Weekly Shonen Magazine 9/21/2005

...and back to the manga reviews. From the cute girls that are plastered all over the cover and ads, I'm guessing that Weekly Shonen Magazine is aimed at a slightly older audience than Shonen Jump. The ads also bear it out — there are fewer ads for video games and cartoons, and more ads for things like dress shirts, superglue, and (ahem) body pillows.

The initial color section is actually devoted to photos of the aforementioned cute girls — sort of a Tiger Beat for boys, if you will. It's actually kinda creepy, but it makes we kind of wonder why we don't see this sort of thing in America. I guess our boys go straight from "girls are icky" to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and Maxim.

The first actual comic is Clamp's RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE.. I've never been a big fan of CLAMP — I think they tend to make both their drawings and stories overly complicated — and I'm not seeing anything here that changes my mind. I don't have a clue what's going on here, but it looks like several of their series have collided.

The next comic is the cover feature, and it seems to be a murder mystery with some Phantom of the Opera overtones. Nothing terribly gripping here, but it's pretty to look at.

After that comes Suzuka, which seems to be a sports/romance comic with a track theme. Again, nice to look at, but nothing gripping, though I'm amazed by the truly ludicrous design of the school uniforms on display here.

And then it's Tohru Fujisawa's Rose Hip Zero, which has police officers fighting criminals with uzis and samurai swords, terrorists blowing up apartment buildings, and schoolgirls posing for photos. There are some nice action scenes, and I wouldn't mind seeing a second installment. Though I was amused by the fact that one of the characters gets his right hand cut off (which surprisingly doesn't bother him), and then leaves, carrying it in his left hand — except that Fujisawa's accidentally drawn him carrying another left hand in his left hand. Whoops. Also of note — he's recycling some of his character designs for GTO here, which adds some amusing dissonance.

The next comic is about a bunch of guys, running. I'm not sure whether it's a comic about cross-country running, or baseball guys doing intense training, or even some weird gang chase, though. There's some nice storytelling going on in the race sequences, which effectively communicates the grueling nature of the run and the main character's drive to defeat his rival.

And then it's time for (something or other) The Fighting! Actually, compared to the other baseball comics, the art and storytelling aren't so good, but it does feature some of the most gratuitous over-use of speed lines I've ever seen...

Weekly Shonen Magazine 9/21/2005, p. 134

The next comic is a quick little gag manga about a group of schoolgirls, which jumps through a few hoops to set up a joke where a girl eating a corn dog seems to be giving a boy a blow job. Now that's classy. It's followed by another gag manga in which junior high students beat each other up, and another salacious gag manga in which a high school swim team has a fundraiser by working at a restaurant. In their swimsuits.

Then it's Godhand Teru, apparently about some genius surgeon. In this installment, he operates on some old guy's ingrown tonail! Now that's excitement.

Overdrive looks like a sports manga about cross-country cycling, and features one of those moments where a neophyte character analyzes some data and makes the shocking discovery that slow and steady wins the race. Of course, when slow and steady comes back to win, it's ruined by some rather distracting sound effects that manage to completely obscure the action. Whoops.

GetBackers seems to be another one of those comics where teenagers with mystical ninja powers beat the crap out of each other in a modern setting. Some nice action, but nothing particularly compelling. I bet the Japanese are eating this up with a spoon, though. I'm more intrigued by the odd clash of styles in the next comic, which features giant clockwork machines, naked robots, and a witch riding a giant wrench instead of a broom.

The next two comics are pretty typical stuff, some sort of dramedy about guys hanging out in front of a convenience store, and a comic about motorcycle toughs kicking the crap out of each other. They're followed by Samurai Deeper Kyo. Again, more martial arts hijinks, but not worth noting except for the art. The comic after that is more of the same, but with more of an obvious romantic focus, and the bizarre twist that one of the main characters appears to be a unicorn in disguise.

And then there's Koma Koma, which is about a kid in mod clothes who's really into shogi, apparently. Can't follow what's going on, but it looks inoffensive enough.

And now we're deep into gag strip territory. The inaptly named School Rumble doesn't have any rumbling in it, and the following comic is pretty forgettable too. But then there's a story about a bunraku puppeteer who takes a schoolgirl puppet to an actual high school, with hilarious results. Let's just say it ends with him being mistaken for a pervert and attacked by some male students. Probably the funniest gag comic in any of the phone books I picked up, and certainly the only one that really made much sense to a non-Japanese speaker.

And then there's Cromartie High School. I've kind of soured on its American incarnation, because I think repeat exposure drives the gags into the ground, but it does work pretty well as an occasional feature in an anthology. This installment involves the gang trying to figure out exactly who is hiding from them in a bear suit.

Full Speed is a racing manga without any racing (at least, in this installment.

And then, mysteriously, there's a manga adaption of the Vinland Saga. The whole thing reads like someone got sick of drawing Chinese historical epics and decided to branch out, but the unusual subject matter does really make it stand out.

The last two stories are a comic about some strangely animalistic vampires, and a gag manga about a day at the pool.

Much like Shonen Jump, there's nothing horribly bad here, but again, there's nothing terribly good either. Another "eh."

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