If you have been following this series closely then you will likely have many of your questions answered in this volume. We continue to see beautiful artwork and excellent flow in the story thanks to writer and illustrator Abi Umeda. The adventure continues with the mysteries that the Mud Whale has been carrying all this time. There is also a weird time-shift in this installment that creates confusion. Nonetheless, these seemingly confusing time changes convey a vast amount of emotion and much needed information. As the reader gets more answers in this volume, however, more questions arise.
The first thing I want to note is the structure of this story. I love the fact that there is history about the Mud Whale here. There is more understanding gained about the start of the citizens’ imprisonment and about how the Mud Whale works overall. In the previous volume we had various discoveries about the death of the marked and how the Mud Whale was some sort of prison. Now we learn how this came to be by going back in time.
At one point we see the characters training for whatever battles may come, but as they continue to train the image of another Mud Whale comes into view. At first it seems like the coming Mud Whale is about to crash into the citizens, but it passes through them like a ghost. There are people on that ghostly Mud Whale as well, and although it seems like the future we come to learn it is the past. By this time Ouni, the strongest thymia user, becomes sick to the point of almost dying and a new set of mysteries and answers unfold.
The detail work that Umeda adds in this story is unbelievably mesmerizing. Even if reading black and white illustrations is an immediate deal-breaker for you, this volume will change your mind. The adventure that these prisoners have comes alive with all the details conveyed. They draw the readers in with such vividness that no color is needed. When thymia is used by the marked, Umeda uses enchanting features that demonstrate why the antagonists in this story are looking for it. We perfectly understand when something magical is happening without the need of any pigment.
This series has become one of my favorites because every single aspect of it works so well it’s scary. The quality story, illustration, and character development all complement each other and help the story grow on the reader. As the characters continue to develop, the illustrations encompass the situations that they’re going through. Overall, this volume brings so much to the table that all manga fans should read it.