to Pamela in the past, I'm glad that they at least decided to be friends by the end of the series. It's almost like Belial has a split personality - the nasty demon part of him that likes messing with people, and the nice, protective part of him that loves Pamela. Hopefully, he'll work at letting the nice part of himself dominate.

As far as extras go, there's excerpts from The Tarot Cafe: The Novel and Bizenghast: The Novel. I skimmed the excerpt from the Tarot Cafe novel - it looks like it's set before volume 7 of the manhwa, since Aaron is there, but it's possible that it could be set sometime during volume 7's 60-year time jump. I didn't read either excerpt in full because novels based on manga or manhwa, with few exceptions, don't generally interest me.

(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Sep 24, 2013 |
Sadly this is the final instalment in the Tarot Café series although there is a short novel I haven’t yet read. This follows Pamela exclusively as she travels into Hell to finally confront Belial in his castle Pandemonium. She takes such a risk to save Belus who is dying back in London and she wants to end her contract with Belial once and for all.

There are some old and new characters as she travels to the heart of Pandemonium including Harlequin (I seem to be reading lots of stories with Harlequin in them lately), Chiron and some of the characters she has helped with her readings. She travels through some of the levels of Hell including Diss to get to the final confrontation where there are a few more surprises in store for Pamela which change everything.

This was much more horror than fairy tale in contrast to come of the earlier collections. I felt the series could have had more instalments and the ending was a little rushed, but then again it’ always nice to find a shorter manga series and overall I really loved it. The art was stunning as always and I definitely recommend this series even if you haven’t read any manga before. ( )
1 vote Rhinoa | Aug 20, 2010 |
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Pamela must travel to Belial's dark castle in order to save Belus, but she needs help from some of her old friends.

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