Manga Review – Tokyo Babylon Vol. 3

We’re getting back to the Tokyo Babylon reviews this week with the series 3rd installment, with this issue containing another complete mini-story arc.

General Information

Title: Tokyo Babylon Vol. 3
Written & Illustrated by CLAMP
Translated by Ray Yoshimoto
Retouch & Lettering by Junemoon Studio
Originally Serialized in Shinahokan’s Wing Magazine

The Premise

Subaru’s latest job puts him up against a group of teenagers who happen to have discovered a few magic spells, and are using them to strike out against those who bully them in school, believing that they’re “chosen ones”. However, when Subaru’s attempts to stop them go badly, Seishiro intercedes in his own fashion…

The High Points

This is probably the first time in the series where we start seeing some “flashy” magical powers, and we start getting some explanations of how the magical rules of the setting work.

The Low Points

The “villians” of the piece come off less as sinister or threatening, and more as annoying, with most of their successes being through, basically, pure luck.

Content Notes

No nudity here, and minimal violence, so there are some semi-disturbing images here.

The Scores

Originality: This isn’t the first teenagers lash out at society story violently I’ve seen in my life, and it isn’t the last. 3 out of 6.

Artwork: This volume has some of the same problems with blank backgrounds as previous issues of the work. 3 out of 6.

Story: As I mentioned under the high point, this volume works really well as a way to expand the understanding of the readers of how the rules of magic in the setting work. I also particularly like how CLAMP again takes a moment (like in Volume 2) to discuss a few social issues (in this case how Japan handles mental health issues – though they don’t spend as much time on it as they did for the plight of immigrants in Japan and how rape victims are treated in Japanese society in Volume 2). That said, I can’t think of the last time where a writer of a manga said outright “The US handles this social issue better than we do.” This isn’t just a national pride thing either – it could have been the UK, or Germany, or France, or some other country. Admitting that you’re doing it wrong (and that possibly someone else is doing it better) is the first step towards doing it right. 4 out of 6.

Characterization: We get some more development for Subaru and Seishiro, based around how they approach the same problem. The teenagers on the other hand, are pretty two-dimensional. 4 out of 6.

Emotional Response: I’d like to think I got the right emotional response from Seishiro’s actions this volume, which I’m not going to elaborate on too much (because of possible spoilers), but in short, I felt that after this volume Seishiro is not a character to be trifled with, despite the front he likes to put up. 4 out of 6.

Flow: 4 out of 6.

Overall: Thus far this is probably one of the best stories in the series (with Hokuto’s solo story from the last volume being the best in the series). 5 out of 6.

In total, Tokyo Babylon Volume 3 gets a 27 out of 42.