Welcome back to the monthly VIZ Pubwatch, where we take a look at news and new releases from VIZ media. This month we’re talking about the start of the fall anime season, including Burn the Witch, and some interesting first volumes, both promising and not-so-promising.
Tite Kubo’s Burn the Witch has been turned into an anime film by Studio Colorido. It was released in English on Crunchyroll in 3 episodes on October 1, 2020. Originally published as a one-shot in 2018, Burn the Witch has been given new life as a limited series in two 4-chapter seasons, and now an anime. The story takes place in the universe of Kubo’s earlier megahit Bleach, and follows two witches working for the Soul Society in Reverse London. Bleach fans might enjoy checking this one out!
Jujutsu Kaisen Anime premieres
‘Tis the season for Jump anime adaptations! Besides the aforementioned Burn the Witch and the second part of Haikyu!! To the Top, the first episode of the anime adaptation of Jujutsu Kaisen by Gege Akutami premiered on October 3, 2020. It’s produced by MAPPA and looks pretty great. A story about curses, ghosts, magic and the occult, Jujutsu Kaisen is the perfect anime or manga to be following in the month of Halloween.
VIZ and Crunchyroll collaborate to create a mobile RPG
And now for something completely different: VIZ and Crunchyroll collaborated to create Grand Alliance, a mobile RPG brawler for anime fans. The game features an all-star dub voiceover cast and artists who worked on Girls’ Frontline, Azure Lane and Arknights. Not based on an existing IP, Grand Alliance is this team’s first mobile RPG with an entirely original storyline and characters. If this sounds like your kind of thing, it’s now available on iOS and Android.
But enough about cartoons and games, it’s time to talk about…
What I’m Reading
Sneeze: a Naoki Urasawa Story Collection
Oct 20, 2020
Naoki Urasawa is truly one of the greatest comic artists alive today, and Sneeze is one more volume of work that proves it. Sneeze is a delightful collection of his quirky short stories and autobiographical journal comics that reveals a more playful side to his work that doesn’t come across so much in his more serious longform manga. I enjoyed all of the stories, but what I really loved was how much Urasawa’s love for his subject matter showed through in each one. He just really loves music, you guys. And I think that’s beautiful. I want to hang out with this old man.
The autobio stories were a fascinating glimpse into the life of this legendary mangaka I hadn’t seen before. I was impressed with how accurately and carefully he represented the people and events in his life in these sketchy, loose comics, precise in a different way from his serialized work. The short fictional comics are kind of offbeat and unusual, but, since this is Urasawa, incredibly well-told and well-crafted. I was surprised at how believably American the story set in New Hampshire felt, and I enjoyed every twist and turn in each narrative.
My biggest takeaway from Sneeze was this: don’t be afraid to make comics about the things you love, and don’t be afraid to let that passion show in your work.
Moriarty the Patriot, Volume 1
Ryosuke Takeuchi and Hikaru Miyoshi
October 6, 2020
What if Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis Moriarty… was the hero all along? This is the question Moriarty the Patriot aims to answer, positioning itself as a prequel to the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. This is certainly an unusual take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos.
However, it is not a new take on the concept of “conning/humiliating/otherwise destroying the Bad Rich People,” a plot I’ve seen done better in countless other non-Sherlock related media such as the Webtoon Lavender Jack and the TV show Leverage.
Moriarty’s line of thinking is obviously ridiculous, and his enemies in this series are over-the-top in a way that shatters my suspension of disbelief. Sherlock Holmes does not appear in this volume at all, leaving the Napoleon of Crime without an intellectual rival or any serious opponents to the multiple murders he and his team commit. I found it difficult to empathize with this protagonist.
The art is technically well drawn, but the character designs are generic and unoriginal. Also, Professor Moriarty is blond and beautiful, like the prince archetype character in a dating sim or the love interest in a shojo manga. Make of that what you will.
Moriarty the Patriot has an ambitious premise, but fails to deliver.
Chainsaw Man, Volume 1
October 6, 2020
Chainsaw Man is the story of Denji, the saddest, most down on his luck boy in the world, and Pochita, his chainsaw dog demon best friend. In a world where demons run rampant, it is up to monster hunters for hire to keep humans safe from them. When an accident causes Pochita to merge with Denji, the boy becomes a new and terrifying combination of man and demon… with the same simple desires and uniquely charming personality he always had.
I wasn’t expecting to like this story as much as I did. I was told there is a lot of gore and violence, which I’m normally not very into, but Denji is very easy to sympathize with. His meekness contrasts with the violent action sequences in a way that really works. I’m not sure how I feel about Makima, the only named female character so far, but I’m willing to read more and find out.
The art is detailed and careful and the monsters look sick as hell, which is the most important part of a monster-hunting manga. The story’s paced well, the action scenes are exciting, the jokes land. It’s not necessarily an easy read, but if you enjoy things with lots of bloody monster fighting like Dorohedoro, you’ll probably enjoy Chainsaw Man.
Thanks for joining me on this month’s Pubwatch! I’ll be back with more manga opinions in November.