It’s the end of an era at Viz as one of the flagship titles of Shonen Jump finally comes to an end. To celebrate Naruto‘s final volume, Viz is pulling out all the digital stops with manga bundles, a “Jump Back” in the mag, and even its own app. It’s too bad it’s keeping two Kishimoto one-shots only for those with the money to buy the entire series in one bundle. Hopefully Viz will rectify that.
Naruto Volume 32
By Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
A new ninja causes trouble among the ranks of Team Kakashi when they return from the battle against Sasori. The secrets this stranger hides could be disastrous for Naruto. Meanwhile, Naruto’s old nemesis Orochimaru has troubles of his own-his stronghold may be infiltrated by a spy!
After saying their goodbyes at the Sand Village, Teams Kakashi and Guy return to the Hidden Leaf. Kakashi is laid up since his new jutsu takes so much out of him, so a new leader is needed for the team as well as member to even it out to four members. There’s only six days left until the rondevou Sasori told them about. Naruto goes searching out his old friends to get them to join, and we see Choji, Shino, Kiba and Hinata. But the team has already been decided. Sai, a member of the Foundation of the Black Ops is chosen, and Yamato, also Black Ops, is chosen to lead. Sai gets on Naruto’s nerves immediately, and on Sakura’s only a few moments later. But, in order to accomplish the mission, both try to tolerate Sai.
Naruto Volume 31
By Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Naruto and his fellow ninja engage in deadly conflict with the enemy. If any of them makes the wrong decision, it could be one of Naruto’s closest friends who pays the ultimate price.
This volume finishes up the rescue of Gaara arc started back in volume 28. Granny Chiyo and Sakura are fighting Sasori of the Red Sand, and Granny Chiyo’s grandson. Meanwhile Naruto and Kakashi are chasing Deidara to get Gaara back. Kakashi uses his Sharigan eye to get Deidara to drop Gaara, and then his new technique when Deidara tries to blow everyone up. But is there any chance of saving Gaara?
Volume 28 marks the start of Part Two of the Naruto saga. Two years have passed since the end of volume 27. Naruto returns to the Hidden Leaf Village after training with Jiraiya. No soon does he get back that he, Sakura and Kakashi are sent off on a mission. The Akatsuki have attacked the Sand Village and kidnapped Gaara, now Kazekage. Distracted from Sasuke, Naruto is determined to save him. He understands Gaara’s pain, and will do whatever it takes. On the way, Kakashi’s team, now including Granny Chiyo from the Sand Village confront Itachi while Guy’s team, sent by Tsunade to help Kakashi’s team face another Akatsuki, Kisame. They are diversions, sent to keep Kakashi’s team from reaching the Akatsuki base before they finish extracting the One-tailed demon from Gaara.
I was reading the latest issue of Shonen Jump (May 2009), and though I may despise it, I do read Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo. Don’t ask me why, it’s there, so I just do. So, I’m coming to the end of the chapter, and at the bottom is says next issue will be Bobobo’s final chapter in the magazine. Hurray!
Finally Bobobo is leaving! There is really nothing funny about this manga. It’s the embodiment of “Stupid is as stupid does.” But then real question here is, what’s going to replace it? There hasn’t been any announcements (that I’m aware of) of any new titles going in. Tegami Bachi was just added, and nowhere in the issue is there any indication of what will be replacing it. Will they try to squeeze in another manga that will get only one chapter a month (like Yu-Gi-Oh! GX), or will this space just be filled with more Naruto?
In order to keep pace with the Japanese releases of the manga, Viz will have to up the chapter count in Shonen Jump, or take Naruto out of the magazine and so they don’t have to wait. I don’t see the latter happening though. Naruto is one of SJ‘s anchor titles. To take it out of SJ could mean the loss of many, many subscriptions, something I’m sure Viz doesn’t want.
Well, at least it won’t be too long a wait to find out. Sometimes falling behind on issues isn’t too bad a thing. I really hope this does turn into an Evolution for SJ. More Naruto isn’t necessarily bad, and if it means no more mass volume releases, then I’m all for it!
UPDATE: Deb Aoki of About Manga helped solve this little mystery for me via twitter. Apparently at NYCC, it was announced that Ultimo would be joining Shonen Jump in the July 2009 issue. Scroll down past the Takahashi news. Somewhere in the back of my mind I seemed to have thought about this, but at 3am, I wasn’t going to push it. Next time I’ll just tweet the question. (Thanks Deb!)
I have to say I’m a little ambivelent about this. I didn’t care too much for the preview of the first chapter. It just felt…bleh to me. Maybe it was too much superhero, and not enough manga. But I’ll give it a chance. I’m gonna read it anyway as long as it’s in SJ (see above). I think I would have preferred more Naruto though. Those chapters can be so addicting!
“On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Nine Tails Fox Demon,”
Naruto Uzumaki is a boy that lives in the Hidden Leaf Village. He is a trouble maker and class clown at the Ninja academy he attends. Even though he isn’t very good at ninjitsu, he is determined to become the best Ninja in the village and become it’s leader, Hokage. But Naturo is shunned by the people of the village. When he was a baby, a demon fox with nine tails attacked the village. The demon was stopped and sealed inside of Naturo, but not before many people, including the then current 4th Hokage, were killed. Naturo continues not only towards his goal of becoming the greatest ninja in Hidden Leaf Village, but to also overcome people’s prejudices toward him.
Naruto is a wildly popular manga and anime. I started reading it in Shonen Jump, though I’d seen it talked about over the internet for a while before that. After reading a few chapters, I saw why it had garnered such a following. It is a really well-written story. There’s good character development, and even though this is a shonen fighting manga, the plot melds it in seamlessly. There doesn’t need to be convoluted reasons like some villain wants to take over the world. Animosities from the past seem to drive most of the action, and give them more credence, than the “next strongest villain of the week” that most Shonen titles suffer from. As Naruto has gone on, it has become more interesting, where even a chase through the forest can be riviting. And I don’t think it’s bad that it’s central theme is about friends and friendship. There’s nothing corney about that. Ignore all the nay-saying about this title. It deserves the praise it’s received. Every manga fan should read this.
“Eight Dragon Priestess Guardians,
Seven Dragon Balls,
Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Siblings Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”
This just occurred to me after I read Mang Blog Brigid’s commentary on the possibly new “Naruto Nation” and then coming to blog to post about something else. Apparently there are doubts about the dates for the Naruto releases, since errors have happened before. But, when I came to my home page, my last post before this was about the changes to Shonen Jump. The new title, Tegumi Bachi, is debuting at the same time as this “Naruto Nation 2” would be starting.
To do the 11 volume release, Naruto would be taken out of the magazine again, and something else would have to fill the void. The start of a new series would fill that void perfectly. Viz did the same thing last time with the start of Bleach in SJ at the same time Naruto was taken out. Coincidence? I think not.
Viz is at it again it seems, trying to decimate our pocketbooks mercilessly, especially in this difficult economy. ANN has reported that Viz has listed 11 more volumes of Naruto for release in February, March and April. This second wave will essentially catch Naruto up with the releases in Japan, at what price? The last time Viz did this, the sales of their other titles suffered. It proved that there is a limit to what readers will buy, and that was back when the economy was still doing well. What’s going to happen this time? Did Viz plan for this with fewer releases scheduled for their other titles? And what’s the point of doing this again? The time jump in the manga made some sense the first time. But this time seems much more arbitrary.
The only reason I can think of for this is to fight against the scanalators. Viz has been criticized for not doing anything about the illegal scans that keep coming out, and as anime companies have been learning, the best way to fight fansubs is to bring out the episodes at the same time they come out in Japan. Catching up the Naruto manga will get rid of any excuses of “not wanting to wait for the official release to catch up”, a common reason given for continuing a title after it’s been licensed.
I mean, February was supposed to be the big launch month for 20th Century Boys and Pluto. These titles are just going to be overshadowed by this tidal wave of Naruto. Is that really what Viz wants? I would think not, especially after the presentations they gave for these titles at SDCC.
Now, I enjoy my Naruto manga. It’s one of the reasons I keep getting Shonen Jump. But, I think Viz may be tipping it’s hand too far this time. The first wave worked because it was near Christmas, and it was the first time. I dont’ this time will be met with as much enthusiasm. I’m certainly not looking forward to it. It’s going to mess up Shonen Jump again, and put me 11 volumes behind at most. I can’t afford to keep up like this. And I’m sure I’m not going to be the only one feeling this way. Why doesn’t Viz just take Naruto out of SJ and give it a monthly release like Rurouni Kenshin? It would make so much more sense than these “waves”.
When I like a magazine enough that I want to read it every month, I subscribe to it. That’s why I get both Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat. But, sometimes I don’t quite get my renewal in on time, and that happened unfortunately to me this last April with Shonen Jump. Sooo… I missed getting an issue. May 2008. By the time I realized I wasn’t getting it, It was already gone from news stands, and both my local and online comic shop didn’t have it. No big deal, I thought, it’d show up somewhere. And it did. Finally. Two weeks ago! So I have six months worth of Shonen Jump to catch up on, because I won’t read an issue without reading the preceding chapters. Silly sounding, I know, but I want the full story, in order.
This weekend I dove back into Shonen Jump with this ill-fated issue. It would figure it was the April Fool’s issue too. Boy did I miss it! After two volumes of that overstuffed and over hyped Yen Plus, I was glad to get back into some real shonen stories and battles! It started with four chapters of Naruto. Not a lot of exciting action with Granny and Sakura fighting Sasori, but it was a good start. Two chapters of Slam Dunk followed. I’m giving this series some time, but for the moment, it’s still in the take-it-or-leave-it category. Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo I can leave, but I only have to suffer through one chapter. Yu Yu Hakusho was only two chapters, but man, they were brutal! It’s chapters like these that remind me why I got hooked on the series. One Piece got three chapters of mostly flashback, but Luffy’s revelations at the end make it worth it.
Bleach got three chapters as well, but they were the most action-packed of the whole magazine. And, I just gotta say, IKKAKU MADARAME IS TOTALLY FRICKIN’ AWESOME! The three chapters are mostly just his fight with Arrancar Trece Edorad Leones, but the fight scenes here totally rule! Ikkaku has some cool poses and moves. If you’ve ever just thought he was a side character, these chapters show how wrong you were! I was riveted for the whole three chapters! Kubo-sensei’s art only added to his awesomeness!
Then, the magazine finished with a chapter of Yu Gi Oh GX, another title I can take or leave. What made this such a thrilling read wasn’t just getting back to stories I really love. It was getting back to stories that weren’t painful to read. The Japanese side of Yen Plus doesn’t have any titles like the Shonen Jump titles. None of them pumped me and or made me so excited that I didn’t want to put the magazine down, even if my family was dying of starvation. And even if there are any in that selection that can, they won’t be given the chance. Shonen Jump is half the size, yet gives double the punch. I got 16 chapters from 7 manga instead of 12 excrusiatingly short one. But the real different between Yen Plus and Shonen Jump is that Shonen Jump felt like that from the start.
With the start of the 2008 Book Expo America, Viz has announced a new addition to their Vizkids line, a sadly neglected line if you ask me. But today, they announced chapter books about who? Why, everyone’s favorite ninja, Naruto! They’re older brother are reading the manga, they’re watching the anime, with their Leaf Village Headbands. Those young ‘uns should be able to read about him too! And now they can. And I know this will sell. Taking my own kids to the bookstore always had them drifting toward the books with TV and movie character they knew. This will be no different.
Press Release after the break
Five and a half years ago, Viz put out a sampler at the San Diego Comic Con for a new manga anthology; Shonen Jump. Anchored by Dragonball Z and Yu-Gi-Oh!, Shonen Jump introduced us to new titles such as Naruto, Shaman King and One Piece at only $20 for 12 issues. Ah…those were the days.
The December Issue featured some important milestones. Besides heralding in the 5th year of the magazine, it had the first Naruto story Masashi Kishimoto wrote. This Naruto and his world was very different from the one we know now. A “Proto-Naruto” is you will. Instead of being a ninja-in-training with the spirit of the 9-Tails Fox Spirit in him, Naruto is the son of the 9-Tails Fox. He has been raised by the last living warrior that fought his father, who is also a Yokai. Naruto has not been able to make any human friends, as he has been a mean-spirited trickster to them. The warrior sends Naruto from the mountain temple where they have been living, and tells him he can not return until he has made a human friend and brings him back to the mountain. The rest of the story is following Naruto as he makes his first journey into the outside world, one that is like ours in many ways.
I really enjoyed this story, and this version of Naruto. While I do like the Naruto he became, the 9-Tails fox Naruto was a lot of fun too. The two are very similar, except that the proto-Naruto didn’t have the stigma Naruto has. He bears no grudge, and has nothing to prove to anyone. It seemed if the story had continued it would have been about Proto-Naruto’s journey of discovery as he meets new people, makes friends, and presumably fight some foes. I really like stories like Dragonball by Akira Toriyama and O-Parts Hunter by Seishi Kishimoto (Masashi’s twin brother), which have the same premise. I would have enjoyed following the Proto-Naruto’s adventures. I’m glad Viz gave us this glance into Naruto’s past.
The other big feature in this issue was the final chapter of Yu-Gi-Oh!. While not completely serialized in the magazine, (the entire Duelist storyline was published in graphic novels only), it did run uninterrupted for the 5 years to end here. When Yu-Gi-Oh! was announced for the magazine, I immediately wrote it off. I’d only seen and heard about the Duelist storyline which is the one that animated. Imagine my surprise when I actually started reading it, and found the first arc to be really good! The stories and use of situations to come up with Shadow Games was really entertaining. I will gladly recommend the first 7 volumes of this series.
Admittedly, I wasn’t too happy with the sudden jump to Millenium World, but enough was explained about Duelists’ end that I could still follow along. Millenium World was also good, as it was spent mostly in the Ancient Egypt of “Other Yugi”‘s memory. The final battle of the series pits Yugi against “Other Yugi”, the pharaoh Atem. The Endgame would decide the fate of the Pharoah’s soul; to remain in the real world, or move on to the next. It was hard to chose who to root for in this story. I didn’t want Atem to leave. I liked him better than Yugi. I wanted him to remain undefeated. But at the same time, I wanted to see Atem move on as he should to the next world. It was a satisfying ending anyway. When it’s not only about the Duel Monsters game, Yu-Gi-Oh was a good story with a compelling plot and interesting characters. It’s worth the time to read it.
Other notes; The preview of Slam Dunk was nice, but I think I’m passing on this one. In Hikaru no Go, the pro test is finally over. The nail biting tension that the writer created was intense. It was an excellent read. This series is another must read. Bleach‘s second full issue gives us some background on Ichigo’s dad, and where Ichigo’s powers may have come from. I’m still not happy with it being moved to serialization… In One Piece, Luffy and the others are still on Drum Island, but that arc seems to be wrapping up. Yu Yu Hakusho has felt very tired to me lately. After the long fight tournament, it’s time to jump right into another fight. Fighting manga’s not my favorite. Yu Yu Hakusho has become a prine example of why. With Yu Gi Oh gone, we are left with GX. This series hasn’t done anything to endear itself to me. But it’s still better than Bobobo-bo-bobo. I don’t even want to think about that…
All in all, the December issue of Shonen Jump was a good one for not only the stories, but the milestones that it hit. Here’s hoping for another 5 years.