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Shonen Jump Vol. 8 #10
posted October 14, 2010

imageCreators: Usumaru Furuya, Masashi Kishimoto, Eiichoro Oda, Stan Lee, Hiroyoki Takei, Tite Kubo
Publishing Information: Viz, magazine, 288 pages, October 2010, $4.99
Ordering Information:

If I'm reading information provided on the Internet correctly, and if that information itself is correct, Shonen Jump is coming up on its 100th issue in the spring of 2011. I've read it for more than half of its publishing history, from the moment I decided to get back into watching comics semi full-time. I thought when I started reading, it might give me some insight into manga generally, a horrific weak spot in my understanding of comics. I soon found out reading Shonen Jump is more like taking an engines class at the area career center than it is a 100-level college course or a great books study. It's a boy's comic. Even when you think of SJ substance-aside it's hard to tell what it teaches us because its story as a mini-publishing phenomenon is so specific, idiosyncratic and of its time and place. Let me put it to you this way: I wouldn't be surprised if it went away before issue #100 and I wouldn't be surprised if it published until an issue #300. Instead of revealing the secrets of a bunch of comics I didn't understand, Shonen Jump has barely commented on those things and instead presented me with the unwanted, additional mystery of its own curious existence.

I liked this issue -- I like most issues, really, I think because unlike any comic I've ever owned except maybe Comix 2000 I never feel compelled to read the whole thing. I tend to drift towards what I like and ignore everything else. In this issue that means the installment of Genkaku Picasso presented as a preview, a comic that felt terribly generic in every way except its initial, supernatural reveal, which made me laugh, and the latest from Naruto. I'm not sure what to make of Naruto in these later chapters; it's even lost its identity as King Of Outlandish Publishing Figures In Multiple Countries Feature Articles to One Piece. I still suspect that while like all stories its fans respond to the characters, and like all pop phenomena younger people are responding specifically to the idea embodied by the lead (loyalty, determination, enthusiasm), and clearly it's in that stage where it's using the collective power of its story to increase the drama of present decisions and plot progressions, two of its great distinguishing elements of appeal remain its character design and the imaginative action/combat elements. Unfortunately, there's not as much fighting here as in some of the other chapters, but I still had fun looking at it. Looking is all I do with One Piece as serialized in SJ; that's a comic where I think it helps to have a bunch of at once just so you become acclimated to its wilder elements visually and you're not tossed about each page like John Belushi cuffing Gilda Radner around the stage in the Rhoda Tyler Moore sketch. I kept missing the Stan Lee/Hiroyuki Takei story while flipping through, and I can't bring myself to experience Bleach in serial form.

And that's about it. I don't have anything in the way of a major insight. I miss some of the earlier features that were of more specific interest to me -- Sand Land and Hikaru No Go I thought worked well this way -- but not even that much. It's a surface-oriented reading experience and I meet it on that level. Like I said, I have no real idea if it will even make it to issue #100. No real doubts, either. I'm simply not engaged enough to think about it all that deeply.