The series continues with volume 2, which continues the more episodic content of the series, with a short plot arc (with a little information on where the plot may be going).
Title: Tokyo Babylon – Vol. 2
Written & Illustrated by CLAMP
Translated by Ray Yoshimoto & Alexis Kirsch
Lettering & Touch-up by Vincente Rivera Jr.
Originally serialized in Japan in Wings
Available from Amazon.com
Subaru’s latest case has him trying to wake up an old friend from school, Mitsuki, who fell asleep and hasn’t awoken for 4 months. To save her, he’ll have to dive into her subconscious. Meanwhile, Hokuto comes to the aid of a foreign woman who is being accosted by some men, and who is in desperate need of a friend.
The High Points
Again, this volume is pretty well written. In particular, this is the first CLAMP story I’m aware of that becomes somewhat socially political (aside from the presence of non-camp-gay characters). Specifically, we have one storyline that deals with how rape victims are treated in Japanese society, and another which covers how immigrants in general are treated in Japanese society. All while fleshing out the characters a little further, and moving the plot along a little more.
The Low Points
The blank backgrounds are still here. Also, Mitsuki’s dream-scape is also, essentially, blank. As someone whose read a fair bit of, say, Sandman, I’m a little disappointed. Even if they had the blank backgrounds for the dialog, I would have liked some more imaginative stuff with the establishing shots to show how damaged up Mitsuki’s psyche is – or something.
No blood this time, or any nudity with details. We do get brief snippets of a rape scene being remembered by the person who was raped, and discussion of the reactions of society to the rape (which can best be described as unfavorable).
Originality: The story still is fairly original. I’ve read “diving into the subconscious” stories before, but the reasons for doing it here are different than most of the other versions I’ve read. 5 out of 6.
Artwork: The art for the characters is okay, but once again, the backgrounds (CLAMP’s usual strength) are bland and dull, at least for the main arc. The side story with Hokuto is considerably better though, in terms of the backgrounds. 4 out of 6.
Story: Both story arcs are very well written. Though they’re very talky, considering the subject matter I’d say it’s justified, and I’d even say it’s an improvement from the previous volume. 5 out of 6
Emotional Response: Both stories do a very good job of helping us get to know the “guest star” of the story in a very short time, and to respond to the bad things that happened to them. 4 out of 6.
Characterization: The guest stars are pretty well fleshed out, and while we learn a bit more about the heroes, they’re motivations and backgrounds still aren’t as well fleshed out for the reader. Seishiro is still an enigma. 4 out of 6.
Flow: 5 out of 6.
Overall: I’d consider this volume to be a marked improvement over the last issue, though it still needs a little work. 4 out of 6.
In total, Tokyo Babylon Volume 2 gets 31 out of 42.