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, Rowan and Matt check in with “The Promised Neverland” and “One Punch Man.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “Black Clover,” “Dr. Stone,” “We Never Learn,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “One Piece,” “Food Wars,” or “My Hero Academia,” let us know in the comments!
The Promised Neverland Chapter 67
Written by Kaui Shirai
Illustrated by Posuka Demizu
Review by Matt Lune
Only in “The Promised Neverland” would you find the line “I’m going to have to become stronger and more delicious” said with deadly seriousness. This may feel like one of the least insane serials in “Weekly Shonen Jump,” especially compared to books like “One Piece” or “One-Punch Man,” but the journey this book has been on is wild. There’s no real formula to it, and the only consistencies are the improbable forward planning of the main cast and the constantly raised stakes.
This chapter sees Emma in the forest, still being tracked by demons, formulating plans within plans in order to save as many children as possible. That’s been her admirable goal since day one with varying success, and the combination of unpredictable twists mixed with overwhelming odds have still never stopped her from being one step ahead. Here, she’s chasing the hunters that are hunting them, and being the leader she’s proved herself to be time and again by making sure those around her stay safe. Well, as safe as possible when you’re in a creepy forest being hunted by demonic forces looking to eat you.
This is a very claustrophobic chapter. Close-up shots of the cast and small, fast panels keep the swift pace throughout what’s essentially a talking heads segment of the story. It works too, this is a thrilling read that feels filled with action when in fact it’s just Emma thinking on the fly and ordering the survivors around. It’s the same sort of trick Aaron Sorkin Pulled in The West Wing – keep the characters moving during long scenes of talking and everything will feel more dynamic.
When we see the demons that are in pursuit, they’re exactly as horrifying as you’d expect. “The Promised Neverland” has taken its time showing you these deadly alien creatures, and now that the children are more fully surrounded in the demon’s world artist Demizu isn’t shy about creating as many creatively terrifying beasts as possible. It’s rewarding that we’re in a place with the main narrative that these demons can start to take the forefront and we can learn more about them, as up until fairly recently they’ve been as mysterious to us as they were the main characters.
Due to the art drawing in close to the faces, we don’t get as much focus on the backgrounds as we have done, and as such the scale of their situation is intentionally obscured. We’re made to feel as trapped as the characters do, with only sparse glimpses of the forest around them to give you context, relying more on the abstract or the speed lines as Emma and co. move through the environment as much as they do their plans.
“The Promised Neverland” is nothing if not unpredictable, and while this chapter is merely a piece that joins larger parts of the jigsaw together, it makes the most of the material that’s being conveyed. In fact, all of the essential elements of this manga are here: the smart planning of the lead cast; the noble sacrifice of children; the creeping dread of a demonic force; the claustrophobic and swift pace. You’re made to feel that the stakes have never been higher, and thanks to an effective script and smart artistic choices, you believe it.Continued below
Final Verdict: 7.6 – A fun and fast-paced plan is put together, and the hunters become the hunted.
One Punch Man Chapter 78
Written by ONE
Illustrated by Yusuke Murata
Reviewed by Rowan Grover
The latest in the great “One Punch Man” series throws us in the middle of a calamitous monster war that has Saitama’s City Z under siege. Saitama and Genos are still separated and I find that this makes for some interesting character development for the each of them. ONE is writing Saitama more or less the same, but he seems to be more aware of the surrounding world and with less naivety (although it still remains for comedic punch lines). Genos, however, appears to be getting even stronger having reunited with his old creator Dr. Kuseno. With that, we get something interesting that doesn’t happen in many mainstream superhero comics: Kuseno tells Genos that he is doing a good job, but at the same time to value self-preservation too. It’s interesting as it’s something that exists in the grey area of morality somewhat, and adds a lot of depth to Genos as a character.
There’s a fun section that does focus on the other heroes that do struggle with strength more than our protagonist. An old antagonist is on the run, and cornered in an old hut by heroes, and furthermore has a potential hostage on his hands with a kid that was brave enough to face him. ONE assures you that this ‘Hero Hunter’ is worth taking seriously, as a group of ten-odd heroes all band together to stop him, adding a tension in the air. What works superbly, however, is that ONE plays the sympathetic card with the Hero Hunter – having him pass a valuable life lesson on to the kid that approached him, and being genuinely friendly with him. The end of the chapter introduces a particularly juicy cliff-hanger through this – will the Hero Hunter go out and face the hero’s onslaught, or will he opt for the cowardly way out and send the child instead? In any other series it might be a predictable setup, but ONE cleverly sets up the pieces before the end to make things interesting.
Yusuke Murata’s visuals as always have a bold, almost hard light cleanliness to them. It’s something that I feel was initially to play up the comedy element of the series, but works really well in tension heavy moments and scene setting. And there are plenty of tense moments to milk this for. Right at the start, with Kuseno warning Genos about self-preservation, Murata uses a lot of negative space in the background to allow for the reader to completely focus on the body language of each character. When Kuseno says with a frail, concerned visage to Genos ‘Do not be reckless’, Genos appears in the next panel, looking down upon himself almost with worry that his new body might be too fragile for his brawling lifestyle. Subverting this, of course, Murata’s solid inks play up the token Saitama double page spread really well, with Murata using inks to an almost 90’s western comic style extent, but the with restraint and refined stylistics of a manga professional. The flow of the page directs your eyes through a swathe of dead and defeated monsters before bringing you to the true focal point. Saitama standing with groceries in one hand and a steaming fist clenched in the other as his tried and true sigh reflects on his face. It’s a testament to Murata’s work that he can cleverly play up both serious and comedic aspects in his art.
The setting work here is great when we get it, but these moments are few and far between. The one scene that has stuck with me throughout writing this review is the iconic, ziggurat like tower stands ominously above the city. It doesn’t need a full-page spread, but shows you that this is an organisation in power and not to be messed with. Apart from this, we get some nice foliage and forest setting when we’re introduced to the hut with the Hero Hunter, which gives us an insight into rural and traditional settings of Japan. However, a lot of the other pages opt for more negative space to focus on the human aspects of the comic, and though they are handled well, I still feel there should be at least something in the background that can imply setting or even convey tone.Continued below
“One Punch Man” continues to be strong as ever, in character and series quality. The series is knee deep in its monster war arc, and the comedic and serious tones are well-balanced. There’s a few setting issues but it didn’t harm the story so much that I couldn’t suspend disbelief for a while and dive head first into Saitama’s world.
Final Score: 8.3 – A great mid arc chapter that examines humanity and morality while still retaining the crazy action and hilarity the series is renowned for.