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, Robbie and Ken check in with “Dr. Stone” and “Golem Hearts.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “My Hero Academia,” “Food Wars, “Full Drive”,” “We Never Learn,” “Black Clover,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “One Piece,” or “The Promised Neverland,” or let us know in the comments!
Golem Hearts Ch. 1
Written & Illustrated by Gen Osuka
Reviewed by Ken Godberson III
Nothing like a new series to get you excited to read an issue of Shonen Jump, eh? Something to break up the status quo and inject new enthusiasm and the mystery of a brand new series ripe with potential. Jump has run a couple new series this year such as “Boruto” and “Dr. Stone”. How does the debut of “Golem Hearts” measure up?
In short: It’s decent.
Taking basis from folklore, this is a world where magical arcanists created stone automata called Golems that are integrated into every aspect of society. This is the tale of a special golem named Noah and his bumbling arcanist creator, Lemmeck. This chapter serves as a very basic introduction to them and their dynamic. Noah is a good-natured but naive child who just wants to help people and make his master proud, despite going overboard and getting into trouble. Lemmeck, as discussed, is a bit bumbling, messing up some of the more basic arcanist spells. One wonders how he could create a golem so unique as Noah, a mystery no doubt “Golem Hearts” will explore down the line.
This chapter is a basic, done-in-one story to give us just a taste. It takes place in Lemmeck’s village and we see that the villagers aren’t too fond of either Lemmeck or Noah’s antics. But when a bandit comes to town, it is up to Noah and Lemmeck to stop them. Again, a basic story that anyone can get behind. The more important aspect that Osuka is trying to convey is the relationship between our two protagonists. The father and son relationship that allows them to find some strength to counterbalance their obvious flaws. Noah’s desire to make Lemmeck proud, and Lemmeck’s desire to protect Noah from people that misunderstand him. As for relationships to base a series around, you could do a lot worse.
Artistically, Osuka’s style reminds me a bit of Hiro Mashima’s “Fairy Tail” (sans fanservice, thank goodness), in particular in facial designs. Noah could be a spitting image of a younger Natsu. Osuka also makes use of visual comedy, such as when Noah tries to help clean a chimney, but his golem strength cause him to snap it like a twig. When the action begins, Osuka emphasizes the transformation Noah goes through such as how his arm transfigures into a giant blade as opposed to having a long, drawn out scene.
In all, “Golem Hearts” is not a revelation. This first outing does a fair job of wanting you to get interested in its characters as opposed to its world. The building up of a more unique identity will have to come after this, so the next couple of chapters are going to be critical to whether this series can find its own identity.
Final Verdict: 6.0- A basic introduction meant to get you invested in its protagonist that is a bit thin on the world itself.
Dr. Stone Chapter 33
Written by Riichiro Inagaki
Illustrated by Boichi
Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant
“Dr. Stone” has changed course a fair bit since its first chapter, switching protagonists from Taiju to Senku and becoming a tale about reintroducing science to a post-historic civilization. That change, however, has been in the series’ favor. The current arc features a rush to recreate medicine, using sound science simplified for the audience’s sake, and is set with a fast pace to make even the combining of chemicals a thrill.Continued below
There are three things that have managed to keep “Dr. Stone” as engaging as it’s been throughout its run: the story, the characters, and the art. While post-apocalyptic stories aren’t exactly new, Riichiro Inagaki has come up with a unique take on it, featuring worldwide petrification, new civilizations reborn that maintain just a bit of modern lore as their mythology, and Senku’s swift reintroduction of science. In this chapter, we’re hurried through the creation of hydrochloric acid, chlorosulfuric acid, and sodium hydroxide, all in a matter of panels (and each one given an amusing expression on Senku’s face as he describes them as “baaad chemicals.”)
But even a good concept would fall apart if we can’t root for its leads, and once more, the strong writing comes through. Riichiro-sensei has given Senku a fair amount of development as a character since his introduction, letting us get to know the science-minded survivor, and while Taiju was fine during his time as protagonist, its with Senku that the entertainment really lies. But it’s the villagers that really add more levels of engagement, both in their own personalities and how they bounce off one another. Kohaku, for instance, is full of excellent reactions to the chemicals Senku creates, enhanced by humorously exaggerated but insanely detailed artwork, while Chrome continues to be a strong support for Senku, and Suika is, well, somewhat adorable.
And of course, Boichi’s artwork continues to be outstanding. Perhaps it’s the shading, or the strong solid lines he uses on each panel and character design that really make the characters pop, but each design is filled with very solid details and unique touches to make them recognizable and memorable. Then we have the reaction shots and expressions, as mentioned with Kohaku, where the manga really goes wild, adding huge amounts of emotion to each expression. When the characters are serious, the detailing around them grows sharp, focusing on their determined looks, but that can be instantly contrasted by humorous moments where the less skilled fighters in the group grow wacky and wavy expressions over how they can throw the matches if facing off against each other.
Outside of the character work, Boichi’s art continues to provide a solid pace. The dynamic framing and action lines make even the process of boiling chemicals seem fast-paced and exciting, and it manages to properly portray the process in just a few quick panels, allowing the manga to move at a great pace. Each panel serves an emotional purpose, whether it’s ominous, humorous, exciting, or setting the tone for the events to come, and as we enter the closest thing this manga has to a tournament arc (where the villagers fight for Ruri’s hand and to become the next chief), it manages to transition without betraying the mood its set up until that point.
Final Verdict: 8.3 – “Dr. Stone” has been a surprisingly enjoyable manga so far, and it’s only getting better. The story has taken some unexpected turns, but all for the best, and continues to be a treat each week. Between Riichiro Inagaki’s unique story and characters and Boichi’s stunning artwork, it remains one of the unexpected top contenders in Jump.