WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Choujin X, Chapter #2 by Sui Ishida, Jan Cash and Snir Aharon, available in English now from Viz Media and Manga Plus.
The first chapter of Sui Ishida's highly-anticipated new series Choujin X introduced readers to its two protagonists, Tokio Kurohara and Azuma Higashi, as vigilantes. Azuma is the one who often takes the lead while Tokio usually stays on the sidelines. That all changes when the two are confronted by a choujin, a superhuman with dangerous powers, and, thrown into a life-or-death situation, choose to become choujin themselves.
The second chapter takes a decidedly different turn from the first's darker tone. Not only does it steer away from the two central pairing and focus on another character, but it's also funny -- albeit in a sort of bemused, over-the-top ridiculous way.
Chapter #2 of Choujin X properly introduces Ely Otsuda, the country girl flying to a vegetable competition in the chapter before. From the two-page spread she first appears on, we already get a hint at how wild the rest of the chapter will be when the tomato that Ely's clutching suddenly grows a screaming face as it burns in the plane crash. Ely miraculously survives the crash and finds herself in an industrial area of construction sites. She's not alone though: the choujin, Chandra Hume, who caused the plane crash, finds her and gives chase as she bounces away from him like she's in a Mario game.
When that doesn't work, she steals a scooter called a Roller Boy Yay-Yay from a poor boy who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Chandra follows suit. The Roller Bay Yay-Yay is too slow so Ely abandons it, throwing herself over the rail, and finds exactly what she wants: a tractor, in the middle of nowhere.
Not about to let her escape, Chandra bribes a group of bikers -- all of whom are wearing sheep heads -- with a flip phone to capture Ely. Despite how outlandish this chapter is until this point, we're reminded of just how dangerous choujin can be when Chandra uses his smoke choujin powers to kill one of the bikers.
The next chase scene is even wackier. As if the sight of a gang of sheep-headed motorbikers pursuing a little girl in a tractor isn't silly enough, Ely launches the tractor through the air, managing to lose a couple of her pursuers. But she isn't so lucky the second time, losing control and now having to fight gravity as she races down a wall. Ely tries to copy the same moves she saw Chandra make to save the bikers but all she gets are just a few wisps of smoke emitting out of her fingertips. So, she grabs a sharp object and stabs her hand. The effect is instantaneous: a huge burst of smoke explodes out of it, the force of the explosion enough to send them to safety.
Chandra had specifically picked Ely as an experiment to see if he can create choujin, and most importantly, take her in as his protege. Somehow, in the process, Ely became "infected" with the smoke choujin's power. Ely isn't having it though, even going so far as to insult Chandra's power as being "worse than a turd." Just before Chandra can kill her, someone saves Ely -- someone who looks like an actual hero with an eye mask and costume that floats behind him like a cape. Her savior is Hoshi Sandek, the Yamato prefecture's choujin protector, and Ely goes starry-eyed when she realizes his square features are her exact type.
It's not clear whether the humorous tonal shift in Chapter #2 of Choujin X will continue as we dive into more of Ely's story or if it's a one-off, but one thing is for sure: Ishida seems to be having a lot of fun trying out different things in Choujin X. Although we didn't get to see what happened with Tokio and Azuma this time, the last few panels hint that Tokio has much bigger problems to deal with -- namely, figuring out what to do with his new appearance. When Tokio transformed into the bestial choujin the first time in Chapter #1, he exuded a terrifying amount of power, but back home, he resumes his timid demeanor. The last scene, in which Tokio and Ely sit back-to-back, alone in their respective panels, shows two drastically different situations. Ely might have a mentor in Hoshi to help her navigate her powers. In contrast, Tokio is alone, as there's no sign of Azuma.