Magazine Reviews: Shonen Jump October/November 2011 – Issue 9

Introduction
I’m always on the lookout for new things to review, new blog posts to write. I’d been toying with the idea of reviewing the American Shonen Jump every month, but hadn’t ever gotten around to it. But since this issue is a pretty important one, I figured that now was as good a time as any to try this new type of review out.

And yes, this is a little late, I was debating whether I should even write this at all, considering the magazine will be going away soon. But in the end I’d already done some work on this, and figured I might as well. It may not be as relevant anymore, but if nothing else, it’ll be good for progeny or something.

Series Plot Summaries
Naruto – Chapters 514–516
All the ninja villages come together to found a joint ninja army, with Gaara as the general. Naruto is kept out of the fight, by tricking him into thinking he is on a crucial mission. Gaara manages to speech the Shinobi into cooperating, and they all set off to fight Tobi and Kabuto’s zombie army.

One Piece – Chapters 597–599 
The strawhat crew all decide to stay where they are, and train for two years, as per Luffy’s orders. Rayleigh teaches Luffy about Haki and its three different forms. After leaving off to train for two years, the strawhats all make their way back to Sabaody. When they arrive there, one by one, they realize that a lot has changed in the past two years. A group of pirates are calling themselves the strawhats, and are recruiting high bounty rookies to their crew.

Bleach – Chapters -100–-98
The vaizards continue to transform into hollows, as Aizen reveals his master plan to test hollowfication. Urahara tries to stop him, but even Tessai’s spells do nothing against Aizen. All they can do is use the Hogyoku to try and heal their hollowified friends.

Psyren – Chapters 22–24
The protagonists manage to incapacitate Tatsuo, but his memory is so jambled that he attacks Hiryu. Ageha discovers a new ability that absorbs everything in his path, but he puts too much strain on his mind. After Oboro finds Ageha, he discovers an ability to heal people. Just as they are about to be attacked by the giant sandworm, Tatsuo appears and uses the whistle in his mask to drive the worm off.

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s – Chapter 09
Yuseis shows up late to his duel, and there is pre-match tension between the rival characters. Typical Yu-Gi-Oh! fare.

Rosario + Vampire – Season 2 – Preview – Chapter 23
The chapter starts with Tsukune having a dream about which girl he should chose. He is then accosted by the heir of the Chinese mafia, FangFang. He asks Tsukune to become a member of his family, and while Tsukune is against the idea, some of the girls think the idea has its benefits. When Tsukune refuses to join FangFang’s family, they decide to settle it with a duel, that ends with FangFang summoning a phoenix. All seems lost for Tsukune, but at the last minute Moka transforms into her full vampire form to save him.

My Opinion
Why is this a Naruto special issue? We already get enough of that in regular issues, I don’t see why we need to put up with another special issue for a series that doesn’t need it. I understand that Naruto is the big selling series, but this issue really should have been focused on One Piece. We get few enough bones thrown our way that it hardly seems like it would hurt to give One Piece a little love, instead of pushing Naruto yet again. 

But then, as has been mentioned it really is hard to blame VIZ for putting priority in a property for which they own manga and anime rights, rather than just manga rights. Still, it would have been nice if they could have moved the Naruto theme onto the next issue, and made a bigger deal out of One Piece.

Naruto
Speaking of Naruto, I’m not too fond of the series. That’s not to say there isn’t anything good about it, in fact there are plenty of good moments, but too much has happened for me to have fond feelings about this series. Especially considering it feels like Kishimoto is trolling his fans most of the time.

It doesn’t help that there are pages that look like Kishimoto forgot to actually draw them, and just handed his sketches in.

One Piece
There was supposed to be a colorspread here. We don’t even get the color pages. I know it’s probably more expensive to print that many color pages in the same magazine, but it hardly seems like it would be that much more expensive. It reeks like favoritism to my nose.

There isn’t much I could say about the new character designs that I haven’t said in past reviews, but I’m really digging them, with the exception of Luffy. I’m surprised they didn’t edit Nami’s “outfit” for the magazine, especially after all the edits I’ve seen to women’s clothing.

These chapters emphasize what I’ve mentioned in my anime reviews. The scene where Luffy confronts the fakes is perfectly paced. The entire scene flows well and has much more of an impact than the drawn out anime scene.

Bleach
Kubo knows how to do some magnificent epic scale work. Too bad his good points are overshadowed by terrible pacing. Granted, his stories work better when read several chapters at once, but far too much space is wasted on each page. It feels like he would work best with someone writing his stories, someone who can set a pace that fits with his art style, but also manages to give each chapter enough content.

Psyren
So far Psyren has been interesting, if somewhat generic. I can’t really say much without reading the whole story, but up to this point the series has been treading familiar territory in a competent manner. I like the series, it fits my perception of a decent shonen.

There is every chance that later chapters will do something stupid that ruins the series for me, so I have to recommend it with a caveat. Any series can go downhill. If I only read the first three volumes of Naruto I would recommend it as the greatest shonen series ever created. Completely oblivious of the slippery slope from that point on.

Psyren balances all the necessary shonen elements. It takes a simple power, and makes it interesting to learn more about. The characters are familiar archetypes, but pulled off competently enough. I am particularly fond of Amamiya. She’s not the typical action chick, but feels more like a real girl that was forced to adapt to a difficult situation. She still shows signs of being a regular girl, when she isn’t barricading herself away to protect her mind while fighting giant monsters. 

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s
CARD GAMES ON MOTORCYCLES! That will be all.

There isn’t much I can say about this series. I stopped watching Yu-Gi-Oh! after the second season of the original series. I enjoyed it as a kid, but now the whole thing just seems silly. Perhaps I might enjoy some of the other series, but I highly doubt it. My patience for episodes of nothing but card games has disintegrated.

It doesn’t help that this manga is an adaptation of the anime. I really don’t like adaptations, so I doubt to find anything worth my time here.

I just need to ask…Why motorcycles? What could they possibly add to a series about card games? Besides an awesome internet meme.

Rosario + Vampire – Season 2
I have a working…ish knowledge about this manga. Essentially it’s a harem series with one normal guy, and a bunch of supernatural babes. And apparently he turned into a zombie or ghoul or something before the beginning of Season 2.

Wait, manga have seasons?

While I like supernatural stuff, I am also fond of series that take a lighter approach. But I also dislike harem series, so really it’s a matter of whether my love or hatred is stronger. I think my hate will win this one.

Granted, there were a few moments that made me laugh, but that doesn’t take much, so I’m not considering it significant.

I’m not a huge fan of the vampires being some kind of ultimate monsters. I like the traditional view of the creatures, and something like a phoenix would vaporize Dracula. Who just happened to have been defeated by normal people, thank you very much. And yes, I will always refer back to Stoker when talking about vampires. It’s one of the rare classic books I’m elitist about, so leave me be.

Final Thoughts
Shonen Jump has some of the best, and some of the most mediocre manga around. Overall I’ve found that it’s a good monthly read. And while it’s a shame that the magazine is being discontinued I think we can look back at a good run, and a bright future.

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