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Shonen Jump Recap – 2/3/19

A crucial new character debuts in Dr. STONE.

Warning: Significant plot spoilers ahead!

Welcome to AiPT!’s weekly Shonen Jump recap column! I’ll be sharing my reactions to the latest chapters of all the various Jump comics I’m keeping up with from week to week. From current hits to the latest Jump Start series, I have plenty to talk about. With that said, be warned: there are some major spoilers ahead, so be careful reading further if you have yet to catch up on this week’s new releases.

Dr. STONE Chapter 92
Riichiro Inagaki & Boichi with Kurare (science consultant) & Convivialite (additional resources)
Translation by Caleb Cook, lettering by Steve Dutro

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This chapter featured the reanimation of Ryushi Nanami’s former butler and personal chef François, and boy was I worried at first. It looked like the manga was gearing up for for the usual transphobic/gender ambiguity-based humor found in the shonen genre, but so far the character’s personality hasn’t been defined by that. Their prim and proper sense of duty is the source of some good laughs, and they’re sure to be a pivotal player in Senku’s upcoming journeys. With that said, there’s also a brief scene with Minami Hokutozai that reminds one of just how thoroughly and needlessly the women in this series are sexualized in this series. Need a panel of Minami standing? Why not just have her arched over so far that it looks like you could rest a plate on her ass? While this chapter has good art and gags as always, the treatment of Minami and my lingering suspicions over how well François will be handled make it a less enjoyable read than usual.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Chapter 297
Yuto Tsukuda & Shun Saeki with Yuki Morisaki (recipe contributor)
Translation by Adrienne Beck, lettering by Mara Coman

Where Dr. STONE arises suspicions but doesn’t definitively abandon good taste, Food Wars! gleefully crosses the line and plays hopscotch on it. Have the manga’s recent plot decisions and character assassinations rubbed you the wrong way? Do you find the current arc questionable at best? Well, if you didn’t hate it already, this week introduces a crowd of villainous onee (in this context, a potentially pejorative term for people who aren’t cisgender women but who act in a feminine manner, and are often specifically gay or trans). The onee’s designs play up every bad trope of trans women one could imagine, and they literally kidnap and tie up one of the heroes. Reading this chapter feels like watching queer-coded villains in an old film act flamboyantly before getting defeated by a straighter and more morally upstanding protagonist. Barf.

My Hero Academia Chapter 215
Kohei Horikoshi
Translation by Caleb Cook, lettering by John Hunt

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This chapter may be short, but Horikoshi still packs in plenty of evidence for why he’s the best superhero comic artist currently in the game. The sense of energy to the action scenes is great as always. With that said, this chapter is heavy on narration to the point of feeling a bit bogged down by it. Deku’s new power (courtesy of one of his predecessors) is almost immediately taken off the board. The reason given makes sense, but the whole thing still seems a bit anticlimactic. Nonetheless, this was a good chapter overall.

Ne0;lation Chapter 7
Tomohide Hirao & Mizuki Yoda
Translation by Christine Dashiell, lettering by Brandon Bovia

At first this chapter makes it look like Lemming’s time as an antagonist isn’t over, but then we meet a much more interesting villain: Gevaudan. His design is fantastic, with so many disparate elements (from his exposed corset to the thigh-length zippers down both legs) that shouldn’t all work together but do. The existence of a group of evil hackers is also announced, setting the stage for upcoming conflicts. With that said, this series still doesn’t feel particularly notable. I think the issue is largely that none of the protagonists are all that compelling. Neo himself shows very little personality, and I don’t really care about his goals or if he achieves them. It will be difficult for this manga to stand out much if its main hero remains this bland for much longer.

The Promised Neverland Chapter 121
Kaiu Shirai & Posuka Demizu
Tranlation by Satsuki Yamashita, lettering by Mark McMurray

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This chapter’s success comes largely from a dichotomy that was also common throughout the series’ opening arc: a seemingly happy family bonding with an undercurrent of impending doom in the background. Shirai and Demizu do a great job depicting Emma’s internal struggle, as she watches all her siblings react with glee to Norman’s murderous plan. There’s a great sense of mental isolation that contrasts extremely well with the scenes of tearful reunion throughout. Watching the kids enter their new house for the first time reminded me of the episode “Evil Shows His Face” from Digimon Adventure. This is all clearly too good to be true, which just makes the traumatized children’s temporary happiness all the more affecting. This series keeps me perpetually unsure about what’s going to happen next, which I love.

Hell Warden Higuma Chapter 6
Natsuki Hokami
Translation by Nathan A. Collins, lettering by Mark McMurray

After a few chapters that were just okay, this week sees an upswing for Hell Warden Higuma. The art’s quite good, especially where shading and page layouts are concerned. We also get to see a but more of Higuma’s everyday life and are introduced to some new characters in the process. His disgruntled trainer, Abo, is already quite likable. It’s also established that Higuma still has a ways to go in honing his skills. He’s taken down villains very easily thus far, so it’s good to see groundwork being built for him to grow and seem less invincible. All in all, this was a good chapter.

Chainsaw Man Chapter 8
Tatsuki Fujimoto
Translation by Amanda Haley, lettering by Sabrina Heep

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What can I say about Chainsaw Man that I haven’t already said before? Each new chapter just elicits the same reactions from me. Fujimoto is a great draftsman, and his talents would be a great match for a horror comic. This series definitely has elements of that genre, as evident in the great designs of the bat devil and Denji’s Chainsaw Man form. Unfortunately, all the manga’s violent intensity is hampered by another extreme: Denji’s reason for living being to touch boobs. It’s almost comical in the worst way, but it’s hard to recommend a series with such a shallow character whose flaws aren’t actually delved into whatsoever. I will say that the flow of the action in this chapter is great, though.

We Never Learn Chapter 97
Taishi Tsutsui
Translation by Camelia Nieh, lettering by Snir Aharon

Nariyuki’s dream is revealed: he wants to be a teacher! I didn’t see this coming, although perhaps that’s just because I’m daft. It makes total sense for the character, and the way his decision plays out really brings his arc full circle. Seeing all the main characters continue to support each other in their chosen endeavors, difficult though they may be, is heartwarming. With that said, I don’t know how much farther this series can go narratively. Continuing the story into the characters’ college days would pose problems as far as their ability to still see each other regularly, so I won’t be surprised if Tsutsui wraps things up around their graduation. I’ll gladly be keeping up with the remaining chapters though, however many (or few) there may be.

Best chapter of the week: The Promised Neverland Chapter 121

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After two weeks in a row at the top, Dr. STONE loses its spot to The Promised Neverland. This week, Shirai and Demizu really showed their talents for emotional storytelling and delivering undercurrents of dread alongside happy facades. What should be (and to at least some degree, still is) a joyous reunion is greatly complicated by the harsh reality that all that joy is going to crumble soon. How? I don’t know, which means the creators are successfully keeping me on my toes.

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