Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Collection Review: Steal Moon

Coyote's run-in with the "Gentlemen of
Mynah" links back to events in
Blue Sheep Reverie.
Steal Moon by Makoto Tateno (mangaka of Yellow) takes place in the Blue Sheep Reverie universe, a series that should be commended if only for having such a great sci-fi name.

Blue Sheep Reverie revolves on the common sci-fi trope of loosely controlled anarchy. It's post-apocalyptic but not quite as depressing as, say, Canticle of Leibowitz. Cities are controlled by gangs, whose feudal nature makes the cities more like Italian city-states than, say, Chicago in the 1920s (or at least people's image of Chicago in the 1920s). There is a "federal" government but its job is mostly to prevent the occasional violence in one city from spilling over into another.

Steel Lahti is the "king" of one gang; Kai is his lover. Blue Sheep Reverie follows their adventures and relationship; it belongs to high romance and is briefly reviewed here.

Steal Moon is a side story that takes place half-way through book 6 (although Coyote is introduced earlier). It has a more mythological/fantasy tilt than Blue Sheep Reverie (which is basically Hamlet with guns and a proactive prince), specifically Egyptian mythology. The couple is Coyote and Nozomi, a military soldier working undercover and a belligerent streetfighter.

Their relationship is not as credible as some of Tateno's other manga relationships, mostly due to lack of character-building moments. The two-volume set is action-packed, moving from cyberstalking to car chases to political fallout in rapid succession. The characters are memorable, however--one of Tateno's strengths. She knows how to individuate types, which is a seriously under-rated skillset among writers. And the ending is sweetly romantic.

Kai is the character to the right.
One of the most interesting aspects of Steal Moon is something I mention when discussing The Guilty: characters are perceived differently depending on the narrator. In Blue Sheep Reverie, Kai is the narrator--that is, the audience is almost always in Kai's head, following his choices. He comes across as contemplative and conflicted. He eventually replaces his internal doubts with absolute devotion, yet his is the type of devotion based on independent choice--he isn't the obedient follower; he is the "I will back you in my own way" follower.

Although he is the same character in Steal Moon and embodies the same traits, Steal Moon's narrator--the impetuous, in-one's-face Nozomi--notices the patient, contemplative part of Kai's nature more than anything else. (Interestingly enough, Steal Moon was written after Blue Sheep Reverie, Volume 1 even though it takes place later in BSR's chronology--Kai remained consistent throughout Tateno's creative process.)

To put this another way, as with many manga and light novel characters, Kai doesn't realize how self-contained he seems from the outside. In Steal Moon, we get to see the Kai who keeps his own counsel rather than the guy who worries a lot. Same guy. Different perspective.