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, Matt and our guest reviewer, co-host of the Manga Club podcast, Walter Richardson, check in with “Food Wars” and “One Punch Man.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “Golem Hearts,” “Dr. Stone,” “We Never Learn,” “My Hero Academia,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “One Piece,” or “The Promised Neverland,” or let us know in the comments!
One-Punch Man Chapter 76
Written by One
Illustrated by Yusuke Murata
Review by Matt Lune
The wonderful thing about “One-Punch Man,” much like its “Shonen Jump” companion “My Hero Academia,” is that the concept allows for every chapter to be packed full of wild and wacky new characters. “One-Punch Man” is especially strong in that sense, as it’s got one foot (or should that be fist?) firmly planted in the slapstick camp, meaning that any new creation that comes along will usually come with its fair share of visual humor.
And so it goes with this latest chapter, which is very much a tale of two halves: the latter portion of the story gives itself over to a gaggle of strange creations, while the first half is a more tightly focused flashback scene. In it, the inhumanly swift Speed-O-Sound Sonic (the names are always very good,) fresh off his improbable defeat at the hands of Saitama, is sat pondering over an offer recently made to him by recruiters to the Monster Society. The gloriously named Tempest Wind and Hellfire Flame approached Sonic and, framed by some visually thrilling fighting, hand him a Monster Cell – the strange, pulsating fruit that, once eaten, converts anyone strong enough into a monster – and request that he join them in the Society in order to enact his revenge on One-Punch Man.
In the second half of the chapter we turn to City W, and the Hero Society’s cleanup from the latest monster invasion. “One-Punch Man” always tackles the aftermath of these giant battles really well, and in fact there are some cities, previously levelled in earlier chapters, that are still abandoned and uninhabitable. Here though, there appears to only be a few, lower level monsters left. Marshall Gorilla, a Tiger-level threat, is one such monster, and his design is pretty great. He’s a gorilla dressed like a guerrilla fighter, with a beret on his head, cigar in his mouth and braces that have pouches to store bananas. While a group of timid young heroes debate how to approach him, Zombieman (a powerful, Constantine-esque hero) decides to stalk Marshall Gorilla to try to take him down. What follows is the big joke of the chapter, as Marshall Gorilla runs into Armored Gorilla, who’s just out shopping, and their interaction (as well as what follows) is the best part of this chapter.
One of the advantages of having a series so full of these crazy characters is that you can have chapters like this: utterly devoid of most of the core cast and not at all dependent on the presence of the main character in order to present an engaging chapter that still progresses the main narrative. Writer One has a knack for comedic timing that is used in every scene; even the serious ones, like the first half of this chapter have an edge of humor to them, almost as if the scene is structured like the setup to a joke. Sometimes the humor is presented in a manner that is just comical characters doing serious things (Armored Gorilla is played completely straight, despite the fact that he’s a cyborg Gorilla in a hoodie that’s just heading to the store), while other times the script presents a joke that’s funny because if its juxtaposition with what’s happening on the page (the final panel throws in some choice toilet humor that completely changes the tone of the preceding scene).Continued below
Murata’s art style has always been fluid in this series – one look at the titular character will prove that – however in this chapter alone there appears to be at least three different styles. Firstly there’s the detailed architectural panels that establish a scene change, and the city streets that provide the backgrounds that are alive with detail. The thick, frenetic linework of the first half of the chapter allows the weight of the action to land, and the threat of the villains to be that much more ominous (not to mention genuinely scary). Finally the latter half of this chapter is given over to a looser, lighter style that gives the more visually hilarious characters the exaggeration they need to make the slapstick gags really land.
Despite Saitama being nowhere in sight, this is a pretty textbook example of what to expect from a chapter “One-Punch Man:” there’s a thrilling, expertly paced action scene; a plotline that has some real emotional weight; slapstick humor and some wildly creative characters, all with ridiculous names. What more could you want?
Final Verdict: 8.0 – a strong, fun chapter that gives ample development to secondary characters.
Food Wars Chapter 239
Written by Yuto Tsukuda
Illustrated by Shun Saeki
Reviewed by Walt Richardson
Poor Megumi Tadokoro has felt like a bit of a punching bag for a lot of “Food Wars.” Quiet, lacking confidence, and often the test subject for Soma’s “experiments,” Megumi is a character who treads some tiresome tropes for female manga characters – but in a way, that makes her current trend of competence all the more satisfying. Through flashback scenes in the previous few chapters, Yuto Tsukuda has conveyed a feeling of development in Megumi’s abilities as a chef in a short span of time (chapter-wise), and the payoff begins here. Indeed, the striking final line in Megumi’s flashback in this chapter alone may justify her meekness up until this point. My only hope is that this is actual growth that sticks, rather than temporary “development” that is then backtracked in the future in order to job for some new culinary foe or, worse yet, make her the butt of a joke.
Of course, Shun Saeki deserves an equal amount of credit (perhaps even more). Saeki’s style isn’t as distinctive as some of the other artists’ whose work graces the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump, and could perhaps even be described as generic, but his sheer level of skill more than makes up for it. The Megumi of this chapter still shows some level of worry as she prepares her dish, and as she presents it to the judges, but there’s a subtle note of confidence at the same time. For as outrageous a reputation “Food Wars” has (and, uh, it’s well deserved), Saeki truly excels at subtler moments. Though, speaking of outrageous moments, it says something that he’s able to make a full-page spread of Megumi as a boxer with apples for boxing gloves socking one of the judges not just funny, but emotionally satisfying.
The only notable flaw in this chapter is that the “Food Wars” formula is beginning to show. Tsukuda’s greatest strength as a writer of a serialized manga is his ability to make you want the next chapter now, but there’s only so many times I can enjoy someone saying something along the lines of “Wait a minute, there’s something more to this dish!” followed by a “To Be Continued” caption.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – A very good entry in a very good series.