Story: Riichiro Inagaki
Translation: Caleb Cook
Touch-Up Art & Lettering: Stephen Dutro
Design: Julian [JR] Robinson
Editor: John Bae
Science Consultant: Kurare
What They Say:
Senku, Chrome and Magma go spelunking for a rare mineral, but can they survive the dangers of a real-life treasure dungeon and make it back alive?! They have no choice if they want to create the greatest “weapon” of modern times—the cell phone!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There’s a thing about Senku that maybe should tear the whole premise of the manga down, and that’s just how unrealistically smart he seems to be. He knows everything that has to do with science, which is just absurd. He’s Saitama of One Punch Man, but it’s his brain instead of his one punch. The manga stays together, as One Punch Man, by subverting some expectations and taking the stakes either away from Senku or toward a weakness of his. For Senku, it’s easy; he’s weak and very, very viable to be killed by anything resembling physical violence.
So the fun, and perhaps mundane, of the manga is Senku flexing his scientific muscle and saying all of these incredible things from memory because, well, he’s just that smart. It’s unrealistic, but it kind of has to gone along with for the rest of the manga to function, and there’s enough stakes (the threat of Tsukasa simmering just below the surface all winter) to make the rest of it seem urgent and not like they’re just doing science because science, as they say, rules.
But it’s not just that, it’s that everyone has gathered around Senku so wholly and so readily because he’s, well, kind of an asshole, but also somewhat likable. And, as the former village chief says, he’s making things better for everyone else. He’s brought methods to preserve meat through the cold winter months, he’s brought stoves to keep everyone warm both as they work and as they rest in their homes, and he’s brought hope to a village that would have none against Tsukasa without him (though, as he points out, they could just turn Senku over to Tsukasa, and they probably wouldn’t have to worry about him anymore).
These acts of science have endeared Senku to the villagers, though, and made him much more a part of it than he ever was at the beginning, when he was literally not allowed in it. His science has made their lives better and richer, and the culmination of that endearment is the gifting of an astronomy observatory for him. They make a crude telescope so he can view upon Jupiter and all the other stars and planets, because they care about him as much as he cares about them. Because even for how much a dick he is sometimes, he does care. He wants to revive seven billion people from being stone, he cares a bit about people.
Story-wise, they found some tungsten in a cave, made some batteries, and finally finished their phone, which only works as a landline now. But repeating those things defeats the purpose of a review. Having read or about to read the book, what’s the point of just reading it again? Senku, Chrome, and Magma in the cave is what brought on my whole thoughts about his weaknesses, his strengths, and his seeming infinite knowledge of all things science. It’s what drives the manga. But what makes it work are moments like Magma’s expression in the panel when Chrome accuses him of trying to kill Senku. He doesn’t want to give up his change of heart, or instinctual jump to save Senku from the crumbling mica. He’s the tough guy who they just fought, and beat, to win the village chief spot. What makes it work is what makes a lot of these shonen adventure manga work: The endearment everyone has for one another.
I assume (because I do not remember from reading it in in the jump app) that next volume will be much more plot heavy and maybe with a little fighting. Senku is still building up everything he’ll need for the science kingdom to beat Tsukasa, but he’s getting close. The phone is a huge first step along that road. And it can only get easier(?) from here.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: September 3, 2019