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, Vince and Rowan check in with “Kimi Wo Shinryakuseyo” and “Yu-Gi-Oh Arc V.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “My Hero Academia,” “We Never Learn,” “The Promised Neverland,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “Momiji No Kisetsu,” “Dr. Stone,” “Food Wars,” or “Black Clover,” let us know in the comments!
Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V, Chapter 34
Written by Shin Yoshida
Illustrated by Naohito Miyoshi
Reviewed by Rowan Grover
In any Yu-Gi-Oh! or card-game based text, it’s tricky to balance how much of a chapter you dedicate to story development, and how much you use for the gaming. Shin Yoshida on scripting here does a solid job at balancing, and on occasion intertwining the two to create an interesting, if sometimes a little complex narrative. The antagonist here, Eve, interestingly combines her own motivations with how she controls the duel. She’s not inherently evil – she says so to Yuto in promising that she can give him a reality where he and Yuya are together again. However, the way she wishes to do so, with controlling time, is allegedly improper. She uses a similar time-based mechanic in her duel, except to her own benefit, where she allows Yuto to dominate for a turn or so, before directing a complete reversal, almost like turning back time, to the turn before. She’s back in power, even more so than before, and it subtly tells the readers that this is just one of the benefits of her time turning abilities.
In terms of underlying story content, it’s interesting to see just how connected the main characters are, especially considering the story revelations at the end of the issue. Yoshida weaves an interconnected vision of sorts through all the major protagonists, which can get a little confusing at times to follow due to how the duel’s story is placed in between narrative content. When Yuzu, the companion of the story, wakes from her coma at the start, we see how her story is connected to Yuto’s as she remembers a vision she had of him. It does get a little complicated and hard to follow from here, as we see the other protagonists Yuya, Yuri and Yugo at the source of all their problems, in a different setting, but somehow completely aware of the duel taking place. They talk about the Adam Factor that Eve is seeking, and we see an almost “Akira”-esque vision of how the world will be affected by it, which is intriguing, but not a lot is revealed as to the nature of this object. There’s not enough concrete details about the story to make us really care, instead Yoshida tries to have us trust the general doom that the characters preach.
Naohito Miyoshi as always renders the sci-fi/fantasy hybrid tropes of “Yu-Gi-Oh” with pomp and grandeur. The most obvious feature, the duelling segments, are fast paced and well-structured. The panelling and camera work makes it feel like we are situated right in the middle of the action, reminding me of the camera work in video games like Pokemon Stadium, for reference. Miyoshi gives us a great initial rundown of the stakes and situation of the duel with the first 1.5 page splash of Yuto facing down Eve’s three massive, abstract, and complex looking monsters. The camera is set just below eye level, so we get a diagonal upward view of these beasties, making them look even more terrifying. From this point onward, to imply sequence and passing of time, Miyoshi heavily relies on speed lines, perhaps a little too much, as it’s hard to get a sense of setting in these panels. However, it does make every moment of the duel feel super-charged and crackle with energy, giving the scenes a dangerous air about them.Continued below
The scenes featuring the other Yu-characters trapped with the Adam Factor are intriguing in how they present the world around them and deepen the plot. We see them Adam Factor pulse through the world next to Yuya, and explode from the ground in a tree-like form, implying that it’s has some power over nature. Miyoshi has to work a lot of this storytelling in through the art as it is not referred to in the dialogue of narration. It’s tricky, but Miyoshi does a solid job for the most part, showing us the visions of a dystopian world that it gives to Yuya and how Yuya almost seems tangled up in its roots amidst this vision. However, the imagery is still fragmented and does flow naturally, making it hard to discern any kind of subtle storytelling without help from the script. However, Miyoshi does do some solid character work with Yuya in this scene, showing him move from awe, to anguish to thoughtfulness in a few pages during his vision event. It makes him feel like a compelling character, and keeps readers interested despite how hard the story is to crack.
“Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V” still continues to tell an intriguing story whilst weaving in the card playing content cleverly. Unfortunately, the story can be a little dense and tough to crack, throughout both the scripting and art, but this will likely not bother devout followers of the series.
Final Score: 6.8 – “Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V” is a still a story designed for hardcore fans, but past the high-octane duelling, the story content is a little tough to wrap your head around.
Kimi Wo Shinryakuseyo, Chapter 1
Written and Illustrated by Kazusa Inaoka
Review by Vince J Ostrowski
Perhaps this is merely due to the specific sample of manga and anime I’ve been exposed to, but compared to American superhero comics, characters with fantastical identities or abilities just don’t seem to be as concerned with keeping it a secret in Japan. I’m racking my brain to think of characters that try to hide the fact that they can launch balls of energy from their palms, or pilot giant robots in service of protecting the earth from invasion, and I just can’t think of any I’ve seen. Shonen manga, by and large, is an arena where superpowers are proudly flaunted and everyone largely accepts the supernatural readily into their lives. “Kimi Wo Shinryakuseyo” is a little different in that regard, and much more similar to an American superhero comic where the main character tries to keep their unbelievable true identity under wraps to protect themselves and those around them. Hajime Sorajima presents himself right off the bat as a “normal high school student” – except for the part where he’s an alien. And when a classmate confronts him when she suspects he may be an alien, she does so using “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial” as a reference point rather than any previous experience she may have had with an alien. There’s a general sense that everyday life in this particular series isn’t all that fantastical, at least in this first chapter.
That classmate, in turns out, is the most charming part of the book. Her name is Ria Aiba, and she’s quite a goofball. They play her off like she’s a ditz, but there’s something more to her, we just can’t be entirely sure what that is yet. She’s on to Sorajima’s true identity from the start and doesn’t let go of her intuition. At the same time, she also bought an “alien translator” for 39,800 yen that’s clearly just a dinky little cooling fan (in what amounts to one of the chapter’s funniest exchanges). There’s even a possible suggestion that there may be something alien or supernatural about Aiba herself, as she talks about her own “alien horns.” Admittedly, this is definitely a reach on my part, because it’s just as likely she’s just talking about how she wears her hair. One of the problems with the opening chapter of this series is that there’s just not much to sink our teeth into and it left me trying to dig for any kind of possible depth going forward. While Aiba may be an entertaining character, she, nor anyone else, has a ton of depth, and it leaves me wondering what the game is going to be going forward.Continued below
I do want to talk about a pervy situation near the middle of the chapter, because something I bring up a lot when I talk about manga is how these potentially problematic situations are handled. At one point in the comic, Aiba falls asleep and pulls one of Sorajima’s horns, causing him to turn into his alien form. As she sleeps, and he tries to wriggle away, he eventually ends up pressed tightly under her chest. In typical big sweat drop, bloody-nose manga fashion, the hero isn’t sure how to act and is certainly a mix of distressed and possibly horny. Let me be clear that I think most perv jokes in manga are handled poorly, but in the end I don’t think this was one of them. If nothing else, this was one of the better handlings of a kind of humor that just seems to be a fact of life when it comes to regularly reading manga. Too often, the male character takes undue advantage of the situation or the eye of the author lingers too long or too explicitly. Neither of these are really true in “Kimi Wo Shinryakuseyo”, as Sorajima tries to get out of the situation as best he can and the author makes sure the entire thing plays out as a misunderstanding. It’s still not my kind of humor, and it’s definitely not necessary, but it’s one of the more cautious takes on this type of gag that I’ve seen in recent years.
In truth, not much feels “necessary” in “Kimi Wo Shinryakuseyo”, but that doesn’t mean it’s a comic without merit. It’s kind of funny. It’s kind of cute. The art has a handsome, albeit overly simplistic quality to it. The alien design, in particular, isn’t all that inspired (think of a slime enemy from “Dragon Quest” with a couple extra pointy parts on it), but if nothing else it’s definitely cute. But the story itself kind of feels like it ends out of obligation to page count, rather than with any momentum going into a future issue. There’s no real “cliffhanger” here. There’s not even really an indication of what the next story could possibly be. Sorajima just kind of reiterates that this is how he met this weird girl and how they came to be friends, sharing this alien secret. I’m not sure the comic gave me a reason to check back in next week, and in fact, it may have tripped up by feeling pretty tied up the way it is. If you don’t feel compelled on your own to read any more of it, the chapter itself certainly doesn’t give you a reason to.
Final Verdict: 6.0 – There’s nothing technically wrong with “Kimi Wo Shinryakuseyo”, and it’s even legitimately funny if you don’t mind a little pervy humor, but for a first chapter it’s also strangely lacking in conflict and a clear direction forward.