Review: King of Cards Volume 3

King of Cards Volume 3
By Makoto Tateno
Publisher: CMX
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Price: $9.99

Rating: ★★★★½

Are Manami’s grades slipping because of her dedication to her favorite card game?  Her math teacher thinks so and threatens to tell her mother — unless she can beat him in a Chaos match!  Also, a seemingly unbeatable player who actually hates Chaos is gunning for Manami.  What’s this girl’s connection to Manami’s card-playing cousin Tamotsu?

In this volume, there is plot development in two different directions.  The first half of the volume continues the love triange between Manami, Tamotsu and Misa, with a revelation relating back to the last volume that makes this a true triangle.  The second half returns to a plot point not seen since the first volume revolving around the Sahgan card.

It seems everyone surrounding Manami has played Chaos before, even her math teacher.  So, since her grades have started to go down, presumably because of her Chaos playing, the obvious solution is to have a Chaos match between her and her teacher.  Manami obviously wins, but its real purpose is to set up for a story later in the volume.  The real focus of the first half of this volume is the continuing love triangle between Manami, Tamotsu and Misa.

There’s a player that uses Goddess cards that is beating everyone around Manami.  If you’ve been following the story at all, it would be obvious who this is.  Misa believes that if she can beat Manami at Chaos, she can have Tamotsu all to herself.  Manami accepts and totally blows the match.  Two things come out of it.  Manami decides she’s still too weak at Chaos and determines to get stronger.  No surprise there.  It’s Tamotsu that makes the surprise revelation, that we see as a flashback from Volume 2 through Ko-san.  He admits he might actually have feelings for Manami.  He decides not to tell either girl because he didn’t want to hurt either, but his silence has only made things worse.

The second half of the volume brings back the plot about Sahgan.  Manami’s math teacher decides to donate some of his collection for a tournament.  One of the cards is Faras, the Shrine Maiden.  She, along with Saghan, and another card, Taurus the Alchemist, were drawn by the same artist and are considered siblings. When Manami finds this out, she is determined to win Faras.  The tournament comes down to be between Manami and Tamotsu, and Manami shows how much she’s improved.  This leads to an attempt by an unknown party to try to “acquire” Sahgan.

As other plots develop and go in different directions, this title has kept one thing on track; the importance of enjoying the game of Chaos.  I mentioned that I liked this aspect back in the first volume, and it continues in this volume.  And it’s not just Manami’s enjoyment of playing, but also her opponent’s enjoyment that is important.  In the match against Tamotsu, and then later against Suzuki, “The Beast Master”, Manami enjoys the game more as she sees her opponent playing at his best.  This encourages her to play her best, which usually ends with her winning.  Most shonen titles emphasize the winning aspect.  This title continues to emphasize the playing.

Another aspect I’ve really come to enjoy is the mythology behind the cards.  Many cards are based on beings and creatures from mythologies from around the world; Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Hindi, and Christian just to name a few.  When the cards are played or shown for the first time, the mythology behind the card is explained, not the attack/defense points.  Knowing something about this mythology can be key to winning the game.  Tamotsu nearly wins the tournament because he uses Isis, an Egyptian goddess to marry the Angel of Destruction and bring back to life.  In Egyptian mythology, Isis was married to Osiris, the king of the gods, who was killed by his brother Set.  In the myth, Isis searchs for Osiris’ body and brings him back to life as god of the underworld.  There are a lot of little scenes like that, especially in the game play, but sometimes out in the real world as well.  I’ve always found myths interesting, and to see them intergrated into a card game manga is really cool.

King of Cards continues to keep me interested with both the relationship drama as well as the card game drama.  It keeps itself just different enough that it can’t really be compared with things like Yu Gi Oh!, which in my book is a good thing.

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