Tsugumi Ohba writes and draws Platinum End, which is a very good thing. He’s best known for his fantastic series Death Note, and given the moral quandary of both series, you know you’re in for a conundrum the characters must work out within the supernatural rules. In this volume, the hero is a God candidate given extraordinary powers, but must be the last one alive of over ten candidates to reach the ultimate goal.
Platinum End Vol. 2 (Viz Media)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
Mirai is suddenly pierced by a red arrow from a god candidate who just happens to be the girl he has a crush on! Now under her control for the next 33 days, what will happen to Mirai? And what is the mysterious Metropoliman really up to…?
Why does this book matter?
The first volume revealed a much more adult themed book, with violence and nudity coming in droves, which helped set the tone (we loved it). This series is taking God and its powers seriously. Speaking of God, Ohba does a good job establishing the infrastructure of powers, which makes the series fun.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I love it when angels show up and give me powers too.
Mirai being pierced by a red arrow opens this volume, but thankfully the lovestruck character was already in love with the girl who pierced him. Her name is Saki, an innocent looking type whose threat level isn’t immediately clear. The level of danger quickly subsides as we learn she did it because her angel is a strategist and pushed her to do it. Half of this volume focuses on Mirai and Saki building trust and figuring out how to work together. Essentially Ohba uses this part of the volume to play towards the underlying love and desires of the characters. He does a good job establishing their care for each other which will pay dividends later. This section helps flesh out Saki’s angel and establish how she’s different from Mirai’s angel. This character development helps create an interesting dynamic between all of them.
This volume also feels a lot more in line for fans of superheroes. The villain Metropoliman already has a sick looking mech suit, but add in a few more and you have yourself a team book. Later in the volume, Metropoliman has a presentation at a stadium, asking others with powers to show up. Lo and behold, a few do show up in the same sort of costume. This section plays out like a high stakes sequence where Metropoliman uses his guile to beat the others so that he may gain their powers. Ohba uses this scene to build up Metropoliman’s evilness and by god by the end you’ll want him dead. This ties into Mirai’s fear of killing and gets the reader ramped up so we root him on to kill the bastard.
Rank and arrows are very important in this series.
The art continues to be sharp and well rendered too. Midway through when Metropoliman is taking on the other angel powered people there are some beautiful double page spreads. The suits look fantastic, the powers they wield cool, and there’s a lot of energy on the page. The angels, while somewhat sexy and nude, look otherworldly and interesting. The wings and hair have a lightness to them that makes them appear heavenly. They also serve to add a bit of humor to the book with their upbeat, laissez-faire attitude toward death. Visually the facial expressions sell their chipper nature, even in the face of death.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This volume drags on too long. The first section with Mirai and Saki seems to be going somewhere, then abruptly jumps 30 days and wraps it up too quickly. I suppose it works to establish Saki and her angel’s personality, but the romantic angel doesn’t quite work.
The remaining pages of the volume focus on Metropoliman’s plan to draw out the other angel powered characters at a baseball stadium. The setup is fine, but his cleverness is never that interesting. He dupes the characters that are drawn out, but in a way that makes them look dumb rather than Metropoliman looking smart. It’s partly because the tricks he uses are so obvious. The logic of the powers doesn’t come into play much either (arrows can kill and make folks fall in love with you, to name two) which seems like a missed opportunity. The entire scene goes on way too long and ends up reaffirming how evil Metropoliman is and not much more. By the end of the volume Mirai’s fear of killing is ramped up, and there’s a surprising last page reveal, but much of this volume could be skipped without missing much.
The believability of Metropoliman being the hero of the people is certainly at risk in this volume. Even before this volume, his actions were counter to the law, and it’d be helpful to see the public’s opinion sour on the character. The first volume seemed to suggest he cared what they thought, but then this volume throws all that out.
The powers and world setup are grand and the art is fabulous. You can’t deny the quality of these things, but unfortunately much of this volume drags. Important character work is done to be sure, but the last half is only saved by the art, especially when boneheaded characters fall for easy traps.