Review: Weekly Shonen Jump #26

The newest Jump Start is a disappointment, but all of the core series are firing on all cylinders with excellent art and huge story moments. Jump in general has been on a roll for a few months, ever since Black Clover, My Hero Academia, Food Wars, and Bleach all launched into major story arcs.  During that time, I was disappointed by the lack of Jump Starts, and the newest one really feels weak in the shadow of everything else that's going on. Takuan & Batsu's Daily Demon Diary is the latest in a string of new shonen entries focused on a male-female team hunting demons.  A topic that is obviously a shonen staple isn't ever really going away, but given that the most successful of these titles recently has probably been Kagamigami (which was not ultimately all that successful in itself), I'd think they wouldn't keep green-lighting the same mediocre-performing type of story.  If I'm not mistaken, in fact, the first appearance that neophyte mangaka Kentaro Itani's story made in Jump's pages was in Japan last year at the same time as another title with the same kind of premise, Samon the Summoner.

Weekly-Shonen-Jump-26-2016Samon was different because it was clearly aimed at girls, whereas Demon Diary leans less on the presence of a dashing bad boy and more on constant unrepentant ecchi.  Every time something inappropriate happens between Takuan and the devil's daughter Batsu, Batsu demands that the scales be balanced.  So, each gratuitous upskirt is followed by Batsu demanding to see Takuan with his pants down.  Some of this humor is just the kind of silliness that does well on one side of the world and not on the other; however, the gags are so constant and the premise is so generic that Itani's average draftsmanship does little to make the title interesting.

Jumps editors are clearly fully aware of this, though: the third chapter of this Jump Start occurs towards the back of the latest issue, leaving room for all of the action in the main titles to kick things off.  Black Clover shifted settings from its first major plot showdown to a fun underwater temple confrontation.  Now, however, things have quickly shifted, as an Eye of the Midnight Sun goon has showed up and is killing the shit out of everyone.  Tabata finally has enough of his canon established that he can have some of his Big Bads crash the party.  We saw that in the last arc while Asta was simply saving some children and we're seeing a more ramped-up, high-stakes version now.  Tabata's combat art continues to impress as he walks a fine line between playing things loose and keeping the action reliably tight.

My Hero Academia just unleashed its biggest reveal yet, with All Might's condition being shown on national television for all of the public to see.  One-for-All is proving to be a predictably powerful villain, but what has really driven home the character for me is Horikoshi's design for him and just how menacing he has already been proven to be.  Here I think is a good place to talk about Oda as well, who uses a completely different storytelling style that achieves the same kind of things.  This week in One Piece we not only got another rare look at Big Mom, but at the kind of villain she is: frankly, it's creepy, original, and wonderful.

Horikoshi obviously has a much more brutal, almost horror-y approach to telling his story, with the villains being depicted with thick blacks and ink spatters.  Seeing Big Mom and her army of talking desserts sing a scary song about the arrival of Luffy, however, proves just as menacing and, importantly, just as interesting in terms of developing a compelling villain.

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Weekly Shonen Jump #26
Writers: Various
Artists: Various
Publisher: Viz Media
Price: $0.99
Format: Weekly; Digital