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Qwan, Volume 2 by Aki Shimizu
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Qwan, Volume 2

by Aki Shimizu

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Qwan (2)

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This review was originally written for the website ListerX.com, which is now defunct. It can also be found on my blog, The Graphic Librarian.

Cover
While I admit that the sickly green of V.02 doesn't do as much for me visually as the warmer, vibrant tones of V.01, this cover is still excellently rendered. The same concept of contrasting colors that was apparent in V.01 has also been used here to very nice effect. Pale, greenish yellow is the predominating color, but there's also a subtle use of warmer, reddish tones for the highlighting of various areas. Once again, the artwork continues onto the back of the manga, making me wish I could see the whole image unimpeded by text and merchandising information. Nevertheless, Tokyopop made the right decision by focusing on Qwan and Daki's faces. My only complaint is the ever-present ugly red logo. If it has to be there, couldn't it easily be altered to match the rest of the cover design?

Artwork
Just as in V.01, the artwork is brilliant! Every pose, every gesture, every panel does nothing but reinforce my firm belief that Aki Shimizu is one of the most competent and skillful manga-ka out there. There are a couple of really great fight scenes, one between Qwan and a couple of wasp demons and another between Qwan and a giant snake demon. Both fights are fast-paced and action-packed without being hard to follow, which is always a plus as far as I'm concerned. Hard-to-follow fights normally wind up looking like nothing more than boxed chaos - not a pretty sight. Another thing I'd like to take particular note of in this volume is the attention to detail, especially where backgrounds are concerned. Everything is drawn with the utmost care no matter how minor a role it might play in the overall composition. I think this sort of engagement really says something about an artist; it shows how much they enjoy what they do and how much they want others to enjoy it, as well.

Plot
**Possible Spoilers Warning**

By what seems like luck alone, Qwan has met up with Aman, the grandson of Cao Jie, the Emperor's chief eunuch. However, Qwan quickly learns that Cao Jie, while a shrewd politician, is not the demon he thought him to be. Unfortunately, this means that Qwan, who hasn't eaten in days, is left extremely vulnerable when he's attacked later that night by Daki's two wasp demons. After a harsh battle, Qwan finally manages to eat one of them but Daki, who's been watching from the shadows, begs him not to eat the other. He agrees, but only on one condition - Daki must take him to the Essential Arts of Peace.

The next chapter jumps backwards in time to reveal Daki's mysterious origins and her real relation to Lord Yuushi. However, since this section is really just back story and I don't want to spoil any more of the plot than necessary, I think that's all I'll say about it. After the flashback, the story moves on to Chikei, who decided to stay behind at the brothel while Qwan went in search of Cao Jie. He seems to be trying to get more information out of Shaga about Qwan (and enjoying himself quite a bit while he's at it.) However, before Chikei has a chance to hear what she has to say, Qwan's odd little pet, Teikou, arrives with a summons.

Meanwhile, Daki has led Qwan directly to the Emperor's palace, where they are having a heated discussion about how to get in. Qwan's about to charge head first into the lion's den when Aman appears and manages to get them all safely past the guards without the least amount of bloodshed. It seems there may be a bit more to Aman than meets the eye, but Qwan's too busy eating some of the palace's petty demons to notice. Suddenly Chikei appears wearing nothing but a sheet, transported there straight from Shaga's bed chamber; it appears Teikou is a bit more powerful than anyone might have guessed.

Aman advises that they wait until nightfall to go after the scroll, and although the group heeds his words, once night comes they quickly find their way blocked by a very powerful demon sent by Lord Yuushi himself. A fierce and emotional struggle ensues, one which deals strong blows not only to Qwan, but Daki, as well. (Though her wounds are of a very different nature.) While the battle rages, Lord Yuushi is searching feverishly for the Essential Arts of Peace, with no success. Aman finally realizes the demon is a distraction and sends Chikei to look for the sutra, as well. Unfortunately, this move isn't as clever as it sounds due to yet another of Chikei's short comings.

The battle comes to a bloody end, and Qwan, already weakened from the fight, sacrifices even more for Daki's sake, leaving him on what may be the brink of death. However, now something strange seems to be happening to the mysterious boy. Could it have something to do with the unusual message on Chikei's randomly selected scroll? And what exactly is the scholar, Jou Kai's, connection to it all?

Content Warnings
Language = Yes, but fairly mild.

Violence = Yes, quite a bit more blood in this one than V.01.

Nudity = Suggested - all the naughty bits are strategically covered.

Sexual Situations = Yes, one "morning after" scene. Nothing too naughty, but it's obvious what was going on earlier.

Ratings
Cover - 9/10 - Very nicely done, but not quite as nice as V.01.

Artwork - 10/10 - Wonderful! Absolutely nothing to complain about!

Plot - 10/10 - Wow! This single volume tells a story that would take almost any other series numerous volumes to tell - and it does it amazingly well!

Overall - 10/10 - What else can I say? I've been thoroughly enchanted and I can't wait to get my hands on more of Aki Shimizu's work. ( )
  purpledragon42 | Jan 2, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aki Shimizuprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kiefl, MikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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