Weekly Shonen Jump Issue #25 sees the start of Kouhei Horikoshi-sensei's (author of Oumagadoki Dobutsuen) Sensei no Bulge, featured on the cover. The chapters in this issue for the series I cover have so far been either hit or miss with me but the most notable would be One Piece. Check out the awesome and beautifully drawn centre colour for Pajama na Kanojo - Haikyuu!!'s one pales in comparison.
I have included Sensei no Bulge's first impressions post in this review.
Here's this issue's chapter reviews.
Sensei no Bulge - 1 (Weekly Shonen Jump Debut)
Much like Naoshi Komi fans were waiting for him to get a new piece serialised after the (some say premature) cancellation of Double Arts, Kouhei Horikoshi fans have been waiting for him to get a new manga started in Jump since the cancellation of Oumagadoki Dobutsuen. I don't know whether it was me hoping for "Komi" effect (first series failing but second series gaining considerable popularity) to repeat itself with Horikoshi-sensei but prior to reading the chapter, I felt quietly confident about Sensei no Bulge being the best out of the 3 new pieces started in the Spring cycle (the others being Koisome Momiji and PSI Kusuo Saiki) and even though I have yet to read the first chapters of the others, I think my prediction wasn't far off. In fact I'd go as far as to say it was spot on.
Just a quick synopsis of the first chapter before moving ahead with the review:
Astro is an orphan living in the slums of the planetary capital of Industria, a safe haven for humans, and his luck changes on the day the prince of Industria goes missing from the castle. Astro get fired from his job for protecting his boss from an alien aristocrat, out of the boss' fear of getting into more danger and this ends up being a vital blow to Astro who is working for the sake of many orphaned children. After returning home and taking time to think out loud on the roof, the prince of Industria, Bulge appears before him and reveals how identical they look. Bulge isn't interested in being a prince since that would entail ruling a planet in chaos but since he found Bulge he make him take the responsibility of being the prince by giving him the "Org." Bulge is then immediately assassinated by a mysterious person and Astro is caught by the guard and forced to go to the castle, having been mistaken for the prince Bulge. Certain events unfold at the castle; the alien aristocrat we were introduced to ends making a scene, which eventually leads to a quick battle where Astro awakens the power of the Org and beats the alien in a matter of seconds. Astro saves the day but he also ends up making the king recognise him (Bulge) as his legitimate successor, revealing that he was worried about Bulge and that he hasn't seen Org's true power in quite some time - it ends with the King telling "his son" to defeat evil and become King of the planet.
This reminded me of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann with the whole "humans enslaved by strange creatures." The story is a nice change from the usual fantasy/fantasy battle manga that currently run in Jump by being set in space, something you don't tend to see often with manga in general but more-so in anime. The space setting also could be an indicator that the world in which the story is set in is large, thus allowing for a slight RPG feel, but what really got me interested was the "medieval style" take on the plot, whereby the characters and the world are presented in a way that makes you feel like your about to start reading an adventure series comparable to the likes of Ohtaka-sensei's Magi, currently running in Shonen Sunday. It also helps greatly that Horikoshi-sensei tweaked his artwork a little, not too much, to make the background scenery fit rather well with the story and make it more identifiable as a manga; it reminded me of how Soul Eater stood out for its unique background art.
As far the what transpired in the chapter, I liked how it wasn't so "flashy" and that it relied on more than just the first battle/display of power to get me interested straight away. There was a part where we see Astro taking care of all the orphans, a little similarity to Oumagadoki where the main character considered the animals his friends, which is part of Horikoshi-sensei's style; some add romance, others add comedy yet he prefers to focus on bonds of friendship/family, something I like to see but I do hope it isn't overused throughout the series. "The Prince and the Pauper" scenario seems a little bit fairy tale inspired, much like Pajama na Kanojo, but works well with the setting and will probably end up being revisited in the future - somehow I don't believe the prince was actually killed off that easily - and most notable it's also possible that we've already been introduced to the main antagonist (Bulge's assassin) of the series or even someone linked to he/she which something you don't tend to see in a first chapter. Finally, the power Astro received was also quite well done and doesn't look bad and since this is a fantasy series, powers can be exaggerated until we get to see a few more of them. It's also worth mentioning that the it was drawn well.
Overall a decent first chapter but not overwhelming, which I don't think is a bad thing considering how many series have great first chapters but end up failing miserably in the end. I can't really predict how the next chapter is going to progress but I do look forward to seeing how it will. Fingers crossed that this one lasts a while.
-Sensei no Bulge isn't translated as "Bulge the Teacher" but as "Battlestar Bulge."
-Weekly Shonen Jump Editor-in-Chief Sasaki-san has revealed via twitter that the first chapter will be scanlated into English by Shueisha and given the English title BARRAGE.
-On Weekly Shonen Jump's English website, Bulge is spelt as Baruji.
-Red Hawk Neo have kindly undertaken the scanlation of this manga.
Bleach - 492
This chapter wasn't to my liking, mainly because it was a little predictable that Opie wouldn't be beaten by Aylon but that wasn't what made me unhappy about the chapter as a whole since, had he been defeated it would have taken away from Ichigo's credibility as one of the strongest shinigami currently in existence.
What bothered me more was the description that was given to Shino and Yuki by the 6th seat of the 13th division Hidetomo regarding the Qunicy's powers. I wouldn't have minded the explanation had it contributed a little more to our understanding of the Quincy as a people but since it was basically an overview of what we had already been told, it felt like a waste of a few pages. I think Kubo-sensei might have done this since there hasn't been much mention of Quincy powers for a while now (probably not since Ishida's first fight in Hueco Mundo quite a while back) but it did make me a little bored and I would have been more annoyed had Hidemoto not revealed a little bit more about the cause of the Shinigami's and Quincy's bad relationship.
I interpreted Yuki's question of "Which side is justice " as a tool Kubo-sensei is using to differentiate the upcoming fights from the fight against Aizen & Co. The fight against Aizen was seen to be a definitive Good vs Evil fight, but here good and evil aren't as clear as day and night; the Quincy aren't evil people who fight other humans but they do cause an imbalance that affects people in the long run, whilst the shinigami are those who purify and guide souls but at the same time have been depicted to do some despicable things throughput the manga so it makes it harder to side with one or the other. This was a nice little touch that might be overlooked, and in a sense reminded me of a few chapters of One Piece's Marineford War arc.
The return to the Opie's fight was at the end of the chapter and it did allow him to display more of his powers but wasn't anything unexpected. In the last panel he displayed another slight transformation and prior to this he brought up something about telling his majesty to adjust the strength of his blood, a statement that gave the leader of the Quincy more power in my imagination, as expected of a character who supposedly fought Commander-Captain Yamamoto during the last war.
Not an exciting chapter of Bleach and probably my least favourite one of this arc so far but it did give us few bits and pieces of new information to consider.
Naruto - 586
I have to say the use of many panels/pages that had no text would have been very appropriate here had Kishimoto-sensei built up a climax properly. The fight scenes themselves were drawn well with good pacing but as I already mentioned, the lack of proper build up and the overall boredom this fight has caused me it all seemed like a wasted effort trying to add artistic finishes onto a poorly executed fight sequence.
It was also a little irksome that Izanami ended up looking a lot like a simple mind control ninjutsu that can be used by the Yamanaka clan. I wasn't expecting something particularly flashy but seeing as how well Izanagi was introduced, I did that at least another forbidden jutsu which you'd assume to be on par with Izanagi would be done justice; that ended up being a pipe dream and instead it didn't make me the least bit excited about the jutsu.
My reviews of Naruto have gotten shorter and shorter as the issues have gone by and the main reason so far has been that the Uchiha vs Kabuto chapters haven't improved but have instead been a complete and utter mess. I haven't been able to predict once how the next chapter would turn out and so I won't give any guesses but instead just say that until this fight is resolved, I don't care.
One Piece - 667
Question: What does Trafalgar Law + Monkey D. Luffy = Awesome. Oda-sensei's ability to end chapters on climaxes and cliffhangers is incomparable, enough to make me skip ahead and write about the end of the chapter before discussing anything that happened before hand.
Law's proposition to Luffy was a little bit surprising to me, but only because at the end of last chapter I didn't think it would be Law recruiting Luffy but rather the other way around (check what I wrote on the previous issue review). It wasn't so much of a shock that Law is aiming to take down one of the Yonko, in fact had he not been planning to do so it would have made his character rating depreciate and since we have yet to hear about what happened to his crew it only makes sense that Law would try to team up with a fellow Supernova who was delivered to him by fate.
A lot of speculation exists as to which Yonko he was talking about when he said take down. The most obvious choice from my point of view would be Big Mam and here's why:
- Blackbeard has been developed into a "final boss" type character, possessing what I assume to be more power via his 2 Devil Fruits, so the Straw Hats shouldn't really encounter him until the end.
- Shanks is not someone who seems to be hated in the pirate world, furthermore Law must be fully aware of his connection to Luffy and probably wouldn't ask for this alliance unless he was sure of a more than adequate chance of obtaining Luffy's help.
- Kaido may still be a candidate, with little to no information available to him but I get the feeling that X. Drake is the one that's taking care of him and he must be doing a decent enough job if he's survived for 2 years and has even made a name for himself in the New World.
If we consider these points and the fact that Luffy has already challenged Big Mam to a turf war, that's who I would guess the Yonko who Law is after to be. Now whether Luffy will accept his proposal or not is a whole other answer for an array of reasons. So far we've seen Luffy as a character who would turn down even an invitation to join the Whitebeard Pirates from his brother as well as being the guy who constantly claims to be the "man who will become King" and wants to do so only with a small crew, but on the other hand Luffy might take Law up on this but insist that Law join his crew (irrelevant of whether it's permanent or not). Certainly an alliance between these two would be something I would want to see but if it will be formed, it won't be in the next chapter but possibly after the end of the Punk Hazard arc.
The chapter as a whole was good, continuing the comedy of the body swap situation that has yet to be reversed and this time it was Franky (in Choppers body) that was the attention. I found Franky's transformation into monster Chopper to be a good source of comedy and it nicely balanced the action with the Yeti Cool brothers whilst complimenting the comedy they brought to the table rather well. Another bonus of this chapter was seeing Luffy's power and growth, an aspect of One Piece that I've always enjoyed and found to be better than most other series' and this time round Luffy's growth was quite an impressive one; to the point where his Gomu Gomu no Fusen attack can actually be more useful. We may have already witnessed a fraction of Luffy's new powers (particularly the use of Haki) in Fishman Island but here we got to witness the "full" extent.
Great chapter from One Piece as usual.
Beelzebub - 156
I was expecting a start of a new arc from Beelzebub, so it goes without saying that I was a little disappointed from a rather random and episodic chapter this time. That being said you can never really go wrong with even a random chapter of Beelzebub for the simple reason that the author is just that good at making the comedy enjoyable.
Not much happens in the chapter at all; Beel gets a toy car from his father the Great Demon Lord and as you might guess the car itself is much like his other demon toys and comes with a few side effects that always bring about great misfortune for Oga. I did like how the comedy revolving around the electrocution of Oga was resurrected after being absent for a while - it added a bit of nostalgia and made me remember of how great the ongoing gags in Beelzebub are.
Much like many of episodic chapters in Beelzebub, this one's plot was resolved by the end of the chapter after we witnessed a slew of hilariously ridiculous events being strung together during Beel's little adventure on his demon toy car.
I would have preferred for another story arc to begin but I quite enjoyed this chapter, so I think that I can let it slide for this week.
Pajama na Kanojo - 12
The story continued with the search for clues about Makura's condition, which ended up leading Keisuke, Yuki and Makura to an run-down and deserted building on another island. The chapter this week shows Makura as being the third wheel, because supposedly she still hasn't figured out her feelings for Keisuke.
I didn't particularly like the chapter since I felt it was an attempt to continue making Yuki more and more likeable as a potential love interest of Keisuke; you had various panels where she did something that would inadvertently make the readers of shonen romances think of her as cute (acting scared, running into Keisuke's arms etc.). I still find it funny how the author has changed Yuki's personality completely - possibly because before that no one was responding to her - and by doing so it feels a little rushed how now there's a love triangle already.
Not much really happens in the chapter except for constant bodily contact between Keisuke and Yuki, leading to an almost kiss between the two all the while Makura was in the background watching in a heartbreaking manner as the guy she likes is close with an attractive senpai and even worse, she promised to encourage him. I know there are quite a few people who like Yuki, but as far as characters go Makura became my favourite in the series thus far a few chapters back and this chapter also stood to reconfirm that. At the end of the chapter Makura is still trying to figure out whether she likes Keisuke or not, a little odd considering all the chapters where she has been shown to be jealous of Keisuke.
Overall, the chapter wasn't bad but didn't give me the same enjoyment when reading it like the previous 2. On a matter unrelated to the chapter itself, the colour page - which is beautiful - revealed that Pajama na Kanojo's 1st volume goes on sale in Japan on June 4th; a little early if you ask me but it's possible its to see how it does in sales popularity because Jump has 3 romances currently running.
Nisekoi - 26
Chapter 25 ended up reminding me of a scenario in Kimi no Iru Machi where Haruto ends up going to save Yuzuki right before he hears a response from Nanami and this chapter ended up reminding me of Yankee-kun to Megane-chan when Rinka gets a love letter from a guy and worries about how to respond to it but finally her feelings towards Daichi are confirmed. Komi-sensei, are you into Shonen Magazine romances by any chance
This chapter was kind of a "breather" chapter that's used in romcoms that have quite a few characters and is one I usually find myself enjoying. Tsugumi as a character is not my favourite but I didn't mind this chapter since it was done in Yankee Megane style and provided me with plenty of chuckles, in particular when Raku was describing his ideal girl to her which would yet again confuse her.
Of course the chapter also allowed for Shuu to continue doing what he usually does or doesn't in order to tease the characters and cause them more embarrassment, making him one of my favourite characters of this series and of course Ruri continued in her slightly devious and torturous methods as well which always add a little bit more comedy to each chapter. By the end of the chapter, it looks like Tsugumi has come to terms with her feelings for Raku and now that leaves us to see what direction the story will take when the focus is on her.
I quite liked this chapter from Nisekoi since it's a break from the story and luckily the next chapter goes back to the original love triangle of the series, so that's something to look forward to as well.
magico - 59
With such an anti-climactic ending to the battle between the Shion, Lu and the creatures of the amusement park, this fighting has now ended and the arc moves on to wrap up.
I can honestly that the best thing about the chapter was the artwork, giving me more reason to see why Iwamoto-sensei stands as one of the youngest mangaka currently in Jump and makes me believe that he could definitely rival many veterans when it comes to drawing battle scenes but the story in the chapter and the pacing is what let down the quality overall.
With such a let down I wasn't really able to enjoy the demonstration of Shion's full arsenal or Lu showing off a new power but instead I felt like it was just an ordinary chapter coming to an end and that more would be revealed in the next one. I'm guessing the reason for the pacing being out of whack is that Iwamoto-sensei has fears of magico getting axed soon so he tried to do something new but unfortunately ending an arc abruptly doesn't seem to be an answer for his troubles.
Poor end to an arc that had much more potential.
Preview of Weekly Shonen Jump Issue #26
Cover - Torkio
Colour Page - Beelzebub
Colour Page - Sensei no Bulge