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, Rowan and Matt check in with “Black Clover” and “One Punch Man.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “My Hero Academia,” “We Never Learn,” “The Promised Neverland,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “One Piece,” “Food Wars,” or “Dr. Stone,” let us know in the comments!
One-Punch Man Chapter 83
Written by One
Illustrated by Yusuke Murata
Review by Matt Lune
After the longest and possibly greatest chapter of “One-Punch Man” hit us in the face last week (like a certain bald hero punching a colossal centipede), it makes sense that this week’s chapter would be a quieter, slower affair. There’s also a sort of sense of closure after chapter 82, with it being the culmination of a series long joke based around increasingly large centipede monsters appearing. Centichoro was potentially the conclusion to a trilogy that spans the run of “One-Punch Man,” and for a book that spends a lot of time setting up these huge, unimaginably overscaled moments just to get to the familiar, very literal punchline, last week’s chapter felt extremely satisfying.
Enough about last week’s chapter though, how does that all influence this chapter, and the book moving forward as a whole? Well, unfortunately for chapter 83, like-for-like comparisons aren’t going to serve it well, but that’s never the right way to review each subsequent part of a whole story anyway. Instead, it needs to be acknowledged that this is a significant step off the gas, but it’s an essential step, needed to set up what comes next for the immediate story.
Despite how it felt, the battle against Centichoro wasn’t any sort of final boss battle as far as the current narrative is concerned, it was merely a distraction. Narinki’s son is still missing, stolen by the Monster Association, and seeing as Narinki is the money behind the Hero Association and an all-around powerful man, this sends the heroes into a frenzy, scrambling to pull together a task force willing to take the fight to the monsters. This sets off a sort of chain reaction, where multiple groups rally to find their way of taking care of the Monster Association for good.
Tatsumaki argues with the Hero Association over their course of action, while Narinki forms his own private strike force to move ahead without the other heroes knowing. Miss Blizzard, meanwhile, heads to Saitama and his growing gang of friends/misfits, and by the end of their scene, Saitama heads off to deal with it too. As you can tell, there’s a lot of talking in this chapter, not to mention of lot of pieces being moved around the board, and if Centichoro was the culmination of a series-long goof, then this chapter is testing your series-long memory of characters and their relationships, as a lot are thrown at you within several scenes.
Chapter 82 more than likely exhausted “One-Punch Man”’s use of double-page spreads for some considerable time (containing a whopping 12 in its overlong page count), which may be why there’s none here. That and the fact that there’s no real need in this chapter, artist Yusuke Murata isn’t exactly tested here. The hardest thing for the artist to do here is ensure that the myriad of character callbacks are easily identifiable to those who know what they’re looking for.
“One-Punch Man” chapter 83 may feel like the moment of calm between two storms, but after last week’s battle with Centichoro, and the inevitable upcoming battle against the highest powers of the Monster Association, the series needed a moment to catch its breath before diving back into the action. Does that make this individual unit of narrative particularly compelling? Well, not in isolation, but when the threads it’s setting up get paid off later, you’ll be grateful for the time it’s taking here.Continued below
Final Verdict: 7.7 – A slower chapter after last week, but pieces are being moved into place for what’s to come.
Black Clover Chapter 161
Written and Illustrated by Yuki Tabata
Reviewed by Rowan Grover
Those who follow “Black Clover” would be well aware by now that this is a manga that unabashedly revels in typical Shonen tropes. What separates it from other series is it’s unique art style and occasionally dark tone in how it handles these tropes. In this issue, we see one of the key members of the Magic Knights, Luck, possessed by an Elf, fights against the Black Bulls, mainly pitting his might against the distressed Magna. This is where one of the more tired SJ tropes comes in: having to break through to someone (possessed or not) with the power of love/friendship/emotions. We actually see that it doesn’t completely work in this issue, which gives the readers an air of suspense that the usual methods of resolving a conflict aren’t the most reliable anymore. I also love that despite the Elf using Luck’s body, Magna doesn’t hold any power back, saying “I’LL FLATTEN YOU AS MANY TIMES AS IT TAKES, UNTIL THAT BASTARD LUCK WAKES UP!”. It gives the fight real stakes, with the potential of Luck being killed in the process of the fight being a possibility.
There’s another trope used that I feel creator Yuki Tabata handles a lot better, or maybe one that I’m particularly a sucker for. This is the valiant return of our long-or-recently departed protagonist at a crucial moment of the fight to turn the tides. With Asta being absent from the fight during most of the chapter, it was inevitable that he return to the fray at some point, but boy oh boy, Tabata makes sure it’s a huge moment. Right after we see a hint of Luck’s tears through the Elf’s persona, the Elf fights back in a moment of desperation, seemingly catching Magna off-guard. Tabata brings Asta screaming right back into the fray at this turn of the page, making for an excellent cliff-hanger and coattail to drag readers right back next week for the next chapter. It’s a moment of empowerment for the readers and character cast, as this protagonist who struggles for so long as being weak has finally come back as the potential decider for a deadly battle.
Tabata’s art always feels distinct from other manga, as it feels most like a hybrid of western and eastern styles, or even a modernisation compared to classic, big-eyed manga styles. The usage of simple detailing makes for some great emotional work in this chapter, especially when contrasted to the crazed and ecstatic possessed Luck. Right from the opening page, we see Magna and the gang in a look of desperation, facing the below panel of Luck’s lording over them with sheer, visually-electrical power. We then see Magna’s face quickly turn to one of resolve and determination, mixed at times with fear when he witnesses Luck’s incredible power. One of the single best panels emotionally occurs just before Asta’s arrival, when we see the true Luck break through the Elf. It’s a close-up shot of Luck’s face, stretched with insane pleasure, to the point that tears delicately emerge from his eyes. It’s a panel of incredible contrast, and slows down the pacing to a freezing point where the reader gets to see Luck’s desperation cut through the possession.
There’s a great combination of setting work with action to create an intense and high-stakes battle. Right from the start we get a sense of devastation, with Magna already looking significantly battle-damaged, but the next page we get even more detail with Luck hovering above a cracked plateau of earth. In panels like these, Tabata uses negative space well almost to convey the sheer energy erupting from Luck, as if nothing can withstand being close to him. The space is also used to portray brutality well, when Luck delivers a scathing blow on Magna. The panel shows only their silhouettes, situated in the middle with nothing but a smear of speed-lines to show the high-octane pace of the comic. It happens again, when Luck grips Magna in a chokehold, the surrounding details save for the broken ground beneath them is empty, focalising the action right on this single moment. It creates pockets of freeze-framed moments amid a frenzy of action, conveying the intensity of the fight to the readers.
“Black Clover” still may be as conventional, and occasionally predictable as ever, but it unabashedly revels in it, and at times plays on these expectations set up with readers. The emotions are high in this chapter, and the action is fast-paced, with key moments highlighting turning points of the battle well. This is a manga for those thirsting for intense action.
Final Score: 7.2 – Chapter 161 is packed with great action sequences and emotional twists.