Hello there and welcome to Your Manga Week. Finding time to keep up with all the manga that releases on a weekly basis can be difficult, so I’m here to tell you what’s worth your time and what’s not. We’ll also be discussing the story and arc developments as they come. This week, we’re talking Chainsaw Man chapter 64, Undead Unluck chapter 11, Dr. STONE chapter 145, and Guardian of the Witch chapter 9.
There’s not much to say by way of an introduction this week. Given that I’m still in quarantine, I haven’t really done much to shout about – I just went out for the first time today in two weeks, so I suppose that I’m doing my part. Oh, I guess, if you’re interested, then VIZ recently added the My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising prologue one-shot to the Shonen Jump service, so go check that out if you’re starved for My Hero Academia content. The anime is ending this week and the manga isn’t featured this week, after all.
Chainsaw Man chapter 64
Just as the real world appears to be going to hell in a handbasket, so is Chainsaw Man. Following on from the climax of last week’s chapter, our characters – friend and foe alike – find themselves transported to the land of eternal damnation. But this isn’t the one that you’re used to – it’s very Tatsuki Fujimoto-style interpretation, which only makes Chainsaw Man chapter 64 that much more fascinating.
One of the main ways that Fujimoto makes his version of hell unique is through his imagery. Instead of the fiery hellscapes of old, he paints hell as an endless landscape of rolling hills and doors, through which demons and devils can emerge. Objects such as severed fingers and bathtubs also litter the landscape – suggesting a little something about how the characters were summoned here in the first place.
Things get even crazier once one of hell’s denizens, the Darkness Devil, emerges. Falling through one of the many doors in the ceiling and drawing on the primal fear of darkness, he summons a legion of spacesuits, half-submerged in the ground in a prayer position, their legs lying upside down across from them. It’s something that really has to be seen to be believed, so I’ll just leave it at that.
As hinted, the Darkness Devil is but one of the many special devils that inhabit this space. One of Quanxi’s Fiends calls them ‘The Transcendent,’ Devils that represent some of our most innate fears and have never died. That means that they have never been reincarnated on Earth as a Fiend, as per the Angel Devil’s explanation at the beginning of this arc. Considering how terrifying the Darkness Devil is, I can’t wait to see what other ideas Tatsuki Fujimoto has up his sleeve.
In this sense, Chainsaw Man chapter 64 not only expands on the lore and world-building of the series, but also the overall plot. As it turns out, what the Doll Devil actually wants is the power to kill Makima – not Denji. The other assassins still want the Chainsaw Devil’s head, but it begs the question: just what on earth has Makima done to draw the ire of a devil? All signs point to something horrific.
Another question that remains as of yet unanswered is what kind of an effect this will have on Denji and his character arc. Ever since the Angel Devil hinted that the Chainsaw Devil may, in fact, be the lord of hell Lucifer himself, the possibilities surrounding this development have been endless. Just what kind of power will this unlock? What kind of effect will this have on his personal journey? Now that he’s in the realm of hell, we can expect to find the answers to those questions sooner rather than later.
Overall, it is a good job that Chainsaw Man chapter 64 manages to craft a thoroughly unique and fascinating depiction of hell because Doom Eternal just released last week – many peoples’ heads are filled with hellish imagery right now, which might have numbed the impact of this chapter without significant imagination. Plus, considering the current state of the world, imagination is needed much more than conformity. Things may be going to hell, but at least we have somewhere to escape to.
Undead Unluck chapter 11
Much like Chainsaw Man chapter 64, Undead Unluck chapter 11 also marks a change in locale for Yoshifumi Tozuka’s recently debuted series. Izumo and Andy are in the US of A for their first official mission as members of the Union to track down and secure the UMA ‘Spoil,’ which may end up having important consequences for the overall story. Shen, another member of the Union, is also along for the ride.
One unexpected consequence of Undead Unluck chapter 11 is that it gives new life to a trend that has more or less subsided after its time in the sun: a zombie apocalypse. Compared to the mid-2010s, we’re not seeing nearly as much zombie-themed media as we once did, but the unique power set of the UMA ‘Spoil’ gives us another taste as it creates a hoard of zombies through which Andy is able to ram a massive truck.
This is something that Yuma Arclight on Twitter brought to my attention, but Undead Unluck has been maintaining a perfect balance between narrative and action ever since it debuted, and chapter 11 is no exception. There’s just as many small character moments as there are flashy action scenes with Andy, which does wonders for this chapter’s pacing as it does for character development. Maintaining such an approach is hard for even the most seasoned mangaka, so Tozuka deserves some credit.
One character moment, in particular, has important implications for the overall plot. As Andy sleeps, Chen and Izumo have a heart-to-heart on the roof of the truck. During the conversation, both characters reveal important things, Izumo says that she is chasing after Spoil for the reward – information on the UMA ‘Unrepair’ – which may help her find a way to help Andy finally die. That detail is important as it clearly outlines her motivations going forward, as well as a narrative goal to look towards.
Chen, too, hints at Andy’s mysterious past – calling him ‘Victor’ the ‘Divine Conqueror’ and saying that the version of him now is rather ‘half-hearted’ compared to what he’s heard. This begs the question: why is Andy so different now from how he was in the past? What kind of things has he done to earn such a grand-sounding moniker? These are the type of questions that will help propel the narrative forward, as well as keep readers interested.
On a final note, we should note that Undead Unluck chapter 11 is one of the first chapters where Andy does not appear naked not even once. This is because he managed to capture and control the UMA ‘Clothes’ in last week’s chapter, granting him a regenerating shirt and tie that keeps him out of the nude and dressed up to the nines. It’s almost sad not to see some sort of censor bar, but it was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Oh well!
Dr. STONE chapter 145
Meanwhile, Dr. STONE keeps on plugging away at its new arc after our characters decided to make the seemingly-impossible journey to the moon. More specifically, Senku and crew are on their way to the United States – will they happen upon a petrified Andy and Izumo when they get there? That would be a cool touch, but would surely break all the rules of Riichiro Inagaki’s science-based world.
In any case, just as our characters need to pass time on their 40-day journey across the Pacific, so too does Dr. STONE chapter 145. Taking a break from the main plot for just a second, it focuses on a side story of sorts as Senku and Ryusui seek to entertain their crew on the long voyage. How are they going to do this? By setting up a bar, of course.
Far from just adding to the deck of the Perseus a staple of any seaman’s life, Dr. STONE chapter 145’s bar also gives some good old recipe-based science of the kind that we haven’t seen in a while, given the action-packed nature of the last arc. In order to set up Bar Francois, Senku needs to fabricate some gum syrup from the ingredients he has laying around – these include a lot of poison, so you should definitely not try this one at home.
Once Senku has finished making the syrup, it’s time to get mixing. Francois, Ryusui’s ever-dependable butler, sets out to craft a personal cocktail for each and everyone aboard the ship: Gen gets spicy cola, Tsukusa gets grenadine and tonic, and Senku gets a three-layer tea latte. Each of these cocktails represents the character’s personality in some way – showing just how much thought Francois puts into them – and if they don’t become the basis of some sort of themed café in the future, I’ll eat my hat.
Dr. STONE chapter 145 isn’t entirely unrelated to the main plot, however, as a small scene between Ukyo and Gen elaborates on the suspicion that the whole battle over the length of the journey was settled from the beginning. We don’t get a solid answer, but the look that Gen gives Senku as a result suggests that, whatever the outcome, the mentalist was prepared to follow the scientist’s advice. It’s a small moment, but one that goes a long way in shoring up their fascinating friendship.
Nevertheless, on the whole, it must be said that Dr. STONE chapter 145 does very little to advance the overall plot. Some readers may become frustrated as a result, but a little stalling on the part of Riichiro Inagaki may be a necessary evil: he may not have sketched out the whole of the rest of the arc just yet, and making the reader understand the passage of time by dialing back the pace just a little bit may help us, in turn, to understand any character or plot development that may arise as a result. Plus, if all of the side stories are going to be this well written, then consider me well and truly on board.
Guardian of the Witch chapter 9
Finally, we come to Guardian of the Witch chapter 9. The newly-debuted series has appeared a couple of times in this column as of late, and that’s because it has been steadily improving after a bumpy start. Clearly, this is paying off, because author Asahi Sakano feels confident enough to embark on a narrative device only favored by the brave: a training arc.
After having his bacon saved from a bunch of Evils by the mysterious Drake Mardock, Fafner is currently undergoing some strict training from the ex-guardian with a tragic past. Yes, that’s right: Guardian of the Witch is currently in the middle of a training arc, which is usually used to level up characters in action stories so that they can take on bigger baddies in the future – think Greed Island in Hunter x Hunter.
It is perhaps bold of Guardian of the Witch to assume that it will have a future, especially considering the rate at which series come and go in Weekly Shonen Jump, but there is a silver lining: the way that the chapter handles the mechanics of this sequence – Fafner having to learn how to fight dirty and make use of magic, just like Drake – makes Guardian of the Witch chapter 9 rather entertaining, even if it feels a little too soon at only nine chapters in to be doing such a sequence.
What’s more, Guardian of the Witch chapter 9 also looks to the future of the story in a scene between Fafner and Manasfa, where the former affirms his motivations to the latter. While the logic of Fafner’s decision to spare his witch’s life still isn’t quite clear – Fafner himself even admits that he is bad at explaining ‘that kind of stuff’ – this feels like a good enough touchstone in the relationship between the two for the series to now move on to greener pastures, both in terms of characters and story.
Whether or not the series will end up delivering on this emotional affirmation and the fruits of its training arc is an open question. We won’t have long to wait in the short term, given that next week’s chapter will be the last night of Fafner’s training, but only time will tell if this truly pays off.