Shonen Jump Issue 38

It’s been a long summer of quarantine since I’ve last written one of these, but manga hasn’t stopped printing, and I haven’t stopped reading. On top of that, some series have ended while others have begun.

Two new series that will be showing up in my weekly chapter reviews are “Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin” and “Ayakashi Triangle.” Many familiar faces will remain as well. Also, “Jujutsu Kaisen” will be joining the line up in a few weeks’ time, but until then you all will have to be patient as I catch up on it.

“One Piece” Chapter 988

Things are really ramping up lately in the world of “One Piece.” This week’s chapter pushes the story ever forward, and appears to be sorting the various protagonists into their upcoming matches. I’m doubtful these will be the final fights as Oda likes to mix things up and trick the reader, and, so far, he’s doing just that.

Furthermore, while we as readers know what is going on in the festival room and on the rooftop, we don’t know the whereabouts and situations of many of the other acting characters. This provides some room for mystery, even in a part of the story where storylines converge.

That, however, isn’t the focus of the chapter. Rather, the beginnings of the battles are the focus. What this chapter does best is define the centers of conflict that are about to occur. This helps the reader understand better how the war is going to play out, but also allows for later subversions of expectation when Oda inevitably changes things up.

There were good moments of comedy, wholesomeness and great action shots, but nothing out of the ordinary for “One Piece.”

4/5 Torches

“My Hero Academia” Chapter 281

The review for this one is short and sweet. Chapter 281 not only pinpoints the moral/philosophical dilemma that underlines the story’s setting, but also contains some of the most jaw-dropping panels this series has to offer in terms of art.

Not only are there no punches pulled in terms of gruesome carnage, but this arc truly feels as though it is a turning point for the story thus far. Nothing will be the same once this arc reaches its finale, and I am here for it. Bring it on!

5/5 Torches

“Chainsaw Man” Chapter 81

Coming off the insanity this manga’s story went through over the summer, I thought what came next would be a respite from bloody horror and graphic violence. I suppose it is a respite for that, but instead the story has ramped up its psychological aspects 100 fold.

After reading this chapter, I sat there for nearly a minute with my jaw hanging open, staring at the screen, while trying to process what it was I had just read.

Somehow, Tatsuki Fujimoto has taken a character everyone loved before and has begun to characterize her not as a hero as assumed from the beginning, but instead the actual villainous mastermind. After the last arc, that development was hinted at, but I’m not sure there is room for plausible deniability anymore.

I’ve had a lot of criticisms for this series in the past, and while I won’t recant anything I’ve said about it before, it is continuing to develop in ways I didn’t expect. This chapter, for example, does more for the thematic messages of this story than any other in its entire run up to this point. The importance of it might actually be the crux for everything this story will have to offer coming after it.

Read “Chainsaw Man.” Despite its flaws, I can see this manga blowing up in popularity once it gets an anime adaptation, and it could go down as a classic if done well.

5/5 Torches

“Undead Unluck” Chapter 28

In what appears to be the climax of the current story arc, “Undead Unluck” seems to have tied up the battle in a smart way. However, there is getting to be a level of suspension of disbelief that one has to have while reading this manga. That’s to be expected.

I don’t necessarily dislike what went on here, but compared to the other manga that it has to compete against, it certainly doesn’t blow the socks off of anyone.

There were some low-level attempts at philosophy in this chapter, but they’re overshadowed by the battle itself. It feels like more of an afterthought to try and give more meaning to the action. It isn’t bad at all, but it isn’t prolific.

3.5/5 Torches

“Ayakashi Triangle” Chapter 9

Though lacking in the battles against Ayakashi that its previous chapters having focused on, this chapter delved more into the romantic-comedic aspects of its story.

While nothing super cool happens, we did get to learn more about character histories, and the awkwardness that many of these young characters have when interacting with one another is amusing to read.

On top of that, the love triangle this manga began to form this chapter seems to be a bit abnormal, which adds a level of uniqueness to a tired trope.

3/5 Torches

“Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin” Chapter 7

There is a certain absurdity in “Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin” that is hard to describe in seriousness, yet somehow this manga takes itself seriously in the face of the utmost absurd.

And I’ll tell the truth, I laughed more reading this chapter than I have reading most comedy based manga. Even if you know the sort of jokes that this series will pull, you can’t really prepare yourself from just how odd everything really is.

Even translated out of Japanese the jokes seem to be written in a way that anyone can understand. Even the references that American’s wouldn’t seemingly know aren’t ones that won’t make sense contextually. That tends to be the issue with comedy-based manga: the language barrier.

“Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin” somehow avoids this in its official translations. This manga is the funniest thing running in “Jump” right now.

4/5 Torches

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