New year, new manga! For our first VIZ Pubwatch of 2021, we’ll be taking a look at some classic long-running series as well as newer, less-established work. But first, the VIZ news.
One Piece reaches 1000 chapters
This series is older than me! After over 20 years of continuous serialization, Eiichiro Oda’s bestselling adventure manga One Piece has finally reached a milestone few serialized manga ever accomplish in the January 3rd issue of Weekly Shonen Jump. Congratulations! To celebrate, readers can vote in the worldwide online One Piece character popularity poll here, and if you’re interested in what other creators think of One Piece, the author’s comments in the magazine issue are available here.
Winter anime season begins
The seasonal anime cycle never stops, and this winter, several beloved manga adaptations are getting new episodes! Season two of The Promised Neverland premiered on January 8, while season two of Dr. STONE premiered on January 14, both adapting manga serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump. Jujutsu Kaisen and Yashahime are both continuing from the fall season, as well as long-running shows like One Piece, Boruto, and Black Clover. If you’re looking for animated entertainment this winter, there are plenty of choices.
Inuyasha now digital
Rumiko Takahashi’s bestselling classic, Inuyasha, is now fully available in digital form via VIZ media for the first time. The 56 volumes of the original series are collected in 18 VIZBig volumes of over 500 pages each. Each volume includes bonus full-color art galleries and is also available in print. If that’s not enough Inuyasha for you, the sequel anime, Yashahime, is currently airing weekly on Crunchyroll. The Inuyasha anime is also available from VIZ in digital and Blu-ray. Relive your early 2000s youth in a new format!
Lots to watch this month, but what about…
What I’m Reading
Asadora! Volume 1
January 19, 2021
Asadora! is difficult to summarize in a sentence as the story keeps unfolding in unpredictable directions, even in this debut volume. When her mother goes into labor, Asa Asada runs around town trying to find a doctor, and ends up getting kidnapped and held hostage by a burglar. The two of them are trapped in a rickety warehouse when a powerful typhoon practically levels the town, forcing Asa and the old man to join forces and help with the relief efforts, while also looking for Asa’s family.
I genuinely and wholeheartedly believe Naoki Urasawa is one of the greatest cartoonists alive today. The first volume of Asadora! is beautifully drawn and as full of heart as all of Urasawa’s manga. The backgrounds feel full and lush and believable, and the characters have unique and memorable designs. In just a few short chapters Urasawa manages to give a lot of depth to the characters and the forces that made them who they are: the lingering effects of the second World War on the Air-Force-pilot-turned-burglar, the distant hope of running in the Olympics for Asa’s friend Sho, even the recurring motif of the song she wants to listen to on the radio. Urasawa skillfully balances humorous character interactions with past and present tragedy in a way that makes me want to keep reading to find out what happens next.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0
January 5, 2021
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 was originally intended to be a 4-chapter limited series, but its popularity convinced the creator to make a longer story building on the characters and concepts of this first work. The volume functions as a prequel series to Jujutsu Kaisen proper, focusing on events that took place a year before the story being serialized currently. As I’ve been watching the Jujutsu Kaisen anime, I decided to check this out and see how much changed between the “pilot version” and the later incarnation of this world and characters.
It was pretty good! I enjoyed seeing more of the second year students as first years, especially Toge Inumaki, who hasn’t really gotten a lot of screentime in the anime yet. Yuta Okkotsu is an interesting protagonist too, very different from Yuji Itadori who stars in Jujutsu Kaisen. His relationship with the cursed spirit Rika is compelling. The art isn’t particularly outstanding in my opinion, but it works well, and the monsters are imaginative and convincingly horrible. The offbeat sense of humor that drew me to the anime is also present in Jujutsu Kaisen 0 as well. Whether you’re already a fan of the series and want more of it, or if you’re wondering if this is a series for you, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a good starting point.
Haikyu!! Volume 42
January 5, 2021
Volume 42 of Haikyu!! serves to remind the readers that as much as Haikyu!! is about high school students playing volleyball, it is about Hinata’s journey towards becoming a great volleyball player himself, and about volleyball in general. As the spring tournament draws to a close without Hinata on the court, the story moves in a direction not even seasoned sports manga readers anticipated.
I love this part of the manga because it shows how important Hinata’s connections and friendships are to help him reach his full potential. It’s also just really nice to see his friends care about him, worrying about his well-being and helping him feel better when he’s down. This arc also emphasizes the importance of taking care of your body and mind while pursuing your goals, which is always a good lesson to learn.
I especially love the little bonus drawings for this volume. I think they’re really cute and I enjoy seeing them.
With three volumes left of Haikyu!!, volume 42 begins laying the groundwork for an exciting and satisfying final arc.
That’s all I have for you this month! Tune in next month for more VIZ news!