When you consider the series’ philosophical musings and themes it’s no wonder that Platinum End comes from the creative team behind Death Note. Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata have a penchant for stories about death and the moral implications of causing it. Platinum End is markedly different from its predecessor, however. There’s a stronger emphasis on social class, and the angels depicted look far different from Death Note’s Shinigami. Platinum End Vol. 7, published by Viz Media, collects chapters 20-23, in which Mirai and Kanade face off in a duel to the death. Is it good?
One of this volume’s greatest strengths is the dichotomy it creates between the protagonist (Mirai) and antagonist (Kanade). Mirai grapples with the morality of killing, even when eliminating one individual would save many other lives. Meanwhile, Kanade is sadistic to the point of murdering his beloved sister rather than watching her grow up to love other people. Kanade and Mirai don’t just trade physical blows, but also angrily spout moral philosophies at each other. The subject matter here is wonderfully political; topics such as classism, charity, and the human right to happiness are all addressed effectively and enhance the series’ sense of substance. The classist elements of Kanade’s views are especially well-handled, as Ohba and Obata explore toxic societal associations between poverty and the concept of people being metaphorically unclean. All in all, there’s some solid ground covered here.
This volume’s art also impresses. The warfare between god candidates looks appropriately divine thanks to Obata’s excellent shading and usage of patterns. The line-work throughout is very clean and well-detailed, which helps make the mystical and technological details like wings and weapons look great. The facial expressions are also great. There are countless panels featuring characters with obscured mouths or otherwise partially hidden faces, and Obata delivers emotive work even under these circumstances. Oftentimes all you need to convey a character’s feelings is to show intense eyes or a dramatic brow, which Obata excels at.
In terms of cons, this volume’s action can get a bit bland.There are some clarity issues in the midst of Kanade and Mirai’s duel which disrupt the flow and tension. Design-wise, the angels aren’t very impressive. Some of them are just generic and lack any distinguishing flair while the more unique ones are just kind of head-scratchers. One of the angels has a disturbingly rendered face that straight-up looks like Donald Trump, and it doesn’t mesh with the rest of the world or stand out in a meaningful way; it just seems pointlessly jarring. Writing-wise, this volume is also a bit slow to really get going.
Platinum End Vol. 7 is an enjoyably dramatic book. The artwork is clean, with lovely patterns and shading as well as great renderings of facial expressions. Story-wise the tension between Mirai and Kanade is fantastic, and there’s some great ground covered with regards to their motivations and philosophical differences. On the downside, the beginning drags a bit and the action scenes suffer from some minor clarity issues. The angel designs also disappoint. As a whole though, this is a very good volume that left me eager for future installments.