Hungry Joker | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐1/2
"Follows the adventures of a scientist Haiji and his assistant Chitose. One day the doctor is called to resolve a mystery about a glowing corpse. From the will of an unknown power the corpse then transforms into a monster and Haiji has to defeat it, to learn all about a mysterious black apple which can regenerate itself and which when eaten will enable someone to control gravity."
Hungry Joker is a manga series written and illustrated by Yūki Tabata, the author behind Black Clover. This was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump before it concluded with 24 chapters collected into 3 volumes.
Yūki Tabata is the author behind Black Clover, a series that I love and think is still underrated despite being a top-selling series. This made me wonder though how good this series was if it was cancelled. It, uh, wasn't the best series ever.
Let's get into the details.
The only comment I have to make here is that the art is a bit chaotic and it's hard to see what is going on.
Also, there is no English translation for this series, but I think there may be some in other languages.
This was originally a one-shot that was turned into a series, albeit a very short-lived one. This had a lot of weak points, the plot among them. If you start with the one-shot and then move into the series, you will probably be confused just as I was because the one-shot has nothing to do with the series. Aside from the characters, they are completely different stories. As such, I am just going to ignore it and move on to the actual series.
The only memory Haiji has from his childhood is glowing bodies and a black apple. In order to find out what happened he does a series of experiments on a black apple in his possession, and his journey eventually leads him to a crime scene where glowing bodies were found. His investigations lead him, and his assistant Chitose, straight to the Mavro's, 'higher beings' set on destroying the world, and the White Joker, an organization tasked with stopping them.
The plot was okay, though I wasn't a big fan of the fact that the plot relies heavily on science, or rather science history. I will get more into that in the next section, but I found it a rather odd premise to have for this kind of series. If this went on a bit longer it could have gotten more interesting if it started to delve more into Haiji's past, but it didn't. The story also spends most of the time introducing the different members of the White Joker which, does make sense, but since this got cancelled it resulted in a less interesting plot.
As it neared the end as well, the pacing increased exponentially once all the context and character introductions were out of the way. There is a sudden time jump and we arrive at a climax point with nothing beforehand to help build it up. It is not like the author was trying to pick up the pace trying to wrap up the story because of the cancellation, no. There is no wrapup to the story and, in fact, the series ends right before a huge fight which is anti-climactic.
All in all, the plot just wasn't developed enough to make a satisfying read.
As stated in the previous section, this world and its magic system rely on objects from scientific history. Haiji, for example, wields Newton's Apple which gives him the ability to control gravity. It is an interesting concept in theory, but in execution I found it to be a bit odd. The author really leaned into using scientific terms as the abilities granted by the objects are called Eureka's. Again though, it wasn't my favourite concept or magic system ever despite it being unique. That being said, the magic system does lose itself a bit as the concept gets a bit too big in areas in terms of ability advancements, and it makes no sense.
What I will give the author though is that, at the bare minimum, there is a group of bad guys and an organization to fight them. The White Joker was fine, but the Mavro's were a bit...much. I will talk about this more in the next section.
Starting with Haiji, his character was a bit too bland, and that is because of the way he was developed. He is a very deadpan character who doesn't show many emotions. This may have worked for Yuno in Black Clover because he was a secondary character and not the main one, but it doesn't work for Haiji who is. It made him feel very detached not only from the other characters but from the reader as well. At one point he was literally pinned to a wall by rebar and his facial expression still didn't change. Sure he is missing 6 years of memory, but that shouldn't affect his emotional capacity that much.
What he does have though that others don't is a backstory. His backstory does become a main plot point, so you would have to flesh it out, but not fleshing out every other character is a misstep. We don't even get to know much about Chitose, who is a main secondary character.
As for the bad guys, the Mavro, I wasn't a fan of their characterization. They are essentially gods and have the complex to go with it. It is not explained, however, why they want to do what they are doing. They just say they want to destroy the world for some reason and that is all the context we get about them.
Tabata really hit his stride with Black Clover because this was not it. That series is infinitely better and managed to accomplish more in the same amount of time as this. In terms of series with a plot focused on science, Dr. Stone is the better way to go and it stick to the science rather than being SFF. There is also Eden's Zero as well if you like the idea of gravity manipulation.