A review copy was provided by Jim Zub.
Last Wayward issue left off with a taste of the action that was to come, and to say Wayward #5 did not disappoint is a bit of an understatement. If Wayward #4 set the ball on top of a cliff and gave it a hefty push, by Wayward #5 you discover the cliff was a mountain. Rori Lane’s journey in discovering the supernatural mysteries of Japan as well as her own powers hits home this time around.
When we last saw Rori Lane and her group of misfits, they were being overwhelmed by Kappa at an underground monster stronghold, and a cornered Nikaido set off a debilitating explosion. From the little we’ve seen of Nikaido, signs point to an unstable but very emotional flux of power lying untapped in that body.
Speaking of extreme situations hastening power development, the situation takes a turn for worse as Rori discovers her paths lead to her mother. All of a sudden, she is delving in and using fistfuls of her Kanji-writing power, which is somehow connected to the red “weave” paths that she follows.
I enjoy how she, so to speak, Flash-steps through Tokyo to arrive at her home, which has become the new scene of the crime. Things have escalated quite fast from when we previously saw her mother inviting the boater-wearing man and his gang of wolfish monster associates. Luckily for a foreign-raised teenager, Rori’s kanji knowledge extends to the basics, like you know, “destruction.”
Although the fast-paced action doesn’t really allow the dialogue to get a chance to shine, the expressions and art help to flesh out the characters and their emotions, especially since Rori is rendered far beyond words, and her mother is unable to fill in the missing details. The scenes flow smoothly without skipping a beat, even without much to say apart from dropping some loaded plot bombs.
The moment that made me invest further in the story line was how concerned and frantic Ayane became over Rori as her impulse to cause ruckus definitely came second to her fear for her friend. Her cattish attachment is heartbreakingly adorable and at the end you want to give her all the hugs.
As we find ourselves at the end of the first story arc, all of the characters are facing some fast development and high stakes, Rori most of all. As much as I already like her, Rori went from awkwardly growing into her leadership to full on taking control of where her life is going despite the ample opportunity to mope and do nothing, thus hitting new rungs of respect in my book.
Plus, separating the group into unlikely pairs sounds like an interesting device. I look forward to that direction, since we barely see Nikaido exerting his own agency, and if anyone is likely to push him to do something, it’d be Ayane. Rori and Shirai can butt heads in their own ways.
Overall, Wayward #5 is an amazing installment to read through. Even cooler, you get to see Mr. Slippery Bad Guy is literally a Nurarihyon, or “Slippery Gourd” in the superseding Yokai Files. He was definitely a demanding house guest this time around. Fingers crossed for Wayward #6 to give us more team-bonding moments – and more reasons to love Ayane, as if you needed them.
-Expressive art as always.
-Well-paced and smooth plot progression.
-Incoming character development.
-Waiting for each character to be given their moment to shine.