…Been a while since we did one of these, huh?
Welcome back to Weekly Shonen Hop, a weekly roundup of manga chapters. As I add or drop series from my reading list there may be changes to the lineup. As for ratings, I’ll be implementing the ten-point grading scale using letters. My criteria for rating will be how enjoyable the chapter was and how it compares to previous chapters in the current (or even past) arc(s).
Black Clover Ch. 298 – B
Megicula has taken physical form and things are spiraling out of control for our heroes. The Spade Kingdom arc has had nothing but high points in terms of action for me, and the Dark Triad have been spectacular villains to watch. I would not say any of them have been particularly interesting character-wise, but their powers and the fights that we got to see because of them have all been amazing. With the current battle, Noelle has gotten to shine a lot which is never a bad thing, but now things are taking a turn for the worst for everyone. With Black Clover being so formulaic, chapters like this either signal a heroic comeback in the next chapter or even more pain ahead. I wonder what we will get with chapter 299? Either way, the art in this chapter was great as always and I cannot wait to see how they handle Megicula.
Blue Box Ch. 12 – A
Taiki and Ichiro go head-to-head to win Chinatsu’s contact information… Or rather, Taiki is playing so that Ichiro does not win Chinatsu’s contact information. Every chapter of this manga so far has been a winner in my book. The mature tone of the story is very refreshing, especially when most high school crushes and romances in manga are used more for comedic gags than anything else. Not only that, but besides this being the story of a boy having a crush on his upperclassman, it is also a story about a boy who loves badminton. While I would not call this a sports manga since it doesn’t really go into the technical aspects of badminton, the sport is an important part of Taiki’s life and is not just a tool for the protagonist to set up situations or further the romance plot. Taiki is a pure boy who deserves love.
Candy Flurry Ch. 11 – C
Misaki was promoted, and Tsumugi passed her Recette exam. Also, seems like things will heat up soon with this new villainous organization making their move. Candy Flurry is a series I am constantly fine with but never wowed by. I really love the power system in this series; having sweets be the special ability used by certain people is an inventive and novel concept, and a lot of the fights have cool visuals because of it. But the characters are fairly bland, and the plot does not really feel like it is going anywhere fast, so I have yet to get invested in the series. The manga is definitely entertaining enough for me to read it every week, but it will need to do more in the coming weeks to really stand out as a series that deserves serialization.
Choujin X Ch. 2 – C
While this was a long chapter, I do not really have a ton to say on this one. Sui Ishida’s previous works Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul:re were both critically acclaimed but ones I never found myself liking (although I will admit I only watched some of the anime). Still, with Choujin X I again find myself in the same predicament as I was in with the other series; the concept is interesting, the power system is cool, and the art is amazing to look at and adds to the gritty and grotesque nature of the story, but the story and characters themselves are pretty boring. Chapter 2 is a long chase sequence that was fun to read, but ultimately where it led to and the characters it involved did not really matter to me much when it was all said and done. Right now, it feels like there is a lot of groundwork being laid out for future narratives without too much interesting storytelling at the moment, so I will stick with this series if for nothing else because it looks really good. But I really need to see more in upcoming chapters to stay interested.
Dr. Stone Ch. 203 – B-
First off… Best boy Gen has ranked #1 in the popularity poll yet again! Thank you, Japanese readers, for having good tastes.
In chapter 203, the globetrotting gang acquires fluorite, which leads them to build a high-powered telescope. Dr. Stone is still a series I enjoy a lot, but it has not yet hit its stride again post-America. Perhaps it is because the Americas arc was so much fun to read, but I have not been able to really get into the story since the second global petrification. It is still always fun to see everyone rediscover technology or modern conveniences like olive oil, and Boichi’s artwork is still some of the best in print right now, but until the next major conflict really rears its head, I worry this series will move towards the bottom of my list.
The Elusive Samurai Ch. 28 – C
Hm… I really enjoyed Assassination Classroom early on, but with Yuusei Matsui’s new work I still do not feel very invested in the story. I still really enjoy Matsui’s art style; he can make anybody look monstrous in one second and angelic in the next. And the idea of a character whose greatest talent is evading and running away is a fun gimmick to play with. But at 28 chapters in it does not feel like we are really getting anywhere with the story. I mean, sure, there are developments taking place and we are meeting new characters often. Plus, with the previous chapter, our protagonist finally learned a fighting technique that makes use of his evasion. But when it is just chapters like this of characters talking about things that will happen later, I only find myself thinking “how about you show us instead of telling us?” I do not see myself dropping Elusive Samurai, but it is not really a series I would recommend to anyone right now either.
High School Family: Kokosei Kazoku Ch. 45 – B
Another goofy chapter, this time focused on Haruka and her former 2nd-grade classmate Yu. Haru’s duality between being incredibly smart and highest-scoring student in her class but also still being an immature 7-year-old is a strange gag that works well within the series. Out of the Ietani family, Haru is one of the members I like so this chapter was an enjoyable read. I always feel the need to stress that this manga is not for everyone, as the entire appeal is the utter absurdity of an entire family being in the same high school class. Even so, if you think it is something you might even be a little bit interested in, I recommend giving the first few chapters a read.
The Hunters Guild: Red Hood Ch. 2 – B
So far so good with this series. I really love the werewolf designs; a very creative and bizarre spin on the traditional werewolf, these ones look like hairy aliens more than humans-turned-beasts. I also like Velou and his motivations. It is always refreshing seeing a character that has a clear goal in mind, and even more so when that goal does not immediately align with the obvious narrative. Velou wants to protect his hamlet above all else and could care less about becoming a Red Hood. Even if we as readers know he will get there eventually, it is nice to have a character surprise me even a little bit every now and then.
Magu-chan: God of Destruction Ch. 50 – B+
Muscar has launched his latest scheme using the God of Illusions Nosu Koshu. Now, every human in the village is asleep so Magu must find a way to save his disciple. This is the first chapter in a while where it felt like there were heavy stakes involved. Magu-chan is a series I picked up on a whim and now has become one of the ones I most look forward to every week; the art and characters are incredibly charming, and the scenarios that play out each chapter range from cute and heartwarming to laugh-out-loud funny. With this newest chapter and our currently unresolved conflict, I cannot wait to get the next chapter. However, while I have not heard any news to confirm this I am wondering if a chapter like this is signaling the end of the series? I’m hoping we still have plenty of stories left to tell but as of now, I’m just speculating.
Mashle: Magic and Muscles Ch. 69 – C+
One wizard with magic that manipulates time, another with magic that erases space. Who will win? This is a chapter purely devoid of Mash himself, and I have to say I think it is for the best. While I do love Mash as a character, his deadpan antics were starting to wear a bit thin in my opinion. I think having this chapter focus on two of the strongest mages in the world makes for a more interesting confrontation for now. While Wahlberg’s backstory flashback was pretty weak, seeing the resolve he fought with was cool. I am fairly certain I and most other readers can guess how this particular battle will end, but I guess we won’t have a concrete answer until next week or later.
Me & Roboco Ch. 48 – B
Bondo and friends get to translate some of Roboco’s weird texting speech. As always, this is the definition of a gag manga and never fails to make me laugh. Me & Roboco’s greatest strength is the cast of characters all being entertaining and likable on their own so when they are all together playing off each other you never know who the straight man will be and who the funny one will be (although, whenever Roboco’s involved it is safe to bet on her being the silly one). I am not sure if this series is for everyone since the focus is not really on telling an overarching narrative but rather on putting the cast in strange situations like Kokosei Kazoku. But for me, the jokes are constantly flying so even if every single joke does not land, enough get a laugh out of me that I keep coming back for more.
Neru: Way of the Martial Artist Ch. 1 – C+
Rookie mangaka Minya Hiraga debuts his inaugural serialized comic this week. The story follows Neruma Isami, a 3rd-year junior high student obsessed with martial arts who meets a high schooler also into the fighting hobby. This first chapter is entertaining, but it is not a chapter that immediately strikes me either. Minya’s art style looks good, especially with character eyes and hair. Neru as a protagonist is not the most interesting so far and his motivations are clichéd, but again it is just a first chapter so there is plenty of room to grow.
Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade Ch. 20 – C+
Another series cut too soon. While this series had not shown the level of promise a series like Phantom Seer did (yes, I am still salty they cut that series), Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade was not given nearly enough time to develop into Jump’s next great sports manga. While I do think the recruitment arc took a bit too long and the series suffered from not showing enough actual baseball consistently, I think that the cast we had in the Kokuryuzan team was one that would have been fun to watch for many chapters to come. Ultimately, it is a disappointment and shame that we have to say goodbye to this series so soon, but the final chapter was a decent read to end on.
Sakamoto Days Ch. 30 – B+
Skinny Sakamoto returns to deliver Kashima a legendary beatdown. In the past, I have definitely berated series for relying too much on the “overpowered protagonist” trope, but in series where jokes and gags are just as important as (if not more than) the combat, it works a lot better. Seeing Sakamoto thrown from one bullet train to another only to watch him race through said train to get back to his starting location was not only hilarious but great action to behold and made for an excellent set of panels to boot. A series that can consistently deliver both solid laughs and dynamic action is always good in my book, and Sakamoto Days does it well in every chapter.
Undead Unluck Ch. 70 – C+
Fuuko resolves to stand on her own two feet! Also, funny that the Spring UMA is just a generic oni-looking monster that drinks sake and makes cherry blossoms grow. Anyway, this chapter was fine, but I will say that some of these Negator ability names are getting really dumb. Undecrease? Definitely does not look good on-page.
I like that Fuuko is showing a desire to be independent of Andy because as it stands now, she’s little more than another weapon or accessory that he uses in battle. Maybe, just maybe, she can get some much-needed character growth here and become a character with some real autonomy moving forward.
Witch Watch Ch. 21 – B
Another Nemu chapter! I really like this character; even though her whole gimmick is “I’m in love with Morihito but too shy to reveal myself” the situations she gets herself into in her cat form always amuse me. On top of that, this chapter introduces some villainous characters related to the danger facing Nico. In Kenta Shinohara’s previous work Sket Dance (which is referenced briefly in this chapter) serious arcs were handled fairly well. I’m hoping with Witch Watch we will get some legitimate drama amidst the laughs.