The bad part about an excellent week of chapters is that the following week has to work that much harder just to seem passable. And while this week’s chapters were not quite as excellent as last week’s, we still got a good bunch of manga this week. We also got a lot of it, since Rurouni Kenshin and Blue Exorcist returned to the lineup for their monthly appearances.
Rurouni Kenshin Ch. 008
I will say this for this month’s Rurouni Kenshin: It did not frustrate me quite as much as last month’s. Sure, Kanryu is an absolute joke of a villain, and the fact that he would even be remotely considered a threat for Yahiko—even an untrained Yahiko—stretches my suspension of disbelief to the maximum. Still, I did get a chuckle (and then a groan) out of the end of Sanosuke’s fight. Sure it was amusing, but at the same time I wasn’t really looking for comedy out of this series. As with every month, this project feels more and more like a tired attempt to cash in on the movie’s publicity rather than a labour of love or anything.
I guess one way of expressing my disappointment is that I was really hoping for a sequel. Oh well, it is what it is, and critiquing it based on what I want it to be rather than what it is isn’t fair. Unfortunately what it is isn’t very impressive in the first place.
Naruto Ch. 622
Speaking of misplaced comedy, Naruto is a series about Ninja and the impact war has on children, though one could be forgiven for missing that point, considering that this chapter started with an unfunny comedy segment. Kishimoto’s humor is very hit or miss—most often miss it seems like. I’ve only really laughed at one of his jokes in months. And even that was probably misplaced comedy. In this case, starting off an attempt at establishing pathos in your story with a goofy scene isn’t the best way to go.
And while I lauded him for connecting Naruto and Obito thematically, if he’s trying to do the same thing with Hashirama and Madara I will go on strike. It’s clever if done once. Done twice, it becomes the damning evidence that it’s the only tool in your box.
Still, the point that war is bad and children dying in war is bad is always a good point to make. Too bad the execution left plenty to be desired.
One Piece Ch. 700
While I find it odd that Kinemon and Law seem to be getting along just fine, considering Law was responsible for holding up Kinemon’s search for Momonosuke, it’s a minor concern in an otherwise great chapter. There is so much material to go through that I feel more inclined to just say this was a great chapter and leave it at that. There are, however, a few points worth noting. For one, we get confirmation that Buggy is one of the seven warlords, and his inappropriate title amuses me to no end. Second, Luffy and Doflamingo interact for the first time, and it’s good to see that Luffy still can’t take anything seriously. Thirdly, Law is slowly, against his own will, becoming accustomed to the crew. And hilarity ensues. Fourthly, Nami finally put on a damn shirt. Far be it from me to complain if beautiful women want to wear skimpy. But it becomes very hard to sell the series to non-fans when one of the main characters wears nothing but bikini tops for two solid arcs.
World Trigger Ch. 004
World Trigger continues to ask questions, but the answers seem to still be off in the distance—for the moment at least—but not in the way that frustrates me, more in the way that I am interested to know more. In execution, World Trigger is playing it a bit more standard shounen than I would necessarily want. Even as a shounen fan, I need a bit more to really grab my attention. For now I am willing to come back to see my questions answered, but I hope at least a few of those questions will be answered soon. Though, to be fair, I am willing to wait if it means the story is paced properly. The jury is out on World Trigger for the moment.
Nisekoi Ch. 064
As I’ve said before, if you want a manga that gives you romantic comedy that doesn’t get too drenched in melodrama, then Nisekoi is the manga for you. This chapter somehow manages to give all the girls their time in the spotlight, and it does so at Rakku’s constant expense. It’s a necessary element for a harem manga that the main character be the butt end of a few jokes. Otherwise the readers (the male readers at least) would start hating them for being so unreasonably lucky with girls. Somehow Rakku is one of the few who can escape that scorn, and still be a fitting candidate for a bit of punishment here and there. Also, once again, Chitoge wins the chapter for her facial expressions.
Toriko Ch. 224
This chapter didn’t quite have as much material as in the past few weeks. We spent a lot more time focused on Coco, and a bit on Sunny, that we didn’t get to see much of the battle as a whole. Which works plenty fine, since now it is time to focus in on the individual battles now that the battle as a whole has been established. Still, the material provided seems a bit less bountiful than last week. At least we get an explanation for why cooks are so important. That and Sunny’s fight promises to be the absolute most entertaining part of this war.
Bleach Ch. 528
It’s cute how Kubo pulls out these big reveals, only to have his readers say, “Uh…yeah, we kinda figured it out when you dropped the first hint months ago.” That’s not to say the reveal of what exactly Ichigo’s mother was is bad, it’s just that literally everybody following this manga figured it out back when Ichigo first fought whatshisface the Quincy King.
The problem lies in the fact that Kubo drops hints, and those hints point at literally the only single explanation. And then when the only explanation is revealed, it comes across as underwhelming. This would be easily overcome if he broadened his strokes a little. Make the hints point at an obvious conclusion, and then have the reveal be something completely different but completely logical. But, considering that we are almost at the end of the series, I’ll take what I can get.
For a Bleach chapter, there was a surprising amount of content this week. Action scenes usually go by so fast that reading a completely plot centric chapter seems like suddenly reading War and Peace. And what I said last week is true, when Bleach is good, Naruto suffers. And this week Bleach was quite good.
One-Punch Man Ch. 007
As usual, One-Punch Man was excellent. The joke continues to be the same, but it continues to be funny. Rather than have the one punch be the punchline at the end of the chapter, the joke is carried through the whole chapter. The introduction of Genos, and an ongoing set of antagonists, helps give this series more body. Also, it’s just really funny every week.
Dragon Ball Z Ch. 005
The fight starts, and this is the first time we are really introduced to the idea that power levels are unreliable. I can’t really think of much to say, beyond how ridiculous it is to see Raditz winning, in hindsight at least. Still, it’s a shame that Toriyama introduced him as Goku’s brother, and then never decided to do anything with him after this arc. It seems almost pointless to introduce him as Goku’s brother and then never use him again. Sure it may be unique to have what should be a major character in the hero’s life be relegated to a oneshot villain. But in that case, why bother establishing the relationship in the first place.
Cross Manage Ch. 023
Cross Manage continues to stay an enjoyable series for me. Sure the focus isn’t on the sport, which is a bit odd for a sports series. But I enjoy it for the characters. With the development they’ve gotten in the past few chapters, I’m finally looking forward to these chapters, and would be severely disappointed if this series ends. It’s that right balance of quirky characters with high school and sports drama that I can enjoy reading.
Blue Exorcist Ch. 044
This series must be maddening for anyone invested in any kind of romantic relationship between the characters. First Shiemi appears to be a romantic interest for Rin, then chapters like this emphasize her feelings for Yuki, etc. Were I not an unfeeling Cyberman I would be frustrated by this series. Fortunately I was instead able to focus on the growing friendship between Rin and Godaiin, as well as the potential world building promised to us by Mephisto. This chapter focused more on the different characters, building up their relationships and inner turmoil with each other. It lacked a big climax, but I suppose that is not to the chapter’s detriment. I’m still waiting to see where this next arc will be headed exactly, so I hope next month’s chapter picks up the pace.
If you want to hear more, check out the Manga^3 Podcast Archives. Or go directly to last week’s episode, Episode 037 – February 25, 2013 – What is Seinen Manga? | Hyrule Historia.