King of Cards Volume 2
By Makoto Tateno
Publisher: CMX
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Game
Price: $9.99

Rating: ★★★★☆

A lovesick Manami passes out when she sees the object of her affection with another girl.  When she wakes up, she finds herself in the world of the cards, where matches aren’t simply imagined: players summon actual monsters and gods to do physical battle!  Later, back in the real world, she must take on Japan’s number one Chaos player!

Finally!  My long awaited review of this book!  At least, I hope someone’s been waiting for it.  After much trial and tribulation, I finally got an error free copy of this title, and then after another long time, I finally read it.  This volume turns up the romance, though it’s more unrequited love, and it’s only through the Chaos cards can any resolution be found.

It’s Christmas, so of course, there’s a special tournament with special rules.  Manami intends to play, but is more intent on making a sweater for her cousin, Tamotsu, who she has feelings for, and is intent on telling him so on Christmas Eve, after the tournament.  After another miraculous win by Manami, she finds out that Tamotsu has a girlfriend, Misa, and this sets up the rest of the volume.  Manami has to deal with Tamotsu’s unreturned feelings, and Misa’s older brother who doesn’t want his sister dating a Chaos player.  The way she deals with these problems is through her cards.

Most of the time, titles that involve games are meant to resolve external problems.  There is usually some kind of competition between the players, or a friend or the world is at stake.  Not so with this title.  In King of Cards, the games seem to be more about solving internal conflicts, be they with Manami or her rival player.  This becomes very apparent in this volume.  Manami’s inability to deal with her conflicting feelings for Tamotsu results in her fainting and going to the “Card World”, where the cards come to life, and through the game with Sahgan is able to resolve some of those feelings.  The cards help her see her feelings more clearly, and make a decision on what she should do.  It’s an interesting and unique way of using the cards, and keeps the mystery of whether the cards are really alive or it’s just all in her mind, alive.

In the second half of the volume, a new mechanic of Chaos is introduced; elements.  Each card has an element associated with it, which adds a new dynamic to the game, just as Misa’s presense makes Manami’s life more complicated.  So now, not only is Misa a rival for Tamotsu’s affections, but also for his whole attention.  Misa wants to possess all of Tamotsu, and that means getting him to give up Chaos.  It’s decision that Manami doesn’t want Tamotsu to have to face, as he loves Chaos as much as she does, and she nearly loses Sahgan because of it.  But, as Tamotsu says in this volume, the cards love her because she loves them, and they come through for them both in the end.  But Misa isn’t going to give up that easily.

King of Cards continues to entertain with it’s continuing curve around traditional shojo story telling.  Although we now have the usual love triangle, the emphasis place on the cards almost makes them another character, making the triangle more of a polygon.  Mixing the game with the romance, instead of simply using it as a vehicle keeps things from getting boring.  I continue to strongly recommend this title.

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