Welcome to This Week in Shonen Jump, in which a rotating duo of Multiversity staffers take a look at two stories contained in each installment of Viz Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump. For the uninitiated, Weekly Shonen Jump is an anthology that delivers more than 200 pages of manga of all varieties. We hope that you’ll join us in exploring the world of Weekly Shonen Jump each week. If you are unfamiliar, you can read sample chapters and subscribe at Viz.com.
This week, Walter and Darcy review “The Promised Neverland” and “One Piece.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “Food Wars,” “We Never Learn,” “One Punch Man,” “Black Clover,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “My Hero Academia,” “Dr. Stone,” “One Piece,” or “Hunter X Hunter,” let us know in the comments!
Also, in case you missed it, Darcy recently sat down with English Weekly Shonen Jump Editor in Chief Andy Nakatani about the magazine – check it out!
The Promised Neverland Ch. 74
Written by Kaiu Shirai
Illustrated by Posuka Demizu
Reviewed by Walt Richardson
Warning: spoilers ahead.
It’s fair to say that “The Promised Neverland” has been a roller coaster of cliffhangers and dramatic revelations since chapter one. On the one hand, this has made Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu dark fantasy thirller one of the most exciting series currently running in Weekly Shonen Jump. On the other, a never-ending ride of twists and turns can sometimes give the reader a sense of whiplash, making the plot confusing and generally dampening the effect of each new “surprise.” While “The Promised Neverland” can sometimes make this mistake, this latest chapter is impressive in its handling of its latest “twist:” the reveal that Norman is still alive. It’s a twist, in that this is new information that is contrary to what we were led to believe, but at the same time it’s so obvious that it doesn’t feel like a twist. And that’s the beauty of this chapter: Shirai knows we assume that Norman is alive, and thus does not lean too heavily into attempting to blow our minds. The chapter moves on quickly from the more superficial “reveal” to more substantive material concerning Norman’s current situation, and is all the better for it.
Instead, the chapter focuses on further expanding the setting of “The Promised Neverland.” The past few chapters have filled in a world that seemed mostly empty, and this chapter adds even more to that world. Of course, most of what it adds raises more and more questions, and this sets up that risk of whiplash mentioned above. But for now Shirai is admirably balancing the act of filling in details while leaving blanks to be filled later, a compromise that is nothing less than addicting.
Demizu’s unique artistic contribution that makes “The Promised Neverland” even better than it would be by another artist is her ability to make dramatic tonal shifts in the span of a panel, and we see that at work in this chapter. In one panel, Norman appears as a sweet cherub, in another his eyes are wide, anxiety oozing from the page. This sense of contrast has been mostly missing since the group has left the farm (instead, everything is terrible all the time!), so it’s great to see Demizu have an opportunity to use this technique again. “The Promised Neverland” also uses a lot of internal monologues, which can slow the action down, but Demizu is excellent at toying with minute changes of facial expressions to keep things interesting, sequentially. This chapter once again makes the reader wonder how anyone but Demizu could draw this.
If there’s one concern with this chapter, which in a vacuum is quite good, it’s that this diversion will slow the momentum of the current arc. How long this sub-story lasts remains to be seen, and while it’s exciting to see the strange new location Norman is, hopefully it does not bring Emma’s current plot to a screeching halt.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – Still great.
One Piece – Chapter 894
Written and Illustrated by Eiichiro Oda
Review by Darcy Forrester
The last time I reviewed “One Piece” for this column, some months ago, a noticeable feature of that chapter to me was the focus given to characters other than Monkey D. Luffy and his Straw Hat pirates. This time around however, while we do briefly see the goings-on of numerous characters, the vast majority of the chapter’s attention is afforded to the conflict between Luffy and Charlotte Katakuri. This, along with the passage of time that is communicated both in this chapter and over the past few months of content, indicates well the truly epic and gruelling struggle that Luffy is faced with as a result of Katakuri’s remarkable fighting ability.
This chapter however, begins with another flashback of the training Luffy underwent during the two-year time skip with Silvers Rayleigh. While Luffy is shown to be a little resistant, especially regarding the idea of abstaining from eating until he becomes more proficient at using the Colour of Observation Haki to dodge attacks, we more importantly witness Luffy’s resolve to indeed follow Rayleigh’s instruction in the end. We then see Luffy eating, indicating his completion of the task set by Rayleigh, before being informed of an important detail regarding Luffy’s specific approach to Observation Haki. Rayleigh believes that Luffy is especially attuned to the emotions of living things, which given Luffy’s actions previously in the series, would indeed ring true. This idea makes sense to an even greater degree though as to why Luffy is now having more luck sensing the actions that Katakuri is taking, beyond the understandable burden of his self-inflicted wound, because only recently has Katakuri torn down his false persona and acted in accordance with his true self.
The improvement here though, made by Luffy, does thankfully not grant him an automatic win. There is no sense of shallowness presented by the possibility of a jarring reversal, wherein Luffy suddenly overcomes the odds and defeats an opponent who had been vastly superior up until this point. Instead, after Katakuri’s personality shift, Luffy still has to graft for every hit he lands. We see him still struggle in the face of Katakuri’s overwhelming power and numerous abilities, as the environment surrounding the pair continues to be demolished in their wake. Yet the facet of his personality that shines above all else, mirrored by the flashback sequence in this very chapter, is both the mental and physical resilience he possesses.
This inner strength of Luffy’s is then also seen in three of the other four scenes scattered throughout Chapter 894, indicative of his own influence as reflected by both his crewmates and his allies. We firstly see Chiffon, who is still appreciative of the help the Straw Hats gave to her sister Lola, endeavouring to go above and beyond the call of duty if it means arguing with her husband and aiding their pirate friends in the meantime. We next see the Straw Hats, who still sail upon the Thousand Sunny, as they continue to be hounded by the personal fleet of the imposing Charlotte Smoothie. The final example is that of Sanji, the Straw Hats’ chef, who wishes to put his life in danger once again if it means ensuring the safety of his captain.
The chapter ends though on somewhat of a cliffhanger, with the impending reveal of a new form of Luffy’s Gear Four, as the clash between Luffy and Katakuri appears to reach its climax. While such a development is certainly exciting, after months of building tension, the dialogue that proceeds it should not be understated. Oda’s use of Katakuri’s future sight to pre-empt what Luffy intends to say is an intriguing inclusion that holds true to the past feats of Katakuri, and his acknowledgement that what is about to happen is the end only serves to heighten the anticipation surrounding the upcoming chapter.
Final Verdict: 8.8 – A thoroughly enjoyable chapter that dials up the pacing, makes good on previous set-up, and prepares the readers for what is surely going to be an engaging finale to the Luffy and Katakuri conflict.