Derek: Hey there folks, in our ongoing effort to provide content for this blog, we're starting a brand new weekly segment, Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha Recap or WSJAR for short. In it we'll summarize the events of the most recent chapters published in WSJA, and provide a little commentary on said chapters. I'm Derek...
Monorum: And I'm Monorum.
Derek: And we're two lazy hacks that need to force ourselves to actually update this website.
Monorum: I'm not a lazy hack, I just have a lot on my plate besides writing itself.
Derek: Sure… So anyway, why don't you tell the good people how this column came to be?
Monorum: Well Derek and I happen to frequent a forum on fanfiction.net. A One Piece forum, mind you. Ever since I bought my subscription for Weekly Shounen Jump Alpha to show my support for making digital manga more fruitful, I had to cut down on reading manga online. Which also meant that I had to avoid any spoiler threads on forums. At first I was reluctant to stop, but I wanted to provide my input on the recent chapters of series I enjoy reading so as to enjoy them more, even if I am just expressing my own heartfelt opinions on them. Derek here, happened to catch on to that and decided that since we both are subscribed to WSJA, why not do the WSJAR together and that is why this article is here.
Derek: Mostly I figured that if he was going to be sharing his opinion on the chapters, he might as well do it on the site. And since I wanted to do the same, I decided that we could try out a conversation kind of piece. Now, here's how it's going to work, one of us will summarize what happens in the chapter, and then we'll both give our opinions. Starting, this week, with Bleach.
Ichigo and co make their way back into Hueco Mundo, where they discover that the Vandenreich have been wreaking general havoc. Ichigo discovers that some Hollows have been captured nearby and decides to go to save them. Urahara figures that Nel and Pesche brought Ichigo because they knew he would go out of his way to save others. The scene shifts to the nearby Vandenreich, who are methodically killing off their Arrancar captives. Menoly and Loly are among said captives, and although they fight back, they are quickly defeated. But they are saved, momentarily, with the arrival of Hallibel's fracion.
So…what did you think of the chapter overall?
Monorum: "Not another one of Tite Kubo's famed and constantly done cliffhangers" but I digress, it was a bit informative but not as much. Ichigo and co have just returned to Hueco Mundo but they have no real idea of what the Vandenreich have been doing other than what Nel and Pesche may have told them. What makes me think the most is, why is the Vandenreich killing all of the Arrancars? If not all, then most of the population. Despite that they were the major villains two arcs ago, I just find it odd that they are getting killed. Seeing one of the two Arrancars who I could have sworn had died left me confounded and then Hallibel's unit shows up to save them. There's still a lot I would like to know of what happens next.
Derek: My question is, are there even any regular hollows in Hueco Mundo anymore? Did Aizen really turn them all into Arrancar? Weren't Hollows supposed to be these mindless monsters we were allowed to hate? Why are they suddenly more…humanlike? I dunno, it's kind of bugging me that suddenly they have something of a society, when they're supposed to be souls that need to be purified.
Monorum: Exactly what you just said. Where did all the Hollows go? Aren't they supposed to be these spiritual monsters that are supposed to keep the balance of the spirit realms? Isn't that why the Quincy were all hunted down, because they were destroying far too many Hollows than not just allowed but failing to purify them. Which brings to question: Just who or what the heck are the Vandenreich? They have the amulets with the Quincy symbol yet resemble Arrancar due to having the partial Hollow masks.
Derek: Well, the Vandenreich, especially in this chapter, are heavily influenced by Nazi imagery. And since Uryu's abilities have had German influences to them, and the Vandenreich also have German…ish names I think it's pretty clear that they are in fact Quincy. Also, the guys that had the partial hollow masks were actual Arrancar being forced to fight for the Quincy. Not only that, but I'm pretty sure Kubo plans to bring back the idea that they could destroy the world. It's a good escalation technique, and this could be a good final arc. But I'd be more optimistic if Kubo wasn't pulling another rescue arc. That's three out of five total arcs that he's done rescue arcs. That lack of creativity doesn't bode well for the remained of Bleach.
Monorum: Ah yes, the Nazis. Despised and loathed throughout history for the things they have done. I agree with that the Vandenreich are in fact Quincy, perhaps a hidden faction of the Quincy that Soul Society failed to deal with. Though I did have thoughts that they were not just Quincy but the dead Quincy that somehow escaped Soul Society, gained powers stronger than those of both Shinigami and Arrancar and are, as you've said it, may try to destroy the world. As for Kubo pulling another rescue arc, that would only add ire to the fans expecting something different since the timeskip started.
Derek: Huh. I actually kind of like the theory of these being dead Quincy that grew more powerful than Soul Society could have possibly imagined. It's certainly a lot more interesting than these just being the few surviving Quincy.
Monorum: The thought occured to me since if my memory serves me correctly, entry into Hueco Mundo requires a sort of specialized transport, especially for humans like Chad, Orihime, and Uryu who I must remind myself, is not there with them this time. The idea that the Vandenreich could be dead Quincy who somehow escaped Soul Society and acquired powers beyond Shinigami and Arrancar might prove to be plausible since even if the Quincy still lived, how could they enter Hueco Mundo without suffering serious repercussions to their material bodies? I'd love it if I were right about this but this is Kubo's story so he could pull off something a bit different. Unless Derek is right and Kubo lacks a creative mind these days. This is the final arc to the series so the reveal will be anything but low-key.
Derek: This is interesting, at first this chapter had me despairing for the series, but our discussion has brought up some ideas that show promise. I'm actually kind of looking forward to see where Kubo goes with this. But let us now move on to Naruto.
Monorum: Well all we need to say is that this chapter, Kabuto tries to get Sasuke to join him and turn him against Itachi who Sasuke wanted to get the truth out of him. Itachi then tells Sasuke that Kabuto is a greater spy than he ever was and is not to be trusted. So they end up teaming up together as Itachi tells Sasuke that there is another Sharingan jutsu that is considered Izanagi's other half, Izanami which may be able to defeat Kabuto once and for all.
So, what'd you think of the chapter?
Monorum: Sure, let's hear your honest opinion.
Derek: I hate Sasuke. So f***ing much. And I can tell that Kishimoto is going to try and make him appealing so that we don't murder him when he inevitably redeems him. Because Sasuke is such an interesting, original, and necessary character, that Kishimoto can't stop sucking his figurative dick long enough to realize that he's created the biggest waste of space in any manga ever. Sasuke is the reason I'm actively starting to hate Naruto. Sure Bleach may be boring more often than not, but Naruto has been actively pissing me off for a good few years now. And why do I still read it? Because I'm too invested for my own good. I'm going to keep reading until I find out how it ends, and then I'm going to take a rusty screw driver and shank anyone who even thinks to defend this abomination of a manga.
Monorum: Well now, to represent the sane side, I dislike Sasuke. I've hated him for the things he has done (his trying to kill Karin was the last straw for me) and the torture he has put us through thanks to Kishimoto. But seeing that he is with Itachi again which I had expected to happen (though I expected another fight of sorts until Itachi gave Kabuto the figurative middle finger and broke free of his Edotensei control), Itachi can somehow bring the good out in him. It really is a shame he died. After hating on Sasuke for so long, I just decided to stop with it and just deal with reading through the series with a more focused mind, even if Naruto is still my least favorite of the Big Three. My reasons for being invested in Naruto are due to coincidence, what with the whole Naruto wanting to save Sasuke focus. Even if it has put nearly the entire fandom in grief, I want to see Naruto succeed in the end. But Naruto is not in this chapter despite that the series is named after him. This chapter is, to my friend's ire, about Sasuke teaming up with his dead brother Itachi against Kabuto.
Now there is one thing that has me smirking and that is the use of Izanami. I like to take a moment to brag that one day, before Danzo showed off Izanagi, that I knew he was going to use Izanagi on Sasuke in that battle. Being a fan of mythology and folklore but not outrageously enough, I just put Tsukuyomi, Amaterasu, and Susanoo together and came out with Izanagi according to the mythology.
Derek: BURN IN HELL SASUKE!
Monorum: I also cannot wait to watch Kabuto's precious "invincible" Edotensei be crushed. That man has irked me since the reveal and use of his "invincible" jutsu. He boasts so much about it, it will be all more satisfying to see it all fall apart in front of his eyes.
Derek: You just want him dead because he's kept Anko around to do who knows what to her.
Monorum: HELL'S TOO GOOD FOR YOU, KABUTO! GO FREEZE TO DEATH IN POLAR HELL!
Is the music that would be playing.
Monorum: Ahem, forgive that terrible outburst. If there is one thing I would love to note about this chapter and the previous chapters, is that Itachi seems to telling the exact things I wish to tell about Kabuto. For that, I applaud this man.
Derek: So we are in agreement? Kishimoto can go suck it, eight times out of ten?
Monorum: If it will help us get away from talking about Naruto for the time being, yes, I agree.
Derek: Yes…I don't think we actually talked about that chapter. Eh, whatever, it had Sasuke in it, so everything went blank for a moment. When I came back to there was blood. So much blood.
Derek: Anyway, time for Toriko.
Toriko and Komatsu learn from Chin Chin-Chin (Uncle of Bobobobobo) that the temple is a place where many criminals are sent to learn to respect food. Because if they do not, the temple will attack them. Toriko and Komatsu train with Shu, who shows them the bubble fruit. When Toriko looks at it, his predatory nature comes out and the bubbles pop.
So…uh…I'm not caught up to this point in the manga, so I'm a little confused. I've been reading the chapters in WSJA, but I haven't read beyond the Regal Mammoth arc before that. So be nice to me if I get something wrong.
Monorum: Toriko is still a new series to me so even I may not have all the facts right.
What surprised me the most about the chapter, for those who are up to date, is the mention of Death Falls, of the huge mountain that was on top of the falls that had been scooped out. Turns out that was Master Chin Chin-Chin's doing.
Which further makes out that the old folks in the Toriko world are clearly legendary by their own right.
Derek: I guess? Yeah, I didn't get what they were talking about with the Death Falls. I really should catch up on this series.
Monorum: But of the old folks you should have known, you should at least have noted Jiro, the old man who caught all those Puffer Whales way back in the beginning. Oh and Setsuno as well, the old lady who seldom opens her restaurant.
May I ask where is the Toriko series in the states as of now?
Derek: Ah yes. There is a definite element of "Old people are awesome." In this series.
I currently own the first six volumes, and I think they're at eight so far. Volume nine is coming out soon. Though it's hard to tell, because Barnes and Noble either doesn't stock the series, or only has it rarely.
Monorum: So are they still going after the Century Soup in that devilishly monstrous version of our world's Antarctica? I lack the funds right now to buy any manga and my memory of the Toriko chapters I have read can only go so far.
Derek: Uh…no idea. I'm only up to volume six myself, and that volume (I think) ends with Rin getting impaled. Also, I'd like to point that that I was right when I saw that in the anime, and she only go slightly singed…though somehow the blow burned both the front and back. Way to censor yourselves Toei.
Monorum: I haven't kept up with the anime lately because watching it always makes me hungry. But that is an interesting thing to catch concerning Rin. Well as Toei is the company that also animates One Piece, I'm not at all surprised.
Derek: Same thing happened to Rangiku in the Hueco Mundo arc. Instead of losing half her torso she just gets a little burned in the anime. Kind of robbed the scene of its urgency.
Monorum: I haven't noticed that at all. I've been investing myself far more in manga than anime these days.
Derek: Yeah. We're getting off track here. I guess there really isn't much to say about the chapter, it was just another chapter among many. So, next is Nurai, but neither of us read that series, so we skip to Bakuman. Have fun recapping that.
Monorum: Hold on now, that is just the kind of thing Master Chin Chin-Chin is talking about, even if this isn't about food. The important thing about this Toriko chapter is that it was about Toriko and Komatsu both needing to learn to honor and give thanks to the food. This will undoubtedly make them both better Gourmet Hunter and Chef but also help them attain the Bubble Fruit they so need.
The latest chapter of Bakuman dealt with Mashiro Moritaka and Takagi Akito's editor, Hattori going to the current editor in chief, Heishi, and telling him that Ashirogi Muto plan to end Reversi as planned. At first Heishi was against it but Hattori showed amazing resolve by standing by them, even at the risk of possibly losing his job for going against a superior. Reversi gets the ending it deserved and Ashirogi Muto don't hold back at making its finale so well received that it becomes the number one Jump series of its time.
Call it a funny feeling but I heard from someone that the way Reversi ended was how the mangakas, the actual ones, Ohba and Obata, wished Death Note had ended, with L vs. Light.
And I agree with that thought. Going a bit off-topic here but before Bakuman, I had despised Death Note. I deeply hated the popularity that Near and Mello had gotten. You think Derek's hate for Sasuke was terrible? My hate for these two is downright monstrous.
Derek: It certainly would have been a better place for Death Note to end. And I can't help but see parallels between all this talk about Reversi ending when the time is right, and the upcoming ending of Bakuman.
Monorum: That is the sweet Mistress Irony at work. Or coincidence rather or even that Obata and Ohba both planned to end the series this way. Well, I will say this, I'll be content if the ending of Bakuman has just what I wanted and call me foolish but while I did start reading due to it being a manga about making manga, I was also invested in the romance between Mashiro and Azuki.
Derek: I was never too into the romance aspect of the manga, and the past few chapters have been soso for me. But I really admire how Ohba and Obata have been using their manga as a commentary on manga in general. What happens in Mashiro and Takagi's manga mirrors what's happening in Bakuman and that's something I can appreciate. We only have a little bit left in this series, and I expect that the ending will be just as satisfying as they are saying Reversi's ending was.
Monorum: It'll be a shame when Bakuman does end but all good things must come to an end. What do you think will or want to take over its WSJA slot when it is over?
Derek: Well, I've written a few license requests here, here, here, and here, detailing which series I think would be good to take Bakuman's place. Personally I would like to see Beelzebub make it into WSJA, since it's my favorite of the possible series. Viz will definitely need to find a replacement, because there's no way in hell they can get away with charging the same amount for one less series. Either way, I bet it's a nightmare for them to have one of the series end so soon after starting this new magazine.
Monorum: To better promote the series, I would suggest that they license Medaka Box. A series that has given me lots of personal grief and happiness at times. It also just got its long-awaited anime adaptation aired a few weeks ago.
But if there is a series I would love for Viz to have in WSJA, I would go with Beelzebub. That is a series that makes me laugh with just about every new chapter these days.
Derek: Yeah, we'll have to see what happens, either way I think we all know how this manga is going to end. I predict that the last pages will be a double page spread of Azuki and Mashiro at their wedding.
So, I think this experiment has been fairly successful, think we should do this next week as well?
Monorum: Of course, I found this to be a pleasant experience though I do feel we should try to be more on-topic with the chapter discussions, especially concerning Naruto.
Derek: Eh. I promise to stay on topic as long as Kishimoto promises to throw Sasuke into a volcano.
Bah. He'd probably survive that anyway. With some bullshit super eye genjutsu ultimate reality bending jutsu that is a complete ass pull because it comes out of f****ing nowhere!!!
The chapters being discussed can be read at Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha. Buy a one year membership for $25.99, or purchase the current issue for 99 cents.