It’s Jump Start time yet again, where the English Shonen Jump prints the first three or so chapters of a new manga in the Japanese Shonen Jump, and feedback dictates whether they bring it over. Mononofu is the latest manga to feature, and bears more than a passing resemblance to Ikezawa Haruto’s other work, Kurogane – a Kendo manga.
All images are from the first chapter of Mononofu only.
The set-up is a bit like Kurogane’s, but with Shogi instead of Kendo. Shogi is a bit like chess, and players of Nintendo’s 42 All-Time Classics (Clubhouse Games in America) for Nintendo DS may already be familiar with it. Like the titular Kurogane, Mononofu‘s Takara Shinobu must overcome his lack of experience in the “sport” to become a master player, by utilising his incredible natural talent at a specific aspect of the game while learning the fundamentals with support from his friends.
Due to a mix-up when arriving at the share-house for his new high school Shinobu has accidentally joined a house that is only intended for Shogi professionals in-training. Yasukane Naoi, the leader of the house and the most proficient at Shogi is a pretty nice guy and decides to let Shinobu stay at the house even though he doesn’t play Shogi. But, of course, Shinobu becomes interested in it.
Shinobu seems to have faced rejection and feelings of incompetence, and it seems that his home life wasn’t very nice and he was faced with a lot of pressure. He’s a little insular and a little upright. The support from his housemates and the tangible nature of getting good at a game draw him in. His talent for Shogi puzzles impresses Naoi, and while he isn’t very good at most of an actual Shogi game, Shinobu’s talent for the puzzles translates to the end-game.
The first three chapters set up Shinobu’s journey toward becoming a Shogi pro pretty well. Though there will doubtless be an extended tournament arc at some point. The cast of housemates is pretty nice, though at the moment they’re mostly pretty two-dimensional. But, you can’t expect too much detail in a story set-up that’s only three chapters long. We haven’t seen many actual Shogi matches yet, but there’s a nicely dramatic tone to what we’ve seen so far. This might live or die by how well it can handle full Shogi matches, but I’d definitely be interested in seeing how they go and giving Haruto the chance to show us.
I’d ask Shonen Jump to continue Mononofu in the English version of the magazine!