Mashle: Magic and Muscles Volume Four focuses on Mash, Dot, and Finn’s attempt to rescue Lemon.

Mashle: Magic and Muscles Volume Four
Written by: Hajime Komoto
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 4, 2022

The volume opens with Mash cracking the mysterious stranger’s mask, and revealing that the stranger has “the evil eye,” which has a curse that allows the stranger to temporarily disable the magic of all who fall under its gaze. Mash and the stranger continue their fight, and the stranger uses a field that has the ability to siphon the speed of anyone in it and giving it to him. But, it doesn’t work on Mash and he is able to take the stranger down. When the stranger is on the ground, the reader is given his backstory when he’s telling it to Mash. After hearing the stranger’s backstory, Mash shows a more serious side and he has no animosity toward his enemy. Instead, Mash believes that they could likely become friends. This is one of those scenes where Mash shows he has a good heart, and that there’s more to him than just the simple young man who must have his cream puffs.

Next, the action shifts its focus to Dot and Finn, who are up against Love, the Fifth Fang. Love tries to manipulate them by acting cute. Dot knows she’s putting on an act but is trying his best not to fall for it because he really likes girls who act like her. When he says he’s planning to be with another girl, Love attacks. After Love declares that her father told her she can kill any guy who doesn’t cherish her, Dot fights back. A battle ensues between the two, and when Dot thinks he’s going to give up, he has a flashback to something that happened in his childhood and some words he heard back then. Remembering these words, Dot finds the will to continue… and it’s revealed that he has a warding cross on his forehead. Basically, when Dot’s emotions cross a certain threshold, his magic is unleashed and he becomes a battle demon. This power up is enough to make Love whimper and give up. The Fourth Fang joins them, but a divine visionary named Rayne Ames appears and takes the Fourth Fang on. Rayne is Adler Dorm’s ace, and it turns out he’s the older brother of one of the characters in the series.

Mash comes back into the story when he comes across Rayne, who at first thinks Mash is an enemy who is concealing his power. After some interactions, Rayne realizes that Mash must be the guy that the headmaster was telling him about and asking him to protect. After realizing who Mash is, Rayne encourages him to go against Abel, one of the visionary candidates for this school year.

Most of the rest of Mashle: Magic and Muscles Volume Four focuses on Mash finding Abel and going up against him. At first, it starts out with Abel talking with Mash and explaining his philosophy about magic users and non-magic users. Mash’s response is that Abel’s way is kind of problematic for him, so he doesn’t think they can be friends. After this, their confrontation escalates to Abel using his magic, and Mash using his muscles; however, things don’t go as Abel expects. And near the end of the volume, we get some brief backstory for Abel, which helps to explain his actions and why he refers to his puppet as “mother.” While it was nice to get Abel’s backstory, I’m not entirely convinced that it helps to redeem him for his actions up to this point in the series. In the end, though, Mash is able to rescue Lemon and the other students who had been taken by Abel.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Rayne discovers that the Lance that came with the group is actually a spy for a dark magic organization called Innocent Zero. From something the spy says, it sounds like he just copied Lance’s face. So now it begs the question: where’s the real Lance? Right at the end of the volume, another character arrives to take on Rayne, but the newcomer has powers on par with a divine visionary. I thought that this was an effective cliffhanger to end the volume on.

There’s a bonus comic that runs throughout quite a bit of the volume, and each page of it appears between chapters. This time, it focuses on Finn encountering his friends as they’re sleepwalking and muttering in their sleep. Personally, I found this bonus manga to be kind of “meh.”

I’m very happy to say that the only thing I noticed that made me think of the Harry Potter franchise in this volume is the how titles of the chapters are formatted in a similar fashion to the titles of the Harry Potter books. I don’t know why I didn’t catch this in the previous three volumes and then it suddenly stuck out to me now. LOL! Honestly, though, I feel that Mashle: Magic and Muscles has finally found its own footing, which I think is a very good thing. While there was some humor in this volume, I thought that it overall had a little more of a serious feel to it, especially with some of the included flashbacks. I actually found myself truly enjoying this volume of the series much more than I had the previous three. I guess for me, at least, Mashle: Magic and Muscles was a slow burn. I hope the series continues this improved trajectory, and I’m actually kind of looking forward to having a possibility to read the next volume.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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