ZE 3 by Yuki Shimizu: C+

From the back cover:
When a kotodama-sama dies, his or her kami-sama—a healer made of living paper—typically chooses to die as well, returning to a blank state as “hakushi.” But when Himi’s master passes away, a deep sense of obligation forces him to choose another path. Instead, Himi becomes kami-sama for his master’s estranged son, Genma.

Genma is everything Himi’s former kotodama-sama was not—rough, arrogant, brutish—and furthermore, Genma enjoys using Himi for his own selfish pleasure. Is this more torment than Himi can endure? Or will he come to realize that different people show their true feelings in different ways?

Yuki Shimizu delves deeper into the Mitou family in this latest volume of her hit series!

ZE‘s focus on the members of a family full of magic users and their same-sex attendants allows mangaka Yuki Shimizu to change gears and feature other couples as she sees fit. While the opening volumes were more about the residents of a particular house, volume three branches out to the extended family with the tale of Himi, a kami, and Genma, the new master he receives after his old one dies. I can see the appeal of such a setup, as it allows Shimizu to present a variety of relationship types, but must admit that Himi and Genma’s tale does not thrill me.

There are certain moments between them that are quite nice. The revelation that Genma, the son of Himi’s original master, felt a combination of desire for and envy of Himi since his adolescence provides depth for a character who otherwise comes across as sadistic, and the cliffhanger on the final pages is both well paced and very well drawn. The majority of the time, though, their relationship consists of Genma demanding that his every sexual need be met and refusing to heed Himi’s protests. At least one scene could be construed as rape. This isn’t necessarily portrayed as being a romantic thing—Himi’s reactions are sometimes quite awful—but I get the feeling we’re supposed to feel like Genma has redeemed himself by the end, after a coworker vouches for his kindliness and he begins to actually confirm that Himi consents to what’s going on.

It’s really quite disturbing and I feel kind of bad that I’m not giving the volume a lower score as a result, but I continue to enjoy Shimizu’s intriguing world building and her expressive art. Volume four is more of Himi and Genma’s story, and I hope I’ll like it better now that they seem to have established a little more equality in their relationship. We shall see.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


  1. […] (Comics-and-More) Ai Kano on vol. 11 of Strawberry 100% (Animanga Nation) Michelle Smith on vol. 3 of ZE (Soliloquy in […]

Speak Your Mind