Review: Weekly Shonen Jump #18

One Piece is back with a gorgeous Edo period color spread, while Black Clover caps off its latest (and possibly greatest) arc. I want to gush about Bleach, but I'm going to save it for when Kenpachi's bankai is finally revealed.  We've now seen something like half a dozen of the most powerful figures in this series pushed to their absolute limits, and Kenpachi is the last and probably most powerful of all characters to be pushed to finally revealing his bankai.  Kubo's approach here at the end has been, in some sense, disappointingly formulaic: the Quincies that make up the Wandenreich are shown to be too powerful to be dealt with conventionally as the fight then proceeds to quickly escalate to heights we've not seen before.  As I harp on often, I think there's a sense in which we're lucky to still be reading Kubo serializing this story, so it's a rare case in which I think fans need to just be excited for how much he's still able to share with us.

wsj18coverBlack Clover finally ended the arc that started me really singing its praises, with little Marie back home safe and sound.  An arc that began with a little girl in danger by way of some minor villains blew up into a major fight featuring most of the magic knight captains against the major antagonists of the series.  Going from a small-scale dust-up to a fight with big, far-reaching plot consequences is typically shonen, but admittedly something that is not often executed as smoothly as this.  In a lot of series, if something isn't "filler" (not a term I love, but it does designate a certain set of things that don't directly add to a main story) you sort of expect that at some point something important is going to pop out.  Tabata just finished an arc that set aside those expectations while still sating the reader's requirement for a plot-driven main thread.  While the new premise of chasing magic stones comes off a bit simple, I think Tabata is at a point where he's earned the benefit of the doubt.

If Oda takes a week off and comes back with chapters that have sequences that are this lavish every single time, he can turn One Piece into a bi-monthly.  The giant walking elephant island of Zou is a typically fascinating bit of world-building to which the reader's of One Piece have become accustomed.  Yet, it's more than typical, as this week proved: it's a fusion of his environment building and character building.  That a living thing has a life of its own is no surprise, but the myth and gravitas surrounding this animal is fascinating.  Oda continues to demonstrate what makes Luffy and the gang so compelling.  No other group of heroes in any other comic has ever found itself navigating a world this rich in legacy and myth.

Food Wars and My Hero Academia were both good as well, still proving that the new core of titles is more than capable of carrying the torch along side the old guard of Oda and Kubo.

Score: 5/5

Weekly Shonen Jump #18 Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: Viz Media Price: $0.99 Format: Weekly; Digital

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