My darling Silver Diamond! How I have missed you! There was almost a year between the releases of volumes four and five, but TOKYOPOP is on the road to recovery (yay!) and the series is now on a quicker release schedule.
In volume four, Rakan traveled to the other world in the company of Chigusa, Narushige (and Koh!), and Tohji. Pretty quickly they encountered a group of cast-off “numbered children,” banished from the capital and assigned the unnecessary task of guarding the frontier. As volume five begins, Rakan demonstrates his sanome ability and pretty quickly wins over all the men with his warmth, acceptance, humility, and absolute sincerity in his desire to make their lives better. In fact, he appoints them his personal guards, and they’re all happy to have something purposeful to do.
Before things can get too cozy—but not before Tohji and Kazuhi, leader of the guards, realize they’re brothers—an illusion of the evil prince appears and predicts many calamities will befall the land, including an earthquake, which promptly occurs. Kazuhi and his men are trapped below ground, though alive, and as they work on finding their way out, a furious Rakan—more determined than ever now to defeat the prince and bring life back to the world—and his companions begin to make their way to the capital. In volume seven, an assassin briefly delays their journey, but Chigusa—and an entirely unexpected, entirely shaggy ally—prove to be more than a match for him.
At first, when Rakan began making his journey to confront the prince I initially thought, “What? They’re doing this now? How is this series up to volume 21 in Japan already, then?” But then I remembered… Silver Diamond is a very, very slow-paced series, and I suppose it may be frustrating to some for that reason. Honestly, though, I would not have it any other way.
I love the small episodes of world-building scattered throughout, like when the scarcity of wood necessitates different methods of cooking and printing. I love the moments when characters grow closer, and I appreciate that Sugiura takes time to show these relationships evolving. Particularly moving is how Rakan unconsciously brings so much hope to those around him, from the formerly dispirited numbered children to Chigusa, who has never had anyone cry for his sake or wish to protect him before in his life. There’s a lovely passage in volume seven, for example, in which Chigusa—who can heal his wounds when he’s near Rakan—thinks, “The holes in me are filling up,” a sentiment that is both literally and figuratively true at that moment.
There’s also a lot of comedy in the series, though most of it hinges on Narushige and Tohji attempting to put a stop to Chigusa’s tendency to touch Rakan whenever possible. I continue to adore Koh, the talking snake, and was unabashedly delighted when a new animal companion joins the group at the end of volume seven. I swear that I am not normally so easily swayed by talking critters; it’s just that Sugiura does them so well!
The pace may be slow and the plot a little skimpy, but if you’re looking for a story with loads of loveable characters building warm, strong friendships and a generous helping of non-human cuteness, then this just might be the series for you!