Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha Recap April 30 and May 7, 2012

Derek: So, we never did get around to doing last week’s commentary, did we?

Monorum: No, we haven’t.

Derek: Yeah… wonder why that happened.

Monorum: I have no idea but as that saying goes, “Better late than super late.”

Derek: Mh, yeah, it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with both of us being horribly lazy slackers, would it?

Monorum: Err, let’s cut to the chase. So, how about you summarize what’s happened in One Piece?

Derek: Well, in last week’s chapter Luffy meets up with Law, who directs him to the rest of the Strawhats. Law also switches Smoker and Tashigi’s bodies. We also learn the identity of the smoky person, and it’s not Basil Hawkins, as some supposed. The name of this arc’s antagonist is Cesar Clown. And then in this week’s chapter we get to learn about the disappearances that have been happening around the area, as well as how Brownbeard came to the island, and how he became a crocotaur, and the history behind why the island was abandoned.

Monorum: Both chapters had so many things to keep track of, I thought I would lose my head over them. But I just found it hilarious that Tashigi is in Smoker’s body and she’s covering her chest up while Smoker opens her shirt up while in her body. If I recall correctly, Nami’s done just what Tashigi’s done in Franky’s body. I’m loving how Oda is making full use of Law’s soul-switching power- mind-switching power, what is it called again?
Derek: Can’t remember. But yeah, I’m surprised Oda went the body switching route, it seems like such an old cliche. Then again, every time I see it in a manga, it’s hilarious, and this was no exception. I loved Luffy’s reaction to “Franky” beating up “Nami”.

Monorum: Oh that made me laugh so much. But Sanji deserved it, doing such things to Nami’s body. But yeah, the latest chapter made the dragon that Luffy’s group fought at the beginning of Punk Hazard just all the more amusing. It was an experiment of Dr. Vegapunk’s and his group ate it. But speaking of Vegapunk, I wonder if he died?

Derek: No, I’m pretty sure he’s still alive. There’s been way too much build up towards him to suddenly have him be dead.

Monorum: That one samurai’s name whose name slips my mind, his devil fruit power seems to have something to do with sorcery or a better word, magic. Why would it be called sorcery? I would have thought it would be more of an illusion?

Derek: Yeah, that power is kind of hard to place. I mean, we’ve got Zoan that let the users transform into animals, and Logia that let them turn their bodies into an element, and Paramecia, that, until this point, we thought changed the body in random ways. Like making it rubber, or able to split into pieces. But I guess Paramecia is more, “All the other shit that doesn’t fit in the first two categories.”
Monorum: Paramecia was always that weird one to me. The future villain of the arc, Caesar Clown looks to be a real threat. Remember how Luffy first fought Smoker?

Derek: Yeah, this is going to be the same thing. Except combine Smoker with Magelan. Holy crap, this guy is going to be a badass.

Monorum: And terrifying. If there is anything I remember, it’s that I thought Magellan was a devil when I first saw him. It did not help that he was a Paramecia-type user with Poison. Luffy lost badly against him, really bad. Also, Caesar Clown looks to be a psycho.

Derek: I think Magelan is Logia. I think, don’t quote me on that.

Monorum: No, I’m quite sure he’s a Paramecia-type. But that’s besides the point, Caesar Clown and his posse are going to give the Straw Hats hell. But even at their expense, I want to see the four who switchd bodies try to fight in those bodies. What a handicap Oda’s given them.

Derek: No kidding, I think this is the most creative of the handicaps he’s ever given the Straw Hats. But I think we’re missing the big picture here.

Monorum: And what is that?

Derek: Cesar Clown is working for the mothereffing Joker.
Monorum: Well yeah, except i thought he’d be the Joker of One Piece?

Derek: Nope. It’s the Joker. The Batman one.

Monorum: Well that unusual connection aside, I wonder if Luffy’s group may end up getting a body switch too? That might be too much seeing as Oda made Nami, Sanji, Chopper, and Franky wear head masks with each of their corresponding faces to identify who is who.

Derek: Yeah, it would get confusing way too fast.

Monorum: I ain’t gonna lie, I wish I could see Luffy as Robin and Robin as Luffy which would leave Zoro as Usopp and Usopp as Zoro.Talk about chaos right there.

Derek: Except they’d be mixed up even more, because Nami and Sanji didn’t switch places. It’d probably be Luffy in Robin’s body, Zoro in Usopp’s, Robin in Zoro’s, and Usopp in Luffy’s. Or something like that

Monorum: Hahaha, Usopp in Luffy’s! He will be able to see what it is like to be a Brave Warrior of the Sea for sure then. But I agree, I hope it doesn’t come down to that. What I love about Oda is that he does not do these things just to do them. He makes these things happen for a reason, a good, plausible reason. Sanji’s group ended up getting the body switch due to Law being Law. And that he was upset that they blew his cover in front of Smoker’s group.

Derek: Yeah. Things are definitely looking up for One Piece, as much as it’s my favorite series, the last arc felt far too lackluster. Didn’t feel like it was really One Piece.

Monorum: Yeah, for someone who was really, really looking forward to the Fishman Island arc for years, I felt disappointed. Oh and I have to got to say this: I’m so glad Hody and his crew are suffering and being old because they deserved it!

Derek: Yeah. After being such a disappointing group of villains it’s the least they deserve. But anyway, let’s move on. Would you like to cover Naruto or Bleach first?

Monorum: I’ll go with Naruto. Bleach is…you do not want me to summarize Bleach.

Derek: And I don’t want to summarize Naruto. So knock yourself out.

Monorum: Okay so for Naruto, the chapter from April 30, 2012 went into Itachi and Sasuke teaming up to take down Kabuto once and for all with Izanagi. Before I could relish in the wonderful agony of Kabuto’s humiliating and deserving defeat, Kishimoto decides it was the perfect time to go into Kabuto’s backstory. Why? Because it is Shounen-logic to go into the backstory of a baddie that is about to either die or get his ass kicked very painfully.

I’ll admit, the backstory wasn’t that bad. A copout it was but Kabuto’s origin of his glasses and why he was an orphan make sense now. I’m sensitive even to the most evil or annoying of characters if I can actually feel for what they felt.
The chapter after that went more into Kabuto’s backstory about how he had to join up with the Konoha espionage force in order to let his Mother stay at the orphanage. Years pass by as we see Kabuto grow up, never forgetting what he was doing and hoping to see his Mother again but fate decided to be a bitch and he ends up finding her dying only to learn she does not remember him. At all. So he starts to have his mental breakdown and guess who decided to pop up? Orochimaru! Even in flashbacks he gives me chills.

So, what are your thoughts about these two chapters?

Derek: You know, as much as I’ve been blasé about Naruto the past few years, I have to admit, these past two chapters have gotten close to getting me to care again. Kabuto’s backstory is pretty decent, and I enjoyed his story quite a bit. These were a competent pair of chapters. But I really am beyond actually caring about the series, besides just wanting to see how it ends.
Monorum: Kabuto’s backstory did make me feel sorry for the guy. It is like he said, he is nothing. I should be amazed at his mastery of the jutsus that even Orochimaru failed to learn yet I was just blind by my hatred of him. Which I still am because fuck his Edotensei! The closest thing I will come to feel for Kabuto is extreme pity. Pity that the woman who raised him like a son failed to remember him. Pity that he lived most his life as a spy. I am seeing why Itachi said that he will lose now.




Derek: Well, I see someone hasn’t gotten to the “not caring about this series anymore” phase.

Monorum: Hey, I’m trying. I find it ironic how I used to love Bleach and hate Naruto but now it’s the other way around, except I just like Naruto. At least I can give a damn about the characters without more new ones popping up like damned bunnies.

Derek: Yeah. I used to like Naruto, a lot, but some poor choices by Kishimoto have made me too angry to actually care anymore. Though part of that I can probably blame on bad interactions with the fandom…actually no I can’t. I never got involved in any Naruto fandom. That’s more the reason I get annoyed at Bleach anymore. Naruto is really just a case study for why shipping is a terrible, terrible thing, and how it ruins series.

Monorum: Kishimoto fails terribly at writing romance and women. I’m sure others have said that but I will say it myself. Because he damn well fucking sucks that I can see it from the Moon!

I should stop cursing.

Derek: Yes, let’s keep it PG here.

Monorum: I never got into the Naruto fandom itself. It just never worked out for me. Ninjas never got my attention. Unless they were the not traditional females who did not wear much.

Derek: Yeah. Really there isn’t much to say on the past two weeks, they were good chapters, better than I expected after the fight started. But both of us have pretty much lost our enthusiasm for the series. So, instead, let’s move on to a series that we both used to love, but now fills us with disappointment.

Monorum: AND RAGE!!!!

Derek: So, Harribel’s fraccion fight the Quincy, and get their butts kicked. Then Ichigo shows up and fights the Quincy. Then Mayuri reveals that the Vandenreich are in fact Quincy. To which I would like to say:

Aaand that’s about it really.

That was both weeks. I think. It’s kind of hard to say, the chapters blend together and don’t really distinguish from each other. 
Monorum: What a sad waste of three females that I can’t have any attraction to because they’re not only dead, they were not around long enough for me to care. At least Nel is back. But yeah, that Quincy, his cockiness is irritating the heck out of me. I know that the Vandenreich are suppose to resemble the Nazis but dude, I just want to strangle that man so much. His face. I want to smash my fist into it. I have nothing but contempt for the Vandenreich.

Derek: On the other hand, the King of the Quincies is pretty badass. Heck, in design alone he’s an improvement over the last two antagonists.

Monorum: Well okay I’ll agree on that. I will never understand why I keep thinking he’s related to Zangetsu in some way. If he is Zangetsu’s older brother or some sort, I will…not eat my shoe because I would get sick and die and eating a shoe is ridiculous for me.

Seeing the other Shinigami was fine but I wish there were more full body shots of them. And seeing how this is the final arc, Kubo is going to have some people we love (or used to love) die later on. Then again no one really gave a rat’s butt about Sasakibe except for the 1st Division Captain who wanted more than nothing to torch those Spirit Nazi bastards as much as I do but for different reasons.

Apologies to any who did like Sasakibe.

Derek: Nobody liked him.

I was just disappointed that we didn’t get to see a full shot of Rangiku.

Monorum: That was the first thing that crossed my mind when I saw Rangiku and I believe she is Kubo’s favorite female. I think she is?

Derek: Actually I think Orihime is. Can’t fault him.

Monorum: Fun trivia: The two people Tite Kubo seem to have a hard time drawing are Ichigo and Orihime.

Derek: Soooo…what you’re saying is suck it shippers?

Monorum: I’m just in it for the shipping now and hoping that Chad will get a huge win of a battle one day. Chad’s too cool to deserve to lose so much.

Derek: As much as I hate shipping, I have to admit I’m just in it to see the resolution for the characters. I’m prepared to be horribly disappointed, but you never know.

Monorum: Disappointment is a sad feeling that always follows us whether we like it or not. Things will be open-ended from how I see it but there’s just the little part of me that just wishes there would be this super big nod of confirmation for the things I want to know.

Derek: Well, the series will be ending soon. So we’ll be getting our answers soon enough. Whether I care anymore by that point is another matter entirely.

Now, let’s finish up with Toriko, and then let’s move on to the big one.

Monorum: Well while there was a good number of things that happened in the last two Toriko chapters, the first had Toriko and Komatsu dueling Shu in learning how to honor the food. They lost incredibly to Shu. The second builds on that as Toriko and Komatsu slowly learn to honor the food and finally learn that they have improved greatly in both power and skill in their own ways. I actually enjoyed the two chapters and was immensely pleased with the results of their training

Derek: I really need to catch up on this series. Even though I don’t get what’s going on, I enjoyed these last two chapters immensely. I especially liked the results of Komatsu’s training. Since I read the puffer whale arc fairly recently I can appreciate how far he’s come in skill. And then there’s the idea that skilled cooks can butcher animals so delicately they don’t realize they’re dead. This series is bananas. And I love it.

Monorum: I agree so much, especially with the butchering of animals so skillfully that they never realized they’re dead. And seeing Komatsu able to take the poison sac out of the baby puffer whale was one heck of a way to show he’s come a long way. Plus there is Toriko’s Knife skill which is what cemented for me how great the arc is even if it is mostly just a training arc. A training arc done right!

Derek: Yeah, Toriko is definitely on its way to become one of the greats, replacing Bleach and Naruto soon I imagine. Now they just need to find another series to gain that much popularity.

Monorum: I hope it’s Magico.

Derek: Eh, I doubt it. It’s an entertaining series, but doesn’t have the markings of a great series.

Monorum: Could Beelzebub do it? It’s going to be hard to find another WSJ series to replace Bleach’s lineup.

Derek: I imagine Beelzebub could do it, but it’s a comedy first and foremost. Those tend not to rank the highest. Probably because the humor can vary from chapter to chapter. But I’d love to see it there.

Monorum: If Kurogane can achieve popularity as Slam Dunk! did, that would be amazing. Not that I ever read Slam Dunk!.

Derek: I still need to read that series. Eh, sometime later, I’m not big into sports manga. But let’s move on. This is the big one. Bakuman So, last week we basically got a last look at the rest of the cast, and this week we got the conclusion to Azuki and Mashiro’s romance. What’d you think?

Monorum: I’ll tell you what I think. Where is my wedding for these two?

Derek: Heh. I predicted the last page would be a double page spread of their wedding. But nope. The ending was cute, but it didn’t go far enough. We knew we were getting a cute chapter, we should have gone all the way to the conclusion. Sure I wasn’t that invested in their romance, but it would have been nice to see a wedding. As it was it felt kind of abrupt.

Monorum: Well I was invested in their romance. Which makes me disappointed with that it ended so abruptly. Ohba and Obata have no reason, what-so-ever to be afraid of the readers getting upset at them.

Derek: After all their talk of a perfect ending, this did feel rushed. Still. I can appreciate that it is a satisfying ending.

Monorum: They’ve been shoving Mashiro Moritaka and Azuki Miho in our faces for so long, I was expecting something spectacular.

Derek: More or less.

Monorum: Yeah. I expected too much. On second thought, now that I think about it, it was a good ending. If they showed them being married, while it would be great, I think the mangakas were probaly trying to avoid writing a wedding chapter.

Derek: Perhaps.

Monorum: Imagine Kaya and the others just gushing all over them.

Derek: It would have been sappy sweet. But we already got sappy sweet, so let’s just pour on the syrup. Anyway, we should take this chance to talk about the series as a whole.

Monorum: Nah, I was wrong. This was just the right kind of sappy sweet with a dash of cute and wonderful. Ahem, yeah, series as a whole.

Derek: I can’t remember how many chapters the series was in when I started reading it, but it was pretty darn close to the beginning. So for me this is the first series that I started reading when it more or less started publication and then followed all the way to the end. How’d you get into it?

Monorum: You recommended it to me when it was somewhere in the chapter 60s.

Derek: That’s what I thought. I get confused with who introduced who to which manga.

Monorum: I have good memory so there is no need to be confused. You did get me into Beelzebub despite that I had known it had been around for a while. So, what are your thoughts on this manga about making manga?

Derek: It’s easily one of my favorites.

Monorum: I agree, it was a strange experience. Given how I hated Ohba and Obata’s last series…

Derek: I haven’t read Death Note yet, but I’m getting around to that. What I really loved about this series was that reading it motivated me to do my own writing. It’s a series that can be enjoyed by anyone that is in some kind of creative field. Sure it’s about manga, but the passion for creation was what made Bakuman such a great series, and it translated easily to just about anything.

Monorum: I felt the same way about the series but lost the spark along the way. I just have not much motivation for anything lately in life. If there is a character I could relate to… I would rather not say as that would only make me upset. I’ve been angry enough today.

What did you think about the friendly antagonist, Eiji Niizuma? I found him to be great. Eiji was not the kind of antagonist I expected. He still proved to be a worthy rival to Mashiro and Takagi but at the same time respected them as they did to him.

Derek: He wasn’t an antagonist, he really was the rival. Antagonists were more like whatsahisface, dude with the manga making company.

Monorum: Nanamine? Oh right he’s the antagonist. Eiji was the rival. My favorite character out of the series would be Hattori. Who’s yours?

Derek: Well, it’s hard to say. I was a big fan of Fukuda, because he got all the great scenes early on. Then for some reason he got replaced by Hiramaru, but let’s not get into that.

As far as characters I relate to, I’d definitely say Takagi. He’s the writer, I’m a writer, and his motivation to become a manga writer is the same as my motivation for wanting to be a writer, not having to do a normal job. Also he has a hot wife with big breasts. I can only hope.

Monorum: Kaya is loads of fun. I’m really amazed that they’ve been married with no children but that shows they were thinking right. Or rather the writer was. Ohba.

Derek: I hadn’t thought of that. Them having a kid would have been interesting. But it would have extended beyond what a shonen manga is. Them being married was a stretch, but the manga never focused on that, and even though they were well into their twenties by the end of the manga, we could still see them as younger.

Monorum: They were twenty-four just as the manga was ending. Since we don’t want to think about the bad stuff of Bakuman, any good things you saw about it? Other than showing us what the life of a mangaka is really like?

Derek: It was one of the best series to read on a weekly basis. Each chapter was much more meaty than any of the other weekly offerings. Stuff actually happened in them, and the cliffhangers were legitimately tense. The weeks will seem empty without it.

Monorum: Yeah, I’m going to miss reading Bakuman but it’s good it ended right where it should.

Derek: Yeah. I’d’ve rather some other series ended though. When they should have. -_-

Monorum: Mm. Some series should know when to end. Letting the executives or editors decide when the series should end even when the mangaka has a clear goal for the series in mind is not only manipulative but it is ruinous to the mangaka’s career as well. I don’t know how Kubo’s rep will be after Bleach ends.

Derek: Unless of course the series is One Piece.

Monorum: Will he follow after Watsuki whose reboot of Rurouni Kenshin will take over the Bakuman slot despite being a monthly series.

This is why Oda deserves so much praise that I feel ashamed because I am just being too grateful for the man. Oda has the ending for One Piece in mind. There is nothing wrong with having that thought. I’ve had a few talks with people who think that thinking of the ending would rush the story to end faster. Maybe they’re right.

Derek: I dunno. I hope Kubo might do well with a break before he comes back to a new series.

Monorum: It’d be nice if he got back to Zombie Powder but seeing as how Grimmjow resembled Gamma and Keigo Asano’s older sister resembled Wolfina, and Urahara resembled C.T. Smith, that may not happen ever. All I hope is that his pacing won’t suck.

Derek: Yeah, unless he fixes his pacing problems he will probably fade into obscurity.

Monorum: And that he does not have too many characters in one arc. Or rather, characters in an arc we should have cared for but did not because the outcome of said arc was obvious which made the arc itself a pain to read.

Derek: Speaking of Kubo’s next series, what do you think Ohba and Obata will do next?

Monorum: I’ve no idea. They did Death Note then did Bakuman. With the changes in genre, it could be anything. Is there a genre you’d love to see them try their hand out at?

Derek: Honestly…of the top of my head right now… A generic shonen fighter.

Monorum: I agree with that one. They have the know-how but they might not do it as it would be considered too mainstream. It’d be hilarious if their “generic shounen fighter” ended up becoming part of the new big three after Bleach ends, if they should get that far.

Derek: Yeah, that would be pretty funny. Especially after how much they ragged on generic fighters in Bakuman. But really I consider them one of the best manga teams, or just best creators in general, that they could easily pull off a great series, even if they stick to action. Their chapters at least would have satisfying content.

Monorum: A series focusing on bugs would be great.

Derek: Huh. A beetle battling manga? I could see that. Heck, why hasn’t it been done before? Isn’t that like Japan’s national pasttime?

Monorum: I think that it has to do with bugs being really hard to draw

Derek: Probably, but yeah, I’d totally read that. I’d read the SHIT out of that.

Monorum: Exactly why I brought it up. No one’s ever done it before.

Derek: We need to let someone in Shonen Jump know that. This NEEDS to happen.

Monorum: Agreed.

Derek: There, I sent a twitter to Sasaki Hisashi. He’ll get this shit done.

Monorum: Who’s that?

Derek: Former Editor in Chief of Jump. You know, the guy the Editor in Chief in Bakuman was based off. He’s got an English twitter and he posts in English every once in a while. Here, for anyone that isn’t following him yet: @SASAKI_Hisashi

Monorum: Well that’s someone I need to follow on twitter.

Derek: Well, I think that about wraps it up for this week, and last week. We’ll be more on top of things in two weeks, when the next isuse comes out, especially since we’ve got an exciting new manga coming out. Or, I should say “new” manga.

Monorum: Yes, Watsuki’s Rurouni Kenshin is returning to WSJ but to WSJA as a monthly series. It’s a reboot. People just could not get over Rurouni Kenshin that they failed to give a care about any other series he’s done. Busou Renkin at only ten volumes is a great read and I recommend anyone who wants a series that is enjoyable without wasting so much money at once to check it out.

Derek: Yeah. I would have liked to see more of his Frankenstein manga, but that one is hard to come across. And from what I understand the reboot will be connected to the movie or something. I dunno. We’ll know in a few days what this will be like, I’m hoping for a sequel, rather than a rehash of what we already know.

Monorum: Well it’s Watsuki doing a reboot of his most popular series so there should not be anything to be disappointed about, I hope.

Derek: Yeah, anyway, it’s late, so we should end this here. Hopefully the chapters in two weeks give us a bit more to talk about. I’m looking at you Bleach and Naruto!

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