Choujin X Volume 5: Chaosy



Sui Ishida is certainly a well renowned mangaka in the English-speaking manga community, but in spite of that recognition and the accolades associated with it, I struggle with Choujin X. The similar elements to Tokyo Ghoul on various levels don’t help all that much, but the story feels like it struggles with itself at times. For example, I think Tokio and Azuma very much have potential as characters, and I believe that Ishida is able to utilize them- at times. Overall, Choujin X has been a volatile experience, leaving a somewhat sour taste in my mouth as I turn the pages and transition from excitement and interest to feeling like it’s a chore to read.

Let’s talk about this volume however. As part of another training arc, we’ve been spending more and more time with some of the younger keepers-in-training with Yamato Mori. Of course, that training is interrupted by Chandra and other Choujin associated with the organization he is a part of. Because of that, the vast majority of the volume is combat, which is good. Ishida is at home with this series where spelling things out or explaining them isn’t necessary. Creating a gripping fight, or a high stakes standoff is second nature to the mangaka- if that wasn’t already clear as day from Azuma’s first Choujin fight. Regardless, looking at this volume of Choujin X from the standpoint of it purely being an “experience”, it’s a solid one. All the large notes are played out correctly- there’s fights, there’s Tokio improving his powers, there’s reveals and plot development, a whole bunch of stuff.

However, once you hone in on any one of these ideas, countless little fractures and cracks begin to appear. Fights are peppered with bloated and weighty explanations that don’t provide any value to the reader, character development gets dragged out into the open, and the smaller aspects of plot development raise several questions. Truthfully, the experience summarizes my opinion on Choujin X: at a large and sweeping scale the series is good, but when looking at it closer and really experiencing it, it feels like it begins to lose its form. Sort of like how your vision is blurry when not wearing glasses (if you need to wear them).

Let’s talk about some of those challenges though, just to better illuminate the aspects of Choujin X that I take issue with. Arguably, the biggest complaint I have is the overhanded narration. The strongest that Choujin X has ever been was the bridge between the third and fourth volume with Azuma’s fight. Dredging the depths of both Azuma and Tokio, it was a kind of desperation that dragged the pair right to the point of no return in the later described “abyss” of Choujin. It didn’t feel the need to narrate every detail of the duo’s experience with the battle, nor the need to demystify the concept of a Chaos State- both of which are things that occur in this fifth volume.

Weight is a fickle thing, in that sense. If you place it in the wrong spot, everything will come crumbling down. To be able to bear weight, you need to have a strong foundation, you need something whose purpose is to bear weight. The fights in this volume do not have the capacity that Ishida desired them to have. Simply put, there’s too much narration and too wide a gap between it and the combat for it to really blend well. The two remain separate aspects, and under weight that it’s not meant to hold (in the form of a discussion on Chaos State), the combat begins to fall apart. And that feeling of crumbling begins to spread like a bit of a disease, the idea of convenience and “the stars aligning” begins to appear bit by bit with tangential aspects, and the volume ultimately turns somewhat sour.

Now, that’s not at all saying that the entirety of volume is bad- more so it’s the saying, “One bad apple spoils the bunch”. There’s plenty of great aspects, like Tokio further exploring his self through conversation with other characters, or how Azuma’s fight is juxtaposed with Tokio’s to show the fundamental difference between the pair, or even just the polish of Ishida’s style that’s on display. Again, if you look at the experience as a whole, it’s good. There’s a reason that I continue to read Choujin X, after all.

Ultimately, this article is more about warning readers of the experience of Choujin X than it is dissuading them from reading it. It undeniably remains a series stronger than many others, a story greater than most, and with a world more rich than countless series. My harshness is guided by an affinity and passion for Ishida’s work, and a desire to see them reach their maximum potential. There exists several moments in which Ishida can manage such in this volume, but it remains something that Ishida themselves seems somewhat unable to maintain. If you’ve been captured by the heights of Ishida’s works, than I’m certain you’ve also been strung along with Choujin X like I have. I think fans of the work won’t see much issue with this volume, but I believe that fans of Ishida will be much more aware of the struggles. Keeping all of that in mind, it remains a read that I believe I can recommend to many.

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