Manga Review: Shonen Jump Weekly (2016) by various creators.
It’s the fourth anniversary of this blog (where does the time go!?) and thus my annual review of the online edition of Weekly Shounen Jump, Japan’s best-selling manga anthology. The 2016 reaper has been busy here as elsewhere, with several long-running series ending: Bleach, Nisekoi, Toriko and even the record-setting but mostly unknown outside Japan Kochikame (a gag series about a lazy cop in a quiet neighborhood police station.) World Trigger and Hunter x Hunter are on indefinite hiatus due to creator health issues. So let’s take a look at what’s left, starting with the weekly series.
One Piece: Now the tentpole long-runner of the magazine, the story of the Straw Hat Pirates as they sail around a world of mostly water in search of freedom and the ultimate treasure continues to be awesome, though the cast is perhaps now too large to fully utilize all of them properly. Currently, the plot is centered around Sanji, the ship’s cook and would-be ladies’ man. His unpleasant family has caught up with him, and Sanji is being forced into a political marriage with Pudding, the daughter of Big Mom, one of the Four Emperors. Naturally, the rest of the crew and a few new allies are determined to rescue Sanji…even if he doesn’t want to be.
My Hero Academia: The kids of Class 1-A have almost all gotten their provisional superhero licenses. One of the exceptions is the explosive Bakugou, who has almost but not quite figured out the connection between formerly Quirkless classmate Deku and the now powerless All-Might. Bakugou and Deku are now having a discussion about their relationship, and in the tradition of both superhero comics and shounen manga, they’re having it with their fists. Still one of the best superhero school comics out there.
The Promised Neverland: New this year, and the most promising of the newcomers. Emma and the other children in the orphanage never questioned the rules about not leaving the grounds, or wondered what happened to the kids who were adopted. Until the day they learned the horrible truth–the children who leave are eaten by demons! Now Emma and the two smartest boys in the orphanage, Norman and Ray, must figure out a way to escape, even though Mother Isabella and Sister Krone are keeping a sharp eye out for potential trouble.
We’re still in the early stages of the plot, and much remains mysterious–just what is Isabella’s real motive here? Do the demons control all of Earth, or just the area around the orphanage? Just where is the orphanage anyway? With all the plotting and counter-plotting, this is so far a worthy successor to Death Note.
Black Clover: In the world where everyone has at least some magical ability except Asta (who now has anti-magic), the Black Bulls are the dregs of the Magic Knights of the Clover Kingdom. But just because they’re a ragtag bunch of misfits doesn’t mean they’re pushovers! Currently, two groups that are enemies of the Clover Kingdom have teamed up to attack the Witches’ Forest–good thing the Black Bulls just happened to be there to get medical attention for Asta’s arms!
Food Wars!: Soma’s education at the elite culinary school Totsuki Institute is threatened when an embittered former student, Azami Nakiri, takes over the school and insists that everyone must now cook only the recipes he likes in the way he prescribes. Soma and his fellow rebels have been whittled away by rigged final exams, but now Azami’s old classmate (and Soma’s father) Joichiro has shown up to propose a team shokugeki (cooking contest) for all the marbles! Can the Polar Star team win, even with Azami’s genius chef daughter Erina on their side?
RWBY: Based on the popular webtoon, this manga covers events that happened before the four girls who make up the RWBY team joined together at their school for monster hunting training. The current plotline involves Blake (the “B”), who is a member of the Faunus, a humanoid species that is discriminated against by the majority humans. She was once a train robber to help her people, but her partner Adam crossed the line…. I have not been very impressed with this tie-in.
The most recent issues have two “Jump Start” series that have just started in Japan and may be added to the regular rotation.
Demon’s Plan involves two boys who grew up in a slum together, working hard and saving money for a chance to get a wish from an artifact known as “the Demon’s Plan.” It turns out that artifact was a fake, but in the process the owner of the real thing shows up and turns them both into “demons” who must now battle other demons and eventually each other. The one who’s less enthused about that idea has made it to the big city in search of the cruel creator of demons. Could be good, not hitting me well just yet.
Ole Golazo is about a lad named Banba who was a tae kwon do champion before being banned from the sport for fighting. (In fairness, he was provoked beyond endurance, but rules is rules.) Adrift in high school, he develops a crush on a girl, and tries to join the soccer team she manages. Banba has amazing kicking skills, but knows nothing of the rules and customs of “the Beautiful Game.” Can he be trained to work with a team to achieve victory? Very reminiscent of the early chapters of Slam Dunk and has some likability.
And then there’s monthly features as well, so let’s look at those–
Seraph of the End: On the post-apocalyptic world, our heroes have gone AWOL from the Demon Army (which is humans who use demon weapons that if abused will turn them into demons) and teamed up with the nicest vampire they’ve met so far. They’re in a tenuous alliance with some vampires that seem to be rebelling against their top-heavy social order, but who are not to be trusted. In the most recent chapter, annoying vampire Crowley reveals he is far more powerful than he’s been letting on. But he’s still well below the person the alliance will need to beat for the next step of the plan.
Blue Exorcist: The focus is off Rin “Son of Satan” Okamura for the moment, as his classmate in exorcism training Ryuji works with unorthodox investigator Lightning to discover what happened to several missing people on the Blue Night. It seems there’s a secret laboratory located on a different time axis below the cram school.
Boruto: A sequel to the long-running Naruto series starring the son of Naruto. His father’s turned into a boring bureaucrat who’s hardly ever home, and Boruto tries to get his attention by winning big in a multi-village tournament/exam. Except that Boruto is talked into using some devices that are against the rules, and is shamed by his father for it. Now, Naruto has been captured by new villains, and Boruto must regain his honor by joining the rescue team.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V: I have actually completely lost track of what the plotline is supposed to be, though it seems that both the multiple personality protagonist and his arch-enemy have traveled back in time from when children’s card games destroyed the Earth. I’m not even sure a full twenty-four hours have passed since the beginning of the series, and certainly the card game school mentioned early on has gotten zero development since. This is a hot mess.
One-Punch Man: Saitama, the superhero who can defeat any opponent with a single punch (and that really sucks for him) is participating in a martial arts tournament in a wig disguise. Meanwhile, most of the other heroes are dealing with a huge monster infestation. Slow going, but still very amusing.
Although the loss of several popular series seems to have caused a drop in sales for the print edition, the online version is still excellent value for money and is highly recommended for fans of shounen manga.