Hungry Marie: Letting Jokes Breathe

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 each individual debuting series, be it a simple review, a tangentially-related topic or something deeper. We continue with Ryuhei Tamura’s Hungry Marie. SPOILERS FOLLOW. I CANNOT EMPHASISE THIS ENOUGH THIS TIME. I AM GOING TO SPOIL A MAJOR SEQUENCE FROM THE FIRST CHAPTER TO EXPLAIN MY POINT. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Comedy in comics is both easier and harder than you’d think. The structure of sequential comics is totally suited to controlling the pace of the reader, allowing a solid delivery of comedy on roughly the timescale an author may want, but it still has to rely on that reader to play ball with the format to get the author’s intended delivery. This is to say nothing of the humour that can turn up in comics aimed at teens; for every carefully constructed laff-fest there’s an obtuse, reference-reliant affair, or a comic that talks down to the audience, assuming they just want randomness, yelling, and monkeys (not that comics like these can’t be good. There’s at least one article about Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo or Taizo Mote King Saga in the future). Doing funny comics, like *properly* funny comics, requires a special touch.

Weekly Shonen Jump isn’t really lacking for these gifted talents. Akira Toriyama, Hisashi Eguchi and Masaya Tokuhiro are class A examples from decades past, and the likes of Ryo Nakama and Hideaki Sorachi are successfully making readers laugh without fail, but this time around I’ve been given the opportunity to talk about the author who I personally think is the funniest Jump has *ever* had, and the one particular way he’ll use page after page to properly allow a single joke to hit. This author is Ryuhei Tamura, author of Beelzebub, and launching his second series recently with Hungry Marie, which has actually made me laugh so much that I’ve cried.

Seriously.

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

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

img_1761

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading