Title: The Yagyu Ninja Scrolls: Revenge of the Hori Clan Vol 7
Story by: Futaro Yamada
Manga by: Masaki Segawa
Publisher: Del Rey
May Contain Spoilers
I can’t believe it! This volume introduces a character who is every bit as vile and despicable as Akinari! His lover, Oyura, is his soul mate, because this cruel woman delights in sexual perversities and relishes torturing helpless young women. She even implores her lord to “suck the life” out of her before willingly sticking her tongue down his throat. Yuck! The thought of someone actually wanting to kiss that hideous mug makes me queasy.
This volume finds Akinari and the Seven Spears firmly back in Aizu territory, where they mercilessly control the lives of their powerless peasants. Ruling through brutality and terror, they prey upon the villagers in their domain, stealing away the beautiful young daughters of the men who work the land. Once the girls enter Aizu Castle, they never come back out again. Not in one piece, at any rate.
We learn a little more about Takuan, the high priest of Tokai Temple. He actually has a lot of political clout, enough to make even Akinari hesitate to harm him even after he tries to enter his lands. The priest of the Shogun, he isn’t one to be lightly trifled with. So begins a game of cat and mouse between Takuan and the rulers of Aizu; they know that Takuan is assisting the Hori women, but they don’t know what to do about it without getting into hot water with the Shogun. It’s not worth risking their wealth and lands to antagonize the priest, at least not openly. Instead, they plot and scheme, seeking to draw the truth from the wily old priest.
The relationship between the impossibly beaked Dohaku and the priest to Ieyasu, Tenkai, is explained, as well as the secret to their incredibly long lives. As long as one lives, the other can not die. Thinking they have an ally within the Shogun authorities, Akinari and Dohaku ponder how to rid themselves of the Hori women, Takuan, and the Hanya Mask. These two certainly know how to make themselves a few enemies!
Now I would like someone to explain how Dohaku keeps that nose of his warm on those bitterly cold winter nights. I am grateful that I don’t have to expend the brain cells trying to figure out who the bad guys are, because just one glance at a character makes it very obvious who is going to cause trouble for the Hori women. I mention the character designs every time I write about a Masaki Segawa title, but I can’t help it. They are so bizarre and so unique that I marvel at the exaggerated facial features whenever I read one of his manga. I would be very hesitant to ask him to draw a caricature of me for fear of what it would end up looking like!
Review copy provided by Del Rey