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 Maoh, 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 a fairly interesting hero (if you can stomach all the casualties along the way).
The story takes place in Nekota City, which is not so much a dystopia as it is a community on the decline (think Gotham City from Batman). Ando is a high school student who has the power to make others say out loud what he’s thinking (he calls it ventriloquism). Inukai is the mysterious leader of a vigilante group called Grasshopper, which is at odds with the city’s redevelopment plan. Inukai is hailed as a hero among the common folk of Nekota, but after a few disturbing run-ins with Grasshopper, Ando senses that Inukai is not all that he seems.
Back Cover Blurb
Weakened from fighting and overusing his powers, Ando heads for a final confrontation with Inukai. Ando will risk everything to stop Inukai from reaching his objectives, but is it enough? When the dust settles, the world will be changed forever.
I have a feeling a lot of readers are going to be unhappy with the end of Act One. It’s not that the story drops in intensity. All the fighting in Volume 6 finally catches up on Ando, and you can practically feel the strain in his wrecked body as he tries to get to the Grasshopper meeting in time. And it’s not for lack of action. We get a crazy battle involving Grasshopper fanatics, a riot squad, a psycho fighting chick, and the Duce bartender (who somehow gets himself to the party).
The creators do an amazing job of building and building up the tension, but when Ando and Inukai finally do have their confrontation, what follows is anticlimactic. It’s such a letdown that I would’ve thrown the manga across the room if not for the beginning of Act Two, which takes up the second half of the book.
Whereas Act One focused on Ando, Act Two centers on Junya, who’s no longer the carefree fluff-head he was before. Considering his prophetic dream about Ando, I suspected he’d eventually come into his own ability, but the power he winds up having is completely different than I anticipated. At any rate, Junya’s transformation is utterly compelling as revenge takes over his existence.
One thing that has me anticipating the next volume is whether or not Junya’s power has the debilitating side effects that Ando’s did. I always thought it unfair that the Duce bartender had a larger range, could do more damage, and had no side effects from his power (plus take a manhole cover to the head and survive) while Ando’s ventriloquism seemed to take out more than he ever got from it. For now at least, Junya seems unharmed when he taps into his power, though he does have a real bad case of crazy eyes.
Maoh builds to a heart-pounding climax only to end Act One with a whimper. Fortunately, Act Two has Junya picking up where Ando left off, and the crazy transformation in Ando’s goofball brother is more than sufficient to keep readers hooked.
This title is rated Older Teen for lotsa blood and violence and an intense plot.
First published at the Fandom Post.