Well, I said I wasn’t going to read my Shonen Jumps until I got caught up with Naruto, which I did. So, I felt it was time to catch up with the issues that were piling up. Reviews after the cut.
January was all about the new Naruto arc, which really ended up being about Gaara more then Naruto. The chapters in this issue alone make up half of Volume 28, so there isn’t any time wasted in jumping into things. It was nice to see how Gaara was changed by Naruto. He has become not only a better person, but has earned the respect of the People of the Sand to become Kazakage. Very cool.
The Arrancars come in screaming in Bleach, and our heros Ichigo, Orihime and Chad have to have their butts handed to them in shonen tradition, so they have an inking of what they have to get stronger for. Nothing too exciting here. In Hikaru no Go, Hikaru is preparing for the Shinshodan series, where he will be paired with an experienced pro, but Sai is starting to feel that Hikaru doesn’t need his and he won’t be able to play anymore. The tension starts to mount as Hikaru learns that he is to play again Toya Meijin, Akira’s father, but Sai asks to play him instead. One Piece finishes up the Drum Island arc, and the Merry Merry has a new crew member and Doctor with Tony Tony Chopper coming on board. This was a good arc with a lot of interesting characters. Yu Yu Hakusho gives us the past of Sensui, and Yusuke’s first encounter and fight with him. Lots of stare downs and fighting. Yu Gi Oh GX continues the flashback to how Jaden came to have Koyo’s cards as the battle between the two heads for the climax.
Februrary‘s Naruto chapters finish up Volume 28 with two teams from the Hidden Leaf village going to help the Sand Village after Gaara’s kidnapping at the hands of the Akatsuki. One Piece starts the Alabasta arc, with the crew heading finally to Alabasta to help Princess Vivi. We get some background what’s been going on in Alabasta that led to Vivi infilltrating Baroque Works. The crew inadvertantly play host to No. 2, and we learn that Luffy has an older brother. In Yu Yu Hakusho, we get more of the fight between Yusuke and Sensui, which ends in Kurwabara getting kidnapped. Yusuke give chase but ends up in another fight with another of Sensui’s henchmen. The tension grows in Hikaru no Go between Sai and Hikaru as both want to play Toya Meiji. At the game, Hikaru finally concedes to Sai, if Sai will take a 15 point handicap. Bleach has Uruhara and Yoruichi save the heroes butts and chasing off the Arrancars…sort of. Then a team from Soul Society, Renji, Ikkaku, Yumichika, Rangiku, Hitsugaya and Rukia, show up as advanced scouts to help fight off the Arrancars. Rukia slaps Ichigo out of his emo, and he learns of the real danger the Arrancars pose. The Soul Society team is an interesting bunch, but I like Rangiku the best so far. Even though she’s got the chest to rival Orihime, she is just so cool about smacking down all the oogling guys! Yu Gi Oh GX finally finishes Jaden and Koyo’s battle, and ends with Koyo giving Jaden his deck and spirit card before Koyo goes into a coma.
March has Naruto once again dominating with 4 full chapters. The Akatsuki start extracting Shukaku, the monster inside of Gaara. Naruto and his team, with Chiyo of the Sand joining them explains about the tailed beast spirits called Biju. These are the Akatsuki’s targets. Meanwhile, Guy and his team sent by Tsunade to help Kakashi’s team divert to try and catch the Akatsuki, and end up in a fight with one, while Kakashi’s team end up in a fight with Itachi. Yu Yu Hakusho has Yusuke now fighting Sensui’s sniper. He escapes, but only with Hiei help. They fight, make up and go after Sensui. Hikaru no Go finishes the game between Sai and Toya Meiji, with Sai losing. Hikaru and Sai have a frank conversation that ends in Hikaru offering to take Sai to a Go Festival to watch. In One Piece, the crew landfalls at Alabasta, and Luffy runs headlong into the city in search of food. He also finds his brother Ace and Captain Smoker. After an escape from Smoker and brief reunion with Ace, they head for Yuba Oasis, the rebel base camp. Meanwhile, the Baroque Works leaders gather for a meeting with “Boss”, No. 00. In Bleach, discord among the Arrancars lead Grimmjow to gather a group of like-minded fellows to attack anyone with spiritual power in Karakura City. The Soul Society force search for places to stay, as the Arrancars arrive, and split up to face off against them. Yu Gi Oh GX finishes the flashbacks with Jaden meeting the Winged Kuriboh, his new spirit companion.
Even though Naruto is still getting the most coverage in Shonen Jump, I’m glad to see One Piece getting some attention with the expanded chapters. It’s getting the most right behind Naruto. It deserves better and the horrible treatment the anime got from 4Kids. Funimation is doing it right, so give it the love it deserves on DVD.
April starts off with a preview of Gun Blaze West by Nobuhiro Watsuki, the creator of Rurouni Kenshin and Buso Renkin. I didn’t care too much for this series. One thing that really bothers me about Shonen Jump previews is that they don’t alway start with the first chapter. This one is prime example as it start with chapter 2. You don’t get a proper introduction this way, I feel. I really don’t care for westerns, though I do have some exceptions. I love the Wild Wild West TV series, but it’s not really a western. Viu is your too typical shonen hero. He’s really annoying. Marcus Homer, a gunslinger that decides to help Viu looks way too much like Owen Wilson from Shanghai Noon. Even though I really liked Kenshin and Buso Renkin, I’m gonna have to pass on this one.
Naruto continues it’s page eating with three full chapters, as the two Konoha teams fight off the Akatsuki who are just buying time for their fellows to complete the extraction of Shukaku. They finally defeat what turns out to be impostors and reach the hideout, preparing to break inside. The final (sniff, sniff) chapters of Hikaru no Go finishes the arc at the Amateur Go Festival with Sai and Hikaru exposing the vendor selling fake Kaya boards and a forged Shusaku board, beating Gokiso, a bitter pro and meeting Kurata, a very confident pro. It’s a clean cut off at least, but I’m still not happy with the “graduation”. It wouldn’t kill boys to be exposed to something that stresses intellectual power over physical power. One Piece has the crew landing at Erumalu, where the once green oasis has been claimed by the drought and desert. Vivi explains about the drought and how the civil war started. They travel through the desert and reach Yuba, only to find it has been claimed by the desert too, and only one citizen remains, Toh-Toh. Here, we get a flashback to Vivi and Toh-Toh’s past. In Yu Yu Hakusho, the Yusuke’s group splits up into two teams, one to confront Sensui and one to stay behind as lookouts. Yusuke, Kurama, Hiei and Itsuki go to the cave where Sensui is based and is stopped by a door that looks to be right out of the video game Game Battler. To continue they need 7 players, so the others are fetched and they face Amanuma, the Game Battler. They get three of the required four needed to win, but things will only get more difficult from here. In Bleach, we finally get to see Rukia’s zanpakuto in action, where she takes care of the #16 Arrancar D-Roy. Grimmjow then appears to take on Rukia and Ichigo himself. Ikkaku faces #13 Edorado after saving Asano and making a deal to stay with him. Yu Gi Oh GX starts on a new arc, with the return of Zane Truesdale and two American duelists. In honor of Zane’s return, a tournament is held where anyone can participate, and the winner duels Zane. It becomes obvious the Americans have ulterior motives as one challenges Syrus, but asks about cards with spirits first.
In my world of Shonen Jump, Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo doesn’t exist. Aside from that, these were all good reads. With the new year, we got some starts to some good arcs. Naruto and One Piece especially. Hikaru no Go will be really missed by me. It was one of the titles I really looked forward to every month. Bleach is moving at a pretty steady pace too, making it’s move to serialization not too painful. I’ll have to wait until next issue to see if I’ll like Slam Dunk any more than the preview.
Scores for these issues:
Naruto: Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
One Piece: Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Bleach: Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Hikaru no Go: Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Yu Yu Hakusho: Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Yu Gi Oh GX: Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo: Rating: 1 out of 5 stars