Events start hurtling toward violence and sadness with volume five. The first two shorter tales concentrate on how ignorance and being so wrapped up in your own world leaves you blind to other’s troubles. Subaru meets a kind older man in his local park only to realize from their daily chats that though he loves his daughter and grandchildren, they view him only as a burden and obstacle to be gotten out of the way. Before Subaru can think of what to do to help, tragedy strikes and too late the gentleman’s family realize how much they took for granted. In the second part, our trio has decided to take a night off, which means Hokuto has forced the other two to join her for a night of karaoke. In between epic love songs, Subaru escapes Hokuto’s exuberance and Seishiro’s advances by hiding in another karaoke box. Little does he know that its occupant is a regretful ghost waiting for just his kind of counsel. Among these vignettes, Hokuto has a frank chat with Seishiro, sharing her concern that Subaru, while powerful, is far too fragile to survive any kind of betrayal–this kind of foreshadowing signals tragedy on the horizon. The volume finishes off with Subaru befriending a young child plagued with a failing kidney while visitng the hospital. Though he tried to lend his support, Subaru cannot escape when the boy’s mother decides to perform her own drastic cure for her son’s ailment by providing him a new kidney via murder. In the melee, Seishiro is seriously wounded while protecting Subaru. Hokuto attempts to calm him as Seishiro is rushed to surgery, but Subaru’s inconsolable screams show Hokuto Seishiro has become so dear to Subaru that even his twin cannot break through to him. Subaru’s heartbreak makes this volume quite a heart-wrenching installment, and all of the foreshadowing from previous volumes covers the story in a romantic gloom difficult to escape.

Tokyo Babylon Volume 5
ISBN: 9781595320490
Tokyopop, 2004

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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