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 Brian check in with “My Hero Academia” and “Momiji No Kisetsu.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “One Piece,” “We Never Learn,” “The Promised Neverland,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “Dr. Stone,” “Food Wars,” or “Black Clover,” let us know in the comments!
My Hero Academia Chapter 182
Written & Illustrated by Kohei Horikoshi
Review by Walt Richardson
Any story with a large cast has to deal with the difficulty of sharing the spotlight between main and supporting characters. If the main characters are the only ones who receive development or character-defining moments, then the whole world seems sparsely populated no matter how many different faces appear. In some ways, the serialized storytelling we see in many comics is uniquely situated to address this problem: every X issues/chapters, the creators can have an issue that is focused on a character that is normally relegated to the background. In some ways, this chapter of “My Hero Academia” is an example of this fairly common technique: we receive flashbacks of Kyoka’s past that lead up to an emotional climax, condensing a moving character arc into the span of a handful of pages. However, Horikoshi is operating on multiple levels in this chapter. Beyond the more obvious role of the festival performance as a way for all the members of Class 1-A to grow together, the climax of this chapter is just as much of a significant moment for Eri as it is for Kyoka. Perhaps “economic” sounds like too clinical a term to use when talking about character development, but the way Horikoshi is able to simultaneously give two characters great emotional beats without making them feel similar or repetitive is an excellent skill to have when creating a comic such as this.
It feels a bit unfair to critique the art when parts of it remain to be finished in the collected edition, but it is worth mentioning that I’d rather have a week’s delay if it means a completed issue, especially considering the reputation that the manga industry has for sometimes working mangaka too hard. The finished pages do an excellent job of capturing the excitement of a live show and giving it steroids. The dynamism that Horikoshi normally imbues the fights of his series with is well suited for depicting the energy of a band rocking out (though not even he can make playing keys look cool). And the other strength of his art — the ability to capture raw emotion — is well suited for the dual emotion climax mentioned above. Sure, the chapter still needs a bit more time to be visually completed, but what we have here shows exactly what makes Horikoshi’s art great.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – A very good chapter, but a little bit has to be docked for being unfinished.
Momiji No Kisetsu Chapter 1
Written and Illustrated by Masayoshi Satosho
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
Let me get this out of the way first: there is an incredibly creepy sequence of the protagonist, Momiji, walking in on a woman bathing in his tub. This sequence is absurd, with Momiji telling his mom he wants to take a bath, and his mom failing to mention that a strange woman is already doing so. It is as gratuitous as you would imagine, and it becomes a plot point later in the story that, due to this incident, Icho, the woman, has leverage over him. It’s a very weird sequence that tonally undercuts what is a really fun introductory chapter to this new Jump Start.
Satosho creates a lot of drama in the world of shogi, but specifically in Momiji’s life. He is the younger brother of a legendary shogi player, who died quite young. The story is about identity, and how Momiji is both running from his brother’s legacy and hampered in by it. It’s a really well told story, and Satosho is able to wring a lot from a relatively small, restrained story.Continued below
The shogi itself isn’t the most visually gripping game there is, but Satosho gives a really good primer on how to illustrate this sort of story. By involving the obvious touches – body language, internal monologue, showing the gameboard – but doing them all on the same page, alongside some dream-like sequences, really builds tension, even for those who don’t know how to play shogi.
As my pal Walter pointed out as we talked about this story, it is interesting to see a protagonist built up around the idea of playing defensively. It is almost antithetical to comic storytelling, but that’s what makes that reveal so unexpected and fun.
Final Verdict: 7.2 – If not for the creepy bath stuff, this would’ve been even better.