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February 7, 2011

Bento Bako Weekly: MAOH: Juvenile Remix vol. 4

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: MAOH: Juvenile Remix
Author: Megumi Osuga, original story by Kotaro Isaka
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Sunday)
Volume: Volume 4 (of 10), $9.99
Vintage: 2008 by Shogakukan, February 8, 2011 by Viz Media
Genre: Psychological, supernatural, drama

[Volume 3 review.]

When we last left Ando, he and Machiko were being attacked by an assassin sent to wipe out the Grasshoppers. They were picked up by a cop car, but instead of being taken to safety, were driven right into the lion’s den, where Inukai and his Grasshoppers were waiting.

The female assassin, Suzumebachi, is captured by Inukai’s gang, and the poisoned Machiko is sent to a hospital. Ando is left behind, with Inukai ecstatic to see their destinies once again intertwine. Eager to prove himself to Ando, Inukai invites the boy to attend a rooftop meeting where Inukai will speak to his followers. The event is to be broadcast live on the Internet for all to see. Inukai’s bodyguard, the bartender from Duce, is baffled by Inukai’s obsession with Ando and thinks he poses a danger to his leader. The man reveals that the assassin was a part of Inukai’s plan all along, even if it meant the sacrifice of some of his own men, in order to build momentum for his big speech. Inukai’s stirring speech builds on his ongoing campaign to bring down the corporations and government leaders destroying the town. He calls out to those affected by the Urban Center Project, those affected by unemployment, closing businesses, rising crime, and a crumbling economy. The Urban Center Project is destroying the lives of the citizens while making its investors rich. The people are being used to make the fat cats richer. The Anderson Group has sent an assassin to sabotage their efforts to save their city. Inukai calls upon the citizens of the city to join together and rise against the Anderson Group. They shall be a swarm fighting for freedom. As Inukai calls for his followers to turn on their lights in support, Ando watches in horror as the entire city lights up in the night. He is astonished by how many people have fallen for Inukai’s words and fabrications. Frustrated, Ando takes action and feeds his words through Inukai’s mouth: “Open your eyes. Don’t believe a word I say.” No one pays him notice. The bartender, furious, lashes out at Ando, who screams out that fate can be changed, that he himself has changed it already by interfering. In desperation, Ando uses his ventriloquism to escape. Even though Ando interfered, Inukai remains confident that since his plan still brought the desired effect, he won the battle. As Ando watches the changes in the people around him, everyone blindly following Inukai, he falls further into despair, realizing that he may be the only one who can stop Inukai, but also feeling how impossible a feat that may be. He continues to try and make himself heard, but during an extensive use of his ventriloquism while attempting to rescue the younger Anderson, he collapses. Unable to come up with any other reason, he decides that using his power may be having side effects on his body. Frustrated that his efforts don’t seem to be having any effect, and concerned over the stress put on his body, Ando once again decides to try and sit things out, until an encounter with an old man still clinging to life gives him a glimpse of what his own future may be if he does nothing but exist.

Meanwhile, the Mayor is falling to pieces. Concerned with the attacks on his person by Inukai’s followers, he hires a bodyguard. Unfortunately, he goes through Iwanishi, who sends Semi, the young assassin who was once after Ando, to the Mayor’s side. Semi, unused to bodyguard work, is frustrated by the Mayor’s insistence that he not kill his attackers. The Mayor only wants Semi to attack the real, trained assassins, like himself. Semi’s out of control nature conflicts with the Mayor’s wishes, and the situation turns chaotic. He’s about to get his wish for a proper opponent, as Inukai’s bodyguard hires a fairly dangerous looking man to take down the Mayor.

As a testament to how well this manga is put together, I have to admit that even I felt swayed by Inukai’s speech. I got chills, and found myself buying into his words. As a reader, I’m fully aware of his dark, sadistic nature, the horrible things he’s willing to do for his cause, yet I still wanted to cheer (it helps that I myself believe in the preservation of a city’s “soul”). Talk about your silver-tongued devil. On the other hand, the images he conjures are terrifying. A black swarm of grasshoppers, of locusts, devouring everything in their path. I can’t help but think of a plague (well, the plague), and the destruction it will bring. As his supporters turn on their lights across the city, the whole place looks like it’s on fire. For an egomaniacal sociopath, Inukai is quite persuasive, and everyone hangs on his every word. Ando’s classmates don’t even care about Inukai’s methods; they blindly follow him without question, believing their own (often violent) actions justified as part of Inukai’s revolution. The roles of characters I once thought would be minimal are playing larger roles than expected. Semi is back, for which I am grateful, as I rather enjoyed his previous appearance, and he’s still struggling to find his place. He doesn’t like being controlled by Iwanishi, or being viewed as Iwanishi’s pet or puppet. He keeps complaining about it out of habit, never taking any real action to change the situation. We finally get to see Iwanishi in this volume, whose appearance is not at all what I was expecting. There’s a very brief face-to-face encounter between them, and I hope we see more of that in future volumes. There’s also a brief glimpse into Semi’s private home life, and a peek into his mind regarding his value (or lack thereof) of human life. Kaname, once a quiet kid plagued by bullying, has become a leader in Inukai’s movement, acting as the voice and conscience of the student body at his and Ando’s school. Anderson becomes the object of his classmate’s fury, bullied, ostracized, and finally viciously attacked, even though he desires to be his own person, with views apart from his father’s. Yet although he is attacked by Inukai’s followers, he is swayed by Inukai’s vision to unite everyone for a single cause, to make people take action rather than sit idly and hope things will work themselves out. That particular vision even sways Ando momentarily. It’s a little frustrating that Ando continues to look for an excuse not to take any action, that he continues to try and convince himself that he should just stay out of things. He finds one excuse after another, yet even so, in the end, he decides to stand up against Inukai, even if he’s on his own. So even with some of the pathetic whining he does, it’s admirable that he continues to fight against such hopeless odds. Though I would rather he be driven by a true desire to stop Inukai instead of a desire to have more than a worthless life of existing for the sake of existing, and having no value to himself or anyone else. Not that that isn’t a good thing to take action for, but I wish his motivations were more along the lines of “fighting for truth and justice,” to expose Inukai for what he really is. Well, there’s still time for that.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

Review copy provided by Viz Media.

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5 Comments


  1. Billy

    Holy crap is there a lot of action! 😀



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