REVIEW: ‘Mao,’ Volume 2

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Mao volume 2 - But Why Tho

The twists keep coming in Mao Volume 2 as the Nanoka and Mao’s quest for cat-demon Byoki picks up speed as they investigate a strange cult. The manga is Eisner Hall of Fame member Rumiko Takahashi’s latest series, following a high school girl who can travel back in time to the Taisho era. There she meets Dr. Mao, an exorcist, who may have more in common with her than they initially realize. The series is published in English by VIZ Media under their Shonen Sunday imprint. It is translated by Junko Goda, adapted to English by Shaenon Garrity, and features touch-up art and lettering by Susan Daigle-Leach. Yukiko Whitely is behind the cover and interior design, and the volume is edited by Annette Roman.

Mao Volume 2 picks up with Nanoka infiltrating the cult of the Priestess Shoko. It seems pretty evident that the organization is scamming people out of their money, but Dr. Mao investigates to try and find the reason members mysteriously die. Nanoka, for her part, gets rightfully frustrated at Mao throwing her into danger without so much as a “thank you.” Granted, she has proven capable of fending for herself, but Mao’s actions come off as more indifferent than confidence in Nanoka. There are a fair amount of twists in this volume, which are difficult to comment on without spoiling.

A key moment in Mao Volume 2 is when Nanoka realizes how isolated she feels. It adds more to her relationship with Mao beyond just a partnership of convenience. It also adds a much more sinister connotation the suspicion readers might have had in the first volume. Something has been off in Nanoka’s life ever since the accident, not just since she met Dr. Mao. Readers don’t actually know how long she’s had her ayakashi powers, and discovering that seems to be at the core of the story’s mystery. Meanwhile, Mao’s quest to find Byoki is a more immediate presence to allow Nanoka’s mystery to be spaced out in nice sprinklings.

As always, Takahashi’s monster art is creepy as hell. Mao Volume 2 features giant mosquito nuns, veiny and engorged as they drink blood. A demonic mouth bursts open on the side of a man’s face as he is devoured. While blood and overall gore may be considered mild in comparison to series like Jujutsu Kaisenthe concepts themselves may make some queasy. Takahashi’s atmospheric artwork can do horror well even without blood and guts. Finally, there are still fun notes of past works here. Granted, hakama were a common element of clothing so it could purely be a coincidence, but at one point Mao does don a hakama that looks strikingly similar to Inuyasha’s.

Mao Volume 2 is another successful outing for Takahashi’s new series, and ramps up the mystery of the story. Takahashi is clearly a master of the craft, and paces the story beats well as we get to know the characters. Readers have ample time to become invested as we prepare for the rug to inevitably be pulled out from under us.

Mao Volume 2 goes on sale this week wherever books are sold.


Mao Volume 2 
4.5

TL;DR

Mao Volume 2 is another successful outing for Takahashi’s new series, and ramps up the mystery of the story. Takahashi is clearly a master of the craft, and paces the story beats well as we get to know the characters. Readers have ample time to become invested as we prepare for the rug to inevitably be pulled out from under us.