Madara vol. 2 – Eiji Otsuka

4 out of 5

I’m tempted to further walk back what I’d cautiously identified as humor in volume 1 of Madara; I’m occasionally uncertain if I’m just chuckling at genre concepts that are intended with sincerity, and since the volume 2 tankobon goes more heavily into the shonen genre – big-ass, long battles with power one-upping and craftily crafted names that come along with those powers – I started to feel like that sincerity was, indeed, the case. …But at the same time, I’m thinking about some other undeniably sincere battle manga I’ve read, like Jujutsu Kaisen, and also reflecting on the way Eiji Otsuka would later play with genre and humorous undertones in series like MPD Psycho, and I’m still thinking that I’m okay with laughing at some of this.

Because volume 2 does still follow on the bravado of the first volume – with our cybernetic-bodypart, titular lead hunting down demon generals who have his human bits and pieces – it just gets a little heavier with its lingo and lore. It reminds me of Yu Yu Hakusho: Eiji maintains the good natured and boastful vibe of Madara, while simultaneously developing the plot to be a bit more serious, within context. (Within context of big-ass, long battles.) At first, I have to admit I was somewhat turned off by this, as filtering out some of the more direct goofiness brings us closer to typical shonen, but I came to appreciate how much more patiently Otsuka and artist Sho-U Tajima were actually approaching this stuff: new powers are definitely introduced as-needed in fights, but instead of just showing them to us and exploding something – the general method for this stuff – Tajima will take a few panels to make the build-up and impact of the powers clear, while Otsuka actually adds some narrative in to justify their place in the story, and link them to how we’ve been seeing Madara’s power set evolve. That actually makes me interested, and not just Wowed by the spectacle – which is wow-worthy, with Sho-U still channeling Guyver and then some Akira and certainly tons others of which I’m not aware, adding a ton of explosiveness and good ol’ blood n’ guts on top of that.

The plot also does the same kind of swerve from the expected to the logical, with Kaos and Madara teaming up to fight demons, but not just out of the stereotypical bro-bonding of two dudes who dang fight good respecting one another. Rather, we get a clear explanation as to why Kaos was antagonistic towards Madara, and then, over the course of this collection, why he switches sides.

Meanwhile: demons blow up.