Sunday, May 6, 2012

Commentary: Jump SQ

Jump SQ is another of the Jump titles from Shueisha, but it is also one of the more popular.  Aimed at a slightly older male audience, existing stories include Claymore, Blue Exorcist and To-Love-ru, which are all well-known in the west.  They're also all licensed by Viz, and Viz's lawyers have been cracking down on sites like Manga Fox to stop fan scanilating (with limited results).  This means that it's getting harder to follow the SQ stories if you don't buy the Viz books (if you're in the U.S.)  I don't begrudge Viz their money for U.S. sales.  It's just that, 1 - they're very slow on releases, so generally what comes out in Japan won't make it to the U.S. until years later.  2 - They don't publish full series (Golgo 13 was only something like 15 out 200+ volumes).  3 - They cut artwork or rewrite entire dialog to "localize" (i.e. - make more "hip") for the U.S. market.  Cover art rarely resembles the Japanese originals.  4 - And, finally, they cost 2-3 times the Japanese cover price.  They're basically shooting themselves in the foot with their practices, and western readers are put off because of it.  I know that I won't buy anything with a Viz imprint.

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

Jump SQ, monthly.  550 yen, 890 pages.
According to the wiki entry, SQ started in 2007 as a replacement for Monthly Shonen Jump. The "SQ" in the name supposedly has 3 meanings - "public square", "algebraic square" (supplementing Weekly Shonen Jump) and "Supreme Quality".  As mentioned above, it skews to a more mature audience, with scenes of fondling, lots of reader service shots, and the occasional erotic posing.  Nothing really graphic in this issue, but it would rate at least a PG-17 in the U.S.

(Kakko Kawaii Sengen. The chapter title translates to "I Met Richard Gere".)

The artwork ranges wildly from the very bad to the very good.  Genres are pretty limited to fantasy, action and sports (baseball, tennis, soccer).  The better titles are all ones that are already familiar to western readers:

Prince of Tennis
Ao no Exorcist
Gate-7 (Clamp)
Rosario and Vampire

The lesser-known titles still have appeal at one level or another, and over time may also catch on with western readers.

Kakko Kawaii Sengen
This is a very strangely-drawn gag manga, where the character's facial features are too small for the rest of their heads. The artist was on the Jump-Bang TV show last year (when I was still able to watch it), and the manga seems to be selling pretty well.

Binbougami ga!
A penniless goddess is pitted against similar supernatural entities.  The artwork is very crisp and clean, but the gags are mostly silly.  (Manga Fox has some of the scanned chapters.)

Chiisai Hiroba (Small Wide Space)
Starting up in this issue, the artwork is quirky and the story hasn't had time to develop yet.  But it seems promising. (Note that "hiroba" is often used to refer to an open area, such as a park or playground).  A successful businessman recalls how he'd gotten his start from a webpage that sells "success" (for love, life and business).  At the end, though, the pressure gets too much and when he finally returns to the website, it can't provide the one thing he needs - peace.

Tegami Bachi
I watched the anime last year.  Initially I was attracted by the artwork and character designs.  But the idea of magical battling postal carriers just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  Still, it is popular in Japan.

Gokigen Steady
I couldn't figure out the story just from one chapter.  Basically, a kung-fu girl fights two weightlifting weirdos.  When the weirdos are defeated, their bodies slowly turn to dust.  The character designs are very similar to Gin-tama.  The heroine is kind of interesting, but the jokes are strictly toilet humor.

(Binbougami ga!)

Parman Junetsuteki na Hibi
This is one of the few titles I'm immediately drawn to.  The reason is that it's by Fujio A Fujiko, one half of the Doraeman team.  He's doing a kind of autobiographical illustrated article.  Since FAF is the last remaining member of Tezuka's Tokiwa-Sou crew, it's interesting to see what he has to say.

(Gokigen Steady)

Time Between Witch and Me
School-girl witches have battles against each other.  The character designs are a bit rough, but the action is interesting.

Papa iu Koto wo Kikinasai
I encountered this title in SD&Go. This time, the story is more gag-oriented, following a small group of people living in one neighborhood.  Kind of slice-of-life.  The artwork is good, but I don't care for the story.

(Chisaii Hiroba)

Fashion designer creates cosplay outfits.  Good artwork, unusual premise.


There is one freebie this time - a Prince of Tennis TCG card, but the art is boring.  According to the wiki entry, D.Gray-man also runs in SQ, but it was missing from this issue.


Dates for 5/7 to 5/13:

Birthdays (13):
Robert ("Welcome Back Kotter") Hegyes, 5/7/1951
David Hume, 5/7/1711
Gene ("There are Doors") Wolfe, 5/7/1931
Bob Clampett, 5/8/1913
Jean "Mobius" Giraud, 5/8/1938
Don Rickles, 5/8/1926
Foster Brooks, 5/11/1912
Richard Feynman, 5/11/1918
Phil Silvers, 5/11/1911
Doodles Weaver, 5/11/1911
Tom (The Tomorrow Show) Snyder, 5/12/1936
Arthur Sullivan, 5/13/1842
Roger Zelazny, 5/13/1937

Died (7):
Robert Heinlein, 5/8/1988
Theodore Sturgeon, 5/8/1985
Alan King, 5/9/2004
Shel Silverstein, 5/9/1999
Frank Frazetta, 5/10/2010
Lester del Rey, 5/10/1993
Douglas Adams, 5/11/2001

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