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Shonen Jump Recap – 3/17/19

There’s new lore abound in The Last Saiyuki and The Promised Neverland.

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 3
Daijiro Nonoue
Translation and lettering by Pinkie-chan

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Awesome shonen manga, exhibit A: The Last Saiyuki. Nonoue continues to accomplish so much all at once, and so effectively. We’ve gotten great introductions to our core characters, and Ryunosuke is already a compelling protagonist with an emotionally affecting backstory. The series’ core concepts have been well-established, and the histories of the two main opposing forces get explored this week.

Then there’s the introduction of the manga’s first named villains at this chapter’s end. All I can say is “Whoa.” From Sai’s simple and unassuming schoolboy appearance to his lackies’ elaborate get-ups, their designs are all fantastic. And that wide shot of the multi-armed demon killing a room full of trapped innocents? Holy s--t. This manga is going full throttle and I love it.

Ne0;lation Chapter 13
Tomohide Hirao & Mizuki Yoda
Translation by Christine Dashiell, lettering by Brandon Bovia

The end of this chapter points out something that’s been bothering me for weeks: we still know nothing about Ne0 himself. Hopefully next week’s installment will help rectify this and explore his origin a bit.

As far as the rest of what’s here though…meh. The racing arc is finally over, and as a whole it felt like a strange and ineffective way to further the plot. The hints of backstory regarding the Gevaudan name were cool, but all the driving and Brother Taa stuff didn’t feel necessary to reach the conclusion. The art is fine but lacks any unique flair or personality, much like the characters themselves. Meh.

My Hero Academia Chapter 220
Kohei Horikoshi
Translation by Caleb Cook, lettering by John Hunt

Viz Media

Two great weeks in a row now! Having a chapter all about the League of Villains is a cool change of pace, and the choice to use Spinner as a narrator is inspired. We get some great action shots of all the Leaguers, but the best is easily the splash page of Tomura using his Quirk to dismantle the series’ logo. I also love the introduction of the Creature Rejection Clan and the acknowledgement of how people with heteromorphic Quirks would face major prejudice in society.

My only complaint this week is just with how generic All For One’s gigantic disciple is. Hopefully he’ll get some character development, but from a design perspective he’s such a boring brute. Nonetheless, this is a great week for MHA.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Chapter 303
Yuto Tsukuda & Shun Saeki with Yuki Morisaki (recipe contributor)
Translation by Adrienne Beck, lettering by Mara Coman

This manga sure is a shell of its former self. You’d think Tadokoro facing the current antagonist (Asahi) in a duel would provide ample opportunity for her to show off her skills, but it doesn’t. Only Asahi’s dish gets any page-time, and all descriptions of it just say the same thing: that he wins by doing the impossible.

Far be it from me to demand strict realism in shonen manga. Kuroko’s Basketball is one of my favorite series, and even Food Wars! itself has dipped its toes into the supernatural before. But the way this whole conflict is framed destroys all possibility for an enjoyable conclusion. If Asahi can only win by doing the impossible, then Soma and Erina can only beat him by achieving some other brand of impossible task. When the cooking can no longer be mimicked in real life, all the gimmicks become equally unimpressive because none of them have to contend with reality’s demands and limitations.

In short: I’m bored, and Tadokoro deserved better.

We Never Learn Chapter 103
Taishi Tsutsui
Translation by Camelia Nieh, lettering by Snir Aharon

Viz Media

This was a good chapter. After the last mediocre mini-arc, it’s nice to get an enjoyable one-and-done story. Seeing Sekijo actually befriend Yuiga and Ogata is sweet, and her science experiment is a great source for a gag: it’s simple, fits the character, and places the trio in a situation where all their romantic tensions rise. Even Sekijo’s Ogata-themed decor is funny, obvious though the joke may be. This week’s last page is especially good, throwing in an authentic emotional moment at the end of all the hijinks.

ACT-AGE Chapter 57
Tatsuya Matsuki & Shiro Usazaki
Translation by Camellia Nieh, lettering by Eve Grandt

I love ACT-AGE. The art is so pleasing to look at, from the page layouts to the gleams in characters’ eyes that match their emotions perfectly. Yonagi’s fakeout when she acts terrified and shouts “Run!” so everyone else will clear the hallway is fantastic. The shot of the imaginary zombies creeping up on her friends, paired with the adjacent panel’s close-up on her eye widening in shock, is so good. There’s really nothing I dislike about this week’s chapter. We get some nice character moments, a fantastic display of Yonagi’s abilities, and tons of great art. I loved it all around.

Hell Warden Higuma Chapter 12
Natsuki Hokami
Translation by Nathan A. Collins, lettering by Mark McMurray

Viz Media

This series is on a roll. The dives into Higuma’s past and motivations continue, and they reveal the series’ next antagonist as well. This spirit feels much more consequential than any of the others the protagonists have fought thus far, and his molten copper powers are very cool. There are two major “Oh s--t” moments this week, one violent and one depicting the calm before the storm. Hokami’s line-art here is some of their strongest thus far, and the nighttime scenes look beautiful. Here’s hoping that the rest of this arc doesn’t waste all the great potential that’s built up here.

Chainsaw Man Chapter 14
Tatsuki Fujimoto
Translation by Amanda Haley, lettering by Sabrina Heep

Art-wise, Fujimoto continues to impress. His style paradoxically looks polished while retaining a rough feel, and the characters’ expressions are beyond over-the-top. The flow of action is also great, particularly in a two-page spread that manages to make characters walking down a hallway look exciting.

Plot-wise we get a brief flashback of Aki’s past which helps flesh him out a bit. There’s also a very humorous twist at the end that curtails the scene’s dramatic tension in favor of the ridiculous. It’s these over-the-top and ridiculous moments that continue to be the series’ strongest. If I try to take Denji or any of his motivations seriously then I feel disgusted, but just treat him as a dumbass in a strange horror comedy and the reading experience gets much more enjoyable.

Maybe that’s just me trying to ignore all the sex-themed antics in order to preserve my own sanity. Either way, the art sure is nice.

Yui Kamio Lets Loose Chapter 2
Hiroshi Shiibashi
Translation by Daniel Komen, lettering by Michelle Armstrong

Viz Media

I’m really liking this series. The premise is simple and entertaining, and Shiibashi knows how to just let the protagonists play off each other entertainingly. Of the two Yuis, the Yui in black is easily the more fun to follow since she’s so chaotic and powerful. With that said, it’s Kiito who steals the show this week. His lamentations over Yui’s duplicity are funny, and he’s a great straight man to bounce all the manga’s ridiculous motifs off of.

I also have to note how fantastic Kiito’s fashion is. Shiibashi puts in the time to consistently render his uber-detailed clothing, and it goes a long way in maintaining the character’s posh sensibilities. This chapter also makes good use of comedic sound effects and dramatic contrast. It’s just fun all around.

Dr. STONE Chapter 98
Riichiro Inagaki & Boichi with Kurare (science consultant)
Translation by Caleb Cook, lettering by Steve Dutro

This was yet another great chapter as usual. What was less expected, however, was how this chapter made me actually like Ryusui for the first time. First of all, the color page of him and Francois is just plain ridiculous in a great way. Then we get some flashbacks to the characters’ pasts that frame Ryusui’s greed in a less contemptible light by showcasing the perseverence with which he seeks what he desires.

Boichi’s artwork is next level good as always. From shading to page compositions to characters’ facial expressions, everything is on-point. I especially love the sheer joy of the chapter’s first half in which Senku and co. reinvent paved roads. Seeing the protagonists overcome steep odds to rebuild civilization one invention at a time never ceases to feel satisfying.

The Promised Neverland Chapter 127
Kaiu Shirai & Posuka Demizu
Tranlation by Satsuki Yamashita, lettering by Mark McMurray

Viz Media

Talk about a heavy chapter! There’s perhaps more new demon lore here than in any other chapter in the series. The full truth about Mujika has finally been revealed, and it has larger implications than I could have ever previously imagined. The nature of the protagonists’ war with demons, and the moral question of if it should continue, makes the series’ course from here virtually impossible to predict.

With that said, as great as the lore is, I’m more interested in the conflicts between our heroes. Emma, Ray, and Norman made such a lovable trio in the opening arc, but will they all remain on the same side? I can’t shake the feeling that Norman’s going to become a villain before this is all over. Regardless of what happens, if the series remains so consistently excellent then it’s going to go down as one of the best shonen series ever (in my opinion, at least).

Boys Over Flowers Season 2 Chapter 92
Yoko Kamio
Translation and lettering by Pinkie-chan

This is easily one of Jump’s prettiest series. Kamio’s shading and her knack for balanced compositions are just lovely, and the characters’ dramatic facial expressions are a perfect fit for the romantic drama. I was pleasantly surprised by how Kaguragi’s talk with Oto’s father played out this week. Not only did it subvert expectations for a gruff and territorial father, but it provided some nice commentary on Oto herself as well. My only real con is that the chapter’s cliffhanger felt predictable, but that’s not a big deal all things considered.

Best chapter of the week: The Last Saiyuki Chapter 3

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This was a great week for Shonen Jump. There were only a couple of duds, and the rest of the series were all very enjoyable. With that said, the top spot easily goes to The Last Saiyuki. I’ve been so impressed by this manga ever since it debuted, and this week it blew the rest of Jump away by packing effective character drama, lore, action, and instantly compelling new villains all within a mere 23 pages.

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