These past two weeks have been a bit strange for me. A few years ago Golden Week was like some kind of massive torture perpetrated against me by the Japanese people. How dare they take an entire week off and deprive me of my new manga chapters!?
Please keep in mind this is a comedically exaggerated representation of a much more immature me.
Jump forward to this year, and I found myself mostly unconcerned about there being no new manga chapters last week. I attribute it to being a lot busier than when I first started reading manga on a weekly basis. It almost felt like a bit of a relief not to have new chapters, though that I attribute mostly to the fact that I didn’t have to write up a recap. As much as I enjoy this, a break is nice every now and then. But, now we’re back and we won’t be off for the next several months. I’m pretty sure there’s a week or two during the summer that we don’t get new chapters, but the only extended break in Japan I’m aware of is closer towards Christmas and New Years.
Blue Exorcist Ch. 046
There was once a time when I would have raged at a chapter like this. I hated romantic drama, and to an extent I still do. In a way, I remind myself of a certain fictional manga artist, “But I don’t want to make it hard for my main character.” Thank goodness for perspective. There are certainly plenty of reasons to rage about this chapter, depending on one’s varying levels of shipping aptitude. But the main thing I took from this is that Shura is my perfect woman. Not because of her fashion sense, but because she just doesn’t give a crap. All this teenage romantic drama and the only thing she cares about is giving Yukio a hard time. Were she real I would ask her to marry me. Sadly, she is not, so I’ll just sit back and keep enjoying chapters like these.
Naruto Ch. 629
There are a few things I could go off on in this chapter. The first thing that really stuck out was the giant hole Obito now has in him. But I was able to remember that part of his body is actually made up of a Zetsu clone. So chances are, he can survive with a giant hole through his chest because that’s not actually part of his body.
What really got me going was the reveal of how Rin actually died. I’m going to go off on a slight tangent here, but one of the reasons I really like the series Fairy Tail is because it’s one of the only manga series that addresses the fact that “one can die for their loved ones and have said loved ones be okay with it” is a pretty arrogant conceit. The sacrifice is no less noble, but one should not approach it without the understanding that while your loved ones’ lives will be saved by your sacrifice, they will still be severely hurt by your death. Because they love you so much that they would rather they die and you live, and vice versa.
That being said, I don’t know what exactly was going through Rin’s mind when she decided to jump in front of Kakashi’s attack. Certainly she was sacrificing herself to prevent the Three Tails from going on a rampage in Konoha, but besides Obito’s word we have no proof that the higher ups in Konoha couldn’t have controlled the Three Tails somehow. In fact, the majority of this series is about how Jinchuriki can control their tailed beasts. Does Kirigakure have some special way of forcing her to go on a rampage? We don’t know, we’re never told that information. Perhaps she couldn’t control it because she wasn’t a Jinchuriki from birth? We don’t know. That crucial bit of information, upon which the validity of her sacrifice hinges, is never actually explained.
We’re given the most bare bones explanation, and are expected to feel sad just because someone died for someone else. (Semi)Pro Tip for aspiring writers, if you’re considering a plot twist that will just make readers pause and ask, “Say wha?” and you don’t intend to explain it later, then perhaps you need to rethink what you are writing!
And if it wasn’t bad enough that the entire sacrifice is dubious at best—why in the world are we supposed to think that there is some kind of deep significance in Rin using Kakashi to commit suicide? “She decided to die at the hands of someone she loved in order to protect Konoha.” From that sentence alone her actions are portrayed as something meaningful. But instead all I can see is a poorly written character deciding that it was a good idea to force the person she loved to kill her!
Now we get to the relevance of my Fairy Tail tangent. If dying for others without understanding the pain the survivors go through is a bad enough sin, then forcing them to be the one to kill you—forcing them to live with that guilt—is the most selfish thing I can imagine. We barely know what Rin’s personality was like, besides her being a proto-Sakura, but already she’s probably the worst character in this entire series! I make no effort to hide that I think Naruto has some poorly written women. But it’s a testament to Kishimoto’s skill that he could take a character we’ve barely even met and make her the most despicable character in the entire series. And what’s worse, we’re supposed to like her for what she did. It doesn’t work like that! We’ve got an entire series worth of Kakashi feeling guilt over his comrades dying. This isn’t making Rin’s death seem noble or anything, rather it’s just compounding how awful she is.
And what gets me is that we’re supposed to think this is anything other than the most awful thing anyone could do to someone they love.That’s the impression I’m getting. Why can’t we have characters in this series that don’t make the worst decisions ever? Or at least don’t ask us to accept that their decisions are not the worst decisions ever. I still haven’t forgotten that Naruto told Sasuke they would die together! Why is nobody pointing out how stupid that plan is!?!
Fortunately Mario was a lot more tolerable than Naruto was this week. It’s a fair shake at a more serious story, though it still has those little flaws in Kishimoto’s writing that always get to me. For one, why exactly does Mario apparently die at the end? I know he says he’s sick of the world or something, but that’s not exactly a good reason. And once again we’re supposed to accept the events of the manga without questioning it. The ending practically screams, “This is meaningful and touching, don’t you dare question it!” To which my only response is, “Now wait just one darn minute!”
I think, if nothing else, that is my biggest problem with Kishimoto’s writing—that he does things not supported by any kind of logic, and expects me to buy in unquestioningly. That may work for some authors but it doesn’t here, because I have far too many questions every time I read one of his pieces. He focuses far too much on the emotional aspect of the story without backing it up with logic. Considering I’m a fan of Doctor Who I can’t exactly complain about relying on emotion more than logic. However, there is a certain level of logic required for the emotion not to crumble under the weight of questions. Consider the logic the cake and the emotion the sweet, sweet frosting. Frosting tastes good on its own, but if you try and form it in the shape of a cake you better have a crap ton of frosting or it’s either going to collapse or be a much smaller cake. And ultimately it won’t be nearly as satisfying. A sweet little nothing, without the backing of more solid food.
One Piece Ch. 708
All this talk about cake has made me hungry, but sadly the next series is not Toriko, so that segue has been wasted this week. Still, One Piece was excellent again. By this chapter, Luffy’s attempts to hide his identity are pointless, though I will give him credit for not being the instigator of his unmasking. I expected him to be dumb enough to once again tell someone that he’s Luffy. But rather than pulling that joke for a second time, Oda gave him the benefit of the doubt and let him slip up only after someone else called him on his identity. I look forward to seeing how the C block fights turn out. By that point I imagine his identity will become general knowledge and everyone will be ganging up on him.
This chapter also featured the best segue from Luffy’s scene to the B block fight. It’s a simple thing, but it’s so well done in its simplicity that I can’t help but take a moment to appreciate it. The fight itself is moving into the final phase with some of the prominent fighters from last week being taken down, allowing us to focus on the true powerhouses for this fight. I imagine that we’ll have one more chapter before we’re down to the final two, which I’ll predict to be Bellamy and Bartolomeo.
Toriko Ch. 232
Toriko continues to prove that we really can’t know what will happen week to week. It defies my attempts to predict exactly what will happen. Characters dying that I didn’t expect, others turning out to be members of this mysterious third party… The fight seems pretty equal between the IGO and Gourmet Corp, but the only safe prediction I feel I can make is that both sides will be pretty much devastated after this war. And unless Toriko pulls himself together fast he’s going to lose this fight. And then Komatsu will become one of the rare male damsels in distress.
Nisekoi Ch. 073
I really need to stop falling in love with manga characters. Rakku’s teacher is possibly the master troll, and supreme not-give-a-crap master. Once again I find that the only way I can review Nisekoi is by giving a detailed summary about what was funny in this chapter. Which would result in me recapping the entire chapter and just butchering the jokes. So instead, go read it if you haven’t. You’ll need to read the chapter from two weeks ago, since this is a direct continuation of that. In fact, Viz has the first three volumes as digital editions. Go pick those up.
World Trigger Ch. 013
By this point my interest in World Trigger is null. I feel unfair writing a series off like that, but there really isn’t anything left for me to say. This is not a very engaging manga, and I can’t quite pinpoint why I’m not engaged by it. As a critic it’s been driving me mad. I should be able to point out why exactly something isn’t very good, but in this case I really can’t say anything but that this series is just dull. The premise was interesting at first, but the pacing has been atrocious (oh hey, that’s a specific right there!). It’s taken this long to come close to something even resembling a main focus, but by now it’s pointless. I’m already annoyed by this manga’s general lack of anything interesting to say. The fact that a missing piece has finally been inserted into the story doesn’t take away the fact that I’ve all ready seen how dull this story is.
Bleach Ch. 536
Well then, this chapter has an interesting panel in it. I won’t dwell on it, though it’s kind of hard not to, but am I the only one who noticed way more detail put into Masaki’s chest than I thought Shonen Jump allowed? Anyone else? Fine then, I guess I’m just a pervert, but I swear that’s way more detail in the nudity than I thought was allowed.
By now I think it’s pretty clear that Katagiri is Uryu’s mother, or if she isn’t then we’ve been pointlessly mislead. The rest of the chapter prefers to show rather than tell, but since the important part has been shown already I can let it pass. Now all we need to do is sit back and wait to see how much Masaki’s death will be retconned. My prediction, given the general tone of this arc, is that Masaki’s death will actually be because of the militant Quincy faction.
Cross Manage Ch. 032
This week was not quite as strong as the chapter two weeks ago, but it was still very strong. Sakurai and the rest of the team’s despair over how outmatched they are by Chihara is very well portrayed. Personally I would have loved if we’d gotten another twist at the end of the chapter with Komatsu stopping Chihara’s ball, but what we did get was still very solid. By this point I’m pretty certain the Fujioka team will be defeated. It’ll be another loss to mirror their first loss against Chouran. Except this time we actually get to see the game, and the loss comes after many chapters of training and character development. It’s actually a really clever move. Show the standard loss that every sports story needs early on, and then move forward as if still following the formula. By this point the tropes had been matched and I imagine more than a few were thinking Fujioka had a chance against Chouran. By having them actually lose this match, the first loss was a decoy to give the actual important loss that much more of an impact. I imagine next chapter Misora will rally her team together and they’ll fight back, but ultimately I expect them to lose.
Really it all depends on whether the series will continue or not. If it’s being cancelled this would be a good time to have them pull themselves together and win the game. It would be satisfying, after what we’ve gotten so far, but not nearly as good as what they could do if they lose this match and the series keeps going. Considering how good Cross Mangage has been the past few months I would be surprised if it was cancelled. There are worse series in Jump that need to go away well before this one disappears. So I hope we get the more satisfying, long term story, but either way what we’ve gotten so far has been amazing.
One-Punch Man Ch. 016
One-Punch Man is always good, but sometimes it’s just a little less good than others. The past few weeks have been a bit iffy as far as this manga is concerned. Still good, but not amazing. This week was back to amazing. We go back to the same old joke, but at the same time we get an absolutely awesome color page at the end of the chapter. I had to zoom in real close to determine if the background was just a picture of a sunset, or if it was an actual painting. I’m pretty sure it was a painting, but I could be wrong.
The fact that Saitama barely passed the Hero exam was amusing, especially considering how his full score on the physical test barely represents his actual abilities. He could easily beat Genos, who got a full score on both the physical and the written portion of the exams. It really begs the question, what is more important to a hero? Strength? Or brains? Well, in this case I’d definitely say strength is the most important aspect. Since Saitama can take down any hero, he just needs to study a bit more for the written portion.
Dragon Ball Z Ch. 014
Has it really been fourteen chapters? And here I was thinking not much had happened at all. I used to defend the Dragon Ball Z manga as being much faster paced than the anime, which it is, but I apparently gave it a tad more credit than it deserved. And still, somehow this manga manages to hit the butter zone for what I like in manga pacing. I can’t stand it when it’s too fast, I can’t stand it when it’s too slow, it has to be just right. And while Dragon Ball Z errs on the side of too slow, it’s still much better paced than a good chunk of the manga we’ve seen come and go since Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha started.
The one thing that always bugged me about Dragon Ball in general was how nonchalant the characters were about cutting off Saiyan tails. Sometimes they just popped right off, with no sharp implements needed. I can’t exactly speak for the characters, but I’m pretty sure that if I grew up with a tail I would be more than a little peeved when it got cut off. I probably wouldn’t even know how to properly balance. Because, as I’m sure we all know, animals with tails use them to help maintain their balance. We humans, and most apes, don’t need them thanks to our vestibular system. Though, when it comes to upright balance we’ve got the rest of the apes beaten. Any animal that has a tail generally has it in order to maintain their balance. And without said tail balance would become much more difficult. Unless of course the Saiyans have the same kind of internal balancing system we have, in which case them having tails would be an evolutionary goof.
Why, it’s almost like Toriyama was some kind of comic book artist, and not an expert in biology at all.
Still, I think the characters are cooler with their tails and I don’t get why Toriyama kept cutting them off. It would have been awesome to see them learn how to control their monkey forms. Probably would have taken the series in a completely different direction. Spiky blonde haired, blue eyed martial artists beating each other up, or giant monkeys doing the same thing? Hmmm…
Bit of a long one this week, sorry about that. But, considering we didn’t have anything to discuss last week I think I can get away with a double length review this week. So, anyone getting sick of my Naruto bashing? Or perhaps do you agree? Leave your feedback in the comment section.
If you want to hear more, check out the Manga^3 Podcast Archives. Or go directly to last two episodes, Episode 046 – April 29, 2013 – Manga Endings | Medaka Box, and, Special 002 – May 6, 2013 – Where the $%#! Is My Manga!? – A Discussion of Golden Week | Toriko Vol. 4