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, Zach and Vince check in with “My Hero Academia” and “Boruto.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “Black Clover,” “Dr. Stone,” “We Never Learn,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “One Punch Man,” “Food Wars,” or “The Promised Neverland,” let us know in the comments!
My Hero Academia – Chapter 160: Expressway
Written & Illustrated by Kohei Horikoshi
Review by Vince J Ostrowski
It’s not often that a manga-ka’s best work is being done over 150 chapters into a series, but I feel comfortable saying that that’s exactly what’s been going on in “My Hero Academia.” This latest chapter deals with the fallout of the yakuza group Hassaikai’s run-in with the League of Villains, with our heroes effectively caught in the middle. The Hassaikai had kidnapped Eri in an attempt to harness her considerable quirk-cancelling powers and the only way to get her back was to allow the villains to do the work for them. While previous chapters showed the conflict and the fallout for the heroes (to be brief, they’re hurting), Chapter 160 almost entirely focuses on the League of Villains, specifically Shigaraki, turning their focus specifically on brutalizing Overhaul (a villain member of the yakuza) in a really intense fashion. It’s a chapter that bottles out the heroes in an effort to emphasize the villain-on-villain conflict, and it does so to tremendous effect.
The chapter opens with the League of Villains orchestrating a chase against a van carrying Overhaul and the quirk-cancelling serum, beginning with the memorable image of Shigaraki standing on top of a truck with Overhaul’s severed hand being worn as a mask. The intensity doesn’t let up from there. Horikoshi orchestrates a highway chase scene with Shigaraki jumping from car to car, chasing Overhaul and trying to dodge a sand hero that attempts to stop him. Cars flip and spin, Shigaraki effortlessly navigating his way through to his final confrontation with Overhaul. Horikoshi’s art is incredibly dynamic, crafting a car chase that’s practically cinematic in scope and clarity. While “One-Punch Man” is internationally known for its bombastic fight scenes, there is no better exemplar in the medium than “My Hero Academia” when it comes to staging an action scene. Across the entire comics landscape, few comics are as visually kinetic as this, and Chapter 160’s chase scene may take the cake. Horikoshi is a master of escalation, however, and as such the impending confrontation between Overhaul and Shigaraki is the satisfying, brutal cherry on top. Without spoiling anything, the finale of this conflict is one of the most pointed and impactful moments in the series so far. If this chapter is the end of an “arc”, Horikoshi ends the chapter at a highpoint.
I can’t stress enough how Horikoshi’s art stands above and beyond most shonen fare running right now. Not only is the action as good as it gets, but it features some of the most clever character designs in comics. One common complaint about shonen manga in general (and definitely as of late in the average “Weekly Shonen Jump” series) is that characters can easily be made to look unmemorable. It helps that “My Hero Academia” features heroes that generally wear costumes or feature physical quirks to go along with their literal superpower “quirks”, but that doesn’t make the design-work any less impressive. In this big cast of characters you see anything from a brooding villain with massive stitches across his body, to a blue collar sub-villain that’s basically a variation on Spider-Man’s Lizard rogue. Even among characters that are ostensibly humanoid, there is a variety of art styles to represent the various personalities. Izuku looks like your average shonen hero, because that’s what he is. Mirio, on the other hand, is a hulking guy with a child-like face; think Astro Boy. These differing art styles within the same class of character show Horikoshi is willing to stretch his art to personalize each character in ways that most artists just don’t attempt. It’s little details like this, to go along with the intense action sequences, that continue to make “My Hero Academia” one of the must-reads in comics today.Continued below
Final Verdict: 9.0 – “My Hero Academia” reasserts itself as one of manga’s best, and really one of the best examples of the superhero genre currently being published.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Chapter 18
Created by Masashi Kishimoto
Scripted by Ukyo Kodachi
Illustrated by Mikio Ikemoto
Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson
The latest chapter of “Boruto” continues what has thus far been a rather enjoyable arc highlighting the advent of “science ninja tools” within the Naruto universe. This is balanced with more traditional ninja intrigue and the sort of mysterious organizations that its parent series is none for, delivering a well balanced a pace chapter for this monthly title.
Continuing the trend of incorporating characters and plot points from the anime series, this chapter features the manga debut of Kakei Sumire, or “Class Rep,” as she’s affectionately referred to. Sumire played a major role in the first arc of “Boruto” anime series, serving as the first major antagonist that Boruto and the gang faced. While her role has been somewhat less pronounced of late, it’s a great to see the character make a return in a role that is well outside of the ninja norm. Furthermore, as a particularly powerful player, her return could play into the inevitable clash with the enigmatic “Kara” organization.
Kodachi and Ikemoto seem to have a lot of fun in this chapter highlighting the various ninja tools being developed by Doctor Katasuke and his team. Some, like the wall climbing gloves, are quite silly, while others are more useful. The sound-dampening technology seems ripe for the picking as a major plot point in an upcoming fight, along with the fan service-y chakra blade. This segment allows Ikemoto to flex his artistic muscle, though the results are mixed at time. The fight sequence between the three main characters is dynamic and well paced, but issues with anatomy crop op. The panel in which Mitsuki grabs Sarada from the air is particularly glaring, as Sarada contorts her spine in a manner that would give Frank Cho a run for his money.
Akita’s explanation of Katasuke’s philosophy on the intersection between science and ninja arts is very nice touch in this issue. After the first arc, in which Borate’s use of ninja tools was very much vilified, this arc has gone a long way towards balance out their use. The notion that tools can be used in support rings true to Boruto’s dream of being someone that supports the Hokage. Nevertheless, Katasuke remains a character whose true motives are hard to read, adding a layer of unease to the proceedings.
The chapter’s final pages return attention to the disappearance of Konohamaru and the ominous case discovered within the crashed airship. The series has done a good job of balancing the more playful tone of the younger cast with the more serious aspects carried over from the adult cast of “Naruto.” The interactions between Nartuo and Boruto have developed well beyond the rebellious nature of early chapters, and it will be interesting to see how the two worlds interact as the series progresses.
Final Verdict: 8.2 – A fun and light issue that forebodes darker things to come.