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Kowloon Generic Romance Volume 5 Review • Anime UK News – Marca BBC

Spoiler Alert! It’s impossible to completely avoid spoilers in what follows… so if you’re new to this series, best to start with Volume 1!

“Everyone… has lived a past that’s brought them to their present…” Reiko Kujirai (A)

In Kowloon Walled City, Japanese realtor Reiko Kujirai (or Kujirai A as she refers to herself) continues her search for clues about Kujirai B whom she resembles, it seems, in every respect except personality, even down to her taste for smoking a cigarette when eating watermelon. She starts to take a closer look at the contents of her flat and, having devoured the first volume of a murder mystery on the bookshelf (The Landing Case Files) spots something glinting at the back of the shelf when she searches for the second volume. To her surprise, it turns out to be a diamond ring. Is it the one her colleague Kudou gave to Kujirai B? They were engaged to be married, after all…

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Miyuki Hebinuma and his boyfriend Gwen have gone to see a classic film at the cinema: The Butterfly Dream, starring an actress so famous for her beauty that Miyuki says his clients still ask him to make them look like her.

Yaomay and Reiko visit a Japanese bookstore with Kudou (who’s after his monthly fix of Jump) but when Reiko finds the second volume of the murder mystery, the pages turn out to be filled with unreadable, jumbled text. (Kudou tells her he’s read the whole mystery and knows the ending but she insists she wants to read it and find out for herself.) Disappointed, Reiko decides to buy something completely different: Globe Trotter, a travel book, filled with photographs from around the world, in spite of Kudou’s scornful reaction to her choice. While the three of them are having lunch (with a TV live show playing in the background featuring Dr Hebinuma) the café owner offers them tickets to The Butterfly Dream. Yaomay reacts very oddly, says she doesn’t want go and hurries off back to work. And if that weren’t strange enough, they then witness the extraordinary behaviour of Dr Hebinuma on the TV show towards one of the other guests, a supercilious celebrity who calls the doctor out for being privileged and openly criticizes the Generic Terra project. Who would have thought that the handsome doctor could behave in such a way on live TV, still smiling as his foot neatly displaces the actor’s stool, sending him crashing to the floor. There are bound to be consequences! And sure enough, Miyuki’s father, the ruler of the powerful Hebinuma business empire, soon summons him. There’s a high price to pay…

By Volume 5 of Jun Mayuzuki’s fascinating and addictively readable saga of Kowloon and its inhabitants, the mysteries are deepening. There have been hints in plenty about the strangeness of life in Kowloon, not least the precautions taken by Miyuki and Gwen when travelling to Kowloon from Hong Kong (no eating or drinking anything in Kowloon, recalling the myth of Persephone in the Underworld) and the Kowloon inhabitants are noticing odd phenomena: are they earthquakes? One of the old men from Kudou’s Mah Jong group tells Yaomay and Reiko that it’s a disturbance in the flow of good chi (feng shui) and even suggests it could be caused by the huge Hebinuma billboard. But the biggest shock is reserved for the final pages of this volume – and, as once before, it comes in two double-page successive spreads. Haunting as well as shocking, these pages set up so many questions in the reader’s mind that it’s frustrating to realize that Volume 6 won’t be published in English until Spring 2024 (although that allows plenty of time to go back through the first five volumes to trace how certain storylines are slowly but surely evolving).

Translation for another good-looking Yen Press trade paperback-size volume in the series is by Amanda Haley again, with a page of helpful translation notes at the end. There’s a vibrant colour page image of Kujirai (but which one?) at the start and two fun bonuses from the mangaka at the end: in the first she interviews Miyuki’s boyfriend Gwen and the second is a wonderfully detailed collection of drawings entitled ‘Inside Everyone’s Bags’ (Abigail Blackman’s lettering is seriously impressive in these extras). Yen Press have again gone for a Mature rating, so the physical book comes shrink-wrapped although I suspect they’re playing very safe for a US readership because of the fact that there’s a gay relationship depicted here.

This is a rich volume, full of significant little hints as well as some big, dramatic scenes and Jun Mayuzuki’s skills in creating and developing wonderfully complex characters are seen here to the full, both in her intricately detailed art and in the way the story is unfolding. If it weren’t for the fact that these interesting but flawed characters were caught up in the mysterious Generic Terra project (it can be glimpsed floating high, moon-like, above the city) this would probably evolve into yet another one of those urban SF stories in which the city is the main character. Although sometimes, it’s impossible not to wonder whether these might be the best chapters of Kowloon Generic Romance because at the moment, all kinds of amazing revelations could take place – and once the author reveals the truth behind the mysteries, it might just turn out to be something of a let-down. Volume 9 has just come out in Japan (October 2023) so we’re gradually catching up. We shall see…

Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK. 

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