Robot x Laserbeam 015-018 – Manga Review
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:
Chapter 015 starts the tournament off with Kazama, our hastily introduced side character from the last few chapters, and easily makes for the least interesting aspect of this set. His introduction last time was so truncated, so by the books, that he remains generally uninteresting and as soon as the chapter speeds past him stuff really picks up.
We get to see our over the top big bad at play and Robo show off his stuff as well. Kyosuke is a pretty hammy villain and really stands out compared to the rest of the cast. While Robo is incredibly subdued as a character, even the rest of the cast feels more grounded and ‘normal’ than Kyosuke, who really brings a sense of ridiculousness to the manga.
Kyosuke’s character continues to feel like part of a last ditch effort to save Robot x Laserbeam before Shonen Jump brings the axe down. Briefly this week it looked as if Robot x Laserbeam was improving in the rankings, but with the leak of rankings for next week’s issue it seems Robot x Laserbeam plummeted again, and unless these chapters manage to change reader’s attitudes, we’re likely just a stones throw away from the series early wrap up.
It’s a shame though as these chapters, I feel, best exemplify how interesting this manga could possibly get. The game gets intense and we really get to see how ridiculously good Kyosuke is. Even if he’s hammy he seems like a strong villain and adds a real sense of tension to the series.
If Robot x Laserbeam does manage to survive perhaps we’ll see a shift away from the more down to earth characters and throw really over the top individuals at our heroes, to perhaps counter Robo’s lack of overt persona.
Again Chapter 017 is another entirely solid chapter as the match between Robo and Kyosuke intensifies. We even get to see Robo start to really develop and change as a character, although it’s a bit ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ since Robo is so subdued it’s difficult to really craft a sense of advancement for him, not without completely changing his character.
One thing that continues to frustrate me with the manga, however, and something these chapters fail to address are the samey character designs. There’s still a handful of characters, generally the side characters, I keep getting mixed up. Too many people lack defining features, or share such a similar hair color I find myself not exactly sure who is talking. Whatever is being said usually isn’t terribly dependent on which character it is, but it is still a distracting element.
Otherwise we get to see the rest of the Golf Club strut their stuff, as well as their rivals. It’s a nice break from the Robo and Kyosuke match and coupled with some real attitude popping up from every character across the board, feels far more interesting than anything the manga has offered up to this point. It feels like Robot x Laserbeam has hit its stride. The question becomes however whether it’s too little too late. And I really fear the series is already on the chopping block.
Let me know your thoughts on Robot x Laserbeam in the comments below!
Robot x Laserbeam can be found in Shonen Jump and its first three chapters are available to read for free at Viz.com.