Robot x Laserbeam 047-049 – 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:
Robot x Laserbeam has stabilized again, for now anyway. The series periodically hits the fast forward button, zooming us through the story, reaching content you’d think would be way farther along than we currently are (A near world class tournament only 49 chapters in?) But it does sometimes slow down to actually delve into stuff. With the tournament now set, and Robo’s rivalry with the Don creating an undercurrent of conflict, Robot x Laserbeam slows into a more natural state. We still skip past any kind of training arc, or prep work for the tournament, giving us, at most, a quick idea of Robo’s physical training before we’re onto the actual match ups.
What’s here is good, not great, but enjoyable. Setting up the tournament we’re introduced to seven major golfing characters, with quick introductory dialogue to ‘flesh’ each of them out. No one here is particularly original, with several of the characters feeling quite stereotypical and tropey for this kind of match up. We have the older master, the cross-dresser, the fanged wannabe rival, the actual baddie and a couple other cold-shoulders for good measure. It’s a well-rounded cast of rivals, but hardly original or all that memorable.
One way in which I do greatly like this tournament is how stacked it is against Robo. Having pissed off the Don, he’s now gone to great lengths to put Robo up against the toughest opponents the whole way through (although that kinda signifies Robo will smash all the way through this tournament to the final, and I very much doubt he’ll lose.)
By the end of Chapter 49 the tournament has begun. I’m curious to see how much of each golf match up we really get, as the last arc had no problem showing us one or two holes before skipping right to the end. We also don’t seem to have any other characters to follow in this tournament, as we would in other, similar manga. There’s no friend who’s competing, no budding pal who loses to showcase just how incredibly dangerous one of our top golfers is, nobody else we’re attached to in order to experience the other match ups in the tournament. In fact, we only know of Robo, the top golfers, and the big baddie, Kyosuke Suzaku. Every other competitor is a blank face.
Within these chapters comes one or two comments about shacking up the golf world, reinvigorating Japan’s interest in the sport, etc. Part of me wonders if that’s why Robot x Laserbeam feels so… I guess safe would be the best way to describe it. It’s not doing anything original, rather just taking the most stable sports/shonen manga tropes and peppering them throughout the story. Is Robot x Laserbeam’s entire point, like Laid-Back Camp, to take something normally seen as uncool and get people excited for it? It would explain a lot if that was the case.
Overall these chapters are as I said above: okay, not great, but acceptable. I’m mostly waiting to see how rushed this tournament feels compared to the rest of the manga, seeing as we have such a thin view of the total competition, I feel like we’ll rush through it near as fast as we’ve rushed through everything else. I wonder if perhaps Robot x Laserbeam is aiming to complete itself in under a 100 chapters, because right now I struggle to see how it would even hit that milestone (unless Robo learns he has a brother from another planet, a planet of golfers, and finds himself competing on an intergalactic scale against some space lord who’s a golfing prodigy.)
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.