In the last volume reporter-hopeful Tozawa discovered Masane’s secret, and forced her into a partnership, aiding his research into the X-con and Cloneblade (Neogene) murders throughout the city.
Despite the difference in their understanding of events (Tozawa not being aware of the reality or specifics of the Witch and Cloneblades), and Masane’s willingness to maintain that disparity, the two then work together in uncovering the truth behind the murders, which even Masane is unaware of at the time. Their main suspect becomes a supposedly deceased ex-policeman, with the first few episodes playing out slightly more like a detective story, but with the same occasional dip into fanservice territory.
What comes out most here the most though, and in later episodes, is the shifting balance of the relationships at play. The X-cons are humanised in the detective, who is fighting the desires that possess him just as much as Masane, while their investigations put her employer, the Douji Group, under scrutiny, as she works for and gather information against them at the same time.
This is, of course, because Douji Industries are a powerful and shady conglomerate, funding research into and developing, among other things, the X-cons presumably used to bait and get a rise out of the Witch and Cloneblades, so they can claim it for themselves. Saying nothing of the relationship between them and their rivals, the NWSF, this is also seen in their internal affairs, with conflict between divisions arising.
The third episode sees the only real fight this volume, but it doesn’t last very long, and further crosses the line into overt exhibitionism of the heroine. These are fairly minor points though, because in reality, this volume is roughly as good as those that preceded it. Although its never a shining example of the genre or anime in general, Witchblade has been of a consistent quality, and solid so far, but might be slightly too domestic and contain too few fight scenes to make repeat viewings forthcoming.
Overall Witchblade continues to be fairly worthwhile viewing, but is only just above average, surviving more, perhaps, because of the emphasis on Masane and Rihoko’s maternal relationship, than anything else … except fanservice.
Probably the best volume so far, but only marginally so, and somewhat unremarkable. If nothing else, however, this volume continues the unbroken streak of good entries into the series.