Tag Archives: Shonen Jump

Bleach Volume 33-34

Ichigo, Uryu, and Renji continue their battles with the espadas Nnoitora and Szayelsporro in their attempt to rescue Orihime, but things aren’t going so well. It takes some surprising interventions to save the boys from defeat.

By Tite kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Action
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I haven’t enjoyed Bleach since the end of the Soul Society arc, but continued to read the series since it was serialized in Shonen Jump. These two volumes are a bit of an exception, as they stand out by being more entertaining than most of the volumes in the Hueco Mundo arc so far. Two characters that I hadn’t cared much about show another side that has me thinking twice about them.

I never really liked Nel, the little hollow girl who’s also a big cry baby, and always following Ichigo around. She was annoying and always making things for Ichigo. She finally makes amends in this battle, as she regains her original form, a full-grown, and well endowed, espada called Nelliel. How she came to be the little girl with no memory is revealed as she takes on Nnoitora. The battle is sadly short-lived, but not before Nelliel transforms into her Capricorn Knight form. I liked that form and would have liked to have seen it in action more. Pesche and Dondochakka also prove to be more than just comedy relief as they reveal their combined Cero against Szayelsporro who joined Nnoitora in his treachery against Nelliel.

It’s not enough of course, for both Ichigo and Renji and Uryu get their buts handed to their by the espadas they are fighting, so it’s time for reinforcements. Enter four of the captains from Soul Society; Kenpachi, Unohana, Byakuya, and Mayuri. Unohana, as captain of the 4th company is only there to heal the injured, but Byakuya gets a battle with Zommari which unsurprisingly doesn’t last long, and Kenpachi takes over Ichigo’s battle with Nnoitora, but the majority of the volume goes to Mayuri taking on Szayelsporro, the espada scientist vs the Soul Society scientist. Their battle becomes a game of one-upmanship, as each tries to prove he is not just more powerful than the other, but also more clever. But it’s obvious who the winner will be. Mayuri is consistantly one step ahead of Szayelsporro, and uses his adjutant Nemu as the bait to lure him into his web. I’ve never really liked Mayuri and his superiority complex, but I liked Szayelsporro even less, so I’m okay with Mayuri winning. He had some good taunts, and even got a laugh at his wall-eyed, tongue out taunt.

I was bothered by a few things. I liked Nelliel’s character design as a whole, and do understand why so little of herself would be covered when going from little Nel to full-size Nelliel, but what is she doing on the cover of the volume? Is that pose even physically possible? I’ve looked at it a lot as I’ve been writing this review, and it just baffles me more every time. While I can at least deal with it, I really didn’t like was a scene with Orihime. When Nnoitora sends Tesla to finish off Ichigo, she starts to yell out to Ichigo, but Nnoitora silences her by sticking his fingers in her mouth. Really? Was that really necessary? Covering her mouth wasn’t enough? And she just meekly accepts this. Fan service I’ve learned to live with, but this was crossing the line for me.

Bleach lost me as a devoted fan a while a go, but I keep holding out hope that it will get better and I will enjoy it again. These two volumes show that all hope isn’t lost, but it still has a long way to go to win me back. A little less fighting, a little more humor would definitely help.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Bakuman Volume 12-13

Moritaka and Akito’s newest series Perfect Crime Party does well enough that they can start working on other things, such as beating their rivals. But some unexpected news sends them back to try to come up with a second series. But as each of them works on their specific talents individually, will it break up the team of Muto Ashirogi?

Story by Tsugumi Ohba; Art by Takeshi Obata
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★½

Now that Moritaka and Akito have a series running in Jump again, the story can go back to their personal lives, as well as those of their rivals and assistants. While I do enjoy seeing process of making a successful manga through Moritaka and Akito, I’ve really come to like the other manga artists and assistants, and I do enjoy seeing what’s going on with their lives and titles.

The artist we see the life most of in these two volumes is Shun Shiratori. He is an assistant to Moritaka and Akito. His mother, who wears the pants in the family, doesn’t approve of Shun working on manga, so he runs away so he can work on creating his own title. Moritaka and Akito get involved to the point that Akito ends as the writer for Shun’s manga. There is a lot of drama created from this, not just from Shun’s family life, but also between Akito, and Moritaka and Kaya. It all comes down to a simple lack of communication, and Akito is so clueless that he doesn’t see what he’s doing to Moritaka and Kaya. A few words could have avoided the whole situation, but would have made the volumes just a little less dramatic and a lot shorter. Though I think it was Akito who deserved the punch more than Moritaka.

Hiramaru has always been fun to follow. Like, Eiji, he is a “genius” creator, but hates the work, so he is always trying to get out of it. His editor is constantly having to trick or bribe him into getting his chapters done. It’s a lot of fun to see how his editor is going to manipulate him. One way he does this is by using Hiramaru’s feelings for Miss Aoki. Promises of helping him get through afternoon tea with her gets Hiramaru to write a romantic one shot that becomes popular enough to submit for serialization, but when the day finally comes Hiramaru turns the tables on his editor and meets Miss Aoki alone. The ensuing chase is really funny, and when he finally decides to confess his feelings to Aoki, it’s great to see Fukuda, Moritaka, Akito and Kaya show up to cheer him on.

I also enjoyed seeing Eiji finally create a manga that isn’t a hit. His attempt at a romance doesn’t break the top 5. It was good to see him finally feel what it’s like, even if it was only for a one shot. Another thing I like about Bakuman, is the teasers for titles we get to see. Moritaka’s romantic one-shot looked cute, and Hiramaru’s romantic one-shot looked very funny. An entry for a contest that Akito and Moritaka are judging is shown at some length, Classroom of Truth, and is a title I would really like to read! It’s really too bad so many of these will never really be serialized.

I haven’t gotten tired of Bakuman yet. Ohba does a great job of keeping the story fresh, and balancing between the manga creation process and the lives of the artists. Just concentrating on one or the other too much would ruin the charm.

Review copies provided by publisher.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Vol 8 and Bakuman Vol 10

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.

Continue reading Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Vol 8 and Bakuman Vol 10

Shonen Jump April 2012: The Final Issue

There is no Manga Wrap Up this week, as I didn’t read any manga. I’m still working on my prose book, so maybe next week. Instead I thought I would finally give my thoughts on the final print issue of Shonen Jump and the way Viz Media handled the move to digital from the perspective of a long time subscriber. The final issue is a 392 pages, and harkens back to the good old days.

The issue is mostly just like any other issue of Shonen Jump with the same monthly chapters of Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Psyren and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, as well as the prerequisite Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card, this time from the new series, Zexel. What makes this issue so much bigger, is the inclusion of the three new titles that will be in Alpha; Toriko, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and Bakuman. Psyren and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds will not be moving to the magazine, but Viz did announce that they would be available on Vizmanga.com. The chapters for the new manga, as well as for those moving the Alpha are part of the “Warp into SJ Alpha”. Basically, these are the chapters that precede the starting digital chapters in the first SJ Alpha issue and are accompanied by a short paragraph explaining that chapter.

Okay, I had mixed feelings about this particular move to digital. On the whole, I approve of most of Viz’s digital strategy so far. If they would just bring out an Android app and stop pushing all the iCrap, it would be great. I know a lot of people have been calling for Viz to catch up the Japanese releases, which we’ve seen with Naruto and One Piece. SJ Alpha is another jump, taking the Shonen Jump titles to within 2 weeks of Japan. And here’s where I have the problem. Shonen Jump was ahead of the volume releases in the US, but WAAAAYYYYY behind the Japanese. So, going from Shonen Jump to SJ Alpha means BIG jumps for loyal readers. Naruto and One Piece aren’t so bad. They are only a 38 chapter jump. But when you get the other titles, it’s not so pretty. Bleach is a 147 chapter jump; Bakuman is 83 chapters from the last digital volume; 129 chapters from Nura‘s last digital volume, and 92 chapters from Toriko‘s last digital volume. Some of these jumps in story are outrageous!

Yes, I’ve been through these jumps before, with Naruto twice and once with One Piece. But when Viz did these, they at least had the courtesy to include features in the magazine that gave the subscribers an idea of what was going on in the jump, so when the chapters resumed in the magazine, they wouldn’t be totally lost. Not this time. Now, we are dealing with enormous jumps in story, between 7-13 volumes worth, and several story arcs worth and what do we get in the last issue? One paragraph? Really??! This is how subscribers, many of whom have been with the magazine since the beginning and who DON’T read scans (like me), are rewarded for our loyalty? Viz can’t even be bothered to thow us a bone and just give us a list of volumes, what story are they fall in, and a brief synopsis of the arc? They managed it with 30 volumes of One Piece. The second Naruto wave had features for 2 or 3 issues giving the low down to subscribers about what was going on. Are readers of scans, who are still gonna complain about the lag (OMG! Two weeks?! I want it the same day!!), MORE important that the paying fans? It sure seems like it since the way this jump has been handled only rewards those who have been reading scans all this time, and punishes the legal readers.

And talk about missed opportunities! Viz did a special “Preview” issue before the first Alpha issue came out, and what did they put in that preview issue? The first chapter of each of the SJ titles! How completely useless is that? First, all of those chapters have been available on the Shonen Jump website, some for years! And reading the first chapters does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for someone starting with SJ Alpha. All of the titles are so far ahead of what happened in their first chapters, that it’s practically misleading to present them as representative of the titles now. Naruto and Bleach are nothing like how they started, and not in a good way. One Piece has changed greatly too, but it’s been for the better. This preview issue could have been better used to prepare readers for the jump instead of just rehashing old material.

I’m really disappointed in the way Viz handled this jump. It feels like there was little to no planning for it. It was announced publicly in October, and by being generous, we can say the next two issues were probably already set, but that still gave Viz 4 more issues to tell subscribers about what was coming up and prepare them. The online issue could have been done at any time. This is a fail on so many levels. And I’m not the only person to feel this way. The comments section of the first issue was filled with people just as surprised as I was by the jump. I don’t know if I’m going to keep my subscription beyond the 6 month committment I made after this. Apparently, I’m not a valued customer anymore. It would have taken so little make this right, and yet I’ve seen nothing from Viz to rectify it. The way it looks to me is that Viz threw their subscribers under the bus in favor of a phantom demographic. And in business, perception is everything.

Genkaku Picasso Volume 1: Manga Movable Feast

Hikari Hamura, nicknamed Picasso because of his natural artistic abilities, survived a horrible accident, but his friend Chiaki wasn’t so lucky. Suddenly, Chiaki appears in front of him and tells him in order to keep living he must help the people around him. Can Hikari save people with his sketchbook and a 2B pencil?

By Usamaru Furuya
Publisher: Viz Media – Shonen Jump
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Supernatural/Mystery
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★★

I read the first chapter of this series when it was previewed in Shonen Jump. While I liked it, I didn’t run out and buy the first volume when it came out. It wasn’t a “must have” at the time. But with an MMF coming up featuring Usamaru Furuya, I thought Genkaku Picasso would be the most accessible of his available titles. I definitely enjoyed the full volume more than the just the first chapter. There is some dark imagery, but it is balanced with plenty of light moments and a bright resolution for all the people Hikari and Chiaki help.

What makes Genkaku Picasso work so well are its characters. Furuya has created a quirky lead with a cast of characters to match. Hikari Hamura, aka Picasso, so named for a spelling error and his love of drawing, is a fun yet endearing lead. He is a bit of an introvert, and reacts with some hostility to his classmates. He has a nervous habit of chewing on his thumbnail, but has a real talent for art and greatly admires Leonardo Da Vinci. His only real friend is Chiaki, a childhood friend who likes to read while Picasso draws by the riverside. We don’t get to know Chiaki too well, as she is killed in the first few pages, but their bond of friendship is strong. Chiaki cares for Picasso, but not romantically so. She seems more like a big sister than a love interest.

Picasso beings to develop a circle of friends as he starts helping his classmates. The first classmate he helps is Sugiura, a popular boy who liked to tease Picasso, but after his help becomes more friendly with him. Akane, the girl Picasso helps next, not only becomes his friend, but also develops a sort-of crush on him. Of course, Picasso isn’t too happy about this change, but he seems to accept it, as Sugiura and Akane start eating lunch with him, and are usually the ones who take him to the Infirmary when he dives into a picture and can’t move or speak.

The pictures that Picasso draws of his classmate’s hearts are often dark, and sometimes disturbing. Though, the images can also be misleading. Manba’s picture wasn’t of anything he desired, but rose from his concern for Kotone, who he also has a crush on. Akane’s picture I found to be the most disturbing, but that has more to do with my love of animals. I can’t believe any animal would be treated like that for any reason. Anyway, the chapter still has a good ending, but it’s one I can’t read over.

The darker imagery is balanced by the more light-hearted moments, most of which are at Picasso’s expense. His inability to interact with his classmates, which often results in him asking blunt, inappropriate or completely off base questions based on the pictures he draws puts him into a lot of awkward situations. I don’t usually like seeing characters in awkward situations, but Picasso causes his own problems. One scene that particularly struck me was after helping Sugiura, he felt happy that he could help someone, and then immediately felt down because he was going to have to do it again. It’s these short, quick moments that are true to the character that make them funny rather than some attempt at humor.

I admit to being a bit put-off by the art at first,especially Picasso’s lips. It looked like he was wearing lipstick, and it bothered me. But once I got past that I could better appreciate Furuya’s work. Picasso’s “heart” sketches are great, and I really liked the detail he put into Picasso’s practice sketches. It really shows his potential, and makes his “heart” sketches that more believable.

Genkaku Picasso is different from other shonen titles but in a good way. The characters are odd but entertaining, and watching their interactions so far has been fun. The problems Picasso and Chiaki have to solve are realistic and different from the usual teen problems that other manga tend to focus on. It’s this difference that really makes Genkaku Picasso stand out. I will definitely be picking up the other two volumes of this series.

Manga Wrap-Up Week Two: Rurouni Kenshin

Week two ends on a better note than last week. After so much talk, I finally finished reading Rurouni Kenshin. I can’t really say I cared much for the last arc. I liked all the flashback scenes and Watsuki did a good job of balancing it’s telling with the present. But there was so much fighting, and lot of it seemed pointless. The big battle with Enishi and his “allies” was just to show how powerful everyone had grown over the series. And the battle against the 4 Stars felt like it was just filler. The ending did tie up everything nicely. I liked that everyone went their separate ways, following their own paths instead of staying together in Tokyo. I was glad to see some hope for resolution for Enishi as well. That is one of the things I liked about the series overall. There was feeling of hope and redemption all the way through the series. Kenshin never gave up one anyone, and redemption was always in reach, if one chose to reach for it.

The ending did have a cliché feeling to it, especially with Kenshin and Kaoru’s son Kenji being such a crybaby, mama’s boy, the exact opposite of Kenshin. It wasn’t bad, it just felt meh. But I like Watsuki’s suggestion for a sequel even less. I would rather like to see Kenji and Yahiko and Tsubame’s son fighting together as buddies but competitive rather than against each other.

Overall, Rurouni Kenshin is a great series and really deserves the praise it has gotten. I think the first volumes and the Tokyo arc are the strongest of the series. At least, they are the volumes I enjoyed the most. The light humor was more prevalent in these volumes. I don’t mind the darker elements that were introduced as the series progressed, especially since the series still ended on a happy note, but I do like the lighter elements more.

  • Rurouni Kenshin Volume 21-28

Next up, I’ll be starting the Tokyopop series Bizenghast volume 1-7. I’ve only read the first volume of this series, and it was several years ago, so I’ll be starting back at the beginning.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Volume 5

Rikuo has successfully defended his classmates from the vicious Inugami’s mad-dog attack. But that battle is just a hint of what’s to come. The sinister Tamazuki has remained in his human form so far, but now he’s unleashing his true form: a ferocious yokai leading the 88 Demons of Shikoku, a disciplined demon horde hell-bent on taking the Nura clan out. With Nurarihyon missing, Rikuo must step up as a warrior and a leader.

By Hiroshi Shiibashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Action
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

Rikuo really starts to step up as under-boss in this volume. With his grandfather, the Nurarihyon, gone, it’s up to him to defend the Nura territory. He finally shows some initiative when he sends Gozumaru and Mezomaru to infiltrate a Shikoku yokai gathering to gather intelligence. And he acts on that intelligence by taking the fight to Tamazuki rather than waiting for him and his forces to attack the Nura Main house. He’s pretty impressive in his night form during this fight until he gets blindsided, literally.

This battle with Tamazuki really shows the cycle of the generations within the Yokai clans. Tamazuki is ambitious and hungers for power, just as his father, Inugamigyobu once was, reaching out into Nura territory, while Rikuo considers creating a new 100 demon parade rather than working so hard to keep his Grandfather’s retainers together. Both young yokai can be seen as walking in their predecessor’s footsteps, while still making their own mark.

This volume of Nura was better in terms of moving the plot forward. It isn’t just about Rikuo having to deal with some threat and having his Night Form save the day. There is a confrontation between Tamazuki and Rikuo, but it and the events that lead up to it carry some weight. Yukki-Onna might even prove to be worth something more than a maiden-in-distress, though I don’t’ think I’ll hold my breath on that one.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan continues to be a series that I don’t mind reading online for free (as part of a Shonen Jump subscription), but it still hasn’t shown itself to be a series worth keeping on the shelf.

PR: Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha Covered

I’ve been a fan of Shonen Jump ever since it came out in 2002 (technically), and still have every single issue. I admit I have mixed feelings about this move to digital. The good: don’t have to store all those magazines anymore. The bad: can’t just pick it up and read it anywhere. But, I’ll stick with this first year of digital and see if I can keep up.

Continue reading PR: Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha Covered

One Piece Volume 46-50

When the Straw Hats encounter a mysterious barrel on the open sea, little do they know that it’s a trap. Losing control of their ship, they’re steered toward Thriller Bark.  Any rational sailor would think twice before going ashore on an island full of zombies. But with Luffy at the helm, the Straw Hats are in for a scare as they become the targets of the dreaded Gecko Moria!

By Eiichiro Oda
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

After the long and emotionally draining Water Seven arc, Thriller Bark makes for some spooky fun with zombies, ghosts and a talking skeleton. But the story feels drawn out and really seems to drag on, as does the bittersweet background story for Brook. It feels more like a filler arc and an excuse to throw in some Zombies.

The Thriller Bark story arc starts out as a light-hearted story filled with lots of humor. Luffy is excited at the prospect of seeing ghosts and is inviting Brook, a walking talking skeleton to join the crew without knowing anything about him. The gags really run amok when the Straw Hats reach Thriller Bark itself, with Nami, Usopp and Chopper seeing zombies one minute and then gone the next. And the arrival of Luffy, Zolo, Sanji, Robin and Frankie is funny as they first tame a Cerberus-like zombie and then beat up all the zombies that pop out of the graveyard, and leaving them stick out of their graves, feet first. Oda does a really good job in the beginning of creating a spooky atmosphere with zombies popping out of pictures and stuffed animal heads on the wall coming to life.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Usopp gets a great spotlight in this arc, as his super-pessimistic attitude is finally shown to have a use. When faced with the Ghost Princess Perona and her negative energy ghosts, Usopp is invincible, since he already has such a low opinion of himself, he can’t be brought down any further. His battle with her was the best of the volume. The giant zombie Oars running around talking and acting like Luffy was pretty funny too.

All this humor is overshadowed by Brooks and the padding of the story to stretch it out. Thriller Bark is supposed to take place in the course of a single night, but it goes on for 5 volumes! It’s too long and too much is going on. The entire plotline with Absalom and Nami was clichéd and got boring fast. In arcs such as Alabasta and Waters Seven, the battles that each Straw Hat was in was entertaining. But they really weren’t in this arc. Brook’s background story wasn’t just tragic, it was downright depressing. While Robin’s back story, which was shown before Brook’s, was really tragic, there was still a ray of hope with Robin trying to continue the work of the Ohara clan. But there isn’t any feeling like that with Brook. The more your see of his story, the more down you feel. There doesn’t ever seem to be a light at the end, even when he joins the Straw Hats. It’s more like relief that such a dark period is over, and after all the humor the arc started out with, the darkness of Brook’s back story just doesn’t feel right.

The arc redeems itself at the end with a return to World Government story line. Kuma, another Warlord of the Sea comes to check on Moria, and possibly kill Luffy. But the Straw Hat’s loyalty and Zolo’s belief in Luffy saves him. The scenes with Kuma only increases my curiosity about the World Government and what their true motives are.

The Thriller Bark story arc has a good beginning and good ending, but too much filler going on in-between. This is still a good arc, with lots of great scenes for the characters. It just would have been better if it had been pared down. Three volumes would have been just right.

Shonen Jump June/July 2011

The big but strangly never mentioned news for this issue of Shonen Jump is that it is not long a purely monthly magazine. Subscriptions cards in the mag advertise a yearly subscription as being 10 issues. And you’ll notice this issue covers June and July. Of course, nothing is mentioned in the magazine about this change or why. The obvious reason is cost. Cut out 2 issues (this isn’t any bigger a normal issue) and save printing costs. If there was any other reasons, Viz isn’t saying, since they’ve said nothing about the change. Maybe they were hoping no one would notice?

The issue starts out with a video game feature, looks at the Nura anime and vol 3 of the manga, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds trading card and strategy and the Reborn anime which has started streaming on Vizanime.com. The manga starts up with Psyren.

Oboro, the famous actor goes on a TV show about Psyren, and nearly feels the wrath of Nemesis Q. He is saved by Elmore Tenjuin, the woman who put up the 500 million to solve the mystery of Psyren. Another player isn’t so lucky. Ageha’s training contiues to surprising results that Sakurako can’t explain, but the call to return to Psyren interrupts them. It’s a new batch of new recruits that includes Oboro. Sakurako tries to explain what’s going on again, and of course, no one believes her. Oboro decides to see for himself and leads most everyone out except for a kid who decides to stick with Sakurano because she’s cute. Outside the group learns that Sakurano wasn’t kidding with the appearance of a monsterous sand worm. I really hope we get past the introduction of newbies and explaining things again and again. Let’s just get the team that’s going to be fighting in Psyren and get this title going!

One Piece finishes the flashback with Luffy, Ace and Sabo. Luffy and Ace learn a hard lesson with Sabo’s loss, and both resolve to become pirates and go out to see at 17 and live the lives they want. They continue training to become stronger. Ace learns to care for Luffy and they become real brothers. We see Ace’s send off as well as another view of Luffy’s. Luffy continues to struggle with his grief until Jimbei gets him thinking about what he still has instead of what he’s lost. We see the graves Shanks creates for White Beard and Ace, and Garp comes home to Windmill Village and ends up facing Dadan’s wrath. These were more great chapters, as we saw how far Ace’s apple DIDN’T fall from the family tree. And I still think Ace is cute, especially with his freckles. The moment that it dawns on Luffy that he still has something to live for is another emotional moment, and just shows again why One Piece continues to be superior to the likes of Bleach and Naruto.

Speaking of Bleach, the battle is set as the Soul Reaper Captains and Seconds stand ready to face Aizen and his Espada army. Back in the Hueco Mundo Ulquiorra waits for Ichigo to come and save Orihime. A fade to black (so to speak) and story goes back in time to 100 years in the past, to see where the seeds of Aizen’s plans were planted. There are lots of familiar faces, but not in familiar roles, and the story begins with the promotion of one Kisuke Urahara to the Captain of the 12th Company. While it’s nice to get away from the long and drawn out Hueco Mundo arc, I do question the need to put this in now, and how abruptly the story jumps from just about to start the big battle to this more plot heavy arc. I wonder if reader surveys had anything to do with the change.

Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds continues the duel between Yusei and Jack Atlas. Yusei’s having trouble with the duel as he tries to hold on to Sect and his duel runner is coming apart. Jack mocks Yusei’s devotion to helping his friend, and because Yusei puts his friend’s like first, he loses the match, and we are left wondering if he even survived. But since we already know Yusei has script immunity, we know this isn’t the end. And that Jack, and the first antagonist of the series, will have to see the light by the end of the arc, that friends are the best thing to have in a duel.

Naruto shows off his new ability to control the Nine-Tails chakra, and senses Kisame hiding in Killer Bee’s sword. Kisame tries to escape and instead has to face Guy, in a rematch. Kisame thinks he’s going to win thanks to his ability to absorb chakra, but he’s in for a surprise from Guy’s fighting style, and is captured instead. While he thought he would gathering intelligence on Naruto and the alliance, he instead is probed and we get a flashback to his life before becoming Akatsuki, but he bites his own touge off rather than betray Madara and the Akatsuki. Naruto’s new abilities with the control of the Nine-Tails Chakra is interesting, as it seems he also inherited his father’s teleportation ability. More cool and confident Naruto would be a huge welcome to this series. With memories of his parents now, may be we can keep getting more of that and less of the angst.

Online in Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Rikuo has to save Kana from a yokai who promised to come get her on her 13th birthday. He then takes her to a yokai party where she seems to start to fall for Night Rikuo. Then, a new arc is introduced. Now that Rikuo has accepted his position as successor to the Nura Clan, the internal squabbling is mostly over, but a new threat from outside now threatens the Clan. The 88 Demons of Shikoku start to move in on Nura territory, even killing an executive, Hihi. Thinking the Nura clan is an easy target, they go straight for Nurarihyon. I like the sort-of romance starting between Rikuo and Kana, his childhood friend. Kana seems rather jealous of Yuki-Onna when she’s with Rikuo, and how she becomes smitten with Night Rikuo isn’t too surprising. I’ve already said I prefer him to day Rikuo anyway. I wonder how much this part of the story will be advanced, or if it will stay in the shadows.

The preview for May/June is for Toriko volume 5. Toriko, Rin, Terry, Sunny and Komatsu get separated as they race to reach Regal Plateau before the GT robots do to get the Regal Mammoth and its jewel meet. Toriko and Rin end up goign north, through the Devil Athletic, while Sunny and Komatsu go south through the Prehistoric March. Terry, the battle wolf that impressed on Toriko is following after Toriko to warn him of more GT Robots who are roaming and killing anything that gets in their way. Sunny guesses what the GT Robots are really up it, and explains to Komatsu (and the reader) the idea of Gourmet Cells, which also explains why Toriko, Rin and Sunny are so powerful. These chapters are mostly either battling or appreciating the strange foods found on the island. Neither activity interests me, so neither do these chapters.

With the reduction of the print issues, I wonder how, or if, it will affect the release of the graphic novels. The issue of costs have me worried. Viz could probably take their whole magazine online, like Nura, but the fact that they have been heavily i*, I’m afraid if they go all digital that that is the format they would go with and not through the browser. I would have to completely drop my Shonen Jump subscription. And I really do like having the magazine to read. It is nice to have some non-screen time.

Shonen Jump May 2011

The Drive-Bys are a little late this week do to the blog moving to a new host, the Manga Movable Feast, and most importantly, I didn’t get my subscription again, and had to go out and buy it. This is the 4th time in the last 6 months that I haven’t gotten my subscription. I can’t blame SJ though. I know it’s my local post office and mail carrier that can’t seem to figure out the difference between the streets Alabama and Tennessee, which is where a lot of my mail ends up. Oh well, I’ve got my sub extended to August now. One thing I learned from having to buy this month’s issue it that Yu-Gi-Oh CCG cards are more popular than Naruto. Last issue I had to buy had all the Yu-Gi-Oh cards removed from the magazines at my local Barnes and Noble. This issue has the Naruto card intact.

SJ continues its celebration started last month by spotlighting the heroes from all the Shonen Jump manga that didn’t appear in the magazine. It’s quite a list with over 30 titles, both new and ongoing as well as complete. This month’s manga highlight is Blue Exorcist, and I’ll have more on that later. Also featured are the new 3-in-1 omnibuses that Viz is releases with Naruto, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Kekkaishi, as well as a re-release of the One Piece 3-in-1s that cover the East Blue arc.

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s starts off the magazine with the arrival of a new duelist, Jack Atlus who is obviously not looking to make friends. Fresh off his duel with the Skeleton Knight, Yusei is taking Sect to the hospital when he is attacked by Atlus and forced into a duel. Atlus has all the making of a typical archrival. He’s gunning to be the “king” and is taking on all duel runners to prove how great he is. I do like Yusei still. He acts a lot like “Other Yugi” and even looks a little like him. His hair though, looks like he has dragon antlers, which just makes him all that more cooler. Yeah, I’m still liking this title.

Naruto continues the story of the day Naruto was born and the attack of Nine Tails against Konoha. We the man who calls him Uchiha Madara (I have my doubts about that) is the cause, and had his crazy plan to take over the world back then. Minato faces him, and breaks his control over Nine Tails. But, in order to save the village, both he and Kushina must sacrifice themselves and make baby Naruto the new Jinchuriki. With the end of the story, so ends Kushina’s chakra and she disappears. While we learn a little more about “Madara”, and how far back his plans started, it’s still just tidbits. Naruto himself takes the story of his birth pretty well, but I wonder if it’s just going to make him all that more determined to stop “Madara.”

Bleach finally ends the battle between Kenpachi and Nnoitora, where we get a few flashbacks of Nnoitora and Nelliel, and some insight into why Nnoitora did what he did. Not that I really cared. But he’s no longer a problem. With this battle over, Aizen makes his move, taking Orihime as further bait for Ichigo while he, Kaname, and Gin prepare to destroy Karakura Town, gloating first. But it seems the Soul Society might not be as unprepared as he believes. I really hope this ends the Hueco Mundo arc. It went on way too long, and had no point other than to have lots of fighting with zero plot movement. If that’s what Kubo was after, he should have just held a tournament like everyone else, and left us thinking the arc might go somewhere.

One Piece continues the story in the past with Luffy, Ace, and their friend Sabo. Background is given about the Kingdom of Goa and the set up of the capital city. Sabo’s past is revealed as well, as is his reason for waiting to become a pirate. A plot by the nobility of Goa though threatens their lives and lives of everyone in Trash Mountain. Luffy and Ace try to fight the pirate Bluejam who did the bidding of the nobility but gets betrayed by them. Dadan comes to their rescue, just as Dragon, who has returned to the land of his birth does some rescuing of his own. These chapters show just how oppressive society can be in the world of One Piece. Not just of the wealthy over the poor, but over each other as well. Freedom is just a wish for someone like Sabo who has to fight not just society, but his own family as well. I liked seeing Dragon as he was just starting out as a pirate. Goa is a great reason to start a revolution.

In Psyren Ageha and Hiryu finally meet Matsuri, Sakuranko’s psi teacher. She was once a Psyren Drifter, who survived game. She explains what she knows about the game, and confirms that it is happening in the future. There is a mystery about what happened to Japan, and where the Taboo came from. She also explains about the psi powers and starts Ageha and Hiryu on their training. Sakuranko takes over, where Hiryu catches on quickly, but of course it takes Ageha longer. We are also introduced to a new character, Oboro. He is a famous actor who has acquired a Psyren card, but hasn’t tried to use it…yet. I really liked all the background Matsuri gave about Psyren. I like that Nemesis Q just might not be a villain, but is actually trying to save the future. But I’m not taking anything on face value. Hopefully more info in the future will reveal more about his and his goals.

The preview this month is the new title Blue Exorcist. Viz did the thing that I really HATE them doing with their previews. They didn’t start with the first chapter. This preview starts with the second chapter with a note to go find the first volume to read the first one. Jerks. Anyway, the story picks up with Mephisto Pheles, the President of True Cross Academy taking Rin and Yukio with him back to the Academy. Yukio already goes there, and Rin will just be starting. Rin wants to become an exorcist to stop his real father, Satan, the god of demons. His first day in his first class comes with quite a shock when he learns who his instructor is. I’m on the fence about this series, especially started from the SECOND chapter. Sorry Viz, this isn’t the way to convince me to buy your first volume. I really don’t care for the way Yukio treats Rin at the end. It felt really wrong to me. I may, or may not, try to find out more.

There were 4 chapters online for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, finishing up the fight with Gyuki as well as the second volume. Gyuki’s history is also revealed, explaining why he has such a problem with Nura becoming the Third. But, at least Nura finally commits himself to taking on the role. In the final chapter, Kana’s jealous really starts to grow as she spys on Nura and Yukio, thinking they might be dating, but she’s got bigger problems. A yokai seems to have targeted her… I’m glad Viz put Nura online, because I never would have made it past the first volume. The end of the second volume does give me hope for the series, and that it will move out of the internal squabbles about Rikuo taking over, and into more serious conflicts with more yokai. Cause really, I’m just into it for the yokai. And the Night version of Rikuo.

Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m hooked on Bakuman now. The four chapter preview of volume 4 really sold me on it. Moritaka and Akito try going solo after Akito couldn’t come up with a story by the deadline. Unknowingly, they start working on the same kind of story. Mr. Hattori realizes it, and tries to slow the boys down. But after a month, they start talking to each other and realize they are better as a team and decide to trick Mr. Hattori just as he tried to trick them, and come up with 10 storyboards for their detective manga. Mr. Hattori then challenges them to do a one shot for the next Gold Future, and at the same time, a final draft every two weeks to see if they can handle it and go to school. If they can, he will submit their story at the next serialization meeting. It’s hard to explain why I was so hooked in by these four chapters. I think I just find the whole process of making manga fascinating. Because these are the parts that really keep me reading. I don’t really care about Moritaka and Miho’s relationship. I like the insights into the decision-making at Shonen Jump. And the competition between would-be mangaka isn’t something that has to be made up. With these chapters, Bakuman jumps into my must read pile.

I’m not sure when next month’s post will go up. I’m not sure I’m even going to get my subscription issue! But I do wonder what is going on with next issue. Viz is calling it the June/July issue. Does that mean it’s going to be a bigger issue? Is the magazine going bi-monthly? Nothing has been said so far in press release or on the Shonen Jump website. Maybe it’s something they are trying to push through quietly?