April 18, 2009
by: Adam Beck
Supernatural meets a high school girl head on, but what will be the results?
A grisly murder leads to shocking discoveries about her fellow Tyers as Chiko learns exactly what Aya sacrificed for his powers. Things get even more complicated when another spinner arrives. Isora is beautiful, competent -- and might be Akeo's destined love! As if Chiko doesn't have enough problems, she uses her powers once again to save a little girl from torment...only to have her own thread turn against her!
Content: (This section may contain spoilers)
Being bound to beauty must be hard for poor Chiyako; she has to go missions with pretty (albeit snotty) guys and solve cases of murder and unravel supernatural activities. The second volume into the Bound Beauty series tells more of the missions that the Tyers go on, but with very few twists and turns (or, given this story, knots). The emotion thrives, but will the second volume hold up to its predecessor?
The first two chapters (the fourth and fifth of the series) are by far my favorite of the novel, if not the series so far. Chiyako, Aya and Hirotsuna head off into another case as a sister of a recently killed upcoming model approaches them for their help. Being the gentleman Aya is, he greatly accepts the case as Chiyako and Hirotsuna forcefully tag along. What I really enjoy about this scenario is that it doesn’t censor any of the world’s awful truths. The first volume did the same, but this continues the trend as it shows the graphic depictions of dead female bodies, not to mention the assault on children – or the child form of Chiyako, anyways.
The story behind this is that there is someone who is tricking young girls who are looking to get into modeling. The killer says that he’s a part of a modeling agency, but in reality he’s putting together snuff films. Kind of a sick idea, but from what I’m aware of, this is happening all around the world in a similar manner. I enjoy the brutal realization I get from the story as it tells it very well, offering one sadistic lonely man who wants to be the most beautiful human and will do anything to get that.
Before getting into the sadistic notions of a crazed madman, there is actually some comedy during Chiyako’s search for the killer. At times, the story tries so hard to make you laugh, but it usually fails; but this time I had a good laugh as Chiyako walks into a conveniently-placed slasher flick that was being shot. Just the reactions on all of the characters gave me a good laugh, but it ends much too quickly not to mention the bit with Chiyako supposedly tripping over the wiring is done very poorly.
Anyways, back to the main story: once again, Aya and Hirotsuna come to Chiyako’s rescue. This is already becoming a bothersome trend, since this took place in every scenario in the first volume. Can Chiyako actually do something on her own, or will she continue to hold the hands of the other Tyers for support? In any case, I enjoy how this scenario concludes as the young girl’s sister shows up in an attempt to take revenge. Not only this, but we are also shown a rather intriguing ability that Aya holds as the killer is sucked into what seems to be a hole of darkness and despair. I really enjoy the beginning of the second volume as it involves a very interesting story, even if it is filled with the same overused conclusion in the end.
Following the story of the model killer is a story that isn’t much of an adventure as things conclude way too suddenly, but it does introduce another Tyer into the mix: Isora. Isora first appears to be a sweet and well-mannered woman that goes out of her way to help Chiyako, and this goes on for a good percentage of the chapter. At the beginning of the chapter she seems like such a nice person, but there is one panel that pretty much gives away her personality. I am disappointed that the panel was added—too much too soon—but I do enjoy that it hints at the sudden future. When Isora sees something she doesn’t like (Chiyako is one example), she shows her rather tight-assed side as she constantly insults the weaker party.
This is what I don’t enjoy about Isora. While she seems like such a well-mannered person, she constantly puts down Chiyako. I can see why as she came to evaluate her performance and they don’t need weaklings in their organization, but she shows no mercy to her words and actions. In any case, this chapter centers mainly around Isora and her observation on Chiyako who instantly fails at one of her jobs. I’m kind of glad Chiyako flunks out, not because it opens up another controversy for the high school girl, but she becomes very cocky with Shirogane as a result. Then again, I am disappointed that the commotion that occurs is struck down so quickly as it is already set up at the beginning of the chapter.
The fourth and final chapter into the second volume mainly follows Chiyako as she wishes to redeem herself. Sadly for Chiyako, she is put in supernatural cuffs (the strings from Isora) and has her Shirogane abilities restricted. Right off the bat, I knew that such strands could not hold Chiyako as she has gotten out of worse situations, so most of the story is pretty predictable in the sense that Chiyako will do what she is well known for: using her powers not all that responsibly.
I noticed from the beginning Bound Beauty that the story mainly focused around deceased females, but I wasn’t sure how long it was going to go on for. It would seem Mick Takeuchi uses dying or dead female characters to generate a lot of drama. I will admit, most manga or anime stories don’t really focus on such a thing and I generally care more about a female perishing, but it would be nice to focus on a man or boy for once as my caring for each character is quickly decreasing.
In any case, the story of the last chapter in the novel centers around a little girl who was murdered. I enjoyed this chapter but really didn’t care about the girl. The girl’s father was some sick S.O.B., but it was mainly Chiyako’s connection with her that took hold as the father reminded of her greatly of her own abusive father. We get a better understanding of this rebellious high school student as she goes into a state of shock from seeing such disturbing images of the girl’s past. At the end of the novel, Isora’s warning takes effect as Chiyako’s body begins to reject her powers only to conclude with a large cliffhanger.
Sadly, it is only Chiyako who seems to be growing in this series, while the rest of the cast simply sit back and look pretty for the female readers. I will say, I do enjoy the addition of Isora only because she is a bit of a tight-ass, something we haven’t seen pop up within any of the other Tyers. While the story is plagued with blatantly obvious twists and conclusions, the story holds up and offers a pretty exciting experience from start to finish.
Artwork: Bound Beauty really is bound to beauty as the art in the second volume is still strong and offers a unique perspective on the supernatural events that plague the human world. The clothing options are a bit lacking as characters such as Aya or Akeo wear the exact same thing day-in day-out, but then you have someone like Chiyako who puts on just whatever she seems to find, whether it is a maid’s outfit or a strangely appealing plaid shirt. Environments are fine, but they definitely don’t shine all that bright; they always have a dark and dreary look to them, which is fine, but there is no beauty in that. They also are very scarce; I mean the final chapter in the second volume has more than the rest of the novel has combined, but because of this, the artwork is a bit unbalanced. Characters are obviously the main attraction as they contain the most amount of detail, and each character is given a distinct style. Even though (as I mentioned) the clothing is pretty disappointing, I do think there are enough characters in the novel that you won’t be looking at the same exact thing over and over too much. The artwork is good, but definitely needs some balancing. The supernatural and kind of scary style that comes in from time to time gives it an interesting trait, but this is far from being something heavenly for your eyes.
Translation: I’m getting sick and tired to manga companies being so perfect! Go! Comi has done a magnificent job (once again) in translating another one of their manga titles, only to ensure this section of the review to be very short. There are no apparent grammar errors or spelling errors present, and no overlooked sound effects, either. Sound effects are mixed as sometimes they are just English only, with the original Japanese text taken out (usually when they are in plain backgrounds), or the or the original Japanese characters left in and a stylized English sound effect nearby. Dialogue is pretty loose as it uses contractions often, but it definitely doesn’t go overboard with them.
As for extras, there is an off-the-record item where Mick Takeuchi talks about what went into the second volume, with a short little comic strip at the bottom. There is also a very vague preview into the next volume, two translation notes, and a really interesting page about each Tyer’s respectable color, element, animal, position and season. I’m more interested in Hirotsuna’s represented season considering the extra says “N/A” creating yet another mysterious aura around him. There really isn’t a lot, but definitely not too little for extras.
The Bottom Line: In the end, the second volume of Bound Beauty sticks out as a unique and exciting experience. While the clothing options for many of the characters are scarce, and dramatization around female characters is being overused, I do think the story behind Chiyako is intriguing, offering an enjoyable experience from start to finish. Sure, there are some faults that need some balancing – mainly characters other than Chiyako – but with solid visuals and a supernatural storyline, Bound Beauty is a beauty like no other.