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’ll be chatting Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 62, MASHLE: Magic & Muscles chapter 42, Undead Unluck chapter 43, and Magu-chan: God of Destruction chapter 23.
Did you check out the first episode of the OTAQUEST podcast last week? I hope you did! I talked a little bit there about how I got into Japanese pop culture and manga more specifically, as well as the contradictory news surrounding My Hero Academia movie three. The VOD should be up on various services soon. In other Jump news, there’s two Promised Neverland side stories being published over the next two weeks: one on Sister Krone and one on Isabella. This week’s one on Krone very nearly made it into the column, but had to be cut due to length. Regardless, it’s pretty good! Go check it out!
Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 62
Mission: Yozakura Family has come so far since it first launched back in August of last year. Although I always thought it had potential despite the unfortunate timing making it look like a rip-off of SPY x FAMILY, that potential was buried under a pile of missteps: a reliance on episodic stories, introducing too many side characters, and not spending enough time with the titular family.
Fast forward fourteen months, however, and I can safely say that Mission: Yozakura Family has learned its lessons – chapter 62 being the perfect example of that.
If you’re anything like me, then you probably first started flicking through the first pages of Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 62 and let out a deep sigh. This is because, at first, the series appears to be introducing yet more characters alongside the titular family.
It quickly becomes clear, however, that these are characters that have already been introduced before: the crooked cop Seiji, for one, but also the head of the Hinagiku, Rin. This then snowballs into reintegrating basically every single notable side character back into the narrative, with some exceptions.
This is because Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 62 is assembling an all-star team for the upcoming ‘Yozakura Front Lines’ operation, so anyone without any direct ties to the Yozakura family or combat experience is thus left by the wayside. This is fair enough: it’d be ridiculous to expect Hitsuji Gondaira to reintegrate everyone.
Furthermore, there are some characters here that I’ve always wanted to see return. Sosuke from chapter 38, for example, always caught my attention as a budget version of Kumagawa from Medaka Box, and Mutsumi’s grandma and grandpa also make a return following their excellent story in chapter 31. They’re always welcome.
That being said, there are some unsavory additions. Three characters that are basically the same – Asuka, Ayaka, and Tsukiyo – are all here, united by their common obsession with Mutsumi or Taiyo (or both). I definitely could’ve gone on without seeing any of these ever again, but perhaps this upcoming arc can give them a little bit more development.
Speaking of that upcoming arc, Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 62 is also knee deep in the midst of preparing our main character, Taiyo, for it. You heard that right: we’re doing a goddamn training arc!
In reality, this started in last week’s chapter 61, but chapter 62 develops it further by emphasizing the importance of someinine. Not only are all the crazy abilities we’ve seen so far chalked up to that fictional substance, but being a victim of Tanpopo’s illegal experiments to master it was what inspired Rin to set up the Hinagiku in the first place. In this sense, Gondaira is not only reintegrating old characters back in the narrative but also old organizations.
All in all, it’s impressive to see how much preparatory work Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 62 is doing for the upcoming Yozakura Front Lines arc, especially considering that it was almost exclusively episodic until very recently. Each chapter feels like an improvement from the point of view of Hitsuji Gondaira’s writing, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes next. I’m expecting to see some major fists fly.
MASHLE chapter 42
In many ways, MASHLE chapter 42 and Hajime Komoto could stand to learn the lessons of Mission: Yozakura Family chapter 62 and Hitsuji Gondaira’s self-improvement. I’ve made the point many times now, but the series has made the transition from a gag manga to a battle series without laying down any of the prerequisite narrative features; chief among which, a proper power system.
I had hoped that, after the conclusion of the previous arc, MASHLE might take the opportunity to step back a bit (especially considering its sales success) and firm up some of its narrative shortcomings. MASHLE chapter 42 sort of half does that. We do get some insight into the protagonist’s long-term goals, but there’s still no power system in sight.
MASHLE chapter 40 was spotlighted not too long ago because it gave me hope that Komoto was addressing some of the narrative’s big questions and setting things up for the future, but this didn’t end up panning out in quite the way that I had hoped.
The rest of the Divine Visionaries were introduced in last week’s chapter 41 (sort of like this series’ magical version of the Big Three), expanding the cast nicely and setting a power ceiling, but that was about it. No power system; no explanation, even. Just a pretty cool scene with a candle.
What MASHLE chapter 42 does give us, however, is an affirmation of Mash’s goals as a protagonist. Now that his lack of magic has been discovered, his neck is (literally) on the chopping block for execution, so a compromise needed to be reached.
Having faced opposition from some of the Divine Visionaries and Mr. Wahlberg (basically just Dumbledore), Orter agrees to let Mash live if he abides by two conditions: one, that he must act under their observation as a tool in the fight against the mysterious Innocent Zero (the evil organization that crashed the party at the end of the last arc); and two, that he must prove his strength by becoming one of the candidates, at least, for Divine Visionary this year. Of course, Mash accepts (he doesn’t really have a choice).
In the grand scheme of things, these conditions as laid down in MASHLE chapter 42 don’t change much about our protagonist’s journey or his future life path. Mash was always gunning for Divine Visionary to change the order of this magic-obsessed world, and he was already coming into conflict with Innocent Zero. Nevertheless, right here, right now, Hajime Komoto is laying all of it on the table.
I wish that he’d lay some other things on the table (namely, an explanation of the series’ magical abilities) but there is still time to do so. The end of MASHLE chapter 42 introduces yet another foe (also from Innocent Zero, judging from the paneling), so perhaps Mash’s training will be interrupted halfway through and put to the test with a real opponent. Who knows, it might just be false hope at this point.
Undead Unluck chapter 43
Speaking of false hope, I went into Undead Unluck chapter 43 expecting to be disappointed. Last week’s chapter put an end to the Western storyline a little sooner than I would’ve liked, although the reasons for doing so were obvious. Fast forward a week, however, and it appears as if Yoshifumi Tozuka isn’t done with the flashback yet. Instead, he is taking it to new heights.
Before we dive into the flashback, though, there is a small scene featuring Anno-Un in the present in Undead Unluck chapter 43 where the enigmatic manga author confirms something that I thought would be true: even if Fuuko was interacting with a false version of Andy’s past, the effects of her actions in the flashback may trickle through the future. This means that he may remember that she said she loved him, after all.
Shipping aside, the highlight of Undead Unluck chapter 43 is undoubtedly the awakening of Victor and the clash between him and Fuuko. As he says, if he manages to kill her, then Andy’s personality will weaken (‘cuz he loooooves her) and he’ll be able to take control, just like he did at the end of the Spoil arc. This gives rise to a truly inventive sequence, whereby Andy’s alter-ego stalks her throughout time and even destroys the whole of Tokyo.
Seriously. Just when I think Undead Unluck can’t get any more bonkers, something like chapter 43 comes along and upends all of my expectations. Again. Everything I love about Yoshifumi Tozuka’s writing is here: the sweet relationship between the main characters, for one, but also the capacity to take stories and narratives in completely unexpected directions. That just comes at the cost of consistency, sometimes.
The idea that actions in the flashback can bleed back into the present, for example, is introduced quite early on in the chapter and then quickly taken to its logical extreme: if Fuuko dies in the book, she dies in real life. Could Anno-Un not have explained that before? Furthermore, we don’t actually know what Victor’s ‘Deadline’ ability actually does, other than summon a bunch of city-destroying lines.
Undead Unluck will probably explain this all at some point in the future, but chapter 43 is yet another example of a story that is sometimes too imaginative for its own good.
Magu-chan: God of Destruction chapter 23
To be honest, I think I could just write this column every week about Magu-chan: God of Destruction. There’s something about Kamiki Kei’s series that is just so funny to me, as it’s able to make me laugh within a matter of seconds in each and every chapter. It’s also the perfect antidote to so many of my other favorite series, which are exploring really intense stories right now. No wonder it sold so well across from Chainsaw Man volume nine.
In any case, Magu-chan chapter 23 is another fantastic chapter in a fantastic series that sees the God of Chaos, Naputaaku, wake up to the reality of commodity production and exchange and gambling. What I mean by that is that he finally realizes that the money he earns from his part-time job can be used to buy ingredients, but also that a little thing called the lottery can get him even more! This leads him down a rabbit hole that, predictably, ends in hilarious results.
Ironically, Kamiki Kei was not the only author to touch on gambling in Weekly Shonen Jump this week. Magu-chan chapter 23 was published in the same issue as Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin chapter 22, which saw our protagonists Samejima and Orpheus use mahjong to put pressure on a thieving hotel attendant.
As if the Nobuyuki Fukumoto references weren’t already obvious enough, Dolphin then has Samejima transform into one of the author’s characters for a second. Nice one, Tamura.
All that is missing from Magu-chan chapter 23, then, is a direct reference to Fukumoto’s works, or perhaps even just a little ‘Zawa zawa.’ Regardless, the chapter ends up exploring many of the same themes: the thrill of the gamble, as well as its destructive effects.
The characterisation in Magu-chan has always been top-notch, and chapter 23 is no exception. We already knew that Naputaaku was a lazy scumbag of the highest order, so of course he would attempt to earn money without working for it through the lottery. He also can’t help but take up Uneras’ offer to partake in a little gambling, even demanding that she up the stakes when he starts to run out of funds.
The funny thing is that gambling is actually illegal in Japan, or at least the kind with money is. Hence why pachinko and gacha games are so popular. Magu-chan chapter 23 doesn’t glorify the practice, however, instead showing how it only ends in tears: Napu has to pay back his debts at the very end by working in the underground mines of the Holy Knights, and he when comes back to the Fujiwara restaurant, he’s almost glad to be engaged in wage labor again. Once more, this is very similar to what happens in Fukumoto’s manga, Kaiji.