Manga Call Back: Katekyo Hitman Reborn!

It’s been about four years since the end of Reborn’s run. By no means was it a perfect manga. It flies under the radar a bit because it was being published in Weekly Shounen Jump in a time where the Big Three were still killing it. Not to say it didn’t sell well, Reborn sold well and even got an anime. Unfortunately the anime didn’t do the manga much justice. It also stopped after the Future arc while the manga went on to have two more arcs after that one. Reborn was published in WSJ from 2004 until 2012. Katekyo Hitman Reborn isn’t the pinnacle of battle shounen storytelling or anything but a lot of allusions, character depth and concepts are undermined and overlooked. It’s actually got quite a bit to offer.

Katekyoshi Hitman Reborn is about Sawada Tsunayoshi, a loser teenager in every sense of the word. Not wealthy, has no friends, has no talent, no intellect, no athleticism etc. He is a piece of shit waste of life. One day a mysterious infant dressed sharply comes to his house to be his tutor. This child’s name is Reborn and it’s his job to make Tsuna the 10th Mafia Boss of the most powerful, influential family in the world: The Vongola Family. If you haven’t read the manga or watched the anime and are planning to, be warned, there will be some spoilers.

When thinking about story progression in anime or manga, two great narratives come to mind. The anime Toppa Tengen Gurren Lagann and the manga Reborn. Rushing into a series almost always hurts the story in the end. The latter half of the series spends it’s time trying to relive its former glory. Just look at Naruto or Attack on Titan. Great beginnings, but somewhere along the way it becomes mediocre at best. Reborn takes it’s time setting up and I mean it TAKES it time. 61 chapters of character development, 61 chapters of world building and 61 chapters of introducing some basic concepts. Then seemingly out of nowhere, Akira Amano takes a bag of plot bricks and beats the reader with the story. The story comes out of nowhere and becomes engaging immediately. 

The arcs are progressive and lead into the next one smoothly. After one arc ends, it perfectly leads into the next one, bringing back characters from the previous arc and expanding upon the various concepts. The high points of the series being the Varia arc and the final arc. Reborn got an axed ending because it started declining in popularity. So while the ending was a bit rushed and underwhelming, the ride was good. The narrative had tons of hidden mysteries and secrets that keep readers theorizing. One especially being the secret of the Arcobaleno .

The artwork for the manga becomes increasingly more beautiful the further you get. Amano’s artstyle is pretty feminine and sleek, yet beautiful and distinct. A lot of the characters look bishounen (kind of androgynous looking) but they look really cool. The fashion is on point and the designs are great. The action is also well drawn and they bring the hype. Not many fights were anticlimactic. I especially respect that the Dying Will Flames looks distinctly different and you can tell which Dying Will Flame is which by the way she drew them. The texture, outline and coloring make it clear even though it’s a colorless manga.

Reborn had a lot of brilliant characters and cool ones. Most notably: Tsunayoshi Sawada, Xanxus, Rokudo Mukuro and Byakuran. The main character, Tsuna, is interesting because Amano found a way to make him the embodiment of the three generic shounen main character archetypes in one. The loser, the hyperactive knucklehead and the sophisticated prodigy. Normally Tsuna is useless; in his Dying Will Mode he’s hyper and extreme but in his Hyper Dying Will Mode he’s a cool customer that has Hyper Intuition. In addition to balancing love, school and mafia related stuff, Tsuna also had abandonment issues. His dad was never really around and he always kind of resented him for that.

Moving forward we have Xanxus. A badass through and through. For a guy who doesn't particularly say much, every word that leaves his mouth is awesome and insulting. He has no filter and says whatever he wants. He’s one of the characters you can understand well because he was lied to his whole life and is a "fake". He knows it too and spends his whole life sulking about it. He was poor as a young child, taken in by the 9th Boss and believed he’d become the next family head to only learn that some 14 year old kid from Japan was supposed to become the Tenth. As Xanxus doesn’t actually have Vongola Blood in his veins, he can never become the boss. He also offers really interesting parallelism and similarities with Tsuna. Xanxus fights with a rare Flame called the Flames of Wrath and his X-Guns.

Mukuro is one of the greatest illusionists in the mangaverse, period. A powerful child with hate for the mafia that can’t unaffiliate himself with it. He is good at riding out for his day one friends he struggled with. He has been imprisoned by the Vindice who are mysterious cloaked beings who uphold mafia law. Mukuro's ocular techniques are incredibly potent as he can even fully materialize himself through the use of a vessel. He’s got an interesting relationship with another character that he usually uses as his main vessel to summon himself. Mukuro’s motivations come from wanting to destroy the Vongola family and mafia world for what they did to him.

Byakuran is an interesting character in himself because of his ability. He has the ability to share and communicate information to all the various versions of himself throughout the multiverse. This makes him seemingly all-knowing and unbeatable (there are parallel worlds in Reborn). He comes across as this white knight/angel out to reform the world but underneath the veil lays a bored man screwing with the world because he can. He literally becomes bored with life and trying to rule the world becomes an elaborate game he’s playing. I found that to be cool and refreshing even though generally I like villains with a clear cut purpose. He was the series' longest antagonist.

One of the themes of Reborn is that each member of the Varia (an independent assassination squad of the Vongola lead by Xanxus) represents of the 7 Deadly Sins while Tsuna’s Family each represent one of the Seven Heavenly Virtues. Mostly every Varia member is named after the corresponding demon for the sin. Xanxus - Wrath, Lussuria - Lust, Mammon - Greed,  Belphegor - Sloth, Leviathan - Envy, Squalo - Pride and Gola Mossca is Gluttony. Their personalities, goals and sometimes fighting styles align with the corresponding sin they represent. For example, Mammon cares only about money and Bel fights using knifes and wires (this set up a trap where Bel doesn’t actually fight, the enemy defeats themselves). Superbi Squalo almost literally translates to "prideful shark."

The Tenth Generation Vongola Family goes as such: Tsuna - Patience, Yamamoto - Humility, Gokudera - Diligence, Ryohei - Chastity, Lambo - Kindness, Mukuro / Chrome - Charity, and Hibari is Temperance. Their corresponding virtues also line up with some of their personalities and such. Gokudera is extremely diligent always thinking about protecting Tsuna and the best interest of the Vongola Family while Yamamoto is humble and willing to be Tsuna's subordinate.

Reborn has a really well structured energy system. The Dying Will Flames and various items that let you ignite those Flames through them were fleshed out properly. You could tell which Flame was which and their abilities are fully explained. Essentially, the battles became about the application of Dying Will Flames and proper usage of Box Weapons. While the series did suffer from typical random shounen power ups, the battles themselves where generally clever (mixed with the occasional shounen bs). Aside from Hunter x Hunter Nen system, I can’t really think of many other energy based system this well thought out (Chakra does come to mind).

Thusly, while not the best or greatest manga out there, Reborn is a really solid manga with good content and context to offer. The story structure, style, characters, concepts and battles are a few of many reasons you should at least give it a chance. People will appreciate the overall aesthetics of the manga and find the fighting system to be interesting if not unique.

I personally give this manga a 7.6/10.

Written by: Nya Hemmingz
Follow me: @LolitaZenpie

Manga Call Back: Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Manga Call Back: Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, March 17, 2016 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.