VIZ Media Pubwatch: August 2021

Viz Pubwatch banner featuring Nana from Viz Media

Happy August! It’s almost back to school for me and presumably some of you as well. VIZ media’s got even more news and new releases for you! This month we’re talking about why Tatsuki Fujimoto is a genius, the finale of Haikyu!! my beloved, and other staples of the VIZ lineup. And now, the news.

Free one-shots from beloved shonen manga creators

Panel from Look Back depicting Fujino and Kyomoto working on manga in Fujino's room.

Tatsuki Fujimoto, best known as the creator of Fire Punch and Chainsaw Man, published a 143-page one shot called Look Back in Shonen Jump on July 18 about two girls whose dreams of making manga together are cut short by a tragedy and muses on how things could have been different. It’s beautiful and poignant and made me feel feelings. Go read it.

More recently on August 9, Bleach creator Tite Kubo announced the series’s comeback with a special 73-page one-shot for the twentieth anniversary of the series. Longtime fans who want to see what the gang has been up to since Bleach ended can check it out now! It’s set twelve years after the end of the long-running manga and teases a potential new arc for Bleach’s return. As Kubo is currently working on the spin-off series Burn the Witch, whether or not Bleach will resume serialization is unconfirmed right now.

Interviews with The Promised Neverland creators on VIZ BlogThe Promised Neverland promotional image featuring a group shot of the cast.

Fans of The Promised Neverland can now read interviews with both the writer Kaiu Shirai and artist Posuka Demizu on the VIZ Blog, where each creator discusses their inspirations, influences, and thought processes behind the creation of the hit manga. Demizu discusses her video game background, while Shirai talks about the ideas that led to the title and the character decisions. I have not actually read The Promised Neverland but it’s always interesting to learn about how creators make their things happen!

More Information On What Mangaka Mania ‘21 Is

Mangaka Mania Promotional Image from VIZ Media's twitter account.

“Content drops” is the phrase used in this promotional post!

Shojo Beat turns 16 this year and we’re celebrating with new exclusive Dawn of the Arcana artwork from Rei Toma, an illustration from Ouran High School Host Club creator Bisco Hatori, and a Q+A with the author of Vampire Knight Matsuri Hino!

As far as Shonen Jump and Viz Signature events in Mangaka Mania go, a number of high-profile artists are going to be drawing fan-favorite characters on video. Click here for the full list. Exciting stuff!

Enough news, time for reviews! Let’s take a look at…

What I’m Reading

Sensor

Junji Ito
August 17, 2021Cover of Sensor by Junji Ito depicting the title in gold foil with panels from the comic behind it.

Cults! Mysticism! Christianity? Volcanic hair! This latest offering from everyone’s favorite horror master Junji Ito is a far more spiritual offering than I’ve seen from him before, with existential horror on a cosmic scale. Sensor describes a mysterious village at the base of Mount Sengoku, where the volcanic glass fibers flowing from the mountain are gold and grant special powers to those they fall on. A hapless reporter following the story of a young woman’s disappearance slowly uncovers the secrets of Kiyokami village, and what happened to Kyoko Byakuya when she found herself there. Ito usually makes short stories, but this is a single graphic-novel-length work with multiple chapters and angles to the story that build on each other which I really enjoyed. The horror imagery is meticulous and inventive. I never expected to be this creeped out by hair. The mystic angle is an interesting new direction for Ito, and I really enjoyed it.

Chainsaw Man Volume 6

Tatsuki Fujimoto
August 3, 2021Cover of Chainsaw Man volume 6 depicting Reze in front of Chainsaw Man and Bomb's silhouettes.

This is a Tatsuki Fujimoto appreciation Pubwatch, it seems! I haven’t covered Chainsaw Man here since volume 1, but I did read the whole thing digitally on the Jump app last month and I was delighted to reread volume 6 for this review. This arc focuses on Reze and Denji, and how Denji’s desire for love and respect is complicated by who he is. “Everybody’s after my CHAINSAW heart! What about MY heart! Denji’s! Does nobody want that? Huh?!” Denji laments, and it hurts because Denji has spent his entire life being treated as a tool and something less than fully human and he does not deserve that. I love how Fujimoto draws action sequences, how clear and dynamic and creative his fights are. Chainsaw Man is a masterclass in comic art and sequential visual storytelling. Fujimoto also manages to depict a half-naked girl fighting without making her feel uncomfortably sexualized, an unfortunately rare feat.

Haikyu!! Volume 45

Haruichi Furudate
August 3, 2021

Cover of Haikyu!! Volume 45 depicting Hinata Shouyou in MSBY Black Jackals uniform running towards the left with Kageyama behind him running in the same direction.

It’s the end of an era, folks.

I started reading the Haikyu!! manga summer 2017, and I will miss it dearly now that it’s done. The final chapters of the weekly release were originally planned to lead into the 2020 Olympic games (before the pandemic derailed those plans) but the final volume coming out in English just after the games this year worked out pretty well. Japan’s national team played music from the Haikyu!! anime during the games this year, and thousands of Haikyu!! fans tuned in to watch them make the quarterfinals for the first time in years.

For fans who read the weekly release, the volume release has some new extra pages in the last chapter, expanding on the Inarizaki team’s current happenings and the flashbacks at the very end. For fans who didn’t read the weekly release, a number of minor but beloved characters you haven’t seen yet come back in this volume so look forward to that! The last pages of this incredible volleyball epic send our beloved duo off with the reassurance that despite the manga being finished, Hinata and Kageyama will keep playing, keep improving, keep challenging each other together.

I wanted to close off this month’s pubwatch with this review because Haikyu!! is a manga that never fails to inspire me and make me feel happy. Sensor and Chainsaw Man are incredible works that showcase the power of comics to create fear and rage and sadness, but Haikyu!! sparks joy like nothing else does. Watching Hinata grow from a little kid who can jump high to one of the most powerful volleyball players of his generation is incredibly satisfying, but even more satisfying is seeing how Hinata and all his teammates and friends and acquaintances grow and change together, finding their passions and taking them seriously.

Anyway, that’s it for August! See you next month with more VIZ manga news and reviews!

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