The King of Fighters: A New Beginning – Volume 2 Review

I reviewed the first volume of this Manga for Anime UK News (viewable HERE!) but then time passed and volumes released and that was that… until I brought Volume 2 on a whim, remembering how much I enjoyed the first one. Now too late to put a review up there (as Volume 3 has been out for a while…) I thought I’d continue the coverage here. Is a manga focused on a fighting game full of great, intricate storylines and characters? No… Is it full of stunning artwork and call backs to the game? Why yes, yes it is!

Synopsis:

The first round battle between Iori Yagami and Kyo Kusanagi heats up as someone, or something, awakens Iori’s buried Orochi power and sends him into an uncontrollable rage…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

When “uh-oh!” doesn’t really cover it…

The main thing that jumps out at me right away is the artwork. It’s properly stunning, full of detail, effects and always on-model, I really hope Kyotaro Azuma sticks with it past this game adaptation, maybe start a series of his own. His talent deserves it!

What’s in the Manga beyond great artwork? Not much to be fair! Just like Volume 1 it sticks pretty rigidly to the idea of a fighting tournament between teams (as well it should, really…) so you get two chapters wrapping up the battle between Kyo and Iori, an interval chapter, and then two chapters showing the fight between new protagonist Shun’ei of Team China going up against Art of Fighting Team’s Ryo Sakazaki. Kyo and Iori is extremely brutal, full of a fair amount of blood, and if the match hadn’t already been called in Kyo’s favour it’d probably have been classed as a draw. It’s here we get a look at Nakoruru, a character from the Sengoku-era fighter Samurai Showdown who was placed into the story of King of Fighters XIV purely due to her popularity. She senses and even sees an evil hand hovering over Iori while he possessed, but knows it isn’t the work Orochi. She briefly mentions appearing whenever the Earth needs her or some such, but I doubt much more effort is going to go into explaining it…

Ryo looks so happy… I guess I’d be happy too if I still looked that young after how many decades now?

After the Interlude chapter, which was mostly Team Japan talking about Orochi, and setting up Team China’s new characters of Shun’ei and Meitenkun before their team steps into the ring, we’re ready to go with Round 2. The battle between Shun’ei and Ryo is your classic “this kid is powerful but he’s holding his power back, I’m going to fight and taunt him until he unleashes his full strength” story. Ryo wins (which kind of spoils the results of the next two bouts given there’s no way Shun’ei, the new protagonist, is going home this early!) but our green-haired young fighter feels he’s learned a lot, especially about how he can control his ungodly strength. Ryo even throws the old “let’s fight again when you’re stronger” line for good measure!

The Bad:

Robert looks a little on the creepy side rather than the suave side, but hey-ho…

The only real bad is dependant entirely on what you’re expecting going in. It’s nearly entirely action (really well drawn action!) and what story there is can only really be enjoyed if you have at least some knowledge of the King of Fighters storyline. If you’re fine with both of those then you’ll devour this manga volume in one sitting, like myself, but if you’re unsure of either it’s a skippable series.

The only bit that annoyed me was a couple of panels where Mr. Satan-a-like Antonov looks at the tournament on screen and remarks about the “fake tricks” they’re doing… I mean, it made NO SENSE in the Dragon Ball world after the previous World Tournaments and footage of King Piccolo and Saiyans on TV, and the same is true here: all previous KOF tournament were covered in various ways, with the last few having giant stadiums as the final level, so there’s no way some popular world champion would think what Ryo was doing was a “trick”. Ah well, at the end of the day it’s a loving reference to a classic Dragon Ball character, so I can’t be too upset…

Overall Thoughts:

To be fair, if my “own power” made me look like that I’d be pretty afraid of it as well…

The King of Fighters: A New Beginning Volume 2 continues the strong artwork and fun fighting of the first Volume, but if you’re looking for something more from your £6.99 then you’ll be disappointed. Me? I’m loving seeing some of the KOF classics being so well drawn fighting each other, and I’m looking forward to Volume 3, which is waiting on my shelf for when I finish the current run of new Doctor Who comics…

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