Robot x Laserbeam 036-041 – 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:
After what’s felt like a number of sudden ‘reboots’ to the series, catapulting our heroes forward down Robo’s budding golf career, it feels like the series has finally decided to settle down, at least for now. Continuing from the last set of chapters, we continue on with this tournament setting, as Robo faces off against Dorian. We get into the details of the back and forth, as Robo and Dorian go head to head, and the other players on the field, the actual pro-golfers, matter very little.
We dive into the nitty gritty of Robo and Dorian’s game, showcasing how many of the holes play out. It feels so much better than the last few chapters, that seemed more intent on rushing through their contents and time-skipping. Characterization is a little weak however, particularly in crafting compelling twists. It’s painfully obvious from the get-go that Robo’s poor play early on is due to considering Dorian a friend. Near any reader is likely to see this coming a mile away. So when the manga finally has Robo realize, along with his best friend and caddie, it feels like our heroes are painfully slow on the up-take.
Despite this, these chapters generally contain solid play, with plenty of ‘shonenified’ takes on their golfing ability. Robo’s new Ex-Laser, or Dorian’s absurd strength that destroys his club during one crazy power swing. There’s also a tease for an upcoming adversary for Robo.
I’m hesitant to imply the manga has truly settled down, especially since it’s ranking in the magazine continues to be consistently low. Despite that low ranking the manga shows few signs of actually wrapping up. If anything this more fleshed-out pacing seems to imply it’s sticking around, as there’s no rush towards an overall conclusion. Justin of TheOASG was kind enough to comment on an earlier review, pointing out the manga’s strong volume sales. Maybe that’s what’s keeping Robot x Laserbeam afloat. I think part of what’s happening is an effort to continually soft-reset the manga for audiences, in the hopes of drawing in new readers. This is most evident in Chapter 36, when the manga re-explains Robo’s analysis mode that we’ve already seen him use at least once before the time-skip. That really says to me that Robot x Laserbeam is hoping to make this Dorian Arc the new jumping on point and regain popularity.
No matter what however, if it is staying as part of Jump’s line up, I much prefer it stands its ground rather than hurtling us through another time-skip, as those are exceedingly damaging to my interest and I imagine it’s plummeting ranking indicates that all this turbulent shifting around have been washing away other readers as well.
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.