Sadly no Weekly Shonen Jump next week and hence the double issue but the chapters this week have been phenomenal. Sadly this issue does mark the end of Ohba and Obata sensei's Bakuman which will be dearly missed by all the fans, myself included. Oh and the chapter review for Nisekoi will be added as soon as the chapter is released but I'm doing this since I can't wait any longer to review all of the great chapters out this week.
Bakuman -176 (Weekly Shonen Jump END)
God damn this was a great chapter. Admittedly I didn't think so at first and was a little disappointed the first time I read it, especially since the build up was great and of course you'd expect the final chapter to be filled with all the answers and a re-appearance from all of our favourite characters that made this series great but after re-reading it many times I realised that the reason I didn't feel positive about this chapter was because I wasn't paying attention to it like I should have been.
A chapter of romance that goes back to the origin of the entire story is just that splendid ending for the never flashy but always interesting Bakuman. I really am impressed with Ohba-sensei's ability to link the first and last chapters of this manga so beautifully by giving us the main character, who we assumed would be the lead protagonist in the story and not just sharing the spotlight with another character, as the only real focus point for the entire chapter.
Miho's constant referring to Mashrio's lack of change of change was nicely accompanied by a few panels where would see typical Mashiro-Miho awkwardness which of course I have always found endearing about the manga. With most of the chapter focusing on the these two's dreams and their experiences having lead up to this final moment, which is finished off in a very shonen romance type way, I ended up feeling satisfaction and a little bit emotional about the ending; it was a combination of romantically moving and motivational, something that Bakuman has always had as it's forte.
I suppose something else that made this final chapter was a few of the quips at the editorial department of the real life Jump that had been mentioned in chapter 174, with the duo's decision to end a popular series even though an anime had already been decided and only getting a centre colour for the final chapter (kind of like the senseis' current situation). And my only negative (not even really negative) observation about the chapter which did strike me as odd was that in the panel with the REVERSI anime, Naho resembled Miho's sister mina more than she did Miho.
An ending which was not over-the-top or flashy but still great. A very fitting end for Bakuman! Now all that's left for us fans is to see what direction season 3 of the anime will take (compressing half the manga into a 25 episode season or having season 4 ).
One Piece - 664
Even though the chapter as a whole didn't give off the impression that much had occurred, it was one of those signature One Piece chapters that Oda-sensei tends to use for the introduction of antagonists and occasionally for the epilogue of an arc. Ceaser Clown is very much an antagonist to my liking since I like mad scientists, especially ones that are so well drawn and in Ceaser's case looking like the devil himself (thanks to the powers of his Gas Gas Fruit). The chapter got even more interesting when we see Ceaser use the his Den-Den Mushi to get permission to take out the Straw Hats and G5 Marines, and considering all those Marine reports on the missing children which never got filed it looks like we may see more justified suspicion cast on the World Government. It's nice to see the story shedding more focus on the "bigger picture" - by that I mean Straw Hat's (or even the Pirate World) vs The World Government - and since we haven't seen anything in the plot to do with the World Government's misdeeds since the Enies Lobby Arc it was great to see the plot move closer to one of the final obstacles Luffy & Co. will face in the future.
This chapter has not only set up an arc that's looking to be great but has also revealed some developments in the New World. Since we already got a hint from the reunion at Sabaondy chapter and at the end of the Fishman Island chapters that Kid and Drake were already infamous in the New World it wasn't so much of a shock that Brownbeard brought it up but when he mentioned that even Basil Hawkins was in their league things became even more interesting - one could have speculated that when Shakki mentioned "Kid, Luffy, Hawkins, Drake, Law; these names have been decorating the news papers for a while now" that this was in fact going to lead to their clashes in the New World. If any of you do remember Hawkins, him being the one who only believes in his cards, I would have assumed that he would have killed off Brownbeard seeing as "he saw the mark of death on him" when he invaded Foodvalten right after the Marineford War.
The chapter was one for explanations and with little action but definitely one that's enjoyable and just proves that Oda-sensei comes up with great character designs and background stories for his antagonists. I do hope that the plot of this arc doesn't turn into something resembling the Fishman Island Arc and ends up with the Straw Hats having to save another island.
Bleach - 489
This chapter reminded me of why I loved Bleach so much during it's run up to and including the final fight against Aizen (I'm pretending that the fullbring arc never happened). It had everything that makes Bleach great, especially the seriousness of the plot which has always been the series' trademark and is looking to cover the point in the plot that hasn't gotten any mention since possibly the first meeting between Ichigo and Ishida (The Shinigami & Quincy War).
The chapter was more to do with actually setting up for the ultimate battle instead of continuing the fighting between Ichigo and Opie and is even a little bit unclear at the beginning when the vice-captains of the Gotei 13 are speculating as to the reason for the disappearance of the Rukongai citizens, brought up by Kira. The speculation seems to have a bigger purpose as a plot point to be used later but it also did well to add a little bit of mystery to enemy's powers and when you consider that the Quincy in charge of this invasion have been enslaving the arrancar it does make you wonder further about the extent of their abilities.
The Quincy are now looking to invade Soul Society, right after Mayuri mentions that all of this is the fault of Commander Captain Yamamoto, who up until now has never shown mercy for any one going against Sould Society and is a man who was prepared to kill of the 2 captains who are closest to resembling his sons for disregarding orders from Central Room 46. This made me think that Kubo-sensei might be using a little bit of Byakuya's background story as a background story for Yamamoto (the reason why neither of them break the rules) but in the grand scale of things I'm really happy that he will finally have more information revealed about his past and himself, something that hasn't happened at all yet even though he is the oldest and strongest Shinigami in Soul Society and has been for a century.
The story is building up bit by bit and will hopefully explode into a sea of high intensity chapters once it has developed enough. A very good chapter from Bleach.
Beelzebub - 153
I was wondering when Aiba would finally make his move and this chapter is it.
After the appearance of Himekawa, the TKKH really let loose and took out their Kansai imposters. These last few chapters have all been allowing the TKKH to show of their growth since they (minus Kunieda) really didn't get the opportunity to show off their training during the arc with the Behemoth's 34 Pillar Guards and En and of it was made even better by Himekawa's display of intelligence and complete disregard for Futaba.
Moving onto the main fight, we get a little bit of a transitional comedy page with Furuichi thinking the way he usually does about what to do with Hilda sleeping in the same room as him - I almost forgot about him and I'm glad he's back since his appearances, much like this one have added comedy to each chapter even though his lack of presence in the series has evolved.
When the TKKH and Oga finally gather on the beach to settle this "chief to chief," Aiba's shocked to realise that the man he had been calling Madason, is in fact Oga Tatsumi but Aiba's even more surprised by the fact that Oga is in fact the new chief of Ishiyama since he proceeds to act aloof and in an un-serious manner. Before the fight starts, it was a little strange to see the TKKH looking so confident about Oga's skills, which might signal a tough battle or possibly defeat for him which I thought is even more possible now that Aiba's managed to dodge an insane attack from Oga which literally made it rain.
Maybe this was the last comedy chapter and the next one will be a full blown battle..... either way I'm interested to see how this fight will turn out and seeing as we Oga has had to undergo some type of training twice after his losses, it might be that it will be a difficult battle for him but one he wins anyway.
Naruto - 583
I'm going to go out on a limb and just say that as an individual chapter, this week's Naruto was actually good but when you consider when this chapter was introduced it becomes less enjoyable to read for presumably a lot of the fans of the manga. For one I don't like that the character getting all of this attention is Kabuto, so another flashback chapter involving him is giving him an undeserved amount of importance because these flashback chapters feel a lot like Kakashi Gaiden where the information about his sharingan was revealed.
What was redeeming about the chapter was how it went to explain the link between Danzo and Orochimaru which I thought was a point of the story that would be forever forgotten about. The revelation of Danzo and Orochimaru knowing each other from Root isn't a shocking revelation and the most plausible one that Kishimoto-sensei could have used but something like this could have been revealed in less pages and not during another flashback sequence and when I thought about this arc as a whole it made me think even more that the last 2 flashback chapters are really out of place and should have been done at the end of the fight between Kabuto and the Uchiha brothers much like what happened when Naruto defeated Pain or it should have been used before the world war even started.
I'm going to guess that next week we can expect another flashback chapter, whether it will last for the entire chapter is unknown to me, and I do sincerely hope that the next chapter will be the last one for flashbacks and allow this fight to wrap up even faster so that the world war can progress closer to Sasuke vs Naruto.
Kurogane - 32
I don't why but I've been really bored as of late with Kurogane and this chapter has made the reason much clearer. I'm going to point out here that I've always been a fan of cliffhangers in sports manga and have always preferred the cliffhangers in the manga over the ones in the anime adaptations (that is to say if the manga get's an anime adaptation) but for the cliffhanger to be effective a significant amount of tension needs to be built up or a "game changing" move has to be used for a decent cliffhanger to be placed at the end of the chapter. This was not a good cliffhanger; it lacked any decent build up and instead focusing on just Hiroto's thoughts and making this long match between the countering swordsmen seem even longer and proving that whilst Izekawa-sensei is completely happy with bashing a few of his fellow Jump mangaka and senpai, he is far from experienced and skilled enough to continue making this series enjoyable.
I'm positive that Izekawa-sensei reads a lot of sports manga as research, but I think that he needs to dial back on a few clich s like having the members on the bench uniting to cheer for Hiroto - I didn't mind the one where Ooki witnessed his fight and was entranced by his style as much - since it's been overused by many sports manga but more importantly didn't fit in with the atmosphere of this chapter or arc; it's not like he needs to win this match in order for Ouka to advance to the nationals or something along those lines.
The fight with Ooki for the past few chapters wasn't bad at all. I don't tend to like flashbacks in the middle of fights but I thought it was well done but this chapter was a rather dull pre-ending for an arc that started off strong and gradually declined, something that happens when you spend an entire chapter just to end it on a cliffhanger after one slash. That being said I did like how the audience pointed out that their fight resembled a sword fight more than the other Kendo matches and that the tense atmosphere wasn't just felt by the 2 swordsmen participating.
I'm assuming that this chapter is the penultimate one for the arc and that next chapter will proceed to wrap things up in one way or another and possibly lead into the next arc. It's a little early to give my thoughts about the arc but overall it was quite enjoyable, with the exception of a few drawn out chapters.
I'm giving this honour to Bakuman which had a splendid and slightly surprising end. This week was particularly a tough decision to make since most of the series had splendid chapters but Bakuman didn't fail to meet expectations even with it's final chapter.
Naruto get's this dishonour for the second week straight and I can't honestly say that this was unexpected because the quality of the latest chapters have been on a downward spiral with no indication of improving. If it wasn't for the great array of chapters this issue or were this chapter to be published at another date it could have fared better for Naruto.
Preview of Weekly Shonen Jump Issue #23
Cover - Koisome Momiji (New Series debuting in Weekly Shonen Jump)
Colour Page - Magico
Colour Page - Kuroko no Basket