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, Vince and Zach check in with “One Piece” and “Moriarty the Patriot.” If you have thoughts on these or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Moriarty the Patriot Chapter 1
Written by Ryosuke Takeuchi
Illustrated by Hikaru Miyoshi
Based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson
I’ve never been a big Sherlock Holmes fan. I’ve never read the books, I completely bounced off of the BBC show, and sadly I did see the Robert Downey Jr. films. Nevertheless, you’d have to have lived under a rock not to be familiar with the famed detective and his arch-nemesis, Professor James Moriarty, the lead of this new manga series.
Opening up on what appears to be the duo’s climactic battle in “The Adventure of the Final Problem,” this opening chapter quickly jumps back in time to give a new, secret origin for the villainous professor. When we meet young Moriarty as a child we find a bright, kind, intelligent young man who goes out of his way to help his fellow man. He has a great relationship with his older brother Albert and his life, in general, seems pretty idyllic. However, this is just but one of many facades that will be peeled away over the course of the chapter. As the layers of deceit and hidden motive slowly peel away we find a story filled with human selfishness, brutal class struggle, and murder.
Tonally, the book calls to mind stories like “Death Note,” “The Promised Neverland,” and even the opening chapters of “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure,” Moriarty, like Light Yagami or Dio, plays the role of the eager prodigy with dark secrets, great goals, and the power to accomplish them at whatever the cost. The story opens with a sense of charm and innocence, only to quickly give way to the (figurative) demons that lurk behind the scenes.
The narrative is immediately engaging but some of the book’s twists and turns are muddled in execution. A certain character adopts a false name, which I found disorienting. Furthermore, some of the characters look strikingly similar, such as the brothers Albert and William, or Moriarty and his brother Louis. The similarities took me out of the story at a few key points as I tried to make sense of who was being referenced in a given moment. It’s a minor complaint that more attentive readers may not even notice. Homogeny in character design aside, Miyoshi’s art is generally quite good, balancing the shifting tones of light and darkness as the story barrels into its startlingly violent climax.
Final Verdict: 6.5 – Though blunt in its themes and execution, “Moriarty the Patriot” delivers a genuinely surprising origin for the professor. Fans of darker stories and anti-heroes may find a lot to like.
One Piece – Chapter 992: Remnants
Written & Illustrated by Eiichiro Oda
Review by Vince J Ostrowski
I’m not sure why I never made this connection before, and though I haven’t verified this, I am certain that I’m nowhere near the first person to realize this, but Eiichiro Oda is the J.R.R. Tolkien of the sequential art medium. At 992 chapters, “One Piece” is fairly impenetrable at this point (though with the aid of a wikipedia, I don’t think it would be impossible). In much the same way that every name, location, and magical artifact, regardless of how vitally important or utterly inconsequential, in The Lord of the Rings has been catalogued extensively by its most ardent fans, so too has the world of “One Piece” been meticulously documented. The term “world-building” doesn’t do justice to just how massive Oda’s creation is. In this week’s chapter, a clan called the “Nine Red Scabbards” faces off against the arc villain Kaido’s imposing dragon form. Each of these 9 characters has a personality, an extensive backstory, and (usually) an eye-catching and unique visual design. These are 9 fully-formed characters that we have not spent the majority of the length of “One Piece” with, and they are just 9 of literally hundreds of characters we’ve encountered in almost a thousand chapters. None of them get short shrift, and they each feel like they exist in the world beyond the bounds of the plot at hand. If anything, nearing the teased (although still indeterminate) end of “One Piece”, Oda is perhaps a little too sidetracked away from our main characters. Yet, the fact that we spend the majority of this chapter with this ancillary group, and are just as invested in them is such a credit to the mangaka. We’re invested in them because he desperately wants us to be. After all these years, Oda is still putting in the work.Continued below
The moment that truly cemented the connection in my mind, however, was an interlude scene before the big battle, wherein we witness Black Maria regale her crew members with a bit of storytelling in the form of a song. The song doesn’t appear to reference anything that I can recall from “One Piece” specifically, though there are theories as to whether it is serving as foreshadowing or even alluding generally to events that have happened. More than anything else, though, it sets a tone. It’s a moment of quiet beauty before a raging shonen battle sequence. It recalls the night before Bilbo and the Dwarves start off on their original journey in “The Hobbit”, when the merriment of a feast gives way to the dwarves earnestly singing a somber song dedicated to their homeland. It’s a tone-setter, and the song in this chapter accomplishes a similar rhythmic storytelling effect.
Of course, the battle is the main event here, and Oda is as good as ever at bringing the thunder. In this case, quite literally, as a variety of magical powers and martial combat techniques are on display across the sprawling battle. The confidence Oda has to let the art speak for him in these sequences is so impressive. The Nine and Kaido volley attack after attack at one another, changing it up and increasing power levels (as is requisite for any self-respecting shonen manga), and it’s all clear as can be, without anyone feeling the need to explain the stakes or the sequence of events with any exposition. Instead, Oda lets the art speak for him, with only a scant few lines when a character announces a new technique or when the reader is given information that they wouldn’t be able to get from simply looking at the images. Oda has been doing this for a long time, becoming one of the best in all of comics at knowing how to best use the unique form of “cartooning” to deliver information to the reader, whether it be visual or through text.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – “One Piece” continues to be a sprawling masterclass in longform storytelling, even if it still gets a little sidetracked as it winds ever closer to its conclusion. Every moment we spend with these characters, in this world, is something to be treasured.