Reviewby Grant Jones,
The battle commences as Olto Zora and Taratectora lead the dragons army in a bid to wipe out the Argentum Corps. Ragna and Crimson both join the fray, but Ragna is not at full strength and struggles against Taratectora's overwhelming power. Furthermore, the dragons quickly deduce the plan and the Silverine Princess's magical abilities. It's an all-out war and as casualties begin to mount, victory seems further away than ever.
Ragna Crimson is written and drawn by Daiki Kobayashi with editing by Leyla Aker, translation by Stephen Paul, and lettering by Eric Erbes.
If the pacing of the last volume felt slower than you would have liked, then boy are you in or a ride. Ragna Crimson Volume 6 hits the gas pedal and doesn't let up until you hit the back cover. While I appreciated the character moments we got in Volume 5, it's not hard to see that this is where Ragna Crimson really shines: relentless, outrageous combat sequences between giant monsters and supernatural warriors.
The big draw for this volume is the fight between Ragna and Taratectora. What really drew me in is the sheer scale of the conflict on display. In past volumes, Ragna has fought superior dragons that don't exactly look or feel the part. Sure, the lesser and medial dragons all look like generic fantasy dragons but they tend to get killed in droves. But the main opponents that Ragna faces often do not resemble dragons all that much in their body shape or in their power sets. Most of the villains look like people (albeit strange in some fashion) and they have supernatural powers that run the full gamut of magical and strange abilities. While I don't have a problem with that, it does sort of make the superior dragons feel like… well, any other villains you might find in the action fantasy genre, “Weird guy summons storm powers” doesn't exactly scream dragon to my mind.
The Taratectora fight is a big exception to this trend, and it's great. On the one hand, he seems very similar to the prior named foes Ragna has faced. He is humanoid in shape, and while he deploys some unique powers he does not look terribly draconic – he looks more like a giant alien insectoid or armored beetle than a traditional dragon. But what he has over his predecessors is scale – his massive size makes him dwarf all prior opposition.
This size factor alone makes the fight stand out as one of the most exciting in the series thus far. The battles Ragna and Crimson have engaged in previously were big in the sense of having massive spells, countless casualties, and earth-shattering impacts, but I can find plenty of manga with those qualities. Having the very human-sized Ragna fight the monstrous Taratectora makes for an engaging and unique experience compared to what has come before. Taratectora dominates every frame he is squeezed into and every splash page he strides across, a massive wall of armored might that makes Ragna seem miniscule by comparison. This is the overwhelming threat of the dragons made manifest – towering over the extinction of these lesser beings.
It also helps that it basically ends up becoming a kaiju manga for a bit, which matches my particular interests nicely. Furthermore, the stakes are also higher for the dragons; this is no pushover fight and without time control magic as a get-out-of-jail-free card, there's a real sense of danger for the baddies as well. This makes the battle seem that much more critical for both sides rather than an exercise in needless futility working towards a foregone conclusion.
Despite my misgivings from the prior volume, Volume 6 actually does a better job making the dragons feel engaging. Simply having stakes at all does wonders for these characters, but it's more than that. There's a lot more engaging banter between them, with more animated expressions and silly bits of comedy thrown in to break up the self-seriousness of it all. Rather than “oh woe is me, I must do God's will and also I'm invincible” there's a sense that there could be genuine losses for the dragons and that they are not working in perfect harmony. They've got some skin (or rather, scales) in the game! Now we're talking.
In contrast, there are fewer character-building moments for our heroes but that's not too surprising. The last volume spent its time developing the human cast and giving them the spotlight, so it's time to fight-fight-fight all volume. Other than the tiny adorable slime Ratatoille-ing Ragna's hair, most of the character moments for our heroes amount to shouting orders and the gritting of teeth between sword strikes.
Honestly, there's really not much to criticize about the volume. The story is ramping up, the stakes are high, and the characters are engaging. The art is drop-dead gorgeous as always, with the kind of manga craft that is so consistently excellent as to leave me speechless. It truly is every page a painting.
The one minor negative I can think to mention is that Crimson does not appear much in this volume. How that affects your enjoyment of the volume will vary depending on how much you like Crimson, but for me, the absence is noticeable. Crimson's hijinks are as fun as they are devious, and often serve as a pressure release valve on an otherwise very intense and grim work. If you are primarily here for the Crimson half of the core duo, you will find that this volume gives you little more than table scraps, but the rest of what is here is so engaging I don't think it drags it down all that much.
I guess at this point I am a full convert. I can't wait to get that next volume in my hands.
Overall : A
Story : A
Art : A
+ Strong action, terrific sense of scale, excellent character interactions between villains
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