Tag Archives: shonen manga

Manga Review: The Promised Neverland Vol. #12

The Promised Neverland anime was a surprise favorite of mine for 2019. Its blend of mystery, suspense, and heart grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. For English-speaking fans who can’t wait to see what happens to Emma and their friends, they can read ahead in Viz’s translation of the manga. Read on for my review of Volume 12.

Back Cover Blurb

Life at Grace Field House is good for Emma and her fellow orphans. While the daily studying and exams they have to take are tough, their loving caretaker provides them with delicious food and plenty of playtime. But perhaps not everything is as it seems…

With the demons of Goldy Pond finally defeated, Emma and the other children now focus on their next task—finding the Seven Walls. But it won’t be easy, especially with a dangerous new foe trying to hunt them down. Can Emma and Ray decrypt the ancient clues that will lead the children to true freedom?

The Review

The Goldy Pond arc went out with a literal bang, with bullets flying and the whole place blowing up. Now that the kids plus two adults are safely at the B06-32 shelter, the gears switch away from action to sleuthing and intrigue.

The mystery is twofold. First is the situation between the Minerva group and the Ratri Clan members that shut them down. The kids have extremely limited access to information on the human world, so they’re stuck making conjectures on what the actual situation is. Thing is, the Ratri Clan is also conjecturing about the escapees and their whereabouts. The creators do an excellent job keeping readers on the edge of their seats as Peter Ratri and his terrifying minion Andrew strive to sniff them out.

The second mystery is the Seven Walls, which they must locate if they want to attempt a new promise regarding the humans in the demon world. This starts off a lot like the trail of clues at Grace Field House, but then it takes a great leap in scope. The search involves distances that require months to cover. What this does is force a rapid progression of time; the events of Volume 12 span over a year and a half. As a result, the kids are pushed right up against their deadline to return for Phil and the remaining Grace Field kids by the end of the volume.

Another leap is that the Seven Walls investigation takes on a mystical aspect. Whereas before they obtained clues from those they encountered or gleaned them from books and objects, this time Emma gets overtaken by a vision. I wasn’t expecting the series to take a turn for the supernatural. Then again, elevators supposedly connect human and demon worlds, so why not?

After several chapters of furtive investigations, things get charged up again when Peter Ratri’s thugs invade the B06-32 shelter! It’s a compressed, more intense version of the battle at Goldy Pond. Once more, the kids get pushed to the brink, except this time their pursuers are other humans.

Extras include side scenes and the creators’ notes.

In Summary

Fans of the clue-tracking aspect of this series will enjoy the kids’ search for the Seven Walls. It’s a long investigation–over a year and a half! But the creators do a good job presenting events such that the pacing doesn’t get bogged down. Then it’s back to action and thrills when the Ratri Clan invades the shelter!

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Bakuman Vol. 20

Bakuman is the latest collaboration of Ohba and Obata, the creators of the wildly popular Death Note series. Unlike Death Note, Bakuman is more or less grounded in reality, but it is no less entertaining as it follows the ups and downs of a mangaka duo as they strive to make it big in the publishing world!

This series is a personal favorite of mine, and Viz Media has just released the final volume. (My reviews of earlier Bakuman volumes can be found here.)

The Review

Spoiler Alert!!!

Volume 19 did an excellent job of returning Miho to the spotlight, and Volume 20 takes advantage of the buzz generated from the public declaration of her relationship to Moritaka. She already had a lot riding on the Reversi audition, and the stakes shoot through the roof when it turns into a live Internet competition. Shonen manga is all about battles, and the climax of Volume 20 is a voice actress battle!

Actually, the underlying concept is kind of far-fetched. Despite the hype touting the audition as the contest for the most popular voice actress, Kaya’s bored comment of, “This is long…” is entirely warranted from an objective standpoint. Still, the characters are so emotionally involved, it doesn’t matter. For the most part, the series has been about Ashirogi struggling to come up with a series worthy to be animated. Now it’s Moritaka’s turn to wait for Miho to do her part to make their dream come true.

Following the audition results, Ohba-sensei does a thorough job of wrapping things up, perhaps a little too thorough. After the adrenaline rush of the Reversi competition, Akito’s goal to boost sales of the graphic novel are somewhat ho-hum, even if Ashirogi accomplishes another achievement because of it. The part I found surprisingly brief was the farewell glimpses of Ashirogi’s fellow mangaka. Final volumes generally provide what-are-they-doing-now cameos, and Bakuman allots only five pages to that segment, most of which gets taken up by Eiji. But what that does is leave plenty of space for Miho and Moritaka’s first date. The entire last chapter gets dedicated to it, and considering they’ve been going long distance for ten years, it deserves the space.

By this time, readers may have forgotten Moritaka’s dead Uncle Nobuhiro, a major factor in his career and his decision to pursue Miho. Ohba-sensei neatly reintroduces him at the close of the story with a few “instructions” for Moritaka, and given the numerous ways Moritaka’s life reflected his, it’s a nice touch. It’s funny, sweet, and poignant all at once as the nervous couple step into that long-awaited moment, and the final pages provide a satisfying conclusion, signifying the end of one journey and the beginning of another.

In Summary

Bakuman reaches its conclusion! Unlike Ashirogi’s Reversi, the Bakuman series did feel like it went on a bit too long. Even in this last volume, Akito’s “wedding present” to Moritaka seemed an unnecessary extra hurdle to be overcome. However, the manga does an excellent job of bringing Miho back to the forefront with the Reversi audition, and the final chapter provides a satisfyingly sweet ending to Miho and Moritaka’s ten-year long-distance romance.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Bakuman Vol. 19

Bakuman is the latest collaboration of Ohba and Obata, the creators of the wildly popular Death Note series. Unlike Death Note, Bakuman is more or less grounded in reality, but it is no less entertaining as it follows the ups and downs of a mangaka duo as they strive to make it big in the publishing world!

This series is a personal favorite of mine, and Viz Media has just released Volume 19. (My reviews of earlier Bakuman volumes can be found here.)

The Review

Spoiler Alert!!!

Bakuman continues its renewed Eiji rivalry arc in Volume 19. First it’s the battle for survey results, then it’s a battle for graphic novel sales, and it finally culminates in a battle for a Jump anime slot. These “battles” though are relatively short. The start of the graphic novel sales battle to the conclusion of the anime battle takes only four chapters. The pages though are crammed with dialogue and panels, and it feels a bit like the creators were rushing through to get to the next, and likely final, arc of the series.

The driving force behind Ashirogi’s anime aspirations has been Moritaka’s dream of marrying Miho, so once Reversi’s anime slot is locked in, the story shifts back to Moritaka and Miho’s endangered species-like relationship (as Akito calls it). Of course our pair can’t get to happily ever after so easily, and a new obstacle arises in the form of Internet fandom backlash.

It starts out small enough with an indiscreet blog post stating that Ashirogi-sensei is actually a two-person team, but that quickly snowballs into a tabloid scandal that plunges the Jump office into uproar and threatens Miho’s career. Ishizawa, who’s definitely taken a turn for the disgusting, reappears to ignite the sparks of disaster, and interestingly, Fukuda inadvertently fans the flames. I never pinned the bad-boy motorcycle mangaka as the romantic type, but apparently he is and unfortunately gets carried away by his emotions. As the storm rages, Miho exudes calm as usual, but so does Moritaka, and it’s actually Akito who gets all riled up about the situation. (I know the chances are slim, but I’m hoping for a replay of Akito’s Ishizawa punch!) At any rate, Bakuman looks to be heading toward a strong finish with Miho and Moritaka caught between denying their relationship and achieving their dreams.

In Summary

Bakuman is at its penultimate volume, and as much as I’ve enjoyed the series, it really does feel like time for it to come to a close. Moritaka’s been in pursuit of his dream of marrying Miho for ten years, and at this point, Akito’s already married and most of their rivals have animated series. But the course of true love never runs smooth, and Ohba-sensei does a great job of throwing yet another obstacle into their path as the story shifts from the Eiji/Ashirogi rivalry to Moritaka and Miho’s hopes for marriage.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Maoh: Juvenile Remix Vol. # 10 (Final)

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?

The Review

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.

In Summary

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.

Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 27

Fullmetal Alchemist is a wildly popular manga that has spawned, among other things, two anime series, a movie, light novels, and video games. Although technically a shonen manga, it has a huge female following, thanks to mangaka Arakawa’s brilliant cast of characters and the heart and complexity she weaves into the plot. The American translation of Volume 27 has recently been released, and you can read on for the review. (For those interested in my reviews of earlier volumes, you can find them here).

The story centers on Edward and Alphonse Elric, two brothers who  attempted to bring their dead mother back to life through a forbidden alchemical ritual.  However, the ritual went wrong, taking Ed’s leg and Al’s entire body. At the cost of his arm, Ed manages to graft Al’s soul onto a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” to replace his missing limbs, Ed becomes a state alchemist in hopes of finding the one thing that can restore their bodies…the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Back Cover Blurb

With the help of Hohenheim and their allies, the Elric brothers launch a desperate final attack against the homunculus “father.” But to claim victory, some may have to make the ultimate sacrifice. And when the dust clears, will a happy ending await our favorite characters in the final volume of Fullmetal Alchemist?

The Review

(Spoiler Alert!!!)
Considering the many events of the Day of Reckoning, they seem to span several days instead of one. The conclusion to the battle against the homunculus Father is no different. The actual duration of the fight is just minutes, but so much happens so quickly, Arakawa-sensei burns through panels to convey everything. Action fans will get their fill with missiles, bullets, alchemy, and old-fashioned fisticuffs all aimed toward the former Dwarf in the Flask. At times, the images do get kind of grotesque. Part of it is due to the ferocity of the battle, but part of it is because of the homunculus’ monstrous nature. He, as an Amestrian soldier notes, is a dead ringer for Edward, but when his opponents’ firepower starts taking its toll, the distortions that result in the homunculus’ body are pretty scary.

During the course of the fight, both brothers wind up back at the portal of Truth. The way Al goes back is heartrending, and Ed’s reaction to it kicks up the emotion several levels. In contrast, the scene in which Ed returns evokes a different type of tension, coming across more like a showdown of wits. He has an intriguing philosophical interchange with the shadowy figure of the portal, and though the cynical part of me wonders whether their bargain actually is an exchange of “equivalents” (the item Ed offers is used, after all), Ed’s solution is one that took me by surprise.

With the final battle over, Arakawa-sensei wraps things up for her characters. Considering how large the cast is, there is a lot of wrapping up to do. (If you look at the splash page for Chapter 107, you get a feel for how big that task is). She does an excellent job though, covering everything from the Xing travelers to the Ishbalan refugees to Hohenheim’s return to Resembool. Fullmetal Alchemist comes to a wonderfully satisfying conclusion, and I salute Arakawa-sensei for a compelling story, consistently delightful artwork, and unforgettable characters in this series which, in my opinion, is bound to become a classic.

In Summary

It’s a wild final showdown against the homunculus Father, ultimately leading both Elric boys back to the portal of Truth. Arakawa-sensei does an amazing job bringing the series’ multiple journeys and quests to an end in the concluding volume of Fullmetal Alchemist.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Maoh: Juvenile Remix Vol. # 09

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 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). 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 is he really all that he seems?

Back Cover Blurb

To get revenge for his brother’s death, Junya decides to follow in Ando’s footsteps. To get to the bottom of who killed Ando, Junya will have to develop his own special powers. But before he can deal with Inukai, another group of misfits might beat him to it.

The Review

Previous chapters have given glimpses of Fraulein, but Volume 9 provides a really good look at the organization. Unlike Grasshopper which is simply violent, Fraulein is violent and depraved, a culture that definitely stems from the mob boss and his son. Sex, drugs, and blatant disregard for human life is par for the course, and though they’ve been lurking in the shadows, they seem to be positioning themselves to join the power grab for Nekota City.

Meanwhile, Junya’s normal life is turning into a distant memory. Our favorite assassin, Semi, and his boss Iwanishi show up again, this time at Junya’s behest. In addition to seeing Semi slit more throats and throw a couple tantrums, we get more insight into Junya’s power. Just as Ando and the Duce bartender had their limits, Junya’s “against the odds” power has limits as well. It’s more complicated than a radius of influence, but the fact that Junya isn’t completely omnipotent will force him to think (just like his brother!), making for a more intriguing plot.

As for Inukai, his political popularity continues skyrocketing while Nekota’s puppet mayor loses his tenuous grip on what little control he had. As it turns out, the seemingly upright Mayor Tatsumi has a weakness, one that Fraulein gleefully exploits. Inukai, on the other hand, they’ve targeted for elimination, but even having learned of Fraulein’s plot, Inukai maintains a calm, fatalistic attitude of the future. Junya, however, is determined that Inukai’s death comes at his own hands, even if that means saving Inukai from Fraulein (yes, there’s irony in that). This volume ends strongly, with the anticipation of how one lone youth will fare against an entire organization.

In Summary

Junya gets more embroiled with the underworld, he gains a new enemy: the shadowy organization Fraulein. But Junya’s quickly picking up the rules of survival, plus he’s learned to harness his own special powers. The tumultuous battle for Nekota City continues with more intrigue, more killing, and the introduction of some new degenerates who make Inukai look like a decent fellow.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Maoh: Juvenile Remix Vol. #08

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 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). 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 is he really all that he seems?

Back Cover Blurb

Still trying to recover from the shock of his brother’s death, Junya decides to follow in Ando’s footsteps. First on the agenda is revenge on the ones who caused his brother’s death. Can Junya succeed where Ando failed…?

The Review

Having chosen to dive the underworld, Junya can’t seem to take two steps without running into assassins. He starts off by arranging a showdown with the Duce bartender, but their confrontation gets abruptly cut off when the Pusher, the greatest killer in the business, interferes. (The images for this scene are pretty intense. You can practically feel the rumble of the truck as it crashes through.) The Pusher’s meddling is a wholly unexpected twist and sends Junya on a journey that takes him to other supernaturally gifted individuals; a sadistic shadowy group known as Fraulein (you’ll be gripping your fingernails after meeting them); and ultimately, Inukai.

As angry and vengeful as Junya is, he’s still very much grieving for his brother. Every now and then, something triggers a memory, and he winds up in tears. It’s proof of his affection for his brother, and with a bond so close, it makes absolute sense that Junya’s the critical link to Ando’s dramatic reappearance when Junya confronts Inukai.

In the meantime, reform in Nekota City isn’t proceeding the way its good citizens would hope. The convenient demises of Grasshopper’s opponents is weighing on the new mayor, forcing him into the very tricky position of striking a deal with unsavory characters to try to gain an upper hand on the underworld. Whatever’s going to happen next, it feels like all involved are going to sink further into darkness.

In Summary

Junya’s out for revenge, and not even the threat of death or violence can stop him. It’s one gripping encounter after another as Junya gets to the bottom of what happened to his brother. He’s gone through a dramatic transformation in the last few chapters, but that’s nothing compared to what happens when he discovers the truth from Inukai himself!

This title is rated Older Teen for lotsa blood and violence and an intense plot.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Maoh: Juvenile Remix Vol. #07

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.

The Review

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.

In Summary

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.

Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 26

Fullmetal Alchemist is a wildly popular manga that has spawned, among other things, two anime series, a movie, light novels, and video games. Although technically a shonen manga, it also has a huge female following, thanks to mangaka Arakawa’s brilliant cast of characters and the heart and complexity she weaves into the plot. The American translation of Volume 26 has recently been released, and you can read on for the review. (For those interested in my reviews of earlier volumes, you can find them here).

The story centers on Edward and Alphonse Elric, two brothers who  attempted to bring their dead mother back to life through a forbidden alchemical ritual.  However, the ritual went wrong, taking Ed’s leg and Al’s entire body. At the cost of his arm, Ed manages to graft Al’s soul onto a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” to replace his missing limbs, Ed becomes a state alchemist in hopes of finding the one thing that can restore their bodies…the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Back Cover Blurb

With all the pieces now in his possession, the homunculus “father” executes his master plan as Edward and the others watch in horror. When the dust settles, the entire world has been reshaped. With the help of Hohenheim, the Elric brothers lauch a desperate final attack, but is it all too late…?

The Review

(Spoiler Alert!!!)
Things aren’t looking good for our heroes at the opening of the volume. Despite desperate fighting from Team Elrich, the former Dwarf in the Flask has everything and everyone where he wants it. Interestingly, the Dwarf, who’s been rather impassive for the most part, gets caught up in his moment of triumph and takes on a maniacal glee, which is made even creepier by his multi-eyeball form.

The Dwarf’s creepiness, however, is quickly outmatched by the creepiness that sweeps over Amestris once his plot is unleashed. His aspirations are of planetary proportions, and the panels of him attaining “God,” are reminiscent of the concluding scenes from the Evangelion anime.

At this point, it looks like it’s curtains for humanity. But it’s not. While those within Amestris’ borders get turned into philosophers stones, those closest to the center (e.g. May, Hawkeye, the chimeras, Scar) are spared, including the five “sacrifices.” Considering the Dwarf called them sacrifices, I thought they would literally be sacrificed (killed) so it felt a bit like cheating when they were still around after all the portal-opening ended.

Arakawa-sensei makes up for it though with the ingenuity in our heroes’ two counterattacks against the Dwarf. What I love about the first counterattack is that it ties into some formerly inexplicable actions several volumes back and also draws from the Cselksess arc. And the second attack turns the spotlight on Ishbalans’ role in the fight and provides a long-awaited explanation on the secret behind Amestris’ alchemy.

Although Chapters 105 and 106 resolve much of the mystery in Fullmetal Alchemist, the story’s not over yet, and Arakawa-sensei concludes this penultimate volume with an everyone-against-the-Dwarf battle in the middle of Central Headquarters!

In Summary

Despite Team Elric’s best efforts, the Dwarf in the Flask attains his ultimate goal! Yet all is not lost. The long-lost citizens of Cselksess and Amestris’ former enemy Scar counterattack in ways the Dwarf couldn’t have imagined. Humanity still has a fighting chance as Fullmetal Alchemist heads into its final volume!

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Maoh: Juvenile Remix Vol. #06

I don’t usually review a whole lot of shonen manga, and I review even fewer violent shonen titles. Somehow, though, I wound up reviewing 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

As Ando continues to try to uncover Inukai’s plans, Grasshopper prepares for a major event to take control of the city. Just when Ando gets close to the truth, standing in his way is the most dangerous challenge he’s ever faced.

The Review

At the end of the last volume, Ando wasn’t looking too good. In fact, he looked like he was ready to keel over. As it turns out, he’s nowhere near finished. With as much sleuthing and running around as he does, you’ll be exhausted by the time Volume 6 is over.

The story gets off to a slow start with some machinations on the political front and fanatical stirrings at Ando’s high school. After a while, I almost got tired of Ando being the lone voice of reason among the strident, brainwashed mob. But then the story moves toward the Grasshopper Action Meeting, and the story really picks up.

The lead up to the meeting all but screams “epic battle coming!” Even the way, Ando sends Junya out of town very much has a “Farewell, Brother, I go to die” feel to it. So does the action that follows actually live up to the anticipation? I think it does.

The creators convey a definite sense of urgency with the countdown to Inukai’s plan, and the situation worsens when the Duce bartender shows up to thwart Ando’s efforts. At certain points, Ando and the bartender get ridiculously chatty for two guys involved in a life or death battle, but Ando’s frantic race to figure out the secret behind the bartender’s power will definitely keep you riveted.

To be sure, the last moments of their fight seem to defy the laws of physics and the action is a little hard to follow (it took me three reads to figure out what exactly happened with the bridge). The ending is also rather over the top with its image of the planet Earth. Overall, though, it’s a thrilling finish for this volume and our hero Ando.

In Summary

Volume 6 is all about wits. Inukai has a secret plot to bring the city to its knees, and Ando must uncover it before it’s too late. But in the middle of his investigation, he’s attacked by Inukai’s dangerous henchman, the Duce bartender. The ensuing battle has plenty of crashing and flying projectiles, but it ultimately boils down to whether Ando can crack the secret behind the bartender’s power before he gets killed. For those who like smart heroes pitted against enormous odds, Volume 6 of Maoh will be a treat.

This title is rated Older Teen for lotsa blood and violence and an intense plot.

First published at the Fandom Post.