Sins of the father.
Story/Art: Haruhisa Nakata
Translation: John Werry
Adaptation: Jason A. Hurley
What They Say
Levius is victorious in his deadly match against A.J. and reaches Grade I, the top league, where the battles are even more intense. His first opponent is Oliver E. Kingsley, who is known as “the Emperor” and is currently undefeated. Despite all the challenges he’s faced so far, is Levius truly ready to fight against a top competitor?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The tough-guy act driven by masculine norms that perpetuates a cycle of violence. Often cribbed in shonen manga as a noble pursuit of strength, pride, whatever. In the end, it’s a bunch of idiots willing to kill each other for acceptance, to win a mate, or for some other primal urge. Rarely is it ever for survival. In fact, it often goes against what’s best for a person’s health and well being.
So for Levius and the fighters in his story, they will keep punching each other to death with magic steam.
“Est” does not mean what I expected. My assumption was that it meant Levius was established now in his sport and had made a name for himself enough for the main event. Nope, that’s not what it refers to at all. It’s an in-universe term for godhood. As in, those that aspire to it. Apparently it was Levius’s father’s favorite word.
I have to applaud the balls on the number one spot in the ranking for not only inviting his competitor out to his father’s unburied grave but then adding injury to insult to his opponent. Of course, Levius was going to burst into a rage at the reveal of his father and the old man who is casually throwing insults at him.
I’m surprised the plot ramped up to the levels it did so rapidly. I can only expect that Levius will turn down the match against Kingsley. He may not have a choice at this point, but Kingsley is the top-dog. There are hints the man may be dying but it’s hard to know for certain. There’s a ton of posturing and hubris being tossed around. The hackneyed circumstances where Kingsley is both Levius’s savior and executioner are impossible coincidences. Everything in this story is theater and hard to take seriously.
Back in the city, Natalia watches as Zack takes up training another lower-level fighter. She thinks that’s because the group has no faith in Levius, but they tell her that’s not the case. Natalia comes across as a more interesting character in this volume. She’s the hotheaded shonen hero in a story where everyone else is unflappable. She’s also the one who doesn’t take no for an answer and questions the ways that the others are going about things. When one of the fighters appears to have reached the end of his road she goads him on to victory and survival.
So where does this story go from here? Does it return to Levius taking on the other rank 1 fighters while gunning for Kingsley? Or will A.J.’s brother manage to climb the ranks and challenge Levius?
This volume of Levius/Est dials it back and tries once again to focus on the motivations of the fighters and their brief, violent lives. Every fighter lives for the fight, but that battle takes different forms. There’s a level of idiot machismo powering every scene in this fighting manga, as you would expect. Levius is still a simple man in the middle, a boy who just wants to please a mother who I can’t imagine would ever want her son to be throwing his life away like he is. Some stunning imagery can’t really make up for the lapses in judgment of the story.
Content Grade: B –
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: A +
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Teen Plus
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: January 21, 2020
MSRP: $12.99 US / $ CAN / £ UK