Reborn 16

January 2, 2012

Akira Amano – Viz – 2010 – 36+ volumes

This series is full of good ideas. I loved that this volume used the ten-year bazooka to really change things up, sending the characters ten years into the future with various future versions of everybody running around. I love that there’s consequences for this, and I also liked that the ten-year bazooka occasionally made appearances throughout the volume. The way the story unfolds here is really interesting, and the fact that Tsuna is told what he’s done that’s led to this, and ways to prevent it, was a nice touch as well. I’m a sucker for time travel stories, so maybe I’m just easy to please, but I thought this was exactly what the story needed after the last lengthy fight scene.

Plus, I still really like the premise. Tsuna is some sort of next generation mafia boss, and he’s being trained by a baby that was, apparently, a full-grown man that was stunted because he was such a great assassin. I’m not entirely clear on the whole baby/Arcobaleno thing, but I know that’s fairly close. Also, “deathperate” is still, and always will be, the best pun in shounen manga.

But… I’ve read five volumes of this series now, and I still have no idea who most of the characters are. There are a thousand of them. That’s normally a problem in shounen manga, but it feels worse in Reborn since the volumes I read were all from the latter part of a fighting tournament. Literally, it was a fighting tournament, with teenage mafia candidates fighting other teenage mafia candidates to see whose leader would be the head of the family. It was an awful lot of fighting. With the restart, I thought there would be a bit more story, and there was (I’ve already talked about how much I liked it), but somehow they squeeze two fights into all this, while explaining about the future and past versions of characters I have no recollection of. It’s one thing for Tsuna to have seven bodyguards (or is it six?), it’s another thing to have about a dozen passing acquaintances that may or may not appear at any time, in present or future form.

As much as I like all the ideas in the new story in this volume, it was nearly impossible for me to follow it because I had no idea who any of the characters except Tsuna, Reborn, Gokudera, Yamamoto, and Lambo were. Part of that’s my fault, again, because I haven’t been reading from the beginning, but if your story is dependent on fights between a thousand characters… well, you have a Shounen Jump series. I’m finding I have less patience for them these days, unfortunately.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Reborn! 15

March 23, 2010

Akira Amano – Viz – 2010 – 28+ volumes

Now, I’ve read a few volumes of this series, but they’ve all been in the midst of this Vongola succession tournament.  The battles among the side characters, while confusing, were at least interesting and fun to read.  The powers were quirky, and the battles were a little different than the usual fare, especially with the little arcobaleno babies running around.  The climax here, Tsuna versus Xanxus, doesn’t even really have the benefit of special powers, though, since all they’re doing is fighting with fire.  Of course, there are special fire-related moves they do to one-up each other, but… I’ve seen special fire-related moves before.  There are no puzzles or clever tricks involved with the battle, which is one of the only things that keeps me interested during a shounen fighting tournament.

While this is going on, the side characters are all fighting amongst each other.  The tournament has all been to gain possession of rings that determine the Vongola guardians.  Some underhanded tricks are employed here to gain possession of the rings, and honestly… I was a little upset that all the work put in during the tournament (which, at the very least, did feature many hard losses for the good guys) was undone by the fact you could just steal whatever ring you wanted.  That seemed to honestly be what it came down to in the end.  I assume that is still okay since, in theory, if you’re strong enough to steal the ring from the winner, you could technically beat him in a fight (?), but still.

There’s some backstory for Xanxus at the end of the book, too.  Admittedly, I did like how over-the-top the fire powers got towards the end, and the flashback was a nice change of pace, but I’m looking forward to finally being done with this tournament and moving on to something else, hopefully more suited to the quirky flavor of this series.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Reborn 13

November 21, 2009

Akira Amano – Viz – 2009 – 26+ volumes

Of all the shounen series I’ve been picking up midway lately, Reborn is the one I like least.  To be fair, that’s because the last few volumes have all taken place in the middle of a long tournament, which has another volume or two left in it at least.  While there has been character development, I haven’t really seen those characters in the context of the plot at all, nor have I really seen the plot or regular storyline at all, so… yeah.  That’s probably why.  I mean, I have seen shounen fighting tournaments before, so this is nothing new.

The swordfight from last volume finishes up here, though it goes on quite a bit longer than I would have expected.  The one nice thing about this tournament is that the outcomes aren’t predetermined, so there’s a good chance that the good guys will lose.  A couple already have.  I like having that wildcard, it helps get me through otherwise unremarkable swordfights.

The second fight, the Mist Guardian battle, was much more interesting.  There was a big mystery surrounding who would represent the Vongola side of the battle, and there was a pretty big to-do around unveiling the character.  I take it this person has appeared before, but I didn’t know who it was.  I liked that there was a little it of a fake-out regarding this too, and I think I would have gotten an even bigger kick out of it if I had known who the character was.

The important thing is that this fight is done by conjuring illusions.  The illusion can be anything you want.  They won’t damage your opponent unless they believe whatever is going on is real, so the more realistic illusionist wins.  It’s an interesting concept, and I enjoyed what I saw of the battle here.  It, of course, carries over into the next volume.

The story was discussing the arcobaleno babies a bit more here, too.  I like that… element of the story, and it did make me look up the series and read what their deal was, which pleased me even more.

But yeah.  So far Reborn has not knocked my socks off.  While I am nowhere near hooked or even vaguely interested, I do want to see more of the Mist Guardian battle.  That was pretty cool.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Reborn 12

June 14, 2009

Akira Amano – Viz – 2009 – 26+ volumes

This volume was much easier to get into than the last.  Last time the rules for a tournament were established, and a lot of the strange mob/time warp/different factions stuff came into play.  This volume was only mid-tournament story, and benefited immensely from featuring a battle between a knife wielder and a dynamite user in an exploding school for most of the volume.

Tsuna and his group aren’t actually faring that well against the Varia, and due to a misstep at the end of the last battle, are in pretty bad standing in the tournament.  The battle that takes up the majority of this volume is between the Storm Ring bearers.  I think the titles indicate a fighting style rather than special powers, because neither of the contestants in this battle really have special powers other than trying to outsmart the other.  The varia opponent, a pyschopath named Prince Ripper, is pretty crafty, but Gokudera is pretty good at turning his tricks back around on him.

The humor is rather hit-and-miss.  On one hand, I enjoyed Gokudera’s teacher’s complete apathy for how his student learned or fared in battle (and, to be fair, his point is that Gokudera has to think for himself rather than just told outright how to fight).  On the other hand, he also made a lot of breasts jokes, so that put things back at zero.  Tsuna’s also too much a goody-goody for my taste, since he’s constantly yelling out not to get hurt and that his friends are more important than the rings, and how they should do it for Lambo, who was taken down last time.  Ugh.  His philosophy will probably win in the end, of course, since it’s pointed out that the varia are kind of heartless and lack the teamwork the… uh, “family” needs in order to control the Vongola rings.  Mmm… yeah, Reborn is pretty eccentric, to be fair, but from what I’ve seen, there are a lot of other series that do the exact same thing better.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Reborn 11

February 27, 2009

Akira Amano – Viz – 2009 – 26+ volumes

I decided not to read this when it first started coming out since at the time I had too many active series I was reading, but let me tell you, it was a hard decision to make.  I’m hard pressed to believe I could ever get bored of something where a kid in junior high is whipped into shape by a little baby from the future who claims to be some sort of mafia hitman.

This was a little easier to get into than D. Gray-Man, but I’m still not clear on a lot of the details.  As far as I can tell, Reborn came from the future in order to train Tsuna to take over the mafia family when he comes of age.  As you can imagine, this involves fighting, but there’s also some sort of weird special powers mixed in, and apparently Tsuna is followed by several friends… who are all given different powers with rings they wear?  I wasn’t too clear on this, but they seemed based on elemental powers, which linked them forever with the Planeteers in my mind.

Anyway, in this volume, Tsuna and his friends are finishing up various training sessions and are getting ready to enter a tournament where they fight a gang of assassins who want to claim their rings in order to take their places along their candidate for head of the mafia family.

So: kids with special powers fighting in a tournament with their friends against bad guys.  The thing that makes Hitman a little more awesome, as far as I can tell in this volume, is the whole mafia family thing.  Everyone seems pretty serious about this.  Also awesome: many of the characters are these babies from the future.  Only one of them really acts like a baby, but he can blast himself with some sort of 10-year ray that ages him and makes him a master of his powers.  Otherwise he acts like any other baby.  Well, any other baby aside from the other baby characters, who like to make snide remarks to the older kids.

The special powers throw me off a little, because it just seems like it doesn’t need them.  It could be made to work, and with all the awesome stuff in play, I’d be willing to read future volumes.  I’m not quite convinced to go back and start at volume 1, though.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.