Platinum End Volume 1 by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
I approached reading Platinum End with mixed feelings, I was interested because this series is another work from the team that brought the world Death Note, and I greatly enjoyed Death Note. On the other hand, I wasn’t looking forward Death Note 2: Electric Boogaloo. I ended up putting down the first volume feeling like I was cautiously interested in seeing where Platinum End was going.
The volume opens with Mirai Kagehashi, a high school student who has decided to kill himself. He’s foiled in his attempt by the sudden appearance of an angel who rescues him. Mirai is stuck in despair because he was orphaned when he was young, and taken in by relatives who abused him. His new angel announces that she’s going to make him happy and gives him some new abilities – he can choose between having wings to fly anywhere or mystical red arrows that will cause anyone to fall in love with him. Mirai responds that he’ll ponder what he wants if he’s given both gifts and the angel agrees.
Mirai’s angel Nasse functions more like the devil on his shoulder than a good conscience, as she encourages him to use his powers for the most selfish of reasons. Mirai gets a sense of how deadly the ability to make anyone fall in love with him can be, when he returns to his aunt and uncle and learns the truth behind the death of his parents. In true shonen fashion it turns out that Mirai is caught up in a cosmic game, where God has decided that he’s going to elevate a human to become the next God. 13 angels have been assigned to 13 chosen humans, and the last one left gets to be in charge of the universe.
Mirai says that he would be just content with normal happiness, but Nasse keeps pushing him to use his angel-given superpowers to manipulate and murder his way to having money and happiness. In a way, Platinum End seems more like a horror title than anything else, as Mirai wakes up from nightmares with horrific visions. The other contestants for godhood aren’t using their powers for good either, as one of them decides to disguise himself as a superhero and pick off his opponents one by one, killing a comedian who decides to use the love arrows to assault a group of women.
Platinum End is rated mature and aside from that, one could develop a drinking game centered on the number of panels where Nasse’s disembodied butt is hanging in the air randomly in many panels. The art from Obata is good as always. Overall, this was an interesting manga to read, but not very pleasant. It seems like Platinum End is going to be even darker in tone than Death Note, and that series was pretty dark. At the same time, seeing if Mirai’s inherent sense of morality is going to hold up to the temptation of godlike power is an interesting story to explore, even though it is thematically a bit too close to Death Note. I put this volume down feeling a bit cautious about this series. I’ll be curious to see if in the next couple volumes Platinum End develops into a manga that I’m looking forward to reading. If not, there’s always Death Note!