In the United States, the word Otaky has come to mean people fairly obsessed and in love with anime. This E3, Namco Bandai announced a game that is Shonen Jump fanfic come to life: Jump Force.
A 3v3 fighter, Jump Force is bringing together your favorite franchises and tugging at your otaku hearts. Every character is pulled from Weekly Shonen Jump, a manga anthology that has been popular in Japan for decades. For Western audiences and particularly those living the united states the Shonen Jump stable of characters are by far some of the most recognizable and nostalgic characters that have achieved success from the late 80s onward.
In the debut trailer you see Dragon Ball Z’s Frieza and Goku, One Piece’s Luffy and Naruto’s title character Naruto and a special appearance from Light and Ryuk (who will not be available for play). Set in our world where these heroes from our favorite animes are united to fight for the survival of the world. In the cinematic trailer, we see iconic moves and supers including the fan favorite Spirit bomb which every anime fan has tried to replicate at some point in their life by yelling “Kame – hame – ha” as dramatically as possible.
When it comes to Shonen Jump characters, Bandai Namco is sitting on a pot of gold. There is a generation of kids who became otaku thanks to the advent of Toonami on Cartoon Network in the United States, rushing home to watch the afternoon hits. And these kids have grown into adults with cash to spend and a soft spot for the shonen that started their love of Japanese animation. They’re aware of this market, as producer Koji Nakajima says:
“We’re trying to make this game for a worldwide audience. We want to include iconic characters, characters that everyone around the world will see and go, “wow.’ But, also, we don’t want to be predictable either. Everybody expects us to include characters like Goku in the game, of course. We want to include a few surprises in there, too.”
In addition to the characters mentioned above Zoro (One Piece) and Sasuke (Naruto) have been announced as a part of the roster. With Nakajima’s words in mind, there are so many possibilities for the initial roster and even DLC after that. As a Saiyan fangirl, I hope I get to play Vegeta (Dragon Ball Z). But with the Jump franchises at the creator’s fingertips, it’s safe to think big and speculate the addition of characters from the Toonami classic Yu Yu Hakusho or the 2000s Adult Swim fan favorite, Bleach, to make an appearance.
In my opinion, Jump Force is a game to watch on the competitive fighting scene which is currently seeing a love for Dragonball Fighter Z – also published by Bandai Namco. The game mechanics seem difficult and the ability to interact with members on your team with references to their franchises is an added fan service that will make for epic tag-outs. Different than other 3v3 fighters, Jump Force, will use one HP bar for all three characters.
This means that as you rotate through your roster they won’t regen health and this means timing and combos will be key. With angles that seem to embody DBZ: Budokai Tenkaichi, I can’t wait to get my hands on the game and see how the gameplay matches my very high expectations. Will it be “just fan service” or will it be world shattering? Without a release date, we’ll have to wait and see.