Title: Maoh: Juvenile Remix
Author: Megumi Osuga
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Sunday)
Volume: Volume 6, $9.99
Vintage: 2007 by Shogakukan in Japan, August 9, 2011 by Viz Media
Genre: Psychological drama, action
Is it time for the big showdown, yet? No? Geez…. I enjoy this series, but I really want something big to happen already. Though, judging by the events in this volume, the main event should be coming up next. What’s the main event? Well, in the last volume, Ando discovered that Inukai was preparing to put his master plan into action. A big rally is coming up, and Ando knows it’s when Inukai will make his big move, and he knows he has to stop Inukai at all costs. However, he doesn’t have the first clue as to where this rally will take place, or what it will entail. In fact, nobody does (but Inukai himself, of course). Fliers for the event are raining down on the city, but none of them have listed a location for the rally. The rally will likely have something to do with the upcoming mayoral election and the Inukai-backed Masachika Tatsumi, but it’s obvious that it will be more than a simple election rally. As Ando desperately searches for the rally’s location, he insists his younger brother go on his planned vacation to get him out of the city so he’ll be out of danger. And things are getting really dangerous. Right on the school campus, a group of Grasshopper members accosts the son of an employee of a building that just happens to have been bought out by the Anderson Group. The mouthpiece for the group, the clearly unstable Kaname, beats the boy, Takagishi, with a metal baton. In retaliation, Takagishi stabs Kaname with a knife and kills him. The event turns Kaname into a martyr, and the students erupt in a fervor of hatred towards the Anderson Group. As the hour of the rally draws near, Ando feverishly scours a city map for possible locations, calls various venues, and tries to narrow down the many possibilities to one location. As he wracks his brain, thoughts of Inukai’s right hand man, the mysterious bartender with supernatural powers like his own, threaten to overwhelm his resolve with fear. Although Inukai has ordered the man to leave Ando alone, the bartender worries that Ando is too great a threat, and that even if Inukai is fine with being defeated, he is not willing to allow that. He hunts Ando down, with the intent to kill. It’s a battle of wits as Ando runs around town, trying to discover the nature of the other man’s powers, and lure him into a situation that will give Ando the upper hand. The boy whose previous philosophy was never to meddle and just sit on the sidelines, has resolved to fight for what’s right, even if it means his death.
I just want to take a moment to say that this series has consistently cool looking covers, and I love their design. One of the things I enjoy about this story, is that both sides of the argument presented have some validity. Inukai isn’t completely wrong, and Ando isn’t completely right. There’s some definite blurring between the good and the bad. The defining factor is in each side’s actions. Ando, as the lone underdog fighting against a power that is beyond him, is technically the hero of the story, and he certainly believes that he’s fighting for what is right. However, Inukai also thinks he’s fighting for what’s right, what’s good for the city. There’s a bit of dialog in here about how Inukai isn’t trying to control people, he’s trying to lead them; to which Ando replies by questioning whether Inukai is the right person to lead. Inukai seems to be stepping up himself because he has the ability to do so. He believes he’s doing the right thing, and he believes he’s the one for the job. However, we know from previous volumes that he’s also willing to test this assumption, and has let Ando continue to interfere for that express purpose (i.e. if Ando can defeat him, then he must not have been meant to lead and change the world himself). The real issue is the rhetoric. If ever the notion that the devil’s words are sweet was applied, it would be to Inukai’s manifesto. The guy’s words are like honey. Fight to take back what is yours, fight to save your town, make an effort to achieve your goals rather than let them happen for you or be given them freely, earn your happiness. Big business is destroying your town, it’s killing your jobs, it’s raising the crime rate. Take things into your own hands and change the world by your own effort, end suffering and bring peace. It’s no wonder so many people follow him, though there does seem to be some evidence that something otherworldly or supernatural is in effect. However, it’s too bad that Inukai uses the lives of his opponents as pawns in his plan, and his followers have no qualms about using violence against those who will not convert to Inukai’s beliefs. No matter what their intentions, the methods are dangerous and clearly far from what can be considered “good.” Ando knows that no matter how sweet the words, it’s bad news for everyone to be turning into a herd of sheep, unquestioningly following Inukai’s plans. He has an interesting set of lines in this volume, a little speech he gives when asked why he continues to interfere, that brings to mind the words of Nazi soldiers after WWII: “When soldiers come back from war and are asked why they shot and killed people…do you know what the most common answer is? [….] The answer is ‘Because I was ordered to.'” He goes on to explain that strong bonds within a group ease the guilt of dark deeds, impair judgment, and cause the members to act on any orders given without question. He fears that if Inukai is the wrong person for the job, that things will spiral out of control. They already are, as innocent people like Anderson and Takagishi are beaten by classmates in Inukai’s name, and a confrontation leads to the death of a zealous high schooler. Even Ando is facing death as he attempts to stop the “bad guy.” All of that is why, despite the really cheesy dialog that sometimes occurs, I’m really enjoying this series.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.