BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (volume 7)
Author: Harold Sakuishi
Three months after the last volume and a month after I finished the first 20 volumes of the scanlations, Tokyopop finally decides to release the 7th volume of BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad. For the uninitiated, BECK is the story of an underground rock band in Japan that is desperately trying to break out of the scene and get signed. In this volume they get one step closer to success, not in Japan, but America.
After performing as an opening act, a man from a small indie label based in Chicago gives Ryusuke, BECK’s guitarist, his business card. Willing to get the band’s name out in any country, Ryusuke agrees to let this indie label distribute their first single in the states. After achieving moderate success and a second printing, Ryusuke’s discovers that he should have probably discussed royalties. But that’s not the biggest problem, the American CD has Ryusuke playing the infamous guitar, Lucille, on the cover! Knowing that there is very dangerous people after this guitar, Ryusuke has to decide on his next plan of action. Meanwhile, Koyuki, our main character finally saves up enough money to buy his Telecaster. With his new guitar, Koyuki puts new energy into his live performances. He even starts recording some of his own material and passes it off to Ryusuke to comment on. Koyuki and Maho’s relationship seems to develop more in this volume as her TV star friend tries to end their friendship. Another BECK fan is introduced as Hiromi, Saku and Koyuki’s classmate, who turns out to be the girl from the donut shop across the street from the Chinese restaurant Koyuki works in. In between gymnastic lessons, Koyuki gives Hiromi guitar lessons. Late one night, Ryusuke is awakened by the sound of a helicopter, has Malcolm come back to claim Lucille again?
If you couldn’t tell already, I’m extremely disappointed at how slow this series is being released in America. This series easily became one of my favorites before I even finished the first volume. Hopefully with the anime airing in Canada, BECK will receive some sort of recognition in the manga charts. One of the best features of BECK is trying to figure out all the band references/parodies buried within the pages. For example, this volume opens with a parody of a famous Aerosmith album cover. Also, a lot of the poses the band takes in their performances are ripped from bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers (which Harold Sakuishi openly admits in a review at Tokyopop.com). There are your average shonen style elements in this series, such as the obvious “I want to play better!” “I want to get signed!” but they all add to the comedic element of the series. My favorite joke in this volume is the TV drama Yoshito stars in: Loneliness of the Short Distance Runner.