If there are two current Shonen Jump properties that would easily integrate into one another, they are One Piece and Toriko. What with Luffy and crew’s constant island hoping, and penchant for eating large quantities of food, meeting Toriko is right in line with things. So just when the Strawhats find their cupboards bare they spot an island. Luffy, Chopper, Nami, and Sanji head out to find food and run into giant pigs that while still alive already have that yummy barbecued smell and flavor. This is also where they meet Toriko who mistakes Chopper for another piece of rare cuisine. Let the fighting and eating commence! This was actually my introduction to Toriko and it was a lot of rambunctious fun! And that’s all it is, though I don’t know if there is any over arching plot beyond discovering these foods to worry about later on, it just doesn’t need it.
Before we kicked off watching Toriko for the season preview we decided to watch the one hour One Piece/Toriko cross over special. The purpose of the cross over is simple. Toriko is new and they want to build an audience for the show and One Piece is insanely popular so it will draw viewers by default. Despite that cynical reasoning the two shows cross over easily in a very organic fashion. It begins with the One Piece pirates and the Toriko gang landing on the same fantastical island of food. Since both groups are gluttonous little gourmands the fact that they would team up to get delicious but dangerous dishes the logical conclusion of their meeting more than a forced plot device. They have to do the prerequisite fight that is quickly broken up to turn into a team up rather quickly. After the initial misunderstanding is cleared up Toriko and Luffy band together to take down some tasty monsters and rescue their weaker party members when they are kidnapped. I did notice that the Strawhats got a bit of the short end of the stick. Half the pirate crew was on the boat most of the special and Luffy seems to be underpowered in order to let Toriko shine. But this was really made to hook people on what a manly man Toriko therefore if Luffy is destroying everything he meets than people will forget Toriko before they even get a chance to know him. But that does not diminish this fun little side quest. It is recommended for fans of either series or anyone who likes humorous shonen fighting shows.
Finally picked up Solanin manga-ka Inio Asano’s What a Wonderful World vol. 1 which is a series of mildly connected short manga stories. Each one has the theme of living, what it is to really live, at its core. That sounds rather sobering but the series has a buoyancy to it perhaps because it recognizes that in real life not every moment is dramatic. There is also bits of musicians in here too making me aware of Asano’s favor of them.
I decided to check out Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes for the DS. Might and Magic has been one of the stalwart franchises in the fantasy role-playing game pantheon so I was curious to see what the modern entry into the series was like. Clash of Heroes is a mixture of your bare-bones strategy RPG and a puzzle game. The plot revolves five children who are at a meeting attended by their parents that is scattered when demon attack. The story revolves around recovering a MacGuffin called the Blade of Binding that can send the demons back to their own world. Every chapter has you playing as one the 5 children as they try to find the Blade while foiling any plans the demons and their allies have. The battle system is unusual in the fact that you control small armies that randomly line up on the bottom of your screen in 6 by 8 grids. You get units to attack by connecting them together in rows on three in a bejeweled manner. You then try to get your troops to smash through his troops. You can also buy bigger units that will be randomly added to your normal troops. They take more to activate but they do more damage and have special abilities. This means that there is a small amount of strategy involved in which units you take into battle and which units you activate on the field. Each of the heroes also has their own set of units and special powers that lets them play slightly differently. It is a fun little game. Nothing amazing as the plot is pretty standard and the game play is simple. On the other hand an excellent portable game because you can finish anything but boss battles in a few minutes. As I understand they recently improved the graphics and released it as a downloadable game on the Xbox 360 and PS3 as well.
Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi: Onodera Ritsu no Baai is an OVA that came out just a little while before the TV series began. In this we actually get the back story hinted at in the TV version; the beginning of Ritsu’s and Masamune’s relationship in high school. There is a refreshing quality here as both of these guys fall rather easily into their coupling neither needing to be “shown that he is gay” which is a frequent starter. As might be imagined this OVA is more sweet rather than the humorously warm feeling of the TV series. Nevertheless a very satisfying piece to the story.
I stopped by the Borders near where I work to see what manga deals they had and I picked up Maria Holic 4 and 5. Maria Holic continues to be a guilty pleasure of mine no matter how trashy it gets at points. Kanako is still the punching bag of the plot but when the humor is on it can be extremely funny. The part where everyone is playing the Japanese history CCG is hysterical and they have a good number of cards with scarily realistic abilities as if it were a real CCG. I also love the joke where Kanako mentions that no matter what the card they play things turn out like they did in history which is an extremely clever little joke. The 4th book has a bit of reflection on Mariya and touches a bit on the serious side of the story as well. Now that Tokyopop is gone I have a feeling that this will not be license recused any time soon which is a real shame because I know it has it detectors but it also has its fans of which I am one.
As can be imagined Toriko fan-art is spilling out like crazy!