World Trigger 178-181 – 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:

World Trigger has a lot in common with Hunter x Hunter, both are series that include heavy analysis and discussion of character’s abilities. But unlike Hunter x Hunter, World Trigger has a harder time justifying how long we’ll dwell on a recent fight, and the abilities used. In Hunter x Hunter we’re constantly finding new ways to re-contextualize and reexamine people’s abilities. There’s always a new avenue to explore that changes the understanding of what a character is capable of with their Nen. World Trigger unfortunately isn’t nearly as crafty, and the longer it spends doubling down on analysis from the last Rank Wars match, the more these chapters feel stuck in a never ending rut.

Part of the problem with Chapter 178 might stem from how much we already discuss each match during the battle, and afterwards with the same commentators. So whenever characters rehash discussion in Chapters 178-180, be it Hyuse’s abilities or Chika’s inability to shoot people or not, it feels like we’ve been down these route’s before, even if the point of the discussion has somewhat shifted. Since World Trigger has turned into a monthly series, it makes these releases feel more plodding, as it’s another four weeks, or more, before we see if the story will significantly advance or not. The discussion isn’t bad, Ninomiya guessing their strategy is crucial to the next few chapters, and Chika’s character growth is important too, but points brought up here don’t feel new enough, and for a 20+ page chapter, it barely feels like the story moves by chapter’s end.

In other ways 178 is a very slice of life chapter, allowing a number of pages devoted to conversation that is only tangentially related to the ongoing story. Between mundane conversation about eating and how easy, or not, it is to be around women, there’s drop in talk about the Hyuse rumors, although that gets debunked quite quickly as Ninomiya’s squad already knows the truth to Hyuse’s origins. It feels like the only real development is that Osamu realizes they need to plan for additional scenarios, a revelation that feels like it could have happened much, much faster.

Chapter 179 rehashes the discussion on Chika’s fears of shooting people, but manages to bring a new angle to it as we learn what Chika is really afraid of. Unfortunately those fears seem a bit half-baked. As it turns out Chika’s inability to shoot people stems from a fear of being disliked. It’s a complicated road from when she was a kid, and hunted by Neighbors for her trion, partially including the friend who went missing, and who Chika hopes to search for off world. The trouble is that eventually wrapping this around to explain why she can’t shoot people feels really stretched. Not that fears are logical, but Chika seems super confused, and her fears seem almost laughably easy to turn around the other way so that she can shoot people. It’s nice to see character growth, but it doesn’t feel like Chika’s fears were something entirely thought out before this chapter, or at least the explanation doesn’t feel weighty enough for any emotion to land. At least it seems like Chika will start blasting people sooner rather than later and I guess that’s progress?

Afterwards Chapters 180-181 flash to Kuga and Osamu’s efforts to plan for additional scenarios, and that involves interviewing top squads and challenging upcoming opponents to practice match ups. Chapter 180 is another slow chapter, choosing to showcase/discuss upcoming opponents in the most boring way possible– talking. Osamu meets with Kazuma Satomi, a member of Shun’s squad. We spend most of this chapter learning about Ninomiya’s squad through Kazuma and Osamu’s conversation, a lengthy run around of how strong each member is, examples through flashbacks, and a surprise reveal that Kazuma is the No. 1 Gunner in all of Border. None of this information is bad, but again it’s slow, plodding and not exactly a riveting way to examine these upcoming opponents.

This is where 181 does leagues better. Chapter 181 sees Kuga attempt to pull Takuma Yuba’s abilities out, sparring against one of the lesser squadmates to tease Yuba into going at Kuga with all he’s got. The characters are more lively, thanks to a mix up of introductions, strategy and action. The chapter ends a bit abruptly, as Yuba turns out to be stronger than let on and more than Kuga could handle one on one. Also, without tease to excite us for next month, the chapter ends on a kind of whimper. Still, it’s this mix up of elements, rather than buckling down into just one element, that keeps 181 feeling like the best chapter of the bunch.

World Trigger really needs to try and not rehash strategy too much, not without new ways to look at previous fights that honestly feel deep and new. If future chapters can also provide a better mix of elements, like 181 did, then the series will feel tight. Chika’s true concerns for not shooting people felt weak, but hopefully the moment when she finally pulls the trigger on someone will feel powerful all the same. Ultimately the last few chapters haven’t been great, but it’ll likely take time for Daisuke Ashihara to move towards a writing/narrative style more friendly to the new, monthly format. Here’s hoping he picks up on that sooner rather than later.

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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