We not only get to see Raizo this week but also get to see Kisuke's Bankai. KISUKE'S BANKAI. We don't know what it does yet, but Kubo continues to pull out absolutely all the character stops in the march to Bleach's maybe-sort-of-imminent finish. The design of the pages continues to display Kubo at his absolute best. Simple, black and white comics with few panels are at their purest under Kubo's hand, and make other sparsely paneled comics--particularly those with color--seem lazy. In a way, Kubo has weirdly earned the significance of some of his bigger character power reveals here at the end. Unlike the typical absurd power creep that happens at the end of shonen series (Naruto was just plain ridiculous), Kubo established Bankai's (fairly) early on and has kept several of them veiled until right here at the very end. To see Kisuke's is particularly special.
Speaking of Naruto, we finally got to meet the hidden ninja in One Piece, Raizo, now that his samurai clansmen have come to collect him in the land of Zou. Seeing Oda get to draw gags about ninjas for nearly ten pages was an absolute hoot. The tone of One Piece lends itself to this kind of humor more than its competing series: yeah, Naruto had some samurai in it. But the samurai in Naruto were much more serious business than the ninja we're now meeting in One Piece. Still, because Oda is just so imaginative, the ninja is no joke, and is capable of all of the things (and more) we might have expected from such a crucial character. I am guessing that seeing the levitous reveal of Raizo is one of the last times this series will be so light-hearted for awhile, as we continue to teeter on the edge of another big showdown.
While Kimetsu no Yaiba continues to get a shoulder shrug from me, another new Jump Start, Bye-Bye Humanity is in Weekly Shonen Jump's pages from Jump Plus. Writer Tzunezo Watanabe and artist Asami Hagiwara write about some type of vague demon-like sickness that spreads evil (and cannibalism, sort of?) between the schoolmates of a young girl raised with a bevy of awkward survivalist tendencies.
Did that sound cool or at least sort of interesting? I think that, on paper, the story idea is really fresh and potentially something that could draw male and female readers. The quirky, all-female main contingent made the story feel much different than the typical wide-eyed young man falling ass backwards into the same situation would have. And the art on the very first page holds a lot of promise: it's weird, off-kilter, creepy, but depicts the main character with this really interesting level of composure.
As the story goes on, though, its charms sort of blink in and out across story pages that feel messy and unfinished. What's worse is the disparate layouts give way to disparate storytelling, leaving the reader feeling often like they've missed something important. After a long chapter that feels like it could have occurred in half the time, the most obvious thing about the story is that it has wasted a lot of what makes it special. I love the idea of a young survivalist just getting thrown into this awkward demonic situation. I love the creepy vibe and the fact that they didn't just play the series towards straight-up zombies.
The editors of WSJ acknowledge that this is just a small portion of what the series really has to offer. Unfortunately, what's missing feels like what's in between these pages, not what comes after them. I would love to see this team make a second pass at this idea given slightly more time and maybe a stricter editor, because there are things about this concept that work. With better execution I think this is a series, even if only one with a limited run, that could do very well.
Weekly Shonen Jump #13 Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: Viz Media Price: $0.99 Format: Weekly; Digital Website