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 The Promised Neverland chapter 167, Dr. STONE chapter 139, Chainsaw Man chapter 58, and Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru chapter 38.
This week has been a very stressful one for me, which is why this column is out a little later than usual. I’m not even sure if I’ll make it in time before the new chapters come out, given that they are launching a little earlier on Friday this week. Still, there’s plenty to discuss and even some historic firsts for the column, so we’ll just have to roll with the punches. What’s more, if you’re like me and you’ve had a stressful week and are looking for something to unwind with, then why not check out The Right Way to Make Jump, Takeshi Sakurai’s semi-autobiographical 2014 manga series that explores the way that Weekly Shonen Jump is made? It’s just been added to VIZ’s Shonen Jump vault.
The Promised Neverland chapter 167
This week marks the first time that Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu’s smash-hit series The Promised Neverland has made an appearance in this column. That might surprise you, but that’s because it’s taken me that long to get up to date, having read the first few chapters back when it first released via VIZ’s Jump Start initiative. A lot has changed since then, but the series continues to perform well and chapter 167 shows us exactly why: excellent storytelling and exciting action setpieces.
With regards to storytelling, I don’t think I could’ve picked a better time to get up to date with The Promised Neverland. Not only is the series in its final arc, but chapter 167 shows us how much potential this final arc has in cementing the series’ place among the Weekly Shonen Jump greats.
Having learned a couple of chapters back that Peter Ratri is holding all of the various farm escapees captive at Grace Field House, Emma and friends. make the daring decision to take over their old home. They use all of the intelligence and cunning that marked them as high-grade meat in the first place in their battle against the demons, eventually leading them into a dead-end where they can overwhelm them all at once.
Seeing the kids outsmart the demons in The Promised Neverland chapter 167 despite their comparative lack of numbers and physical weakness is a joy to see, and fits in nicely with the series’ overall theme of kids vs. adults that ties it so close to the appeal of western young adult fiction. That’s not the only thematic parallel in this chapter, either: returning to where it all started, Grace Field House, for the end is a classic narrative structure but one that works well in this case, especially considering we haven’t seen this setting in such a long time. Seeing Emma and friends all grown up in their childhood home, in turn, shows us how far they’ve come since the beginning of the series. Nevertheless, the games of tag that they played as kids, initially for fun but eventually for escape training, still come in handy.
Spelling out clear thematic parallels, as well as delivering some exciting action, is what makes The Promised Neverland chapter 167 so entertaining and, indeed, the Return to Grace Field arc as a whole. I don’t what the jury is on the last two arcs, the Seven Walls and Imperial Capital Battle arcs, but I found myself quite bored during them at many moments due to intense focus on the politics of the demon world, but also Norman’s inevitable redemption. I mean, it was obvious from the very beginning that Norman would eventually come back to the light – Emma is always right. Stringing out the drama for so long, then, wasn’t exactly a good move.
Nevertheless, if The Promised Neverland can stick the landing on this final arc, then I see no reason why it couldn’t join the likes of Assassination Classroom as one of Weekly Shonen Jump’s modern masterpieces. And if chapter 167 is any indication, things are shaping up quite nicely. Here’s hoping.
Dr. STONE chapter 139
Following the numerous narrative revelations in last week’s chapter, Dr. STONE chapter 139 keeps the ball rolling with several new additions that are getting this new arc started off in style.
The chapter begins by offering us some more information on the mysterious ‘Whyman,’ who is now somehow broadcasting his messages in Senku’s voice. If you worried that the series was going to take a turn for the timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly, which hardly ever plays out as smoothly as envisioned, then you’re in luck: Ukyo determines with his super hearing that it’s actually a synthetic voice, which begs the question of how the Whyman managed to get his hands on such technology in the first place. More questions, more intrigue.
Several new characters are also introduced in Dr. STONE chapter 139, enlarging the series’ already fairly large cast. While Kirisame was a constant antagonist in the past arc, her spar with Kohaku acts as her introduction into the protagonists’ fold and cements her place as the Kingdom of Science’s second powerful ‘gorilla.’ Senku et al. also choose to unpetrify one of the statues that lay on the seafloor once they see that he has the mark of the petrification device on his arm – two interlocking ovals – which introduces us to another new character, Matsukaze – who looks very much like Tsukasa (see above) – into the fold.
Adding new characters is no bad proposition, given that one of the series’ enduring strengths is its wide cast of charismatic characters. Furthermore, unpetrifying Matsukaze reveals yet more information about the petrification device: he recalls that he was petrified once many of them rained down from above, which explains how the Petrification Kingdom got its hands on the device in the first place. It also provides a big hint as to their origin, as well as the location of Whyman; something which is confirmed when the team manages to put together a parabolic antenna. Simply put, Dr. STONE is going to the moon.
The way that Dr. STONE chapter 139 ends on this declaration had me grinning from ear to ear. It managed to recapture the same feeling of excitement I had when Senku declared that he was going to make a cell phone at the beginning of the Stone Wars arc, because I have no doubt that Senku is telling the truth. He’s always managed to deliver on his promises in one way or another, and seeing how he’s going to manage an interstellar journey in the Stone World will be fascinating, to say the least.
Thinking about it for a second, it makes perfect sense for Dr. STONE to end with Senku going to the moon. That was the fate of his adopted father, Byakuya, after all, and let’s not forget that Senku did declare as a kid that he was ‘going to space.’ And if there’s one thing that Senku never does, it’s going back on a promise.
In this sense, both Dr. STONE chapter 139 and The Promised Neverland chapter 167 are doing stellar work in terms of setting up and delivering their respective finales in engaging and measured ways. For all the anxiety surrounding what might happen to Weekly Shonen Jump once they’re gone, among others, we can at least have confidence in their ability to bow out with grace. And perhaps that’s a sacrifice worth making.
Chainsaw Man chapter 58
One series that’s going nowhere is Chainsaw Man. The latest arc of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s wild ride has been featured multiple times in this column so far, and that’s for good reason: this latest, ‘International Assassins’ arc is shaping up to be as good, if not even better than the last, ‘Bomb Devil’ arc.
The first thing that should grab your attention in Chainsaw Man chapter 58 is how it properly introduces the Chinese assassin Lady Quanxi for the very first time. It’s worth noting that this isn’t her first appearance nor even the first time her name is mentioned, but we’ve yet to get a proper handle on what makes her tick. So what’s her deal? Well, she’s a kickass female assassin with an eyepatch and a harem of terrifyingly unhinged subordinates and/or lovers, one of which screams ‘Halloween’ at people until they do what she says. What’s not to like?
Quanxi and her entourage might just be the craziest characters Fujimoto has come up with yet, and so it is with great pleasure that Chainsaw Man chapter 58 sticks with the assassins for the time being, leaving Denji and his escort out of the picture. After properly introducing Lady Quanxi, the chapter then moves to focus on one of the ‘Three Brothers,’ the supposedly ‘immortal’ set of siblings who are one of the many international assassins currently gunning for Denji’s head.
This particular sibling is doing deep infiltration work as Kurose, a Devil Hunter who may or may not have been killed so that the aforementioned member of the Three Brothers can get into Denji’s escort and take him out. But this chapter sees him doing some sort of reconnaissance, as he visits one of Kurose’s old school friends and feigns reminiscence about the past.
If it sounds like I’m a little vague on the details, then it’s because I’m finding it hard to follow who is who in light of the Three Brothers’ shapeshifting abilities. I’m also not sure if one of them died in last week’s chapter or not. Confounding this problem is the fact that all of the brothers have some form of black hair and youthful face, which makes them look like the majority of the characters that appear in the series and, indeed, in Chainsaw Man chapter 58.
Still, though, the tension of any sort of disguise or impersonation is present in here just as it would be in any story, and we also get a reason as to why the Three Brothers call themselves immortal: not because they are actually immortal, but because they’re ‘ruthless, soulless, and emotionless’ and they ‘always get the job done.’ Chainsaw Man chapter 58’s cliffhanger ending, with the aptly named German assassin Santa Claus planning something horrific in downtown Tokyo, is also enough for me to forget my confusion and look forward to next week. Maybe Fujimoto can give the Three Brothers a design change? That would be a welcome move.
Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru chapter 38
Finally, we come to Samurai 8 chapter 38. As with previous weeks, what makes this chapter worth talking about is not its inherent goodness or entertainment value, but how it compares to the misery of previous chapters. Essentially, there’s a fairly low-quality bar that the series needs to clear, but when it does it’s always worth talking about.
After having seemingly set up several elements of its narrative endgame in previous weeks, Samurai 8 chapter 38 takes it easy and focuses on the relationship between our characters, more specifically between Hachimaru and Anne. It does this by creating a love triangle between Hachimaru, Anne and Goku, the new samurai who appeared on Hachimaru’s ship a couple of weeks back. Goku and Anne are getting along so well that Hachimaru becomes jealous, and this leads to confession at the very end that may or may not lead to proper romance. We’ll have to wait and see at this point.
You may groan and roll your eyes at how Kishimoto is using perhaps one of the laziest narrative devices – a love triangle – to artificially develop the relationship between his characters, but you may find it surprising to hear that Samurai 8 chapter 38, in spite of its lack of creativity, managed to hit at least some of my buttons with its narrative.
I’m always a sucker for cute romance, and Anne and Hachimaru are fairly cute characters, I’ll give Kishimoto that. But I was surprised to see genuine developments in their relationship as a result of this chapter, and it certainly makes a welcome change from cluttered, barely comprehensible action scenes that have marked previous weeks.
That being said, I am in no way endorsing Samurai 8 or saying that chapter 38 marks the perfect opportunity to pick up the series or jump back on board if you’ve fallen behind. The kind of base satisfaction that this week’s chapter offers is probably nothing but the calm before the storm of continuingly unimaginative narratives and baffling story decisions, and I have no doubt that we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week. Can this series end already? I’m honestly tired of having to give credit where credit is due. Your move, Shueisha.