Oct 5, 2019 9:04 PM
Oct 10, 2019 6:17 PM
Oct 22, 2019 7:50 AM
Dec 25, 2019 2:42 PM
Joined: Jun 2014
Woah I'm glad MangaPlus decided to include the 34 page epilogue. The series honestly wouldn't feel complete without it. Overall, I did love Hinomaru Zumou but I was left with mixed feelings about the ending.
Although it took a while to grow on me, it eventually won me over once rivals and other schools were established. There was a lot of grappling with reality vs your dream, dealing with what you were blessed with at birth (despite shortcomings), and struggling against what others deemed you were that I really appreciated. Even if you worked 8x more than everyone else, eventually all that hard work would pay off and you'd be able to surpass your limits (as opposed to giving up at the starting line). And if all else fails, at least you had no regrets while doing it.
Then during the timeskip, there was a dramatic tone shift and I LOVED. It cuts to a cold open with the worse possible scenario of a debut and dead on arrival. Concerned about your future, on top of the rising anxieties, what giving up everything really meant, and whether or not it was really worth it- the stakes were higher and drama took center stage. The story offered no easy resolutions, avoiding easy shonen trappings until they felt truly earned. Not to mention, the double spreads and art were so polished to a degree, every brutal conflict and clash meant everything was at stake.
But those last 19 chapters are rough. Every chapter started covering one or two bouts and rushing towards conclusions in comparison to the fantastic narrative flow of the 80 chapters prior. While I appreciated that the fights went in reverse, from his latest to first and most personal opponents, they really needed time to breathe. Another 10 chapters would have helped. I have my gripes too with the final fight. The series was already crunched for time, but the infamous Trump cameo (although hilarious) is a dumb gag with two and a half pages dedicated to it, instead of completely giving it all to the final fight.
On the flip side, the romance subplot took a definitive shape during part 2, actually developed and blossomed that by the time we get that sweet ending, it absolutely nailed the landing. Executed great and surprisingly rare among shonen, especially battle shonen series.
At the end of the day, it's a refreshing sports series that discards surface aesthetics for a boiling personal drama and stakes. Friendship and victory, the moto of Shonen Jump were kept to a minimum unless earned, and despite the last 19 chapters, I was honestly having a blast. The art is clean and reads easy. I'm feeling a 8/10. It's closer to an 8 than a 7, but 7.5 doesn't exist here lol
Would definitely reccomend and it's a stand out.