Sunday, April 29, 2012

Commentary: Jump X (Kai)

As more proof that it's impossible to keep up with manga magazines, we have Jump X (actually pronounced, "Jump Kai"), which according to ANN, launched on June 25th last year.  That makes 3 of the magazines I've picked up in the last few months that are less than 1 year old.  As yet, there's no wiki entry for this one.


(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Jump X, monthly, 580 yen, 600 pages.
Kai is aimed at an older male audience, probably men in their 20's and 30's. At least three of the titles have sex scenes, although they're not overly graphic and do kind of play integral parts of the overall stories.  Genres include baseball, school life, office life, fantasy and art studies.  The only title western fans will recognize is Shaman King Zero, which consists of a series of one-shot stories leading up to Shaman King Flowers.  Because I thought the second half of SK was dumb, I kind of lost interest in the entire concept.  The story in this issue doesn't really change my mind.

The artwork tends to the amateurish on the whole, but this plays into a larger sense that Kai is more of an experimental magazine.  There's kind of a Garo vibe in the types of "everyday life" stories, and unusual artstyles this time.  As mentioned above, there's only one title that's at all recognizable, and all the rest are obscure.  But, there is a lot of promise in several of the stories, both in terms of the art, and what the artist is trying to say.


(Welcome to the Winner's Circle)

Idainara, Shurarabon (If you're talking about greatness, then it's Shurarabon).  A young student is changing schools and runs into a lot of strange characters in his new class.  Oddly enough, though, each of them have weird powers that they're just learning about.  Shurarabon is just starting in this issue.  The artwork is good, and the characters are interestingly oddball.


(I am Ridai)

Watashi wa Ridai (I am Ridai). A young boy starts out learning Tea Ceremony.  Good art, lots of history lessons.

Me and Gattameraata. A college-level student is trying to get into an art school, but failing horribly.  Average art, but lots of art theory.

Welcome to the Winner's CircleShinobu Kaitani, from Liar's Game is back with a new story about gambling.

Inu Naki (Late/Lamented Dog).  This is an incredible title, up to chapter 7.  The artwork is very good, and the story tugs at the heartstrings.  In this issue, the narrator talks about a pet dog, probably an Akita, that was very friendly and good-natured.  The owner would draw eyebrows on it in permanent marker to give the dog a more expressive face, and soon it would expect to get new eyebrows when the old ones wore off.  Eventually, the dog, which is being kept outside, gets sick and dies.

Poponepo, the Crime King, by Boichi.  I've seen Boichi in a magazine I reviewed a number of weeks ago, but apparently, I didn't include his name in the article so I can't find the blog entry.  The artwork in Poponepo is pretty good, and the story is a bit off the wall, but this is one of the titles that had a sex scene, so it's not appropriate for minors.  It's set in a prison of sorts, with some of the characters trying to figure out how to escape.

H.E. - The Hunt for Energy, also by Boichi.  The artwork in H.E. is very good, and the characters are incredibly off the wall.  Very promising.  Manga Fox has the first chapter scanilated.  A guy that can see the energy stored within people is in charge of "hunting" for alternative energy sources.


(Young, Alive, in Love)

Young, Alive, in Love. A light-hearted tale of a girl and a ghost (I think).  Very simple, clean artwork.

As can be seen in the above list, probably the most prominent artist is Boichi.  But, I think that Jump Kai will start turning out bigger titles within a year or so, so it's definitely worth keeping an eye on.

This issue also has a special supplement, a 50-page booklet dedicated as a remembrance of the 1 year anniversary of the 3-11 earthquake.  Artists include Naoki Urasawa ("20th Century Boys", "Yawara") and Norifusa Mita ("Dragon Zakura").  Stories range from autobiographical accounts of the quakes, to articles describing the rescue work afterward.

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