Title: Black Bullet Vol. 4
Author: Morinohon (Art), Shiden Kanzaki (Story), Saki Ukai (Characters)
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Shounen, Battle
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
The final volume of Black Bullet has arrived and we are set to see the conclusion to this series. The majority of this manga depicts the final battle between Kagetane and Satomi. The action depicted was pretty fierce and I’m glad it got fleshed out this time around unlike their first encounter which began, then you turn the page and they did a time skip to the aftermath of the battle – denying us of any action whatsoever. My only big complaint was the ending of the battle which was extremely typical of a shounen series. The main protagonist gets a fatal wound, but plot armor keeps him from dying. To be more specific, Kagetane blew a hole through the entire left side of Satomi’s abdomen, leaving him lying in enough blood to fill a swimming pool. The manga then takes the time to note that not even the accelerated healing drug Satomi took could heal that amount of damage.
Then, Satomi recalls all the things that are precious to him and despite the manga stating a few pages earlier that there’s no hope, Satomi miraculously heals and goes on to defeat Kagetane. It was an eye roll moment and probably the biggest downside to not only this volume, but to Black Bullet as a whole. After Kagetane is defeated, the threat continues as a stage five Gastrea, one that has the ability to wipe out mankind, is summoned. Their only hope is a cannon built during the Gastrea War, but was never used. Satomi, who is fresh off his battle, exhausted, and was nearly killed, is the only person close enough to fire the cannon so it’s up to our main hero to jump right back into action. Of course, when he gets there, they don’t have a varanium bullet to shoot at the Gastrea so Satomi detaches his prosthetic arm, made of super varanium and loads it into the cannon. He fires and….
Cut to the epilogue!
We don’t even get to see the Gastrea destroyed, but since mankind is living happily ever after one can only assume it was destroyed. I won’t further spoil the volume, but the ending was severely rushed. They threw a LOT of information at the reader in the span of just a few pages, most of which seemed like it was just there to tie loose ends together. The reason behind everything in this manga seemed like a cop out solution and just a tad cliché. The series was highly enjoyable up until this final volume where it looked like the authors of this series realized that they didn’t have enough material for a fifth volume and decided to just end it as quickly as possible.
Outside of Kagetane telling us the reasons behind his actions, there was little to no character development in this final volume. Something like that is to be expected going into the conclusion of a series, though, as your characters should already be fleshed out for the grand finale. Any loose ends, such as the case with Kagetane’s motives, should be reserved for the final volume and that is exactly what we got.
That doesn’t mean Kagetane’s reasons are all that unique, though. So we know that both Kagetane and Satomi are “engineered” soldiers that were to be used to fight the Gastrea. Kagetane has seen how the world treats “monsters” after observing how the Red-Eyed Children get shunned by “normal” human beings. Kagetane feels that the world will cast them aside once the Gastrea are gone and they have no use for them anymore so Kagetane’s plan is to cause a new Gastrea War to eliminate all of mankind and then kill the Gastrea so that the Red-Eyed Children and the engineered soldiers are the only ones left on the Earth. He feels only true peace without prejudice can exist in that kind of world.
On one hand, I can see Kagetane’s point and you can sympathize with him, no matter how insane you may think he is, but this is a classic trope among “tragic villains.” We’ve seen this excuse used in many variations way too often to the point where it’s hard to sympathize with these kind of villains. It just comes off as run-of-the-mill and uninteresting.
Satomi, Enju and Kisara all pretty much stay the same. As mentioned in the story section, Satomi has kind of a bit of a revelation that kicks his plot armor into gear, but I would hardly call that character development.
The first three volumes of Black Bullet are still excellent, but the fourth volume was rather disappointing. While the final battle between Satomi and Kagetane was well executed in the beginning, the conclusion felt more like a heavy sigh. Not seeing the Gastrea destroyed and cutting right to the epilogue felt unrewarding and the revealed reason behind everything was so dull and uninspired that I felt it REALLY hurt the overall series.
Just because the final destination was a disappointment, it doesn’t mean this series is completely bad. The journey there was still pretty darn good and if you don’t mind slightly rushed and clichéd shounen manga endings, then I would still recommend this series as it does have some great story and character development in the first three volumes.
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**This item was provided for review by Yen Press