Review: Weekly Shonen Jump #40

There is a ton of great stuff in Weekly Shonen Jump this week. One Piece, Academia, Bleach, Food Wars, and One-Punch Man were all excellent this week.  Really very awesomely excellent.  Each is at a critical point (Food Wars being a little more laid back, but still pretty serious for at least one character), and all of them are showing what makes them unique.

One Piece flexed the age and development of its characters with a pretty killer finish.  I don't want to spoil it if you haven't checked it out yet, but suffice it to say Oda knows his characters really well.  Luffy isn't behaving as if he hasn't been through some shit, and that gives this series yet another leg up over some other weathered series who find backdoor ways to evince character growth.

It's been awhile since Saitama has had a chance to live up to his titular strength and this week saw him in his first encounter with the hero hunter, Garo.  Garo has been a really great device in terms of meeting all kinds of heroes and seeing their different abilities showcased.  Of course, that all comes full circle when we see him meet Saitama, since ultimately this manga is about how far ahead of everyone else Saitama is.

WSJ2015_08_31_CoverAcademia put a lid on the latest arc that saw the neophyte heroes facing off against the fairly powerful (and awesomely designed) "Hero Killer."  The whole arc was really fun to watch, but what grabbed me about this chapter was the maturity with which it capped off the conflict.  Rather than ending the conflict with head-pats and thumbs-up all around, Horikoshi took the time to depict the tenuous relationship between law enforcement and the heroes.  Even more impressive, he hinted that we were only just starting to see the impact that the hero life was going to have on these kids.

The most impressive thing about Naruto to me will always be the emphasis on war's impact on the youth, especially the young generation which is serving in the war for the first time.  That's a fairly mature topic, and it's a damn important one.  Being a superhero almost surely places the similar burden of growing up too fast on kids in these fictional worlds.  Now that Midoriya and others are out in the real world doing their heroing thing, I'm very interested to see how Horikoshi treats this theme.

Bleach and Food Wars both stuck to the roots of what makes their respective series great.  Bleach continues to showcase Kurotsuchi's personality in a showdown that, at least to me, screams death knell for the ridiculously smart captain.  Meanwhile, Food Wars uses Soma to channel an important theme that I think is often too subtextual in shonen comics: letting people inspire you.  It's really a hallmark of these young heroes that they constantly want to work harder and be better, but Soma often showcases the fact that other people inspire him really explicitly.

Three out of five of these series are pretty young (and One Piece will probably just never end).  That's exciting: they still have a long time to develop these great characters and ideas.

Score: 4/5

Weekly Shonen Jump #40 Writer: Various Artist: Various Publisher: Viz Media Release Date: 8/31/15 Format: Weekly; Digital