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, Brian checks in with “Build King.” If you have thoughts on these or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Build King Chapter 1
Written and illustrated by Mitsutoshi Shimabakura
Translated by Christine Dashiell
Lettered by James Gaubatz
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
Tropes are fun! There’s a very good reasons that so many stories contain similar elements, or at least similar structures, and that’s because there is joy in both subverting the expected and in giving the people, as the Kinks once said, what they want. “Build King,” at least in its first chapter, is not a groundbreaking story or a wholly unique manga, but it does a lot of things really well, and sets up a story that has a lot of interesting places to go.
This first chapter acts as the origin for our two adventurers, Tonkachi and Renga, and gives the reader a reasonably full picture of their lives up to this point. Renga is a master architect and constructor, building sturdy homes that are well thought out and functional. Tonkachi is not so good at building houses, but is the local strongman and warrior. Though they are abandoned by their master, they are left with a charge: learn to build houses that provide ‘security and peace.’ Throughout the story, it becomes clear that this is not a goal for one of them, but rather a shared goal, with each brother providing what they can in order to give the people of their land those two realities.
Their ultimate goal, as set by their master, is to work on ‘Build Kings,’ these structures that survive even the toughest natural disasters and attacks. The above image is of these buildings, and this is where Shimabauro’s art shines the most. There are some truly breathtaking designs held within that image, and it is the first bit of the story that feels unique. The over the top structures provide the story with a fantastical element beyond the monsters that keep destroying these homes. While the story has elements beyond the Build Kings, those are the pieces that set the story apart, and gives the reader a sense of just how grand this scale can be.
Tonkachi is obnoxious in pretty expected ways, being all reaction, and Renga is underdeveloped and seems dull compared to his hair-trigger brother. But taken together, they are the living embodiment of their master’s order. Once that becomes clear, the entire story changes a bit, and it becomes a whole lot easier to root for Tonkachi and you begin to see why Renga is a bit undercooked.
Again, none of this is exactly groundbreaking or surprising, but that’s honestly ok. This chapter very much sets up the course for the story, but it will be tough to truly understand what that story is for a few weeks. For now, it is a fun, visually exciting piece of shonen manga that, hopefully, can grow into something new.
Final Verdict: 6.8 – A good start to what could be a really interesting story.