Has Shonen Jump Gotten Darker?

hisui_icon_4040_round I have a theory. I think Shonen Jump has recently gotten a bit darker than it has been in a while. A more accurate title for this post would have been “Have a Number of Shonen Jump Titles Gotten a Bit Darker?” but that does not really roll off the tongue. I’m not claiming that 2019 Shonen Jump is all Young King OURs or Afternoon. Let us be realistic. I’m not even saying it is back to its peak Fist of the North Star era level of Shonen Jump. It is more somewhere between the fairly light mid-2000’s Shonen Jump and the almost seinen era 80’s Jump.

My theory began with Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. I will admit that Demon Slayer had mostly flown under my radar until recently. I was not really avoiding it for any particular reason. I even remember Carl from Ogiue Maniax giving it a thumbs up. What happened was I recently started using the Shonen Jump app when they changed how it worked. Now that that newest chapters are free I have started reading a bunch of titles. I saw that Demon Slayer was one of the titles you could read but there was enough backlog that it intimated me away from trying to catch up. The title was on my radar but never enough for me to add another title on to my regular reading schedule.

Then the anime from Ufotable came out. The mixture of word of mouth, impressive production values, and current positive reviews made me want to sample the series and now I could start from the beginning. The series was fairly entertaining. It is not my favorite Shonen Jump series but it is solid enough that I will probably make an effort to catch up with the manga when the anime is over. The far more interesting reaction I had was to the overall mood of the series.

I was a little surprised amount of blood, guts, and murder that was in Demon Slayer. Now Demon Slayer at its peak is a fluffy bunny panel of Berserk. But for Jump, it seemed a bit darker than I was used to. But then I looked around and realized that the median tone of the magazine had gone it the same direction. The recent batch of new titles have made me think there might be something going on.t

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Kunihiko Ikuhara: The Intro is Never the Beginning

hisui_icon_4040_round Sarazanmai just kicked off and it is 1000% Ikuhara from the start and shows no signs of stopping. At this point you can pick out some of the major themes he is going to examine and guess and some others but betting on details specifics is a fool’s wager. Heck, even after an Ikuhara show has finished fans will be debating points about it until the end of time. I myself have watched the first episode of Sarazanmai three times in an attempt to try to find some of the obvious threads to pay attention to as well as hopefully catch some of the more subtle paths as well. I did notice something I was not excepting that gave me a new insight into Ikuhara as a storyteller.

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Comprehension, Deconstruction, Reconstruction

hisui_icon_4040 I recently had to take a Friday off of work after I had spent most of Thursday expelling the contents of the digestive system. That meant I spent a good deal of two days mostly lying in bed. While the experience was hardly pleasant it did give me a good deal of time where I needed to entertain myself passively as I recovered. This gave me a good chance to knock out a very vital title in my pile of shame.

A while back Kate and I were asked if we could get the other host of the Speakeasy to watch one show what would it be. Kate said that she would get me to finish Fullmetal Alchemist. Fullmetal Alchemist was an odd case in my library. I started watching the original TV series but then the overwhelming outcry was the original manga was better. (If this is true is a matter of contention I will touch on later in the post.) So I put the TV series on hold and started reading the manga. I played with the idea of watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood but I was already decently invested into buying the manga and I heard that while Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood only got really good when it got into new material as the first parts of the story were extremely rushed since they were in the 2003 TV series. The problem was that halfway through the Fort Briggs storyline I got outsourced at work and my pay was significantly cut. This meant that I stopped buying a lot of manga series and one of those titles was Fullmetal Alchemist. I always meant to finish off the series but I just never got around to it.

So Fullmetal Alchemist fell into this limbo where I had gotten fairly far into the story so there was a drive to finish off the series but starting over from the beginning was a bit of a pain in the ass. I’m definitely in that position with Nodame Cantabile. I was really hoping that someone would get the itch watch Fullmetal Alchemist and I could tag along with them but that never happened. So I was in limbo until I got sick. It seemed to be the perfect catalyst. It also worked really well since I was a little loopy during the episodes I watched on Friday but that was mostly when I watched the part of the story that I had experienced multiple times. By the time I was generally feeling better on Saturday I had caught up to where I was in the manga. I then just spent the next week finishing off the series.

Now a LOT of ink has been split on Fullmetal Alchemist. If you want a complex analysis of the themes, characters, and plot it is not too hard to find. I instead wanted to just go over five things I noticed since I watched all of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in 2019. There are certain observations that are easier to make a full decade after the show premiered. Some might only be possible with that much distance. That is worth talking about thanks to perspective.
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