Spring Weapon No. 1 001 – Review
Spring Weapon No. 1:
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: Deadly Androids, known as the Numbers, exist seeking to wreck havoc across the globe– save one. No 1. actually. Zeroichi Namba, one of the deadly Androids, joins the high school class of Mappo Agent, Eiji Hokuyo, charged with standing against the evil Androids. But as Eiji discovers Zeroichi isn’t there to destroy the quaint highschool life– he’s there to live it!?
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
Spring Weapon No. 1 sits alongside The Promised Neverland as one of the few Jump Starts I am extremely positive on. It’s funny, it’s strange, and it’s very well written for a first chapter from a budding author, Tomohiro Hasegawa. I’m crossing my fingers that Spring Weapon No. 1 makes its way into the permanent Shonen Jump U.S. Line up. It’s that good and we really don’t have any solid gag manga in the line up currently either.
We open with a mad scientist speaking to a number of bizarre looking monsters sitting in vats of green liquid. As he does roll call to make sure each of his creations is in place he discovers that No. 1’s tank has been completely destroyed, along with the wall leading out to the ocean behind it. It’s only a couple pages, but I think even these, alongside the artwork, sell the ridiculous over the top tone Spring Weapon No. 1 is aiming for.
Jumping away from that introduction, we meet one Eiji Hokuto , a seemingly serious high school student who’s actually so much more. In fact he’s a Mappo Agent, an organization charged with protecting civilization from the Numbers, a criminal group of powerful androids. Eiji was assigned to protect this school, but despite Eiji’s ‘best efforts’, he’s has failed to remain entirely inconspicuous within the school. Eiji’s sold as our straighter than straight protagonist. He’s already shown to be incapable of subterfuge, or thinking outside the box, making him a perfect foil for the, off his rocker, title character we’re about to be introduced to.
Much to Eiji’s surprise a transfer students arrives who is, in fact, a Numbers. He calls himself Zeroichi Namba, so we’re not exactly hiding identities very well here.
Eiji is horrified to find a Numbers join the class so nonchalantly, and despite his own fear for the secret power these androids hold, the class takes quite well to Namba. Eiji won’t take this sitting down however, and drags Namba from the classroom and to the back of the school. There he confronts Namba for what he really is, after a slight misunderstanding. Spring Weapon No. 1 is a tad slow with its jokes, going decent stretches without a gag. But when it does get to gags they’re pretty good, putting an amusing spin on stereotypical shonen situations.
Eiji reveals himself to be a Mappo Agent and draws his gun on Namba. But Namba is too powerful, easily defeating Eiji like it’s nothing. Eiji is prepared to accept his fate, but Namba has no interest in killing him. In fact, he’s not at school to harm anyone. He’s actually here instead for:
Before Eiji can press Namba, the class president, Nanakura, arrives to show Namba around the school. As Namba heads off he telepathically links with Eiji to ask something only he can do– share textbooks in class. Namba doesn’t have his yet. Eiji can’t wrap his head around Namba, who doesn’t act or fit his understanding of the deadly androids Numbers. One criticism, outside of needing a few more gags peppered in, is that this opening chapter harps a lot on Eiji’s disbelief over Namba’s true intentions. It’s understandable, but perhaps hammers that beat one too many times over the course of these fifty plus pages. Eiji’s frustration only builds as he’s called into teacher’s room by their teacher, who is just so overjoyed to see the two of them hit it off as friends. Apparently she mistook their confrontation at the back of the school for play!
Eiji’s finally had it, and brings Namba to the roof to fully understand what’s going on. It’s a fairly standard shonen scene as Namba reveals that he quit the organization because he didn’t like the idea of fighting, and would rather explore the sparkling, cool and fun world humans live in. In fact, Namba went so far as to remove all his super weapons in favor of modifying himself with the ability to measure enjoyment. He uses his ability to measure Eiji’s and discovers Eiji has near zero happiness, friends, and no romantic relationships. In fact, Namba has to ask: Does Eiji even enjoy living? It’s at this point where we get a tad thoughtful and emotional, although maintain a decently comedic tone, pulling back on the comedy to inject some drama and self reflection. It’s decent enough, although perhaps a tad basic.
Eiji heads out for the day, exiting school as he ponders what he’s been told by Mappo against what he’s witnessed from encountering Namba. But before he can rationalize that reality, or leave school for that matter, an explosion comes from behind the school. Another Android has found his way onto school grounds!
This one spots the class president, and decides he needs to kill her as a witness to his arrival. Eiji rushes to her rescue, but stands little chance of fighting him off. When the villain reveals he’s only here for Namba, Eiji is prepared to give up Namba in order to secure the Class President’s safety. But when the Android bad mouths Namba, Eiji realizes he has to stick up for him and not back down against the enemy. It’s perhaps a tad forced, but as Spring Weapon No. 1 is clearly a comedy more than a drama, it’s perhaps acceptable that our character work is a little more loose than usual.
As the Android lunges for him, something shoots down between the two, smashing into the pavement– It’s Namba! And apparently he’s a bit disappointed you can only join two after school clubs at the same time. Eiji’s a little mad at how much damage Namba just caused, and sent the Class President flying and stuck into the pavement to boot!
Namba stands up to the Android, asserting that he wants to experience the Spring time of his youth again. The Android can’t believe what he’s hearing, and prepares to annihilate the trio. But Namba, without any super weapons to combat, utilizes his Youth Combat Gear that he prepared for a tussle with friends down by the river– Friendship Gut Punch. The attack easily defeats the enemy Android. It’s a fun twist on the whole “friendship and love conquer all”, and a nice subversion of the idea that Spring Weapon No. 1 got rid of all his weapons to convert to a normal life– I mean he did, but that Friendship Gut Punch is a weapon all on its own.
Afterwards the class president wakes, remembering something about Eiji saving her. She thanks him, apologizes for thinking ill of him before, and heads off. In the aftermath Namba asks Eiji if he’d like to be friends and thus begins the Bittersweet Youthful Days of Eiji’s highschool life.
I’m incredibly happy with Spring Weapon No. 1. Sure it’s a little rough in places, a bit basic in its characterization during more dramatic moments, which go on a tad too long without any gags, but otherwise it’s a solid gag manga, something we’re missing in Western Shonen Jumps line up. I am rooting for this series to get added permanently.
That’s it for today. Please let me know what you thought of Spring Weapon No. 1’s first chapter in the comments below!
Spring Weapon No. 1 is available for free at Viz.com.