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 two titles 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 and Ken check in on “Hell Warden Higuma” and “The Promised Neverland.” If you have thoughts on these, or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Hell Warden Higuma
Written and Illustrated by Natsuki Hokami
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
This debut chapter of “Hell Warden Higuma” packs quite a lot into its 50 pages. The story begins quietly, with an argument on a bus establishing the baseline personalities of our two main characters, Ayaha and Higuma. But as soon as they depart from the bus, both characters are given pretty serious twists. From there, the story really picks up, grabbing the reader and introducing a simple but really expansive concept for the series.
Hokami’s art balances between the literal hell beings and the prosaic day to day life quite nicely, introducing the former into the latter with as much fanfare and panic as you’d expect. This is an extraordinarily well paced chapter, with all the revelations coming with enough space between them to not feel overwhelming.
The only real quibble with the art is how Higuma’s Hell Warden attire is more than just a little SS-inspired. While it is in line with lots of other fictional militarized uniforms, this feels just a bit too Nazi-ish for comfort, especially as, here in the United States, Nazis are back in the news. Otherwise, Hokami has some really fun demonic designs and clearly is having a lot of fun drawing severed hands doing Higuma’s bidding.
While parts of this installment may feel a little rushed in hindsight (like Ayaka’s brother’s possession), the deliberately faced paced strip gives the reader a lot of information up front, and will allow for more depth in future chapters.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – A solid debut that intrigues and invites a return reading.
The Promised Neverland Ch. 116
Written by Kaiu Shirai
Illustrated by Posuka Demizu
Reviewed by Ken Godberson III
After a brief bit of respite, the children of “The Promised Neverland” are back in the thick of it when new troubles arrive. Not in the strict form of demons or the Ratri Gang, but when one of their own falls ill. They need medicine for Chris and the only place that would have it is a mass-production “farm” (i.e. a people farm) nearby. But it just begs the question: who’s it going to be?
This chapter is all about setup, if we are being honest. Emma trying to determine who is going to go with her back into a farm. A couple of the kids make good arguments for going or staying, but in the end, Anna is the one who steps up alongside Ray and Hayato. Thus begins the infiltration and, like all good plans, nearly immediately goes to hell when one of the demon guards spots them. The biggest problem this chapter has is that this is all that happens. It feels incredibly light, even if it is just the start of a new arc. There was shockingly not a lot to really examine from a plot perspective. Perhaps its stand-out moment was Anna’s part, but even that wasn’t a massive or memorable thing.
Artistically, Demizu’s work is good. The linework has a bit of fluidity that makes it work when the story is quiet or action packed, a moment that stands out being when the demon guard discovers our little infiltrators. It’s a nice little tack of tension piercing into the story and everything from panel layout to character expression on the page worked great. Speaking of layout, Demizu does have a good sense of pacing. Nothing ever feels to cramped or thin, at least until you actually step back and think on what happened.
“The Promised Neverland” chapter 116 was an odd one to review. I’ve been crowing on and on about the book all year, so having to review a chapter in our last This Week in Shonen Jump column of the year that was so magnificently “okay” is awkward. The series is taking it’s time to regear and reamp itself after the Goldy Pond arc, and I know that once it’s back in full swing, it’s going to be one of the best manga coming out. It’s just a matter of getting back up there, and chapters like this just make that feel further away.
Final Verdict: 5.4- A magnificently okay chapter that is helping getting us up to better moments hopefully to come.