It has been a while, huh?
Yes, I have not let this place die out, at least too much, but there have been titles that I have been covering for a while and could not continue because the publisher was being lazy.
Fortunately, before troubles this month started, which will most likely affect next month too, I found out that the final volume of one of those series was finally going to be released and I preordered it from Barnes & Noble, which I got my hands on.
Today, I will be reviewing that book, which is called Cage of Eden Volume 20 by Yoshinobu Yamada.
As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.
The investigation of the final tower continues both inside and out, and Akira's group are ready to confront the remaining hurdles that keep them from the truth of Raina Island.
However, when Akira finds things lying around that seem familiar, and even things that should not be there, he realizes a truth about the island and the fate of the survivors that he does not know if they can handle.
After having to deal with a book that was fairly disappointing book, I was not too sure that this book was going to be any good, especially because Kodansha made me wait a year for this, when they usually released multiple volumes a year.
And after reading this, I can say that I kind of liked this.
From the moment that I opened up and started reading this book, I did not to put it down for any reason, even though I have to satisfy the same needs that every other human being has.
Even though it has been almost a year since I read the previous volume, I am glad that Yoshinobu is still able to grab my attention fairly quickly.
Over the course of time that I have been running this blog, titles that have been able to capture my attention quickly and maintained my interest have been able to garner quite a bit of praise from me, opposed to works that took too long to capture that interest, such as The Book Thief, or could not quite maintain it long enough, because readers want to feel engaged with a work, regardless of whether it is a series or not, and Yoshinobu seems to understand this quite well, as I do not remember being disappointed by too many of the volumes that comprise this series.
Of course, the real reason why this interest was garnered rather quickly was because of how the first chapter started.
Back in the previous volume, Akira's tower party started investigating the supervisor's room of the final tower and Akira found a photograph that shocked him, which made me wonder what exactly he could have been shocked about, though I did remember how this series ended.
In this volume, it is revealed that the mysterious photograph, which was not shown to the reader, originated from the time before Akira and his classmates went on their trip, and really gets the ball rolling for the reveals of the final mysteries of the series.
Of course, as much as I want to give Yoshinobu credit for starting the final volume off right, the ones that deserve the credit are the people that compiled the chapters into this volume, because they seem to know how the final volume of a series should begin.
If they had not started the volume off where they did, things could have become a whole lot worse than they are, and it would have really disappointed me much more than the things that were not so great about this volume, but because things turned out like this, I can only give them a good round of applause. Nice job, guys.
I also liked how there were a few funny scenes.
While I have not been dealing with manga as much right now, mainly because of the tight spot that I am currently dealing with, and the humor itself is just more of the usual, I actually found it refreshing to be able to get a good chuckle out of this volume.
The funniest of which came about towards the end of volume.
A few years after the truth behind the island and what happened to them were learned, the cast is seen living ordinary lives and the trio that really helped out Akira's group with their troubles with Nishikiori call Miina by his old name, and Miina gets mad at them, which makes them feel sad because Miina changed over the years and they learned that he was a male.
This kind of made me laugh because it was revealed to the audience back in volume 4 that Miina was a boy and these grown men kept falling for Miina's ploys time and again, and now they miss how he used to seduce them with his charms.
Traps may not be exactly new in manga and anime, but this at least feels a bit more refreshing because the so-called trap that was the fake Miina was not really used for laughs beyond Miina's own ulterior motives, whereas characters like Hideyoshi from Baka & Test are only used for gags and the audience always knew that character's true gender.
If things could be this hilarious in fiction produced where I live, or even from Europe, I would not have much problem with prose fiction because there would be things to help me overlook the negatives.
Unfortunately, prose fiction writers, like John Grisham, do not seem to really understand how comedic moments, if done right, can let the reader appreciate a work more than if things felt rather flat.
Still, that does not mean that Yoshinobu should not be praised for being able to do humor right, and that I can still laugh about these things in the final volume makes me want to give him some major applause. Thank you, Yoshinobu for not completely ruining my enjoyment of a work like so many other writers have.
The thing that I liked the most though was how the truth was finally revealed.
While a series needs to have some kind of mystery to keep the readers coming back for more, the final book in the series needs to wrap things up and answer most, if not all questions, and this volume does give some answers.
For example, this series kept making its audience wonder if help would ever arrive and where the survivors were and why there were so many man-made structures, and it is finally revealed that the survivors are not even in the same era in which they left Guam, as they were thought to be dead.
Now, some of you guys might be screaming that having time travel and an artificial island is just as horrific of an ending as Lost, since the survivors have been thought to be dead by their loved ones back home, and I would kind of agree, but with everything that they have encountered, especially with how many of the stuff were recognizable by them, it is not really that farfetched because I am very well aware from my time reading works in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres that things are not always as they appear to be.
After all, when Akira first awoke on Raika island, we were only led to believe that only a short time had passed, as opposed to the hundreds of years that the backstory of the island revealed had passed, and I can only applaud Yoshinobu for making these facts so hard to piece together, even if we could tell that the island had been uninhabited by humans for quite some time.
If Yoshinobu had not done this, though he could have delivered it in a better way, I do not think that I would have been that impressed with this series, because Yoshinobu has shown that he is a somewhat capable writer, and this makes me want to check out more of his work.
Then again, with the tight budget that I have right now, I cannot get as many titles as I would have liked, nor can I really experiment too much, unless the work is in my country's public domain or things miraculously turn around before I take the precautions that I have been debating on taking next month, so I guess I will just have to stick to the series that I currently follow.
Still, I am glad that I am getting some answers to many of the questions that came up, and will give Yoshinobu a bit of applause for not leaving me hanging. Nice job, Yoshinobu.
Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least without spoiling more than I already have.
Because my interest was captured relatively quickly and held until the end, in spite of the fact that I have practically been away from this series for a year, I was able to get some laughs, and questions were finally answered, this was a fairly decent read.
Although I did like the book, there are some issues.
However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, there were only two things that really bothered me, though they could all be wrapped up into one.
First, I hated how the backstory of Raika Island was revealed.
While the mysteries like this do need to be revealed before a series ends, and this is the final volume of Cage of Eden, I felt like this was kind of shoehorned in, instead of an actual reveal.
In chapter 182, after everyone realizes that the mysterious room was a monument to them, because their loved ones thought they were dead, the group wonders what will happen and Akira starts wondering a picture of his mother was found in the supervisor's room, which makes me interested to see if the group will be able to find the resolve to answer these final question, but then a flashback starts up showing the events that happened after the events of the first volume.
Now, this does not feel totally unnatural, because it was a nice transition that delivered some answers, but this series has always been following the survivors of the plane crash on Raika Island and a flashback moment like this suggests that Akira knew what was happening in Japan right after his plane went down.
Really, Yoshinobu? Is this any way to reveal the secrets of the island? I do not think so, because the characters did not dig up all of this information themselves. Only those involved with the creation of the island should know these details.
If I were to write these scenes, I would have had the group either go digging around and finding journals, which probably would not have existed, as the island's creation was top secret, or I had them meet a survivor of the project that led to the creation of the island explain everything.
True, one or both of those possibilities would have felt like a cop out, since the only hint of an observer was dealt with rather quickly, but they would have felt more natural and believable, thus making the reveal all the more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, because Yoshinobu Yamada went from a third person omniscient point of view that was limited only to the survivors of the plane crash to a true third person omniscient that knows everything about the universe of Cage of Eden, things just became a little confusing.
Honestly, this has got to be one of the worst ways to reveal the truth behind things that have happened, except for maybe the reveal segments of Q.E.D. and C.M.B., as their reveals are not quite as enjoyable as those found in Detective Conan.
This series may have been cancelled, which led to some of the complaints that people have about the chapters found in this volume, but things could have been so much better than this.
Hopefully, Yoshinobu and his editors do let anything like this slide by, because it makes me which that chapter 182 was the final chapter and it ended at the realization that the island was a memorial for them, though that would have actually made things worse.
Then again, this is at least better than EX – Young Castaways, where Yoshinobu Yamada had the story end in a way that suggested everything would only repeat, so I cannot be too mad at him, but that does not mean that I am willing to overlook this.
The thing that I hated the most though was how this series ended.
Even though the previous issue does play a part in this, which was why I stated that these issues could be wrapped up into one, there was one thing that made this stand out on its own.
In almost every series, the final book should answer everything that has been nagging the reader, and possibly leave off somewhere that would make the audience draw their own conclusions, but there are things left unanswered.
The biggest mystery was the identity of Hades and how he was able to survive on his own, or even how he knew Akira and the others.
Ever since Hades appeared in the first two volumes, and he seemed like he knew everything, including how Arita was able to unlock the full potential of a human, and came off as a big bad that Akira would have to face once again in the end, but after the events of volume 18, Hades never seemed to make an appearance and his real face was never shown.
Honestly, why was Hades introduced as such a mysterious individual when the reader will never know who he was?
This series was going so strongly up until now and I really wanted to know his identity, due to how important I felt he was.
Unfortunately, Yoshinobu and the other people dealing with this series seemed to forget about Hades completely, and it made the whole series feel even more incomplete.
Series finales are not supposed to feel incomplete, regardless of whether or not the series is cancelled, yet the way this ended makes me think that neither Yoshinobu, his staff, if he has any, or his editor look very unprofessional, and it further ruined my enjoyment.
When readers see endings like this, they feel like their time has been wasted and will most likely not even bother rereading the work, letting alone check out anything else from the author, which leads me to marking this down as a major issue.
Nice going, Japan. You gave me a reason not to check out anything else that Yoshinobu writes, even if he is a decent writer.
Thankfully, nothing else really bothered me too much, so this series cannot possibly get worse.
While there were only two problems, the fact that they even exist and are troublesome enough, especially in the final volume, took this book from being decent to a piece of garbage.
Despite the fact that there were things that I liked, the negatives, which were a revelation that did not feel like a good revelation and there were still questions that should have been answered, this volume ended up being a waste of time.
I only recommend this to fans of Cage of Eden, more precisely those that want to find out how things end, because they will be able to enjoy this the most, even if the series ends in a disappointing way.
As for everyone else, this book was bad enough that I would suggest staying away from the series entirely, as you will never get a satisfying end, but you are free to check things out for yourself.
If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon, so that I can continue finding more worthwhile reads for guys to check out, and doing whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.
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