Hello there and welcome to Your Manga Week. Finding time to keep up with all the manga that releases on a weekly basis can be difficult, so I’m here to tell you what’s worth your time and what’s not. We’ll also be discussing the story and arc developments as they come. This week, we’re talking Mitama Security chapter 39, Undead Unluck chapter 19, and The Promised Neverland chapter 180.
Big changes are afoot in Weekly Shonen Jump. Four new series are set to join the magazine in the coming weeks, replacing those spots vacated by Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, and The Promised Neverland in the near future. Of course, the question remains: what will be the fourth? My money’s on Guardian of the Witch, but we’ll just have to wait and see. In any case, the next few weeks of this column will be interesting, to say the least. In the meantime, however, shall we check out this week’s manga?
Mitama Security chapter 39
It has been a long time since we last caught up with Tsurun Hatomune’s Mitama Security – two months, to be precise. On the whole, that doesn’t matter all that much, as the series is largely episodic and comedic in nature, but Mitama Security chapter 39 is a little different. Not only does it act as the continuation of a narrative that has lasted several chapters at this point, it also provides some answers to the questions that have been hanging over the series ever since it debuted.
The narrative that Mitama Security chapter 39 continues began a couple of weeks ago – at the end of chapter 36, to be precise. After a suite of the series’ regular comedic antics, the titular Joh Mitama up and disappeared – leaving his friend and “client” Rene Haze in the lurch. Teaming up with Soya, Rene then journeyed to the Secureity HQ to find some answers, taking on some rather unique foes along the way. This week, we finally get those answers: as it turns out, Mitama was sent away to the North Pole in order to train in the forbidden art of “reihyoken” in preparation for a coming battle with the world’s “most notorious evil-spirit user,” Popoki.
In general, this reveal is played for laughs. As pictured above, Mitama’s “training” in Mitama Security chapter 39 mostly consists of playing basketball with polar bears – a running gag since the series’ debut – and the whole thing plays like a parody: the “reihyoken” ability that Mitama is sent to master sounds like a third-rate Naruto jutsu, and his conversation with the bosses of Secureity also draws attention to the kind of staging that such scenes always use (see below). Not an entirely serious resolution to a long-running conflict, then, but a funny one nonetheless.
There are some serious moments in Mitama Security chapter 39 that are, however, worth discussing. Firstly, Mitama takes the decision to go away to the North Pole and master the reihyoken in order to protect Rena and her spirits, as the higher-ups at Secureity wanted to turn her into a lab rat to uncover how her latent spirit-attraction ability might best be used in the fight against Popoki. Mitama really does care about Rena Haze, which lends credibility to the fact that this series may, in fact, be a romance.
Another important part of Mitama Security chapter 39 comes when Mitama recalls his past experiences with Popoki. As it turns out, the “Mi” that is emblazoned on Mitama’s chest was not simply a throwaway gag in reference to Mitama’s name, but an actual piece of world-building: it was Popiki that wrote it there when Mitama was incapitated, presumably after he tried to exorcise it. Given that this is a fair source of trauma for the spirit buster, he must really love and care for Rena in order to face up to it.
There are still many questions left to answer from the events of Mitama Security chapter 39 – how did Mitama and Popiki first meet? Will Mitama be able to master the reihyoken? Will he and Rena ever meet again? – but that just provides the series with more things to explore in the future.
Of course, we should address the elephant in the room: cancellation. For a long time now, there has been talk of the series getting axed – especially given its poor volume sales – and it could be argued that the new antagonist provides just the opportunity to do so: it represents a final hurdle for our main character to overcome, as well as relating to his tragic backstory. But, then again, the success of this arc could provide the series with the momentum that it needs to keep going for a while longer – we’ll just have to wait and see.
Undead Unluck chapter 19
Just as Mitama Security chapter 39 sets off on a new mission, Undead Unluck chapter 19 is conducting a debriefing on the basis of an old one. They’ve defeated the UMA ‘Spoil’ and managed to bring Andy back from the dark side, so they deserve a rest. Nevertheless, the series isn’t slowing down one bit, as it combines sweet character moments with important development in the overall plot and narrative.
First of all, Undead Unluck chapter 19 opens with Fuuko in hospital, recovering from her ordeal at the end of the Spoil arc. While my thoughts on the arc as a whole are quite mixed, this small coda to the events serves to get me back on side: in a sweet moment, Andy accidentally calls Fuuko by her first name for the first time. He’s also reading her favorite manga Kimi ni Tsuware (an obvious parody of Kimi ni Todoke), which is a pretty sure sign that he’s interested in getting to know her better.
The real meat of Undead Unluck chapter 19 comes, however, when Fuuko and Andy are summoned to a meeting of the Union. Here, Apocalypse – the mysterious artefact that gives out ‘Quests’ – goes over the results of the missions that the members have just undertaken. Most of them were successful, which means that the rewards are pretty great: the possibility of the addition of an eleventh member, for one, as well as the location of the Negators ‘Unburn’ and ‘Unrepair.’
Perhaps the most bombastic reward for completing one of the Quests, however, is the “unification of all the world’s languages.” To a certain extent, this isn’t given the gravitas that it deserves due to it being contained to two small panels, but the consequences are clear: Shen contacts his assistant, Mui, and speaks in Chinese, only for her not to understand a single word that he says. If anything could prove the awesome power of Apocalypse and of Quests, in general, then it’d have to be this.
Yet, the opposite is also true. One of the Quests in Undead Unluck chapter 19 – that being to capture the Negator ‘Unseen’ – ended in failure, which entails an awesome penalty: the addition of the UMA ‘Galaxy.’ We don’t know much quite yet about this UMA or what exactly its “addition” entails, but it is clear from the ominous double-page spread at the end of the chapter that it won’t exactly all be swings and roundabouts.
Speaking of the future, it feels almost like fate (or should I say good luck?) that Undead Unluck chapter 19 offers so many interesting threads for the series to explore further down the line, when just last week I published a review saying that I was worried about the future direction of the series given how many plot lines it had already wrapped up or addressed. Needless to say, depending on the future direction of the series, I may have to revise that opinion.
One final important moment in Undead Unluck chapter 19 comes when the narrative shifts focus to the Negator ‘Unseen,’ who has been captured by a mysterious enemy. It seems pretty clear from this that the focus of the next arc will be on Unseen, which will put Andy’s encounter with Unrepair – the one who might be able to grant him sweet death – on hold for the time being. Either way, we’ll have to wait and see.
The Promised Neverland chapter 180
Finally, we come to The Promised Neverland chapter 180. Certainly, it may be unfair to compare this week’s chapter of Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu’s thriller series to the likes of Mitama Security chapter 39 and Undead Unluck chapter 19 given that it is in the midst of ending, but the beauty of Weekly Shonen Jump is that everything is thrown together and given the same lot. So while I may not have enjoyed this week’s Neverland chapter as much as the aforementioned series, it does deserve its inclusion.
One of the main hurdles that The Promised Neverland chapter 180 attempts to clear is the fallout resulting from the copout that was chapter 178. To a certain extent, last week’s chapter already clawed back some of the series’ respectability, as Norman and co. awoke in the human world with Emma nowhere in sight. This contradicted what Emma said in 178, that the mysterious ‘Him’ required no ‘reward’ in exchange for a new promise, but this was a welcome change given how anticlimactic that plot development was.
The Promised Neverland chapter 180 builds on this development as we shift focus to Emma, who has been transported to a snowy landscape far away from the rest of her family. As it turns out, Emma did have to give something in exchange for a new promise, after all: namely, all of her memories of her family, as well as the possibility of ever seeing them again. This is why she was transported far away from the rest of the Grace Field children, and why she is afflicted with amnesia.
Once again, this is a welcome change from the initial direction of the series’ conclusion, which seemed to devalue everything that had come before it. There’s even a neat self-contained story in The Promised Neverland chapter 180 which serves to show that author Shirai has still got it: the old man who finds Emma slowly grows closer to her over the course of several weeks and months, eventually revealing his tragic past to her in a climatic movement (see above).
In this sense, if the series can play its cards right in its next, final chapter, then it may be able to redeem itself and deliver a satisfying ending, after all. But it must be said, in turn, that the end of The Promised Neverland chapter 180 doesn’t give me much hope: Norman and Ray manage to catch sight of Emma in a crowd with her new protector, which will most likely lead to some sort of encounter between the main characters next week.
Will Emma recover her lost memories? Will the Grace Field children be reunited? Or will Shirai stick with what is shaping up to be a bittersweet yet satisfactory conclusion to the series, and ultimately be better off for it? We’ll just have to wait and see.