There will never be anything like a perfect issue of WSJ. But for what it’s worth, I think this week we got close to it. There was not a single chapter that I hated this week. There were a few I was less excited about, but none that incited any kind of rage. All in all, it was a good week.
World Trigger Ch. 001
I think I can honestly say that this might be the best first chapter in Weekly Shonen Jump Online. Sure we haven’t had all that many first chapters in this magazine, but the point still stands. While I am getting tired of the typical high school setting—I’ve come to realize that it’s a staple of the medium and something I’ll just have to live with—everything else about this first chapter was great. Even the stereotypical bullying, which from what I understand is a real problem in Japan so I can understand the need to bring more attention to it, was used effectively.
Ultimately what sold me on this new series were the two twists at the end. Manga-ka Daisuke Ashihara played with our expectations for an action series like this and was able to use that to turn the tables at the end of the chapter. If he can keep this up throughout the entire series, then I can see a bright future for this new manga.
One Piece Ch. 698
I’m sure anyone who isn’t as big into One Piece as I am must be getting tired of this section of the column. But can you really blame me this week? Sure, the majority of the chapter is just character interaction—no big action scenes here. But it’s that kind of writing that draws us closer to the characters and is ultimately one of the most entertaining aspects of One Piece.
And lest we forget—though how could we forget—that cliffhanger. I guess now we know who that mysterious stranger sleeping in the middle of the ocean a few chapters ago was, but ending the chapter by pitting Doflamingo and Kuzan together (and doing so right before taking a week break), is nothing short of gloriously sadistic.
One-Punch Man Ch. 004
I would probably be talking out of my behind were I to say that One-Punch Man was a serious drama whose entire appeal revolves around the pathos of the main character (whose strength is his one true weakness). But I feel entirely justified in saying that this chapter emphasizes how well Saitama’s ennuie can be used for comedic purposes. It also allows us to see that even though Saitama killing people in one punch could become a tired gag, author One is skilled enough to stretch the humor of the situation further by switching up the formula here and there. Possibly the funniest chapter of the series to date.
Naruto Ch. 619
Finally, a chapter of Naruto where I can legitimately say something nice. I know that I start this section every week wishing I could find something nice to say. I feel bad for hating on Naruto so much when I know there is a richness of readers out there who love the series and who I am probably chasing off by hating on their series so much.
Fortunately, this week was my favorite chapter of Naruto in a long time. I do hate Kishimoto’s poorly timed comedy at times, particularly when it is used during what should be an emotional scene. But when Kishimoto manages to insert his comedy appropriately, it is still really funny. Getting to meet the first two Hokage for the first time (Orochimaru’s initial use of their corpses back before the time skip does not count since their personalities were sealed at that point) was a treat that made this a surprisingly funny chapter.
Even more surprising is that I was able to read this chapter without devolving into frothing rage anytime Sasuke was in the scene. Even more so, being able to learn a bit more about the Uchiha was a long overdue blessing. Granted, I don’t buy the idea that “they feel too much love, so they feel too much hate,” and the concept that the Sharingan is ultimately created by the power of love makes me laugh. (Not in a good way. More in a “let’s make fun of Ma-Ti from Captain Planet” kind of way.)
Dragon Ball Z Ch. 002
There’s really not much to say about this chapter, except that I’d forgotten how accurate and justified Krillin’s characterization in Dragon Ball Z Abridged is. I mean, really, he just waltzes up to someone Goku said is strong, who is skilled enough to be able to fly, and expects what to happen? Well he clearly does not expect to get owned, and I have to admit the temptation to keep a “Krillin Owned” count of my own is overwhelming.
The translation, which I assume is the same translation Viz has been using ever since they first started licensing Dragon Ball, could really use an update. If nothing else, we could use an updated spelling for Krillin’s name. I won’t admit to knowing exactly which spelling is correct, but I do know that nobody has spelled it Kuririn ever—at least nobody who has grown up reading and watching the series. There are some other aspects of the old translation that stick out, such as the typesetting and some of the diction. The color is all good and fine, but I would much rather see an update to the translation.
Cross Manage Ch. 020
While I really loved last week’s chapter, this week was a bit weak. The first half or so was fun, mostly because Komatsu featured prominently. But the fact that the game itself only got half a chapter tells me exactly where the focus of this series is. So fans of sports manga can probably give up on learning anything significant about lacrosse.
The romance between Sakurai and Misora feels rushed, suggesting that the series is probably not going to survive the next round of cancellations. Perhaps it’s a curse for any romance series, but I find the side characters more interesting than our two leads. Sure Misora is quirky and entertaining, but she suffers from protagonist bias, meaning that because of how much time we spend around her she just doesn’t measure up against the other quirky characters that have less time spent on them. Not to mention that I find it hard to care about a romance for a series that hasn’t been around long enough for me to care about the characters. Perhaps that’s why series that don’t focus much on romance at all get all the rabid shippers. The more time you spend with the characters, the more you care about them. And it’s a lot easier to becoming attached to romantic relationships when they aren’t being forced on you in less than twenty five chapters.
Toriko Ch. 221
I don’t know why some series bore the snot out of me when they do nothing but show fight after fight, but for some reason Toriko just gets away with it. Perhaps it’s because of how imaginative the powers are. Or perhaps it’s because in this chapter we finally get to see some neglected characters match up for their own fights. Mansam and Rin have not had much time in the story, compared to others. For someone watching the anime at the same time, they may come across as one-note characters, which they very much are since they have not had any real development before this chapter. Thus, the anime has to go with what they’ve got, and what they’ve got is a collection of tired old jokes that weren’t really funny in the first place.
Hopefully we get to see a bit more of those two, particularly Rin, whom I liked from the start for her non-traditional design. Unfortunately while she doesn’t look like your typical girl from a shounen manga, she sure does act like it. So with a bit of luck she will actually get to look like the badass I thought she was supposed to be.
I’m still a bit peeved that we didn’t get to see the rest of the cooking fest, but by this point I’m so excited by all the upcoming fights that I can’t really complain anymore.
Nisekoi Ch. 061
It’s amazing what a difference a single chapter can make. I wasn’t that big on the drama between Chitoge and Hana, but somehow this chapter managed to explain Hana’s neglect in a surprisingly satisfying way. The joke quota for this chapter was still somewhat low, but we seem to be rushing to a conclusion here so hopefully Nisekoi will be par for the course shortly.
If you want to hear more, check out the Manga^3 archives. For last week’s episode check out Episode 034 – February 4, 2013 – Overarching Goals and The Legend of Koizumi.