Announced at the end of 2010, Shueisha added the seasonal Girls Jump ( ガールズジャンプ) to the lineup. The premise was to approach popular and off-beat female manga artists to draw manga for a young adult male audience. The inaugural issue is a combination of talent, creativity, flavored with a dash of wtf that makes for a truly compelling read.
Anyone who is reading current popular manga will recognize at least a few of the names in this collection. For our purposes here at Okazu, the three names that will draw our attention are Suekane Kumiko (Afterschool Charisma,) Nakamura Ching (GUNJO) and Torino Shino (Ohana Holoholo,) but there are any number of excellent storytellers in this volume.
The manga I liked best was a Furuya-esque piece called “Uki Mieru” by Tomii Masako, in which everything – by which I mean every random thought that could be expressed as an individual image – that a girl thinks, is visible to those around her. Because the story is set at Christmas, there’s a lot of happy shinyness going on there, and a lot of other stuff too.
Suekane Kumiko had a story that I found snortingly amusing called “Christmas Koroshiya” in which a young man who had wanted to become an assassin when he was young, imagines killing all the happy, shiny couples around him.
I can’t not discuss Nakamura-sensei’s “Vespa.” If you’ve ever wondered what life in a beehive is like from the perspectives of the bees, then you really need to read this. In a sense, it’s kind of a hopeless love story between a nameless drone and the Queen.
While these three stories were my favorites, they hardly give you a taste of the variety in art and story encapsulated in the volume. I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to pin my newly coined “fifth genre” label on this – it is not precisely josei, nor truly seinen, but something new and interesting, for people who want to read it.
Variable , Overall – 8
Should there indeed be a next issue, it already has a guaranteed place on my must-read list.