Eden Zero continues to be an incredibly strange series to try and cover as someone who reads not just a lot of manga, but many books, and watches a ton of shows and movies, and track progress in a creators work by how they’ve evolved, changed, or stagnated. All of this amounts to me see Eden Zero as both the pinnacle of what Hiro Mashima can do as an author, but think it’s come too late.
To frame this, this volumes marks the end of the current arc to find the last of the four androids that helped the previous demon king, Valkyrie. Shiki and company beat Kurenai, the despotic queen of the planet and mother to crew member Homura, free the planet from her control, and outrun a conflict with pirate Drakken. This comes at the price of finding out Valkyrie is dead, depressing her sisters and letting them find their humanity.
Why this is so interesting is because it feels like all the emotions Mashima often concentrated on to solve problems have finally been put into proper use. Everything around Homura and Valkyrie is incredibly strong. Mashima gets the idea of found family, the power sacrifice can have on the people helped by it, and what duty’s children have to their parents at the end. That all works as intended.
Rebecca even gets interesting stuff to do in this volume. Well one interesting thing, but that is still some progress. During a fight with one of the side characters in the arc, an otaku, she realizes all the tests they faced a couple volumes back were foreshadowing for their current tests. This somehow unlocks her own powers of super speed and jumping to become Leaper… yeah, that’s the name. It’s kind of dumb and makes me think of lepper, but that’s it. The outcome might be silly, and her outfit she wears in the fight, but the revelation is interesting and one of those strong chicken-and-the-egg scenarios. If it was planned out then that’s interesting, but if it was by accident that too makes it also just as compelling. It turns a possible trope of his writing into an element of the series.
Unfortunately that is where the niceties end. Not because it is bad, but because it feels tired. The rest of the story, and looking back, what the whole story felt like, was just that it was tired. It has these fun ideas but is forced or forces itself into needing to complete the less compelling ideas because it’s tradition.
Reading Shiki’s final fight against Madame Kurenai and her robot did not feel exhilarating in the way it was supposed to. Maybe it wasn’t, but when I think of more compelling fights earlier into Fairy Tail that is a problem. This comes back to how odd it often is for a manga author to have multiple series. It’s not-uncommon, but most have a defined series that takes off and makes them. It is not common for an author as successful as Mashima to complete a series like Fairy Tail and jump then into a new series. That’s not bad necessarily. It’s praiseworthy that he’s not sitting on his laurels, but the impact of jumping headlong in makes it seem either like a rebound book or he has burn out and is just working on with his evolving instincts.
I couple be totally wrong about this, that’s fair. However most panels and pages do not have life to them. They are far more workman than anything passionate. The lack of consistent backgrounds, dull group shots, and underwhelming splash pages do not hit the way they should even as the narrative work in those pages is good, or at least fine. Passable. A solid C+.
Reading this I was often comparing it with Black Clover. Though they have nothing in common other than medium, Black Clover has that same devil (literally in both cases)- May care attitude to the world. It is focused more on drawing cool ideas that also work to expand the world, but feel like it directed by artistic passion all the same. The difference is that Black Clover bleeds passion. Even as the story as the characters are dull stereotypes the passion in getting to draw for Shōnen Jump is palpable. Eden Zero doesn’t have that. It’s just flying on auto-Pilot.
Behind the scenes I was about to stop covering the manga. Not because it bored me, but because I didn’t get much from it. The series could go on for another 60 volumes after all. Plus, checking up on its releases felt like more work than I got out of it. But, following do-diligence, I found out volume 9 comes out in a few weeks. It seems fair, then, that I follow it up to where I took Fsiry Tail, volume 12. Maybe it could improve on these faults. Maybe the passion would soon flood the page as Mashima gets to expand the universe further, or maybe I’ll get the same tipid “yeah, it’s fine. I can’t see it being anyone’s favorite, but it’s a 6/10.” Only time will tell.
I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!
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