Review: Weekly Shonen Jump #33

This was a relatively short but solid issue of Jump as One Piece quickly moves forward with the fallout of the events in Dressrosa and a new Jump Start series, Best Blue, enters the fray. The newest Jump Start is here by writer/artist Masahiro Hirakata: a swimming manga called Best Blue.  I've surely implied this before, but have never outright said that I am not a huge fan of sports manga.  Most off-genre, super-specific manga actually do pretty well and translate into anime after not too long.  The only ones I've liked are Food Wars and Bakuman, the latter of which was mostly of interest to me as someone who writes comics and is fascinated by the production of manga in Japan.  Food Wars really fires on all cylinders, and most if not all of the sports manga I've read have, by contrast, really contrived drama, bland characters, and only work insofar as they supply scripts for an anime that portrays the dynamic actions of the sport much better.

Weekly Shonen Jump #33Best Blue was far from exceptional in this respect.  Sure, we've got the typical Shonen hero (with blue in his hair and in his name to boot!), but for a manga focused on competitive swimming the pace is slow.  Worse yet, the big reveal in this issue was telegraphed and impersonal.  The success of the current king of swimming anime, Free! is in its fan-service and its out-of-the-pool soap opera qualities (and in the fact that they never even tried it as a manga!).  Best Blue isn't drawn well enough to make up for the fact that competitive swimming itself is just not a suitable subject for a pictorial narrative done in this straightforward kind of manga style.  There's no real twist to this series, no reason to come back unless you really really enjoy swimming and, even then, it's going to be hard to get too invested in this series.  It won't be around very long.

Oda is so damn smart: Dressrosa, the most grandiose and successful arc post-timeskip, literally just ended, and he is leveraging all of the drama to begin changing the political landscape of the world of One Piece.  Last week, I mentioned that Fujitora's apology was a huge moment in this series, and now that Sukizaka has banned him from setting foot in any naval base without Luffy and Law in tow, this arc is really going to come to its final conclusion.  Fujitora really seems uneasy about this entire arrangement, and the ultimatum given to him by the elders and Sakazuki has brought the entire situation--the world government's support of pirates via the navy, Fujitora's distaste for the use of pirates by the navy, the pirate alliance, AND the revolution--to a critical juncture.  It all rests on exactly what Fujitora has in mind now, and will foreshadow the political landscape going forward not just between pirates and the navy, but between the navy and the world government.

I can't wait to see what Soma is up to in Food Wars, having placed last on the first day of the Moon Festival after being a moron and placing his dinky little food cart across from a restaurant being run by Kuga.  This series stays relatively formulaic in terms of Soma's last-second, unexpected antics, but the art never falters and the humor and quick story pacing is always there.

Score: 3/5

Weekly Shonen Jump #33 Writer: Various Artist: Various Publisher: Viz Media Release Date: 7/13/15 Format: Weekly; Digital