This issue of Shonen Jump is the preparation issue for the One Piece speed up. Just like with the Naruto jumps, there is a dedicated section the gives short descriptions of the arcs to be covered in the volume releases. That’s right. I said arcs. Unlike with Naruto, which could give summary of each of the volumes, One Piece has too many volumes coming out to cover them all, so they just described the arcs, what volumes they cover and what villains the Straw Hat Pirates would be facing. There are 4 arcs to be covered, with the next arc, “Skypieda”, being 10 volumes long! This is a whole lot to take in. I really hope Viz knows what they’re doing and aren’t dooming One Piece. This property, which should have been as big or even bigger than Naruto has been mishandled by so many, I really don’t want to see it happen any more.
I’m a loyal reader of Shonen Jump, and every once in a while I like to give my opinion of the current titles running. I don’t really care for the articles in the magazine. They are all aimed at teen boys, of which I am certainly not one. The Bleach anime, Naruto video and card games, the Yu-gi-oh card game, not my thing. But I still enjoy many of the SJ titles. So I’m going to do this for Shonen Jump like every 3 months or so, or if anything major happens, such as a title getting switched out, or an exciting preview.
I know this is late, but SDCC threw everything off schedule. Everything will back by this week. I hope.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Otakon ran this weekend. Did you notice? There were no announcements from manga publishers, and really not a lot of announcements in general. Whoever planned for this years Otakon really blew it. Placing it between the biggest industry cons was a serious mistake. Attendance was barely changed from last years numbers. Even with this economy, AX showed a reasonable rise, and SDCC sold out at least two months sooner than last year. So it’s not that people aren’t going to the cons, they just need more time in between to replenish cash reserves. Otakon, stay in August.
I’m sure everyone’s heard by now about Viz’s insane idea to catch up One Piece with the Japanese releases. They announced at Anime Expo that they will release 30 volumes in six months starting in January 2010. That’s 5 volumes a month! Back in May, when it was first announced that current One Piece chapters would start showing up in Shonen Jump, I wrote what I thought of that decision. Viz was nuts. I thought they would try to do it in the span before the chapters came out. I was wrong about that. But their response is no better.
Along with the announcement that Funimation would begin streaming the One Piece anime simultaneously with the Japanese showing, waaaaayyyy down at the bottom of the announcement, tucked in the About One Piece section, it was also announced that the US edition of Shonen Jump would start running the manga in line with the Japanese releases. Just like Naruto.
Huh? How are they going to do that?
Naruto‘s catching up seems to be doing well for Viz and Shueisha, if the Japanese publisher has agreed to this. But, Naruto took two years and a mass release of 22 volumes in order to get caught up with the Japanese releases. One Piece, which missed it’s bus thanks to 4Kids raping it and it taking a few years for Funimation to do a proper anime release of it, has a lot further to go. Volume 53 was just published in Japan, and volume 21 will be released here in June. That’s a 32 volume jump. And Viz plans to have the new chapters start in Shonen Jump in the fall of this year!
There is no way they will be able to publish and sell 32 One Piece volumes! Not unless they plan to release nothing else! Or are they going to release a special volume of Shonen Jump to “catch up” to the current chapters? I just don’t see any way they can do this in a minmum of 4 months. Even going with a BIG format, that 11 of those to get out.
While I love One Piece, and I’m all for catching manga up to current releases in Japan, this is just insane! This is not the way to stop scanalations, because there is NO WAY a normal person could catch up to this. Not with this economy, and especially not in California! I thought Viz was nuts to do another Naruto wave in February. I’ve can’t wait to see how they think they are going to manage this.
I was channel surfing last weekend, and happened upon the first episode of Buso Renkin on the Funimation Channel. I like to see manga I’ve read as anime. Reading static action scenes are okay, but seeing them move can really bring it to life. So, I try to at least see some episodes of an anime. I stopped to check out the first episode and see how Viz did with it. I have a habit of hoping for the best about these things. Sometimes I’m rewarded, sometimes not.
The opening started as a good sign. It was the original Japanese opening “Makka Na Chikai” with subtitles. I liked the opening song, and the animation was well done. I especially liked at the end of the opening with Kazuki and Tokiko holding the Sunlight Slasher, and it switching from color and then to black and white with speed lines. Like a switch between anime and manga.
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!
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”.
In the December issue of Shonen Jump, there is a short announcement. Another manga will be joining the pages of the magazine. Tegumi Bachi, a title announced at SDCC, will start running in SJ starting in the March 2009 issue (out in February 2009). It comes from the pages of Jump SQ, and appears to be another soon-to-be big property in Japan. An anime special has already been created for it for the Jump Super Anime Tour event. Usually at these events, only popular titles from the Jump magazines are spotlighted. Dragon Ball/Z, Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece have all had specials created for these tours.
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.
Zombie Powder Volume 1
By Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Somewhere in the desert are the 12 Rings of the Dead. Anyone who can find all 12 can have the mysterious Zombie Powder, a substance that can raise the dead or give eternal life. Those who seek the rings are called Powder Hunters. One of these hunters is named Gamma Akutabi, a man with a metal hand, a 6-foot chainsaw and a price on his head. He rolls into Blue Note seeking information on the rings when he runs into Elwood, a young down-on-his-luck pickpocket who is desperately trying to earn money to cure his sister’s heart condition. Together, they set out to find the mysterious Rings of the Dead that can either give new life to Elwood’s sister, or make Gamma absolutely invincible.
This is the first manga series by the man that would later go on to give us Bleach, so you pretty much know what you’re in for. He’s very clear about it at the beginning of the manga when he says “Mainly it’s all battles. It’s completely OK to just read through it without thinking about anything.” That’s a decent description, at least in part, but it’s not just battles, there’s a lot of great humor involved as well. As soon as Gamma gets off the train in Blue Note, everyone comments at the fancy, well-dressed man… who gets his coat stuck in the door and gets dragged behind the train. The story is no great shakes, it’s your generic quest story that’s been done to death in shonen stories. Find the 12 Rings. Find the Dragonballs. You get the drift. What makes it fun is all the comedy, especially the physical comedy, done to Gamma. In their first meeting, Elwood slams Gamma’s head into the bar as he picks his pocket. When Gamma stands up, there’s a fork stuck in his forehead that apparently, he doesn’t notice right away, although everyone else does. That kind of sets the tone throughout the series.
If you’re looking for something that’s not too taxing mentally, but is still a fun roller coaster ride, give Zombie Powder a shot. The story does get more interesting as you go on, but it’s the visual humor that really makes the ride worthwhile.