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
Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru chapter 6 makes up for last week’s lackluster installment by giving us quite the lore dump. We learn that samurais in this universe gain power not just through their key holders (animal-like familiars) but through bonds with princesses as well. Daruma states that these relationships are the source of samurais’ true strength, which…meh. Characters fighting for the ones they care deeply about it nothing unusual of course, but I’m not terribly interested in an in-universe template for this solely based around romantic love. Add in how strictly heterosexual it is and I’m even less interested. Hopefully the series will subvert aspects of the concept or at least allow Hachimaru’s eventual princess (presumably a newly introduced character named Ann) to stand on her own and not just be a repeat of the female characters’ failings from Naruto.
The Promised Neverland chapter 138 also moves its series’s plot forward, albeit much more enjoyably. It opens with an ominous scene of Norman’s allies from Lambda having made some mysterious scientific discovery. Next, we shift to Don and Gilda’s party hunting through the woods for Sonju and Mujika. Don and Gilda don’t actually want to capture their demon friends, but their scoutmate Ayshe clearly does. She’s only been in a handful of chapters, but she’s easily the manga’s best new character since Leuvis. Her tracking abilities are intimidating, and she becomes all the more so with the cliffhanger reveal that she secretly can understand human language (and thus, Don and Gilda’s whispered plans). I also need to mention a fantastic horror panel of a wild demon camouflaged into a tree right behind Hayato with its giant maw fully agape.
The most notable of this week’s comics has to be Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma chapter 315– the manga’s finale. It’s sad to see it go, especially since it was one of the three main series (alongside My Hero Academia and The Promised Neverland) that got me into Jump in the first place. Rather than show the results of Erina and Soma’s final duel, the creators go the route of just focusing on the characters’ relationship dynamics. It’s not necessarily a bad move given that their growth has been much more vital to the series than its actual plot developments, but how is the execution?
Eh. There are some very clear attempts to induce feel-good vibes in the audience, and while these aren’t entirely unsuccessful, they don’t hit home deeply either. Between Soma and Erina’s bickering and all the brief glimpses at the series’ numerous supporting characters, there’s a sense that Tsukuda and Saeki want to tie things together neatly and nostalgically. The problem is that there’s no real sense of actual growth here; neither Soma nor Erina has truly changed over the course of the last hundred chapters or so. Erina’s anxieties are washed away more by Soma’s outbursts than her own drive, while Soma has some very brief and forced narration about his father and making a dish that he can call his own. There’s a strange sense of serene hollowness to it all, as if we’re watching the characters we love recite their last testaments without any of the fire or passion that made us love them in the first place.
On a less disappointing note, Double Taisei chapter 5 is more enjoyable than last week’s outing. Kanade gets some more page-time, and there’s some good focus on the protagonists’ feelings for each other. The main noteworthy bit occurs at the very end though, with Tai returning much sooner than expected. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the damage caused to his professional reputation by Sei ruining his perfect winning streak.
The character developments
Yui Kamio Lets Loose impressed last week by shifting its focus to the two Yuis’ relationship with one another, and chapter 14 continues along in that vein. Yui in White meets with a monk who describes her predicament as one of having multiple personalities, and then does a card reading describing her past, present, and future. Shiibashi’s art this week is quite good, with the card reading bringing out horror elements not seen in the manga thus far. The chapter ends with Ebi and Kiito theorizing that Yui in White might try to destroy herself so that Yui in Black can take full control. It’s a much more interesting conflict than any we’ve seen in the series’s numerous (and frequently boring) gag chapters.
We Never Learn chapter 115 is also very character-driven, with flashbacks that show how Ogata’s feelings toward Furuhashi have developed over time. These revelations add a previously unseen sense of jealousy to Ogata’s character, and her anxious thoughts and actions are very well-written. Her talk of not understanding social customs and interactions is quite relatable for me personally, and she continues to be my favorite of Nariyuki’s romantic interests. As such, I’m excited to see where this arc goes from here.
ACT-AGE chapter 69 is also very good. Ever the method actor, Yonagi decides to prepare for her role as Princess Iron Fan, who lives atop fiery mountains, by climbing up a volcano. There, she meets the only other person crazy enough to go to such lengths for the project: its writer and director, Hanako Yamanoue. She’s definitely an eccentric type, and I’m looking forward to seeing how her brand of weirdness can help push Yonagi’s already dramatic acting even further.
The action scenes
It’s all-out clone warfare in My Hero Academia chapter 232 as Twice makes duplicates of his teammates to assist in the fight. The coolest results of this definitely come from there being two Shigaraki Tomuras, with one of them predicting the other’s using his Quirk to destroy a building “because that’s what I [the clone Shigaraki] would do.” We also get some more discussion about society’s treatment of superpowered individuals, but those portions of the chapter are just kind of…boring? They don’t hit on any notable new ground, but thankfully the action here is still fun.
Meanwhile, Tokyo Shinobi Squad chapter 3 is probably the series’s best thus far. We meet Jin’s teammate Taiga for the first time, and En shows off his newfound super-memorization abilities. The chapter’s best scene depicts the main trio getting into close-quarters combat on an elevator, with Taiga utilizing a ninja scroll that gives him a tiger’s head and animalistic reflexes to match. It’s quite cool, with the most memorable panel being one of Taiga stopping a bullet between his fangs.
Chainsaw Man chapter 26 is also action-heavy but less impactful. Fujimoto’s artwork still has some great fluidity to it with motions and sound effects extending beyond their panels. There’s also an awesomely brutal shot of two characters getting sliced in half. With that said, some portions of the chapter are a bit difficult to follow and the high points aren’t as high as I’ve come to expect from this series.
The feel-good reads
Once again, the rugby manga proves to be the most promising of Jump’s latest new additions. Beast Children chapter 4 follows Sakura and Shin as they practice together and bond over their love of the sport. Shin’s a very loud and over-the-top figure, and his brand of obnoxiousness plays off of Sakura’s own very well. Boisterous though they may be, the pair’s friendship is already compelling. The chapter’s end also hints that Sakura will get to play in his first real game soon, which should be exciting to see. All in all, this series continues to deliver the earnestness and character dynamics I expect from great sports manga.
The Last Saiyuki chapter 15 is also one of this week’s biggest highlights. The action is very well-composed and cool to watch, but its the continued focus on Estelle stepping up to the plate and fighting on despite her fears that make this installment so compelling. She talks explicitly about needing to level up, and her Nyoibo changes shape accordingly in a classic Crowning Moment of Awesome. It’s also worth noting that Nonoue’s art continues to be impressively polished, even when multiple characters with fairly detailed designs are sparring at a fast pace.
Last but not least is Dr. STONE chapter 109. Suika and Ginro successfully get the mobile science lab off the Perseus and to Senku and co., but their quest to do so takes some unexpected turns. A spread of Ginro hearing the petrified Kinro’s encouraging words resound through his mind is pure high-octane fun. Then the manga manages to do something that almost never happens: amuse me with a poop joke. If even my crude-humor-hating self could enjoy it, then you know the series is doing something right.
The best chapter of the week
There are a lot of worthy candidates for the top spot this week, but I’m giving it to the series that has me most excited for what comes next: Beast Children. When it comes to sports manga, extended scenes of characters bonding during practice are worth their weight in gold.