Sunday, June 24, 2012

Commentary: Monthly Gessan

I mentioned a long time ago that the four main "weekly shonen" magazines once had both weekly and monthly versions of each title. Part of the concept of the monthly versions was to provide a stage for the newer artists in their stables, resulting a cruder look, and a lack of any real sales pull.  Eventually, Jump and Sunday dropped the monthly editions, retweaked the concept, and released them under new names, but aimed at largely the same market - older male teens and younger adults. 


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

The monthly version of Shonen Sunday is now called Gessan (Get the Sun).  550 yen, 724 pages.
Started in 2009, Gessan is celebrating its 3rd year anniversary with this issue, although the only obvious displays are the back cover and a few special pages at the front and back.  The artwork hovers close to "average".  That is, many of the titles have decent character designs and backgrounds, but there's little that stands out as REALLY good or REALLY bad.  However, on the whole I still think that most of the artists here are just starting out. Genres include sports (baseball, kendo), fantasy, Edo-era drama and fighting.


(Full cast on the back cover.)

I've long liked Mitsuru Adachi, starting with Touch, and then going up through Katsu and H2.  For me, he's best when sticking to baseball manga.  He had Q&A (the ghost of a boy's older brother helps the younger one cope with bullies in school) running through Gessan up to a few months ago, but I didn't follow it that closely.  In this issue, Adachi is starting up a new baseball manga, called Mix.  So far, the plot hasn't been spelled out.  Three kids, 2 brothers and a younger sister, are starting a new school year at a junior high that has a weak baseball program.  A few kids try out for the team, but they get assigned positions that don't match their real skills.  The team's ace pitcher appears to be the son of a rich family, so the coach makes sure that there's no competition for him.  The starting mystery is how the two brothers, who were born on the same day, claim to not be twins.


(Mix)

Looking at the wiki listing, there haven't been any manga that have really gotten popular with western fans.  The titles that I consider mentioning are:


(Ayashiya)

Ayashiya, by Mutsumi Banno.
Only on chapter 4, this seems to be a demon-hunting series. A girl and her brother have to deal with a demon that has possessed the brother.  The girl spends her time with a secret society of demon hunters, while the brother tries to defeat demons that eat humans.  The artwork is very strong, and the character designs are fun.  Lots of slapstick humor in with the more serious elements.


(Chirori)

Chirori, by Aiko Koyama.
No real information on this title.  Looks to be set at a seaside bed and breakfast run by a middle-aged woman with a younger girl helping.  In this chapter, the owner and the girl are sitting at a table overlooking the sea, drinking coffee and having a general conversation.  The owner decides that they need cookies (biscuits) to go with the coffee, and the two of them start baking up a batch.  However, the scent of the cookies attracts a gaggle of women guests, who descend on the dining room and threaten to eat up all the cookies.  Very light, airy line work and simple, feminine character designs.


(Asagiro)

Asagiro, by Minoru Hiramatsu.
Very violent, graphic samurai drama set in the Edo-era.

Aoi Honoo, by Kazuhiko Shimamoto.
Very overblown "drama" of a struggling manga artist.  The main character, Honoo, agonizes over every little detail of the manga production process, and will take 3 "action-packed" panels to race for the phone in the anticipation of a call from his editor.  This may explain why he's so unsuccessful.  Good, solid artwork, silly character designs, dumb story.

Lonely Alien (Hitoribocchi no Chikyuu Shinryaku), by Maiko Ogawa
School boy makes friends with a girl living in an abandoned train car. Solid artwork, although the backgrounds are drawn in a thinner line with lots of white space.  Standard manga school kid character designs.  Simple story featuring the regular school dramas.  Some silly visual gags.

Imoto Sensei Nagisa (Subtitled: Hot for My Samurai Teacher), by Kenichi Muraeda.
School kids studying kendo under a female instructor.  Solid artwork; clean, airy character designs.  Good action sequences, without too many long conversations between swings.

Bullet Armors, by Moritya.
Futuristic mecha combat.  Thick, muddy linework, silly mecha designs.  Aimed at kids.


(Mix clear file.)

The freebies this time are a pair of clear files, for Mix and Waltz.


(Waltz clear file.)

Over all, Gessan doesn't have a lot to offer to western fans, outside of Mix, Mutsumi Banno and Chirori.  However, I'd say that if you like any of Adachi's other works, you'll want to follow Mix.

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