Back when Viz Media launched their digital edition of Shonen Jump, I was quick to subscribe. I did this in spite of being cranky over the loss of the print edition and honestly didn’t intend to even read the new digital version. Still, I did want to support such a bold move in the industry that was edging towards simultaneous releases. That was 2011.
This is August 2013. I’ve since become an enthusiastic reader of the weekly digital magazine which comes out Monday mornings in North America. This was helped in part by now owning an iPad for reading it on. For me, comics and PC browsers do not mix. The app process is so simple too – just open the app and hit download. Within a few seconds you have over 200 pages of high quality, brand new chapters of manga to read. No internet past the original download required.
And the price? I honestly don’t know how they can do it at this price right out of the gate – $24.99/US for a full years’ worth. For that many pages of manga every week. Manga which directly supports the creators and publishers. Win. Win. Win. This cheap serialization, with print editions coming later for collecting, is exactly the kind of digital and print combo I’ve always hoped would come of the hefty shift in the publishing world.
I’m going to start writing a bit about random issues of Shonen Jump beginning with today’s post. I don’t plan for this to be every week occurrence, nor do I read every manga running (everything but One Piece and Naruto). Editions like this week’s prove the perfect opportunity to start as they feature not only new chapters of the regular series, but a special one shot by one of their creators as well. Let’s get reading!
Disclaimer: I don’t read Naruto. I’ve tried, read substantial portions, and just couldn’t get into it. I don’t feel any loss, but have always been curious about reading something else by Masashi Kishomoto to see if their work on a different genre could reach me like their long tale of ninjas couldn’t. Enter Bench, a one shot story about a small group of students who make up their school’s bottom rung baseball team. The only problem I had with this story was that it was only a one shot. I absolutely loved this story. The characters were all likable, including a young woman, an overweight player and one suffering from a permanent sports injury. The group comes together with great chemistry despite the briefness of their encounters. Within fifty pages the story manages to introduce them, reveal back story secrets and have a dramatic showdown with other players. It’s a shame we’ll likely never see more of these characters, but when he’s ready to hang up the final shuriken, I’ll definitely be looking to Kishomoto’s next series for more of the charm I found here.
One Punch Man
One & Yusuke Murata
One Punch Man is a combination of things I don’t often see mixed – phenomenal artwork and hilarious humor. The only other series that matches for me is Yotsuba&!, but these are very different series. One Punch Man does a great job making fun of different tropes of shonen and super hero series, while also carrying the weight of great characters and a slowly growing story of its own. This chapter gave us a different look at the lead Saitama who is forced by a ‘competing’ hero to deal with the public’s reaction to destruction caused by his recent rescue of the city. It’s a more serious mental exercise that takes the place of Saitama’s usual comedic reactions where ridiculously well-drawn action sequences make up the serious moments. His response only made me like him more. I really hope this series makes it to print because it’s one of those titles I’d want every ability to put in people’s hands.
Jaco the Galactic
I was pretty excited to learn that we’d be getting Akira Toriyama’s newest – and likely last – series serialized simultaneously. It didn’t disappoint my expectations as a big fan of his work either. I loved Jaco from the beginning. The characters are fun and likable, and the art is as cartoony, consistent and detailed as it’s always been. It’s extra fun that we know it’s connected to Dragonball, so we’re left to wonder how. Currently in the story a police-officer alien has crashed on an island on Earth where an ex-time-machine-builder, now hermit, helps him to get his ship fixed. So how does this connect to Dragonball? Is the guardian Jaco here to save people from an impending Saiyan, like Goku? Will the time machine come into play? Is this time machine connected to how Bulma gives Trunks a time machine in the future? Does Jaco play a role in making Goku a gentle child? What is it?! Fortunately the story is entertaining on it’s own, so the theories and eventual reveal are mere icing on the cake. This chapter ends with Jaco being taken to a city for supplies. Amusing antics shall come next week I’m sure.
I’m in love with World Trigger. Both the art and plot are tidy and easy to follow. They feel really polished and well planned out and I was attached to the leads and eager for questions to be answered as soon as I finished chapter one. Here in the twenty-fourth chapter, the lead group have come together as a team in Border, an organization dedicated to combating creatures called Neighbours that break through into our world from another dimension. I really love the current main trio going through their training which includes a powerful young neighbour newly arrived to this world, a timid young girl with unusually high levels of power waiting to be tapped, and a thoughtful and intelligent, but not especially talented, young man who brought them together. While different little plot threads are forming, I don’t know where this series is going in terms of the grand-scheme-of-things but I’m more than happy to sit back, enjoy and find out.
Nisekoi is a series I hadn’t read until recently, so I’ve only probably read the last dozen or so. Still, I didn’t feel like I had any trouble understanding enough to get a little fun out of these chapters. The story is standard harem fare – oblivious nice guy has group of attractive and eccentric girls all in love with him. This chapter takes a break from focusing on him and the girls though. Instead it focuses on his best friend who is currently suffering from heartbreak of his own. It’s a cute, though bittersweet, little diversion that shows that even side characters have feelings too.
Toriko is one of my favourite on-going manga series, but it is not a series serviced well by the weekly format. None really are for someone like me who’s only accustomed to graphic novel length installments, but Toriko still stands above the rest for being painful in these tiny portions. I imagine it’s not always this bad, but currently the series is stuck in one of those classic shonen fight scenes where we switch back and forth from fight to fight to fight, and then focus on long, drawn-out exchanges between the most important. After many chapters of watching Toriko and StarJun duke it out with their blood, sweat and imagination, things may finally be moving forward as the powerful Knocking Master Jiro arrives to help the out-powered good guys. The fights are all intense and fun to read, but I’d much rather be doing it in collected format where I can breeze through and find the plot again.
Though I’ve already read this series a dozen times, it’s no less refreshing reading it again in these new full colour editions. I love how bright and vibrant the colours are, very similar to the anime. While there isn’t any story here new to veteran readers, it’s a fun introduction for newcomers and a fun revisit in general. I often forget just how brisk events go past, such as the early fights against Nappa. It drills home hard how huge the the strength differences are and how awful these characters must feel falling so fast. Ouch. Seeing the full body shot of Piccolo and Gohan also reminded me just how young Gohan is. With so much thrust on his little shoulders, it’s easy to forget he’s only five.
Bleach is unfortunately absent in this week’s issue, and will be until September 9th as Kubo Tite has the series on hiatus leading up to its final chapters. I’ve really liked the last couple months’ worth of Bleach chapters which have spent a lot of time filling in old back stories and answering questions we’d long since forgot we even asked. Learning about how Ichigo’s parents met was especially neat, though the newest chapters where we discovered the ‘truth’ behind Ichigo’s powers and how he manifests them was a pleasant surprise too. I don’t know how this series is going to end, but I do know that as my favourite character Uryuu better be on the right side when it does!