Review: Ryoma! Vol. II, Ryotaro Shiba

Rating: 5 out of 5

I have praised many a work by Mr Shiba — this one is no different. From the ending of the first volume, the second one takes the reader forward into a time when the main character’s dreams seem as if they could be achieved — and only a few years of Sakamoto’s life remain to be detailed.

I found this a slow read even though I enjoyed it. It is, however, that the world into which the reader is brought is incredibly detailed. There are scores of names that come through out script; dozens of people interact with our character. I found one particular detail amusing: where a few of Sakamoto’s followers had joined him in Edo, the author had found the strength of will to depict how they were housed until they left a few days later. This commitment to the littlest detail is absolutely praiseworthy.

What I have also come to respect more is the author’s innate ability to typify things. No matter what subject comes through, Mr Shiba’s pen highlights the most relevant aspects of it, allowing even a total stranger to this time and place to understand everything perfectly. I could understand if the repetition of some of these themes would become too much for some readers (such as the distinctions between Tosa and the other domains), but I can only revel in it.

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