Shonen Trilogy Review 4/29/13

I've been writing reviews for the Shonen Trilogy (ONE PIECE/NARUTO/BLEACH) published in Shueisha's WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP on Anime Vice for a few months now. It's not really a paying gig. it keeps me busy, and I feel helps me improve my writing. I thought it would be nice to occasionally share my work with the Comic Vine community, I also felt for a long time that this community could use some manga reviews. I even wrote a blog dedicated to that idea. - Could Comic Vine Use a Staff Manga Reviewer?

These are my reviews for the WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP issue that was released on 4/29/13. I do not use pirated scans for these reviews. I use my official SHONEN JUMP online subscription. Back in January they went on same day release with Japan and it has full English translation. It's a major innovation in manga distribution.

ONE PIECE Ch. 707 Review

My opinion of shonen tournaments has taken a complete 180 with an incredible realization.

Bellamy the Hyena is facing off with the alliance created by Dagama in the tournament for the Flame-Flame Fruit, and Luffy is challenged in a battle of wits. You can guess how the latter one ended.

The Good

Lepanto's words seem familiar to Bellamy

I used to be a pretty big wrestling fan as a kid. I'm talking the classic era of Hulk Hogan, Jake the Snake Roberts, Macho Man Randy Savage, and Andre the Giant. On top of the matches in the ring, were were also led to believe there were these complex story lines going on back stage. There were betrayals, rivalries, alliances, signature moves, and a cheering crowd to bare witness to it all. That's when it all fell in place for me. The only difference in what I'm reading now is that wrestling had actors playing roles. In ONE PIECE, they are these over-the-top characters.

This tournament is just like watching an epic Royal Rumble. I know I made that joke last week, but this chapter only reinforces the idea that was originally made in jest. Reading from this head space, I started to see Bellamy as Rowdy Roddy Piper. The only thing missing is the tartan kilt. It's no secret how people hate Bartolomeo, but that's the point. He's the obnoxious Heel character that the audience loves to hate, and he just seems to eat up their contempt for him. Cavendish says as much.

The Bad

Well, Luffy tried.

I was a bit disappointed that Luffy couldn't even manage to hide his identity for even a single match. I'm not foolish enough to think he could go this whole tournament in secret. This trip up was coming. I just didn't think this was going to happen before he even stepped into the ring.

Verdict 4/5

Oda has never been all that shy in weaving in modern and pop culture into the fantastical world he's created. I can't say for sure how much Oda is into professional wrestling, but you can see all the tropes in this Dressrosa tournament. Even if you don't like shonen tournaments. Take a step back and look at it from the perspective of watching a wrestling match. Like me, you're likely to find your enjoyment drastically increases.

A talented author can grab the attention of the audience in ways they never see coming. While reluctantly going into this tournament, I was interested in following Rebecca, but now I'm fascinated with where Bellamy is going. That's something I never could have imagined. Two weeks in, and I'm still flabbergasted by that realization. I would like it if the tournament pace was a touch faster, but that's a minor quibble of something I'm enjoying.

NARUTO Ch. 628 Review

Want to know what we've missed of the Shinobi Alliance? They aren't telling.

Naruto's thinking, "Wow, what's happened was so amazing. I hope no one missed that."

The Shinobi Alliance are back on the ropes, and the Ten Tails has started to go into a rampage.

The Good

Awesome page, but I think "Exclamation!!" would have been more accurate.

One of the first things that I'm enjoying about this chapter is having the flashback behind us. We're back into the meat of this entire Shinobi World War Arc. However, much of what has happened is missing. From a visual standpoint, this had a lot of amazing looking scenes. Story wise, I'm confused. Was this really the outcome of Shikaku's final master plan? Naruto shields everyone while he still does all the fighting?

At least we're moving forward once more. That should be appreciated.

The Bad

I think I preferred "Believe It!" over this valley girl talk.

If there was anything that irritated me about the flashback arc of the previous weeks. It was the feeling that we've been missing something going on in the war. Those fears were realized as I began reading this chapter. Last we left, Naruto had super boosted the entire alliance, Rock Lee kicked Madara in half, and Naruto was face to face with Obito. Suddenly, we return to find the tide has taken a completely different turn, but no idea what led up to this. It's the equivalent of missing an important episode of a show, coming back, and left wondering what you missed. The only difference is that there was no episode. Just a gigantic hole in the plot.

I've normally avoided getting into critiquing the translation work as I've reviewed NARUTO since using my official WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP subscription. It's predominantly solid, but things just got silly this week. I've already noticed the translator is using literal terns such as "Konohagakure" for the Leaf Village, then this person uses "Master" in place of "Sensei". While those are minor issues, what I couldn't get over was this line Naruto uses saying "I totally super-hate that about you!". I don't doubt that was the literal translation of what he said, but better judgement should have won out that Naruto shouldn't talk like a 90's valley girl. Add "quibbling" to the list, and none of this sounds like words Naruto would ever use.

Verdict 3/5

Great visuals this week, but I'm getting annoyed with the slow pace of the war. Lets see some action. The entire turn in the tide of the war comes across as artificial. It feels that things have only gotten worse becasue the plot required it, and Kishimoto needed to give the Hokages something to do when they show up. That or he wanted a cliffhanger for Golden Week.

Honestly, how many times do we need to listen to Naruto and Obito go back and forth with their debate over the value of friendship? It was perfectly acceptable the first time, but all they're doing is going in circles. I was so happy that Kakashi sucked Obito away with him. Maybe we'll finally learn why Kakashi had to kill Rin.

BLEACH Ch. 535 Review

Kisuke Urahara truly is the Reed Richards of manga.

It's not like you can go somewhere for a second opinion.

Time is growing short for the fate of Masaki Kurosaki, and Isshin is left with a choice that has no positive end for him. Except maybe a future wife and three kids.

The Good

This is how people reacted when I agreed to join the SHONEN JUMP subscription

I'm not going to try to pretend to be this big FANTASTIC FOUR fan, but I did see the movie. Partly becasue of Jessica Alba. However, I have been well aware of the joke that Reed Richards is a completely ridiculous character. Not due to his Luffy-esque skill set, but that he always seems to have the exact invention needed to do whatever task is required at the time. Why? Because he's a genius. That's exactly what I see in Urahara. As a reader, we're expected to believe that he has just the right invention needed at just the right time. By sheer coincidence, he happens to have this incredibly unique gigai that will help prevent Masaki from entering Hollowfication.

The chapter was almost like a medical drama. It's a tough decision that Ryuken is hearing. He obviously admires Masaski on a level, but it's such a painful choice to accept. It's a hard pill to swallow to hear from a doctor that you can never go back to the way you were before some illness or injury. More so when it comes to someone who is so young. You have to give it to Isshin who just jumps in to basically be the 'donor' of the catalyst that will save her life. He would be ashamed if she suffered just becasue he didn't want to be inconvenienced. Now, that's a man.

The Bad

It sometimes surprises me on how large the female readership is for BLEACH. Partly becasue the series doesn't treat their female cast incredibly well. Masaki is shown to be this powerful character at such a young age, but all that power is just going to be lost. I'm just left wondering why the Visored came out of this even more powerful than they were, and Masaki has to lose all of it. However, maybe it's becasue she's a Quincy that she could never control it, and that's why Ichigo in turn could never seem to keep his Hollow on a tight leash. He's part Quincy.

In this chapter, Kisuke says he's been researching Hollowfication for a century and been banished from the Soul Society. Though, I don't think 'banished' really qualifies when he ran away. I'm sure they'd love to have him back, so they could throw him into a cell. That's besides the point. Does this mean that Kisuke and the Visored have been there for 100 years of Earth history and no one in Japan noticed, or is this 100 years of Soul Society time? I really need to stop thinking about what the time difference is between Earth and the Soul Society. If Kubo isn't going to think about it, then why should I?

Verdict 4/5

I'm glad that the answer as to why Masaki could be killed by Grand Fisher is explained, but I'm not surprised that it's rather unsatisfying. It has some problems, but you can't hold too tight a grip on what's realistic when you're dealing with something so fictitious. I enjoyed the characters, the drama that was created in the choice to save Masaki, and I admire Isshin's reasoning for stepping up. It was a good chapter.

-Kristoffer Remmell ( FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

10 Comments
10 Comments
Edited by Nerx

@foxxfireart: Sweet, but Toriko has replaced bleach a while ago. In terms of shonen Bleach is not even in he top five.

Dat Bellamy

Posted by The Stegman

The HST has been disappointing for a while now

1. I've never liked One Piece, and this current arc hasn't changed my mind at all.

2. Naruto's Shinobi War has been going on for WAY too long, it needs to end, now.

3. I gave up on Bleach after the Fullbringer arc, no wonder it's not in the HST anymore, it's the worst of the three.

Posted by FoxxFireArt

@nerx:I'm also reading TORIKO in my official subscription. I just can't get into it. Poeple like to dismiss ONE PIECE for silliness. TORIKO is like reading something that came form a drug educed frenzy after watching too much Food TV.

I saw in one of the recent chapters that some dude is sliced in half, and he's practically just glued back together.

I'm actually loving ONE-PUNCH MAN -- which is part of the official SHONEN JUMP subscription. That's a satire on the power fantasy of shonen, and it could be applied to comics.

@the_stegman:

I love ONE PIECE, and it's absolutely astronomical sales numbers tends to back that up. It's almost obscene how much it outsells everything else. I normally really dislike shonen tournaments. They're a poor excuse for having staged battles with no real character motivation behind them. I'm just astounded at how Oda has redeemed Bellamy. I used to hate that dude. I can't tell you how many times I've watched that clip on You Tube of Luffy pummeling him with one punch. Yet, I'm actually shocked at how I'm now cheering for him in this fight.

I completely agree with you on the Shinobi World War Arc. It's ridiculous how long it's been going on. I have no problem with long arcs, but this is just going in circles now. It started out so promising, but it keeps dragging on and on. A few weeks back, I made the comparison between Masashi Kishimoto and Peter Jackson. They both need editors. With as many answers that are being given. I wouldn't be surprised if NARUTO is ending after the arc following this.

The Fullbring Arc is hated by most, and I can see where that comes from. I always kind of liked how it pushed Ichigo into willing to kill out of personal rage. (Also, I thought Jackie Tristan was a hottie) Having said that, this flashback is taking some rather surprising turns. I'm just ticked at what happened to Unohana. The women in BLEACH don't get used well.

Posted by Pokergeist

@the_stegman: I agree a 100 and 10 percent about One Pice. Why that is so popular is beyond me, and the artwork is painful to my eyes.

Naruto seem to be like DBZ Anime, too much filler and unnecessary talking. I been trying to jump into it, but it drags on too much for me.

Edited by The Stegman

@the_stegman: I agree a 100 and 10 percent about One Pice. Why that is so popular is beyond me, and the artwork is painful to my eyes.

Naruto seem to be like DBZ Anime, too much filler and unnecessary talking. I been trying to jump into it, but it drags on too much for me.

Yeah, I've read/watched every arc of One Piece and not one of them actually impressed me, and I find Luffy to be a bit annoying at times.

Anyway, as for Naruto, yeah, I'd stick to the manga, the anime has tons of filler and unnecessary flashbacks of things you've already seen.

Posted by Nerx

@foxxfireart: Shimabukuro is quickly gaining fame as one of the best, being compared to the like of Toriyama (legend) and Oda (God, in terms of sales), it gets better in the long run. Just go past the Regal Mammoth arc, and the genre in itself is a throwback to the shonen classics (buff dudes with a pinch of cooking).

I love one piece as it is, usually just a bunch of idjits who only read for the 'art' (yes listen to that you cucumber dongling angst/brooder fans, I am looking at you), but OP covers a lot of very serious themes. Themes such as iscrimination, wars, drug cartels and whole government conspiracies. It is very serious and there is a reason why it is the no.1 shonen at the moment

Oh and Toriko has some of the best world building as of late (compared to Tite-the-world-is-only-limited-to-karakura-town), read the OPM webcomic bro. Sh!t is cash and it is crazy.

Posted by FoxxFireArt

@nerx:

I find it interesting that some of the people who drone on about how much they hate ONE PIECE, yet they seems pretty well aware of the finer details of something they claim they don't like. ONE PIECE I feel has some of the best long term story telling that I think I've ever read. Poeple say they want continuity, action, and death with meaning. This has it all.

Tom Pinchuk has been reviewing the anime over on Anime Vice for months now, and he certainly seems taken with it. He reviews every episode now.

Edited by Nerx

@foxxfireart:When I first get introduced to OP it was in one of those thick phone book shonen mangas (in japanese) even though i can't read hiragana for sh!t, yet it was the 90s and back then there is a panel of luffy fighting arlong. Back then as a snotty kid I thought it was a farmer fighting a fisherman, since I was on Grander Musashi back then. Sooner OP got translated and dubbed into the local television, I was hooked with the first episode when shanks saved him and how the 'we are' theme song brings back memories.

The reason I got into nardo was because of the Enel arc, which at the time I felt was jumping the shark. Then bleach when it was still ruki arc. Oda is no.1 for a reason and I think the tears of an anthropomorphic reindeer is more saddening than some brooding kid getting his entire family butchered by his brother. Oda can make you care about things that you never thought you would care in the first place. Never let the art preference take you away from a great series, nor let fanservice take the story away from the medium. 4kids did to One Piece what Sandusky did to those boys in Penn State.

Edit: Try Reading Toriko to the Regal Mammoth Arc

Posted by FoxxFireArt

@nerx:

What about the Going Merry funeral or Robin's "I want to live!" scenes? Those get me every single time. ONE PIECE does have a remarkably low amount of fan service compared to other series.

ONE PIECE will be airing again on Cartoon Network's new Toonami run I think starting this or next week. I watch the official FUNimation stream every Saturday. They do great work on the series.

Posted by Nerx

@foxxfireart:

The funeral is tear inducing but the whole chopper and hiruluk thing touched my heart.

The fanbase and dedicated 34 artworks compensate for lack of fanservice, although there are subtle hints by oda.

Good to hear, although I watch online.

Repairs are being made, but the damage is done.