I don’t usually review a whole lot of shonen manga, and I review even fewer violent shonen titles. Somehow, though, I wound up with the Maoh series, which has murder and mayhem in spades.(My reviews of earlier Maoh: Juvenile Remix volumes can be found here.) However, it’s more of a supernatural thriller than a gratuitous show of blood splattering and has some interesting heroes (if you can stomach all the casualties). Viz has recently released the final volume, and you can read on for the review.
Back Cover Blurb
As the world’s greatest killers assemble at the bowling alley for all-out war, the plan to assassinate Inukai begins. Can Junya fulfill his brother’s goals and stop Inukai from taking control of Japan? And when the dust settles, who will be the true Maoh?
Intrigue, suspense, and violence have been the signature characteristics of Maoh, and these elements come on strong in the final volume with Fraulein out to get both Inukai and Junya Ando. The creators do an excellent job of making Fraulein look like it has the upper hand on all fronts up until they fire at Inukai. Unfortunately, the tension breaks at that critical moment because the action in those panels is unclear, and it wasn’t until seven pages later when the Fraulein assassin says “fluke earthquake” that I realized that that was what took place.
However, once past that bit of confusion, the tension quickly picks up again with Inukai’s status unknown and Terahara’s demented killers closing in on Junya’s friends. What follows is a gripping series of upsets that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. These pages, not surprisingly, are a bloodbath as Junya proves more deadly and formidable than any of his enemies thought possible. Apparently, he took Iwanishi’s lesson in Volume 9 to heart, and as a result, Maoh’s deadliest assassins get a final appearance–on Junya’s payroll.
Despite all the dramatic changes in Junya, one thing remains constant, and that is his love for his brother. Once the killing ends, Junya has a near breakdown as he reflects upon his actions. Even Shiori’s comfort isn’t enough to save him, and it’s an unexpectedly moving moment when he finds solace in his older brother.
Probably the oddest outcome of this arc is that Grasshopper emerges from the conflict practically unscathed. Junya’s decision to destroy one enemy but spare the other left me boggled, especially considering it was Inukai whom his older brother wanted to ruin. Even when Inukai’s assassin-girl threatens him, Junya extends a sort of olive branch to her. By the way, I should mention that the finale contains quite a bit of her panty-free fanservice.
The last two chapters skip several years into the future, but even with the earth-moving events at Nekota Stadium, the series’ postscript is disappointing. Future Inukai has lost his demonic aura and seems more a run-of-the-mill politician than an agent of the devil. As for Junya, even though his brother’s spirit is closer than before, he’s more of a casual observer than an active participant in the world. He does spend a ridiculous amount to ruin Inukai’s rally but does nothing more with the opportunity than stare Inukai down. Considering the nature of their feud, I expected an ultimate winner in this conflict, but the story ends without any definite resolution.
Given the previous showdown between Inukai and big brother Ando, I expected a similar winner-takes-all-duel-to-the-death between Inukai and Junya, but their finale turns into something completely different. It is packed with the plot twists and excitement we’ve come to expect from Maoh, but after the dust and bloody chaos settles, neither side can claim total victory. Considering how diametrically opposed Inukai and the Ando brothers have been throughout the series, the ending leaves readers without a sense of full closure, which I found disappointing.
First published at the Fandom Post.