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, Ken and Robbie check in with “My Hero Academia” and “Boruto.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “One Piece,” “We Never Learn,” “The Promised Neverland,” “Blue Exorcist,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “Dr. Stone,” “Food Wars,” “Black Clover,” or “Seraph at the End,” let us know in the comments!
Boruto Chapter 23
Written by Ukyo Kodachi
Illustrated by Mikio Ikemoto
Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant
“Naruto” was one of the biggest manga in Shonen Jump for a long time, comprising one of the “big three” series. Yet after the end of the original series, “Boruto” seems to be struggling to follow its predecessor’s footsteps.
However, that doesn’t necessarily make it bad, just not groundbreaking either. What we get is a decent story with acceptable art and good plot progression.
The recent arc has provided some good character development for Boruto, as well as a side character or two, while building up a new group of evil ninja they’ll eventually have to face. We finally get to see one of their mysterious masked members in action, while Konohamaru gets something to do. Even through the combat Ukyo Kodachi (who, as a side note, shares the name of two “Ranma 1/2” characters, to my amusement) manages to drop a few more tantalizing nuggets of information.
We even get a tense moment where a named character could very well die, following a previous chapter’s demonstration that not everyone from the previous “Naruto” series has plot armor. It feels dangerous enough, and leads to another development for Boruto himself and the mysterious powers he’s developing.
Overall, it’s fairly standard Shounen series fare, but the execution is acceptable.
Mikio Ikemoto’s artwork mimics that of Masashi Kishimoto, the original “Naruto” creator, very nicely. The character designs, the way ninjutsu techniques are illustrated, the environment, even the smoke and dust effects have the same look and feel as its predecessor. The action scenes give us some well-paced combat, accompanied by plenty of action lines and sound effects, and it all flows well.
However, it is also clear that the art is just trying to copy Kishimoto’s style. While that’s necessary initially, a manga with art that’s purely imitation will inevitably lack a certain something; it remains indistinct and offers no sense of individuality. I believe the series has gone on long enough for Ikemoto to start adding something new artistically, and while we are starting to get some character designs moving away from the mold, it’s not enough to stand out yet.
Which, again, doesn’t make it bad, just a step down from what it could be.
Final Verdict: 6.8 – It hits all the right notes, introduces a properly threatening villain, and develops the protagonist’s new powers. But it’s all something we’ve seen before, and works so hard at being its predecessor that it can’t become its own thing yet. Still, though, it’s not bad.
My Hero Academia Ch. 181
Written & Illustrated by Kohei Horikoshi
Reviewed by Ken Godberson III
Over the last twenty chapters or so, “My Hero Academia” has been able to slow down a bit. This school festival has allowed us to get a little less serious and have some fun (You know, “fun” that doesn’t involve incredibly dangerous villains and the questioning of morality e.t.c. e.t.c.), but now, with chapter 181, it looks like Horikoshi is bringing this mini-arc to a wrap up with the aftermath of the battle between Midoriya and Gentle. This is an action-free issue, choosing to re-highlight the parallels between our Deku and Gentle and their respective relationships with Eri and La Brava. Gentle was a hero that could’ve-been, but in spite of how things turned out, there were still people who he didn’t want to disappoint.Continued below
There is an argument to be made that Gentle is an examination of a Silver/Bronze Age villain; a more goofy, “harmless” (at least in comparison to more dangerous villains that this series has had) villains. I say this because a small scene that stood out was when several of the U.A. staff arrive to take Gentle into custody and the staff are very quick to make assumptions about Gentle being more dangerous than he is. It reminds me of some other modern books that take goofy villains and retcon them into more dangerous and abhorrent ones (he says as he glares and hurls a bottle of whiskey at “Identity Crisis”). Midoriya does diffuse the situation rather quickly, being able to see right to the heart of Gentle.
On the art side, Horikoshi continues to be excellent. Yeah, not exactly a stunning revelation, but true nonetheless. Because there is no combat this issue, it’s made up for with visual character moments, particularly between Gentle and La Brava. La Brava’s realization that Gentle is going to be jailed and her friend is ensuring she won’t be implicated in their crimes is heartbreaking, her expressions of panicked sadness are just on this side of overly detailed without going into “One Piece” levels of over-the-topness. It keeps a relatively light-hearted arc on a grounded level.
The last arc of “My Hero Academia” has been a nice, breezy read, but I am glad it seems to not be outlasting it’s welcome. It gave us some nice character moments and gave us fun antagonists like Gentle and La Brava, but I believe it is high time we moved on to more larger stories and I am grateful that it seems Horikoshi agrees. Still, even when dialing back the scope, “My Hero Academia” is still one of the best books out there right now.
Final Verdict: 6.9- A nice cooldown issue to a cooldown arc.