The beginning of a new week can only mean one thing: time for new Weekly Shonen Jump! This is where Jacob investigates the latest and greatest in the magazine, telling you what’s worth your time and what’s not. You can find coverage of other series under the tag Jump Time. Here’s Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade chapter 4.
One of Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade’s main problems when it first started was that it felt far too conventional. Everything from the main character archetypes to the way it played its sport of choice (baseball) felt like something I’d seen before, especially in such a crowded subgenre. In every single subsequent chapter since then, however, I’ve been proven wrong time and time again.
This story isn’t just about chapter 4, because Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade has taken consistent, constructive steps since its debut to directly address my criticisms of the first chapter. In chapter 2, we were introduced to Karin Kurotaki: granddaughter of the chairman of Kokryuzan High School, who is putting together a dream team on her grandfather’s money. In chapter 3, we are introduced to this school setting, as well as Karin’s tactic for putting the team together: recruiting the misfits, the unconventional players and the dropouts to create a ‘team of underdogs’ to take on the baseball world. Chapter 4, meanwhile, introduces us to our first such underdog.
Pursuing and persuading Yoshitaka Tsurugi (former cleanup hitter for Fuchigaoka Junior High) is the self-professed aim of Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade chapter 4, although it won’t be that easy. There is a reason why Yoshitaka abandoned the sport, and Karin, Tamao, and Jin must find out what this is in order to properly convince him. For an instant, then, this transforms Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade into a sort of mystery manga; relevant, considering that i tell c started mere weeks before.
What’s exciting about these developments is that they pivot the series away from conventionality and towards unconventionality. By putting together a team of underdogs, Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade is both literally and figuratively breaking the mold of baseball manga: in hindsight, we might therefore reinterpret chapter 1 as a way for the series to establish a status quo before breaking it down with clear intention. I’m always happy to be proven wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier when keeping in mind the sports-shaped hole that lies at the center of Weekly Shonen Jump.
If Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade keeps up the precedent set by chapter 4 and others, then it could very well end up being exactly the type of unconventional sports manga that the magazine needs right now. It’s also interesting to compare Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade’s latest chapter to that of i tell c: while the latter started strong, it may now have revealed too much too early on.
I suppose there’s an argument to be made here that first impressions aren’t everything!
You can read Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade chapter 4 for free via VIZ Media.