Devily Man tries its hand as this week’s “Jump Start” and it is miles above its only competition, Straighten Up. As much as true-to-life (ish) mangas are riding a wave of popularity for the past few years, I can’t imagine Straighten Up will beat out a series as clever and quick as Devily Man. I also don’t expect Straighten Up to stick around to long over in the Japanese line-up, but that’s a much harder prediction to make and Jump in Japan has the resources to reach niche audiences, even with dance manga. Devily Man features a pathetic, pure-of-heart devil who sells a special power to evil people in exchange for half of their salary for the rest of their lives. The power in question: contact with the hand of another person reveals to the user every bad thing that person has ever done. The power is used deftly by our co-antagonist, a small child, to blackmail the shit out of people into doing whatever he wants. As much as I love the premise and the simplicity of its execution, it’s going to be a challenge for this manga to really go somewhere. We’ll see where it’s at in a few weeks. I thought that this was one of the most visually stunning chapters of One Piece that I have ever read. The entire Dressrosa arc has been a flourish in character design and the city itself has come alive in its shift from quaint town to ominous evil superstructure. What really grabbed my attention about this chapter, however, was the organized chaos of these layouts. No other mainstream mangaka has ever been anywhere close to Oda’s level in terms of putting massively popular stories on a page, and this chapter is a testament to that fact.
The other awesome aspect of this week’s One Piece is exemplified by the way that Oda is able to drive tension by delegating the epicness of an arc’s climax to character’s other than Luffy. This is a manga about his entire crew and everyone that they come across. It’s one thing to see that featured in stellar, always unique character designs; however, it’s another level of storytelling entirely to bench your main protagonist and put the fate of an entire city on everyone else’s shoulders. Naturally this is a major feature of Shonen tales--lord knows it added hundreds of episodes to DBZ--but Oda doesn’t make it feel like a mere trope. One Piece feels like it’s everyone’s story.
And, of course, Naruto, Food Wars, and Academia were fantastic. We went over 300 pages again this week and none of the stuff that I usually read felt even a little bit like filler. Seeing Naruto casually interact with Kurama while shepherding around Sasuke and Chouji’s daughters was pretty awesome. Seeing the alarming capabilities of the mysterious Uchiiha foe is even more awesome. It’s looking more and more like this has to someow involve some long-lost Orochimaru weirdness. I have no idea how this could be anything else.