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Shonen Jump Recap – 3/3/18

The Last Saiyuki makes its dramatic debut.

Warning: Significant plot spoilers ahead!

Welcome to AiPT!’s weekly Shonen Jump recap column! This is where I share my reactions to the latest chapters of all the various Jump comics I’m following. From established 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.

The Last Saiyuki Chapter 1
Daijiro Nonoue
Translation and lettering by Pinkie-chan

Talk about making a first impression! I’ve read countless first issues and chapters of comics, and this one is ambitious. We get a great sense of who our main character Ryunosuke is, what his interests are, how his trials have shaped him, and what’s motivating him going forward. He has a complete character arc within this single chapter!

Besides immediately delivering a three-dimensional character, Nonoue introduces a bold premise that could play out in all manner of ways. The nature of divinity in this series, and by extension Koharu’s powers, still has plenty of room for further exploration. Then there’s this chapter’s opening pages. Chronologically speaking they take place after the rest of the chapter, which is essentially an extended prologue that provides the opening with even more context and intrigue than it already had on its own. I’m very excited to see where this series goes next.

My Hero Academia Chapter 218
Kohei Horikoshi
Translation by Caleb Cook, lettering by John Hunt

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This week’s chapter is great– the best in quite a while, honestly. There’s a lot of story progression in just fifteen pages, and it’s all promising. Bakugo and Todoroki finally get their provisional hero licenses, so that little loose end’s been tied up. We’re also introduced to Detnerat, a lifestyle company that’s entering the hero support business. Their commercials and CEO bring up the interesting topic of how people with Quirks would naturally have different consumer needs than regular humans. This chapter also alludes to a past war for metahuman liberation. It’s always nice to see more acknowledgement of how the manga’s world would struggle to adjust to the existence of Quirks.

On the less serious side of things we get some cute domestic moments with Class 1-A, to include shots of Ida looking like an adorable dad. The art in this chapter is great in general, with strong visual flow and comedy. The new characters all have quite nice designs to boot. Detnerat looks like it’ll occupy a unique role in the series (they’re seemingly antagonists, but they’re going after the League of Villains), which is exciting. All in all, this is a very good chapter.

Boys Over Flowers Season 2 Chapter 91
Yoko Kamio
Translation and lettering by Pinkie-chan

Man, nothing can ever go right for our protagonists, can it? Haruto is supposed to meet Oto and her family for dinner, but he ends up five hours late after Amei collapses in front of him and he has to take her to the hospital. The sense of dread and anxiety Oto feels as the wait gets longer and longer is palpable. Her parents are irritating as all get out, but that’s a good thing– they’re well-written characters who fulfill their roles in the story very well. Of course, the art here is also great. The lovely shading and patterns are always a pleasure to look at, and they add to the manga’s sense of gentle fragility. All in all, this is an enjoyably tense and dramatic chapter.

We Never Learn Chapter 101
Taishi Tsutsui
Translation by Camelia Nieh, lettering by Snir Aharon

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This was a good chapter that helped me see a character I previously disliked in a new light. Kirisu annoyed me from the manga’s start with her constant dismissal of other characters and her comparative lack of depth. This week we got more insight into her backstory as a figure skater and how pivotal it was for her to give up her sport to teach instead. Knowing her motivations and the events that melded her into such a hardass make her a lot more sympathetic. The series continues to handle topics of growing up and making adult decisions deftly.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Chapter 301
Yuto Tsukuda & Shun Saeki with Yuki Morisaki (recipe contributor)
Translation by Adrienne Beck, lettering by Mara Coman

This is the series’ best chapter in several weeks if not months. That’s thanks largely to the fact that we actually get a brief glimpse of Totsuki students hanging out and bantering with one another. This manga has a great extended cast, but we’ve hardly gotten to see any of them as of late. The creators seem to be paying attention to Erina as a character again too, which is good. There’s also a full-page shot of Takumi frozen by Erina’s icy talent and demeanor that’s particularly cool (pun unintended). With that said, the various plot lines in this arc still feel more than a little contrived. Nonetheless, I’m glad to see a much better chapter than we’ve been getting lately.

Hell Warden Higuma Chapter 10
Natsuki Hokami
Translation by Nathan A. Collins, lettering by Mark McMurray

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Another good chapter this week! Of the trio of Jump Start series that all debuted around the same time, Higuma’s probably the most consistently enjoyable. This week had a great sendoff to the kitsune demon, with strong dialogue and a real sense of who she was as a character. The unloving mother angle is really interesting, and the image of her baby as an unmoving, cradled stone is one I won’t soon forget. We also get some nice snippets showing how Higuma’s work drains hom emotionally, which helps further our understanding of the character. All in all, this was a good week for the series.

Dr. STONE Chapter 96
Riichiro Inagaki & Boichi with Kurare (science consultant)
Translation by Caleb Cook, lettering by Steve Dutro

God, I love this manga. I’ve never seen or read another piece of media that took scientific ideas and made them so fun! Senku continues his rapid technological progression this week as he develops both radar and sonar. The mysterious “Why-man” is theorized to be behind the planet’s petrification, making this the first time we’ve had an actual potential culprit. The art here is great, with Boichi delivering perhaps the most polished and pleasing line-work in any Jump comic this week. All in all, this is yet another great week for Dr. STONE.

The Promised Neverland Chapter 125
Kaiu Shirai & Posuka Demizu
Tranlation by Satsuki Yamashita, lettering by Mark McMurray

Viz Media

Wow. There’s so much going on here! This chapter depicts a meeting between Norman (acting as William Minerva) and the Geelan clan of demons, whose lord is more than a little imposing. You can feel the tension in the room as the characters strike up a supposed alliance, with both sides lying through their teeth about their true intentions. The series’ intrigue and subterfuge elements have been downplayed since the opening Grace Field House arc, but if this chapter is any indication then they’re back to stay. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out, as well as having more demons who are fleshed out characters and not just replaceable pawns.

Oh, and this week’s color page is gorgeous as well!

Ne0;lation Chapter 11
Tomohide Hirao & Mizuki Yoda
Translation by Christine Dashiell, lettering by Brandon Bovia

Meh. This isn’t a bad chapter but it’s just okay. The pacing of the reveals and Ne0’s strategy are quite good, and Yoda continues to show artistic skill. Unfortunately, the actual plot and characters continue to be dry. This feels like an okay manga made by creators with the potential to do better.

ACT-AGE Chapter 55
Tatsuya Matsuki & Shiro Usazaki
Translation by Camellia Nieh, lettering by Eve Grandt

Viz Media

I was wondering what direction this series’ next arc would take, and it’s both unexpected and exciting. Yonagi’s managers have forbidden her from acting again until she learns to define herself in more ways than through her craft, as a means of building up personal strength. It’s a very relatable concern for me right now (not with acting specifically, but with not defining myself solely by my interests). Plus, it just feels really fresh. How often do you see a protagonist get grilled about having important concerns besides their plot-centric goal? This arc should provide great opportunities for Yonagi to grow as a character, which I’m looking forward to.

Chainsaw Man Chapter 12
Tatsuki Fujimoto
Translation by Amanda Haley, lettering by Sabrina Heep

Wow. Okay. First off, as always, I really dig Fujimoto’s art style, and the characters’ exaggerated facial expressions are especially good.

Now besides that…we get some analysis of how achieving one’s dreams doesn’t always result in happiness. This could be a poignant, relatable sentiment if…you know…it wasn’t about Denji’s dissatisfaction after touching boobs for the first time. It’s sort of comical, but I feel like I’m laughing at the manga more than laughing with it. From the predictable gags to focusing solely on sex and not the series’ imaginative demon-infested world, this manga continues to make some choices.

Are they good choices? I don’t think so, but maybe others will find them more amusing than I do.

Best chapter of the week: My Hero Academia Chapter 218

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve been this excited about My Hero Academia. The Gentle Criminal and Endeavor arcs weren’t my cup of tea, and while the latest tournament arc was enjoyable it didn’t feel very consequential until its end. This week, though, Horikoshi effectively introduced a new group of antagonists, fleshed out the series’ lore a bit, showed some cute domestic moments with Class 1-A, and delivered great, polished art. Oh, and he did all of that in just fifteen pages. Plus Ultra!

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