Manga Drive By: Shonen Jump February 2010

86_largeThere are a lot more changes coming to Shonen Jump, according to this latest issue.  The issue starts with the first of a three part preview of the new manga Toriko.  It’s a food manga done shonen style, so everything is exaggerated to the extreme.  It is the Gourmet Age, with man is constantly striving to find best ingredients to make the ultimate menu.  Toriko is one such man.  He is a gourmet hunter.  He travels the world catching the most delicious and dangerous foods, since, of course, the best tasting food is in the form of giant monster-like animals.  And in best shonen tradition, he is also the best at it.  In the first chapter he is hired to catch a Garara Gator.  It’s very over the top, with Tokiro looking like a character out of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.  He’s all upper body muscle.  He also eats.  A lot.  I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve read the other two parts before rating it.  But for now, it feels kind of average.

The big news of this issue is found not in the body of the magazine, but at the very end, in the “In the Next Issue of…” that previews what’ll be in the next  issue.  Tegami Bachi will be leaving Shonen Jump.  The next chapter will be the last in the magazine.  It will of course continue in graphic novel form, but it’s only been a year since the title started in the magazine, and it’s already getting moved out.  The same thing happened to Slam Dunk.  It seems Viz is just using SJ to build up an audience, and then moves books that don’t sell big out.  The chapter of Letter Bee this issue revealed more about Gauche and sets up the mystery of the Day of the Flicker.  I still waiver on this series, sometimes I’m enjoying it, and sometimes not so much.  This chapter does make it more intriguing, but not enough to follow after the series leaves the magazine.  It does make me wonder if something else will be taking it’s place, or if the space will be taken up by more chapters of Bleach/One Piece/Naturo?  With the recent push to get popular titles caught up with Japan, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of a Bleach speed up coming up after One Piece.

Ultimo gets a lot of attention in this issue.  There’s a poster pull-out, interviews with Hiroyuki Takei and Stan Lee, and of course, the big build up to the big reveal of this chapter, Ultimo’s new form God Ultimo!  Yeah.  This is another series I waiver on.  I do find the concept of the doji interesting, and the newly revealed purpose for the good doji to capture Dunstan.  But with the obvious reveal that Yamato’s best friend is now paired with the evil doji Jealousy really turns me off from it.  I just don’t dig the “best friends on opposite sides” plots.

One Piece continues the Luffy’s battle to read the 5th level of Impel Down.  He picks up another new friend who was imprison there, Bon Clay.  He really tries to help Luffy unlike Buggy and Mr. 3 who just want to use Luffy to escape.  There’s lot of fighting and destruction of the prison.  The continued destruction does finally bring the wrath of the warden Magellan out with will make clearing Level 4 a little more difficult.

In Naruto, the Gokage Summit begins, but the real focus on the chapters are on Naruto and some of the things driving him.  Kishimoto once again does a good job of combining this drama with the bickering of the Gokage and the plotting of the Akatsuki.  Also, the younger generation that we’ve been watching grow up, finally step up to come into their own, with their own proposal to stop Sasuke.

Bleach finally finishes Rukia’s battle with the the 9th Espada Aaroniero Arruruerie.  Supposedly it finishes her off too, but I don’t think we could be so lucky.  We get some reaction shots at the end, and Ichigo ends up facing Ulquiorra for what will probably a preliminary fight that gets Ichigo beat the hell out of so he can power up again.

So, some interesting changes look to be in the works for Shonen Jump, though we’ll have to wait until next month to find out what they are.  We already know Bakuman is coming to the magazine in May, which coincides with the end of the Toriko preview.  But what else will be joining the magazine, if anything?

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