Shonen Jump continues the new series train by bringing Shinpei Watanabe’s Ginka & Glüna. This is the second new ongoing series that Shonen Jump introduced this month. The other one was Tokyo Demon Bride, of which we reviewed the first chapter that you can read by clicking here. Outside of a one-shot titled Pekopeko no Yamai published in 2021 I could not find any of the other work Shinpei Watanabe has done. With that, will Shinpei Watanabe’s Ginka & Glüna be an instant hit? Let’s find out with Ginka & Glüna Chapter 1.
Writer & Artist: Shinpei Watanabe
After losing her mother in an epidemic Glüna has been living in the snowy mountains alone for the last three months. During that time Glüna has been reading a book about magic in order to achieve her dream of being a magician.
One day Glüna finds a mysterious snowman named Ginka in her home that turns out to be the snowman she made some time ago that came to life. While catching fish Ginka reveals it can use magic. Seeing this Glüna immediately has Ginka teach her magic
Over the next five years Ginka teaches Glüna how to use magic. When Glüna is able to create fruit with magic Ginka says she passed their test. After giving Glüna a sorcerer hat Ginka leaves Glüna alone to explore the world. During the battle Ginka’s opponent ended up casting a spell that took their body and left Ginka in a state where they can only live in a snow environment.
Hearing this story Glüna goes to find Ginka and says they are going to explore the world together. Glüna then uses her magic to keep Ginka’s form by using wind magic to recreate the snowy mountain conditions.
Glüna and Ginka are suddenly attacked by a giant two headed beast. Glüna uses her magic to increase Ginka’s side to the beast. Ginka uses its new giant form to defeat the two headed beast.
With that Glüna and Ginka then take off to explore the world together. End of chapter.
The first chapter of Ginka & Glüna was a different reading experience compared to all the other mangas that we’ve had debut in the last year. While there is some world building, this first chapter is much more focused on developing Ginka and Glüna as the co-leads of the series. Even the environment that both characters aren’t have nobody except a magical, talking deer. The “emptiness” of the setting made for a whole different vibe out of the gate for this new Shonen Jump series.
In many ways Ginka & Glüna Chapter 1 reminds me more of the one-shot pilots that many mangaka use to pitch their series before getting the official first chapter out. The setting plays a key role in this as Shinpei Watanabe works to get you into the isolated mindset of both Ginka and Glüna. What makes it work is that Watanabe actually makes us first think this isolated environment is to build the world around Glüna. But as the chapter goes on we see that this setting actually speaks to who both Glüna and Ginka are when this series begins.
Which goes to how when it comes to Glüna’s character Watanabe does not focus in on why she is alone. Watanabe quickly gets over why Glüna is alone, with the opening color spread revealing her mother died in an epidemic. While that explains why Glüna is living alone it does not make her a sad character. Instead Glüna uses her isolated setting to work on figuring out how to achieve her goal of becoming a magician.
This in turn makes Ginka’s appearance the thing that Glüna has been looking for as she gets immediately excited over finding a magic user. It gets her passed how odd having a snowman suddenly come to life be something she accepts because Ginka is a sign for her achieving her goal. That motivation makes how quickly we go from Glüna not knowing magic to being an expert with a five year timeskip something you accept.
Watanabe also does a good job at giving us a general groundwork for the concept of magic in the world of Ginka & Glüna while not making the entire first chapter about that. With how this chapter focuses on Ginka and Glüna it was smart to keep the focus on delving into their respective characters. Just like the world itself, we have all the future chapters to see how magic works by how Ginka and Glüna use it against other magicians.
Making Glüna’s character work even better is how her happy nature is balanced out by the tragic backstory of Ginka. While Glüna’s origin is a sad one it did not keep from happily looking to achieve her goal. It’s the opposite for Ginka as they seemingly achieved the pinnacle of magic only for it to be taken from them in what appears to be a big battle with the main antagonist of this series.
There is a lot in Watanabe’s art that shine but its here in Ginka’s backstory that we see how good the art will be in this series. Watanabe captures the sadness Ginka feels after we learn about their backstory. That is complimented by how this backstory motivates Glüna to bring Ginka along for her adventures as she genuinely sees Ginka as not just her teacher but friend. It all worked really well to move them from having a teacher-student relationship to one where their bond of friendship will grow from here.
Now while the big kaiju battle between Ginka and the two-headed beast looked great it was the one part of the story that did not necessarily work as intended. The entire battle felt like Watanabe realized they had a few more pages in their allotted page count for the first chapter to still use up. It didn’t add anything to the impact of this chapter. It could’ve easily been something saved for the second chapter where we could’ve had more time to let the battle breathe.
Shinpei Watanabe delivers an enjoyable first chapter for the latest addition in Shonen Jump’s publishing line-up, Ginka & Glüna. Both Ginka and Glüna are set-up to be strong lead characters to build an entire world around. Hopefully that world is something we see built out as something that has a lot of long-term potential for Ginka & Glüna to have a long run.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10