Review: Weekly Shonen Jump #11

Highlights this week are the usual suspects, as a new Jump Start series, Kimetsu no Yaiba, takes to the pages. Jump is almost crowded out by the quality of the action in its best titles right now.  The prospect of fitting a Jump Start somewhere in between all this action is daunting: neophyte mangaka Koyoharu Gotouge has his work cut out for him in delivering a story that stands out.  With Kimetsu no Yaiba I am not yet sure as to whether Gotouge succeeds.  I have heard some murmurings in initial reactions that the art isn't up to snuff.  I disagree, for the most part, with that suggestion.  Especially in an anthology currently re-serializing the classic Hikaru no Go, readers ought to appreciate Gotouge's toned-down, classical approach to depicting characters.  Backgrounds are a bit too sparse for my liking, but this is often the case during the high-pressure period of early serialization in Jump.  Where you do catch a substantial backdrop, there is a bit more of a contemporary feel.  I think this is especially the case early on.

wsj11coverThough Gotouge is opting for a more raw-feeling type of line work that belongs in the Jump of a over a decade ago, the thought put into his visual storytelling is ahead of some of his peers.  Guys like Horikoshi are freaks of nature: they are wildly talented and creative and can control the pace through the sheer force of channeling shonen goodness through aesthetically strong pages.  Creators with more subdued styles are often left to impress with the content of their stories rather than pure aesthetics.  I am not sure if content alone will carry Kimetsu no Yaiba; however, I am sure that there are hints here that Gotouge is a mangaka with a lot of potential.   There are one or two killer pages that I spent a few minutes on.  Given that they were important story pages and I spent my time just sort of staring at them, the visual impact of the page was in lock-step with the story.  Having that kind of control over the reader's absorption of the story without simply appealing to your splash pages is always a feat.

The story itself wastes no time getting to the point: a demon has slain the main character's family and infected his sister.  Now, he has to try and save her, while simultaneously worrying about her ripping his throat out.  Though getting to the point quickly might seem helpful, it also sort of muddies things.  The reader has a full idea of what the setup is, but very little hint as to what the tone of the story will be.  The plot I just described would make for something tremendously nightmarish; of course, that's not the shonen direction, and the art alone keeps things light.  Gotouge puts together some impressive pages without any real try-hard panels, but he will have to impress with more than formalisms to keep his story going.

I will dive back into how excellent these titles have been next week because it's getting too automatic lately: Jump is at its absolute best right now.

Score: 5/5

Weekly Shonen Jump #11 Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: Viz Media Price: $0.99 Format: Digital Website