eBook Finish! Momochi House, vol. 11

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So last time, The Grudge was coming (you’ll find out how accurate this actually is).

This volume starts off with Himari dreaming about two people talking. She can’t really hear what they’re saying; only the words “unnecessary” and “severing” are caught. Someone says “you are unnecessary” before she jolts awake.

Himari feels a little dizzy upon waking up to which Aoi (when did he get there) asks her if she’s coming down with something and tries to feel her forehead. Of course, this prompts hilarious scolding from Himari about coming into her room and sleeping next to her (“it’s too soon for that!” she yells).

Aoi responds cutely and, I must say, very innocently: “Is it bad for two people in love to sleep next to each other?”

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Aww, how cute.

Considering the sheltered and limited upbringing he’s had, that’s not really surprising. Yukari sets him straight. Well, mostly.

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Yukari sets him straight

We move on to Ise bringing up the fact that Hakka, the Guardian of the Gate is now Aoi’s new shikigami and nobody even told him! Hakka brazenly introduces himself as Aoi’s new shikigami and his ambition to become the next Nue.

Ise and Zushi are a little upset with the addition of Hakka but Yukari doesn’t put much value on Hakka, saying he’s open to welcoming more “pawns” lol!

Himari sees their interaction and later comments to Yukari that Aoi’s shikigami are like a family to him. Yukari says that the bond between a shikigami and their master is a strong one and mentions that Aoi promised him some kind of “payment” for his contract.

Yukari jokingly says Aoi promised him his soul when Himari asks but says that it is actually something quite simple. He doesn’t go into detail about what it is but he says that there’s nothing more important to an ayakashi than a promise.

Their conversation is interrupted when the lesser yokai come bursting in saying Momochi house is stained black!

The umbrella yokai motion to some other lesser yokai that came from the back of the house that look like somebody splashed black paint on them. One of them, a little doll-looking yokai says that Aoi has to come to the back of the house right away.

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(Sorry for my lack of highlighting skills. I should probably get Photoshop or something). Hakka burst out of a cupboard (where they keep the sacred sake no less) so he can go check it out. Yukari gets ready to go inform Aoi when Ise shows up and says there’s no need, he’ll go check it out himself. He refuses Hakka’s offer to go along and follows the lesser yokai to the back of the house.

Meanwhile, the others go collect Aoi anyway and everyone heads toward the back of the house. So far, nothing out of the ordinary. Himari experiences a dizzy spell as she mentions how the lesser yokai said the house was stained black. Hakka says this is why he offered to accompany Ise since the yokai urged them to go into the deepest depths of the house.

Just as Aoi’s about to say something, a bloodied Ise falls from out of nowhere!

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Oh, crap

He’s not dead but he is severely injured and remains unconscious for the rest of this volume. The umbrella yokai, Karagasa, it looks like it’s called, and the other typical resident yokai are troubled by this and apologize to Aoi for making a fuss about the inner-resident yokai.

While they stay with Ise, Aoi tells them he will go deeper into the house. Yukari, Himari, and Hakka join him again to find out what the heck is going on.

They go back to where they found Ise. Himari doesn’t sense anything strange other than her head feeling a little heavy. Aoi tells her he doesn’t want to overdo things and that they’ll go further in without her. Just then, tons of hands break through the paper doors reaching for them!

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Jazz hands!

Aoi using his seals does the trick and everyone goes on the alert as they’ve entered the culprit’s realm now. Hakka notices the culprit has appeared. Deep within the house a dark entity appears looking creepy as crap and just like the Nue.

Aoi tries to transform into the Nue but can’t! Yukari springs forth to protect them. The Dark Nue tells him that of course he can’t transform into Nue, as there can only be one Nue of Momochi House.

He (as I learn later it is a he) tells them that after being trapped for many years, he’s come to settle his “grudge” (see? there it is. The Grudge: Momochi House! Okay, I’ll stop).

Dark Nue goes on the attack but Hakka steps in and uses his powers as Guardian of the Gate to trap him in an infinite corridor. He does this by connecting two area together like having two mirrors face each other. It’s only temporary though.

Hakka deduces that the Dark Nue is the one who came before Aoi. But he’s not acting like the Nue should be acting. Where the Nue is suppose to protect Momochi house, he’s trying to destroy it and even attacked the current Nue and shikigami.

Himari wonders what happened to make him like this as Aoi is able to transform into Nue. He can transform, but only in areas where the Dark Nue doesn’t exist. This makes it difficult for Nue to try to purge or seal him away.

Himari is feeling faint again as she detects the house becoming corrupt and turning black. Nue promises Himari he’ll protect the house, even if it means taking out the other Nue. She tells him he mustn’t fight the Dark Nue, thinking something bad will happen just as she passes out.

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Promise

She’s dreaming again. It looks like the same two people from her previous dream only this time it’s expanded. One of them says his role is coming to an end and then a figure that looks like the Nue is walking out the door. Another man, who looks like he’s wearing a mask is seen walking by the screen saying he still feels his presence in the house.

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“I want them to turn black”

Himari wakes up and has the crap scared out of her when Hakka-who’s peeping at through a hole in the paper door-asks her what she saw. He tells her that her dizzy spells are probably being caused by the “Reverse Momochi house.”

The Nue is supposed to be a being without equal and yet here we have the previous Nue resurrected. Because the house is being corrupted by the Dark Nue, and her role as landlady, Himari is feeling the negative changes and it’s making her sick.

Himari tries to ask if Hakka knew what happened to the previous Nue but because Aoi considers this “unneeded” Hakka can’t say anything. Before he can too much more Aoi appears and sends him up into the ceiling.

Aoi reassures her that he’s investigating with Yukari and he’ll take car of the Dark Nue. Himari protests, saying her dreams are trying to tell her something and she mustn’t allow the two Nues to fight. She reels and passes out again.

Later on, Himari wakes up to find Aoi right beside her. He knows her dreams have been making her uneasy which is why he’s staying by her side. Happy but bashful, she starts to tell him about boundaries before he tells her he understands that if he doesn’t do anything, he can stay by her side.

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By your side

She’s still feeling overwhelmed, having the person she likes so close. Himari gets up and opens the sliding doors under the pretense of cooling off after being in the stuffy room. When she opens the doors tons of lanterns are lighting up the porch outside. They both sit down to enjoy them.

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Lighting up the room

Aoi puts his coat around her and she says he’s very kind. Aoi asks does she think so and says he’s not kind at all.

Earlier, he was scouring every text in the house trying to find clues to the Dark Nue while Yukari tries to get his attention. Yukari tells him to calm down but he’s worried about Himari’s condition and how the black tainting Momochi house reminds him of her parent’s diary. Aoi’s afraid Himari might suffer the same fate.

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Fear

Yukari is also against Aoi fighting the other Nue but the alternative is Aoi could lose Himari. Aoi’s feeling guilty. The Dark Nue called him an impostor and he thinks maybe he’s being punished for being “selfish” and telling Himari he loved her. He goes back to the texts while Yukari tells him he’s losing sight of himself.

Aoi turns back to him with a smile and says that he already noticed that Aoi’s now pretty much halfway ayakashi.

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You mustn’t look at him

Back to the present, Himari has fallen asleep while Aoi thinks that he’s not kind at all and that he couldn’t hold back from voicing his true feelings. As he’s standing in the doorway, he transforms in Nue and says goodbye as the doors close.

Himari jolts awake wondering if the figure she saw was Aoi or her dream. Suddenly, the little round yokai appears telling her she must go and that Aoi has gone to the back of the house by himself. It tells Himari Aoi mustn’t do that and they should go after him. Hesitant, Himari takes the little yokai along.

Himari and Yukari race towards the back of the house with the little yokai to guide them. They’re a little wary of whether they can trust the little yokai but the important thing is to stop Aoi.

The run into Hakka down the hall who says he had some business to attend to. Since Aoi went into the reverse realm, his command seals on his shikigami have weakened. Hakka tells Himari that when a Nue exhausts his powers, Momochi house devours him. The Dark Nue and the Nue before him both disappeared in the house.

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The fate of Nue

Yukari thinks back to earlier when Aoi told him he was already half ayakashi. Even though Himari returned him to human form there are no boundaries between him and Nue. He realizes he will become a full ayakashi and be swallowed by the house. Aoi says he doesn’t think he will be able to stay with Himari.

Aoi has finally encountered the Dark Nue. They face off and Aoi manages to hold his own for a bit. Until he doesn’t. Dark Nue manages to get in close and stabs Aoi!

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Oh, snap!!!

Dark Nue laughs as Hakka’s shikigami seal disappears from around his neck. Himari is utterly shocked as a new laugh rings out. A person wearing a mask comes out saying the impostor is dead and now there is only one Nue in this world.

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The mask behind it all

Himari tries to go to Aoi but Yukari holds her back. She pleads with him to let her go save Aoi but Yukari tells her that’s just an empty shell. He pulls her close and tells her if anything happened to her he couldn’t face Aoi.

Hakka asks who the newcomer is. The guy has half of a long mask and tells Hakka he’s Nue’s first shikigami. Hakka’s pretty skeptical about the Dark Nue being the Omamori-sama but the mask guy interrupts him, saying who cares about the Omamori-sama or Momochi house and that it should be demolished.

The Dark Nue goes on the attack, destroying the house and attacking Himari and the shikigami. Yukari holds them off while Hakka escapes with Himari.

As the two go down a hall with many rooms, Himari sees different visions in each one. The two from her dream, one of which is the mask guy. One room shows him being made a shikigami, another shows the other man telling him he grateful to have mask guy serve him. The two enjoying sake and flower-viewing and finally the young man, the previous Omamori-sama, telling mask guy his role is at an end and he is severing their shikigami contract.

As Himari asks what happened to the previous Nue, mask guy watches them run away, saying he waited a long time for the Nue to return and that his master won’t be devoured by Momochi house. So obviously he didn’t take it well when his master told him he was severing their contract.

The reverse side is spreading, staining the house black (Rolling Stones, anyone? I like that song).

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Hakka tells Himari that since Aoi is dead and the only way to fight back is for Himari to appoint him as the new Nue. As the landlady this is something she could do and it’s the only way to save the house and avenge Aoi.

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Landlady of Momochi house

Hakka leans in close to exchange vows with Himari when the little yokai breaks them up, telling Hakka to look out. Dark arms come flying out, surrounding them and attacking Hakka. Before they can get to Himari, Aoi comes and saves her!!

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Aoi comes back!!

Himari is absolutely relieved while Hakka’s unhappy at being interrupted. His shikigami seal reappears as the two seem to be in on something. Himari is confused while Yukari appears, having guessed the Aoi they saw was a substitution charm. Through their shikigami bond, Yukari sensed Aoi had something planned.

Aoi apologizes to Himari and Yukari for keeping them out of the loop as he had to draw out mask guy from wherever he was hiding. Mask guy is not happy to see Aoi alive but he’s confident his master will kill him for real this time.

Aoi has Hakka connect the dark Momochi house and true house so Aoi can transform into Nue. Using Hakka’s power as Guardian of the Gate, Nue can finally attack.

Mask guy blocks an attack on the Dark Nue, saying he won’t let them put a scratch on his master. Mask guy is immortal and his injuries quickly heal. Nue figures out that he’s immortal because his mask is his real body. He tells him he’s aiming for that next.

Mask guy doesn’t care. Even if his body crumbles his goal of reviving his Nue and having revenge on Momochi house will be achieved. Nue tells him enough, and that the Dark Nue is just a puppet with no soul. He’s a product of mask guy’s remorse and hatred.

Nue says that since Dark Nue is a vessel that recognizes him as Nue and responds accordingly, but he’s just a body with no soul. Mask guy denies everything and has Dark Nue attack. It doesn’t effect Nue and he has Hakka make a connection to the back side of the reverse house.

He connects it and there are two doors where the Dark Nue came from. Hakka asks mask guy what he did to the previous Nue to which mask guy responds that Momochi house did this to him.

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“What did you do?”

The little yokai pops out and tells Himari to open the doors. She races towards the doors, the attacks not being able to hit her and pulls them open.

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Inside is a lot of blood stains, seals, a big knife, and an incense jar. Reverse soul incense to be exact. It can revive the souls of the dead according to legend. But apparently it wasn’t powerful enough to bring back his master so mask guy used a forbidden technique and offer parts of his body as sacrifices.

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Behind the door

He recalls that his master disappeared suddenly right after telling him he was severing their contract and walks out the sliding doors. When he goes after him, his master is nowhere to be seen.

He wanders the house and eventually learns of the Nue’s fate when he exhausts his powers. Mask guy is devastated at this but refuses to accept it as he can still sense his master’s presence in the house. So he wanders the house again in search until he can’t remember what it was he was searching for.

And then one day, it’s there: the reverse soul incense. Mask guy makes offerings until his grudge take the form of the Dark Nue.

Mask guy knows that puppet isn’t really his master but he can’t admit it. He starts talking about how weak his master was without him there to protect him and other little things even as he questions if his master really looked like that or sounded like that. He tells the others that his master was only the Nue for a year before the house devoured him.

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Grief

Himari can feel the sadness corrupting the house and wants to protect her home. Behind her, a young man walks by one of the sliding doors and tells her to destroy the incense jar.

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A helpful figure

The Dark Nue is tainting the house while mask guy realizes he can’t remember what his master looked or sounded like. He realizes the puppet is just a corruption of his thoughts and tries to kill him but the Dark Nue fights back. Before the Dark Nue can inflict any more damage, Himari tells the mask guy to wake up as she smashes the incense jar.

The Dark Nue is rendered useless while Himari encourages mask guy to remember his master’s voice as she’s heard it before, in her dreams. Mask guy is angry, thinking she’s pitying him, but Himari realizes his master has been by his side the whole time and tells him to come out.

The little yokai comes forward, apologizing to her and stands before mask guy, whose name is Kagura, and tells him that puppet is not him.

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Reunion

The little yokai is the previous Nue, the real one. He apologizes to Kagura but also admonishes him too. Seeing no other choice, the previous Nue’s spirit exits that of the little yokai doll and enters the puppet vessel, telling him it’s not very well made.

The Dark Nue puppet comes to life and he touches Kagura’s face asking him why he couldn’t let him rest in peace. Kagura looks stunned and asks if he’s really his master, Amane, to which Amane just smiles and says who knows, maybe he’s just Kagura’s lingering attachment. Himari watches them and wonders what happened between the two.

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Amane and Kagura

Holy cow. That was a long one. This volume was cute and sweet but creepy and also sad. That Dark Nue was creepy-looking!! But seeing bits of Amane and Kagura’s past was also a little sad and tragic. Kagura seems like the serious servant who has to worry about stuff because his boss doesn’t worry about anything. But now that there’s two Nues, what going to happen?? Where did the reverse soul incense come from? Does it matter? I’m guessing Kasha; he’s always pulling shady stuff.

There’s a little short at the end about Valentine’s Day, it’s pretty funny.

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The next volume of Momochi House is out today, so I’m posting this and then I’m reading the next volume! Until next time!!

 

 

 

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eBook Finish! Momochi House, volume 10!

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This one was kinda quick, more like a filler volume with an introduction to a new plot coming up.

This volume starts with Himari waking up thinking last night’s confession and kiss with Aoi was a dream. Aoi comes into her room like nothing happened, but then gets a little embarrassed for barging in. It wasn’t a dream!

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Bride training

Himari feels a little shy but tells herself to just act normal. Kinda hard to do when Yukari tells her he’s going to train her hard since she’s bride of Momochi house.

Everyone’s in a uproar over the two’s relationship confirming a fear of Himari’s that living together would be awkward if their feelings turned mutual. She decides to worry about that later and prepares to explore Momochi house!

Seeing all her equiment (she looks like she going on a rescue mission), Aoi decides to accompany her in the house. They find different rooms, creatures, even a way to make shaved ice! It’s a cute little outing.

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As they relax with their treat, Aoi tells her he could take her to a sunflower field in the spirit realm since it’s her summer break.

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House date

It sounds nice but Himari says she wants to explore the house and uncover a way for Aoi to go outside. Without Aoi distracting her, Himari tries to think of where she could start searching that Aoi may have missed. She finds a wardrobe with many kimonos where she finds an ayakashi.

The female ayakashi tells Himari she can’t display all her clothing because the Nue has been sealing rooms and hasn’t been keeping up increasing the number of rooms in the house.

She tells Himari Momochi house is always expanding and that the house is alive. Himari asks if there was a Nue before Aoi which the ayakashi says there wasn’t one for a while before Aoi. Because of that, the bad things stored in the house and the house trying to prevent them from leaving leaves its purifying powers weak. Before all that evil and negativity are released into the human realm, the house “lure in the next Omamori-sama.”

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Momochi House

To do that, it will manipulate the bonds between people, paths, and even send out letters. Himari’s pretty sure the will she got was left to her by her parents but I wonder….

The ayakashi abruptly changes the subject back to her kimono collection. She offers Himari a gift and tell her to choose between a large chest and a small one. Thinking a test of greed, Himari chooses the small one.

The ayakashi then tries to suck Himari into the large box anyway, but she rescued by someone. The ayakashi, or “hand of kimono” steals clothes by taking the girl who’s wearing them. The mysterious someone then traps hand of kimono into her own box!

Turns out the mystery guy is the guardian of the gate who tells Himari he came because the light from the winter cherry lantern is upsetting his stomach. Since he tried to devour Himari’s name, she’s not exactly sympathetic.

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She asks if he should be leaving his gate and he just pulls it out of his shirt like it no big deal. He explains how he can “create the concept of a gate” and really, the gate he pulled out is just for show.

He also says Momochi house works on the same concept, a “gate” between the human and spirit realms. The guardian reveals that knew several previous Nue who protected the house.

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Nue

Wanting to know of any clues, Himari asks the guardian if he knows what happened to the previous Nue. The guardian proposes a deal: if Himari grants his “wish” he’ll answer her question. Thinking it’s his upset stomach, Himari offers him a digestive (lol!).

The guardian wants the rest of her name. He wants the karma attached to the Momochi name. Confused, Himari tells him she doesn’t get what he’s saying. Turns out the guardian’s “proposal” is an actual proposal; he wants to marry her to get the Momochi name.

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The Proposal: Ayakashi Style

There’s no way Himari will marry him just for that and as she tells him so, Aoi shows up!

He asks the guardian his intentions to which he replies that he’s there to take Himari. Aoi’s pretty shocked that the guardian wants to marry Himari but she’s adamant no such thing will happen.

Before she can tell the guardian to get out, he interrupts by saying if marries Himari and takes her last name he’ll also take Aoi’s place as the Omamori-sama.

Aoi’s dubious but the guardian explains that house was originally protected by the Momochis and once Aoi, someone who doesn’t bear the name, was chosen the principle began to collapse. He tries to persuade Aoi but Aoi refuses to give up his position as Nue or let him have Himari.

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Won’t back down

Not too surprised, the guardian suddenly traps Himari in a sphere ayakashi called iro oni dama” or “color demon sphere” and challenges Aoi to a game of color tag (iro oni also means “color tag” according to the translation notes).

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Saw: Color tag or Die!

Since the ayakashi is keeping Himari because it likes her color, the two of them have to find a color the ayakashi wants even more before it completely absorbs Himari.

The begins as the two set off to find the right color. Touching the wrong color releases evil entities and Aoi gets unlucky on his first try. The guardian closed the door so the shikigami can’t come help and Aoi can’t transform into the Nue. The guardian easily dispatches some entities while taunting Aoi. But Aoi manages to hold his own without turning in the Nue as the game continues.

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Taunting

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Holding his own

Eventually, the guardian gets tired of the tedium and summons all the kimonos from the wardrobe to the “iro oni dama.” Thankfully, it doesn’t work and Aoi still has a chance. He starts to attack the guardian of the gate and manages to snag him.

He figures out the guardian is a shuten douji, a handsome boy who was turned into a demon for breaking countless women’s hearts. He was cleansed of evil later on and became an ayakashi.

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Exorcism of Mr. Steal-Your-Girl

Aoi shoves him at the ayakashi and it accepts, liking “iro otoko” or “amorous men” instead (translation note states that the “iro” for color is changed to “iro” or “amorous”). The gurdian is effectively trapped and Himari released.

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Game Over

Aoi won the game but the guardian breaks out along with the other ayakashi that were absorbed by the sphere. Himari demands he let them go since Aoi won but also wants to know about the former Nue real quick. Aoi gently nudges her aside and he and the guardian battle it out.

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Battle of Boys

They seem to be enjoying themselves until the guardian appears by Himari and gives her a kiss on the cheek. Aoi is not amused. He transforms into the Nue and gets rid of the ayakashi with one move.

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Aoi not amused

Despite the trouble he’s caused, Himari begs Nue not to seal the guardian since he did save her from hand of kimono and has answers to her questions. The Nue says her defense of the guardian only makes him want to “eliminate him” but the guardian is not so easily caught.

Nue realizes the guardian’s just baiting him. He manages to catch the guardian and reluctantly makes him his shikigami. Since he lost the game of color tag the guardian cannot turn down the contract and accepts.

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Fifty Shades of Nue

The Nue jams his fingers in the guardian’s mouth and threatens to rip out his tongue and work him to death (pretty brutal). So the Nue binds Hakka, the shuten douji to him as a shikigami, complete with a complimentary tattoo.

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Contract

Hakka says he won’t give up and now that he’s a shikigami, he can target the Nue up close. Himari tries to use this opportunity to get answers about the previous Nue when Aoi uses his command over him to push him back. He also commands Hakka not to say unneeded things and sends him up into the ceiling.

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Stress relief

Himari notices Aoi wearing the Nue’s clothes and asks him why, since he’s usually naked after transforming back. Aoi uses his power to changes back to his usual clothes. Himari thinks about how less distinct Aoi and the Nue are becoming. She’s a little bummed that a chance was missed her Aoi to be free even though she absolutely did NOT want to marry the guardian.

Jealous, Aoi asks if they got married she wouldn’t at other men in that way and kisses her where Hakka did. Hakka’s still there, flustering Himari and causing Aoi to send him a level up from the ceiling (is he putting him on the roof? How many upper levels are there??).

Aoi says that he is the Omamori-sama of Momochi house and he won’t let anyone take his place. Even if Himari falls in love with someone else.

Next page shows a creepy part of the house and Hakka somewhere in the ceiling wondering how long the current Nue will hold up.

Something starts saying “unnecessary” over and over again. As a bound door opens up and a creature with long black hair comes out, Hakka simply says “look what happened. It seems it’s coming.” The creature, with cat-like ears, breaks the binding rope and says that “a Nue impostor is unnecessary.”

Oooh, creepy!! I love how this manga can be funny, cute, and creepy. I love the mix! There’s a bonus story about Ise, which leads up to how he became a shikigami.

Looks like I can pre-order volume 11. The summary on VIZ website says:

Himari hasn’t been feeling well since she started having dark, vivid dreams. Then, from the depths of the house, another nue appears who claims Aoi is an impostor.

OMG! I need it! I need it!! Ugh, March 6, less than a month away. 😦 Oh well. I think the impostor thing is that Aoi’s not a Momochi but I mean, come on, the house was desperate and Aoi’s pretty powerful. Who’s this other Nue I wonder and why were they sealed away? Guess I’ll find out soon enough! 

 

 

 

eBook Finish! Momochi House, vol. 9

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It starts with a wish.

At the start of the chapter Himari thinks about what it would be like if Aoi wasn’t the Nue and bound to the house. They would go to school together and happily enjoy life outside of Momochi house.

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In another world…

Even as she wishes this there is a little niggling whisper that asks if it can really happen.

Back to the present Mr. Nanamori tells Himari that Aoi is dead. He’s talking but the reader doesn’t get to see his words. She wonders if wishful thinking can really overcome the obstacle she’s facing concerning Aoi and his fading humanity.

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Himari is suddenly separated from Mr. Nanamori and drawn to a place within the spiritual where she’s reunited with Ise. Akane appears in demon mode and tries to attack Himari but Ise fends her off. Ise can take care of her easily but Himari stops him.

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Don’t hurt Rosemary’s baby!

Demon-Akane is agitated, saying “disappear” over and over. She says she sent her the note so Himari wouldn’t tell and that Aoi was supposed to be a secret. Demon-Akane tells Himari to stop saying “Aoi” but before she attacks a voice yells out, “don’t eat her!”

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Letter from a Thief: “we never need to tell”

It’s Akane in human form! The Demon Akane drifts over to where the human Akane is and they are side by side. They’re twins!

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Rosemary’s Baby: Shadow Twins

The scene flashes back to Mr. Nanamori telling Himari how Akane was supposed to have a twin but it disappeared during the pregnancy. They were going to name the other twin “Aoi” (Akane means red and Aoi means blue if those were the characters the parents were going to use).

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Vanishing twin

The ayakashi “Aoi” tells Akane she has to devour Himari even though Akane is assured by Himari’s words that everything will be fine. “Aoi” is unconvinced and reveals that Ise was the beautiful young man that came to the Nanamori house to exterminate the ayakashi living there.

Ise confirms this but says he was ordered by Aoi not to touch his “sister.” Turns out “Aoi” was a weak ayakashi drawn to Aoi but unable to do anything to him because of his strong powers. She hid in Aoi’s stepmom’s womb out of fear, attached herself to his baby sister and now they’re fused together, essentially Akane’s shadow.

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Mysterious stranger revealed

Now that he knows the truth, Ise is says he has to get rid of “Aoi” or else she might try to devour someone else. Himari is not too keen on the idea and tries to suggest taking “Aoi” to Momochi house like they did with the fox spirits but is shot down since “Aoi” is too weak and will disappear if separated.

Before Ise can do anything, Akane steps in front of “Aoi” saying she won’t let him hurt “Aoi.” Akane remembers how she first met “Aoi” and how even though her parents would get sad about the missing “someone” it turns out they’d been together the whole time.

She calls “Aoi” her sister and that she cares about her. If she’s bad then Akane will stop her every time so don’t take her away!

When Himari asks Akane if she’s afraid of ayakashi, Akane replies why would she be afraid because “Aoi” is her family.

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“Aoi” is moved by Akane’s love for her and even though she knows that Aoi should be the one who’s a part of the family, she’s sorry and wants to be with Akane.

Himari tells them that she and Ise will stop “Aoi” if she gets out of hand again and how she wants to believe humans and ayakashi can live together. Her wish is that they can become a family and is sure Aoi feels the same way.

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Back at Momochi house, the Nue and Kasha watch it all, with Kasha bored at the conclusion. Kasha says he wants to see the Nue lose control and before he can stop him, Kasha transports himself to the realm Himari and the others are at.

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Here’s Kasha!

The Nue rushes to other realm where Kasha starts taunting Himari about how useless she is as Aoi still hasn’t transformed back.

Himari remains undaunted and refuses to be bothered by Kasha’s words. He tells her that evil spirits love corruption, ogres suffering, and what demons love is chaos. The Nue is about to threaten Kasha not to lay a hand on Himari when Kasha interrupts him, saying he remembers the terms of their bet and goes after Akane!

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Taken 4: Ayakashi-napped!

“Aoi” puts herself in front of Akane and Kasha kills her. Before disappearing, she tells Akane she’ll always be with her.

Stupid Kasha, ruining everything!! He’s interesting but I still don’t like that guy! It’s so sad, but kinda sweet; before “Aoi” disappears she thinks about how ayakashi exist simply to do as they please- like how she scared Aoi away, how she appeared before Akane and spent time with her, starts developing a feeling she can’t name. Because she’s an ayakashi and because she wants to be with Akane, she’ll do as she pleases and stay with her sister.

Nue is pissed. He starts attacking Kasha much to the creeper’s enjoyment. Kasha taunts the Nue for his weak human bonds and accuses him of pretending to be human. Himari refutes this, saying no matter what Aoi is human and the inhabitants of Momochi house will be his ties.

 

Done playing, Nue uses his powers to bury Kasha under rubble but the demon picks himself and then disappears, satisfied he managed to rile the Nue up.

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Angry doesn’t cover it

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“Chill, bro”

Akane comes up to the Nue and asks who he is and where’s “Aoi?” What happens next is like when you give your scared little sister a spray bottle and tell them it’s monster repellent when really it’s just water.

Nue conjures a ball of light that Akane assumes is “Aoi” and tells her he’s taking it back to the ayakashi world with him. Akane is sad she won’t see her sister anymore but Nue reassures her that even though they’re apart their hearts are connected.

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Brief meeting

Suddenly, Mr. Nanamori comes crashing into the spirit realm. He’s relieved Akane is okay and recognizes Ise. While he’s grateful their lives were saved he begins to plead with Ise not to take Akane away like her sister. Ise tells him he doesn’t need anything from him.

Himari tries to get Nue to go to his dad but Nue refuses.

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Akane tells her dad that she knew about her twin sister and Mr. Nanamori tells her they planned to name her Aoi. He wonders why the name lingers in his head when he sees the sunset, a vague reminder his son isn’t completely forgotten.

Ise recalls a young Aoi asking him to run an errand to his house and make sure his family isn’t worried about him. Ise pretty much guessed what the house’s powers did and when he saw Aoi’s parents forgot about their son he told them that he took something from them, that something being their son.

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Something important

It looks like Aoi has found his way back after forgetting what it is to be human. Himari looks over and sees him transforming back to human. She immediately tries to get to see his dad one more time, even if it’s just a glimpse.

Aoi simply shakes his head and hold Himari close, telling her it’s alright. He doesn’t have to see his dad to accept his past. Though Himari doesn’t seem happy, she accepts his decision as Akane tells her dad even though “Aoi” is gone they’ll always be together because they’re family.

Now that Aoi has found his way home (in a sense) things are returning to normal. Himari is walking home from school with her friends, telling them that things are resolved when they ask about her search for her “friend’s” house. They tell her about a festival tonight and invite her along. She tells them before she goes, she has some things to do first.

Those “things” being preparing a surprise party for Aoi.

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Party time!

Even though he didn’t really go anywhere, he was stuck in that dark room as the Nue so Himari thought it’d be nice to let him have some fun. While Aoi’s taking a “nap” (courtesy of a blow to the head), Himari and the others get to work on setting everything up.

Setting up some sunflowers for decoration, Himari says she’s always wanted to be cheery like one and wonders if her name comes from the Japanese word for sunflowers, himawari (向日葵). While in the store-room with Yukari, she remembers the guardian of the gate told her the “Hi” in her name meant light (光)

Yukari is looking for something to surprise Aoi with, finding some interesting things. He mentions Aoi told him how Himari chose Aoi’s drawer in the Drawers of Thought knowing she could never open hers and find out about her parents. Himari expresses no regret and Yukari starts to tell her about how Aoi found a diary written by her mother.

A few years after Aoi became trapped in Momochi house, he’s spending every waking moment trying to banish all the evil spirits running rampant in the house. He’s getting really burned out, to the point where tells Yukari he wishes he were an ayakashi. It’s life he doesn’t want to live anymore.

One day, Aoi comes across a diary that looked severely damaged. It belonged to Himari’s mother. She didn’t have enough power to become the Omamori-sama but lived in the house. She married a man, had a daughter, and lived a quiet happy life.

Halfway through the diary, black stains spread larger and larger over the pages. Aoi makes out that Himari’s mother was afraid of something just before he gets to pages that had rotted away. Yukari rescues him just as something bad bursts out of the pages. Then the spirits of Himari’s parents come out.

What little power they had left, they used it to put a message in the diary. Yukari explains that Momochi descendants who aren’t powerful enough to become the Nue’s vessel eventually fall prey to the impurities of the house. This is what happened to Himari’s parents.

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Himari’s mother says that the Momochi name was too much of burden but despite her short life, she was happy. She asks that whoever is getting this message, whether her daughter or someone else, they hope their daughter will come and bring stability to the house and that they love her.

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“Please tell her we love her”

The spark that had left Aoi’s eyes comes back as he resolves to live on so when the couple’s child comes back, she can live safely.

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Finding purpose

It explains why, when Himari fell ill in volume 1 after an ayakashi attacked her, a distraught Aoi said there was no reason to keep living if anything happened to her.

Himari is happy and comforted by Yukari and Aoi’s words. She’s happy that her mother’s last words, the feelings in them, became a source of hope for Aoi and connected to Himari. She starts crying a little, thinking how Aoi should have told her sooner, and thinks about how much she loves him. Yukari hugs her and thanks her for bringing Aoi back.

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Himari finally goes to wake up Aoi and everyone surprises him with the party. There’s dancing, an attempt to sing the Momochi rejection song (see volume 6), an oshiruko (red-bean soup with bits of rice cake in it) fountain, and then we get to Himari’s surprise.

She found fireworks in the store-room! But when she tries to light them, nothing. Since they’re ayakashi fireworks, Aoi turns into the Nue and uses fox fire to light them. And away they go!

Dragons of light appear when the fireworks go off and Aoi says they were yokai fireworks rather than regular fireworks. He’s in the process of thanking Himari for the party when she interrupts him. She’s amazed the Momochi residents are riding the light dragons but Aoi isn’t so surprised since they’re ayakashi fireworks.

Himari grabs his hand and leads him to the biggest firework. It’s already been lit and before it goes off, Himari grabs Aoi and they hop on.

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Ayakashi fireworks

On the light dragon, the two head out where Himari shows him the lights of the town Aoi is protecting and thanks him. Down below, Hayato hears the fireworks, but an old man tells him it’s probably thunder. He also tells him that long ago, the sound was attributed to ayakashi playing with fireworks.

Yukari and Ise watch Himari and Aoi above and relax, since it seems Aoi is still withing Momochi house’s boundaries. Yukari says that one day Himari may be the one to lead Aoi back to the human realm. He notes that the kanji for himawari can be read as aoi (this one: 葵) or “mallow that faces the sun” (向= toward, 日= sun, and 葵= mallow).

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Aoi and Himari

Aoi suddenly tells Himari the meaning of her name. “A light of great distance” (I don’t the kanji for that, sorry). Her parents wrote that they hope her light can extend great distances. Aoi finally told her about her parents and Himari thinks that her parents feelings became a bond that reached her.

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“A light of great distance”

Aoi tells her he’s been protecting the light Himari’s name is based on and that she in turn has been protecting him. He kisses her forehead and thanks her. Himari protests that she hasn’t done anything and I would disagree. She kept him human. To be specific, she kept Aoi from sinking into darkness, from not caring about anything, from becoming an ayakashi that can’t tell the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong.

Be moment of truth here. Aoi finally admits that he loves Himari!! With a kiss and everything!!

Boom:

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*insert fangirl squeal*

I feel like this was a real long one. I’m glad everything worked out okay and Aoi finally admits he loves Himari!! Yaay, no holding back! So, what’s gonna happen with these two love-birds? Find out in volume 10!

 

 

 

eBook Finish! The Demon Prince of Momochi House, vol. 8!

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Last volume: evil teacher Nachi was the one who basically sent Aoi to Momochi House, wanting to capture and control the power of the Omamori-sama. He was also the one behind the paper seals, one of which harmed the dragon god Ryujin. Thanks to the residents of Momochi house, Nachi is defeated but it seems Aoi can’t transform back from the Nue!

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We start off with Himari having breakfast but she doesn’t seem to have much appetite. It’s been three days since the the shikigami ushered the Nue away and kept him isolated in a part of Momochi house. Himari asks Yukari if she can go see the Nue which is okay for little while.

The Nue is kept in a part of the house Himari’s never seen before with these special ropes to seal him in the room. For his peace of mind, the Nue says. When Himari visits him, the Nue explains that when Nachi was defeated, Aoi’s memories should have returned right away. Only they didn’t so Aoi’s memories of his past still haven’t returned and that human part of him that he lost is being filled by an ayakashi.

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The void in Aoi

Himari resolves to find out about Aoi’s past and get the Nue to turn back. After she leaves the room, Kasha appears through the rear screen to give his two cents. He remarks how Himari never even asked the Nue if he wanted to turn back. Kasha’s scheming again and the Nue pretty much tells him it’s none of his business and not to touch Himari.

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Kasha sneaking in

At school, Rui comes up to Himari and tells her she found the Nanamori house in a town on the other side of the mountain. Handing out candy for the children’s association, Rui ran out before she could give some to the Nanamori house. She gives a couple of bags to Himari to take and tells her that Nanamori family had lost a child.

Himari goes to visit the family with Ise, who came along per the Nue’s orders. As they’re walking, Himari suddenly gets splashed with water!

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Pokemon GO!

Turns out it was Mrs. Nanamori who accidentally got Himari. While drying her clothes inside, Himari talks to her a bit and offers a bag a of candy for her child. Mrs. Nanamori assures that it’s just one bag that’ll do. Himari notices a there’s no resemblance between her and Aoi.

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Aoi’s family, pt 1

Her uniform dry Himari takes her leave. As she’s leaving, a little girl comes home. Her name is Akane. Her mother admonishes her for walking home alone but Akane assure her that her dad had picked her up.

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Aoi’s family, pt 2

Mr. Nanamori walks through the gate and thanks Himari for stopping by. Himari notices that Aoi looks like his dad.

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Aoi’s family pt 3

Akane unwraps her gum and wins a prize. She decides to catch Himari before she gets too far and thank her.

Up ahead Ise and Himari are discussing whether or not that was Aoi’s family and Ise tells her that Akane is an ayakashi, which Akane overhears. Alone in some bushes, Akane is muttering to herself about how they know about Aoi. With a frightening look on her face, she decides that she’ll just devour them.

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Rosemary’s Baby

Kasha and the Nue are watching Himari with Kasha assuring the Nue that he won’t lay a hand on her as she’s insignificant. He asks if they should make a wager.

Of course, the Nue is not about to something as foolish as that. Kasha tells the Nue to play a game with him, saying neither of them will interfere with Himari’s search. Kasha says that if Himari doesn’t find Aoi’s past he’ll just take it for himself, whatever that means.

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Kasha’s games

Meanwhile Himari is trying to get Ise to tell her what he meant about Akane being an ayakashi. Ise’s not budging though, and Yukari comes in and tells Himari that as Aoi’s shikigami they can’t tell her anything that Aoi won’t.

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Questions

Later that night, Himari’s lying in bed thinking about how she’s hit a dead end. She knows that Aoi is on the verge of forgetting his human self and becoming a full ayakashi. She wonders what she would do in his situation.

Suddenly she hears a clattering sound coming from her drawers. It’s the winter cherry lantern Nekobaba gave her last volume. It’s lighting up and is showing Himari a path.

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Light the path

Kasha and Nue watch as Himari enters the spiritual realm. While Kasha tries to interfere, the Nue keeps distractions off her path. Then Himari is led to a gate and meets its guardian.

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Watching the board

At first, the guardian of the gate wants to devour her but as it turns out he ran out of sake. Since Himari doesn’t have a pass to go through the gate, the guardian will have to accept her soul in exchange.

 

 

The guardian says anyone’s soul will do if she doesn’t want to give hers up or he’ll take the next best thing: her name. He can’t take the Momochi name from her so he looks at her first name, Himari.

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What’s in a name?

I’m assuming Himari doesn’t know the kanji (Japanese characters) that spell out her name so she spells it with hiragana like this: ひまり

The guardian can see the kanji for her name and decide to take a kanji from it. Suddenly, the cherry lantern breaks and the guardian takes its light instead as payment. The Hi in her name means “light.”

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Cherry light

The gate is opened and Himari is led to the place she wishes which turns out to be the drawer of thought. The guardian of the gate wishes her farewell and hopes he has some sake the next time they meet which Himari doubts they’ll see each other again.

 

 

The record keeper asks for her name and Himari tells it to her and that she’s looking for Aoi’s past. Himari is led to Aoi’s drawer but before she can do anything she’s warned that only one soul can open one drawer. She’s shown her own drawer which contains all her memories, karma, and who her parents were.

Himari thinks back to what the guardian said about her name, how she doesn’t know what the ma and ri mean. Why her parents chose the name they did and what kind of people they were.

Even so, Himari decides to open Aoi’s drawer anyway. She opens the drawer and a young Aoi comes out and proceeds to tell her about his past.

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Back to the past

Aoi lived in an ordinary house with a dad who was often away at work and sickly mom and seven “siblings.” He can also see ayakashi but is told by his big sis to pretend they don’t exist so he can survive on his own. His mom dies and the siblings disappear and is shocked when his dad tells him he’s an only child.

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The Seven Siblings

Looks like Aoi inherited his ability to see ayakashi from his mother as she could see the children too. Those children were called zashiki warashi, child spirits that bring good fortune to the home they inhabit.

Aoi’s dad marries his secretary who’s a kind woman but it seems like the ayakashi want to ruin the relationship. He stills sees ayakashi which causes his stepmom to wonder if he’s making up stories because he hates her and wants to drive her away.

Realizing the ayakashi show up because of him, he tries to distance himself from everyone. His stepmom becomes pregnant with Akane and the difficulty of the pregnancy makes her anxious. The ayakashi start to influence her and she takes it out on Aoi which explains the bruises Nachi notices in his flashback.

Aoi thinks about Nachi telling him to go to Momochi house but he remembers his stepmom yelling at him about how worried she was when he didn’t come home on time.

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Second thoughts

He rushes back home to apologize to his stepmom (he just calls her “mom” actually) and tell her he’s looking forward to having a new sister. Aoi finds her sleeping at the table and just as he’s about to tell her a voice coming from her stomach tells him he should just disappear.

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Rosemary’s Baby: In the Womb

That part made me mad right there. Stupid ayakashi possessing an unborn baby and then telling Aoi he should disappear? Grrrr. Well, we find out why in the next volume.

Blaming himself for his unborn sister becoming an ayakashi, Aoi runs into the forest to Momochi house which concludes the flashback.

Aoi’s negative karma tries to trap Himari in the drawer, but the record keeper comes to her rescue. Himari notices her body getting younger as the keeper explains that because of his powers, Aoi is destined to have weak ties to his blood relatives. Himari starts to look back as the young Aoi pleads for her to stay with him only for the record keeper to tell her if she does she’ll never get home. More children show up and the keeper is revealed to be Aoi’s big sis and the rest of his siblings help Himari home and tell her to look after Aoi for them.

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Siblings to the rescue!

Himari ends back where she started and after a silent thank you to Aoi’s brothers and sisters rushes to find Aoi.

The Nue is still in the room he’s confined to, not transformed back into Aoi. Himari goes into the room to tell the Nue all she discovered. The Nue teases her a little bit before pulling her closer asking her if she dislikes his ayakashi form. He calls her a bad girl (*giggle*) and says that maybe she’s already entranced by him.

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Bad girl

There’s a spelling error in the book. It says, “Perhaps you’re already entranced be me” instead of “you’re already entranced by me.” Irks me a little but what are you gonna do? *shrugs*

Ise finds a letter addressed to Himari from Akane and opens it, which reads that Aoi is dead.

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Letter from a Thief

A little but a rewind shows Kasha and the Nue after Himari finds Aoi’s past. Kasha says since the Nue won the wager he’ll grant him a wish but the Nue tells him to get out before he can finish the sentence. He remarks how the Nue still hasn’t changed back.

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“Get out”

Present time: Himari is being drawn in by the Nue who says “I should just make you mine.” Himari manages to regain her senses (good job!) and get the Nue back on topic.

 

She notices the hourglass left behind by Kasha and the Nue confesses he knows everything that happened in the drawers of thought since he and Kasha were watching the whole time.

Himari asks if Aoi blames himself for Akane being an ayakashi which his silence confirms. She tells him she visited the Nanamori house where Akane is living as a normal child. The Nue tells her that Akane’s home is not like Momochi house and reminds her of how Hidaka suffered at his house with the kitsune spirits.

The Nue says that humans and ayakashi can’t coexist together. Himari realizes that Aoi’s feelings of guilt are what’s keeping him from accepting his past and changing back. She resolves once more to bring him back to his original form.

Later, Himari heads back to the Nanamori residence after reading Akane’s message with Ise in tow. On the path, they run into a sinister-looking Akane who accuses them of looking for Aoi.

The area starts to become part of the spiritual realm and Akane runs off with Ise in pursuit. Himari hears a scream and rushes to the Nanamori house as Mr. Nanamori comes outside. He tells her Akane is missing and his wife is naturally upset. They go looking for Akane since her dad keeps get lost near the house and can’t make any phone calls.

 

Mr. Nanamori asks why Himari came and when she says she got a letter from Akane asks if she came alone. He says Akane told them Himari was with some boy but he and his wife only saw Himari. He believes Ise took Akane and explains that before they moved to their current home a man came by to visit their old house after Akane was born.

Mr. Nanamori can’t remember the man’s face but knows he was otherworldly. The man cleaned the house of ayakashi and after, the Nanamoris moved to another town. Soon after they discover their former house was hit by lightning and burned down. Thanks to the mysterious man they survived but his parting words disturbed Mr. Nanamori.

As he left the man said he was taking something they had lost. Because of that, Mr. Nanamori and his wife are terrified that man will come back and take something from them again.

 

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Akane missing

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Ominous visitor

Himari asks if he remembers Aoi and Mr. Nanamori is shocked she knows about Aoi. He tells her Aoi is dead.

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Pheew, that was a long one! Sorry about that, but a lot happened in this book. There are two sides in this volume, one about a play on Kabe-don (which is the act of cornering someone by slamming your hand on a wall above them) and a little alternate universe short called “Momochi Private Academy.” Schoolgirl Himari wants to give Valentine’s chocolates to hot teacher Mr. Nue and is snagged in a triangle with sweet classmate, Aoi. Eventually, it’s just a dream Himari is having but totally funny.

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Momochi Academy!

So who’s the mysterious man? My first thought was Kasha but he would’ve collected by now and that was too nice for him to clean house and walk away. So who is it? And what do the Nanamoris mean that Aoi is dead? Do they somehow remember him? All will be revealed next volume!!

 

 

 

Sunday funday, Manga Madness

So, I finally finished (mostly) the books mentioned in Manga Madness and The Box 

I have read the first four volumes of Requiem of Rose King, the fourth volume of the Skip Beat! big edition and Goliath.

I don’t have a review/summary for Scott Westerfeld’s Goliath. I will say I have thoroughly enjoyed the trilogy and the last one was a perfect ending for me.

I feel like I’m finally making some progress in my reading list. My manga pile is dwindling and I am that much closer to getting to the novel-type books I have waiting.

Although I did end up adding another box the pile. Curse you, library book sales with your $1 paperbacks and your fill-up-a-bag-and-it’s-$3!! T_T

I might have a problem. o_o

Meh. Oh well.

eBook Finish! Zodiac (Zodiac #1)

zodiac

Book 1 in Romina Russell’s Zodiac series is a YA sci-fi featuring-you guessed it!-the zodiac constellations.

Beware the 13th sign

That’s the tagline for this series. In this future universe mankind have settled into twelve houses. These houses are the zodiac, and they’re a system of moons and planets that look like the twelve constellations. The world building based on the zodiac signs was pretty cool and different to me and I liked the mythos that went into this.

So, we have 16-year-old Rhoma Grace from House Cancer who’s a student on one of her planet’s moons as our main character. Her mom left her, her dad, and her brother, and the only thing she ever taught Rho was how to read the stars. One day while having an outdoor (as outdoor as you can get on a moon) concert when her House is attacked. Cancer’s moons are destroyed causing catastrophe on the planet itself and killing the House’s Guardian.

Suddenly, Rho’s world is not only smashed but turned upside down as earlier she kept seeing a vision in the stars. This dark vision points to an old legend about a thirteenth house and its Guardian, Ophiuchus. Rho is then made the new Guardian of her House and while she tries to warn her council of the dangers, they don’t believe her.

After a few encounters with the big baddie himself, Rho sets out to warn the other Houses of danger heading their way. With her is Lodestar Mathias and ambassador Hysan from House Libra which sets up a-you guessed it again!-love triangle. (Telling you right now, Team Hysan! Yes, I’m shipping! Space shipping!)

Uh, anyway.

Needless to say, these other Houses don’t really take her seriously either. An old zodiac boogieman coming to get us? He caused all these calamities? Get real!

The people in this world rely heavily on the “if I can’t see it, it’s not there” philosophy which makes things frustrating for Rho.

Rho has a single-minded purpose of getting the other Houses to believe Ophiuchus is real so they can prepare themselves which prevents any other path to think about. I was left thinking that she wasn’t thinking things through or trying to come up with alternatives if certain things didn’t work out. So you warn these Houses and then what? How are they suppose to protect themselves? Since no one believes you so far, what else could you do in the meantime?

It’s understandable that Rho didn’t think of these things. She’s 16 and is suddenly thrust into the highest position her House has to offer. Everything’s happening too fast and Rho herself says towards the end that she was going at breakneck speed traveling all over the Zodiac. She never got to slow down.

No one really gave her any helpful advice on the journey and the advice she did get from a few fellow Guardians was cryptic and vague. It’s not until after the fact that the meanings sink in.

Rho does try and her perseverance shines through. The other Houses do end up believing her to a point. And I say a point because when they put together an armada to go get Ophiuchus they put her as a figurehead which later doubles as a scapegoat when things end disastrously.

Like adults, the head honchos don’t let her in on any strategy meetings, brush off any concerns she may have, treating her like a child. Okay, little girl, you cried wolf and were right this time. Now stand back and let the adults handle this.

Only they get bitten so to speak. Badly. Then blame it on Rho.

The last few chapters really made me angry for Rho at her treatment. There are hopeful tones at the end though. Rho will stand strong and protect the Zodiac alone or with help.

A good start to a series all-in-all. Romina Russell has a readathon of the current three books going on, all leading up to the release of the fourth and final book.

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Check out Russell on twitter @RominaRussell for discussions and more or zodiacbooks.com for info about the Zodiac world. This was a good series to get into and I’m hoping to finish Wandering Star and Black Moon by the time Thirteen Rising comes out. Summer reading is on!

eBook Finish! Dorothy Must Die

I had bought a book by Danielle Paige that was sitting in my eLibrary for a while. I finally finished Dorothy Must Die last week and I immediately wanted the next one (which I bought on Nook already but didn’t read yet).

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Dorothy Must Die is part of a series so I’m making myself read them in a certain order. There are four books in the series-with the last book, End of Oz coming out just recently-and nine prequel novellas. I already finished the first prequel novella, No Place Like Oz and I want to read two more prequel novellas before I get to the next book, The Wicked Will Rise.

But anywho, if you’re looking to start a new YA series with a dark tone, Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die might be the end of your search!

As the title suggest, this series isn’t the technicolor fairytale one might think when Frank L. Baum’s world comes to mind. Everybody’s favorite witch-slaying farm girl in the silver slippers is the ruby shoe-wearing villain in this piece and it’s up to another girl from Kansas, Amy Gumm to stop her from sucking all the magic from Oz.

Amy’s not exactly your typical heroine. Amy lives with her drunk mother in a trailer park after her father walks out on them. Amy’s the outcast at school and after a fight with her mother, she gets ready to run away with her pet rat, Star only to realize her mom stole the cash she was hiding away. In true Dorothy fashion, a tornado whisks Amy, Star and the trailer to a place that is anything but what the stories said about Oz.

Amy meets some interesting characters, the first being a strange boy named Pete who rescues her from her trailer falling down a ravine and a punk-styled Munchkin who wants nothing to do with her. Through some unfortunate events, Amy is taken to the Emerald City to the “Princess of Oz” Dorothy.

Again, this is not the humble farm girl who came to Oz the first time. After the events in No Place Like Oz Dorothy has become a tyrant, taking all the magic from Oz while she lives in splendor in the the Emerald City. She kills on a whim and for the slightest infractions, and not only that but acts like a spoiled child.

And she does not like this other girl from Kansas coming in and taking away what she thinks makes her special. Amy is locked up then rescued later on by the Order of the Wicked, a group of wicked and good witches determined to put an end to Dorothy and her posse of corrupt friends.

Amy is forced to make an alliance with Mombi, Wicked Witch of the North, to join the Order and learn fighting and magic to kill Dorothy. The Witches teach Amy magic while Nox, a young man taken in by the Order, teaches her fighting. And yes, there is a love connection in the works. This wouldn’t be YA without it. Not that I’m complaining.

As Amy learns from the Order there are a lot of warnings and parallels drawn between her and Dorothy. They’re the girls from Kansas, outsiders who came from foreign worlds to make change in Oz. Whereas Dorothy helped save Oz once, she came back and is destroying the world. There’s a lot of speculation that Amy can save Oz from Dorothy but a lot of worry she could turn out just like her.

It’s very interesting, the similarities and differences between the two. The only similarities I can really see between the two is they are both from Kansas and have humble origins.

Dorothy grew up an orphan on a small farm under the loving care of her aunt and uncle. Even though she had no parents and did not live an extravagant life, she was still well-loved, first by her aunt and uncle, then by her friends in Oz. But her need to be more, to be loved and worshiped after her witch-slaying fame corrupted her in the end.

Amy grew up with a single mother who descended into alcoholism despite Amy’s attempts to help her. She’s trailer trash who’s picked on by the popular girl. She has no friends except for a pet rat. A rat, not a cute little dog like Toto. I like Star though, and she ends up being quite helpful and a source of some comfort to Amy during her mission in the castle. Amy is alone, feels unwanted by her mom, and angry. In this dark and crumbling Oz, her upbringing helps her handle what comes her way.

Amy is tasked with an undercover mission with one goal: kill Dorothy. Even with vague help from the mysterious gardener, Pete and the Wizard himself, her mission ends in failure. Well, not complete failure. She does gain some new information that could lead her a couple steps closer to killing Dorothy and saving Oz.

This is definitely a darker retelling of Oz where the good is wicked, the wicked is good, and one pink-haired girl is all that stands between one gingham-dressed princess wannabe and the destruction of an entire world.