Maou-heika by Kigetsu.
It’s been a while since I’ve read any Missing. I’ve said before that the series isn’t very good, but I feel a sentiment towards it that made me read the second volume. And will probably make me read the rest. Tokyopop put it out in March 2008 with a completely changed cover and no illustrations. If you’ve read the first one, you might remember there was an excerpt teasing the second book’s content at the end of it, too.
After the harrowing events of the first volume, the Seisou High School Literature Club (do they ever do anything literary?) is a more tightly knit bunch than ever. Ayame is now far from the horrifying entity kidnapping people to the netherworld. She’s more like the Club’s cute mascot now (or is she?). However, the period of peace for Utsume Kyouichi and his friends doesn’t last long. The story begins with a description of a seven days-long demon-summoning ritual, which should give you an idea of what kind of story this is.
Togano Yomiko, the school’s resident weirdo, gives Kidono Aki a mysterious warning. Later, while the Literature Club is discussing a teacher they all hate, Aki brings over a fax message she received in the middle of the night. It’s several pages of gibberish with some crosses scrawled over them. Who sent it and what does it mean? Utsume Kyouichi, being the expert on the occult that he is, cracks the mystery: it’s not gibberish at all – it’s Hebrew. Then he makes a good old sign of the cross and calls it a “Qabbalistic cross”. He proceeds to give his friends a lecture on the gesture – looks like it’s an ancient purifying ritual much older than Christianity itself. And of course, his interpretation will prove to be correct. Looks like this time, the supernatural trouble for them to deal with is of western (or should I say ancient middleeastern) origin. Brace for plenty of infodumps on ancient magical beliefs, and all kinds of general metaphysical trivia.
Meanwhile, Aki having been sent the fax turns out to coincide with a similar recent fad: there’s a chain letter going around which threatens the recipient with death if they don’t resend it. As days go by, Aki’s mental state deteriorates. Utsume is now certain what the faxed letter is – see the description of the ritual at the front of the book. If they want to save Aki from the curse, the Lit Club will have to figure out how to do it before they run out of time.
And then THAT happens out of nowhere. So… I’ve seen Missing being called a mystery. It undoubtedly is a horror novel, but with only a bit of a mystery mixed in. It does direct you to the usual murder mystery pattern of thought: you ask “who the bad guy who sends the demon-summoning fax messages is?” and you suspect people based on the details the novel gives you. That’s what I’ve been doing. In the end, my prime suspect turned out to be unrelated to the mystery. As if that wasn’t enough, at a point, the novel decided that it wasn’t a deductive story at all. How? You see, Missing v2 does an equivalent of suddenly letting a horde of ninjas into the story to wreck the place. During class, Aki is provoked by the asshole teacher and causes a supernatural explosion, after which she escapes to the nearby mountains. The incident pulls the Agency (remember them?) down on Utsume’s head. Agent Haga appears to threaten the kids and compare Utsume to Sendou Torakichi, the hero of an existing story about being taken to the otherworld and returning alive. Since the Agency is an unrefined bunch of men in black who deal with all psychics by killing them, the all-black wearing edgelord will have to find Aki before they do.
Towards the end of the story, on page 176 out of 222, the culprit is found dead. Turns out the person who was sending the malicious faxes to Aki was a never-before-mentioned random manipulated schoolkid, who had a bigger mastermind behind him – the chump was told to send the letters to “a person he hates”, so he did. Utsume and his buds eventually find Aki and after a long and bloody duel, the Dark Prince manages to magically dismiss the supernatural threat and save his clubmate. Things return to normal and the big bad’s identity is revealed – the solution to the mystery is some major unbelievable bullshit, however. Same for the culprit’s motivation – they did it “for fun”. And so ends the second volume of Kouda Gakuto’s Missing series, with plenty of plot threads protruding sadly or crudely having been stuffed back inside the ball of yarn by the lazy author. There’s also a bit from the never-released translation of the third volume at the end.
Oh man. This novel sure reminded me that Missing sucks. Don’t read it. Will I read the third volume? I’m a completionist, so of course I will.