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 Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 52, Dr. STONE chapter 167, and Chainsaw Man chapter 86.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba fans rejoice! That Rengoku prequel manga that we reported on previously will be coming to the main Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, and likewise probably to Shonen Jump and Manga Plus. If you thought that series was done for now that the manga has ended, think again. In other news, One Piece seems to be having a tough time of it lately, with an apparent two-week hiatus seemingly putting the brakes on Eiichiro Oda’s plans to reach chapter 1000 by the end of the year. Shame. At least we have this week’s manga to keep us company, though.
Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 52
To be honest, the fact that I am writing about chapter 52 of Mission: Yozakura Family right now is a little unexpected. When the series first launched, I wasn’t entirely sure that it would be able to stick around for the long term, but I appear to have been proven wrong: not only has Hitsuji Gondaira’s spy series recently celebrated its first anniversary in Weekly Shonen Jump, it is also selling surprisingly well – seemingly finding an audience among younger readers.
In light of this, I have been searching for a reason for a while to spotlight a chapter of Yozakura. True, I did speak about chapter 51 last week, but that wasn’t in much detail. Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 52, however, provides this opportunity as it focuses so heavily on what makes the series so compelling – family.
Immediately upon reading Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 52, my eyes were drawn to the bottom left corner: “Yozakura Hot Springs Story, Part 1,” it read (my emphasis). At first glance, this would appear to address all of the problems that I have with the series, and more: an over-reliance on introducing new characters, as well as the episodic mission format. It’s almost as if Hitsuji Gondaira reads this column!
In any case, Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 52 is indeed the first part of a multi-chapter story that sees the entire family (minus Kyoichiro) head out on a family vacation. And just as I thought, it works incredibly well: not only do we get to spend some wholesome family time with the Yozakuras, we also get enough time to take in the concept and the setting. Particularly effective is this double page spread used as the cover image of this article, which shows the famous family coming face to face with their own notoriety.
Of course, this story takes on special meaning in the current circumstances, as many of us can’t go on vacation due to the virus. For me, personally, I have many fond memories of going on big vacations with my extended family – Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 52 makes me nostalgic for those days, even if I’m confident that they will return soon enough.
Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 52 isn’t all wholesome family fun, however. It closes out with a raunchy suggestion from Mitsumi that she and Taiyo “take a bath together,” going directly against Kyoichiro’s warning before he went off on his mission. Clearly, this has something to do with the hint that Futaba dropped earlier (“Are you going to tell Taiyo about that?”), but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next week.
For now, Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 52 hits upon all of the series’ biggest strengths: wholesome family bonding, an interesting core romance, and spy-themed shenanigans. Not even covered here is the fact that the entire hotel where the family is staying is stuffed full of spy-themed eccentricies, such as the ‘Inferno’ sauna.
I left off last week by expressing my hopes that Mission: Yozakura Family would continue to learn the lessons of previous arcs and embrace what actually makes it compelling. For all intents and purposes, chapter 52 seems to have done just that. Whether or not this will continue in the long term remains to be seen, but one of the beautiful things about serialized storytelling is that things can change at any time – I still hold out hope that Mission: Yozakura Family can get much, much better.
Dr. STONE chapter 167
Dr. STONE, on the other hand, is one series that needs no improvement and no introduction. It has already long since been one of my favorite series in Weekly Shonen Jump, and has been going from strength to strength as of late with its newest arc. Dr. STONE chapter 167 is no exception: even though it is seemingly the conclusion of a long-running battle, it is also the perfect encapsulation of what makes the series so great – sending shivers down my spine in the process.
Last time we checked in with Dr. STONE, Chrome was digging a massive tunnel to Dr. Xeno’s hideout in order to take the nefarious villain by surprise. In Dr. STONE chapter 167, he finally succeeds, bursting out from underground with Tsukusa and Kohaku in tow.
Unfortunately, some of the details of the subsequent castle takeover are lost as a result of the panelling – Boichi has long since preferred verticality and visual style over straightforward imagery, which comes back to haunt him every now and again. Particularly what follows the above panel is somewhat hard to parse: the art gets smaller and smaller and the actual mechanics of how the Kingdom of Science manage to capture Xeno is lost in translation. Still, I’d prefer a little experimentation over the same old, same old.
The scene between Chrome and Xeno in the collapsed tunnel is where Dr. STONE chapter 167 really shines. In typical villain fashion, Xeno makes an appeal to Chrome’s scientific nature to join him (“Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son!”) but Chrome refuses, saying that there are “different strokes” for different folks.
This is it. This is the type of positive scientific optimism that makes me love Dr. STONE so much, and it actually sent shivers down my spine. There’s not many manga that can do that for me, but Dr. STONE manages to do it on a regular basis.
Xeno’s pessimistic view of the rest of humanity was already pretty obvious thanks to the reveal of his back story back in chapter 156, but Dr. STONE chapter 167 just hammers this home even further. Saying that “worthless concepts” such as “ethics, morals, politics” held back humanity from “truly progressing,” Xeno makes the case for an amoral science freed from the shackles of wider society.
The only question is: for whom? There is no such thing as “true” science in class society, as it always benefits one group or another. In this sense, Xeno is railing against the limits of capitalism, but probably doesn’t realize it – heck, Riichiro Inagaki probably doesn’t even realize it!
In contrast to this stands Chrome, in reality the mouthpiece for Senku. Senku’s philosophy is different as it takes a longer view, seeing how humanity has developed from nothing but simple apes to the type of beings who can send someone into outer space. Armed with this more long term view, Senku can be much more optimistic that humanity can overcome whatever challenges lay ahead of it – whether it be climate change, mass extinction, or restarting civilization from scratch in the stone world.
To be honest, I have many more thoughts on this, but now we are straying too far from Dr. STONE chapter 167 itself. Suffice to say, this is a brilliant chapter – look forward to more on the ideological and philosophical conflict between Senku and Xeno in a future piece.
Chainsaw Man chapter 86
Finally, we come to Chainsaw Man chapter 86. Once again, Tatsuki Fujimoto’s series is dominating the proceedings by returning for what is now the fourth week running. I can’t help it, though, as too many amazing things are happening that deserve to be talked about.
Say what you want about last week, but chapter 85 was undoubtedly more experimentation than actual plot development. The great thing about serialized storytelling, be it in a manga magazine or a TV show, is that you can take the time to explore the relationships between certain characters or a particular concept: some of my favorite episodes of Star Trek do exactly that. Nevertheless, Chainsaw Man chapter 86 consists of a much more balanced combination of this narrative experimentation and plot progression, revealing some important things along the way.
— Tokaii (@tokaii24) September 27, 2020
But first, Tatsuki Fujimoto just couldn’t help himself in bringing Kobeni back for just one more round of Devil-themed harassment. Chainsaw Man chapter 86 opens with Denji (or is it Pochita?) remembering that he wanted to “go on a date with a girl so bad” and deciding that Kobeni would do. Coiling her in an intestine, he takes her to an ice cream truck and then the game center – a date to remember, but not one that Kobeni will do so with any fondness.
Perhaps the most important part of Chainsaw Man chapter 86, however, is the very end. Not only does Makima return (exactly as I predicted, so no surprises there), so too do some of our favorite dearly departed characters: Katana Man, Quanxi, and Reze.
Not gonna lie, as soon as I recognised Reze specifically in the background I let out a massive cry of joy and immediately took to Twitter to share my thoughts. The Bomb Girl arc is still my favorite part of the series thus far, and I’ve read far too many Denji x Reze fancomics in the past few months to not be at least a little invested in their relationship. So while I doubt they’ll actually end up together, it’s still good to see my ship back on screen.
Speaking of favorites, my favorite character may or may not be back. Kind of. While it’s hard to tell from looks alone, some of the new characters introduced alongside Makima’s return look very much like alternative versions of Aki and the Angel Devil, my favorite character. One theory I’ve heard is that their personalities may have been mixed up alongside their designs, and subtle cues such as the way that the Angel lookalike wears their jacket certainly do echo that character’s lack of arms. Even so, we’ll just have to wait and see.
The introduction of these new characters, along with the return of Makima, suggest that Chainsaw Man may be continuing for a good while yet. Some of the criticism levied at chapter 85 was that it put the brakes on a plot that was very quickly losing many of its reasons for progression, but reversing some of the series’ character deaths may put some gas back in the tank. Plus, we all knew that this was going to happen.