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 SPY x FAMILY chapter 22, Chainsaw Man chapter 59, Agravity Boys chapter 10, and Mitama Security: Spirit Busters chapter 26.
By the time you’re reading this, it’ll hopefully be my birthday (February 27). Oh no, don’t worry about getting me a present – the fact that you’re reading this column is more than enough. …That being said, if you’re undecided as of yet as to who to cast your vote for in the Chainsaw Man character popularity poll, then please consider voting for my guy the Angel Devil. It’d make me very happy if he managed to secure at least a spot in the top 10 among the obvious top contenders of Power, Makima, and Reze. If that isn’t a sign that I’m far too invested, then I don’t know what is. Anyway, on with the manga.
SPY x FAMILY chapter 22
It’s been a good while since we last checked in with SPY x FAMILY – almost three months, by my calculations. That’s been due in part by the sheer number of fantastic series vying for attention each week, but also because of the fortnightly release schedule that gives it fewer chances of being selected when compared to the many others. So, shall we?
As luck would have it, SPY x FAMILY chapter 22 is actually the conclusion to a story arc that has been running for a couple of months now. This gives us the perfect opportunity to look back on the arc as a whole, as well as see how the series is continuing to evolve amid its myriad commercial and critical success.
The core conceit of this arc revolves around a legion of highly intelligent, expertly trained dogs who are to be used by a student terrorist cell to assassinate a delegate from Westalia, the equivalent of West Germany in the series’ vaguely European setting. This would destabilize the balance of power in the region, possibly causing a war with its neighbor, Ostania (East Germany). Thus, Lloyd is called in as super-spy Twilight is called in to foil the students’ plans.
Into this situation unsuspectedly step Yor and Anya, who find themselves wrapped up in the plot and attempting to stop it while they are out shopping for a dog. By sheer coincidence, Anya happens upon a big, white dog who can somehow see the future, which she can tap into using her mind-reading powers.
The abundance of dogs in this arc is one of the main reasons why it has been so entertaining. As a dog owner myself, seeing any type of furry friend appear in a manga is enough to get me invested, but this arc aksi does a good job in imbuing the dogs with both narrative and emotional purpose: for Anya, her entire motivation is to find the perfect dog, and the dog she happens upon ends up playing a key part in foiling the terrorist plot. So when, at the end of SPY x FAMILY chapter 22, the dog is accepted into the Forger household after a lifetime of mistreatment and illegal experimentation, the payoff feels more than earned.
Yet, skipping straight to the end of the arc unfairly misses out the bulk of the story, which delivers in spades on the series’ core premise. SPY x FAMILY chapter 22, in particular, plays this role well as all three members of the Forger family work together to eventually bring down the student terrorists: Lloyd is able to track down the leader after being saved from a sticky end by Anya in the last chapter, and it is due to the intervention of Yor at the very end that his getaway in a car is foiled. Of course, none of them are aware of this fact, nor are they aware of each other’s abilities, which works brilliantly to reinforce the series’ core conceit of hidden identities and strengthen the comedy that lays therein.
Sticking so brazenly to the series’ core appeal, however, has me a little worried. It’s one thing to give your readers what they want, but resting on your laurels is another. Tatsuya Endo has me worried that he’s doing the former: not only is the structure of this arc not really any fundamentally different from the ones that have preceded it, but it’s more or less an extension of the same basic story of numerous other chapters, such as the one where Lloyd and Yor go on a date.
Nevertheless, the addition of a new clairvoyant dog to the family as a result of the events of SPY x FAMILY chapter 22 has me hopeful that something is going to change fairly soon. At the very least, there’ll be an extra set of paws around to do some of the narrative heavy lifting.
Chainsaw Man chapter 59
Yes, this is the third week in a row that Chainsaw Man has been featured in the line-up for this column. Normally, I tend to avoid featuring the same series over and over for fear of repetition, but when I saw the color page for this week’s chapter 59, I just couldn’t help myself. I mean, just look at it:
Trying to put myself in the shoes of a Japanese parent and seeing my kid open Weekly Shonen Jump to Chainsaw Man chapter 59’s color page is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat. Japanese media standards are very different from ours in the West, but I still can’t help but feel like Tatsuki Fujimoto might be courting a Harenchi Gakuen-style moral outrage with the extent to which he is willing to push the boundaries – doubly so when you take this illustration together with the dialogue on the previous page, which more or less confirms that the characters are indeed engaged in sexual intercourse.
Obviously, I don’t take any offense to this. Actually, it just confirms to me the fact that Lady Quanxi, the instigator of this implied threesome, might be Fujimoto’s best character yet. She’s got competition, too, as Chainsaw Man chapter 59 sees all four of the international assassins after Denji’s head gathered in more or less one place: under attack from the German assassin Santa Claus’ undead minion, Denji and his escorts retreat inside a mall, where Tolka and Santa Claus are already located. Aldo (of the ‘Three Brothers’) and Quanxi are also seemingly on their way towards it. Clearly, next week there’s going to be some kind of showdown and I can’t wait to see how it ends up.
Not just content with antagonists, Chainsaw Man chapter 59 also sees fit to elaborate on some of our protagonists. Kusakabe, the Public Safety Division Devil Hunter with slick-back blond hair, reveals his petrifying powers as well as the fact that many Devil Hunters are posted throughout the city to protect Denji from attack. Power and Denji, too, get a moment to shine against the minions of Santa Claus.
Chainsaw Man chapter 59’s focus on character both good and evil is fortuitous, as the character popularity contest that I mentioned up at the top is running until March 8. Perhaps spending some time fleshing them out, then, will cement some fans’ choices, although I still think that the Angel Devil deserves your vote. But even on a narrative level, there’s a need to develop many of the newer characters given how many were introduced at one and how much they look alike. This was a big problem last week when Aldo was doing reconnaissance with his shapeshifting abilities, and there’s one moment during this chapter where Fujimoto even appears to acknowledge this fact. Cheeky.
So did Chainsaw Man chapter 99 really deserve to be the third chapter in a row featured in this column? I certainly think so. But, come next week, I promise that I’ll shake things up a bit. As long as there isn’t anything really exciting, that is.
Agravity Boys chapter 10
While not as much of a regular occurrence as Chainsaw Man, Atsushi Nakamura’s Agravity Boys has also been featured in this column quite a lot as of late. That’s due to one reason and one reason only: it’s been improving rapidly since its disconcerting debut, and this week’s chapter 10 is another shining example of why.
Agravity Boys chapter 10 begins with a surprising development. We finally get some resolution to the hint that the dysfunctional quartet might not be as alone as they first thought, first made all the way back in chapter 2, as a spaceship makes its way towards Alpha Jumbro. Saga, Geralt, and Baba immediately jump, of course, to their ideal conclusion: it must be a ship full of girls willing and able to keep them company in the cold, empty void of space. But as soon as it touches down, their dreams are shattered as onboard are four other guys who’ve managed to make the journey across space in cryosleep, dreaming that they would be the first people to set foot on the alien planet. Hilarity ensues.
Just from this synopsis alone, it should be clear why Agravity Boys chapter 10 works a lot better than previous chapters. It has a clear narrative, for one, but Nakamura has also managed to find a way to use raunchy humor and his characters’ insatiable sexual desire in a palatable fashion. Instead of the objectifying thrust of previous chapters, here these elements are used against our characters and actually make their desires into the butt of the joke. That’s why I laughed so much at this chapter: it feels a lot more good-natured than others published so far.
Of course, the dialogue is also quite fun – the sheer amount of disappointment in the four characters’ voices when they meet their new neighbor is quite hilarious.
What’s interesting about Agravity Boys chapter 10 beyond its entertainment value is how it may end up influencing the course of the series in the future. The kind of role that the four new characters (and one new robot) will end up playing in the hijinks to come remains to be seen, and if the climax of the chapter is to be believed – Grislow mistaking Chris’ gender and falling in love with him at first sight – there may be some kind of love triangle involved. Let’s look forward to it.
Mitama Security chapter 26
In keeping with the comedic theme, we finally come to Mitama Security chapter 26. Much like the previous two chapters, this is also another series that has seen consistent coverage in this column, but there’s a good reason for this: its evolution and gradual improvement has made it into a firm favorite that never fails to bring a smile to my face. This week’s chapter is, in turn, no exception.
The hijinks this time revolve around Rena Haze and her need to pass an interview for a new part-time job. Since this is her first job, she enlists her friends (or stalkers, depending on how you look at it) to help her practice. But neither Joh, nor Soya or Janca really know how to do this properly, and hilarity ensues.
One of the best parts of this chapter is how seamlessly all of our different characters work together to dial up the ridiculousness. Joh’s idol manager routine is just the start of it; by the time Janca finishes up his turn, Rena is clad in a maid outfit with an eyepatch and singing an idol song to win over her potential employer. Not only does the comedy work as well as no doubt expected, but at this point, it really feels like our wider cast is coming together to form a cohesive whole. We can only hope that Tsurun Hatomune continues to make use of them in such an effective manner.
That being said, some of the elements of Mitama Security chapter 26’s comedy stuck out a little bit for me as they felt a little bit out-of-character. When Joh threw himself into the exaggerated persona that he believed to be a typical interviewer, this hardly seemed to gel with his usually nervous personality. Seeing Rena, too, so readily throw herself into the role of the all-signing, all-performing maid idol also seemed to be very out of the ordinary. In this sense, I can’t help but think that Hatomune might be pushing his characters a little too far for the sake of comedy.
Nevertheless, I’d be lying if I said that Mitama Security chapter 26 didn’t make me laugh. For as out of character as many of its moments may have been, that only added to the hilarity – and perhaps that was the point. I don’t dare reach out to Hatomune for comment, because the pigeon mask that he’s been wearing recently has quite a threatening aura.
You can read SPY x FAMILY chapter 22, Chainsaw Man chapter 59, Agravity Boys chapter 10, and Mitama Security: Spirit Busters chapter 26 for free via VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump service. SPY x FAMILY is also available via Shueisha’s Manga Plus.