3 out of 5
Still clunky as Hell – its middle chapter almost stupidly so – but Tsugumi Ohba’s / Takeshi Obata’s Platinum End also manages to crawl out from ‘neath Death Note’s shadow a bit, and inject notes of the simmering psychology that elevated that book’s cat-and-mouse as well.
Mirai has been pierced by a red arrow from his school crush, though for the purpose of pairing them as partners in the god-electing struggle. Ohba jumps ahead in time a bit, cementing their relationship beyond the arrow – and appreciably adding a one-beat note on how just ’cause someone likes you doesn’t mean they have to like you back – and then our antagonist god-candidate, as Metropoliman, makes a TV announcement inviting the others to a stadium for a “conversation.” Here’s where things get pretty dumb.
It’s obviously a trap, and there’s also the difficulty of having to figure out how to present the wings / arrows / angels both to the god-candidates and to the spectators who pack the stadium, who can’t see them. How does Ohba approach this? …By sort of ignoring it. Metropoliman “talks to himself” when talking to angels; his actions are just wowed at by the crowd. On the one hand, this could be some commentary on Japanese culture / social media – herd mentality; the appeal of a spectacle – but it feels similar to how Ohba skipped through all characterization in volume 1 to get to the meat of his story. The meat here is the outcome of the stadium event, which is when things pick up with fun double- / triple-crossing nonsense. This prompts an interesting response from Mirai, and his angel, which is where Platinum End starts to define itself as its own thing a bit more.
On the art-front, I initially had some trouble picking out the various characters in the volume, but Obata actually was really consistent with slightly varying silhouettes, symbols on outfits, and gray-tones, and once I started using those landmarks, the visuals really started to land.
Ultimately, I was entertained, and happier with how things started to shape up than I was in volume 1. Still, the book has a long way to go to impress, and to feel like it’s not just shooting from the hip. I also saw a note on Wiki about a reviewer mentioning its similarity to Future Diary, and, uh, yeah, that sounds almost exactly the same… So I’ll be checking that out and maybe it’ll ruin Platinum End, or maybe / hopefully I’ll realize more differentiating elements.