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, Robbie and Ken check in with “We Never Learn” and “Blue Exorcist,” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “The Promised Neverland,” “One Piece,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “Serpah at the End,” “Boruto,” “My Hero Academia,” “Dr. Stone,” “Black Clover,” or “Food Wars,” let us know in the comments!
Blue Exorcist Ch. 91
Written & Illustrated by Kazue Kato
Review by Ken Godberson III
Ah, a wedding! Family and friends! Promises of devotion and love! Splintering of brotherly connections and investigations of conspiracy! Wait, what was that last one? Nothing! Nothing at all! La de da de da! But yeah, the nuptials going on serving as background to some more dangerous things as Yukio Okumura continues to be more and more distant. But that’s not the only thing happening. While Ryuji Suguro is helping his father prepare for the ceremony, Ryuji’s exorcist teacher Lightning is conducting his own investigations into the Illuminati, providing some interesting building blocks for down the line.
The scene that stood out for me the most was the one between Ryuji helping his priest father getting ready for the wedding ceremony. Ryuji has always been a bit bristley as a person, but he really has come a long way and it is nice and heartwarming to see this acknowledgement, even if Ryuji’s other duties, investigating the birth of the Okamura siblings, gets in the way of it. Speaking of, the other stand out scene is between Yukio and Ryuji, with the Okamura holding Ryuji at gunpoint. It’s a tense scene, and really shows how much Yukio is crumbling.
Kazue Kato’s artwork has always been good. A very solid shonen action style, able to convey combat and emotion with the proper attention to pathos it needs. The wedding reception has some nice sight gags and really conveys a joyous setting, even if some not-so-joyous things happen around it. The standout scene is the look on Yukio’s face as he holds up Ryuji. It seems so professional, but the linework in the younger Okamura’s face and the detailed eyes shows off the barely-contained anger. It makes for chilling work.
Final Verdict: 7.0- A solid chapter with some decent beats and lovely artwork.
We Never Learn Ch. 15
Written and illustrated by Taishi Tsutsui
Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant
Remember when “We Never Learn” was about two genius students diligently trying to learn the subjects they’re absolutely lousy at, for the sake of their own goals and desires? It had good character designs, nice comedy, and a decent style of artwork that made it easy to read and had a good amount of detail. Yeah, that was a good first chapter.
Nearly everything since then has just been more and more building up the same old love triangle/square/dodecahedron (or whatever kind of shape it takes) that we’ve seen a thousand times over, with fanservice that’s tacked on at almost any point and rarely ever necessary.
This chapter is no different. I honestly thought we’d hit the bottom of the barrel last week, when we had a chapter dedicated to Uruka playing sports after forgetting to wear a bra, but this week seems to have found a spot even lower than that barrel, because this week we get the ever-overused “accidentally in the girl’s locker room when everyone is changing” cliche. Yay.
Now, we could have gotten some development on Yuiga and Ogata’s feelings after their accidental kiss last chapter, and it’s briefly addressed all of two times with no actual development from there. No, instead any chance of character development is discarded in exchange for another tacked on excuse for nudity. There is absolutely nothing about this chapter that hasn’t been done a hundred times before by much better series, and while readers in high school might enjoy seeing 2D girls wrapped in towels or censored by well-placed arms and smoke, it’s empty fanservice with no purpose behind it.Continued below
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with school-based romantic comedies or fanservice itself. But when every other chapter is pointless, plotless excuses for character-focused chapters, and when the fanservice adds nothing to the story, it does nothing.
The worst part is the lost potential this represents. “We Never Learn” could be a good character-driven series; Yuiga and the first two girls all have compelling stories and potential plots the story could explore, delving into their motivations and struggles to make us really root for them. Instead we get Yuiga locked in a sauna because Ogata can’t come up with a good lie. Not to mention the waste of perfectly good artwork.
Yes, the art is just fine – the character designs are nice and filled with personality; everyone is expressive, distinct, and get some nice reaction shots. Even the pointless fanservice is well-drawn, with good use of framing and shading to emphasize the details. Even some panels feature a remarkable amount of detail in a character’s eyes alone. Yet it’s wasted on this series.
This series could have been so much better. It could have given us remarkable characters and an actual romantic dilemma as they develop their feelings. Instead, we get the empty calories of fanservice chapters. What a waste.
Final Verdict: 2.0 – Uninspired fanservice, abandoning any semblance of what could have been a good plot that the series once had, and instead focusing on finding more stupid ways to let the supposed protagonist (and by extension, the readers) see somewhat-censored nudity.