The fight against the shadows continues, but with a few more members this time. And the boobs are more prevalent than ever!
Writer/Artist: Tsuneo Takano and Takeshi Obata
Translation: Jake Forbes
Adaptation: HC Language Solutions
What They Say:
Pride! Ral's journey has taken him and his friends to an enormous walled city. Inside, the inhabitants are jittery, as the womenfolk have been mysteriously disappearing. While the residents prepare weapons to prevent the Shadows from invading, the newest member of Ral's party, Kafka, is sent to investigate. He's stunned to see Mio, Ral's tutor, walking towards an unknown destination in a daze. When he tries to intervene the city's soldiers attack! Have the Shadows already found a way into the city?
Kafka joins Ral and crew on their quest to defeat Lady Bira. They easily make their way to the city of Lulira, which has surrounded itself with a giant wall in an effort to keep the shadows out. While it seems successful, they do have a problem: young girls seem to disappear, one at a time, every week. While Ral is asleep Kafka wakes him up to show him that there isn't only a large parade of naked, hypnotized women walking the streets, Mio is one of them. In order to break the spell on the girls and get Mio back, Ral, Grad, and Kafka have to nearly destroy the city to find out just what is going on.
If there is one thing that can easily be said about Ral Grad, it's that it's consistent. There are differences between this volume and the last, some good, others not so much, but the changes kind of cancel each other out. Even then, all the stuff is minor and the book still delivers the same energetic, fun stories that made the first one so entertaining.
A negative change would be that this volume doesn't have the pacing that the first one did. While that one wasn't exactly the pinnacle great of story structure, it took its time when it needed to and tuned things down from 11 here and there. That's not really the case this time around. Once this volume starts it doesn't stop until it reaches the back cover. This does play well for an exciting manga, but it's pretty exhausting. I tend to read things in one sitting, but I think the pace hurt that experience this time; I'd definitely recommend taking some breaks in between chapters.
A positive change is that Ral, while still obsessed with girls and boobs, isn't so annoyingly emphatic about it all the time. This was one of the most annoying things from the first volume and I'm glad to see that it has been toned down. But never fear, fans of the gratuitous amounts of boobs in this manga, there are just as many this time around as before.
All-in-all, this is pretty much the same monster as the first volume. It's fun, it's action-packed, has gorgeous art, and it has a lot of very sexy women. There are some new members that join Ral's crew, and some poweful new characters that seem to have the same agenda as Ral. At half way complete, it seems like everything is on pace for the action to keep escalating and the stakes to keep getting higher. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, it is kind of an “Appeal To Teenaged Boys by the Numbers” book, but it's fun and done pretty well. If you know this is your kind of thing, then this is an obvious choice.