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 chatting My Hero Academia chapter 254, Attack on Titan chapter 124, and Chainsaw Man chapter 51.
It’s nearly Christmas! Have you brought your presents? Put your stocking on your wall? Sent off your cards? I know I haven’t; this weekend is going to be a stressful one, that’s for sure. But I hope that you manage to take at least a little bit of a break over the festive period. As for me, I will, unfortunately, be working for a fair portion of it – Japan doesn’t stop until New Years, after all – but I’m planning to take time off when I can to spend time with my family, give presents and – most importantly – eat, drink, and be merry.
My Hero Academia chapter 254
In sharp contrast to the festive spirit I have just attempted to encapsulate, My Hero Academia chapter 254 takes a more emotional turn as it explores the innocent high school days of one Shota Aizawa AKA Eraser Head, his past beginning to shape the future of the ongoing narrative.
Last week saw Aizawa whisked away from U.A. to a secret research facility where the familiar villainous face of Kurogiri (the shadowy, teleport-y one) has been contained. But along with the familiar comes the unexpected – it turns out that Kurogiri is actually a Nomu with one of Aizawa’s friends, dearly departed, at his core.
My Hero Academia chapter 254 is interesting in this respect as it finally gives us some explanation as to how Nomus work, who are a type of foe that have been around since the beginning of the series but have never been given much thought up until this point. Furthermore, it also shows us a surprisingly emotional side to the usually stone-faced homeroom teacher of Class 1-A.
This is because the researchers hope that, by talking with Kurogiri, Aizawa might be able to arouse some of the memories of the deceased Oboro Shirakumo (who lies at Kurogiri’s core) and thus provide them with some kind of lead for their research. But the memories of Shirakumo, who was Aizawa and Present Mic’s best friend during their time at U.A. yet sadly passed away during their work study, prove too much and the chapter ends with a teary plea.
The fact that Aizawa has been a major part of Studio BONES’ ongoing anime adaptation as of late seems almost too perfect to be mere coincidence. But whether or not this was planned from the beginning or just unconscious influence on Horikoshi’s part is unknown, as well as where on earth this will all lead. Are our heroes about to blow a hole in the League of Villain superpowered army? Or will their Nomu foot soldiers somehow defect to the side of good? I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.
You’ll have to forgive me if I sound a little disheartened. This is because, despite how much I enjoyed seeing some of Aizawa’s hitherto unknown backstory in My Hero Academia chapter 254, the fact that Horikoshi’s publication pace has dropped significantly in previous months has me a little apprehensive about getting too excited.
Dropping 15, 16, sometimes 12 pages a week simply isn’t enough to tide me over, especially when his peers in Weekly Shonen Jump manage to maintain a higher schedule. I understand that this is probably due to ongoing health problems, but it’s unfortunate that his story is suffering as a result – which is exactly why I covered almost none of the recent Endeavor work placement arc. What’s the point if I can’t get excited?
Nevertheless, by its own merits My Hero Academia chapter 254 is an excellent chapter that fills in some of the blanks of the series’ ongoing narrative and sets up some interesting questions for the future. Just don’t count on those getting answered anytime soon!
On a final note, it should be noted that this is the first time in the (very short) history of this column that a series has been featured as the lead chapter more than once. That’s a testament to the quality of this chapter, as well as the length of time over which this column has managed to continue. Let’s keep up the pace going into 2020!
Attack on Titan chapter 124
The regularity and predictability at which we received My Hero Academia chapter 254, no matter the number of pages, stands in stark contrast to how we received Attack on Titan chapter 124. It finally launched on the Crunchyroll Manga service earlier this week, a full week after its initial Japanese publication in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine on December 9. Again, I’m not sure what’s so ‘simultaneous’ about this ‘simulpub’ release, but I won’t go on about it too much. Lord knows that the introduction to last week’s column was long enough. And, look, here I am, again, dragging out the point and, in turn, this paragraph. Shocking behaviour from a professional manga journalist. Some self-reflection is definitely needed. Definitely. Anyway, let’s get on with it.
Attack on Titan chapter 124 deals with the fallout of Eren’s momentous decision to unleash the Rumbling at the end of chapter 123, which launched last month. More specifically, it focuses on the reactions of the Eldians both within and outside the island of Paradis to this fact, as well as Eren’s apocalyptic declaration.
Such a focus is endlessly fascinating as different characters react in different ways – Reiner completely gives up the fight, Jean accepts that this was perhaps the only thing that could’ve been done, and Armin despairs at the human cost of it all. Ever since we found out the truth of the world and what was in the Jaegers’ basement, Attack on Titan has been a series all about ideology and ideals, whether or not the end justifies the means – in this sense, Attack on Titan chapter 124 is no different.
In the face of all of this destruction, it may be surprising to note that Eren’s motives still remain clouded in mystery. We still don’t know if the Rumbling is his final goal and for whose sake he supposes to act, but Armin and the rest of his friends come to a shocking realization during this chapter that he might be doing it all for them – a realization that comes with not a fair bit of guilt, as the entire world is going to be wiped out just for their sakes.
But Eren isn’t going to remain unchallenged in this task. Gabi, the inmate of the Eldian ghetto who is next in line to inherit the Armored Titan and managed to hitch a ride back to Paradis with the Survey Corps, is firmly cast as his foil as well as his narrative and symbolic counterweight. She looks an awful lot like Eren when she puts her hair up in a ponytail, and her actions conjure up the image of Sasha – murdered at her own hands – when she saves the Braun family from certain death.
It’s quite clear from all of these parallels in Attack on Titan chapter 124 that Gabi is going to be quite important in these final hours. Indeed, she already saw some success against Eren in earlier chapters, shooting off his head as he made his way towards Zeke to access the mysterious power of the Founding Titan.
Nevertheless, what a little girl might be able to do against an all-powerful and hell-bent Eren Jaeger is doubtful. Thus, the final sting of Attack on Titan chapter 124 is perhaps the most important. Undoing all of the ‘hardening’ with the power of the Founding Titan, Eren inadvertently sets free one Annie Leonhart, who has been encased in diamond ever since the end of the Female Titan arc.
It should be noted that this final sting was telegraphed earlier in the chapter, when a member of Annie’s family collapsed in the middle of the Eldian ghetto in response to Eren’s declaration. This was a clever move from Iseyama and has me incredibly excited, as always, for next month’s chapter. Annie fans, who have long since been left on the rocks, are also no doubt ecstatic. Eren’s enemies are gathering – let’s wait and see if they can foil his plans before it is too late…
Chainsaw Man chapter 51
Finally, we come to Chainsaw Man chapter 51. Tatsuki Fujimoto is wrapping up the conflict of the latest arc of his new series with style and grace – following on from the absolutely bonkers chapter 49 – and not in the way that you might expect.
Denji and Reze clash for a final time in their respective Chainsaw and Bomb Devil forms in an inventive fight that sees Denji actually develop some new techniques, using chains to extend his chainsaws just as the Shark Devil said his predecessor used to do, but it is when he realizes that Reze cannot detonate her bombs underwater that he makes the finishing the move – dragging her underwater in a beautiful scene that calls back to more innocent days.
What this scene in Chainsaw Man chapter 51 highlights is Fujimoto’s incredible talent for panelling and visual storytelling. Despite possessing demonic, emotionless visages, it is clear from how the memory of Reze teaching Denji is placed alongside their sinking to the bottom of the ocean that they are both thinking of their past together, providing emotion in the form of a sort of nostalgia to these otherwise unchanging faces.
In this sense, Fujimoto combines the macabre and poignant, the demonic and the human, in a visceral way that mirrors some similar moments in previous chapters. I’m firmly convinced that this is what makes Fujimoto standout as a mangaka and an artist – not the violent or the brutal, but the quiet and the emotional.
This continues into the next part of Chainsaw Man chapter 51, as Denji’s gambit pays off and his fight with Reze does indeed come to an end. But, still, he doesn’t exactly emerge ‘victorious,’ as Reze is still alive. Yet, as it turns out, this wasn’t his aim from the very beginning – he still likes Reze and doesn’t want to kill her, inviting her instead on a date to the café where they spent many precious moments together.
At least, these moments were precious to him, because Reze mockingly declares that her attraction to him was nothing but a sham to ensnare him from the very start. Every blush, every laugh, everything was perfectly planned, practiced, and executed.
But is this true? Was their relationship really just a sham? Denji doesn’t seem to think so – Chainsaw Man chapter 51 leaves off on a tantalizing cliffhanger as he heads out the door, money in hand, to the café to meet with Reze one last time.
Given Fujimoto’s penchant for dark humor, I wouldn’t be surprised if next week’s chapter was some kind of twisted tale about how Denji is an idiot and a fool as he is kept waiting by Reze, who never intended to come in the first place. But, then again, anything is possible – this could be the beginning of something genuine for the two characters. That all depends, presumably, on how Fujimoto is feeling that week.
Nevertheless, I’d like to see the two end up together. They’re a sweet couple, and Makima isn’t exactly a good partner for Denji. Chainsaw Man chapter 51 also shows that the moments that they shared together were important to them, no matter the shape or form. Whatever happens, we’ll just have to wait until next week to see.