The beginning of a new week can only mean one thing: time for new Weekly Shonen Jump! Shueisha’s legendary manga magazine has been releasing every week for over 50 years at this point, and it still has enough exciting series in its roster to justify its hallowed status. Plus, with VIZ Media now publishing the entire thing in English, there’s never been a better time to dive in. In this column, Jacob investigates the latest and greatest in the world of Weekly Shonen Jump, telling you what’s worth your time and what’s not. This week, we’re chatting Chainsaw Man chapter 80, Dr. STONE chapter 161, and Ayakashi Triangle chapter 8.
I’ll be honest – I wasn’t looking forward to writing this week’s column. The arrest of Tatsuya Matsuki and subsequent cancellation of Act-Age has been hanging over me like a cloud ever since it came to light this weekend, and I was hardly in the mood to read any Weekly Shonen Jump. Still, I persevered, and found a cohort of chapters that was surprisingly comforting – probably because Act-Age’s final chapter wasn’t among them, but also because so many other series hit it out of the park this week. I suppose everything might be OK, after all.
Chainsaw Man chapter 80
The way that Chainsaw Man chapter 80 opens immediately got me on board. Last week’s chapter was a tough one, containing the climax of the fight between Denji and Aki and the latter’s death. The trauma arising from that hangs over this chapter like a dark cloud, and immediately makes it clear so with an extremely cold opening: “Aki died,” it begins, before moving on to establish Denji and Power’s new living situation.
It’s not just the change in circumstances and lasting consequences from last week’s chapter that got me feeling many things while reading Chainsaw Man chapter 80, however, but also the emotion that Denji clearly feels. There’s a particularly beautiful scene where he attempts to eat an ice cream, before throwing it back up again and collapsing on the park bench. The way that he describes his mind – “all jumbled up from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep” – also perfectly describes my mind right now, equally affected by the trauma of having my favorite series cancelled.
When Makima turns up, my mind was already in a fragile enough state that I said “Oh no” out loud and wondered what on earth she was up to. The events of the last arc have revealed her true nature as the Control Devil and an evil, evil person – using her powers to control those around her and using them for her own benefit. Nevertheless, her intentions do seem somewhat benign in Chainsaw Man chapter 80, as she invites Denji over for a cup of tea.
Upon entering her apartment, we are immediately greeted with a whole host of dogs that Makima apparently keeps as her pets. Not only does this serve as an excellent, subtle demonstration of her passion for control – well-trained dogs listen to everything that you say, after all – it also sends very mixed messages to the reader, as a dog person cannot possibly be a bad person. As a dog owner myself, I immediately connect with anyone who sees the value of man’s best friend, and the way that Makima dotes on her dogs in Chainsaw Man chapter 80 is simply too heartwarming to resist – maybe she has me wrapped around her little finger, too.
The end of Chainsaw Man chapter 80 is also a strong one. Throughout the entire series, Denji has been chasing after Makima’s love and attention, but there have been some diversions along the way: first there was Himeno, and then there was Reze. But Chainsaw Man chapter 80 seems to put everything right back at square one, as when asked what wish he would like Makima to grant, Denji says that he wants to “be [her] dog.”
Any other series would have me writing this ending off as a mere cliffhanger intended to create anticipation for the next chapter. But if Chainsaw Man’s last two arcs have taught me anything, then it’s to expect the unexpected: I would not be surprised if Tatsuki Fujimoto takes this wish and runs with it, consequences be damned.
And that’s what I love so much about this series. Chainsaw Man is at its best not when it is pitting two characters against each other, but exploring the dynamics that exist between them: if the narrative does end up changing dramatically because of the events of chapter 80, it will be because the characters will it to do so. That is the essence of character-driven narrative, and I’m all here for it.
Dr. STONE chapter 161
If Chainsaw Man chapter 80 acted as a beautiful example of the kind of character-driven narrative that will be missing from Weekly Shonen Jump now that Act-Age is gone, then Dr. STONE chapter 161 was like seeing old friends again for the first time. It is no secret that I’ve always greatly enjoyed Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi’s science series, and penned many of my first articles as a writer for this site about it. And although it certainly hasn’t had the same emotional impact on me as Act-Age, it certainly has played a role just as important.
Dr. STONE chapter 161 picks up right after a very strong ending last week, with Senku incapacitated and Chrome having to pick up the mantle of super scientist. This aspect of Chrome’s character development has been present from the very beginning, with the self-proclaimed “magician” learning the ropes from the modern day Senku and acting as an apprentice of sorts, but this time he is on his own. It is time to take all that he has learned and put it into practice, proving that he can really go toe to toe with the minds of the modern day.
But first, the crew of the Perseus need to buy some time. They do this by strategically using the Medusa, tricking Xeno into thinking that they have more of them by delivering it to his doorstep. Even so, to achieve this they’ll need some help from the inside: this is where Gen gets his chance to shine in Dr. STONE chapter 161, as he tries his best to roll with the punches and second guess their plan.
In the process, however, Gen discovers something interesting: Xeno is also working on something secret, away from the knowledge of the Kingdom of Science and deep underground. We don’t learn what this is in Dr. STONE chapter 161, but makes it clear that two weeks is our heroes’ time limit: that is when both Xeno’s project will be completed, along with Chrome’s roadmap.
Speaking of Chrome’s roadmap, Inagaki and Boichi do an excellent job of expressing in both pictures and words Chrome’s tutelage from Senku and lack of modern knowledge. While the scientific principles of the roadmap are sound – using triangulation and a drill to dig a hole to Xeno’s based – Chrome doesn’t have the vocabulary or knowledge to properly express it, meaning that he uses words such as “puff puff machine” and illustrates the gadgets in quite a cartoon-y style. It is these little touches in Dr. STONE chapter 161 that make it such a joy to read.
That being said, I do have my gripes. For one, Senku is not fully incapacited, able to offer some words of guidance to Chrome before fading into the background for the rest of the chapter. I’m not sure if Inagaki just doesn’t have a sense of how bad Senku’s injuries are, or if he is realizing how much of the manga’s plot relies on Seku’s intellect – removing that removes much of the motor force that drives the whole thing along.
Still, I won’t lie: Dr. STONE chapter 161 was a wonderful installment that had me realizing why I fell in love with Inagaki and Boichi’s science series all over again. That is also no doubt motivated by my current state of mind, but I’m just trying to be honest.
Ayakashi Triangle chapter 8
Finally, we come to Ayakashi Triangle chapter 8. As I said at the beginning, I think that quite a lot of series had good chapters this week, with Moriking chapter 15, Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin chapter 6, Me & Roboco chapter 5 and Agravity Boys chapter 31 all coming very close to making the cut. Yet, in the end, I chose the latest Ayakashi Triangle for one simple reason: it delivered very well on an exciting cliffhanger, which wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.
Last week’s Ayakashi Triangle left off on an interesting note. Tensions between Suzu and Matsuri had been running high for a while now, especially as Matsuri’s transformation into a girl puts the brakes on any sort of romance (for some reason), but this culminated in what appeared to be Suzu sneaking into Matsuri’s house to give him (her?) a kiss.
As it turns out, this was not Suzu at all, but an ‘Omokage’ illusion born from Suzu’s spirit energy. Essentially, it attempts to carry out whatever she was thinking of before she went to sleep, which includes both kissing Matsuri and eating crepes.
If that sounds like a copout, then it isn’t. Ayakashi Triangle chapter 8 actually uses this new entity to its fullest, telling a very competent A-to-B story as Matsuri attempts to track down the omokage before it does any damage to Suzu’s body. Particularly clever is the fact that Suzu shares all of her senses with the omokage, which lends itself well to the action – Matsuri is forced to use the limited information provided by her along with his intuition to track down the spirit.
While reading Ayakashi Triangle chapter 8, I got the real impression that Kentaro Yabuki knows exactly what he is doing. That shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given that he has nearly twenty years of manga experience, but everything is just perfectly executed in Ayakashi Triangle chapter 8: the character interactions, the tense action, and the art – oh, the art. The art is just phenomenal, as usual.
This is also the first time that we have touched on a chapter of Kentaro Yabuki’s newest series since chapter 2, so perhaps a more general comment on the development of the series thus far is needed. To cut a long story short, I really like it – I’m slightly ashamed to say so, as it is hardly the most refined of stories – but something about it just has me hooked. Maybe it’s the love story, maybe it’s the art, maybe it’s the fanservice. Who knows.