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, Vince checks in with “Me and Roboco.” If you have thoughts on this or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Me & Roboco – Chapter 60: Popularity & Gorilla
Written & Illustrated by Shuhei Miyazaki
Review by Vince J Ostrowski
Now well into its run and far past the initial comedy of the misfit robot maid premise, “Me & Roboco” has settled into being quite the quaint and enjoyable slice-of-life title. Chapter 60 has nothing to do with Roboco herself, and in fact she does not even show up in this installment until the final panel. Instead, this has become a title that really leans on its charming cast of characters and the comedic stories woven out of the relationships between them. This chapter largely deals with what happens to Bondo, our tormented (self-inflicted, of course) otaku main character, when one of his best friends starts to become popular with the girls in their class. Will the delicate balance of his friendship dynamic with Gorilla Gachi be changed forever? Will Bondo be left behind?
Miyazaki smartly includes another rival for Gorilla’s affections, a girl named Akane Urahara, giving us a view of Gorilla’s newfound popularity from a couple different perspectives. If this chapter were just Bondo in angst about this turn of events, it might have become stale in short order. As it is, there actually may be too much chapter-space taken up by Urahara fawning over Gorilla. Some of this fawning is kind of sweet. Some of it is played for laughs. And some of it is a tad too much, but that’s manga for you. It wouldn’t be a comedy manga without over-reacting and gesticulating, I suppose.
And while it can be a little much at times, the art really serves the comedy aspect of the title well. There’s absolutely nothing fancy going on here, but if you’re looking for lots of great reaction faces and unfancy visual gags, Miyazaki’s work is well-suited enough for it. One of the best touches is in the differences between what Gorilla really looks like versus how other characters see him. When Urahara looks at him, she sees a muscle-bound guy with a twinkle in his eye – a comically idealized version of reality. I’m reminded of the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine unknowingly dates the guy from The Wiz commercials and sees him in a cherubic glow whenever she looks into his eyes. And just as “The Wiz” bluntly reverts to bathroom talk as the glow of Elaine’s perspective leaves him, Gorilla’s mystique drops as something completely ordinary he does is interpreted as an extraordinary gesture. It’s a good gag, executed well.
“Me & Roboco” has a few of these good gags in every chapter, and even though it’s meandering further from its central premise, it’s still a decent hang. As it is, I can’t say it’s a must-read Shonen Jump series week in and week out, but it fills a niche and it is charming enough.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – “Me & Roboco” remains a pleasant and low stakes comedy manga. It’s a series you can pop in and out of as the mood strikes you.