MANGA REVIEW | "Record of Ragnarok" - Vols. 6 & 7
Who do you root for if the one against your kind is a people’s champion, and the one on your side is a psychopath? It’s a conundrum that comes to mind when reading the sixth and seventh volumes of Record of Ragnarok. On the side of the gods is Heracles, who swore to protect humanity with all of this might. But fighting to save humanity is the most vicious of all serial killers: Jack the Ripper. So again, who do you root for?
Their back stories don’t make it easier to choose, that’s for certain. As a child, Heracles did his best to become the strongest in his village. From fighting animals to giant bullies, the kid managed to transform his scrawny body into something that’d make Charles Atlas weep with joy. However, it was the gods’ first attempt at wiping out humanity where Heracles showed his greatest strength, earning him a seat with the beings that just tried to kill everyone.
Meanwhile, Jack the Ripper’s tale is one filled with woe. The son of a prostitute, Jack tried seeing the good in everyone. However, when his mother’s dream is turned to dust, Jack sees a side of her that shakes him to the core. His kind mannerisms vanish, with his mind snapping as he becomes the complete opposite. If only his mother showed true compassion, perhaps Jack the Ripper would’ve just been Jack the Really Nice Guy.
Alas, Record of Ragnarok has no control over the past. What it does have the power to do is sway the future. And as Jack and Heracles duke it out, it becomes difficult to choose who to root for. While the best of humanity and the gods are cheering for Heracles, it’s the worst of the worst that stands by Jack the Ripper. (In fact, I could swear that there were some Fist of the North Star characters in the stands rooting for the killer!) But even with this problem, it’s no doubt exciting to watch this battle unfold.
Where Heracles throws his godly skills at Jack, the killer uses his tools of the trade to make good work of the deity. Knives, umbrellas, and piano wire become far greater weapons than anything a god could wield. Perhaps this is why Heracles makes the ultimate sacrifice, as he unleashes a power that can seal both his victory and defeat. But even with these Twelve Trails of Heracles, it’s not an easy task to slay a serial killer.
When it becomes clear what Jack’s true divine weapon is, the tables suddenly turn on Heracles. Gods and humans alike are taken aback by the sort of power Jack the Ripper wields, while at the same time are impressed by the tenacity of Heracles. Although Record of Ragnarok has shown just how strong a human can be against a god, it’s yet to reach the level of intensity that this fight is bringing to the ring. From Heracles losing an arm to Jack becoming impaled on a fence, both combatants take plenty of losses in order to gain the victory.
It’s the last moments in the fight where both spectator and reader have no idea what’s going to happen. One by one, what should be a final blow is connected by Jack and Heracles. Even when one looks to be on the verge of death, that’s when they pull out a massive trump card. And in that moment, a victor is decided in a way that’s unpredictably jaw-dropping.
Volumes Six and Seven of Record of Ragnarok are no doubt action-packed, but it’s its brains that make it a hell of a read. The back stories of the combatants were filled with plenty of sympathy and empathy for both fighters, to a point where it’s hard to decide who to root for. Does it make you a hypocrite to root for the man who wishes to end humanity, or does rooting for a sinister man who’s trying to save humanity force your brain to do ethical gymnastics? Oh, the conundrum this battle has caused!
VOL. 6 RATING:
VOL. 7 RATING:
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.