Friday, November 16, 2012
Animal Land vol. 6
After discovering 'Animal Land' and reading the first four volumes one after the other, it was a real test of my patience to wait for volume five and then again for volume 6. But that tough wait just shows me how much I love this series and how much I can't wait to see what happens next. Until volume seven comes out, at least volume 6 gave me a lot to think about.
In the previous volume of 'Animal Land', we ended things off with Taroza foiling Giller's plan to cause war between the hyenas and horses, and Ena the hyena has gained the ability to communicate with all animals just like Taroza. This development isn't really elaborated upon further, but I have a feeling it just means that Ena will become a great ally to Taroza in the future. Ena learning to communicate with other animal species and the conflict stopping because of that is certainly intriguing for the story, but I think it is also a good metaphor for the real world and why there is so much conflict. And not just because of language and cultural barriers, but humanities own stubbornness and refusal to listen. This is one of my favorite things about 'Animal Land'. There's something extra there if you want to see it.
When Taroza and his companions continue their journey to the sea, they find a massive, underground facility, seemingly built by humans long since gone. This is troubling and confusing to Taroza, but only serves to further intrigue him about the fate of his species, and they continue on to the sea. There they meet the great whale, Ector, who teaches Taroza of his former human friend, Quo, and tells Taroza of a food that both meat eaters and plant eaters can eat, called "eternal fruit". This is just what Taroza has been searching for his whole life, but Ector warns him that the "eternal fruit" didn't break down the food chain, and that carnivores still continued to eat meat despite being satisfied by the "eternal fruit". With the discovery of the underground facility and the conversation with Ector, we learn a whole lot about the world of 'Animal Land' and we can make some pretty heavy duty inferences with the information we gather here. Without spoiling things, I can only say that this manga continues to surprise me at the directions it takes and how it evolves.
Determined not to waver in his goal, Taroza climbs up to a secluded mountain valley that has fields upon fields of the "eternal fruit", but his way is blocked by a clan of gorillas. Told that outsiders aren't welcome and that he can't have any eternal fruit seeds, Taroza is beaten nearly to death when he refuses to retreat. Finally, a human girl named Riemu intervenes and cares for Taroza's wounds. Though kindly at first, Riemu seems to have not taken to the harsh world with the same strength as Taroza, and wants to lead a happy, yet sheltered life in the mountain valley, and she tries to force Taroza to stay with her. I think that through his talk with Arug, Taroza might have actually been considering it, but before he could think more on the subject, the evil Giller strikes once again. This time, he attacks with the help of some sort of alien looking creature with regeneration abilities. This part of the volume has to be my favorite. Riemu gets great characterization through a flashback and it is interesting to see the contrast between how she and Taroza developed. This part of the manga also brought some laughs. Mostly because the story took a sharp turn to the creepy and weird. Reimu's creepy faces are priceless. And I don't know what to make of those alien looking creatures, but I know it means the action is kicking up a few notches.
I really liked this volume and the series seems to be evolving to become more action oriented without losing it's thought provoking, philosophical side. Each volume has really upped the ante and this volume is no exception. My only complaint is that this volume felt too short. There were only three, main story chapters. There were two extra chapters(one Zatch Bell one shot and a Taroza side story), but the main plot is so compelling that it is kind of annoying to have like sixty pages left in the book, but they aren't what I want to see. And on top of that, volume seven doesn't come out until April 2013. This is going to be the longest and hardest wait yet....