World Trigger 194-197 – 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?
The end of the Rank Wars is close, very close. Right now Daisuke Ashihara, our author, is stretching things out with one last match for a handful of side characters, but otherwise the outcome is set– Osamu and Co. will be going on the away mission in an official capacity, rather than as stowaways or some other method. The climax of the arc is fantastic, and while still dragged down by frequent commentary from the announcers that often halts the flow of the action, and sometimes over-explains things, manages to be everything I was hoping. Chika has evolved, Osamu’s strategic sense has improved, all coming together through frequent twists and turns that made this second to last match the most memorable of the arc. Let’s Jump In!
Chapters 194-195 see the culmination of our main characters’ hardwork. Whenever the announcing isn’t getting in the way the action is fantastic, with shocking surprises that really stand out. From Kuma taking a hard hit that left me wondering how screwed our characters were, to Chika finally blowing someone away, to Osamu surprising our ‘big bad’ or final obstacle, this set was rife with memorable moments.
I do however, continue to wish we would cut some of the announcing commentary. I’d argue that while having characters commentate does add something, frequently we end up on tangents that add little or over explain strategy far past the point of relevancy. I think in these chapters alone you could cut out multiple panels, if not entire pages worth of content and it would work just fine if not flow remarkably better.
I have seen the argument online that Ashihara is doing this to help with his health issues. That by padding the chapters with extra discussion, or turning 196 into a full on recap, he has to draw less dynamic action, or draw much at all as we merely copy and paste older art. Thus this helps him keep up with the one chapter a month schedule without further damaging his health. Unfortunately, as we can see from 197 with a handful of pages still in a more rough state, he does need all the help he can get and even if this strategy is meant to help, even it isn’t enough. Unless Ashihara is bound by a specific page count for each chapter, and he very well could be, I think the overemphasis on talking heads discussing the battle or recapping it, actually does the series a disservice. While it might please the strategy/detail hounds, it frequently slows the series down to a crawl. If Ashihara is still on a page count quota then I wish the editorial department would drop him from that. Let him pace the chapters with as many or as few pages each month as he wants, or perhaps let World Trigger become a more irregular title. In general I think most mangaka could benefit from a relaxed pace that let them put out chapters as is convenient. Would that mean less manga each week? Probably. Would that mean some titles might become fairly irregular? Definitely. But I’m a bit tired of appreciating mangaka’s artistic and story telling talent at the expense of their well-being.
This set of chapters completes with 197, a look into the final rank wars match up, one without Osamu and Co. in play. In some respects I wonder how relevant this last match truly is. Unless a team from this match up is moving on to the away mission, and hopefully somebody is, it really does feel like unnecessary padding, especially as many of the characters we’ve met over the course of the Rank Wars are about to disappear seeing as the Away Mission is going to be cutting our cast down, and perhaps introducing entirely new supporting Border Agents. As for the state of the series? World Trigger I think remains as it has for the entire last arc: A wonderfully intricate battle shonen, but without perhaps a tendency to over-explain and analyze its own intricacy. It’s certainly not to the level of over-discussion Hunter x Hunter can get to, but it is something that I think hinders a more general fanbase from getting sucked in, especially as the series has switched to a monthly format. None of this is new, and remains my stance of the last year.
What I’m hoping to discuss next time is a new arc. It’s not clear how much longer this last rank wars match will go on, but I will say Ashihara hasn’t had much of a tendency to drag out the action, outside of the analysis padding. So my expectation is this last mini match will probably end in a chapter or 2, and we’ll finally begin prep for the away mission. Hopefully Ashihara and his editor can find a way for him to continue his work and improve his health. I’d very much hate for World Trigger to end up as Hunter x Hunter has.
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.