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Monster Soul, Vol. 2

Welcome to another midweek manga review! This week I’ll be taking a look at the second and final volume of Hiro Mashima’s Monster Soul, but first, some news…

And now, the midweek manga review of Monster Soul, Vol. 2!

Monster Soul, Vol. 2Monster Soul, Vol. 2
by Hiro Mashima
Kodansha Comics, 192 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Created by Fairy Tail’s Hiro Mashima, Monster Soul is set in a world known as Elvenland following a war between Monsters and Humans. The Monster’s lost and are now forced to the edges of the world, shunning contact with outsiders. The series focuses on the adventures of an elite Monster squad from the war known as Black Air. The final volume of the series, Monster Soul, Vol. 2, finds the members of Black Air stumbling upon an injured human boy, Selsh. After hearing how a monster squad known as Drei Kommandos kidnapped the people of Selsh kingdom, the members of Black Air volunteer to help him in his quest to rescue them. They quickly discover that it’s a quest that will take them to Hell itself!

The first volume of Monster Soul floundered a bit as Mashima attempted to focus on shorter stories, but here he switches gears and gives us a single volume long tale instead. As a result, Monster Soul, Vol. 2 lacks the unfocused scatter shot feel of the first, and everything within it is given more room to breathe and develop. The action scenes in particular benefit from this decision, and each one has a bit more drama, intensity and meaning to it then they had in the first volume. In addition, each character is given an opportunity to strut their stuff, getting a moment in the spotlight that’s accompanied by a flashback, detailing more of their individual backstories and histories. Sadly even with the tragic backstory afforded to them, the characters still end up being pretty flat and one note. Thankfully the simplistic characters and straight forward story means that Mashima’s typical, goofy humor blends in quite well without feeling forced. Likewise it fails to detract from what little drama the story builds as it goes.

The artwork’s solid with the usual design wackiness that marks Mashima’s other work, Fairy Tail. The action scenes are pretty intense, and his use of splash pages and double page spreads does a wonderful job at depicting the impact of certain attacks and blows as well. Omni-present throughout the volume is Mashima’s goofy sense of humor, courtesy of cartoonish faces and over reactions. His character designs remain fairly solid, with Blank of the Drei Kommandos being the most memorable one in the volume. His skeletal form sports sunglasses and sports a ridiculously goofy special attack that involves a pair of holes in his head and sticks of dynamite.

While it does manage to correct a few of the missteps of the first volume, Monster Soul, Vol. 2 still isn’t anything to write home about. While there are certain similarities between it and Fairy Tail, I couldn’t help but feel that Monster Soul, Vol. 2 skews to a slightly younger audience. The story is a bit more simplistic and straight forward with characters to match. It’s enjoyable, but it’s not terribly memorable.

Monster Soul, Vol. 2 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. October 25, 2014 at 12:00 am

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