This week in Weekly Shonen Jump is an all-new one-shot called Sakuran (Tentative), from Toshiaki Iwashiro, best known here in North America as the manga-ka behind Psyren!
Some of the best work in Jump started off as one-shots, and Sakuran (Tentative) has enough coolness factor to perhaps become a full series (only time will tell, though). This little comedy with sci-fi flair follows Eita Jinbo, a boy who normally would be your average Japanese male getting ready for a new school year in April…if it wasn’t for the fact that every Spring an alien who lives in his head appears to him. The alien, whom Jinbo has named “Sakuran (Tentative)” – “Sakuran” after the cherry blossoms that fall every spring, and “(Tentative)” after the fact that he does not know the alien’s real name yet – has been appearing to Jinbo for the past five years every Spring, as part of a research mission to observe human life on the planet Earth. On the 5th and final year, which happens to be this visit, if Jinbo cannot correctly guess the alien’s real name, he will be taken from Earth to the alien’s home world. So like clockwork, the blossoms start falling, Jinbo’s allergies start clogging up, and suddenly he’s wisked away to an alien ship!
There is a lot of nice stuff going on in this one-shot. Story wise, Iwashiro has given us a really solid set-up and character development for both Jinbo and Sakuran (Tentative) in this story. The plot had a little bit of everything – high school comedy, sci-fi aliens, somehow feeling a little like Urusei Yatsura but with more of a current shonen flair to it. Visually, Iwashiro’s art always looks polished, and here is no exception. As mentioned, sometimes these one-shots get picked up into a weekly series for Jump, if popular enough with the fan feedback, so it may be fun to keep our eyes peeled over the next year to see if it happens. If it doesn’t, though, it doesn’t detract from the solid one-shot it is and manga fans should pick up this week’s issue to check it out.
Sakuran (Tentative) is available digitally in Weekly Shonen Jump, which is now on both Viz’s manga app and the iTunes newsstand!