by Yellow Tanabe, 187 pages
As Yoshimori attempts to master the art of clearing his mind at will, he also tries to introduce enigmatic Shoji to things that might nurture emotion and human bonds not based on a master-and-tool relationship. Meanwhile, Masamori prepares to finish the job he started against a powerful foe while other mysterious conspirators make their own preparations.
Oh, Shoji, the poor thing. I love how Yoshimori's little influences register in the other boy's emotionless but observant eyes. He may not know what to do with all this new information, but he's holding onto it and trying his best. We just hope Yoshimori's example ultimately turns out to be more powerful than Shoji's master's cold conditioning. Tanabe's inching toward making both Yoshimori and the reader care as much about Shoji's welfare as that of the lost friend he resembles.