Sophomore Season is a short two-part series detailing two of Weekly Shonen Jump’s up-and-coming titles. Undead Unluck and Mashle both started their second years of serialization this January. Each series has been successful so far and stand to hold spots in the Table of Contents for a while and help replace the loss of Demon Slayer, The Promised Neverland, Haikyu!! and Chainsaw Man.
Undead Unluck kicks off with Fuuko finishing up her favorite manga and deciding to kill herself (Hunter x Hunter, Berserk and Vagabond fans would never understand), having nothing to live for thanks to her Negator ability. By the end of the first chapter Fuuko teams up with Andy, a zombie who spends half the chapter naked, on a quest to finally kill him. Fifty chapters later Fuuko and Andy are on a break from trying to kill Andy and now have their sights set on killing God.
Undead Unluck starts at 100mph and never really lets up. Every character is blessed, or cursed, with a Negator ability. Negator abilities stop something from happening. Andy has Undead, he can’t die. A pretty ideal ability to have in a shonen battle manga. Andy can withstand any hit and commonly chops body parts off just to regrow from them in a different place.
Fuuko is saddled with Unluck, she negates all luck from anyone she touches. It’s not quite as useful as Undead. When Fuuko hugs her grandfather he later breaks his legs. When she hugs her parents before they get on a plane… the plane crashes and her parents die.
Yoshifumi Tozuka writes every character and fight to these extremes. Everyone in the story has an over-powered ability similar to Undead or Unluck, like making anyone you’re looking at stop moving, or being able to stop someone from healing a wound. What makes Undead Unluck fun is that when every character is too strong, then no one is strong. Every fight feels more like a puzzle, taking a page from the Hunter x Hunter playbook where figuring out how the opponent’s ability works and what Andy and Fuuko can do to stop it is the name of the game.
The story begins as a pretty common villain-of-the-week deal where Tozuka introduces different Negator abilities and new characters to round out their Justice League style team, Union. From there it’s learned that the world is in a time loop and is set to meet its doom once again unless they can kill God. The story zoomed through to what feels like the endgame, but Tozuka’s done a great job of setting up a roadmap to get to that point.
It’s still early but it feels like Undead Unluck will be running the way of Assassination Classroom, Demon Slayer, and The Promised Neverland, stories with clear goals that actively moved towards them at all times, never overstaying their welcome.
Tozuka’s art compliments the story that’s been set up well. Every panel is filled with energy and the characters are all distinct and lively. The characters’ expressions and mannerisms feel right at home in a magazine that also contains One Piece, My Hero Academia and Black Clover.
That being said, Undead Unluck can find itself being a little too chaotic for its own good at times. Occasionally fights can feel messy just from being so busy and the story itself could use some room to breathe. The gags are also a little tired, but they’ve improved as the story has started to get moving.
Undead Unluck isn’t necessarily a must-read, but it’s a fun, fast-paced story that lives and dies by its fights and its Negator abilities system. Seeing where Tozuka goes with the story now in its first big arc is exciting as well. The first year has set Tozuka up with a good base to build off of with plenty of characters and abilities to flesh out.