Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Cage of Eden
Now that the dust has settled, things are looking fairly good for Akira's group in their base camp. They know that this can't last, however, so a group of five sets out to explore the surrounding territory in hopes of avoiding too much trouble in the future. While they're out, the group meets up with a trio of college students from the plane...and some wolves, and bears...
Cage of Eden has been nonstop action since almost the opening pages, so it's nice that this volume spends roughly twenty pages showing the way that life is working in the camp. Those pages are scattered across a couple of chapters, of course, and we open with a Mysterious Event that has left Akira in a very bad situation, but they are worth noting simply because these scenes of relative peace are a bit of a break in an otherwise drastically dangerous world where everyone has to be on their guard all the time.
That said, Cage of Eden's sixth volume continues the fast-paced survival action for most of the book. By this point there is a vague sense of the formulaic – Akira and some other students will go out looking for ______ and be attacked by _______. Someone may die. They may encounter more survivors, who may or may not be crazy. Rinse and repeat. This still holds true for this installment, but this time mangaka Yoshinobu Yamada throws in a few surprises, specifically on the animal front. The discovery that the group makes about one species has some interesting implications for the island they are stranded on, and may in the end have a large impact on the group's ability to survive there in the long run.
Action aside, one of the more fascinating aspects of the series has consistently been, and remains, the way that people react in a disaster situation. Akira, we know, is able to step up and become a recognized leader, a role he continues to grow here. Other characters reveal hidden darknesses and weaknesses that could endanger everyone. In this volume that takes a decidedly sexual turn when one character is revealed to be, if not a serial rapist, than at least someone who thinks he's utterly irresistible. Another character takes a similar tack, although with a more pathological bent and the implication that pre-island life may have left her with some psychological issues. In some ways it is a good thing (if such a word can be used) that these latest breakdowns are sexual in nature rather than violent. Surely some readers have been wondering why these teens haven't been engaging in more sexual behaviors in their new, relatively free world, and this volume addresses that issue briefly. Strangely enough there is also a slight decrease in fanservice, with fewer upskirts and boob shots than in previous volumes. Mind you, there are still two scenes (one a two page spread) of naked women, but one serves a very definite purpose in terms of plot, which is more than can be said for a lot of the previous images. Sadly this is also the weaker of the two nude scenes, doubtless due to restrictions on what can and cannot be shown: the woman in question is missing some pretty important anatomy for what she wants to do.
Art does remain a strong point of the series, however, with backgrounds and animals being especially well done. The eyes of the pseudo-bears, or short faced bears, are truly terrifying, as is their body language in general. The rocky scenery that forms most of the background for this volume has a dry, volcanic feel, and the random fissures and crevices that dot it help to add to the sense of urgency that the plot is fostering. This also helps to raise the stakes for any injuries the characters sustain – the landscape clearly makes it harder to get help and easier to acquire injuries, something that sticks in the back of the mind as we watch them struggle to survive the bears' attack.
As has been the case with a few other Kodansha USA volumes that came out around the same time as this one, there are some editing glitches and type-os in this book, although they are less than in, for example, Fairy Tail 20. They are still distracting and clearly should not have made it to the print run, but other than that the book reads well. With its cliffhanger ending, instantly worrying beginning, and steady stream of action and psychological snapshots of people under pressure, Cage of Eden remains a good read. It's a bit formulaic, true, but that doesn't mean that it can't still draw you in and make you want to know what's going to happen next.
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : A-
+ Action takes small breaks to show the calmer side of things in a nice change of pace, fanservice feels a bit more natural. Animals and backgrounds are very well drawn.
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