Shuriken and Pleats 2 by Matsuri Hino

Volume 2 completes the Shuriken and Pleats series, though Hino leaves a very open-ended finale for readers to ponder. The art is, as always, superb, but I have to admit that the series never really grabbed me. I got the impression that Hino meant a much longer story but it never really took off as she had expected.

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Story: Mikage is living the life of an ordinary student but still mourning the loss of Master Rod. But there are hints he may not be dead after all – dare she hope to see him alive? And why is he being hunted so ruthlessly for a bunch of seeds?

Most of the book felt like it was padded in order to draw out the number of chapters to complete a second book. Scenes in her high school could have been excised altogether since they added nothing to the story. As well, there are many actions scenes but they are so contrived as to feel unathentic (even for a manga!). Hino once again adds several love interests all competing for Mikage’s attention.

Admittedly, I find the story of a young girl and an older divorcee rather tepid. The ninja elements didn’t really work well with the idea of genetics and heirloom seeds. And the plot never really went anywhere interesting. I think Hino became a bit lost – so much build up in the first three chapters and then a completely different story afterwards with characters who don’t do much in the story. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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