In a recent surprising move, Viz Media has decided to add all the recent Jump Start series — The Promised Neverland, Love Rush!, and Red Sprite, to their Weekly Shonen Jump online magazine. This hasn’t happened the entire time they’ve done Jump Start, as they usually just pick one title.
Out of curiosity let’s give each series a shot and see what they have to offer. We’ll discuss their stories, look over their strengths and weaknesses, and talk about what they bring to the table. First up:
The Promised Neverland
Somewhere in the world resides an orphanage named Grace Field House, run solely by a woman that all the children refer to as Mom. While they have their weird rituals, including numbered tattoos on their necks, all the kids love the place and always follow the rules. One day, two of the oldest children (Emma and Norma) head for the forbidden front gate of the property, hoping to give one last goodbye to one of the children leaving (she had apparently been adopted). However, what they discover horrifies them to their very core and their entire world comes crashing down; suddenly Emma and Norma need to escape and free everyone else before they all suffer a similar unfortunate fate.
Probably the biggest smash hit of the three Jump Start titles (picked up before the other two even finished their Jump Start runs), The Promised Neverland is the most thoroughly unique and haunting title currently within Weekly Shonen Jump, especially when compared to titles like Boruto or World Trigger. The Promised Neverland offers a more tense and horror reading experience overall; the first chapter has an incredible hook and by the end of the first three chapters, even more questions have been raised and the stakes are high for basically everyone in the series. Simply put, TPN always leaves me wanting more and more, wondering when the next shoe will drop on everyone.
The Promised Neverland reminds me of Death Note in some ways; the battle between the good guys and the bad are on a more intellectual level than your standard fare, and we gain plenty of insight from characters trying to figure out what to do and how to approach their situation the best. The characters, while not incredibly deep, are very engaging to read about and it’s very interesting to see what actions they take given that they are all very young. The art is great too, switching between standard-ish Shonen Jump art to incredibly detailed and tense/terrifying moments.
Should It Have Been Picked Up?
Of the three titles we got, if we were to only get one and not all three, this is what I think should have been chosen. Again, there’s really nothing like this title running in the magazine, giving it its own unique flavor to stand out from the rest of the crowd. It’s has a decent cast, a tense story so far, and the artwork that looks great. It’s only real problem currently is that it moves almost a bit too slow, really taking a slow-burn route to build things up. That’s not a huge problem mind you, but it is something that may not appeal to the impatient.
Reiji Hakuba has a super rare gene; not one that makes him ill or gives him a deformity, rather it’s a gene called the Ubermale that makes women insanely in love with him. Now Reiji has no interest in other women, since he’s in love with his childhood friend (and wants to profess his love to her); however, his unique gene also attracts the attention of some unusual people. In particular, a cupid princess named Kokoro Roko Rokoko, who is madly in love with him and wants to make him her own.
Going into this title, I was actually expecting the worst. Creator Ryohei Yamamoto’s last series, E-Robot, was a fairly generic fanservice romantic comedy where the comedy rarely hit and the fanservice was more uncomfortable than titillating. Love Rush! seems like that on the surface. The manga still has that generic flavor we’ve seen with plenty of harem romance comedies, like Maga-Tsuki, and a lot of the jokes are admittedly predictable. However, with this series it seems like the creator has improved his craft considerably.
The first thing is that the fanservice is toned down (it’s there, but not as bad as before). The humor tends to hit a lot of the times more often, especially with Riji’s childhood friend, and the series plays with some of the tropes of the genre. The main character actually confesses his love right away to his childhood friend and the series gives a rather silly explanation for why the guy is inexplicably a chick magnet. It also has a plot point regarding the childhood friend that’s rather interesting and I’m curious to see where the series is going with it. All in all, I’m glad Yamamoto improved from his last series when making this manga.
Should It Have Been Picked Up?
Of the three titles picked up, this is the only one I wouldn’t be that disappointed if we never saw it again. Love Rush! is overall a basic and overly familiar harem comedy, just with monsters, and there’s not much in the way of uniqueness to make it stand out in its field. There are certainly some pluses to the series, but not enough for it to be a normal winner if this was any other normal Jump Start cycle. However, with a lack of romantic comedies in the magazine right now, it certainly gives the series an edge and reason to be picked up. Maybe it’ll get better as time goes on, as Yamamoto has improved — we’ll see though.
In the odd, Steampunk-ish country of Edenia, there’s a young boy named Tatsu Frampt. He lives at an orphanage with a bunch of other children under the care of Father Duran. Things go awry when the government shows up and attacks, kidnapping the children. Tatsu manages to get away with Duran, who is fatally wounded in the fray. He reveals to Tatsu the true secret of Edenia — there’s a special resource used to fuel and power everything called Plasmarrow — and it isn’t something that just comes straight from fossils, but it can also come from humans as well. The government has been using humans as fuel source, including specially made ones like the children of the orphanage, to power their weapons of war. Tatsu declares he’ll fight back against the government, rescue his friends in the process, and avenge Duran. It’s time for a revolution.
Despite having some similar elements as The Promised Neverland with the orphanage and the kids being used for something nefarious reason, Red Sprite is a very fun read. Creator Tomohiro Yagi does an absolutely great job at establishing the world, the setup, the goals for the series, and the main character all within the first chapter. Then the next two chapters built upon that with Tatsu declaring a revolution and building up the threat of the government in the series. In comparison to the other new Jump Starts, Red Sprite put its foot immediately on the accelerator and didn’t let up until the very end in the best of ways.
This is probably the most Shonen Jump-ish and fast paced of the three titles. So for those people wanting something more action-oriented and that wastes no time, this is definitely up their alley. Tatsu is a pretty solid main character, with a good backstory and a fair amount of intelligence, being far more observant and forward thinking in his plans. There isn’t much of a supporting cast at the moment, but the villains do make a decent impression in terms influence and power. The artwork is probably the flashiest of the titles as well, going for some very bombastic looking imagery and angles used in the panels. It works very well for the manga and setting, though it does skip out on doing backgrounds in some pages occasionally.
Should It Have Been Picked Up?
Even though there are plenty of action and adventure-oriented series currently running in Weekly Shonen Jump, this feels like a solid addition from what has been presented so far. Most of the setup has been handled, there’s clear goals and villains here, plenty of interesting storylines to explore in this neat universe, and lots to do with the characters. There’s so much potential here for a long saga if the series is given a nice long run, so this could have the makings of something grand.