And so we reach the end of the latest round of new Jump Start titles. Despite varying in quality and originality, most of the titles have been pretty good or at the very least, fun-filled.
What will the last title, Ultra Battle Satellite have to offer us? Will it be something new? Something interesting? Something fun? Is it good?
Ultra Battle Satellite #1 (Viz Media)
Written and Drawn By: Yusuke Utsumi
Translated By: Kaori Yasuda
Meet Jin Matsuriya. He’s an absolute jerk of a high school student who wants to become a great fighter. However, he fights completely dirty in most matches (in his most recent karate tournament, he lost the title match because he illegally head-butted an opponent) and believes a real “street” fight involves down and dirty tactics. However, his nasty fighting style has caught the attention of a fellow student by the name of Sakura Momochi, who gives him a message that he will soon be drafted in the type of fight/competition he wants; something completely brutal and downright ugly; something called Ultra Battle Satellite. ::cue dramatic music::
Well there’s always next ti… holy crap! What the hell is that behind you Takeda?!
It could be the fact I’ve been spoiled by three good or at least enjoyable Jump Start series, but Ultra Battle Satellite #1 overall stands as a passable yet underwhelming first outing for this new series. UBS is a basic battle manga (a series that’s mostly about fighting, like Yu Yu Hakusho or Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple) focusing on street fighting and that’s pretty much it. Outside of the fact that it seems to emphasize you must fight incredibly dirty or be an asshole with no holds barred to maximize your chances of winning (the “true” nature of street fighting), there’s very little going for this comic otherwise. There are no unique rules about the Ultra Battle Satellite system when it comes to fighting outside of beating the crap out each other until the opponent is “defeated” or dead. There’s no explanation for why this type of fighting is legal, how it remains so secretive, or even why people want to compete in such a tourney. Heck, there’s not a single interesting twist or fresh story element that could serve as a hook for a reader. As such, it’s really hard to care about anything or anyone in this manga.
Speaking of characters, the main character Jin is just a completely unlikeable douche who never makes you sympathize or care about him. There’s no sense of charm, anything really funny about him to try to balance out his sliminess, or even that much depth to the guy. He doesn’t seem to care about anyone; he fights dirty (yeah, I get that this is the point) and whines when people call him out on it, saying that his way of fighting is the best way; he comes across very greedy at points, and is just thoroughly unpleasant through and through. This isn’t like Yusuke from Yu Yu Hakusho, who acts like a jerk at the start, but has some hidden depth and redeeming qualities to him. No, there’s just nothing to this guy. There are two moments when the manga seems to try to show he may have a bit more to him, but they don’t work and it’s hard to really buy into them since he never really seems to act nice towards anyone or anything.
The other characters aren’t any better. Jin’s sister, Rin, is also a jerk who is constantly spending all of their money getting drunk and going out, leaving them with no way to afford food. Momochi is just around to deliver exposition and be completely smarmy towards Rin, showing no real interesting traits of her own. Harunobu, Rin’s friend, is just there to make sarcastic remarks and react to Jin’s antics. The only character who seems likeable in all of this is Shoma Hayakawa, who acts as the rival. He’s just a generally nice guy, who seems to put up with Rin more than any normal or sane individual in real life would. He honestly feels like a more traditional hero type of character you might see in manga, but that’s pretty much it.
The writing is pretty average, but sadly is probably the strongest, or second strongest thing about this manga. The pacing is fine and there’s no issue with the story structure, the flow, or the tone. Rin, while being an unlikeable and frustrating lead, is characterized well enough so that we do get to know who he is. The dialogue is okay, but unremarkable. The humor here mostly fell flat for me, outside of one joke, but it’s nothing too groan-inducing. The writing works, but that’s really it.
The artwork is fine, but nothing that feels all that memorable. The characters model are alright, but generic. The facial reactions that the characters display are also alright, but at points they slip into the realm of truly horrifying with how doll-like they become. The layouts are okay, but get a bit difficult to follow when the action shows up. Speaking of which, the action, while brutal looking and fitting of the type of the story the manga wants to be, feels stiff at parts and can be rather awkward looking. It honestly gets difficult to tell what body part hit what at some points. It’s passable art, but for a manga that is trying to be a big and flashy battle manga, the artwork really needs to be spectacular or step it up just a notch.
Just take a nice, long look at that.
Is It Good?
Ultra Battle Satellite #1 is a bit generic and just does not have a lot going for it, including a rather unlikeable protagonist and awkward fighting. When you have stuff like Kagamigami (which has a terrific female lead), Black Clover (a fun magical based Naruto like series), and Cyborg Roggy (it has a very unique and interesting universe) that all bring something to the table in some way and offer up so much more, there’s no point in wasting your time with something like this. I do not recommend voting too highly on Ultra Battle Satellite. We’ve seen much better mangas in the past couple of weeks that are worth sticking around more than this.