Thursday, February 4, 2016

Manga Review: SCHOOL JUDGMENT Volume 1


STORY: Nobuaki Enoki
ART: Takeshi Obata
TRANSLATION: Mari Morimoto
LETTERS: James Gaubatz
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8566-6; paperback, (February 2016); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

School Judgment: Gakkyu Hottei is a manga published in Japan's Weekly Shonen Jump.  This shonen manga series is written by Nobuaki Enoki and drawn by Takeshi Obata.  The series is a comedic courtroom drama set in an elementary school classroom.

School Judgment: Gakkyu Hottei, Vol. 1 (entitled The Suzuki Murder and Dismemberment Case; Chapters 1 to 7) opens at Tenbin Elementary School in Himawari City.  Class 6-3 has two new transfer students and both are lawyers.  The first is Pine Hanzuki, and while she may be cute, she is a ruthless prosecutor.  The next is Abaku Inugami; he is a superb defense attorney, and his hobby is “ronpa.”

Now, “Pine-Chan” and Inugami will face off in a “Classroom Arbitration Session,” which is essentially a court session.  Fellow sixth grader, Tento Nanahoshi, has been accused of killing and dismembering a beloved 6-3 class pet, Suzuki the mackerel.  There is damning evidence that Tento is guilty, but Inugami knows there is more to the evidence than is obvious.

Takeshi Obata is known as the artist of some truly unique manga, especially Bakuman。and Death Note, his collaborations with writer, Tsugumi Ohba.  Apparently, Obata is hugely respected and Nobuaki Enoki refers to him as the “God of Drawing” and “Walking Artistic Skill,” which may also be how others refer to Obata.

School Judgment: Gakkyu Hottei Volume 1 is a little weird, but it is surprisingly entertaining.  There are three trials or “Classroom Arbitration Sessions” and the start of a fourth, and while they are entertaining, they all seem a bit contrived.  I think that that the strength of the series will be in the secrets that many of the character hide.  The trials will be the hook, but the characters' personalities and motivations may be what make the trials seem less contrived as the series goes on.  I am curious to see where this goes.

Story concerns aside, Takeshi Obata proves to be a “God of Drawing,” as usual.  His page layouts, character designs, and compositions are impressive, inspiring, and beautiful.  I'd submit to School Judgment just for him.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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