Well, it’s been a while. I have to apologize for my long silence. Personal circumstances and a stressful stretch of months at work made it very difficult to get anything done outside of waking up, going to work, coming home, playing video games until I pass out, and then waking up to start it all over again. Now, to some that second to last part might sound like I was just being lazy. And yes, there was a certain element of laziness involved. But it was less motivated by being a slacker, rather it was because nine to eight hours a day working customer service will drain the desire to do anything, even something you enjoy, out of anyone.
But, with no real change in my situation in sight, rather than just give up, I’m going to just suck it up and pick back up where I left off. I love writing about manga, and if I don’t share my opinions here, then where else can I go that people will actually listen when I go off on an incoherent rant about Naruto, Bleach, and World Trigger?
Obviously covering the past month plus in detail would take too long. So instead I’m going to give a quick recap of what I’ve thought of the past few weeks of manga before getting back to producing this column at a weekly rate.
And because the order in which the chapters are posted changes from week to week, I will be posting my comments about each series in the order that I feel like talking about them. So, essentially it’ll be organized by what I liked most to what I liked least.
It’s been a while so I can’t be certain, but I do believe I forgot to cover Cross Manage‘s final chapter. Astute readers may notice a correlation between the end of this manga and when I went on my extended hiatus. And yes, I would say that the two are connected. I really did fall in love with this series, and really do think it could have gone much further than it did. Sadly it would appear that the readers of Japan did not agree with me. And while this may just be a pipe dream, I hope that in the future our votes will matter in regards to which series will get cancelled. But, even if that does happen in the distant future, it won’t be enough to save this series.
Since it has been long enough since this series was cancelled, and my initial rage has subsided to a certain extent, I feel that now I can talk about this final chapter without making veiled and overt threats towards the Japanese readers for letting this series get cancelled.
And, like I had been saying, the ending really was satisfying. Sure there were some elements that didn’t get resolved, but it ended well by foregoing the “See, this is what you could have had route” that so many passive aggressive manga artists seem to go when their series is cancelled prematurely. As Viz brings out the digital volumes I’ll be reading the series again, so that I can at least enjoy one of the only sports manga I ever liked.
I know it’s a bit late, but please, I want to know how everyone else felt about this manga ending. Also, I feel it’s relevant to point out that I think there are certain series that have been going on for years with established fanbases that are making the rankings system extremely unfair towards new series. We know One Piece and Naruto are going to stick around, so why should anyone be voting for them? I say we need to take those series out of the voting pool, they will keep going no matter what, and open up the floor for new manga to get some votes. After all, beating series like One Piece, Toriko, Bleach, and Naruto is an insanely unfair requirement for new series.
While I’ve been losing a good deal of my enthusiasm for Weekly Shonen Jump since the cancellation of Cross Manage, at least One Piece has been there for me all along (not counting those couple of weeks hiatus due to health reasons). And while the story has been great, with this last week revealing the nature of Don Chin Jao’s gripe against Garp in the most ludicrous way, I think events relating to Oda’s life have been far more significant. With his health issues it’s become clear that fans don’t mind Oda taking some time off. After all, if we have to go a couple weeks without new manga so that the series actually keeps going then that’s a small price to pay. It’s also helped to remind us that while a manga-ka’s schedule is insane and inhumanely punishing, the editors are also human and want their artists to stay healthy, as shown by how they’ve been insisting Oda take it easier and actually take scheduled breaks even after a month long hiatus.
While we love having weekly manga, I think the grueling schedule manga artists go through to provide us with manga is worth discussing. It makes the issue of piracy even more relevant, considering that so many of us are willing to take what they’re sacrificing their lives for for free. And granted there is distribution to keep in mind, after all how can one get manga that isn’t being officially translated, I think what we really need to do is spread the word about this magazine so that we not only get more series in this magazine, but so that other companies make it worth their while to start emulating Viz.
Toriko the past couple weeks has shown that I may not be the biggest fan of our protagonist. He’s not awful, but compared to all the other characters I can’t help but feel like Toriko is a bit…dull. This series is the definition of Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, so it’s a shame when the protagonist feels a bit samey with all the other protagonists in manga. Still, everything else has been amazing in that silly Toriko way. The power levels of the players keep ramping up in ways that sometimes make absolutely no sense but I’m inclined to forgive it because this series just does ridiculous so well.
Nisekoi has been a bit hit and miss over the past month or so. I’ve been enjoying it, but some chapters were weaker than others. I particularly haven’t been a fan of the Haru heavy chapters, but there have been some great ones. The teacher leaving her job after getting married was problematic for me, but you can always listen to the podcast as to why I thought that. The most recent chapters get into the old amnesia shtick, but I find that it’s working so far if for no other reason that it’s being used to hang a lamp shade on harem series tropes. Particularly the unspoken reality that most harem protagonists would be considered scumbags in real life.
The amazing thing about One-Punch Man is that it goes beyond just being funny. It has great action, and great characters. Sure Saitama is pretty one note, but he’s entertaining enough and the side characters, even brand new ones, get some pretty great moments to shine. I won’t lie, the Puri Puri Prisoner character is problematic in how it shows that Japan apparently has a ways to go in their social rights issues. Though it does make me chuckle to compare how most gays are portrayed in our media versus how they are portrayed in manga. Let’s just say that at least gays in our media aren’t being threatened with arrest for hitting on other men.
Bleach has been off for most of the time that I’ve been gone. And no, this is not a case of correlation. I honestly could care less about this series as it is now. We’ll see where things go when it picks back up this week, but all that really needs to be said now is that this series has been dull for far too long. It better pick up with this finale, and I hope that Kubo is able to resolve things in a way that satisfies everyone. And if that isn’t possible than I at least hope he resolves everything in a way that satisfies me specifically.
Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z may not be the most sophisticated manga out there, but I can’t help but love its old fashioned simplicity. Sometimes all we need is a little punching and characters yelling out their attack names. Without all the extra complications. Granted Dragon Ball Z is hardly my favorite manga, but I really do enjoy reading these old chapters again.
I love a good “traitor revealed” moment. And then I start questioning whether it actually makes sense. A month is a long time for me to suspend my disbelief, but we’ll see whether it actually makes sense this coming chapter. My best guess is that it’ll be a red herring. Or maybe I’m wrong and Blue Exorcist is about to be shaken up real well. Which would be really well done, considering that Kato was distracting us with the Rin, Yuki, and Shiemi triangle.
I don’t like Naruto. I really don’t. And with so many other series to go over I don’t think it’s worth my time to list exactly why this series has been pissing me off of late. But don’t worry, we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled rants with this coming week.
Jaco the Galactic Patrolman
Toriyama keeps saying that we probably won’t enjoy this since it doesn’t have the stuff he usually puts into his manga. And I keep saying that I agree with that statement. Jaco is a fun enough diversion, but hardly a work of art. But, considering how harmless it is I don’t see why I should waste any time complaining about things the author would probably just agree with anyway.
I hate this series for one reason and one reason only. It’s dull, it’s predictable, the characters are getting on my nerves. But the one reason is that I feel like this manga artist is wasting their time. So many better series have been cancelled, and this lousy series can’t be bothered to actually make an effort to stop sucking. And even when it does try to get some kind of direction it’s in a direction that was overused a decade ago. And even the fight scenes, while competent at places, spend most of the time being dull. It infuriates me that this series is still going when I can think of at least two that have been published in this magazine alone that should have kept going.
And that catches us up. Look forward to more consistent releases as I put my big boy pants on and actually get stuff done despite my work schedule.
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