In author interviews, mangaka Ashihara is noted as saying he wrote out extensive background information on each of the characters. With volume 8, that attention to detail really shows – from Kazama’s careful teamwork and tactical skills to the efficacy of an ad hoc team of loose canons in the form of Yoneya (Miwa Squad), Midorikawa (Kusakabe Squad), and Izumi (Tachikawa Squad). It means that all-out action sequences such as this arc’s large scale invasion are always a fun read. Because this is such a character driven piece, a professional translator familiar with the series makes such a difference in capturing the nuances of each person and fighting tactic. Viz really gets it right – especially with the humor.
Story: Humanoid neighbors have appeared and their goal appears to be not only to capture ‘baby birds’ C-rankers (who don’t have bail out capabilities) but also to find a new god in the form of Tamakoma’s ‘trion monster’, Chika. Jin’s predictions begin to bear fruit as certain Border personnel are teamed up against certain humanoids while Osamu and Karasuma run a group of C-rankers and Chika to safety. But when a humanoid black trigger infiltrates Border headquarters against orders, things become truly dire for the “Meedens”. Can Suwa squad hold off the seemingly invincible black trigger Enedora? And can Jin and Yuma survive against councilor Visa and his ‘national treasure’ black trigger Organon/Hyuse and his advanced magnetic trigger?
There were some very fun groupings here, though I think one of the best had to be Suwa going up against Enedora in the training room (coordinated calmly by Kazama) so they could figure out Enedora’s weaknesses. Those who have watched the anime or read the manga know that Suwa’s squad is in charge of the training simulators, so it makes sense they would know how to utilize it to the fullest. And, of course, Kazama is the scarily efficient master strategist who figures it all out. But heck, I was just glad to have Suwa de-cubified for more Suwa squad goodness.
Author Ashihara noted that he wasn’t sure at first who (Yuma or Jin) would go mano a mano against Councilor Viza and Hyuse respectively – but that it would make sense an experienced fighter like Viza would have to be paired up against the very experienced Yuma. Of course, Jin’s taunting of Hyuse with his future prediction was perfect. The ability of Yuma’s trigger to replicate or copy is made full use here, with everything from Miwa’s lead bullets to Midorikawa’s grasshopper coming in handy. Interestingly, Viza quickly figured out replica’s usefulness to Yuma’s black trigger.
Best of all, after their defeat of Ranbanein, the motley crew of energetic fighters (Yoneya the ‘woo hoo! attacker’ spear geek, Izumi the ‘trigger happy shooter’, and ‘big excitable kitten’ Midorikawa) make a reappearance. They can always be counted on for great lines along with mayhem.
Of note, this volume also includes the fighting of ‘the best attacker in Border’ – who ends up being HQ director Shinoda (who is in charge of border defense). He plays a smart but pivotal point in the story near the end and we’ll see more of him next volume.
Extras include more questions and answers from the author. Fun facts include: A001 squad’s Tachikawa’s mentor and childhood friend is Ren Tsukimi (007 Miwa’s operator). Arashiyama’s sniper Satori’s double barrel sniping is because he “practiced. Satori pursued firepower and awesomeness to perfect it.” (gotta love Satori!).
As always, each volume is a treat. The manga always has so much more information on the characters and battles, so it’s a pleasure to get to read in more depth about what’s going on in the battles/story. I am eagerly looking forward to volume 9! Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.