Knight of the Ice Volume 11 by Yayoi Ogawa
I often feel a little wistful at the end of a series, especially one as consistently entertaining about Knight of the Ice, but the final volume concludes in a fashion that will satisfy readers, even though the outcomes were easy to foresee at the start of the series. As Kokoro prepares to take the ice at the Sochi Olympics, the field of skaters is shaken up by a dark horse contender with multiple quads from the United States. Kokoro also has to face a major competition without Chitose by his side to support him, since she’s recovering from necessary heart surgery. It is great to see the progression in Kokoro’s personality and how he’s able to make more decisions and assert himself as a skater, instead of drifting through life in an attempt to live up to his family’s expectations.
Ogawa nails the tension of Olympic ice skating as different skaters attempt to skate their best due to a variety of reasons, sometimes succeeding and sometimes having the small mistakes and spills that happen in competition. I always appreciate the paneling and action sequences of Knight of the Ice, which really serve to heighten the When Kokoro pops his quad lutz, readers are treated to a detailed discussion of scoring system issues, making the moments of Kokoro’s next decisions to modify his program on the fly even more dramatic. Even issues with Russian judges come into play as the final scores are tallied, making this manga enjoyable for a casual or more serious skating fan. One thing I really liked about this series was the way it developed all the supporting characters as well, and many of Kokoro’s compatriots get a sense of conclusion at the end of this volume as well.
One thing I appreciated was a bonus story that takes place before the first volume, which shows how Chitose and Kokoro reconnected after being close as childhood friends. It served as a nice way to think about how far they’ve both come as they’ve evolved over this series. I’m very glad that we’ve now gotten two Yayoi Ogawa series translated into English, but I have to say after reading both Kima wa Pet and Knight of the Ice, I feel a little greedy for more.