Volume 13 left off with various martial artists entering the arena and battling for their place in the upper ranks. Heroes from across the spectrum, as well as talented martial artists from around the world converge upon the stadium to prove their worth.
However, the monster association has succeeded in using the competition as a distraction. While numerous heroes are busy sparring with one another, numerous monster attacks begin plaguing the city all at once. This volume picks up as a powerful monster known as Goketsu reveals himself to the fighters at the competition, offering them the chance to eat “monster cells” and become monsters themselves, or being killed by him.
Many of the would-be fighters take him up on the offer, intimidated by his presence. Suiryu, the pretty-boy with a surprising amount of power and ability, declines, afraid that it will make him ugly. He goes toe to toe with another fighter who ate the monster cells, showcasing his skill and ability.
Tackling his first opponent, Suiryu admits that if Goketsu is as strong as he says it is that the fight could be “difficult”. Little does he know just how wide the difference between them is!
Suiryu opens with some of his strongest attacks, eliciting cheers of excitement and hope from those still uncertain whether they would eat the monster cells or not.
Goketsu, however, is unimpressed. He easily snatches Suiryu out of the air and begins pummeling him easily. Bruised and battered, Goketsu plays with Suiryu, demonstrating his vast power.
A-Class heroes Snek and Lightning Max attempt to come to Suiryu’s rescue, but Suiryu is overcome with fear and attempts to run away from the fight. Goketsu knocks out the heroes quickly and continues his assault on the helpless martial artist.
Eventually, another fighter named Bakuzan appears, having been embarrassed by Suiryu before. He eats a handful of monster cells, and to Goketsu’s surprise he becomes a Dragon-class threat all by himself. Still weak compared to Goketsu, Bakuzan spends some time torturing Suiryu, breaking his legs and battering his already defeated body.
Suiryu attempts to call for help from a nearby hero, but everyone is busy fighting off the other monster attacks. Just when all hope seems lost, a familiar hero makes his appearance – Saitama arrives!
Saitama withstands the worst Bakuzan has to offer, easily demolishing his body with a single punch (surprise). Suiryu explains how Goketsu is heading back to the rest of the Monster Association, including a fabled Monster King – who is far stronger than any other monster on Earth! Assuming it would require a coordinated attack from numerous heroes, Suiryu is shocked when Saitama offers to go and take care of Goketsu right away.
Suiryu does his best to change his mind, but Saitama is gone before he can do anything. Loud sounds are heard as Goketsu and Saitama clash (off-page, unfortunately), and it doesn’t take long before it appears that Saitama is victorious.
Returning from the fight, Suiryu is amazed and asks Saitama to be his Master – which Saitama quickly declines.
Well, this volume went by pretty quickly!
The art continues to impress, including some fantastic action sequences that are largely focused on Suiryu. Goketsu’s design certainly inspires fear – he basically strikes me as an Akuma who really embraced his dark side. Suiryu’s fight with Choze also had some pretty slick detail.
In terms of the pacing: we’ve been in the tournament arc for a few volumes now, and it definitely is starting to feel like it. It takes the better part of the opening 2-3 chapters for Suiryu to battle past the Choze “mini-boss”, and from there it’s just one beating after another for our kung-fu Fabio. Granted, it’s kind of entertaining watching him get wrecked, but after a while I was honestly pretty numb. We get a few sub-plots dropped in, including Genos still trying to piece together what happened when he got demolished by Goketsu and the rest of the heroes being overrun with numerous monster attacks. However, the vast majority of the book is spent following a single storyline, and so it ends up feeling stale.
Saitama’s arrival was awesome, despite being entirely predictable. Bringing back Bakuzan (who made an appearance in volume 12) helped to close that story-loop, and after the beating that Suiryu took from Goketsu, it was very satisfying to see that decapitated head crash into the ring.
Next up I’m guessing we’ll see the rest of the heroes wrap up their fights against the various monsters that are on the loose…and take the fight to Monster King Orochi!
The digital copy is available now, with the physical release coming next week!
Many thanks to VIZ Media for providing us with a digital copy in exchange for our honest review!