So before we begin, remember these are just impressions of the chapter. No actual score, just my personal feelings. If you dislike a series that I love, this won’t change your mind, and vice-versa. Since the issues aren’t exactly numbered, I’m just going to label each by the date they are released. Now on to the impressions (by order of appearance)–
One Piece 562
A Premonition of Stormy Seas – First, the cover story. Chimney looks cute as the part-time stationmaster. And now she’s so much bigger than Gonbe, who looks a little different if you ask me. Might just be that she grew taller while it stayed the same height. So, like I assumed, Jimbei definitely has ties to Big Mom, just not the ties I thought he had. Never thought he was working for her. WITH her, that I could see. And it was nice to see that King Neptune thought of asking for Luffy’s help, much like Luffy vowed to protect the island last chapter. Of course, Luffy’s actions have their own repercussions, with Neptune worried about the booby trapped Tamate Box and Nami furious at the monster trio for giving away all the treasure. Shirahoshi crying because of Usopp was one of the funniest moments for me, but that all changed just on the next page with a battered Luffy wanting to go to the New World (my favorite panel of the chapter). On the One Piece Podcast, I lamented that we never got to see Caribou get his come-uppance on screen. Thank you, Oda, for letting me have this even though it wasn’t from the Strawhats. Pekoms pulls a Luffy vs Bellamy and takes out Caribou in one punch. Granted, I’m sure he was still hurting from the beatdown he got from Luffy and company. Pekoms’ high bounty somewhat surprised me, but being part of one of the Four Emperor’s crew, it makes perfect sense. Guess we’ll see the treasure ramifications later. And the most pleasant surprise of the chapter is Tashigi’s new(ish) look + rank, along with Smoker’s new rank. Sorry for spoiling that, but seriously, you can tell it’s him. Though now this puts a squash on my Smoker joining Aokiji’s splinter group theory. Next chapter, hurry!
Victor of the Age!! – So we go from a lavish casino in a beat up town to a full-fledged palace. Within his first panels, you can tell that the King of Jiddal Daneel Kahn (pfft… King Kahn) is a dick. And Joei’s design looks just as silly as his silhouette from last chapter, but it fits with the series. And now it looks like there’s a third party looking for Acacia’s full-course meal ingredients, with Joie possessing his notebook. I did enjoy the fact that Toriko and company are still buffed out thanks to the meteor garlic for at least one panel. Shame that it goes away the next page. Would’ve been both fun and silly to see them like that the rest of the chapter. So now, Jiddal is safe, thanks to Match and Live-bearer’s influence. Glad those orphans have a place to live, but next to a casino doesn’t seem to bode well. And now, lots of new character introductions, but I won’t list them all here. Seeing the IGO president Ichiryu face the main force of the Gourmet Corp. without taking even a single step back is impressive. And we finally get a full face shot of the Gourmet Corp. boss Midora. And his hair is even wilder than Sunny’s. Wonder if they’ll actually clash, or at least see their intimidation comparisons? That would be awesome.
Proof of Will – The Four-Tails is still wary about trusting Naruto, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to free him. I was confused at first reading with what was going on, but it made sense 2nd read-through. Naruto decides to escape the Four-Tails’ mouth by using his massive Art of the Multiple Shadow Dopplegangers, which spew out all of his clones. Reminds me of the silly but effective techniques he came up with earlier in the series. And now, the Four-Tails tells Naruto where the controller rod is located; though try as he might, he is still forced to attack Naruto. Going into his Nine-Tails Chakra mode, he is able to fend off the attack and get to the controller rod, though Tobi-dara (yes, I’m calling him that) is able to set a trap to catch Naruto. So were these flashback panels redrawn? Because they mostly look reused to me, but it’s been a REALLY long time since I’ve seen the earlier Naruto manga volumes. I did find it kind of funny that at first we get all these varied techniques and finishers, and then just a page of Rasengan. I don’t know what orifice Sage Naruto clone entered (nor do I really want to know), but that was actually a pretty good bit of strategy on Naruto’s end. So will the Four-Tails become an ally or a rampaging force next week? Most likely an ally.
Hot Spring and Choices – Aside from the first few pages of the chapter, this felt like a perfect point to include Bakuman in SJA. After almost winning a new TV, Shujin and Saiko get some of the best news of the evening, as ANN Studio representative Tanabe approaches them with intentions to make Reversi into an animated series. The two are so excited they can barely contain it, but they both know that it is up to the editor-in-chief to decide. It’s too bad we didn’t get to see their assistants get more screen time, because I figured they would be up to pretty fun antics with all the free food and potential prizes to be won. I’m a little worried with Shujin looking up Ririka’s background, with the whole Miyoshi, Aoki, Iwase thing happening previously; but I’m sure it’ll be handled well. And the most favorite part for me of this week’s chapter: VACATION! It’s nice to see the duo+Miyoshi actually getting a chance to relax. And it’s also a welcoming sight to see some old gags and a few anime clichés (yup, hot spring). Drunk Miyoshi is both hilarious and adorable. The sunset rising was a nice touch. And the ending message is super-cliché, but I don’t care because it works well. Like I said, great way to start in SJA. Of course, we’re left with the cliff-hanger of “who will get their series animated?” My guess will be both. No “awaiting a phone call” ending is always good.
The Lost – First and foremost, they are starting on 476 because the author is currently on a month break in Japan. So launching with 6 series with only having 5 for a whole month would not seem that good for the launch of a new product. Ginjo and Ichigo clash for their final battle, a battle between two substitute Soul Reapers. Ginjo reveals his hollow powers and charges in. The captains of Soul Society begin to leave, with Byakuya reiterating why they came. So there’s a mix of two different flashback panels interspersed in page 87 which was a little jarring. I guess it’s because one is a voice-overed scene while the other is a scene that includes dialogue. So in Bleach as well, there’s a shot of some of the older art of Ichigo. Do you thing this was redrawn as well, or just cropped images from previous chapters? I’m assuming cropped since they’re all angular frames of Ichigo. Ginjo’s feelings begin to waver, as he feels no hatred or anger from Ichigo. Instead it feels more like empathy, while Ginjo wanted him to sympathize with his cause. Ginjo then readies a (…beam attack? I don’t know what it is; it has no name. What were they called back in Hueco Mundo? Cero, I think? So he fires a…) cero that Ichigo easily disperses and counter-attacks. I have to say, it’s really hard to type Ginjo and not think Grimmjow. Damn similar sounding names.
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan 185
On the Way to Mt. Osore – Rikuo and Tsurara are riding aboard the train with Ryuji while Itaku (doing his best Zoro impression) is running alongside it instead. Both Ryuji and Itaku feel that yokai should be running instead. I guess it’s traditional? He attacks the train, mostly because it should be part of Rikuo’s training. The sun eventually goes down, so all three of them run alongside the train, much to Tsurara’s dismay. Finally getting to Tono Village, they must now find Akagappa for more information about retrieving the Nenekirimaru. Instead, they are greeted by the Tono yokai, where Tsurara experiences her first ever hot spring. Yup, there’s two different series this week that have hot spring experiences. Though for Tsurara, it proves a little too much as she begins to melt. Ryuji reveals the origins of Nenekirimaru, what used to be called Nuekirimaru. While dickish at first, Ryuji is growing on me (possible future cosplay?). Rikuo wakes up and discovers he is trapped in someone’s fear in the lodge, the Mayoiga of Tono. Rikuo tries to cut the lock to no avail, instead triggering other fear traps. Collecting himself, Rikuo discovers the trick to the room, and slices the fly to reveal the exit. At first thinking it was Itaku, it seems that everyone was in on the training. With that matter resolved, Akagappa appears, revealing a document written 250 years ago that shows the successors of the Gokadoin Clan. Guess there’ll be more flashback next week, but after that huge battle that recently ended, I’m all for a slowdown and gradual build-up. I’m continually, pleasantlyl surprised at how they manage to keep the series going. Just when I think they’re out of ideas, BAM. New interesting villains and a new arc.