Cage of Eden, Vol. 2

By Yoshinobu Yamada. Released in Japan as “Eden no Ori” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.

As we head into the second volume of our survival story, we’re starting to see a few more familiar trappings. The airplane homebase is rendered uninhabitable, they try making a raft, and we get a lot more survivors, some of whom are likeable and some of whom aren’t. We also get to see our hero Akira develop increasing leadership qualities, and Kanako start to prove she is more than just a walking fanservice poster. Things aren’t getting more original, but they’re staying interesting.

As you would expect when you get a bunch of emotional Japanese teenagers and toss them into the middle of an island with prehistoric monsters on it, not everyone is handling it the same way. Akira and company are trying to band together and be a team. One guy with a Jason mask names himself Hades and seems to go off the deep end at the earliest opportunity. Akira’s friend Arita is seemingly doing the same thing, but is in reality barely holding it together because of guilt over a previous impulsive action. And then there’s Yarai, who seems to be leading a third group simply by virtue of being so badass people instinctively want to follow him.

The action here is well-done and exciting. The animals are suitably dangerous, while remaining just realistic enough that our heroes managing to defeat them only feels a little ludicrous. The power politics also feels realistic, though I could do without everyone lampshading how Akira is becoming a great leader. We already see it, no need to hammer it home. Likewise, while the deaths of two classmates was done well, and was suitably gruesome, I think a true test of the series will be to see what happens when likeable people start getting killed.

And then there’s the fanservice. Look, I can take a lot of fanservice with no qualms. I read Negima, after all. But I honestly would not blame anyone who wants to drop the series here, because man, the sheer obsession with panty shots and breasts is over the top even for a Shonen Magazine manga. I realize that this is a magazine for young teens, and they are pubertylicious. Still, after a while I was flicking through them faster, trying to get past it. “Yes, the two girls fall on top of each other. Yes, squoosh. OK, let’s watch them climb down a ladder from the bottom. I GET IT, they’re sexy!” It can be very taxing.

I will admit that the cliffhanger makes me quite eager to see what happens next. I’m fairly certain that Akira and Yarai will disagree, but seeing the groups lock horns should be fun. And we still really have no idea why this island is filled with long-dead creatures. Is it a plot point, or is this just an excuse for carnage? Oh, and no doubt we will meet more female characters, and their breasts as well. Cage of Eden remains good candy, even if you sometimes feel a bit sick after eating too much of it.

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