It’s been a year since I read the first two volumes of Immortal Rain, and though I was initially somewhat lost when I started the third, the heartbreaking nature of Rain’s backstory immediately pulled me back in.
Hints had been sprinkled through the first two volumes, but here we get the whole, terrible story. We learn about Rain’s relationship with Freya—the woman he once loved—and with Yuca, the friend with a dark secret that would ultimately lead to Freya’s death and Rain being cursed with immortality. Yuca is similarly cursed himself, being reborn over and over again while conscious of the memories of all his past lives. He’s ready for this cycle to end—ready for the whole world to end, in fact—and so has chosen Rain to be his perpetual executioner.
It’s Rain’s task to wait for Yuca’s rebirth, which he’s been doing for 600 years so far. If Rain feels like humanity is worth saving, then he must kill Yuca to protect them. If he should weary of humanity and the way they treat him, he can join forces with Yuca and work to end the world. Gentle soul that he is, Rain detests this duty but is resigned to it.
But then Machika comes along to complicate things, saving Rain from his loneliness but promising future sorrow. “Being with you hurts,” he tells her. “It hurts. Because you remind me of sadness.” Later he says, “You’ll disappear so quickly.” It’s one of those doomed immortal-mortal romances all over again, like Buffy and Angel or The Doctor and Rose, and I love it to bits. It’s especially satisfying that they confess their love for each other in the fourth volume, without playing any of those delaying games shoujo series often employ. In this world, loving each other isn’t enough to guarantee a happy ending.
In fact, it’s his love for Machika that weakens Rain’s resolve. He was prepared to kill Yuca—and his own heart—over and over again forever if not for her, but now he has found love. At the same time, if he doesn’t fulfill his duty and Yuca is allowed to run free, what does this mean for the world? When Yuca actually does return and Rain is unable to defeat him, Machika roams the world for a year, refusing to believe all evidence that Rain is dead and determined to find him.
It’s all very dramatic and poignant, and I enjoy it quite a lot, but sometimes it seems a little… surface-y. I can’t really explain it better than that. It’s such a quick read, and while everything seems to make sense while it’s happening, upon reflection one wonders, “Well, why does Rain love Machika?” It just doesn’t feel like we’ve had enough time with these characters when they weren’t running for their lives. This isn’t to say that their romance feels unbelievable, just that I wish this story were unfolding somewhat more slowly. The fact that some of Rain’s foes are kids is also an unwelcome note of silly in a series that otherwise has a serious, almost seinen, kind of feeling to it.
In the year since my first review, there’s been nary a peep from TOKYOPOP regarding the future of this series. The series doesn’t come out too quickly in Japan—the latest is still the tenth volume, which was released in October 2009—so it’s frustrating being so close to having all of what’s currently available. I hope that, even if these volumes never merit a print release, they’ll be available via the publisher’s new print-on-demand feature. We shall see!