Review: Weekly Shonen Jump #36-37

Weekly Shonen Jump has off next week, so this week we get a double-numbered issue with over 300 pages, including the third-to-last chapter of Bleach. The official announcement of Bleach's end, despite being totally expected, was still shocking to me.  Even though we were obviously in the midst of the final fight starting just a few weeks ago, I figured the ultimate fight of such a long-running series would last at least twice as long.  Of course, what made Bleach's finish so good was that Kubo by-and-large threw out the playbook: he made sure to emphasize that the series was about more than just Ichigo or the fate of the world or anything like that.  This was a series that was about a lot of different, fantastic characters, and the final showdown was really better explicated as an entire series of final showdowns, all of which were compelling final moments for the various captains.  Even with just two issues left, it's hard to tell what kind of footing Kubo is finally going to land on.

Last week a new Jump Start The Promised Neverland premiered, from writer and artist duo Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu.  The Promised Neverland centers on a series of kids at a gated orphanage who have numbered tattoos and take extreme written tests every day.  The three most clever kids discover that they're actually being raised to be fed or at the very least harvested for some use by large demon-like creatures, and a chess-like battle of intrigue ensues between these young geniuses and the matron in charge of their distribution.

wsjcover36-7I think this series has some promise.  I'm not sure how far they can go with this premise, but so far the story has been built so that the readers don't really have a grasp on the full scope of the premise quite yet.  Still, there's a good mix of having a big unknown world and a more intimate setting (what's more intimate than a big cage, afterall).  Demizu's art can be fairly raw at times, with his faces suffering from some inconsistencies; but, the demons that we finally get to see at the end of the first issue are really interesting, original designs.  The layouts are haphazard enough for someone like me to enjoy, given the fact that I'm always looking for folks to do way more with their layouts.  The high point of this chapter was watching the main characters use their big brains and the power of inference, a series of moments which was punctuated by some of Demizu's better work.  The lynchpin of this series going forward will be whether or not Shirai can really build on and sell these cerebral aspects.

As Food Wars continues its trek through Hokkaido, I have to once again praise the excellent pacing of this series.  I started reading Food Wars around the current anime arc (the "Autumn Elections" arc).  The final shokugeki of that arc (almost exactly where I started reading) was a whopping seven chapters.  Compare this to the current Hokkaido challenges: they've been about a chapter a piece, with a small cliffhanger straddling each chapter.  Obviously all good shonen has major and minor story arcs.  What sets Food Wars apart is that its overall story structure has the kind of rigorous pacing that you'd expect to find among panels in a single issue.  When Rindo revealed the next challenge at the end of this issue, it felt like a huge story moment specifically because the last handful of chapters have been so rhythmic.

I'd love to write more about Boruto, especially now that the first volume is out in Japan, but it's still a rehash of the movie.  They've done a great job transferring the movie into the pages of the manga, but until they get passed the plot of the movie I feel like I'm watching it in slow motion.  I'm looking forward to whatever new character designs come out of the newest pieces of the series.  Black Clover finally wraps up the big battle at the water temple, as Midoriya gets some new moves in Academia.  Last, but not least, it looks like people can finally shut up about Lola being Big Mom's daughter: it's confirmed, guys.  Relax.

[su_box title="Score: 4/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Weekly Shonen Jump #33 Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: Viz Media Price: $0.99 Format: Anthology; Digital