Platinum End vol. 13 – Tsugumi Ohba

5 out of 5

I may just be on a high due to re-experiencing prime Ohba while in the middle of Bakuman, or Platinum End may be doing some of what that series also did: actually maturing. I’d hoped, at some of PE’s most deject points, that the writer was purposefully wallowing in the most shonen of shonen-ness to subversively comment on the black and white moralities experienced in the social sphere – that is, how things vacillate between Great and Horrible on a knee-jerk reaction, based on mob mentality – and while I don’t want to proclaim Platinum End as some genius social commentary, as at the end of the day, Ohba is still writing for mass appeal, and Obata is drawing (gorgeously) for the same, I have been happy to see the characters and subject matter actually mature and evolve.

Volume 13 is almost all conversation: it’s the philosophical showdown between Yoneda and Mirai, with enough side conflict tossed in to give Obata some action to draw, but otherwise relying on the artist to bring his inimitable abilities at rendering talking heads absolutely emotive and dynamic. And at every punctuation of this conversation, I kept allowing room for Ohba to, like, get dumb: to make some giant leaps to push things to a conclusion. Instead, the talk actually proceeds as though it might between two intelligent people having an intense chat on the value of life and death. This ends up extending beyond just the professor and Mirai, as Yuri and Shuji and and Sako have their own paralleling back-and-forths, though with divergent emphases. Here and there we cut away to the crowd, watching it all unfold on jumbotron displays, and Ohba getting some of that commentary in – the viewers switch sides in an instant, in awe of Mirai and then cheering for Yoneda. It could be cheesy, but it’s… all too believable, uh, within the context of god-candidates battling it out with invisible arrows, of course.

A killer cliffhanger tops things off: it’s the ideal mix of puzzling and surprising, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.