I really need to stop doing this. Apologies for the delays in the Weekly Shonen Jump reviews, but it hasn't been the easiest 3 weeks. As I did with the last combined review, we'll go by issues. Starting off with Issue #15, we have the third ever cover featuring Assassination Classroom as well as colour pages for Haikyuu!! and Nisekoi.
One Piece 701
The reaction you see in the snippet of the chapter sums up the chapter pretty nicely. Doflamingo's country is as odd as the crazy warlord himself - a frightening fairy tale - although this is pretty common when it comes to the big villains of One Piece. One thing we can be sure of, is that we're moving forward at hastened pace, leaving no smaller arcs to be explored.
The big reveal this chapter was the samurai at the end of the chapter. The mysterious man left a huge hole (literally) in the floor like nothing happened. That was just enough to grab my attention, and hints towards a Zoro-centric beginning of the arc at the very least. With the addition of Kinemon to the crew, it's not a huge leap of faith to assume it'll be all about the swordsmen this arc.
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And here's what I'm sure some of you have been waiting for. The Teikou Middle School arc has begun and it appears as though, Fujimaki-sensei is adopting a similar art style to what he did at the beginning of the series. The art hasn't gone all the way back to what it used to be, yet it has lost some of it's "bishie" refinement.
Either way, the arc has started. In fact, it started just like the beginning of series. Word for word for the first few panels and then a nice introduction to the arc ensued. It held a certain level of excitement seeing as how the arc jumped right into the point when the Generation of Miracles was formed and didn't waste our time any more than it could have.
Seeing as how the purpose of this arc is to show us more about Akashi and Kuroko's relationship, I'm a little excited. Sure we also get to see the other members of the Generation of Miracles, but we've covered each of them - more or less - to an adequate degree. If anyone were to be involved it would be Midorima, whose relationship with Kuroko is still unknown and who used to be Akashi's number two.
Let the flashback commence!
What just happened? Calling this chapter of Nisekoi strange is a drastic understatement. Better yet, calling it strange would have been a compliment of sorts. If anything, this chapter was just plain obscure randomness that pops up once in a while in different series.
Not much to tell here. It had its entertaining moments with all the members of the harem drunk - Onodera was the best of course - and yet it was very forgettable. Trying to remember it now of all times is quite the difficult task on my part.
The blade of the commoner should never be underestimated. If it is, the hunter may end up as the hunted or just made a fool out of. Generally I'm a fan of when Assassination Classroom goes for this type of arc. It's not very often but it's still very enjoyable to watch the loveable misfits of Class E fight back. Especially when it comes to revenge or one of them exploiting their strengths, because it gives me more reason to cheer for our beloved underdogs.
Much like the last time they fought back, things started off well and then suddenly became hard. The director appears in the end to stir up things once again, as the brutal and cunning villain of the series. One might expect he's bringing some guns to a knife fight, and his plans as always are steeped in some shady/evil aura. It might be a loosing battle, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying the underdog trying to overpower the top dog. David and Goliath done well, once again courtesy of AC.
Seeing Oga get worked up is always fun and this time there's the added benefit of watching Kanzaki get worked up with him. The chapter might have been mostly about Nasubi dominating Oga, but as soon as Kanzaki beat up the other underlings things changed rather quickly. The build-up continues slowly in the arc. We still have a few more chapters to finish the fight between Nasubi and Oga, and then move onto the next opponent. Beelzebub as a whole has slowed down its pace for this arc, which might mean it's the last one, otherwise the fight would have concluded by now. I for one like that it's taking its time, given how much room there is to develop the fights and give us the always entertaining action.
That's all there is to it as this point. The chapter didn't progress the plot all that much. An appearance from a man walking around in a suit and talking on his phone was the only new piece of plot development we got, to be explored in the later chapters.
Shokugeki no Soma 14
With the first Shokugeki over, it's only appropriate to have a breather chapter. In SnS' case, it was to have a chapter of non-plot related fun before introducing the new training arc. Poor Tadokoro reveals that she has quite the stage fright when it comes to cooking in lessons even though she does have the talent necessary to succeed. I for one am looking forward to this arc.
Having spent that last few weeks reading Yakitate Japan!! I'm beginning to like SnS that much more. The story is quite streamlined as of right now, and I'm glad to see we're not going from one battle to another just yet. Soma might be a badass chef, but he can't possibly be that quick to challenge the Elite 10. All good things ahead!
The tragic tale of friendship has been quite enjoyable actually. For the first time in a while I don't have any complaints about Naruto. Hashirama and Madara's friendship is the main focus of the flashback, so it's hard not to be interested. So far the story has been a little heart-breaking as you'd expect from a key event in the Naruto timeline. Whilst the story was somewhat expected - Naruto and Sasuke's story retold - it doesn't change how enjoyable it is.
Bleach 529Here's flashback number 3. A strange coincidence that three series in Weekly Shonen Jump are doing flashbacks, but that's how it goes sometimes. Bleach rarely has any flashbacks, so when it does it's to answer some of our long-standing questions.
The last time was to tell us about the Visored and now it's time to know the full story behind Ichigo's dad. For starters we get the confirmation that he was indeed a captain as was hinted by the torn white sash on his shoulder, and then we found out he was in charge of the 10th division. Not surprising that he was THAT type of captain. You know the lazy fun kind, just like he was with Ichigo at the beginning of the series.
The question lied in whether Matsumoto and Hitsugaya knew whether him and Ichigo were related or if they too were unaware of this fact. On a side note, it's interesting to see Matsumoto being an important minor character by being involved with people like Shiba and Gin. To end, we saw Aizen show up. Only appropriate for that to happen I guess.
Best and Worst of Weekly Shonen Jump #15 (2013)
Not a pàrticularly strong set of chapters, so I went with what I enjoyed most. AC was just a delight because it's a rare opportunity to see the shunned kids fight back against the system.
Just plain chaos. It also didn't hold the same comedic charm which the series usually has.
Next up we have Weekly Shonen Jump #16. This issue marks the first of three consecutive colour pages given to Shokugeki no Soma, with Gintama on the cover. Also a rarity occured; both Naruto and One Piece were absent. Evidently both Oda and Kishimoto were ill, leaving only Bleach to represent the Big 3. Beelzebub 196
Now wasn't that an exciting conclusion to the fight? Oga hasn't exactly been holding back but this time he unleashed his full power on Nasubi's sorry ass. Not for trying, Nasubi just couldn't take on the fusion of Oga and Beel and was left destroyed by the end of the chapter. Pure excitement from this fight, and something I'd expect from Beelzebub. All the while the man in the suit keeps making moves without doing anything drastic. He's still being coy and avoiding any direct confrontations, and thus, keeping guessing as to who he is. One thing we can speculate is that he's a demon of sorts, comparable to Hilda since he can control someone from afar.
Shokugeki no Soma 15
This manga keeps getting more and more ridiculous in the best way possible. How can we not expect the training arc to be the same level of bizarre as the rest of the chapters so far? Introducing the elite chef that graduated Tootsuki as judges, this arc looks to be another win.
I don't know what we can expect from them, but since even Chapelle-sensei from chapter five is present, I'm guessing that it'll be something great. Each of these chefs looks more ridiculous than the last, promising to bring us some epic entertainment. Let's also not forget the ending. Soma-kun now has a rival - what else is new - and this time he's being targeted. Surely enough his reputation keeps getting him into all of these ridiculous scenarios, which we love to watch.
This should bring us a little more variety, and give Erina a break from failing with her dastardly plans to seal Soma's fate as a student of Tootsuki.
I'll remind you all: you should be reading this manga.
Chapter two of the flashback arc and all things are still good. As expected Kuroko is struggling to find his place in Teikou's elite basketball club, and we're getting comprehensive coverage of this. It's been brought up once or twice when he talked about meeting Aomine for the first time and now we're getting the finer details of this.
The arc continues to give some of the focus to Akashi, as he speaks of recruiting a sixth man to change the pace of things. Some clarification, leaving us with the knowledge that Akashi didn't just discover Kuroko but he was actually searching for a player like him. No doubt this will be an important part of the story, and explaining the true nature of Akashi and Kuroko's relationship.
Not much else to report on. Kuroko's struggle is something we've known about but are only seeing now. A relatively big departure from the norm, seeing as how he came into the story full equipped to take on the Generation of Miracles for the first 50+ chapters. It's going well for a flashback.
Luckily Fujimaki-sensei is using Kubo-sensei's style of approach as opposed to Kishimoto-sensei's.
Whenever Nisekoi keeps it simple, it goes right. This chapter is another in a long line of standalone chapters that does the series justice.
It doesn't surprise me in the least that Marika was the driving force of all the seat-changing comedy. Her role as the comic relief character continues to be amusing, and that position more than suits her since it involves stirring the pot on any given occasion. At the end of the day, without Marika-chan things might get boring. As fun as Marika being herself was this chapter, the best character was Shuu. His continued "bro-ness" is nothing short of great. This chapter is no exception, with him helping out his best bro Raku by placing him right next to Onodera. What a good guy, but unfortunately it was never meant to last. It had to end back at the love triangle.
At this point, Nisekoi has settled into its patter and to some extent groove. The comedy is back as the main focus, all the while the romance has been narrowed down to just Chitoge and Onodera. As I've mentioned, Marika is there for comic relief. There's also Tsugumi, whose panel time has all but disappeared thus making her nothing more than an occasional comedy character. For me this pattern works, and as such I'm looking forward to more of the same.
This is why I like Kubo-sensei's flashbacks so much: they're not pointless. He's sticking to the point and explaining everything in order to help us understand the current story, which is exactly why I'm already enjoying this flashback.
So this time round, we learn about Ichigo's mother and her relationship to Ishida's father. Again, this was going deeper into a story we've only been able to speculate about - all those meeting between the two fathers - which is being brought into the light of day. Since it was explained that Ichigo's mother was a Quincy, it was to be expected that she knew Ishida's father. The engagement certainly explains a lot of things, most importantly the relationship between Ryuken and Shiba. That wasn't all the chapter had to offer.
Ending on a cliffhanger revelation, we're exposed to a hollow that looks to be Ichigo's. Evidently the next step is to explain Ichigo's powers and how they came to be. We know about the Visored and now we'll hopefully understand how the Hollow before us came to manifest itself in Ichigo. Kubo's covering a lot things with this flashback. Seeing as how it may be the last opportunity to explain everything before the battles start, it's not such a bad idea.
Assassination Classroom 35 This director really hates losing, doesn't he? One thing you can count on is the director projecting an aura of pure evil. This time it looks like he's hypnotising the baseball team's players with just his words and bringing out their animal instincts. Needless to say, the man is scary. I'm left wondering when it is that Class E will catch a break with this guy. It was his complete victory last time, so it could end up with him dominating yet again. When exactly will their fight start to yield any results? Can Korosensei devise a plan to take him on? Like I said: the man is scary. His appearances are few, but it comes at times when the class has just improved by a little bit.
Best and Worst of Weekly Shonen Jump #16 (2013)
The comedy was pretty great.
Nothing bad enough to be considered the worst of the bunch.
Finally we're onto Weekly Shonen Jump #17. Kuroko no Basket gets the cover and Haikyuu!! and Shokugeki no Soma both get colour pages - for Soma, the second consecutive one. Also, Bleach was absent from this issue's line-up.
Shokugeki no Soma 16
The world of cooking is filled with different chefs. You have the elite who choose to serve only the wealthy and there are those whom choose a less luxurious clientèle. That doesn't mean they are any less skilled than their more expensive counterparts.
As luck would have it, I found myself in a trattoria a few weeks back. A lovely atmospheric eatery, somewhere in between a canteen and a restaurant in terms of layout yet with an inexplicable charm to it. A charm that needs to be gauged by the visitor himself and experienced first hand.
Explained quite accurately as the "restaurant for the masses," Soma's presumably Italian counterpart has appeared. A man who tries to be like Soma but stumbles when it comes to looking cool. Nevertheless, he is a skilled chef and first up on Soma's line of fire.
Whether he becomes a recurring character remains to be seen, but we can guess the outcome of the next chapter right now. Soma will most likely beat him, before moving onto the next opponent. It's too early for him to loose, so my guess is that this will be a fun take-down.
Like I said in the previous chapter review, Nisekoi has settled into its new pattern. A pattern of the love triangle being the only viable romantic pairings all the while the other girls bring some comedy to the situation. This is the case in this chapter as well, and a Valentine's situation at that!
Rightfully, Onodera was the focus of this chapter. From the start she was given the most attention, leaving Chitoge in the proverbial dust. Chitoge had almost the same number of panels and text as Onodera, but her continued tsundere act isn't making me care for her in the least. On the other hand, Onodera keeps on trying to win the affections - she's already won - of our very ignorant main character Raku. The ending is enough to seal the deal on this, as it left me feeling so sad for Onodera, who was on the verge of tears.
Marika popped up in the chapter for a brief comedy stint. Again, going back to what I said, she's become nothing more than the comic relief character with almost 0 chance of winning the romantic battle. I don't mind seeing her once in a while, although I feel her recent appearance count has shot up.
One Piece 702
It is indeed a swordsman arc! Hopefully this means we'll be seeing Zoro in full battle capacity.
A Colosseum battle is upon us, and Doflamingo's forces are mobilizing. There are definitely some interesting people calling themselves swordsmen, hinting at some fun and brutal action. It only seems appropriate that the Straw Hats' own master swordsman ends up getting his sword stolen.
One Piece has now established this to be a proper arc. With this chapter I'm all but certain we're not going through a quick filler arc to pass the weeks by. No. This arc is most likely to be serious, especially now that Luffy has found out about Ace's Meru Meru fruit. On that note, it appears as though Devil Fruits re-enter the world after the user has died, which is now clear to us.
The flashback is winding down, and as we foresaw it's ending in drama and tragedy. Never really a question about how it would end and it feels like the right time to bring the flashback to an end, before it becomes an even longer part of the story.
Thus far, the arc has been enjoyable. We've taken a closer look at the founding fathers of the Hidden Leaf and their hate-filled histories. We've even seen the Second Hokage act like a prick through most of this, whilst the First would defend his ideals in any situation. With the impasse between the Uchiha and Senju at it's highest, it's about time to bring the arc to an end.
What we'll most likely get in the next few chapter(s) is a chance to see just how the conflict was resolved. Clearly Madara's request for the Tobirama to be killed was never granted, so we have yet to see how the first treaty was reached.
We get a returning gag in the form of Oga and Beel's body-switching, following the appearance of the mastermind behind Nasubi's actions. He disappears promptly, keeping up the mystery behind his origins and his role in the arc. With so little known about this man, it was straight back to Oga and Beel.
Then we had an interesting development to stir things up.... Kunieda may be the next one to become a knight (or queen) under Oga's command as she has to deal with the New Red Tails. She's not the only one. Oga, or more accurately, Beel in Oga's body is being proposition by their new leader. A move that will definitely irk Kunieda and possibly instigate the next fight.
I'm not positive we'll see another fight so soon, but the prospect of Kunieda exchanging blows with her first real rival makes me a little happy. That tends to be the case whenever she ends up in a fight, even if it's against Hilda.
Kuroko no Basket 206
Wait. Didn't Kuroko tell Aomine it was impossible to have a curve pass? Oh well, guess he lied.
The flashback seems to have reached its climax. Now we've found out that Kuroko was never quite the weak presence we believed him to be, but rather he became that way on Akashi's recommendation. It's a peculiar development in the plot, and I can't help but wonder what's left to cover.
Akashi is still the unofficial focus of this plot, and he's proven himself to be just that in the last two chapters. If there's anything left to cover, it would be how Akashi came to be as prickly as he is today because he sure doesn't look it right now.
We'll just have to wait.
Best and Worst of Weekly Shonen Jump #17 (2013)
Again, nothing bad enough. A lot of mediocrity in the issue.