So, I fell behind on Shonen Jump. It’s been an eventful month or so. But, I’m caught up now, and ready to share by insights on the last two issues. The magazine has some new features, but no new permanent series to replace Yu Yu Hakusho. I really hope they don’t keep this trend going. One Piece, Naruto, Bleach and Ultimo are not enough to hold my attention for an extended length of time. I’d rather go to waiting for GNs for the few titles I want than to continue to sludge through some of these chapters month after month. One thing of interest I noticed as I was tossing the insert subscription cards. Shonen Jump is now offering 6 month subscriptions, just like Yen Plus. SJ‘s are less expensive, obviously, but with the current SJ line up, the Yen Plus subscription definitely feels like the better deal right now.
April’s issue finishes the preview of Toriko. Still not my thing. I’m not interested in a house made of sweets (must be the Mom in me), or a world based on gourmet food. Moving on. The new feature which really stated last month, but is showing stamina is the Series Showcase. Every month it seems, a chapter from a series will be published in SJ to drum up excitement for it. This month’s showcase was Rosario Vampire Season II, which had it’s first volume come out as well. Yeah, still doesn’t appeal to me.
Of the regular features, One Piece takes the cake for the most outrageous chapters as we meet Emporio Ivankov, with Kiss eye makeup, fishnets, and the Death Wink, only Eiichiro Oda can create such a character and still make him cool. There are some revelations about Luffy’s family and a surprising connection to Emporio Ivankov. It’s another unlikely alliance at the end that has the makes for a great fight! Even though the battle last issue between Luffy and the Warden cool me a little, this potential for this fight looks awesome! And that’s why One Piece is still cool.
After the chapters of One Piece the rest of the issue doesn’t seem to hold the same muster. Bleach continues it’s agonizingly slow battles between the soul reapers and arancarrs. It’s Renji and Uryu against Szayelaporro, while Grimmjow goes to collect Orihime, so she can heal Ichigo, so Grimmjow can fight him. Yeah. Ultimo shows the past connection between Yamato and Rune and continues thier battle as Dr. Dustan, in polo shirt, with sports car and his own karakuridoji watch on. Naruto contines the battle between Sasuke and the Gokage, with Sasuke showing off a new ability, but it mattering little to the Raikage, and Hokage escaping, leaving Sasuke trapped with the others. The Naruto group fight scenes aren’t as exciting as the One Piece ones are. They aren’t as dynamic, I think.
In the May issue, Bakuman begins…its three issue preview. That’s right, just like Toriko, Bakuman will only run in SJ for three months as a preview. Not what I was hoping for. After reading the first chapter, this title would make a great contrast to all the battle manga that dominates SJ. But no, it’s only a preview to then move off to GN release only, with little hope of a new title that isn’t just about beating out the brains of everyone within a 5 mile radius. But I did enjoy the first chapter of Bakuman. The characters seem interesting, and I like the juxtaposition with Moritaka and his uncle Nobuhiro. Love interest Miho has potential too. And I loved all the manga references that are made throughout the chapter. We’ll see how things progress. The Showcase Series this month is D. Gray-man with the first chapter of volume 17, the newest release. And it features the monster dujour of the decade, zombies. Not a draw for me.
For regular titles, Bleach leads off, with the battle between Renji, Uryu, and Szayelaporro STILL going. It finally ends…sort of. It’s bound to continue later, unfortunately. Grimmjow and Ulquiorra have “words” that leave Orihime to heal both Ichigo and Grimmjow so they can beat the crap out of each other. The pretty color pages don’t help this title anymore. Ultimo has Rune and Yamato finishing up their battle, only to have Vice show up with the future of 6 billion people’s lives in the balance. This series still not doing it for me. It’s Sasuke against the Mist Mizukage in Naruto, but Sasuke gets a reprieve just in time for Madara to appear to take him and make the Gokage (minus Hokage) an offer he thinks they can’t refuse, and reveal his master plan at the same time. Yeah, enough of Sasuke, and let’s get some Naruto action going again.
Finally, the issue ends with One Piece. Luffy, Emporio Ivankov, Sir Crocodile and Jimbei are fighting there way back up to the surface, while the pirate Black Beard appears topside and makes his way down. With the jailers over run with them and escaping prisoners, Head Jailer Shiryu is released, but he’s got his own agenda, and it’s not in favor or the prison. As I had hoped, the fighting in these chapters are great with Crocodile slicing and dicing, Ivankov changing his shape (and gender), and Luffy and Jimbei just pounding people. Why is this fight better than the Bleach battles? It’s not so one-on-one, and frankly not with so much of a difference in power. With these four fighters, they are a match for Magellan and anything he can through at them, so there’s not this impeding feeling of doom of “must get stronger and then face the baddies again”. It’s just a good old, knock down, drag out fight that Oda draws to perfection.
There isn’t too much to look forward to in the next issue, just more of the same, with One Piece and Bakuman being the shining lights in the otherwise “Power Up”, “Shocking Changes” end of tunnel.