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
Emma’s plan to avoid total demon eradication takes a big step forward this week in The Promised Neverland chapter 131. She and Ray make their way back to the Seven Walls, and this time they take a different route. As a result we get to see a giant stone door with mysterious carvings, as well as all other manner of foreboding imagery. In a nice callback, Emma and Ray reach their destination by following the procedure laid out across the ceilings of the temple they visited in chapter 103. Posuka Demizu delivers fantastic artwork as always, really selling the grandeur and air of mystery at the Seven Walls. There’s a particularly impressive two-page spread with Emma and Ray standing before the door with gigantic black trees in the background. They look so small compared to their surroundings, and they feel even smaller compared to the eons of history they’re up against.
While the duo’s trip to make a new promise is huge plot-wise, the chapter ends with something even more interesting: another brief glimpse of the demon aristocracy. We get our first looks at the heads of powerful demon families, including lords related to the fallen poachers from the Goldy Pond arc. They all have very cool, flamboyant costumes littered with details and accessories befitting of royalty. The most striking of all, though, belongs to a character who makes her debut on the very last page: Queen Legravalma. All I can say is “Holy s--t.”
I also want to mention how cute this week’s opening color pages are. They depict Emma, Ray, Norman, Phil, Mujika, Thoma and Lani soaring above the Earth alongside colorful fish kites. Seeing Phil again is especially nice, even if for a short non-canonical moment.
This is also an eventful week for Dr. STONE. Chapter 101 hits on a number of different plot points including the Perseus crew’s quest for treasure, namely the Soyuz Space Capsule. The series’ knack for making everyday items from our time into ultra valuable relics brimming with scientific potential never gets old. Even more exciting are the flashbacks to how Senku learned Ishigami Village’s 100 Tales. These long-winded stories full of metaphors connect Senku back to his father and his crew, and their delivery is quite amusing.
Unfortunately, the last major plot point in the chapter is less well-handled. We’re introduced to a new Ishigami villager who’s going to play a major role in guiding Senku and co. to the island where they’ll find their treasure. The issue is that, despite having a very unique appearance and being the only villager outside of the core group who’s an outsider, he somehow never came up until the plot suddenly demanded it. I’m still looking forward to the island adventure arc, but the catalyst for getting there just seems too convenient.
The action scenes
Action doesn’t always mean punches and kicks. Rather, sometimes it means cooking. Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma chapter 307 shows the cooking stage of Yukihira’s duel with Asahi. Well, sort of but not really. There are a few great shots of Soma flinging ingredients around and cutting them in midair, but they’re all just onions, mushrooms, and the like. Things you use to enhance the flavor of food but that don’t stand out on their own as the basis for a meal. In fact, we get through the entirety of the combatants’ cooking processes without learning much of anything about what they’ve made. It’s not unusual for the series to save some surprises until the actual judging, but this just feels ridiculous. Add in some vague platitudes about both Soma and Asahi working their hardest just to barely finish cooking in time and you’ve basically got the whole chapter. Soma’s portion at least calls back to his training under Shinomiya, which is a nice touch.
I went into Chainsaw Man chapter 18 expecting another comedic installment like last week’s, but this one stands out for its gory violence. After the group argues in circles about how to escape their current predicament, Denji ultimately jumps right into the maw of the demon threatening their lives. Like, he actually leaps into its mouth– just to convert into his chainsaw form and began slicing it up from the inside. I still really love Denji’s design when he’s in this mode. It’s fantastically brutal and would feel right at home in a bloody, exploitative-style horror series. Here, it contrasts sharply from the usual humor in a way that works. Love it or hate it (or both, as I do depending on the chapter), Chainsaw Man is never not over-the-top.
Yui Kamio Lets Loose chapter 6 channels both action and humor with ease this week. Kiito finds himself stuck watching after Yui as they undergo physical fitness tests, constantly keeping an eye out to prevent anything or anyone from removing the hair-chain that stops her more violent alter-ego from coming out. Trouble comes in the form of Kara Shozoin, a classmate who’s jealous of all the attention Kiito’s been showing Yui instead of her. In an effort to find out exactly what’s going on, she sends her combat-trained team of spies to remove Yui’s chain. This results in several shots of adult men in various ridiculous get-ups, including full leather and gas masks, attacking high schoolers on race tracks and through sand pits. The utter ridiculousness is entertaining, largely because of how spectacularly the spies fail at their mission. All in all, this series continues to be an enjoyable farce.
The character developments
No series impresses more from a character standpoint this week than ACT-AGE. In chapter 61 we get to see the cinema club’s film, and its contents are surprising: the life Yonagi would have led if she’d never started acting. In other words, an actress portraying herself sans that descriptor. It’s been nice to see Yonagi befriend other people her age outside of movie shoots and theater rehearsals, and this arc ends with one actually feeling like the characters have grown as a result of its events. As passionate as Yonagi is about her craft, we’ve gotten to see that she actually exists outside of it. It must also be mentioned that the opening color page is downright adorable.
Meanwhile, Ne0;lation chapter 17 finishes off the series’ flashback to Neo’s childhood before resuming in the present. There’s now a much clearer sense of what sort of criminals Neo has set out to fight and why. Despite having worked alongside them since the series’ inception, he just now seems to have started viewing the other protagonists as his friends. The chapter ends with a touching shot of him smiling, which is a very nice development for the previously uber generic “hacker voice I’m in” character.
Sai, Ryunosuke, and Koharu all get time to shine in The Last Saiyuki chapter 7. I wasn’t expecting the reveal about Sai and Koharu having once been a single being, though it’s not yet clear what that actually means. What is certain is that Ryunosuke and Koharu’s sibling bond is still every bit as touching as it was in chapter 1. Despite all the action and the life-or-death stakes, the most important conflict here happens when Koharu tries to make her brother give up on her. Their resolution to stay together after a tearful embrace is one of this week’s most touching Jump moments.
Unfortunately, My Hero Academia: Vigilantes chapter 51 is about as good as the series’ last several installments. In other words, I’m bored. About a third of the chapter consists of pro heroes standing around and discussing how best to do respond to the current crisis, namely by each hero doing whatever it is they do best. Then we get to some actual action with Captain Celebrity and…I’d rather have just watched the other heroes keep talking. Koichi’s sheer anxious courage and determination continue to be endearing, but he feels out of place among characters who all either lack his likability or simply don’t possess it here (but do have it in the main series).
This week’s other spin-off comic, Boys Over Flowers Season 2 chapter 94, is much more enjoyable. Haruto reflects on his connection with Oto and how he doesn’t need to worry too much despite how tragically his dinner appointment with her parents went. It’s nice to see a more mature and self-assured side to the character. That is, until he realizes Oto’s gone to visit Tenma overseas. The chapter’s ending shot of Haruto instructing his butler to arrange a flight by private jet is humorous, and creator Yoko Kamio’s more than earned my faith that she can handle the love triangle in a way that feels sincere rather than grating.
All the rest
As far as Hell Warden Higuma chapter 16, My Hero Academia chaper 224, and We Never Learn chapter 107 go, I don’t have much to say. None of these are bad, but they pale in comparison to their respective series’ better installments. We Never Learn features the usual gags present in Kominami-centric chapters and they feel too predictable to land effectively. The chapter’s cliffhanger isn’t all that intriguing either, although I may be biased due to how little I care about Kominami in general.
Hell Warden Higuma, meanwhile, cuts back and forth between Higuma’s present and future, neither of which are grounded with enough emotional urgency to make things terribly interesting. Last but not quite least is MHA, where I’m ready to either return to the main cast or at least shake things up with the League a bit. Horikoshi’s art looks polished and is packed with detail, but these villain-on-villain conflicts don’t stand out much compared to this week’s other offerings.
The best chapter of the week
No other comic this week was at pretty, or as poignant, as ACT-AGE. I’m a bit sad to see the current arc end so soon, but here’s hoping that all Yonagi’s new friends from school will continue to show up as she returns to acting professionally.