Hi there folks, if you’re wondering why the Shonen Jump Alpha impressions have been missing, it’s because I have not had that much time to actually write them out. As much as I enjoy typing, I don’t always have the time between what I do every day. So now, the SJA articles will be monthly instead of the attempted weekly. I’ll be recapping the month in the series stories with a few spotlight stories here and there on certain ones every now and then. Unfortunately, this one will be a little more somber, as we go through the very short-lived Barrage. I’ve never seen an attempted weekly series end after just sixteen chapters before. While I don’t read as much manga as some of you or people I know, I would still like to attempt to go over what could possibly have happened to cause the series to end this way.
Barrage started in the first June 2012 issue of Shonen Jump Alpha. It was poised to become the next popular manga after the ending of Bakuman. From Kouhei Horikoshi who is a self-described American comics fan, Barrage tells the story of Astro, a homeless street urchin who takes care of other orphaned kids and somehow assumes the identity of Barrage, the prince of the planet. Now, I know that you’re thinking that it’s very similar to The Prince and the Pauper, and I thought the same thing, too. But that all gets thrown out within the opening chapter. The prince turns out to be not very likable and killed off to boot. I assumed there would’ve been a future reveal where the prince didn’t actually die, but we now know that we’ll never get that story. It started off very interesting, though. So what happened that made it get cancelled so quick?
I can’t say that I’m familiar with the author’s previous work. From some internet research, his work before Barrage was called Oumagadoki Doubutsuen, also known as Oumagadoki Zoo. I’ve never read it, but it was also a short serialization in Jump, just barely lasting a year. The art style was pretty interesting, and much like its successor, it was an adventure/battle story, that time featuring a rabbit as the main character.
I feel that Barrage just suffered for being too much of the same, for both Japanese and American audiences. Bakuman was quite well regarded for both being a completely different idea and a very compelling story. Fans of something that intelligent and that unique are not exactly going to be won over by another battle manga. There could’ve been so much more for the adventure start with Barrage, and instead it felt like a typical fantasy RPG opening. While I thought the art style was great, the pacing of the story never really drew me in. And with so much more popular adventure/battle manga out there like the “big three” of One Piece, Naruto, and Toriko, there’s no way that Barrage would’ve been able to live up to an already crowded market. The author said he was a fan of American comics, too. Unfortunately, I feel that there isn’t as big of a crossover between manga fans and comic book fans raised on Marvel & DC.
Could Barrage have succeeded somehow? Of course it could have, but a lot of the reasons are something that just can’t be changed. Sure, you can throw out reasons like “Well if the story is better” or “If it was just more interesting.” Yeah, not that easy to elaborate. Characters could’ve had more development, but it’s possible the editor was wanting to save that development for later. The early action could’ve served as a possible means of drawing a Western audience simultaneously. Barrage could have also succeeded in a different magazine like Shonen Sunday. Maybe even a monthly instead of a weekly. Unfortunately, we’ll never get to see the author’s true vision for the full story of Barrage. All that we can do is hope that his next work finds more success.
Barrage has been replaced by Cross Manage, where a high school boy who isn’t comfortable around girls ends up becoming the manager for his school’s girl lacrosse team.