Her Majesty’s Dog 5 by Mick Takeuchi: B

From the back cover:
The kingon curse is broken—and Hyoue’s powers are out of control! Heartbroken, he returns to the village where it all began—unleashing a flood of memories about the origin of his relationship with Amane. Meanwhile, Amane herself must take part in the village’s annual ceremony before a contemptuous crowd. With no allies at her side and a malicious koma-oni on her heels, can she muster enough strength to track down her loyal demon-dog and bring him home?

This volume is an improvement over the last, at least. Unbound Hyoue is too much for Amane to handle, so he gets sent back to the village to live in the sacred tree in which koma-oni dwell until the yearly festival when they get to go outside, be challenged by manatsukai (word magic users), and strike up pacts with them. The whole time he’s in Tokyo, he’s stuck in monster form, but when he gets to the village, he’s shown in human form again. I can’t tell if this is because the power of the tree allows him to shift again or if it’s because of a blurb of Takeuchi’s that says “for your convenience, the koma-oni are being shown in their human forms.”

When he returns to the tree he reminisces about how he and Amane originally met. I like this part best, probably because eight-year-old Amane is very cute and serious (and because when, given the chance to give Hyoue a new name, wants to pick “Baron Manifesto Pegasus”). However, I think this conflicts with something we were shown earlier about how they made their pact. I remember Hyoue being in a tree and young Amane approaching him, but things don’t happen like that in this volume. Takeuchi, thy name is inconsistency!

Another thing that bugs me is that so far, there are two unresolved subplots floating around. One’s about an assassin sent to force Amane to return to the village and another’s about some defectors. Not a peep about either is heard in this volume and, now that Amane’s actually in the village for the festival, no one tries to get her to stay or do her any harm at all. I fear that, like the way in which it was crucially important to keep her abilities a secret until it wasn’t, the danger about returning to the village will suddenly just become no big deal.

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