Manga Review: No. 5 Volume Two

No. 5 Volume Two is an omnibus edition that includes two volumes in one. This release marks the first time that this part of the story was released in print in North America.

No. 5 Volume Two
Written by: Taiyo Matsumoto
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: October 19, 2021

I don’t know if it’s because it’s been a few months since I read the first volume of No. 5, but I felt completely lost as I started reading this volume. The first part of the first chapter appears to be a flashback of some kind, although it comes across as kind of… odd. Then, we see this man named Viktor talking with his men, and we learn something kind of… odd and disgusting that No. 1 did at his inaugural parade. Right at fist, this detail about No. 1 just seems to come out of nowhere and have no real importance, but we get to see a flashback to that moment in a later chapter. After this disgusting detail is revealed, No. 4 (who is actually a set of twins) uses their power to take on Viktor from a distance.

Meanwhile, No. 5, along with Matryoshka, approach No. 4, who decide to give him No. 5 a “souvenir” by having him see some strange visions. The visions are supposed to help reveal some details about the story and the characters, but they’re so odd that it takes a couple of read-throughs of this sequence before the reader starts grasping what these visions mean. After the visions, Viktor kills No. 4 and injures No. 5… and then takes Matryoshka with him. Like I said earlier, I was having a hard time following the story up to this point, but I think I got the gist of what happened.

Maybe I’m not remembering something from the first volume of No. 5, but I’m just not understanding Viktor’s motivations for what he does. To be honest, I can’t remember if Viktor had even been introduced in the first volume. I recognized most of the other important characters in this volume, but I had no recollection of Viktor. As I said earlier, though, it’s been a few months since I read the first volume, so I may have simply forgotten about this character.

After Viktor defeats No. 4, we get two chapters that take a look back at events that took place prior to the series. One chapter is set 15 years prior to this story, and the other takes place 10 years before the start of the series. I think these two chapters were the ones I understood the best, because they provided backstory that helps the reader better understand what’s taking place in the series. To be honest, I think this series might have been a little stronger if the story had started out with these flashback chapters but embellished them a little to include some of the information the reader would have needed to understand the world of the series. The flashback presented in these two chapters are especially important to help the reader understand the character of No. 1.

The final chapter returns to the present time, where No. 5 is being taken care of by a girl and her uncle. We also see how Viktor is treating Matryoshka. The volume ends with a news report about the movements of No. 1, who has been having a hard time accepting this situation. I suspect that No. 1 is going to be an even more important character in the next volume of No. 5.

Even though I have now read two volumes of No. 5, I still think I’m not entirely getting this series. By the end of this volume, I felt almost as lost as I did at the end of the first volume. I don’t feel quite as lost thanks to the two flashback chapters, but I still felt lost. This manga series is not an easy one to truly follow and understand, at least for me. After reading the first two volumes, I think this series is going to appeal more to a “niche” audience than to a mainstream one. Readers who are fans of Taiyo Matsumoto’s work might also find a little more appreciation in No. 5 than I do.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Additional posts about No. 5:

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