There have been a lot of new manga to enter the scene this year; Shonen Jump recently announced six new series to debut within the next month or so. I try to keep on the pulse with manga, so here are some quick insights into three recently translated series.
Keep in mind, it’s difficult to judge a new series on it’s very first chapter, so I’m going to try and be flexible, open-minded, but somewhat conservative.
Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai – “We Can’t Study/We Never Learn”
This series is from the mangaka of the Nisekoi spin-off “Magical Pâtissière Kosaki-chan,” which explains why the art can easily be compared to Nisekoi. It focuses around the three main leads who will obvious form a love triangle; Yuiga Nariyuki (male lead), Furuhashi Fumino (air-headed female lead), and Ogata Rizu (tsundere female lead).
The plot is that Nariyuki is poor and, thanks to his grades, he will likely receive a nomination from his high school for a full-ride to university, the only catch is that he has to tutor Fumino and Rizu. Sounds easy, since the two girls are geniuses in their fields, literature and science respectively. The problem, however, is that the girls have opposite interests! Fumino wants to study science and Rizu wants to study literature, and they both suck. Hijinks ensue.
As of this writing, there are two chapters available online. The first acts as set up, introducing us to the plot, main characters, and the conflict. Chapter two goes into some background exposition of why the girls want to study what they’re terrible at.
I have moderate hopes for Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai. If it takes any influence from Nisekoi, the pacing will be shit and plots will be dragged on indefinitely. It will follow terrible clichés and be a general disappointment when it ends.
On the other hand, however, the female leads were introduced nearly at the exact same time. In a lot of Harem series the first girl will be final girl (Nisekoi, Love Hina), so it’s pretty easy to predict the eventual ending. Right now I can’t tell who will be final girl, which is nice. They’re both appealing but I’m not too invested yet. I’ll keep reading for now.
Recommendation: Check if you like RomComs
From a relatively new mangaka (based on the mangaupdates.com catalogue), U19 was commonly referred to as Codename: Kids Next Door, manga version, when posted on r/manga.
The plot revolves around Kudo Eiji and his classmates in a world were a political party in Japan has set up a caste system, A to D, to rank people. Children are severely controlled in this society, and their ultimate goal is to be rank A to get a good education and get a good job. After a genetic test, it is revealed that Eiji’s childhood friend and love interest Akari is rank SSS, extremely superior. Because of this, she is transferred schools and causes extreme stress to Eiji, causing him to awaken a special power.
When I first started to read U19, I didn’t finish it. The first chapter is very dialogue heavy which is always a slog for me. There was a lot of set-up, introduction of characters, and a development of the world. My first reading, I didn’t get to the part where it talks about “the Garbage Kids,” a group of rebellious teens hoping to overthrow the Adult Party.
Honestly, I don’t know if it was the translation or the flow of the series, but things were a little bungled in this chapter. I feel like the series introduced a lot really fast, most prominently the “powers.” They’ve referred to it off-handily and via exposition, but they haven’t been shown yet. It feels like a weird add in, but it’s still the first chapter, so there will be more opportunity to explore it.
Although there is a lot of exposition dump, but I have to admit I am intrigued with U19. Once I got past the plot dump, I am legitimately curious about some things.
Eiji enjoys sewing, which is something not seen in shonen protagonists, so I’m interested to see where that leads to. The dynamic between him and Akari is cute, so I’m hoping to see them together again despite the conflict of transferring schools. The “Garage Kids” are a dumb-sounding group, but with a relatively normal universe, I’d like to know how they developed these special powers.
I think I’ll wait a couple chapters, I’d rather wait for some build up before continuing to read.
Recommendation: Check if dialogue heavy stories interest or don’t bother you
From an author/drawer team, Jagaaaaaan is a horror manga. It revolves around Shintarou Jagasaki, a neighbourhood police officer facing a personal crisis about his life and where it’s going. He’s pretty two-face: hating himself for how he acts and simultaneously confirming to societal standards. He laments living a boring life and thinks about shooting people – a lot. All of this changes, however, after shit goes down hard and monsters are suddenly in the world. Jagasaki, during a brutal slaughtering, discovers he can shoot energy(??) out of his fingers à la Yu Yu Hakusho.
How I feel about a manga heavily relies on its art style. For example, I really enjoy Keijo!!!!!!!!, but the lack of noses is incredibly distracting. I do not enjoy the art of Jagaaaaaan. It’s too realistic and unsightly. I won’t deny it’s impressive, but I don’t like it.
Additionally, I don’t particularly enjoy horror manga. I like Junji Ito and some of his works, but sometimes they spook me. I can see Jagaaaaaan spooking me. Maybe people like that, but I don’t think I could manage through these chapters. There isn’t much, in my opinion, that redeems this series for non-horror fans.
For example, the main character isn’t not great. I’m sure people can relate to being stuck in a boring life, but honestly he has a pretty good life. I hear Japanese civil servants are pretty well off, and his girlfriend is drawn very attractively and is affectionate towards him. I guess I’m curious what kind of character development Jagasaki will go through as the series continued, but I’m not interested enough to keep reading.
Recommendation: Mainly for horror fans