This entry was originally going to be Otogi no Machi no Rena, but then something occurred to me. It looked a lot like another manga I read in the past: Umishou. I looked into it, and it turns out they were made by the same author. So, I took the opportunity to browse through his other works, when I came across Inu Neko Jump. I was a tad surprised to see how similar it was to Umishou. Both involve a sort of sport, focus on the relationship between an aloof guy with no motivation and a girl with a zany penchant for said “sport,” and have a giant cast of minor characters that primarily serve as plot drivers, comic relief, and fan service. As it turns out, Inu Neko Jump was the author’s first published work, so it was bound to be faulty to a degree. It didn’t disappoint. It was very, very faulty.
I saw remnants of what was to come from Umishou in Inu Neko Jump. However, what I didn’t see from it was direction. Inu Neko Jump doesn’t exactly have a straightforward goal. It doesn’t really seem to know what kind of story it wants to tell. There are signs of a developing romance between the two major characters, but is never focused on without other characters or comedic situations butting in. There are signs of regret from the major male character about his past in long jumping, a hobby in which he was very skilled at, but again, is never focused on because of other plot lines butting in. Other characters get semblances of a backstory, but are always cut off for something else. Every time Inu Neko Jump tries to develop something, it gets cut off by something else in need of development. It’s almost as if the author wasn’t sure what to develop, so they decided to mix everything together at once. It makes the mood very bumpy. Romance fights with comedy. Character development fights with character backstory. Art fights with everything. Everything gets attention, but the results are much to be desired.
This lack of direction is the biggest flaw of Inu Neko Jump. It makes everything feel meaningless, forcing the reader to only look forward to certain moments in the story. My personal favorite? Romantic tension. How much of it did I get? Well, if you count fan service “accidents,” then quite a bit. If not, maybe a couple chapters’ worth. My enjoyment with this story came and went faster than I can recall. Whatever this author did with Umishou later on, they didn’t care to do the same with their first story.
Speaking of the strengths of Umishou, I was always fond of its characters. I’m not entirely sure why, because objectively speaking, they aren’t anything remarkable. However, I noticed that there was a lot more distribution in character focus in Umishou, which allowed certain characters to show a (perhaps too sudden) different side to their personalities. Inu Neko Jump does not do this. It focuses on the main male character for the most part, who isn’t interesting whatsoever, and cliche on top of it, while the main female character gets a little attention later on. All other characters feel like tools. The unassuming love interest, the comic relief, the female comic relief (which ups the fan service), and the rival + harem bait. And then there’s a middle schooler whose constantly bringing up the fact that she’s sexually promiscuous? Okay. These characters don’t matter. They never matter; only to drive the major characters to higher heights. Except the major characters never make it past one-dimension, so it doesn’t much matter anyway.
Just to focus on the major characters for a short while, they are almost carbon copies of their Umishou counterparts. I found it hilarious how similar the characters looked. Almost like they’re the same characters in both stories. The personalities are different, because the author can’t make it that obvious, but there are definitely some strong similarities aesthetically. The main male is aloof and constantly thinking about sex. Perfect male. The main female is a high schooler that acts like a kitten. Not honest with her feelings, needs the comfort of her “headphones” to do anything, and is blindly optimistic about a childhood dream that is clearly out of reach. She has no redeeming qualities. She doesn’t even act human. She’s a tsun without the dere, except her dere side consists of laughing like an idiot and flashing her panties.
Umishou has an interesting art style. I believe I used the phrase “an acquired taste” when describing it. Seeing as this is from the same author (who did both the story and the art), it’s much the same. Although, with a few more manga under my sleeve, the taste is starting to dull. I’ve already provided a few images from this manga, so it’s better to show than to tell. The female bodies aren’t really sexy, especially with the panty shots. Their expressions are very… er… “vivid.” Women look almost the same, sans hair type and breast size. Backgrounds are a clusterfuck of lines and smudges. Not a very good looking manga, but it’s certainly a unique look. Memorably sub-par. Is that a strength?
In a way, Inu Neko Jump can be seen as a sort of platform for what’s to come with the author’s future works. Umishou has that quality of work that makes it enjoyable, despite its (numerous) flaws. Inu Neko Jump is just bad. It doesn’t know what to do with its story, its characters, its anything. Almost as if the world inside is just a giant sandbox for the author to play around with. The fan service seemed to skyrocket as the “story” sped along. They tried to fill the plot holes with anything they could. With big enough tits, wouldn’t that be enough? How about quantity along with quality? Three pairs of big tits? Four? Seven?
Personal Score: D+
Critical Score: D+