Shonen Resolutions 2014

Akamatsu Ken, UQ Holder

Keep immortality interesting

Touta’s status as an immortal vampire would set him apart in most other series; in this one, that’s barely enough to qualify as a named character. The idea of homogenizing eternal life is undeniably a clever one, but it also means that the author will have to work extra hard in other areas to make up for missing out on an easy source of creativity.

Arakawa Hiromu, Silver Spoon

Give Hachiken a business and motivation

This series will soon enter its third year of publication, and its protagonist has spent nearly all of that time without a goal in life. While that approach worked well to introduce the world of agriculture through his eyes, that world is now sufficiently developed, and Hachiken has no reason to stay passive. His chance to take the reins and command the series is at hand.

Ashihara Daisuke, World Trigger

Give Kuga a real enemy

Kuga’s lackadaisical attitude has worked well because it offers variety to the serious military procedure around him. As the plot turns more dramatic, though, that same carefree approach would feel out of place. Kuga should never lose his charm, but he could use a capable rival or direct antagonist to draw some additional emotion out of him and give him the depth needed from a protagonist.

Fujimaki Tadatoshi, Kuroko no Basket

Do justice to the main character

Kuroko’s initial appeal as a protagonist centered around being withdrawn and easy to miss, traits antithetical to the typical shonen hero. As the series has progressed, his surroundings have become increasingly ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean he should follow suit. He must live up to the name of his series and continue to play his own basketball.

Fukuchi Tsubasa, Anagle Mole

Take a sabbatical and get well

This series has reached its end seemingly before it ever had the chance to get started, with the author unfortunately plagued by illness. The world of shonen definitely isn’t done with this clever author yet, though, so a nice rest is in order, as might be the consideration of a switch to monthly publication.

Furudate Haruichi, Haikyuu!!

Keep the characters in focus

In other words, be more careful with the explanation. This series must face the simple reality that volleyball is not among the most popular sports, and rather than trying to over-educate the audience on the intricacies of play, Haikyuu!! should be content to focus on its real strength: A cast of surprisingly deep characters.

Hata Kenjiro, Hayate no Gotoku!

Spread the love

Ruka finally proved she was worth all the time invested in her with a spectacular finale to the doujin competition saga. The reintroduction of the King’s Jewel plot is promising, but it shouldn’t overshadow the characters who were featured less during Ruka’s time. Hinagiku in particular warrants some spotlight.

Isayama Hajime, Attack on Titan

Limit Eren

While the recent revelation about Eren’s ability and status is logical, it’s also fairly stereotypical. The excitement of this series primarily stems from its mysterious and uncomfortable world, one which is unlike any other in current shonen. If more familiar elements are introduced to the story, that novelty will disappear, so what Eren discovered about himself needs to be kept in check.

Kamachi Kazuma, To Aru Majutsu no Index / To Aru Kagaku no Railgun

Make Touma matter again

Misaka rising to such prominence and dominating the franchise is entirely understandable, given that she’s a great character. Still, the struggle between magic and science has been leaning a little heavily towards the latter recently, and the one character who can keep everything balanced is the neutral main character. Keeping him involved and interesting will prevent either side of the plot divide from becoming stale.

Kaneshiro Muneyuki, Kamisama no Iutoori II

Bring the stories together

The transition from the original monthly series to a weekly retelling from an alternate perspective has felt just as repetitive as could have been expected. Worse yet, the characters from the first series didn’t get any measure of satisfying payoff before the jump to a new set of heroes. The sense of covering familiar territory may be inescapable, but rewarding readers of the original work could only help.

Katou Kazue, Ao no Exorcist

Don’t tease Shima’s loyalty too long

After a well-executed betrayal of his friends drove the plot forward, Shima’s portrayal as the Illuminati spy has been intentionally awkward. For now, this is a boon, leaving him open to redemption or reaffirmation of his cruelty down the line. However, this intrigue will eventually become tiresome; it still needs time to develop, but the same questions shouldn’t be asked of Shima by the end of the year.

Kishimoto Masashi, Naruto

Pull the trigger on Naruto vs. Sasuke

Madara’s run could last anywhere between a couple months and half the year, and after that, the only remaining mandatory plot point is the long-awaited rematch between the two protagonists. Unfortunately, this series has spent the last couple years avoiding its own conclusion, so even the most obvious choice isn’t guaranteed. For the best chance at a memorable finish, any unnecessary deviation should be avoided.

Komi Naoshi, Nisekoi

Reveal Tachibana’s secret and get her out of the way

Too many potential love interests who have no chance at Raku have been introduced. A handful of such characters complements the serious contenders, but Marika straddles the line between the girls with a shot and those without. The meaningful information she’s been alluded to have is worth exploring, but once that’s done, she should gracefully bow out of the competition for Raku’s affection.

Kubo Tite, Bleach

Avoid fights below captain level

The tussle between the Gotei 13 and the Vandenreich has started well, with some interesting abilities on display in good pairings. The real challenge begins now, though; past evidence suggests pacing problems, with arcs slowing down to give every character ample fighting time despite not all of them deserving it. Captains have earned their time to shine, but characters of lower stature shouldn’t get the same treatment.

Kuraishi Yuu, Wagatsuma-san wa Ore no Yome

Minimize the DX Brigade

This is a conflicted series, torn between otaku comedy and cute romance. While the latter is endearing, the former goes so far with the aggressively antisocial stereotypes that it not only falls flat on its own, it also detracts from a genuinely enjoyable romantic plot. With Aoshima and Wagatsuma drawing ever closer together, the author should have two words for DX: No more.

Mashima Hiro, Fairy Tail

Renew that Shonen Jump subscription

Missing Oda’s latest creations would be fatal.

Matsuena Syun, History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi

Be more committal

Yami taking action bodes well, but memories of past failings linger, most notably including Apachai being spared a rightful death. Kenichi himself is now afflicted by a similar reluctance to follow through, as he hovers indefinitely between student and master level. The structure of the story is in a great place, so attention should now turn towards the details.

Matsui Yuusei, Assassination Classroom

Elevate a couple more students

The setup pitting the entirety of Class 3-E against the rest of Kunugigaoka expresses themes of social conflict well, but it could still benefit from some tweaking. While featuring the entire class is a smart approach that should not be abandoned, characters like Nagisa and Karma can carry the story better than their more anonymous classmates, so one or two of the latter should get a bit more development.

Morikawa George, Hajime no Ippo

Make Ippo look good

Whether he wins or loses, Ippo cannot afford to spend any more time finding himself. The last few years have lacked the spark this series used to have, owing largely to Ippo being deprived of a real target. His shot at the world stage couldn’t have come any sooner, and it must not be a one-time affair.

Nanatsuki Kyoichi, Area D – Inou Ryouiki

Take fewer breaks

Whether this is the fault of the author, the artist Yang Kyung-il, or some other factor, the fact is that this series never published in more than three consecutive issues in 2013. These breaks have made it impossible for the story to gain traction, adding to the difficulty it already faced from wearing its influences on its sleeve. A more consistent publishing schedule would do wonders.

Oda Eiichiro, One Piece

Bring Dressrosa out of Alabasta’s shadow

Even if harkening back to such a beloved arc isn’t bad, the parallels – a kingdom manipulated and ruined from the shadows by a Shichibukai; an organized resistance force aiming to reclaim the country – are a little overwhelming. Dressrosa has been good, has provided memorable moments, and can still improve massively; what it needs most now is to stand out in its own series.

Ohtaka Shinobu, Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

Pretend 2013 never happened

The disaster that was last year leaves an understandably negative impression, but the year before that, Magi made huge strides. A few important points aside, not much happened in Magnostadt that needs to be addressed in the future, so the best course of action would be to scavenge as little as possible from a calamitous period in the series’ history and move swiftly back to political intrigue and interpersonal drama.

Seo Kouji, Kimi no Iru Machi

Stop

That’s enough.

Shiina Takashi, Zettai Karen Children

Take a major step towards the predicted future

Giving away the ending of the series at its beginning was always a risky proposition that invited impatience, though a fair amount of diverse events have happened since to sustain some level of tension. That said, the last major plot advancement was a while ago, and at this point, this series simply can’t stay in limbo much longer. Another timeskip, or something of similar significance, would be a suitable fix.

Shimabukuro Mitsutoshi, Toriko

Make the Gourmet World live up to the hype

The wait for this moment has been agonizing, and with the Gourmet World finally here, the anticipation cannot go to waste. This step could have been taken as long ago as 2010, and all events in the intervening time have been judged in comparison to what the Gourmet World would offer. As exciting as this time is, it’s also an important one, as it needs to justify the past several arcs.

Sorachi Hideaki, Gintama

Stay the course

As every other series yearns to avoid repetition, this one has found nothing but success embracing it. The absurd world and characters provide the distinct flourish the series needs to make the best use of unsurprising story lines. Another excellent serious arc would be wonderful, but more pitch-perfect comedy would still fit the bill just fine.

Suzuki Nakaba, Nanatsu no Taizai

Write anything original

Originality is not as completely paramount as it is often made out to be, but some freshness is still necessary for any work of fiction. This series has been enjoyable despite embarrassingly following fantasy and shonen stereotypes to the letter. If it can manage to be solid with this handicap, throwing some actual new ideas into the mix could make it great.

Tamura Ryuuhei, Beelzebub

Return to the Demon World

The stakes have never been higher than they are now, as Oga enters this year arguably at the weakest he’s ever been. With the Fuji fight on the horizon, Oga needs to get back on his feet quickly, and for that he needs Beel. If indeed Iris has taken her son home, Oga following them would be sensible, on top of finally sating all the fans who have wanted more Demon World action for years.

Toboso Yana, Kuroshitsuji

Introduce a new permanent character

A decent amount of time has passed since the last major addition to the regular cast, and though Snake is enjoyable, his quiet nature means his contribution to the story is limited. Character interaction is integral to this series, and a new catalyst for conversation would be helpful. Ally, liaison, rival, or outright antagonist could all help; the exact character type is less important than the introduction happening at all.

Togashi Yoshihiro, Hunter x Hunter

Petition Square Enix for a new Dragon Quest game

Being expected to hit the Dragon Quest X level cap with all the characters again is just unfair.

Tsukuda Yuuto, Shokugeki no Souma

Shake up the formula

The notoriously routine nature of the cooking genre will loom large in the second full year of this young series. Just as 2013 was about establishing characters and motives, 2014 will be about giving the audience reason to stay interested in those same elements as their surroundings inevitably become repetitive. Any tweaks or additions to usual cooking plot devices will make a huge difference.

Wakaki Tamiki, The World God Only Knows

Bring Keima back to the present – and keep him there

The adventures of young Keima have improved considerably since they began, if only because comparisons to the Goddess Hunt arc have waned over time. Still, this diversion from Keima’s usual antics has suffered from being distant from so many of the familiar faces who light up the series. Returning Keima to his usual environment allows the series to address unfinished business; Chihiro and Ayumi await.

Yagi Norihiro, Claymore

End the series

Clare has accepted her shortcomings, is ready to redeem herself, and has Priscilla immediately in her sights; the time is right for one final climax. Hints about the war on the mainland have fueled speculation that the story might head in that direction, but to do so risks negating the importance of events until now. The mystique of events happening around this world would be better retained by leaving them vague.

Yagi Tomohiro, Iron Knight

Be patient

The temptation to reveal major pieces of information regarding the monsters will be strong, but cashing in the current sense of mystery in hopes of awing the readers would be a mistake. A good series can falter early, but the best series impress at the beginning and pace themselves from then on. The first four chapters are a promising foundation, so let the story breathe and the tension simmer.

Yoshikawa Miki, Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches

Provide a good reason why the series is still going

2013 wrapped the series up perfectly, with the witches’ mysteries solved and all meaningful issues suitably addressed. However, in spite of this complete resolution, the series presses on. Wringing any more quality out of this story is a tricky prospect when even the title of the series suggests it should have ended; proper justification is required urgently, lest the series tarnish itself.

1 Comment

  • As someone who reads the Light Novels of Index, trust me when I say Touma will be relevant, but from where the manga version is in both Index and Railgun we’re not at the ‘good part’ yet. Though I will say this the science side is getting more attention than ever now that accelerator even has his own spin off (one that I doubt was really necessary but hey, it’s accelerator)and if this is the case it almost makes me illogically want a spinoff with a magic side character. *sigh* remember the days when a story set out to focus on all the characters it decided to make important and stay self contained?

    I’ve just finished reading negima (finally!) and quickly moved on into UQ holder, for the moment I’ll say this in UQ holder’s favor: I like these opening chapters SO MUCH MORE in comparison to Negima’s opening chapters, which were some of the most boring things I’ve ever read aside from takamagahara. Fortunately once the Kyoto arc hit I found a light to follow and once the magical world arc hit negima became a totally different series for me, I was beginning to care about characters, I was enjoying the fights like never before (granted Negima for me has been consistent in the action department), and best of all, I was beginning to LAUGH at the series jokes! After hearing how poorly received the ending was even before I started reading, I have to say I was expecting worse. Yeah Asuna coming back in time after her 100 year sleep was kinda weak and Nagi suddenly showing up in the end didn’t make any remote sense, but it didn’t ruin what I read, which was not a spectacular but simply a fun manga (in the latter half). It also gives me hope that, at the very least UQ holder will just be a fun thing to read week in and week out, because I’m not expecting much else.
    As for assassination classroom, I have to say I agree with this, especially after reading negima where most of the class became fairly important characters in the story. I will say I feel confident that the author will eventually capitalize on this after the current arc sine frankly all that the series really can do is keep moving forward with the development.

    I have to remember to read up on titan, but after 2013 I kind of want a break from the fanbase XD Once season 2 ends I’ll read up on silver spoon but til then I’ll be taking a jump to the past to finally read ruroni kenshin… or genshiken…guess I’ll find a coin…

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