Cover Image: Mao, Vol. 4

Mao, Vol. 4

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Member Reviews

The mysteries around them deepen as Mao and Nanoka discover that more of Mao's fellow apprentices are alive and that someone long ago was willing to sacrifice all of them for some unknown goal. This volume seemed to move a little slower than the previous volumes, but that's likely because of the amount of ground work that needed to be laid for the next volume. I can't wait to find out who has been pulling the strings behind the scenes.
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Mao comes across yet another of his fellow apprentices who should not be alive after 900 years. It seems no one remembers every detail of what happened so long ago between all of the apprentices and their master, so Mao keeps searching for answers. Mao and fellow apprentice Hakka take out several water shikigami with the help of Nanoka, who has an affinity for earth spells and can take on water monsters with ease. Many bad guys are looking for the “taizanfukun” spell that Mao's master was guarding, the most powerful onmyoji spell said to grant long life. The last Mao saw of it, Byoki was devouring it, so now everyone's sending shikigami after Mao to see if his connection to Byoki can restore the taizanfukun spell.

This series is really non-stop, just like Takahashi's many other series. Just when Nanoka thinks she's going to be getting a breather, another set of demons or monsters is after them. Those things get dealt with, in a usually awesome magical fashion, and then here come more former apprentices to get in Mao's face. There is one element of slow burn, and that's of Nanoka's development. She's kind of an accessory, the audience stand-in, so it seems like Takahashi is hesitant to make her too dissimilar from the audience. Her power is developed much slower when compared to what we're learning about Mao and his abilities. Hopefully, now that we know of her earth affinity, we can see her getting some more spell-time. 

Takahashi has a very distinct art style with really heavy lines. Having read some of her other works, I am sometimes pulled out of the story and reminded of a frame in another story that has a very similar composition or character, but this probably won't distract most readers. Her creatures and demons are delightful, though, and much different from other mangaka. 

Sara's Rating: 9/10
Suitability Level: Grades 10-12
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Very fun for fans of her previous works like Inuyasha or Ramna 1/2; always love a good Rumiko Takahashi jam and look forward to more.
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I am very intrigued to see where the story is going from here! As always Rumiko Takahashi's artwork is always on point! I will be continuing on with this series!
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This series is auto-buy and read for me.  Period, the end.  Just a HINT of romance, mostly action and mystery, but I'm really liking it and I can't wait to see what happens next!  HIGHLY recommended.  Strong female characters, always a plus.  Gorgeous art and intriguing storyline.  What more could you ask for?  

5, if you haven't started this series then what are you waiting for, stars!  

My thanks to NetGalley and VIZ Media LLC for an eARC copy of this book for me to read and review.
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This is quickly becoming one of my favorite series! In this volume we get to see more of Mao's fellow apprentices and there is a battle between them. Mao sends Nanoka back to her time to rest and recuperate and she feels like he doesn't care much about her. But that has to be set aside because someone steals Mao's kodoku - his life source - and they have to get it back or he could die! 

This volume was action packed and we got a little more backstory - which was nice! I loved all the fight scenes and how Nanoka tries to prepare before she comes back in time. Overall, this was a really fun volume and I can't wait for the next volume in the series!
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Mao Volume Four spends its time focusing on Mao, but it also allows the reader to start getting to know Hyakka.

Mao Volume Four
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 8, 2022

The volume opens exactly where Volume Three ended. But just when it looks like Kuchinawa is going to take action against Mao and Nanoka, he declares that he’s switching allegiances and disposes of Tanehiko instead. Apparently, Tanehiko’s family wants him gone because of his behavior.

At the end of Volume Three, Mao thought he knew who Kunchinawa was, but then decided he was wrong. But after seeing the weapon that Kuchinawa is wielding, Mao realizes that he was right… that Kunchinawa is actually Kamon, another one of the apprentices alongside Mao and Hyakka. Even though he’s really Kamon, he isn’t able to answer Mao’s questions as he’s trying to learn what really happened with the fire that destroyed their compound… because he wasn’t there at the time. Before Kamon leaves, he gives Mao medicine for Tenko, the wounded yokai. But by finding that Kamon is still alive, in addition to Hyakka, Mao is left even more puzzled as to how these two characters have survived all these years.

In the next story, Hyakka discovers that shikigami have come from the west to the capital, and he goes to warn Mao. They discover that the shikigami have turned some of the people into frogs, and Mao realizes that Nanoka is the only one among them who has the right type to be able to take on the shikigami’s water type and return the people that were turned into frogs back to normal. Nanoka isn’t willing to do this at first, but after Mao makes a weapon for her and starts out by accompanying her, she does the job. It’s also figured out that the shikigami are solely after Mao and are trying to capture him. At this point in the story, Hyakka becomes an ally for Mao and Nanoka, which gives the reader an opportunity to start to know him better. After this fight, they realize that the mastermind is interested in a spell in the forbidden scrolls that Byoki ate: the Taizanfukun, the ultimate onmyoji spell that controls lifespans.

Before Nanoka returns to her time, Mao uses the shikigami they defeated to send a message to the one who sent them, asking for them to come to Mao. The mastermind doesn’t show up, but a large creature who looks like Mokuzu, a man who had worked at the onmyoji compound that Mao and Hyakka were at, arrives. While fighting with this creature, they learn the truth about how Byoki was created. I thought this was an interesting way to relay some important information, as well as to introduce the reader to another character who was part of Mao’s past 900 years ago. In this case, though, the actual person is dead, and they’re being manipulated by the mastermind behind the plot.

In modern day Japan, Nanoka asks her classmate, Shiraha, to find out what he can about the Taizanfukun. He finds out a lot of information by just doing some preliminary research, but it’s enough to give Nanoka an idea of what the spell is, as well as its history. While it’s nice and convenient for Nanoka to have this smart guy to look things up for her in modern day Japan, I feel kind of bad for Shiraha, because it’s obvious that he likes Nanoka. With Nanoka’s depiction at this point, she doesn’t seem to reciprocate those feelings, and she hasn’t seemed to figure out that Shiraha likes her.

We get a brief scene of Kamon doing some research on a young woman he knows, who had been gravely ill but recovered after a visit from a shaman. When he meets with her, he realizes that she’s really dead because whoever helped her didn’t know the true Taizanfuku spell. However, the spell works well enough to deceive regular humans, because they seem to think that she’s alive. Unfortunately, Kamon was only able to get some very basic information out of the young woman’s father about the shaman. But this gives the reader enough information to realize that what Kamon has discovered ties in with the final story that appears in this volume.

The final story in Volume Four sees the person who’s going around trying to perform the Taizanfuku spell setting a trap for Mao. In the process, the kodoku pot that helps to keep Mao alive is stolen and broken. When Mao sustains injuries during a fight with the person performing the spell, it looks like he’s going to die… but something surprising happens, thanks to Nanoka.

Right at the end of the volume, the reader sees who the actual mastermind behind this plot is. However, all we learn is that her name is Shiranui, and that she is determined to see Mao soon. My guess is that the next volume will flesh out Shiranui’s character, and also reveal what kind of connection she was with Mao.

With Mao Volume Four, Takahashi is starting to build up more of the world that Mao is inhabiting, as well as introducing new questions and mysteries for the overall story. It’s been established that both Hyakka and Kamon were apprentices alongside Mao 900 years ago, but there’s still the question of how these two are still alive after all this time. And it also begs the question, are more of the apprentices still alive and Mao hasn’t encountered them yet? And who exactly is Shiranui, and what is her motivation for trying to get a hold of Mao in order to learn the Taizanfuku spell? And what did truly happen at the compound 900 years ago?

In addition to those questions, it’s also established that Mao intends to teach Nanoka skills that she’ll need to know at such a point she encounters Byoki in modern day Japan. The scene with Nanoka freeing people from the shikigami’s spell is part of that training, but Mao makes it clear that there’s still more he needs for her to learn. At this point, I’m guessing that various events that will happen as the series continues will provide teaching opportunities for Mao to help prepare Nanoka for the eventuality of encountering Byoki on her own. This element right here is something that helps to differentiate Mao from Inuyasha, which is another Takahashi series that saw a young girl traveling between time periods.

After initially seeing parallels with Inuyasha in the first volume, I’m happy to say that Mao has found its footing and can be seen for what it is instead of being compared to another series by Takahashi. The characters in Mao have become more compelling as the series has progressed, and I can’t wait to read more in order to see how these characters continue to progress and to find out how the story will continue from here.
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I really enjoy this series. I could not put it down. The plot & characters are well delivered. I have to continue this series. Every time I am left wanting more. I cannot wait for the next volume.
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Another solid volume that continues to develop the world that Takahashi has created. If you enjoy historical fantasy, then this is definitely a series that you will enjoy!
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I think it's safe to say that by this point in the series, you've figured out if you like the general tone of Mao or not. I still do! The balance of questions and answers in the series is good so far. I like all the characters that have been introduced and want to see where their stories go. I'm still having a lot of fun with this title.
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I continue to be entertained by this series. Takehashi usually does a good job of making her stories engaging and immersive, and MAO is no exception. It seems we’ll continue to meet apprentices from Mao’s past while also getting more answers from the overarching plot. I like the direction this story is taking and recommend it to fan’s of historical fantasy manga.

Thanks to NetGalley and VIZ for an advanced digital copy to read and review.
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I continue to be impressed by this story. So many authors grow stale after decades, but Takahashi has only improved and learned from her past work. I recommend this to any manga reader who likes any amount of action.
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I received an eARC through NetGalley in return for an honest review. 

I like when a manga gives the reader more plot and intrigue in each volume. A manga that repeats it self too much with fighting and no exposition or plot development always feels stale. Volume 4 of the Mao series does not disappoint in this way! I feel like the more I read about this world and the characters, the more questions I have. And it isn't the same question, it's always something new. 

Rumiko Takahashi has been in the manga business for decades and it shows. She knows what she is doing when it comes to plot, character development, and story flow. 

If you have not picked up this series yet, I highly recommend it.
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Rumiko Takahashi has been my favorite manga author since the late 90s.  I first fell in love with Ranma 1/2 then came Inu-Yasha, which is a masterpiece.  Mao follows in the tradition.  There is less comedy here than in previous series but everything else is has been packed into this series.  
Takahashi is known for her characters and Mao and Nanoka are just as amazing as Inu-Yasha and Kagome.  Fipping between present day Japan and the Japan of the early 20th century, Nanoka visits Mao in the past then returns to school in the present similar to Kagome but that is where the similarities end.  Mao was a human apprentice of an onmyoji who has been cursed.  Nanoka has no idea why she can travel into the past and what really happened in the accident that took her parents.  When Mao meets Nanoka he knows there is more to here than just a human.  Could she be the key to breaking his curse? 
If you love anime and manga you will love Mao.  It is sure to be a classic like other series by Takahashi-sensei.
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I really am loving this new series from Rumiko Takahashi!! The time period chosen is different and feels like it hasn't been done before. Both modern and of the past, it feels like Inuyasha but this time, with cat demons! Poor Byoki though, you get to find out how Byoki was created and now I'm sad.
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