Barrage Review

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Now it’s time to look at one of the shortest series yet. This one only made it to two volumes before it was abruptly ended with loose ends all around. In a way, it does end before the story can even get started so depending on how you view things…you could say that it didn’t have many loose ends. It definitely depends on the cup “half full” or “half empty” thing though. It’s decently fun and it showed promise, but I don’t see this series making a comeback.

The world (That is essentially Earth) used to be peaceful until many alien races decided that they would have fun conquering it. The humans fought valiently for their land, but defeating one alien species would be tough, let alone a few dozen of them. Now, we only control a very small kingdom and aliens have taken over the rest of the land. A young boy named Astro is trying to make ends meet since he has to take care of a lot of orphans. He is let go from his job and doesn’t know how he will be able to provide for them when the prince appears and decides that Astro will serve in his place. The prince is conveniently destroyed and Astro looks just like him so the main character goes along with this. He now has the strongest weapon in the universe and he will need to quickly get used to it as he starts to liberate the planet. Can he really defeat all of the aliens?

The plot is pretty good and it had the potential to be a long running series like Naruto or a relatively short one like Dragon Drive. There are many aliens to face and I’m sure that we would have gotten more supporting characters as the series went on. As it stood, we had 3 main ones by the end. There weren’t a lot of big villains, but I’m sure that would change since we had only just begun to take back the planet.

As a main character, Astro isn’t bad. He’s not great though as he is quick to cry and his comic relief tendencies can go a bit far at times. That being said, he is obsessed with keeping his family safe and that’s a pretty good thing to be obsessed with. He strongly believes in the concept of a family and will do whatever he can to keep them safe no matter what. His strong ideals are what lead him to unlocking the powers of the Orgue. The Orgue only works when the user recognizes someone as an enemy so there’s no chance of friendly fire. This can also be dicey when Astro doesn’t realize that someone is an enemy, but he’s typically a good judge of character. His character design seems to be a mix of Simon from Gurren Lagann and Rin from Blue Exorcist.

Astro is not a great fighter on his own, but his determination and ethics help him bring out his very best. He learns quickly and he is skilled in using the Orgue. That turns him from a sub par fighter into a great one. The Orgue can destroy any alien in a single blow and its abilities may be limitless. It starts out as a spear and turns into more of a Monado (Xenoblade) by the end. It’s definitely a handy weapon and one that can be very versatile in combat. It’s safe to say that there are few opponents who can stand up to Astro by the end and the hero just needs to work on his speed. Once he gets a little faster, he’ll be virtually unstoppable.

Astro typically travels with Tiamut as per the King’s orders. Tiamut has a pretty good reputation and he can take dozens of aliens out in a single motion. He may seem to be human, but the series hints multiple times that there is more to this character than meets the eye. Whether he is human or not, Tiamut is definitely loyal to the crown. He’s a capable fighter and he teaches Astro how to be a good fighter during their journeys. He’s pretty likable and he would be very likable if not for one quirk that can be quite annoying. He’s extremely shy around ladies and he can’t even look at them. Luckily, he’s so skilled that he can beat many opponents with his eyes closed, but it’s a running gag that I would definitely take out. It’s unneeded and a little generic as far as jokes go. It doesn’t help his character and this means that he wouldn’t be of much use against a female opponent. His shooting sword is a pretty cool weapon since he can use it as a gun or as a normal sword. It’s not as good as the Orgue of course, but it’s useful.

Tico is sort of the main heroine. It’s hard to say for sure since we don’t know whether she would have been travelling with the heroes or not, but I’d say that it’s very likely considering that she came to the palace with them. She wants to avenge her family so she definitely has a vendetta against the aliens. She’s pretty outmatched right now since she’s just a girl with many guns, but I’m sure that this would change eventually. Even if she never gained super powers, I’m sure that she would have gotten some kind of super weapon to tip the scales. It’s just the sort of thing that you would expect at some point. She’s a pretty good character and I’m glad that she’s always eager to fight. She could have ended up being one of the better Shonen Jump heroines.

Black ends up being the big villain of the series. As you probably guessed, he used to be one of Astro’s friends and he started out as a really nice guy. Black doesn’t like when people make crooked decisions and he punishes them accordingly. The problem is that his definition of “crooked” is very dicey so he basically wants to eradicate all life on the planet. Astro slaps him silly for a while and he sees the error of his ways. He would presumably be a hero in the upcoming volumes as he gives Astro advice from his prison. Black is meant to be a very emotional villain, but you really can’t buy that since he only gets to appear for a couple of chapters. The change from hero to villain to hero is too abrupt. Black seems like a cool character, but I’ll say that he’s underdeveloped and fairly uninspired at the moment.

The art is pretty decent although it’s a little rough around the edges. I think drawing the eyes seems to be a little tough for the author, but it may be because most authors don’t bother with too many things in it. Here, the main character has a star in his eyes at almost all times and the extra details may be what makes the eyes seem a little off. The art still does work for the fight scenes and that’s definitely the important thing in a battle manga.

The main story luckily avoids the whole fanservice angle. Based off of close scenes and unfortunate bonus stories/cast interviews, the short run of the series may have saved it here. It seems like this could have been an issue if Barrage had become a long running series so this is probably the silver lining in the series getting canned. There has to always be a silver lining somewhere right?

The series ends with the heroes basically stopping one band of villains and still having to liberate the other 90% or more of the planet. I’m sure that they would have met many tough opponents and the heroes would need more power ups. After all, it was already discovered that the “Dark Power” may be a match for the Orgue. The dark power can be used to amplify an alien’s offense and defense as well as create constructs to aid them in battle. It may be a little generic, but I’ll overlook that since it’s always a cool concept. The dark power gives the aliens a great edge over most of the fighters since they become almost indestructible. It’s too bad that we couldn’t see more of this.

There is one plot twist that is extremely convenient and throwing it in the series just makes things a little too good to be true. You know how Astro is not the prince since he is just taking his place? Well, let’s just say that he looks identical to the prince for a reason! I definitely could have done without the twist since I thought that the development was pretty crucial to the series. Having the old prince randomly sniped added to the drama as well since I didn’t see it coming. (Although it makes perfect sense in hindsight since the prince can’t blackmail Astro later on)

It’s hard to say how powerful Astro is in comparison to most of the other SJ protagonists, but it’s safe to say that he’d be pretty low tier. His weapon is amazing, but he’s physically only slightly above meta human. His speed seems to be decent, but he was thoroughly speed blitzed by one of the aliens. Astro’s durability also seems to be fairly normal so one good hit would probably take him out. The strongest villain in the series is probably the alien who could hop a lot since he had very good speed feats as well as some of the dark power. Black is theoretically stronger than the alien since he was the leader, but his speed is pretty sad and the constructs are too slow to really help him here.

Barrage is pretty easy to get into, which helps the beginning. The intro had potential to be boring since it’s just Astro living in the slums and trying to earn some money. Luckily, the plot moves quickly and seeing Astro trick everyone is pretty intense for him. His first action scene was fun and the series as a whole is pretty entertaining. The chipper tone helps to add some hope for the characters amidst what is technically a sad series since humanity is essentially toast. It does remind me of Blue Exorcist in this regard as well or you can compare it to Buso Renkin. The volumes go by very quickly and it does have a lot of replay value. I could see myself reading this again someday, but pretty far in the future considering all of the other titles that are around.

Overall, Barrage is a pretty fun series. It’s really over when you’re just beginning though and I’m sure that the author had many ideas for its future. It’s always sad when a series is cancelled, but this just means that another series gets to bloom in its place. Hopefully, whatever replaced this series was a good title. It would be fun to see a movie for this manga since it’s short enough and maybe it’ll make a comeback someday. I really don’t see it, but it’s always possible. If you want to see a story about humanity fighting back against alien oppression with a good ole Shonen lead, this is the story for you. It has action and drama. The series never takes a break and you can really see the potential here. Just remember that it is only 2 volumes.

Overall 7/10

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