In this issue of “Weekly Shonen Jump,” almost every series in my review lineup put out chapters worthy of average to high praise. Even new series like “Ayakashi Triangle” put forth decent content, even if it isn’t in a position to be compared to flagship titles like “One Piece,” “My Hero Academia” or “Jujutsu Kaisen.”
Not considering stable, long-running series, “Weekly Shonen Jump” is developing a host of strong titles that will help it stand in the new era that will come when “One Piece” inevitably ends.
“One Piece” Chapter 989
Many readers have felt in that last half-decade that their favorite characters haven’t been getting the page-time they deserve, specifically characters in the main Straw Hat crew.
This is a valid point of concern, but also one that can’t always be helped. Chapter 989 does a lot to dampen that point of criticism. And indeed, the war at Onigashima as a whole has spread a decent amount of attention to a wide array of characters.
Chapter 989 refreshingly puts the spotlight on characters like Jinbei, Robin, Franky and Brook, giving them action sequences and dialogue that readers wouldn’t necessarily expect. Info dumps are also hidden amongst bits of dialogue that tie old story arcs like “Punk Hazard” back into the fold after all these years.
A sense of awe exudes from the pages as the main cast pose together in a scene reminiscent of the “Avengers.” The chapter provides a strong sense of unity among the main cast, bringing them together as a single unit in the midst of raging war.
Perhaps Oda is pandering to his readers, considering how many love seeing such panels. Regardless, it made for an exciting chapter.
“My Hero Academia” Chapter 283
It’s almost mind blowing how well Horikoshi has built the stakes and tension of the climactic battle.
Often, the meaning of stakes drop as they become less personal. Higher losses get relegated to statistics, while intense, character-driven struggles that hit home feel more important. Horikoshi manages to intertwine country-level stakes with inter-character, personalized stakes that the reader will actually care about.
Here, the reader can actually feel the loss of hope felt by the students of U.A. as they witness all the devastation, but it’s centered around the loss, or potential loss, of characters that we’ve been following throughout the war.
Few shonen series are able to balance stakes in a way that maximizes meaning, and fewer writers are able to combine philosophical meaning into such chapters. Horikoshi does both.
“Jujutsu Kaisen” Chapter 120
“Jujutsu Kaisen” is at its best when it goes as graphic as possible, because it doesn’t have much depth to begin with.
By capitalizing on the carnage of battle, the manga can define itself as a body-horror gore-fest for casual reading, rather than draining the reader with smart, dialogue heavy battles that are more interested in philosophy.
To that extent, “Jujutsu Kaisen” is more interested in creating atmosphere and feeling than in its story or message. Chapter 120 does just that in how it presents the character Nanami. While the manga often feels hype, this chapter does more for the story than almost every chapter that has proceeded it.
“Chainsaw Man” Chapter 83
Fujimoto somehow continues to bring content that can go blow-for-blow with some of the flagship titles. After the psychological high of its last two chapters, the manga has turned around and immediately paid off the debts it made by altering the reader’s understanding of the story.
If those chapters made the reader ask, “what’s next?” This chapter gave the answer in a stunning action sequence that solidifies the new paradigm that the manga is putting forth.
However, the psychological aspects of this chapter are dampened in order to focus on paying off the last two chapters, so there is a marked drop-off in mind-numbing bombshells. So, while this chapter is almost perfect, it isn’t the high point readers just witnessed last week.
“Undead Unluck” Chapter 30
Chapter 30, though nothing special, does do two crucial things for the manga going forward: providing character motivation for Chikara and giving a timetable for escalating tension.
That being said, a lot of characters still lack substantial characterization, so readers are limited on cast attachment. Providing motivation for Chikara was a necessary move, but doing so is still only standard practice in good writing.
On top of this chapter’s character exploration, soft deadlines were given as to when the tension of the story would hit its peak. On one hand it’s worrisome because it puts an endpoint in sight, but on the other hand it can increase the intensity of the current story to boost reader interest and sales.
One can’t be sure if this is a calculated move by Tozuka, or if it’s an addition suggested by his editor. Either way, the chapter is standard bookkeeping.
“Ayakashi Triangle” Chapter 11
The comedy, story progression and genre elements are going to be hit or miss.
Chapter 11 is average when viewed as an ecchi manga, but fails when viewed as a romantic comedy. Because chapter 11 leans into the ecchi side of things, it is actually a better read than chapters where it has tried to be funny.
By all rights, I’d prefer for the series to continue in this direction as there isn’t anything like it in “Jump” at the moment, and it helps to differentiate it from the pack.
“Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin” Chapter 9
Though not as funny as previous chapters, this one still provides solid, unexpected, absurdist jokes. It furthermore contrasts its absurdist elements with a serious tone, making the absurdism all the funnier.
That’s par for the course with this series, but its consistent quality in that aspect is worth mentioning when it comes to a joke based manga. Even so, there is a solid story that progresses in this chapter, with character histories and vendettas coming into the mix.
“Phantom Seer” Chapter 2
Coming off its solid opening last week, chapter 2 doesn’t disappoint.
Katanagi’s character is explored in both background and powers, further explaining who he is and why he has particular character traits.
Aibetsu is explored to a lesser extent, but she isn’t ignored. By working to solidify our understanding of the characters, the manga sets itself up well for the future.