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.
A beginning and an ending
This week marks the beginning of Masashi Kishimoto and Akira Okubo’s Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru. Of course, fans have been eagerly waiting to see what the creator of Naruto and one of his longtime art assistants would bring to the table this go-around. So, is it good?
This chapter draws you in from the get-go with some gorgeous color pages. The lovely blues and oranges contrast against each other wonderfully as the story opens up with a brief prologue in space. Then we move on to the modern (at least in terms of this story) day, where samurai and sci-fi iconography get mixed together with fantastic results. It’s unfortunate how much of the build-up to this series has cited only Kishimoto and not Okubo, but Okubo shows off incredible skill here. The line-work is polished and the manga’s world is crammed full of small details that give off the clear impression that this creative team has a vision for the series ahead.
Plot-wise, this debut is decent. Like Naruto, Samurai 8 has an emotionally driven first chapter centering around a young protagonist and his father figure. I’d argue that the former was more poignant than the latter on this front, but Kishimoto and Okubo do a great job introducing a lot of technological lore in relatively little time. The pacing here is solid and by the end Hachimaru’s origin is wrapped up neatly so we can move on to the real adventure. I am a bit turned off by the trope of a disabled character getting magically cured and therefore becoming their “stronger, truer” self, though. All in all the series makes a favorable first impression, albeit not the best in recent memory (I would give that distinction to The Last Saiyuki).
The more things begin, the more things end. Hell Warden Higuma chapter 19 is the series’ last, and it’s…fine. It somehow reads both as rushed and not, as a lot of plot progression and character philosophy gets paced out rather evenly. If you took the “The End” message off the final page, you’d think the characters were just moving on to the next arc, not riding out into cancellation. And in a way that’s true, since an epilogue chapter’s been announced for this July. Here’s hoping it adds some needed closure, since this chapter provides virtually none.
The plots thickening
The Last Saiyuki chapter 10 introduces the Enchanted Land and some new characters, plus it plays with the concept of open Mou causing monsters to appear. In order to stave off their own fears, the Enchanted Land’s residents all dress up like fictional characters they admire. Think cosplay as a strategy for self-assurance. It’s a cute idea. The morality of Kei and monster materialization also gets some page-time prior to a cliffhanger introducing what’s presumably a new villain.
Dr. STONE chapter 104 picks up with Senku, Kohaku, Soyuz, and Gen exploring the treasure island together after the rest of their shipmates got turned to stone last chapter. Boichi’s artwork is lovely as always, and Senku and co. use forensic science to quickly track down one of the island’s residents. It’s unclear who she is exactly, but judging by the way other villagers treat her she’s clearly royalty or someone else of high import on the island.
The Promised Neverland chapter 134 shows Emma and Ray contining their search for the Seven Walls as they traverse the M.C. Escher-esque faux-Gracefield House. Posuka Demizu’s art is lovely as always, but there’s not much here plot-wise besides some foreboding narration since this is a short chapter. (Here’s hoping writer Kaiu Shirai’s health improves soon.)
The action scenes
Action-wise, the most memorable moment this week is Soma unveiling his dish in Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma chapter 310. I’m happy to say it’s actually a pretty decent chapter. Soma opts to take on a nearly impossible challenge (merging five genres of cuisine within a single dish) by serving something seemingly simple: fried rice. It feels very true to the character, and while the purple prose about his cooking process isn’t as great as that from the series’ heyday, it’s still a fun read.
Then you have both MHA manga. My Hero Academia: Vigilantes chapter 53 features some unexpected cool moments from Best Jeanist, who uses giant fibers to stop a building from crashing down. Meanwhile, in My Hero Academia chapter 227, Tomura Shigaraki’s powers take on a previously unseen edge: his rot spreads to people he’s not physically touching. The League of Villains just keeps getting deadlier and deadlier.
The character developments
As far as character work goes, Boys Over Flowers Season 2 chapter 96 is this week’s top dog. There’s no big dramatic reveal or huge change plot-wise. Rather, Oto and Haruto get some rare extended time alone with which to talk about their feelings for each other. It’s a poignant and very satisfying read given the couple’s drama-fraught, will-they/won’t-they history. Haruto’s earnest discussion of his own potential for emotional growth is a particular highlight. Of course, both characters’ happy but taken aback expressions when the other shows affection toward them are also cute.
We Never Learn chapter 110 is also very character-driven, as Yuiga continues to help Kominani cope with her family’s clinic closing down. Yuiga helps her realize that her dream of helping patients doesn’t need to be tied down to any one specific place, and that she can still find success and joy elsewhere. It’s a relatable, feel-good chapter about pushing forward into the uncertain future while keeping your dreams intact. This is among the week’s best offerings.
Act-Age chapter 64 is also significant character-wise. Chiyoko declares war against Yonagi as the two are about to portray the same role, and she’s determined to prove herself the better actress. It’s revealed that the production they’ll be starring in is Rasetsunyo, which is exciting since we haven’t seen the series tackle such a high fantasy story yet. We also get to meet Riku Ogami, an unpredictable young actor who’s already a likable addition to the cast.
All the rest
Yui Kamio Lets Loose Chapter 9 starts off with a promising premise: Yui in Black is in control, but in an attempt not to ruin Yui in White’s reputation, she’s dressed up in white and going through a school day as normal. Or rather, she’s trying to, but her temper keeps getting in the way. It’s a great premise for a chapter, but the gags throughout aren’t actually all that funny. As a whole, the series is just kind of meh this week.
Ditto with Chainsaw Man chapter 21. The plot revolves around Denji’s desire to kiss multiple female co-workers, and his stress from trying to stop them from finding out about each other. While the art is solid and there’s an effective gross-out gag, this series’ characters continue to be its least interesting elements.
The best chapter of the week
This week I have to give the honors to Boys Over Flowers Season 2 chapter 96. After all the recent drama with Haruto being late to dinner with Oto’s parents, it’s great to get a stress-free chapter with the main characters just being honest about their love for each other. Definitely a feel-good read.