Inu Neko Jump!
Reach the stars…
5 Volumes – Completed
Ever since middle school, Takahiro Ozu was famous in the world of track and field as the “long jump specialist”. But after losing his final competition in high school, he hung up his track shoes for good. Now in college, having taken up smoking, he just wants to get a girlfriend and lead a normal student life. Noriko Watsuki has had a crush on Takahiro since she first saw him jump and wants him to join the college track team so she can get close to him. Yuki “The Headphone Girl” Hoguchi, a high school student who likes to hang out at the university, claims Takahiro took her virginity 13 years ago when he was in kindergarten. She considers him her property to do with as she pleases. Throw in a full cast of zany and unique characters, sprinkle with fan service, and you have the world of Inu Neko Jump.
I still stand by my early classification of this series – as the feel-good manga.
It’s not overly serious, it’s not saddening, it’s only uplifting. A laid back, happier series. Which, in a way, is one of the most interesting things about this series. It goes along a more slice-of-life and comedy line, but at the same time, it’s accomplishing depth along the sidelines. It’s one of the few manga to do this properly. Able to carry on a carefree and hilarious story, while all at the same time bringing through serious depth. A number of themes are used, from the comedy afore mentioned, to romance and drama.
The concept is a unique one at that. This is a sports manga, and the sport chosen isn’t what one would first think of. A large portion centers around long jump. From that sport, an interesting concept is brought in – to be able to jump into orbit, and meet with the stars. Which may sound simplistic at first glance, but is in fact brought on to hold meaning. A dream put above all else, that, no matter how unattainable, will remain a goal throughout one’s life. A dream held in reverence and a dream romanticized…
The two main characters are something else. An old long jump prodigy, long absent from the sport, and a seemingly insane high-school girl. A man that discovers his dreams anew, and the girl that pulls him along that path; A.K.A. Ozu and Yuki. Between them there’s a strange connection – well explained in the interesting, albeit odd, backstory. Ozu seems to be of basic Shounen styling, but his character proves to be distant and strange from time to time. Yuki’s strange, crazy, and indefinitely immersed in music. And just chalked full of staklerisms. A great female lead, in my opinion.
Other than them, the rest of the characters are…different. Not exactly basic, as they’re all strange in some way.
Hattori pokes fun at the characters constantly by comparing them to animals. That part itself brings through half the comedy in this manga, and quite well at that.
The thing that irks me the most when it comes to this series is the fanservice. Hattori, being a mangaka on ecchi lines, doesn’t miss a chance to get in some perverted shot here and there. A lot of it’s along the lines where it can’t be considered anything but fanservice, but it’s not as if he goes out of his way to do it.
The story is quite well done. As I’ve said above, it manages to capture both depth and hilarity. A mainly slice-of-life story, with serious undertones taking the lead at many points. A story of devotion and dreams. It takes the reader through the more carefree parts, all the while giving bits of stronger feelings, thought and emotion – building relationships and the backstory. The story is simple, with nothing too baffling. It provokes a good bit of thought, but it isn’t going to tie your brain in a knot. Most of it is carefree comedy, after all. A happy-go-lucky kind of story, which proves to be nothing but uplifting [a word I stress when referring to this manga]. No tragedy. Emotion, but not along lines that serious. Romance, but not on a saddening level. One of the few quality works of this kind.
I’m not sure why I love this manga so much, but it certainly is good! Any fan of a more carefree and comedic story would love this. Especially if you love meaning within!
[Reviewer: Simon A. Blake]