Somewhere, Samuel Clemens is yelling at some kids to get off his damn lawn. He’s probably smiling while doing it though.
Art/Story: Kouhei Horikoshi
What they say:
In Barrage, the planet of Industria is in a state of chaos. Aliens have taken over most of the planet and now the planet’s fate lies in the hands of Astro, a kid from the slums!
Shonen Jump Alpha is taking a chance at getting in on the ground floor of a new Shonen Jump series that just started in Japan. With two of their biggest series slowly winding down, new adventures will have to take their place. Enter Sensei no Barrage, or just Barrage in english.
In this opening chapter we are introduced to our lead, the unfortunately named Astro, and the world he lives on. Astro’s design is that of the usual spikey haired teen hero, with his hair color of choice being blue. He’s a bit naive and totally impulsive, and surprisingly kind hearted as well. He works hard to bring home enough money to feed the bevy of orphan kids that he counts as his family, and who count on him in return. Unfortunately for Astro, he just lost another job by attempting to confront a dangerous alien lord from another country.
Cue the extremely sudden and unexplained arrival of Prince Barrage, who looks exactly like Astro! Yes dear readers, the set up chapter for Barrage is the Prince and the Pauper, right down to Astro’s ragged clothes and a case on mistaken identify. After Barrage shoves a strange bracelet onto his double’s arm he makes a sudden and very final exit from the story, leaving Astro to be dragged back to the palace as the prince.
What follows is a whirlwind confrontation with the same alien lord who cost Astro his job, and the sudden revelation that Astro can wield ‘the orgue,’ a weapon of considerable power. By the end of this introduction chapter Astro is now Prince Barrage, and soon to be King Barrage. His stunned look at the end of chapter is hilarious.
The speed at which the author lays down the story is breakneck, sweeping the lead along in a mad rush to place the ultimate weapon into Astro’s hand and get him ‘chosen one’ status. Astro panics through most of his forced prince-hood, as he rightfully should. His outburst about family is completely ridiculous though, our lead clearly has some abandonment issues, and I can imagine that his impulsive nature is going to be an issue for issues to come.
The artwork has a nice level of detail in the scenery, clothes, and characters. Astro has a nice toothy grin which serves his wild array of face faults well. The story as a whole has a cartoony and whimsical design that reminds me of a mix of One Piece, Gintama, and Hunter X Hunter. Much like Hunter x Hunter, there’s a moment halfway through the chapter which shows a hidden dark edge to the world of Industria. While the lead’s design is fairly generic, the rest of the characters have a nice wide array of looks to them. I love the design of one of the King’s advisors, who has his collar pulled halfway up his face. Barrage’s weapon makes an attempt to be unique and cool and instead comes off as visually atrocious, and it looks horribly unwieldy in it’s weapon form. The action scenes were tight and concise with a good eye for where to place the camera, which is a tricky thing to pull off well and bodes well for action scenes to come.
Release Notes: This VizManga.com edition of Barrage is a part of the Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, as viewed through Viz’s online reader.
With the basic setup out of the way it will be interesting to see what the final form the story will take. At some point Astro’s true identity will be learned, most likely by the serious Lieutenant Tiamat first. There are alien threats to fight, and presumably other planets to fight on. Hopefully there will be politics. With such an emphasis on family I expect that Astro will find himself a large group of regular friends and enemies, and ultimately an end goal of some sort.
I’ll check back in on Barrage in two weeks to see how Astro is adjusting to his new position. As of right now I think this new series shows some considerable promise, and has a nice mix of fun and frivolity that many of the other series running in Shonen Jump Alpha (outside of One Piece) seem to lack.