Kaiju No. 8 Volume Two starts to expand on the Defense Force, both on the characters in the force and on how the force itself works.

Kaiju No. 8 Volume Two
Written by: Naoya Matsumoto
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: April 5, 2022

Volume Two opens with Kikoru and Kafka up against a honju, and Kafka transforming into his kaiju form. While he’s able to defeat the honju and leave a trail of destruction, he begs Kikoru to keep this a secret from the higher ups in the Defense Force. She agrees, but as we learn later, the Defense Force picks up on the higher reading from his kaiju transformation and the loss of a signal for Kafka’s life signs when this fight is taking place.

When Kafka and Reno get their test results back, it’s revealed that Reno is an Officer Candidate. We learn that Kafka officially failed the exam, but that Soshiro Hoshina convinces the higher ups to let Kafka in as a cadet in his platoon. He frames it as Kafka providing some needed comic relief for the force, but we learn that Soshiro is aware of the loss of Kafka’s life signs during the battle and he suspects something’s up. During training, Reno acquires a rival in a fellow inductee named Iharu Furuhashi, although Iharu is much more interested in the rivalry than Reno is.

As this is going on, it’s also revealed that there is a kaiju that can transform into a human, and that he’s working undercover at Monster Sweeper Inc. This becomes important when Kafka, Reno, and the others head out on their first mission. Reno sees this person coming out to one of the monsters while the battle is going on, and Reno suspects something’s up. This leads to a fight with this kaiju disguised as a human, and it brings about a great scene between Reno and Iharu, with Iharu seemingly being humbled by the experience.

Before this, though, Kafka is able to use his knowledge from his time working at Monster Sweeper Inc. to discover where a fallen honju’s core is (which no one had any idea where it was located in this creature). Kafka also discovers that the creature has reproductive organs, which would allow it to keep creating more monsters. Thanks to Kafka’s discovery, the Defense Force has necessary information it needs to help take down the other honju. While this may not be the same as taking down the honju on the battlefield, Kafka’s knowledge from his previous job is helpful to the other members of the Defense Force, so he shows he has some kind of worth to them.

But once again, Kafka is forced to turn into a kaiju when Reno and Iharu are fighting against the humanoid kaiju and all hope seems lost. Kafka defeats the other kaiju, but right at the end, it’s revealed that the other recognizes Kafka as Kaiju No. 8.

Kafka kind of has a rough time in his volume. He’s not making any real progress on his physical abilities in his training, and Soshiro makes it clear that if he can’t make enough progress in three months that he’ll be out the door. Which, of course, means that Kafka won’t be able to attain his goal of fighting side-by-side with his childhood friend, Mina, who is now among the elite in the Defense Forces. As the series progresses, will something or several events (either intentional or unintentional) happen that will somehow allow Kafka to miraculously achieve his goal? I want to root for him to make it, but as of right now, his goal seems impossibly out of reach.

On top of this, Kafka has to hide the fact that he can transform into a kaiju from the Defense Force. If they find out his secret, they could kick him out of the force, and likely perform experiments on him. So far, Kafka has been lucky that both Reno and Kikoru are keeping his secret. But how much longer can Kafka’s “dumb luck” hold out before the “cat comes out of the bag” or Soshiro pieces everything together? I have a feeling that this will continue to be a running thread throughout Kaiju No. 8.

While I can still see a lot of Wild Tiger from Tiger & Bunny in Kafka, I’m overall seeing less of Barnaby Brooks Jr. in Reno. While Reno is still the younger of the two, it appears that he’s already developed a stronger bond with Kafka than Barnaby did with Wild Tiger at about the same point in Tiger & Bunny. Kafka and Reno seem to have legitimately become friends.

Overall, I’m still enjoying the art style that Matsumoto is using for Kaiju No. 8. There were one or two panels where I thought the art was a little weaker, but for the most part, it was just as strong as it was in the first volume.

Now that I’ve read Kaiju No. 8 Volume Two and getting to see a real mission in action, I was picking up on some World Trigger vibes that I wasn’t quite picking up in Volume One of the series. That’s not a bad thing, though, and I think readers who are already familiar with the World Trigger manga and enjoy it might potentially find they can also appreciate Kaiju No. 8.

As for me, I’m still interested in reading more volumes of Kaiju No. 8 in order to find out what will happen to Kafka and the others.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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