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
The time has come for Soma and Asahi to unveil their dishes in Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma chapter 308. The judges opt to taste Asahi’s first, and boy does it get an unveiling. This is one of the series’ best chapters in recent memory. The characters go into great detail regarding the various ingredients and influences in Asahi’s dish, and they deliver what I’m here for: over-the-top, long-winded descriptions of what makes food taste good. The assignment for this round of the tournament, to take five different styles of cooking and blend them together seamlessly, sounded impossible. When the judges talk their way through Asahi’s process, however, I actually buy that he’s succeeded. Mana Nakiri’s Gifting at the chapter’s end just further builds up Asahi as a formidable opponent, and we end on a shot of Soma’s serious expression. What will he bring to the dining table next chapter? Will he win out, or will the hero’s role be played by Erina in the next round?
The Last Saiyuki chapter 8 also features some notable developments. Ryunosuke shows a previously unseen level of proficiency wielding the Nyoibo, resulting in some unexpectedly cool action. I’m still not entirely sure how the Son Goku stuff will play out, but it’s been a cool motif thus far. There’s also a great fake-out where it looks like Ryunosuke kills Sai. It ends up being a double and not the real thing, but the bigger surprise comes from seeing who landed the attack: one of two new characters who show up and end the chapter on a cliffhanger teasing some lore-building exposition. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out.
Then you have The Promised Neverland chapter 132. It seems like the plot is always thickening in this series, but this week’s chapter is especially notable. We get to see Queen Legravalima’s meeting with the heads of the regent houses, in which they discuss recent attacks upon farms and their plans to form an expedition team and take down what they believe to be a rebellion by other demons. They don’t realize that it’s Norman and his allies at work, and we then shift to Norman and co.’s meeting. They seem to have the demons just where they want them, and besides luring the expedition army towards a fake base, Norman also has a specific time frame in mind: the Tifari is in eight days, and he plans to massacre all the royals then. There’s even more of note at the chapter’s end as the focus shifts to what Emma and Ray are up to. They thought they were headed toward the Seven Walls, but after opening the gate from last week’s chapter they’ve found themselves back where it all began: Grace Field House.
I’d be remiss to talk about this chapter only in terms of its plot significance and not its artwork. As per usual, Posuka Demizu is knocking it out of the park. All the aristocrats have fun designs that exude royalty, but they’re nothing compared to the queen. My favorite mini-story this week is one with no words. We see butterflies flying about the demons’ meeting place on the first page, and after several pages with no sign of them we’re gruesomely reminded of their presence. We see the queen’s ridiculously (like, a meter) long finger pierce one of the butterflies right down the center, leaving two perfectly symmetrical sets of wings to fall to the ground. All the shots of the demons’ expedition army are imposing as well, and the concluding two-page spread of Grace Field House pulls off a sense of both serenity and intrigue. All in all, I could have justifiably placed this week’s chapter in with the plot-heavy series or with the best visuals.
The artistic standouts
In addition to TPN, Chainsaw Man chapter 19 is another visual delight. Tatsuki Fujimoto’s art here is much more gory, however. There’s page after page of Denji mowing down a devil, sending its many hellish faces flying and leaving them in puddles of their own blood. The chaos just keeps going as Denji has a breakthrough moment. Sure, he runs out of power as his own blood drains, but all he has to do to keep going is just guzzle the blood of his victims. This sounds extreme as all get-out, and it is, but it’s also fun. There’s still plenty of humor to be found in Denji’s buffoonery, and the chapter ends with a blood splatter-filled splash page that would make a great print or volume cover.
On the less gritty side of things, you have Boichi’s art in Dr. STONE chapter 102 and Shiro Usazaki’s work in ACT-AGE chapter 62. Boichi’s work is polished as always, and this week’s chapter provides ample room for him to show off his talents for shading and rendering small details. The opening panel is one of the Perseus sailing along a beautifully rendered sea that must have taken God only knows how long to draw. The page compositions are also pleasantly varied, and there’s a particularly creative two-page spread in which we get to see the Perseus’s inner layout as the characters explore it. The ending shot of the treasure island in the middle of a storm is wonderfully ominous. Usazaki’s work in ACT-AGE, meanwhile, has great flow of motion throughout a scene where Kuroyama films Yonagi as she runs and dances around a crowded train station. The intense close-ups on characters’ eyes continue to be lovely as well.
The character developments
There are a lot of character-driven chapters this week. The best among them is We Never Learn chapter 108, which centers around Yuiga and Kominami. Kominami’s processing her sadness over her family’s clinic closing, and we get some sweet scenes of Yuiga comforting her. This is probably one of the best Kominami-centric chapters we’ve seen since she seldom has her emotions explored this much. It’s also a rare chance for her to bond with Yuiga without much sexual innuendo getting in the way. On a non-character-related note, I’m also impressed by how lovely the rain and storm clouds here look.
From the newer crop of titles, both Hell Warden Higuma chapter 17 and Ne0;lation chapter 18 devote a good amount of page-time to their protagonists. The flashback to the night of Higuma’s parents’ deaths continues and we see Enma telling Higuma how he doesn’t necessarily need to give up all his pacifistic ideals. Back in the present, Higuma gives a great speech about how, despite the tragedy in his past, it’s not revenge which pushes him forward. Ne0;lation, meanwhile, doesn’t uncover new ground with Neo so much as it shows him actually growing since the last mini-arc. He’s working alongside his friends while declaring that he’s got their backs, and it all feels genuine. Now here’s hoping that the other two leads get chances to develop next.
All the rest
I don’t love My Hero Academia chapter 225, but it’s solid. All my recent reservations about this villain-on-villain conflict still stand, but the action this week is quite cool. The new antagonist Curious has a cool Quirk that she puts to especially devastating effect while battling Koga. There are also some of the fantastically over-the-top facial expressions that make Kohei Horikoshi’s work stand out so much.
When it comes to Yui Kamio Lets Loose chapter 7, however, I don’t have much positive to say. Yui in Black gets her clothes wet and ends up running around outside with almost no clothes on, all while Kiito is trying to tie her hair back so that the evil alter-ego will disappear in favor of the bashful Yui in White. Unfortunately this ends up with several shots of Kiito trying to pin down the barely clothed Yui in ways that are clearly meant to look similar to sexual assault, and which the narration lampshades in attempts at comedic effect. It doesn’t work. At all.
The best chapter of the week
This was a good week for Shonen Jump where I liked almost every chapter I read. With that said, no other series hooked me so immediately and kept me hooked as fiercely as The Promised Neverland. I’m already obsessed with the queen, and the depiction of the two strategy meetings one right after the other really built up suspense for both sides’ next moves. Add in the cliffhanger ending and Demizu and Kaiu Shirai easily take the top spot yet again this week.