Story and Art by Akira Amano. $9.99. Publisher: Viz Media
As the remaining heir to the Vongola crime family, Tsuna has an unwanted destiny. He will be the next Family boss. Reborn, an infant assassin from Italy, is thus sent to train this unwilling, Mafia neophyte. Using the method of the “Deathperation bullet,” Tsuna will have the chance to transform himself into a stronger and more focused teenager.
But wait, this is a loaded Mafia family! Rivals to the throne exist. Fights are coming. And the first to step forward is The Varia, a Vongola assassin team. They claim their leader Xanxus to be the legitimate heir, and Tsuna is in their sights. Reborn must now train his protégé faster, as well as a few classmates to act as guardians.
In volume 15, the much-anticipated confrontation between Tsuna and Xanxus finally steps onto the page. Tsuna must prove what he has learned in this no-holds-barred fight to the death.
Jumping into this manga at volume 15 isn’t so terrible. The story, after all, is elementary: boy must discover inner strength and mature by overcoming a string of physical obstacles. I get it. And I realize why this Shonen Jump series has achieved great success: a continuous flow of teenage tournament style bouts. Reborn! speaks to the fantasy-charged day dreams of high schoolers everywhere.
That said, a few things about this combat-oriented series are rather irksome. First, much like Naruto, great focus is placed on specific techniques of attack; so much so, that a tense scene is slowed and even deflated by too much talking, explaining, and boasting about certain methods of fighting. Next, as much as I dig the pre-pubescent killers of Gunslinger Girl, these infant assassins evoke comedy rather than drama-riddled action. Characters like Reborn are more reminiscent of caricatures purchased on the Venice Beach boardwalk. And finally, Amano may be an adept artist, but the pages of Reborn! look like the victims of an ink bomb. Yes, there’s a lot of one on one combat here. But not every millimeter of the page needs to be convoluted with ink and lines to convey movement. Visually, there’s too much going on. Ironically, you’re not allowed to enjoy the still-work nature of manga.
And so, the long awaited fight between Tsuna and Xanxus suffers. Since Xanxus is using his “flames of rage” and Tsuna his “Dying Will Zero Point Breakthrough,” and with cute baby Reborn narrating the history and details of these techniques, this brawl is dragged out over every page of this volume. It’s soooo slow! And compiled with Amano’s artistically cramped scenes, your left with somewhat of a disappointing headache.
Hey, I get the manipulation of audience anticipation; you want to build suspense. But Reborn! simply lacks focus and cogent story telling at the volume level. I learned nothing about these characters, except that they engage in long drawn-out melees.
Maybe I should have read a little more before commenting; that is my weakness here. But overall I wasn’t too impressed. I wasn’t sucked in by anything.