By Julietta Suzuki. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Tokyopop.
I noted in my last review that after reading a volume of Karakuri Odette I wanted to go into great detail about every little thing. And that turns out to be exactly the case with this, its final volume, which wraps things up very well and shows almost everyone (sorry, Chris) getting some well-deserved character growth.
Probably the biggest thing that surprised me about this volume was the attention devoted to Grace, companion to Travis and another robot creation of Dr. Owen's. She had sort of been the equivalent to Chris in Volume 5, being a more robotic girl who doesn't quite measure up to the emotions felt by more advanced creations such as Odette and Travis. This is also the case in this volume, but we get to see that this does not mean that she's emotionless, and that the treatment she gets from Dr. Owen and Travis verges on abuse at times. She's the child who's lost favor with her father, and becomes increasingly desperate to get it back.
If you think this is building up to a jealous rage, especially since Travis is trying to get Odette, at a low ebb due to Asao's caustic remarks earlier, to marry him, you;d be correct. But where Grace really shines is in the aftermath, taking a damaged Travis to Dr. Owen to be repaired. She even offers to let her body be scavenged so that he might live. But Dr. Owen has already moved on to his next favorite, and tells Grace to leave Travis. You can almost hear the 'snap' as she looks at Travis, and she runs right to Dr. Yoshizawa, who she had earlier heard disclaiming loudly how he loved Odette. She is not too proud to beg here, and it's that more than anything else which gets the Professor marching over to Dr. Owen's to give him an epic verbal smackdown. What's more, when he returns, saying to Grace that Dr. Owen wants she and Travis to return, she essentially bolts out of there to go home. It's really sweet, something I wouldn't have expected from Grace *or* Dr. Owen when we first met them.
The other major plotline here is Asao's graduation. Odette is starting to realize that Asao will not be around for her anymore, something not helped by his gleefully throwing it back in her face. (Asao's behavior has been very jerk-like throughout when he's not being the best mentor ever, and this is consistent with the previous five volumes.) Of course, when he's asked to capture Odette by Dr. Owen, noting he seems the type who would do that, he throws it back in the doctor's face. Asao is prickly but good-hearted, and it usually takes a bit of a situation to get him to show it. (I loved that he kept the gun. Which proved very useful!) Of course, he then has to go off to Odette's rescue, and tell her in his usual grumpy way that what Odette should be paying attention to are ACTIONS - not words. Odette was asking this about Travis, but clearly Asao also meant himself, given he'd been acting like a complete ass with Travis not 5 minutes earlier.
And of course we have Odette, who may be shown off here as the most advanced and most "human" pf the robots in the cast, but still has a long way to go to grow up - just like the rest of humanity. She shows maturity when rejecting Travis's offer of marriage, which it turns out is also somewhat of a childish "just us two and no one else" fantasy. She doesn't want that, and loves her friends. This is balanced out by her feelings for Asao, which come as close as the manga is ever going to get to being romantic here. She's devastated by his graduation, freaks out when he sees her damaged face, and when he continues to maintain his cool, uncaring facade she finally snaps and tosses him in a locker, which she then hurls into the air and upside down. A talk with Yoko calms her down, and she has to admit that she will need to move on. Life goes on is the moral learned here.
There is a short scene where she makes up with Asao, but it's made very clear that even if she does like Asao in that way, he doesn't see her as more of a friend. His concern for her was initially that of how she would survive in the world as a robot girl. Now he can see how she's essentially human - he has no need for concern anymore, as she's no longer someone he has to worry about with every tiny little life situation. Odette has achieved what the story set out to show - her problems will mostly be problems every person faces as a 16-year-old now, not robot problems. Grace notes "you're at a much higher level than we are", and it's easy to see that when you read this volume.
There's a couple of other subplots wrapped up here - Shirayuki is losing her ability to hear people's inner thoughts, and is freaking out, but is finally told that this is a good thing, as it means that she's growing up with friends rather than in an increasingly desperate isolation like others with the power. Oddly, she's told this by her drill-haired servant, who I'd forgotten was a human. Hey, this is a series filled with robots, and most of the time she acted like a two-dimensional hired friend. Despite the awkwardness of this, it's good to hear that Shirayuki is opening up as well.
This was probably exactly the right size for a series like this - I think a few more volumes would have risked seeming very drawn out and filler-ey. As it is, this is almost a perfect length to give to someone as a gift (it's a Tokyopop property, so buy it fast before it flies out of print), and you get a heartwarming and fun story about a girl who strives to be human and half the time doesn't realize she's already there. A fantastic license for Tokyopop, and I'm glad it got finished.
Also, on page 142, I swear Odette is drawn to look like a character from Peanuts.