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, Kerry and Rowan check in with “Jujutsu Kaisen” and “Ghost Reaper Girl.” If you have thoughts on these or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 128
Written and Illustrated by Gege Akutami
Reviewed by Rowan Grover
The latest chapter of “Jujutsu Kaisen” opens with a hard hitting emotional scene between Miwa and Muto, and how the latter’s puppet form Mechamaru is dying. Akutami shows a lot of sadness and sorrow from Mechamaru, who essentially goes on a small monologue about all his regrets in life but what he was thankful for. It’s very moving, but in a way, it serves to enhance Miwa’s frustration at his passing, as the dialogue real estate is so heavily tilted in Mechamaru’s favour that Miwa can barely get a word in to speak her own feelings, something which Akutami mines to great success.
The next scene is more focused on the martial arts-style action that the series is known for, and the dialogue mostly takes a backseat in favour of that. There’s a bunch of internal monologue from Mahito, which is fun but it’s mostly just detailing his strategizing against Itadori and Todo. It’s not a super fleshed out scene narrative-wise, but we do get a few good character beats from Mahito in the dialogue. The fact that he calls Todo a ‘top-knot Gorilla’ is very much within his voice and makes him more fun to hate. Other than that, the only other thing I can say about this segment is that it gives the artwork space to show off how cool the characters can be, which really sums up “Jujutsu Kaisen” in a nutshell.
Akutami’s art has always been divisive amongst more core Shonen fans, but I love how much his looser style evokes Tokyo street fashion and meshes traditional japanese horror with fluid, perpetually moving action. The first scene works so well emotionally because of how easily Akutami establishes a setting and uses it to enhance tone. Most people have had the decidedly quiet and lonely experience of being on an empty train at night, so immediately we’re brought right there next to Miwa as she hashes out her feelings with Mechamaru. The solid, inky blackness outside the train window works as a great backdrop to the emotional abyss that Miwa is falling into, as well.
The action is really where the pacing picks up in this chapter. Akutami progresses the more thick, steady-lined emotional work into a more rushed, looser feeling linework that just adds a welcome sense of urgency to each move. Each panel is terrifically choreographed, too. Watching Itadori catch Mahito’s flat-palmed jab and twist him around into Todo’s incoming roundhouse kick is a seamless experience. Akutami even lets the action fly through the panel borders when more technical, supernatural techniques get involved, adding a sense of chaos to the story. This all winds up to a small breaking point, where we get only dialogue and no pictures for a few panels, before WHAM. Akutami hits us with a double-page spread of Todo slamming his Black Flash move into Mahito, in a moment that has been perfectly paced to deal massive impact to Mahito and the reader’s guts.
“Jujutsu Kaisen” might be a little slower on the story content this chapter, but the emotional drama and action never fails to deliver. This is an upcoming long-form Shonen constantly proving it’s worth following.
Final Score: 8.5 – A solid emotional/supernatural drama and an ever better fight manga.
Ghost Reaper Girl — Ch. 9
Written and Illustrated by Akissa Saiké
Reviewed by Kerry Erlanger
Life is never easy for a ghost reaping girl. Just as Chloe is starting to get the hang of her new role, she’s confronted with not just one, but two foes hell bent on ruining her day. In the previous chapter, we were introduced to Doctor West, a fellow ghost hunter from Arkham whose specialty is reanimating corpses. He’s particularly interested in making a zombie out of Chloe and is using his best reanimated corpse to try and do so — the assassin formerly known as Killing Doll, a super strong, sword-wielding familiar merged with Shoggoth. One of the fun things about “Ghost Reaper Girl” is how Akissa Saiké weaves in horror elements to the story. For example, last chapter’s nod to George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. This week it’s the Shoggoth, a giant, amorphous blob creation of H.P. Lovecraft. This extra level of lore adds to the story by grounding it in the larger horror genre, but readers who aren’t familiar with Lovecraft might find the character confusing. For example, she’s only able to say the word “tekeli,” which is an element borrowed from Lovecraft (that he himself borrowed from Edgar Allen Poe), but has very little meaning otherwise. While it’s a cool nod for horror nerds, it might detract from the story for other readers by seeming so random.
One of the interesting things about Lovecraft’s Shoggoth is they eventually rebelled against and destroyed the aliens that created them. Will this have any bearing on the story as it moves forward, or will Shoggoth remain committed to her creator, Dr. West? Perhaps her rebellion will be less destructive; the chapter ends with Chloe making a decision (against the urging of Kai and Noel) to help Shoggoth against a vicious evil spirit that’s giving the assassin a run for her money. Chloe is spurred on by her memory of the cute interaction between West and Shoggoth earlier where Shoggoth appears more loyal puppy than zombified corpse set to destroy her. It’s not a surprising decision by any means, since Chloe has consistently shown she’s caring of individuals, but Shoggoth isn’t aware of that. The surprise is registered clearly on her face. It’s safe to say this will likely change their dynamic going forward and, one might think, lead to this Shoggoth’s act of rebellion when she ultimately decides to go against her master’s wishes to kill Chloe.
The art in “Ghost Reaper Girl” remains gorgeous as always.Saiké really excels in depicting battle scenes, adding an element of tenderness to Shoggoth’s movements. She comes off a bit like a dancer, which is definitely in keeping with her former life as a delicately beautiful assassin. Particularly striking is her wind up to strike the evil spirit on page 5. It’s a big contrast to the goofiness of Kai and Noel, especially in the preceding pages where Noel goes full cat by flattening his ears and puffing his tail in fear. Little moments like that make sure that “Ghost Reaper Girl” never appears too heavy or scary, and they weave nicely into the background of the more dire, consequential main action.
Final Verdict: 7.5 — While knowledge of horror genre lore makes this chapter extra interesting to read, it’s still more than enjoyable for readers just looking for a fun story about a pretty girl fighting ghosts.