ZE Volume 4 cover image
Rating: “18+ Mature Content”
Culinary student Raizou Shichikawa was alone and homeless after the death of his grandmother. He accepted an offer to live at the palatial estate of the Mitou family, where he earns his keep as a cook and housekeeper. The Mitou family likes Raizou’s diligence, but he cannot help but notice that this family is odd.
Each Mitou is a “kotodama,” a master whose words are power, and each kotodama possesses a “kami,” which looks like a person, but is actually a doll of living paper. A kami-sama heals his kotodama-sama, taking his master’s injuries onto himself. Raizou is drawn to Kon, a dark-haired young man who sells his body. Kon is a kami without a master, but Raizou saves Kon by becoming his kotodama-sama and his lover.
ZE, Vol. 4 opens with Yashiro Genma, the estranged son of a deceased relative of the Mitous, the late Seima Mitou. While a kami usually dies when his kotodama-sama dies, Seima’s kami, named Himi, lived on because of a promise he made to his master. Genma took possession of Himi, who would later die while protecting his new master. Now, Waki Yoshiwara, the doll maker, has brought Himi back to life, but Himi is not the same as before. What will Genma do?
Meanwhile, it is kami maintenance time at Mitou mansion, and Raizou gets to meet more members of the Mitou family, including the glimmer twins – Seiji Mitou and Tsukito Mitou. Also, we get a brief look into Raizou’s distant past.
THE LOWDOWN: This fourth volume of ZE is probably the least eccentric of what has, thus far, been an odd series. As strange as its plot is, the Genma-new Himi storyline is a histrionic, but oddly alluring melodrama – more soap opera than weird tale. The “maintenance” storyline is a high comedy with regular injections of raunch. It ends with a bodily fluid-sloshing, three-way that might have some readers looking for a hazmat suit. But because it really is all a good read, some of us will want more.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Readers who want their yaoi edgy will enjoy ZE.