Manga-ka: Atsushi Ohkubo
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: May 2009
Synopsis: “Shotaro and Tool square off against the Fear Robot, but they can’t help feeling like something’s missing. With Mana still nowhere to be found after the attack at the Robot Fight Tournament and Yohei firmly in the clutches of the King of Spin, it seems the best course of action is a covert rescue mission into enemy territory!”
Like any straight-from-the-mold shonen series, the bulk of this third volume of B.Ichi sees the lead cast splitting off to fight some of the undoubtedly-many enemies standing between them and the their goal of destroying a giant robot created by the evil organization reponsible for its construction.
Like any straight-from-the-mold main character, Shotaro takes the most brutal of blows from his adversary but it’s still never really in question whose going to come out on top in the end. Mana, the young girl of the group, fights without any especially weird powers, unless you count her seemingly painless ability to fight with her punches and kicks and take down giant robots and thick steel walls. Though reading her kicking a robot again and again for several pages proved a little tiring, I did like that she fought in a pretty basic manner.
On the note of weird powers, I did find it a little neat the extent they took the “power of spin”, an ability utilized by the man Yohei has made it his goal to kill after failed past attempts. At first the notion that someone’s super power was to make things spin seemed pretty ridiculous but watching him use it in progressively more interesting ways, it proved itself to be a much more formidable power than I initially thought. Even as a character he’s one of the most interesting, and his psychotic game with Yohei makes for the series’ most compelling attributes.
It’s sadly much more than I can say for the other characters, however, who I unfortunately find generally unlikable. A cast of good characters can keep me entertained by an otherwise uninspired series, but I find it hard to care about anyone here. Yohei, the dark past bearing and gun-toting, does prove the most consistently interesting and his more level headed personality is a much needed break from the careless attitudes and overzealous enthusiasm shared by the rest of the cast. Fortunately for the story, the bulk of this volume is one fight scene after another and the quick-paced, back and forth delivery of them proved a relevant and well-needed distraction from both the characters and the artwork, which when left bare and plain to see, often left just as much to be desired. On that note, I did find the cover artwork eye-catching at the very least, though it again serves to prove that Yohei is the series’ saving grace.
Thankfully the series wraps itself up in the fourth, and final, volume, and without the pressure of needing to make this nonsensical assortment of characters last another arc, B. Ichi may still be able to salvage the remains of its plot and drive home a finale that proves more satisfying than the road towards it.