Arata: The Legend Volume 21 tells the story of two boys named Arata-one from modern day Japan, the other from a fantasy world called Amawakuni. One day, the two boys switch places and are mistaken for the other. The Arata from modern day Japan discovers that his counterpart from Amawakuni has been framed for murder, and that he has the ability to wield a special sword called a Hayagami that his counterpart was unable to use.
Volume 21 is set in Amawakuni, and Arata and his traveling companions arrive at an island. Suddenly, everyone except Arata begins to act differently for no apparent reason. This leads to Kannagi and Yataka fighting each other, while Kotoha, Mikusa, and Nasake become lethargic. Arata believes that Ikisu, the member of the Six Sho with the kamui of smell, is somehow behind it. But Arata is surprised to discover that Kanate, a boy who once traveled with him, has released scents that control emotions.
This section of Volume 21 places a strong focus on Arata and Kanate, and on Kanate’s jealousy of the other boy. Kanate wants to fight with Arata, but he doesn’t want to fight against someone who he thinks of as a friend. Kanate is being controlled by Ikisu, but the jealousy that Kanate feels is quite real. Arata tries so hard to reason with Kanate, but the art shows Arata looking almost desperate. I felt so bad for Arata as I read this scene, because it reminded me so much of what he was like back when he was bullied in modern day Japan.
It appears that Arata’s friendship with Kanate is heading in the same direction as with Suguru, a boy who pretended to be his friend back in modern day Japan. But just as it seems Ikisu’s “inferiority complex” scent will triumph over Arata, he finds the strength to get a good hit in on Kanate. I was glad to see that Arata didn’t give up, because he had made such strides in character development from the kid who was being bullied at his high school in modern day Japan. I would have hated to see all that development be for nothing.
Even though Kanate and Arata make up, Kanate decides to go on his own to settle a score with Ikisu. Arata desperately tries to chase after Kanate to stop him, but Ikisu finds Kanate first and begins beating him up. Just as it seems like Kanate is going to lose, Arata’s rival Kadowaki appears and defends the other boy from Ikisu’s attacks. Kadowaki’s arrival surprised me, because I didn’t expect to see him pop up like this.
After being saved, Kanate willingly submits himself to Kadowaki. Arata arrives just as this happens and doesn’t realize Kanata did this act willingly. Kadowaki decides to egg Arata on by claiming that he forced Kanate to do it. Of course, this gets a rise out of Arata, and the two boys begin fighting each other. The fight becomes so intense that Arata demonizes, and it’s up to Kotoha to try to stop him. Unfortunately, Kadowaki was the main kid bullying Arata back in modern day Japan, and he brought that attitude with him when he was transported to Amawakuni. But at least in this world, Arata has the guts to stand up to him. This is another example of how much Arata has grown as a character from the beginning of the series.
When it comes to the art in Arata: The Legend, Watase has done a great job with her character designs. Each character has a very distinct look, and this even includes the two Aratas. While they have a very similar look in their faces, they still look just different enough that the reader can distinguish between the two of them.
In Arata: The Legend Volume 21, one thing that really stood out to me was the expressions that Arata had throughout this volume. Watase did a fantastic job conveying Arata’s desperation as he tries to reason with Kanate, as well as capturing Arata’s rage when he believed that Kadowaki had forced Kanate to submit to him. As a reader, I thought I could feel Arata’s emotions just as much as I could see them on the page.
I believe that Arata: The Legend will appeal to manga readers who enjoy fantasy stories where the characters go to completely different worlds and have to learn to adjust to their new environments. And long-time readers of the series should enjoy the action and revelations that are made over the course of Arata: The Legend Volume 21.
The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media