Pick of the Litter Volume 2
By Yuriko Suda
Age Rating: Teen
Satsuki pays an unexpected visit to Riku at his School. His mission: deliver a family picture to Riku and investigate what rival store Echigoya is doing in Japan. Meanwhile, for Riku’s birthday, Ichiya shows Riku his old room before he disappeared. But is it really his room? And if not, what is Ichiya trying to hide? A trip down memory lane promises to bring Riku closer to the truth about his mysterious family!
The questions about Riku’s past become the driving theme of this volume. What did happen to him 5 years ago, and why doesn’t anyone want to talk about it? The return of a sixth brother who drops mysterious hints about what happened spurs Riku’s need to know.
After dealing with the rivalry with Echigoya, this volume dives right into the mysteries of Riku’s past. Ichiya, the eldest brother seems reluctant to tell Riku everything, favoring instead to parse out information slowly, and sometimes not all truthfully. It’s not enough for Riku though, and he takes every opportunity to find out the truth. Saika uses his powers see into Riku’s past, and then Mikasa, another brother, who tells him about the incident that sent Riku to Japan.
Even though we get a lot of answers, there are still more questions about both Riku and Saika. How was he and his power used by his family when he was younger? And how powerful is Saika really? These dangling questions keep you hooked and needing to come back for more.
To fill out the volume, there is a short, 30 page story Suda did as a special before Pick of the Litter was serialized. Kingdom of Fantasia is a fantasy story that seems to have been influenced a bit by Harry Potter, with all the students in black, flowing robes. In Fantasia, there are Magic Knights that have magical, elementals spirits that help them cast spells. Robin has just enrolled in the Royal Order of Magic Knights Training Academy, with his magic spirit Potpourri that he inherited from his parents, but doesn’t quite understand how to use. The story follows Robin and his friends Kyle and Toto are being tested on their magical ability as they compete with their classmates to find a special spirit in the Spirit Garden, but things do go quite as planned.
It was a cute story. All the elements you needed to enjoy it where there, so there was no head scratching, trying to figure out the way the world’s magic worked. You can see elements that were taken from the story and were later used in Pick of the Litter (by Suda’s own admission).
All in all, it was another fun journey in the land of Yamato, and I can only hope that it will continue to be published, what with Tokyopop cutting it’s books down. It is a fun story with great characters. The layout improved some, with a less confusing frame placement, and the art, though a little generic, isn’t hard to look at. This is a series worth continuing.