The members of the little Ursa Minor chat group are getting more keyed up - Rika (11) has done something she regrets, Mr. Money is forcing himself to be more open about the situation with his mother and what it's done to his state of mind, Polaris is going to be forced to take part in a swimming relay race and feels anxious just thinking about it, and Jangalian still doesn't know how to gracefully put a stop to his obsessed stalker and the rumors she keeps spreading. Things are coming to a head now that everyone's been pushed into a corner.
Mizushiro managed to wrap this up better than I expected. Even though I had some issues with the way things played out, everyone's motivations and actions seemed more solid and believable in this volume than they did in the first volume. That said, I still had issues with how things worked out.
Mizushiro's handling of Mr. Money and his family situation struck me as being overly simplistic.
I disliked the way Rika and Mr. Money's relationship was presented as positively resolving their storylines. So, what, Rika's anxiety about track team and her ex-boyfriend were all resolved by her getting a new boyfriend? And we're supposed to believe that Mr. Money's abusive home life is no longer a problem, and he's magically no longer afraid of women? Uh, no.
The way Jangalian's issues were dealt with also seemed pretty simplistic, although there was at least a brief mention that things weren't quite over yet. Still, I was surprised that there wasn't more of a fuss made about even just the appearance of a relationship between Polaris and Jangalian. And Polaris, who has now tried to commit suicide twice in one year, could use a supportive adult in her life who isn't Jangalian.
All in all, this series got off to a shaky start but managed to find its footing by the end, even though I wasn't always comfortable with the way everything played out.
The last quarter of the volume was devoted to a short called "The Last Supper." Oh man, this story was dark, weird, and horrifying.
It's science fiction in which humans struggle to survive a plague that keeps cropping up every few years. The sky is now lit by an artificial sun, and the weather, too, is artificially controlled. Cows have long since died out and have been replaced by cow-human hybrids. Which we still raise for food, and eat. Lambda 26 is one such cow. After his father is slaughtered and eaten, Lambda tries to escape but ends up being found by Mitsuhiko, the rancher's son. Mitsuhiko insists on having Lambda as his playmate and servant, thereby protecting him from being killed and eaten. Lambda initially wants to be free but eventually begins to care for Mitsuhiko. (Major spoilers from this point on.)
Unfortunately, Mitsuhiko catches the plague and guess what? Medicine made from cow organs turns out to be the best treatment. Mitsuhiko has refused to eat beef since Lambda became his friend, but now Lambda badly wants to help him. Mitsuhiko can't face the idea of Lambda dying for him and gives Lambda everything he needs in order to escape. However, Mitsuhiko's father manages to obtain some cow organs, which are turned into medicine for Mitsuhiko. He's convinced to eat it, only to discover that the cow used in his medicine was, in fact, Lambda.
That last story was definitely not my kind of thing, and I feel icky just thinking about it.
If I could rate X-Day's conclusion separately from "The Last Supper," I'd give the former 3 stars and the latter 1 star. "The Last Supper" only takes up a quarter of the volume and therefore maybe shouldn't have as much weight, but since it had a pretty significant negative emotional impact on me, I'm just going to average the two ratings and give this 2 stars.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)