Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Toriko Volume 2

By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz.

Though I did greatly enjoy reading this volume of Toriko, I will admit that as a manga, it's not very filling. A light snack, something to whet the appetite, but I'll be turning to series like One Piece or Gin Tama if I need a real meal.

OK, enough of the food metaphors. Toriko is, in many ways, a perfect Jump series. It is very much geared to boys. We see lots of fantastical creatures, lots of beating those creatures up, and lots of... well, that's it, really. The entire volume consists of going on a quest to find this rare but delicious whale, the Toriko world's equivalent of tiger blowfish, which is not only very easily poisonous but also in a cave surrounded by hideous predators. It's not something Toriko can do with just Komatsu, so he secures the help of his friend/rival Coco, who is the milder and more sensible counterpart to Toriko's loud and boisterous self.

The author continues to love drawing this insane, creature-filled world that the leads inhabit, and it's here that we see his real strength. The creatures and things we see are imaginatively silly and/or dangerous as need be, and of course incredibly tasty as well. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the human cast. Toriko so far hasn't really found much depth, Komatsu is still pretty much 'useless cheerleader with no powers', and Coco is rather dull.

There was also one bit that I found needlessly short-sighted. At one point the dorky sidekick, Komatsu, is literally killed by a 'firecracker' Toriko left him to scare off predators. The firecracker turns out to essentially be a bomb, as Komatsu later notes. We get very scary shots of his eardrums rupturing and his heart stopping. Of course, this is only Volume 2, and he's a main character, so he is immediately resuscitated by a kindly old badass drunk. That's not my problem. The problem is that Toriko's reaction to all this is "Oh! A ha ha ha, well, you're all right now!". I know that this is meant to be the simple lunkhead shonen hero, but come on. Even Luffy would not give a friend a bomb, kill them by accident, and not feel some remorse.

I wasn't as fond of the 2nd volume of Toriko as I was the first. But then I'm not exactly the target audience for this series. 10-12-year-old boys are, and I think they will just eat this up. No pun intended.

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