Posts Tagged ‘Tsuchida Kenta’

Lock On! 18 (end)

[chapter link]

Final chapter of a deservedly short series.

Unfortunately, Tsuchida did decide to stay with the groper storyline heading into the last installment.

Speed lines to the very end.

It seems Tsuchida is opting for the open, unresolved ending. It’s probably my preferred method of wrapping up a canceled series. Forced conclusions don’t feel right.

That said, Niko is falling in love pretty quickly all of a sudden.

That’s it. Niko admits her love for Utsuru to herself, and the series ends.

Final Flash: It’s always unfortunate in some capacity for a series to be canceled, but with the exception of one great chapter (16), Lock On! was decidedly unremarkable at best (and downright awful at worst) from start to finish. Here’s hoping Tsuchida improves his art drastically before attempting a new series.

Lock On! 17

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First chapter review since finding out this series is being canceled. The experience of reading a work that is known to end before it intended is always surreal.

It’s difficult to reconcile Niko’s heartfelt expression of her past problems with the cheap sexual harassment jokes that precede it and the “setting of the week” dojo that follows it.

I must say, I didn’t expect Utsuru’s shutter-eye to be used to nab a groper. That by itself isn’t a terrible plot device (though it’s far from a great one), but the way it’s being used is a microcosm of the overall problems with Lock On!: Poor execution of acceptable ideas. Casting someone important from Niko’s past as the groper is a fair choice, but for this revelation to carry any weight, the character in question needs to have been established as a positive figure for Niko. Instead, the introduction, conflict, and resolution all to take place within a single hurried chapter. As a result, any intended shock is weakened to the point that this chapter feels shallow, as though the author is throwing one of a dozen available plot devices at his audience, in hopes that this one will win them over.

On the positive side, this chapter has provided some overall storyline progression: Niko’s trust in Utsuru continues to grow, as evidenced by her accusal of her former teacher based solely on Utsuru’s claim. I particularly liked the following combination of panels, even without backgrounds, as they conveyed that sense well.

Proof of growing trust

As rushed as this chapter felt, the finishing kick still managed to end up on the last page. If this series is so intent on presenting brief stories, it should at least wrap them up properly within the chapters in which they’re introduced. A chapter like this doesn’t require an “aftermath” chapter the following week.

Final Flash: A potentially good storyline let down by insecure pacing.

Lock On! Canceled; SWOT, Oumagadoki Doubutsuen to Debut

June 21, 2010 1 comment

Early internet reports indicate that the final chapter of Lock On! will run in Issue 30 of Weekly Shonen Jump, which hits store shelves in Japan on June 28.

Lock On!, the first major series by newcomer mangaka Tsuchida Kenta, never strongly established itself within Jump, but fans of the series could be justified in crying foul over its cancellation prior to Kiben Gakuha, Yotsuya-senpai no Kaidan, another Jump series which debuted a week after Lock On!. Since both series became eligible for fan-voted rankings, Yotsuya has ranked below Lock On! in every week except for two, one of those being the upcoming issue in which Lock On! publishes its last chapter. Yotsuya itself is still far from safe, and could very well be canceled the week after Lock On! ends publication; this depends on whether the Jump editors will treat Hunter x Hunter (again on hiatus) as the other title to move aside in favor of new series. If the editors don’t regard HxH as such, another series would need to be cut to make room for the two debutants, and that series would likely be Yotsuya.

The two new series that will grace Jump are SWOT and Oumagadoki Doubutsuen, both of which received one-shots in Jump in 2009. SWOT, by Sugita Naoya, is a hybrid delinquent / romantic comedy series about a “swot” (defined as a person who spends too much time studying) with lofty ambitions who transfers into a once-prestigious school that has been overrun with delinquents. Soon, he meets a weak boy and a legendary delinquent girl, the latter of which causes him to experience unfamiliar feelings. The other series, Oumagadoki Doubutsuen (“Oumagadoki Zoo”) by Horikoshi Kouhei, is about a clumsy, animal-loving high school girl who applies to work at a nearby zoo which turns out to have a decidedly bizarre secret.

Read the one-shots that preceded each new series: SWOT, Oumagadoki Doubutsuen. (Remember that characters, events, and other plot elements in one-shots may be changed for their series publication.)

Lock On! 16

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P2, main panel: I found one! That’s a background! Right there!

“Why is he so stupid when it comes to relationships?” Because he’s a shonen protagonist.

The box punchline is rather good.

Cherish this moment, Matsuri. Everyone remembers their first time [sitting on a box].

Oh, come on. The immediate reaction would be childhood friend, not pedophile.

This flashback is actually incredibly touching. It’s not just good by Lock On! standards, either.

Disappointing to find a teaser for sexual harassment at the end of a notable chapter.

Final Flash: Good by any measure, and fantastic when compared to the rest of the series.

Lock On! 15

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P3, top-right: Regarding the fact that they’re in the same club, why hasn’t that actually manifested into a storyline? Getting the required signatures was such a major plot point before it actually happened. Now that the photography club has been formalized, the concept of its advantages and legitimacy has vanished.

For the record, I’m still just as embarrassed by the art in this series as I ever was; I just comment on it less because I don’t want to repeat myself. It hasn’t improved in the slightest.

Another new character. I suppose that’s not terrible, but I’d like to see a little development in those we already have.

This guy feels entirely flavor-of-the-week, but the “Hottie” tips are fine for a cheap laugh.

That chart might not apply as well to relationships outside of Japan.

Fortunately, Ikeya is being used as a catalyst to spark a little character growth between Utsuru and Niko. If that’s how new characters will be used, bring them on.

Heartfelt moments work better when characters don’t have a character trait as obviously bizarre as a differently-colored eye. Or a massive nosebleed. Or with backgrounds. (Sorry, had to get it in there.)

Final Flash: Still a subpar series, but chapters like these are acceptable. If the mangaka can do nothing about the art, I hope he’ll at least continue to focus on character development.

Lock On! 13

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Last chapter was surprisingly good. Well, good for Lock On!, anyway. Let’s hope the author builds on that.

A rival club? It has potential, I suppose. Arata (the cocky underclassman) could serve as a decent comic foil to Utsuru.

P4, bottom-left panel: See, this kind of stark panel would work excellently if Lock On! regularly had competent backgrounds.

Lots of festival/competition types of storylines in shonen manga right now. It’s almost as though that’s what’s happening in Japanese schools right now.

Yuki is a little too gullible, even for her role as the gullible kindhearted friend.

P16, bottom-right panel: Sadly, what’s clearly supposed to be a touching moment is ruined by the art style. This looks like My First Manga. Take off the training wheels already, Tsuchida.

Rival status confirmed.

Final Flash: I still feel Arata has some potential, but that’s not saying much in a series that began like a sinking ship. That potential needs to be realized quickly.

Lock On! 7

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Even the coloring on the cover page is uninspired.

A new character? She seems to have some personality.

Oh, she knows Sanada. That’s too bad. With a personality like that, she might have made a good rival.

Large panel, p9: Cementing that the series’ photography theme is an excuse for full-body shots of girls.

Sanada really is famous. Huh.

Yuki, the requisite kindhearted idiot. I swear, I’m not trying to hate this series, but it’s so standard.

Final Flash: A rescue mini-arc. I have no expectations. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Lock On! 6

April 1, 2010 1 comment
[chapter link]

These backgrounds are actually painful. They make it hard to read. Speed lines are bad enough in action scenes; don’t use them when a character is standing still. (Page 6, top-left.)

Niko’s nervous polygonal hair is pretty amusing. First time I’ve found a positive in the art.

Did I just compliment the art? Nevermind. What a disappointing full-page action scene p17 is.

To illustrate my point about the backgrounds, I’ve taken the time to examine the background of every panel in this chapter:

Total (% of 90 panels):
Drawn – 20 (22.2%)
Effects / Speed Lines – 41 (45.6%)
None (no room) – 7 (7.8%)
None – 22 (24.4%)

If you’re anything like me, effect/speed lines and no backgrounds (when space is available) are the same problem, which would mean that to you, a whopping 70% of the panels in this chapter were substandard. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just not acceptable for a series in a major magazine.

Final Flash: It’s not as though the art is detracting from a good series, either. Something needs to improve quickly.

Lock On! 5

Looks like Bleach is getting some competition for worst Shonen Jump art. These backgrounds, these buildings, these character designs…

Yamato may be generic, but he’s proving to be a more interesting character than Utsuru.

All the drama of Utsuru’s speech is wiped away by the photography references. Photography is not a good backdrop for this type of story.

Resolution within one chapter, and now they’re probably going to be standard schoolkids-series buddies.

Final Flash: Maybe the series will improve once there are enough members to start the club… if the series hasn’t been cut by then.

Lock On! 4

I don’t care how many different ways you draw them; speed lines are not proper backgrounds.

Everything about this series so far has been distinctly mediocre. The beginning of this chapter is no exception.

Here’s some guy who seems like a delinquent. I bet he’s not such a bad guy.

I know our main character has some ability related to the eye under that Akito/Agito-ripoff eye patch, but that back flip is just ridiculous.

Huh. That’s not exactly the twist I expected out of Yamato, at least.

Final Flash: This series has a long way to go to escape early cancellation.