4 out of 5
We learn some more backstory, get to know Erika a bit more, and laugh at some more innuendo. Yamashita has really found an amazing groove in storytelling by this point, with all of our main characters familiar to us, but each presented with dimension that continues to make them interesting. Either as a consequence of where the story is at, currently, or because of mangaka / reader adjustments, none of the spiritual affects of this volume took me out of the story: moves like Hiyakawa creating a (triangle-shaped, natch) barrier around himself and Mikado is instantly visually understood; though I’d add that Yamashita isn’t trying to depict as much in the art in these cases, and rather “explaining” via body language and dialogue, so I do think the artist has realized what works best for their style and tone of the book.
The basic gist of volume 6 is to get everyone – including Mukae, Sakaki, and Hanzawa – on the same side, in order to help Erika break free from her servitude. Mikado’s reminders / pleadings to look past past ills (Erika keeps doubting her self worth, given her cursing actions) are really well-handled, not coming across as usual protag naive bleating, nor as necessarily ignorant. I realize his arguments could be “twisted” to justify bad behaviors, and I don’t think the intention here is to try to apply his reasoning to any situation, but specific to these characters, in this situation, his speeches feel heartfelt, and reasonable. And are also, of course, interesting parallels / juxtapositions to Hiyakawa’s ways of seeing things.
Regarding the Mikado / Hiyakawa double entendre stuff, I do love how it’s really just accepted in an eye-rolling fashion by everyone now – they aren’t dating? – including in the kind of bitter playfulness between the two. However, Yamashita does seem more interested in the curse storyline than, directly, their relationship at this point, and we are too; a chapter which tries to circle back around to focus on them and give them a case to distract them really does come across as unnecessary filler, not adding anything to the narrative. The consideration of power dynamics in relationships and things like trust and love are already so well seeded into the curse plot that we don’t really need dedicated chapters like this anymore.