One Piece shocks us, Bleach bores us, Naruto does what it's been doing all along but a little better this time round, Beelzebub gets a little darker while returning to the fantasy roots of the story and Kuroko no Basket gets as shonen as a sports manga can get. That and a few others in this review of Weekly Shonen Jump Issue #32.
This issue also marks the start of the new series Takamagahara, for which I have included a review.
So what do this issue's chapters have to offer
Takamagahara - 1 (Weekly Shonen Jump Debut)
Premise: Humans aren't all born equal, some are born with talent. Yamada Yamato is one of the few born with a talent and has yet to discover it, in fact his biggest worry right now is to win the Tezuka Award and kickstart his career as a mangaka. Yamoto's family doesn't get this since they are all strong men, longing to get even stronger and it looks like Yamoto's skills are nowhere near good enough to be a mangaka but he isn't going to give up just yet.
Thoughts: Terrible. Quite literally the worst first chapter of this year from any new series and without a doubt a manga that I hope doesn't last very long in Jump. The idea sounds like it belongs in a Light Novel and just doesn't excite me with it's action, make me laugh with it's humour or interest me with the story because it wasn't executed well enough. I'm not saying that every series must start off by explaining the setting fully as well as the powers of the lead but it felt like the first chapter couldn't decide if it wanted to be more like a gag manga or something more serious, which ended up giving it an absolutely pathetic and unimpressive ending.
The lead of the series is likeable to an extent but his desire to be a mangaka only adds to the comedy and doesn't make me invested in him for the long run. This just proves that if your going to have a male lead who's a delinquent make him simple and then gradually complex like in Yankee-kun to Megane-chan or just keep him mostly simple throughout the series like in Beelzebub.
I now understand why Jump doesn't have many manga featuring delinquent leads; they have yet to run a decent one aside from Beelzebub in this century. If anyone remembers the disaster that was SWOT which ran last year then you can imagine what this manga is like, except that I'm sure SWOT started off on a higher note. It's only the first chapter but it may look like the series wont last more than 17-18 chapters IF it's lucky.
One Piece - 673
Dropping another bombshell like that has woken me up and made me pay close attention once again.
Between V.A Vergo being the puppet master behind all of the children's kidnappings and Luffy and Co. being put in a jail cell, I wonder how many people have been reminded of the Alabasta arc Maybe fitting seeing as how they both happen at the starts of sagas (Alabasta for the Grand Line Saga and Punk Hazard for the New World Saga) but I wasn't expecting the mention of a certain shichibukai who we don't know very much about.
From my point of view, Donquixote Doflamingo is a very interesting and appropriate choice. We already know that he likes to deal in shady businesses like the Human Auction Shop on Sabaondy Archipelago and that he's cruel enough to make marines fight each other for their own amusement but his actions were never so grand as to make you think that he's aiming for a higher standing in the world than just shichibukai. It's also worth remembering that for quite a while Doflamingo was actually the pirate (former or current) with the highest bounty on his head until Luffy found out about his new one, so he's always been someone who can't be taken lightly but never got the attention he deserved; he only appeared a handful of times throughout the manga but I never noticed until now that he had appeared at the ends of arcs, like when he payed a visit to Bellamy to punish him.
Other than the mention of Doflamingto being Joker, this chapter didn't contain much more excitement and simply proceeded in it's usual pace, leading up to some type of grand conclusion. The other stuff that happened include:
- Zoro and Co. running away from an animal (who was fed a Devil's Fruit) resembling Slime
- Ceaser catching up to where Usopp and Nami (in Sanji's body) are looking after the Kids.
One Piece strikes with a high quality chapter yet again.
Naruto - 592
Not the worst chapter of Naruto, which says a lot about the quality of the current arc but hey you do with what you get.
Three double pages means that the chapter felt much shorter than usual and because the focus was split in three, the length felt shortened once more. Sasuke's reunion with Jugo and Suigetsu came as something expected yet forgotten - I can't remember the last time I saw those two - but bore some fruit. It was a nuisance to hear Orochimaru's name be brought up yet again as the cockroach who refuses to die, but it's also confusing since we saw the part of him which was hiding out in Sasuke's seal be sealed away by Itachi's Susanoo. The scroll which Suigetsu found is an interesting item because there's not telling who wrote it
Elsewhere, Madara demonstrates his great power thus sending the 5 Kage into a state of rightful panic and it looks like Tobi is about to unleash the Juubi. The ending of the chapter was far from perfect but it tried to recapture the tension which was long lost and the 3-way split double page was an impressive artistic addition by Kishimoto-sensei to an otherwise "regular 2012" chapter of Naruto.
Bleach - 499
I don't know what to say because I'm not sure enough actually happened in this chapter to warrant any comments.
I think delaying Ichigo's arrival into Soul Society is a good idea because there are still many captains there that can fight against the Stern Ritter but to have it happen just as he reaches the gates, after an entire chapter seems kind of nonsensical, especially since Opie was finally defeated and was unsuccessful in all of his other attempts to seal Ichigo's bankai thus rendering the fight as nonsensical as the end of the chapter.
For the majority of the chapter we were also subjected to explanations of the Quincy powers by Urahara Kisuke. This would have been fine had there been any new information give to us, something not completely out of the question for a character as smart and mysteriously well informed like Urahara.
Not much to say about this chapter. It could have been considerably better but unfortunately that's how it goes sometimes.
Nisekoi - 33
And here's the new character. What do you know She too is part of the ridiculous plot.
I think credit must go to this chapter for making me realise that this series may bear some resemblance to To Love-ru, which would explain it's popularity in Jump. Obviously, To Love-ru is much more ecchi and ridiculous but it looks like Nisekoi wants to be a little crazy and stir up some more mayhem. If you also consider Onodera's isolation from the world in which the rest of the characters involved in the love square( ) she's the only one left out which leads me to believe the story is bearing more resemblance to the aforementioned series.
I quite like this new female character; she's a little sneaky and probably deceptive, two characteristics that none of the other girls in Raku's tame harem have which would sound odd to anyone familiar with the expression "All's fair in love and war." Marika is not so much a strong character like Chitoge or even Tsugumi but she's been the only girl to openly admit her feelings for Raku which is interesting and she's also the highest one in the hierarchy of power by being the Police Commissioner's daughter and thus trumping either Chitoge, Tsugumi or Raku.
Just as you'd expect with the addition of a new character, the comedy took a step up in this chapter and nearly left me in tears at certain moments. Favourites include the classic "why does this always happen to Raku" panel we get eveytime he's put in an awkward situation and there's the "gorilla girl reaction" which was definitely the best one this chapter.
So far I've enjoyed Nisekoi very much for the comedy but I do hope that the new character introductions will take a break and that the romance will have some serious moments once again.
Kuroko no Basket - 172
A little predictable no
Haizaki Shougo has been built up as quite the evil antagonist for the past few chapters, and the last chapter was enough to fully convince me that he was the most evil character in the series so far but then we get more build up for his character throughout the chapter, leading me to believe that he's going to be one of the main antagonists of the series and not just the next arc.
The flasback sequence and the page following it immediately were well placed and did a good job further demonising Shougo as a character and making him appear stronger with each passing panel. This also made the match that much more personal/emotional, because we all know that bad blood in the past cannot be resolved so easily, at least not for sportsmen like Shougo who clearly doesn't care.
For most of the chapter Kise was struggling, which yet again added to the perception of Shougo's strength and reminded me how the last time he was struggling against Aomine. The struggle also touched upon an important aspect in sports; even if you train hard and no matter how good you are, there will always be a natural talent who is probably better. After the cruel life lessons, a little shock therapy from Kise wrapped up the chapter and has set it up for a predictable next one.
Even with the predictability of it all, I like how Kise isn't going down without a fight because he is in fact one of the Generation of Miracles, none of whom are weak enough to allow a victory to be snatched from them. I didn't think that Kise would pull out a copy of Midorima, since it was already mentioned that he couldn't copy his former team mates but then again Kise hasn't been a basketball player as long as they have.
Quite a good chapter; oh so Shonen sports.
Beelzebub - 163
This chapter of Beelzebub took the story into a darker direction but not still didn't forsake the humour that one would usually see in any given chapter of this series.
After decking the guy whom he's been eyeing these past few chapters, the amount of humour in henceforth decreased quite considerably starting with Kugayama suddenly breaking a spectator's arm in a calm and calculative fashion. Not much is displayed here in regards to his (maybe her ) power but it's expected as someone who is on the same level as Himekawa.
The new area the gang then visits looks a lot like something out of Resident Evil and the setting becomes closer to Resident Evil's with the description of the room where only 1 person is allowed to enter at a time looming over everyone's head. This new direction is something I'm liking as it's taking a different approach with the story we usually see in each of Beelzebub's arcs. Whenever the story goes back to the fantasy battle part of the plot it never feels quite like this; there's a feeling that you've seen this in a horror or thriller series before but it's new to this particular series and it will probably end up being made into a comedic situation but that doesn't really bother me because at least for a short period of time we're getting to see something different.
When Oga and Beel enter, it's almost immediately pointed out that two people are entering the room and not one, possibly hinting at the comedy which will ensue from the meeting with a masked guard who is more than likely to be a little girl whom Oga will have to discipline in one way or another. All that's left to do is to wait for the next chapter.
Sensei no Bulge - 8
Not much in this issue's Bulge.
The presumed heroine, Tico is presented as your typical tomboy character who is trying to act like a man in order to keep her father safe/avenge the death of her mother - very common in shonen manga - while all this time it is in fact her father who is worried about her and wishes for her to consider her own safety first. She's a very strong and likeable character that can be likened to only a handful of shonen manga heroines like Nami in One Piece, so I am hopeful she does become the main heroine of the series and not one of a few.
Now that the set up of the arc has been taken care of, it is now up to a newly confident Astro to take the reigns with Tiamat as his support. Whether we're looking at the start of a long arc or not is yet to be seen, although if it does turn out to be a long arc it will have to be very well done otherwise there will be problems with the story later.
In terms of new arc chapters, this one was quite good. Nevertheless, the story is a very typical shonen one.
Assassination Classroom - 2
For a second chapter, it's easy to judge but hard to foresee how this manga will continue.
In a sense, much like Nougami Neuro the episodic nature of Assassination Classroom is to be expected and whilst this chapter, along with the previous one, doesn't give any insight as to how the series will progress it was still enjoyable.
With subtly placed jokes in the panels, the humour continues to be to my liking and doesn't try too hard to be in your face funny. Korosensei is at the centre of this comedy while the young protagonist of the series is closer to being an observing narrator, reminding me a little of Hokenshitsu no Shinigami which never got much focus but was enjoyable and had a very similar setting.
The chapter also keeps portraying Korosensei as someone who is still set on blowing up the earth but is keeping true to his promise, about which he reveals some information to Nagisa but not so much thus suggesting it's something he'd like to keep secret for the time being. As a teacher he's proving to be a good character and it is yet to be seen whether he has any actual evil intentions or if the evil intentions were for the sole purpose of obtaining the right to teach the class.
Just for the shock value from the information reveald alone made One Piece this issue's best. The other chapters paled in comparison and there weren't any other clear winners, but if I was forced to choose a second place it would have been Kuroko no Basket for it's character build up.
I wouldn't usually give this to a first chapter but since Naruto wasn't that bad, Takamagahara was the worst chapter this issue. A close second would be Bleach for wasting so many pages of a chapter.
Preview of Weekly Shonen Jump Issue #33
Cover - SKET Dance
Colour Page - Takamagahara
Colour Page - Katekyo Hitman Reborn!