Teenage Renaissance! David 001-003 – Manga Review
Synopsis: There goes David! Though he looks like a work of art as he strolls through the hallways of Lovure High School, he’s really just your typical teenager facing the daunting gauntlet of adolescence! Lucky for him, he’s got some help from his best friend Manneken Pis and his crush Venus. (Official Shonen Jump Synopsis.)
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
Teenage Renaissance! David borders on insulting. The series operates on one, maybe two, gags. The most prominent offering is the visual gag of David, a work of art, existing as a typical Japanese High School student. It’s predicated on subverting visual expectations, and the problem is that while that idea, in and of itself, is assuming, it’s expected to carry far too much of the manga. The 2nd vein of comedy is replicating famous pieces of art through guiding the story towards these moments. Teenage Renaissance! isn’t terribly good at that though, and those moments often feel extremely forced.
Beneath the visual humor that quickly grows old, Teenage Renaissance! struggles in every other way. David going about a typical slice of life plot could be funny, but large sections of the manga’s first chapter are just the standard dialogue and twists. The manga tries to inject Manneken Pis, another famous sculpture, into the proceedings, all to try and guide us to a visual joke at the end of the chapter, where David and Venus replicate The Creation of Adam imagery. But the path there is tortured, resorting to childish pee humor as Manneken Pis urinates all over David just to get him to strip into the buff.
Chapter 2 is hardly better, resorting again to Manneken Pis taking, well, a piss all over David to prevent him from visibly wetting himself during a soccer match. Chapter 3 is probably Teenage Renaissance!’s strongest chapter, focused on a misunderstanding when David hears Venus and a friend talking about Etching and he thinks they mean Ecchi. Even then Teenage Renaissance really struggles to overcome how simply awful its first two chapters are, and what’s in Chapter 3 is passable, but again heavily relies on the audience finding the sudden replication of famous artistic pieces amusing, and I just don’t think that’s enough to sustain any manga.It’d help if David’s character felt unique, but he just comes across as a horny teen romcom protagonist, with hardly any extra depth. And I get it, that’s the gag, but as evidenced here I don’t think it’s one that has any true sustainability.
Jump Starts have been getting a lot of criticism for often teasing us with just a few chapters of new manga, before we never see the series again. A number of these teases have gone on to have extreme success in Japan, and it’s often only after they reached 50+ chapters that U.S. Jump bothers to add them to the line up (if they do at all), leaving the first year of content off the table for Western Audiences until they feel like selling it back to us. Thankfully Teenage Renaissance! David, and to a lesser extent I’m From Japan, is so bad, so bottom of the barrel that I’m actually relieved this is the way Jump Starts work, so we don’t have a title like this taking up a precious slot. If we can’t get everything Japan has, U.S. Jump needs to focus on giving us the cream of the crop. I’d much rather miss out on the first few chapters of Manga like this, if we could have the Saiki K’s, the Haikyu’s and the like.
That’s it for today. Please let me know your thoughts on Teenage Renaissance! David in the comments below!
Teenage Renaissance! David is published as a Jump Start in Shonen Jump.