Platinum End vol. 3 – Tsugumi Ohba

2 out of 5

The good news: Platinum End no longer, in any way, feels like Death Note. And I don’t mean for that to be a backhanded slight: End’s characters, and its tone, and its pacing, have become unique. The series, with this volume, has its own distinct vibe.

The bad news is that, either due to translation or poor scripting, some of the dialogue here is getting frustratingly confusing – like the intention of what’s being said is not clear – and Ohba and artist Obata dip in to some really regretful fanservice in the volume’s middle chapter that necessitates a pretty dumb “plan” on behalf of badguy Metropoliman. So despite a good opening and really strong closing, this wasn’t ultimately an enjoyable read.

So: Chapter 7 opens with Mukaido, who’s an interesting addition to the Mirai / Saki team. He’s an adult, and he’s been gathering more info / intel to depose Metropoliman, and he’s able to lay out some clearer wings / arrows rules for the group. This is fun, seeing the stuff explained, and makes a bit clearer the dynamic that Ohba has (I think) been going for: that no one – the angels, and especially Mirai and Saki – really knows what’s going on regarding these rules, and don’t question it. The former seem to exist in sort of joyful ignorance of how their tools function, and the latter are kids; Mirai is appreciative of the guidance of an adult. More on the potential of that momentarily.

Chapter 8 and 9 deal with Metropoliman’s next gambit: the release of a serial killer of teen girls. Said serial killer is a teen girl, and she loves to have violent sex with her victims, prior to killing them. She has lines like “Forgot to put clothes on!” before she leaves the house, and yes, we see the sex and the killings. Lots of school girl outfits, lots of fanservice; if that’s not your bag – it’s not mine – it’s pretty obnoxious. She’s here because Metro has recruited her (via red arrows) to publicly off victims in a bid to lure out other god candidates, and this makes even less sense than the stadium stuff. That bit was over the top but sort of played in to the dramatics of dressing up in a superhero outfit in the first place, but this plan is just 100% backwards. Ohba kind of makes up for that with its conclusion in chapter 9, which is a nice surprise, but it still feels like we contorted awfully hard to get there.

And yet… due to that conclusion, I’m brought to question how much of this tonal stupidity is kind of purposeful – playing around with reader expectations. This is what I wanted to circle back around to: I still feel like some subtleties of dialogue must be getting lost here, but there’s enough coming through to suggest that Platinum End is an exploration of characters granted great power, but with no idea how to use them, and with no one responsible to guide them. The appearance and offhand treatment of the serial killer tosses a possible meta-layer onto this of treating the audience similarly – i.e. is this really what you want? – but none of this is really strong enough to convince me that it’s purposeful yet, and even if so, Chapter 8 would be way too much of trying to have and eat the cake to qualify as successful satire or commentary.