Yugen’s All-Ghouls Classroom: Saeki and Tsukuda Strike Back – Your Manga Week #29

Yugen's All-Ghoul Classroom

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 Yugen’s All-Ghouls Classroom one-shot, The Promised Neverland chapter 178, and Moriking chapter 5.

The veil of the Coronavirus appears to be more or less lifted in Japan, although questions remain as to how the country was able to overcome it and what may happen next. For us, however, what this means is that the world of manga will go relatively back to normal – especially as the big manga publishers can start to return to work in their offices. Hopefully, then, there won’t be any more unexpected delays going forward – although if there is one thing that I have learned from this whole crisis, then it is to expect the unexpected. Anyway, on with the manga.

Yugen’s All-Ghouls Classroom one-shot

Surprise! The duo behind Food Wars!, Shun Saeki and Yuto Tsukuda, are back with a new one-shot entitled Yugen’s All-Ghouls Classroom (or Yugen’s All-Ghouls Homeroom, depending on where you look). Fans of the aforementioned series will no doubt be looking for the pair to redeem themselves after its long-term decline, and they seem rather set on doing so: not only is this the second one-shot that they have published since Food Wars! ended, but Tsukuda said in his author comment this week that he’s ‘slowly doing the prep work for a new series.’ Could Yugen’s All-Ghouls Classroom be it? Let’s find out.

In a complete 180 degree turn from their previous work, Yugen’s All-Ghouls Classroom belongs to the horror genre. It follows Mishiro Sato, a new teacher at the prestigious Falbion Private Academy for Girls, which has just recruited a new school counselor to listen to the students’ woes. The only problem is that he seems to be more interested in finding the love of his life than being a responsible shoulder to lean on – and his name is Yugen Tojinbo.

Here, we come to the one-shot’s first major problem. While Yugen is entertaining enough as a protagonist, constantly trying to pick up anyone who meets his fancy, it does feel a little strange that he is even willing to do so with high schoolers. I know that Japan has different cultural standards from the west, but it feels even stranger when Mishiro points out how inappropriate it is and he continues to do it anyway.

Yugen's All-Ghoul Classroom

In the end, it turns out that he does so because he doesn’t care about physical appearance, instead valuing the ‘shine’ of a person’s spirit. This suggests that he has some sort of ‘spirit sense’ along the lines of Mitama from Mitama Security and is further contextualized by his bizarre dress sense, but doesn’t take away from the fact that this part of his character may make some readers feel uncomfortable.

Although we have discussed Yugen a lot so far, it must be said that Mishirio is also a fine character and benefits from good chemistry with him (there is one particularly funny moment where she gets out of his car in a huff). She also has an attractive design from artist Shun Saeki, who has clearly brought all of his artistic merit from Food Wars! to the table with Yugen’s All-Ghouls Classroom. Particularly striking is his depiction of ghouls and demons, which really helps to sell the one-shot’s horror trappings.

Yugen's All-Ghoul Classroom

If Saeki is bringing his best, then it is Tsukuda who is letting down his side of the bargain. Not only is Yugen’s characterization a little disconcerting, but it is a little difficult to understand the progression of the plot across the one-shot’s fifty-or-so pages. The link between the pressures of Falbion Girls and the fact that Midorisawa, a student, has been taken advantage of by a demon is easy to see, but why does a torn page from her diary provide the resolution to the conflict? Why was it in her locker in the first place? Is this really a common enough occurrence that every single member of Yugen’s classroom is afflicted?

These holes in the concept of the overall narrative are what make me doubt that Yugen’s All-Ghouls Classroom will become Saeki and Tsukuda’s new series. There is absolutely no doubt that this is a very well-crafted one-shot – it tells a compelling complete story, for one – but it seems to lack long-form potential. There are also a lot of series in Weekly Shonen Jump right now that focus on ghosts and demons, such as Jujutsu Kaisen and Bone Collection, so the editorial team may want some variety. That being said, only time will tell.

The Promised Neverland chapter 178

Unfortunately, we will have to continue with the negativity as we move on to discuss The Promised Neverland chapter 178. I’ve made no attempt to hide my continuing distaste for the direction of series and my belief that it has declined in quality significantly over the years, but this chapter takes the biscuit; it may just be the biggest cop out in recent Weekly Shonen Jump history.

Before we dive into The Promised Neverland chapter 178, it may be best to recap all of the disappointments that have come before to fully put the chapter into context. The first main one, in my mind, was Norman’s redemption, who was on the verge of becoming a ‘villain’ before giving into Emma’s idealism and becoming a ‘good guy’ again at the end of the Imperial Capital Battle arc. What made this decision particularly disappointing was the fact that the series had dedicated so much time to building up Norman’s inner conflict, before going with what was the most pedestrian and obvious route available.

The Promised Neverland chapter 153
Norman’s redemption

Next came the fate of Peter Ratri, who seemed to be dangling on the edge of giving into Emma’s idealism before doing the narrative a favor and offing himself, effectively removing any opposition to our heroes’ victory. Parallel to this was the deus ex machine that was Grand Duke Leuvis’s return, who seized power in the capital and made Mujika queen. Never mind the fact that he was supposed to be dead after the events of the Goldy Pond arc, but the fact that it did not cross the series’ mind to implement an alternative form of government after all of the chaos that the last one caused was particularly baffling.

In the chapter before The Promised Neverland chapter 178, we got some semblance of drama as Mom was attacked by a vengeful demon and subsequently died. But if you thought that this unexpected twist of fate may carry over into this week’s chapter, then you would be surely mistaken. Here, author Kaiu Shirai returns to the question of Emma’s new ‘Promise’ with the mysterious ‘Him’ that has been hanging over the series ever since the Seven Walls arc – what might she have to give in return for her family’s safe passage to the human world? Her life? Her soul? Her ability to perform alchemy, to take a leaf from Fullmetal Alchemist’s book? Nope! It’s absolutely nothing.

The Promised Neverland chapter 178

The kids’ reaction to Emma’s declaration that there will be absolutely no price for using the passageway that links the demon and human worlds perfectly sums up my own: complete and utter incredulation, as the mystery that has been hanging over the series for years now effectively comes to nothing. Seriously, what was the point in building it up so much if it was ultimately pointless? The fact that the passageway conveniently lies under Grace Field House almost feels inconsequential in the face of this.

Of course, I don’t mean to discount the pressures acting upon the series’ creators. I can’t even begin to imagine how stressful and difficult it is to sketch out a satisfactory ending to a series loved by millions, and you could make the argument that stretching things out any further by way of a tangent exploring the consequences of the ‘Promise’ would only serve to create more frustration, especially as the magazine has announced multiple times that the series is entering into its final stages.

There is also the possibility that, following The Promised Neverland chapter 178, we may get some short snippets of what life is like in the human world, as the kids wake up on the beach of a city that very much resembles New York. But, safe to say, I won’t be holding my breath: the series has betrayed my expectations far too many times at this point, so I’m just not going to form any from now on. Perhaps that will save me from getting Very Mad Online going forward.

Moriking chapter 5

Phew. That was a lot of negativity, but at least Moriking chapter 5 was pretty entertaining. Last week, we were introduced to a new character in the form of Oka, who is another humanoid insect like Moriking vying for the throne of King of the Insects. Furthermore, just as I suspected back in chapter 2, the series is moving ever closer towards the structure of a battle manga – while the bulk of this chapter is played for laughs, the powers and abilities that lie within would be more than enough to make this transition a successful one.

The clash between Oka and Moriking was seemingly sidelined at the end of last week, where Oka declined to fight her rival in front of Shoko’s house for “personal reasons.” Nevertheless, Moriking chapter 5 sees them finally get down to it. They meet by the river after Oka sends Moriking a “Letter of Challenge” (wonderfully retro, as Shoko points out) and the anthropomorphized praying mantis quickly showcases her deadly power: using her powerful arms to unleash deadly waves of force.

Moriking chapter 5

This power set is actually pretty interesting. As Shoto points out, praying mantis have very powerful arms when they are insect-sized, so it stands to reason that if you were able to somehow scale one of them up to human size, they’d be pretty powerful. This method of ‘scaling up’ insect abilities to human size continues as Moriking is able to absorb the blows due to his thick carapice, which is a feature that rhinoceros beetles are renowned for.

If you cast your mind back to chapter 1, you’ll remember that scene where Moriking entered into an insect wrestling competition. At the time, this was played for laughs, as he towered over the rest of the diminutive insects, but this now appears to have been a set-up for the ongoing structure of the series: insect battles, but blown up on a human scale.

Moriking chapter 1
Throwaway gag, or galaxy-brain setup?

Moreover, if Tomohiro Hasegawa decides to run with this format and turn Moriking into a full-blown battle manga, then so be it – it’s entertaining and inventive enough to do so. Nevertheless, it must be said that the majority of the ‘battle’ in Moriking chapter 5 is played for laughs, and is resolved fairly quickly; Hasegawa is, in fact, taking on that old trope of ‘yesterday’s enemy is tomorrow’s friend’ and has converted Oka into one of the supporting cast members, as we see her at the end of the chapter enjoying life as a normal teenage girl.

That is not to say, however, that Moriking chapter 5 is anything close to a cop out along the lines of The Promised Neverland chapter 178. In fact, the narrative gives a very good reason why Oka is quick to give up: she can never hope to win against Moriking’s thick carapace; she is convinced by Moriking’s all-encompassing kinglike philosophy, and she actually enjoys living like a human. So, there’s that.

In any case, Moriking chapter 5 is another installment in a series that is quickly shaping up to be the second best in this current batch, behind Time Paradox Ghostwriter, which is good news considering that the Weekly Shonen Jump line-up may not change any time soon. Even it does eventually make the jump to battle manga, so be it – it’ll be more original than Bone Collection, that’s for sure.

You can read the Yugen’s All-Ghouls Classroom one-shot, The Promised Neverland chapter 178, and Moriking chapter 5 for free via VIZ Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump.

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