Betterman, Volume 5: Despair

Matt Brown (Editor in Chief) — August 21st, 2003
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As the fifth volume of Betterman rolls around, it brings with it a faint glimpse of real entertainment. Though serving as a case of far too little coming far too late, the show is mildly enjoyable in this volume. I don't mean chocolate cake or Powerpuff Girls enjoyable, but it's a start. The emergence of a real villain and the presence of Old Guy really did the show some good.

Volume five of Betterman starts with Episode 19 - the only episode thus far that I enjoyed in its entirety. Most of the Big Robot Club members have to fight their inner demons (or more accurately, their mirror images). Not only does the idea work surprisingly well, but Hinoki and Keita are left out of the exercise as an added bonus. Those two are busy with the school's cultural festival, where they're constructing a house of mirrors.

Miyako suddenly realizes that her potential as a character is being wasted. Bandage Man strikes!

All this time, an EVIL organization called the Superhuman Federation (I wish I were joking about their name) has been after Kaede. They say it's because of her abilities, but I suspect it's just because Kaede has the biggest ta-tas in The Big Robot Club. The rest of the episodes in volume five really move the story along, which would have been a good thing if the writers had had some kind of destination in mind. The Big Evil (TM) named Kankel has shown up a few times now, and the Betterpeople seem afraid of him. Also, another nemesis named Brahman - who looks like a badly wrapped mummy - has shown up to terrorize the unsuspecting (not) Big Robot Club. While still fairly dumb and mostly lacking excitement, the plot of this volume did not make me want to throw things. It is the best that Betterman has had to offer so far.

The cover art of volume five is a bore, with a form of Betterman Lamia in the background yet again, and Betterman Lume in the foreground this time. The reverse side of the cover, however, is gorgeous. The right side shows Lume in full garb, over a golden background; and the right side features one of the female employees of Akamatsu (whose name always manages to escape me) in a charming pose atop an aqua-colored background. The disc extras are the same as the previous two volumes: some production art, and the next installment of the Mode Warp File notes series.

Relatively speaking, I have to say this has been the best volume of Betterman so far. I say relative because it still is rife with issues - in both style and storytelling. But it seems at this point that the writers at least are attempting to patch some holes, which is respectable. They probably could've done more if they hadn't used up all their bandages on Brahman.

Video Quality: A
Audio Quality: A
Presentation: A
Content: C+
Overall: C+