Platinum End vol. 9 – Tsugumi Ohba

4 out of 5

Two compelling Platinum End volumes in a row? Hold yer horses there, self, lest you get comfortable and start enjoying this series and not just tolerating it. And if the about-face in direction this volume suggests holds true, then that might even merit an almighty reread, recontextualizing the rather draining leadup…

But before we get there, just taken on its own merits, volume 9 is, happily, Tsugumi Ohba functioning on all manipulative gears, with fun characters and sticky situations, with partner-in-crime Takeshi Obata giving us stunning designs and layouts – which, it should probably be noted, are all conversation-based, suggesting I prefer the artist’s approach to these versus his sometimes confusingly over-arted action work.

Part of what’s refreshing here is how on the surface it all is: kid candidate Susumo Yuito takes up the first half of the book, announcing his presence to the world, and the cops that were one page cameos previously become characters, identifying Mirai and Saki and proposing a team-up. We still get hints of twisty-turns – maybe the angels are up to something; maybe Yuito is – but it no longer feels like Ohba is holding back without purpose; that is, previously this felt like it was plotted as he went along, but now I’m getting some faith back that we’re being more successfully strung along. This changeup in tone all seemed to hinge on Metropoliman: his overt evilness was just too shonen, and led to too much stupidity in the non-sensical showdowns. But again, given what we now know about his behaviors, it’s possible that was done tongue-in-cheekly. Time will tell, but for now, I’m sincerely appreciating his removal so the series can reformulate into something with more repartee and last-minute-outwittings and less arrow battles.

This does necessitate quite a bit of setup, of course, which leads to the back half of the book feeling just a tad jumpy, as Ohba puts his pieces in to place.