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, Jess and Matt check in with “Lycopene The Tomatoy Poodle” and “Dr. Stone.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “My Hero Academia,” “Food Wars,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “We Never Learn,” “One Piece,” “Ruroni Kenshin,” “The Promised Neverland,” or “Blue Exorcist,” let us know in the comments!
Lycopene the Tomatoy Poodle Chapter 1
Written and Illustrated by Koji Oishi
Reviewed by Jess Camacho
“Lycopene the Tomatoy Poodle” is probably the most not me story I’ve read since I started reading “Shonen Jump.” “Lycopene” is a sugary sweet story that introduces us to the titular Lycopene, a poodle grown from a tomato plant. Lycopene lives in Cuteopia, which is basically a sort of enchanted forest full of cute and sweet animals. A young girl named Meh-Meh ends up in Cuteopia and meets Lycopene and goes on adventures with her.
Like I said, this is totally not my thing from start to finish. However, that doesn’t make it bad. “Lycopene” is a cute and fun story that is probably in the wrong magazine. It feels very young while making references that a Japanese teenage crowd will probably immediately understand. Not much is explained about how the lead gets to this place or how it exists in a modern setting. The dialogue flows nicely and again feels very young, which is different from most of the other series running in the magazine right now. A lot is explained about Cuteopia and Lycopene’s friends and that eases the reader into the story nicely.
The art for this chapter is just as cute and sweet as it needs to be for this story. Oishi’s designs remind me of the Sanrio characters but their work stands on its own because it really leans into fantasy. “Lycopene” is almost begging for these characters to be turned into plushes as there is something really soft and just flat out nice about what Oishi does here. I really like the expressiveness of these characters and the fullness of the world they all inhabit.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – Not really for me but there’s an audience for this and they’ll absolutely love it.
Dr. Stone Chapter 30
Written by Riichiro Inagaki
Illustrated by Boichi
Review by Matt Lune
This latest chapter of “Dr Stone” continues Senku’s exploration into science as a means to build up his army against Tsukasa. The specific mission of this installment is to head on an expedition to collect sulfuric acid, in order to move his team closer to the invention of glass, while also saving the life of teammate Ruri. Since the introduction of the extended cast of new survivors, “Dr Stone” has taken on a reinvigorated (if sometimes convoluted energy) that’s present throughout this chapter. The speed at which the 21 pages fly by is in part down to the two double page spreads that prove to be fast reads, but also in part down to the swift pace that the book is engaging in, almost like it’s trying to make up for the lost time suffered by the characters in the story.
Their journey starts with Senku giving Ginro a silver tipped spear which isn’t just out of the kindness of his heart but, as usual, an opportunity for a science lesson. Silver, Senku states, reacts with the toxic gas emitted by Sulphuric Acid by turning black. That particular Chekhov’s Gun goes off when they stumble across a great green lake; seen as beautiful and serene at first until Senku points out the spear, and they realize that one step closer and they’d all be overcome by the fumes and die. Still, they need to collect a sample, so before they head back to retrieve the acid, Senku ends the chapter by dramatically stating his intentions to teach Chrome everything he knows about the history of science, which seems both absurdly over dramatic, but also lends the proper weight to the danger they may face on their expedition.Continued below
Boichi’s art is its usual high standard, with the focus on an ever-growing cast of characters taking priority over plot, their facial expressions carrying a lot of the more subtle aspects of the narrative forward in ways that allow the script to push forward with the science and adventure. The most interesting aspect of this chapter is the depiction of the lake of acid. It’s at first seen as this beautiful, serene oasis the likes of which none of these characters have seen before. That sense of wonder is personified in the form of an angelic goddess towering over the lake, her beauty pulling Ginro towards her. Once the true nature of the poisonous lake is revealed, however, her visage shrieks and contorts in horror, the skin peeling off her bones as she berates Ginro for his choice not to proceed: “we could have been together forever!” It’s a genuinely creepy way of conveying just how alluring this dangerous lake really is, and manages to effectively personalise the mistake that Ginro made.
There’s another moment later in the chapter where Senku tells a cautionary tale of the dangers of the low-lying toxic gases. The script insists it’s a true story, despite the feelings of urban legend that surround it. Wherever the truth lies, it captures the essence of “Dr Stone” works so well. At its core, this is a Shonen adventure that’s chosen real science as the basis of its story (as opposed to food, or golf, or exorcism.) To that end, it always manages to serve that premise well, in the lessons that it teaches and in the way that it conveys that science. Here, the lake of acid looks like a beautiful emerald lagoon, leaving it to Senku to explain the dangers of this substance, and using clever plot tricks to make the everyday nature of science not only interesting, but narratively relevant. “Dr. Stone” may be ramping up the character count along with the pace, but its focus on science first never wavers.
Final Verdict: 7.8 – A fun and engaging chapter, with smart visuals and genuine excitement.