The Newest and Best of Shonen Jump

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There’s a plethora of manga available on Viz’s shonen jump website, all of it accessible for just $2 a month! This isn’t a plug (at least not one I’m getting paid for…), I just find that having a subscription for manga actually increases the amount of time I spend reading the stories they have available instead of scouring the internet for free manga and feeling the creeping guilt that I am trespassing in a morally grey bay of piracy. I don’t like that feeling! So, I sub to Viz and get my fix for all the new and old manga I may want to read from their compendium. And if the plethora of streaming services I subscribe to have taught me anything, it’s that sometimes I need to funnel my access to better focus on the things I have in front of me. I call it media portion control!

But that’s a digression for another day — if you’re checking out Shonen Jump keep in mind that the newest chapters and the first few of each series are always free, so if you’ve been keeping up with the series you love there’s little need for the subscription unless you enjoy visiting old content, of which there is a lot. Including the whole of Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh, Psyren, Dragon Ball, Death Note, Bleach, Demon Slayer, Tokyo Ghoul, and the great but forever-in-hiatus favorite that is D.Gray-Man. Its currently ongoing series include My Hero Academia, Blue Exorcist, Jujutsu Kaisen, One Piece, Black Clover, World Trigger, Seraph of the End, One Punch Man, and quite a few others.

I like the service because it’s a legal, cheap, and helpful way to support the artists’ and writers’ and the industry. It also encourages me to set aside a bit of time on Sundays to catch up on all the latest action! Speaking of which, I wanted to jump into some of the newer series of the weekly and monthly variations that have really sparked my interest. All of these, aside from one, are ongoing and most are relatively new. So hop on these bandwagons quick now so you don’t have to backtrack through 800 chapters just to get to the newest one. I know One Piece is good, everyone, but at what cost?!

Also although it’s not on here I still can’t get enough of Jujustsu Kaisen. Read it watch it, listen to its music — it really is that good, guys!

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“Not everyone needs a license to fight for justice!”

If you’re reading My Hero Academia (MHA) but not Vigilantes, I have news for you: Vigilantes is actually a blast and a half! While I love My Hero, the story of Vigilantes takes the famously fun world of Kohei Horikoshi’s manga and creates interesting new potentials within it, starring characters who have different priorities than those of our UA crew. For one, our protagonist Koichi is a working young adult with a thankless job, which is a great premise set against the more heroism-as-a-career centric world of MHA, and second the story is one of normal people with odd quirks trying to make the world better without the label of hero — which has surprisingly complicated legal ramifications. We get to see what things look like outside of the manicured world of pro-heroism.

It has a bit of a darker tone (I know, guys, the recent MHA chapters have been pretty damn dark) in that it grapples with the idea of a quirk-riddled world and what those who only watch and wait on Hero intervention are thinking. As they say in this manga, crime isn’t just large scale prison breaks and attacks on city blocks — it’s back-ally fights and small acts of violence that often go unnoticed. But Nice Guy, Koichi’s alter eager, is here to prove that sometimes fighting in general isn’t everything, and having the most powerful quirk in the world doesn’t make you the best hero ever. MHA grapples with these realities as well, but something about the more comicbook-ish feel of Vigilantes and relatable struggles of its characters makes it feel different and is a fascinating story in its own right. Not to mention we get to see some cameos of our favorites from the mainline series and learn a bit more about them from a behind-the-scenes perspective! For fans of My Hero Academia and all things super hero.

Read here! Releases: bimonthly

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“Even an invincible killer may not be able to survive Hell’s Paradise!”

This series actually just ended, literally, but there’s plenty to catch up on before you get to that point. This is the only one on that list that’s got an 18+ rating. It’s a macabre series with lush art that’s clearly aimed at an older audience, complete with a story that involves criminals and better understanding them.

Gabimaru is a killer. But when he’s caught and charged for murder his execution doesn’t go as planned. Instead, he’s given a chance at a pardon — if he can retrieve an elixir of eternal life from a remote, dangerous island off the coast of the late Ryuku Kingdom. A large group of prisoners are given the same chance, with their executioners joining them as a form of “escort” to the isle, and it becomes a free-for-all when they arrive with held grudges and new alliances paving the way. But Gabimaru, contrary to his horrid reputation, has a desperate desire to receive that pardon and return home. All because he wants to see his wife again.

A stark departure from the more morally sound protagonists of Shonen properties, I really enjoy Jigokuraku’s ability to tell a mature story without shying away from the more gruesome details that involves. These characters have complicated moral failings but also some redeemable loyalties and steadfast beliefs. It creates a web of reflections on morality and what constitutes being a good person or deserving of a good life. What justifies murder? When do you become irredeemable? The background of the hellish island also serves as a great stage for this, as we find our cast fighting against themselves as well as the deformed, terrible creations of the island and the beings that inhabit it.

I’d recommend this for anyone who enjoyed Tokyo Ghoul and likes darker stories that aren’t skittish of gore and feature a good balance of levity.

Read here! Final chapter released January 24, 2021.

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“Kafka wants to clean up kaiju, but not literally! Will a sudden metamorphosis stand in the way of his dream?”

In the world of Noaya Matsumoto’s Kaiju №8, 32-year old Kafka works to clean up the remnants of — you guessed it — kaiju. These giant monsters are commonplace, enough so that they have a defensive squad that’s dispatched to fight them and a clean-up crew dispatched to, well, you know. Kafka’s troubles feel very relatable in the intro, since I appreciate his wisdom and also the absolute dumbassery that comes with still being a relatively young person finding your way in the world. I also absolutely love how it highlights the mundane and disgusting (also realistic!) work of cleaning up giant monster guts, and I find it hilarious to watch bureaucratic work culture crop up in the most fantastic of stories. It’s why Cells at Work! tickles me so much!

But in Kaiju №8 cleaning up the remnants of monsters isn’t what Kafka originally wanted to do. He wanted to fight them. But, after failing the exams, he resigns himself to life of working hard to keep the streets blood and viscera free. When a young protege encourages him to take a stand and go for the exam after they raise the age of entry to 33, Kafka decides to do it — but not before getting infected and transformed into a kaiju himself, something that might hurt his chances in the exam a bit. Undeterred, Kafka and partner Reno eventually move on to take the exam and join the ranks of Kafka’s childhood friend and kaiju killing expert, Mina.

This is a really funny manga, and Kafka and Reno are an endearing duo. I’ve only read up to chapter 4, but I’m not going to deny that I might spend a few nights this week scouring through the rest of it. The comedy is great, the story is really engaging, and the characters and world are a bunch of fun. I highly recommend it to people who enjoy One-Punch Man, and also if you like series like Tiger&Bunny.

Read here! Releases: weekly

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“An action-packed comedy about a fake family that includes a spy, an assassin and a telepath!”

I admit it everyone, I’m an absolute sucker for older protagonists! And the main pair here — Loid and Yor — are well into their late twenties! That’s a-me too! Wow! It’s also why Kaiju №8 rocks! The fact that more stories don’t focus on people in their twenties or early thirties stuns me. We’re still young and sexy enough to be finding our way through the world and yet hilariously jaded and naive all in one. It’s a recipe for greatness!

Anyway…

“Twilight” is a renowned spy who’s given everything to his missions. When he receives one that requires him to infiltrate the higher social echelons of society in order to brush shoulders with his target — a recluse whose son attends a prestigious private school — he has to create a family in order to complete the task: have a student at the school, and a wife to keep up the veneer. Reluctant at first, “Twilight” — er, I mean, Loid — takes in Anya who, unbeknownst to him, is actually a telepath. She dotes on him quickly but the feeling is far from reciprocal, with Loid hilariously rebuffing her and struggling to understand how to raise children. Soon he meets the calm and quiet Yor, who is actually in the business of assassination. Known also as the “Thorn Princess”, Yor joins with Loid in a fake union that might eventual become something a bit more complicated than any of them expected.

It’s a fun take on the fake family trope, and I adore how the characters all bounce off of each other with their expectations, growing affections, and the wacky high jinks of trying to keep it all under wraps. It’s heartfelt, it’s funny, and it’s joyfully campy. Spy x Family is something I’d recommend to people who like watching experts at serious things become sudden, unexpected, and clueless domestics.

Read here! Releases: bi-monthly

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“Get into the spirit of this ghostly manga!”

It has a weirdly vague tagline that says little about the plot so I’ll fix it:

“A powerful shaman takes down phantoms with the help of a girl with newly discovered spiritual powers!”

Okay so Phantom Seer is the only one on this list which I started when it first premiered and have been faithful to it ever since. It’s a great, grisly, action series that has crisp and absolutely beautiful artwork. I’m surprised it’s not talked about more because I think it’d make a stellar and popular show as well, and hopefully we’ll get that eventually!

Phantom Seer focuses on Iori Katanagi, a high school student with the powerful ability to utilize phantoms he’s already exorcised, but who really wants nothing more than to be a normal kid. He’s joined by the honest and geunine Riku, a classmate coming into her own burgeoning spiritual powers, as well as a few other characters that feel already endearing despite the relatively short time in which we get to know them — we’re only at 20 chapters, people! Phantom Seer immediately lays down fascinating groundwork for Iori and his sister, Yayoi, as exceptionally powerful shamans, as well as for the phantom-fighting society in general. It’s a rare story that captured me with the characters and the world, as both are of equal fascination.

Honestly this manga takes the cake so far as being somewhat-objectively the most promising new and upcoming series that scratches that particular mature shonen action itch while not being too reliant on old tropes. I can only hope it doesn’t get overshadowed by Jujutsu Kaisen’s popularity in the spiritual/exorcism genre because they're both really wonderful in their own ways.

I highly recommend this to anyone looking for story comparable to Jujutsu Kaisen or Demon Slayer and even, to a lesser extent, Bleach. It has the markings of a narrative slow burn but with an attention to detail and audience expectations that I think is pretty expertly done.

Read here! Releases weekly

And there you have it! All the best new series, I think, Shonen Jump has to offer. If you’d like to subscribe to them you can sign up here. You can also check out the first few chapters of each series as well to see what you think! And, if you’re really feeling up to it and are already subscribed, you can read all of One Piece’s backlog up to the release of the most recent chapter — chapter 1,000. Wow! What a way to spend the next twenty years of my life! How will I ever find the time to build my spy family then?!

in my head or one of the Final Fantasy games, most of the time.

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