last volume was more character-focused, exploring Hokuto as a person and what he is all about, while also building up a potential relationship between Shinjiro and Rena. Where does Ultraman go from there?
Ultraman Vol. 7 (Viz Media)
Drawn by: Tomohiro Shimoguchi
Translated and adapted by: Joe Yamazaki and Stan!
Lettering by: Evan Waldinger
The latest volume of Ultraman is one of the most thrilling volumes to date thanks to a stronger balance of story and action. Last volume sort of sidelined some of the other storylines and subplots going on, like with the human body part trafficking and such–not to a heavy degree, since we still had some big developments like there being more to Bemular than meets the eye, but it was still noticeable. This volume, in contrast, feels like a big step up overall.
This book can be divided into two halves: one half focusing on the story and the second half focusing purely on the action. This works pretty well instead of interspersing a lot of the story into the action or vice versa, thus avoiding breaking up the slow build or breakneck pace of either respective part. Story wise, this volume continues to really focus both on Hokuto and his connection to the plane crash from several years ago. The developments we get are very intriguing and really show how deep this rabbit hole goes with the Star Cluster Council and what Belumar is really after. The only downside I found with all of this is that the story feels a bit overcomplicated with this political space thriller angle and that Shinjiro, our main character, is starting to feel less important and less interesting than the entire cast around him. Hopefully we get more from him like we did during the early portions of the series.
The writing on the book is overall pretty good. The storytelling and pacing are done fairly well here due to having the story and action separated into two parts, neither stepping over each other. The slow build up, especially in the chapter that leads up to the action, is great and incredibly tense at times. The only time the action is interrupted is by a sequence where we get a flashback of Hokuto’s past and it does work in helping develop his character. The characterization is still very strong, even if there isn’t much character development going on (wish we explored more of Moroboshi after his reveal). The dialogue is decent, if a bit cheesy in some areas, and the book is generally exciting with the surprises it pulls out, like during the ending chapter.
The artwork looks fantastic–easily the best of the series. The characters are still drawn very well and can convey a wide range of expression and emotion in their body language and faces; the scene between Hokuto and Jack is a prime example. The layouts are put together well, allowing each scene and moment to flow well from panel to panel. The artwork is very good at being able to convey tension, like during one of the chapters in a scene where there’s no dialogue, just Moroboshi exploring a building. The real standout goes to the action like mentioned, which looks amazing in how it is presented and plays out. The art is good at being able to depict motion and power in each of the panels, making for some really exciting moments. It only gets troublesome following that due to there being so many Ultramen fighting and their uniforms making it difficult at times to distinguish who is who. The only other small problem is some minor issues with the lettering where the font choices for some characters are jumbled up–Bemular has a scratchy font for his dialogue, but in some panels, he has perfectly normal, human dialogue font. Probably just a mistake, but it is noticeable.
Ultraman Vol. 7 is a truly enjoyable, high-octane outing for the series. While it starts slowing by delving into some interesting revelations and story bits, the second half of the book really kicks things up a notch with some of the best action the series has seen to date. Even with some minor issues, this is definitely one of the best volumes in the series so far. Fans of Ultraman, you don’t miss out on this one.