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 Monday for over 50 years at this point, and it still has enough exciting series in its roster to justify its hallowed status. 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 Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 116, MASHLE chapter 25, and My Hero Academia chapter 279.
Welcome back! It’s been two weeks since we last delved into some new chapters from Weekly Shonen Jump. How have you been? You may have noticed that we’ve changed things up a little bit around here. Rest assured, however, as this is still the weekly manga round-up that you’ve come to know and love: we just decided to change the branding in order to reflect the more singular focus that the column has developed over the past several months of publication. We’re still working out the teething problems, so please bear with. Anyway, shall we get into some manga?
Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 116
It will probably come as no great surprise if I say that Jujutsu Kaisen’s Shibuya Incident arc is incredibly reminiscent of Hunter x Hunter’s Chimera Ant. If the fixed temporal and spatial nature of the arc wasn’t enough, then the whole series has always been incredibly influenced by Yoshihiro Togashi’s hiatus-ridden masterpiece, right down to the power system and the designs. Nevertheless, Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 116 goes one step further: aping the climax of the Chimera Ant arc in both function and form.
What I’m talking about is, of course, the fight between the “King of Curses” Sukuna and the Cursed Spirit Jogo. This is a fight that has been going on for several chapters now, beginning back in chapter 112 when Itadori was fed some more of Sukuna’s fingers and the antagonist awoke from his slumber. It is in Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 116, however, that this fight reaches its climax.
And what a climax it is. While I do have my problems with the Shibuya Incident arc so far (we’ll get onto those a little later), there is no denying that series author Gege Akutami has been bringing his all when it comes to art and visual presentation. The environmental destruction, in particular, has been a joy to behold, and Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 116 is no exception: when Jogo and Sukuna are standing on top of a giant fireball, you can feel the heat radiating from it and gawk at the impossible geometry as the adjacent side scraper is devoured. Honestly, I could just look at this panel all day.
Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 116 isn’t all about flashy action, however. Most of it is, in fact, composed of a conversation between Sukuna, Jogo and his fellow Cursed Spirits. Jogo explains what his motivations were, wanting to ‘become’ human by eradicating them and taking their place. Sukuna doesn’t agree, saying that he should have simply ‘burnt everything [he] wanted,’ but it hardly matters. This conversation is taking place inside Jogo’s mind, time slowing down to a crawl as he burns to death.
The final note that this fight leaves off on is what really made me think of Hunter x Hunter. Although they have crossed blows, Jogo and Sukuna are able to understand each other at the very end – Sukuna even says that Jogo is ‘strong,’ and that he should ‘stand proud’ because of it. Much like Meruem vs. Netero, this was a fight that was never going to leave any survivors, but it did leave the combatants full of respect for each other – in Hunter x Hunter’s case, Netero forced to use the Miniature Rose and Meruem finally afflicted with fear.
If the Shibuya Incident arc is closely modeled after the Chimera Ant arc, then it wouldn’t surprise me if Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 116 is also the beginning of the end of this months-long battle. Much like how Netero’s final actions against Meruem forced the momentum back into the Hunters’ favor, the balance of power is also beginning to shift in Jujutsu Kaisen. The mysterious Uraume that comes to ‘escort’ the antagonist at the very end may have something to do with this, as well as the eventual fate of Megumi Fushigoro. The way that Gege Akutami has also gone completely wild on the artistic direction – including that gorgeous double-page spread focused on Sukuna’s hand movements – also reminds me very much of Netero’s Bodhisattva Nen powers.
Of course, the comparison only goes so far. For one, the climax to this fight hardly had the same impact for me personally as the one from Hunter x Hunter, mainly because Sukuna and Jogo aren’t really that interesting as characters. What’s more, we don’t actually know if this will serve the same narrative purpose as Netero vs. Meruem did in Hunter x Hunter, although I really hope so – Jujutsu Kaisen’s Shibuya Incident arc has been going on for a while now, and I’m ready to see something new.
MASHLE chapter 25
Keeping on the battle theme, it has been interesting to see Hajime Komoto’s MASHLE go from a relatively innocent gag manga to a full-blown battle manga in the space of a few dozen chapters. This process has, in reality, been going on for a while, but there hasn’t been a good enough chapter to give me reason to feature the series beyond a passing mention. MASHLE chapter 25, however, offers that opportunity, mostly on the basis of its strong visual presentation and character interactions.
To recap, MASHLE’s current arc is all about Mash and friends taking on the Magia Lupus, a group of highly skilled pureblood magicians who look down on anyone born into a common family – think Draco Malfoy and his Slytherin lackeys, only a lot more threatening.
Chapter 23 saw our protagonists get split up, placing them into their own separate individual battles that have yet to be explored in proper detail. Lance is taking on Wirth, a mud manipulator who can change and warp the environment at will. MASHLE chapter 25 acts as the climax to this fight, bringing everything that MASHLE has to offer as a battle manga to the table.
Firstly, there is the issue of the power system. MASHLE operates by more or less the same rules as Harry Potter, meaning that it is all about wielding a wand and saying a magic incantation. Most of the characters also have some sort of magic that they specialize in, Lance’s being gravity and Wirth’s being mud manipulation. This is relatively easy to understand, but the fact that MASHLE has yet to explain how its version of magic works leaves chapter 25 with some problems. How are we supposed to know who is stronger? How are we supposed to understand how Lance wins? And how are we supposed to follow the action? If MASHLE really does want to be a battle manga, then it does needs to take the opportunity to explain this at some point.
Even so, this hardly even matters. There is no doubt in my mind that Hajime Komoto will explain these rules at some point, but perhaps once this arc is over. Furthermore, MASHLE chapter 25 more than makes up for this in terms of visual presentation and character dialogue, both of which serve to engage the reader and provide at least some explanation as to what happens.
Put simply, MASHLE chapter 25 looks awesome. That’s quite unusual, as most chapters of the series up until this point have been marred by Komoto’s repeated usage of the same art, which gives the whole series a lazy venir. But Komoto goes all out in MASHLE chapter 25, transforming Wirth’s mud magic into a giant beast and Lance’s gravity magic (apparently a ‘secondth’ version) into wonderfully arcane pillars with chains wrapped around them.
Honestly, that double page spread is so good that it almost makes everything up until this point worth it. But that sense of solid visual direction continues throughout MASHLE chapter 25: the climactic moment of the chapter is another strong visual moment where Wirth’s mud monster is ripped apart by the force of Lance’s gravity magic.
And then there is the relationship between Lance and Wirth. In much the same way as Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 116, the two characters went into this fight with disdain for each other, but leave with a sense of respect. This is both because Lance recognizes the amount of effort his opponent puts in, and Wirth has his expectations shattered as to what someone raised in a suboptimal “environment” can do.
The theme of “environment,” or “nature vs. nurture,” is what runs through this clash in MASHLE chapter 25, providing the thematic reason as to why Lance was able to win out against Wirth. Once again, this almost makes up for the lack of a proper battle system, but its absence does still prevent me from being 100% engaged. Yet, if MASHLE chapter 25 is a taste of what is to come, then I’m all here for it.
My Hero Academia chapter 279
Finally, we come to My Hero Academia chapter 279. Much like with Chainsaw Man last time, I have been waiting to cover the latest arc of Kohei Horikoshi’s long-running series for a while now, and its absence from the column despite the momentous events taking place therein has been quite conspicuous. Nevertheless, it is finally time to explore the madness that it is the Paranormal Liberation Army arc – regardless of wherever it ends up afterwards.
The last time we checked in with My Hero Academia was back in chapter 270, when Tomura Shigaraki was awakening from his deep sleep to wreak some evil destruction. And that is exactly what he did. But My Hero Academia chapter 279 isn’t even about Tomura or Deku, but the students of U.A.: you may have forgotten they were here at all, but here they are.
Part of the problem with reading an arc like this weekly is the fact that you forget so many of the moving parts, given that they were established months ago, but here we are. To be honest, it’s great to see so many characters like Yaoyorozu and Jiro share some of the spotlight, as it has been dominated by Deku and Bakugo as they fought Tomura for several weeks now. More specifically, the students of U.A. are tasked with bringing down the absolute unit that is Gigantomachia, All for One’s most devoted follower and former bodyguard.
It is the fight against Gigantomachia that gives My Hero Academia chapter 279 an enormous palpable sense of scale and destruction. Helping in this regard is Kohei Horikoshi’s art: when the giant foe is dragged to the ground by Yaoyorazu’s rope traps, you can really feel the impact thanks to the use of a large panel and the jagged sound effects.
The U.A. students don’t end up completing their goal of taking down Gigantomachia by the end of My Hero Academia chapter 279, but they do come damn close. My Hero Academia chapter 279 actually leaves off on a cliffhanger, as Mount Lady summons the last reserves of her strength to force open Gigantomachia’s mouth so that Mina can place a tranquilizer in it. The reason why I decided to mention this is because there were some speculating that Mount Lady was dead after last week, so rest assured those of you who share the same disposition as Mineta.
Overall, My Hero Academia chapter 279 is another excellent installment in what is shaping up to be an excellent arc with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Trying to predict where things will go here from out is impossible, although I suspect that things will never be the same again.
It is also worth noting that My Hero Academia chapter 279 also comes with a special illustration marking the series’ sixth anniversary, originally debuting as it did on July 7, 2014. That’s certainly nothing to be sniffed at, and there’s also a popularity contest going on right now that will be interesting to see the results of – Mirko will probably rank quite highly, if Japanese readers know what is good for them.