More than one chapter this week involved a protagonist swapping sides. Last week, I suggested “Guardian of the Witch” do something similar, and this time it seems as if one of the series actually did just that.
However, I didn’t enjoy some of these chapters as much as I normally do, which is odd. Sometimes you just can’t have a strong week.
“One Piece” Chapter 973
One of the most common criticisms “One Piece” gets is its pacing issues. This is typically relegated to the realms of its anime, so I have mixed feelings on this chapter specifically because it answered a lot of questions in non-concrete ways and in methods that I don’t prefer and also because of the rapid, broken pacing.
So many of the pages this chapter jumped from perspective to perspective, showing vague panels about what was happening to the various vassals of the Kozuki clan. And while I understand why Oda would write the chapter in such a way, it doesn’t mean I have to prefer the method of storytelling.
Otherwise, there certainly were a lot of cool panels with long awaited reveals and even had a scene that almost gave me chills, but the chapter didn’t feel dedicated. It was like a spray-and-pray approach.
“My Hero Academia” Chapter 263
I was a huge fan of how this chapter panned out overall, tying in the students into the hero operations and expanding on what’s going on outside of the battle going on inside the hospital.
While this wasn’t as gritty and immersive as the previous few, it had some really strong character work for a character who tends to be the butt of a joke. Seeing characters that are typically relegated to the sidelines actually put in some work and make an impact is refreshing.
“The Promised Neverland” Chapter 170
From a narrative standpoint, I’d say this is my favorite chapter in a while of “The Promised Neverland,” but again this final confrontation is being dragged out.
This (hopefully) final plot twist should be the nail in the coffin for the villainy that has enslaved the humans, and I really want to see the series winding down at this point.
I thought it was over a while ago, and now it seems like a horse that just won’t stop being beaten.
But this chapter was pretty good on its own by tying some outstanding plot threads that have existed from the beginning, and it was done in a way that seemed normal based on previously established character motivations. So, I’m pretty happy with how they’ve solved this back and forth of “gotcha” twists.
“Chainsaw Man” Chapter 61
I really enjoyed this week’s chapter at every single level, save for one criticism, but I’ll start with the positives.
I enjoy the fact that he’s really making his protagonist Denji seem like he isn’t the primary player in the world he lives in. He’s almost like a side character in somebody else’s story, just that we’re seeing much of the events this world has to offer through his eyes. This is cool, because shonen manga has an on-going trope where the protagonist has to be the hero of everything and the one in the spotlight.
So even if Denji does fight a lot of powerful villains and come out on top, it is consistently made clear that he isn’t the saving grace and that there are plenty of protagonists who are both stronger and smarter than him. I appreciate that.
Secondly, I did not expect the new character dynamic that was introduced between one of the mentor characters for Denji and Power, and the villain Quanxi that is after Denji’s head. Fujimoto did an excellent job at making background information come out naturally to where the reader has to pick up on context clues rather than shoehorning in backstory.
Fujimoto also consistently excels at drawing cool, gritty, stagnant images, as seen by his illustration of the devil hunter and the contract he’s made with the octopus devil. That panel was seriously amazing.
However, he isn’t so good at drawing dynamic motion. Much of his movement shots look stagnant despite the liberal use of speed lines.
I think it’s probably a combination of many factors that hold him back in this aspect, those likely being considering gravity, wind resistance, better execution of blur effects on characters, and so on.
Otherwise, I loved this chapter.
“Zipman” Chapter 13
Normally, I try and promote “Zipman” because I believe in its potential, but I have to tear this one apart.
I felt very bored reading this chapter, despite it being full of intense, robot combat. The enemy felt very dull, regardless of the philosophical debate the hero and villain had. And I wasn’t even totally impressed with the actual battle either. It felt stale.
While the art and drawings were just as high in quality as ever, and I think that’s one of Yusaku Shibata’s strengths, the battle and story this chapter felt very hollow, with no real stakes.
“Undead Unluck” Chapter 8
Yet another home-run chapter for “Undead Unluck.” The solution to defeating the villain was phenomenal, the characterization of the enemy and Undead (Andy, as Unluck calls him, and I honestly don’t know her name) was equally interesting and the finale couple pages were what blew the chapter out of the park.
The story so far has been building up to this event, but I didn’t totally process what this meant until now.
Imagine if Naruto and Sakura had joined the Akatsuki at some point during the “Naruto” manga. That’s sort of what happened this chapter, where Undead and Unluck have finally achieved their goal of killing two of the members of the villainous organization that’s been hunting them, opening up spots for them to take their place.
The reveal of all these characters really felt like the reveal of other hallmark villain groups in manga, and it was so cool. I’m sort of fan-boying right now, but this really did feel like a fan-fiction of a manga — but done really, really well.
Honestly, I’ve never enjoyed a new series so much during its early phase.
“Mashle: Magic and Muscles” Chapter 7
This might be my least favorite chapter of this manga. Again, nothing felt funny, despite all the effort the author is making into trying to satirize “Harry Potter” lately. Quidditch has become a game called Duelo, and everything about the game was so dull, and the involvement of Mash in any of this makes no sense.
I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but this chapter just felt so stupid, with absolutely nothing cool happening.
If I were to throw it a bone, I guess Mash trying to flutter kick himself into the sky to pretend like he could fly on a broom is mildly interesting, but it just seemed so stupid that I’m not even buying into the humor anymore.
“Guardian of the Witch” Chapter 6
This chapter was a little weaker than the last few. It seems like what occurring is a natural story progression, but the execution wasn’t as strong as I expected.
Specifically, I didn’t enjoy the resolution of the fight between Fafnir and Gen, and how Fafnir and Manafsa tried to work together to counter Gen teaming up with his witch. That outcome is what should happen, however limitations on Manafsa’s current abilities were arbitrarily introduced to add more tension to the chapter where it didn’t need any.
It made for some weak gags, breaking whatever tension had been built up anyways, but the whole situation seemed pointless.
They could have just fought normally, had a cool team-up scene and had the same outcome. Instead, we got weak jokes, broken tension and worthless power limitations that weren’t necessary.