Volume 8, which feels like it either just came out or I was far later and getting to than I realized, was fine. It was both better than some of the good stuff in Fairy Tail I read, but didn’t have the energy that book did. It seemed like Mashima was just going along with the flow. That was also the end of a long, for this series, story and that could have been the cause as well. This volume can be a whole new start for him. A fresh change that can really get the juices flowing.
Taking place shortly after the end of the previous volume, the Edens Zero crew is recovering and learning about Rebecca’s Ether Gear. After an accident cause Rebecca to pass out, she wakes up to discover Shiki and the rest of the ground team have gone to attack Drakken Joe before they strike them. This leads to multiple assaults, the Shining Stars revealing their true power, and one on one fights worn Drakken’s elite guard.
Though it seems strange to just jump right into another big showdown arc, the pacing does feel like it matches the adventure space-serial vibe the book is going for. Maybe having the inciting incident happen off screen when Rebecca is asleep, then revealed as a flashback later is a very over complicated method of tell the story, but also makes up so little of it. The only real issue this book has when it comes to stacking up against the previous is tht it jumps from a villain owning a planet-city to a villain owning spaceship-planet-city. Same exact setup and everything.
So far, though, the details have made the difference. Mainly the sets of fights, powers, and characters getting the spotlight. Firstly, the Shooting Stars back on the Eden Zero finally get some development and are shown as useful in combat, and have their own hobbies. The team healer, Sister, who is also a sadomasochistic/BDSM-torturer is a fun gag, and Witch being able to use multiple powers is fun. Secondly, onthe spaceship, the battles have so far been more inventive thanks to the powers of the villains. Having someone who can control water and make people turn into puddles when they cry is neat, a quick sniper showdown across the city feels different, and we finally get a brief space battle. None of these fights are ones that Shiki can just punch real good. He might use that power, but they seem to require more analysis and skill than that.
The character who gets the most focus emotionally is Pino, the fifth star (I think, it’s been so long), and emp andriod who meets her abuser outside of the planet. If you recall, I certainly didn’t, Pino was on a planet sent back 50 years in its past, she escaped along with Weisz, but the future selves exist out in the present. They run into the present, older, version of the villain from that arc. Pino is rightfully freaked out, but this older version of the man has clearly mellowed and wasn’t involved with any of those crimes against Pino. This is only a brief, and not focused on element, of the volume. But it is present and clearly building to something.
The rest of the arc seems to be building and circling back around to the early intrigue stuff around the adventure guild and the guy in charge. It reminds us that Drakken signed up to work with the man in charge, Noah, and is after the Eden Zero. They also clarify that they needed the Four Stars of the Demon King not because they were literal locks for a door, but because put together they were so powerful that breaching outside they cosmos would be easier with them.
This volume still has problems. Rebecca is captured again. Even if she wasn’t captured recently, it still feels like she’s often captured every arc. That is also more disappointing because she is being setup to be incredibly important to the universe. Strong powers, possible visions of the future, etc, but then she is always easily beaten to be captured and talked to. The other issue is how flat the book still feels. Despite having cool powers and supposedly being fast pace, which it is only because it doesn’t take long to read a chapter, the book isn’t dynamic. Every panel is the most straightforward way to convey information, and none of the art is anything more than standard. It works, but when much more dynamic and energized work like Jujutsu Kaisen is out there, it can’t compare.
It is hard to see where the book is going. It has an overarching goal it is working too, but seems to be going at its own, almost casual pace, to get us there that trying to call where it is going to go feels impossible. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but also not a good thing. Maybe more will be revealed when this book hits the double digit mark.
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