By Satoshi Mizukami. Released in Japan by Shonen Gahosha, serialized in the magazine Young King Ours. Released in North America by Seven Seas.
(This review contains spoilers.)
I reviewed the first half (i.e., Volume 1) of this series when it was digitally released by JManga a while back, but want to revisit it. It’s a new translation, and we get the addition of the 2nd volume, where things start getting a lot more serious. But also it’s a story that really holds up well when you reread it. What appears to be a standard story of superheroes uniting to defend the planet has a lot more going on under the hood, and you wonder if our hero and heroine are actually the least trustworthy people in the entire book… or if they’re just angsty teenagers dealing with life for the first time.
Yuuhi is a really fascinating and messed up character. The second time around I wasn’t as fond of the resolution of his past childhood traumas, which seemed a bit too pat to me, but then that was the point – Yuuhi was so angry that all the hardships he grew up with that twisted him into what he currently is could be resolved without his input or presence. He’s clever and calculating, and has latched onto Samidare in order to gain a tether he lost when his grandfather apologized, but there’s also a lack of an emotional center in the young man, something the series will slowly draw out of him, starting with the shocking events at the end of the first omnibus.
Biscuit Hammer is hardly the first series to introduce an amazingly cool and competent cast member and then kill them off – it’s actually a very common Japanese trope – but all the beats are handled well, including his nascent romance with Samidare’s sister (who is fantastic throughout) and the mere fact that he’s so powerful – he’s a giant threat to Yuuhi’s plans of world destruction, and thus his death settles on Yuuhi like a giant ball of guilt (with, of course, perfect timing in his younger brother immediately showing up). For the audience, the death of Hangetsu lets us know this series is going to be more seinen than shonen, and that we shouldn’t get too attached to our main cast.
As for Samidare herself, she’s just as screwed up as Yuuhi, but in a more extroverted way. Fatalistic due to her illness and its remission while she has powers, she’s determined to make the most of her short life, and one of the best (and most chilling) moments in the book is when she turns to Yuuhi, smiling, and asks him to die with her. It’s especially chilling as she’s such a great person otherwise – gung ho, cheerful, smart – and you can absolutely see why Yuuhi has started to fall for her.
There’s a lot more to discuss, such as the fact that the Yuuhi and Samidare that show up in dreams seem to be entirely different characters to their waking selves, or the suffering that is Noi’s daily life, where he deals with the fact that a talking lizard is the only sane character in this series – but again, that’s the beauty of a series like this. It has enough complexity to reward a reader more than just on a first read through. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more Knights in the next omnibus, and that makes me happy. Enjoy this twisted take on superheroes saving the Earth.