Another Sunday, another week of new Shonen Jump manga chapters. What’s worth checking out this week?
AKANE-BANASHI CH. 53: FASCINATING NEWS
Mangaka: Yuki Suenaga (Writing), Takamasa Moue (Art)
Akane is faced with the staggering wall that is Kaisei Arakawa. If she wants to reach the pinnacle of the rakugo world, she would eventually have to surpass him.
Akane-banashi is reminiscent of series like Hikaru no Go or Bakuman where the shounen coming-of-age genre narrative is used to explore a specific hobby or career. In Akane-banashi‘s case, we learn about the world of rakugo and the skills needed to succeed as a master storyteller through our protagonist Akane’s eyes. The series is still pretty young at just 53 chapters, so it’s a perfect time to jump on it. While it’s not always the most exciting story due to the lack of fighting, the action and engagement come from how the characters show off their craft and dynamically tell stories. This week’s chapter in particular wasn’t much to write home about, but it does reveal Akane’s next goal in her journey to the top of rakugo.
BLUE BOX CH. 92: WHENEVER YOU’RE STRUGGLING
Mangaka: Kouji Miura
Blue Box continues to be the series that’s the most consistently enjoyable week to week. In this chapter, Taiki gives the ticket to the girls’ basketball game to Yumeka. Will the bond of friendship between Yumeka and Chinatsu be mended? Meanwhile, Taiki and Chinatsu continue to grow closer.
The romantic undercurrent of Taiki and Chinatsu’s relationship still feels so refreshing when compared to other romantic manga series (especially ones in Shonen Jump). While neither of them has confessed their feelings, it’s clear that they both feel something for each other. But instead of having the annoying “will they, won’t they” dynamic it feels more like two people trying to sort through their feelings while also focusing on their own personal goals. These are the kinds of romance stories I want to read.
THE ELUSIVE SAMURAI CH. 101: SEII TAISHOGUN 1335
Mangaka: Yusei Matsui
Tokiyuki continues to gain more followers as he prepares to face Takauji Ashikaga.
The Elusive Samurai has ups and downs, but in general it remains a series defined by mediocrity. Coming off of Assassination Classroom, Matsui’s latest work feels like a step down. Perhaps it’s because this is a historical fiction series based on historical figure not widely known in the west, but Elusive Samurai doesn’t have the draw that many other shounen series do. The characters are one-note, and the plot goes from mildly engaging to utterly boring chapter-to-chapter.
100 chapters in, I feel an obligation to continue reading it. But it’s hard to find reasons to recommend this one to new readers.
THE ICHINOSE FAMILY’S DEADLY SINS CH. 16: KOZO’S CONFESSION
Mangaka: Taizan 5
The Ichinose family’s dilemma seems to go much deeper than previously thought. The mystery surrounding their lost memories remains just out of reach, and now it’s been revealed that the family is stuck in a time loop! In a situation that is reminiscent of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s Gold Experience Requiem, any time a member of the family gets close to finding out the truth, time is reset.
Ichinose Family’s Deadly Sins is another addition to the recent trend of Shonen Jump manga that feels aimed at a more mature audience. Like Chainsaw Man, this series isn’t afraid to pull punches or touch on subjects that more light-hearted Jump contemporaries might try to avoid. This is no surprise coming from mangaka Taizan 5; their previous work, Takopi’s Original Sin, dealt with some seriously dark subject matter such as suicide, abuse, and murder concerning the underaged characters.
Right now, Ichinose Family’s Deadly Sins is a series that keeps us on the edge of our seats every week. Hopefully, it keeps up the momentum and ultimately sticks the landing when the time comes.
JUJUTSU KAISEN CH. 216: BATH
Mangaka: Gege Akutami
Reading Jujutsu Kaisen feels a bit like riding a rollercoaster. At times, it feels like you’re sitting in the car slowly creeping up the hill. You’re anticipating the drop, and that excites you. Other times, it feels like you’re racing down the drop, heart in your throat, feeling the thrills and pure joy of action. And sometimes, it feels like you’re in the lull after the big drop. You can feel the incline to the next big drop beginning, but it’s not really there yet. Chapter 216 feels like the latter of the three.
Megumi Fushiguro has become Sukuna’s newest vessel, and Sukuna is wasting no time trying to make it a permanent situation. He also apparently is working with Kenjaku, but whether their ultimate goals align remains to be seen. Sukuna’s current goal is to kill Megumi’s step-sister Tsumiki to permanently suppress Megumi’s consciousness and thereby eliminate him. It’s an interesting plot, and things are undoubtedly going to get chaotic in the ensuing chapters. However, this chapter felt like a bridge between the previous conflict and the next one. While bridges are necessary, they aren’t the most interesting to read.
Chapter 216 delivers a bit of action and another display of Sukuna’s overwhelming strength as he effortlessly defeats an opponent that was previously shown to be incredibly powerful. The concept of cursed energy baths was also an intriguing point. Often with the series, explanations of cursed energy and cursed techniques become confusing and overly complicated, so having something simple and straight-to-the-point like the bath was a welcome bit of lore.
MASHLE: MAGIC AND MUSCLES CH. 147: ORTER MADL AND THE LOGICAL DECISION
Mangaka: Hajime Koumoto
Mash is still down for the count, and the crew is desperately trying to get him to a healer before Innocent Zero can finish him off permanently. When things start seeming especially desperate, Divine Visionary Orter Madl makes his (potentially) final stand to save the party.
While Mashle: Magic and Muscles is an entertaining read (and popular enough to have an anime adaption coming very soon), the series’ gimmick is beginning to lose its charm. It’s another One Punch-Man-style Shonen Jump manga where the hero is the all-powerful figure who saves the day with relative ease after the supporting characters struggled to keep the threat at bay. Mash and Saitama even share the quirk of being the comedy relief with their expressions and line delivery. Where Mashle differs is that Mash still feels more human than Saitama, but only slightly. Even though both series are enjoyable in their own ways, they feel too similar for the gimmick to work twice. The silver lining here is that Mashle is on its final arc so it will end before it’s completely overstayed its welcome.
ME & ROBOCO CH. 128: VIRALITY & ROBOCO
Mangaka: Shuhei Miyazaki
This week in Me & Roboco, Roboco wants to go viral again! This time, on Tiktok! How will she manage to use current trends to her advantage?
Simply put, Me & Roboco is a gag manga through and through. If gag manga that rely on references to other Shonen Jump manga or other Japanese staples don’t appeal to you, Me & Roboco won’t change your mind. If you’re okay with a series that’s all about jokes and references, however, this one might be up your alley. Roboco doesn’t break the mold on comedy, but it’s a silly read that gets at least one good laugh out of me every week. And this week was no exception.
MISSION: YOZAKURA FAMILY CH. 169: THE LETTERS
Mangaka: Hitsuji Gondaira
The Yozakura siblings continue “talking” to their dad through a pre-recorded video. This chapter was a simple one, serving as mostly a bridge to the next phase of the plot while also offering some tender moments.
Mission: Yozakura Family is a pretty standard shounen action series, but where it shines is its quirky cast of characters. The Yozakura siblings are all unique, and while they are character archetypes we’ve never seen before they are good examples of tried-and-true tropes. This week’s mission with the family was a moderate success.
SAKAMOTO DAYS CH. 110: WORSTGEN
Mangaka: Yuto Suzuki
We continue through Sakamoto’s flashback arc where he, Nagumo, Akao, and Uzuki face off against the mysterious hitman Kindaka.
Sakamoto Days is most enjoyable when it balances slice-of-life with breakneck action. However, these chapters showing young Sakamoto with his friends give more backstory to the overarching villain Slur AKA Uzuki. Plus, the way mangaka draws action always feels dynamic and fast-paced. Seeing how these assassins duke it out while trying to keep civilians out of harm’s way and unaware is both interesting and humorous.
UNDEAD UNLUCK CH. 150: NO MORE WAR!
Mangaka: Yoshifumi Tozuka
Undead Unluck has been going strong since its time-skip/time-rewind arc has begun. Fuuko continues to round up more and more Negators, and this week adds Creed the Undecrease to the mix.
While this is a serviceable chapter for a shounen series, it doesn’t do much to stand out amongst the other chapters released this week. The action is minimal, and it isn’t until the final panel of the chapter that we actually see the new Artifact Disc that they’ve been looking for. Next week’s chapter should ramp up the intensity again, so there’s no concern that this series will wane in popularity anytime soon.
WITCH WATCH CH. 100: URON MIRAGE CHAPTER 171: THE MIST MISSION, PART 9
Mangaka: Kenta Shinohara
Witch Watch‘s 100th chapter is a chapter of the in-universe series Uron Mirage. The series is well-known for its vague world-building, mystery-laden dialogue, and obscure plotlines. And while chapters that are focused around characters talking about the series are fun and humorous, actually getting to read a chapter of Uron Mirage isn’t all that enjoyable. Uron Mirage‘s appeal is the fact that it doesn’t make any sense, but it’s not the reason why I pick up Witch Watch. This isn’t the first time we’ve gotten to read a chapter of the fictional series, and it feels like now the joke has run its course. Especially when we’re on the heels of a serious arc with ogre battles and then a Witch Watch/Sket Dance crossover, chapter 100 feels like nothing more than filler. A bit of a disappointing chapter this week.