Welcome to This Week in Shonen Jump, our weekly check in on Viz’s various Shonen Jump series. Viz has recently changed their release format, but our format will mostly remain the same. We will still review the newest chapters of one title a week, now with even more options at our disposal. The big change for our readers is that, even without a Shonen Jump subscription, you can read these most recent chapters for free at Viz.com or using their app.
This week, Rowan checks in with “Sakamoto Days.” If you have thoughts on this or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Sakamoto Days Chapter 110
Written and Illustrated by Yuto Suzuki
Reviewed by Rowan Grover
The latest chapter of Yuto Suzuki’s assassin epic might be the best statement for why it works so well as an action manga. This chapter is relatively by-the-numbers in terms of Shonen manga tropes. You have the arrival of a potent antagonist, whom the heroic party all test their strength on to determine how much they need to worry about their foe. In this case, we get Kindaka, whose flippant, deadbeat-dad vibe contrasted with his terrifying ability makes for entertaining character work. The little touches work best for this dude, especially later in the manga when he strains his back with an emergency break that was “a bit much at [his] age”.
Since this is part of a flashback story arc, half of the fun is seeing some of the series’ mainstays in their formidable past primes. Sakamoto himself is a tour de force of confidence throughout this chapter, especially when he traps Kindaka in a confined space and boasts how he can use it to his advantage. The appearance of a young, seemingly powerless Uzuki is maybe the most striking and terrifying character work here, however. We get the soon-to-be villain’s trademark deadpan stare as he effortlessly avoids Kindaka’s whirlwind assault, at first without remark. Suzuki keeps him analytical in how he discusses how he dodges Kindaka but then adds a remark about not trying to seem lazy which adds a surprising extra level of relatability to his younger self.
As good as the subtle character work here is, the real draw is Suzuki’s fast-paced action. The way the first page flows almost acts as the opening to a fighting game match. We get panels of each team facing each other down with smoldering gazes, stretching and cracking their joints. It’s a great way to have characters be active in dialogue sequences. The action starts post-haste on the very next page, however, and my gosh, Suzuki knows how to make it look speedy. The blend of smooth clarity with speed lines isolated to certain aspects of a figure makes for action that is engaging and easy to follow. In this way, we not only get visual signifiers of lightning-speed battles, but we get more clarity in the emotional response, too. Having the confident Nagumo express surprise at all of Kindaka’s moves does more to express his concern about his foe than his dialogue actually does.
There are some great single-panel shots later in the chapter that proves how well Suzuki knows not only panel structure, but even just conveying sequential language in a single static image. The shot of Sakamoto and Kindaka facing off in an isolated chamber has the latter speed away from the top right point of the panel. His speed lines then follow the natural reading angles down the page to pop him directly behind Sakamoto, primed for taunting. The eye-grabber panel, however, occurs two pages later, when Sakamoto stands in the bottom right of a larger room as we see Kindaka’s speed lines bouncing riotously from every angle of the panel. The way the camera is positioned from below Sakamoto, along with the widescreen panel pulling the background together to create claustrophobia is genius, as it adds an extra layer of tension to the image.
Final Score: 8.3 – Some good subtle character work is going on here, but the real draw is watching Suzuki go absolutely ham with fast-paced action.