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, Brian and Matt check in with “Hot” and “The Promised Neverland.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “My Hero Academia,” “One Piece,” “We Never Learn,” “Dr. Stone,” “Serpah at the End,” “Blue Exorcist,” or “Black Clover,” let us know in the comments!
Written and illustrated by Akira Amano
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
As a relatively new manga reader, the sports manga is fascinating to me. We so rarely get Western sports comics, so it still feels like a novelty when I get to read a comic about a sport. With ice hockey being a not particularly notable Japanese sport, this was even more of a surprise. But thankfully, “Hot” delivers a really effective done in one story that touches on both ice hockey, and the cult of sports that seems to be more and more common today.
On, our protagonist, is attempting to live a life free of the influence of his grandfather, a temple priest who informs him that he must break his family’s generations-long ice curse by winning at ice hockey. This is a delightfully bizarre premise, and the book takes both characters – stubborn grandson and vehement grandfather – to their logical extremes. Akira Amano draws On as if he doesn’t really care about anything; even when displaying his preternatural hockey abilities in real life.
Everyone in the story is the most extreme version of their stereotype: Takahashi essentially screams everywhere he goes about hockey, On is Daria-level passive, and his grandfather is the most cliched sports-obsessed parental figure you can imagine. The only character that approaches normalcy is unnamed girl teammate of Takahashi, who takes most of this in stride.
Amano’s artwork is hyper manic during the hockey scenes, treating the game like a battle to the death. Motion lines, extreme close ups, and isolated panels help set the tone of supreme importance. There’s a fair amount of The Karate Kid in here, with the kid who does household chores but is training in secret, but it works for the story.
Overall, this is a fun little one shot. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor does it reach the heights of some other sports manga. But for what it is, it is thoroughly enjoyable.
Final Verdict: 7.3 – A story that makes you long for the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Promised Neverland Chapter 98
Written by Kaiu Shirai
Illustrated by Posuka Demizu
Reviewed by Matt Lune
The great thing about “The Promised Neverland” is how it’s constantly moving forward. As such, there’s never any real status quo, and as we enter this latest chapter, there’s a real sense that we’ve moved into the third phase of this story.
If the first phase of “The Promised Neverland” was life (and death) at Gracie Fields farm, and the recently completed phase 2 was the escape and battle at Goldy Pond, then this newly forming phase 3 looks to be about the expansion of the wider universe, and the unfolding of a plan that looks to see the ever-growing group of escaped children (63 and counting) rejoining the human world.
As we found out in the previous couple of chapters, however, that reunion is not going to be as simple as it sounds. For one thing, the politics of the human world are a lot more complex than first thought, and this chapter opens with a flashback to 15 years earlier, when the world starting to turn into the grim dystopia we’re familiar with. From there, we see the life in the shelter for the kids has settled into some kind of routine, where even happiness has snuck back into their lives.Continued below
Surrounding the central characters, though, are multiple new entities that confirm the expansive purpose of this latest phase of “The Promised Neverland.” New enemies and potential allies, all still relatively mysterious, creep into the peripheries of the narrative and inject a new energy to the series moving forward, proving there’s still life in this unpredictable manga.
Posuka Demizu’s art tackles multiple styles with relative ease, even if it can be a little jarring at times. The character work is especially noticeable, with the adults and older children represented in a relatively realistic style, compared to the younger kids who verge on chibi in places. Still, Demizu tackles a narrative that jumps around in time really well, with the standard black borders denoting flashbacks and even highlighting a change of hairstyle for one character with a bubble showing their previous look, to avoid confusion.
Overall, chapter 98 of “The Promised Neverland” is very clearly the start of a new phase for the series, one that looks to be as dangerous and unpredictable as everything that’s come before. There also seems to be a “Walking Dead” style approach to the threats in this newly revealed world, where the greatest monsters confronting our heroes could actually be their fellow humans.
Final Verdict: 9.0 – There’s barely time to rest, as we’re introduced to a wider world and the next phase of this fantastic series.