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, Zach and Vince check in with “Boruto” and “My Hero Academia.” If you have thoughts on these or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Created and Supervised by Masashi Kishimoto
Illustrated by Mikio Ikemoto
Written by Ukyo Kodachi
Translated by Mari Morimoto
Lettered by Snir Aharon
Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson
The “power-up” is one of the purest and holiest tropes of shonen manga. A long-running fight that has overstayed its welcome by a few chapters can be completely rejuvenated by a new attack or a new form from either hero or villain. With the fight between Naruto and Delta a few months in and a chapter title like “Exceeding the Limits!!,” one might be forgiven for getting a little excited by the possibility of escalation. Rather, this otherwise interesting fight ends on a bit of paradoxical whimper, thanks to some decidedly less interesting cliches.
The battle between Naruto and Delta has been heavily weighted in favor of the former, despite Delta’s continued efforts to use Naruto’s paternal instincts against him. This chapter solidifies that fact, as Naruto overwhelms Delta’s chakra absorbing abilities with a series of increasingly larger Rasengan, culminating in the SUPER SUPER GIANT RASENGAN. It’s….about what it sounds like.
Aside from a somewhat contrived resolution to this protracted fight sequence, this is another quality chapter from the “Boruto” team. The battle is well choreographed by Ikemoto, featuring a frantic pace and sharp line work. His work continues to grow and solidify as he establishes his own tone for the book, outside of Kishimoto’s ever-looming shadow.
While there’s not much room left for strong character moments, the inclusion of Naruto’s trademark grin is a great way to close out the fight. The connection he has formed with Kawaki over this arc is very promising, especially with the implication of the series’s ominous flash forward. It’s quite easy to imagine the rivalry between Boruto and Kawaki escalating if the former covets this burgeoning mentor/mentee relationship.
Final Verdict: 6.8 – A somewhat lackluster finale (maybe?) to an otherwise exciting and well-illustrated battle arc.
Written & Illustrated by Kohei Horikoshi
Review by Vince J Ostrowski
The opening pages of Chapter 221 feel a little bit like “more of the same” from this current villain-centric arc of “My Hero Academia.” The League of Villains, led by the enigmatic Shigaraki, are facing off against Gigantomachia, a hulking, craggy (and not altogether bright) titan revealed to be a former bodyguard of All For One. Gigantomachia is under the control of a mysterious voice bellowing out from a radio, taunting the League of Villains as he manipulates the titan into fighting them. The league is looking to speak with whoever is on the other end of the radio, and we already know that Gigantomachia has had a role in the League of Villains as well, which means that this battle sequence feels more like a generic squabble between two villains than a fight with true, burning motivation behind it. It feels more like a perfunctory fight sequence because that’s just what you do in shonen manga, versus anything that tells us much about the characters involved. I suppose if the fight accomplishes one thing, it’s drawing out the mystery of who the voice from the radio is for just a little while longer, which proves to be of some value because when that voice is revealed, that’s when the chapter really starts going.
As the battle ramps up, the characters are whisked away to an unknown location, where an unknown person (though perhaps a slightly familiar face to careful readers of past issues of MHA) reveals themselves in a dank lab. The lab sequences take on a very eerie tone, in both the general feel and pacing of the character interaction, as well as the art, which is heavy in shading and a bit of sci-fi horror (more on that later). It is here that MHA breaks away from its tendency to get caught up in a fight for the sake of fighting and hint at revelations that the League of Villains could be expanding in an underground fashion. This mad scientist may hold the secrets to successfully carrying on the mission of the League of Villains if only Shigaraki can prove himself worthy. And that’s where the chapter ends – gosh, this felt like a short one. Are they always this short? As far as the plot goes, there’s not much more to say. The stuff it hints at is exciting, and actually boosts the League of Villains arc a bit, but the story is taking too long to reveal itself and is being meted out in too small of portions. I guess what I’m saying is that this story is probably going to read better in a collected edition.Continued below
But if the story itself feels less meaty, the art is at the top of its game. Horikoshi is known for his fight sequences, but Chapter 221 shows him to be a master of mood. The secret science lab sequences are appropriately creepy, and the reveal of the doctor melds a goofy design (he essentially looks like Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog) with a truly sinister presentation (a hundred-mile stare, peering out from the shadows). The best, lasting image in this chapter is a double page spread that features the doctor as the central focal point, set very far in the background of a hall lined with tanks with floating variations of Nomu (a bio-engineered member of the League of Villains), each version of the creature more twisted than the last. These pages are stunningly detailed, creepy as hell, and highlighted with just the perfect shading techniques to craft a dank mood that this series doesn’t usually present to the reader. Oh sure, the fight scene up front may look great, in the typically flashy fashion we’ve come to expect from MHA, but it’s these back half lab scenes that are the real star of the show.
Final Verdict: 6.5 – Chapter 221 was merely a decent installment of “My Hero Academia”, but one that shows a lot of promise and artistic growth for Horikoshi from a purely visual standpoint. It’s more exciting from a craft perspective than it is from a plot perspective, this week.