Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Beelzebub Review

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Beelzebub was a Shonen Jump series that never reached the level of fame and popularity that Naruto and Bleach received, but it still ran for quite a while and provided us with a lot of action. Like Reborn, Beelzebub starts off as more of a comedy and then quickly turns into the action manga that we had all been waiting for. It has some flaws thanks to the actual plot, but it manages to get past that and actually turns into a pretty great series. At least some of the credit should go to the main character.

The series starts out with some one shot stories before the first big arc arrives. The school is ruled by 4 strong classmates from the shadows. They are the 4 Emperors (Not the title that is used, but close enough) of the school and they each have their own minions/groups who follow them. Oga has been forced to baby sit Beelzebub, the future king of Hell and possibly destroyer of Earth. Oga isn’t thrilled about this since carrying a baby along with hurt his image. So, he decides that he’ll need to find someone who can be Beel’s (The baby) owner instead of him. Beel is attracted to negative energy so he just needs to find someone who’s even meaner than him. (A tougher feat than he imagines) That being said, peaceful negotiations tend to break down so then it’s fight time!

After that, the heroes are barely given a breather before they are taken to another school. Oga has basically accepted his fate of sticking with Beel by now. Unfortunately, his friends are being picked off one by one by the student council of the new school. These guys are apparently great fighters and one of the members is pretty familiar with Oga. Oga had wanted to make it through this new school peacefully until he could go back to his normal place, but he won’t have this. The arc results in a 5 on 5 fight that is pretty awesome! (I love group fights.)

The most popular arc of the series comes around as the demons finally invade Earth. They make their own school and challenge Oga and his friends. They will destroy Earth anyway so the heroes may as well put up a fight. Oga decides that things are getting a little too dangerous so he heads into the enemy base alone. Things also got personal since they kidnapped Hilda, one of Oga’s allies. He’s coming with a vengeance and this arc is where he finally gets his first super form. You can say that this is the arc where the series finished its transition into the ultimate Shonen Jump battle title that we knew it could be.

The final arc is sort of two arcs in one. The heroes return to their school and find out that a lot of new gangs have popped up. Among them, 6 leaders stand out and each one of them seems to be about as strong as Oga. They all want to defeat him to claim their spot as the strongest and they don’t mind targeting his friends to get him to act. (The friends also target the 6 so it evens out. Even if the allies should know that they’re doomed from the start….) This arc is interrupted as Oga decides to go to America to find Beel’s parents and then he eventually goes back home to continue the arc in more of a horror setting.

The series mainly takes place in various schools or in the city, which is definitely fine with me. There aren’t many big manga series that use such a setting for long. Bleach is one of the few that does this, but then we had to go off to Hueco Mundo for a few years, which wasted that opportunity. Beelzebub takes advantage of this local and it’s a fun setting for the fights. We don’t really get much of a city fight until the end of the series, but fighting inside of a building is the next best thing.

From the one shot stories and mini arcs, Beelzebub actually had a few interesting ones. The main one that comes to mind is when Furuichi got powers. He decided that he would challenge all of the characters in the series and it was pretty intense. A certain punching bag gets to fight Furuichi so the comic relief sidekick finally gets some hype of his own. It was good to see Furuichi finally get some props. He may not be a great character, but you never want to see a character be on the losing side for the whole series right? That’d be 20+ volumes of Furuichi getting kicked around. This mini arc managed to give him some wins, which was probably happy for his fanbase. We also had school plays and even a trip into the demon world. All of the stories were typically entertaining unless they were about Beel.

Naturally, Beelzebub is mainly an action series so the tone is pretty light, but it can be rather sad for the side characters. Again, Beelzebub is like Reborn! in the sense that the character power levels are heavily skewed. Oga is the only real powerhouse on the hero side for a while. Kuneida, Tojo, and Hilda are never far behind, but what about their numerous school friends? They never get any real powers ups until the climax of the series so it can be frustrating for them. They get knocked around so many times that you feel bad for them. They used to be the strongest thugs in the city and now they can’t beat the weakest minion from the villains. They try so hard and even go on the verge of tears. It’s great for Oga rage moments, but it does add an emotional touch to the series that it possibly should have avoided.

Back to the rage moments, Beelzebub does do a great job with those. One can argue that it happens a little too often, but I love those scenes so I’m okay with it. You probably know the type since it happens in most anime at this point. Where the main character suddenly get serious and says something that sounds intense as he begins to fight. That happens to Oga constantly as well as to his friends. Rage moments happen in almost every fight alongside a big double spread so that we can see just how intense they are. It gives you the chills while you’re reading it and it’s one of the main reasons why I like Bleach so much. So, this is going to be a mixed bag for many people, but I say “Go for it!”

One of the negatives for the series would have to be the crude humor. This is an issue that is actually rare for manga, or at least Shonen Jump titles. The problem is that the series technically revolves around Beel’s plight as Oga is raising him and that means that a lot of comedy situations will have to happen. Everything is exaggerated with Beel so when he has to relieve himself, he ends up nearly flooding a city. You can imagine how other baby scenarios can go from there. It’s a little too gross for me and I never really like seeing Beel on screen. He’s a character that I couldn’t adapt too and he certainly didn’t help the series. It mostly goes away during action scenes of course, but it’s one of the few negatives of the pre arc. Now it’s time to talk about the characters and there are quite a few in this series.

Oga Tatsumi is a pretty great main character. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of him since the author tried a little too hard to make him a mean character. Yusuke and Ichigo are rebels, but what makes them cool is really the fact that they aren’t afraid to stand up to any villain. They also fight at the first opportunity. Oga is a pretty likable rebel for most of the series, but at the beginning it acts a little too much like a villain at times. Him messing with Furuichi is supposed to be comic relief of course, but he goes a little too far at times. Especially considering that Furuichi just wants to live a peaceful life, but is always forced into dangerous situations because of Oga. So, once Oga learns the values of friendship and mellows out a little more, he quickly becomes one of the best main characters out there.

One of the qualities that I respect the most in a main character is when he/she is willing to help out a friend even if it means breaking the rules. Oga definitely does that and he’ll always come to the rescue when his friends are in danger. (Which is rather often) His super form may not be the most imaginative one out there, but his fights are always fun. His fighting style of using magical seals is very unique and mixing in his extremely heightened physical abilities gives you a very powerful fighter at the ready. It would be hard to make Oga much cooler than he currently is since he’s just so good at this point.
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Furuichi is the most recurring character in the series beyond Oga. He is always around no matter how dangerous the situation is. It’s rather sad for him since he is very weak and he never gets much stronger. He gets some magical tissues at one point that let him become a stronger fighter, but then he just gets beaten up by a new villain for shock value. He never wanted any part of this battle life that Oga has centered his life around, but he can’t desert his friend either. There is simply no winning for Furuichi so his tale is typically sad. He also has a sad origin story as well.

It would be easy to feel bad for Furuichi…until he does something bad and then you don’t feel bad for him anymore. He’s the kind of character who is way too into romance so you stop feeling bad for him since he isn’t a good character. It’s too bad since he has many likable moments and he gets quite a few intense moments like Oga. They’re just spoiled because you know that it’s going to go to his head and he’ll revert back to the character that you didn’t want to see. He has his good moments to be sure, but I definitely wouldn’t call him a good character. There is simply too much material to use against him.

Natsume is one of the only friends that I’m mentioning here, but I had too because he is a very odd character. The author never knew what to do with him so he gets a lot of hype at one point and then he basically vanishes for the whole series. He’s supposed to be very tough, but we never get any confirmation of that since he’ll just go and lose to a random figure when he feels like it. He is still a human so we can’t expect too much out of him, but his power level is never that consistent. He doesn’t take most of his fights seriously so it’s also hard to gauge just how good he is. He’s an interesting character, but you’ll probably dislike him by the end since he is just one big missed opportunity.

From the 4 big fighters of the school, Kuneida probably gets the biggest role. You can argue that she is the main heroine or you can make the case that Hilda deserves that title. Either way, Kuneida steadily improves throughout the series and she gets more training scenes than Hilda. She’s a much better character as well, but I suppose that this shouldn’t really sway you on who deserves the title of main heroine. They both get a lot of screen time I suppose. There aren’t any real negatives with Kuneida’s character and I was thrilled to see a sword fighter appear at last. It is sad that she is partnered up with Koma though since Koma is such an awful character. Luckily, she doesn’t have to actually work with him for most of her fights and she learns how to use some abilities while on her own. By the end of the series, she’s probably in the top 5 strongest heroes so that’s pretty impressive considering that she was just a human tier fighter at the beginning of the series.

Tojo is also a great supporting character, but the situation just isn’t in his favor for the most part. The problem is that he’s like Vegeta or any of your average Shonen Jump rivals. He looks great at first and he’s basically an unstoppable antagonist. Then he turns good and the author realizes that the audience will be shocked if he loses to a new villain. So it happens…and it happens…and it happens over and over again. If a new villain is introduced you may as well start counting the chapters until he crushes Tojo. Tojo always enters the fight with a lot of confidence and tough talk, but you know that he’ll end up on the ground. For extra shock value, he is sometimes taken out off screen or without any effort. He is the ultimate punching bag in the series. That being said, I do like him as a character. He temporarily passed Oga at one point in the series and it stayed that way for a brief while until Oga passed him again. He’s a likable character and he’s nice to animals, which is a huge plus. Unlike most of the other heroes, Tojo was always a good guy. He likes to get into fights, but it’s within reason and he’s a pretty upstanding citizen otherwise.

Himekawa is easily my least favorite member of the opening 4 bosses and he is just hard to like. I was almost warming up to him at one point. Not that he would ever become one of the most likable characters in the series, but I didn’t mind him as an ally. It all fell apart when he pulled a Rossiu on us and decided to wreck everything. We got a twist about that of course, but Oga had to take a lot of extra damage thanks to Himekawa’s rash actions. I couldn’t just let that slide and Himekawa had one of the biggest drops imaginable for an anime character. He was decent and now I consider him to be a downright terrible character. I couldn’t wait for him to get written out of the series.

Kanzaki is the first boss from the series and he must have been pretty popular since he gets to appear a whole lot after that. He’s your average bully who is actually a nice guy deep down and he loves to pamper his little sister. He’s not a bad character per say, but he is pretty generic and he rarely gets to win a battle. He just doesn’t add anything to the story, but his final form was pretty cool for his fans. Things definitely may have gotten dicey for him otherwise. He’s a loyal ally and a good friend to have, but he could have used some more character development or maybe just an epic fight. Seeing him jump into the school with a baseball bat was cool, but we knew how it would all end up. (It was a very frustrating scene though) That was the fate of his character.

It’s time to look at one of the characters who got hit the hardest by Beelzebub’s sudden ending. That would be Ichikawa. He was one of the 4 big characters from one of the final arcs and he got a lot of hype. He was going to be one of the strongest characters out there in theory, but then he went and got pummeled off screen. So much for his tough talk right? It’s too bad since he was a very interesting character and I wanted to see him get a few fights. He was likable in his few pages, but he just got the short end of the stick. We ended the series without really knowing much about him.
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The same can be said about Akahoshi, but to a smaller extent. Thanks to a few filler chapters, we definitely know a lot more about him than Ichikawa. He was also a pretty fun character and I would go as far as to say that Akahoshi is probably one of the best characters in the series. He is main character material and it’s probably no coincidence that he looks very similar to Oga. It’s still a mystery as to why he’s so powerful since I didn’t totally buy the explanation, but he doesn’t get to finish his character arc. He came closer than Ichikawa though so I’m glad about that. He’s a lot nicer than Oga, but he’s still the leader of a gang so you should not underestimate this guy.

Hojo is probably the worst member of the 6 big fighters in that arc, but that also meant that she got to totally have her arc completed. She’s the weakest member of the group and you don’t really need any demonic abilities to take her down. She’s not completely weak though as she still gave Kuneida a decent fight, but she doesn’t strike fear into you the same way that the others could. She just felt out of her depths here and her goals of stopping Kuneida and the Red Tails just felt a lot more petty. If not for Beel pulling his tricks, her arc would have been a whole lot shorter.

Nasu is pretty crazy and he gives Oga a pretty good fight when they meet. He’s not one of the big 6 so his powers still aren’t extreme, but that just makes his battles that much more impressive. He beats up on the side characters for a while before getting to Oga, but he’s seriously bad news for most of the heroes. I don’t care for him personally, but his fights are pretty fun to watch. There aren’t many people who fight with their head smashed through a wall for the entire battle. (Hard to describe, but picture someone being rammed through a door and taking the door with them. Then imagine that person continuing to fight while the door is around their neck. It’s pretty surreal)

Takamiya may not be the final boss of the series, but he is certainly the most impressive fighter since he gets a lot of screen time. He really beats up on Oga and his allies even if there are some special circumstances at one point. He may be one of the strongest figures out there, but I definitely do not like him as a character. It helps that I didn’t care to see him beat up on Furuichi for so long since the hero couldn’t fight back. Takamiya is pretty sadistic and that’s why I didn’t care for how his character ending went. I know that Shonen Jump is about forgiving and forgetting, but it shouldn’t happen to instantly. I would have liked to see Takamiya go to jail for a few years to cool off. He definitely deserved that after everything that he did. His character design reminds me of Mukuro’s and it’s interesting since it’s not what you would expect from a street brawler. Likable or not, Takamiya definitely provides us with some great fights.

Fuji is the final boss of the series and he certainly lives up to the hype. His abilities are possibly a little too exaggerated since he’s been lounging around at home for the last few years instead of training. Having a demon to partner up with definitely gives you some added abilities, but the boost was way too big if you ask me. Well, ignoring that, he’s still a pretty good character. He’s pretty insane and he’s evil as opposed to most of the other guys who are simply “misunderstood.” Seeing him take on the entire cast is also a pretty great feat and he’s fun to fight. He has almost no development though so he’s just an opponent to face, but I suppose that this is fitting for the final boss. His abilities are no joke and he probably has the coolest super form from all of the villains. He’s probably my favorite villain now that I think about it.

Izuma is another hype character who appeared in the school challenge arc and you have to wonder what happened to him. There was a time where it seemed like he might have gotten a role in the current arc to help against the demons along with Tojo, but then he just took a backseat and decided to watch. He still got a decent role in the school battles of course, but stalemating Tojo isn’t the feat that it used to be. Since Oga already had a rival, this guy was basically not given the chance to prove himself. He’s definitely a decent villain though, but he seems unaware of just how badly he has been corrupted. He is sticking up for bullies after all so he should consider who the real villains are since he claims to be a hero. Still, he is interesting, which is good enough.

Miki is Oga’s rival and he knew the main character from their early days. Things happened and they grew apart, which made Miki decide that he wanted to beat up/destroy Oga. I can’t say that I agreed with Miki’s reasoning since it was pretty obvious why Oga did what he did during their origin. Even if Oga had been sincere, destroying him is going way too far. I can sympathize with Miki wanting to defeat him in combat. I’m totally all right with that, but he’s constantly going for the permanent solution so I can’t see him as anything other than a villain. It is impressive to see just how strong he got through his training though. It’s just too bad that he becomes irrelevant as soon as the real villains show up. He had a good roll until then though.

Saotome is a mysterious teacher who shows up at one point to help Oga train and he’s very powerful. You just wonder how he got to be so good and his backstory is never fleshed out. It’s cool to have a mentor figure of course, but he just pops up out of the blue and then he vanishes once things get serious. He does have a few good smirmishes with the villains though, but I would have liked to have seen him fight seriously at least once. That being said, he is significantly better than other mentors like Jiraiya and Master Roshi. At least you can take this guy seriously.
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Beel appears about as much as Oga so it’s too bad that he’s completely unlikable. Just like how I don’t care for kids being main characters in live action films, I don’t care for babies being protagonists in manga. Beel is really just here for crude humor, which is too bad. He also puts Oga in a lot of tricky and/or embarrassing spots thanks to his actions. Beel gets a lot of hype for being immensely powerful, but we never get to see that since he is always just powering up his partner. That’s one way to show off a character’s strength I suppose, but it’s simply not a great way to do it. I don’t think that Beel had a single cool scene in the entire series and it would have been better off without him. He’s certainly one of the worst characters in the series. It’s definitely rare for a series with a pretty bad concept to actually become a legendary title, but Beelzebub pulled it off so Beel couldn’t really hold it back for long.

En is related to Beel and he’s just as annoying. He’s a little older so he’s more of a kid than a baby, but he’s very spoiled and his mini arcs are never that much fun. He’s not very good at video games and he’s just mean to everyone. He doesn’t mind blowing up the Earth so I think it’s fair to say that he’s a villain. There’s not a whole lot to say about him because he never gets to fight in the series, but he’s simply not my kind of villain. He’s certainly not loyal to his allies so he’s not even a respectable villain.

We can’t forget about Beel’s parents. They get a surprisingly small role in the series, but they are still around nonetheless. The Demon Lord is said to be extremely powerful, but he never gets to fight. He’s actually used for comic relief as he has a terrible memory and he’s always playing video games. He also seems to have the mentality of a little child as he sulks a lot and holds grudges when he feels like it. It’s easy to see why other demons keep planning to overthrow him since he does a lousy job of upholding law and order. I think it’s safe to say that the villains would have easily succeeded in their plans if not for Oga. The Demon Lord is just too oblivious to everything.

I can’t say that Iris is much better. She seems to be a lot more reasonable of course and things are pretty sad for her since she can’t walk. That being said, she is basically being played for her entire on screen appearance. She doesn’t even realize what is happening even though it is only thinly veiled. She also did leave Beel for basically the whole series so I really can’t sympathize with her actions. It doesn’t help that this was during the rushed part of the series. Maybe she could have been a better character with more time…maybe.

Athrun is a character who never got to appear much and the author may have forgotten about him. He is pretty powerful and he was much stronger than Oga at one point. It’s safe to say that Oga has surpassed him by now, but it would have been cool to have seen them fight. He’s the cool and calm collected character that you expect to see in a series at some point. He’s a swordsman, which makes him even cooler for me. He should have gotten more screen time! Johan is another intriguing character that I would have liked to have seen more of from the final part of the series. He’s pretty intense and he’s definitely a good agent since he can ride a motorcycle with ease while shooting at Oga. He may be a body guard, but he can hold his own with the best fighters out there. He is also pretty smart and he was one of the guys who tricked Iris for so long.

Alaindelon gives Beel some competition as one of the most annoying characters in the series. He’s always trying to be friends with Furuichi and most of his lines are purposefully suggestive. He acts gay throughout the series and it’s meant to be funny, but is just isn’t. He doesn’t contribute to the series at all even though he is always around and I don’t know how he ever got picked to be one of Beel’s bodyguards. He simply doesn’t help the heroes when it’s crunch time and it’s too bad that he was in the series at all.

Hilda is one of the main characters and she’s pretty decent. Unfortunately, she talks tough for all of her appearances, but she doesn’t get many fighters where she can really show off her skills. She is very tough since she was picked to guard Beel, but her power level is not very consistent. She’s definitely a very likable character though. She gets two personalities as she is usually in her normal one and she acts differently when she temporarily loses her memory. Both forms are pretty good although her normal personality is definitely the best one. She never backs down from a fight and she’s determined to protect Beel at any cost. She should have struggled a little more to stop herself from being kidnapped, but that’s a minor gripe. Through and through, Hilda is a very good character.

Yolda is Hilda’s rival and she’s a character who also could have used some more development. She seems like a nice character deep down even if she typically acts like an antagonist. She’s usually comic relief aside from her first appearances and while she is a decent fighter, Yolda is quickly surpassed by just about everyone after her initial fight or two. I think her character did have a lot of potential though and she is pretty likable. Certainly one of the better villains even if her boss is pretty cheap.

Lamia is the nurse from the demon world and she is good at her job, but she’s not a great character. She becomes friends with Furuichi, which is cool for him since he doesn’t have many friends. That being said, she can’t fight, which really limits her potential in this kind of series. She can heal their wounds, but that’s not the best role to have. She is also used a lot of comedy situations with Furuichi, which is not the greatest fate either.
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Behemoth is an old demon who apparently was one of the strongest fighters back in the day. Unfortunately, we never get to see this so he’s a character who literally has to live off of hype. He’s still pretty strong of course, but it’s apparently only a glimpse into how he looked back in the day. He’s decent for an old fighter, but I just can’t take him seriously. I have nothing against the hype…but he needs to prove himself a little more. He just goes along with the villains and he doesn’t even get a say. Not exactly leader material!

Jabberwock is the big villain from the demon arc and he’s definitely intense. I’d say that he’s one of the better villains even if he’s not all that interesting. The series never gave him a whole lot of character development so he fell by the wayside. His abilities are good though. He’s pretty stuck up, but that makes it all the more satisfying when Oga takes him down. His design is pretty fitting for his character and he was a good villain. Jabberwock is honorable, which is more than I can say for a lot of the other villains.

The art is pretty good for the series and I definitely have no qualms there. The author uses a little too much ink with the demon attacks at times, but it also helps to show us just how powerful the attacks are. Most of the characters have pretty unique character designs, which help the characters to stay memorable. Naturally, this also helps the fight scenes since a good action moment needs great art if it wants to survive. The series also manages to pull off a pair of horror themed chapters towards the end where Oga enters the ghost town that used to be his home. It’s pretty intense since the tone shift was so dramatic, yet the art was able to keep up.

Whether a fight is occurring or not, Beelzebub is always fun to read. I’d compare it to Medaka Box in the sense that it is a fun ride from start to finish. There are no boring volumes and very few chapters that won’t entertain you either. Even the filler moments like Furuichi gaining magical powers are pretty fun as well. There are some serious moments thrown in for good measure, but the series never loses sight of what it is. An upbeat fighting manga that will always leave you feeling content with it.

One angle that I didn’t really discuss was the fanservice part. It’s not there a whole lot, but it is present thanks to Koma and Furuichi. Just about every scene in question that is in the series has something to do with them. Koma is the stereotypical pervert of the series while Furuichi falls into that category as well, but he typically tries to be more subtle. It’s still too bad since this is just a cheap trick that most series use at some point or another for quick views. It could have been worse, but what we did get still shouldn’t have been there. I’m still waiting for more series to take a look at Prince of Tennis so they can see how you do a series without any fanservice whatsoever. That series is still a shining example for all to see.

It should be noted that the series does end rather abruptly and it’s not very subtle either. The author handled it with as much pizzazz as he could, but there are still quite a few plot lines that are not wrapped up. An arc starts and then it quickly shifts to another arc before anything had really gotten to happen. When we go back to the previous arc to end the series, we find out that most of the battles already happened off screen. Naturally, this means that we also get a quick power up with a worse explanation than Ichigo’s big showdown at the end of the X Cution Arc. The situation is rather similar as it involves a rooftop battle and a lot of flashy abilities. I do love Oga’s final form so don’t get me wrong, but it definitely came out of nowhere. It did give us some great DBZ references though so I’ll let it slide. The series almost deserves an extra star for the way that it wrapped things up. The final fight was definitely DBZ level and it’s safe to say that Fuji and Oga could definitely hold their own against any fighter. They won’t be beating Goku of course, but their abilities could give most arc 1 guys a run for their money like Frieza or SSJ1 Goku. If you thought that Gintama was the only main character who could steal abilities…just wait. If a series being cancelled means that the author can go all out with super forms and powers, I wonder what Kubo would do for Ichigo in that case. The possibilities are endless!

How do the characters rank tier wise? Well, they’re nowhere near DBZ level (Except for the final fight) and I don’t see these guys taking down Tsuna, but then things get interesting from there. As I mentioned, there are some really powerful fighters, but the majority of the characters would lose to Naruto’s team from part one of the series. I think that Oga and the generals could probably hold their own against most One Piece/Naruto characters, but they would start to hit some trouble over in Bleach. I would consider the series as a whole to be A rank. I think that they could give Bleach a very good fight and they may have been able to win if not for the serious disadvantage in numbers. Beelzebub against Reborn! would be an incredible fight and I think Beelzebub may have the edge. Tsuna is certainly stronger than Oga, but his supporting cast is even weaker than Oga’s. It’s definitely a tough call, but reaching A-S rank is a pretty great feat!
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Overall, Beelzebub is a pretty great Shonen Jump series. It has a lot of action and cool characters so that’s really all that you could want in such a series. Naturally, there is some mild fanservice to be found here once in a while, but it’s very rare and this series has less of it than Bleach and possibly even Naruto. The main thing that would have helped the series would have been if Beel had not been in it. I think it’s safe to say that the series could have easily reached a 9 with that. Even if the series kept Beel, then maybe getting rid of all the crude humor would have had the same effect. This series rivals Bleach in the number of “epic zoom in” scenes, which is very impressive. I highly recommend this to all manga readers and try not to enjoy the humor filled beginning toooooo much since the series jumps onto the action train pretty quickly.

Overall 8/10

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