Platinum End is a brand new manga series that’s getting released here in America and it’s from the creators of Death Note, which immediately makes it of interest. Is it good?
Platinum End #1 (Viz Media)
Written by: Tsugumi Ohba
Drawn by: Takeshi Obata
Translated by: Stephen Paul
Mirai Kakehashi’s life has been painful and awful ever since his parents died. Living with a horribly abusive aunt and uncle (they put the Dursleys from Harry Potter to shame) and having no friends, he feels as if there’s no reason to live anymore and decides to throw himself off a rooftop. However, as he falls, he’s rescued by a girl who says she is his guardian angel and is here to make him happy. Does she have what he needs to become happy again or is there something else at play here?
Platinum End’s first chapter took me by surprise. Its story makes you believe it is going one way, but then it will quickly switch on you with some of the twists and turns it makes. At first, it seems like the story is going to be about this angel wanting to make Mirai happy (it almost has some Oh My Goddess vibes) and about what odd situations arise from the gifts she grants him. However, the manga takes some dark turns over halfway through and ends on a rather interesting note about what the deal is with this angel and God. All of these events leave you wondering where exactly this series will be going in the future and what will come next given this surprise and the fact that the suicidal tendencies of Mirai seem to be over for the moment. It’s quite exciting and provides enough intrigue to make you interested in coming back.
Sorry, dropping people is just not part of the guardian angel way.
The two main (or at least central) characters are Mirai and the angel. Mirai is a very sympathetic character, written to have a very sad life that makes you feel for him. He’s different from the other main characters that Ohba has created; he’s neither fun loving or malicious with his powers (so far). There’s not much else beyond that, but it’ll be interesting to see how he’ll use his abilities and what his new outlook on life will be.
As for the angel, she is iffy; the thing about Ohba’s writing of female characters is troubling at best and just plain sexist at worse (Bakuman was particularly bad in this department). The angel has some of those subservient elements that the creator’s other female leads had, but not to as much so far thankfully. Her behavior seems to stem more from wanting to pick the next God for the world and by pleasing Mirai and possibly getting him to godhood, it can be interpreted that she could be aiming to get a higher position of power or will be in the next God’s good graces (that and it could be her personality to just want to help him out regardless). Also, her inhuman and nonplussed attitude towards death and how she nonchalantly talks about certain very serious things makes her a bit more memorable and interesting. There’s work to be done with both characters and hopefully they improve, but they do both work for the time being in this chapter.
The writing isn’t too bad overall either. The pacing is pretty good for the most part and keeps things truckin’ along, though it tends to slow down in the middle when there is a bunch of exposition and speeds up too quickly in the climax (that sort of makes the resolution a bit rushed). The translation job of the dialogue is solid and nothing sounds unnatural. The emotion and drama feel right in how both themes and moods are present, allowing you to really believe in Mirai’s pain. The only problem that remains is the loose end at the end of the first chapter with the aunt’s body. It’s like the manga almost forgets about it in the final pages. However, that’s a nitpick and it doesn’t hurt the story in the slightest.
Dammit, stop through pillow feathers at me people!
Last, but certainly not least, is Takeshi Obata’s fantastic artwork. The characters look great and are so full of life in how they’re drawn and how they move and express themselves. You can really tell how someone is feeling and believe in it. The amount of detail put into every page is fantastic (like the first appearance of the angel and Mirai using his new gifts). The layouts are put together well and everything is easy to follow, allowing for some really dynamic storytelling and shots. Frankly, the only problem that ever arises in the book is the fanservice. While it’s fairly light, sprinkled throughout the book, it does not remotely fit the tone and feel of the manga. When there is a butt or boob shot, it’s just groan worthy.
Platinum End #1 is a pretty damn good first chapter to this new manga. It does a lot of things right, subverting some of your expectations with its twists, and providing some good writing and even better artwork. However, the female characterization, given the writer’s history, may raise an eyebrow for some and could be of concern as the series goes on. For the time being though, clocking in at close to seventy pages long and just a dollar, this is worth a look at the very least. You never know, you may like what you find here.