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 jump 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 Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 126, Agravity Boys chapter 40, and Chainsaw Man chapter 89.
Given that this is a column about Weekly Shonen Jump, we don’t talk much about Jump Plus. But both SPY x FAMILY and Kaiju No. 8 had fantastic chapters this week, with the former exploring the relationship between Loid and Yor and the latter setting a very high power ceiling. They both very nearly made it in. Ghost Reaper Girl, meanwhile, continues to be, uh, a thing. Incidentally, Moriarty the Patriot is also on Shonen Jump now, adding yet another manga that is not published in Weekly Jump to the platform. Things are getting confusing… Anyway, on with the manga.
Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 126
It is such chapters as Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 126 that have me convinced that there is some sort of giant conspiracy.
Seriously, it can’t be an accident that just as Nobara is getting introduced in the anime, she’s dying in the manga – although the flow of the story up until this point has been too perfect to think that Akutami planned all of this, I can’t help but suspect.
What’s funny about this development is that it creates a situation where all of the anime-onlys are tweeting about how much they love her, when us manga fans know exactly what is coming down the line. To be fair, Studio MAPPA’s anime adaptation will probably take a while to get to Shibuya Incident, but when it does, we can all be satisfied in knowing that we were there to see it when it initially happened in Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 126. That’s a story and a half to tell the grandkids.
To kill off one of your main characters is no idle development, and one can’t help but wonder if this might be reversed sometime in the future. Still, in the meantime, Gege Akutami is making sure that we feel the weight of Nobara’s death: Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 126 starts off with an excellent vignette that sees the main trio up to no good. It’s funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking all at once – a perfect way to start your chapter.
To be completely clear, Nobara technically died in the last chapter (chapter 125), but it is only in Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 126 that the development truly comes to bear. Namely, Itadori is forced to deal with the extraordinary amount of mental anguish that it unleashes – as the narration says, Itadori’s resolve had “reached its limit a long time ago” after his loss to Choso, Sukuna’s rampage, and Nanami’s death. Nobara’s death is just the trigger, but what an effective one it is.
Mahito, of course, takes no time at all in taking advantage of Yuji’s desperation. He immediately launches an attack and launches into a monologue that is among some of the most brutal I’ve ever seen. Directly addressing the reader by saying “I bet you thought you were gonna do some pest control[…] or some ghost exterminations like in some make-believe story,” he makes the very important that Itadori has never “stopped to count how many curses [he’s] killed”. So why should he feel bad about killing humans?
The comparison between Jujutsu Kaisen and Hunter x Hunter has been made several times at this point, but this speech in Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 126 makes another similarity clear: that of the Cursed Spirits in Gege Akutami’s series and the Chimera Ants in Yoshihiro Togashi’s. Much like the Ants, the Cursed Spirits in Jujutsu Kaisen represent an existential threat to the continued existence of humanity as a result of fighting for their own existence – in such a situation, it can be hard to tell who is the hero and who is the villain. After all, wouldn’t we fight back if we were being exterminated?
Of course, the comparison only goes so far. The Cursed Spirits are not a separate species from humanity, for one, given that they are born from our negative emotions. One has to wonder, then, if Mahito’s desire to replace all humans with Cursed Spirits would even work; without humans, there would be no Cursed Spirits. Furthermore, there are Chimera Ants in Hunter x Hunter that grow to appreciate and even ally with humans – from the looks of Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 126, it doesn’t look like that is happening any time soon.
On a final note, Itadori is saved from certain death at the hands of Mahito by Todo, who comes to save him in just the nick of time. This would appear to set up for a moment of counterattack, built on top of the foundation of Todo and Itadori’s friendship. But whether or not Itadori will be able to fight back in his demoralized state, and whether things will ever be the same after the death of Nobara, remains to be seen. Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 126 truly pulls no punches.
Agravity Boys chapter 40
Phew. That was a heavy one. Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 126 was always going to be tough to cover, which is part of the reason why the comedic Agravity Boys chapter 40 is such a good palate cleanser. Yet, it is much more than that: a marked improvement on the series’ current arc, as well as a celebration of how far it has come.
As of the time of writing, Agravity Boys is selling pretty well and the obi wrapped around my copy of the latest volume three declares that reprints are continuing “one after another.” Agravity Boys chapter 40 is well aware of this. In order to commemorate this sales performance as well as the latest color page, it takes a break from the main story to bring us a chapter that has “nothing to do with the main plot” – surprisingly enough, that turns out to be a very good thing.
Agravity Boys chapter 40 takes the form of a parody of a radio show, responding to fan letters and occasionally cutting away to an ad break. This is pretty hilarious, as not only are the fan letters well-selected, but the ads about debt relief, for some reason.
Of course, that would be to assume that the fan letters featured in Agravity Boys chapter 40 are real, but there is enough reason to believe so. Although Chris says he “[doesn’t] remember putting out a call for those,” I do – chapter 4, when Chris’ nipples were covered with an address to send author Atsushi Nakamura fan mail. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if people actually sent in letters, and the way that they read definitely makes it sound like they’re from people who enjoy the series and its humor.
In any case, the fan letters lead to all sorts of gags and funny moments in Agravity Boys chapter 40. The one about Chris is obviously hilarious, but a special shoutout has to go to ‘Agravi-Teacher corner’ – bullying Geralt is always a blast, and I appreciate the fact that one of his defining character traits is that he has hemorrhoids.
Probably my favorite gag in Agravity Boys chapter 40, however, comes when Chris and Saga read out a “poem” from an anonymous listener who is clearly Arsh. At first, it appears to be a random verse about how much he loves Geralt, but very quickly turns into a parody of the poem Erlkönig by Goethe – I’ve got to say, I didn’t expect Agravity Boys to ever make a reference as high-brow as this, but I like it.
Speaking of Arsh, the way that the Northern Alliance is intercut with the manic action in the recording booth is excellent, providing a perfect counterpoint with their idle boredom. Much like previous chapters, Atsushi Nakamura is proving that he can write strong, character-based comedy in contrast to his more gag-focused debut.
Unfortunately, those previous chapters also pale in comparison to the quality of Agravity Boys chapter 40. While the series has always been hit or miss, this particular ongoing arc has been all misses for me – not only did it start off with a pointless baseball match, it swerved very quickly into unexpected territory with the foundation of the Agravity Mining Company. True, I have had some laughs here and there, but I’ve spent most of the past few weeks just wishing that it would get back to the main plot.
Regardless, Agravity Boys chapter 40 is a brilliant celebration of how far the series has come. If you’d have told me a couple of months ago that Atsushi Nakamura’s series would be still running in the magazine, I probably wouldn’t have believed you – that just goes to show that you can never predict success, nor what consumers will actually like. It’s like a jungle out there, and it’s a wonder that we can keep ourselves from going under.
Chainsaw Man chapter 89
Unfortunately, we will have to make another tonal u-turn as we head from Agravity Boys chapter 40 to Chainsaw Man chapter 89, as Tatsuki Fujimoto’s series is a little more serious. Kind of.
Previous chapters of my favorite Jump series have come dangerously close to completely killing the series’s momentum. That much is obvious. You can’t just go around killing off most of your most popular characters and not expect a backlash – it has to mean something. Luckily, part of that is breaking through in Chainsaw Man chapter 89, which gives me hope for the series’ future.
Having defeated all of Makima’s Hybrids with ease, it would appear as if Denji has won. Chainsaw Man chapter 89 opens with a bit of ennui, as both Makima and Denji (in Devil form) watch Kobeni get a perfect on the dance machine. It’s a strange sight, but not one that is particularly unusual in the tapestry of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s series.
Makima asks Denji the very logical question as to why he refuses to eat her, which is the reason why she has not been erased from existence. Presumably, this is because Pochita knows that Denji loves her (he’s probably the one in control when Denji is in Devil form), but this is never answered. Who knows if it ever will, either, as Chainsaw Man chapter 89 promptly informs us of Makima’s seemingly final victory.
As it turns out, the process of letting Denji harass Kobeni was all part of Makima’s plan. By interacting with the Devil, Kobeni’s fear of the titular character has weakened – given that the power of Devils is concurrent to how much they are feared (think about how powerful the Gun Devil was), this leads to Denji’s power weakening and his defeat at the end of Chainsaw Man chapter 89.
But it’s not just due to Kobeni, nor is this just about the particular set of events at hand. Rather, it turns out that the whole of Chainsaw Man was part of Makima’s grand plan: by having Denji defeat powerful Devils and save the day – no matter the collateral damage – fear of Chainsaw Man has become less widespread. In fact, he has come to be revered as a hero, especially as the mass media gets on board.
This development in Chainsaw Man chapter 89 is genius for a number of reasons. First of all, it recasts all of the events in the series thus far in a different light, even more so than previous plot twists. Furthermore, it brings the meaning of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s series to the forefront – revealing that it may have all been worth something, after all.
Ever since his debut, Tatsuki Fujimoto has been obsessed with the idea of a “hero”. Perhaps it is something to do with growing up in an era dominated by them (the author is not much older than myself, so he would have been reading Jump in the era of Naruto and Bleach), but no matter.
Fire Punch was all about being cast as a hero, being forced to play that role for the sake of others. That much is obvious from the movie metaphor threaded throughout. Chainsaw Man, on the other hand, appears to be about the idea of a shonen hero: what it means to be one, as well as how shallow they may really be.
It is no accident that Chainsaw Man chapter 89 features crowds of people chanting the titular main character’s name in much the same way as My Hero Academia did at the end of the Kamino Incident. Fujimoto is very media-literate, drawing on many different sources for inspiration. In this sense, he is making a direct reference to something the reader will be familiar with to make the point: sometimes, being a hero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Of course, much of the meaning of Chainsaw Man will be decided upon its ending, so we shouldn’t dwell on chapter 89 too much. Nevertheless, it is a fantastic entry in a fantastic series that has me confident that it can keep going for a while yet.