If you read the previous volume of Ultraman, then you already know that Moroboshi is a dick. Shinjiro didn’t know that, but after Moroboshi arrives wearing his version of the Ultraman suit and tells him to “Deal with it,” I’m pretty sure he knows now.
This volume of Ultraman continues with Shinjiro dealing with the notion that he must kill some of the aliens he encounters. It doesn’t sit well with him, but after seeing Moroboshi and helping a little girl with a balloon, he sees how many people he’d put at risk. He’s then tested by Red and Jack and pushed to the point of unlocking a new power. The rest of the volume deals with Rena, the serial killer and a pissing contest between Moroboshi and Shinjiro.
The story for this new Ultraman continues to be tightly woven. There’s clearly an over-arcing storyline that’s in play, but what has made these first four volumes particularly tight is that all of the subplots have been connected and are now coming funneling together for a resolution. In a way, the A, B, and C storylines have all focused on different characters or aspects of the story, and now they’re heading to a collision. It’s too soon to say how it will change the landscape of the world.
It’s easy to be fooled by this trade because compared to the previous installments there’s no big reveals or action sequences. There’s a little bit with Red, but there aren’t any consequences outside of unlocking Shinjiro’s potential. Yet with seemingly so little going on, it’s easy to miss the character development and the footwork that’s done to move the story along. And it could have all ended up being very boring, but it’s anything but. The aspect that stands out the most ends up being Shinjiro’s character development as he deals with the notion of taking a life, learning he’s not the only Ultraman and unlocking a new skill. It’s a lot for him to take in and it’s a testament to the quality of the story that it doesn’t forget to show this struggle. It would be very easy to show Shinjiro accepting everything and just moving on, but instead the story allows you time to get to know the lead character.
The art on this book is stunning. I won’t rank or compare it to other series because that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t take away from how impressive the details are from start to finish. The world of Ultraman feels alive because of the art. It’s easy to get lost in the clean linework, the black and white pages and a style that is easily recognized for being from Japan. The real challenge is not being blind to the details and raw emotion that the artwork has. The battles never seem laidback, but rather a fight with real consequences and damage. You can dislike the style (I don’t know why you ever would), but you can still appreciate the skill that goes into this series.
With as many Western/American style comics that I read, I don’t keep up with too many Manga series. I would love to, but the reality is that I have more to read than I do time to read. The ones I do continue to follow, like Ultraman or One-Punch Man, have such talent and quality of stories that I do keep up with them. With that said, if you’re not caught up on Ultraman you need to do yourself a favor and get caught up.
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Creators: Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi
Publisher: Viz Media
Format: TPB; Print/Digital