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Levius/Est Vol. #05 Manga Review

4 min read
No matter what happens here, it feels that Natalia’s role in the story is coming to a close.
Levius/Est Vol. #05

I would do anything for love.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Haruhisa Nakata
Translation: John Werry
Adaptation: Jason A. Hurley

What They Say
The main event of the Southern Slam tournament is Levius’s title fight against “the Emperor,” Oliver E. Kingsley, but first Natalia must face off against A.J.’s brother Balthus. Zack and Bill are ringside to help, but the Amethyst corporation’s experiments have turned Natalia’s opponent into a dreadful new kind of weapon!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

Why is Natalia wearing an earring during her fight?! I get it, it’s manga, but seriously… no fighter would be wearing jewelry during a fight! That’s just asking to get your earlobes torn off! Of course the dumbass is also wearing goggles which do nothing. Rule of cool and all that, but it’s still stupid as hell.

I guess a torn earlobe is nothing in a battle where people lose limbs and nearly have their hearts ripped out. Even in these lower-level fights like the bout at the focus of this volume, the destruction of the athlete’s bodies seems to be a main draw for the bloodsport. It’s expected that the fighters are going to be taken away on a stretcher. The audience cries for blood even if it means they themselves face dangers by watching the fights. Think of every time a car jumps the track at a race, except worse.

Despite the agonizing over Natalia facing off against Balthus, she goes ahead with it anyway. Her reasoning is that she knows she has to in order to take him out of the fights before he gets himself killed. Why is she doing this for him? I mean, he’s her love rival’s brother. Natalia is both a simple and complicated character, and as we learn more about how these siblings were tortured at the hands of Amethyst you can’t help but want to see them break free at all costs.

The other conflict in this volume is the one of watching Bart argue with Zack over the limits he’s willing to push his fighter. Bart and Natalia have an understanding, and as her trainer, he has to respect her wishes. Yet he doesn’t have the experience to see the whole picture, which Zack does. The push and pull of trying to determine when enough is enough are ever-present. It’s a race against the clock as Natalia has to push Balthus to his limits but not so far that it kills him, or her. She can’t just tell Balthus that his sister is all right and to walk away because he’s not in full control. He is a boy remade into a monster, just as AJ was.

And that’s my main complaint about this fight. It feels like a rehash of the original Levius/AJ fight. The desires are very much the same, Natalia wants to rescue Balthus for many of the same reasons as Levius wanted to rescue AJ. The differences lie in the relationship between Natalia and her trainer, which is a very different and more respectable drive than Levius’s relationship with his uncle.

This volume ends of the king of all cliffhangers as Natalia pulls one last gambit in an effort to stop Balthus. No matter what happens here, it feels that Natalia’s role in the story is coming to a close. AJ and Balthus’s story might be almost wrapped up as well, despite the continued presence of Amethyst.

In Summary
Natalia versus Balthus feels like a rehash of the original Levius versus AJ fight. The head games and the desires of both parties are basically the same, the only thing that has changed is the gender of the opponents. Natalia manages to put up much more of a fight than I would have given her credit for. Natalia and her trainer’s relationship is more interesting than the main relationships between Levi and the others. Even if she is playing the tragic also-ran love interest, which is still an unfortunate part of her character arc. No matter the outcome of this battle, it will likely be the end of her role in this story.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: N/A (Digital)
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: Teen Plus
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: July 21, 2020
MSRP: $12.99 US / $ CAN / £ UK

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