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Shonen Jump Recap – 5/19/19

A new shogi manga makes its debut.

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 new crop

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Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru is back with chapter 2, and it’s one of this week’s artistic highlights. Akira Okubo’s mixture of styles and thematic elements is top-notch; we’re only two installments in but there’s already a sense that the manga’s world has been very well-thought-out. The architecture and large, sweeping overhead shots of cities are especially impressive. The more fluid subjects, such as clouds and Hayataro’s shifts in form, are a lot of fun and contrast well against more rigid details such as the buildings.

This is also a solid chapter plotwise. I’m pleasantly surprised to see that Hachimaru’s father is still present, and I hope he sticks around for a while. Having larger supporting casts in stories like these can help provide more voices and perspectives for the protagonist to bounce off of. Speaking of, a new character named Nanashi gets introduced this week. Their friendship with Hachimaru gets off to a promising start. With all that said, I’m still a bit unnerved by this series due to the disability-related issues I brought up last week.

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This week’s comics also include the debut of another new series: Kentaro Fukuda’s Double Taisei. All I knew going into this manga was that it was about shogi, and I assumed the two boys in the promotional art were the main characters. I was slightly incorrect: they’re the main character, singular. Sort of. The reveal is very well-handled. As much sense as it makes, I still didn’t see it coming before it was spelled out explicitly. Even though both personas occupy the same body, they’re drastically different and have their own interpersonal relationship. It really feels like they’re two separate characters, and their complicated dynamic is interesting to read about. The chapter ends on a high note, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the series goes from here.

The plots thickening

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ACT-AGE chapter 65 depicts a meeting between all of Rasetsunyo’s core players-to-be, and it does a great job building anticipation for the coming arc. Tensions are high between the rival pairs, and everyone is eager to prove themselves. It’s riveting to watch a collaborative project turn into a cut-throat competition. Shiro Usazaki’s art is fantastic as always, particularly where the core quartet are concerned. They all have particular visual quirks (such as Araya Myojin’s dramatic dark eye circles) that make them stand out from the others. We also see a lot more of Riku Ogami in this chapter and…he’s very gross. Here’s hoping Yonagi gets a chance to show him up a bit after his creepy flirting this week.

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The Last Saiyuki chapter 11 also does a lot of work story-wise. We learn more about Estelle and how she ended up at the Enchanted Land. Both her and Furuka are more interesting by the end of this chapter than they were going into it. Ryunosuke and Koharu also get dispatched on their first job for the Tokaishu, and their route for getting to it is awesome. We get our first look at a field enclosed by a circular mass of torii gates through which one can use a Nyoibo to access any other torii gate in the world. The way said teleportation is visualized here, by shifting air into glass and then shattering it, is very cool. I continue to appreciate this series’ touches of the fantastical.

In Dr. STONE chapter 105 we learn that the mysterious woman who debuted last chapter isn’t a ruler herself, but rather a sacrifice-to-be for the island’s “master”– whether he is Why-Man himself or just possesses the same terrifying powers has yet to be seen. The woman, Amaryllis, declares that she knows how to stop the petrification beam and asks Senku and co. to help her. A lot of how enjoyable this arc is will likely be determined by how cool the antagonist “master” is, so I’m eager for him to finally show up in person soon.

The character developments

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After the last few installments’ focuses on Toga and Shigaraki, My Hero Academia chapter 228 shifts its attention to Twice. His origin gets revealed as he’s confronted with a terrifying prospect: duplicates of himself, out to capture both him and the bloodied up Toga. The Liberation Army may be the new villains of this arc, but Horikoshi’s choice to flesh out the League of Villains instead has proved to be a solid one. I’d still like to see more of the new characters of course, but it’s about time the manga’s most notable villain group got some extended time in the spotlight.

Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma chapter 311 also features previously unseen flashbacks. In this case, we get to see Soma’s mother on-panel for the first time. Her pivotal role in influencing Soma’s cooking, particularly where his gross culinary experiments are concerned, is woven into the story quite well. Then we shift back to the present just in time for a cliffhanger as Erina’s mother undergoes an unusual version of the Gifting. Meh. Can we skip past the rest of the Blue yet?

The unexpected

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Chainsaw Man chapter 22 depicts Denji making a decision I never would have expected from him: to hold onto his virginity and save it for one woman in particular. I’d joke about this being character growth but…no. He’s still the same gross dude as always, and the portions of this manga that don’t lean into gore and violence continue to bore. Thankfully there’s a bit more bloodshed in the last few pages as something else unexpected happens: the apparent murder of one of the main characters.

We Never Learn chapter 111 is more successful in its surprises. Yuiga accompanies Kirisu as she checks out a possible apartment, and the series makes its first turn into the supernatural. The plots in We Never Learn have always served primarily to generate dramatic interactions between the characters, and what’s more dramatic than ghosts? Specifically, super creepy ghosts of children who first show up on-panel in a jump scare? All in all, this is a fun chapter.

Unfortunately, Yui Kamio Lets Loose chapter 10 is less fun. It, too, has a solid premise: two groupies of Yui in Black show up and challenge Kiito to a game show-style competition to see who knows Yui the best. Unfortunately, the actual execution of the premise and the gags included leave a lot to be desired. This comic goes back and forth between feeling fresh and being extremely predictable, and this week’s installment is the latter. It’s easy to tell how each joke will lead into the next, and none of them actually elicit laughs. It’s also unfortunate that the new characters introduced here just end up being generic creepy stalker types.

The best chapter of the week

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First time’s the charm this week. I was interested in Double Taisei as soon as I found out it was a shogi manga, but I never saw the dramatic twist about its protagonist(s) coming. This week Fukuda successfully introduced not just two lead characters, but the very unique relationship between them…selves. Self? I’m very excited to see how this series plays out.

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