Orochi Perfect Edition Volume Three sees Orochi observing what happens to two different young men.

Orochi Perfect Edition Volume Three
Written by: Kazuo Umezz
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 15, 2022

This volume contains two stories, with the first one being 130 pages and the second story running for 223 pages. While this may seem to be rather long page counts, the stories that are presented needed to run for these longer lengths in order for Umezz to tell them effectively.

The first story, “Stage,” sees Orochi coming upon a traffic accident. A three-year-old boy named Yuichi wanders out of his house in order to see his father after he gets off work. As Yuichi is crossing the street at a green light, a car suddenly races through, and Yuichi’s father jumps in the way and is hit by the car. While Yuichi’s father is able to get up and walk away, his head later hurts, but he doesn’t go to see a doctor. Yuichi’s father dies overnight, and Yuichi says the driver of the car was “The Morning Man,” a host on a children’s television program that he watches.

The reader gets to see through Orochi’s eyes as Yuichi is taken to the trial of Shingo Tanabe, the man in question. Unfortunately, due to his age, Yuichi’s testimony isn’t taken seriously and Shingo is found not guilty since Yuichi was the only eyewitness to the accident.

We see Yuichi isn’t able to let go of this situation, and as he grows up, he becomes short-tempered and gloomy. After actively avoiding entertainment for several years, Yuichi suddenly starts demanding a transistor radio, a record player, and records. After he acquires these things, he becomes a fan of a singer named Hideji Hanada. By the end of middle school, Yuichi decides he wants to pursue a singing career and runs off to Tokyo to try to become a student of Hideji Hanada… and Yuichi ends up wreaking havoc in Hideji’s life.

For the most part during the story, Orochi is simply an observer. However, there was one point when Yuichi was as a child where she stepped in and stopped a group of boys from picking on him. But later in the story, Orochi is unable to intervene and stop what ultimately happens by the end.

While I did enjoy “Stage,” I admit that I figured out the basic idea of the twist of this story shortly after Yuichi becomes a fan of Hideji Hanada. However, I hadn’t figured out all the specifics of the twist. In that regard, I was slightly disappointed at figuring out the twist of the story that early on. At least the story itself was compelling enough that I found I still wanted to keep reading in order to find out how exactly Yuichi would pull off what I was suspecting he was up to.

“Combat” introduces a junior high school student named Tadashi Okabe, who admires his father for being so nice to everyone but questions why his father’s personality is the way it is. Orochi overhears an essay he wrote about his father being read out loud in class, and she develops an interest in Tadashi and his family. The essay grabbed her interest enough that she decides to starts observing the family.

One day, Tadashi is approached by a man that’s missing an arm and a leg, and the man asks Tadashi to deliver something to his father. Out of curiosity, Tadashi opens up the package and finds a human skull inside, which he refuses to give to his father. Another time, Tadashi’s little sister has something that she tries to keep hidden from Tadashi. But it turns out to be a grenade, which goes off as she trips. Fortunately, both Tadashi and his sister survive, and Tadashi realizes the man from earlier must have given his sister the grenade. When Tadashi has another encounter with the man, he learns something about his father from the time he served in the war, and Tadashi finds himself becoming conflicted.

We learn in this volume that Orochi has the ability to peek into people’s minds, and she uses this ability on Tadashi’s father while he’s sleeping. She gets to see his memories of serving in the war and figures out what Tadashi learned and why he’s feeling conflicted. After Tadashi ends up in a harrowing situation with his friends, Tadashi is blamed for it. Unfortunately, Tadashi’s father believes Tadashi is to blame for the incident, and this only adds to Tadashi’s issues with his father.

When we see Orochi going into Tadashi’s father’s memories, we actually get a significant sequence that shows the reader everything that happened to Tadashi’s father in the war that led him to become the man he is. It’s obvious from what’s being said and the depiction of the war that the war in question is World War II. Being an American, I always find it fascinating to see World War II being depicted in Japanese media. I’ve grown up seeing so much of the American media’s depiction of the war, so I appreciate seeing how the Japanese depict it. But in this depiction, Umezz makes it clear just how inhumane the Japanese could act on the battlefield after running out of food and starving.

My biggest issue with “Combat” is the fact that the character design for Tadashi looks way too similar to the design for the middle school aged Yuichi in “Stage.” I kept having to remind myself that I was seeing Tadashi, not Yuichi. Outside of that nitpick, though, I thought the story in “Combat” was interesting. I especially liked seeing the parallel between what Tadashi’s father went through during the war and what Tadashi experiences during his harrowing experience with his friends. Unfortunately, we don’t truly get a definitive ending for “Combat,” and there’s a major question about Tadashi’s father that’s left unanswered. I guess Umezz wanted to let the reader fill in the blanks with their own ideas for that question, as well as for how the story could conclude.

Even with the few issues I had with Orochi Perfect Edition Volume Three, I still enjoyed both the stories in the manga. And while both the stories included here ran on the longer side, they turned out to be quicker reads than I had anticipated.

If you read the previous two volumes of Orochi Perfect Edition and enjoyed then, I think you’ll also find an appreciation for the stories in Volume Three.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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