Jeez, that was an unanticipated winter break we had there, wasn’t it? Things got a little hairy for a second, but the content machine must continue, both in podcast form (soon!) and in this, a BRAND NEW FEATURE. Taking more than a little bit of inspiration from pal Sakaki’s Weekly Shonen Sunday Talkback blog (a more than worthy read I highly recommend), we now begin “A Grand Time”, an at least fortnightly post looking through the latest issue of Grand Jump, one of Shueisha’s MANY magazines under the Jump label, aimed at an older audience than even their other seinen (adult male) magazines, Ultra Jump and Young Jump. I’ve talked about the magazine and the series I was reading at the time in it last April, but a lot has changed since then, including my own ability to actually read the magazine, so it’s high time to revisit it and share my deep love for this particular comics magazine.
The general rule is that I will *guarantee* coverage for any series with the cover or a colour page, and from there cherry pick the series I want to cover each issue, as well as any notable news and the next issue preview. For the first few entries I will try my best to rotate through EVERY single series that runs in the magazine, but beyond that I will play favourites.
Finally, BE WARNED! GRAND JUMP IS A MATURE MAGAZINE, AND THE CONTENTS OF THESE POSTS WILL ALWAYS BE NSFW.
Sundome!! Milky Way has the cover to this issue of Grand Jump, the current series from “Yokai Girls” creator Kazuki Funatsu (that series is available from Seven Seas’ Ghost Ship imprint RIGHT NOW, by the way, and is a personal favourite of mine), partially to celebrate its upcoming 6th volume, but also a bit of appropriately timed ecchi imagery, with Valentine’s Day approaching. I quite like this cover, and always appreciate main girl Lune’s design, with her thick eyebrows and always out-of-place translators, but it’s oddly similar to an image did for Funatsu and Hikaru Yuzuki’s Minna Agechau sequel one-shot from last year (pictured left). Paint as censorship and chocolate as censorship is at least territory that connects.
Issue 05/2019 contents(*=will be covered this post):
Sundome!! Milky Way ch.41/Kazuki Funatsu (COVER AND COLOUR)*
Sweet Life 2nd Season ch.149/Hikaru Yuzuki*
Kyoi Toma ch.9/Motoka Murakami
Play Ball 2 ch.42/Jokura Kooji (based on “Play Ball” & “Captain”, by Akio Chiba)
Draft King ch.6/Kuromatsu Tetsurou
Dr. Quench ch.5/Suzukawa Keikō*
Uramiya Honpo WORST ch.41/Showshow Kurihara
I will do it properly in the Afterlife ch.26/Itsuma-chan (CENTRE COLOUR, CHAPTER 1 OF 2, MOVE TO REGULAR SERIALISATION)*
Strike or Gutter ch.12/Yuu Andou*
Captain Tsubasa: Rising Sun ch.87/Yoichi Takahashi
Noise ch.16/Tetsuya Tsutsui (MONTHLY SERIES)*
Adultery Restaurant ch.68/Masakazu Yamaguchi*
I will do it properly in the Afterlife ch.27/Itsuma-chan (CHAPTER 2 of 2)*
Ou-sama no Shitetaya ~Shitamachi Tailor~ ch.12/Ton Okawara
Yutori Yakuza ch.27/Keigo Hayasaka
Innocent Rouge ch.71/Shin’ichi Sakamoto*
Impossibility Defense ch.64/Yuuya Kanzaki (art) & Arata Miyatsuki (story)(MONTHLY)
The Naniwa Kinyudo ch.40/Aoki Yuji Production
Absent: Olympia Kyklos(Monthly), Kōun Ryūsui <Jofuku>, Kurogane-kai(MONTHLY), Radiation House
As with a few magazines, we can glean basic ideas about poularity from the placement of series in Grand Jump, but it’s not as clean cut as people believe magazines like Weekly Shonen Jump are. THAT SAID, The Naniwa Kinyudo has been dwelling pretty low for a while now, and it can only carry on so long before the axe falls. Which… admittedly that could be like another year, knowing Grand Jump, but that’s neither here nor there. On with the series!
Quick series synopsis: Sundome!! Milky Way is about Yoshitake, a mid-20s salaryman who is the horniest god damn person in the world, tasked with impregnating Lune, a xenomorph capable of turning into a sexy human woman, to save her race from the issue of their own ‘herbivorous males’. The problem is she’s shy and xenomorphs up when the act is about to happen, which prevents uh… completion of the task. So Yoshitake is upping the sadism to lower Lune’s shyness, all the while building a harem of ladies both human and otherwise with the sheer overwhelming power of his horniness.
It’s almost a tradition at this point for manga to get around to their christmas chapters long after the event itself has passed, but February feels a *little* like taking the mickey, you know? Anyway, Funatsu celebrates this with a delightful colour page that makes this S & M sci-fi sex comedy look far more innocent than it actually is. The extra page on the left there is useful, as well, advertising the upcoming volume and reminding us about five of the (actually quite literal) harem’s names and what their deal is. Harem stuff can get overwhelming sometimes, especially with an author as long into their career as Kazuki Funatsu (which is to say, the designs all start to look a little similar), so the occasional primer never hurts.
The chapter itself definitely IS a christmas chapter, but main character Yoshitake’s birthday coincides with the event, allowing Funatsu to pull double duty, having the girls do the sexy Santa stuff you’d expect from this sort of series, but having them do it as a gift to the king of the aggressive perverts is a fresh enough spin for me.
It wouldn’t be a chapter of Sundome!! Milky Way without a healthy pile of filth and science fiction and we get both in spades. The first, pictured above, is secret alien Hanabusa trying to seduce and control Yoshitake (quite possibly the easiest task in the world), only to be interrupted by another alien and one of Yoshitake’s many housemates, Reverane, who’s intent on not letting Hanabusa meddle in everyone’s lives so freely. It’s ALMOST a serious moment, if it weren’t for it immediately being derailed by Mika and a frying pan.
The second moment, which I genuinely chickened out from showing, is everyone falling asleep, and Yoshitake taking this as his moment to take several voyeuristic shots of his housemates, in a very handsy way. Lune wakes up and gives him some enthusiastically consensual pictures and fellatio, with her shyness kicking in just before the intended main event. There’s… There’s a lot to be said for how Funatsu-sensei depicts Yoshitake’s incredibly problematic behaviour, he’s sexually aggressive, and a lot of his actions approach dubcon territory, but that in itself isn’t a dealbreaker in fiction, rather fiction is the only place to safely explore it, to this reader at least. It helps that this is never said to be a positive aspect of Yoshitake himself, but rather that what positive aspects he has have to actively shine through past this sleazy, dodgy level on top. That in itself might be me forgiving a lot from an author I consider a favourite, but you kind of have to choose your stance on this stuff on a case by case basis.
That was a bit of a serious end to this section, wasn’t it? Just know that for all the very real thought that has to be given to this series it’s still incredibly hot and fun and truly the work of a creator at the top of his game.
Quick series synopsis: The sequel to the 40-volume titan Sweet Life, Sweet Life 2nd Season continues the escapades of Shinosuke Edo and Yumika Wakamiya as they work for a lingerie company. Oh and Shinosuke’s touch gives instant pleasure to women and allows him to perfectly size their lingerie for them, to the point of inducing rapture in them upon putting them on. It’s that sort of series.
Hikaru Yuzuki is kind of on top of the world right now. A legendary creator, 50 years into their career, with the entirety of their back catalog having just been made digitally available in a heck of a celebratory move, as well as collaborative work and a revisit last year to their irregular series Matataki no Sonya. But don’t let this have you think for a second that he’s neglecting his biggest series’s sequel. Sweet Life 2nd Season is on a roll lately, with an odd arc of Yumika and Miya popping a client into her new lingerie and watching her through the wall as she’s uh dealt with herself and had the object of her affections pop in. The question now is how it will all go.
Not being content with slowly observing the situation unfold, they stick an oar in, sending in another co-worker to ever so subtly spilling liquid all over the fella to get him out of his current digs and into some Calvin Klein-esque underwear, to ramp up his own sexy energy. It’s a pretty cheeky and straightforward chunk of story here, helped by Yuzuki-sensei’s inimitable art style, and the sort of slapstick nonsense that feels kinder and more innocent than just about every other pervy series out there.
Quick series synopsis: Dr. Quench is a smarmy, slick-looking and cocky plastic surgeon who takes on a variety of cases to improve his clients’ looks, whether to boost their self-esteem, improve their quality of life, or to just receive their money. The series itself tends to look at what’s happened in a person’s life to have them come forward for surgery, as well as the grisly details of the surgeries themselves. Not for the faint of heart.
Dr. Quench has largely been episodic so far in, but there are limits to how far that sort of storytelling can take you (unless you’re, say, a series about eating food and committing adultery, but more on that later), so it kicks off its very first two-parter this issue. Hikari is a sex worker who received a vicious slice on the face from a yakuza some time ago, affecting her work and self esteem hugely, a traumatic effect with a lasting visual effect to always bring it back. It’s quite distressing to see, both in it happening and how it effects her, but I’d not hesitate for a second to call it carefully told. These sorts of things can absolutely happen in reality, and to not be kind in the telling of this sort of story would be a massive misstep.
Hikari’s ongoing life is upheaved a little bit when a blind client (Mitsu) that she’s deeply attached to reveals he’s going to have an eye transplant, allowing him to see her face for the first time. This is a bit of a traumatic prospect for Hikari, who fears his reaction to seeing her scarred face, an aspect of herself kept hidden from Mitsu to this point. She keeps her true horror to herself till later, looking at her reflection and…
This. This moment is one of the most emotive visuals I’ve seen in a comic in some time. Part of the power gained by Dr. Quench by letting a story spread out over two chapters is that Suzukawa-sensei can really, truly sell the reader on the emotional beats of the series without the pressure of the detailed surgery itself taking up page space. Or uh… the good(?) doctor himself, who literally only appears on the last page of the chapter. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in two weeks’ time quite a bit, and I’ll be sure to cover it when it’s out.
Quick series synopsis: I will do it properly in the Afterlife is Grand Jump’s one and only 4 panel comedy series, following the intertwined sex lives of five young adults, Momo, Ume, Matsuda, Hayashi, and Hiyama. Not all the comedy is sexual, but sex is definitely what they’re about.
Cards on the table, I’ve not really bothered to read more than a couple of strips of I will do it properly in the Afterlife before this point. It’s always been an odd serialisation, always in the magazine, but insistent that it wasn’t a regular serialisation, so I kind of just let it slide on by, because 4 panel comedy can be hard to read, and I never knew when it’d come up. It has a charming aesthetic and a fair bit of an S&M bent to it at times, which I’m always here for.
Anyway, these colour pages are to celebrate it becoming a regular serialisation, which seems odd to say TWENTY EIGHT CHAPTERS IN, but I’m glad to have it as a breath of fresh air, even if I don’t really understand it or intend to dig in often, if at all. I do like how this colour page has been used for a strip itself, with all the social awkwardness and fanservice you’d want out of such a thing.
Quick series synopsis: Touka Azemichi is the incredibly busty daughter of an incredibly busty bowling champion, wracked with a crippling amount of anxiety when it comes to bowling herself, due to her overwhelming chest. The series follows her and her best friend, the less self-conscious Koyumi Nakaguri, as they try to overcome Touka’s anxiety and enjoy bowling.
Strike or Gutter is a bit special, the definition of a “having your cake and eating it” series, both emotionally affecting in how it depicts discomfort with your own body, and also quite a good bit of fanservice, though crucially never both at the same time (at least to this reader). It’s early days for the series, but we’re approaching the release of the first volume, and I’m eager to spread the good word about this one.
This chapter kind of goes for a weird mix of emotions, giving us our duo’s PE teacher’s perspective on them, and Koyumi’s feelings about our busty main character, all the while still making room for the social embarrassment of Touka’s jersey unzipping in front of the rest of the class during stretches. Koyumi, I think, is still in an odd place with her feelings towards Touka, and hasn’t fully processed what they actually mean.
This in itself causes problems later as the teacher talks to the pair about their relationship, and learning about Touka’s old bowling coach, an inspiration to her and a young crush, which combines with the mix of Koyumi’s feelings and own efforts to help Touka get comfortable with her body while bowling and drives the poor girl away, dashing off to some confusion from Touka.
The teacher catches up with Koyumi and tries to talk to her about all of this, but stops as she realises that she’s crying, and doesn’t fully understand why. It’s hard to say how this will go next chapter, especially as the series is skipping the next issue, but it hurts to see such a sweet girl hurting and confused.
Quick series synopsis: Noise is the latest series from Tetsuya Tsutsui, popular creator of works such as Prophecy and Reset, a psychological thriller in a small village, where three locals have killed an ex-convict, and delves into the aftermath and lengths the trio will go to to cover up their crime.
The calm opening of Jun cleaning his shirt is the sort of quiet you almost wouldn’t expect right now in Noise, as Jun and an old man from the village have just become responsible for another murder; that of one of the people investigating what happened to the ex-convict Jun and Keita offed early into the series, no less. The morals are continuing to shift as the characters work to protect their quiet village, and you have to wonder where it will all end.
The chapter itself isn’t really about the murder, but rather a flashback to Keita and Jun’s past, and how Jun self-sacrificingly encouraged Keita to go on a date with his now-wife, Kana, a girl Jun was majorly crushing on at the time. It’s a crucial bond, and one that ensures that Keita won’t abandon Jun now that things have gotten much, much worse. Is it weird to call this a heartwarming chapter, considering it’s in the midst of a really twisted story? Such is the power of Tetsuya Tsutsui, I guess!
Quick series synopsis: Mid-30s businessman, schlub and food lover, Ryuichi Yamadera, travels around Japan for various business trips, making a point to stop by local eateries whenever he can, where he eats sexy food and has affairs with delicious married women. Oh, and he’s married, that’s important to this. He’s married, they’re married, it’s adultery. Restaurant. Basically the whole series is an amazing demographic exercise in appealing to the fantasies of Grand Jump’s 30 year old plus male businessman demographic. Chapters stand alone, so it’s a very accessible bit of immorality.
For the past 67 chapters (and occasional bonus story published elsewhere), Ryuichi has been the focal character of the series. It’s his trips, his meals, his salacious affairs with married women, and so we’ve been long overdue to have a different perspective on the world of food and infidelity, granted to us here by having Ryuichi get suddenly and majorly ill and unable to go on his latest trip. So who will go in his stead, who will embrace his sordid world? Some other businessman?
Not at all! It’s actually a woman, in the sort of refreshing twist this series definitely needed! This is Saki, a coworker of Ryuichi’s, who’s been married a few months herself, and has less of the sultry eating flair of most of Ryuichi’s sexual encounters, but rather something *almost* in line with his goofy gluttony. It’s not quite the same, the male gaze is still strong in this one, but Saki is charming as heck chowing down on her meal.
And what a meal she’s chowing down on! This is truly where the series shines, in plopping a beautiful meal in front of you that just makes you salivate. It might be a bit reference-heavy, but it comes alive in the eating, and is a perfect gateway in sensuality, taking the reader from the rather dry introduction most chapters have, to the joy of the meal, to the introduction of the sexual partner of the chapter, to the sex and the journey fading into the night. You could draw it on a graph! I mean… It’d be a very odd… don’t do that.
Saki isn’t excepted from the formula of Adultery Restaurant’s episodic chapters, either. After getting a good food mood on, she sees a big buff fella downing his bowl and we cut to their hook-up, with this stunning splash page. The question now becomes whether she’s really capable of the same immorality that Ryuichi has managed over sixty times before this (god, that’s… that’s a lot of infidelity. That’s kind of mad when you think about it). And the answer is?
Saki comes to her senses at the last possible second, freaking out and punching out her would-be lover, despite the fact that this was her come-on. Still, a crisis averted, she ashamedly leaves the love hotel with apologies to the husband she almost cheated on. I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of Saki and her temptations, mind, and with big news on the horizon (it’s probably just another series of the drama that debuted last year, but that in itself is kind of an amazing thing), Adultery Restaurant should have all the time in the world to tempt her to join the immoral party.
Quick series synopsis: Innocent Rouge is the current continuation of Shin’ichi Sakamoto’s Innocent, an epic historical tale of the life of Charles-Henri Sanson, one in a long dynasty of executors in France, most notable in actual real history as the executor that beheaded King Louis XVI. Sakamoto-sensei opts for a careful mix of real history, dramatic flourish, vividly-drawn metaphors and the occasional original character to paint one of the most meticulously crafted comics you will *ever* see. Rouge splits focus between Charles-Henri and his fictitious sister and Top-with-a-side-shave Marie Sanson, who diverges us from history in a few interesting ways, without overturning the cart outright.
Innocent Rouge is hot stuff right now, with a musical literally announced this issue, a comprehensive digital art book (a suitable format considering the almost entirely digital approach Sakamoto-sensei and his studio take to producing the series), and a fantastic short documentary spotlighting Sakamoto-sensei and his process from Archipel as part of their Toco Toco series, a truly crucial watch for anyone interested in comics production, and more so anyone who wants to know what comics production can look like in the digital age. But we’re here to focus on Innocent itself, and the start of a new storyline adapting one of the most interesting parts of French revolutionary history, the attempt to squirrel away Marie Antoinette and her children out of France to safety known as the Flight to Varennes.
Now, as people aware of our history, we know this is all for naught, and Marie and her family will be caught within a day, but the trick is in the telling, and as is often the case with Innocent Rouge, the trick is in how Marie Josèphe Sanson will get involved. As Marie Antoinette and her group flee in carriage through a wooded area, a specter of death seems to approach, a horrifying presence and image that slowly twists and warps and realises into the reality of the thing; Marie Josèphe as death on a pale white horse, coming to stop their attempted flight.
She’s a chilling figure, even at her coolest, and this is no exception. Marie Josèphe isn’t quite unknowable, but is a strangely sinister being, and her lack of historical validity is nothing if not a part of this unease. She’s the chaotic vein running through the events that transpire. Still, she won’t stop this flight without a fight, and that appears to be what we can expect next issue.
On the note of the next issue, here’s what to expect! Adultery Restaurant has the cover for its big announcement, but Kyoi Toma, the latest series from Motoka Murakami, takes the lead colour, to celebrate the release of its first volume. Dr Quench also gets the centre colour for the second half of its current story, Draft King gets some extra pages, and we get to see even more of what’s to come out of the project for Hikaru Yuzuki’s 50th anniversary in the comics industry! It’s a packed time to be a fan of Grand Jump, and I look forward to sharing it all with you in two week’s time.
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