Manga Review: No. 5 Volume Three

No. 5 Volume Three 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 Three
Written by: Taiyo Matsumoto
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 18, 2022

The volume opens with Yuri (aka No. 5), staying with an old man and his grandchild in the mountains. The child asks Yuri a whole lot of questions, and it comes out that he and Matryoshka have been separated, but that he intends to search for her all the way to the ends of the earth. He only stays with them a short while, and then heads on his way without saying goodbye.

Then, we switch to Carlos (No. 3), who is out searching for No. 5. No. 3, though, kind of looks like a robot, and his thoughts are relayed to the reader through his observations (the date, the time, the temperature, the humidity, and the elapsed time since starting his pursuit of No. 5). We then see No. 3 searching and making some comments before moving on the next location to look for him and goes through the date, time, et al. all over again. We see this on five different occasions, but each time No. 3 gets a little closer to a lead. At the fourth place No. 3 stops at is in the mountains, and the child No. 5 had been staying with tells No. 3 which direction No. 5 has gone in. The fifth time finally sees No. 3 running into No. 5, but he runs out of gas… which allows No. 5 to escape. Unfortunately, with the way this section of the story was done, the constant going through of the date, time, and all that started getting a little repetitive, and it made this section of the manga a little less enjoyable to read. And it took me a little while to figure out that this character was No. 3. Until I figured that out, I was a little confused about what was going on.

We then see Viktor, Yuri’s former mentor, with Matryoshka as he’s communicating with Papa. Papa scolds him for failing to deal with Yuri and for the fact that Mr. 4 (the twins) ran themselves to death pursing Yuri. Viktor makes it clear that he intends to start a whole new gang, but Papa insists that Viktor bring Matryoshka to him.

No. 3 finds No. 5 again and goes up against him, and it becomes a rather intense fight. Unfortunately, they are interrupted by the arrival of the police who try to break up the fight. At this point, it becomes a free-for-all and a bit of a bloodbath. No. 3 escapes with No. 5 out of a window and onto a helicopter passing by. It turns out that No. 3 dies after the escape, but that the whereabouts of No. 5 is unknown. During the fight between these two, though, there were a lot of action panels, which helped to make this portion of the volume a quick read. It should be pointed out, though, that after this point, we don’t see any reference to No. 5 for the rest of the volume. However, since the title of this series is No. 5, I’m expecting him to make an appearance again.

Sometimes, we see glimpses of Mike (aka No. 1) out traveling. According to this volume, it has been one month since he went missing. At the same time, it’s also coming out that the peace corps that these various characters come from will be disbanding. Mike makes his appearance, and there’s a confrontation between him and Viktor. At first, it looks like Mike has been shot and defeated… but then we see the Viktor laying on the ground, dead, with Mike looking over his body. Although with some of the things we see later, I’m not entirely sure if Viktor is dead, or if he somehow took over Mike’s body… because Mike later begins acting in a way that seems out of character for him. After this, Matryoshka is reunited with those she worked alongside with for Mike.

Mike’s popularity grows, and the people are turning their backs on the military. There seems to be a theme of the military and the peace corps losing the trust of the people, although that really doesn’t rear its head until the latter portion of Volume Three. During a meeting with Mike, Papa makes it clear that even though the peace corps may be disbanding, they intend to stay together. Mike also insists on having control of all the earth’s armies.

Mike goes onto a television interview program, accompanied by Matryoshka. The interviewer asks Mike some very candid questions about his intentions and his motivations, and Mike keeps being evasive and trying not to offer any specific details. We then see Mike interacting with the people and sharing his thoughts and his knowledge. A scene like this makes me think this is the real Mike, yet other scenes just don’t seem like he’s acting like himself. This is one of the things I’m having trouble figuring out and following, which only adds to the confusion I’m having while reading this series.

Even though I’ve read the previous two volumes of No. 5, I still found myself feeling lost at times as I read this one. The only thing I could tell as events were transpiring was that there does seem to be movement for the overarching story, and that the tone of the series feels like it’s getting a lot closer to reaching its conclusion. Overall, I really haven’t been feeling this series or enjoying it. However, I continue on in order to say I’ve read the whole series. And at the end of No. 5 Volume Three, it says that Volume Four will be the final volume. At least I know I only have one more volume of this series to get through in order to finish it. However, I think readers who are already fans of Taiyo Matsumoto’s will likely have a greater appreciation for this series than I do.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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