Saturday, December 1, 2007

'The Tarot Cafe' Vol. 6 by Sang-Sun Park

ISBN: 142780396X
Format: Paperback, 192pp
Publisher: TOKYOPOP
Pub. Date: October 2007
Price: $9.99

In the sixth volume of The Tarot Café all of the characters are finally starting to realize they have become pawns in a much larger game. The missing pieces of the broken necklace of Berial that Pamela has been searching for are coming together. Once she has all the pieces if she so chooses she can finally die with Belus’ aid.

Belus meanwhile has realized that Pamela is much more to him than just a means to an end, much more in fact than just a partner in a contract. He has told her that life with her would never be boring, and coming from an immortal being that is saying quite a lot. He has shed blood for her, come to realize that he loves her, and in the end he might even die for her.

There is only one episode in this volume, Episode 17, “Invitation to Hell,” and all the pushing and pulling, the maneuvering by some unseen hand, has finally stopped. The players and the pawns, the characters of the stories have come to face what is inside their hearts.

Pamela finally remembers details of her past and come to see the truth about those in her present. Ash still has not realized that in another life he was Pamela’s lover, her protector and savior. He has no memories of their time together and has come to hate her in this life because he believes she stole Belus’ affection. Ash saw Belus as a father, his best friend and the one person who understood him, but when Belus left Ash to return to Pamela years previously Ash never recovered. Ash would do anything to keep Pamela from stealing Belus, including murdering his former love.

Pamela also learns the true identity of Berial, what his true face is behind the beautiful mask he wears. She comes to realize that it has been his hand all along that had guided her life, ruined her happiness and love. Berial has done nothing but take from Pamela, nothing but play with her life from the very beginning. Can she find a way to escape this dangerous game?

The artwork is stunning, each character beautifully drawn and detailed. Park’s continued fascination with fairy tales and gorgeous men have given the series a distinctive feel, a flavor that is purely Tarot Café, Making this series one of the best rendered manga I have read.

The seventh and final volume will be released in June of 2008. We will see what fate has chosen for Pamela and those around her, whether her love for Belus will be enough to keep him alive. The destiny of the lonely werewolf Aaron and his protector Nebiros; and finally Ash’s fate, lover and betrayer, friend and foe. I can’t imagine it will end too happily but I’ve got my fingers crossed anyway.

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