It’s time for another round of Jump Start titles, folks! We are only getting two this time (Lady Justice isn’t coming to America for some reason), but two that at least look rather different than what you might usually see from Shonen Jump. Our first one has a title that is a mouthful, which I’ll simply refer to as Straighten Up! It’s about competitive dancing and that’s something that I have honestly not seen before. Is it good?
Straighten Up! Welcome to Shika High’s Competitive Dance Club #1 (Viz Media)
Written and drawn by: Takuma Yokota
Translated by: Mari Nishino
Masaharu Tsuchiya has just become a freshman in high school and he’s looking to make a change in his life. He wants to be more active and more involved in school life, since the only club he was a part of in middle school he just coasted through. He’d also like to get over his lack of social skills when it comes to women. However, in his future, he’ll soon be tossed into a strange and magical world full of dancing after he witnesses his school’s competitive dance club in action…
Your first act as a high schooler is to shove a girl to the ground. Plus side, it’s only uphill for here dude.
The first chapter (or “Step” as it is referred to) of Takuma Yokota’s Straighten Up! is not a bad one at all. There’s some fun to be had that makes me look forward to seeing more. There are also some areas that need some improvement on that I hope, and expect, will be worked on or at least be addressed very soon.
Judging the story by the setup we have so far, the manga is a bit generic to say the least. It started off as another story about a kid entering high school, who is a loser, but is about to be thrust into a new world/situation that he has never experienced before and will soon find interest in. For instance, there are a lot of similar beats here that I’ve seen with Eyeshield 21’s opening (though that was football). What does give this a bit of an edge over other similar series is that focus of it is on dancing instead and honestly, I can’t say that I’ve seen any dance series, let alone a Shonen one that is meant for boys (seems like something you’d expect from a Shojo series). I feel that the focus on dancing and the fact that this is a Shonen story alone do offer plenty of potential and unique opportunities for this series depending on how the creator runs with the story.
Looking at the rest of the story, it’s fairly solid and does its job as a first chapter right. It introduces the main character well enough so you have an idea of who he is and why he may want to join this dancing world (I honestly kind of related to fact that he coasted through his middle school life without much effort or interest), even if he is a bit generic as a character. It quickly introduces a couple supporting characters that we don’t know much about, but do seem like they could be fun. The dancing we see in the manga looks exciting and energetic, which makes it rather appealing. Oddly though, the story ends before we even get to enter the dance club itself and get an idea of what the internal parts of it are. That’s a tad disappointing, but thankfully we’ll be seeing the inside of the place soon enough.
First of all, don’t touch me while I’m peeing. Second… where did your nose go?
The writing shown so far is good. The pacing is handled well and the story structure has no obvious problems. The best example of these elements would be the dance sequence. While it takes up a good chunk of the middle portion of the chapter, it never feels like it drags or goes on for too long since it’s always picking up and getting far more exciting as it goes on. Plus, it never feels hard to follow at any point either. The characterization is basic; it gives you some light details of what characters’ personalities are (except for the main girl from the dance club). The dialogue is fine and there are some legitimately funny moments that caught me off guard (favorite bit goes to what one of the characters says right after the dancing ends).
I’m kind of ambivalent about the artwork. There are a lot of small details and areas that feel like the creator cut some corners, like with the guy’s nose in the above panel or where a character’s fingers are merged together, and some facial expressions feel lacking in some characters (Eri comes to mind since she seems to have the same expression in almost every panel). On the other hand, the dancing looks great in how it was presented. You can feel the energy and intensity as the characters move and dance around with their partner. Even if there are panels where there are abrupt cuts and static shots, you still sense the movement and motion in the characters as they perform their routine. It looks incredible, which is definitely good since dancing can look downright amazing if the performers are good. Honestly, I would want to keep reading more of the series just to see more of these dance sequences.
Hey now, I don’t think I’ve seen two people dance this elegantly to Fixer Upper before.
Straighten Up! Welcome to Shika High’s Competitive Dance Club #1 is a promising start to this new series and this small round of Jump Start titles. While the story and main character are pretty familiar and kind of basic at this point, the dancing angle is intriguing and offers plenty of potential from what I’ve seen so far. Plus, the writing is good and the art depicting the dancing is quite lovely. I would definitely give this a good recommendation and urge readers to give it a positive rating in the weekly Shonen Jump poll. It might be worth keeping around judging from this first issue.