Every twelve years, a dozen assassins and killers take on the names of the zodiac. In a battle royale setting, they fight until there is only one survivor using any weapons or special abilities along with their wits and fighting styles. The winner and sole survivor is granted one wish with no limitation. This is the tale of the twelfth Zodiac War.
The final four warriors have entered the continuing battle. Ox and Tiger maintain their alliance against Rabbit. Meanwhile, Rat seems to have disappeared for the most part after spotting the zombified corpse of Monkey. The final battle plays out in this exciting fourth and final volume of Juni Taisen.
It took me awhile to figure out how I wanted to write the story arc for this one. Previously I tried to just hit the high points that I read in earlier volumes. But this last volume was so jammed full of high action and really great dialogue that I would have ended writing up every panel into the story arc section. I tried to pick a few of my favorite moments to put into it, but they required so much of the moments before and after them to have the correct impact, I thought it better to leave this shortened explanation.
With that out of the way, I found myself getting sucked into this volume, as you’ve probably guessed from my earlier paragraph. The fight scenes weren’t what got my attention though, it was the sudden characterization that I got ambushed with. Since it’s been awhile when I last saw the animated series I had forgotten if this section even happened. I had to wonder why it wasn’t more spread out through the series to improve the characters of the other warriors, instead of it being so heavily filled it at the end.
The way that the series ended was actually better than what I could remember of the series. As it better explained Rat’s powers. Although the lose of his ending story being replaced was a bit of an awkward trade. Since it also gave some insight into the other warriors and managed to add an extra layer to the ones that died early in the story. I still enjoyed the breakdown Rat suffered from deciding on what his wish should be. Even if it did take me a little while to understand why his wish was so necessary for him.
While the whole series isn’t a piece of majestic literature, it’s still a fun read. I’ll always prefer the animated version over the graphic series simply because it’s better suited for the fight scenes. Being able to read the dialogue actually improved what I knew about the show from before and helped me catch the subtle nods that were scattered throughout. The animated version also lacks the third party observer which I can kind of see a purpose to it, I still disagree that it needed to be there. That being my only real complaint about the entire series, if you’ve watched the animated version the graphic novel is worth a watch, and if you haven’t, this is a great primer before watching the series for all those great action shots.
That’s all for Juni Taisen, everyone give a round of applause!