Manga

My favorite 7 manga that started (and for some ended) in 2021

7) Candy Flurry

Candy Flurry is a manga series that began in April of 2021. Unfortunately, it’s already been cancelled. The series followed Tsumugi Minase, a “sweet user” who uses a lollipop as a weapon. In the world of Candy Flurry, a corporation called the Toy Toy Candy, makes confections that grant those that eat them magic candy powers. After five years, Toy Toy Candy became restricted and the “Sweet Police” were formed to stop Sweet Users. Each user can’t have the same powers but somehow Minase and a mysterious criminal both can use lollipop’s. She must hide her powers to avoid getting arrested for a crime she didn’t commit. Candy Flurry only reach 2 full volumes, but I think it’s worth a read.

6) The Hunters Guild: Red Hood

Like Candy Flurry, The Hunter Guild got the axe. A manga from Yuki Kawaguchi, Hunters Guild tells the story of Velou. From the small village of Kasoka, Velou calls the Hunters Guild to deal with their werewolf problem. Grimm is a hunter that arrives. At first she’s a little then she becomes a tall woman. Hunters Guild was always a gamble. Based on the fairytale (Little Red Riding Hood), the series was potential going to feel unoriginal. It liked what Kawaguchi did with werewolf lore, but it wasn’t enough.

5) Ayashimon

Ayashimon is a new series written and illustrated by Yuji Kaku. Maruo Kaido is a manga fan with dreams of becoming a “manga hero”. Blessed with superstrength due to special training inspired by manga he reads, Maruo meets Urara. An oni ayashimon, Urara is on the run from the ayashimon yakuza. Using his strength, Maruo saves her from the gang. Impressed, Urara recruits him into her yakuza group. The first question that came to mind after reading the first chapter of Ayashimon was, do we really need ANOTHER series about demons? I think the genre is becoming bloated. That said, making the ayashimon yakuza is an interesting twist. I don’t think it will be enough. But, I’ll give it a try.

4) Choujin x

Sui Ishida is best known for the series Tokyo Ghoul, which collectively sold 34 million copies. This year Shueisha’s Tonari no Young Jump released Choujin X. The story focuses on Azuma Higashi and his friend Tokio Kurohara. Polar opposites, the two friends live in the Yamato Prefecture, a district overwhelmed by Choujins. After an encounter with a Choujin, Tokio and Azuma decide they must become Choujin themselves. Tokio injects himself with a mysterious syringe, transforming into a vulture form. His life will never be the same.

3) Seven Deadly Sins: Four Knights of the Apocalypse

A spinoff of the popular Seven Deadly Sins series, Four Knights of the Apocalypse follows Percival, a young boy who’s prophesized to become one of the Four Knights that will destroy the world. Unlike sequel series like Boruto, Four Knights was deliberately separated form the cast of Seven Deadly Sins. Instead of using the son of Meliodas and Elizabeth, Tristan, Nakaba Suzuki created Percival. Son of the Holy Knight, Ironside, Percival was raised by his grandfather until his father tried to murder them both. Percival is set on a journey to find his father and get revenge.

2) Bleach: One Shot

Like most Bleach fans I was eagerly awaiting the return of one of the best manga series. This year the Bleach One Shot was released. As Soul Society prepares for Soul Funeral Festival, a “ritual that takes place every 12 years after the death of a Captain.” Kubo attempts to explain the reason we never heard of this festival is due to how rare Captain deaths are. After the Thousand Year War, Captain Commander Genryusai, Captain Unohana, and Captain Unitake all died. The One Shot introduces several new characters specifically, Vice Captains Rindo and YuYu. I wouldn’t recommend it for those new to Bleach. The One Shot is worth reading especially if you’re a fan of the series.

1) Dandadan

I was first drawn to this series when I saw the art on Twitter. Dandadan is a series written and illustrated by Yukinobu Tatsu. It focuses on high school girl Momo Ayase. She believes in ghosts but not aliens, contrasting her with Okarun, who believes aliens but not ghosts. The two decide to prove each other wrong by heading to separate locations where the occult are known to exists. They both prove the other right, as they encounter aliens and ghosts respectively. Manga isn’t short on demon, ghosts, and the other occult imagery but I think Dandadan has a unique spin on this genre. I love the creative design of the various creatures, they’re so well done and imaginative. Dandadan blends sex comedy, action, and humor with beautify art. I think it’s the best new manga series of 2021.

Manga

Sakamoto Days, Manga Volume 1 Review: A legendary hitman retires

Sakamoto Days, a manga series by Yuuto Suzuki, tells the story of Taro Sakamoto, a now retired hitman. Each chapter is one “Day” in the life of Sakamoto. After falling in love, Sakamoto retired, gained weight, and began running a convenience store. When a former employee, the clairvoyant Shin appears, Sakamoto’s is dragged backed into the hitman world. Sakamoto’s skills haven’t suffered in his time away from killing. Instead he’s kept them sharp doing chores for the town people. After visiting his old boss, Shin leaves disappointed. It turns out he was sent to kill Sakamoto for leaving the hitman organization. Shin returns the next day to finish the job.

Sakamoto easily overwhelms Shin. Using the “tools” he has at his disposal, Sakamoto blocks a bullet with a cough drop, then uses them like bullets with the help of a rubber band. Despite his size, Sakamoto is quick on his feet. He’s able to move silently and quickly. On top of all that he seems to possess superhuman strength. Shin returns having failed to kill his former boss. His current boss isn’t pleased. Shin admires Sakamoto too much to kill him and is even willing to sacrifice himself instead. When the boss orders Shin dead, it’s Sakamoto that comes to his rescue.

Taro Sakamoto doesn’t kill anymore but he’s still violent

The penalty is divorce

Suzuki quickly undermines what we assumed to be the main premise of the series. Yes, Sakamoto retired. However, he remains prepared to fight at any point. After the first Day, Shin gets what he wants. An opportunity to work for Sakamoto again. Only it’s at a store. Sakamoto Days centers around the importance of rules. Sakamoto is targeted by his old colleagues for breaking a rule when he ran out on the organization. His wife, Aoi Sakamoto, reminds him of the “family rules,” which include “no killing.” Breaking these rules have consequences. For the hitmen it’s death for his wife it’s divorce.

Despite her hatred of death, Aoi is confident in her husbands fighting ability. When she’s a hostage in busjacking she tells the criminals that she’s not worried because “I know he’ll always save me.” The family rules are codified in the “Sakamoto Family Rules Notebook,” which Taro Sakamoto gives to Shin to follow. Based on Day 2, there’s at least 12 rules, with the first one being “no killing.” Day 3 introduces Officer Nakase. A spirited young woman, she becomes suspicious of Shin and Taro. They have a fun chase scene through the mall. However, Officer Nakase loses our protagonist. After rescuing a young woman, she’s captured by the Zuttomo Motorcycle Gang.

Taro rescues his wife and other hostages

The power of Sakamoto

At this point in the series we know that Shin has a supernatural ability of clairvoyance. Shin and Taro make great use of this ability. It allows them to communicate without speaking. Which is good, especially considering Taro’s quiet. Telepathy also protects them from exposing their past as hitmen. While trying to rescue Officer Nakase, they work in tandem, covered by a smokescreen, while Shin gives Taro the location of the gang members. At the end of the conflict, Taro emerges from the smoke, thin. Does he have superpowers too? Does he need to eat to maintain his strength? We aren’t given specifics but this would be my best guess.

Despite it’s tone and art style, Sakamoto Days is a violent series. However, the violence Taro and Shin produce is far less violent than what the criminals produce. Taro and Shin don’t kill and they use tools normal use for other purposes, like pots, pans, food, or a refrigerator. Whereas, the villains use more traditional weapons like knives, swords, and guns. The violence may be different but it’s always present. Taro often threatens Shin with death, and imagines various ways to “kill” him. It’s played for laughs and I think it’s effective. Engaging in violent fantasy seems to be one way Taro copes with not being able to kill.

A billion yen bounty

By Day 6, Taro has acquired another employee, former triad member, Lu Xiao-tan. She’s got fighting skills as well as being a good cook. As Taro, Lu, and Shin abandoned their more violent lives they’re still able to function, making use of both the violent skills developed and secondary ones. We encounter another former employee of Taro’s, Nagumo. He’s able to shapeshift and avoid Shin’s telepathy. Sakamoto Days ups the stakes here. Other assassins have abilities and Shin can’t read all of their minds. Nagumo is captured. He reveals that a billion yen price has been offered for Taro’s head. When the Pizza Assassin tries to kill Taro, Nagumo subdues him and escapes. We’re briefly introduced to those who want Taro dead, the Dondenka. Taro issues them a warning. Come after him and “get ready to see hell.”

Sakamoto Days is a action packed series, with humor, comedy, and supernatural elements. It balances all these aspect well. Yuuto Suzuki art is versatile. He’s able to provide detail and shading when necessary and draws action well. As Shonen protagonist goes, Taro Sakamoto is both typical and different. Like most, he’s a power house dominating his opposition. He loves to fight and eat. However, he’s an adult male and has already mastered his abilities. The power system (if we can call it that) seems fluid. I appears that each of the best assassins have some kind of power to help them, if that’s the case things could get interesting. Sakamoto Days is a series I would recommend.

Manga

Dandadan Chapter 3: Ayase’s weirdly young Grandmother appears

Momo Ayase has mentioned her grandmother multiple times in the first two chapters of Dandadan. A spirit medium, Momo’s grandmother Hoshiko has a youthful appearance considering her age. She sports glasses, hoop earnings, and a high ponytail. Her style also suggest she deliberately seeks to appear younger. This includes wearing her a revealing sweater that displays her cleavage. When she works as a professional medium named Dodoria Santa, she wears a grotesque masks and a hooded black cloak. Her looks and body are hidden from view. Whether she hides her appearance to create a persona or assumes she won’t be taken seriously as a woman.

Dandadan Chapter 3,” A Clash of the Grannies, Huh?” open with Hoshiko telling the fortune of a young idol. She predicts his age is 27, he claims he’s 20. She predicts he love curry and have a wife and kids. He basically claims she a fraud. Hoshiko arrives home just in time to prevent Turbo-Granny from eating Momo. Armed with a bat, she challenges Turbo-Granny , who quickly appears behind her. Turbo-Granny is set on fire and becomes trapped in a barrier circle created by Hoshiko. The barrier will ignite the demon if it passes over the line. In combination with her “charm nails” she’s able to use her barriers to both protect herself and trap Turbo-Granny . Despite Turbo-Granny mentioning that Ken would die if Hoshiko sets her on fire, Hoshiko doesn’t seem to care.

Gotta play tag with Turbo-Granny

Momo wakes concerned for Okarun (Ken). She finds her grandmother watching Bakatono, and assumes she killed Okarun. Hoshiko leads her granddaughter to believe she killed Okarun. Hoshiko hasn’t seen Momo since she gain psychic powers and is clearly bitter over Momo’s previous dismissing of her psychic powers. When her grandmother tells her were Okarun is Momo rushes to find him eating in the shrine. She relived. After informing her grandmother that she has powers now, her grandmother reveals more information on the Turbo-Granny . Formerly called “100 KM/H Granny,” she used to terrorized Japan and Hoshiko investigated her inside the tunnel.

Hoshiko claims she couldn’t even get close to the tunnel due to strength of the presence. She explains that bound spirits “stay in a place they have some sort of strong attachment,” and are “strongest in their territory.” It’s foolish to take on a bound spirit inside their territory. According to Hoshiko, the bound spirit has fused with the Turbo-Granny. Even though her grandmother has warned her, Momo is still determined to rescue Okarun. Hoshiko tells her she will need to “play tag” with Turbo-Granny. It’s especially important that she get Turbo-Granny to leave the bound spirits territory. Once weaken, Turbo-Granny can be defeated more easily. Before that confrontation both Momo and Okarun need to get stronger. At the end of the chapter, we see that idol from earlier, Shouma-San is actually 27, has a love child, therefore proving Hoshiko is correct.

Manga

Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 154: Panda and Megumi’s plan fails

Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 154 Cover
Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 154 Cover

In the last chapter of Jujutsu Kaisen, Yuji Itadori and Megumi Fushiguro enter a underground fight club to gain access to Kinji Hakari. The elusive jujutsu sorcerer was suspended by Jujutsu High for unknown reasons. Regardless, he’s leery of the institution and would likely flee if confronted directly by Megumi and Yuji. In Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 154, Yuji meets with Hakari, Panda and Megumi conspire to help Yuji’s meeting. Panda mentions that he was incapable of reaching the door to the roof. When he nears the door the “distance never decreases.” He compares this effect to that of Satoru Gojo’s Infinity curse technique. Panda is unsure whether it’s Kirara or Hakari curse technique. It’s important for Panda and Megumi to avoid arising Hakari’s suspicions. However, his distain for Jujutsu High requires them to sneak around, which makes them more suspicious.

Panda and Megumi’s plan fails

Megumi rises from the shadows, ambushing two guards within the blind spots. Panda takes out the others. The two assume they’re in the clear. However, Kirara notices Panda, and sees Megumi. He correctly concludes that Megumi and Yuji are together and incorrectly assumes they’re a threat to Hakari. Kirara grabs his phone, while Panda jumps down and Megumi releases Divine Dog. Kirara takes a defense position but appears to repel the Divine Dog back towards Megumi. When Kirara rushes to get to the roof, the Divine Dog blocks his path. Suddenly, Megumi crashes into the Divine Dog. Inside, Hakari asks Yuji “would he believe that he can work one hour a day and make a million yen a month?”

I don’t think Yuji’s answer to that question will be relevant. Despite his lack of intellect, Yuji possess the same qualities Gon, from Hunter X Hunter and Luffy from One Piece. Which is an uncanny ability to make friends. That said I predict Hakari will fight either Yuji, Panda or Megumi, especially because we need to see this power everyone’s talking about. It’s now clear that Kirara is the reason for Panda being unable to reach the door. His power seems to resemble the effects of magnets. The mechanism seems to be a “mark” Kirara places on surfaces. It’s a largely defense ability, but it depends on how he uses it.

Manga

One Piece Chapter 1021: Nico Robin becomes a demon child

The Cover of One Piece Chapter 1021.
The Cover of One Piece Chapter 1021.

One Piece Chapter 1021, “Demonio,” continues with fight between Nico Robin and Black Maria. The Tobiroppo isn’t impressed with Robins new attack. She says that the giant form “must take a lot of energy out of her.” Robin is confident that the fight won’t take too long anyway. Robin attempts to end the fight with her “Sea Serpent Snapdragon” move. She grabs the legs of the Black Maria, who counters by striking Robin with her Wanyudo. Robin is at a disadvantage because her larger size arms make for easier targets. Nico Robin’s devil fruit ability Hana Hana no Mi grants her the ability to reproduce her body. If her limbs receive any injury or effects from other Devil Fruit, she will feel them directly no matter where she is. In addition to that Robins cloned limbs share the strength level she has.

When Black Maria creates poison on her feet, Robin retreats her arms but Black Maria uses Marianet to trap Robin. She then puts on brass knuckles and wails on Robin’s double. Robin deactivates her ability and tries to quickly grab Black Maria again, only for Black Maria to block them with her Ikidomaria. Black Maria then sets her webs on fire surrounding Robin with flames. She badmouths Robin calling her “pathetic” like Sanji and calls her “dead weight,” who’s only useful for her “brain.”

I think Oda is making a specific point here. Robin rarely fought before this moment, largely because the limits of her Devil Fruit and she was the brains of the Straw Hat Pirates as the archaeologist. It’s not that she’s just smart, Nico Robin is the only person who can read and decipher Poneglyphs. This ability has earned her the bounty the government gave her, and the epithet “demon child.”

Demon Child Nico Robin

As Black Maria attacks Robin directly, Chapter 1021 flashbacks to Robins time with the Revolutionary Army. Koala and Sabo want to teach her Fishman Karate and Ryusoken. From Koala’s perspective Robin should “be able to throw a punch.” Robin agrees to learn a “palm strike.” In the present, Robin uses Mil Fleur, Fishman Karate Giganteum to smash the ceiling causing the rumble to put out the fire. Robin then reveals her new form, Demonio Fleur. Robin develops wings, fangs, horns, and her skin turns dark. Black Maria is disturbed by this new appearance and runs. However, Robin grabs her and knocks her out with Grand Jacuzzi Clutch. Black Maria’s subordinates hear what one calls “an awful sound,” they rush to peer through the crack in Brooks Ice Block. With the subordinates distracted, Brook takes advantage and uses Phrase D’Armes Orchestra to finish them.

Elsewhere, on Tokage Port, Udon, Luffy is eating all the food Caribou kept in his body. Momonosuke asks Shinobu to use her Devil Fruit to “mature his body.” Shinobu’s Devil Fruit ability, Juku Juku no Mi, allows her to “mature” or “decay.” Momonosuke hopes that becoming more mature who make him become a “bigger dragon.” Shinobu claims it’s too dangerous, he will not return to his current age, but will still have a the “heart and mind of a child.”

One Piece knows Momonosuke is a child, but the characters in this series treat him like he’s an adult. As the son of Kozuki Oden, Momonosuke is the heir of the Kozuki Family. He’s giving too much responsibility and it’s clearly putting too much pressure on him. Shinobu’s warning seems to imply that he will never grow up mentally, if that’s the case he shouldn’t do it. If he just loses his childhood then I don’t think it matters. Momonosuke has already lost his innocence, it won’t do much harm.