Tokyo Aliens Manga Vol. 3 4 Review

Tokyo Extraterrestrial beings Manga Vol. 3-4 Evaluate

I believe these volumes constituted a turning point in my enjoyment of Tokyo Aliens. With the first two volumes, I found myself reading passively and without much interest, but things are starting to take up. Everything feels much bigger: the actors, the mystery, the scenes, the emotional richness, and even the action.

The most significant positive development in these two volumes is Akira’s increased understanding of what is going on. In the previous two volumes, there was a lot of repetition in events; Akira was carried from scene to scene with little agency, and he primarily fanboyed out whenever Sho did anything. Now that Akira has his own powers and a sense of drive/ambition, the series appears to have more wind in its sails and can better hold my attention.

More mysteries and unanswered questions greatly contribute to the overall impression. The mystery – or, more precisely, mysteries – surrounding Akira’s father goes a long way toward creating new opportunities for intriguing character situations. What actually happened? What motivated him to act as he did? Is there any sort of time-travel/reincarnation theme here? How much does Amamiya know but isn’t saying? These provide a lot more intriguing character interactions than the normal “Tenkubashi does something and Akira flails internally” moments that have essentially drove the plot up to this point.

Allowing Akira to do and talk more benefits their relationship significantly. His passivity, paired with Tenkubashi’s austere temperament (or at least outer persona), did little to pique my interest in the early chapters. Now that we know more about Tenkubashi’s contract (feeling pain without being able to die and viewing himself as nothing more than a weapon/tool) and Akira has more agency and motivation, there’s more to it than just pining. Their relationship now has a true texture that I didn’t think existed before. I also believe the scenario of “I feel pain/but cannot die so I feel nothing”/”I still want to protect you from that pain” is just excellent melodrama; it isn’t the most unique concept in superheroic fiction, but it’s welcome in my opinion.

The action sequences take center stage here, especially in Volume 3. NAOE’s art has always been great, but these volumes take it to new heights. The combat sequences are much longer than we’ve seen before, and the degree of graphic detail packed into each panel is breathtaking. Drawing these figures to this high standard while displaying enormous splashy assaults with a plethora of extremely detailed magical effects must have been difficult, yet the work is undeniably impressive. In terms of visual quality, I would say that the entire production appears to be operating on a higher level. Even seemingly minor changes, such as Akira’s multi-hexagonal glass barrier effect, have a significant impact on the appearance of the work and the amount of effort required. I don’t want to think about how long it took to render all those hexagons every time he used his power, let alone the rest of the intricate cityscapes and characters that make up the plot.

A significant pull in this series is the interaction between all of the male protagonists, which I can’t really comment on. I’m not precisely the intended audience, so I’m kind of on the outside looking in on this. Having said that, it certainly appears to hit all the appropriate notes. Tokyo Aliens is a piece full with the type of will they/won’t they yearning that many people can relate to. There’s also a lot of line delivery that makes the audience go crazy, like how a sentence will start with overly dramatic and forthright phrasing that’s just dripping innuendo only to end on a mundane beat to throw off the characters in the scene and make the audience waggle their brows. Imagine a character clutching their breast and saying, “Tonight, I just- I need you, and only you… to give me directions to the post office.” If you want to witness the lads in this series say such things to each other, then crack that cover; you’ll be well-served.

I have no significant criticisms, although there are a few nitpicks here and there. I believe the entire plot is stale and perfunctory; secret organizations with superpowered operatives aren’t exactly uncommon storylines these days. At times, it also appears that there are too many question marks surrounding basic setting information to gain a sense of what’s going on in the setting as a whole. It’s not illogical, but it does appear like setting details are often buried simply for the pleasure of doing so. There are also some diminishing returns on the dialogue’s connotations, as every other delivery contains some sort of “oh ho HO!” subtext. However, given how blatant some of these moments are, subtext may not be the most appropriate phrase.

Regardless, none of my tiny quibbles matter much. I believe that whether you were on the fence before or are already a major fan, these two volumes will deliver as the series gains momentum.

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