Ikigami to Donor – Yamanaka Hiko
Yuki Yoshino, a junior high school teacher, is informed that he’s an “Ikigami donor.” Ikigami are the strongest military-operated human beings, and the treatment for these super humans requires body fluids from their unique donor. As Yoshino is about to learn what it means to be an Ikigami donor, Kido storms into the room and demands for his donor. Kido, a super famous Ikigami, is told that Yoshino is his donor and Kido orders Yoshino to treat his open leg wound with his saliva. In disbelief, Kido and Yoshino both witness the leg wound heals in front of their eyes.
Ikigami and Donor is a dystopian story with an interesting and kinda gross premise. Ikigami are supersoldiers who fight for their country in a world where military might is based on the number of ikigami they have. These superhumans can only be damaged by their fellow ikigami and they cannot be treated by ordinary medicine. Instead, each of them has a specially matched donor whose body fluids can heal their assigned ikigami. This can be as simple as licking a wound to extreme such as donating the entire skin off your back or giving up multiple organs.
Which is what happened to middle school teacher Yoshino, who suddenly found himself a donor and assigned to an asshole ikigami named Kido. Said asshole demanded he lick the open wound on his leg upon their very first meeting without so much as a hello, nice to meet you.
This manga can be quite emotional and thought-provoking as it touches upon human rights, war, and the intensely codependent relationship between donor and ikigami. A pair does not necessarily becomes emotionally involved with each other. More often than not, it’s a cold, efficient transaction of harvesting blood or body parts. Yoshino and Kido is actually a rare case.
Kido is a man-child who does what he wants with Yoshino to the point of almost raping the guy. He doesn’t really have anyone to protect, merely fights simply because he’s an ikigami. Yoshino felt protective of his ikigami almost immediately. He is a mild-mannered man who was fast learning the kind of damage the supersoldiers had to endure.
The story is mostly from Yoshino’s POV but we also see Kido’s thoughts and history. As the story progress, Kido’s character grow and learn the most important lessons in life. Their bond grew stronger, the longer they were together. The war continues, and soon, ultimate sacrifices had to be made.
There was a part where he and Yoshino talked about what they want to happened 10 years into the future. It was a such a poignant moment that showed the kind of empty life Kido was living all this time. Later, he told Yoshino his dreams for the future. I was teary eyed.
Yep, this is one of those manga that can break your heart to pieces, then put it back together again.
There’s a bonus mini-thread between the sunshine-y ikigami, Taki, and the stoic ministry official, Shibata. I love this pair! They need their own story.
Veiled Intentions: Black Moon – Elle Keaton
One corpse, two corpse, old corpse, new corpse.
Summer is crashing into fall, Mat and Niall have a wedding to overthink.
A body is discovered floating in the harbor and this time it’s the missing ex-Piedras Marine officer Duane Cooper.
Who, aside from Niall, wanted Duane dead? He’s been on the run for months, why would he turn up dead now?
Black Moon, third in the Veiled Intentions series, Black Moon is a dual POV following Sheriff Mat Dempsey and now Private Investigator Niall Hamarsson as they grope their way to a happily ever after.
Black Moon is the third book in the Veiled Intentions (formerly Hamarsson & Dempsey) series. Hopefully not the last. It follows directly from the awkward and very Niall proposal from the second book, Long Shadow.
The series is set in a small island of Piedras, part of the real life San Juan Islands in Washington. Island natives Niall Hamarrson and Sheriff Mat Dempsey both grew up in the island, moved away as adults, only to come back to their hometown later on. Niall, as way to find himself perhaps and Mat, after his father died.
The two started off antagonistic but Mat is a do-gooder who slowly but surely chipped away at the walls Niall built around himself. Fast forward many months later, Niall and Matt were trying to squeeze in wedding planning amidst murder investigations, new jobs, bomb explosions and buildings collapsing. A man involved in the previous case and who was missing for months was fished out of the water, dead.
I’ve been following this series since the beginning and I loved watching the characters grow. Niall in particular. Look how far he had come! When I first met him in Book 1, Conspiracy Theory, he was a grumpy bastard who barely said a word to anyone. The longest sentence he uttered was when he was talking about his dog, Fenrir.
Now, well, I wouldn’t say he’s a completely different person but you can definitely see his warm, caring side. Especially when Mat and animals are involved. He’s not really talking more but at least he talks. He’s even getting along with his new co-workers at West Coast Forensics, a private investigation firm.
I also loved how even if the two men were settling into a nice, comfortable domestic routine, the romance is far from boring. There’s enough external conflict to keep them on their toes. With work as dangerous as theirs, it’s just right that they have something safe and normal to come home to. And even if they had huge blow ups, they don’t let the bad feelings fester. They always talk and work things out. They’re complete opposites but they just synced perfectly!
The case was a tough one. It had me guessing until the big reveal. Mat unearthed a decade old secret about his father’s death. Niall was doing his usual bullheaded best by ‘helping’ with Mat’s investigation whether his fiance wanted him to or not. The big guy was supposed to rest after a building collapsed on him. But obviously, not one for staying at home and twiddling his thumbs. Not one to concern himself with legalities either.
The mystery connects to the previous cases as well as the author’s other books. There were many characters from other series that made appearances. I enjoyed this part a lot. It introduces a bigger world and more stories to explore.
This series has great supporting characters. There’s Alyson, Mat’s mom, as well as his sister and niece, who welcomed a long-lost Viking and his new-found mutt to their home right from the very beginning. There’s Birdy, Mat’s deputy and, possibly, the only capable officer in their perpetually understaffed department. There’s Marshall Soper, the only doctor in the island who had to double as a coroner. There’s smooth-talking lawyer, Shay, Niall’s half-brother, who he now likes. I hope Shay gets his own book.
The pacing here was better compared to the second book. It was faster and more consistent, giving a sense of constant motion while still delivering tension. There was ample time for the plot to develop properly. The downtimes didn’t lag. All in all, the best written installment in the series.
It also felt like a finale. Aside from the wedding, it wrapped up a lot of loose threads. It gave the boys their hard-earned happy ending and returned Piedras Island back to its sleepy, peaceful state. If Black Moon is indeed the last book, it’s a fitting conclusion to this compelling story about a big taciturn man and his giant dog, a kind-hearted sheriff who wouldn’t quit and a tiny island that always feels like home.
Veiled Intentions should be read in order.
Find out how a grumpy Viking found his way back to the home he thought he would never see again and a sheriff who wouldn’t leave him alone in Book 1, Conspiracy Theory. Check out my review here.
Witness how glacial that Viking can get when it comes to making up his mind about the sheriff (a patient, patient man bless his heart) in Book 2, Long Shadow. Check out my review here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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I hope I got the lyrics right for this song. I had to transcribe it myself because I can’t find them anywhere. I loved how the guitar-heavy sound, languid vocals and minimalist words fit the vibe the of the book.
The verses “Strange moon on the horizon / then we’re crawling in its wake / looking over our shoulders / counting up our past mistakes” remind me of the part where Niall always think himself a bad person because of his past and therefore undeserving of good things. Also how the case connects to the death of Matt’s father a decade ago.
The last verse describes the happy ending at the end of the book: “glorious we are together / we could leave the rest alone / we could hear the call of every new morning / we wake up where we belong“
strange moon on the horizon
then we’re crawling in its wake
looking over our shoulders
counting up our past mistakes
casting nets in autumn weather
reeling in the silver fray(?)
slow dancing closer into december
suddenly a touch awakes
hey what do they know?
hey what do they know?
hey what do they hear, hear, hear(?)
glorious we are together
we could leave the rest alone
we could hear the call of every new morning
we wake up where we belong
*not the official lyrics. this is my own transcription because I couldn’t find them anywhere