REVIEW: ‘Kaiju No. 8,’ Volume 2

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Kaiju No. 8 Volume 2 - But Why Tho

Kaiju No. 8 isn’t your typical shonen series. With a 32-year old as the protagonist, the series is allowed to explore feelings of belonging and trying to reach your dreams even after you’re “allowed to.” Volume 1 introduced readers to Kafka, a worker apart of Japan’s kaiju clean-up team. Having always dreamed of joining the defense force and protecting his country from the dangerous kaiju, he found himself resigned to cleaning up the exploits of that team instead. That is until one day he becomes part kaiju himself. Now with Kaiju No 8 Volume 2,  we see Kafka adjust to his new life.

Kaiju No 8 Volume 2 is written by mangaka Naoya Matsumoto. This volume is published and localized in English by VIZ Media through its Shonen Jump imprint, translated by David Evelyn, and lettered by Brandon Bovia. In this volume, the final test of the Defense Force has come to an end, and despite his low scores, Kafka’s ability to kill the high-level kaiju that appeared in the physical portion of the exam allows him to make the Defense Force as a cadet. But Kafka’s survival and his protection of his team lead Shinomiya to learn about his secret.

As the tension alleviates in one part of the story, it rises in another when a new mysterious humanoid kaiju revives a neutralized honju and sics it on the defense force, including Reno. Kafka isn’t the only humanoid kaiju out there and while he’s the highest level kaiju that has been seen, labeled a daikaiju, there is still a lot of danger lurking.

Kaiju No 8 Volume 2 is a lot of setups. We settle into the Kiju Defense Force, the new members, and see that Kafka actually takes damage in his kaiju form, even if it is reduced. This world-building extends to Reno, who is the star of the volume, and we learn of his tenacity, and his background as the new humanoid brings danger and injury.

Beyond world-building, though, Kaiju No 8 Volume 2 also continues to bring strong women to the table. While shonen manga has gotten better when it comes to representing female characters, Kaiju No. 8 goes above and beyond to take certain tropes usually associated with men and give them to its female leads. For starters, Shinomiya is the child prodigy; she’s the best at what she does, the strongest, and is all about power over caring for her well-being. As this begins to rub off on Reno, Kafka is given a chance to use his age (which is a continual butt of a joke) to guide them. He urges the young duo to take care of themselves and understand that they have to survive in order to keep fighting.

Additionally, Captain Ashiro remains the idol of everyone. She’s strong, capable, and a beacon of what to aspire to be for the young members of the Defense Force and Kafka. While there are some romantic elements brewing that showcases childhood friends to lover possibility between Kafka and Captain Ashiro, that doesn’t overpower the narrative around her. Almost mythic in quality, she is an aspiration to the men on the team in a way that showcases her stature in the story. Even with Kafka his goal is to walk beside Ashiro. Walk beside her, be as strong as her, and close the gap between them. Respect is the most important thing about how her character is seen.

Kaiju No 8 Volume 2 continues to show the series’ strength in world and character building, but it’s genuinely Matsumoto’s art that is beyond perfection. The kaiju are large and commanding, beautiful and terrible at the same time. The action is dynamic, and even with that well-structured and strong action, there are adorable emotive moments that bring levity and humor as well. Kaiju No. 8 is the series to read and one of the best out now.

Kaiju No 8 Volume 2 is out wherever books are sold on April 5, 2022.


Kaiju No. 8 Volume 2
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TL;DR

Kaiju No. 8 Volume 2 continues to show the series’ strength in world and character building, but it’s truly Matsumoto’s art that is beyond perfection. The kaiju are large and commanding, beautiful and terrible at the same time as well…Kaiju No. 8 is the series to read and one of the best out now.