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And we’re back with Complex Age as we take a look at the fifth volume and say goodbye to one character and their cosplay journey. Is it good?
The sum it all very simply: Complex Age Vol. 5 is satisfying. It’s hard to fully put into words, but after reading this book, I feel very pleased with how things have been turning out. The story closes up almost everyone’s personal arcs up to this point, showing what they plan on doing with their lives and how their relationships with cosplaying has grown or changed. Almost everyone seems to be sure of themselves and know where they’re going. Kimiko is retiring from cosplaying to focus on photography (though she’ll still photograph events), Hayama has grown past her insecurities and evolved her hobby into a career she hopes to peruse, and Aya and Shiho are just truly beginning their time in the cosplay circuit, wanting to become better at it. Everyone’s stories have hit their endings and they’re satisfying, having been built up to and concluding just so well…
…that is, except for Nagisa. Of every character in this series, she is still the one that needs to figure herself out. She’s still insecure about what she loves, despite having a stronger support group than ever, and feels even more alone. Her best friend, the one who got her into cosplay in the first place, has bowed out and it hurts, both internally and externally. Until she gets a pep talk from her supervisor, she is unable to deal with this news and it weakens her greatly. By the end of the volume, after talking with Kimiko and everyone, she is able to find some peace, but still worries about her future and how long she can go. Her insecurities are ones that I can relate to — I’ve had the same thoughts about my own geeky and what-may-be-silly-to-others hobbies. Is there a limit? Do you need to grow up and move on? Do you evolve? It’s things many of us have thought about and the book captures that feeling so perfectly with our protagonist that I’m eager to see what happens to her in the final volume and what decision she makes for herself.
Every other aspect of the writing was just as solid. The use of flashbacks in the first two chapters were expertly used, showing just how strong the friendship between Nagisa and Kimiko is and why Kimiko ending her cosplay career is so damn hard. If it wasn’t for her, Nagisa would have never gotten into it. However, the added twist to Kimiko quitting is both selfish and yet so real and human, showing the most level-headed character was not without her own insecurities that we’ve also probably felt when it comes to our friends. The pacing was good, not too slow or too fast, and all the characterization just felt perfect, especially with the added stuff with Director Hase and seeing more with him. The dialogue was nice and all the emotional highs and lows landed perfectly due to how well everything had been presented and written in the manga. I just really don’t have any complaints at all here. The manga does what it sets out to do so very well.
The artwork looked great and the only problem I had from the last volume, the cramped layouts, was nowhere to be found this time around. The layouts read very smoothly and no scene felt overrun by dialogue balloons, making for a pleasant and more enjoyable read. The art still does well with bringing its characters to life, showing and depicting every single bit of drama and emotion they had with flying colors. The use of angles, shadows, facial reactions, and more perfectly capture the hardships, awkwardness, and sense of loss and determination everyone has. It sold the strong emotional core of the series, the unknown of the future and how we evolve and change with our hobbies very well. It’s such a great looking book.
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Complex Age Vol. 5 is bringing our series to a close in a satisfying and complete way. Almost everyone’s arc ends on a note that feels human and right, either in a triumphant or sad manner. The writing is terrific, especially with its characters, and the artwork looked great overall. This has been a strong series that’s captured perfectly the complicated feelings that come from growing up with your hobby, friends falling out of things they’ve shared with each other, and wondering where to go with your life. I am more than eager to see the finale and how it all comes together.
Complex Age Vol. 5 is bringing our series to a close in a satisfying and complete way.
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