Hit the “Random” button and see what comes up! In this feature, we take a look at whatever manga the Random Number God decides to throw at us and find out if it’s worth your time.
This time: Mashounen B.T., by Hirohiko Araki
It seems I ended up with another historical manga this time, though not necessarily in the same vein of Cooking Papa. The more astute and less moronic of you might recognize Hirohiko Araki as the mangaka behind all-time classic shonen manga Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Cool Shock B.T. is apparently his very first serialized work, and he mentions in the afterword how it allowed him to move to Tokyo and start being a mangaka full time. History! And even crazier, though complete and utter random chance, this post ended up going live on Hirohiko Araki’s birthday! Whoa!
Cool Shock B.T. follows the misadventures of a couple of kids: Kouichi, who is the sensible and boring audience surrogate, and the eponymous B.T., who is some sort of unholy cross between Dio Brando at maximum asshole and Joseph Joestar at his trickiest. Each chapter (and there are only a few) involve some sort of “incident” where the two kids get into trouble somehow, and then get out of it via B.T.’s trickery and moral looseness.
Hallmarks of Araki’s style can be seen all throughout Cool Shock B.T. Perhaps most obvious is B.T.’s penchant for stage trickery and sleight of hand, complete with lengthy narration and page-sized diagrams of what exactly is happening. B.T. looks and acts just like a young Dio Brando, and his grandmother looks like Erina during JoJo‘s second arc. Other things like prominent written sound effects and assholish authority figures only add to the feeling that you’re really reading something by the same mangaka (yknow, if it weren’t obvious just by looking at the name on the page).
Verdict: Interesting but Inconsequential
I’m one of the biggest fans of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure on the blog, so it was fun to see Araki’s beginnings as a mangaka, but Cool Shock B.T. doesn’t really have much to offer in way of substance. It’s only a single volume in length with hardly any cohesive plot, and it feels incredibly dated. The framing device of Kouichi regaling the tales of his exploits is interesting, but only in passing. So, unless you have an incredible urge to see Hirohiko Araki’s first serial for some reason, give this one a pass.