Welcome to This Week in Shonen Jump, our weekly check in on Viz’s various Shonen Jump series. Viz has recently changed their release format, but our format will mostly remain the same. We will still review the newest chapters of two titles a week, now with even more options at our disposal. The big change for our readers is that, even without a Shonen Jump subscription, you can read these most recent chapters for free at Viz.com or using their app.
This week, Zach and Vince check in with “Burn the Witch” and “Kaiju No. 8.” If you have thoughts on these or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Kaiju No. 8 – Chapter 8
Written & Illustrated by Naoya Matsumoto
Review by Vince J. Ostrowski
Despite it having a clear definition that’s well-known and refined over decades, “shonen” manga can contain many different notes and touch on all the conceivable genres along the way. Sometimes, however, you just want a shonen comic to kick major ass from beginning to end. That’s clearly what “Kaiju No. 8” is going for, and chapter 8 perhaps makes that case clearly than any other chapter thus far. The chapter mostly concerns a battle between a massive skeletal kaiju and Kafka, one of the members of the kaiju clean up crew (think Marvel’s “Damage Control” if you’re familiar), our requisite band of protagonists. In the style of “One Punch Man”, much focus is devoted to taking a close-up and all-consuming view of an otherwise simple fight between hero and villain. In fact, one punch, pun intended, transpires over the course of several pages. If you think you’ve seen this technique before (and if you read enough manga, you have), it still doesn’t dampen the impact of the moment in battle and it doesn’t rock any less.
It helps that the art is really good. “One Punch Man” sets the modern standard for allowing a fight scene to take up nearly all the real estate in a manga chapter, but I’ve seen cases where this same thing was done clumsily. If the art doesn’t make the impact felt, or if it doesn’t clearly depict the action from moment to moment, it can feel like filler. Nothing is worse than when you wait a week between chapters (or a month, if you’re talking about the average American comic) and the decompression makes you feel like you just wasted your time. “Kaiju No. 8” fills the panels with literal electricity, helping amplify the blows seen in its pages. The designs are intriguing, detailed, and gruesome, and even possibly hold within them some surprises for future story developments. The art is in some key ways reminiscent of “Attack of Titan”, but the action sequences are leaner and, in my opinion, more fun here. It remains to be seen if the story is as deep, but it succeeds on a purely visceral level.
That’s not to say that the story is without intrigue or possibility. In fact, chapter 8 contains a couple of big revelations that have the potential to expand the canon, but they certainly aren’t the focus of the story and it remains to be seen if anything will be done with them. These revelations could easily be just surface level elements that are taken at face value by the characters. I’m being intentionally vague about the story for the sake of spoilers, but I’m stressing that this chapter is just mainly a great showcase for what the visuals and the tone of the series has to offer.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – “Kaiju No. 8” to date is a breezy read that features some of the best action currently running in Shonen Jump and shows the potential to become a huge mover and shaker in the world of manga
Burn the Witch Chapter 1
Written and Illustrated by Tite Kubo
Translated by Jan Mistuko Cash
Lettered by Vanessa Satone
Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson
I’ve never read “Bleach,” and while I did read the “Burn the Witch” one-shot from 2018, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect upon reading the phrase “Witches Blow A New Pipe” emblazoned in large pink letters across the title page for Tite Kubo’s new limited series. Follow this with the chapter’s first image of a female character, sucker hanging from mouth, and the phrase “Aren’t fairy tales just full of it?” and it seems that Kubo is going for titillating and provocative. Reading on, however, one finds that “Burn the Witch” is a fairly standard tale of magical realism with a strong shonen hook.Continued below
Again, having never read “Bleach,” I can’t speak to any significant connection to Kubo’s previous great work, with which “Burn the Witch” shares a universe. I can say that “Burn the Witch,” the first chapter of a four part limited series, picks up about a month after the events of 2018’s “Burn the Witch” one-shot. With the story’s limited nature it’s nice to find that this is a continuation, rather than a retelling, reimagining, or straight up reboot of the one-shot, but it does also mean that readers would do well to track down that one-shot (which is easily accessible through Viz and Shonen Jump) before diving into this new series.
“Burn the Witch” follows two witches, Ninny Spangcole and Niihashi Noel, members of the Pipers division of Wing Bird, an organization centered on regulating contact with Dragons. In their line of duty they are responsible for Balgo, a “dragonclad” who also owns a small dragon dog named Osushi. “Burn the Witch” re-establishes some of the important points for readers in this chapter, but with much of the groundwork laid in the one-shot, Kubo is able to move the plot forward significantly, introducing the various other sections of Wing Bird and setting up the limited series’s central conflict.
The interactions between the main cast are playful and fun, if slightly predictable. Ninny, Niihashi’s senior, is your typical shonen protagonist; brash, headstrong and full of dreams. Niihashi, on the other hand, is competent and dependable, if a little dry. Balgo is your typical goof, consistently landing himself in trouble. Kubo does a great job of endearing you to the cast in a short amount of time, largely due to Kubo’s strength as an artist. Setting the story in a reverse version of London, Kubo melds the mundane with fantastical and disturbing imagery, creating a world that fills both new and slightly familiar. While there’s nothing particularly new or groundbreaking in “Burn the Witch,” it’s a decidedly measured return to serialized story telling compared to “Samurai 8,” the recent work of contemporary Masashi Kishimoto. While that series abounded in scope and high concepts, “Burn the Witch” is content to tell a small story in a pre-existing world, while adding a few fun flourishes of its own.
I can’t help but wonder if Kubo’s restraint may work in his favor here. I find myself, if not quite hooked, at least quite interested in this series after just one chapter. With only three remaining manga chapters and an anime film, I can imagine Kubo leaving readers and fans hungry for more. Which, for a creator, isn’t a bad place to be.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Kubo’s terrific art and craftsmanship that put him on the map with “Bleach” is certainly on display in “Burn the Witch.”