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 Zach check in with “Boruto” and “Food Wars.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “My Hero Academia,” “One Piece,” “The Promised Neverland,” “We Never Learn,” “Dr. Stone,” “One Punch Man,” or “Black Clover,” let us know in the comments!
Food Wars! – Chapter 275: That Way Is More Fun
Written Yuto Tsukuda
Illustrated by Shun Saeki
Additional Contribution from Yuki Morisaki
Review by Vince J Ostrowski
When we last left Soma and the gang, he had presented a fried pork cutlet dish in the latest (mock) shokugeki against a mysterious new instructor calling himself “Suzuki” who turned right around and presented a variation on the same dish. If you’re someone who’s a fan of Food Network competition shows or Top Chef, you know that 2 competitors crafting the same dish is a big faux pas because you’re allowing the judges to directly compare two of the same dish – an easier task than asking them to weigh the pros and cons of two distinct entrees. The creators of “Food Wars!” clearly recognize this too, as Suzuki takes his version of the dish above and beyond, playing it for high drama. Manga-ka Yuto Tsukuda is so good at creating drama out of simple food competitions by peppering in the exact same sort of one-upsmanship you would find in a fighting manga, but that’s not all: did I mention Suzuki has a connection to Soma’s father and may, perhaps, even be Soma’s secret brother? Even if we know that’s not actually the case, it’s another example of seasoning situations and creating new forms of conflict using soap opera-like melodrama. It’s one of the ways good writers sustain long-running shonen manga, and “Food Wars!” is no exception. The series has cultivated and grown these characters to the point where they’re reaching the top of the game and yet the creators are finding new ways to keep them all motivated and hungry. Ha, food pun.
I sometimes feel like a broken record when I talk about “Food Wars!” because I just find it so charming and it’s one of the few manga currently running that I think truly has something for everyone. The main feature of the series is the food competition, something that is taking place in some form in nearly every installment. Here, it’s one of the minor food competitions (not a true shokugeki), so while nothing about the issue feels monumental or stunning, it quietly goes about its business and gives you a smaller slice of its full power. In place of a serious competitive streak, Chapter 275 perhaps features a little more humor in its place and makes the fried pork cutlet dish the centerpiece of the story. Suzuki’s dish is so good that Soma literally ends up head-first in the trash, yet another in a long line of “Food Wars’!” hilarious consequences for a character tasting a particularly delicious dish. I hope someone is keeping a list of these somewhere. The particularly low stakes make the chapter definitely feel lighter than what had recently come before, though the last page takes a particularly dark and creepy turn that I’ll refrain from spoiling. The subsequent issues look to be higher stakes, I would guess. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that artist Shun Saeki also serves up a signature “disrobing” of another character who tastes the entree, but it’s one of the more tasteful renderings of the trope so far. It’s fine.
As I alluded to earlier, Suzuki’s dish is really the centerpiece of the chapter. We open on his presentation of the exact same dish as Soma, but then he goes on to explain the twist aspect of it. As he breaks down the secret sauce ingredient, he so too breaks Soma’s spirit, even as Soma cannot resist the taste of the dish (he eats the whole thing). This is where the art and the (presumed) contributions from Japanese chef Yuki Morisaki really shine, and honestly I feel go a bit unheralded by the discourse surrounding this series. Though rendered in black and white, as is typical for “Weekly Shonen Jump”, the food always looks lovingly rendered and somehow more appetizing than a colorless drawing should. The description of the dish, and especially the sauce, makes one feel like they could play around with the ingredients and replicate the dish. “Food Wars!” doesn’t kill time or bore you with a full recipe, but it always seems like they give you a credible representation of what would go into the dishes the chefs present. It engages the reader in a semi-interactive way, if the reader is so inclined to open their mind and think about the food apart from the story.Continued below
Even though nothing in this chapter sets it apart or blows other chapters away, “Food Wars!” continues to do the little things well, including putting far more effort into understanding and presenting its central subject with a level of detail and credibility that you don’t always get from sports manga, cooking manga, or hobby-based manga in general. A chapter that has less going on stakes-wise allows the reader to really appreciate the little things more.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – Chapter 275 felt like a bit of a transitional installment of “Food Wars!”, with a little sprinkling of everything that’s good about the manga without anything that would blow a reader away. It’s solid setup for a brand new sort of conflict for the series. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna fuck around and find out if I can make that Chantilly Sauce.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Chapter #26
Created by Masashi Kishimoto
Written by Ukyo Kodachi
Illustrated by Mikio Ikemoto
Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson
For better or worse, “Boruto,” both the series and the character, lives under the long shadow of their predecessor in this chapter. Kawaki’s introduction to the series harken’s back to Naruto’s childhood, as the hokage takes center stage once more. Meanwhile, Ikemoto’s art, which has been improving favorably over the course of the series, takes an unexpected dip with the focus on the original cast.
The mystery of Kawaki has been a strong undercurrent for this book since the flash-forward of the series opening. This chapter begins to flesh out more of his history, his connections to Kara, and the mechanisms at play behind his unique abilities. It should come as no surprise that scientific ninja tools come into play, albeit a very specific and complex form, considering their prominent use in the story so far. “Naruto” often blurred the line between fantasy and science fiction, especially in the character of Orochimaru. Still, even with some that series’s more advanced technological developments, the introduction of nanotechnology of this sort feels like a bit of leap.
What works significantly better is the comparison between Kawaki and young Naruto, shunned from society due to his possession of the nine-tailed fox. This similarity of circumstance gives him a connection to the boy beyond that of his duty as hokage, and leads to one of the chapters more interesting developments. Rather than locking the boy away, he is to live with the Uzumakis, putting him in direct contact of his future rival. The scenes between Boruto and Kawaki are, however, some of the weakest of the issue. As he once did against his own father, Boruto uses his brotherly protection of Himawari as a smokescreen to vent his distrust and misgivings of Kawaki. While their interactions have thus far been one-dimensional and confrontational, perhaps living in close proximity will allow their relationship to develop more nuance.
As noted, the early section of this chapter focuses on a young Kawaki and the Kara. Ikemoto’s designs for both the Kara members and their hideout are terrific, a creepy blend of Orochimaru’s lab with a dab of Akatsuki-esque intrigue. This segment, along with Boruto’s confrontation of Kawaki near the chapter’s end, show just how well Ikemoto’s style has defined these characters.
Compare these sections to the chapter’s middle, focusing primarily on Naruto, Shikamaru, and other characters from the previous series. Ikemoto’s characters have certain edge and seriousness to them, which stands in contrast with the looser and more fluid style employed by Kishimoto in “Naruto” and even more recently in “Naruto Gaiden.” This may be a comparison for another audience, but it feels like the “New 52” version of the character.
One page that exemplifies this, while also being one of the weaker pages in the chapter, features Naruto in his Six Paths form standing next to an overturned table as Kawaki moves into the foreground. The framing of the panel feels artificial; the characters posed as if they are stickers placed on the page. “Boruto” has typically utilized the classic characters to great effect, particularly in opening arc. This is the first time in recent memory that the clash between old and new has felt so tangible.Continued below
In spite of this, the chapter is mostly quite enjoyable. Kodachi does an admirable job of capturing the voices of these characters, tying back to the very beginnings of Kishimoto’s work. The pacing of the series has begun to feel not unlike that of a monthly American style comic, and the three act structure of the chapter gives a sense of fullness, even if the plot doesn’t progress significantly.
Final Verdict: 7.2 – An enjoyable chapter of “Boruto” marred by uneven art.