Rounding out the launch of new manga series debuting from rookie mangaka in Shonen Jump is Elck Itsumo’s Two On Ice. While Two On Ice will be Itsumo’s first ongoing manga series they have quite a bit of publishing history. After gaining notoriety in the 100th Tezuka Manga Award in 2020 with their one-shot titled “Norabio” Itsumo has published several other one-shots. Since 2021 Itsumo has published five different one-shots, the most notable being titled “Railway/Gateway.” Now how will Itsumo do in their ongoing manga debut? Let’s find out with Two On Ice Chapter 1: Reunion Spot.
Writer & Artist: Elck Itsumo
Skating Adviser: Narumi Takahashi
After watching ice skating prodigy Kisara Saotome, who was his same age, win contest after contest Hayuma Minekashi grows up with skating aspirations of his own.
Years later, after Kisara disappeared from the spotlight, as a third-year middle school student Hayuma tries his hands at professionally training as an ice skater. While being able to perform some self-taught moves Hayuma is left in amazement at a pro pair.
A girl who is Hayuma’s age takes him under her wing. While working together, and even showing his hidden potential for ice skating, Hayuma and the girl realize they have met as kids.
The girl reveals she is Kisara Saotome and retired from solo competition to compete in pairs. Kisara offers Hayuma the spot as her partner. End of chapter
Two On Ice immediately delivers a first chapter that shows this is a series that has a lot of potential. It’s a potential that will be developed as much as Elck Itsumo, hopefully, gets more experience as a mangaka. Keeping the story simple by focusing on our two lead characters’ goals was smart. Hayuma Minekashi and Kisara Saotome goals are simple and one where we can have many different story arcs that can spring from it.
Keeping the story simple is the smartest thing for Itsumo to do. The biggest reason is because throughout the first chapter of Two On Ice it is very apparent this is Itsumo’s first ongoing series. There is a lack of confidence in the way the flashbacks are presented to get over the story. Itsumo goes to the flashback well one too many times that conflicted with the natural flow of the story.
Worst part of the way the flashback element is that it became repetitive the second time Itsumo did this. When utilizing a narrative device it needs to feel like it is adding to the story. But instead because of how Two On Ice was paced the flashbacks seemed to be utilized to fill up the 58 page count Itsumo got for the first chapter. If Itsumo plans on utilizing flashbacks to dive into various characters backstory they’ll need to find a better way to pace it with the present day scenes.
The problems with the flashback utilization is as apparent as it is because the present day scenes do more than enough to tell the story. When Itsumo focuses on Hayuma Minekashi and Kisara Saotome as individuals and their dynamic together Two On Ice Chapter 1 is at its best. This first chapter should’ve honestly been paced to be told in the present tense.
The goal for Hayuma in particular is kept simple to understand why he is motivated to become an ice skater. There didn’t need t be some complicated backstory. Hayuma is just a kid who saw someone his age be so great at ice skating it inspired him to eventually pursue the sport. There may be more to Hayuma’s story when it comes to his family revealed later but it was for the best that was saved for later. The focus needed to be on his main force of inspiration. This allowed Hayuma having hidden potential to then be the stand out part of his character.
Hayuma’s simple motivations balance out how it is Kisara who has the more complicated backstory. Kisara story of a prodigy who had great success as a kid who then disappeared from the public eye is an intriguing story to unfold. Itsumo does a good job at implying there is much more to Kisara’s decision to stop competing as a solo ice skater at a young age. It allows Itsumo to dive into what it means for a prodigy to get so much success at such a young age.
At the same time, this works into the Hayuma and Kisara pairing to be one filled with potential. As is stated, Two On Ice is a story about a newbie with unknown hidden potential paired with a former prodigy who disappeared from the figure skating world. This quickly established the mission statement for the series as a whole. Then with the initial rivals established there are plenty of ways to go from here.
From an at perspective, this is where Itsumo has to improve the most. It may be because Itsumo was tasked with drawing 58 pages, including three color pages, but there were a lot of rushed panels and character designs. There are moments you are taken out of the story because it was clear that Itsumo didn’t have enough time to finish the artwork. At various points it just seemed Itsumo turned in pages that still had rough draft sketches as placeholders they didn’t get to go back to finish.
Two On Ice is a series with a ton of potential. Both series leads are presented with clear goals with backstories that can be explored in various ways. As long as Elck Itsumo can improve as they move forward with the series Two On Ice can fill the competitive sports genre hole in Shonen Jump line-up since the likes of Haikyu and Kuroko’s Basketball ended.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10