While creator Shoujo Kawamori’s Aquarion Evol manga continues to exhibit its quirky defining characteristics, it’s with pleasure that I report that the manga’s second volume improves upon all of the weaknesses of the first book. Uneven pacing and tone, opaque narrative, and obscured battle choreography all plagued the introductory volume of the manga. All of those attributes are addressed and improved in the second book.
The second volume of creator/writer Shoujo Kawamori and illustrator Aogiri’s Aquarion Evol manga expands the cast on the human side and also begins to expand the story’s romantic interests beyond just primary characters Amata Sora & Mikono Suzushiro. As the absent leader of Neo Deava returns to duty, the legendary leader of Altair, Mykage, awakes, and the Altairians focus on Earth becomes more specific and refined. In volume 2, rather than continuing their mass abduction strategy, the Altairians mount two robotic attacks against Neo Deava and one more personal, intimate offensive
specifically targeting the mysterious girl Mikono Suzushiro. In the face of the mounting aggression, Neo Deava decides that shackling the Aquarion robot is no longer an option even while releasing its full capacity could be catastrophic.
The blurring in the image is due to my poor scanning, not the manga.
Aquarion Evol is an odd hybrid of dramatic sci-fi action and subtly goofy comedy. While the tonal swings from silly to serious in the first volume felt schizophrenic and abrupt, the merging is smoother and more effective in the second volume. Comedy emerges naturally from character personalities and ironic plot developments like the Neo Deava school deliberately organizing co-ed encounters as a means of teaching hormonal teenagers to restrain their natural impulses, and the rhetorical comparison of Mikono Suzushiro to a donut hole. The definition, or more accurately categorization, by exclusion is technically appropriate yet in context seems laughably maladroit. The second volume is arguably a bit expository, finally explaining the goal of the Altairian incursions and the tragedy of Aquarion that was hinted at throughout the first volume, but expressing so much setting detail without blunt exposition would require extended flashbacks that would fundamentally alter the focus and feel of the story. The biggest weakness of the book remains the framing of the mecha battle scenes. But since the second volume contains fewer, shorter robot fights, the geography of the battles is a bit easier to decipher in the second volume. Like the first book, the second volume again still has a tendency to make big jumps in narrative without clear transitions, but the confusing shifts in narrative are fewer and more obvious, therefore easier to comprehend, in the second book than they were in the first.
One Peace Books’ translation of Aquarion Evol volume 2 contains chapters 5-9 plus three supplemental “4-koma” comic strips. The translation includes two typos and three punctuation errors but is also more natural, organic, and easily comprehensible than the volume 1 translation was. Sound effects are retained in Japanese and translated. The book’s introductory four pages were seemingly published in color in the Japanese version but are reproduced in monochrome for the English release. Printing throughout the book is sharp and clean, suggesting that the manuscript was transferred from quality original elements rather than second-generation scans. The book is pleasantly entirely free of ads although it also lacks even a copyright/printing history page. With the exception of just one blank leaf, the 142-page book is all content. The book is relatively all-ages friendly, containing a few panels of non-graphic nudity and a few usages of the noun “bitch” in proper, if derogatory, linguistic context.
Clearly fans interested exclusively in Aquarion Evol’s mecha battles, free of characterization and story, would be better served to just watch a highlights reel of the anime. But readers that enjoy the Aquarion Evol story, and readers that may have been hesitant about the uneven introductory volume of the manga, can rest easy knowing that the second book is a significant improvement on the weaknesses of the first book. The second volume develops slower but more comprehensively, providing readers with a more complete and in-depth perspective of the story and universe of Aquarion Evol. This second volume also exclusively presents the only existing English language translation of manga chapters 5 onward, progressing past the work done by unofficial fan translators.