Ultraman is back this month with the latest volume. Shinjiro has inherited the powers of Ultraman from his father and with them, managed to save both of them from a dangerous villain that had arrived on Earth. What comes next for him now that his abilities are known by the government?
Ultraman Vol. 2 (Viz Media)
Written by: Eiichi Shimizu
Drawn by: Tomohiro Shimoguchi
Translated by: Joe Yamazaki
After the vicious attack by Bemular and the threat of more attacks by unrestrained aliens, Shinjiro Hayata may need to step up. His dad is getting far too old and the last attack nearly killed him. As such, Shinjiro may need to take on the role of Ultraman now. However, what will he have to do on the job?
The second volume is a solid continuation of the first. While the first volume was about setting things up and Shinjiro’s first step to becoming Ultraman, this volume is about him taking on the role and learning what it fully entails. It’s basically the next part of a superhero origin, though the superhero has a secret government agency backing [and also manipulating] him so he can do good. It’s a bit standard, decompressed, and admittedly predictable at times, but the execution of Shinjiro’s growth into his role as Ultraman and subplots that are introduced keep things interesting and engaging. You like seeing this unsure teen learn to become a hero and seeing his priorities change and learning what it means to inherit this title. Now that setup is done with these two volumes and that we got a plan for where this series will be going, it will be intriguing to see how the plot and character develops from here on out.
Shimizu’s writing is solid so far. While a few of the characters are archetypes for the superhero genre (like Detective Endo), the characterization is not bad overall. Through their dialogue and actions, you get a good feel for what type of character everyone is and what kind of personality they have, like Edo and how he utilizes these plans to “encourage” Shinjiro into accepting this role while pushing his own plan forward. The dialogue isn’t too bad and has some good lines, though it can be a bit expositional at times when the comic stops to explain some concepts. Speaking of which, the pacing on the book is pretty fast most of the time due to it being decompressed and the story is always on the move. The only time it slows down is when it deals out exposition and background information, which is littered a few times throughout the book. Overall though, it’s not a badly written book at all.
Shimoguchi’s artwork is still excellent and a joy to look at. The book’s more decompressed approach to storytelling allows Shimoguchi to draw some really captivating imagery with these huge panels or one to two page spreads. The amount of detail put into a lot of these shots, the angles for the panels, the inking and shadows used, and the fluid nature of the characters’ movement and fighting allow for some really amazing looking scenes. A great example of that is Shinjiro’s first public appearance as Ultraman, saving a driver from a fiery crash and exploding tanker, which looks stellar. And of course there are a lot of other great parts to the artwork, like character design of the aliens for instance. Overall, this book is just great to look at.
Like brought up before, this is pretty decompressed and mostly just a lot more setup. While the writing and art are great, the book is a breeze to get through and the story itself slows down a bit after a while. The last half of the book, while great to read as it ultimately sets the stage for where things will be going next, is mostly just one long fight scene against another alien with huge panels and lots of full page spreads. The first half of the book otherwise is just setting things up and resolving some minor plot points from before (a bit too cleanly at that, honestly). That said, this is material that really doesn’t hurt the manga a lot, it just holds it back a little.
Ultraman Vol. 2 is a very enjoyable follow up to the first volume. It’s still decompressed and deals with a lot of setup, but the writing, execution, and artwork more than make up for these minor issues. There’s not a lot to say other than that if you enjoyed the first volume, be sure to grab the second and enjoy as things get more intense.