In Silver Diamond, Rakan, an orphaned teen with an affinity for plants, has his life turned upside down when a series of unexpected guests from another world turn up in his garden. Chigusa arrives first; he initially mistakes Rakan for someone else, but soon realizes his error and vows to protect Rakan. Narushige and his snake companion Koh come next, bringing Rakan more information about his strange connection to their world. Finally Tohji appears on the scene, intent upon assassinating Rakan on the orders of the imperial prince of his world. As volume three begins, Rakan, Chigusa, and Narushige have captured Tohji and must decide what to do with him and, ultimately, what to do with themselves.Silver Diamond is one of the most promising new series that I’ve encountered in 2008 because it combines interesting fantasy worldbuilding with warm character moments. Both of these strengths are evident in this volume, which feels very much like a transition point in the series. Rakan learns more about the world that the others come from, including his own importance as a Sanome, a person who can make plants grow at will, and the structure of the society that has labeled Chigusa as a criminal, Narushige as a bad omen, and Tohji as an unwanted child. And halfway through the volume, there is a moment of creepy revelation when a very unusual tree grows in Rakan’s garden.
Meanwhile, the characters continue to be charming and often hilarious. Much of the comedy in the first two volumes came from the characters’ fish-out-of-water antics; each of the visitors from the desert world reacts to unexpected things in Rakan’s world–like televisions, gas stoves, and blue skies–in their own characteristic ways. Unfortunately, there are not as many of such moments in this volume, but that does not mean the character interactions are any less entertaining. Chigusa still fails to understand most basic human discourse, leading to some very funny moments, and Rakan still copes with strange events by clinging to the trappings of domestic normality, like making curry. Meanwhile, Koh, the talking snake who is sometimes a sword, continues to be reliably amusing. He spends most of this volume wrapped around Tohji’s neck, acting as a very smug guard for the prisoner.
Sugiura’s art is also very appealing. As one might expect in a shounen-ai series, it is filled with bishounen. (Even the characters comment on how pretty Narushige is!) However, there is more to Sugiura’s art than beautiful men. She does an excellent job of conveying the characters’ emotions through their facial expressions, and her chibi drawings make the comedic moments that much more effective. Her depictions of the other characters’ reactions to Chigusa’s strange comments are particularly priceless. And the panels filled with flowers and unearthly plants help make the fantasy elements of the story that much more immediate.
Tokyopop’s edition of Silver Diamond retains at least some of the original Japanese honorifics and includes a page of cultural notes at the back of the volume. Unfortunately, volume 3 does not include the attractive color pages found in earlier volumes, but that’s not a huge loss.
My only real complaint with this series so far is how slow it has been to really get started. These first three volumes have featured a lot of setup, introducing characters and plot elements, but not much has actually happened. Fortunately, one major event at the end of this volume promises to change that, and I am hopeful that subsequent volumes will include more action to complement the series’ other strengths. I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading future releases.