This week, the highs are really high, and the lows are pretty dismal. Thankfully, from this week forward “Mashle: Magic and Muscles” will be replaced with “Demon Slayer,” so that saves everyone from dealing with a consistently bad series.
Some cool things to note include: “The Promised Neverland” has an awesome color spread at the start this week, “Chainsaw Man” is getting progressively better with this arc and the big hitting series are going to continue to hit big and are really worth picking up on if you’re not already.
“One Piece” Chapter 975
A lot of suspense had been building for the last few months due to the mystery surrounding what happened to the warriors primed to raid Onigashima, only to not show up at the promised time. This week’s chapter definitely breaks that suspense for better or for worse.
This chapter does have a few strengths and weaknesses. On one hand, it pushes the story forward in a clear way, readying the readers for the large scale naval battle that’s about to go down. On the other hand, everything that kept me tense, thinking about how the heroes were going to pull off a war with no men, has essentially been eliminated and the threat before them no longer feels like a threat.
Knowing Oda, this balance is going to tip back and forth dramatically throughout the rest of the year, and this is just the beginning — placing either side at even odds.
I also really enjoyed looking at the outfits each of the Straw Hat crew members has donned for the battle. The aesthetic change makes them look more intimidating and thus that much cooler.
“My Hero Academia” Chapter 265
This week was another deep one that showcased the merits of non-professional heroes, and parallels that with the question of what makes a hero heroic.
Following the Hawks and Twice encounter from last week, the emotion was certainly kicked up a notch and the artwork was executed phenomenally.
Horikoshi has been playing with lighting, and it really shined through in this chapter. Just like last week, Hawks is blocking out the light source, shadowing him slightly, in contrast to Twice who continues to receive white backgrounds. This flips the cliché of good being represented with light and evil being represented with darkness.
While one side is labeled good and the other is labeled evil, the clash of ethics and the weight of the relationship between these characters creates real tension. And the gray morality that is painfully present goes a long way toward making a fantastic storyline even better.
“Demon Slayer” Chapter 199
To cut to the chase, this chapter has a series timing flaw simply because it’s pacing doesn’t line up with the chapters that came before it.
To keep it simple, most of the chapters were moving at a slow burn, with entire chapters being only ten minutes long in story, whereas here within only pages time jumps forward dramatically in a very forced way.
Furthermore, while this does seem to be the end of this fateful final battle, I’m not so sure that’s going to be the case, but if it is, I’m rather disappointed.
This same issue is evident throughout the rest of the series. Early on in “Demon Slayer” the promise was made that Tanjiro and Nezuko would defeat Muzan together, and story-wise there’s no reason why Nezuko couldn’t be at the battle by now —we’ve even seen her trying to get there.
However, this chapter makes it pretty clear that Nezuko is totally unnecessary to the battle against Muzan and isn’t going to be involved in his final death.
And to add on to that, chapters ago it was made clear that the way Tanjiro needed to fight to defeat Muzan was to perform his twelve Sun Breath forms in a perfect loop until he achieved the hidden thirteenth form which he could use to fatally wound Muzan. Yet, Tanjiro never did that and apparently he didn’t need to.
While this chapter holds so much tension as the battle comes to a close, and the desperate struggle the heroes are facing really does feel desperate, there are so many broken promises from early on that these late chapters are being weakened from what they could have been.
“The Promised Neverland” Chapter 172
Despite this chapter being entirely dialogue with Emma taking a page out of Naruto’s book and trying to defeat her enemies with words, this is actually one of the best recent chapters of “The Promised Neverland.”
What Emma says here actually does make sense, and it lines up perfectly with the morality she’s been shown to have this entire time. Do I think it’ll work? Not at all, but it’s definitely going to have a psychological ramification on Peter.
On top of that, some of the background work was very relevant to modern times when Emma began to reference natural disasters and global calamities, and I think Kaiu Shirai’s strategy here in writing this way is to grip the reader into the story by harkening back to their feelings about the world today.
This chapter felt like a breath of fresh air from the last several as it kept focused on a single event rather than jumping back and forth so much.
“Chainsaw Man” Chapter 63
Frankly, this chapter is a doozy, for lack of a better word. I’m perplexed in more ways than one here.
But to start things off this chapter does a number of things very well. First, it keeps the reader very interested in the established and newly introduced villains, with some questions being answered and many more being created.
Furthermore, tying into those many new questions is the ramifications of the abilities of a new devil. What happened this chapter might turn out to be the coolest event in “Chainsaw Man” to date, depending on how things play out hereafter.
The use of perspective to create confusion and awe in the reader was done remarkably well. Not only were the characters in story thoroughly confused, but the reader felt confused for them. That same use of dynamic angles proceeded by extreme close-up shots also built up tension about what exactly was being shown.
The only downside this chapter had is one it has every week: poor portrayal of movement and stiff bodies.
“Zipman” Chapter 15
So, I have a question. What does saving the world have to do with killing Cheena? Had anything related to that notion been discussed in any previous chapter this might’ve made more sense. But as it stands, nothing about this final battle, or the motivations for it, make any sense.
While the art is fine, comparable to any other chapter of the series, the battle itself isn’t drawing. A-lot of the panels are far away shots of the robots approaching one another to strike, rather than a close up brawl between brothers.
This final fight is trying to draw emotion out of the reader, but the motivation for the fight is senseless.
“Undead Unluck” Chapter 10
While I don’t have much to say about this chapter due to its transitional nature, it still feels very strong in its own right because it pulled off everything it needed to.
This chapter works perfectly. It transitions smoothly between story arcs, shows the reader what we were told about last week and builds upon the characterization of old characters by bouncing them off of new ones in an exciting encounter.
On top of that, we get a creepy mascot character that cures Undead’s issue of his clothes constantly being ripped off.
There weren’t any negatives to speak of. I even got to learn again that female half of the protagonist duo is named Fuuko Izumo.
“Guardian of the Witch” Chapter 8
This chapter attempts to properly introduce the character we met last week, and while it seems like it really wants the reader to get emotionally attached to this new character, it flops.
There’s definitely a decent reason as to why there’s absolutely zero expression coming off of Drake Mardock, but even with his tragic background he doesn’t feel like a real person. He feels fake.
Drake Mardock feels like an attempt to create another fan-favorite character like Kakashi from “Naruto,” and this may very well turn out to be a success as the story progresses, but as far as introductions go he just isn’t that interesting.
Because that failed to stick with me, the entire chapter goes down in points, but I can at least give this chapter some praise for raising the bar and allowing for character growth for Fafnir. Perhaps what this manga needs is a chunk of time devoted to developing these characters so that the reader can care about the story being told.