When I reviewed the previous volume of Naoki Urasawa’s Asadora! I said that since the author was playing the long game regarding what the Kaiji is, the next installment would most likely feature the first confrontation between the monster and our protagonist, Asa Asada. On the basis of this volume’s opening chapter entitled “The Day It Appears,” are we finally getting some kaiju action?
When Asa reluctantly agrees to accompany her friend Yone to an audition at an entertainment agency, Mr. Jissoji arrives at their high school with the news that the mysterious creature has been spotted. With Kasuga nowhere to be found, due to chasing down a reporter who is determined to reveal the details of the classified mission, Asa prepares to take flight to identify the creature along with Nakaido, who claims to have found the creature’s weakness.
By this point in the story Asa, who already has a lot on her plate, has been given the tough challenge of surveilling a mysterious large threat to the Tokyo Olympics, an event that will allow the country to prosper. Although the central relationship between Asa and Kasuga is split up due to unforeseen circumstances they both still remain compelling characters off in their own situations. The former makes her stance to take care of her sickly brother, whilst the latter is on a desperate chase for the truth not to come out.
Although you can praise Urasawa for exploring the complexity of humanity throughout his works including this title, there is still a sense of frustration in that we have to see the creature in its full glory. There are many gears from other corners that the author wants to explore, not just the central mystery, and so the ongoing wait for what is really the selling point of this manga can get a bit tedious. As always, some of the supporting cast isn’t that interesting as the subplot featuring Yone takes up a good chunk of this volume and whilst I’m not sure where it’s going, it has its own cliffhanger that could have consequences for a number of characters.
The one thing that continues to reign supreme with this series is Urasawa’s exquisite art, which ranges from his expressive character designs to his highly-detailed environments. With the whole volume taking place in the heavy rain, it just adds an extra layer to the art, especially during some moments of tension from a car chase to a street squabble, all of which are done through impressive line-work. On a side note, although manga in general is predominately drawn in black and white, the few colored pages of Asadora! make you wish the whole book were colorized.
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