While maybe a moment or two raised an eyebrow, the first chapter of Platinum End was pretty great overall. It had a good main character, potential for where it can go, and a few surprising twists here and there, all brought to life with fantastic artwork. Now the question is, where will this manga go now that everything has been set up?
Platinum End #2 (Viz Media)
Written by: Tsugumi Ohba
Drawn by: Takeshi Obata
Translated by: Stephen Paul
It’s been a few days since his aunt’s death and Mirai Kakehashi has been trying to deal with what has happened and figure out what to do with his life now that he has these potentially dangerous powers. His guardian angel, Nasse, has some interesting, yet questionable suggestions on what to do. Meanwhile, more of the chosen thirteen start to appear and they do not seem to be as moral as Mirari to say the least.
The focus of the second chapter is a combination of continuing to flesh out the rules of this story and building up our two leads. Throughout the first half and a bit more beyond that, Ohba puts out more details on the power that these wings and arrows have that the angels grant, such as what they can or cannot do (and even a mention of their weakness). The information is dealt out in pretty reasonable portions with beautifully drawn imagery rather than huge, filled-to-the-brim word balloons with lots of text and little to look at. Between that and a solid translation job from Stephen Paul, the exposition is handled very well in this comic and never drags down the pacing of the story.
The characterization of Mirai and Nasse is where the manga really succeeds above all else when it comes to the writing. We continue to watch Mirai grow and develop out of his depression and try to figure out what to do next with his life now that so much has changed. A lot of his sentiments and the things he says feel genuine. For instance, Nasse constantly tries to convince him to use his powers to gain the happiness she thinks he should have, but he flat out states that he simply just wants a normal life and normal happiness. Just a home, a good job, a good education, a good family. Something that he lost when his parents died and his reasoning (plus what we have seen or what has been inferred) makes a lot of sense and is believable. He has very normal and human reactions to a lot of things in general too and thus, feels very relatable. Where he goes from here will be very interesting to see play out.
I can’t help but think you are giving me bad job advice right now.
In comparison, Nasse is different than him and can be rather unsettling despite her more cutesy appearance and cheery disposition. She has her heart in the right place; wanting to make Mirai happy and encouraging him to use his powers to help make his life better. However, she really acts nothing like most depictions of angels (let alone a guardian angel) when it comes to her behavior and attitude, making it closer to Old Testament morality as some people would describe it. She encourages him to use his powers, but in rather selfish and heartless ways to get what he wants. He needs money? Kill off his uncle and cousins who have his money from the insurance settlement when his parents died! After all, his uncle killed them in the first place and his cousins were jerks, so fair is fair! Got a crush on a girl? Why not use one of those “Love” arrows to technically manipulate his mind into falling for him! You deserve that happiness after all the crap you had to endure! It’s disturbing how cold she is and how much she struggles with understanding human morality when he objects her offers, really counteracting the kind of aura and appearance she presents. With such a personality, she is easily one of the most interesting female characters I’ve seen this creative team put out in all of their series and that makes you want to see more of her.
While ultimately not having the opportunity to draw anything as flashy as in first chapter (there are still a couple of interesting shots, especially in the opening nightmare sequence), Obata’s artwork is still wonderful looking overall. His layouts are excellent and well-crafted, laying everything out and using solid transitions to move each scene along. The characters look great and remain very expressive, helping with some of the more dramatic and heavier moments. The designs on the angels and angelic weapons look great and are really eye-catching (some of the angels look like a brighter counterpart to the Shinigamis from Death Note). Also nice is that creators toned down the fanservice from the last issue that felt out of place in scenes that were trying to be heavier or thoughtful. (Well… for the most part anyways.) It’s no longer distracting, and the scenes just feel more genuine and easier to take seriously.
While the manga put its focus into development and characterization, it fell a tad short in the story department. Outside of the very promising ending that looks like it’ll be adding some good conflict, not a whole lot happened. It didn’t have the punch of the first chapter nor was it that eventful, mostly focusing on more setup. If we didn’t have the surprises toward the end and the solid execution, the chapter would have felt very lacking. It’s more of a personal complaint, but that chapter as a whole may not end up being what you expect.
The other thing that felt questionable was a certain part of the manga. For those unaware, all manga companies put ratings on their series that will tell you what age it is appropriate for (sort of like the ratings for movies or video games). When the first chapter was released, the series was rated T+ for 16 and up. However, the second chapter has moved the series to a hard M for Mature/Adult audiences and it’s very earned. Towards the final third of the issue, there is an abrupt and sudden orgy-like scene where mind controlled women are rubbing their nude bodies (with actual nipples and not Barbie doll boobs like in other manga) over one of the chosen people. The whole scene is messy in its execution, where it just feels gratuitous and out of place with this sudden burst of sexual content. The scene could have easily been rewritten or redone without the sexual acts and nothing would have been lost, especially since the manga already did a fine enough job showing how ugly of a human being he was. Also, the art didn’t quite go far enough with showing how disturbingly creepy the situation really was, kind of depicting it in a lot of the panels as if there weren’t these horrible connotations in it.
Platinum End #2 is a good follow up to the first chapter of the series. While the rating went up and not much story happened, the characterization, most of the execution, and artwork were excellent. This is really shaping up to be quite the interesting series—much more mature and graphic than usual, but with mostly the same quality of writing and artwork you would expect. Ultimately, this is still very much worth your time.