Review: Weekly Shonen Jump #31

The Dressrosa Arc of One Piece, for all intents and purposes, is over, as the Naruto mini also nears its end in this short issue of Weekly Shonen Jump. I think My Hero: Academia has a lot of potential, despite being consistently inconsistent and filled with a good deal of cliches.  Look, we're living in the age of superheroes: origin stories, training montages, fights, power-ups, etc.  Manga is no exception, and Jump will always have some series carrying the torch that DBZ lit.  Soon (maybe?) Bleach will no longer light that torch (not that its flame hasn't been... meager).  Naruto pretty much doesn't carry that torch anymore.  One Piece is setting a new, different kind of standard, while staying true to a lot of the otherwise cliche elements that make a superhero series great.

Academia is slowly developing its own quirks (pun intended), and I like that.  Midoriya figuring out part of his powers based on microwaving pastries for his eccentric teacher is a nice little quirk (pun not intented) that lends a lot of character to this series.  Midoriya is not dumb like your typical Goku, Naruto, or Luffy: he's actually a much better student than all of them, ironically lacking only the physical intelligence that the rest share.  I see Midoriya, along with a handful of other characters in this series, as fitting into a new, more modern and nuanced standard of Shonen hero along with characters like Soma and even Saitama.

WSJ 31 coverI don't think I ever processed the fact that The Seventh Hokage and The Scarlet Spring was only going to be ten issues.  I don't think I wanted to admit to myself that new Naruto was going to end: I have been thrilled with Kishimoto showing that he understands his characters and his series so deeply.  And damnit, I missed Orochimaru.  All that said, I really am disappointed, because it seems like this miniseries is essentially serving as the gateway to the world of Boruto.

There is a big rant bubbling under the surface here, so I'll try to keep it brief.  One of the things that Toriyama ruined after the Cell Saga of DBZ was making the series star Goku instead of handing the reigns over to Gohan.  Gohan got his moment in the sun at the end of the Cell Saga, but pretty much got completely neutered for all of the Buu Saga.  What I'm sort of disappointed by is the fact that I want more Naruto and more Sasuke; but, I'm asking for something I don't really want.

Kishimoto needs to move forward with this series.  He needs to let the original 700 chapters of Naruto stand as a completed monolith to the characters I love, and he needs to make new characters to love, for readers old and new.  If I'm really allowed to be disappointed about anything, I think it's the fact that we aren't getting more Sarada or Cho-Cho or robust, menacing villains.  But, he's got plenty of time for that.

Score: 4/5

Weekly Shonen Jump #31 Writer: Various Artist: Various Publisher: Viz Media Release Date: 7/1/15 Format: Weekly; Digital