When we were last in the world of Tokyo Aliens, protagonist Akira had been brought along on a dangerous mission with boss Amamiya. Together, the two are investigating a black market auction that’s dealing in the illegal trade of extra-terrestrial creatures. When one escapes confinement and Akira is tasked with bringing it down, he soon realises he’s completely out of his depth… With Volume 5 in hand, let’s find out what’s in store for our hero.
Without his usual partner Sho, Akira struggles to fight against the powerful enemy. Teamed up with Amamiya, he thought he’d be safe and sound on the sidelines, but unfortunately for our hero, Amamiya seems to have an ulterior motive for bringing him along on this stakeout. Rather than lend a hand fighting, Amamiya leaves Akira to take hit after hit in the hopes that it will awaken “the alien inside him”, so he can use powers we haven’t seen since his initial introduction into the AMO back in Volume 1.
Unfortunately, this isn’t going to plan for Amamiya and there’s a high chance of Akira dying before his powers are unleashed. Even Amamiya acknowledges that the extraterrestrial needs to be finished off before it can cause any lasting damage, particularly as it’s a kind that likes to eat humans. And then amid the fight, Amamiya spots a child’s shoe spat out by their foe, a sight which throws him into a frenzy.
This situation hits too close to home for Amamiya, who has, as we learn here, lost his own child to an alien in the past. So he’s merciless and then apologises to Akira, not just for his conduct on this mission but also for being “the one who killed your father”. Luckily Akira passes out before hearing those words, but we readers are left with the harrowing realisation that Amamiya is an important piece of the puzzle for Akira’s history.
The rest of this volume is dedicated to Akira and Sho’s new mission, which sees them tailing an alien who may have been responsible for the murder of a woman and her daughter. After talking to the suspect (who spots the two) Akira doesn’t want to believe he’d have done anything to hurt the victims, but how can he possibly prove it? Once again, Akira finds himself defending an alien when Sho and other members of the AMO are quick to write them off.
Having enjoyed a short reprieve from work in Volume 4 of Tokyo Aliens, it’s nice to see Akira and Sho back at it this time around. As we’ve come to expect from the series, mangaka Naoe is doing an excellent job of putting the cast through their paces in the almost monster-of-the-week-like cases, while also drip-feeding us information that’s pivotal to the overarching story.
It’s been clear from the beginning of the series that there’s more to Amamiya than just being Akira’s boss; he simply knows too much about what happened to his father. Akira believes their black market mission was simply training or being tested, but it appears to us readers that Amamiya is running out of time and is impatient about something to do with our protagonist. After defeating the extra-terrestrial, he returns to Natsuki, who asks how much time he has left. Whatever the case, I am eagerly looking forward to finding out more about this in the volumes to come and trust in the story Naoe is crafting here.
While Tokyo Aliens undoubtedly got off to a muddled start, it’s fair to say that the latest volumes have more than made up for that. It’s not just the story that’s improved dramatically, but the art also feels more attuned to the series. Don’t get me wrong, it always looked fabulous, but now Naoe is making better use of double-page spreads and framing the fight scenes for maximum impact. It’s not as comedic as it used to be either, which I think helps set the tone better on the whole.
Tokyo Aliens Volume 5 comes to the West thanks to Square Enix Manga and continues to be translated by Andria McKnight with lettering by Bianca Pistillo. As usual, the release reads well with no problems to note. This volume includes a colour page and like the previous has had its first printing in Canada instead of the United States, so the paper is bound quite tightly which makes the pages a little difficult to turn. Although my copy is better than #4, so your experience will vary somewhat.
Volume 6 of the series is set for an English release in March followed by #7 in September, which gets us caught up to the Japanese releases.
Overall, Tokyo Aliens Volume 5 is another action-packed instalment of this shonen series. There’s no question at this point that mangaka Naoe is telling a story that we’ll want to see through to the end, no matter what happens. And I for one appreciate the effort put into developing not only protagonist Akira, but those around him like Amamiya too.
Our review copy from Square Enix Manga was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).
A free preview of this volume can be read on the Square Enix website here.