End of the Battle of Red Cliffs (Ikki Tousen)
Let me pick this up from where I left off in my last post (Guide to the Battle of Red Cliffs), at chapter 121.
XVI. Chapters 121 and 122
Sousou and Sonsaku are fighting hard. Both seem possessed, the former by his magatama ancestor (Cao Cao) and the latter by whatever power that mysterious hovering girl is giving her. Ryuubi wakes up from unconsciousness and is her usual dopey self (obviously the dragon has left her).
The mysterious girl goes over to Shiba’i, who has just finished an esoteric ritual to summon a dragon and have it consume her. The girl tells Shiba’i she knows the latter’s true magatamic identity: Gifuu, a counselor of Sousou/Cao Cao back in China who tried to do a coup and failed. Shiba’i shrugs off the accusation, saying the dragon will soon consume her and nothing will matter. Evidently Shiba’i wants to surpass Sousou, Sonsaku and Ryuubi all. Shiba’i makes an interesting argument: historically it was Sima Yi (Jp.=Shiba’i) who founded the longer lasting Jin Dinasty in China on the ruins of Wei, Wu and Shu. Therefore if she can replicate that triumph, then she will be the worthy successor to the “Shiba’i” name, even though her magatama is Gifuu’s and not Shiba’i. In other words: what matters are actions, not magatamas.
The mysterious girl finally reveals her own identity: she is Kentei. Kentei was the last Emperor of the Han Dynasty and the true heir to the dragon that Gifuu/Shiba’i is trying to absorb. The reason this Kentei has just shown up is because all the swords and the Gyokuji have been reunited in the same area.
Shokatsukin is still pretty much dead and Kan’u looks dead as well, so it would seem the healer’s death was all in vain.
Back in the heat of battle, Sonsaku begins to do the motions for the Son Style Trigram Water Dragon Fist that is her ultimate weapon. The problem is it takes lots of time and she’s defenseless while she’s doing it.
XVII. Chapters 123 and 124
Sonsaku is almost done with her Fist. Sousou realizes what’s going on and goes in for the kill before the Fist is ready. He is stopped at the last second by Ryuubi, who grabs him by the ankle and shocks him with massive lightning power. Sousou isn’t really hurt but Ryuubi has bought enough time for Sonsaku EXCEPT THAT THE FIST FAILS COMPLETELY. A sheepish Sonsaku tells Koukin and company that she actually never really properly learned how to do it, so she’s not surprised it failed. The guys are stunned.
Sousou isn’t amused. He tosses Ryuubi out of the way and gets ready to finish Sonsaku. Kentei suddenly appears and tells Sonsaku the key to using the Fist is to employ the energy from all of her friends and allies. As if on cue, Koukin, Taishiji and everyone else gives us their power to Sonsaku and she grows more and more powerful.
The scene shifts to Sousou’s mind. He sees several people involved with Cao Cao back in China (Ryofu and Kada among them) and then he sees Cao Cao himself. Sousou becomes “himself” again and tells Cao Cao to knock it off. The scene changes again and we see Sousou flat out on the ground, presumably knocked down by Sonsaku’s amazing fist. Sousou comes to, the dragon having left him.
Everyone is delighted the battle is over. Sousou looks normal (as normal as the man gets, anyway). Kentei shows up and tells everyone she is not only Kentei the Emperor, but she is what they call the Gyokuji itself. She says that now that she’s been unsealed, she will cut off the vicious cycle of the magatamas.
Shiba’i walks on the happy scene, on her own two feet. She yells at the Kyoshou forces and orders them to continue fighting. In her view, the battle isn’t over. Kakouton basically tells her to scram and Shiba’i harnesses a huge amount of explosive energy while declaring: “I AM EMPEROR GIFUU”. She boasts of having used the name “Shiba’i” to gather forces to her, calling them all pawns to be sacrificed. Sonsaku tries to attack her and is quickly repulsed.
There is a brief moment when Shiba’i (a.k.a. Emperor Gifuu) bleeds and falls to the ground, showing evidence that her transformation is painful and unstable. Kentei notes this. However, before this can become an issue Shiba’i gets literally stabbed in the back with a huge sword (Hyakuhekitou??) by none other than her devotee Ten’i. Ten’i runs her through, then takes the blade out, embraces Shiba’i and then stabs her from behind, so that the sword slashes both of their bodies and holds them together. It’s a memorable scene:
At this point, the genius Rikuson tells everyone to run for their lives, because the power of the dragon that was inside the slashed up Shiba’i will explode and destroy all. Instead of running, Sonsaku grabs the sword and jump into Yokohama Bay with it [implied, though not stated clearly, is the notion that the blade must have absorbed Shiba’i’s dragon power that is about to explode]. We see Sonsaku falling into the water and then a huge explosion occurs. Volume 18 ends here.
EXCURSUS: WHY DID TEN’I DO WHAT SHE DID
This is what she says just before she does it. “Lady Maria, is this a test…or is this a sin? Either way, if this will allow me to get a little bit closer to you then I will gladly accept it.”
We know Ten’i is pretty demented. Shiba’i’s little speech talking about manipulating people (like Ten’i) and about pretending to be someone other than she really is (i.e. Gifuu) must have totally upset Ten’i. In her mind, maybe her lady is testing her…maybe not. Anyway, she does find a pretty intense way to come closer to her!!!
EPILOGUE: Chapter 125
The explosion surrounds Sonsaku Hakufu, and she realizes she will die. Kentei shows up and tells her she will save her by trading her life for hers. According to Kentei, many people still need Sonsaku. To Kentei’s surprise, Sonsaku refuses. She says she’s had her share of battles and she’d rather Kentei used her powers to help others who are meant to go on living longer. Sonsaku also says that by rights she should have died a long time ago. [This is true: Sonsaku’s ancestor Sun Ce died in the year 200, a full decade before the Battle of Red Cliffs. Sonsaku has lived way past her magatama’s allotted time].
Lastly, during the explosion, Kan’u finally regains consciousness.
COMMENTS ON THE BATTLE AND THE NEW ARC
So that’s it, the Battle of Red Cliffs over. Essentially, nothing changed in this humongous arc of over 45 chapters. Kan’u died, but now she’s back. Sonsaku was willing to die, yet in chapter 126 she shows up all battered up but still alive under Koukin’s care [Kentei apparently managed to save Sonsaku, Kan’u and everyone else. She’s probably also responsible for the fact that the city looks much better, almost as if no disasters had occurred]. None of the Big Three were destroyed. Sousou beat the evil Cao Cao in him, but I’m sure not decisively. The treasures have been spread evenly: two Hyakuhekitou to Kyoshou and Nanyou each, and the remaining Hyakuhekitou plus the Gyokuji to Seito.
It’s really easy to get disappointed with this arc and its lack of results, but we gotta keep in mind that, all fanservice aside, the mangaka always has an eye on the historical situation 1800 years ago. The original Battle of Red Cliffs was very important, but in a real sense inconclusive. None of the 3 great powers was destroyed. Wei under Cao Cao came closest to taking it all here but was finally defeated by the Wu-Shu alliance. Therefore the manga kinda had to end the battle on similar terms.
The big deal now is a new enemy, supposedly more vicious than Toutaku. This villain, rumored to be from Western Japan, is going around stealing magatamas. This freaks everyone because so far all the warriors have been from students associated with a number of schools in Eastern Japan. In chapter 129 she finally shows up and gives us a name: Mitsuyoshi Yagyu, 9th grader from Yamato Academy. Mitsuyoshi is a guy’s name, mind you, and this guy is actually a very famous character in Japanese history, better known as Jubei.
So the new arc is set, and it’s significant change from the Ikki Tousen we’ve enjoyed so far. This enemy is also a reincarnation from the past, but now not from the China of the Three Kingdoms though, but from 17th century Japan. She acts like an idiot but she’s really insane and extremely skilled, as Chou’un begins to find out…
EDIT: I linked to the wrong guy’s bio at Wikipedia. The link to Jubei is now fixed.
EDIT 2: I’m convinced Ten’i used a Hyakuhekitou after all. It’s the one thing that could stop the dragon in Shiba’i.