World Trigger 190-193 – 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:

Chapters 190-193 continue to showcase how tight, intriguing and complex World Trigger gets once combat is underway. Like the last set there’s little to critique as we’re bombarded with surprise twists, snappy action, kills and even a betrayal that makes this Final Rank Wars match the best of the bunch. That said, I want to take this opportunity to highlight one way in which World Trigger is so different from other contemporary shonen titles. In particular, the way the series approaches its expansive cast. Let’s Jump In!

World Trigger isn’t all that different from other shonen when it comes to the sheer size of the cast. Looking over the wiki the cast has ballooned to well over 100 characters! That means we’ve basically had 2 new characters introduced every chapter (if not far more than that.) For anything other than a shonen battle manga it’d be shocking. But that’s par for the course. The difference however, is that while titles like Academia, One-Punch Man, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, etc. all try to satisfy fan favorites with a little extra attention here or there, mini-side stories, etc. World Trigger wants none of that. Generally Ashihara has taken a minimalist approach to his side characters. They’re relevant when relevant and otherwise dropped. Few side characters have their own set of personal goals, at least that we uncover, and generally exist as enemies for Osamu and Co., or mentors, or what have you. If they do pop up again, and it’s not to be an enemy, it’s then to become an exposition bot, dolling out more dialogue discussing combat strategies, or pondering the next twist in a battle.

On the one hand keeping these characters at arm lengths has its benefits. Frequently other Mangaka feel the need to pander to the audience, finding ways for popular side characters to take center stage for a time, or perhaps reworking their original draft to take the audiences preference over the main character into account. At times this approach can become distracting, forcing the main story to pause as we allow the spotlight to shift to someone it probably never would have ever centered on otherwise. While World Trigger avoids this by keeping its side characters at arms length, particularly during the Rank Wars, an already lengthy arc, that’s not to say this approach is automatically superior.

If anything I might argue that World Trigger could do with taking a page from its contemporaries now and again. It’s particularly evident in Chapter 192 that World Trigger would be a little stronger if we got a bit more familiar with its cast. Chapter 192 focuses on Yuba Squad and their battle against Masataka Ninomiya and his squad. As the chapter stands Yuba and his crew are used predominantly to showcase what a power house Ninomiya truly is. Yuba sparred directly against Kuga before the final match, showing that he himself is already a good step above Osamu’s team. To see him struggle and then be so thoroughly defeated by Ninomiya is a classic way of establishing how mighty a foe is, to make audiences understand just how underdog our heroes are.

While the chapter gets the job done, I can’t help but think how much more effective this might be if we were emotionally invested in Yuba’s last ditch efforts. World Trigger could do with giving us a few, not too many though, side characters that we really feel for. If we understood what was driving each of these characters, let them take the spotlight just a bit, instead of always doubling down on the battle prep content that can be such a trudge to get through, it might give World Trigger’s highs even greater impact.

In truth it’s a minor issue, and one I only felt compelled to bring up because there simply isn’t too much else to say this round. When World Trigger is finally in the thick of thing it’s at its best. Chapter 193 ends with a lot of dialogue pinning Osamu and Co. as the underdogs, and based on Chapter 192 it doesn’t feel at all like talk. With increased pressure to succeed, left facing only one other opposing team, one of their best players down, and with little subterfuge left to sneak out a win, I can’t help but be excited to see what’s to come.

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

World Trigger is published monthly(ish) in Shonen Jump.

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