Oh man. I have not exactly been blogging Cross Manage and World Trigger right? Um, yeah. My bad. So let me go trick you and tell you I have a reason: I’ve been reading other Shonen Jump manga instead. And when I mean Shonen Jump, I mean the one in America, not the one in Japan. Let me give you the gist of what I have been reading.
Cross Manage (Chapters 32-33)
And oh hey look, it is Cross Manage that I’m reading! But so far since I know that this is going to be a long lacrosse match between Fujioka and Choran, actually trying to blog about it weekly drains me, since there’s going to be little for me to ponder about for one chapter. But in thinking about what’s been taking place in Cross Manage, I start to get a part of me that believes that Fujioka is going to win against Choran. And for me, I’m probably going to be disappointed. Yeah upsets can happen yadayadadaya but in this case that’s nonsense. In watching the video where Choran basically took the fun of playing lacrosse out of Matsumachi’s bodies, this current Fujioka team needs to prove not only that they can at least compete with them, but that they can also handle losing despite the training Sakurai put them through. If they can override Namine’s desire to make sure they lose so they can stop having fun, then that is their victory, and then they can focus on making an attempt to get better next time. After all, we already know they aren’t a major powerhouse.
Kaito I’m starting to feel is not exactly certain what to do with explaining lacrosse. In reading Cross Manage since it started, my biggest takeaway is that it is a lot like soccer, with a few key changes in style. But I don’t get the feeling of “I want to learn lacrosse.” Now granted, lacrosse in of itself is pretty obscure, and I can certainly believe it’s not quite the biggest thing ever, but right now I feel like even bothering to explain it is unnecessary and a waste. But throughout this matchup, we have Ryuzo, a National lacrosse player, explaining a few lacrosse moves, and he even mentioned the difference between Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse. Instead of having the side characters explain any of this, why didn’t we get this explanation earlier? It makes me wish there was someone who Sakurai could rely on a bit more consistently, or at the very least, there was a better sequence of events that could relay how lacrosse works. My hope is that this is the last time I worry about this, and we can get to something a bit more tangible.
Thankfully, if there’s one thing I can’t say that’s not awkward or bad, it is Kaito’s art. It just gets better as the series continues, and it’s just great to look at. I mean seriously check some of these images out. Ok, it probably would look better if I captured all of them in PNG, but I was thinking I’d save it for the actual blog posts of each, not for something like this. It basically feels like Kaito’s putting a lot into making things look good. I like things looking good. So I hope for that part Cross Manage can get a bit better. If not, I would look forward to Kaito’s next work because I know for sure the art’s going to be superb.
One-Punch Man (Chapters 1-17)
I don’t know why, but going into One-Punch Man, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it all too much. From what I had known of prior to the series, it starred a main character who defeats all of his opponents with just one punch. That sounds like a way for things to get stale eventually. Well I ended up having to shut up because for 17 chapters that so far hasn’t happened yet, so I assume that must be a good thing.
What I said above is not wrong: the story relies heavily on Saitama, a bald headed ordinary NE– I mean averagely normal looking ordinary guy who couldn’t find a job, got really pissed off by some stupid creature, and knocked him out with one punch. That took place 3 years ago. Since then he’s become a “hero for fun”, defeating all sorts of baddies that’s come his way, and usually it ends about as anti-climatically as you might have expected. As I kept reading the chapters, I ended up pondering, “Why the hell hasn’t this series gotten repetitive yet?” Well it first relies on hoping you’re tired of the usual shounen cliches–long fights, ridiculously overpowered characters, tons of unnecessary dialogue, etc. One-Punch Man parodies basically all of them. ONE (Writer) and Yusuke Murata (of Eyeshield 21 fame) so far has timed everything well, and taken advantage of Saitama’s stature (I mean come on look at this guy. I mean seriously this guy’s a hero) and personality as best as they can. They’ve made sure that despite us knowing he wins with only one punch, it’s more amusing for us to find out how the opponents he faces reacts to his power and in many cases, it involves absolute hilariousness. The fight against the hired assassin Sonic after Saitama manages to get himself mistaken as a villain because he’s bald (so discriminatory) reflects that nicely.
So combined with a refreshing concept, nice character designs (like this btw) and well thought of chapters, One-Punch Man works. I don’t know how it works, and I don’t know how it will continue to work now that we’ve gotten to the point where Saitama’s now registered as a official hero, but this is, for me at least, must read material in Viz’s Weekly Shonen Jump right now, especially if you’re in need of a change of pace from the usual shounen antics.
World Trigger (Chapters 13-14)
Uh…World Trigger’s falling into a zone where I care about it, but I don’t really care to talk about it a lot. One reason why I guess is because my theory about Border being bad — which is still on the table — is kind of being delayed by the appearance of Chika and her Neighbor attracting ways and now we’re in a position where Yuma gets to play hero once again. He’s been stalked by a couple of Border Agents (hi Miwa) — ok technically Osamu was being stalked but really they’ve been looking for Yuma — and now, he’s about to prove just how good he really is, at least that’s what Jin’s implying in Chapter 14. For some reason, it feels like things are going through the motions as it sets things up for the big moment, whatever that moment is.
What I have liked about World Trigger was, despite it still having to follow shounen conventions and not be entirely too talkative, it did have some moments where we had to think upon a situation and at least go with something, but now it feels all ho-hum. Maybe this is a sign of decline for me? Well, I can’t say for sure, since I still don’t mind reading it. I still think this series can go in an interesting direction. But apparently, we must battle before we get to anything like that.
Nisekoi (Chapters 49-74)
Finally, hurrah! I actually caught up with most generic yet actually good generic romance comedy shounen manga called Nisekoi. Spoilers: it is the usual rom-com manga (that doesn’t have quite a bunch of panty shots and no unnecessary things outside of the obligatory beach chapter and hot springs chapter so no general warts on that front) that will have our lead character have to eventually choose who the heck he actually wants to be with. What that means is if you don’t feel like being jerked around again you probably want to avoid this like the plague or just wait until this is finished…assuming it does finish at a timely matter. But if you’re just looking for another solid romance shounen manga, I think Nisekoi is something pretty solid.
The basic premise is simple (and especially so if you watched an anime over the Winter called OreShura, long name not included): Raku Ichijou happens to be an ordinary high school student who also happens to be a part of the Yakuza group. He’s expected to be the next in line to succeed his father, but even he knows he’s not cut out for that, so he has plans on going through school and getting a solid job somewhere. However, that ends up getting ruined when he is forced to be lovers with Chitoge Kirisaki in order to calm an ongoing war between both of their factions. They both hate each other, to the point where even them acting out their love is painful since they’re lying through their teeth. Throughout the manga, they end up facing a number of challenges, from making sure their classmates don’t know the truth, to fooling their own family members in their factions (and that includes some glasses wearing fancy dude on the Kirisaki’s side in Claude), to then revealing secrets about their past that not only have them linked to each other prior to their fake love, but to two other girls who factor into the story (in Onodera and Marika). Exactly where will this love go? Who will Raku choose in the end? That’s pretty much the only reason to keep reading this manga!
…No I’m serious, that’s generally the point of these rom-com manga: we end up following our male lead, who’s pretty spineless and lacking in personality, to decide what bad decision he will make in choosing from the bevy of girls lined up — is it going to be the abrasive though surprisingly cute Chitoge? His original crush in the shy and sometimes aggressive Onodera? The scary sweet and scary delinquent-in-hiding Marika? Or the supposed protector/assassin/tomboy/hot Seishirou? Well, if you’ve been down this block before, then you know it’ll come down to the main suspects (Chitoge and Onodera) — it’s just going to be a long, complicated, not so mature, yet maybe rewarding for whoever you side with journey that you’ll just have to live with.
And for now, I can live with what’s going on. Even though it’s predictable and the tropes are common, it’s executed in a way that’s pretty fun and enjoyable. The art of Naoshi Komi is pretty nice, and there are moments where I can’t help but laugh out loud. My only real criticism aside from some obvious stuff is the lack of focus of the characters in Raku’s faction. Throughout the manga we’ve only seen Claude, his lackeys, and Chitoge’s mom have their own spotlight and give some insight into how things go on there, but that some info on the Gangsters. But we really don’t seem to have anyone like that on Raku’s side. Surely he has some sort of family member that just doesn’t give a damn or…is someone important! But I guess since Raku already has his own troubles, maybe adding any more would complicate things. But I don’t know. Otherwise, Nisekoi has been a pretty good read. If you haven’t been able to check it out, and you are able to deal with the game of prediction every single week, you should go check it out.
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