Two very different volumes are featured in this Shonen Jump edition of Mini Musings. We complete a trip to the past in Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, while Moritaka and Akito fight for their future in Shonen Jump in Bakuman. But only one of these titles gets my recommendation. Read on to find out which.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Volume 8

By Hiroshi Shiibashi ♦Viz Media-Shonen Jump ♦ Teen ♦ $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

This volume finishes a the story of from the past Supreme Commander Nurarihyon. It tells of his battle with Hagoromo-Gitsune, the then Lord of the Pandemonium, how he took the title from her, took a human princess as his bride, and got his blood line cursed. This is all a prelude of course to Hagoromo-Gitsune’s rebirth, and the need for Rikuo to undergo more rigorous training so he can survive an encounter with the ancient yokai.

I did like this volume. It was fun seeing Nurarihyon as a young, brash yokai. He is impulsive but passionate, proposing to Princess Yo so casually, and then racing off to rescue her by himself, when he learns she has been taken by Hagoromo-Gitsune’s men. It was also fun to see all the older yokai from Nurarihoyon’s parade as young yokai. And though I did like the yakuza reveal on Nurarihyon, there were no yakuza yet at the beginning of the Edo-period, when this story occurs, so it gets points off for that. I also liked seeing Nurarihyon take on Rikuo, showing him he wasn’t ready to go to Kyoto, not that Rikuo’s yokai side was ready to accept that. The challenge of becoming more powerful like his grandfather was a greater persuading factor than the beat-down.

While it was interesting to see the back story of the Nura Clan, it still isn’t enough to put Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan on my must read list. I have come to like some of the characters, but it’s shonen battle format tends to cancel that out.

Bakuman Volume 10

Story by Tsugumi Ohba; Art by Takeshi Obata ♦ Viz Media-Shonen Jump ♦ Teen ♦ $9.99
Rating: ★★★★½

Moritaka and Akito asked for, and received permission to end their gag manga, but now, they have six months, or three serialization meetings to come up with something that will surpass Eiji’s work. Even with the help of former editor Hattori, the boys have their work cut out for them, as they stretch themselves to find the right balance for a successful series.

It’s really amazing how a series about making manga can be so engrossing. This was another volume where I was riveted to the pages and didn’t want to put it down. It was great to see a senior editor at work as Hattori had the boys trying out different stories and genres to get them to a place where they could really create something good. And the guilt he felt after, when he becomes their editor again was actually touching. It was also nice to see Miura learn and grow from watching Hattori. The final serialization meeting was just intense, especially after it dawned on the editors that they really had Muto Ashirogi’s fate in their hands. It was great to see the editors look at the decision not just as a business one, but a moral one as well. Part of their job is to help their creators, so how is it helping Muto Ashirogi to keep them from Jump? It was a really well-written scene.

I continue to enjoy and look forward to new volumes of Bakuman. It keeps all the excitement and drama of a shonen series going, and uses the tropes of training and powering up in novel ways so it doesn feel old and tired. I still recommend this title highly.

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