Agravity Boys 001-003 – Manga Review
Synopsis: A bro-tastic space comedy adventure! (Official Shonen Jump Synopsis.)
(Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Agravity Boys feels like it wants to be the new Daily Lives of High School Boys, but transplanted into a sci-fi setting. The trouble is the series doesn’t boast the same level of creativity for humor, so far falling back on tried and true crass gags that involve our characters overactive libidos or pure toilet humor. There’s hints of heart here, but not enough to make the series for anyone but the most core of Shone Jump’s core demographic: Teenage Boys. Let’s Jump In!
Agravity Boys follows four boys as they’re sent into space to find a suitable planet for mankind to migrate to. Unfortunately mankind, seemingly, destroys itself two days after sending the boys on their mission. When our heroes, Tachikaze the commanding pilot, Chris the kindly medic, Geralt the snobbish scientist, and Babazragi the tough burly man, manage to reach their destination twenty years early they’re left wondering what they can do to save their species, as all hopes seem now pinned on their survival.
Agravity Boys’ story is extremely flippant, undermining the weight of the situation from almost page 1. In some ways that helps set the tone, but it also makes the series feel already set in its way. The heroes treat mankind’s passing with an almost “well these things happen” vibe. That’s funny, but the series then treats the sudden and unexpected appearance of a higher dimension being with that same level of “oh ok.” By undermining its own unexpected turn it damages its ability to awe. If the characters barely care, why should we? What’s a shame is that we throw away a chance for our characters to lose their shit over this crazy twist and see them react in all sorts of humorous ways. The series is throwing away potential for humor because it’s already decided what it wants its characters to be and doesn’t want to naturally evolve them to that point. They already are the unflappable, pervy, idiot boys from the get go, leaving little room for this group of misfits to grow or surprise us.
That said, as a cast, these four idiots aren’t a terrible starting point. Each of the four plays off each other well, and feels unique enough that none are stealing the other’s spotlight. It’s the series’ greatest asset, allowing for stupid one-liners, ongoing goofs and clashing personalities to provide opportunities for new gags. Baba however feels like the most blank slate of the bunch, with his personality consisting of charming girls and jumping to conclusions. Really though, that’s describing nearly all the other boys too. Baba lacks Geralt’s pompous, self-aggrandizing nature, or Tachikaze’s take charge attitude. That said, because the other three are so well defined, this leaves Baba with the most opportunity to grow and gradually shift the dynamic, giving Agravity Boys an option to eventually surprise us by changing the game up.
The real trouble though is the comedy. The first chapter revolves around the assumption that they’re the last four humans and without one of these four boys re-engineering his DNA, thanks to the kindly higher dimension being, that’s it for mankind. One of our pervy boys is going to have to become a girl. But which? What follows is an argument based around the thought process of horny teens exclusively. While it makes for a couple of funny segments, you have to have your head in the gutter to truly appreciate this first chapter, as pervy and gutter-brained is about all Agravity Boys has to offer. Without variety, and exploring other avenues beyond horny, low brow comedy, Agravity Boys feels too one note to entice anyone but the core audience of Jump.
That said, there’s glimmers of perhaps something more here. Chapter 2 focuses on the boys being approached by the higher dimension being a second time, the classic “let’s show the concept works in less pages” methodology so many Shonen manga do. However, in this chapter the boys are given a choice between something seemingly useful, and a hot girl. While the boys end up picking the hot girl, it’s done for noble reasons as they realize she misses her family, and rather than have her join them, they ask the higher dimension being to send her home. That gives heart to our heroes, even if they are but horny teenage boys. Then again Chapter 3 is one big long poop joke, with hardly enough goofs in between the set up and the ultimate punchline to make it feel worthwhile.
Between this and Zipman, Jump’s other newest addition, so far Zipman seems like it offers more promise. But if Agravity Boys can pull itself together, find new avenues of humor that aren’t simply crass, and allow the story, and its characters, to evolve naturally, then it might just turn itself into something memorable.
That’s it for this week! Let me know what your thoughts are on Agravity Boys!
Agravity Boys is published weekly in Shonen Jump.