20-coverPrincess Nakaba is confused. (This is a major plotline of this volume.) Prince Caesar, her husband by a marriage of politics, has gone from cruel to seemingly kind. Her attendant Loki doesn’t care – he wants Caesar dead for what the prince’s people did to Nakaba’s. He’s also strangely upset by Nakaba’s new-found, maybe-sorta-kinda-feelings for Caesar.

For most readers, this will look a lot simpler: Caesar is starting to care about Nakaba, so he’s awkwardly trying to be nice to her; Loki also loves Nakaba, and doesn’t like to see her beginning to fall for Caesar. True, Nakaba doesn’t know everything the readers do – she can’t, for example, see Caesar in the scenes when she isn’t present – but I still find her a tiny bit clueless here. Still, it is interesting to see her loyalties emerging – such as they are for now, anyway. Her concern for Loki’s feelings is leading her to fight her growing attachment to Caesar.

That isn’t all that’s going on, though: someone is trying to assassinate Caesar. By the end of this volume, three attempts have been made. At least one time, the prince is rescued by, of all people, Loki. No one knows who is responsible for the attacks, but some in the court blame Nakaba. Meanwhile, Loki hopes to secretly rally other Ajin like himself (human-animal hybrids, relegated to the servant classes) to overthrow Caesar’s father the king.

This volume introduces Rito, a little boy who is an Ajin. Rito seems to be part sheep or goat – he has ram-type horns – and is a friend of Nakaba’s from her homeland. He’s also, we are told in an aside that seems to be Nakaba’s voice, “to become a giant cog in Fate’s wheel.” The pronouncement begins with, “I had no way of knowing,” suggesting a retrospective point of view that the first book does not use.

This isn’t the first time this backward-looking perspective appears in volume two, however: Nakaba muses earlier that, “If I had only known then what was still to come,” she would not have smiled at Caesar when he does her a good turn. These temporal shifts in the point of view are a little jarring, but they actually fit pretty well with Nakaba’s burgeoning Arcana powers. These powers allow one to see the future and the past, and Nakaba is currently getting uncontrolled glimpses and flashes of what has been and what is, presumably, yet to come.

The art is much like that of the first volume: pretty characters and clothes, simple backgrounds. A brief character guide at the beginning introduces readers to a few major personalities of the story, and the author has thrown in some fun, silly extras: images of the characters drawn from memory by art assistants and a picture of Loki that the artist drew with her left hand.

So, the plot thickens in this still-new shojo series.

Dawn of the Arcana, vol. 2
by Rei Toma
ISBN: 9781421541051
VIZ Media, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: Teen

  • Nic

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Wake County Public Libraries


    The child of two artists, Nic grew up loving art, reading, and those oh-so-special books that combine the two. Nic got her MLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis was on the best shelving scheme for graphic novels in public libraries; the proposal won an Elfreda Chatman Research Award. She spends her free time reading, drawing, blogging, and writing fiction. She is a Youth Services Librarian at the Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC.

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