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.
The laziest way to describe Mashle is One Punch Man meets Harry Potter. That being said, it’s also extremely accurate. The story centers around Mash Burnedead, an ordinary magic-less guy, in a world where everyone else has magic.
To overcome his lack of magic Mash just gets really strong, lifts weights, and eats creampuffs. So while everyone else uses their wands and giant spells to fight, Mash uses brute strength to defeat his enemies (not necessarily in one punch). The One Punch Man comparisons don’t stop here, Hajime Komoto even has their own version of Plain Saitama -> Serious Saitama art styles.
Not having magic powers means Mash will ruin the future gene pool. Naturally Mash is found out to possess no magic, meaning the only way for him to survive is to go to Easton Magic Academy (basically Hogwarts) and become the Divine Visionary, the strongest person in the school.
Easton Magic Academy comes complete with its own version of the Harry Potter houses, Adler, Orca and Lang. The students are sorted into the houses by the Sorting Unicorn. Easton is run by on old wizard with a long beard. The students fly on brooms and even play Duelo (basically Quidditch).
Mashle doesn’t tread any new ground, but it’s fine. The story overall is fun, the character designs are excellent. The long, thin legs of the characters let them stand out from Weekly Shonen Jump’s other offerings. There are however a few too many bowl-cuts among Easton’s students, a new barber would be appreciated.
Most of the gags in Mashle play on One Punch Man style beats and Mash’s obsession with cream puffs. They’re mostly funny, but the past few chapters Komoto has started to divert from these and give the story some real stakes.
Komoto’s art carries a lot of the fight scenes in Mashle. Komoto gives the spindly-legged characters tons of weight with every hit and the paneling is very fluid, you can easily make out what’s going on at every point. Komoto’s art will unfortunately always compared with Yusuke Murata’s in One Punch Man, and while it can’t really compete with Murata’s there’s only a handful of artists who can and they’re on hiatus (Inoue and Miura).
Mashle is a blast the whole way and it’ll be interesting to see where exactly Komoto takes the story in the future. There’s a plethora of things that can borrowed and repurposed from the Harry Potter universe and the overall world itself has only barely been explored. Mash and co. have spent almost the entirety of the story within Easton so far.
This series feels like one that Weekly Shonen Jump will give some legs to. If Undead Unluck is going to be a 200 chapter burner then Mashle can easily explore 400-500 chapters, it just needs to pick up some new jokes along the way.