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, Brandon and Walt check in with “The Comiq” and “Black Clover.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “Yu Gi Oh Arc V,” “My Hero Academia,” “Dr. Stone,” “Hunter x Hunter,” “Boruto,” “One Piece,” “The Promised Neverland,” “Food Wars,” “World Trigger,” or “We Never Learn” let us know in the comments!
The Comiq Chapter 7
Written and Illustrated by Kazuki Takahashi
Reviewed by Brandon Arnold
This week marks the end of “The Comiq,” and it’s a kind of bitter-sweet occasion for me. Overall, I’ve enjoyed this condensed, semi-realistic story about one lowly manga artist’s quest for the truth, and this week’s finale certainly ends with definitive closure, but the road it takes to get there is strange, forced, and bloated.
Following his sudden collapse at the end of last week’s chapter, Seiya is rushed to the hospital where the doctors find a… remote controlled micro-chip implanted in his body that sent shock waves to his brain causing his sudden and painful incapacitation? Excuse me, what?
I understand that the world of “The Comiq” is not necessarily our own, but everything else in this series has been rooted in some sense of reality. Ryota, for example, has real world sensibilities: he lives in a small apartment, rides a bike, and deduces Seiya’s guilt using real-world detective work. Had there been more of a fantastic feeling to the series, the microchip plot point wouldn’t be so egregious, but as it stands, it’s just a goofy contrivance used to reveal the true antagonist of the series.
That’s right. Seiya, the guy we’ve spent the last six chapters suspicious of and growing to hate, is a decoy.
To be fair, the concept of a bigger (figuratively and literally) bad-guy was introduced last week, and I don’t hate the idea of having Seiya be a pawn in a larger scheme. I have a problem with not spending any time with that as a reader. If there were, maybe, four more chapters to this series, I think this would’ve been a legitimately good and interesting ending. Instead, Takahashi is forced to introduce the new villain, explain her back story and how it ties into Seiya’s largely unexplored backstory, while also revealing the truth behind the notorious Halloween Murder, the iconography surrounding it, and and actually end the series. He pulls it off, of course, but it’s a bumpy ride. Massive exposition dumps and plot contrivances plague this chapter and bog down a genuinely interesting and entertaining story.
Again, these complaints aren’t necessarily bad independent of the larger context of the series, but none of it feels earned. It just feels slapped together. A larger conspiracy concerning Seiya is a cool idea! It doesn’t work in one 44-page chapter.
Having said all that, the finale of “The Comiq” is not, by any means, a failure. In fact, there are many elements that are really good. Takahashi’s art remains predictably delightful throughout. His use of space continues to deliver tight, emotional, and dramatic sequences that often raised the hair on my neck- even if my conscious mind was bogged down by heavy exposition. His style is also able to change on a moments notice- flipping from a cartoony feel with no backgrounds to a hyper-detailed style for just a panel or a splash and switchback without if ever feeling jarring or strange. Also, all of the main characters (and most of the supporting cast) feel fully fleshed out and capable of feeling real emotions and having genuine wants and desires. Mihanna, Ryoto’s little sister and my favorite character, for example, is a joyus, excitable, and bubbly delight who just wants to help her big brother out. Mr. Baba of course, the true victim, is a tragic and silent character whose release release from prison all but completely made up for the pitfalls I earlier mentioned. Thank God for happy endings…Continued below
Final Verdict: 6.0 – The finale of “The Comiq” is bloated and awkward, but there’s enough heart here to keep it afloat.
Black Clover Chapter 183
Written by Yuki Tabata
Reviewed by Walt Richardson
(Warning: by the end of this review, the verb “happen” will have lost all meaning to you)
It would be incorrect to say that not a lot happened in the latest chapter of “Black Clover.” Quite a bit happened! And, for that matter, quite a bit has been happening for a while now. At the same time, it feels like not a lot has been happening. It’s the problem you see in a lot of long-form action/adventure fiction: everything is rising action. There is little form to the narrative, no moments to breathe, and so although many different things are occurring it all feels like a formless mass.
In that sense, this latest chapter of “Black Clover” is more of the same. Is it satisfying to see the team back together? Certainly. Are the developments concerning the elves interesting? More or less. But there has been so much “happening” for so long that it feels like we aren’t actually getting anywhere. This has perhaps been the greatest weakness of “Black Clover.” The characters are fun, if not particularly nuanced. The world is just neat enough, if not being particularly unique. But the plotting, especially in this latest arc, has been a mess. It feels more like a chain of cool events happening than a narrative; hardly the worst fate in the world for a shoenen action series, but a flaw that makes it fail to stand out.
On the plus side, the art is still quite good. While still having a similar feel to many shoenen action series, the style is distinct enough to be memorable. And, for as much as the plot is becoming a bit muddled, when it comes to looking at the page and seeing and understanding what is going on in the most literal sense, Tabata’s art is crystal clear. And, of course, the characters are as expressive as any others within the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump (sometimes perhaps too expressive, but that’s a matter of taste). “Black Clover” probably wouldn’t make my top 5 overall series in the magazine this year, but when it comes to art alone it would easily make it (possibly even slotting into the top 3).
Final Verdict: 6.5 – Still good, in a sense, but every chapter just makes me feel more and more tired.