#23: 87Clockers by Tomoko Ninomiya
When I heard that Shueisha’s Jump would start a josei magazine, I was skeptical. Jump may have a following that spans a large age range and influences both sexes but I never felt they had the “josei” touch. Jump rode on a formula and given that their josei magazine bears Shueisha’s most famous franchise, I doubted if they had what it takes to catch up with the new wave of poignant josei stories with their magazine Jump X (pronounced as Kai and not X).
Ninomiya Tomoko was Jump X‘s darling poster child, the banner girl that they will be doing things “right” with Jump X. At that time Ninomiya just finished the first run of Nodame Cantabile. Other authors were sound among Josei fans (I believe Est Em joined them later on) but none were particularly worthy of public attention apart from Ninomiya.
So when they finally announced the title, 87clockers, I was hoping for something spectacular. Instead, and not disappointingly, I met the same Ninomiya that has the same quirkiness, intelligence, obsession and humor as I did in Nodame. Which was all right… I think.
Overclocking is like F1
The first few pages of 87Clockers comes with a whole lot of questions. You have astronauts wanting to go home from the space station. Chinese military on an uproar. Indian engineers who are watching the developments of a Japanese guy named Mike who seems to have broken a record again. Then you meet a music student, Kanade Ichinose, whose talent and luck has ran out that other music students are getting ahead of him and during his slump, he finds vigor in a girl he saw on his way home — crying and barefoot outside her home, in the middle of winter.
87Clockers story revolves around these three: Kanade, Mike, and Hana. Kanade’s curiosity for the crying girl eventually led him down Mike and Hana’s world of overclocking. Overclocking is the process of tinkering with your computer in order to speed up its processing so that you can play games without frags/delays. Mike simply describes it as the F1 of PC computing and according to Hana, assembling it is as easy as pie (although not as inexpensive!) Kanade’s literally dragged out of curiosity and affection for Hana that he eventually finds himself in an overclocking mess.
The first two volumes expands the world of how far overclocking can push your PCs and their owners to the extremes. You’ll see technological debates about using a liquid or an air cooling system. How much they affect frags and the importance of keeping your speed at bay. And then there are things like competitions, games, easter eggs, and things that may have probably lost a Ninomiya fan from her Nodame fame.
87Clockers is a familiar yet different world. To me, at least. I’ve spent some time in my youth dabbling with computers. I can relate to the need to modify and arrange PCs and it’s hilarious to see them go wax poetic for overclocking. It had a teeny touch of classical music. I suppose that’s nice. It even had romance which is always welcome. It even has cabaret girls and it even has a cat. What can be dragging about this title is it’s also very technical. So technical unless you’re a big fan of overclocking, you’ll be muting a good percent of the comic which gets deep into the technical bits. Some of the humor is also technical. In fact, it’s Ninomiya geekery unleashed so the comic oozes with her fascination of overclocking.
It is however, not exactly the josei title I was expecting to carry Jump X. It seems detached from women’s interest and emotions but it does provide an interesting insight to something new. If this is to represent “new direction” that Jump X intends to traverse, then… I… can… give it a shot? I don’t know. It feels like one of those moments where the name just didn’t live up to the brand. I’m not as hot on 87Clockers as I was with Nodame but since I’m fascinated with computers and technology and Ninomiya’s still an oddball of a writer. I might give it a look once in a while but don’t expect me to run to speed for it.
87 Clockers by Tomoko Ninomiya
Serialized in Jump X
Published by Shueisha