This is the best issue of Jump this year, holy crap. After several puzzlingly truncated chapters, One Punch Man puts in a full chapter. We're finally right on the cusp of a Metal Bat vs. Garo fight, which will probably be the best Garo fight we've seen yet. The giant caterpillar monster is one big welcome excuse for Murata to flex his monster drawing skills, and the page where Metal Bat mounts the monster before the splash is brutally gorgeous.
Things are picking up in One Piece, as we finally find out what happened (or at least the beginning of what happened) to Sanji. It's an interesting turn and, if Oda so chooses, it will send us hurtling towards the next big conflict with a Shichibukai. Oda has been taking a lot of time off (hopefully his health is okay), but the chapters have not disappointed. Dressrosa was a lovely, and seriously complex island full of warped landscapes. Zou is equally strange, but for very different reasons; you know, being on the back of a giant seafaring elephant and all that. The strangeness of the locales, paired with the detail Oda is bringing to them, and his always increasing ability in depicting devastation means that even in some of the slower chapters there is plenty for the reader to gawk at.
Visually, this was the strongest chapter of Jump in a long time. Not only were Murata and Oda in full form, but Kubo (as has been usual lately), Tabata, and Horikoshi all had thrilling chapters of their stories this week.
I spend enough time on Kubo and Horikoshi, so let's talk about Tabata's work on Black Clover. I have made no mystery about the fact that my enjoyment of Black Clover fluctuates pretty sharply, but this latest little rescue mission Asta is on has been a winning combination of cute, interesting, and visually thrilling. Currently, Asta is helping Gauche save his little sister, Marie, after an incident where she and other children were kidnapped from their village. The situation escalated quickly (as they typically do in shonen manga) and Sally showed up, making it a real battle.
Tabata has a great sense for his characters. I think it's easier to get sick of Asta's schtick more than some other characters because he is just such a pure, unadulterated distillation of the shonen hero archetype: a bumbling idiot who works hard and kicks ass because he decides he's going to win and that's that. Time will tell if Asta someday begins to wear on readers loyal to the series. Given any other artist lineup, Tabata would be the most talented artist in his group. What helps Tabata in such a loaded talent pool is the fact that his style is unique and he is, in a lot of ways, more conservative than some of his colleagues. Kubo is the king of restraint, but within the confines of that painfully intentional style he gets flashy relatively often. Tabata, however, is consistently strong as an artist and only at the peaks of arcs (like this chapter!) does he go all out.
With the addition of a huge Food Wars bomb drop, this was a perfect issue of Jump.