Everybody likes a good fighting game so why not do that in a manga? That seems to be the spark that inspired Juni Taisen, which in fact started out as a novel. Now in manga form, readers can experience all the blood, awesome superpowers, and action the book delivered on. The first volume was quite interesting, but how does Volume 2 stack up?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
With several of the fighters already dead, the Zodiac War is in full swing! The biggest danger the remaining fighters face is Usagi, the fighter of the Rabbit. He has the unique ability to control the dead bodies of those he’s slain, putting his opponents at a huge disadvantage! While Usagi and his undead army rampage in the streets above, Chicken and Rat lay low underground with Monkey, who is determined to settle the battle with as few deaths as possible.
Why does this matter?
Ever want to drop into a story and not know everything all at once? The way this world works, who these characters are, and why the competition to the death even exists are all unexplained. That leaves you guessing while the blood flies.
Check out my review of Volume 1.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This volume progresses the killing nicely with not one, but three deaths among the main fighters. Considering that a few died already and there are only twelve that’s a fast pace. Of course, some of these characters might come back–who knows–but as it stands the story is moving at a fast clip. That pace keeps the action more intense and the head games at a minimum. There’s certainly a lot of internalizing of what is going on; Fighter of the Chicken Niwatori questions Sharyu, AKA Fighter of the Monkey, for the first third of this volume, but it all aims to get the reader thinking logically.
This volume offers the introduction and origin story of Hitsujii, who is the Fighter of the Sheep and a previous winner of the Zodiac War. This adds a different type of storytelling mechanic which is welcome given how much fighting goes on. Sharyu and her ways of peace are also detailed quite well. Without a doubt, Akira Akatsuki (and novel writer Nisioisin) do a good job mixing up the fighters which further puts into question why these characters must fight at all. By the end the notion of pure evil is considered, which gives the book an ever so slight philosophical angle.
The art continues to be detailed and of a quality one might liken to anime. There are all the usual visual motifs in play including highly detailed eyes and speed lines. The book doesn’t hold back with the violence, with literal blood geysers flowing and looking quite realistic.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s hard to understand how Sharyu could believe everyone is good at heart or at the very least not evil, especially when facing a necromancer like Usagi, the Fighter of the Rabbit. The dude looks evil, but he also relishes the sick nature of raising the dead. Sharyu certainly sticks to her guns as far as character motivation, but it seems foolish.
The only other aspect that irks me is the gratuitous T&A. Sharyu is the most objectified character in this volume and at times it can be laughable. The framing of a panel so we can see her butt in the foreground is a bit much and it’s clearly the driving element in some scenes.
Is it good?
I liked this volume more than the first now that the series has settled into a groove and it’s basically established that we get new info as we go. The characters are varied and well-designed, and the fighting is exciting. It delivers on everything you’d expect from a fight comic and then some.