World Trigger releases have been part of a very welcome trend: each volume is better than the last, like the writer is really starting to find his groove. That gives me a lot of hope for this series, and I’m looking forward to seeing whether or not this upward curve continues. We have the latest volume, so let’s investigate.
World Trigger Vol. 4 (Viz Media)
Written & Drawn By: Daisuke Ashihara
Translated By: Lillian Olsen
Border Headquarters Commander Masamune Kido has just given out a big order: he wants members and team leaders from the highest ranking squads in Border (all of them A-Rank) to attack the Tamakoma Branch and retrieve Yuma’s Black Trigger, an extremely powerful version of a Trigger. If they can obtain it, Kido’s Faction will obtain more leverage and power within Border, instead of the Tamakoma Branch, which could become more powerful if Yuma becomes an agent and joins their part of the organization. However, S-Rank agent Yuichi Jin and members of the Shinoda Faction have joined forces to repel Kido’s squad. It’s an all-out battle between the members of the same organization, but who will be standing tall when all is said and done?
So, does this volume continue the series’ steady growth that we have been seeing over the past few volumes? To be perfectly honest, it’s both yes and no here. This was a very enjoyable and fun to read book overall and I do really look forward to reading the next one, but there are areas where it does feel lacking. On the whole though, it’s a new volume where if you have been enjoying the series up until now, you’ll certainly like what you’ll see here.
As shown here by this poor guy getting sliced and diced.
Story-wise, this edition felt a bit light. Most of the volume (about six out of the nine chapters more specifically) was one long action sequence between the various members and factions of Border, as they try to find different ways to undermine or beat one another. The story here doesn’t really advance outside of the initial setup for this part of the book, but it does at least use the time to continue to build up the mythos of this universe. We get to learn more about the various Triggers, classes, and fighting styles the agents use and see all of the agents in action. It’s good for stuff like that, but until the wrap up of this battle, the story is at a standstill.
However, things do pick up in the final third of the book. We see the ending and fallout from this inner turmoil, which opens up the door for some more interesting stories and characters down the line. It also opens things up in the present—the whole fight can be considered a hollow victory, because even though Jin won, he still lost something very important to him in order to ensure Yuma’s protection. Then we finally get to the Border Enlistment Day that was built up in the last volume and while we don’t get to see much of it, it does get the story moving again and seems to show some of the growth the main characters can be working towards off panel. Overall, the story was pretty slow, but it did end well and in an area that makes me really eager to see what’s next for the book (a big plus).
Sadly, there wasn’t a lot of character growth in the main trio of Yuma, Osamu, and Chika here. Most of the volume was dedicated to the other Border Agents and their big battle and by the time we do get to see these three, it’s when they (and by extension, us) are learning about the different types of Triggers. It was a bit disappointing, since we really haven’t had much advancement with Osamu in a long while and I think it would have been good to see a bit more of the “team” together. However, the manga does at least get to show some of their advancement with the training they have been doing towards the end, like with Chika when she gets to try out one of the high power sniper rifles Border has (which led to one of the funniest and best scenes in the entire book). Plus, the ending of the volume does imply we’ll be getting more development from the three next time, or at the very least Osamu, so there is that.
The real focus and characterization was in the other high ranking Border agents from Jin, to A-Rank Kei Tachikawa (Jin’s old rival), to even Ai Kitora (who was last seen in the opening of the second volume). Through the big action sequence, the writer did a great job showing how competent and powerful each of the agents were. They weren’t all just talk or show, but really felt as powerful (and also smart and clever) as their ranks suggested, especially considering the strategies and tactics they used. They were great to watch and while they all do need some more individual development, they all felt unique and make you curious in seeing more of them. There were also some nice, smaller bits of development that were appreciated, like Ai making up for her poor showing earlier in the series or Shuji Miwa (a character with big resentment towards Neighbors) being called out on his behavior by showing how he is a bit similar to Jin. Overall, I’m pleased with what I’m seeing here with the characters and I really do hope for some time with the main cast next time.
The writing on the book is still pretty handled pretty well. The pacing is fast here (makes sense considering the intense fighting going on), but it slows down a bit when dealing out exposition or when the characters are just talking. The characterization is solid and everyone still feels pretty much on point, with no one really out of character. The dialogue and narration aren’t bad here, though there wasn’t much that stuck out as being great (or bad either) when reading it. The only thing with the story or writing that I, myself, am not that clear on is how the fighting works to a certain degree. Do the Border Agents send out Trion (that’s their power source) doubles themselves to fight, are they coated in Trion when they fight so they themselves don’t receive damage, or what? I’m cloudy on that area.
The artwork is really good. The biggest improvement with the book was that it felt more exciting than the last volume (and possibly even the second as well). There was really no action scene or anything truly exciting to look at previously, which in an action-based series is a bit odd (the book certainly made up for it with everything else in it, but you get the point). Since the volume was all action this time, you got to see some really neat fight scenes. They can be pretty flashy in how they look, but they flow well enough from panel to panel. The combat was intense and brutal with how the characters used their weapons, really looking pretty neat overall.
As for the other artwork, it’s still fine. The layouts are decent and easy to follow, which helped a lot with the action in the book. The scenery was nice and some of the detail in the book did look good. The characters were fine and do look varied enough to a certain degree. Some characters unfortunately blend together due to having similar hair styles and facial structures (I accidently mistook one person for another in the final chapter), which is disappointing. Also, the entire issue with the characters’ eyes persists in this volume as well. Honestly, the characters’ facial reactions and expressions are not all that great since their eyes rarely ever seen to react or change much. It’s rather disappointing and it can be hard to judge how someone is feeling because of that.
Yeah, groin shots may be powerful, but the guy is still likely to survive after all.
World Trigger Vol. 4 was a pretty enjoyable outing for the series, stepping it up with the action and doing a pretty decent job at introducing and showing off a lot of the new and old supporting characters. While the story didn’t advance as much as I’d hoped, it does seem like the story is heading in a good direction given the final chapters. Hopefully, the book continues to grow and improve as it goes forward, because the series is slowly, but surely, winning me over.
World Trigger is available on Amazon from Viz Media. The fifth volume is scheduled for release on April 7th, 2015 and the sixth volume is strangely coming out in July (not June for some reason). An anime adaption of the series made by Toei Animation is currently running and available for streaming via Crunchyroll. The anime is set to have about fifty episodes in total, so it should be interesting to see how this all plays out.