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2011 July Manga Abbreviated First Impressions Agglomerate

Rewriting history, to-day, every day!

Remember this? No, I guess not. MAFIA is basically the same as Anime First Impressions (including the ordering from ‘worst’ to ‘best’, everything being as-is and unedited, and of course, the oh-so-amazing rating system), except (since manga aren’t released season-by-season) grouped by month. I haven’t done this for a long time because I never was able to get a collection of manga in one month that were all good, but somehow (somehow!) I managed to do this this month, though it’s more 2011 June than 2011 July.

That said, let’s begin~!

Ume Shigure

I wouldn’t exactly say this is the ‘worst’ manga, cause I really have no idea what to expect from this series.

Umemoto Shinya (Ume-chi) is a 16-year-old. At first glance, he isn’t your usual otamot – he’s Korean (and looks Korean, as in looks Kim Jong-Il Korean), not tall, somewhat chubby, wears glasses, and seems extremely nerdy – his only passion is in medieval castles. Such a character design could never become the protagonist of a harem.

So of course, a harem is not what happens to Shinya. What happens is that Shigure Anzai, a blonde classmate, suddenly runs into him and forces him to masquerade as her boyfriend. Anzai’s father is chasing her for their once-a-month meeting (Anzai’s mother is divorced, and she lives with her), which is somehow stopped when he finds out Anzai ‘has a boyfriend’.

“No, I sleep whenever I’m energetic.”

I’ve only read three chapters so far, even though four’s out – for MAFIA posts, I’ll only read up to three chapters for each manga, never more (or else it isn’t ‘first’ impressions, is it?)

Ume Shigure got off to a very interesting start, interesting if only because the main plot still hasn’t been introduced. This is obviously not a weekly-serialization tier professional work, having only 15 pages per chapter, but hey, something interesting might happen.

Shinya’s character design is definitely very interesting – instead of that main that’s really cool who everybody likes, he’s that guy who’s sorta fat and nerdy – the target audience of manga like this. Yet, he doesn’t act like the fat nerd that anime shows fat nerds to be – he acts like a regular person, with a brain of his own. Is this the new trend in character design?!

Cover Rating: 4/10 (Good)

Kagami no Kuni no Harisugawa

Ah, here you can see the influences of Jump. Kagami no Kuni no Harisugawa (Harisugawa for short… wait, that’s still long and confusing :v) is a typical Jump manga, and as such, vastly different from Ume Shigure.

When Harisugawa Tetsu, your average otamot, was little, he once kicked this girl, Satomi Mao, and thus saved her life (wait, what). However, because, y’know, he kicked her, she suffered injuries so all the boys mocked her, and so she didn’t like anybody, and was friendly only towards Tetsu.

Fast forward to high school, and Mao is still only friendly to Tetsu. However, being a female protagonist, all the males at the school want her, and thus whenever anybody’s rejected, they blame Tetsu for their misfortune. From the outside, Tetsu seems just like Mao’s friend, but of course, he harbours the most intense feelings (how else was he able to save her life when they were little?) for her.

After Mao compulsively buys an antique mirror out of interest, Tetsu kicks her again, and thus saves her life. Again (wait, what). However, by kicking her, he endangers his own life, and is sucked into her mirror (wait, what). Apparently, the mirror can trap people who are on the verge of life and death, and ‘saves’ their life, but traps them in the mirror. The only way to view the outside world is through mirrors – any mirror Mao’s mirror ‘sees’ will become a new window in Tetsu’s ‘mirror world’, from which he can see the outside world.

Furthermore, the only person who can know of this mirror is Mao, or else Tetsu will never be able to escape. He’s able to escape (temporarily) by touching Mao and thus switching places, but he’s always forced back at the end. There is one final salvation, though – there can only be one person in the mirror at any given time, and so by simply waiting until somebody else on the verge of life and death is sucked in (maybe a cancer patient?), Tetsu can escape, but presumably to the afterlife.

The horse’s lack of head foreshadows her ultimate fate

I don’t know. What is a ‘Jump manga’ anyways? We all seem to know what a Jump manga is, but what exactly is it (ok, I’m not making sense here)? There are certain elements that pervade all Jump mangas, to the point in which a Jump manga is no longer merely a manga serialized in Jump, but becomes a genre by itself.

The main element, you would think, is its target audience of male teenagers. Yet, this is not the type of Jump traits that I’m talking about. I’m talking about more plotwise traits (no, frequent shots of female undergarments is not a plot trait):
– The protagonists have freedom
– They are able to pursue their goals
– There are frequent barriers that are used to advance the character’s development and progress toward his goals
– Characters often recur, regardless of antagonism/protagonism (often, antagonists become protagonists later on as they are developed and their motives revealed)
– Plot introduced quickly and immediately
– Shapes its story into strict, overarching ‘arcs’, that focus on the character’s overcoming of a specific, large, obstacle (the overcoming usually occurring after many dramatic chapters, each ending on a cliffhanger)
– And of course, the most important: a Jump manga never ‘rests’. They focus to attract the reader’s attention on any and every chapter, even if it’s a filler, even if it’s a beginning of an arc, even if the chapter isn’t supposed to be attention-grabbing at all. Jump manga are made to be nice, five-minute weekly reads, not to be read all at once. Jump manga isn’t meant to be completely mentally coherent with a steady pacing – Jump manga are meant to be read after an entire week has passed from the previous chapter, by which point only a few fragments remain in our memories of the previous chapter.

That’s a big burst of text, so let’s move on to the next manga first.

Cover Rating: 4/10 (Good)

Togari Shiro

Togari was this awesome manga that was drawn a couple of years ago, but then abruptly stopped. Togari Shiro is thus the long-awaited sequel.

Tobei was a teenage murderer back in the Edo period, who was eventually beheaded by the government. He managed to end up in the deepest pits of Hell, where he endured torture for 300 years, endlessly refusing to accept his punishment by attempting to break out of Hell. In Hell, his body was immortal – a curse, rather than a blessing, as even when people cut you in half over a thousand times, your body will simply heal and be ready to be cut again. It’s simple to ‘escape’ out of Hell – by simply accepting the punishment for your sins, you would eventually ascend to Heaven. However, Tobei simply refuses to do such a thing.

Eventually, Lady Ema, the ruler of Hell, offered him a chance. She would allow Tobei to live again, if he could, within the span of 108 days, defeat 108 ‘Togas’ (manifestations of sin – they appear behind a particularly evil person) in the real world. She gives him a cursed sword, Togari, the only weapon capable of wounding Togas, and he starts his quest.

However, this is not without problems – to morally reshape him, he is given a set of restrictions. Firstly, he is unable to commit, or even think of committing any sins – simply a thought of sinning will cause his neck wound (left from his beheading) to reopen. Secondly, he is unable to physically harm anybody – harming somebody will cause their wound to be transferred to himself. This would not be a problem for his immortal body, but unfortunately, in the real world, his body is mortal, and he can still die.

After 107 days, Tobei has hunted down 107 Togas. Now, in Togari Shiro, squad of angels, lead by an angel, Weol, descends from Heaven and offers Tobei entrance into Heaven. Tobei declines, and the angels plot to bring his downfall…

Togari is simply a badass-looking awesome manga. I’ve read a few chapters and am just thoroughly hooked – the great narration style, the dark, thick, art and shading, the wickedness of the human world. Whereas something like Azazel-san mocked and ridiculed human (and demonic/angelic) corruption, Togari seems like it’ll treat it with a more serious eye.

Togari’s overall plot of morally correcting Tobei is definitely interesting as well, though the main focus of Togari is undoubtedly on the amazing battles. Togari Shiro’s pilot chapter definitely does a great job of attracting attention and speculation. If you haven’t read the original yet, I highly recommend you do now.

Cover Rating: 6/10 (Amazing)

Shoujo Gensou Necrophilia

As you may deduce by the title, Girl Gensou-kyo Necrophilia is about Remilia x Yoshika this manga takes on a darker tone, similar to Togari Shiro.

Riselotte and Georg are normal brothers/sisters. Riselotte befriends an old librarian, who dies one night. The two, accompanied with suspicious people in dark hoods, attend her burial. Riselotte subsequently proceeds to eat the dead librarian.

See, she’s not supposed to be alive, but is through… dark magic, perhaps? Georg, a priest, is trying to return her body to normal using the Necronomicon, which he has troubles finding. Riselotte’s body is strange, as she can’t taste and doesn’t feel any pain. Something is obviously wrong.

Shoujo Gensou (I was going to call it ‘Necrophilia’, but then I’d be saying things like ‘Necrophilia is awesome, and you guys should totally try it right now’, and I don’t want to say things like that) is awesome, and you guys should totally try it right now. It has a good dose of mystery while blending horror and light-hearted shenanigans perfectly – perhaps similar to No. 6’s handling of slice-of-life and genuinely disturbing moments.

The accurate title is actually ‘Necrophage’, as Riselotte doesn’t violate dead people’s bodies, she eats them. I guess the mangaka hasn’t realized that his grasp of English isn’t that good yet, has he? :v

Patchy finds out about Remi’s secret life

I don’t get why names are always cut off (Georg(e), Nic(h)olas) – is it the translator or the original author? I thought that the translated title (Darkside Sister of Necrophile) was just a translation error, but it turned out to be both a translation error and the mangaka actually titling the piece ‘Necrophilia’.

The art is very, very, nice, though. Is this one of those twisted horror genres? Where everything looks really cute on the outside, but everything’s really disturbing on the inside?

This is a trait that Jump stories never do – disturb. Jump stories are always light and fluffy – there are never any genuinely ‘horrible’ moments, where you just want to throw up and sleep with your mommy at night from the sheer horror of the scenes.

I hope I’m ready.

Cover Rating: 7/10 (Brilliant)


First of all, I propose that everybody from now and in subsequent mentions of the compound ‘ST&RS’ pronounce it as such: ‘stairs’. That way, I can make a rhyme, like this:

It seems that stairs sounds like ST&RS.
Because only that is… fair.
And I like to breathe… air.
Because I have black… hair.
I hate falling down… stairs.
Because it… hurts.

ST&RS starts with a complicated and drawn-out plot that probably won’t matter right now, so I won’t talk about it in too much detail. Basically, aliens send a message to us, and tell us to meet them on Mars some time in the future.

After some time, Shirafune Maho, 15, decides to apply to the Japanese Space Academy with a honours transfer student, Amachi Wataru, and his childhood friend, Hoshihara Meguru. They, along with all the other astronaut-wannabes, will have to face a series of tests to pass…

Or rather, just two tests. Eat the Milky Way

I’m not going to spoil the plot, since I totally recommend you read ST&RS (not that I really care / I’m just saying that to be fair / to all the people out there).

There are other very interesting Jump characteristics manifested throughout this manga as well. The myriad of ‘tests’ (as I said about the overcoming of obstacles), whether tests of strength, tests of intelligence, or tests of will. The ubiquitous rise in power level – look at Dragon Ball, where people’s power levels grow to over a trillion (it’s over 9000… million!) – to convey the character’s ‘growth’, whereas other ‘non-Jump’ manga convey it by less solid means – such as Togari, in which Tobei’s growth is moral and incapable of pinpointing exactly ‘how’ he’s grown.

Another aspect of Jump manga are the clichés in characters. While this happens to, heck, basically everything out there, Jump mangas are particularly liable to these offences. Why? Because these character archetypes are tried and true – they work to add interest to a story. Of course, overusing clichés is bad, but the true character of a Jump manga stands out when they develop past merely being a cliché.

The final aspect are the weird ability names; READING STEINER (though Steins;Gate is probably the worst example to choose, ever) author’s need to reintroduce ‘dead’ characters. You know it – you read a long Jump manga, and suddenly out of the blue, this guy who first appeared in chapter 10 and was defeated by the protagonist then, suddenly appears and helps the protagonist out of a difficult situation. Jump manga’s final characteristic is their wide cast of characters – most of them aren’t developed at all, but any Jump author keeps a host of characters ‘alive’ for use in a critical situation. That said, those characters must at least be somewhat memorable, and what’s the best way to accomplish that? That’s right, clichés.

Even in ST&RS (we’ve got stares) there’s this muscle-man and this SMART GUY (he looks pretty dumb, btw) that appear, obviously to become important characters later on.

But why do Jump authors do this?

This leads into my final, ST&RS-centric point of this post – Jump authors don’t plan in advance. They keep a host of characters, ready to leap for a quick deus ex at anytime because they don’t plan their manga ahead. They don’t know what’s going to happen. This is why they need power levels, to track the relative ‘skills’ of the people in the story. This is why they need tests, and barriers – what else could they have? Tests require no forethought at all.

This is exemplified in ST&RS – the author obviously wanted the muscle-man and SMART GUY to pass the first exam, but they teamed up with nobodies, and the first exam was a team exam. There’s no way they could’ve passed it by themselves, so that would stop them from becoming actual characters later on (having failed the first test). Thus, the mangaka didn’t even know what type of exam he would make when he first drew that chapter. It’s even more obvious when you realize that the second (and final) exam obviously has a limited number of seats, but the coordinators had no way of knowing how many would be eliminated. Of course, you could say that they had a third exam prepared, and too little people passed the first exam, but that seems more of an excuse than a legitimate design decision.

This lack of planning in advance happens in every Jump manga – perhaps most brilliantly exemplified by the sheer ridiculousness of Bleach’s new arc beginnings.

Ah, perhaps I should wrap this up.

Cover Rating: 8/10 (Masterpiece)

In conclusion, I’ve said a lot about this topic of what a Jump manga seems to be for me. Please remember that when I say this, I don’t mean ‘a manga serialized in Jump’ – though I can’t name any off the top of my head, I’m sure there are a few manga in Jump that aren’t actually Jump mangas (perhaps something like Money and Intelligence, hehe).

As the weeks and months pass, new manga is constantly being released. I was thinking of ending this up with a thoughtful and philosophical paragraph on the beauty of nature but I can’t think of any thoughtful ways to end this so I’ll just say blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. I suppose this is a bit of an editorial? But ACCORDING TO MY TAGS, NO IT ISN’T HAHAHAA

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