Despite one offensively bad chapter, West Wind Brigade's story continues to remain interesting in Volume 4
After the last volume wrapped up the first arc of The West Wind Brigade it’s natural to expect one or two chapters of down time before the next arc starts but I really wish WWB hadn’t gone that route.
The first chapter in this volume centers around Kurinon, who we learned previously is in the West Wind Brigade not because she likes Soujirou but because she likes girls, and is taking advantage of many of the guild members being sick to grope and molest as many of them as possible. It’s really disgusting and while WWB has had some cruder moments in it before this is by far the most offensive. Seeing a bunch of sick girls strip naked under false pretenses isn’t fanservice and I highly recommend everyone skip this entire chapter.
This is a shame since the rest of the volume is actually pretty good for the series. There are still some unfunny jokes but the plot keeps trotting along as Soujirou meets up with Shiroe and the West Wind Brigade begins to help out at the Crescent Moon guild’s hamburger stand. The meeting is pretty similar to the original light novels (although Soujirou comes off as a bit more self aware in the light novels), Soujirou agrees to help out Shiroe’s plans to fix Akiba, and in a nice addition WWB has Soujirou bring up the newbie-exploitation guild Hamelin since it’s clear his inability to help out is weighing on him.
There are no real surprises here for a Log Horizon fan but the whole situation does feel a little more grim and desperate. The story really hammers home how just the chance for characters to eat real food again is a sign of how miserable they are. So far the stories have all focused on groups and guilds which had strong support systems and upbeat members but its clear that life hasn’t been like that for the majority of adventurers in Akiba.
This actually leads to to former villain Magus making quite a speech to rally the adventurers and it’s possibly the best moment of the manga so far. It reminded me a little bit of Kirito’s “beater” speech in Sword Art Online except that it comes off as far less, well, dumb. Magus encourages the adventurers towards concrete actions to help get them out of their funk and the volume ends with the guild leaders meeting to try and get Akiba out of its collective funk. Given Soujirou’s relatively small role in this part of the original story I’m curious if that will be expanded here or if the story will breeze quickly through this arc.
Finally a technical issue, there are a few instances in this WWB volume where the word bubbles are too close to the binding to easily read which I do not recall happening in previous volumes. It happens mostly when the word bubbles are part of a spread, and WWB is printed as the standard volume size, so hopefully future volumes will have better layouts to prevent this issue.