A new manga that recently started to be serialized on Shonen Jump+ has all the potential to become the next big hit for the industry. Skeleton Double by Tokaku Kondo, the author of an interesting one-shot called The God Who Can’t Clean Up, brings together mystery, horror, and classic shonen battles with a distinct visual approach and an intriguing plot, but it should be wary of avoiding the stereotypes of the genre.
Weekly Shonen Jump is the most popular manga magazine in Japan, and has published best-selling titles such as Dragon Ball, Naruto, and Bleach. In recent years, the magazine has expanded with an online-only platform, Shonen Jump+, and it is constantly looking for new manga that could reach the same success as past masterpieces like Demon Slayer, Jujutsu Kaisen, and One Piece. However, this isn’t easy, and many promising new works have been hit with cancelation not long after their debut. However, one manga that recently made its debut shows enough promise that it could join Shonen Jump‘s elite ranks.
Skeleton Double tells the story of Yodomi Arakawa, a high school student who tries to live a quiet life despite the fact that his father died eight years ago in a public and mysterious accident in Shinjuku. One day, Arakawa receives a package containing a talking skull called Yamamoto, who bestows upon him the power of invisibility as a way to apologize for having caused the death of his father. Arakawa soon finds himself entangled in a big conspiracy to turn men into “skeletons,” giving them superhuman powers that include invisibility. Men like Yamamoto recklessly experimented with this power and as a result summoned dangerous, otherworldly creatures, one of which killed Arakawa’s father.
After just a few chapters, Skeleton Double has managed to reveal enough information about its plot to invite intrigue, settling up a host of mysteries while delivering individually satisfying chapters. The manga is a careful blend of action and mystery, with an unexpected tinge of horror. The visuals so far are also truly original, as proved by the monsters of the series, revealed in chapter 3, who appear inspired by both Chainsaw Man and Jujutsu Kaisen, the two most innovative manga in terms of monsters design. Underneath the action, it’s clear that Skeleton Double also cares about the psychological development of its main character. Arakawa’s story follows the common themes of how traumatic events can significantly impact social behavior, but there is also a certain determination in his attitude that keeps his heroism inspiring.
Despite all of its merits, Skeleton Double should try to avoid the pitfalls of the genre. Shonen manga are prone to drawing from a deep well of cliché. In the worst instances, this leads to derivative plots and cookie-cutter characters. Skeleton Double is such a special series because it doesn’t appear to be attempting to walk the same path as any existing mega-hit stories – a surefire way to end up trapped in their shadow. So long as the themes and visuals of Skeleton Double remind original, it has the potential to develop into Shonen Jump‘s next big hit.