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
This week brings us yet another new Jump series: Kento Terasaka’s Beast Children. To be honest, I wasn’t immediately impressed. The writing at the start of the chapter feels a bit clumsy, and I was a bit put off by some of the artwork at first. There are some moments when the proportions get iffy, and characters’ faces can be quite startling. Sakura’s giant eyes and pronounced canine teeth were especially odd at first. With that said, I grew more accustomed to Terasaka’s art style as the chapter progressed and I began to get interested in the story.
Sakura is your standard passionate protagonist, eager to give his all to the sport he loves but held back by a lack of peers to play with. (Haikyu!! chapter one, anyone?) That is until he runs into Yukito, who reluctantly indulges him with a round of tackling. Once the characters actually start playing rugby the art gets a lot more enjoyable to look at. Terasaka successfully conveys what it’s like for an athlete to get into the zone, and Sakura’s sheer determination is on full display with his gigantic, expressive eyes. Seeing him literally crawl back up out of the mud also sells just how important rugby is to him. There’s a close-up shot of his shoe right before he finally pulls off a successful tackle, and you can feel the momentum and emotional drive pushing him forward. It’s a great example of how to draw sports action well and convey the excitement on the page.
Admittedly the chapter’s ending still feels a bit hokey between Yukito’s angst and the revelation that he’s actually the son of Sakura’s dead role model. The character achetypes couldn’t be more clear, but hey, if the end results keep being as fun as they got during this chapter’s tackling match, then who cares? I’m intrigued to see what happens next.
Double Taisei continues to be my unexpected favorite of this new crop of series. Chapter 2 introduces us to one of Tai’s professional rivals, Juso Haga. A shogi player so passionate about not giving up that he’s bound his limbs and neck with straitjacket-esque harnesses so he’d feel pain instead of fear to keep going? Holy hell. After Tai and Haga’s match, Tai takes a gruesome fall down a tall flight of stairs and when he wakes in the hospital it’s no longer him– it’s Sei. The narration makes it sound like Tai is gone. For how long is yet to be determined, but the mystery has me hooked.
Unfortunately, Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru chapter 3 is much less enjoyable. While Akira Okubo’s work is still fun to look at, a lot of this week’s chapter just feels way too busy. There’s so much going on at almost all times, and there’s a lack of strong focal points to lead one’s eyes across the action effectively. Much more off-putting, however, is that the series is already showing signs of failing its female characters like Masashi Kishimoto’s past work did. What does Samurai 8′s first notable woman do after meeting and fighting alongside Hachimaru? Talk about wanting to marry him. Oy.
My Hero Academia: Vigilantes chapter 54 resumes the disaster situation at the Tokyo Sky Egg, where Captain Celebrity and the Crawler have both run out of power and the Sky Egg is falling toward the ground. All Might shows up just in time to save the day, though. This isn’t a bad chapter, but it’s not notable either. It’s cool to see All Might in action again, at least.
Meanwhile, Boys Over Flowers Season 2 chapter 97 delivers what the series usually does: character-driven drama and great facial expressions. Yoko Kamio’s art continues to be pleasing to look at, from the patterns to the shading to the visual comedy. With that said, the whole Kaito/Airi unrequited love plot isn’t all that interesting.
The plots thickening
Almost every week feels like a big week for The Promised Neverland, and chapter 135 is no exception. We shift focus away from Emma and Ray back to Norman’s base, where he has a special mission for Don and Gilda: to go out and find Mujika and Sonju, so that their side can protect them from being murdered by the demon aristocracy. Of course, the fact that Norman himself had previously declared his intentions to murder Mujika and Sonju doesn’t slip Don and Gilda’s minds. They resolve to keep their demon allies safe from both sides of the conflict, but Norman’s not letting them set out alone. In addition to Hayato, their search party will include an new character named Ayshe. A human who doesn’t understand the others’ languages and was found being kept prisoner by a demon, she’s already a compelling figure. She’s also accompanied by a trio of large hounds who look awesome.
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma chapter 312 answers last week’s cliffhanger question of what’s so special about the Gifting that Mana Nakiri had. The answer? Characters’ clothes don’t just fly off, they get shredded. Meh. Asahi Saiba finally loses and it’s because his cooking…doesn’t have any sense of his true self. Because he’s shown no true self and has just been utilizing everyone else’s skills. Meh.
The Last Saiyuki keeps impressing with chapter 12. Daijiro Nonoue does a great job with the pacing this week, and there’s plenty of suspense to be found. The new creepy, multi-eyed dog monster has an awesome design, and its origin is cool too: it’s a Korouri, a monster borne from cholera. The entire island Ryunosuke and co. are on seems to be infected with them, and to make matters worse their torii gate back home has been broken. I’m very excited about the intense action to come. Also noteworthy is Furuka’s bayonet-style Nyoibo. Besides just being cool, it shows that Nyoibo can take on forms and functions beyond the relatively limited ones we’ve seen thus far. Here’s hoping for more neat weapon types in the future.
Things are also heating up in Dr. STONE chapter 106, where Amaryllis tells the story of how she once narrowly escaped petrification. Her tale provides a lot of new information about the petrification process, the most pivotal being that it’s triggered by a weapon with a set range. We also learn that people can stop the rest of their bodies from being petrified if they detach the already affected body parts before the condition finishes spreading. With this newfound knowledge Senku’s confidence in the group’s ability to overcome their foe rises, and they all turn their attention toward a new issue: how to sneak Kohaku into the enemy’s harem alongside Amaryllis. The answer, as the chapter’s last page promises, is “the sexy side of science.” I imagine we’ll get to see the reinvention of make-up or something similar next week, although the characters’ talk of Kohaku being ugly and gorilla-like continues to make little sense given how she’s actually drawn.
The artistic standouts
My Hero Academia chapter 229 features another flashback to Twice’s past, revealing how he ended up so mentally unwell. Important as this is, the events owe a lot of their success to how well Kohei Horikoshi draws them. When he’s on-point his style is a lot of fun to look at, and he’s on-point this week. Twice’s dramatic facial expressions are intense, the line-work is nice and clean, and the manga is bursting with energy, even in its sound effects and the shapes of word bubbles. All in all, Horikoshi’s work maintains a constant sense of action.
Shiro Usazaki’s art in ACT-AGE chapter 66 impresses in both similar and different ways. On one hand, there’s certainly no violence going on. With that said the line-work is immaculately polished and the characters’ expressions are wonderfully befitting of actors, who have to be ready to emote virtually anything while on the job. There’s a splash page this week depicting a scene from the characters’ upcoming play Rasetsunyo, in which the titular protagonist faces off against the Monkey King. It’s a really well-rendered page where Usazaki gets to show off her talent for fantasy elements, which she doesn’t usually get to do in this series. All in all, this comic continues to be a joy to look at.
My other pick for best art this week goes to Chainsaw Man chapter 23. I’ve made no secret of my love for Tatsuki Fujimoto’s style, and he really delivers this week. We get an awesome color page with Denji’s chainsaw form and a cool™ skull, and the chapter proper features all the same goodness as usual. The textures and sense of depth throughout are great, making even a shot of chopsticks holding a dumpling visually interesting. There’s also a sequence of panels that effectively convey characters moving closer and farther from the foreground, culminating in a shot of one of them the instant before they punch their attacker. Fujimoto’s style is all the more fun thanks to how distinct it is from that of others currently working on Jump titles. His work has a roughness to it that matches the tone and that I never tire of looking at.
All the rest
My thoughts on Yui Kamio Lets Loose chapter 11 are pretty much the same as for last week’s installment: good ideas, disappointing execution. Whereas last chapter introduced us to a group of violent Yui groupies, this week introduces a secret fan club for Kiito, devoted to helping its leader Koyagi seduce him. All these passionate but inept teams of villains are great catalysts for over-the-top antics, but once again predictable jokes and meh writing get in the way.
We Never Learn chapter 112 is similarly gag-filled but more successful. Uruka eats so much spicy ramen that she sweats profusely through her white clothes, leading to her having to bundle up before meeting with Yuiga to study. This results in him commenting on how overdressed she is and worrying that she’s cold, which in turn leads to her continually getting more and more bundled up while she’s actually overheating. It’s not one of the series’ funniest chapters by any means, but its a solid one-and-done.
The best chapter of the week
It’s been a while since The Last Saiyuki took the title, but it’s in tip-top form this week. The new monster’s design is great, as are the new types of Nyoibo and all the suspense. Here’s hoping this arc continues to impress.