|Forest Rumblings; Ultimo|
ULTIMO 1 : The Foggy Mountain Pass of the Old Westerner
ULTIMO 2 : The Crimson Child's Short Playtime
ULTIMO 3 : Yamato - Body Engulfed in Flames
ULTIMO 4 : Dreaming of Raseimon
ULTIMO 5 : Carnage Under the Moonlight
ULTIMO 6 : The Masters Meeting Ward
ULTIMO 7 : The Bus Gas Explosion Man
ULTIMO 8 : Master On The Cliff
ULTIMO 9 : The Ceremony of the Vow
ULTIMO 10 : A Nonchalant Lovers Suicide
ULTIMO 11 : The End of The Beginning
ULTIMO 12 : The Destruction Of Life And The Heavens
ULTIMO 13 : The Surging Light Of The Karakuri Lantern
ULTIMO 14 : Love Wasabi
ULTIMO 15 : Decisive Battle At The Antique Store
You're dropped right into the whole ancestry and saga of the Karakura Douji universe, in all its weird time travelling, history crossing, memory remembering glory. It reaks of Fan Service with blatant iconography of Stan Lee, effectively on an ego trip, becoming the samurai master lord of all technology that he probably always wanted to be. Thing is for someone like me who is reading Ultimo mostly because it has the words Stan Lee on the cover that does make sense and it gives you something to focus on instead of the whole; is Uru meant to be a girl?
The style is slick, the drawings are amazing and really I think a lot of Stan Lee's additions are just angling, shading and making the epic moments a bit more epic. When I first read this I literally freaked out, I thought it was amazing and now I've finally finished I think I was right to love it.
The start should really grab you if this is the kind of manga for you.
The main thickener in the story is the 'Vow' between Uru and his/her master Yamato, as opposed to what you might expect, a long drawn out saga between Ultimo and Vice. A lot of the story centers on Yamato's failings as a person leaving space for his eventual turn at the end, whatever kind of turn that might be.
They introduce three other characters really, properly, Jealous, Gluttony and Regulate. These guys all have very distinct personalities and really help to give a bit of depth to the story, as in most manga/anime it makes you instantly think every one of the minor characters is going to get that kind of focus. Which draws you in further. I really loved all the interactions with these guys and their respective masters, a lot of the other panels with the Good Douji Group are just style homages to different classic Tokyo type-sets. Which is cool but a little high brow for my level of understanding. I just about understand that the thing on all the Doujin except Ultimo is like the curse seal. Just.
As for the ending, a lot of it is like a false ending, where almost all of the characters are properly introduced then summarily cast out to literary nothingness as fast as they appear. Exposing one or two major plot gaps regarding the March of the Doll army, Jealousy's master and how the seperate personalities that have been reborn interact with each other. Morally the message seems to be, Evil gets on better just because its more fun to organise killing than protecting.
The actual end is fantastic, Yamatos personality is completed and rounded off, it even tips a hat to romance themes and ends with enough swearing and gums-hone to shock you, thus keeping you reading. I would say I think that, (GOD FORBID HOLY ALLAH) it could do with a more definite resolution and no space left for expansion. Like, you know, Zombie Powder or DBGT. But such is the theme in manga ATM.
SO good. An awesome read, loads to explore visually and lots of deeper messages hidden in the backgrounds. I have no doubt there are numerous fancy pants kana and kanji related ossums taht are way above my low brow head. I appreciate the shines though. The only thing you might not like is that Ultimo is actually pretty weak as a character and doesn't really have that much to say for itself. If you're used to a goku style lead; then you might be saddened.
Rating: Must read.