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 plots thickening
Dr. STONE hit a major milestone this week with chapter 100. Not only did the manga reach its first centennial installment, but Senku and co. set out on their ocean voyage at last. The village splits into two camps (one to take care of things at home while the others set sail in search of Why-Man) and, naturally, all the best characters are on the ship. I’m glad Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi opted to progress through the shipbuilding process as quickly as they did, since we can now look forward to Senku and co. uncovering more secrets about the petrified world around them.
Senku’s reveal that the crew’s first stop will be at the island where his father’s team of astronauts landed millennia ago is also promising. I loved the brief glimpses we got of Senku’s relationship with his father back when his role in the plot was first explained, and I’m hoping for at least a little more of that. Add in the prospect of Senku having to use science to survive assaults from nature itself while the group is at sea and I’m very excited. Oh, and the references to Perseus and Medusa in this chapter were inspired.
This is also a big week for We Never Learn. In chapter 106, Nariyuki sits his mother down and announces that he’s decided to go to college to become an educator. It’s a nerve-wracking decision due to the fact that it will be more costly than his prior plans. She’s as accepting as could be, however, and points out that if he wants to make his family happy then he has to preserve his own happiness. It’s a heartwarming moment, and one that all of Nariyuki’s potential love interest get to take part in– since they were hiding right outside to eavesdrop before accidentally bursting through the door and revealing their presence. There’s a gag at the end where Nariyuki’s mom comments on how many potential brides there are, with all five leading women depicted in wedding dresses. Who will Nariyuki ultimately end up with? I suspect the series will dodge the question by not making any couple canon, although my personal favorite is Rizu.
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma really feels like it’s in its final stretch, and chapter 306 kicks off the duel between Soma and Asahi. The pair have been tasked with preparing a dish that incorporates elements from Indian, French, Turkish, Chinese, and Italian cuisine all at the same time. It’s a seemingly impossible task, and one that Asahi seems well-posed to accomplish given how sturdy his plot armor is. We get a few pages of him thinking back to various cooks he’s met who helped him polish his skills along the way. This is followed up by one of Soma’s classmates breaking the fourth wall and asking “How am I supposed to get emotionally invested when I don’t even know who those people are?!” Unfortunately, the series poking fun at this real concern doesn’t make it any less troublesome. At this point, Asahi will either lose to Soma or progress to the final and lose to Erina. Neither option sounds particularly meaningful given how forced the entirety of Asahi’s character arc feels.
This week’s chapters of Food Wars! and We Never Learn both feel like they’re guiding the series towards their respective conclusions, but they couldn’t be more different in their effectiveness. While We Never Learn turns its attention away from the love hexagon to give Nariyuki some meaningful time in the spotlight, Food Wars! feels like it’s trying it’s hardest to just be over already. Dr. STONE, meanwhile, continues to sail ever ahead with its infectious sense of fun and optimism.
The artistic standouts
When do I ever not obsess over Posuka Demizu’s work on The Promised Neverland? Chapter 130 depicts Emma telling all the other cattle children about her plan to go to the Seven Walls and negotiate a new promise. It’s an entirely character-driven chapter, and Demizu does a great job conveying all the kids’ expressions of confusion, acceptance, and worry. Though there’s no actual action this week, we do get a few gruesome images in Emma’s mind of what the consequences of Norman’s plan could look like. From the protagonists’ emotive faces to the disturbingly detailed depictions of demons devouring one another, this chapter is visually striking.
ACT-AGE also looks fantastic as always, though Shiro Usazaki’s work on chapter 60 is less over-the-top than Demizu’s in TPN. Yonagi has a relatively limited range of facial expressions for an actress, but Usazaki does a great job conveying all her subtle mood shifts. The shading and occasional use of patterns throughout are also lovely. Everything just looks really well-balanced, both in terms of coloration and composition.
Don’t let the above panel fool you, Chainsaw Man chapter 17 is one of this week’s funniest. Tatsuki Fujimoto’s work is over-the-top in a way I love. The pacing of the gags and dialogue is reminiscent of a good Adult Swim cartoon, with all the protagonists acting as proverbial straight men to the sheer insanity going on around them. There are so many shots of characters screaming at each other with their mouths wide open, tongues hanging out, and general ugliness that shows how, believe it or not, this is less a horror comic and more a straight-up farce.
The other funniest Jump offering this week is Yui Kamio Lets Loose chapter 5. I wrote last time about how tired I was of seeing Yui just fighting a different opponent from her past every week, but I never expected to see that trend get bucked in favor of her fighting an honest-to-God lion! This week’s chapter depicts Yui and Kiito’s very eventful trip to the zoo, with hilarious animal panels galore. Between the aforementioned lion and some shots of a shoebill stork mean-mugging at the reader, no other series made me laugh as hard as Yui did this week.
Ne0;lation chapter 16 finishes the last few chapters’ extended flashback to Ne0’s childhood, with his first real friend and the origin of his love for computers. The flashback ends in tragedy, as said friend ends up dying despite all of Ne0’s attempts to save her. I have extremely mixed feelings here. On one hand, it’s been great to actually get some insight into Ne0’s emotions as opposed to just his usual “*hacker voice* I’m in” persona. With that said, was there no other way to give him feelings than by fridging a woman? Ugg. Besides all the obvious and frequently pointed out problems with the Women in Refrigerators trope, the whole flow of this chapter feels very predictable and extra heavy on the trauma porn.
Hell Warden Higuma chapter 15 also features an extended flashback, albeit one with less emotional resonance. As problematic and overwrought as Ne0;lation was this week, it still had some legitimately touching moments. Higuma, on the other hand, is just kind of boring. We see Higuma’s father and aunt Azuma argue over betraying their cause and King Enma, but while their motivations make sense none of their feelings are made all that tangible. Azuma gets a little bit of page-time before her untimely demise and while it adds some likability to the character, it still isn’t enough to make her death impactful. To quote Food Wars!’s scathing critique of itself: “How am I supposed to get emotionally invested when I don’t even know who those people are?!”
All the rest
I always say that My Hero Academia is one of the best superhero comics currently being published, but chapter 223 isn’t much of an indication of that. It’s not terrible, but it’s not riveting either. The mini-arc starring the League of Villains has gone on long enough now that the feeling of it being a fun and unexpected side-romp has largely worn off. This week it’s abundantly clear how much less fleshed out and charming the League is compared to the series’ heroes. Kohei Horikoshi’s having the Leaguers act as familiar faces while introducing new villains isn’t very effective. We don’t know the new characters yet, and we only have a loose grasp on the older ones. If Horikoshi furthers Shigaraki’s character development soon then I could easily see my mind changing, though.
Last but not least is The Last Saiyuki chapter 6. This is a good chapter, though it feels kind of disappointing compared to how great the series’ previous installments were. Nonetheless, the white baku monster has a super cute design and the shot of it biting down on Shige’s head is hilarious. It’s a bit disappointing to see Shige lose his memories, as it would have been nice to let Ryunosuke have a human friend to confide in. On the bright side, the story is tightly paced with Sai revealing himself to the heroes at the chapter’s end. The reveal of his familial relationship to Koharu poses the question: “Just what the hell is he?”
The best chapter of the week
There were a few good candidates, but Yui Kamio Lets Loose secured its first top ranking this week. It was just a really successful fun and succinct romp. Hiroshi Shiibashi took his over-the-top characters, placed them in the relatively normal context of a zoo trip, and let everything go wild from there. I never expected to see Yui tame a lion with the same hair ties that subdue her own dark side, and the shoebill stork that opened and closed the chapter was comedy gold.