Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Ice Reaper Volume 5Title: Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Ice Reaper (Final Fantasy Type-0 Gaiden Hyoken no Shinigami)
Genre: Action
Publisher: Square Enix (JP), Yen Press (US)
Story/Artist: Takatoshi Shiozawa
Supervision: Tetsuya Nomura
Serialized in: Shounen Gangan
Translation: Alethea and Athena Nibley
Original Release Date: July 26, 2016
Review copy provided by Yen Press

It’s the final volume of this Final Fantasy spinoff, and, as you might expect, a lot is happening. Kurasame realizes he and his friends have been lured into a trap and finds himself in the fight of his life. Not to mention the Four Champions’ bond is tested as the traitor reveals themselves.

Since most readers of this series will have played Type-0, the ending of the story is not likely to come as a surprise. I mean, you know who is around and who isn’t. So while you probably already know what happens, the manga instead focuses on Kurasame’s emotions. He knows that his memories of a person will disappear once they die, but how can you prevent forgetting when you’re in the midst of a battle? Is it better to forget when the person you’re facing is someone you’ve trusted?

The Four Champions’ final battle takes up the bulk of the volume. As I was reading, I felt the story was winding down, but there were still quite a few pages left. I was expecting the manga to really cover how he became Class Zero’s instructor, but instead we get an abridged version of Kurasame’s life just before Type-0. I could understand if Shiozawa was running out of pages, but the manga includes an utterly pointless 30 page story about a school festival. It seems more like an excuse to see young versions of Class Zero with some “what-ifs” for the romances thrown in for good measure. Considering there isn’t a lot of fluff or interesting characterization in the “If Only…” chapter, (unless you count Queen’s fujoshi musings), it really didn’t add anything.

It’s too bad, as the Champions’ final battle is full of both action and emotion. Characters argue about what is just, sacrifice, and friendship while trying to cling to their memories. It’s an interesting dynamic when you compare this battle to Kurasame’s first. You can see how much he has changed from the self-proclaimed elite cadet to someone who values friendship. (In several ways, I was reminded of Kakashi from Naruto… especially since they both wear masks. ) Regardless, that’s what I would rather the author have used those extra 30 pages for, to show Kurasame’s struggle and development. Why did he accept the rumors about the Four Champions? How did he really feel when he became an instructor? This is manga, and an ending song can’t add an emotional punch or a bunch of quick sequences as the credits roll. The ending is good, but it could have been GOOD good if the volume had ended with the main story. Either skip including bonus chapter or use the 30 pages for a segway/connecting chapter to Type-0. I don’t care about an alternate universe school life story!

At least everything is wrapped up with this volume. The traitor fully explains their reasoning, and you can find yourself agreeing if you analyze it from a purely logical perspective. All the main characters (and monsters) appear one last time, and the story ties into Final Fantasy Type-0 well. It’s always good when you finish a series and “HUH?!?!” isn’t on your mind. I’ve heard Type-0 can be quite confusing with its mythos, but The Ice Reaper is pretty straightforward.

The art still features some of the cleanest action scenes in manga. The battle scenes are incredibly easy to follow along, especially since the magic is supplemented by the traditional Final Fantasy spells. The battles here are also on a much smaller scale than the infiltration mission from the previous volume, so you can really visualize all the Attacks and Blizzard spells. Shiozawa also provides plenty of large panels for both action and emotion scenes, showcasing both blood and tears. I never was a big fan of Shiozawa’s character drawings, but it’s hard not for your heartstrings to be pulled when you see Kurasame’s anguish.

If you’ve gotten this far, you really can’t skip the ending, even if you know how it turns out. However, the school festival bonus ending kind of lessens the volume’s dramatic impact.