Attempting to kick off a new manga series is a difficult endeavor. Not only do authors need to introduce the world to the audience, they must also provide enough of a hook and likable enough characters to keep them coming back for every new chapter. Daisuke Ashihara has had previous success with his Super Dog Rilienthal manga that ran for a little under the year in Weekly Shōnen Jump but now he is back with World Trigger, also published by WSJ. With Volume 1 of World Trigger now available for purchase, can it manage to hook readers?
Four years prior to the start of the manga, Mikado City came under attack from an unknown life-form that appeared from a portal. Conventional weaponry was useless against these creatures that became known as Neighbors and they laid waste to large swathes of the city. That is until a special group calling themselves “Border” appeared and managed to defeat the Neighbors using technology they derived from the unknown organisms.
Since then, Mikado City has become a hotbed full of Neighbor portals, but thanks to the efforts by Border and a machine that regulates where these portals appear, most of the population continues to live their lives normally, only fleeing when an alarm sounds. Osamu Mikumo witnessed the members of Border years prior and now he is a student at school who prefers to keep to himself while trying to uphold public morals and helping those in need all while working as a trainee in Border.
One day an odd boy named Yuma Kuga transfers into his classroom and thanks to his frank attitude and lack of a filter, he immediately ends up on the bad side of the class’ bad side. When Osamu comes to his aid, he learns that Yuma has a good reason for not understanding standard Japanese life, as he is a Neighbor. After being saved by Yuma, Osamu agrees to conceal his secret.
The biggest plus that World Trigger has going from it at the start are its two lead characters. Osamu is far from your standard lead character who, despite appearances, usually is the strongest person in the room at any given time. In fact Osamu’s weakness as a Border agent lends some credence to his steadfast nature to protect those around him, even if it costs him his life. On the other side of the coin, Yuma’s tendency to point out lies and childlike outlook on life which both contrasts and compliments Osamu’s personality.
Secrecy is something that appears to run rampant throughout World Trigger and thanks to Ashihara’s style of writing, it never becomes a drag. His pacing and ability to weave a story containing world building information and plot points without slowing down the action is necessary in shōnen series such as these. There is clearly more than meets the eye in this first volume alone as not only does Yuma’s existence and knowledge raise numerous questions, it is clear that there is much that Border is possibly hiding.
Osamu, who hides his status as a Border Trainee, knows next to nothing about the Neighbors, including the various types that appear throughout the volume. Not only that, but seemingly basic information about the Neighbors seems to have been withheld despite the fact that it could save his life. With the appearance of the A-Rank elite Border soldiers and yet another unknown Neighbor appearing to threaten the city, readers are left off with not only an enticing cliffhanger, but a great introduction to what appears to be an exciting and different storyline.
World Trigger’s art style is interesting because any time the Neighbors aren’t around or there isn’t any action occurring, it can feel a bit generic looking. This is thanks to the childish looking faces used on Yuma and a number of other characters and the fact that the school uniforms they wear are incredibly mundane looking.
However once the action does pick up, the art style takes a nice upswing as the fight scenes against the Neighbors not only see the use of special weaponry but also an outfit swap as the characters transform slightly for battle. There is a nice amount of detail and variety put into the designs of the various Neighbor enemies as well, making every action scene a real highlight.
After every chapter in this volume Daisuke Ashihara either comments on the way that he draws some of the characters and also provides additional bits of information for them. Also some additional statistics concerning the A-Rank team members that make up the Arashiyama Squad that appears near the end of the volume. Finally the author ends with some additional comments on the characters, such as how much certain ones are a pain to draw, where he got their design inspiration from, or how his editor told him to increase a character’s bust size to try and make her a bit more likable.
World Trigger accomplishes quite a feat in this first volume by not only telling a great story with plenty of information woven into it, but also leaving plenty of hints that there is much more to come. With a smooth pace and an interesting premise, there is a lot of promise in this series start and it will certainly be interesting to see where things will go from here.
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