Friday, March 2, 2018

Nobunagan, vol. 3

(All rights belong to their owners. Image from Amazon for review purposes only.)

Nobunaga, vol. 3, Masato Hisa. Grade: A-
Operation Stone Forest starts out with a bang, with Shio firing the Nobuna-gun at the kraken to draw it out of its cave and getting it to send the insects in the main cavern to start tunneling up towards Upala. Just outside of Upala, Robert Capa is overextending himself, making roughly one hundred energy clones of Newton. He thinks he can only maintain this many for 5 minutes, and Shio gets her revenge on him by demanding that he hold them for 10 minutes. As the EIO bugs close in on Upala, Newton activates her megaton boots in Big-Bang U mode, and the energy clones mimic her. The resulting shockwave creates a force barrier at an angle to the approach of the tunneling EIOs, and they're deflected to surface in the middle of Upala village, which Gaudi has completely enclosed in a rock dome to prevent any of the bugs from escaping.

Ripper, Geronimo and Hunter are tasked with killing the bugs that try to get out, but there are a few thousand of them, and Hunter isn't a combat type. Geronimo and Ripper challenge each other to get the highest kill count, with the loser having to do whatever the winner says. Those two happily get to work, but Hunter freezes up in the face of an enemy that isn't dead yet (he's only dissected dead EIOs before, in a safe room on one of the floating bases). Meanwhile, Suuho and Gandhi wait until all the bugs get past them, then Suuho switches her bike to digger mode and digs down to the EIO tunnel to get behind the bugs. Gandhi sets up a barrier in front of the bike, which then acts like a bulldozer to shovel all the remaining bugs up and out into Upala. The killing kicks into high gear, with Geronimo activating Ghost Protocol - which creates axes on both of her arms and legs. Hunter seems to have lost his mind, carving up individual bugs into paste, while Gandhi is forced to protect him.

Back at the Forrester, Shio has drawn the kraken out of the cave. She gives orders to the air bases to drop their "pod spikes" (air to surface transportation rockets) onto the kraken. The spikes hit the ocean, pinning the kraken in place. Each of the spikes has sensors identifying the locations of the bomb bugs inside the kraken's tentacles, which then become targets for the sabot rounds fired off by the line of tanks sitting behind Shio on the deck of the Forrester. The kraken gets crippled, so Shio flies out to shoot at it more directly with the Nobuna-gun. She blows the kraken's head off, then is captured by a whole bunch of new tentacles. Turns out that even the kraken had been evolving into an insect-based monster, and
underneath it is a kind of monstrous ammonite. Shio is close to being squeezed to death and being pulled apart. She deactivates the E ball, lets it drop onto her left foot, then reactivates it to make a leg cannon aimed straight down at the monster. The thing has an almost invulnerable chitinous shell, but by focusing her shots at one point, Shio damages the tentacles holding her enough to get free. Then the shell lifts open to reveal a mega death beam that fires point blank. Shio uses the magazine of the Nobuna-gun to protect her as a shield, but she still ends up taking too much damage.

Things are really looking bad for everyone. Shio is running out of energy, Geronimo's axes are all cracking, Ripper, Gandhi and Gaudi are becoming exhausted, and the dome over Upala is still crawling with 2,000 live bugs. Hunter creates a spray and fires it off right in front of Gandhi's face. Suddenly, the two nearest bugs attack and kill each other. Hunter comments that the eyes of the bugs are adapted to underground conditions, and don't really work well in full daylight. The only way they they have been able to locate the "enemy" is through pheromones. Hunter simply cooked up new pheromones that say "this is the enemy," and sprayed the bugs with that. He then gets on the back of Suuho's bike, and the two of them race around the village, spraying pheromone everywhere. Geronimo is at 997 kills, and Ripper is at 996. Before Jack can even up the score, his E-gene (Death) warns him that Shio is in extreme danger. He gives up on the contest, and leaves the dome without telling anyone else what's going on.

Shio gets captured by the tentacles again, and is just about to get skewered by another tentacle, when Jack suddenly appears in front of her and protects her. She asks how he'd gotten there so fast, and he says "I flew here." He adds that he'd never planned on showing her what he's about to do next, then activates the E-gene Nightingale mode, which surrounds him with what looks like metallic angel wings. The last few pages are short stories, with one bit about how Dogoo got the blood from Vidocq (leaving the original Vidocq out in a field, in the middle of a crop circle), plus an interview with Masato Hisa as a tie-in to the new TV anime that was coming out then.

Summary: Lots of serious action in this volume, plus a lot of talking about how the various tactics for the battle are expected to unfold. Great artwork and pacing. Highly recommended. (Note, the cover character this volume is Geronimo.)

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