Things I’ve Done 2014-2017 Finale: Youtube

I almost skipped talking about this last thing I got up to during the FEV hiatus, because if we’re being honest for five minutes here, just about everyone and their auntie has tried doing their own hot video game content for the internet’s foremost hole for hot video game content, and a lot of mine is pretty lousy, as much as one could say I did ‘a lot’.

Regardless, last year I did a small handful of videos of me playing a whole bunch of different games I own on steam, from well-known hit Super Meat Boy, to lesser known indie gem Curse of the Crescent Isle DX, and even a little dabbling in King of Fighters XIII, a gaming series I love, but on reviewing the footage I am clearly complete trash at it. Or was, at least. I’ve put a lot more time into King of Fighters XIV, I swear.

There’s not a lot to talk about with these videos, but they were an important part of getting that itch to make something creative again. Just talking into the microphone as I piddled about in a game was enough to make me miss doing the same while thinking about manga. I was never really at ease with the format though, and have to throw my hands up and admire the people who do do it.

That said, I will probably return to this one day, if only to play video games based on the manga I’m featuring here, both in articles and the upcoming return of the podcast. In the wait for that though, why not check out my playthrough of Curse of the Crescent Isle DX, embedded below:

Demon Prince Poro’s Diaries: Demons just keep coming to earth in Jump

Recently Weekly Shonen Jump has debuted six new series, an unprecedented occasion that includes a couple of important milestones in the magazine’s history. I’m going to be writing a post on the debuting series that week, be it a simple review or something deeper. We continue with Hitsuji Gondaira’s Demon Prince Poro’s Diaries. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Demon Prince Poro’s Diaries is a hard series to review. We’ve now had all three of the ‘Jump Start’ chapters come out, and it’s a perfectly charming and visually pleasing comic book, even if it seems a little confused about what it wants to be at times (something I’m fairly sure will be its downfall). But its qualities aren’t particularly interesting to write about, in stark contrast to the thing that *is* interesting about it, in Shonen Jump terms at least: That this is yet another series about a demon coming to earth!

It’s a weird recurrence in Jump, as far as plot points go. We’ve had Takuan & Batsu’s Daily Demon Diary (which I’ve only just realised has a startlingly similar title), Devily Man, Love’s Cupid Yakenohara Jin, Beelzebub, Taizo Mote King Saga, Demon Detective Nogami Neuro, even Death Note after a fashion, and that’s just a handful of series from the 21st century! I didn’t even have to look any of those up! What is it about demons coming to earth that appeals so much to Jump’s creators?

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U19: trying to stand out in the world of YA dystopian fiction

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This monday has marked the beginning of what will be six consecutive weeks of new series beginning in Weekly Shonen Jump, an unprecedented occasion that’s set to include a couple of important milestones in the magazine’s history. Each Tuesday over this period I’m going to be writing a post on the debuting series that week, be it a simple review or something deeper. We continue this week with Yuji Kimura’s U19. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Dystopian fiction written for young adults is *everywhere*. The trend appears to be much quieter nowadays, but you only have to cast your mind back a couple of years to see a world where you couldn’t turn a corner, enter a bookstore, see a movie at the cinema, without encountering these YA dystopias. The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner and the countless imitators were, and continue to be, big business. This isn’t to say they weren’t a thing earlier; you only have to look at Battle Royale or Lord of the Flies to understand that these stories have existed for decades, but the big pop culture push for them has definitely come in the 21st century, and each work seems to inform the other, to the point that you can kind of just put a template together for how these books go. Heck, with twitter accounts like Dystopian YA Novel they may well have done this very thing. It’s pretty homogenised at this point, and it takes a very special twist to stick out from the herd.

For all the things that U19 has going on, it most definitely lacks this crucial X factor.

It could be a lack of subtlety, it could just be the prevalence of the genre, it could even be something lost a little in translation (as excellent a job as Viz Media have done with the first chapter), but there’s just several concepts and moments that feel just a little *too* on the nose. This write-up as such isn’t really about deciding whether U19 is a good comic or not (I don’t dislike it, and think that teenage readers will absolutely love it if it delivers on the second chapter), as much as just examining what these things are that stand as roadblocks to a stronger or more unconventional story.

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The ‘poster manga’ of Weekly Shonen Jump

Unsurprisingly, the four largest characters on this cover star in the series I'm talking about today

Unsurprisingly, the four largest characters on this cover star in the series I’m talking about today

If you’ve listened to my latest appearance on Manga Mavericks (and why wouldn’t you have, it’s some grade A stuff), you’ll have heard me, Colton and Sid talk a good deal about what the current ‘poster manga’ of Weekly Shonen Jump are. Today I’m going to expand on that a little bit by profiling the four biggest titles in the magazine right now, and to chat a little about why they’re so dang popular. One of the answers is probably a bit obvious, I’m sure.

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We Never Learn: A Healthy Approach to Talent and Aspiration

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This monday has marked the beginning of what will be six consecutive weeks of new series beginning in Weekly Shonen Jump, an unprecedented occasion that’s set to include a couple of important milestones in the magazine’s history. Each Tuesday over this period I’m going to be writing a post on the debuting series that week, be it a simple review or something deeper. We start this week with Taishi Tsutsui’s We Never Learn. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Dearest reader, were you ever considered good at something at school? Perhaps even noted as being advanced at a subject, or having it singled out as a ‘talent’ (an admittedly difficult concept, but a useful one for this particular series)? If so, was it something you cared about? Was it something you pursued, or was there another passion inside you, for something else and if so, was it something you were even any good at?

I was pretty decent at academics, at least up to the point where I had to really try, but that’s a different kind of frustrating story of youth. Despite getting good scores in maths, science, english, all that classic school stuff, I only ever really wanted to think about music and art, two areas where I just couldn’t make any headway, whether through anxiety, impatience, or just an outright lack of what people would call talent. I don’t think any encouragement to stick to what I was good at made any difference, and as someone who never made it as far as university, it didn’t really matter. All the same, reading the first chapter of We Never Learn had me wishing that it existed when I was younger, simply because it’s a comic, aimed at teenagers, that actively talks to them about the very idea of not giving up on the things you want to do, even if you’re awful at them.

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