What, no reviews of the three volumes in the series between this and the first one? Nope. “The Ice Reaper” never really rose above the level of fantasy comfort food in its exploration of the backstory of Kurasame and his companions, collectively known as the Four Heroes of Rubrum. Our protagonist gains greater power as a wielder of ice magic, teams up with his friends to achieve great victories, realizes that sometimes said victories are tainted by the hollow machinations of politics, and finds out that being a hero means giving up important things in your life. Like True Love and all that jazz. None of this has been outright bad, but it has left me with the distinct feeling that this series was meant to be enjoyed by a younger and less jaded fan than I.
This final volume manages the, ah, interesting trick of moving the needle of quality back and forth enough that it winds up in a neutral position. In spotlighting Kurasame and the Four Heroes’ final mission, we are treated to a kind of betrayal as it turns out that one of the team is acting on orders from on high to kill the rest of the team as part of a deal with Orience that will provide Rubrum with information on their latest weapon. The mechanics of said deal are not explained in enough depth to make this action sound sensible, or even less dumb, and that’s disappointing. It does, however, provide Kurasame with a moment after the killing is done to take action and decide how to settle things for himself. A refreshing change considering how he spent most of the series reacting to things done around him.
Then you’ve got the final chapter which acts as a kind of corrective to the heavy melodrama in the rest of the volume. It’s a flashback that involves Kurasame acting as a kind of matchmaker to the students of Akademia during a festival. There’s a heavy focus on slapstick and a lot of cameos from the “Type-0” game cast as kids. It’s amusing enough and I guess it’s nice to see that mangaka Takatoshi Shiozawa realized that the readers of this series would be better served going out on an upbeat note. He’s right, and I wish he’d displayed more smarts like this over the course of the series proper. “The Ice Reaper” is a more coherent and competent story than the game that it’s based on, but in the end I guess you could say it left me… cold.