The Kouga Ninja Scrolls - Volume 5

Author: Futaro Yamada
Artist: Masaki Segawa
RRP: 6.99, US $13.95
ISBN-13: 978 0 099 50657 7
ISBN-10: 0 09 950657 2
Ages: 18+
Available 07 June 2007

With only three ninja remaining on each side, the battle between the Iga and the Kouga clans is nearing its bloody end. Believing he has slain Yakushiji Tenzen, shape-shifter Saemon Kisaragi morphs into Tenzen's body and infiltrates Iga territory. But what Saemon doesn't know is that Tenzen is an immortal ninja and has a plan to dispose of Saemon and the Kouga clan. Meanwhile, Oboro, leader of the Iga clan, has sworn that she will die rather than fight against her lover, Gennosuke. Every death brings these two star-crossed lovers closer to confronting each other on the battlefield at last...

The fifth, and final volume in this series sees the victor of the feud between the Iga and Kouga clans emerge. It was fairly well signposted from the start, and I assume I'm not really spoiling things here for those who have been following this collection, that lovers Oboro (Iga) and Gennosuke (Kouga) would end up being the only two left alive - with the fate of the competition left in their hands to decide the eventual victor.

This final volume features some fine writing. There is some incredible deception on the part of members of both clans - with both sides believing that the other is walking straight into their finely laid trap. It also features some of the best art work you'll see in a modern manga. There are also a few surprises in store for fans, with at least one hero that they may have been routing for turning out to be nothing more than a monster. But then it's writing like this that keeps readers on their toes - not knowing what to expect next.

Overall I was impressed that author Futaro Yamada managed to squeeze this tale into five volumes. It would have been so easy for him to stretch the story to breaking point and run for at least another five volumes. The end result is that manga fans are treated to a breakneck paced story that doesn't waste a single panel.

Pete Boomer

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