Yuusei Matsui One-Shots

During the winter season, many anime fans got to discover Assassination Classroom, one of the hit series currently running in Shonen Jump. Yuusei Matsui, the genius behind this wacky shonen action comedy about a classroom of failures becoming a classroom of assassins, is not new to success. In 2005, he began publication in Shonen Jump with his supernatural detective manga Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro, running for four years and reaching over two hundred chapters. It wasn't til 2012 that Assassination Classroom started it's run, but in the between years, Matsui had two one-shots published of particular note. Today, I'll be looking at Divorce Conciliation and Tokyo Department Store War Chronicles and see what other tales lurked in the mind of Mr. Matsui.

Divorce Conciliation (2009):

Divorce Conciliation follows Ruca, a girl living in a barren desert that was once the Niigata prefecture in Japan, until the world dried up. One day, she is trapped under a boulder by a rock slide, but is saved by a passing man dragging a large sword, wandering in from Brazil after a fierce divorce with his wife. As thanks, she invites him back to her juice stand for a drink. However, her last orange is stolen by the Yamamoto clan, who hoards all the water in the area, so the swordsman offers to get it back.

Divorce Conciliation's biggest drawback is perhaps it's characters. Most of the manga is focused on telling the story of the Swordsman's divorce and on the state of the world, leaving little to no time to build up the characters in any way. While one off villains like the Yamamoto's I wouldn't expect too much attention too, this leaves Ruca as a pretty flat character. The swordsman does get a bit more revealed about him near the end, but even with that, he's still sitting in the same boat.

As I stated, much of the story is discussion about the state of the world and the divorce between the swordsman and his wife. While it does lend itself to decent foreshadowing, the large amount of time on both leaves an impression that we missed a more interesting story about these events that the orange rescue we're reading, and while the rescue does have a decent moment or two, there is just too much telling instead of showing to get invested.

Sadly, I think Divorce Conciliation is Matsui worst work. The story is a little too confused as to where it wants to be, the characters are flat. The best part of this one-shot is the artwork, if you can enjoy that everyone wears Hollywood cowboy style outfits like I did, and the desert backgrounds and the arid environment looked pretty good. While this wasn't a horrible piece, it certainly wouldn't be right to call it any kind of good either.

Tokyo Department Store War Chronicles (2011):

In District 23 of Tokyo, war has ravaged the land, leaving food and clothing in short demand. The only place to find these items is in a gigantic department store overlooking the district. A security system in the store, however, has gone haywire, causing it to evolve into monsters that protect the merchandise from all shoppers. One man makes the most of this, using his skills and prowess to hunt these monsters to satisfy his endless greed and sell the items he doesn't want, and this is the man one little girl asks for help obtaining a certain item...

You may have noticed I didn't use any character names in that plot description, and that's because the characters aren't named in this one-shot, though it doesn't really matter. There isn't much to the little girl character other than a pretty sympathetic back story, as she's more of a jumping point for our main characters philosophies. The protagonist in question, a "wilderness salesman", is Matsui working his manic charms at their full, constantly having the character switch between suave professional to greedy lunatic, and never holding a great constant in the between, though it works for the setting he lives in.

The story is pretty simplistic, in that it's a battle short where the man, helps the girl gain an item in question through battling a big baddie. It's a typical shonen plot, but there are a few good points. The battle scene in question is well paced, builds up a good amount of tension, and is plenty action packed. And it's gets it's theme of greed across pretty well, even if it was a little hamfistedly.

The artwork stands out the most in this one-shot for it's great monster designs and strong settings. While we don't see much of it, the outside of the department stores looks like a building right out of a Tsugumi work, and stands just as menacingly. The inside has a great jungle/urban hybrid look, giving a great home to the many types of monsters shown. The one-shot features many different monsters ranging from generic to fairly original, but the main enemy of their quest takes the cake, being very menacing, while being fun to look at and easy to understand at a glance.

Tokyo Department Store War Chronicles is a great ride from start to finish, with a fun and crazy protagonist, fascinating monsters and setting, and some good fights. It's a simple shonen story, but one that does it's job well and can leave you satisfied with the fifteen minutes it took you to read it. And I think that speaks for itself.


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