Barrage, Vol. 1

By Kouhei Horikoshi. Released in Japan as “Sensei no Barrage” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz Media.

It can be somewhat difficult when you advertise the popularity of your own series. Weekly Shonen Jump has made it a point to discuss the “popularity poll” table of contents they do every week, with the strong series in the front and the ones with fewer votes in the back. As well as their culling of the latter at a moment’s notice. That said, just because a series is unpopular doesn’t mean that it’s bad. When Shonen Jump Alpha started up, they grabbed a few new series to show off the web magazine, and North American readers quickly found that new series in Jump die far more often than they live. Barrage being the first casualty.


Barrage makes it a point to say it takes place somewhere out in space, on an alien world. And indeed we do see a few aliens here and there, mostly of the villainous lizard type. But for the most part this world is “fantasy-ish”, about as alien as Naruto or One Piece’s non-Japanese worlds are. Astro is this spunky teenager who takes odd jobs to take care of the heartwarming band of orphans he’s gathered… and seems to lose said jobs just as fast due to his loud mouth and sense of justice. Then he runs into a boy who looks his exact duplicate, says he’ll have to impersonate the prince for a while… and then promptly gets shot, leaving Astro to fend for himself. Luckily, this is Jump, so a strong sense of justice is pretty much all you need. Well, that and an evolving alien sword.

There’s an over-earnestness that grates on me a bit when reading this. The scrappy band of orphans in particular look straight out of the Our Gang playbook, and their farewell scenes with Astro as he goes off to fight enemies are meant to be overly sappy in a humorous way, but instead becomes mawkish. The art is OK but not great, and at one point there’s a roving band of female outlaws (sort of) who are mostly indistinguishable from each other. And the plot and feel of this book does not particularly feel original (if Astro doesn’t turn out to have been the real prince after all by the time this wraps up, I’ll eat my copy of Volume 2).

That said, there’s stuff to like here. Astro is a good hero, being straightforward and sticking to principles without coming off as stupid or moralistic. Tiamat, the grumpy knight who is forced to mentor Astro on his journey, is the perfect antidote to Astro, and gradually won over by the boy’s immense charm. It’s also nice to see a competent, benevolent king for a change. Still, at the end of the day, if this were a 30+-volume epic like Bleach or Gintama, this would be where I’d say “it starts off poorly, but gets better after the first few volumes.” Sadly, Vol. 2 of Barrage was the last, and I suspect that the ending will feel like a “you’re cancelled, wrap it up” ending. I hope I’m wrong.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind