Robot x Laserbeam 008-010 – Manga Review
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: Robato Hatohara is a strange young man who seems to show almost no emotion or care. But when Tomoya, his only friend, takes an interest in Golf, Robato begins to show his own interest and quite significant skill as he can do what most pros have a difficult time mastering: He can hit the ball perfectly straight with incredible range. Golf is about to get a whole lot more interesting.
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
This chapter continues right from where 007 left off as Robo challenges the top golf club members to secure one of their regular spots. The chapter primarily focuses on Robo getting turned down, explaining that 1st years aren’t normally allowed on the team as regulars, as well as Robo’s misunderstanding of what it means to become a regular for the team.
We get to know our four main members a bit better here as each reacts differently to Robo’s presumptuous request. Sota is the sly, easy going member of the group. Rion the hot head, Gen the strict, and Shintaro we already know as the understanding commander. Though, the art has me getting Sota and Rion mixed up when there’s no coloring. I feel like their designs are a tad too similar at times, thankfully their personalities help through that.
Rion ultimately challenges Robo to a contest during the coming weekend’s practice run. The chapter snaps over to some great comic relief as Robo comes dressed in an exceedingly dorky golf outfit while also sporting Luffy’s classic straw hat. As Rion and Robo both take to the field, Rion starts to get a sense that Robo is indeed something special.
This is all cut short however as two gangster types force their way onto the field, mistreating their caddie. It’s a bit hamfisted the way in which the manga tries to paint these two as loathsome villains. For one it seems pretty over the top, especially for a manga that, outside of Robo’s ability, feels pretty grounded. Second, the woman they kick around has no real agency, and basically disappears after this initial confrontation. She doesn’t appear with any prominence in the next two chapters anyway, feeling more like a plot device than a true character. You’d also think with that kind of treatment someone might’ve called security or the cops?
The chapter ends with Rion proposing he and Robo team up to take these two on and teach them a lesson. During this we’re again reminded of how amazing Robo is since he actually knocks the cigarette from the lead bad guys mouth with another perfect hit.
This chapter focuses on the two on two match, showcasing this manga’s ability early on to offer variety. While it’s probably easier with a real life sport to inject multiple avenues of play, it’s nice to see variety this early in the manga, ensuring the story isn’t too one note in the types of match ups we can expect.
Rion finally gets to see how amazing Robo is, but because of the handicap Rion gave himself and Robo they aren’t cleaning the bad guys’ clock. We also get to see a lot more of Robo’s failings and Rion summarizes what the mangaka is going for here: Robo’s parameters are insanely good at one thing, hitting the golf ball perfectly straight, everything else he’s a true blue beginner with.
While the manga has been near squarely focused on defining Robo’s abilities, we finally get a true glimpse of what Rion can do after the two bad guys cheat a bit, knocking Rion and Robo’s ball into a bad shot. Rion, as we discover, is the master of curve shots.
Robo and everyone are amazed at Rion’s ability. While the match continues the other regulars of the golf club decide to go check out Rion and Robo’s match up, discovering the two on two battle they have going on.
More cheating ensues as the gangsters throw Rion off his game, making him take an awful shot that lands in the trees and Robo is ill suited to recover from. He’s great at straight shots, but seemingly has no hope at anything else. However, we quickly discover Robo has exceeding talent at quick learning and makes a surprisingly good curve shot on his first attempt.
With that Sota realizes it won’t be long until Robo snatches away one of the Regular spots from the four top players. Just who is going to fall to Robo’s burgeoning ability?
This is generally another solid set of chapters and outside of the poor depiction of its minor villains/poor usage of the caddie character who disappears, what’s here is pretty great. A big problem I’ve had with, say, Shokugeki no Soma, is the lack of variety. It continually offers up the same Shokugeki match ups again and again over 150 chapters in. It’s really nice to see Robot x Laserbeam already finding ways to change up the game and gives me confidence that, at least with the actual game of golf, the manga won’t ever get too stale.
Let me know your thoughts on Robot x Laserbeam in the comments below!
Robot x Laserbeam can be found in Shonen Jump and will be available to read for free at Viz.com.