Hello there and welcome to Your Manga Week. Finding time to keep up with all the manga that releases on a weekly basis can be difficult, so I’m here to tell you what’s worth your time and what’s not. We’ll also be discussing the story and arc developments as they come. This week, we’re talking Magu-chan: God of Destruction chapter 1, Ayakashi Triangle chapter 2, and Time Paradox Ghostwriter chapter 6.
Just as expected, Guardian of the Witch came to an end in this week’s issue of Weekly Shonen Jump. Rumors had been swirling for a while now, but the faltering performance of the series both critically and commercially ultimately sealed its fate. That’s a shame, as Asahi Sakano does have talent, and the series’ ending wasn’t half bad – certainly not executed in the ideal way, but thematically consistent nonetheless. Even so, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and some series have to move out of the way to make room for the four new ones. Speaking of new series, shall we?
Magu-chan: God of Destruction chapter 1
Magu-chan: God of Destruction is the second new addition to the Weekly Shonen Jump line-up after Ayakashi Triangle launched last week. Yet, unlike Kentarou Yabuki, series author Kamiki Kei is a total rookie. Heading into Magu-chan: God of Destruction chapter 1, then, we had no idea what to suspect – did it make a good first impression? I’d say so.
The premise of Magu-chan: God of Destruction is as follows. Ruru Miyanagi, a middle schooler living in rural Japan, is fishing for clams one day when she happens upon a mysterious crystal. After accidentally breaking it, she unwittingly unleashes upon the world a powerful ‘God of Destruction’ named Magu Menueku, who was sealed 600 years ago after being summoned by the dangerous Chaos Cult. But eons of imprisonment have rendered Megu weak, meaning that he has no choice but to take advantage of Ruru’s hospitality. Hilarity ensues.
While you may groan at the thought of yet another gag manga, many aspects to Magu-chan chapter 1 may convince you yet. First of all, I should admit that I am a big fan of Lovecraft (his work, not his personal views) which means that I am predisposed to liking anything that touches upon the idea of ancient gods and precursor civilizations. Such was the reason why I liked Noah’s Notes so much back when it first debuted, and the same goes here: Magu makes reference at the beginning to ‘higher beings’ that have controlled the world since its inception, and I was immediately intrigues.
All of that, however, is just window dressing for the real meat of the series: gags. In this sense, we have to ask the question: was Magu-chan chapter 1 funny? While most of this introductory chapter was taken up by, well, introduction, there were several moments that had me chuckling. One such moment was when Magu blasted a whole in Ruru’s wall to stop the telephone ringing, but the gag involving the laundry was by far my favorite: by combining and contrasting the high and the low, Kei was able to deliver a comedic one-two sucker punch in a very short space of time.
The series’ combination of the high and the low, of the primordial and the everyday, might just be its biggest strength going forward. Feeding into this is the character of Magu, who acts high and mighty while chastising ‘lowly humans’ for their idiocy. This isn’t exactly something new, but it is executed quite well, especially when paired with the scatterbrained personality of Ruru.
Nevertheless, as Magu-chan chapter 1 reveals, there is also an emotional side to the series. Ruru’s backstory is one of being abandoned by her parents, which makes her very quickly take Magu into her home. Clearly, the growing friendship between the mismatched pair will be important going forward – something which is demonstrated very well by the chapter’s climax.
Magu-chan chapter 1’s climax is also interesting as it pivots the series away from simple comedy for a second and towards action. While this is only a momentary transformation, I can’t help but suspect that this may contain within it the seeds for the series to transform into a battle manga, if need be. Indeed, if Moriking is anything to go by, then there is incredible pressure on comedy series in Jump right now to pivot towards action, if only for their own self-preservation. Whether or not this happens to Magu-chan, we’ll just have to wait and see.
One of the only disconcerting elements to Magu-chan chapter 1 was, without a doubt, its character designs. That is not to say that they are bad per se – indeed, they are even a little moe – but they are definitely not the kind of designs that you tend to find in Weekly Shonen Jump. This puts them in stark contrast to other series, which tend towards realism. But, then again, this may also work in the series’ favor if it can use this to cultivate for itself its own sense of identity.
Overall, I came away from Magu-chan chapter 1 pleasantly surprised. Given that Kamiki Kei is a total rookie and that there is already an abundance of comedy series in Jump right now (there’s even another one coming at the end of this latest round of serializations), I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the series’ first chapter as much as I did. Certainly, it made a much better first impression than Ayakashi Triangle, which felt a little outdated in some respects. Color me intrigued.
Ayakashi Triangle chapter 2
Although I wasn’t too impressed by the first chapter of Ayakashi Triangle, I went into this week willing to give it a second chance – not only because of Kentarou Yabuki’s previous successes, but also because the real premise of the series did not reveal itself until the end of last week. Thus, the question begs itself: how is the series now that it’s real, gender-bending premise has been revealed? Kind of entertaining.
Ayakashi Triangle chapter 2 opens with a money shot of Matsuri playing with his newfound boobs, so it is very clear from the word go that the gender bending aspect of the series is here to stay. It also makes it very clear that this series will contain a lot of fanservice, just like To Love Ru and, to a lesser extent, Black Cat. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as we’re all adults here, but just be warned that this series is NSFW.
In any case, the real meat of Ayakashi Triangle chapter 2 comes as Suzu and Matsuri leave for school and have an important conversation. The function of this conversation is twofold: firstly, it establishes the fact that Suzu will continue to attract the unwanted attention of ayakashi due to her status as an ‘ayakashi medium.’ This clearly lays the basis for more encounters like the one in the first chapter in the future.
Secondly, this conversation establishes an interesting dynamic to Suzu and Matsuri’s relationship. As it turns out, the two childhood friends have been growing apart since they entered high school, presumably both because of Matsuri’s job as a demon hunter and teenage angst. This adds a sweet element to their relationship, as Suzu wishes to return to how they were as kids, but Matsuri feels awkward about it.
This love comedy aspect of Ayakashi Triangle chapter 2 is almost more interesting to me than the demon attack at the very end, which forms the climax of the chapter. But, then again, this just feeds back into the romance between the two as Matsuri takes the decision to become one of Suzu’s ‘girl friends’ in order to protect her – closing the distance between the two and resulting in even more awkwardness between them.
If Ayakashi Triangle is going to be a love comedy mediated through the premise of gender bending, then so be it. Even though that particular plot device feels slightly out of date, the prospect of these two characters growing closer as a result of their circumstances is a sweet one. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on how much you like love comedies – I, for one, am a sucker for them – but the series may have a chance to succeed yet.
Part of this no doubt comes down to Kentarou Yabuki’s experience, as he has written many love comedies in the past. This also expresses itself through Ayakashi Triangle chapter 2’s art: not only does he put some of the other artists in the magazine to shame, his designs are eye-catching and full of detail. One particularly nice touch was when the narrative stopped for a moment to explain the function of Matsuri’s pinwheel, which can detect ayakashi. Such subtle touches are a mark of expert storytelling, even if said expert may be a little out of time.
Time Paradox Ghostwriter chapter 6
Finally, we come to Time Paradox Ghostwriter chapter 6. In covering Magu-chan chapter 1 and Ayakashi Triangle chapter 2, we have touched upon a lot of new series, which can only be a good thing for the future of Weekly Shonen Jump. Tsunehiro Date and Kenji Ichima’s debut series, in turn, has garnered a lot of good press: issue no. 24, where the first chapter launched, was the best selling magazine in Japan for that month. That may have also been because it contained the last chapter of Demon Slayer, but that’s beside the point.
In any case, Time Paradox Ghostwriter has, unfortunately, failed to develop much beyond its intriguing premise. In fact, it may be languishing as a result of it: having got off to such a strong start, every chapter that has come since pales in comparison. Certainly, chapter 3 set up an interesting cliffhanger regarding the important character of Itsuki Aino, but this was resolved straight away in chapter 4. Chapter 5 then contained some forced drama, as Sasaki dramatically tore up his manuscript and redrew all of the character art mere days before his deadline. Even though his art pales in comparison to Itsuki’s ten years in the future, he was somehow able to get by through sheer force of will alone.
Fortunately, Time Paradox Ghostwriter chapter 6 changes all of that. Firstly, it moves Sasaki’s struggle with art away from a simple matter of talent or determination and towards some broader narrative implications. This is made clear during a call with his editor, where he says that White Knight will be receiving an anime, but a year or so down the line. This is quite different from the future timeline, where the series got one more or less straight away. Clearly, Sasaki’s artistic struggles aren’t going to go away any time soon.
That conversation is also prefaced by a fairly large timeskip, which took me by surprise when I first read it. Not only is it unusual for a series to invoke a timeskip at this early juncture, it also goes quite far: a whole year, in fact. The consequences of this are plain to see: not only has White Knight managed to hold on despite Sasaki’s plagiarism, Itsuki also leaves Sasaki’s office to pursue greener pastures. This clearly puts her on a collision course with Sasaki in the future, which will be interesting to see.
Then, the bombshell drops: after a year of constant appearances, the issue of Weekly Shonen Jump from the future fails to appear in Sasaki’s microwave. This rounds out the end of Time Paradox Ghostwriter chapter 6, and made me audibly exclaim in excitement once it happened. What will Sasaki do now that his lifeline is gone? Will his talents be enough to maintain the serialization? And what exactly happened to stop the time-travelling phenomena from occuring? So many questions, so little time.
I sincerely hope with every fibre of my being that the ending of Time Paradox Ghostwriter chapter 6 is not a cheap cliffhanger that author Date will roll back at the earliest given opportunity. While nothing about the direction of the series up until this point suggests that that will be the case, I’ve burnt my fingers once before.
Furthermore, Time Paradox Ghostwriter desperately needs a sense of direction. Having seemingly explored everything that its initial premise had to offer – how to match up to Aino’s original, how to face the original creator in the present, etc. etc. – the series has stagnated somewhat in recent weeks. Let’s hope that this is the beginning of a new narrative arc for the series, as well as a general improvement that may serve to convince those thoroughly turned off by the idea of a plagiarist protagonist.