On this latest ramble, I consider several candidates for the most essential comic in Shonen Jump’s History, and explore why I think it’s probably Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen.
Not A New Episode is a potential series of audio posts for the FEV website and podcast feed, in which I talk unscripted about something Jump-related currently on my mind. This first one has been created as a potential replacement for the text posts, following increasing difficulty expressing my thoughts in that format.
In this clip I use recent conversations about comics ripping off other series as a springboard to look at titles like Shaman King & JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Bleach & Saint Seiya, and of course Black Clover & Fairy Tail/Naruto, and examine whether being influenced by another comic is a bad thing at all.
Let me know in the comments or on my twitter if you like this new approach to content on the site, and I hope you enjoy this little experiment.
Jump Match is our new feature where we loosely pair a selection of Weekly Shonen Jump titles with something that isn’t comics, and then try to justify these choices like it’s the most important connection you could imagine between, say, Black Clover and a fine cheese, My Hero Academia and the latest hit album, or One Piece and a classical painting. This week we match five comics with five songs, chosen from my own library.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations – Original Prankster (The Offspring)
You can do it! Yes, Original Prankster says you can do it, which is easily one of the most shonen jump statements you can hear in your day to day life. But the connection between these two goes far deeper than that. Boruto isn’t an original work, being a sequel to Naruto, and Original Gangster isn’t entirely original either, being named after Ice-T’s Original Gangster, sampling from War’s Low Rider, and being considered a follow-up of sorts to Pretty Fly (for a white guy). This tendency of both to not be able to stand without what had come before links them at the source, to say nothing of frontman Dexter Holland’s blonde spiky hair. That can’t be a coincidence, right?
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – The Noisy Eater (The Avalanches)
Okay that was too easy, but let’s give it some words. The Noisy Eater is a song with a connection to Japanese animation, being a leftover from a failed production in between The Avalanches’ two albums, and the lyrics Biz Markie raps out for us are a tale of, obviously, a noisy eater. The character who eat in Food Wars don’t necessarily make a lot of noise, but with the more erotic dishes it’s almost guaranteed to have the eaters let out a squeal or two.
Spring Weapon no.1 – Generation Z (NOFX)
This one might be a little harder. Spring Weapon no.1 is a gag series, and whilst NOFX certainly does play with goofs throughout most of their songs. The popularity of both the comic and the band fluctuates wildly issue to issue/album to album, but they’re both still kicking regardless, often to the surprise of everyone around them. Generation Z is a song about the fatalistic possibility that the kids growing up today could be the last generation, in the face of a worsening climate, both politically and ecologically, but moreso societally, and it’s safe to say that if anything in the world of Spring Weapon no.1 is going to bring about such a climax it’s Zeroichi Namba, the eponymous weapon both capable of ultimate destruction, and who will be responded to with such zeal by the MAPPO organisation the main character Eiji Hokuto works for that the surrounding society would be destroyed. Yeah, that works, right? Yeah.
One Piece – 2112 (Rush)
Look, right, it’s the longest song I have on my computer, and One Piece is a long manga. Also both Rush and One Piece are really successful. They can’t all be winners, alright? There might be something to be said out of the oppressive might of the marines and the rebellious pirates fighting against them pretty much in the name of freedom and fun, and how that matches up with the tyranny of the Priests, who have taken absolute control of the earth, and forbidding such things as guitars. There’s something here, but the easy connection is in the length.
Yuuna-san’s Ghost Inn – Love Again (Akinyele Back) (Run the Jewels ft. Gangsta Boo)
(SONG IS NSFW)
My entire knowledge of Yuuna-san’s Ghost Inn, other than it being by the artist of Koisome Momiji, is that it’s the current risque pervy title in Weekly Shonen Jump’s roster, so with this complete lack of knowledge what better song to pair it with than the incredibly sexualised account of what activities RTJ and Gangsta Boo want to do with other people, in the lewdest terms, with the most on-the-nose demand repeating through the chorus. It only makes sense.
Recently Weekly Shonen Jump 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 each individual debuting series, be it a simple review, a tangentially-related topic or something deeper. We continue with Boichi and Riichiro Inagaki’s Dr. Stone.
Weekly Shonen Jump, by and large, does not support slower storylines. The weekly pace, combined with the cutthroat rate of cancellation in the magazine, encourages writers to have something bombastic in every single chapter, a hook that gets the reader in and keeps the story in their minds when time comes to send in the feedback cards that come with each issue. This is why series with long aims and small developments, like ST&RS, ǝnígmǝ, or even World Trigger have struggled to be placed towards the front of the magazine during their runs; their decision to use a slower pace meant that readers weren’t wowed as consistently.
There are exceptions to this, of course. World Trigger isn’t necessarily a hit, but it’s long-running and has been adapted into a cartoon. Death Note is a phenomenal success that managed to carefully balance high-drama story beats with what would sometimes be weeks of talking heads mulling over possibilities. The Promised Neverland is looking more and more likely to be one of Weekly Shonen Jump’s biggest new series in years, replacing a fast pace with a constant feeling of tension and unease on every single page. But the most interesting display of an author trying to succeed with this sort of slower story comes from the first three chapters of Dr. Stone, which CHEATS THE WHOLE TIME by actually having a lot of stuff happen in each chapter, but maintains the illusion of being a slow series through the time spent establishing the status quo of the book along the way.
Did you know Black Clover, the magical fantasy adventure from Yuki Tabata, is my favourite ongoing comic? Not just in Weekly Shonen Jump, but just plain outright? I *love* Black Clover. It represents that perfect mastery of the Weekly Shonen Jump ethos of (yes) friendship, effort, and victory (or triumph if you’re a video game publisher out to ruin my careful choice of branding) that doesn’t necessarily mean success, but does make for a read unlike any other. You’ll see this elsewhere in comics like Buso Renkin (my previous banner example of the perfect WSJ comic book) or… Actually, naming another example is difficult. These two are pretty much at the peak of what I’m going for here, titles that fold in the magazine’s motto wholesale, and incorporate a wide variety of genre into what are honestly just action comics at their core. They’re craft on a visible level, that I can never get enough of, and Black Clover feels like the new king.
It has everything I want: a main character who never gives up, mostly through the sheer inertia of his space cadet-ness, a supporting cast consisting of bombastic designs and abilities informed by their core personality traits (I could go on for days about decisions as simple as making the hot-headed Magna a fire user, or the impulsive, deranged Luck a lightning user, to say nothing of my favourite character, Grey, being a shapeshifter who is incredibly blunt when in disguise, but cripplingly shy and embarrassed the second that her illusion breaks), character evolution based in their trying to support or being supported by the others around them, and a relentless pace that constantly feeds readers new ideas, non-stop.
It’s… It’s my favourite, yeah?
So imagine my joy when pals Colton and Sid had me on Manga Mavericks *again*, this time specifically to discuss Black Clover, along with Annaliese Christman, the letter of the english editions.