Cover Image: Mao, Vol. 3

Mao, Vol. 3

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and Viz for this ARC

Third volume in this series and it does not disappoint! After learning more about the accident. Blurring the lines of good and evil is brilliant!
No spoilers! read for yourself you will not regret it!
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Nanoko learns a bit more about what happened to her in the car accident she had with her parents when she was a child in this volume. This volume wasn't quite as engaging as the previous two but it was nice to get some answers about the mysteries told to us in the story so far. The story with Mao and the byoki seems to be a long one and some details about his training to be an exorcist are revealed as well. I like the story is moving along nicely and a new character was even revealed. I'm still interested in the next one but I hope it hooks me in again or it might be my last.
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Mao and Byoki's disembodied head square off in a battle that has been building for the last several volumes. Mao unleashes his other form, which looks very much like it could be Byoki's missing body. During the fight, Nanoka's younger self comes through the gate into the battle, and present day Nanoka begins to remember some of the flashes that traumatized her that day. Byoki realizes Nanoka could also be a vessel for his power, so he runs after her as she retreats back through the gate to her time. Mao releases an ayakashi and sends it after little Nanoka to protect her. Present day Nanoka returns to her time to sort out who the ayakashi is, and to determine who Byoki is in her life. Mao, meanwhile, must begin to sort out what happened to him hundreds of years ago when Byoki attacked, which is complicated by him discovering several other apprentices from hundreds of years ago are still alive when they should all be long dead.

Every time we discover another thing about this world or what happened to our main characters, we discover three more things that makes the mystery deepen! There are a lot of questions now about how Mao got this power and even about his master and the family he served 900 years ago. Nanoka is more of a minor character in this volume, with Takahashi instead favoring developing more of Mao's backstory. One minor annoyance to this storyline is how little time Nanoka spends in her own timeline, and how little she has to explain herself. She only goes back if she needs to look something up or if she needs to check on things, but there are major time jumps happening. Her friend only slightly freaks out about the time jumps when he sees her. Otherwise, he seems happy to be in her presence instead of questioning why he doesn’t see her for so long. Most readers will probably be fine skipping over that plot hole, especially in light of how much we finally learn about Mao in this volume.

Sara's Rating: 9/10
Suitability Level: Grades 10-12
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There is a bit of a “lull” in Mao Volume 3, compared to the high standards the two previous volumes set for the series. A lot of background is set up for the characters this time around. Rumiko Takahashi’s latest combines many beloved elements of her previous series. This time around, heroine Nanoka travels back in time to the Taisho era and meets Dr. Mao, an exorcist. The two team up to track down the cat demon Byoki, who has seemingly cursed the both of them. The series is published in English by VIZ Media under their Shonen Sunday imprint. Volume 3 is translated by Junko Goda, adapted to English by Shaenon Garrity, and features touch-up art and lettering by James Gaubatz . Yukiko Whitely is behind the cover and interior design, and the volume is edited by Annette Roman.

Mao Volume 3 can effectively be split into two parts. The first half concludes the cliffhanger the previous volume left readers with. Nanoka has traveled back in time to warn Mao about the Great Kanto Earthquake, but she is too late, and the group is confronted by Byoki at last. The showdown works for numerous reasons: the first and major one being how much it opens up the story’s potential. The first two volumes set up a showdown with Byoki as endgame. And now, the rug has been pulled out from underneath readers, as we realize there is a lot more to unravel about Mao and Nanoka. The fact that neither can fully trust their memories additionally leave us with an almost unreliable narrator effect, furthering the suspense.

The best part about this is it blurs the lines of good and evil. This is not to say that this is a requirement for a story to be “quality.” There are plenty of times where it is better, or even welcome, for characters to be so morally good and their foes evil just for the sake of being so. Takahashi’s storytelling is a blend of the two, readers are given just enough to question Byoki’s actions that they will want more answers. Takahashi’s artwork serves this confrontation well, as Mao’s body undergoes a transformation when he loses control that echoes much of Takahashi’s horror artwork. However, sometimes the attempts to translate this to the lettering of Byoki’s dialogue doesn’t land. Full disclosure, I read a digital edition, not the physical, but on digital the chosen font felt off. The idea is clearly there, but because the font is designed to look as though it is old and falling apart, it almost looks like it hasn’t fully rendered in the digital edition. A very small detail, but noticeable enough to take me out of the story briefly while reading the digital version. That aside, the rest of the lettering is spot on, and the sound effects especially match Takahashi’s artwork well.

The back half of Mao Volume 3 moves slower. It reads like a lot more transition and set up for the next story arc, after the reveals that came with the Great Kanto Earthquake. We meet Hyakka, who may get on some people’s nerves, but has a back and forth with Mao that is rather entertaining to read. He used to be apprentices with Mao, and even though he is younger in age, he was Mao’s senior in years spent training. It is likely that we will see more of him in the future, although the chapters with him felt rather abrupt and seemed to lack a few key details.

Mao Volume 3 has both highs and lows for the series. It is clearly a bridge between the initial first story arc of Mao and Nanoka partnering together. Now, they’re heading towards genuinely unpacking their pasts. At times certain parts feel abrupt, but overall the Great Kanto Earthquake in the beginning of the volume has enough compelling scenes to keep readers coming back for more.
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I requested a digital arc of Mao, Vol 3. from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, after seeing that this series by Rumiko Takahashi was very popular and listed in School Library Journal's top Manga of 2021.  This latest volume did not disappoint, even for a new reader of manga.  I have really been enjoying the supernatural element as well as the horror aspect that manga comics are uniquely able to convey.  The illustrations are vivid and convey so much beyond what is written.  The main character, Mao, is sympathetic, but clearly has a dark history and much to overcome.

I really enjoy the battles, the monsters, and the epic storyline that crosses years and years and leaves more to be uncovered.  I highly recommend this series to manga lovers and those who are new to manga alike!
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GAH!  The more I learn about the characters, the more I want to know!  This series is AMAZING and I can't recommend it enough.  I just wish the entire series was out, instead of having to WAIT for the next one.  

I've been doing that to myself lately, starting a new series, loving it, buying it as soon as it comes out and then waiting impatiently for the next one!  I would stop, but I keep finding awesome series like this one and I want to be there the second it comes out.  FOMO?  Nah, more like obsessed, lol.

5, this series is great and I can't recommend it enough, stars!

My thanks to NetGalley and VIZ Media LLC for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.
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This was such a great volume! We got to see Mao and Byoki battle over Mao's body and the battle was intense! We also got to finally see how Nanoka became an orphan (no spoilers here). It was an action packed volume and I can't wait for volume 4!
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I am still hooked by this series. As the volumes go on our main characters are certainly seeing more depth and background being added. I will be continuing on with this manga series!
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Mao Volume Three sees Nanoka learning some of the truth about what happened to her when she was a child.

Mao Volume Three
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 11, 2022

The volume opens with a confrontation between the severed head of Byoki and Mao. During their fight, Byoki hints that thing weren’t as they seemed 900 years ago when the two of them last encountered each other. However, since Byoki is a demon, it’s uncertain how much of what he says is the truth. After Byoki attacks Mao, Mao transforms into a monster that looks like Byoki’s body. When Nanoka sees him in this form, she realizes that’s the monster she saw when she was a child. But before this, Byoki notices Nanoka and mentions that she would also make a good vessel for him.

But then, Nanoka hears a child calling out for their parents. When she looks where the voice is coming from, she sees herself as a child on the day of the accident… and that Byoki is heading toward her. The transformed Mao doesn’t seem to notice anything, but Nanoka begs with him to do something because the little girl that Byoki has grabbed is her. Mao is unable to go through the gate, but he manages to send something from him through the gate. After Mao regains his own consciousness and recovers, he says that all he was able to do was to send a protective imp through the gate in order to keep an eye on her in her world. Byoki is in Nanoka’s world and he is hunting her. When she decides to head back to her world, Mao gives her a bracelet made with protective stones, which deflect evil forces and form a barrier around her.

When Nanoka returns to her world, she learns that Uozumi, who has been watching over her and her grandfather, is the protective imp that Mao sent with the younger Nanoka. When I first saw Uozumi in the first volume of the series, I could tell this character had a different look to them when compared to Nanoka and her grandfather, but I had just assumed it was just some design quirk that Takahashi was using for this character. No, it turns out this unusual design was done to emphasize that there was something different about this character. It’s also revealed that the smoothies that Uozumi had been giving Nanoka were to suppress the powers that Nanoka gained from being exposed to Byoki’s blood. Nanoka then remembers that on the day of the accident, her grandfather had been on his deathbed, and wonders if Byoki had lengthened his lifespan. When Nanoka goes to see her grandfather, she wonders if the bracelet that Mao gave to her would create a barrier to ward him away. Takahashi did a great job of showing the tension as the two of them head for a hug, and I found I was relieved when I saw the panel where the two of them could hug each other. Looking at the panels, though, I think it’s safe to say that Nanoka was even more relieved than I was, because he was still the kind and caring grandfather that she’s always known.

Meanwhile, in the Taisho era, it’s brought to Mao’s attention that flaming heads are attacking the city. Both Mao and Otoya remember flaming heads attacking on the day of the earthquake as well. It turns out that the person controlling the flaming heads is someone from Mao’s past.

When Nanoka returns to the Taisho era, she, Mao, and Otoya go to Asakusa Tower, because Mao wants to investigate a rumor. When they get there, they are attacked by the flaming heads, and Mao encounters Hyakka, who was Mao’s senior apprentice 900 years ago. Through this encounter, both Nanoka and the reader learn more about Mao’s past, as well as about the sword that he has. It was actually kind of sad to learn that Mao was given the sword not because his master thought highly of him, but because he thought very little of him. Their master had told five other apprentices that they need to curse Mao to death in order to become his successor. Hyakka makes it sound like Mao was the one who killed their master and the master’s daughter, as well as set a fire to the treasure house. Byoki’s words echo through Mao as Hyakka accuses him of these acts, and it makes Mao wonder if Byoki may have been telling the truth about being framed. Unfortunately, Mao’s memories of that day are a blank, so he has no way of deciding whether Byoki or Hyakka is telling the truth. To be honest, I didn’t like Hyakka at all. While I understand that he holds a grudge against Mao, his attitude seemed like it had more to do with just what happened when their master was killed. From the flashback sequences, we can see that the Hyakka that would have interacted with Mao 900 years earlier was just as much of a jerk as the Hyakka that we see at this point in the series.

Near the end of the volume, a young man named Tanehiko is kidnapping young women who have been displaced after the earthquake, and they end up dying while in his custody. He has a servant named Kuchinawa, who tries to keep what’s going on covered up. One day, Tanehiko kidnaps a girl who turns out to be a yokai, and Kuchinawa has to save his master. Just as Kuchinawa is about to kill her, Mao arrives on the scene with his sword, because the yokai in question is Tenko. Mao thinks he knows who Kuchinawa is, but as we see in the final panel, Mao realizes that he’s mistaken. The volume ends just as Kuchinawa is about to take action against Mao and Nanoka. I think it’s safe to say that at least some of the focus in Volume Four will be on Kuchinawa, Mao, and Nanoka.

Mao Volume Three had a strong focus on revealing more information about what happened to Nanoka when she was a child, as well as on Mao’s past. Up to this point, Mao had been such a mystery, so it was nice to finally learn more about his background from his life 900 years ago. To me, these two things were the hooks in this volume that made me want to keep reading on. At this point, I feel safe in saying that Takahashi has created a story and characters that are compelling and interesting that readers want to keep following. After her previous series, RIN-NE, wasn’t quite as strong as it could have been, it’s been refreshing to read a series from Rumiko Takahashi that I’m legitimately excited to continue following.
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This is the third installment of this series, and so far I have enjoyed it. Good pacing, excellent characters, artwork, and storytelling. Would you expect anything less from the master Rumiko Takahashi? I love watching the mystery unfold, and in this volume we get more of that as we learn more about Mao’s past, and new characters are introduced. Highly recommended if you enjoy fantasy shonen, or if you enjoyed Takahashi’s other works.
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Mao continues to be an interesting read! Some mysteries are solved, maybe, while other plot doors are opened! I still get InuYasha vibes from this series, but that's not a bad thing! I like the more mixed-up version of the era traveling, and a return to a darker fantasy setting. Mao as a series is coming into its own the further along it goes! I'm still very invested in it!
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Another solid volume from the great Rumiko Takahashi. The world that Takahashi has built continues to grow, and we see how multiple story threads are slowly coming together. I still found the first volume of this series to be the most compelling, however I can see how Takahashi seems to have found the pacing and direction she wants to go with for this story. I'm interested to see how the story enfolds in future volumes!
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Excellent as always by Takahashi!! I love how the plot continues to unfold. It's always extremely interesting to read about yokai, curses, demons, and time travel.
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It feels like Takahashi took all the best bits of Inuyasha and meshed them with everything she's learned since - and it is working. This will appeal to shonen fans who love action and adventure, as well as to casual slice-of-life readers who enjoy watching characters develop through relationships. I cannot wait to see where it goes next.
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I received an eARC of this title through NetGalley in return for an honest review. 

This series keeps getting better, in my opinion. I like how this started with one storyline of facing a big bad yokai to a mystery of how these characters are connected to it. Nanoka's plot thickens as she tries to figure out what happened to her on the day of her parent's accident and how her grandfather is alive. The reader learns more about Mao's past and brings up a new plotline that I found more intriguing than the original. 

This is turning out to be an interesting series. I definitely feel it has the same vibe as Inuyasha, so if you liked that, check out this series ASAP.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Viz for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Mao Vol 3 drops readers right into the action. Mao faces off with Byoki, the ayakashi that cursed both him and Nanoka. After the short fight, The main cast comes away with revelations that only lead to more questions.

This volume had a good balance between action-oriented and quiet moments, and it made me want to continue the series even though I almost stopped after Volume 2.

Translation was smooth and lively, and the lettering was added to the mood of the book.

Original Cover Design: Chie SATO + Bay Bridge Studio
Translation: Junko Goda
English Adaptation: Shenon Garrity
Touch-up Art and Lettering: James Gaubatz
Cover and Interior Design: Yuriko Whitely
Editor: Annette Roman
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I love the direction this volume is taking the series. I feel like Takahashi has taken everything that they have learned from their other series, and have improved on everything over the years. This story continues to progress forward unlike some her previous work...(*cough**Inuyasha**cough) We aren't spinning in circles. Mao is an amazing character in and of themselves, and a lot of the mystery behind them is answered in this one. I am truly so excited for the next volume in the series!
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