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December 3, 2010

Bento Bako Bonus: Ultimo volume 3

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Karakuridôji Ultimo
Author: Hiroyuki Takei (story and art), Stan Lee (original concept)
Publisher: Viz Media and POW! Entertainment
Volume: Volume 3 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2009 by Shueisha in Japan, December 7, 2010 by Viz Media
Genre: Action, science fiction

Previously (also see my review of volume 2): Yamato is the reincarnation of 12th century bandit who fought against evil alongside a futuristic robot named Ultimo, the embodiment of good. Ultimo is back, and now an average high school student, Yamato has no desire to take up the fight against evil. But Yamato doesn’t really have a choice – Ultimo is bound to him, past, present, and future. In the second volume, Yamato was found by the Club of Good Dôji and introduced to the wielders of the Six Perfections. They explained the Hundred Machine Funeral to Yamato, a battle between the Six Perfections and the Seven Deadly Sins, led by Ultimate Good (Ultimo) and Ultimate Evil (Vice). Robots from the future created by a scientist named Dunstan who wanted to know which was more powerful – Ultimate Good or Ultimate Evil. When we left off last volume, Eater, Gluttony of the Seven Sins, and his master, Hana, had attacked Yamato’s school. As Yamato and Ultimo fused together into a giant, powerful robot, it was revealed that they had at last performed the pledge ritual, binding the dôji’s spirit to its master, increasing both their power.

Volume 3 opens with a flashback to Yamato and Ultimo performing the pledge ritual. As Yamato grasps Ultimo’s spirit sphere (which is kind of bizarrely almost sexual), Yamato’s past and Ultimo’s future are revealed to him (though not so much to us), and much becomes clear to the young man. His resolve strengthened, the story flashes back to the present battle between Yamato and Gluttony. With Ultimo’s power of space-time manipulation, Yamato wraps the battle up just as his best friend Rune appears, holding their classmates hostage, and wielding the evil dôji Jealousy, who can read minds. A quick flashback reveals the past relationship between Rune and Yamato, which has led to Rune’s current jealousy – Rune was once a woman named Lady Gekko who was in love with Yamato’s past self, so even though he is Yamato’s best friend in the present, he is intensely jealous (for reasons he did not understand until he bonded with Jealousy) of Yamato’s love for Sayama. As things heat up, the Club of Good Dôji shows up with the Six Perfections to back Yamato up, while off in the distance, Dunstan watches with his dôji Milieu (Moderation). Unfortunately, just as Yamato is calming Rune down, Vice and the Seven Deadly Sins show up and start literally tearing everything (and everyone) apart. As Eco and his dôji Regula try to stop the ultimate catastrophe from occurring, the Seven Deadly Sins interfere and things spiral out of control very quickly. As Yamato attempts to undo this tragedy, he triggers the Hundred Machine Funeral, an endless battle in a loop of time that continues forever until there is an ultimate victor – good or evil. The volume wraps up with a bonus story about Yamato and his friends as children, attending a Christmas party at Sayama’s house.

Giant robots! And…I’ve immediately lost interest. I was interested in this series as an exploration of good and evil, but this volume was way too shounen generic, and bored me. Admittedly, I’m not into the giant robots scene, so that didn’t help. There’s an actual line in this book, after Yamato reveals that with the powers of Ultimo, he has already messed up Rune’s shit without him even knowing. So Rune says: “Impossible! That’s not what Jealousy read in your mind.” And Yamato replies: “But what if one of my comrades…has the power to disrupt your power!” I actually groaned and rolled my eyes. It was at that instant that I realized how stereotypical shounen this series is. And that was it for me. There’s a couple other instances of that as well. Everyone can cancel everyone out on the other side somehow, which isn’t unusual, but is so incredibly cliche and boring. The whole volume was mostly exposition and battle; lots of “My power can outdo your power” scenarios. The revelation of Yamato and Rune’s past was a nice break from that. If you like really standard shounen, with big battles that go on forever, and ultimate fights that repeat and grow and get crazy until there’s an ultimate winner, then you’ll probably enjoy Ultimo. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll find it here in large amounts. You can read about giant robots while I snuggle up in bed with a giant volume of Tezuka.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.


One Comment

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kristin Bomba, Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New #manga review: @Viz_Media and Stan Lee's Ultimo vol 3 https://comicattack.net/2010/12/bbbultimo3/ […]

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