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, Rowan and Brian check in on “High School Family: Kokosei Kazoku” and “Spy X Family.” If you have thoughts on these or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Spy X Family Chapter 32
Written and Illustrated by Tatsuya Endo
Translated by Casey Loe
Lettered by Rina Mapa
Reviewed by Rowan Grover
“Spy X Family” isn’t afraid to dip into different genres to service the story, and in this chapter, we get a fun moment of sports manga influence amidst the usual underground, hi-tech covert action. The opening scene has a great little bit between Yor and Anya as they struggle with very pedestrian problems, particularly Yor with her relationship to Loid. It’s cleverly offset by comedic effect using Anya’s telepathy, which Lori suspects might be afoot but is too distracted to dwell on it.
The meat of the chapter, however, is dealing with Loid and Fiona AKA Twilight and Nightfall as they are in the field and their operations during an underground Tennis tournament. It’s the right level of ridiculous content played seriously that makes “Spy X Family” so much fun to read. Endo operates this cleverly on two levels: on one hand, we’re watching Twilight and Nightfall deal with threats like roided out players, to a room filled with gas to hamper their playing skills, to a condescending brother/sister pair that use rocket-powered tennis rackets. On the other level, Nightfall is still desperately competing for Twilight’s affection, whilst our boy Twilight keeps a cool head the entire time. There’s great handling of plot threads that intertwine without getting too tangled or feel less significant than another.
Endo has a great approach to clean linework in this series, which makes for some great character designs that don’t feel like they’re trying too hard to look serious or complicated. Some of my favorites from this chapter are the roided out tennis players, the Bolic Brothers, from the beginning of the Tennis scene, just because of the way Endo brings them to life. They have masses of rippling muscle and are shaded with intense spiral hatching that makes them look super inhuman compared to Twilight and Nightfall. On the other hand, you have much more lithe and simply costumed characters like Nightfall, who’s just adorned in a simple skirt and singlet top outfit but appears to float and soar across the field.
The character drama is well rendered here, too. From the start, we see this in the tension between Yor and Anya. Anya’s look of terror when Yor starts to suspect her psychic abilities is hilariously exaggerated with bugged-out eyes, whilst Yor retains a look of blissful innocence about Loid. I do love the more subtle approach with Nightfall in terms of acting, however. Endo has her retain a blank look of determination that starts to sweat somewhat whenever she tries to act cool in front of Twilight and impress him, which shows great attention to detail.
“Spy X Family” continues to be fun experimentation, combining the anything-goes feeling of Shonen action with suave, western-style covert action and just about anything else Endo can think of. This is an easy book to recommend.
Final Score: 9.0 – A great, light-hearted entry in the bizarre saga that is “Spy X Family”.
High School Family: Kokosei Kazoku Chapters 1+2
Written and Illustrated by Ryo Nakama
Translated by Amanda Haley
Lettered by Rina Mapa
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
There is no one who is embarrassed more easily than a high school freshmen. Unsure of themselves, in a new environment, hormones raging, and awkward in their own skin, a freshmen is all bluster and vulnerability, and can see just about anything as an affront to their (attempts to be) cool. Now, think back to your high school days, and try to imagine the worst sight you could see at school. For many of us, it would be to see our family there, infringing on our lives and making it so that we can’t ever escape their shadow.Continued below
For Kotaro, this nightmare has become real, with his mom, dad, and little sister all enrolling in high school with him. To be fair to his family, they all have legitimate reasons they want to be in high school, but only one of them is really supposed to be there, and that’s Kotaro. Even in a black and white manga, you can see him walking around beet red, just absolutely mortified at the reality of being in school with his family. Ryo Nakama does a really great job in making Kotaro relatable and bratty at the same time. Sure, his situation is less than ideal, but he’s also handling it in less than ideal ways.
Nakama draws Kotaro as the average kid, and that extends to every member of his family. His dad is as buttoned-up as can be, and his little sister is basically a paint by numbers little sibling. The one exception is his mom, who is drawn, and commented on by just about everyone in the book, as someone who is absolutely gorgeous. This feels creepy in a way that I didn’t expect; so often in manga, the stereotype of sexualizing young girls is in full bloom, but here, younger folks are stunned by the beauty of an older woman. There’s nothing wrong with that on the surface, but whenever someone’s defining characteristic is “hot,” it’s usually not great writing.
One of the really wise moves that Nakama does is that he spends very little time on the other high school students at the assembly. They don’t really matter; they’re a monolith of judgment. Only Kotaro’s family really matters in that moment, and that is what Nakama focuses on.
Overall, this is a bit of a one-joke story thus far, but it has the potential to be quite funny if handled properly. We’ll see how future chapters go, and if it grows into something more than a punchline repeated over and over again.
Final Verdict: 6.7 – A good start, even if it isn’t exactly fleshed out.