Platinum End, Vol. 1

By Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Jump Aquare. Released in North America by Viz. Translated by Stephen Paul.

The creator team of Ohba and Obata has brought Japan and North America some of the most iconic manga out there in Death Note and Bakuman. In addition, Obata’s art has also been seen in Hikaru no Go, All You Need Is Kill, and, erm, School Judgment. OK, possibly not that last one, but otherwise, they’re all acknowledged hits and big influences. So I always feel guilty that I’ve never really warmed to any of them. I found Hikaru no Go pretty dull, Death Note’s nihilism wasn’t my bag, and Bakuman’s casual sexism rubbed me the wrong way. Yet hope springs eternal, and here they are with a new series. Can they build on the strengths of past works, or will I be grinding my teeth again?


A little of both, really. I’m not as familiar with Death Note as most other readers are, mostly as I didn’t warm to its premise so never really read it, but it strikes me that a lot of the same themes I hear that it had are cropping up here. Our hero, Mirai, begins the story as, sadly, many manga protagonists do, by resolving to kill himself. He ends up being saved by an angelic being, Nasse, who explains he’s been chosen to participate in a war of sorts to see who gets to become the next God. He also has powers to a) fly, and b) make someone fall madly in love with him… for 33 days. Naturally, there are other participants as well, from the sleazy (a guy who decides to use the love arrows for orgies) to the so-called moralistic (the guy who becomes a vigilante superhero), to the girl Mirai has a crush on (who is the cliffhanger ending).

Ohta and Obata love grey, morally ambiguous works, and this is no exception. The star of the volume is without a doubt Nasse, who would love it if Mirai simply used his newfound powers a lot more indiscriminately. She’s supposedly an angel, but is 100% fine with murder and other morally reprehensible acts. Luckily, Mirai isn’t, and after his first horrific but accidental use of his powers, tries to think seriously about what to do and how to use them carefully – especially as he realizes that the God War involves killing off every other candidate. Nasse, though, is fine with absolutely anything as long as it gives him “normal happiness”, whatever that is, because that’s what he wished for from the start. It’s really creepy, to be honest.

Where the manga succeeds is where all Obata manga succeed – the art is fantastic, with dynamic poses, violence and fanservice when it’s appropriate, and a nice ability to read the character’s emotions from their expressions rather than just the dialogue, something many other artists have issues with. And the premise looks like it could go to interesting places… or nasty ones. The odd morality of the angels, though, reminds me more of Franken Fran than anything else, and likely will determine if I continue this series or not.

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