Her Majesty’s Dog 9 by Mick Takeuchi: B-

From the back cover:
New mysteries and conflicts awaken when Amane, Hyoue and Ateko encounter a childlike demon and an old acquaintance of Hayato’s. Friendships are reforged and feelings born anew as the trio enjoys their last days together before Amane’s forced wedding. Amane is torn between her duty and her heart—but just as she and Hyoue seem to be getting closer, Amane makes a shocking decision!

Amane does indeed make a decision, but since she spends the volume mulling it over, it’s not at all shocking.

After the drama with the koma-oni last time, this volume is mostly filler. Presumably, Amane and friends are hanging around in Kyoko (where Takako’s grandma lives) to enjoy a last bit of time together before Amane must return to the village to get married and take over leadership of the clan. Most of the chapters concern a demon kid who turns out to be a tree spirit, though some pages are spent on the onmyoji who’s also investigating the demon’s acts, as he’s conducting a side experiment of his own to see whether the Kamori clan’s koma-oni can be made to serve other families as shikigami.

It’s mostly quite boring, and I’ve pretty much given up trying to understand all the muddled attempts at intrigue concerning threats to the Kamori clan. Also, I continue to be annoyed when “comedy” interrupts tense scenes. It feels like nothing genuine ever gets to happen; any moment, however pivotal it could be, can be sabotaged for a cheap gag at any time. You can certainly mingle drama and funny in the same story successfully (Yes, it always comes back to Buffy), but not when one is always the punching bag of the other.

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