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It’s all about relationships and becoming more in tune with each other in volume 4 of Mayumi Azuma’s Erementar Gerade. Readers also find out that the laid back Rowen of Arc Aile and his human weapon/Edel Raid, Kuea, make excellent teachers. As the book begins, Cou and his Edel Raid, Ren, are being coached by the overzealous Cisqua.
Cisqua does not fight with an Edel Raid, but is trying to teach Cou to control the great power that he possesses. Unfortunately, these two hotheads never seem to be able to work together without destroying something or screaming at one another.
Cou decides to explore instead of practice and runs across a mansion. Ever curious, he convinces Ren to sneek in with him and they discover a very shy Edel Raid working as a maid and the champion fighter from the Milliard Trey Betting Grounds, an underground gambling and fighting ring in which Cou is participating to earn money to get Ren and the rest of the group to the mysterious Edel Garden.
The meek Edel Raid maid, Lilia, confides the story of her and her “sister” Rasati, the champion fighter, to Ren after she soothes Lilia’s fear that they are not there to harm her. The two girls are not sisters by birth. Lilia was taken in by Rasati’s family when she was very young and when the parents died, an uncle sold both the girls to a rich mansion owner. If Rasati can pay off the enormous amount of money he claims to have paid for both girls then they can have their freedom.
Rasati’s need to protect her vulnerable little “sister” is in direct opposition to the relationships presented of humans and their Edel Raids in the previous volumes of Erementar Gerade. Most common are the relationships in which Edel Raids are treated as tools, since they are known as human weapons of great power.
The exceptions to seeing Edel Raids as mere commodities are the relationships of Cou and Ren, and members of Arc Aile and their Edel Raids. With these humans, the relationships with their human weapons relates more directly to that of a close friendship or even as lovers. Lilia and Rasati’s relationship has another twist because it has connotations of a familial and sibling relationship, not seen until now in Erementar Gerade.
Ren and Cou are still in the beginning of their relationship and both have the urge to get to know each other better. Ren even asks Cou if he is afraid of her and he is confused because he sees her as a girl and not a weapon to be feared. He admits that she may be mysterious to him, but he could never be afraid of her. Ren assumes that since humans are afraid of the unknown then they would be afraid of her, but with Cou the fear is more like the butterflies one gets in his or her stomach when getting to know a crush.
Ren’s desire to be accepted by Cou leads her companion to go behind Cisqua’s back and ask Rowen for help to learn how to fight with Ren more efficiently. It is from Rowen and his Edel Raid, Kuea, that Cou and Ren first learn how to control their powers and become one in fighting. Ren herself even learns about the songs that she sings, seemingly as instinct, when she and Cou bond and when powerful attacks are used.
Now able to become more in tune with each other, they re-enter the Milliard Trey Betting Grounds and make their way through the ranks. Cisqua is overjoyed at all the money they are making and Rowen and Kuea are beaming with pride at their little proteges. However, now that Cou and Ren have made it to the final round they are set up against Rasati, who needs to win this battle to finally pay off her debt to the mansion owner gain her and Lilia’s freedom.
Cou goes against his nature of almost complete offense and must bond with Ren to sing a song powerful enough to set up a defense to ward of Rasati’s crazed attacks. Her power comes directly from her emotions and the need to protect her little “sister”, but Cou has the need to protect Ren and he draws upon this to keep his ground in the ring.
He is surprised, yet overjoyed when Ren tells him the story behind Rasati and Lilia during the match and they both come to the decision to throw the match so the girls’ freedom can be won. Although Rasati wins, the result is absolutely disheartening and reminds readers that this is an underground and illegal fighting ring and anything goes. The mansion owner reveals the true circumstances of Rasati and Lilia and places yet another challenge in their way to freedom.
Ayumi continues to keep readers interested in each character’s development. It is particularly engaging because she allows the main characters to grow based off of the minor storylines of other characters introduced for just a volume or two. These minor characters, despite not sticking around for long, still capture the heart of readers.
The underlying theme of using Edel Raids, seen as humans by some and tools/weapons by the majority, tugs at readers’ idea of right and wrong when it comes to using another human being and the concept of a human as a tool. Also, the need or greed for money by various characters, even the hero and heroine, draws out a theme that many readers can recognize. Time will only tell if the characters will choose money or their Edel Raids and if they will be able to change others’ minds about Edel Raids’ purpose in the world.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5