Category Archives: Manga Drive-By

Shonen Jump March 2011

The countdown to issue #100 is almost complete! This issue starts out with the usual anime ads, though I’d like to point out the newest addition to Vizanime: Neuro. It’s based on a manga about a demon who eats mysteries. He comes to the human world after devouring all the mysteries in the underworld. He teams up with a human girl Yako who loves to eat and has a mystery of her own to solve. The anime is good, but what I really want to see is the manga licensed. So show your support and watch the anime! Maybe we’ll get the manga then!

Continue reading Shonen Jump March 2011

Shonen Jump February 2011

It’s a new month, so that means a new issue of Shonen Jump! Do the changes I liked last month hold up? Let’s dive in and see! The issue starts with the usual features/ads. This month adds a full-page for the Viz app on the iPad. **yawn** Call me when I don’t have to worship at the altar of Steve Jobs to read manga digitally. There is also a one page column written by Stan Lee that basically pimps the new Marvel movies coming out and Ultimo. The video games feature which used to be at the end of the issue is now at the beginning. And I notice the brain teasers that used to be at the back are gone. I guess no one really cared about them.

Psyren starts off the issue with all the newbies taking off toward the sound of a siren that they think is where the gate is. They ignore Ageha’s warnings of monsters and leave him with the still unconscious Sakurako. They are thinking of only the reward or going home. They are going to find out how wrong they are. Ageha, the delinquent with a heart of gold, after learning where the gate really is from Sakurako, runs off after them with her on his back. This title is still establishing itself, but I think it’s still on the right track. What happens next issue where we will hopefully see Ageha in a fight here, should really set the tone for what the series is about.

This issue prints the first chapter of Yura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, which was online last month. I gave my impressions of it in last month’s post. I’ll go into the next chapters of Nura after I’ve finished the print chapters.

One Piece sees the end of White Beard, as he continues to stand up against the navy, to give his men more time to escape. A hint is dropped as well about what the “One Piece” that Gol D. Roger left behind might be. Black Beard and his pirates appear and show off a new ability. Inazuma continues to try to kill Luffy. He and Jimbei are saved at the last-minute by Crocodile and Buggy (who is just trying to escape as well), and taken in by Trafalgar Law, one of the 11 meteor rookie pirates. It’s another great ending for a character with the way White Beard goes out, and the momentary flashback he gets. The scene with Gol D. Roger has really sparked my curiosity about what the One Piece really is. Whitebeard seems to have known. I have my suspicions, and can’t wait to find out more.

Naruto surprised me this month. Naruto faces his dark side, and fails against him. He talks to Motoi to find out more about Killer Bee, and after some thought, he makes a decision. He is able to face his dark side and defeats him this time. Killer Bee then agrees to help Naruto get control of Nine-Tails. What surprised me about this month’s chapters is the decision Naruto came to, and where I really hope it leads him. If he can stop the sulking and go back to the way he was (in some ways) before the time jump, then I think Naruto might become a series I enjoy reading again. Only time will tell at this point.

Yamato finally makes it to Sayama’s party in Ultimo, but things don’t go quite as smoothly as he hoped. Rune makes his move as he now remembers who he was in the past and seems to have designs on Yamato, and it’s really creepy. Jealousy seems to be having second thoughts about being able to defeat Dunstan, and Vice continues his rampage with Eco getting it, again. I’m starting to get a really bad feeling about where this series is heading. I could be completely wrong, and it’s nothing to make me want to keep reading to find out if I’m right, but it’s in the mag, so I’ll keep reading it.

Mayuri seems to be at the mercy of Szayelaporro in Bleach, but Mayuri was just faking it. He’s too meticulous to ever be caught so easily by an enemy. The battle then becomes a series of one-ups as each tries to outdo the other in power. Mayuri seems to have the upper hand as the chapter ends, but I’m not believing it until I see his end with my own eyes. The healers get to work as Rukia and Chad are brought back, and Ichigo sends Orihime to heal Nel instead of him. There is still one fight left, with Kenpachi against Nnoitra, and of course the big battle that Byukyua hints at. I really hope this all means that the Hueco Mundo is almost over. It’s gone on far too long, and hasn’t seem to do much but show how powerful espada are and how much more powerful Soul Society captains are, things we already knew.

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5DS starts up Yusei’s battle with the Skeleton Knight, where the ante isn’t Sect, but Yusei’s soul. It becomes a typical battle, with the Skeleton Knight getting the first points and Yusei making a comeback. The chapter ends with the Skeleton Knight preparing his next big attack. I’m still liking this series, at least more than Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. If you don’t like hearing card abilities and stats shouted out as part of the story, this title might not be for you, but as a gamer-inclined reader, I actually find those parts interesting. So far.

For online exclusives, there were three chapters of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and an extended preview of volume 3 of Toriko. Nura has Rikuo reunited with an old friend from his childhood, Zen, the head of the Zen Group. He has come to try to convince Rikuo to accept his role as the Third. Rikuo still refuses, but when Zen is betrayed by his own men, “Other Rikuo” appears and defeats them, once again proclaiming his intention to be the Third, which he promptly forgets when he returns to human form. Then a new character is introduced. Yura Keikain is a new student, who also happens to be a Omyoji, an exorcist of yokai. She has come to Ukiyoe on a training mission to banish yokai. Kiyotsusu then proclaims the start of the Kiyojuji Paranormal Club, and Nura gets to be a charter member. This is seriously starting to look like the original Yu-Gi-Oh! with yokai instead of cards, and it’s really not impressing me. Rikuo is really more annoying than anything else. If there was more of his yokai form, then I might be okay with it. There were some classic funny moments with Rikuo seeing the yokai emerge from the doll when no one else did, but it’s not really enough to save this series.

The extended preview of Toriko had Toriko with another Gourmet Hunter Coco catching and trying to prepare a puffer whale, a difficult task. Komatsu gets directions from Coco and after a successful preparation, they are all treated to a heavenly meal. A creature then appears that puts Coco and Toriko on high alert, but it ignores them and moves on. It is apparently a robot sent by a rival corporation against IGO, so the “Four Kings” including Toriko and Coco are called to a Biotope to try to stop the next attack. I’m still not impressed with Toriko, though Komatsu has definitely moved up in my estimations with the skill he shows cutting the puffer whale.

It’s more of the same to look forward to next month, with just a preview of the upcoming Death Note omnibus edition. And it looks like I’ll be fighting my youngest for the magazine again as it has another Yu-Gi-Oh card in it. But things seem to continue to be looking up with the changes. Sadly, as I suspected, online chapters from the previous month are not available to read, which really sucks. I was hoping they would at least keep the online chapters up until the print volume came out, like they do on Ikki and Shonen Sunday. I mean, the viewership is restricted as it is! Why not leave the chapters up longer? At least Yen Press lets you read the previous issue along with the current.

Yen Plus December 2010

Yen Plus finishes up the year with a new title and a new announcement. When Nightschool ended in September, a lot of people were disappointed. They were going to miss reading Svetlana’s story. Two months later, and Svetlana returns, not with more Nightschool (sadly) but as the artist on the third James Patterson series to be serialized in the magazine, Witch and Wizard. And then, in the “Next Issue” section, there is an announcement that only Yen Plus subscribers will see. Starting in January, Yen Plus will debut another new series, that is also their first simultaneous serialization. MilkyWay Hitchhiking is a new manhwa by Sirial, the creator of One Fine Day. It’s about a cat with a pattern on her back that looks like the Milky Way galaxy and the many wonders she discovers. It looks very cute, is in full color, and features a cat, so it’s already got a lot going for it. I can’t wait!

Witch and Wizard starts out the magazine, with a pretty dramatic scene of the heroes about to be hanged. It then flashes back to how they got into that situation. Not my favorite story telling device, as it’s been overused on TV recently. A new political party has taken over and is instituting new laws that make magic, real or imagined illegal. Our heroes, Whit and Wisty seem to have some of these magical powers and they and their family are taken into custody. There’s a lot of water throwing, and interrogation in the first chapter, and the reader in kept in just as much the dark as the characters. I don’t know if I like this series or not yet. The smugness and seeming absolute power of the bad guys is making me lean toward a no, but I’ll give the series a few more chapters before I decide definitively.

Aron’s Absurd Armada finally ends the confrontation between the pirates and the marines, but not before Ronnie makes an enemy of the leutenant…by falling on Dorothy’s chest. The pirates get a wanted poster that makes Aron happy. Ronnie gets a huge bounty and ONLY DEAD, while Robin is cut out, and Gilbert and Anton are officially identified. I’m still loving this title and will follow it all over the seven seas!

Daniel X jumps right back into his alien hunting, and decides to go after #5 on the list. Because he did so well taking out #6…. Anyway, he’s sticking to LA, as #5 hangs out in Hollinswood (Hollywood), making movies by forcing people to act and then killing them. Daniel is usually one step behind in this chapter, running into him at an S-Mart and gets a “screen test” to be the star in #5 next picture. The story is still being set up, so I don’t have much to say about it yet, but #5 isn’t really impressing me like #6 did. I did like S-Mart reference. I don’t suppose a guy from housewares with a chainsaw for hand will come to his rescue…

In Jack Frost, Hansen finally has to face his past and his brother. It takes Lucy sacrificing himself to get his gun to finally snap him out of his daze and get serious, which is where the chapter ends. Jack is still being used as a pin cushion, and I hope he’s just biding his time. Because, if he can be so easily contained by some big guy with some spikes, then he doesn’t deserve his title. Or is he just waiting for No-Ah to be threatened before he can level up again? Either way, Jack is a disappointment. Now that Hansen has his head in the game, maybe this part of the story can finally go somewhere.

Yotsuba&! is still at the Hot Air Balloon race. Yotsuba goes for a ride in one of the balloons, drops her teddy bear, plays with a bamboo dragonfly and ends by sliding down a hillside and ignoring the race they came to see. It’s just more the same. Cute if you like the series, boring if you don’t care for Yotsuba or kids being kids in general.

K-On! has the pop music club worrying about new student orientation, both for performing and getting new members. They do get one, Nakano Azusa, a girl with a lot of musical background and enthusiasm that is quickly snuffed out by the rest of the members, and teacher advisor. She is welcomed into the club with a pair of cat ears. I’m still feeling ‘meh’ about this series. I really don’t see what so funny or cute about it.

I’m really happy to see Yen Plus getting some new titles for the new year. Milkyway Hitchhiking sounds like a lot of fun and kid friendly, and it’s good to see Sveltana’s work, even if the story isn’t rocking me yet. But it’s really the Japanese side that really needs some help. Yotsuba&! and K-On! have their audiences, sure, but it looks pretty pathetic, especially when compared to the more varied OEL/Korean side. Something with some real action would be good. Something with good action and story would be even better. Yen has to have something in their catalog now or upcoming that can help this side rise up to at least meet the Korean/OEL side.

Shonen Jump January 2011

It’s the beginning of a new year for Shonen Jump and they start it off with what they call another “evolution” I wouldn’t call what SJ did an evolution, but it is a definite improvement. Two new manga are added to the magazine, bringing the number of titles back to six, and the page count back those of the good old days. Subscribers also have online access to Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. So let’s jump into it!

The magazine begins with all its ad stuff. Merchandise, DVDs, video games and TV/Online airings of Shonen Jump anime. There was also a free Yu-Gi-Oh! card. I only mention this because I had to buy this issue for my youngest daughter so she would stop asking for my card. Not that I collect the cards, I just like to keep my issues complete.

Psyren is the first manga and first new manga in the magazine. It’s about Ageha Yoshina, a high school boy who likes to fight. He picks up a call at a public phone booth and gets a red phone card with the world Psyren on it. It turns out Psyren is the name of a secret society, made of people who want to create a new paradise on Earth. It’s treated like an urban legend, but one of his classmates, Sakurako seems to be involved. Unable to keep his nose out of her business, he uses the card, and ends up being transported to another world, where he runs into Sakurako who is being attacked by a strange bug-like monster. Meeting up with others new to the world, he learns the psyren is some sort of game, and you can’t leave until you finish the level. I enjoyed these first two chapters. Ageha is the trouble-maker with a heart of gold. He helps people using his fists, and doesn’t tolerate bullying. We still don’t know much about Sakurako or how she got involved with Psyren, but with the two of them together in the game, hopefully next issue will give use some useful exposition.

Naruto starts with Kabuto making Madara a deal he can’t refuse, though we are kept in the dark about why. Meanwhile, it’s decided to hide away Naruto and Killer Bee to keep them safe from the Akatsuki, and they go off to a solitary island where Killer Bee learned to control his Biju. Naruto wants to learn to, so after a rocky start, he begins training. These chapters were too bad. I like the frog sages, so seeing more them is always a plus. I don’t know how much I like Bee. All the rhyming is fun, gets old pretty fast. Naruto’s enthusiasm is a nice change, and I’m interested to see how his training goes with Nega-Naruto.

I have only one thing to say about these chapters of One Piece: Oh.My.God. Whitebeard continues to try to hold off the marines so his men can get to safety. He splits the island in two so his men can’t keep trying to help him. The whole thing ends with Black Beard and his crew appearing. I dont’ want to say what happens in the middle with Luffy, but needless to say, I so did not see that coming!! It’s not a moment that bring tears, because your mind is so shocked by what happens that it never gets to that. I still can’t believe it, but if there was to be anything happen to shake Luffy’s faith, in himself, and in the world, I can see it being this.

In Ultimo, Vice decides to go on a killing spree. It seems he’s determined to upset Dustan’s plans as well, but only for self-preservation. He takes out Gauge, Slow, and Pardonner, while Yamato has rushed off to Sayama’s birthday party with Rune, not knowing that Rune has contracted with Jealousy. I have no idea where Ultimo is going, and frankly I really don’t care. It has moments that look like it will have potential, that then get swallowed up in pointless fighting. I can just see another time travel reset lingering in this series’ future.

Bleach continues to the battles between Byakuya and Zommari which takes up the whole of the two chapters. Byakuya wins, but not before Zommari runs off his mouth with some speech about Soul Reaper arrogance. The last chapter ends oddly, with Mayuri seemingly at Szayelaporro’s mercy. I find this hard to believe, even with Mayuri’s arrogance, I don’t see him falling so easily to Szayelaporro. He has to have something up his sleeve. I’m still waiting to see where this Soul Reaper invasion is going. Aizen’s true goal still hasn’t been revealed, so he won’t be defeated anytime soon. Perhaps the invasion will lead to a confrontation that will lead to a reveal? Or at least a better idea. I’m really getting tired of all this fighting.

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is the second new title to join the print magazine. It takes place in 20XX, on a satellite. The new hero is Yusei, a cool and confident-looking guy whose hair is throwback to the original Yugi, with duo-tone spikes. Duel Monsters is now played on Duel Runners, motorcycles that the players race on while they throw out their cards. Their speed is dependant on how well they play. We see one race, Yusei vs Sect, his seeming sidekick/rival. The chapter ends with the appearance of an urban legend come to life, the Skeleton Knight who challenges Yusei. I actually liked this first chapter. Not a lot has been explained about the world or the games, but I like Yusei, and that’s enough to make me want to see the next chapter.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan is the first online only manga for Viz that only subscribers can access. The first two chapters are available online. It starts by introducing Rikuo when he is 8-years-old. He’s loves playing with the yokai in his grandfather’s mansion and is really gung-ho about one day succeeding his grandfather as the Lord of Pandemonium. He thinks yokai are good. A presentation at school suggests that they aren’t. A powerful yokai tries a power play, and attempts to assassinate Rikuo by destroying his school bus. Rikuo wasn’t where and now his classmates are trapped. Rikuo’s yokai blood reacts to the danger and he leads a group of yokai to rescue his friends and stop the rouge yokai. Fast forward 4 years later. Rikuo has done a complete 360. Now he wants nothing to do with yokai while all of his classmates at school believe in and love yokai. They all go to a local abandoned building to look for them, as Rikuo tries to keep the yokai away from his classmates. I really liked the first chapter, and was feeling a lot of good potential coming fromt his title. Then I got to the second chapter. I did not like the total change in Rikuo. He’s become a “nice” guy, offering to do things for kids at school, which almost looks like he’s being bullied and/or taken advantage of. He really comes off as weak and useless, and reminds me a lot of Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! I really didn’t like him, and preferred the stronger, more confident “Other Yugi.” I’m getting the same vibe here from Rikuo. It’s only two chapters in, so things might change for the better again. I’ll wait and see.

This was definitely a good issue. The new manga greatly improved the magazine in general, and now I have more reasons than just One Piece to read it. I can’t really say the same for the online side though. Viz pushed that other manga would be available to SJ subscribers, but that’s turned out to be “extended previews” of upcoming volumes, and will only be available when the volume is actually releases. There still no world at how long the previews will last, or if previous chapters of Nura will remain on like or if they will be taken down when the volume comes out. I’m guessing it’s gonna be the latter. But, I’m not subscribing for the online content, so it’s no big deal…for now.

Shonen Jump December 2010

This month’s installment of the Shonen Jump drive-by is late because my subscription issue seems to have gone astray in the mail, and had to go buy one. The subscription provider’s answer to a missing issue is always “We’ll extend your subscription by a month.” But of course, that doesn’t help me  get the mag! Fortunately, my local Barnes & Noble still had issues, so I could pick it up. The big news for this issue has already been all over the interwebs, but I’ll mention it here too. There will be two new titles added to the magazine. FINALLY! Psyren and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D will start in the next issue, January 2010. I’ll be fighting to get the issue first now. My youngest daughter has discovered Yu-Gi-Oh! and has already gone through all my old Shonen Jumps. The other big news is that suppliment titles will be put up online for subscribers only to read online. There isn’t any more information on that other than some of the titles will be Bakuman, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and Toriko. We also don’t know if these will be full series serializations, how long they will be available online, or just extended previews. Next issue will hopefully have more infor about that.

The layout at the beginning has been refined some, as the video games and anime sections are cleaned up a little, and become easier to read. And there’s a handy guide telling you where you can find Shonen Jump anime online. It’s on a quick and easy to read grid, if you like to watch your anime online.

The manga starts out with the final preview chapter of Genkaku Picasso. Sugiura’s problem is solved, and it turned out to be a rather unexpected resolution. The picture of Sugiura’s heart afterword has a lot of hope in it. The picture of his father’s heart was a nice one too. I enjoyed this preview, and this title will go on to my want to read list. I don’t know it it’s a must read, but I enjoyed these chapters enough to want to see how a whole chapter stands up.

Naruto is next with Sasuke bailing with Madara and takes his next step down to total darkness. The plot to get the Eight-tails beast by the Akatsuki, while the Daimyos of the 5 different lands ratify the alliance. With Danzo’s death, the issue of a new Hokage comes up, but proves to be less of an issue than thought. Naruto gets summoned back before the Giant Frog Sage and gains the key to the Fourth Hokage’s seal, allowing him to be able to free the Nine-Tails. Then Kabuto makes his move toward the Akatsuki. These chapters are all about tying up old threads and starting up the new ones for the comimg ninja battle. They feel a lot like moving pieces on a chess board. There’s plenty of information expounded, but not a lot of action. It’s the lull before the storm.

Bleach follows up with Ichigo continuing to get his butt kicked, Pesche and Dondochakka not getting to be as impressive as they could have been (which I consider disappointing), and the a suprise rescue comes in the form of several of the captains to rescue Ichigo and the gang. And of course, the captains are matched up against espadas that match their own talent. Kenpachi takes on Nnoitora, Mayuri against Szayelaporro, and Byuakuya against Zommari. Retsu and her assistant are only there to heal the wounded, friend and foe alike. The chapters in this issue end at 299, so the new year can start with 300 which looks to be another big, blowout fight. It’s a lot of posturing between the Captains and the espadas, as you would expect. I really didn’t care for the way Kubo had Nnoitora “gag” Orihime. It’s too easy to take it the wrong way.

Ultimo finishes up with Yamato returning from the past right back into the fight he just left. He tries to save Iruma again, but it’s all in vain. Musayama takes a hit and Jealosy tries to claim Yamato for being incompetant “the supreme evil”. But he’s stopped by what, or who, is in Yamato’s heart, and the past is set up to repeat itself again. Yamato and Musayama are saved by the Doctor Koun, who is parterned with Pardonner, on of the six perfections. He leaves with Ultimo while two other perfections, Machi and Hiroshi speak with the doctor. I was hoping Ulitmo would get better with the time traveling, and for a moment it almost seemed that it would, but a return to the present sends it back to the same old, same old. I don’t see any hope of this series getting better.

One Piece ends the issue with even more serious fighting. I didn’t think things could get more tense than they already were, but Oda managed to do it. The struggle to reach Ace on the platform continues as White Beard’s pirates seem to be losing to the navy. Ace is about to lose his head when Luffy comes racing in, unintentionally using his Haki, which gives Ace a few more minutes, and gives him the full support of White Beard and his men. He nearly makes it to Ace but is blocked by Garp. It becomes grandfather vs grandson, but Luffy doesn’t stop, and it seems blood is thicker than water. Now it’s a race to free Ace and it becomes a tit-for-tat as everything Luffy tries is countered by the Navy, until Mr. 3 comes to the rescue. Then it’s Fire Fist and Straw Hat against the Navy! I have to say, I was surprised by this outcome, but I didn’t take Luffy’s haki into consideration. I was going by his bute strength, which didn’t seem to be enough. I love that Luffy just continued to earn the respect of the pirates and scorn of the navy, when all he wanted to do was save his brother. This has been some really awesome action, but I think I’m ready for a breather, and I’m sure Luffy is too.

I’m really looking forward to the next issue, with all the changes that have been promised. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX didn’t impress me (but the manga is waaaayyyy better than the anime), so hopefully 5D will be an improvement. And having a sci-fi oriented title in the magazine with Psyren will hopefully shake things up a bit. SJ has been dying on the vine with no new blood for so long. This time when they call the changes an evolution, they can actually mean it.

Shonen Jump November 2010

The countdown continues to the “big changes” promised for Shonen Jump. This issue is more of the same. At only 280 pages, it was a fast read, especially with most the titles being in big action scenes without a lot of reading necessary. The magazine has settled in to have all the TV and video game tie-in updates at the beginning before getting into the manga, which starts with the preview title.

It’s the second chapter of Genkaku Picasso. When last we left Picasso, he was just told by his guardian angel Chiaki that in order to stay alive he had to help people, but he has no idea how. A glance at a classmate reveals a dark aura that translates into a surreal scene under Piccaso’s pencil. He starts following this classmate, Sugiura, to try and find the meaning of the picture. Trying to figure it out, he and Chiaki get sucked into the picture, where they start to learn the truth. I’m starting to enjoy this title more. I wasn’t sure I was going to at the beginning, but this chapter really intrigued me. I’m now even more interested in seeing how it’s resolved. It will make or break if I buy the first volume.

Bleach is next, continuing the fight between Nelliel and Nnoitora and Szayelaporro and Renji and Uryu. The truth about what happened between Nel and Nnoitora is revealed, and Pesche and Dondochakka show themselves to not necessarily to be the goofballs that they first played at being. They take on Szayelaporro themselves as Renji and Uryu are getting walked all over. I hope Szayelaporro finds out how much of a bitch payback can be. I wasn’t too thrilled about the way the last chapter ended, however, if the reason for Nel changing back to a little kid is because of what I think it is, and not just to get Ichigo back in the fight, then I can forgive it. I’m almost interested in Bleach again. I loved Nel’s second transformation, but you might call me biased, being a Capricorn myself. If things go as I hope they will, Bleach might be able to win back some love from me.

Ultimo is up next with its single chapter. Yamato, trying to understand Iruda better has gotten himself stabbed by Jealousy, but gets some surprising help from the very person he is trying to stop. Dunstan appears and promises to help Yamato anytime he’s in trouble. He is looking forward to their final confrontation, or at least Ultimo’s. If there was any doubt about the inspiration for Dunstan, those doubts are dispelled in this chapter. I don’t care much for the meddling from Dunstan, but the shadow of doubt that his actions cast on Ultimo’s loyalty, actually all of the karakuris might be interesting. Or it might lead to a bad plot twist. Only time will tell.

The battle continues in One Piece,and the tide seems to be turning against the pirates. Sengoku prepared well, but no one is giving up. Whitebeard still has a suprise up his sleave that gets the pirates out of the water and into the plaza where Ace is, but there are still the Three Admirals in their way, and Garp who finally steps in. Luffy is getting the crap beat out of him, as he has no where near the power he needs to face off against the Three Admirals, but he absolutely refuses to give up. Here we are seeing where Luffy’s greatest strength is becoming his weakness as well. His devotion to family and friends has served him well up to now, but his determination to save Ace is making him make reckless decisions. He keeps getting back into the fight even though there’s no way he can win. He has always scraped by before, but I don’t see it happening this time. It’s going to take more than spirit, determination and talk to save Ace, and Luffy just doesn’t have what it takes. I also find myself wondering if Ace can be saved. For some reason, this battle feels different than the others. I think it would be shame though. I don’t think the world of One Piece should be without a decendant of Gold Roger.

Naruto finishes off the issue, with Sasuke and Kakashi preparing to go at it before Naruto interrupts. It’s the meeting that we’ve been waiting volumes for. Both words and blows are exchanged and what’s said isn’t surprising. Naruto and Sasuke must fight to resolve their friendship and save Konoha from Sasuke, who believes its distruction is the only way to redeem the Uchiha. Sasuke talks big, but you have to wonder if any of Naruto’s words got through to him. It was nice to see him thinking about what everyone has said to him about dealing with Sasuke before he arrives. But enough with the Sakura trying to kill Sasuke. Not only does she not have the power, she doesn’t have the will. In a way, you can see that her friendship and feelings for Sasuke aren’t strong enough to do what must be done. Just killing Sasuke isn’t the answer. It doesn’t stop the cycle of hatred, which is Naruto’s ultimate goal.

Well, that’s it for this issue. Next issue should have the “big announcement” that Viz touted at SDCC earlier this year. Is it the same one that was touted on Twitter only a week or two ago? I’m of that opinion. Otherwise why put it off? The only other things that would cause an announcement to be put off would be a license or online announcement, and neither of those are the “game changers” they claimed it would be. The only real game changing announcement they could make would be a legal aggregator site of say, all Viz titles to be read online for a fee (ex. subscription), but I doubt they could pull that off. We should know soon enough though.

Shonen Jump October 2010

Once again, this month’s Shonen Jump feels light as it’s only at 280 pages. Along with the four regulars, there is a preview of a new series, Genkaku Picasso by Usamaru Furuya. He has had a few previous series’ published in English, including Short Cuts from Viz, nearly had 51 Ways to Save Her from CMX and will have Lychee Light Club from Vertical next year. This series was published in Jump SQ, and will have the first three chapters previewed in Shonen Jump.

Genkaku Picasso starts off by introducing the main character Hikari Hamura, the Picasso of the title. He isn’t very sociable and has just one friend, Chiaki Yamamoto. They have their own club, the Riverside Club, where Hikari draws and Chiaki reads books on psychology. A helicopter crash ends the club early, leaving Chiaki dead and Hikari miraculously alive, but not without a price. Hikari learns this in a rather shocking way, in class of course, from a small, winged Chiaki. He has to help people otherwise his body will decay. It’s an intriguing start to the series. Only a few titles start with killing off their protagonists. I do want to read more to see where the “helping people” goes. I’m guessing it has something to do with his artistic ability.

Naruto shows the end of Danzo with a flash back to his youth with the Third Hokage. It doesn’t really make him a more sympathetic character with just this flashback. If that is what Kishimoto was going for, more was needed before his last dying moments. He doesn’t have the same flare of revealing backgrounds at crucial moments as does Eiichiro. Sakura arrives claiming to want to join Sasuke but it’s just a ruse that doesn’t work. Kakashi then arrives to take on Sasuke with Naruto racing on his way. So it’s setting up for another clash between Naruto and Sasuke, with a big battle in between with Kakashi, or Sasuke’s gonna escape before he and Naruto can really get into it. I wish they would just get it over with between Naruto and Sasuke. All the emo-ness going on between Naruto and Sakura is getting boring. Sasuke isn’t going to just change his mind, and even Naruto fighting him isn’t going to be enough. I get the feeling that this is going to be a at-the-brink-of-death change of heart. With the way things have gone, I just don’t see how Sasuke can become friends again with them and still live with what he’s done.

One Piece continues the fight to save Ace. Luffy faces off with Mihawk, one of the Warlords of the Sea, who starts his attack by slicing the massive iceberg in half. Whitebeard sends his men in to keep Luffy free to reach his brother. An army of Kumas then appear and attack and Sengoku makes his move to execute Ace early. In the midst of all this, Whitebeard is attacked by Squard, on of his own men, who fell for a Marine ruse. But that doesn’t stop him from joining the fray, and really showing off the power of the Quake-Quake fruit. These chapters end with the Admiral Akainu using his power to melt the ice that the pirates have been using to get to the plaze where Ace is being held. These chapters are more fighting, but they also show how the World Government continues to try to keep the truth from the people. The truth that in many ways they are no better than the pirates they claim to be protecting them from as they shut off the broadcast so the rest of the world can’t see them execute Ace earlier than they announced. The more I see of the World Government and the Marines, the more I want Luffy and other pirates take them down. What the World Government does and has done is infinitely worse than any of the pirates we’ve seen so far.

I’m still on the fence about Ultimo. This month’s chapter starts off with Yamato getting the usual stuff about time travel; arriving naked, limited time, no changing events, etc. Then he gets to the estate and actually meets Iruma, and finds out, he’s not such a bad guy after all. The lord of the estate is rather familiar as well. The arrival of Dunstan with Jealousy changes Iruma as he gives in to the envy in his heart. It will be interesting to see how Yamato reacts/deals with this and if he can resist getting involved.

Bleach has the newly transformed Nel with the number 3 emblazoned on her back taking on Number 5 Nnoitora. She intends to protect Ichigo, but she might not be up to current Espada standards. Renji and Uruyu are still fighting Szayel-Aporro, though Renji does bring the house down, so to speak. This causes Szayel to release this true power, voodoo dolls that allow him to crush his opponents innards. So, how are Ichigo, Renji and Uruyu going to get out of this? Or should I say who’s going to pull their butts from the fire this time? A miraculous recovery from Chad or Rukia? Or maybe someone else? Or even more cliché, Ichigo powers up again. Meh.

There were some changes to the features in the magazine as well. All of the anime at the front is now divided between DVD, TV and Streaming, and only features SJ titles. But at least it features all the SJ titles, including Hikaru no Go, Prince of Tennis and Buso Renkin. The other noticeable change is in the New SJ Manga and In the Next Issue… sections. Reduced to just a few titles and one page each, it does look kind of sad when the In the Next Issue especially used to span two pages. But that’s when there was more titles. Changes were promised in the December issue which is coming up fast. And NYCC/NYAF is only a few weeks away, so hopefully there will be more news on what those changes are, and especially hope they will be good. This mag needs an infusion of Fresh, and soon!

Shonen Jump September 2010

It’s a new month, so that means a new Shonen Jump. Too bad there’s nothing new inside the pages of this mag. There was nothing new announced at SDCC, which was disappointing to say the least. I was so sure Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan would have been announced as a new title. Oh well, maybe at NYCC. It was hinted that changes may be coming at the end of the year. I sure hope so. The page count is slightly up this month with a Spotlight chapter on Shaman King, a graduate from these very pages.

The issue starts off with a better organization of their promotion of all the anime titles playing of the SJ properties. It’s now divided up by Streaming, TV Broadcast and DVDs. The Naruto TCG and video game info-ads are at the beginning as well, so you don’t just skip them after reading the manga. No, if you’re like me, you skip them to get to the manga.

This issue starts out with Naruto, and continues the battle between Sasuke and Danzo. It’s a lot of sharingan one-upmanship,right up to the very end. Sasuke takes his jutsu to the next level of Susano’o during the battle, and shows his dark side at the end. Honestly, there wasn’t anything interesting in this battle as Sasuke and Danzo keep trying to outdo each other. This is the very thing I hate about battle tournament manga. It’s also what keeps Naruto on it’s downward spiral.

Bleach then steps up with even more prolonged battles. Renji and Uryu are still fighting Szayelaporro. Only now they have to fight duplicates of themselves. Yeah. That’s original. Ichigo continues his fight Nnoitora, which is basically him being a punching bag again. This is so Nel can return to her old espada self. While I’m interested in finding about Nel’s past, I can’t say I have hope it will help the series as a whole.

The shining light in this mostly dark magazine is One Piece, and it really shines this time! Luffy and the escapees from Impel Down interrupt the battle momentarily as they every one regroups and takes on new opponents. The exchange between Luffy and Whitebeard is especially fun, with Luffy being himself as he stands next to the most powerful pirate in the world and telling him not ot get in HIS way. It’s just great! There is just too much going on to even explain. You have to read it to believe it! It all ends with Luffy facing off against Hawkeye, a Warlord of the Sea.

Ultimo surprisingly didn’t disappoint me this time. Ultimo awakens in time to save Yamato, which turns into a battle between him and Jealousy. Murayama appears to hold them off so that Yamato and Ultimo can go back in time, to the 12th Century to find out what really happened back in that time. Finding out about everyone’s backstory has me more interested in the title now. I don’t really care about their current reincarnations, but the glimpses to the past have been the most interesting parts of this title so far, so I’m hoping a marked improvement with this jump back in time.

The spotlight title this month is Shaman King. The chapter comes from volume 30, which is nearing the end of the title. It only went 32 total, so hopefully the fight gets resovled before the title does. Though, with talk of a second round starting, that’s probably not going to happen. This is a typical hot spring chapter, with everyone wandering about in just towels (no girls in this chapter, btw), including Hao, who pops in to enjoy the spring as well. Yoh, in his typical, laidback fashion, isn’t bothered by his rival’s appearance. It’s a nice filler chapter, and makes me want to catch up on Shaman King.

The issue ends with it’s usual Yu-Gi-Oh! free card and strategy article, video game article and brain teaser. For next issue, the spotlight will be on new series Genkaku Picasso, a title some in the mangasphere has been looking forward to. It’s drawn by the same mangaka as the ill-fated 51 Ways to Save Her that people were also looking forward to from CMX. That’s at least something to look forward to, other than just One Piece.

Shonen Jump August 2010

This month’s Shonen Jump is the thinnest issue I’ve received since the preview issue that came out at San Diego Comic Con back in 2002. 250 is quite a fall from the 400+ pages we were getting just a year ago. And yes, that is a $7.99 price on the picture. That not what showed up on the actual issue, and I think it’s kind of sloppy of Viz to have such a serious typo on the cover.  Anyway, on to the actual magazine.

It starts out with all the usual ads and anime on DVD/Streaming and video game promos. The manga to start out this month’s mag is One Piece. It’s all out war between White Beard’s pirates and the Navy. Luffy makes a grand entrance in his usual way of course. One of the things that makes Oda such a great mangaka, and One Piece a great manga is the way he incorporates back story scenes during a fight. I think his way of doing the flashbacks is what helps make these long fights so tolerable. The flashbacks aren’t long, but they are straight to the point, and make the impact of the outcome of each characters battle more poignant. Even when it’s a character you’ve only just meant, you care about him by the end. One Piece is still awesome.

Not so awesome is Ultimo.Yamato and Eco have a nice little talk as Eco presents his “third” option. It gets a little meta as Eco tries to help Musashi understand Yamato through manga, and Yamato then has a problem getting Ultimo back as Jealousy and his master Tomomitsu shows up. We learn a little more about who Musashi is and where he came from, but that’s about it for this chapter.

Naruto has Danzo and his men fighting Madara with lots of fancy jujitsu from the men that is completely ineffectual. We finally get to see what’s up with Danzo’s right arm, and then Sasuke appears to take on Danze himself. The angst is still running high, between Naruto agonizing over what to do about Sasuke, and Sasuke trying to get all his vengence. I’m ready to move on from the angst. If I were reading this in graphic novels only, I would have dropped it by now.

Bleach isn’t faring much better. The fight between Ichigo and Grimmjow is STILL going on, at least until espada #5, Noitora interrupts, deciding he wants to kill Ichigo now. The we get 2 pages of Renji and Uryu running in a circle and back to the espada they were fighting when Ichigo and Grimmjow’s battle first started. Bleach suffers from the same angst as Naruto it’s really killed the series for me.

Next issue Shaman King returns as a spotlight manga, but there are no new announcements for the magazine. This is the most disappointing issue so far. Viz had better do something. Their Naruto/Yu-Gi-Oh! card giveaways can only keep the magazine going so far. A price drop was announced at Anime Expo of $3.00 to make a year subscription $26.99 and the new title Genkaku Picasso will get a preview in September. But, I’m really hoping for a more permanent title. Kekkaishi might have been a  good addition, since the anime is showing on Cartoon Network right now, and that seems to be a prerequisite to be in the magazine anymore. Though, a new streaming anime they announced, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan does have potential of becoming a new addition. I’ll just have to wait to see what they announce at SDCC in two weeks.

Shonen Jump July 2010

91_largeIt’s more of the same old, same old from Shonen Jump this month. I actually read this a few weeks ago, but just haven’t felt that push to write about it. With June’s end coming up closer than I thought, I figured it was time to get down to work and write this post. After once again wading through all the pretty color pages of SJ anime, CCG and video game “reviews”, we finally get to manga.

Once again, SJ starts with the preview of Bakuman, and it’s the last installment. Akito and Moritaka go to Moritaka’s Uncle’s studio/apartment, and Akito finally gets to see what a storyboard is. Even though they see how daunting the task they are taking on will be, they remain enthusiastic and even vow to get them manga made into an anime before they’re 18! There’s not much going on in this chapter unless you like strolls down memory lane. I’m still undecided on this title. The talk of Geniuses and the women in the previous chapter soured it some for me.  It will probably take at least a full volume to make a definite decision.

Bleach ‘s chapter is all about angst and background of Grimmjow. Orihime worries and wonders about Ichigo in his hollow state. We see how Grimmjow started on his road to become Arrancar, all the while Ichigo and Grimmjow keeps fighting. In other words, nothing interesting happened. I might have been interested in Grimmjow’s past at one point, but now, I’m just bored. Some real story would be nice.

Ultimo has Yamato back in the past, reliving the day he found Ultimo. He remembers the previous time line, and notices differences and Murayama, the boy from the future transfers into his class. We get some more background on Dunstan (shown in a kimono with a spider on it) and Yamato has to choose between saving the world and Ultimo. The info on Dunstan doesn’t help anything, though I’m interested in what Eco has to say to Yamato, but this series is still just a time passer.

One Piece remains on top of its game with Luffy and his band of escaped pirates all heading for Navy Headquarters to rescue Ace, where the truth of his past is revealed not just to the reader, but to the whole world, and man, is it an exciting reveal! This information tides the reader over until the moment everyone, including the navy has been waiting for; the arrival of White Beard. And he’s got some plans for the Navy for taking his son. These are some great chapters of One Piece. I love learning more about Ace’s background, and finally getting to meet White Beard, after hearing so much about him. And he’s got a pretty impressive Devil Fruit power too.

In Naruto, the battle between Bee and Kisame finally ends, and Naruto learns the truth behind Sakura’s less-than-convincing confession last issue. And Naruto’s not too thrilled about it. But news of what happened at the summit means Kakashi must return to Konoha, and Naruto has an new protector in Gaara, and the cliff hanger is Danzo revealing his right arm in a fight against Madara. Naruto has lost its punch and fallen into a hole of angst as Naruto fusses over Sasake and Sakura. Not even the ending battle between Bee and Kisame could save these chapters. I’m just not feeling it with Naruto right now. I know it’s set up for the next big battle, but it’s starting to wear.  Something needs to happen.

And…that’s it for the mag. No Spotlight chapters, and no news if there are any changes coming up in the issue. The last pages just pimp the battles coming up (or continuing) in the next issue. I guess maybe the Spotlight chapters weren’t so popular? Are they staying with just 4 manga titles so they can keep the chapter count up for Naruto and One Piece? Anyone else think there’s a Bleach speed up in the future? The anime just went streaming. Man though, has the page count dropped! They’re pushing 312 pages for $4.99? Really? Not so long ago it was over 400! Does SJ have a future as a print magazine, or will it go the way of Yen Plus? It’s loosing it’s worth to me with every issue like this. I’d rather just get the One Piece GNs and not bother with the mag if it’s gonna keep dropping like this.

Shonen Jump June 2010

90_largeIt’s a new month and that means a new issue of Shonen Jump, the soon to be last bastion of manga magazine’s in print. This month continues the preview of Bakuman, spotlights Claymore, and gives a lot more of the same battle manga that has dominated the magazine for the year. Yeah, I can’t say I was all the enthusiastic to pick it up. But let’s start at the beginning. Once you get past all the ads and more ads disguised as “news” you get to some actual manga.

First up is the second chapter of Bakuman. At the beginning there is a short blurb on how kanji can be pronounced in different ways and have different meanings. This will be interesting if you enjoy word games or plays on words. The actual chapter has Akito and Moritaka still debating about becoming manga artists. While the first chapter did pique my interest, this second chapter manages to squash it. Akito gives a lengthy lecture about how the love of Moritaka’s life, Miho, is smart because she doesn’t act too smart, and is just passing time until she gets a husband. Yeah. The whole thing nearly bordered on offensive as far as I’m concerned, and does not impress me in any way.

Naruto was on the less-than-impressive side this month as well. The fight between Killer Bee and the Akatsuki Kisame begins, while Sakura goes to Naruto to confess her love for him, because she thinks that will stop Naruto from chasing after Sasuke. Apparently she thinks Naruto will just give up because she tells him too. And her confession is light on any real feeling. I wasn’t buying what she was saying, and I’m glad Naruto didn’t either. I’ve never cared for Sakura, and this just reinforces my feelings.

The one bright moment in the magazine continues to be One Piece. Luffy’s and Buggy’s groups back out of Impel Down, only to have the ships sailing away. It’s up to Jimbei, Crocodile and Daz to secure a ship while Luffy keeps Magellan at bay. He figures out a way to fight Magellan with Mr. 3’s help. Jimbei shows some of his power as he hits the sea to help everyone. More good action here. And I like that Luffy uses his brain instead of just brawn to keep Magellan back. But it’s Bon’s sacrifice at the end that proves his friendship with Luffy and makes for a great ending.

Bleach starts the actual fight between Ichigo and Grimmjow. It’s 57 pages of one-upping. Ichigo only fights as much as he has to, and Grimmjow just keeps upping the ante, that is until he threatens Orihime and Nel, and of course that’s when the hollow mask comes out. Grimmjow takes on a panther like shape, and battle goes on.

Ultimo continues into territory I don’t care for, with all the evil karakuri doji killing all the good karakuri doji, forcing Yamato to play exactly into their hands. I HATE that good always has to be shown as weak and lose against evil. It’s become a plot device that I’ve really grown to hate, just as I have this series.

The showcase manga this week is Claymore. The chapter shown in this issue is from the upcoming volume 16. If it’s meant to draw me into the manga and check it out, this chapter doesn’t do a very good job of it. I spent more time scratching my head, wondering what was going on that being drawn in. There’s a seven-year jump in the manga, which is where volume 16 starts. This chapter starts with Clare (the protagonist) and a few other Claymores taking to a bald guy, and then it switches to two more Claymores, watching three fight off a huge Yoma. The two spend all their time commenting on he abilities of the other three. There’s nothing to really latch onto in this showcase. It shows the action, but I get more than enough action as it is, and often done better.

No news in this volume about any up coming changes to the magazine, and there no Showcase manga next week.  There will be Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s card though. Look forward to that. As it stand now, I read Shonen Jump just to have post to write, not because I look forward to the titles anymore (other than One Piece). With the end of the Bakuman preview next month, I’m hoping once again, for some kind of good announcement about some new title being added to the magazine. I would seriously consider canceling and switching to Yen Plus, but not with it stopping its print edition (my prefered method of reading). It’s starting to look like manga magazines are going to the way of the dinosaur, which is a shame.