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 one title 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 checks in with “Ginka and Glüna.” If you have thoughts on this or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Ginka and Glüna Chapter 5
Written and illustrated by Shinpei Watanabe
Reviewed by Rowan Grover
Watanabe’s delightful new Shonen continues to be a treat, delighting with excellent character work and subtle worldbuilding. It’s shocking that we’ve only come five chapters and yet we’ve now had a resounding change of heart in one of the main supporting cast, yet it feels so authentic and natural. Of course, I’m talking about Anemone, the POV character witnessing Glüna in this chapter. Watanabe has built her up to be constantly cast in our protagonist’s shadow, and feeling guilty that she couldn’t stand up for herself. This was told well through actions and moments where Glüna had to step in to save her in a situation, yet was so nonplussed about the action it upset Anemone, instead of directly announcing her jealousy for Glüna’s ability to the reader.
Watanabe drops a flashback in the middle of the issue so quickly and effortlessly that explains Anemone’s behavior and also fleshes out the world and its attitude towards magicians. Anemone’s teacher witnesses her crying and tells her to push all the emotion away, that to be a magician is not to be human, but to put on a smiling front and “destroy your heart”. It’s a powerful scene that builds up a solid wall for Anemone, and is only told in one succinct page! The way that this wall is then broken down over the next sequence, of realizing that Glüna has been putting her body on the line to support the two of them on an ice raft, works because it hits Anemone in such a raw and emotional state despite her teacher’s words. The way the story is framed so that Anemone is able to acknowledge that she saved someone alongside Glüna also makes the change-of-heart hit even more potent.
Like previous chapters, the art and design of the overall book are sparse but fill in details and settings when it is most effective and not in the way of character work. Watanabe starts the chapter off with the most background filling, drawing a bunch most flesh and bones and having the characters pointedly realize they are in a giant stomach. It sets the readers firmly in place so that it doesn’t need to be so present later in the issue. Outside of that, there are a few moments of great character design and creatures. Anemone’s teacher is such a distinct and monstrous figure when they pop up in the flashback. Watanabe uses mixed-up stitching and quilt fabric that looks like it is all powered at the head by countless tubing. Similarly, we see Anemone and Glüna fend off a bat that is massive and hyper-realistic, its mouth bulging with fangs and looking vaguely supernatural with a double set of ears. It’s a great sharp contrast to the relatively simple design of the characters.
The use of emotion is done well in this chapter too, and how subtly and believably it changes. Having Glüna exist as the paragon of goodness and heroism is a great standard to contrast the rest of the cast against. Anemone starts off the chapter looking sharper in her visual features, enhanced by her more-complicated design. As we see her become stranded on the ice float Watanabe has her reeling in disgust at how good Glüna is. This is accentuated to the point that when Anemone realizes she was being taken care of whilst knocked out, her body language rears back like an animal hissing. The real emotional height is when Anemone reveals how her teacher emotionally abused her. Watanabe’s linework becomes looser as she gets angrier, giving it a shaking, emotional feel. Subtly, after this is all vented, we see Anemone start to become more coherent, which is a great visual flex.
Final Score: 8.4 – A great character study of Anemone, and a great continuation of good momentum from a still-young Shonen manga.