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, we welcome a new reviewer, Darcy! Darcy and Ken check in with “One Piece” and “Blue Exorcist.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “Black Clover,” “Dr. Stone,” “We Never Learn,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “The Promised Neverland,” “Seraph at the End,” “Food Wars,” or “My Hero Academia,” let us know in the comments!
Blue Exorcist Ch. 96
Written & Illustrated by Kazue Kato
Reviewed by Ken Godberson III
Warning: We are going to go into some major spoilers with this one.
The rescue of Yukio Okumura reaches its climax with this chapter that is both surprising and yet, after so long, fitting. For long time readers, you’ve seen Yukio go through some very heavy moments, as they piled up alongside his feelings of self-loathing and inferiority towards his brother Rin and it has been pushing him towards the dark side for so long and it finally culminates here with Yukio joining the Illuminati in the pursuit of power, shooting his big brother in the head. “Blue Exorcist” has often gotten the criticism for wonky pacing, sometimes being ridiculously slow. That said, fair credit is due here: Kato nails it here. The feeling of culmination, of so much space that has grown between the two brothers over the series, and the utter sense of betrayal are measured out well here, leading up to that big moment.
Visually, this is some of the better work “Blue Exorcist” has had. Kato uses perspective a lot in regards to Yukio and Rin’s scenes in this chapter, using a variety of angles on one scene to visually display bother the physical and metaphorical distance between them. We also get a look at each brother from the other’s perspective, showing Rin’s worry from Yukio’s point of view and Yukio’s disgruntlement from Rin’s. Lastly, the brief bit of combat to close out this chapter, with Yukio and Rin attacking one another is nice and clean. Normally, I’d lambast the overuse of double-page splashes, but the scene of Yukio shooting Rin and Rin slashing at Yukio are emotionally so well done that they feel earned.
Let’s make it very clear: if you had an interest in reading “Blue Exorcist”, this would be a terrible chapter to start with. This storyline is a plot and emotional culmination that has been built pretty much since chapter one and it would fall a bit flat without that context. Having said that, this is probably one of the better chapters of “Blue Exorcist” in a while. It’s properly heart-wrenching to see something unwanted and yet inevitable happen. And while the storyline isn’t over per se, the events of it are going to have far-reaching ramifications and opens up a myriad of potential stories. It’s definitely rejuvenated my interest in the book.
Final Verdict: 8.0- The culmination of nearly 100 chapters of character development for Yukio Okamura leads to one of “Blue Exorcist”’s bests.
One Piece – Chapter 887: Someone Somewhere Is Wishing For Your Happiness
Written and Illustrated by Eiichiro Oda
Review by Darcy Forrester
Reading a chapter of “One Piece” – the long-time cornerstone of Weekly Shonen Jump – without a hint of the main character, Monkey D. Luffy is a little strange to say the least. In fact, apart from the very last page of the chapter, the only member of the Straw Hat pirates that we see in Chapter 887 is the crew’s cook, Vinsmoke Sanji. This occurrence is made even more jarring by the fact that the previous chapter ended with Luffy strengthening his resolve to defeat the Billion-Berry Man, Charlotte Katakuri, at his best. So while seeing the focus shift away from Luffy after such a declaration may be initially frustrating, the content we do get is certainly entertaining.Continued below
Chapter 887 focuses primarily on the actions of three characters, while others who are present are utilised for commentary (be they named or otherwise). These three, Capone Bege, Charlotte Oven, and Pound can undoubtedly be categorised as side characters, and yet their interactions still make for a thoroughly enjoyable chapter within the overall arc of Whole Cake Island. This is a testament to Oda and his ability to craft numerous characters over extensive periods of time, whose motivations can either intertwine or collide, thereby generating an engaging atmosphere within which the story can gradually escalate.
The clashing of wills is very much on display here, with Bege and Pound both opposing Oven. In fact, these two both wish to ensure the safety of Chiffon and Pez, but are going about doing so in different ways. While Bege – husband of Chiffon, and father to Pez – is seeking to escape from Big Mom’s territory along with the pair, Pound – father to Chiffon, and grandfather to Pez (both of whom are unaware of this fact) – is willing to sacrifice his own life to save those of his estranged family.
While Bege and Oven are both given a flashy moment to shine in Chapter 887, with Bege revealing the amphibious capabilities of his ship (the Nostra Castello) as a means of more easily escaping, and Oven utilising his Heat-Heat Devil Fruit abilities to boil the seawater as a means of sinking Bege’s ship, Pound’s struggle is a little more hopeless. And yet, while he may not have access to interesting technology or superhuman power like the other two, Pound’s involvement in this chapter is arguably the most interesting and impactful.
As mentioned before, Pound is willing to sacrifice his own life if it means aiding the survival odds of his daughter and her family, and so he attacks Oven before he is able to finish sinking Bege’s ship. Given Pound’s lack of any martial prowess though, his attack on Oven acts as nothing more than a distraction. Following this, before we can see Oven retaliate with what appears to be a fatal swing of his weapon in Pound’s direction, we are given a short flashback of Pound’s time as Big Mom’s husband. Oda uses Pound to further depict the atrocities of Big Mom, in that she used Pound to have children before casting him out, and therefore stopping him from willingly performing his duties as a father.
After this we are treated to Pound’s internal monologue, over an image of him smiling, as Oven goes in for the kill. It is made clear that Pound wishes he could have spent more time with his daughter, but at the end, he is just pleased to see her living a life in which she is happy and loved. For a character that has been very much on the periphery during this arc, Oda manages to still construct a heart-warming scene of emotionally resonant dialogue, in which we are led to believe he wishes Chiffon congratulations on her wedding, as his life is brought to an end at the hands of his own stepson.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – While Chapter 887 may be lacking Monkey D. Luffy, or the majority of the Straw Hat Pirates for that matter, Eiichiro Oda reminds us why his stunning art and evocative dialogue is so well-loved.