Title: Tail of the Moon Vol 6
Author: Rinko Ueda
Usagi, Goemon, and Mamezo have been taken hostage by the Kouga. To earn their release, Usagi must make a poison for the Iga rivals, or watch as her friends are killed before her eyes. Despite her reluctance to create the poison, she agrees for the sake of Mamezo and Goemon. What she doesn’t know is that Hikaru has been ordered to kill them all as soon as she’s finished making the deadly substance!
The majority of this volume focused on Usagi’s efforts to free herself and her companions from the evil Hikaru, a Kouga ninja with a grudge against Goemon. Through a flashback to his childhood, we learn that the two boys met years ago. Hikaru is bullied mercilessly by his fellow Kouga because of the color of his hair and the favoritism their leader shows the young boy. One night, a crying Hikaru says that he wants to leave the Kouga clan. Feeling sorry for his friend, who has been brutally beaten, Goemon promises to take him to Iga, but his plans are dashed when the clan leader discovers them. He’s forbidden to meet with Hikaru again, and Hikaru, when he’s left waiting, believes that Goemon betrayed him.
I felt a bit of sympathy for Hikaru after learning the unhappy circumstances of his childhood. He had no friends other than Goemon and a monkey, and was forced to endure physical abuse. Now that he’s an adult, he’s compelled to do the bidding of a villainous leader, and in return for his loyalty, he gets thrown under the bus. I guess bosses haven’t changed much in the past 400 years.
What I didn’t like about this volume is Hanzo’s stubborn insistence that Usagi has no worth until she qualifies as a ninja. We already know that she’s lazy and clumsy, and she’s ill suited to becoming a ninja. That doesn’t mean that she’s without talents, though. Instead of being stealthy or able to leap seedlings in a single bound, she’s a gifted healer, which seems a much more useful skill than being able to hurl a ninja star at a tree. There’s a shortage of skilled healers in the Iga neighborhood, so Usa’s talents could be put to good use, and Hanzo wouldn’t have to constantly fret about her spacing out on a secret ninja mission and getting herself killed. Seems like a win-win situation to me. Hopefully, Hanzo will see the wisdom of just letting Usagi nurture the skills that she possesses, instead of torturing her to develop ones she completely lacks. Maybe with great-grandpa showing up on the scene, Hanzo will finally be forced to abandon his unreasonable condition that Usagi become a ninja before he’ll marry her.
Rated for Older Teen