The Royal Cup
The Last Man, Vol. #2
By Balak + Sanlaville + Vive̒s
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott
The Royal Cup, Vol. 2 of The Last Man series is not a self-contained story. Without knowledge of the events that transpired in Vol. 1, The Stranger, the reader would probably feel like they were thrown into the drink without a life preserver and wearing cement shoes. Given, however, that most manga fans will have picked up Vol. 1, already, and not have missed a thing, this graphic serial, takes the reader in media res, immediately after the events of The Stranger. Not a beat was skipped. You could crazy glue the two books together and have a seamless story. Adrian, his mother and the Stranger, haven’t moved an inch.
The writing is a little more fluid than in the first volume; meandering little, carrying itself well given the subject setting. The battle for the Royal Cup takes up most of this installment and it’s a fantastic improvement over the first volume. Combined with the hyper exaggerated art, the focus on strategy comes to the forefront, the trust between Adrian and the Stranger, build as they coach each other in deficiencies, and the story flows a lot smoother because of it. Little snippets, though, are left out in open and the twist “ending” actually had me intrigued to see what happens next.
As serial stories progress, I (for one) have the expectation that characters will evolve and progress. This happens in the slower pacing of the Japanese style, in order to focus on the rather elongated fight that encompasses the majority of the vignette that makes up The Royal Cup. Offside, as has been mentioned, trust and love rear their heads and move the characters in closing and opening relationships; emotions runs high in this installment, and the characters, especially the underdeveloped ones from the first volume, hold their own in this one.
The artwork, once again was opulence given form. This is a graphic novel in which the graphic shines through. Skillfully weaving detailed backgrounds, and more punch to the fight scenes, with the elegance of simplicity in the characters shows the art team in becoming more comfortable with the world and its inhabitants. The exploits of Adrian, our young hero, display simple form set against lavishly drawn royal scenes, much like a child’s view of an overwhelming world. It is so vivid I felt what Adrian must have felt, often seeing the world through a “worm’s eye view” (in which the camera is placed at a low angle looking up). Our stalwart young hero’s adventures seem to just be beginning by the end of the book.
Fans of Dragonball or Dragonball Z, manga, fight comics and those who want to display the art form, The Royal Cup is the graphic novel you must pick up.