Ayashimon Review


Whenever a series gets cancelled you feel a little bad because it could have kept going and become the next Naruto. A series that everyone respects as one of the all time greats. I know that’s what I was thinking the whole time for many titles since if you ask me, a series that it good should just continue forever. Never end the series unless it’s actually bad. Now, this one may not have been super amazing or anything like that but it was pretty good and definitely should have lasted longer.

The series starts by explaining that the demons used to all be ruled by a single man named Kioh. He was a strong monster who kept everyone in check and under his rule things just worked out. Unfortunately he died under mysterious causes and so the group descended into a bunch of small gangs. In particular there are now 4 gangs that rule the world and they are all striving for power. We are then introduced to the main character Maruo.

Maruo is really obsessed with Shonen Jump and has read all of the big titles. He lives his life like he’s a protagonist and is bored because everyone’s too weak. That’s when he bumps into a girl named Urara who is being chased by a bunch of demonic yakuza. Maruo beats them up and decides to serve her as a Yakuza member. She is the daughter of Kioh and intends to destroy all of the demons and become the top family again. Maruo will help to the best of his ability because he really wants to get some good fights. Can he pull this off or is it game over?

So lets start off with some of the good parts here. The series has solid action. I enjoyed the action scenes here and the series has good art from the start. Usually you’d expect it to be a little rough around the edges but it holds up from the jump. At worst I would say some of the designs may not be all that memorable but you won’t have any trouble reading what’s happening in the scenes. It all just flows together really well.

I also thought the character cast was good. Perhaps a bit small but I think this would have ended up being a solid team. The manga moves rather quickly and it’s already getting a little high tier with the feats. There’s a lot to like here and while the manga delves into some darker subject matter, I wouldn’t say it goes too far. The idea of uniting all of the Yakuza gangs is also a classic. Just replace “Yakuza” with almost anything and you’ll see that it’s a classic kind of plot. Maruo and his friends need to be the best and it’s a tested formula.

So what happened, why did this series get cancelled? Well, I do think some of the world building elements may have been a little too much too soon. For example we learn about different kinds of ghosts here and how they can only stay alive through coins and belief. It’s hard to say which is more important but we know for a fact that demons turn into coins when they’re destroyed. The others can then use that to strengthen themselves. Belief somehow helps keep you tangible as well but it’s hard to say if this turns into more coins or not.

Otherwise, how does it help when you’re made of coins? The series goes on to show that demons exist in another realm and the coins help them get a physical form. That’s a little odd to buy into though, what is this other realm and are they always just floating around but invisible and intangible? As you can see, you can make sense of this whole thing if you make some assumptions and connect the dots but the series overcomplicates the issue a bit too much.

Especially because it’s honestly not that important. Just say that yokai are made out of money and when they die other demons use the money to get stronger. Boom, you’ve still got everything you need without big info dumps. Especially when a series is new you don’t have time to be throwing info at people like that. Still not a big enough issue for the series to have been cancelled though.

I suppose Maruo’s backstory was a bit grim with his having an abusive father and all but main characters have had worse. I was really surprised by this but it’s handled fairly well. It explains why Maruo got into manga and how he trained to become so strong. Usually you have the heroes training to fight some end of the world boss or something but here it was just so that he wouldn’t get absolutely crushed day in and day out. It was a pretty interesting change of pace there.

As a main character Maruo may not stand out a whole lot but he’s a good kid. He likes to fight and is always trying to get stronger. That’s already the most important step for a main character so he’s off to a very good start there. He may be a little too one note in how obsessed he is with Jump but I’m cool with it. You have to establish character traits early so I can see why he is this obsessed. I think it would calm down a bit as the series goes on. His physical strength was impressive and I always like a brawler fighting style.

Maruo is a loyal guy and doesn’t give up easy so I’ll always remember him as a pretty solid character. Then you have the heroine Urara who is good. She has mixed feelings about exactly why she wants to be at the top. In part it’s because she wants to bring honor back to the family name and in another way it’s also because she wants to find out the truth about what happened to her father. I’m sure there would ultimately be tons of twists about her father had the series kept going. Still, she did her best and tried to follow the rules the whole time. Things just didn’t work out for her.

She ultimately becomes a good character once she decides that her friends take priority over the revenge. At that point she was really making all of the right decisions and goes from being a shady boss to one who has found her priorities. Hopefully she’ll get a longer time limit on her super form eventually though because only being able to use it for a few minutes is pretty iffy. It would also be nice if she could fight at least a bit in base considering how powerful her father was. Perhaps as the series went on she would have gotten stronger.

So the first story arc has the heroes decide to find a weak gang to beat up so they can have a base of operations. They run into a demon named Ten who gladly invites them over to take out his mean boss. Maruo pulls this off easily enough and it works well as an introduction to show how strong he could be for a human. The series does give an explanation for this like every few thousand years a human is born with incredible power. I almost feel like you didn’t need an explanation for this but I suppose it’s better than nothing so that is still fine.

The villains here are mainly one shots aside from Ten who actually joins the team. I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with the guy though. He’s your classic coward type character who is afraid of everyone and can’t fight. That’s definitely not the kind of guy that you want to have on your squad. He gets one fight before the series ends and the whole thing is really cheesy. Ultimately he wouldn’t have done much to help the dynamic if the series had kept going on.

Then we get to the first big arc which introduces us to the leader of the strongest gang, Doppo. Doppo kidnaps Urara’s informant Hashihime and it’s clear that he plans to take her out for the count. She was a bit of a double agent which is always a super risky job. Maruo figures he can take this guy down since Shonen Jump heroes never lose. It’s a good way to show off one of the end game threats of the series and to have Maruo lose. The action was good and everything but I just had one big issue here.

You immediately realize that what will give Maruo some pep back in his step is that he’ll remember how leads can lose the first fight but then will win the rematch. The reason the plot is too contrived here is because Maruo was already established as a complete manga expert. There’s no way he would somehow forget that the heroes lose from time to time. DBZ is one of the series that he said he read and Goku lost his share of fights. So the author could and should have handled that part a lot better.

Hashihime was a really solid character and I definitely missed her once she was gone. She could fight and did rather well in combat. At the end of the day that’s just not enough when you’re up against Doppo’s group. Her flame powers were fun while they lasted. Then you have Doppo as the big leader of his group and that guy was a solid villain. He is one of those quirky types who likes his artwork and making sure his victims don’t die easily.

He explains that this was actually difficult because of course in this world the demons will die naturally without money and if they recover too well it could be dangerous. Well, his idea is to let them partially regenerate and turns them into piggy banks which forces them to stay alive. The whole thing was very clever on his part. It’s good that they’re made out of coins though or the scene could have been a little too grisly. Either way it is rather disturbing for anyone who gets captured by him. You do not want that to happen.

Doppo’s power is able to suck fire out of anything or anyone which is interesting. I haven’t quite seen a power like that before and I thought it worked really well. It helps the ability really stand out next to the others. A normal ice ability wouldn’t have stood out as much. I may not be the biggest fan of the guy but he certainly lives up to the hype with how powerful he is. Even by the end of the series he isn’t taken out.

Next up is more of a small arc as the heroes realize they need to get much stronger while also increasing the fights at their disposal. The best option is to form a truce with the biker gang. Naturally this ultimately leads to a clash between their leader Kotton and Maruo. Kotton reminds me of an Accel World type character with how he zooms all over the place. He’s incredibly fast, maybe too fast as it’s hard to see Maruo fighting with him at all. Sure, Maruo is getting wrecked for most of the fight but maybe it should have been for the whole fight. The water weakness was convenient against Kotton but he should still be too fast to fall for any traps.

It could have been worse as the author at least tries to cover the bases but that’s always an issue with speed types and I think it would have continued on even further here if it had kept going. I liked Kotton as a character though and now he’s a guy who could really add onto the dynamic. He likes a good fight and is all about friendship and protecting his men. He’s the kind of leader you want to have on your side.

Finally we enter the last arc where Urara is kidnapped at a hotel by Tamagawa, another one of the leaders. His ability is to shapeshift and he even gains that person’s powers. It’s a solid ability with the only downfall being that if he stays in the shape for too long then he can’t transform back. That’s certainly a risk here but one that is likely worth the extraordinary powers that he gets. This guy is one of those by the books fighters who doesn’t like to live on the edge. He’ll take the safe option every time.

He didn’t really stand out to me even though he did make for a very solid boss. He’s more of an obstacle than a big character. This worked as a preview to the final boss with Doppo though as the guy turned into him. Since the author likely knew the series was ending at this point, it makes sense why he would have the guy turn into Doppo. If the series did end then at least Maruo got his revenge in a sense.

At 25 chapters long the series escaped the U-19 club but ultimately it still didn’t last a very long amount of time. It feels like you have the series wrapped up in an instant. As you can tell I had a good time with it. Sure, it may not have broken out on its own as some kind of elite or really stood out a ton but ultimately it got a lot more things right than wrong. Each chapter was fast paced and the story was engaging.

The story also had a good amount of humor which worked well. Maruo constantly talking about beating people up or using his special attacks was always entertaining. The series was even going for almost a One Punch Man kind of vibe with Maruo one hitting everyone for a bit but it branched out early on so I wouldn’t say that it was trying to rip that off. In general I thought the power escalation was handled well. Maruo faced off with his first real challenge right away but won enough fights where his hype was warranted. That’s a good way to go here and of course the series had its emotional moments as well. I think you could easily retool this into a one-shot movie since the series didn’t keep going.

Occasionally it would have some tonal clashes like the heroes having a comic relief, slapstick fight against the villains in the hotel but for the most part it was relatively serious. The action was good and I do think the author was working hard to get in a solid main cast. I always have a section on what the series could have done differently to avoid getting cancelled and I listed them earlier, but I do think the author tried really hard. I’m a bit surprised that it didn’t go further. The series didn’t really have any fanservice and it seemed primed for big things.

Overall, It’s a shame that Ayashimon ended but I suppose they can’t all be winners. I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a solid action manga. Maruo was getting stronger and stronger so it would have been nice to see what heights he could have reached. Perhaps a sequel will be out someday but I’m always super skeptical. It is a longshot after all but never rule it out. This is at least one series that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon, especially with how bold it was to have characters like Goku and Joestar actually appearing in Maruo’s head.

Overall 7/10

Tokyo Shinobi Squad Review


Time to check out the next cancelled title. Tokyo Shinobi Squad did make it over 19 chapters so I suppose that it deserves some kudos for that. Still, it is easy to see why this one did not continue. It’s a shame because there was a lot of potential here but I guess it just didn’t get good enough, quick enough. If you like ninjas and/or sci-fi then you will have a good time here. Since it didn’t get many chapters before ending, it makes for a quick read.

The story starts off by introducing us to the current world. In the future, ninjas are back in business since the entire world has devolved into a chaotic region. The world is unified, however it is unified by the darkness thanks to Globalization. Basically the Japanese Prime Minister thought that uniting the world would be a good thing but instead terrorists and other villains used this as their chance to make a move. As a result, there are no real governments or police officers anymore. What remains are really just there for show. No, every big company and group hires ninja to actually do the dirty work. This has created an entire movement of ninja within a master association and a lot of freelancers as well.

There is no safe spot in all of Tokyo or the rest of the world now. That takes us to the intro where a kid named Ed is being chased by a bunch of thugs. He’s saved by a ninja named Jin. Jin’s ninja squad is different from most as he is very selective about his targets and only accepts missions that he perceives as just. Ed can’t pay him for being rescued but Jin decides to look after the kid anyway. Ed has a legendary scroll of memory manipulation and now he is being chased by villains all over the place. Can Jin protect him?

The other part of the world building is that scrolls are effectively guides on how to learn special techniques like elemental blasts. If you study one for a long time you can eventually use the power. Some takes years and some take months depending on both the rarity of the scroll and the talent of the user. Fortunately the main character Jin is a prodigy so he’s master lightning spells like crazy. Although there are some power level issues here but we’ll get into that here.

The intro is really just about beating up some gangsters. The first real arc has the heroes go on a mission to grab some data. Taiga is one of the members on Jin’s crew and he doesn’t approve of En joining up. He thinks that the kid will hold them back (Valid point) and that this is too dangerous. (Fair) Jin uses this as a way to show Taiga how En can contribute. See, the villains are attacking so there’s no way to download the files. Fortunately En has a complete photographic memory so he is able to memorize 1TB of data within a few minutes. That is impressive and it’s also impressive that the computer could show that much info at once. That’s the most impressive part tbh.

Jin deserves some praise for putting En in a position to succeed here. It was a fun enough story but the first chinks in the power level armor are discovered here as Jin gets nervous about having to deal with fodder. After all lets think about this for a second. En had to memorize this quickly because the heroes had to run. This implies that Jin and the crew were possibly going to lose to random minions?? Now that’s wild.

In the next arc, the heroes have to guard a model since a lot of models have been attacked lately. This time the main characters are Jin, En, and Papillon who is the strategic member of the group. We get some decent action scenes here as Papillon fights her opponent while Jin and En dash out of there. Why did they have to dash? Because the villains are too strong! Notice a pattern here? It all ends well and Jin gets a good fight in the intro as well but you just feel like he should be doing better considering how impressive his reputation is supposed to be.

We then enter the climax of the series as a training arc begins. I’m starting to think it’s true that doing a training arc nowadays is ill advised as series seem to keep getting cancelled after doing that. So each squad has to go back to the association once a year to validate their ranking and potentially move up. This is apparently Jin’s squad’s first full year so this is a big moment for them. They end up partnering with another group of fighters who know Jin from way back in the day. Their leader is like Rock Lee, he has physical powers but no ninja abilities.

The test has several steps including beating up minions and heading to a gladiator arena to fight off a bunch of opponents. Honestly the tests were fairly entertaining. Perhaps a little generic but I had a good time with them. The battles were solid and Jin was finally winning his fights without being in a lot of trouble so that was good. In a way this ended up being the final arc even though we had some stories after that so at least we ended with some action.

After that we got two one shot stories and then the final event. The first oneshot story doesn’t have much of a plot except as a very convoluted excuse to have Papillon and Jin share a kiss accidentally. It involves a cleaning lady bumping them together which is as contrived as it sounds. The next story was Taiga’s origin on how he joined the group. He was certainly more of a delinquent back in the day. It’s nice to know his origin but with the series winding down it felt like this was something that could have been skipped.

The final two stories have the head of the ninja association show up to demand that Jin hands over the legendary scroll that he’s holding onto. Apparently it’s actually one of the 5 McGuffins and they feel Jin’s squad isn’t ready for this responsibility. He might be right to be honest and Jin does get wrecked here so they have the right idea. We then get a big time skip and a huge cliffhanger to end things off with so it’s time for that sequel to be announced someday. I think it is better to end things off on a cliffhanger instead of abruptly ending things because it at least does open the door to a sequel someday. Perhaps your next series will be a huge hit and then you can use your clout to continue this one. At least I like to think that’s what the author was thinking.

So the story was good here and the artwork is also pretty solid. It’s certainly better than a lot of the other titles that I had been reading through and it’s very easy to follow the action scenes along. The fanservice is mainly kept to a minimum, Papillon is the only character who has to go through this. I do think the way her powers are set up (She fights by using her clothing which disintegrates the more she fights) was really only created for fanservice which is disappointing but she only gets 1 real fight in the series so it doesn’t end up becoming a big issue.

Now, like I said, the power levels are a bit iffy here. It really all revolves around Jin. So when the series starts we are introduced to Jin as a super prodigy. They haven’t seen his level of talent in a long time and he’s going to shake up the entire ninja world. If this is the case then why does Jin get nervous when random chumps show up? Either the average fighter is so weak that even as a prodigy Jin should be having trouble here or the author just didn’t execute well.

I have to assume the latter here. They really should have just cut all mentions to Jin being a prodigy and treat him like a normal main character who gets the job done. I think that would have gone a long way towards helping his character make more sense. After all, I do like his personality and he does well as the lead. He has a lot of confidence and is always trying to help everyone. I can certainly appreciate that and while it may all sound generic, it really works. The guy is clearly a good leader and would only get better. It just feels like he doesn’t live up to his tough talk nearly as much as he should and it seems like this is because the bar was raised way too high right from the jump.

En was okay but not great. As with many kids in action titles like this, he just can’t fight much so I feel like he holds the characters back a bit. In that sense I thought Taiga had a point, the kid’s just too young. After the timeskip En seems like he’s really ready for this and would make for a good addition to the team. Before then he can be a support member but shouldn’t be out on the field. Naturally he gets captured at least once during the series and it makes things tough on the heroes.

Then we have Papillon who is a solid heroine here. Her whole romance towards Jin feels completely out of nowhere though especially considering how the two were making it clear that this wasn’t the case early on. She does well in the fights and helps Jin accept the right missions when even he has doubts. Without her the group may not have lasted too long since he needs someone to reign them in. Then we have Taiga who is the power hitter of the group. Potentially he may be even stronger than Jin based on the opponents he takes out. Again, this should make absolutely no sense so I like to think Jin would still win with his speed but you’d think that this shouldn’t even be debatable. I like how loyal he is to Jin and he beats up anyone who badmouths him.

There’s Kenryu who is the guy who knew Jin from back in the day. It’s always good to have a human in a world filled with magic just to show that they can keep up. Ultimately the power creep would ensure that this guy is doomed but at least early on it’s a good idea. I like the guy well enough and he has a solid honor code which is always important. The guy has a good rivalry with Jin although long term I think Jin’s going to need a rival that poses more of a serious threat.

Finally for the heroes we have Shimon who was Jin’s mentor and he’s one of the highest ranking members of the ninja alliance. The guy is strong and proved it by absolutely wrecking Jin. He seems like a nice guy who is ultimately shackled by the rules but does his best to give Jin a chance. It’s a shame that he only got to appear in the last 2 episodes of the series but he still makes his presence felt the whole time. That’s how you know that he’s for real.

Then there are a few big villains. We’ve got Kanan who knows how to go in disguise to mess with the heroes. Unfortunately I wouldn’t say that he was all that memorable. In fact, that’s an issue with most of the villains. There weren’t any who really made me think “Wow this guy’s amazing!” I think part of the issue is that they all feel like similar characters. They’re evil Shinobi who are evil because…they’re evil. There isn’t a whole lot of character outside of that even if their powers are different. The guy with ice abilities gave Jin a good run for his money for example but beyond his abilities what could I really tell you about the guy? He talks tough and all….but that’s about it.

So the villain cast was on the weak side even though I enjoyed the heroes. Now, I think it’s safe to say that this was cancelled in part because of the training arc and in part because the series did not do everything it could with the lore. There was a ton of lore and world building at the beginning but ultimately it just didn’t amount to much. So what could the series have done to avoid being cancelled? There are 2 changes I would suggest. The first is to remove any reference to Jin being a prodigy or he needs to win his fights a lot easier and not be scared of random minions. You have to do one or the other and that would fix the main character’s inconsistencies. I get the feeling that the series was trying to make him like Gintama who is a top tier fighter in his verse but constantly sandbags. The issue here is that we have no indication that Jin is messing around, he’s always talking really tough after all while Gintama has more gags.

The other thing is we need some kind of mystery or intrigue. This may seem random but here’s why. Globalization destroyed the world here but how? Perhaps there is some conspiracy in here so what I would do is make that the real reason for why everyone wants En’s memory scroll. This could also give En a reason to wonder if Jin is really helping him or just wants the scroll. As the series goes on and En starts to learn his abilities, he would find out more about the events and that could last for the first few arcs. It gives you something to think about in addition to the immediate issue. That’s my 2 cents on what could have helped this series at least.

Overall, I did enjoy this series. I thought that the action and heroes were good. It definitely worked as more of a unique title for me and I do think it had a lot of potential. It already had a very different feel from Naruto so I don’t think it would have felt like a clone even though it is ninja based. Jin’s Lightning Blade technique does feel like it’s straight out of Naruto but that’s where the similarities really end. I would recommend giving this one a read. Even though it’s cancelled it still makes for a good story and it’s never a bad idea to meet more characters right?

Overall 7/10

Megaman Star Force 3 Review


Megaman Starforce was always a fun part of the overall Megaman franchise so it’s a shame that it didn’t last longer. 3 games is nothing to sneeze at though so I guess that’ll have to do. This manga’s not a oneshot but with only two chapters it might as well be. This one ignores the events of the first manga (Probably for the best) and picks up the third game’s timeline assuming that the first two were done accurately. The artwork is excellent as expected and this really would have been a great ongoing if it had kept on. The start was really quite solid.

The manga starts with a flashforward as Megaman uses the Red Ace form to take out a powerful robot and he seems to have saved the world. We then cut to the present where digital viruses have become more frequent in their attack lately. This is because of the mysterious Meteor G which is approaching the Earth. A police officer named Shidou is concerned about this because right now the projections show this meteor destroying the whole planet when it lands. He doesn’t know of anyone who is powerful enough to stop it though. Meanwhile, Geo helps his classmates stop the viruses but he’s still concerned about this and wants to stop the threats quickly so he can go into space and find his father.

As you can imagine, the peace doesn’t last long. Geo is quickly attacked by Spade Magnet. Spade was once just a nice guy called Magnet, but the noise was attached to him by two mysterious villains so he went rogue. The noise quickly contaminates any fighter that it touches and battling a noise fighter can even corrupt you as well. That makes it particularly tough to fight against someone like this. If you reach the 100% noise level then that would be game over. The opening fight is definitely pretty solid. While it’s clear that Geo has the edge in his Megaman form, he has to try not hurting this guy too badly while also protecting his friends.

That makes the fight a little trickier but fortunately Shidou shows up and can transform into a super mode as well. That at least means that Geo doesn’t have to fight on his own which is huge here because being on your own is really a recipe for disaster in this kind of battle. The back and forth of fighting Spade while also resisting the noise makes for a good dynamic. By the end of the title Megaman is basically immune to noise which is good though. This is a solid dynamic for a fight or two but it would probably get old otherwise.

Spade was also a solid opening threat because he is definitely powerful enough to go toe to toe with these guys while not being crazy strong yet. Then in chapter 2 we get Jack who is significantly stronger. His battle with Megaman is epic and the lead would not have been able to claim victory here without surpassing his limits. Jack has a terrific design and I like his confidence. I feel like they are channeling a bit of Bly/Bass into this character with how he acts. Given that I’m a big fan of both of those characters, that bodes really well for Jack.

The 2 chapters open up a lot of intrigue and suspense with the villains in the shadows. We know there’s a whole villain group out there now. At the end the title says to read the game to find out what happens. The game was a blast but it’s too bad this couldn’t have adapted everything. Imagine a Star Force 3 full adaption with this artist? That’d be a wrap without a doubt. There’s just no way that it wouldn’t immediately be a top tier Megaman title. The artist has not lost his talent at all as the designs and action scenes here are fantastic. It makes reading the series a real pleasure.

Of course the characters are also solid. Geo makes for a solid main character who always gets down to business and wants to help out. The manga doesn’t overdo it with making him too timid or anything. He may have a hard time dealing with Luna but Geo doesn’t get too flustered or anything. He just keeps on going with his journey and that pays off. Luna’s a solid heroine too even if she is obsessed with Megaman. She reminds me of Black Cat who loved Spiderman but wanted nothing to do with Peter Parker. Luna isn’t mean to Geo or anything though so automatically she’s a much nicer character right from the start.

As for Shidou, I like this character. He may not have had a ton to do just yet, but he knows enough to trust Megaman right away and even ask for his help. I’m glad he didn’t go too far down the path of thinking that Megaman had to be destroyed. Mind you, just considering it for a moment still did hurt his character but it wasn’t anything that he couldn’t take back. As the title went on I’m sure he would have gotten better and better.

Overall, This is a really solid title. It’s basically a oneshot even if there are 2 chapters but it accomplishes a lot. If this is the kind of manga that is supposed to get you to play the game, well I’d say that it did a good job of it. I’d certainly be more interested in playing the game after reading this…if I didn’t already play it of course. If you haven’t checked this title out yet then you should change that. It’s a high quality action title and a look at what could have been if the Star Force series had just been a little more popular and kept on going. Either way I won’t soon forget this era. After the EXE part of the series, Star Force is definitely still my favorite one. X/Zero would be in third and then good ole Classic. ZX would be higher if we had more lore in there.

Overall 7/10

Guardian of the Witch Review


It’s time for the next in the line of cancelled Shonen Jump titles. Guardian of the Witch is a title with a pretty decent premise and it’s one of the stronger cancelled titles that I’ve read. Unfortunately for it, this was not nearly enough to keep it alive. I certainly have my thoughts on why it was cancelled and how it could have improved but first lets dive into the story and see what it was able to accomplish in the 19 chapters.

The story starts off by letting us know that humanity was mostly destroyed by the titans evils. Now walls have been built around each little village that’s left and they are all referred to as city states. In order to fight off the Evils, each village has a Witch who protects them and her protector is known as the Guardian. The guardian is the most powerful fighter in the land while the witch is the chosen one who is able to use supernatural powers in order to beat back the invaders. It’s a tireless job but it’s one that has allowed humanity to stabilize so the witch is seen as a hero and revered by all.

The main character is Fafner and he can’t stand the Evils. He wants to destroy them all after his family was murdered by one. He doesn’t think witches are necessary since the humans are the ones who should beat them back. Of course the irony was that by honing his skills to fight them, Fafner became the guardian since he was the strongest. His life is turned upside down when he finds out that Witches are destined to become evils and his job is ultimately to murder Manasfa (The witch) when she starts to turn into one. Turns out that a whole lot of people knew about this by the way but he never did because he was busy fighting. Well, Fafner decides not to do it and takes Manasfa away. They are now wanted by the whole world but Fafner has decided that there will be no more witches as he’ll find a cure and then he’ll take out the evils. Will he succeed?

The series clearly takes quite a lot of inspiration from Attack on Titan. It’s also not very subtle about this like in the way Fafner’s family was murdered. It’s extremely similar to Attack on Titan. There’s also a very random moment where Fafner bites his wrist the way Eren does to transform. Only here he does it to “remember pain” so that he isn’t slowed down in a fight. It’s a very forced scene that is just here for the Attack on Titan comparisons. As soon as the heroes leave the village it starts to find its own identity but I imagine the start may not have given it the warmest reception among the readers.

Once we get going, there are really 3 arcs here and then the series just ends. In the first arc, the heroes are on the run of course and don’t get far before they’re attacked by a very powerful guardian and witch combo. Their names are Gen and Ruli who work directly for the government and don’t seem to have a village to protect. I’ll give the series credit for adding in the fights early on. As mentioned, the series isn’t even 20 chapters long and yet there really are quite a lot of fights. The powers are varied and the 2 on 2 style with the witches there works well.

The chapters go by very quickly too because the fights are a bit on the longer side. For example, once we finish this fight then the characters head right into a battle with a mysterious new character. This arc’s more of a training arc as this guy introduces himself as Drake. He’s a guardian who did end up murdering his witch as per the rules but has regretted it ever since. Now he lives a quiet life but is willing to help the main characters out. It feels a little bit early for training but it’s handled quickly and the characters were getting wrecked before that. At least this way they are ready for their next fight.

They don’t have to wait long for it either as the next village has them fighting another guardian/witch combo. By this point I should mention their main goal is to get to the final village to locate an old witch who is said to have retired. The reason this is important is because it means that she did not turn into a witch somehow so if they can get that secret then perhaps they can change the flow of the entire system. Nobody else is really buying it though and the heroes are still wanted fugitives so they have to deal with Spica and Claude next. This battle takes us to just about the end of the series.

Technically there are 3 chapters after that but I think the author may have been rebelling against being cancelled because a whole new arc seems to be starting at this point. The heroes head to yet another village where there’s another witch and they want to let her know about the possible cure. There’s not much time for anything though so for once there is no fight. We then get hit with the big 5 year time skip and a lot of emotional dialogue and convenient moments. The 5 year time skip does help make it seem like this wasn’t too easy though. 5 years is quite a lot of time even if the explanation may have sounded a bit too convenient.

So lets quickly talk about what went right and then what went wrong. First off, I definitely liked the art quite a bit. The action scenes flow well and the artist seems experienced to me. I didn’t have a hard time following the action at any point and the blows always landed with a good amount of intensity. The character designs are on point and I found it to just be very impressive. Additionally there is a lot of action throughout which is always a good thing. The series doesn’t take long to really get going. I felt like that should have helped the series last longer but I suppose it just wasn’t enough.

Fafner makes for a good character. He certainly does have his big mistake in the beginning with almost taking Manasfa down just because he was ordered too though. There’s no way he should have even been tempted there. It feels like a scene that just doesn’t make sense with the rest of his personality because he’s not really that kind of guy. Cutting out that scene would have done the whole series a favor. It’s hard to overlook that scene despite Fafner being great in the rest. He’s a strong fighter who never gives up. That’s always a good quality for a main hero lead.

Then we have Manasfa as the main heroine. She is fairly strong but can’t control her magic well and of course using it will speed up her descent into being a demon. These are two fairly good nerfs to keep her from dominating in the pre arc adventures. She’s a fun enough main heroine even if she tends to feel like giving up quite a bit. As the series goes on I expect we would see her be more and more confident. She also has a lot of banter with Fafner all the time. It may be basic compared to some titles but it works well enough and I always like some good back and forth dialogue.

The maid accompanying the two of them is called Nahta and she’s my least favorite member of the 3. Mainly because she spends most of her screen time early on explaining why Fafner should have just destroyed Manasfa. Keep in mind that Nahta is supposed to be the best friend. Her reasoning is that it would have been an honorable death but cmon now…that’s still awful. At least Fafner made the right decision in the end, Nahta is still clinging to her same lines for a while until she snaps out of it. Nahta can’t fight either so she would need something big to change things around.

For what went wrong, well you can probably see how every arc is fairly repetitive. The heroes enter a village and try to tell the witch that she doesn’t have to die in vain since there’s a cure. She decides to fight instead so the heroes get the win and then move onto the next village. Rinse and repeat for the entirety of the series. I don’t think I’ve seen a series start out quite so formulaic or at least not a Jump title. It’s really like the same thing keeps happening. Maybe that was the easiest way to keep on adding new characters but there definitely should have been a more seamless way to pull this off. Something more subtle or some way to change things up.

I liked each arc but I can see how it would feel like the same thing keeps happening. I already spoke about the Attack on Titan homages and usually the quicker you get your own identity the better. This title did get that but I wonder if it was too late. Mainly I think the series would have been able to survive if it had just kept the story switching up a bit. In an adventure title like this you probably want to spend a little more time on character development and a little less time just running around all the time.

Now lets wrap up the rest of the characters. First up we have Gen who is one of the strongest guardians around. He’s more of a villain though as he doesn’t care about his witch partner and just lives to fight. That kind of character can usually be cool but this one just felt more shallow than anything. It doesn’t help that Fafner beats him in the opening fight so there goes his hype. His being mean to his partner also just feels petty.

This doesn’t help Ruli either. She just lets Gen treat her like an item and is cool with it. She seems fairly emotionless so being a witch has clearly taken a lot out of her but it would be nice to see her have some kind of agency. She is able to strengthen her magic by getting injured which is definitely unfortunate. Clearly the team have come a long way in the rankings so this approach has worked but hopefully the power of friendship would have reached them pretty soon which could have helped.

Then we have Drake who shows up in the training arc. He’s a decent enough character. He messes with the heroes a lot by saying things like he may turn them over to the villains but you never really figure that he would actually do that. He has some skill which is good so he lives up to his hype of being one of the top ranked guardians. That said, I wasn’t very impressed with him. After all, he did destroy his own witch which was a really poor decision on his part. That’s never the right call.

Finally you have Spica who is probably the nicest witch. She is always breaking the rules to try and help the civilians who badly need supplies and other such equipment. Unfortunately for her she is always found out by her guardian Claude who puts an end to that. Spica may be a little too indecisive at times but I give her big points for trying to help people. She clearly has a better moral compass than Claude did.

Meanwhile Claude was a stickler for the rules but ultimately the main characters get him to see their side of things. He would have only continued to improve if the series had kept on going. His low points are from when he was a villain but as a hero he’d be fun enough. The guy just seems slow on the uptake with how obviously evil the king of his village was. You’d think people would have picked up on that. The king was the worst character though as we have a scene of animal violence thanks to him and he’s just too over the top. It’s hard to see how nobody has overthrown him by this point.

As a final note, I liked how the power system was set up here. Each witch has their own unique magic which they are then able to enhance the guardian with. The guardian’s ability will then be something related to that element while still being something a little different. I do question how all of these characters have cool elements like gravity and metal while Fafner has nothing but I bet he’d have gotten a power up at some point. You just have to question how Fafner didn’t know more about all of this since he was the top guardian. For now I’ll blame this on his village just being really behind the times. The power system would have likely continued to get even better as the series went on so it’s a shame that it ended so quickly. We could have gotten more explosive fights!

Overall, Guardian of the Witch is a fun series. It’s an action title that wastes no time in getting to the actual fights. The characters are good and I liked the art so you really can’t go wrong here. It’s a shame that it was cancelled, I think it really could have gone quite far. The ending is probably the most abrupt I’ve seen for one of these cancelled titles to the point where I think it should have just ended on a cliffhanger instead to leave room for a possible sequel. There is something fun about the series trying to genuinely have the kind of emotional final speech that you would see for a series with 20+ volumes. Lots of events are referenced that we never actually saw and it’s like for once you are hearing the speech from the point of view of the random townsfolk who have no idea what is going on. The series may have ended but I’d recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of action titles. The fights here are pretty fun.

Overall 7/10

Neru: Rise of the Martial Artist Review


It’s time to take a look at the next in the line of Shonen Jump cancelled titles. Neru always looked fun when it started although it was completely overshadowed by Red Hood. I don’t recall seeing almost any discussion for this one while Red Hood was always on the webs. That said, the series is quite solid. I can unfortunately see why it ended up getting slammed but the title had a lot of promise and ultimately could have made it to the next level. That just wasn’t in the cards this time though.

The series starts off by introducing us to our lead Neru. He is a guy who is completely obsessed with martial arts and trains nonstop at all times. As a result he hasn’t made very many friends…in fact Mikio is his only friend. Still, that doesn’t really bother him because he’s never really thought about it before. Neru is just satisfied improving his craft but one day a mysterious girl beats him up and invites Neru to join her martial arts school. He will have to pass some exams though but now he finally has something to work towards. Can Neru actually make it in?

When it comes to the Jump main characters you’ve usually got 3 kinds. The inept ones, moderately talented, and the genius fighters. Neru is certainly in the latter category as he starts out as one of the most powerful characters in the series and ends on that note as well. The series was over before it could really introduce a whole lot of characters who could defeat him so as a result Neru ends up slaughtering most of his opponents with ease. Metaphorically btw, as he doesn’t destroy his opponents like that.

Right away one of the strengths of the series is the action scenes. I like the martial art battles and considering that this is a new series, I thought it looked really well polished. My only issue is that a few of the characters have very similar designs which can make things a bit tricky. The actual artwork is on point though so I definitely have no issues on that front. The series is also fast paced so things happen right away. If it had kept up that pacing throughout the series I think it may still be going but unfortunately things slow down a whole lot near the middle. It’s not as noticeable when reading all the chapters through but it does mean that weekly I’m sure these chapters were rather low ranked.

You can really divide the 18 chapters into a few different parts. Of course you start off with the introductions as Neru loses to the heroine Akebi and then meets his match against her brother Jokuro who is one of the most skilled fighters in the whole school. The fact that Neru is self taught and keeping up with these guys is really impressive. It’s a solid start as we get the hype of preparing for entering the school and also have two intro fights right off the bat. You couldn’t ask for much more than from the intro so I thought this was executed really well.

After that, Neru has to pass the test to get into the school. I think this will always worry people since they say you don’t want to do exams early on in a manga anymore. Fortunately this is very short though plus the exam has a combat element. So Neru gets to do the paperwork in about 1 chapter and then we get the battle chapter where even the advanced ninja class is no match for him. It’s a bit slower but still works out well. Now Neru is part of the school so it definitely changes up what you would expect from the series going forward. I’m not even sure what I would expect, it could go for a happier tone like Prince of Tennis where the characters have friendly battles or we could have some evil schools and combatants who show up to make things complicated.

Once Neru gets into the school we start to meet up with a bunch of the new characters including the character who seemed primed to be the real main heroine. With how quick the series ends though it’s hard to say who should really be considered the heroine. Either way the mini arc here involves a hazing from the upper classmen. Neru and Kaname have to compete to find an arrow and the winner gets to live in the dorm while the other has to camp outside for a while. Naturally Neru isn’t the kind of guy who worries about such things so he’s willing to let Kaname get the win but they have some nice teamwork moments here. It’s not as exciting as the intro but it’s really to develop the characters more.

Then we enter the climax which is that Neru needs to find a match so that he can try and rank up. Unfortunately nobody wants to fight him until the psycho Enkoji shows up. This worries Neru’s roommate Ryuzen who has resigned from fighting due in part to a sob story with Enkoji. Neru has to convince this guy to fight again so they can have the match. This part can drag a bit since you likely don’t care about Ryuzen at all yet and you just want to get to the fight. Once we get to the fight it’s pretty hype though. Then of course we get the inevitable 5 year time skip since the series was cancelled.

So I had a good time with this series. It really ends in a flash but you get to have a good time throughout the series. It has solid action and a good cast of characters. There’s no time for any of the characters to be great or anything but they had a good amount of potential. From the cancelled series I’ve read recently I would definitely put this as one of the more impressive ones. We also don’t really see a lot of series about martial arts so it would have been fun to have seen this one last in the end. It’s also borrowing a lot of elements from the God of High School which of course was a really fun series that really went all out by the end. You have the mysterious grandfather who disappeared one day, the fact that Neru uses a martial arts style that revolves around his legs, etc. I could see this series going down that route although minus the gods and aliens. There was a lot here.

That said, the grandpa plot never ends up going anywhere since the series ended so fast so you don’t need to worry about that. In fact, there are no true villains in the series so far since we’re still in the school phase when it ends. I mean Enkoji’s effectively a villain because of how crazy he is but technically the guy is just another classmate so I wouldn’t count that. It’s why I’m not even positive if this would be the kind of series with big villains and everything or if it would be treated more like a sport series about martial arts. It’s just too early to call there although I assume it would involve true villains and end of the world stakes soon.

Personally I think the series ended up being cancelled because of the lull in action near the end when Neru is trying to set up a match. I don’t think people really cared a whole lot about the setup and why Ryuzen quit. I know I didn’t care a whole lot. Not something I would cancel the series over of course but if all the other titles were beating it up at the time then of course being cancelled would make sense in the end. So to avoid cancellation what I would have done is have the first match start right away. Don’t have people dodging Neru in terms of battle and give him a few solo wins before he has to go into doubles.

After all, I don’t see how everyone could dodge him. The series never actually goes into the rules of this but this is a martial arts school. Everyone is so scared of the new kid that Neru can’t get any challengers? To me that just speaks very poorly of the school itself if the students are that scared. Also, if you need to fight in order to advance then I imagine that there should be mandatory fights. I don’t get if it’s a 3 year type school that you can accelerate and you still have to go through most of the time or if fights just directly skip everything. Perhaps the martial arts part is just a small part of the school. Either way we could use more answers but I understand why the series wouldn’t want to waste time on exposition.

In that case it should have just kept the fights going and that would have worked really well. I think that’s the best bet the author could have done to have kept this going. It might not be fun for the author to have to move fast and keep the action going at first but you really gotta do it that way instead of going more for the plot and character elements. At the very least I’d say it’s safer to be really action packed at the start and work from there. Now lets talk about the characters.

As mentioned, Neru’s a fun main character. He’s very invested in his goal of being a martial artist in part so he can find his grandfather. It’s a noble goal and he’s a nice guy who stands up for the weak. He’s a very solid fighter and I’m glad that he doesn’t fall for tricks very easily. He was able to adapt to each of the ninja’s moves very easily and that really helped him stand out here. I wouldn’t say there’s anything unique about him just yet but all of his character traits are good so I definitely have no complaints.

Then you have Akebi who shows up in the opening chapters but vanishes until the end otherwise. She would have been a fun character though. She would have served in the mentor role for a while although it seemed like Neru was close to surpassing her early on so this may not have been a role she’d have stayed in for long. She doesn’t enter tournaments like the other characters so I’m assuming we would get some kind of backstory behind that eventually. She’s definitely a fun character and would have been a good member of the main cast.

Jokuro is the next guy up and we don’t get to see a lot of him but he does get the opening fight which will have to do. I like his confidence and he seems like another fun character here. He also seems to have a bit of a friendly rivalry with his sister Akebi which would have been a fun dynamic. Having Jokuro be one of the strongest fighters was a good idea because he’s a likable character so that would make for a positive obstacle in Neru’s path.

Shoze seems like he was being built up as the rival in the series. He’s a first year student like Neru who was in the exams but the tricky thing is that Neru seems to have already been stronger than him from the start. So maybe saying they would be rivals is a stretch but everyone else is impressed with the guy in the series so it still seems that way. I guess it would depend on if Neru would be a rival to the masters like Jokuro or if he would be a rival to Shoze. It all depends on how fast Neru ended up improving so I suppose that could go either way. I’m not a big fan of Shoze though, the kind of guy who will look the other way when someone is getting beaten up so he can succeed. It’s perhaps not unexpected for this guy but it’s not something that will help me like him.

I should give Mikio a quick mention but he’s Neru’s friend from the old school so I suspect that he would not end up doing much at all in the coming chapters. Nice enough guy even if he is too quick to spill all of his secrets about Neru to Akebi though. I see where his priorities are now and Neru can’t really trust him. Toriichi seems to be the replacement as he’s also a super nice guy who’s rather meek and mild mannered. I don’t see this going over well for him at a martial arts school though so I question why he is even here. Maybe his family forced him to come? That would at least make some sense I suppose.

Next up is Kaname, one of the heroines in the series. So she is the sister of one of the “Big 3” fighters in the school. Her family are all made up of fighters but they say that she shouldn’t be fighting along with them because she’s a girl. It’s definitely a very classic kind of character arc and she needs to learn to fight really well to show them that she is ready for the battle field. Her personality is very tsundere type with Neru. She can’t fight super well yet from what we can see but with her determination I’m sure she would go far. I liked her character even if we didn’t get to see her a whole lot yet. Even if I probably wouldn’t be on board with the romance, I could see her having a solid dynamic with lots of good banter in there.

Finally we get to the fighters from the last battle. There’s Ryuzen who doesn’t like fighting anymore and the reason feels unique but doesn’t help him a lot. Basically if Ryuzen takes any damage he has a hard time withholding his urge to kill and so he’s decided that it would just be safer if he didn’t fight at all. If he can’t control himself of course that is correct but he might as well not attend the martial arts school in that case. His decision to stay tells me that it is possible to graduate without fighting though which is definitely interesting. I didn’t end up liking Ryuzen even by the end though. The guy’s rather mean to Neru for no good reason and he takes forever to do anything. He was even letting the villains double team Neru while he was busy getting ready.

Enkoji is the only villain as mentioned before and I wonder how he was not expelled. He basically confirms that he intentionally injures his opponents to scar them so he can match their scars with self inflicting wounds. He really injured Ryuzen’s partner quite badly and is happy about it. He has no problem saying all of this in front of everyone by the way. Does the school just tolerate anything? It appears that way of course. Enkoji’s whole character is that he’s insane and likes dishing out pain so I can’t say that there is anything interesting about him. You’re waiting for the heroes to beat him up and that’s about it.

So for the most part we’ve got a good cast here. I imagine we would start to meet a lot more and of course there are other students that I did not mention. They would likely get more of a role going forward as well with all the fights coming up. The series may not have made it as long as the author would have hoped but it does succeed in telling a complete story. The series did a good job of having everything wrap up cleanly. The grandpa plot is ignored but we get to see how Neru’s path ended and see that the world is just not too out there this time. Based on the timeskip the world around the heroes is really quite normal and everyone’s just having a good time. No end of the world plots or anything but I wouldn’t say this definitively means that the series was going down that route since the series was ending here anyway.

Overall, Neru: Rise of the Martial Artist is just a fun series. You’ll have a good time reading through it because the characters are pleasant and the story is good. It had a lot of potential. I don’t think it was ever going to be one of the all stars but it definitely would have been another solid installment to the Jump lineup. Hopefully the author is successful in their next endeavor and I would like to get another martial artist series at some point in the future. There’s really a lot you can do with that. If you’re looking for a series to sit down with and spend an hour or two, this is certainly a good option.

Overall 7/10

The Hunters Guild: Red Hood Review


Red Hood was a really big deal when it first came out. People got really hyped after the first chapter but then the hype slowly started to disappear. By the time it was cancelled at 18 chapters, a lot of people were disappointed but it seemed to have already fallen off the top. Well, I’ve finally checked it out and the manga had some fun ideas but is really held back by the art. Manga’s such a visual medium where if the art is bad I think it will be extremely difficult to succeed. Effectively the manga is starting itself off at a disadvantage. It’s not a bad title by the end but I can certainly see why it was cancelled. It goes without saying that this review will have complete spoilers so if you have not read the chapters yet, you will want to do so before checking this review out.

The manga starts off by explaining that the hunters have exterminated all dragons off the face of the Earth. Now they aim to destroy all of the werewolves next. We then cut to the main character Velou who is a kid that just wants to protect his village. Unfortunately Werewolves are quite powerful, can shapeshift, and even regenerate. There’s no way Velou can win on his own so the village spends all of their money to call in a hunter to help. Her name is Grimm and while she appears to be a small child herself, she has never failed a mission before.

This intro mission lasts for almost half the series with around 7 so it’s a bit longer than you would expect. Usually in something like this you have 1 or 2 chapters for the intro and then you keep it moving. This slower pacing is different but not necessarily bad. We get to see what a big threat the wolves are to the average person and there’s a lot of lore thrown right at you this way. You get to really learn about the world and that’s never a bad thing.

You also get some Promised Neverland vibes here. Velou looks just like Emma from that series even down to the hairstyle and with Wolves lurking around every corner, the series is going for a bit of a horror theme. You can’t trust anyone and despair is right around the corner. It could also just be that the art gives this effect as the drawings never look complete and everything’s so convoluted. Regardless we even meet some of the big villains from the Red List and at the end of the intro Velou decides to become a hunter. The exam lasts the rest of the series with the exception of the final 3 chapters where we hit the climax. So as you can see, the series didn’t have a whole lot of time to do much here.

Lets break this down into sections though as I’m jumping around a lot here. For starters, I’m not a big fan of Velou being such a little kid. To me that rarely ends up working because for a series like this you need the main character to be able to fight. While Grimm could have looked better (More on that later) she can at least fight and has 100 different tools. The other fighters we see can all fight as well, Velou is the only exception. The series is going for a World Trigger vibe where Velou has to get used to being the strategist but I don’t think that works very often. It can be hard to root for a main character who can’t actively fight himself and has to hide behind his friends. Velou does have a gun but tends to miss his shots at point blank.

Velou means well and has a lot of the usual hero dialogue but there’s nothing that really draws you to the character. I don’t see a lot that would end up making him very interesting and so this doesn’t help his case in the long run. As for Grimm, she’s the real character that got a lot of attention at first. Her story is that she is cursed to be trapped in the body of a child and can only go back to her adult form for 3 hours a day. Sort of like an All Might situation there. Thing is, while she gets a ton of hype, she doesn’t look great. She lets her guard down against villains multiple times and is completely helpless against the Red List. Grimm doesn’t even get a true final fight at the end.

In this case, it would have been better for her to have just not fought yet. It would be like Kakashi meeting his match immediately in Naruto. This is more like Rukia losing in episode 1 of Bleach which was still sketchy when it happened. Grimm has a lot of confidence in herself though and loves to fight so you can probably guess that I enjoyed her character quite a bit. I just think she should have looked stronger.

I’ll give the series credit for being aware of this though. This is actually turned into a bit of a sub plot as a character realizes that Grimm isn’t looking so good. It turns out that there is some reality warping in effect so that is a very reasonable in-universe explanation as to what’s going on here. Trust me, I’ll definitely talk about the reality warping coming up since that’s a big factor here.

One character we meet during the exams later on is a guy called “Bonkers”. Bonkers is you classic strong guy with a bad attitude who doesn’t even care about entering the exams. He has a tragic backstory and has just given up. Fortunately Velou is able to talk him out of it so he can learn how to be a team player. This is so successful that Bonkers is the one giving a speech in the next chapter. I could see him being a decent character as time goes on but for now there isn’t a whole lot that is interesting about him.

There are tons of trainees introduced in the long exam arc but most of them won’t leave a big impression on you just yet. There just isn’t time to really learn about them. You have Tylty who doesn’t trust people anymore and wants to win the exam on his terms. You have an older scientist who wants to prove that his inventions will be useful in combat. Then there’s a girl who believes in being very practical so she will betray you or stay on the team depending on which option makes more sense. She’s not going to choose an option just because it’s the right thing to do. It seems like most of these characters were meant to become main characters eventually so it’s a shame that the series ended before they could return.

Then you have Debonair who is one of the more experienced hunters. She’s actually teamed up with Grimm on the field back in the day so she knows her stuff. She was cursed to always have a high body temperature so she uses that in her attacks. It’s a creative way to take control of her curse so I’ll give her credit there. She was definitely one of the more enjoyable characters here. She adds a lot of energy to the series and always just jumps into action. She doesn’t hesitate to attack anyone whether they are friend or foe.

Then we have some villains in here like Cinderella. She is one of the highest ranking villains of the Red List and I’m very interested in how she turned evil in this continuity. Of course as the series goes on we see that her faction may be the good ones. I’ll break down the two sides later on. Cinderella is a lot of fun though and would have been a solid reoccurring villain if this series had kept on going. She has a partner in Lycaon, the king of the beasts. This guy is huge and immensely powerful so even though these two villains appeared almost immediately, I wonder if they were planned to be end game type bosses.

Aside from a few minions, the only other big villain we met was the mysterious mayor. It was a pretty big twist to have this guy end up being with the villains. I’ll talk about his goals in a second but it’s a very interesting direction to place this guy in. He looks good. His last second character 180 I can ignore since it was the last chapter and that’s likely the only reason this happened. Otherwise I doubt that would have happened at all.

Before getting into that I’ll quickly talk about the 3 arcs. So the pre arc where we were introduced to the main characters is the weakest one. It’s hard to get all that engaged in reading about this village filled with expendable characters when the 3 wolves attack. It also lasts pretty long even though Grimm should have just ended all of the werewolves in an instant. Of course she was testing Velou but she also did promise to save everyone. A bunch of people really could have died every minute that she was messing around instead of helping out. The only really solid part of the arc was the ending when Cinderella showed up to style on everyone. It was also an interesting way to get Velou to join the her since he only relented since there was no longer a village to save. It was the fact that Grimm failed the mission which ended up making him join. Not the greatest reason to get in on the action.

For the exam arc, well it’s a cool concept for a test but it is just too soon. So you’ve got a bunch of random characters who have to put aside their difference to win the test. If the main character could fight that would work better but since he can’t, it just doesn’t work as well. The whole exam also makes no sense because there’s no way a bunch of random cadets could hope to beat the top 2 hunters. Even if they are holding back so they don’t murder the kids, I don’t buy for a second that the heroes were able to outsmart them every time. It ended up being a complete loss for the hunters as they couldn’t capture a single cadet. That’s going beyond lucky to just being unreasonable.

Then we enter the final 3 chapters with reality warping and such. It’s hard to get super engaged here either since it’s all happening so fast. We get a super gun that can destroy everything and an onslaught of twists. The plot twists are interesting and put the series on what would have been a very interesting path but we don’t get to explore it. Throw in the cheesy ending and that doesn’t help matters a whole lot. At least we did get some action though.

So, what is going on here? It turns out that the entire world has been destroyed many times. See, humans and werewolves have been locked in war with each other for millions of years. The issue is that the werewolves cannot be destroyed because any human can turn into one randomly, without warning or reason. So the only way to destroy the werewolves is to destroy the human population. Apparently the hunters have tried this before and destroyed all the humans but then everything got reset each time. See, there is a powerful high above being working on this…The Readers. Yes, in this series the reader is a concept.

So the characters are all locked in a twisted fate of never being able to escape. Then you have the Red Hood who is in charge of writing in the master book, events of what is to come. Whatever is written ultimately ends up happening and so he writes good and bad events to occur. Villages getting burned down? The guy wrote all of that. So destiny has complete control over everyone because their results were already written in.

This is where the Red Line comes in. Their group is made up of other powerful fighters who don’t want to be trapped by Destiny. So their goal is to take down the hunter alliance and seize control of the book. That way they can stop anyone from writing in it and people can make their own choices. Based on that intel, I would argue the Red List are the good guys right? Yes, but then you remember the first chapters and how they’re going around burning down villages and eating people. So…they lost all credibility in an instant.

This is clearly a series where both sides are going to be evil. Well, this is where the Mayor steps in as a third faction. He pretends to be a part of the Red List but has his own goals. He wants to destroy the book entirely and end reality. I should mention as part of the Red Hunter’s duties, they write in the book to appeal to the readers. Well, the Mayor believes that writing to appease a bunch of violent gods isn’t a good thing to do. Humans are not puppets and so he plans to end all of reality. To that end he created Velou, who isn’t truly real. Velou is an anti destiny, sentient bomb. Just by existing he causes the characters to break away from their script and regain free will.

If the Mayor can get Velou near the book for a long enough period of time, then the book will blow up and the Mayor will have gotten his wish. In the meantime the Mayor stole two pages of the book so he can fill them with anything to change destiny. It’s a very overpowered ability that’s for sure. The series ends with him turning good as he’s blown up and the heroes are all finally freed from destiny to do their own thing. As the series was cancelled, the readers are gone so nobody can dictate how their series will go. It’s very meta that’s for sure.

Some interesting concepts there but I think it would put the series in a hole rather quickly. Once you get this meta and are breaking the fourth wall all the time, it’s hard to tell more stories. Once the characters know that they are characters and that everything’s a manga, it just seems like it would be hard to actually tell any stories. There were some hinting about proper scripts and characters acting in line early on in the series so I think this was originally meant to play some kind of role and it wasn’t just because the series was cancelled. I’m guessing the twists wouldn’t have happened so quickly otherwise though.

Personally I think the series was cancelled in large part because the art’s just not that good. It’s very cluttered and it can be hard to tell that is happening half the time. There’s one scene where a hero kisses a villain just to annoy her but you don’t even realize that happened for a few panels because the art’s so bad. It seemed more like a hug initially. Forget about the fights, it becomes 10 times harder to follow along once that happens. It doesn’t help that each of the werewolves are huge. Even experienced artists can have a hard time with big opponents, much less a new series artist. Should have stuck to street fights even though those don’t look great here either.

The series could have been saved if the art was better. I also would have pushed back the exam and shortened the intro. Have the characters go straight into another mission first and learn about the world. Maybe the test could happen as part of arc 3 or arc 4. That would also give Velou some time to get better as it’s hard to see him being ready to be a hunter this early on. I’d also say it’s probably best to get rid of the meta aspect of the series since I don’t think it works in a serious context. That said, if it’s the main point of the series then I won’t ask to remove it since that would change the core story. Velou being an anti destiny bomb was interesting at least. If he had been a main character who could fight I also think that would have been an upgrade.

I won’t say the series is bad though. It’s certainly not something I would be very interested in reading again but it does avoid fanservice (Due in part to the art being so bad so even all of the exaggerated designs and costumes don’t register) well and there’s no real wince worthy moments here. In an anime version we’d have to see how the Werewolves are drawn. Having them as opponents would have been very dangerous for the series as a whole unless it was stylized. At 18 chapters the series is just gone in the blink of an eye so I’d say you might as well check it out. It’s a decent adventure but one that was more positive for potential than what it actually did on the screen.

The writing was good and there were some good tactical elements in here. Since the series was definitely going for the strategic kind of main character, I think it would have pulled this off well enough. The plans in the manga were good although I call major hax on the cops and robbers plan. There’s just no way that would work against the hunters so hopefully the future plans would be better. It’s an entertaining read, there are just enough issues where it’s hard to see this ever surpassing a 7 at best. There isn’t a true hook that would have ever kept this going for very long.

Overall, Red Hood could have been the next big thing if it played its cards right. A Shonen Jump action story about fairy tales and folklore could have really been something. We get quite a few references to Little Red Riding Hood of course and with Cinderella as a villain, I’m sure the series had a lot of ideas. Of course the tragic part of being cancelled is that you will never get to see those moments. It’s considerably better than some of the cancelled manga that I’ve read but that does seem a bit like a back handed complement when you think about it. We’ll see which cancelled manga is next but in the meantime I would definitely recommend checking this out. At least you can see what all the hype was about.

Overall 6/10

Build King Review


Build King is a very interesting manga because of how out there it is. You aren’t likely to find a title quite like this one even if you search very hard. The concept is just way too unique and to its credit, the series goes all the way with it. It does have a very…verrrry rocky beginning though so I can see why it was cancelled. By the time things get going, it just feels like it must have been too late in the polls. A shame though since the series was just hitting its groove.

Well, we’re introduced to this world which is a place where people aside to be builders and carpenters. The world is filled with house monsters and the strongest ones of legend are known as the Build Kings. They are so mighty that nothing can stop them and they even pose a threat to the planet. The two main characters are Tonkachi and Renga. They live on a remote island inhabited by monsters and build houses to protect the innocent creatures. Your skills at building houses are directly proportionate to your rank and ability. Renga is a skilled builder and has done well on the island but his big brother Tonkachi seems to have no skill for it.

Every building Tonkachi builds shatters in an instant. But he does have abnormally high levels of strength and has a hammer which zaps his life force in exchange for boosting this power even further. Tonkachi says that if he can’t build houses then he will build peace by stopping the monsters himself. This has worked out well enough for the heroes but they are ready to leave the island and really test their mettle. Fortunately a guy named Nana shows up on a runaway house one day and that’s their ticket out of here. If the two characters can pass the building equivalent of the Hunter’s Exam, they will finally be pros and can do what they want. It will allow them to locate their mysterious master: Shovel, who told them to come find him once they had gotten stronger.

Right away you can tell Shovel is a very old school kind of master. He reminds me of Piccolo with how he just ditched these kids on an island of monsters and told them to figure it out. Considering that he never came back, the guy really did leave them to their own devices. He doesn’t appear again until the very last chapter or two of the series but admittedly it is a very epic way to end things off. Of course since the series was cancelled they had to rush it but otherwise I’m betting he wouldn’t have appeared for a very long time. He has style though that’s for sure.

So of course I mentioned how the series has a bit of a rough beginning right? Well, it all comes down to the fact that it’s trying to be more of a crazy comedic adventure at first. Think early Toriko or classic Dragon Ball. Thing is, I wouldn’t say I was a fan of either of those. Toriko didn’t get really good until the fight scenes occurred. I just think comedy isn’t this author’s strong suit. There is a whole lot of crude humor and crude humor type jokes. It’s not funny and won’t even get a smile out of you.

The artwork is great for fights. This guy has years of experience so that makes sense. The final chapters of this series? They look amazing. It’s like he never left and all the characters have quality designs. The issue is for comedy the author loves his exaggerated faces but it can get old quick. Comedy just wasn’t working for this series and that’s likely why it was canned so soon. I can tell you right now what I would have done differently is build this up as an action series from the jump. Put more emphasis on Tonkachi and his vitality hammer. Explain the different vitalities and building energies.

It seems to me like the author wanted to develop a really unique power level system here and I say go for it. It was well thought out and there’s a lot you can do with that. The building fights are as unique as they get. I feel like it would be a big burden on the author to have to draw this weekly but it would look great. Ironically I would say the human battles are the highlight but the buildings are the selling point so you have to keep them. Just make that one switch to being action oriented and this could have worked.

Lets go back to the story though with Nana and that runaway house. Nana’s one of those characters who is technically tough but I can’t take him seriously. How could you with that as an entrance right? I’ll give him this though, he does have the funniest scene in the series when he gives his introduction twice since the main characters were spacing out. Now that’s a humor style that worked really well. If the author had more gags like that I think it would have worked out really well.

The series is at a bit of a disadvantage with these two main characters too. The issue is that none of them are all that good. Renga is the skilled one who starts out at a higher floor than Tonkachi but quickly hits his limit. He’s supposed to be the good builder but is effectively out of luck early on in the series. Without the ability to fight physically you kind of expected that he wouldn’t be doing so well by the end though. It’s not a surprise but that’s likely of little comfort to him.

As for Tonkachi, well he’s not a very smart character. He reminds me of a Tarzan type character. He can hit things with his hammer but that’s the extent of it. He’s not very smart and will compromise on his ideals for a gag like when he sells out 2 by 4. This character just didn’t click with me and isn’t my kind of lead. Not to take away from his skills of course. His hammer is the real deal and I like how the effects depend based on which side he hits you with. It’s a unique weapon and he has good abilities but as a character I just didn’t care for him.

So the heroes end up landing on a little island that is rife with bandits and vampires. It’s an interesting little island and the heroes finally get a little exposure to the great outdoors. The first adventure lasts through the first 10 chapters so almost half the series is here. The heroes have to fix an upside down house and ultimately Tonkachi can do this by smashing it a bunch of times. It’s certainly not an action arc and we’re still in the adventure phase. You can probably tell that the author is a big fan of the environment because a lot of this adventure is just seeing the impressive greenery and landscapes. The buildings look really solid as well.

I can’t stress enough how good the art is. This is the work of a veteran, but that doesn’t help the story. The main heroine Cork has the worst debut appearance I’ve ever seen for the main girl. Her first appearance is her hanging upside down and forgetting that she wasn’t wearing pants. What kind of intro is that? It’s just artificial fanservice here and Cork never gets to do anything in the series. It’s not a stretch to say that there is no point to her character. She doesn’t do anything after this island either so I shouldn’t even call her the main heroine I suppose.

From there we start the tournament where a bunch of new characters appear. So many in fact that you are unlikely to remember most of them. It’s impressive to be sure and if the series had lasted then this is a great way to expand the case. Since it didn’t though, you just can’t retain all of that info. Taurus is the strong guy but Tonkachi immediately humiliates him in strength so you won’t be taking him seriously after that. If you’re that much weaker than the main character right off the bat then that’s it. (He tries his best punch on Tonkachi and the lead doesn’t even feel anything)

Shizuka gets some hype at least. He’s trying to be the really stoic rival character who doesn’t let anything faze him. He is tough so I’ll give him that and I like how he’s focused on clearing the exam even when characters are messing up the planet all around him. The guy has dedication so I have to give him that. The test proctor Smith is also not too bad. I mean he gets drunk easy and isn’t a good role model but he is memorable.

Then we get a whole bunch of villains that attack the tournament and more heroes jump in so it gets crazy. While you might not remember most of the characters, I do like how largescale this all gets. We enter Toriko type territory right away. Not in terms of feats but just with how much action there is. Again, if the action had come sooner that could have helped a lot. The tournament/exam is easily the best arc here and keeps on going to the end. The various events were fun enough but things really got going once the villains started attacking. That’s when your attention will really be on every page.

The leader of the villains is a guy named Bill. The name might not stand out but as a character he is the real deal. His quantum vigor ability seems really broken with how he’s in multiple realities. It’s hard to see how the heroes would beat him but that’s likely not something that would have occurred for a very long time anyway. As it is, we only get to see him for a chapter or two but he leaves a good impression. He reminds me a bit of Midora.

As for the buildings, I feel like the series does cheat a bit here. The first buildings we see look like normal buildings so it makes for fun and creepy visuals when they start walking around. Later on the more powerful ones just straight up look like robots. It’s cool of course but feels like it’s going against the point of seeing buildings fighting each other. As mentioned we also get a lot of human fights which is basically just Toriko 2.0. When those are the best fights around, it makes you wonder if the series should have just ditched the buildings if they weren’t going to be used a whole lot anyway. Just play itself up as a Shonen action series with exams like Hunter X Hunter and this could have gone far.

Having a slow beginning is just putting yourself at a disadvantage when you need good ratings right off the bat. By the time the setup is completed, it’s just too late. I’ve often thought it might be worth it for an author to release 8-10 chapters online first or more for free on a different site that take place before the official chapter 1. That way you can skip some of the exposition and world building and jump right into the action. It would be risky but then big time fans can always look them up and it might allow you to hit the ground running. It’s possible the magazine wouldn’t allow this but it would be interesting if it worked.

I would say one thing Build King does have going for it is that it’s an easy read. Even with the slow beginning, the art is good enough where you can read through the series quickly. I don’t think it would have been quite as much fun weekly, but at least this way you are blasting through the weaker chapters very quickly to the point where they are gone in an instant. That’s definitely the way to go about things.

My final complement to the series is that despite all of its weaknesses, it’s clear that there was a ton of potential with the whole buildings setup. The world itself was interesting to find out about. How would giant, sentient buildings change the world as we know it? Just answering that question alone could take 10+ volumes as we see the world. You start to get those answers as the series goes on and it’s all very surreal. Imagine living inside of a house that could eat you at any moment? It’s going for a Pokemon vibe with the relationship between humans and their buildings but with the evil ones running around I’m sure there would be tragedies in the future. The mysteries of the Build Kings doesn’t get to be explored and so you leave with as many questions as answers.

Overall, Build King had a very slow start. The first half just doesn’t grab you. There isn’t a lot going on and the character cast is really weak. Fortunately the exam really starts to help the series find its footing. The battles are great and nonstop once they start happening. The extra chapters for the volume release may not remove the cliffhangers but it means more chapters of action and world building which is always good. Plus it covers some more of the crazy battles which was the best part of the series. This second half of hype is enough to give the series an extra star and ultimately I give it a positive rating. It’d be nice to see the series revived at some point now that it has a focus but I suppose it was all just a little too late.

Overall 6/10

Hungry Joker Review


Before Tabata created the all star manga title Black Clover, he had another manga which was quickly cancelled known as Hungry Joker. It was a very ambitious project with more of an “A Certain Magical Index” element to it as all powers are based on relics from different religions, cultures, and special events. There’s a lot that could have been done with this, but alas the series was cancelled really quickly.

The series starts off by introducing us to Haiji who is a genius. He has complete amnesia except he remembers waking up amidst a lot of fire and everyone was dead as well as glowing in an odd color. His only clue is an Apple that had one bite in it. He now works on crazy experiments with the apple along with his sidekick Toriiooji. (That’s a hard name to remember) She’s not crazy about this but a job’s a job so she puts up with it. Unfortunately Haiji can barely even be bothered to remember her name half the time which is rough. One day, a new corpse appears while glowing and just as Haiji starts to investigate this, he is attacked by a mysterious being who may not be of this world. Haiji is barely able to fight him off with his apple.

The villains belong to a group named Mavro and they hint/imply they are gods or possibly aliens from another planet. They don’t think humans deserve to use these supernatural powers and are going around the world to steal the relics. Haiji will have to work with the hero group known as White Joker in order to stop them but he’s not exactly a team player. Will he learn how to work well with this group or will they simply be overwhelmed by the villains?

Now why does this apple have powers? Well, it is explained that this is the apple that Isaac Newton drank the juice from when he learned about the science knowledge that made him famous. In this world, we learn that he only learned this knowledge because he drank from the apple. The apple itself is a divine relic and only the chosen are able to live through such an experience. If a normal person bites into such an object then he/she will die without a doubt. Well, fortunately Haiji is a chosen one and since he ate quite a lot of the apple, he is able to manipulate gravity. This ability is temporary so he has to take a bite out of the apple whenever he wants to use his powers more. It means that he is at a bit of a disadvantage in a long fight though so he has to try and take care of business quickly.

The pre arc was handled well. It was a good introduction to the characters and it even had some horror vibes to it. Hungry Joker’s first chapters all take place at night which helps for the atmosphere and the hospital scene with the nurse turning into a monster is like something straight out of D Gray Man. I don’t think you will be forgetting that anytime soon. Throw in the artwork which can be a bit rough at times and you have all the elements of a horror manga in here. That said, this manga is far from being a horror title but it has the kind of visuals that would give you pause. Once the plot starts to get going though it’s much more of a classic Shonen.

The first main arc has the heroes travel to a museum as one of the legendary artifacts is on display there. It appears to be a trap but Haiji points out that they can’t afford to be cautious on this. This is the arc where we first learn about White Joker and get quite a bit of information on the world at large. You could say it sets up a lot of what would be important for the future if the series had kept on going a bit more. We get some good fights and meet new characters so it’s a fun way to kick things off. The arc has a good mix of humor and action as it introduces Alan and Mira.

Alan’s a fairly unique character as he acts very gruff and tough like any good rival but on the inside he is extremely scared of everything. The guy is timid but can’t show it and I like this character type. Usually characters act like Shaggy Rogers with how afraid they are and everyone can notice this immediately. The fact that Alan hides this so well is incredibly impressive. Not many characters would be able to pull that off. I liked him right away.

As for Mira, she doesn’t get quite as much to do but she’s nice enough. She’s the brains of the group as she plans things through while Alan just acts. She’s always cheerful and adds a lot of energy to every scene. Mira isn’t really a big fighter like the others but she’s good as a support player and gives a lot of the info dumps in the series. She’s also key to getting Haiji to join the group.

In the next arc, the group heads to a village where a witch has seemingly thrown up a smokescreen around the place. Naturally this is a job for White Joker. This time Haiji is accompanied by one of the senior members known as Vivi. You can quickly see her as the inspiration for Noelle Silva as their personalities and abilities are rather similar. Vivi’s a lot of fun and has to be one of the most powerful members. She has super speed, strength, and every kind of ability you could want. She can blow her lid quite easily but considering how Haiji can be rather rude, you can see how this would occur. There isn’t actually a witch in this arc and it ends up having more of an emotional climax but it’s a decent follow up. The first adventure was more fun but this one introduced Vivi so it had more fun scenes.

The dungeon exploring feels like classic Black Clover but the villain is the weakest one in the series. His name is Dodomekis and effectively he wants to build a harem of maids. That’s one of the worst villain motivations you can have so you’ll be rolling your eyes at this guy when he’s on screen and will just be waiting for him to be taken out already.

Nils is the other big character introduced in this arc but I didn’t like him. He’s one of those characters who is always depressed and super nervous. He lets the townsfolk get to him and so he hasn’t really had a fun time. Things just don’t go well for him and his origin story is quite tragic. You feel bad for him but I don’t feel like he would really do anything for the team dynamic. He definitely won’t be having any solid banter or anything like that.

As we approach the end of the series, the heroes head to Austria next. After learning the truth behind Haiji’s origins, the heroes hope to learn more about his blood using the next artifact. This time they travel with another member of White Joker known as Lise. He’s a doctor who uses questionable methods to get his patients to loosen up. I can’t say I found him to be all that solid. He’s another support type rather than primarily being a fighter so the Joker org seems to have quite a few of those. Naturally the adventure is quickly turned into a battle as Mavro sends in their next fighter. This time Toriiooji has to step up to help out.

The villain here is decent. He calls himself god so we don’t get to learn his true name but he does seem quite formidable and leaves more of an impact compared to the previous villains. His laser abilities are useful and the fight goes on for quite a bit. It’s more of a low key arc compared to the others but the artwork is always great for fight scenes and that carries this adventure well enough.

So after this we just jump to the end of the series. The villains suddenly launch attacks on every country in the world, the heroes all get super forms that they obtained off screen, we get a big time skip, etc. You can tell that the series was cancelled by this point so the author was having a bit of fun. The “Hungry Joker” term is even used as the super form that everyone obtains. I can’t complain though, it was a really epic way to end things off. There are of course a lot of open plot lines and such still going on as the series ends, but it ends with a bang. Now lets talk about some of the other characters.

As a main character Haiji is decent. He really isn’t all that interesting though. As a scientist he is usually very absent minded when it comes to talking to the other characters. He’s only focused on discoveries and learning about his past which can make him appear rather selfish at times. Haiji’s not a very hot headed main character nor is he a comedic one or a nervous type. In a way I would say he’s one of the most unique Shonen Jump main characters. The closest personality to him I can think of is Muhyo from Muhyo and Roji. I think Haiji would have improved with more time but he just isn’t very interesting here.

His sidekick Toriiooji is also not great but she doesn’t get powers until we’re at the very end of the series which is an unfortunate coincidence for her. I’m confident she would have had more to do now that she could fight but it was just too little too late. By that point the series was already ending. She’s a loyal ally and will always do what she can but she just didn’t get any real big moments here.

Kild is the first villain to show up and fight Haiji. This was a good way to introduce these evil gods and it was a good fight. The downside of being the first villain is of course that this fighter is having a tough time against a main character who hasn’t fought before. Since Haiji is a genius I suppose you can let that slide a bit but the fight was rather even. Kild would have won I’m sure but the fight was abruptly ended. I liked Kild as a villain, he’s easily the most memorable one at the very least and I liked his confidence.

Rosary is one of the big villains but she doesn’t really get to fight much until the end. I like her confidence though and she certainly had a high position within the villain group. As such you can say that she definitely had ability far beyond most. Meanwhile Ragins is okay as a villain but there isn’t a lot to him. He puts up a good fight against the heroes and talks about destruction and all that but you will forget him really quickly. He’s not the kind of villain that leaves an impact on you and so he fades into obscurity right away.

Nasyasu is the leader of the villains and it turns out that he is Haiji’s brother so of course there is a lot of drama there. I liked him well enough. We don’t know a ton about his goals beyond the guy just being ultra evil but he has a good design and solid teleportation abilities. I could see a lot of good potential with battle scenes for him. I’m sure we’d also meet more villains if the series had kept on going.

It’s definitely a shame that the series was cancelled so quickly. It’s definitely one of the stronger titles that I’ve read among the cancelled lineup. The characters were good, the stories were fun, and the action scenes were epic. You can see so many elements from Black Clover in here so I’m glad the author was able to utilize these concepts again in a different franchise. So what would I have done to keep the series from being cancelled? Well, it’s tough since I didn’t think the series did a bad job leading up to everything.

The series was very episodic from the start so it seems like that may have been the issue given how quickly it ended. I guess what I would do different is after the museum arc, we cut straight to the first big war battle arc against the villains. Have them attack different parts of the world which allows us to meet more members from White Joker. This could help show how useful the group is and also introduce more characters to keep the readers engaged. The leaders of White Joker seem very suspicious but they don’t show up until the series is ending. Have them appear earlier and hopefully you hook readers that way. It’s no guarantee but I think it’s a good start. Those are my ideas.

As mentioned, the art is great here. The fight scenes are epic and they’re also quite long. The series wasn’t afraid to have big battles right out of the gate and that was a good move. The abilities are also fun as there is so much you can do with elemental attacks like gravity or concepts like sound. The heroes would have a lot of room to grow their abilities so the power management of the series was in a good place. It’s also just a fun read, you’ll be dashing through the series from chapter to chapter. There’s a lot of replay value to be had here. If we’re lucky then maybe some of these characters will show up in Black Clover as part of a crossover or something.

Overall, Hungry Joker is a series that I would definitely recommend. At the end of the day it’s a really good action story and a title that you won’t be forgetting any time soon. The art is good and while Haiji isn’t really a main character that I can get behind, the supporting cast is good enough to carry him. The series had a lot of potential so it’s sad to see it go but at least the author ends it in a way where maybe we could get a sequel someday. At the very least there are still a lot of open plots left out there.

Overall 7/10

Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin Review


It’s hard to forget any of the promotional images for this series when it was first starting out. Who wouldn’t have fun with a manga about a tough dolphin right? It didn’t last super long but then again, 40+ chapters is fairly good for a modern Jump title that’s cancelled, feels like they usually don’t last quite so long nowadays. It allows the series to explore its premise fairly well at least.

The series starts off with Samejima taking down a crook but he took big risks in doing so and gets demoted. I have to agree with the demotion to be honest since pointing a gun at someone who has a hostage is going beyond just being a bit reckless. So Samejima is sent to a small island in the middle of nowhere that’s a bit off. One of their leutenants is a buff dolphin, there’s a kid here who was rescued from a cult but kept her super powers, and there are sea animal hybrids going around and causing trouble. Will Samejima’s police training be enough to keep him safe?

It is interesting how to the rest of the world, there are no such things as supernatural creatures and all that. Samejima knew about the cult kidnapping for example but like everyone else he just thought they were crazy. Since the island is so far away from everything (Not even a cell signal in sight) it also makes sense that people wouldn’t learn about these events. I thought the author did a good job of crafting this scenario carefully in such a way where nobody would suspect anything. This was good execution.

Initially you have intro type stories that aren’t really connected but let you get used to the cast. For example we have a one shot story with a few guys riding a car without a license and they basically antagonize the cops until they get shut down by Samejima and Orpheus (The Dolphin). Granted I’m not sure if the main character is right about it not being legal to film a cop on public property. I mean, it’s a made up island so you could say the rules are a bit different but I think it was still a part of Japan. Might be overthinking it though and either way these guys were crooks for speeding, driving without a license and then nearly running someone over.

Another intro case that would end up being important for later was the first confrontation with more of a supernatural fighter. Granted, it has a comedic end but you have a guy who is part octopus that is blowing a lot of buildings up in the town. Every part of him is explosive and so trying to hack him to bits isn’t a great way to try and take him down. Orpheus and Samejima have to reluctantly use some teamwork here.

The villain just wanted pollution to stop but blowing up towns isn’t quite the way to go about it. This was also the introduction to Chako’s (the kid) wish granting abilities which are quite powerful. Whenever a series introduces a power that activates just by thinking about it, well you can bet that this character will be a real powerhouse. She’s just young enough where it isn’t dangerous at this point but all you would need is one time skip for her to either be the world’s greatest hero or most dangerous villain.

The series is mostly good about not having much fanservice but it is definitely present which is unfortunate. There’s a whole chapter about everyone trying to take advantage of the main heroine Umi including even Samejima. What’s even the point of that chapter? It’s certainly a good way to lose momentum and her gimmick of having the shirt rip whenever she salutes will make you cringe. Again, the series isn’t too constant with this or anything but it really limits the overall potential of the title.

The first real arc starts with two powerful hybrid bounty hunters known as Kaji and Hanma showing up. They are here to kidnap Chako on behalf of the cult. As these two both have powers, Samejima will have to step up if he wants to protect her. It was a solid mini arc and had the first true fights of the series. There was some good back and forth here and if this was added sooner in the story I think the series could have launched with a really solid start right off the gate. By the end of the mini arc you have these bounty hunters turning good though which is a bit too quick if you ask me but I can give it a pass since it means they can show up as heroic rivals later on.

Next up was a more serious case where people keep dying near the local dolphin pool. The victims are always missing an arm as well. The cops are naturally called in and this arc taps into the mystery angle a bit as you have some a main suspect in the coach and have to decide if he is the murderer or if it’s someone else. With super powered animal fighters on the loose it’s hard to rule anything out. It’s a bit of a step down from the last arc but it isn’t bad. It introduces some pretty important characters and does further the cult plot by the end. The ending twists get a little too convoluted for its own good though to the point where it’s hard to buy the twists at one point. The coach looks bad no matter how you slice it.

There’s a quick mini arc about the characters moving into a mansion where a rich guy tries to throw them out. It’s a way to go back into the comedy realm a bit with some other short stories before the final arc of the series. So there are 7 legendary artifacts in the world apparently and the cult wants to secure these items at any cost to the point where they have called up all of their big members including the main villain himself. The girl who turned traitor in the last arc is there and so the main characters unite to enter the underwater cave. We also get introduced to a whole new group of fighters known as Squad 7 who are apparently the most skilled police officers around. They’re more like the FBI or CIA. Can the heroes stop this cult once and for all?

This arc felt like the biggest one and while I have a feeling it would have played out a lot differently if it wasn’t cancelled, I thought the author was able to wrap everything up really well. At most the giant dolphin made of water at the end may have felt a little out of the blue but all in all it was a fun way to end the series. While it had a rocky start, I did think the series quickly got better the more it went along. This is an example of a series that is better when it was focusing on action rather than comedy. The series just wasn’t very funny which isn’t a good thing for a comedic based title.

Before going into it further, lets take a look at the cast. As the main character Samejima is decent. He’s a hot head who always just dives into a problem and I like to see that kind of enthusiasm. He may not have any super powers but he can still fight with the best of them. The series is part comedy after all so it’s not all that unlikely to even see him trading blows with the more powerful villains. The fact that he doesn’t follow protocol comes in handy more than a few times. While the other cops are unable to move due to other departments showing up, he doesn’t care and just dives in. He does tend to suffer from some of the jokes like being too distracted by Umi though.

Umi is a nice enough main heroine but the series really just uses her as the token fanservice character most of the time. She really doesn’t have a lot of plot importance beyond that and ends up being the only main character who can’t fight at all. That’s a shame because it also leaves her out of all the big story arcs. I’d have liked for the series to have given her some kind of ability to fight with the others. Well, Umi means well at least, not like she’s a bad character or anything.

Chako is the main kid that all of the villains are after so she gets a big role. That said, she’s a very young kid so it’s not like she can really fight or anything like that. Her wishing abilities are really just a way for the plot to go on. Not much to say about her as a character due to this. I will say that her powers can seem a bit inconsistent at times but since it is used seriously at times and as a gag at others, I guess that is to be expected. By the end of the series we do learn the full story behind her kidnapping though.

Orpheus is a big character and really the selling point for a lot of people. That said, I thought Samejima was a lot more interesting. Orpheus’ main character is that he wants Chako to see him as the main parental figure but she’s taken to Samejima so he is always jealous. That is a large chunk of his scenes in the comedy stories. When it comes to the action parts he does have some good fights though and even a tragic backstory. Much like Korosensei from Assassination Classroom, I much prefer him before his transformation into a dolphin.

Still, he’s okay, just not a standout character to me. He does have super strength and a good fist technique so that’s handy in the battles. Next is Seira, a mermaid girl who appears in a few stories. Initially she seems like someone who’s just a little careless with how she comes close to marrying a normal human who would surely drown underwater. As the series goes on we learn more about her though and she even plays a bit of a critical role by the end. She was solid by that point.

Kaji is one of the early villains who turned good. There isn’t a ton to him beyond potential since he didn’t do a lot but he made for a good villain. At the end of the day he’s a villain with an honor code and it wasn’t hard to turn him. The guy has a distinct character design too. He has a partner in Hanma who is a solid fighter as well but he doesn’t do much in comparison.

Yukari is one of the main characters from the dolphin pool murder case and her character arc goes in a very unexpected direction. She ends up being one of the best villains for sure. She uses the arm artifact well and has one of the best feats in the series when she splits the ocean in two so everyone can walk to the cave. As a villain she has a lot of confidence and doesn’t even get intimidated by Poseidon himself. Now that’s some serious ability on her part.

Jura was her colleague but unfortunately as a hero she doesn’t get any power ups so there isn’t really anything she can do to help out here. It would have been nice if the series could have done something to allow them to have a proper fight. Jura’s a fun character though, she’s up beat and always ready to tackle the next obstacle. She stuck up for Yukari and was a really good friend throughout.

As the leader of the cult, Kamuro gets a big role by the end. I can’t say I’m a fan though. He’s one of those guys who is a comic relief perv as a “good guy” and while he gets serious when he is evil, it’s hard to know if his personality is still on the up and up as a result. Was it all an act? The guy is also a bit out of his depth with these relics as he is surprised at how the first one looks. His backstory is certainly very tragic but I don’t really understand how he went off the deep end.

The idea was that he would infiltrate the villains and then take down the organization from the inside. Instead he effectively just became the leader and kept it moving. His goal at the end is really not good and one of those classic “I’ll destroy almost everything but it’s for good reasons” Ultimately since he became evil because his willpower wasn’t strong enough, I was never going to be a big fan of Kamuro.

Okiura is effectively Kamuro’s right hand woman. She finds out a lot of intel and helps him that way but she isn’t much of a fighter so she doesn’t leave an impact. She’s helpful to the villain cause but there isn’t a whole lot to say about her. I think if the series had kept going we likely would have seen her play a bigger role or at least that’s the vibe I got.

Tome shows up really late in the series but she immediately becomes a fun character. As the leader of Squad 7 she is quite powerful in combat. She has an underwater martial art style that seems to be heavily based off of Attack on Titan. It’s how the whole squad fights too so it’s like the survey corps. They use water pressure to zip all over the place as they strike at their enemies. Tome is the most powerful of the group though and it shows. She gets a few fights in the arc and would have been a fun supporting character for future events.

We meet Chako’s Mom in the flashbacks to the origin of the dolphin cop and how this all happened. Her name’s Yae. Yae was a nice character thrown into a tough situation but I do feel like she kept on making the wrong calls. Getting involved in the cult, having a kid while at the cult only made the situation worse. Eventually it was too much for her and she split. Now there’s a bit more context to that but I’d say she got in over her head and this ended up costing her as well as Chako quite a lot. There was also starting to be a bit of a triangle between her, Kamuro, and the Dolphin which wasn’t really needed.

Finally we have Poseidon who would have almost certainly been the end game boss. He can possess Chako and it seems like each relic would have made him stronger. When he possesses Chako she can actually fight rather well so I can only imagine how strong he would be in his own body. The series has a bit of fun at his expense though like when he gets his powers zapped by the cave though. Not his best look and doesn’t exactly make him someone to be feared as the big villain. Always a tough part when trying to balance the serious action and more comedic elements for a series like this.

So, what would I have done differently to keep this from being cancelled? Well, as I mentioned, the series started off a bit slow and didn’t get really good until the action started to come in. That was over halfway through the series I would say. What I’d have done is have the villains attack a lot sooner. Maybe have them send in normal hitmen at first which would give Samejima a good reason to be able to keep up at first and as he learns more about the island we start to see those tough meta humans. It would be a slow ascent up the power levels.

Now, I guess the author wanted to make a comedy manga initially but the novelty of just having the cop be a dolphin isn’t enough. Throw in Chako and you’ve got a Yotsuba vibe going but it’s hard to keep all of those elements together. The initial stories that were stand alone just weren’t all that funny as I mentioned. If you tone down the fanservice or the characters acting iffy then you would have some potential but even the stories without any of that could be a bit dull. Like Chako breaking a vase and then the characters scramble to find the truth. The humor style seems to be the absurd type where something crazy happens and most characters take it in stride while Samejima panics. Not the most effective way to go about this.

So the short answer for me is to throw in the plot a lot earlier along with the fights. The author was able to easily transition this into a full action series which was a lot of fun. I can only imagine that going in that direction right from the jump would have done a whole lot to improve the series. At the end of the day I would still call this a pretty good title but of course I have the benefit of being able to marathon through it. I’m sure it feels a lot different going through it weekly. I would say to maybe remove Chako but that would change the whole core of the series and for my anti cancellation plans I try to not suggest anything that would make the series completely different.

The art is very solid as you would expect. I would go as far as to say it’s excellent. The action scenes have a lot of detail and the character designs are each distinctive. It just strengthens the case of why the series is at its strongest with the action. It allows you to read the series real easily without a doubt since it’s all so clear. Definitely a strong aspect for the series. While I didn’t find it funny most of the time, the writing for the series parts were good. The idea of having a cult as the villain organization is interesting. You don’t really see that a whole lot.

Overall, The Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin is a good title that will quickly be forgotten amidst a sea of titles that are just better. I would call it a fun series and one I would recommend to anyone but I’m not shocked that it was cancelled. Naturally I wish it could have just kept going and maybe been the next big thing though. As long as a series is good (6 or higher) then I’d like it to crack 50 volumes and continue to surpass its limits. There may not have been any witty banter/solid buddycop dynamics with the Dolphin (It sounds way more natural than using his real name) and Samejima but the action would cover for that no doubt.

Overall 7/10

Bone Collection Review


All right, it’s time for the next cancelled Jump title. I pretty much binged the whole series in one day (Aside from the first chapter) but it’s not very long at 15 chapters so that’s not ultra impressive. It’s a series with an interesting core concept about yokai and exorcists so this could have been the next big thing. Unfortunately it stumbles out of the gate and never really got interesting enough to break out. Additionally a huge chunk of the story makes absolutely no sense and I will get into that later on.

So the basic plot is that the world is filled with Yokai and Exorcists have to take them down. Unlike other stories, all humans know about Yokai and Exorcists are given a pretty good amount of social power. For example, the main character Kazami can skip class if it’s to fight an exorcist. It’s just a normal part of life to the point where kids even watch the fights from the roof sometimes as they laugh at the exorcists. It’s all fun and games which means that the exorcists must be doing well since people aren’t afraid of the Yokai.

As we’re introduced to Kazami, we find out that he’s from one of the most well known Exorcist families. In this world there are two ways to become an Exorcist, to have incredible skills and pass some tests or to be born into a family. Kazami’s the latter case so he’s an exorcist but his skills are terrible. His only good skill is a forbidden one that he can’t use as it involves borrowing the powers of a Yokai that he comes into contact with. If he ever uses this power then in the best case he will be stripped of his title and in the worst case he will be quickly executed.

Kazami’s life was going well enough when one day he bumps into a girl named Paira. She’s rather bossy but the only girl who will give him the time of day aside from his childhood friend Rino who is always belittling him. Paira turns out to be a SSS rank yokai with incredible abilities but she wants to be human. So she intends to have Kazami keep on draining her abilities and then she will be human once her powers have been fully drained. At that point she will marry him but Kazami is scared of the prospect. Can he drain all of her power and become one of the world’s greatest exorcists?

Kazami’s a terrible main character, there’s no other way to put it and that always starts the series off on the wrong foot. For starters part of his whole gimmick is that he’s a perv and is constantly desperate for any girl. He’ll even let a Yokai go or ditch his duties if it means he can be a part of a group date. That kind of trait you would usually see in a side character or something but not the lead. It’s an unspoken agreement that your main character can’t be like that because then how can you root for him?

He never learns his lesson throughout the series and as Paira is effectively the fanservice character of the series, it doesn’t make for a great dynamic. Here’s where the series doesn’t make any sense though. Kazami wants any girl to take notice of him and here comes Paira, a girl that he finds to be extremely attractive and he flirts with her instantly. This should be a win/win for both of them. To extract her abilities he has to make physical contact with her, usually in iffy ways so he’ll have fun doing that and it will even help him become a stronger exorcist.

Meanwhile she wants him to do this because each time he extracts her abilities she becomes more human. Her goal is to become human and marry him. Then for no reason, Kazami suddenly changes his goal to any girl but Paira. It comes off like the guy just doesn’t want commitment, he wants to mess around but not to marry her. After all, he still glances at her quite a lot and gets distracted all the time but when she mentions marriage then he bulks to the point where he tries to avoid her. This entire character dynamic makes absolutely no sense.

If the author wanted to write a dynamic where Paira is the pushy one and Kazami is the timid lead who doesn’t want to be in a relationship then they shouldn’t have established him as being someone who is obsessed with girls. This dissonance destroys the manga early on. Now you can still have a good series with a bad main character but it’s incredibly difficult and doesn’t help your case of trying to avoid cancellation.

Also, Bone Collection has a real fanservice issue. It’s quite unfortunate because the last few titles have been avoiding that fairly well but this one didn’t. Just about any scene with Paira tends to get dicey. The series really leans on this aspect which is a shame and it shows that the writer didn’t have a lot of confidence in the story to hold its own without doing something like this.

The art isn’t quite as high end as most of the other titles either. It’s not all that bad, some of the proportions aren’t quite right for obvious reasons but otherwise the action scenes seem good enough. I can picture this series getting better with the artwork the longer it went on. It just didn’t last long enough to get to that point. So now lets talk about the characters.

I already talked about Kazami and why I don’t like that guy. You just can’t get past his personality and nosebleeds so that’s a thumbs down for him. Then you have the childhood friend who you may have thought would be the main heroine for a chapter or two but she is quickly taken out of the story. Rino’s an interesting character because she’s quite unique for the childhood friend type of character. She is consistently insulting Kazami and while this is in a comedic way where she doesn’t realize what she is doing, it happens enough times where you have to think twice about this.

She is a talented exorcist and wants him to do better but doesn’t know how to show it. She also seems to like him but can’t admit to this either which gets a little trickier once Paira enters the fray. At that point Rino is really out of luck in just about every way. There’s more that could have been done with her but ultimately her character arc ends when she is put on silent and her texts go into oblivion which was really unexpected but I think the author just got tired of the character.

Paira has a really big presence here and she’s okay. One issue I have with making her a SSS rank yokai is that she never looks this powerful. She has trouble with everyone and while it’s hinted that this is in due to her powers being drained and being in the human world, this makes it hard to take her seriously. She was casually beaten by one of the exorcists back in her true form. So if this is the power of an SSS yokai then that’s a bit concerning for them. I suppose it’s a twist if the Exorcists are actually the guys with the upper hand this time but it sure doesn’t feel that way.

Power levels aside, I do like how forward she is about her goals. She talks about marriage and wanting to be human right away without beating around the bush. That part’s commendable and her final ability of being able to activate a reality marble of sorts where she summons a wedding was also very original. In a way her fun personality is wasted on Kazami as a foil but I’ll give her a passing grade.

One of the worst characters here has to be Akina. He’s Kazami’s older brother and an expert exorcist so you’d expect this guy to be a big player right? Wrong! Paira humbles him almost immediately when the guy starts to put on airs. She completely breaks him to the point where he becomes her slave. She rides him around the house like a horse and insults him quite a bit. Paira was able to get this power position because she got some strong blackmail material which didn’t help his case either. Akina is a good example of a character who had some potential but then completely blew up in an instant.

Then you have the twins Sakurai and Runa but their inclusion is problematic as Kazami points out. See, the whole “Using yokai energy” thing is completely forbidden. The characters beat this into Kazami throughout the series yet near the end we find out that among the top ranking Exorcists there is a pair who uses this casually. Really?? Why is this such a big deal then? They’re doing the exact same thing as Kazami and Paira but not getting any heat about it.

There’s not enough world building for any explanation here. I’m sure the series could give us something but it just seems to undermine everything about the process. As characters they aren’t bad but they basically exist just to train Kazami and Paira into being stronger fighters and don’t do much on their own. They seem a bit young to be fighting Yokai but when you have super powers I guess that evens things out.

Then you have Abe, the first Exorcist King to appear. She’s a fun character and has a few twists up her sleeve. See, she uses a puppet body which happens to look like a very buff dude but her real form is just your average teen girl. She gets a lot of hype since even Paira is completely terrified of her. Abe’s abilities are definitely the real deal and this time it makes sense since she is one of the highest ranking fighters in the series.

I would still argue that Paira should win this fight easily but maybe being an SSS demon isn’t all it’s cracked up to be right? I liked Abe, she brings in a lot of energy to the team dynamic which is something the heroes needed. She has the power needed to back up her tough talk and she’s also fairly reasonable for one of these higher ups.

Compare her to the next king we meet in Shishino and there’s no competition. This guy thinks all Yokai are evil and won’t listen to reason. He doesn’t really appear enough to get more development than that. Don’t even mention the final 2 kings as they get wrecked by the demon Kyubi off screen. So much for the Exorcists right?

That leads us to the final boss of the series, Kyubi. I was glad we got at least one real boss at the end of the series instead of all the monsters of the week. Don’t get me wrong, you need those guys for pre arc but if the series is going to be cancelled early then I at least want my memorable final fight. Kyubi does well in that role as he takes down multiple kings and establishes himself as a true threat. He had to be strong too since after Kazami and Paira’s training they were so strong that they took down an arc’s worth of fighters in one page. The arc had been shaping itself up Saint Seiya style with the heroes having to destroy a bunch of towers and each one was guarded by a powerful Yokai. Little did the villains realize that the heroes were in a completely different league by this point and would win in a single shot.

Kyubi has a lot of confidence and it’s deserved since he was utterly dominating everyone for a while. The fights are cool and I like his design. Easily a candidate for best character in the series. Surprisingly the series decides to end on more of a comedic note than with a serious climax though. Remember that whole reality warping into the wedding thing? Well, that happens in this part as it ends the series and it turns out that Paira can turn the whole place into a wedding arena.

It was a creative way to bring every single member of the cast into one room, I’ll give the series that. People just pop out of nowhere and since it’s magic you can’t really complain about it right? It certainly feels rushed as this power comes out of nowhere but I do like that it implies Paira has been holding out on us the entire time. I would like that twist because it restores some of her SSS rank hype. It may be a little too late but it’s better than nothing. The series even squeezes in a time skip epilogue which is rare for these titles.

So at least you have a complete story here. Albeit a rushed one but it’s a start. So what would I have done differently to keep this one from being cancelled? Well, the obvious answer here is change Kazami’s character entirely so he is more of a timid kid who wants to be a great exorcist but has no skills. It’s been done many times in the past but it still works and would also explain why he is reluctant to use his skills with Paira since he would be way too shy around girls for something like that.

Now you’ve got a more traditional setup and a main character that won’t have you rolling your eyes the entire time. As a second step, definitely reduce the fanservice and since the series isn’t being cancelled, you don’t have to turn the serious final boss into a happy wedding. Instead you play the fight straight and that will work quite well. These are my quick changes to try and salvage the series. With that it could have worked because then you’ve got a nice adventure story which may tick off all of the usual boxes of a generic adventure at first but then after that it would have time to slowly become its own thing.

Overall, Bone Collection has a decent premise, it just didn’t live up to its potential. That’s to be expected with these quick cancelled series since they were cancelled for a reason right? Some have still been quite solid though, but this was not one of them. It’s not bad like I Tell C but it’s just not very good either. I wouldn’t be recommending it to anyone and if you wanted a classic exorcist title you’d be better off with D Gray Man or Twin Star Exorcists. There is no shortage of exorcist manga titles though so I would recommend any number of them over this one. Bone Collection will just end up fading away into obscurity.

Overall 5/10