Kodansha Comics’ No. 6 tells the story of Shion and Rat, two young men who have fallen out of the graces of the dystopian city No. 6. Based on a light novel series by Atsuko Asano, No. 6 imbues sci-fi content with sociological and philosophical concerns. Artist Hinoki Kino further elevates the strong premise with beautiful texture-work and shading. Vol. 8 collects chapters 28-31 as well as a bonus story. As the series’ penultimate installment, this volume moves the plot toward its upcoming conclusion. Does it do so successfully?
This is yet another emotionally charged volume. Asano and Kino’s character-driven storytelling makes it easy to stay invested in what happens, as one legitimately cares about the entire main cast. The first half of the volume centers around Shion’s relationship with Safu, which has been the driving force behind Shion’s actions in the past several volumes. Their reunion doesn’t disappoint, and is actually much more touching than I expected it to be. Their relationship felt underdeveloped in previous volumes, so it’s nice to it handled effectively here. With that said, this volume could have been even more poignant if the build-up between Shion and Safu was more satisfying.
As far as Rat and Shion’s interactions in this volume are concerned, I have no complaints. The two of them form the emotional core of the narrative, and both their moments of tension and affection are gripping. I’m also never quite sure what is going to happen next between them, so their happy moments feel earned rather than inevitable. Dogkeeper also gets some time to shine in this volume as she steps up in the face of danger to a degree that we haven’t seen before. With that said, I wish that some of her scenes had been extended. There are occasions where considerable lengths of time pass off-page and the narration doesn’t bridge the gaps as smoothly as desired.
As always, the artwork in this volume is great. Kino does an excellent job bringing out the emotional potential of most scenes by rendering subtle but clear facial expressions and body language. The shine and texture-work to the characters’ hair is also beautiful. The sense of movement throughout is usually quite good, especially when Kino depicts the flow of pivotal moments in slow motion. My only cons with this volume’s visuals are occasional small clarity issues and some passages where the level of detail doesn’t live up to the high standard set by other scenes.
Overall, No. 6 Vol. 8 is yet another enjoyable installment in the series. The character work is riveting and most of the visuals are gorgeous. My main complaint is just that the scenes involving Shion and Safu could have been even more poignant if their relationship had gotten more attention in previous volumes. Nonetheless, this is another solid volume and I’m looking forward to reading the series’ conclusion.