Robot x Laserbeam 019-022 – 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:
Since I last reviewed Robot x Laserbeam the manga seems to have stabilized in the Shonen Jump weekly rankings and has, probably, secured itself a future. Which is good as these chapters are generally pretty strong. It’s likely in the last few weeks, after Fujimaki sent the story catapulting forward into its first major ‘tournament’ arc, that Shonen Jump saw an increase in the reader’s interest and decided Robot wouldn’t be getting the axe. I think it’s evident in the way the pace has slowed a bit again. There’s a lot of care here to showcase the real tension developing as the match goes on and things get worse for our heroes.
Chapter 19 let’s us see some of the other club members at their best. They each showcase some extraordinary abilities that, I think very likely, aren’t truly possible in Shonen. But I actually like these shonen-upped additions, like the Crimson Lotus Flame ability, as they add flare to the series’ style.
The manga pulls a nice switcheroo/cliffhanger here too, making us think the team is holding its own when really they’re struggling to survive. With Chapter 20 we learn that Hiragi, the team captain (I think? I do still find it a little hard to keep track of everyone) has a long standing injury that has, unfortunately failed to fully heal.
This puts more pressure on Robo to up his performance, which continues to lag behind everyone else’s, despite his stunning improvement over the last few weeks. Robo promises to do better, but that seems like little in the face of Suzaku’s onslaught as his team really steps up in this second half and showcases their true might. Again, another solid chapter. I wouldn’t say Robot x Laserbeam is doing anything truly original, outside of Golf as its sport of choice, but it’s bringing A-game adherence to the shonen formula, giving the series a solid, base-line quality.
Chapter 21 continues to showcase Suzaku and Co.’s dangerous ability and things look extra bad for our heroes as we see the score is now -8 to -2 (negatives being a better score in golf than a positive number.) We get a very classic ‘all in lost’ moment and mentality before Robo snatches everyone from the depths of despair by showcasing a stunning performance under pressure. Against all odds he’s actually improving dramatically.
It’s in Chapter 22, the latest chapter out when this review was written, that we see more of Robo’s efforts and the effects it has on the entire team. Their spirits bolstered, everyone is suddenly stepping up their game, confident that Robo can bring up the rear. The Club’s coach even suggests that Robo’s professional debut might not be far off for the series as he explains what sets Robo apart from the rest: his ability to keep cool under pressure.
With that the tides seem to turn as our heroes pull the score from a horrible -8 to -2, to a more acceptable -10 to -7. Overall these chapters are solid and have excellent Shonen structure. There’s nothing too crazy, too innovative outside of the setting, but as long as Fujimaki can keep Golf engaging then I still think Robot x Laserbeam is a solid addition to Jump, particularly when US Jump lacks any other sports manga.
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.