Flash Review – Neru: Way of the Martial Artist

The martial arts are the lifeblood of Neruma Isami. He lives them, he breathes them, he even walks barefoot everywhere for training. However, he’s all alone with this passion, having no compatriot to share it with, that is until he meets a girl, Akebi Haiba, who, after a brief spar, introduces him to Amato High School—an institution dedicated to teaching the martial arts.

Blowing Through Characters:

The main setting being a high school, plenty of students enter Isami’s orbit. But characters come and go so quickly that I had a hard time tracking who was whom and who was related to whom. It eventually does strap down and focus its attention on one particular student, but that’s only after it’s plowed through a crowd of minor characters whose roles are so minor that with the lightest editorial work, they could’ve been scrubbed from the whole narrative.

The Unimpressive First Chapter:

Often, the first chapter in a series is among its best, or is the best if the series meets a premature end, but that’s not the case here. The plot of the first chapter is Isami losing a notebook, looking for it, and then dancing with a pretty lady. It’s so uneventful, the series wasting its precious first chapter on what might as well be an ordinary day, and if it botched up the first act this badly, I had little trust in a recovery. Though I am ye o’ li’l faith, and this manga shocked me when it pulled off the momentous task of, after its debut, becoming courteously good.

The Martial Arts:

I’ve never taken too great of an interest in martial arts, but this manga has a knack for showcasing its coolest applications, such as using the center of gravity to balance rocks. Isami appears to be a prodigy entering the school, but the lot of his classmates are even more badass, able to literally sweep him off his feet. There is one glaring fault, though, which is that it never focuses on any one art or technique, only bringing something up when it’s needed. The narrative mentions how there are eighteen martial arts but never bothers listing them at any point.

The Verdict:

Despite its flaws and less-than-impressive start, this manga was pretty good. It could’ve used some tools to hammer out its rough patches, but it was setting itself up for a decent long-haul. It’s another victim of the flawed Shonen Jump voting system, through which unpopular series are culled from circulation regardless of actual quality.

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