I can’t recall exactly when I got into Katekyō Hitman Reborn!, but I think there were about 70 or 80 anime episodes out. So, for all sakes and purposes, I have been following Reborn! for at least 4 or 5 years.
That is quite a long time.
And now, it is over.
I am sad that I did not write more posts on Reborn!. I am also sad that this post to is likely not enough to give a proper farewell, but please, join me in saying goodbye to this old friend.
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I am a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I actually wasn’t following Reborn! for the past 3 months or so. I just stopped reading it for some reason and I had been meaning to get back in but I was saving it for when I had more time. When I realized that chapter 409 was the final chapter, I immediately went and caught up.
Before I get into saying nice things about Reborn!, I want to get some of the negatives out of the way.
Some meh things about Reborn!:
- Their Age.
- Trinket characters.
- No proper end to the silly, whimsical romance.
- Tsuna’s hesitance about being the 10th.
- Backdrop not utilized that well. e.g No proper Mafia fight scene.
- Fights were not always badass.
- Too much of an emphasis on the fights.
I have talked about this before, but I really don’t like how the main cast of the manga consists of 14 year olds. Maybe it is just me, but I don’t like seeing 14 year olds find themselves in such dangerous fights and other adult matters. And, NONE OF THEM (except maybe Tsuna/Enma/Basil) actually looks like they are 14. Just take a look at Gokudera, does he look like a 14 year old to you? Well, he turns 15 by the end, I think, but still!
Watching Tsuna fight felt weird. It is kind of strange to see someone with such a young face get beat up, cough blood and stuff.
I think an age of 16-18 would have worked much better.
By Trinket characters, I am referring almost exclusively to Haru and Kyouko. The two of them did a little bit of stuff earlier on but for the most part, their only real job was cheer leading for the main cast and while I can most certainly understand the importance of background support, they felt added on and totally unnecessary towards the end of the manga. Then as if to try and make them seem more important, the author devoted a few pages to them in the last couple of chapters, but it didn’t really do that much to change my opinion.
I am sad that I-pin almost never made a proper appearance in the newer chapters. She was such an interesting character. I really wanted to know more about her 15 year old self.
I am also sad we didn’t get to see much of Bianchi later on either. All she ever did was oversee Kyouko and Haru and that’s it. The inclusion of her running gag (poison) at the very end was great, but once more, it wasn’t enough.
No proper end to the romance
I am going to start of by saying that for the most part, the romance in Reborn! was a total hagwash. There was a time, a long time ago when I wished Tsuna luck in his endeavors to secure a girlfriend despite him sucking so much, but that was a long time ago. I will admit that the romance angle was sort of important at the beginning because it helped give Tsuna that willpower to do stuff, but in the end it was all wasted.
The romance wasn’t developed whatsoever. It ended right where it had always been. Tsuna had the exact same feelings for Kyouko (who by this point was nothing more than a spineless blob) and Haru had the exact same feelings for Tsuna (who by this point was still a loser who occasionally wore cool gloves).
The “get Tsuna a girlfriend” thing at the end was horrible. It tried to emulate the mood of Reborn’s earlier missions but it felt like a forced closure that failed to provide any closure what so ever. I am not even going to get into how degrading it must have been for Haru and Kyouko to have been designated as girlfriend candidates, but well, they had already been designated as trinket characters so it made little difference.
Actually, after some re-evaluation and watching this not so great, but still cute video, I have come to the conclusion that Haru should have just ended up with Gokudera. They actually make a pretty good pair.
I guess the only truly genuine romances were between Iemitsi & Nana and Lal Mirch & Colonello (this one was great, it is a shame they didn’t get married).
In my drafts, I have an empty post. In this empty post, I had wanted to write about how I was proud of Tsuna and the growth he showcased by taking action without Reborn’s consent (I am referring to the part where he contacted the old man to try and come up with a solution for the Arcobaleno problem). Unfortunately, I never got around to writing that post.
I still think that Tsuna matured a bit over the series. He started to make decisions on his own when it counted, but as Reborn said, he didn’t change all that much and therein lies a problem.
I wanted Tsuna to become a badass Vongola boss. I wanted him to accept the title of Vongola Decimo and kick ass, but nooo, the stupid kid was always stupid.
Backdrop not properly utilized
Like most successful Shonen, Reborn! has an excellent backdrop. We are talking about a story that involves the Mafia, succession, inheritance, assassination attempts, a revolution and various other things. How on Earth could it not be an awesome backdrop?
Unfortunately, the awesome backdrop wasn’t really used that well.
I wanted to see Tsuna and his guardians don suits and march into an enemy groups headquarters and beat the crap out of them for encroaching on their turf. Even just a single image of Tsuna sitting in a chair smoking a cigar would have made me happy (now you see why I think 14 year olds was a bad idea?!).
All I got was a bunch of high flame (literally) fights that could have been found in any given Shonen. On top of that, while the whole lineage, like your predecessor thing was cool, it to did little to work on the Mafia angle. Such a shame.
Fights were not always badass
A good portion of the quality of an action manga is determined strictly from the fights. The fights need to be heart thumping, energetic, easy to follow and fun to think about. All in all, they need to be badass.
Unfortunately, Reborn! failed at a lot of if not all of the above criteria on a consistent basis.
Yeah, some of the powers used were pretty cool, but a lot felt tacked on. On occasion, I would cheer for Tsuna or someone else to get up and continue the fight, but a lot of the times (especially when it was Tsuna), I couldn’t care less. The fights felt bland and to be honest, they were rather hard to follow. All in all, many of them were not badass.
Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but in my opinion, the best fights happened before the future arc, before the whole “rings and magical powers thing”. Watching the crew use good old fashioned manual techniques was far more interesting than moves that stopped making sense. I guess the only real exception to this was Gokudera’s system thing. That thing was badass, but then again, the old Gokudera with his use of bombs was also very cool and incredibly original to.
See, that’s the thing. Reborn’s characters had original abilities once upon a time. Even Tsuna’s gloves were original in some way at some point. His freezing skill was incredibly cool. But then, it all became very generic. Everyone got their weird flame powers and it irked me.
The animal pet things were cute at first, but the Cambio thing was meh at best. I still don’t know exactly what it was or anything about the individual Cambios, but meh. I am going to assume Akira Amano included those animals because she wanted to sell more merchandise or something. Hibari’s handcuffs were pretty cool though. 😛
Too much emphasis on fights
I have been saying this again and again, but Reborn! was best when it focused on the characters being goofballs or doing fun things together. The fights took away from that, especially because there wasn’t really much teamwork in the fights anyway. Having said that, the fights were still important and not including them would have been a bad thing. I just feel that having a bit more transition time might have been nice.
- Great overall cast.
- I love the guardians.
- Mukuro Rokudo
- Hibari Kyouya
- Hibari Kyouya
- Reborn & Tsuna
- Some very badass moments.
- Some incredible comedy.
- Showed the future.
- The Ending.
- Excellent backdrop (under utilized though).
- Slice of Life segments were excellent.
- The Dying Will
Great overall cast
I know I complained about trinket characters and cast aside characters earlier, but as a whole, the cast was pretty good. I felt that the characters had a good deal of variety and in general, their interactions with one another were fun to witness.
Almost all of the good guys were very unique and it is really hard to mistake them for one another and just as importantly, the villains were very unique as well. Sure, Reborn! followed the Shonen trend of villains turning into good guys, but it pulled it of quite well.
In addition to the cast, I liked a lot of the weapons used by the cast. You wouldn’t normally think of assigning gloves to the main character and bombs to his best friend, now would you?
I love the Guardians
To expand on that previous point, I really liked the 7 Vongola guardians. They were an interesting bunch.
Tsuna and his guardians are close and for the most part, they can rely on each other. Tsuna, Gokudera, Yamamoto and to an extent, Ryohei are particularly close and it is nice to see them do stuff together. My only complaint (as I mentioned earlier) is that we didn’t really see much of the them doing badass stuff together or even much of them being goofs together. Every arc, they’d find their respective enemies and go. The occasional “combo” attack really did nothing to change that.
It is not just the guardians themselves I liked though, it was the whole idea of Guardians. “A group of individuals that exists to protect their boss.” That concept alone gets my Shonen lovers blood rolling. And in the case of this manga, for the most part, the concept is well executed.
I really, really like Gokudera. I like him because:
- He is fiercely loyal (I love this trait).
- He can be cool at times.
- He uses a very interesting weapon.
I have always loved loyalty as a trait (another reason why I like the concept of a group protecting their boss) and Gokudera as Tsuna’s right hand man exemplifies that trait.
Gokudera was one of those “I try to be cool, but I am almost never cool” characters ( a total contrast to Yamamoto), but there were a few scenes where his love for his friends (or something) combined with his quick thinking made him really cool. If memory serves me well, then the earlier fights against Varia and a few of the later fights like the one against ShitP were good examples of this.
I really loved the bombs he used at some point. It is such a creative weapon. I mean, how many characters do you know of that grab dynamites and stuff from their pockets, then light them with a cigarette (HEY KIDS DON’T SMOKE) or something and then toss them at the enemy? It is super cool and very interesting.
His ring power thing (whatever it was called) was also one one of the more interesting ones. It was a complete system and it required a good deal of intelligence to use properly (Gokudera despite his dumb antics was actually shown to be a very intelligent person).
I do feel like his character didn’t really get the proper respect it deserved especially towards the end where he was normally lumped in with Yamamoto.
I liked the friendship between Yamamoto, Tsuna and Gokudera and I liked him quite a bit as a character earlier on. My biggest problem with Yamamoto wasn’t that he started to suck but that he didn’t really get better. Looking back on it, a goofy swordsman might be somewhat unique at first, but after a while, it didn’t really feel that special anymore though he still had some pretty badass scenes.
On top of that, his combat moves became very confusing and became less about swordsmanship and more about sheer quantities of water. I liked the swordsman Yamamoto more than the ring using Yamamoto.
Out of the 7, my least favorite was probably Ryohei and that to mostly because his fights were boring.
I did however love his “EXTREEME” spirit and he had some excellent comical moments.
I grew to like Lambo despite disliking him at first. Child Lambo is really quite funny and at times, he is surprisingly endearing for a 5 year old.
Well, I say that but a good part of why I like Lambo is because of the grown up versions of Lambo. Teenage Lambo was hilarious and adult Lambo (who made like one appearance, I think) was incredibly badass.
I just watched a youtube video of adult Lambo and why oh why DID HE NOT MAKE MORE APPEARANCES. The dude was so cool. I want to be like him when I am 25. OKAY I HAVE A NEW GOAL. I will try my best to be cool/cold like 25 year old Lambo.
Chrome Dokuro and Mukuro Rokudo
I like Chrome, she has a somewhat cool character design and the fact that she no longer has real organs is kind of out there to. Actually, while I am talking about internal organs, I want to mention that the fact that Mammon had to make replacement organs for Byakuran and Squalo. It is a nice way to get around the fact that they should be dead. It is significantly better than the whole “miraculously healed because of reasons” reason we often get.
Anyway, Chrome isn’t bad, but at the same time, she didn’t really strike me as remarkable in anyway. She was always quite and shy and while she started to get along with the others a bit better towards the end, she was never really shown to be particularly close to Tsuna and the other guardians.
I mean, she definitely cared for them (Tsuna especially. I loved how she called him boss), but it wasn’t terribly obvious and it wasn’t shown that well. It is such a shame really.
As for Mukoro, well, I don’t think there is a Reborn fan who genuinely dislikes Mukoro. The dude was suave, cool, had a truly tragic past and was incredibly strong. And yet, as great as he was, he wasn’t developed anywhere near as well as he could have been. I really wanted to see him grow and get closer to the others while maintaining his cold attitude.
I wanted to see more of his past sorted out and most importantly, I wanted a stronger focus on fixing his recent past state of being in prison. He was a tragic figure who was jailed for the longest time and it really would have been nice to see some more things from his perspective.
Think about being jailed for that long and how lonely it must have been for him and yet, very little if anything was shown to suggest his sadness. I mean, yeah, you could say that he was too badass to be lonely, but the whole prison thing felt like an afterthought. It really should have had a dedicated arc and Tsuna and Mukuro should have ended up as close friends afterwords.
Oh well, Mukoro was a great character and his voice actor in the anime was really good to. If you haven’t heard it before, or simply want a nostalgia trip, listen to Sakura Addiction by Takashi Kondo (Hibari’s VA) & Toshinobu Iida (Mukuro’s VA).
Hibari should really require no introduction. Loving Hibari has practically become a meme among KHR readers. Even if you don’t love him, you pretend to anyway just to fit in with everyone else.
When you think about it, there is really nothing that special about Hibari. He is the typical “strong, too cool for you” character that so many series have and yet, I (and everyone else) can’t help but love him.
His cool, uncaring, resolute aura brings out the KYAAAA in all of us. And yet, Hibari is also surprisingly compassionate at times. He loves birds, sakura petals and his school. He also has a soft spot for i-Pin.
This mixture of “too cool for you” tough guy sprinkled over with a few sprinkles of compassion makes him incredibly likable.
While his character is nothing extraordinary, it is so well defined and the definition speaks to my inner fangirl and therefore I love him.
I am not really sure what I just said, but I like Hibari, ok?
Oh and the catchphrase “I will bite you to death” was and still is a favorite phrase of my brother’s who still uses it now and then.
Reborn & Tsuna
I have already talked about this in a previous post (the link is up ahead), but I really liked the relationship between Reborn and Tsuna. As far as teacher student relationships go, I don’t think there are many that are as original and strong as this one is.
Tsuna really trusted Reborn and Reborn in turn trusted him back. I am glad the two got to stay together at the end and did not separate as I had once foretold. It might have been cool to have seen Tsuna gain that last step of independence, but whatever, he is still a kid.
I also really like how at the beginning of the series, Reborn pretty much knew everything and he was able to properly plan how to teach Tsuna, but this changed later on. As the series went into territory that was outside of Reborn’s experience, he could only do his best at predicting what to do.
Reborn’s predictions were normally correct, but what made him the greatest home tutor wasn’t this predicting ability of his, but rather his ability to adapt, to continue to learn and teach along. A great teacher doesn’t stop teaching when the extent of his knowledge is reached, no, a great teacher continues to learn and pass on his knowledge.
Like most contemporary Shonen, Reborn! has a pretty strong focus on the concepts of friendship and comradery (Nakamas and stuff). The friendship in this series is often a bit too cheesy (like most Shonen), a bit contrived at times (as in it is sometimes just used as an excuse for our characters to get a power up ), but all in all, it is not that bad.
I liked the friendship between Tsuna, Gokudera and Yamamoto. Gokudera’s feelings towards Tsuna in particular were touching. I love how he calls Tsuna “Juudaime” and never calls him anything else. It shows respect and loyalty.
In terms of other cool friendships, we also had Yamamoto & Squalo, Hibari & Dino, Mukuro and his little gang, Gamma & Byakuran & Yuni, Lambo & I-pin & Futa (we didn’t see much of Futa at the end, did we) and probably a few others to.
It was fun to watch these characters interact with one another and I will kind of miss seeing those interactions.
Some very badass moments.
Earlier in this post, I complained that not all the fights were badass and while that is still true, there were still quite a few awesome scenes.
The anime in particular did a really good job of making some scenes badass. The combination of color (SO YOU COULD ACTUALLY SEE THE FLAMES) and an absolutely incredible soundtrack made many action scenes and the scenes leading up to/ coming right after incredibly cool.
Take this scene for example:
Sure, the animation isn’t all that special and the pacing isn’t that great either, but as Tsuna bursts forth from the enclosure accompanied by that great music and proclaims “X Glove, Version Vongola Ring”, I can’t help but get the “FUCK THIS IS COOL” shivers. The above video is also cool because after our little protagonist powers up, future Hibari fights him and we all know how cool future Hibari is.
I also really liked Tsuna’s Zero Point Breakthrough attacks. Those were really cool and to be honest, they were under utilized.
Oh and speaking of soundtrack, this is one of the greatest battle music of all time.
In general, when it comes to Tsuna, just entering the Hyper Dying Mode thing made him sooooo much better. That mode should have been his default state, the manga might have been a bit cooler if that had been the case.
Of course, Tsuna wasn’t the only one with badass moments. Obviously, pretty much anything involving Hibari had to be badass, but the other characters had some pretty cool moments to.
I especially loved the few appearances that were made by Reborn in his proper form in the last arc.
Some incredible comedy.
I have said this again and again, but the slice of life segments of KHR were, for the most part, really funny. What happens when you take a great cast of characters who use the weirdest things (a 10 year bazooka??? an exploding internal bomb???) and put them together? Hilarity of course.
Showed the future.
Secret confession: When it comes to fiction, I have one common desire that I constantly use for fantasizing stuff. That desire is a simple “I want to see a future version of these characters.”
I want to see whether the hints writers drop about the characters futures really play out or not. I want to see if these puny characters actually grow into something un-puny.
KHR is one of the few series that actually satisfied this desire of my own. Through use of the 10 year bazooka and the future arc, we got to see what most of the cast is like in the future and I really appreciate that.
It would have been nice to have seen a proper future Tsuna, but alas, my fantasies of seeing Tsuna being hit by the 10 year bazooka and then being replaced by an exceptionally badass future Vongola leader shall remain fantasies.
Actually, while we are on the topic, let us talk real quickly about the future arc.
I had some problems with the future arc. My biggest problem was that it was quite simply too long. Another problem I had with it was that towards the end, it felt really weird and nonsensical. It basically didn’t seem to make much sense. To begin with, the whole reasoning behind bringing the past kids to the future wasn’t all that great.
Yeah, I guess it is understandable that they needed the Vongola rings, but the whole “our past selves had potential for growth thing was a bit contrived”. (I am taking this from memory, I can’ remember much though, so forgive me if I am wrong.)
I also did not like how the future Tsuna was not actually dead. It would have been cooler if he had actually died and they had showed a flashback of him dying a heroic death defending the town or something awesome like that.
What I did really like about the future arc was the beginning. Good god, it was scary and depressing (in a good way). Tsuna arrives in the future. The future him is dead. Reborn is supposedly dead. The Vongola are screwed. Everyone is screwed. Good god man, that arc’s beginning brought out some intense tension (I think this was much higher in the manga simply because the black and white images depressed you far more than the colorful anime palette). The tension was very cool.
The tensions stuck around for quite a bit. Byakuran was a very scary enemy and the series did a great job of presenting him as a super villain. The tension dropped quite a bit later on simply because the plot was too convoluted for my taste and also because I was getting fed up and wanted them to return to the past.
Still though, the tension during that arc was incredible. It was a very riveting, depressing arc.
All in all, I still kind of prefer the slice of life stuff, but yeah, arcs like this are very welcome in small doses.
Oh and future Lal Mirch was hot.
In a lot of series after you are done and you think about it for a bit, you realize that a lot of things were left open. That is to say not all the plot holes were filled in.
I don’t think Reborn’s ending was super special or anything, but it did close pretty much all plot points (at least the ones I can think of). At the end, it felt like the story had been planned out to at least some extent.
We closed the future arc with a somewhat satisfactory conclusive ending, then we had another arc that fleshed out the Vongola of old and did a great job of setting up the Arcobaleno problem and then finally, we had the arc that took sorted out the Arcobaleno problem.
And, as I mention ahead, the re-introduction of the original dying will was excellent. It was a good throwback to the beginning.
Excellent backdrop (under utilized though).
I mentioned this as a con before, but the backdrop is really quite cool. You have the Mafia that consists of typical Italian mobsters, babies, kids and other quirky characters. On top of that, you have everyone fighting not with something generic like Thomsons, no you have them fighting with flames and stuff. Also, the pseudo-Italian-ness while still being totally fake feels more authentic than other attempts (e.g. Familia Ami~whatever~).
The backdrop is pretty damn cool. Scenes like that excellent vongola boss meetup in that youtube video earlier would not have been anywhere near as heart thumping and exciting if not for that great backdrop.
I also love how everyone is considered to be “FAMILY”. It ties into friendship, but at the same time, it feels closer than a group of friends might be.
I do wish the backdrop had been better used (more stuff on the Mafia in general), but well, what can you do.
Slice of Life segments were excellent.
I think I have mentioned this several times before, but some of the most enjoyable moments from Reborn came from the Slice of Life stuff. I liked seeing the quirky characters do quirky things to each other and the comedy that resulted from their interactions was very funny at times.
I think the slice of life stuff in the anime was a bit less funnier than in the manga (not totally sure though), but obviously the action scenes in the anime were several times more enjoyable than they were in the manga.
The Dying Will
The Dying Will is a fitting thing for us to close this post. It is central to everything that happens in KHR and the use of the traditional dying will in the last couple of chapters was a lovely throwback to the days of old.
The Dying Will
“Resolution, determination, will power”, it embodied all of the core Shonen concepts and yet, it did so without the mandatory suffering and strengthening of ones resolve. You’d think that such a cop-out would lead to character development failure, but it didn’t.
Over time as Tsuna used the dying will and its various offshoots (hyper dying will, the dying will ring flames, etc, etc), he grew to be just a bit more determined in his life.
Even though the Tsuna at the end was still no good Tsuna, he was a different no good from the one at the beginning. He still failed at most things in life, but when it came to important things like protecting his family, Tsuna did not hesitate to take action.
The same could be said of every character. The dying flame might have been what let them conduct their fights, but the flame was made from the strength of their souls. It represented their resolve to fight for their boss, their friends or themselves.
The fights were not clashes of power levels, they were clashes of resolve. Almost all Shonen fights are — in some shape or form — clashes of resolve, but few take that notion to such an extreme level.
Despite its flaws, its shortcomings and its wasted potential, Katekyō Hitman Reborn! embodied the core Shonen spirit and it did so with vigor and pride. For that lone, this lovely series deserves praise.
Thank you Akira Amano, I look forward to your next manga.
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Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you feel like having a drive down nostalgia drive, go watch the FIRST EPISODE, then watch some more after that. Good god, I love that first opening song. That song and its lyrics really inspired me when I was younger and it still does to this day.
P.P.S. After some re-reading I have come to understand that I actually did like quite a bit of the combat.