Golden Week has come and gone and the Friday release of Weekly Shonen Jump Issue #23 is what it brought with it. This issue marks the ending of Pakki and the start of one of the 3 new series, Koisome Momiji. I have no idea whether this series will be of interest to anyone in the west or why it is that Jump has now introduced a 3rd romance (not even counting magico) but in the interest of being fair I will review this series as well as the other 2 new ones should they be scanlated. Ok now back to this issue's chapters.
NOTE: With Nisekoi's delayed chapter releases, as well as magico and Kurogane's
I'll start covering them in a separate post. I'm just going to add them later to this post.
Bleach - 490
Do you remember those chapters of Bleach where you'd read it page by page and at the end you wondered how come so little was covered Well it looks like Kubo-sensei has decided to employ one of his most favourite techniques: making 19 pages feel like 3 minutes of an anime. The chapter itself may not have covered much of the story or had more advancement but did show us more of the Quincy's powers, something we haven't seen since Ishida unveiled Seele Schneider way back when the group entered Hueco Mundo.
Opie also revealed an interesting bit of info, claiming that it's impossible for Ishida Uryu to be weaker than him which makes me wonder if Ishida still hasn't displayed all of his powers which would be great since he has been left in the shadows for quite sometime even though he is meant to be one of the strongest humans. This could be all just Opie's misunderstanding but it could be an indicator that we have yet to see more from Ishida in the future and presumably he will play a rather important role in this final arc.
Ending the chapter with the unveiling of the Quincy Holy Form and just a few panels showing a mysterious object floating above and presumably about to infiltrate Soul Society just proved that Bleach is back on the right track to the way it was before the Fullbring arc. Granted, if Ichigo does struggle against Opie in his complete form then that would be a slight nuisance since I assume Opie is nowhere near the strongest of the Quincy and as such this would just make all of the work Ichigo has done in the previous arcs seem futile, but right now I'm more interested to see whether we will get to see the captains of the Gotei 13 back in action and whether from the next chapter onwards their fights could reveal a few bankai's we have yet to see.
Naruto - 584
The flashback continues....... In all fairness this chapter was a step up from the previous 2 but is still just proof that the flashback was so ill placed in relation to the current arc. Not much was revealed during the flashback (it was one of those where you see all the information you know but through the eyes of a different character) and we finally got to the point where we can assume we understand and know everything there is to understand and know about Kabuto so the question lies will the following chapter resume the fight or is there even more to the story
Certainly not the most inspired background story as to how Kabuto joined forces with Orochimaru but it was the best choice and we have seen Orochimaru manipulate others as well so it fits almost perfectly with any back-stories of any of the others who have been manipulated by him. As I said the flashbacks themselves have been quite good chapters but there placement and relentless continuity have been a great nuisance to many of the readers, especially one like this that didn't reveal so much about any of the characters but just told the story from a different point of view.
One Piece - 665
One Piece has gotten almost too sensible when compared to just a few chapters ago when they introduced a dragon. So more about Ceaser Clown was revealed, in particular his access to a drug that can cause a person's pituitary gland to override so that they don't stop growing (in the case of the giant children who weren't actually giants before they came to this island), a phenomenon that though exaggerated in this chapter can be used to explain how some real-life people have grown to heights of over 8 feet. This fact has now angered Chopper, who we rarely get to see pissed and allows for the possibility of a showdown between him and Ceaser Clown much like he (not alone) confronted Hogback in Thriller Bark.
Besides the scientific explanations from Chopper, who appeared to be the centre of attention in this chapter, we also got introduced to the "Yeti Cool Brothers" who are Ceaser's subordinates. Ceaser said he "might have went overboard" by sending them to take care of the Straw Hats and the panel in the previous page with Zoro, Brook and Sanji (still in Nami's body) just lying in the snow unconscious makes it look like they are indeed formidable opponents.
Another point that piqued my interest was that Law was the one who asked "What about the Straw Hats " right after he took no pleasure whatsoever in handing over Smoker's heart to Ceaser Clown. There's been a lot of mystery surrounding Law's intentions and why he helped out Luffy or the bigger question being why he's still paired up with Ceaser Clown We all remember Law saying that he was waiting for the right time to enter the New World but I don't think that he was waiting for Ceaser, so when you combine that with Law's unhappy demeanour from the last 3-4 chapters you come to think that he's somehow stuck on Punk Hazard and is possibly looking for a way out; he might be waiting for Luffy to help him.
Beelzebub - 154
I was slightly disappointed that Aiba was defeasted that easily right at the end, especially since he was actually fighting more or less on even ground with Oga but then again having Oga loose in this fight would have probably been the worse alternative. The comedy was a little bit sub-par for this chapter and wasn't particularly hilarious - the connected thought comedy that Beelzebub tends to use was quite dull in this chapter as well.
This chapter was not that good and from my point of view just took care of the fight that was inevitable between the 2 child rearing badasses in a slightly comedic way. Whether Aiba has actually lost is yet to be seen, so it could be the case that he has more left to reveal.
Nisekoi - 24
It just goes to show that when your reading a romance manga you tend to see various similarities between it and any other romance manga you have read but luckily Nisekoi manages to make it seem like I'm reading something new by just adding comedy to the scenarios. So continuing on from one typical yet still amusing scenario based on a school trip to another, this time the romantic/misunderstanding situation was going to come from a courage test.
Leading up to the courage test we get to see Chitoge is disarray and Onodera making the same faces she does when talking to Miyamoto. Onodera's facial expressions have become a comedic highlight of the series and we get to see them a few times throughout the chapter and it added more comedy and a "kawai" factor when she was hoping to be paired up with Raku, at which point his facial expression surpassed hers in terms of comedy. Onodera has become even more likeable by worrying about the possibility of Raku not liking her, a misunderstanding that might have been cleared up by his accidental almost confession.
Chitoge's situation of helplessness was one I'm not entirely happy about. Whilst I did foresee her eventually falling in love with Raku, something that has happened already whether she has noticed it or not, I didn't expect such a large "harem" to be established by just the 24th chapter. Chitoge was put in a position of needing to be save just as Raku and Onodera held hands for the first time, an event that was made to look so cute and innocent and honestly speaking it was about time that they did so - my problem with what happened here in terms of developments in the plot is that this scenario resembles one in Kimi no Iru Machi which unfortunately has taken a turn for the worse and I do hope it doesn't end up being the case that Raku always runs in to save Chitoge and ends up completely sacrificing his relationship with Onodera.
Besides my one negative point on this issues chapter, I have really enjoyed how Nisekoi has progressed so far and I do hope it keeps impressing me like it has done so far.
Pajama na Kanojo - 10
Unlike Nisekoi, so far Pajama na Kanojo has been a more serious romance with a much more heartbreaking story but at the same time has failed to do what Nisekoi has: get me genuinely interested.
So up until now, the story has been about Keisuke trying to find a way to wake Makura up while in the process realizing that he has feelings for her. Even with the realisation of his feelings, he still has to deal with his senpai Yuki who ends up inviting him and a few friends to her holiday home where a lot of things happen and Keisuke ends up saving Yuki from quite a predicament.
This chapter started off with the focus back on Makura, who has discovered another "ghost" which informs of her about the thorn on her little finger and how once it fully wraps itself around her finger she will die - a scenario which is very appropriate for the manga since it has adopted a fairy tale like setting. The ghost first calls herself Mizuki Yoshika (whether she's the same girl from the file Keisuke picked up is yet to be known) but insists on being called a firefly and here's a possible mythological reason why:
[A young man of Matsue was returning home from a wedding party when he saw, just in front of his house, a firefly. He paused a moment, surprised to see such an insect on a cold winter's night with snow on the ground. While he stood and meditated, the firefly flew toward him, and the young man struck at it with his stick, but the insect flew away and entered the garden adjoining his own.
The next day he called at his neighbor's house, and was about to relate the experience of the previous night when the eldest daughter of the family entered the room, and exclaimed, "I had no idea you were here, and yet a moment ago you were in my mind. Last night I dreamt that I became a firefly. It was all very real and very beautiful, and while I was darting hither and thither I saw you, and flew toward you, intending to tell you that I had learnt to fly, but you thrust me aside with your stick, and the incident still frightens me."
The young man, having heard these words from the lips of his betrothed, held his peace.] (Source: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/japanlove.html#firefly)
Whilst this might be looking to much into the story, since Makura has been feeling as if she was thrust aside I would like to think that the author was making use of the Japanese mythology regarding fireflies to display the feelings of both Makura and the new ghost Hotaru. This also adds more drama and weight onto this chapter of Pajama that is only propelled further and deeper by Yuki's confession to Keisuke right at the end.
I wasn't expecting a confession of any kind by the 10th chapter of any romance manga, but it ended up making the chapter and the series as a whole better. The confession is still somewhat unbelievable, even with the explanation that Yuki and Keisuke met but it has made me take serious note of the serious for the first time; a radical move which in my opinion has yielded good results.
I still don't think that Pajama na Kanojo is on Nisekoi's level but considering that this chapter established a better romance and in terms of romance was a better chapter than Nisekoi, the series can progress to become something good and something that won't be compared to Nisekoi. Pajama might also be in trouble since Koisome Momoji has started and based on the raws of the one-shot, it's more comparable to Pajama than Nisekoi.
magico - 57
I'm actually liking this "Amusement Park of Horrors" arc and as always Iwamoto-sensei's art never fails to impress, especially in this arc where the art resembles the likes of Soul Eater in terms of scenery whilst still being identifiable as magico.
I was actually wondering whether Anise was more than a cat, since if anything anime and TV have taught me is that a talking cat is never really just a talking cat: Yoruichi from Bleach, Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Happy & Charle from Fairy Tail etc, etc. Her transformation did come at a strange time yet appropriate time, fitting in with the entire animal theme of the amusement park but is left undiscovered for the time being leaving a few possibilities in my opinion:
1. She's actually connected to the amusement park and escaped a while back only to be taken by Shion.
2. It's a side story that will be left until the following arc.
Given that Shion revealed that Anise has done this before, it may be both and neither of the two possibilities I listed, and even though it's nice to have a relatively minor character's story explained, I don't think the background story will last more than a few chapters.
Other than the shift of focus onto anise, the rest of the chapter was about the comedy arising from Shion and Raven's competition for Emma's affections. The comedy in the chapter was quite well done and has been since Raven was introduced, so it carried on quite nicely and didn't take up most of the chapter, managing to get the story to reach another important point in the arc; the confrontation with the supposed bosses of the amusement park.
The antagonists here don't look so strong and seeing as how Shion had to fight his brother Faust and has revealed a lot of strong magic, somehow I doubt the fights in this arc lasting for very long. I do wonder if Emma will actually be of any assistance to Luu (all of the carts got separated) and if Shion's fight against the Dark Rabbit is one that will reveal anything important.
As an individual chapter I have no complaints but I get the feeling that magico at times feels to episodic and repetitive. Seeing as the previous arc was rather decent and the first long arc that Iwamoto-sensei attempted, I wasn't overly happy about Raven being introduced as a love rival but so far the arc has done well in terms of content and placement.
Kurogane - 33
The end of the arc and surprisingly a good one. Granted it was a very stereotypical shonen sports arc conclusion with enemies becoming competitive rivals and Hiroto having a sense of accomplishment but it was an enjoyable chapter nonetheless. Based on what happened the previous chapter, I can't say that this chapter was a disappointing cool down chapter but it did make me question whether the previous chapter built up the moment too much to just end with Hiroto winning.
I liked that Hiroto was helped in the end by the spirit of Sayu since he has yet to actually get to a point of being a skilled swordsman. It was also nice touch that in this chapter he declared that he will be aiming for the summit, a simple declaration that ended up giving the series a bit of an Eyeshield 21 feel to it especially because of the similarities in Hiroto and Sena's characteristics.
I'm happy to see the arc has concluded and now I'm looking forward to what Kurogane has in store for us next, but I will say that Ooki was a nice rival character and the most likeable one introduced.
Preview of Weekly Shonen Jump Issue #24
Cover - PSI Kusuo Saiki (Weekly Shonen Jump debut)
Colour Page - Koisome Momiji
Colour Page - Katekyo Hitman Reborn!