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 “One Piece” and “Robot x Laserbeam.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “Food Wars,” “Hunter x Hunter,” “Blue Exorcist,” “My Hero Academia,” “Black Clover,” “Dr. Stone,” “Seraph at the End,” “The Promised Neverland,” or “We Never Learn,” let us know in the comments!
Robot x Laserbeam Chapter 20
Written and Illustrated by Tadatoshi Fujimaki
Reviewed by Jess Camacho
After twenty chapters, I may actually be done with “Robot x Laserbeam.” All the things that worked for it early on have stopped working as the series gets really bogged down in the technical details and doesn’t offer anything meaningful in how these characters interact with each other. Chapter 20 is basically the midway point of this tournament the characters are in and instead of taking the time to get back into the personal drama, we get more explanations of how golf works. Fujimaki’s characters have no meat to them. They are very thin and could be replaced easily by any other characters. They are set pieces in a long explanation of how golf works instead of golf being a part of the personal arcs of these characters. We don’t actually need all these heavy handed explanations because ultimately they don’t move the story along. They aren’t written like dialogue and are instead closer to something you’d see in a guide. All we need as readers is the general idea. Give us drama, give us characterization, give us something to care about. This chapter could have been a pause in the golfing to give us that drama but instead we get a couple of pages of that and we’re thrown right back into a crash course in golf.
Fujimaki’s art doesn’t suffer the way the story does but it doesn’t feel fully realized. The golfing is fantastic. The speed lines Fujimaki uses along with the dynamic angles all really works. It’s hyper active golf that makes real golf look childish. For manga, this works extremely well. My biggest issue with Fujimaki’s art is the use of blank background and blank panels for captions and more golf explanations. It takes me out of the story and the lack of backgrounds doesn’t give the action as much depth. Interesting enough, this only comes up when characters are talking about the action they’re looking at and at each other. This could be a part of why there’s no connection between these characters and me as a reader.
Final Verdict: 4.0 – “Robot x Laserbeam” has become as blah as real golf[divder]
One Piece Chapter 874
Written and Illustrated by Eiichiro Oda
Reviewed by Alice W. Castle
“One Piece” ranks up there with “Naruto” and “Bleach” on the list of shonen manga that I really wanted to get into when I was in high school and the folk I knew who read manga were obsessed with it, but ended up passing me by. However, this feels like one of the few times my attempt to just jump feet first into a manga has let me down. I don’t want to chalk this up to the fact that my introduction to “One Piece” is in Chapter 874 because obviously there’s context from the story I will be missing, but more I feel like the pacing of the chapter leant itself only to those who have been following for a while.
Now, clearly “One Piece” has a pretty established fan base having ran for 20 years now, but being a serialised story means that the influx of new readers must always be taken into consideration. It’s something we always talk about in terms of Western comics. Every comic is somebody’s first. This was my first chapter of “One Piece” and it was nigh unintelligible. The pacing of the chapter was at 11 the entire time and even with the short catch up at the beginning, I found myself lost in the storytelling. There were multiple times I had to stop and ask myself “Wait, what is actually happening in this panel?”Continued below
And I don’t want to write off “One Piece” completely. I can’t tell if this is a good chapter or not in the wider context of the story. From what I can gather, Oda’s artwork is incredibly fluid and impressively action packed even if the detail of the linework is kind of lost without colour to add depth. There’s a few pages in this chapter that could have benefited from being in colour purely to differentiate the many visual elements. The writing is harder to judge simply because it’s a breakneck chase sequence with a few dialogue interjections here and there. As a sequence, it largely works, but as an introduction to the world, I think I’ll just go back to the beginning and work my way back up to here.
Final Verdict: 5.5 – It’s hard to put a score to this. The chapter failed me as a new reader, but I can hardly fault it in the larger context of the story.