A maternity test handed to Masane at the beginning of this volume reveals that she is not, in fact – as had seemed to be the case, but never firmly stated – Rihoko’s biological mother.
Masane isn’t even privileged to be alone in these worries, made aware of the fact by a familiar face, her NWSF agent – whose duty is to inform Rihoko, and then take her away – which is also becomes apparent to director Takayama, but is further mirrored in the NWSF neogene Maria’s worries about her own mother.
To escape the Child Welfare Department, Masne and Rihoko board the same boat they arrived in during the first episode, but are again forced to be on the run in doing so. Rihoko could never go to school in these circumstances, and as the welfare department agent said, a structured environemnt might be best for her, which was never achieved with Masane, who seemed more dependant on her Rihoko than the other way round. These thoughts plague her, and Masane becomes unsure whether to give up her daughter, or to do the best she can in her own way.
Before they can leave, however, Masane needs to visit the bank, and doing so for a moment, she stops to give this real thought. During this time the boat comes under attack from a Cloneblade, fought off by a scientist neogene called Reina, the most powerful on record, who demands, when Masane returns, to know why she didn’t take better care of her daughter. This serves as a last proof for Masane, and she gives up Rihoko to a new life with her biological mother, Reina, which she soon adapts to, despite the women’s clinical and emotionally nature.
That covers about the first episode and a half, with many lapses in detail – so it has to be said that this volume moves at a more confident pace than previous ones, and balances more concerns, and hopefully that will come through here. The confrontations within Douji Industries, the development of different characters and the byplay of rivals also become more prominent, alongside hints toward different story elements. This would be all the more true, and I’d readily confide it, if the last episode weren’t an excuse for fanservice, as the usual crew head to the beach and don swimwear.
If earlier volumes had been boring at times however, with too few enemies or too little food for thought, then they at least felt natural; the fights were incidental, rather than constant, or forced, and relationships developed at a more seasoned pace. The same is evident in these episodes, but there’s slightly more going on, even with the more reserved handling of the Witchblade’s sexual and violent nature (even the absence of the struggle to maintain herself for Rihoko’s, while employing the tool of her destruction for the same reason, with the Witchblade’s negative effects easily forgotten here).
What comes out, however, is a generally faster, more entertaining series of events, with a greater amount of screen time apportioned to events inside the NWSF, and Maria, which comes only at the expense of the more minor characters. Overall, it feels like previous volumes, but the more rapid pacing and story revelations should be enough to content the average viewer.
Another good volume in a worthwhile series, which isn’t best served by its reputation for fanservice, but there are only really three episodes here, meaning that it gains in faster storytelling is lost in the beach episode – making it broadly similar to the last volume, from which conclusions can be drawn.