World Trigger 165-168 – Manga Review

Synopsis: A gate to another dimension opened and seemingly invincible monsters called Neighbors came forth, invading our world. The organization known as Border rose up and fought them back. Now years later, Osamu Mikumo has applied to border as an agent, but he’s easily one of the weakest applicants. However, his life changes when he meets Yuma, a boy who comes from the same place the monsters did: through the portal. He himself is a neighbor and together they’ll do whatever they can to defend the Earth.

(Warning: Spoilers to Follow):

Osamu and Yuma both survived and held back the invading Neighbors in a major assault to try and steal people who have high levels of Trion, the energy used to control triggers weapons. After a failed attack by Galapoula, Neighbors who sought to destroy the Away Ship and prevent Border from striking back against their enemies, the Rank Wars Tournament continues. Osamu’s team was lacking in power, carried by Yuma for most of their matches. Now, after some training, have Osamu’s own skills increased enough to prevent his team from losing the Rank Wars?

Review:

It has been two years since I last reviewed World Trigger. I’m ecstatic to see that the author’s health has improved enough to continue the series. These chapters pick up near right where it left off and the author’s approach to the series hasn’t changed one bit, both for the better and for the worse.

We return to the Rank Wars with Chapter 165, gearing up for Osamu and Co.’s second to last match and dwindling chances of joining the Away Ship. We begin with a lengthy discussion of strategy, Hyuse joining the team, etc. Lots of talky talky. Even Chapter 166 doesn’t save us from that. As we’re reintroduced to all the teams talking part in this round, we spend the entire chapter focused on each team’s strategy. It’s not till Chapter 167 that we actually get to the action.

World Trigger approaches the Rank Wars differently than most other media might. I’m going to compare it directly to My Hero Academia, which has a similar team battle type arc going on currently. My Hero Academia’s approach to its team battle story is to weave the combat with periodic flashbacks to earlier strategic discussions. (It also uses them sparringly.) This is the more common way of dealing with lengthy, dialogue heavy, sections. World Trigger however insists on presenting everything chronologically, meaning we have to get through an entire chapter’s worth, or two, of strategy discussion before we’re allowed to get to the action.

The more typical way of handling this, how Academia does, has its own flaws. It’s easy to accidentally craft developments that feel unearned, because they lack set up. It’s important when you flash back to set things up, and how you hint at future developments, otherwise you could also end up giving the whole game up. But with the typical approach its harder for the story to feel like its slowing to a crawl, and that’s World Trigger’s big weakness. Chapters 165 and 166 are slow as hell thanks to being extremely dialogue and strategy heavy. Not the best place to start after a two year hiatus.

Thankfully Chapters 167 and 168 bring the action. Things kick off as Osamu and Co. enter the arena. It’s a little slow as everyone rushes to join up and enact their strategies, but at least everyone’s actually doing something now. The commentary also breaks up the action to an unnecessary degree, often pulling us out of the fight for too long without enough substance to justify it. Still, when focused on action things get exciting. Each team starts to square off under non-ideal conditions. 168 even ends with a bang as Osamu takes a major hit, losing his arm and almost instantly on the cusp of defeat not more than ten minutes into the match.

Overall World Trigger is exactly as we all remember. A little unbalanced, sometimes painfully slow with too much focus on strategy and dialogue, leaving the action for later. I’m still looking forward to the Rank Wars conclusion and finally learning what path the story will go: Will Osamu and Co. be joining the Away Ship legitimately, or will they be venturing out through a less than official means?

That’s it for this week! Let me know what your thoughts are on World Trigger in the comments below.

World Trigger is published weekly in Shonen Jump. Chapters 152-160 are collected in Volume 18 which released on January 2nd, 2018. Chapters discussed today will be collected and released next year. Probably. Maybe?

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