Title: School Judgment: Gakkyu Hotei Vol. 2
Author: Nobuaki Enoki (Story), Takeshi Obata (Art)
Publisher: Viz Media
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
The second volume of School Judgment: Gakkyu Hotei has arrived! After the cliffhanger at the end of the first volume, the case of the Magical Powder and the Masked Dude comes to a conclusion. After this, a new rival appears at Tenbin Elementary and challenges Akabu in a civil case! After that case is resolved, someone threatens to hijack the opening of the school pool. It’s a new trifecta of elementary school cases in this latest volume. Additionally, a new and cute prosecutor appears who has a very straightforward mission to accomplish. Can she do it with out any adult meddling to ruin her plans?
As with the first volume, the second volume of School Judgment is episodic. After the conclusion of the Magic Powder case, we’re treated to two whole new cases in their entirety. In fact, the second new case gets wrapped up and we’re left with no cliffhanger for the third and final volume of the manga, which is kind of odd, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to look forward to because the second volume drops some hints at something not so lighthearted.
The second volume also opens up some backstory to Akabu and the reason why he came from Onigashima Elementary. This backstory also ties into the new character Sarutobi, who is a ninja attorney. I liked the tie in between Saurtobi and Akabu and it sets up the main overall mystery of the series: The Bloody Classroom Session, which seems to be a very dark and grim case that is a huge detraction from what we have been introduced to so far. I also facepalmed a bit that they decided to go with a ninja character named Sarutobi. I wonder if it was a hidden tribute to Naruto since the third hokage’s name was Hiruzen Sarutobi. Either that or Sarutobi is just a really popular ninja name. Who knows?
The case outcomes had their usual twists to keep you guessing as to who the culprit was and it was a bit surprising how deep some of the results went into for being on an elementary school level. I guess teaching kids to think deeply is one of this manga’s strong points. My only major gripe is that the series is very wordy and with 192 pages, there’s a LOT of dialogue to chew through so these volumes won’t go by as quickly as others. It took me two sittings to get through this volume because it feels like you just need a break after a case wraps up. I know Enoki is new to the manga scene, but pacing is something I feel he needs to work on in his next series. Obata’s art was spot on as usual, though!
Much like the first volume, if you want something that makes you think, but at the same time, is overly simple then the second volume of School Judgment will be a satisfying reading.
First, I’d like to apologize in advance for how brief our summary was of this volume. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be sorry. There is no effective way to give a good, meaty summary of this volume simply because not much worthwhile happens. The series is very formulaic and predictable. We finish off the mystery of the magical powder which turns out not to be much of a mystery at all. Then immediately we move on to another ‘crime’ in the elementary school that needs to be tried and put to rest. Then we move on to another thing that requires legal representation. Then throw in a cute girl who is submissive without a voice for herself and I’m just ready to throw this book out of a window.
I can appreciate that the characters have to really think out their cases. I like that there are some twists and turns during the court trials. At the same time, I feel like a lot of the court rulings are determined by mental gymnastics, which probably isn’t too different in real life. After all, lawyers are professional word masters. I just find it hard to believe that students who are barely on the cusp of puberty are capable of putting together such complex arguments.
This isn’t to say volume 2 doesn’t have any substance. The backstory of our main character is revealed and we learn that once he was punished for a crime he didn’t commit. This drove him and his current rival to study law together to one day prove their innocence. I’m not surprised that the author decided to go this route and show that our hero was once feeble and defenseless. This is so common in anime and manga. It doesn’t change how ridiculous I think this series is. No amount of backstory is going to make the concept of this manga more interesting.
I had to take my time reading this. There is an excessive amount of dialog that I think we all could have lived without. The author would have been better off focusing on one very interesting trial per volume instead of going with an episodic format. This would have cut down on the amount of text – giving readers an opportunity to fully absorb what is happening with each trial. Instead we are bombarded with a lot of characters, a lot of dialog, and not very much of anything else. I was in pain reading this – it took a lot of commitment for me to finally get to the last page of this volume.
**This item was provided for review