"The course of true love never did run smooth." So wrote William Shakespeare and nowhere is that quote proving more apt than in the latest volume of "Shinobi Life" by Shoko Conami.
Beni Fujiwara is back in the past, with a fourteen-year old Kagetora as her protector. But while Beni has finally come to terms with her love for the grown up Kagetora, this young boy doesn't know her at all, and is confused as to why Beni is treating him with such familiarity. Beni, in the meantime, is feeling emotionally conflicted as she is as attracted to this younger version of Kagetora as to the one she knows, and wants the comfort of his hand and kiss but is worried about messing around with the past that might compromise the future she knows is awaiting her when she returns. It's a time travel dilemma. Can you cheat on someone with a past, younger version of themselves?
Meanwhile, in the future (present), the adult Kagetora is proving his unswerving love for Beni by jumping over and over again into the time portal, trying to find his time-lost love. The time portal is not targetable, and Kagetora constantly finds himself in the wrong time, and returns to the present in order to leap again. He will never stop trying to find Beni, unknowing that she is currently with him even now. Rihito, Beni's chosen fiancé, is shamed by the Kagetora's devotion and forced to confront his own feelings for Beni, knowing that he lacks the drive necessary to hunt for her as relentlessly as Kagetora.
"Shinobi Life" always delivers some good romance, and I really enjoyed Volume 6's further complications of a complicated relationship. Some things are explained here, like why Kategora found Beni familiar when they first met (because he had memories of meeting her as a young boy) and the depth of Kagetora's feelings for Beni are shown by his constant time-leaping to find her. There are some really great scenes in Volume 6, and the reader is as torn between the two Kagetoras as Beni is herself.
Artists Shoko Conami manages to keep the human element on the forefront of all this time-travel and ninja adventures, and that is really the strength of the series. The story could easily be lost in all of its random and fantastic elements, but because the characters are so believable even the most outrageous scenario is grounded in human emotion