らせつの花 (Rasetsu no Hana)
Shoujo – Romance, supernatural, drama, horror, comedy
9 Volumes (complete)
In this sequel to Yurara, Yako, a man with the ability to create water barriers, goes to an agency specializing in exorcisms to ask for their help. He isn’t impressed by its workers, especially when their star member has the stench of an evil spirit on her. Furthermore, she looks eerily similar to someone from Yako’s past…
Rasetsu is of those rare sequels which surpasses its predecessor.
Let’s cover an easy point first: a person does not need to have read Yurara to appreciate Rasetsu. Of course, reading this series first will spoil a couple of things in Yurara; however, unless you desperately need to read first hand the results of the love triangle from Yurara, you can safely skip to Rasetsu. In fact, even if have never heard of Yurara before, you can probably surmise what happened just from Rasetsu‘s summary. A few other characters show up besides Yako, but you won’t be lost just reading this series.
So let’s get to the actual review.
While Rasetsu may seem like it’s one of those supernatural detective agency stories, the exorcism jobs are really nothing but training exercises. Everyone is counting down until the day the big bad is coming, and the stakes are extremely high for Rasetsu. That being said, some of the story is predictable. Some of the biggest mysteries are hinted at in the first volume, and the outcome of the love triangle is not a surprise. Rasetsu’s appearance is designed to cause a conflict for Yako, and I am not a fan of the “looks like my former love” trope.
However, the manga overcomes any downsides by making the journey very enjoyable. This is a series where the main plot and characterization go hand-in-hand while also striking a nice balance between having a small cast and an ensemble one. The titular character’s conflicting feelings between her courage and her fear are a key element of the story. The humans and spirits she encounters are not just monsters-of-the-day filler; they have varying levels of emotional baggage, but the differing jobs provide foils and mirrors to Rasetsu’s situation. She doesn’t fight alone: there’s Yako, the sarcastic and “normal” one, and Kuryu the seeming ditz. The other two members of the agency are not ignored; Aoi, the secretary and errand boy, and owner Hiichiro are in almost every chapter. The two each get at least one whole chapter dedicated to him. They all play their part in the agency’s day-to-day functions as well as the final battle.
I really like Rasetsu as a heroine. There are times when she stumbles, but she wants to — knows she has to — keep moving forward. I do wonder how readers would have viewed her if the story had started on the day she got her mark. We can see from the flashbacks she has come a long way since then, so a lot of her personal growth happened before the start of the series. Regardless, she is at a good, relatable age: old enough to have maturity but young enough to still have a typical shoujo heroine’s kindness and jealousy. Yako is a bit different here than in Yurara due to his age and experiences. He is a perfectionist and considers himself the normal one in the agency. He doesn’t have quite the sadistic edge, but that is partly because Rasetsu is emotionally stronger than Yurara. Kuryu is the other main exorcist, and his interactions with Yako are quite hilarious. Kuryu sees Yako as a rival for Rasetsu’s affection, and Kuryu isn’t too happy. He’s never cold or cruel; he just harasses Yako. While the outcome of the love triangle is clear from the start, it still makes the journey enjoyable. Aoi provides emotional support for Rasetsu as well as starring in a few comedic scenes. Hiichiro is a far more complex person, but his main quirk is the fact he tends to pass most of the work to others.
Shiomi’s art takes another step forward here. Lots of beautiful images are included along with great horror shots. Action scenes are well-done and easy-to-follow. There are a few instances where Rasetsu’s lips look extremely large. She is often depicted in SD form, mostly when she’s eating. Her clothes are quite fashionable and helps remind readers that despite everything, Rasetsu is still a teenage girl.
Surprisingly, the team behind Yurara did not work on Rasetsu. No honorifics are used. Some words like “kotodama” are kept in. Otherwise, this is a fairly standard Shojo Beat adaptation. Rasetsu’s curse in Japanese is something like “someone you love who loves you back” but here is shortened to “find your true love”. I just thought I’d bring this up since the movie Frozen (obviously released years after Rasetsu) kind of put a twist on the concept of “true love”. Of course, the literal Japanese version in English reads as if it could be friendly or family-type love, so I don’t know how else this could be translated as… Another point of note is Hiichiro is addressed as “sensei” by customers and Aoi, but this is replaced by “Mr.” and “chief” respectively.
Rasetsu is a fun shoujo thriller with a likeable cast and a nice romance. It’s not too long, but it’s long enough to keep up the mystery and dive into the characters’ histories. It’s worth picking up.
Besides Yurara, also from Viz Media, the company is also publishing Yukarism. Former company CMX published Shiomi’s Canon while another defunct publisher, Go Comi, released Night of the Beasts. Queen of Ragtonia only had one volume published.
The author is currently working on a sequel to Rasetsu called Yume no Moribito. Expect if/when Viz Media picks it up for the title to be shortened to Yume to match its predecessors.