The most glaringly offensive manga is back this week from Kodansha Comics. It not only thrusts real world personas into the main narrative, but breasts and bulging biceps too. It’s B-movie fodder like no other, which is why it can be so entertaining.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The prime minister of Japan barges in on President Putinov for an informal meeting, and the diplomatic ties between two powerhouse nations quickly devolve into a no-holds-barred, bareknuckle free-for-all! This outrageous breach of etiquette winds up setting off a world war of epic proportions as Japan and the USA flex their power and biceps against Greater Russia and Putinov’s arsenal of brawny superhumans. But while the world erupts in a musclebound melee, behind the scenes, both sides are scrambling to get their hands on the final golden record, which could hold the secret to a weapon to outclass even the legendary peacemakers. However, the record has been safely hidden by the mad monk Rasputin, and whoever wants it will have to contend with the White Witch, Ryuzo Hijikata, and the new and improved Li Yan-Long.
Why does this matter?
A Hillary Clinton (named Billary Quintone) surrogate is president of the United States. A Vladimir Putin (named Putinov) surrogate runs Russia, who also happens to want to take over the world. A Bruce Lee lookalike is on the cover of the damn book. If seeing these characters do and say outrageous things (like Putin fighting a giant squid) sounds good to you, you’re in the right place.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue continues the insane to-the-max fight scenes complete with weird powers and huge muscles. Russia has a force that’s mostly about muscle, but they are up against forces that know different martial arts to combat them. Why not use bombs or bullets? Because with the wristband technology discovered after finding vinyl records from space, nothing can hurt you unless you’re driven into the ground with brute force. Creator Yasushi Baba is very good at using blurs to convey how impactful and fast these characters are, including a massive kick to Putinov’s head at one point. There’s also a character who has been improved so he can bend at any point like a dragon, and a major American wrestler who looks like Hulk Hogan reemerges.
The biggest addition to the story in this volume is a new weapon from Putinov which basically fires his superpowered men via cannon. It’s ridiculous and way over-the-top, but that’s why you’re reading this book, right? I’m also enjoying the extra chapters featuring Putinov’s exploits proving how masculine he is, forcing him to fight a squid and later wear a very special vest. It’s very silly and worth a chuckle.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This volume drags and doesn’t move the plot forward much. There are political games afoot, but no real action occurs until the last few pages. Adding to the slowness is the repetitive reminder of who Rasputin is and why we should care. At this point we should already know, but it appears they think they need to continually remind us. Characters should lift up an otherwise slow-moving plot, but here they are flat. So much focus has been given to their fighting ability that you could care less who they are when they aren’t fighting. Putinov is a caricature of a tough man and the characters are so overblown they’re impossible to relate to.
Is it good?
This series works best when it delivers huge ideas that borderline on making no sense. This volume suffers from a lack of that as well as a lack of plot progression, with little to keep your interest up while the fists fly.