Series Roundup: 9/12 – 9/18

Mini-reviews for all the series without full individual posts.

Air Gear 287

[scanlation by SSA Scanlations]

Beautiful color page. This is a perfect example of quality art and a tiny bit of fanservice easily trumping over-the-top gratuitous fanservice.

Ringo has every reason to feel like she’s at fault about this. Regardless of where the blame lies, though, Ikki’s Regalia must be repaired quickly, or else not only will he be unable to win his fight, but also the plot will be unable to progress.

This is mostly setup after setup for each fight. I suppose it’s acceptable as a way to refresh the audience’s memory, after six weeks of no Air Gear.

Ikki demonstrates some strong leadership qualities by getting everyone back on track. Between the Regalia hunt and the various battles, the next few chapters should be exciting.

AR∀GO 35

[scanlation by Trinity BAKumA]

Cute cover page.

Interesting nod by Arai towards boxers, and lightweight boxers specifically. It’s true that this training should help Arago’s evasiveness.

I’ve finally figured out the secret behind the worst arc of Hajime no Ippo: Woli had Brionac.

The reactions from Rio, Coco, and Seth to Arago’s request are as funny as they are vastly different.

Captain Tsubasa now? This is an oddly sports-themed chapter.

Arago’s idea of a duel (and the werewolf’s immediate acceptance) is fascinating. The two-page spread of them exchanging blows is great, as well.

Code:Breaker 104

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

Not that I could put a face to the name, but Dekasugi going missing right after Yuuki drops the hint points to Code:Revenger having been closely watching everything all along.

Ogami’s new flame is incredibly powerful and far more versatile than the first flame. It’s also more bizarrely supernatural, perhaps even spiritual.

Once again, Ogami’s unique sense of justice, where he continues to quietly burden himself with others’ problems, is enjoyable to read.

Yuuki is obviously torn over having to fight Ogami, but chooses to turn to his trump card, in the form of some pills in his collar. I hope Yuuki doesn’t die in all of this action.

Defense Devil 64

[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

Kucabara’s focus on pacifism is a bit out of place. He has been established as a “good” character, but this feels more like time-wasting than personality establishment.

Several pages later, and Kucabara has exactly the same stance. It’s taking far too long for anything to happen.

His brilliant plan was to shoot out the lights? That’s a bit childish.

The naive devils throw the “soccer” field into chaos, and Kucabara drops in like Batman to save Idamaria. Sadly, the spurt of action at the end of the chapter doesn’t redeem the time wasted at the beginning.

Enigma 1

[scanlation by CXC Scans]

Love to see a brand new series get scanned right away. I hope CXC will keep up with this one.

The main character has a “Dream Diary” that predicts the future. A future diary. In Japanese, one would call that a Mirai Nikki.

Sumio’s flirting is a decently enjoyable character trait, but not one that stands out too greatly.

The skull with the reversed jawbone is an appropriately scary symbol. Good design.

The way Sumio’s mother panics provides some intrigue as to exactly why Sumio saw the symbol.

Sumio’s larger panel poses are too generic.

Sumio and six others wake up in a gymnasium, unable to exit or contact the outside world. Then, the Enigme symbol appears on a screen and gives them an objective. So, this series isn’t just Mirai Nikki; it’s also Gantz. Wonderful.

Based on only one chapter, this series has far more potential than recent Jump newcomers (Lock On!, Yotsuya, SWOT, etc.), but its success will depend entirely on the execution of the premise introduced in this chapter. Sadly, the two major concepts the series is built on are far too derivative of other, existing series.

GE ~ Good Ending 50

[scanlation by iMangaScans]

Yuki’s farewell smile to her mother and attendant is creepy as hell.

Evidently Yuki’s family is aware of whatever horrible business went down between Yuki and Touru. I appreciate him being unwelcome there; I don’t appreciate the focus being on him running around trying to find her. This series needs less drama.

This bald guy being on a Koushien-bound baseball team comes out of nowhere. How odd.

Oonuma finally snapped at Seiji! That’s exactly what needed to happen. Finally, a little positive progress.

Never mind. It’s all undone by some ludicrous fireworks and a statement that reflects just how right Oonuma was about Seiji’s superficial kindness. Seriously though, fireworks?! Fireworks.

fireworks.

Kure-nai 34

[scanlation by JAC Scans]

It’s finally sinking in to Shinkurou that Kirihiko is an assassin. To be fair, she’s right in pointing out that she said that when they first met.

She stabbed him, with no effect. Is she taking it easy on him, or is has his Houdzuki training again rendered him impervious to blade attacks?

Interesting competition proposed by Kirihiko. It’ll be good to see how Shinkurou reacts to her when she’s in a killing mindset.

I can’t accept Yuuno’s explanation of the manner in which Kirihiko cut Shinkurou. A time-delayed cut? This makes absolutely no sense.

Strangely comedic ending. Saving someone from suicide does not tend to immediately lead into a job offer.

Hayate no Gotoku! 288

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

Nagi’s “plans” are hilarious. Her obliviousness is always great, but she’s so certain here that she can succeed.

Excellent meta comedy! The Jump joke is apt, and the Sunday praise is fun.

Ashibashi-sensei may have been a completely minor character, but he was very funny in his limited role as the author of the successful series “This or That Depresses Me,” which clearly does not parody any real life series whatsoever. He should provide great interaction with aspiring mangaka Nagi.

Brilliant punchline from Ashibashi, and an even better reaction from Hayate and the girls. What a funny chapter.

I love that Ayumu had no idea how successful Ashibashi was.

Mahou Sensei Negima! 302

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

Excellent detail in Akamatsu’s drawing of the various magic attacks.

Negi is trying to be everywhere at once. He should rely on the girls more. He’s obviously far more powerful than any of them, but they’re far from incompetent.

Dragonfolk? I thought it was Demonfolk. The Dragonzord joke is catching on… sadly.

Nodoka is ridiculous. Time manipulation is one of the most potentially broken powers in any setting, and she just crashes into the user. Wasn’t she supposed to be the shy one?

Very nice affirmation of the girls’ abilities over the final pages.

Nurarihyon no Mago 122

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

Multiple ways to perform Matoi should eventually both solidify Rikuo as a seriously strong protagonist, and also keep the more prominent members of the Hyakki Yakou involved in the main plot. This technique is a fantastic idea.

Kidoumaru is a legitimately strong enemy with some good techniques of his own. Ouka is impressive.

Kurotabou’s pride is nice to see. Rikuo really has grown considerably since the beginning of the series.

Beautiful full-page art of Rikuo using the new variation of Matoi.

Rikuo is wearing Kurotabou in a far more literal sense than his previous uses of Matoi. Does this mean Rikuo will become the type of character who routinely uses other characters’ powers? While this version of Matoi is interesting, I hope Rikuo doesn’t rely on it too much. Members of the Hyakki Yakou need to stand out on their own, rather than be relegated to pure supporting roles for Rikuo.

Psyren 134

[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

“Now, the battle between Matsuri and Grana–!!” … and two pages later, we switch focus to Kagetora. Amusing.

Kagetora has always been fun to watch fight, but he’s even more interesting here in the future, surrounded by those with flashier abilities.

Back to Matsuri/Grana, and this fight is far more of an exchange of psychic abilities. Grana’s admittance that Matsuri has more battle sense is what keeps this fight balanced and interesting.

Ageha and Amamiya chase after Miroku, and the chapter ends. Some fun fighting, but not too much plot progression.

Zettai Karen Children 230

[scanlation by JS Scans]

Great omake page. Of course Hanzo is a Naruto fan. … oh, pardon me. Maruto.

Kiritsubo’s overprotective nature has grown tiresome.

Hanzo’s Naruto fandom extends within the chapter! He even has the Mangekyou Sharingan. Good comedy.

I’m pretty sure the shirt worn by the character on the last page is intended to represent a browser’s Refresh function. The shirt says “F5” (the keyboard shortcut for Refresh), and has circular arrows above and below the lettering. Amusing. That said, the comedy of this chapter far outweighs the attempt at engaging serious plot.

Feel that one or more of these series should be getting full-review treatment each week? Show your support by participating in chapter discussion in comments. Actively-discussed series will be considered for full reviews.

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  1. Mario
    September 19, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    As a new series, Enigma does indeed have more potential than the other new additions to jump, but aside from being derivative, (let’s just say that jump didn’t have a shonen version of gantz – if one doesn’t consider Psyren’s initial premise of finishing-missions-to-reduce-the-card-counter-and-exit-the-game to be similar) I can’t help but finding the dream diary to be close-to-useless in the challenge posed by enigma. Is he really going to sleep in the middle of this crisis (This ability could also mean that the more he sleeps to predict the future, the more screentime the other characters will get, which is not needed for the first chapters needed to establish the protagonist). Nonetheless, I hope that the next chapters prove me wrong (they probably will) and that it becomes a great series for us to read. I’d hate for the first chapters to not actually require use of the diary.

    As for Mahou Sensei Negima, I really can’t understand why Negi will fight Dynamis. He has shown that his stamina does not decrease due to magia erebea, but I’d hate to see Negi fight all the upper-tier villains all by himself. He has been set to fight Fate, and will probably fight against the cloaked guy (people in forums claim it’s Zect Filius) or against the lifemaker, or against however is behind Fate for that matter. I prefer for Dynamis to be taken care by Kaede or someone else.

    I am surprised that there is a Naruto reference in Zettai Karen Children. I haven’t read this far into the series yet, but i find it weird that there is a reference to a Jump series from a series in Sunday. Well it’s not the first time Shogakukan does so (Hayate the Combat Butler references Death Note, Rurouni Kenshin, and other jump series many times – btw, laughed at the jump joke, thought it lampshaded Bakuman-) Jump totally avoids to do so. The Bakuman universe seems to have Shueisha as the sole manga company.

  2. September 20, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Yeah, ZKC sort of follows the Hayate formula for comedic references; name changes and asterisks (even when they’re talking about other stuff running in Sunday). Cool to hear you’re reading it, will be interesting to see whether you fall on Jean’s or my side of the debate we’ve been having over it.

    • Mario
      September 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm

      Which debate are you talking about? I’ll try to read the rest of the series before the next beamcast comes up, but i can’t guarantee I’ll be done by then due to the beggining of my university courses. I’ve only read about a 100 chapters so I guess it’ll take me about 3 days to read the rest, given my study program is not too packed. By the way, feel free to send me a message for any other manga debate. I’m always glad to start a manga conversation, and as soon as I finish ZKC I’ll give my opinion on it.

  3. September 21, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Well, it’s half difference of opinion. I personally really enjoy the comedy of it, but think the real strong point of the manga is the way it deals with the development of Minamoto, the kids, and their a pseudo-parent/child relationship as they grow. I personally think the focus on parenting is a very unique one among all the manga I read, not just among shonen. He still enjoys the comedy, but could care less about the dramatic side of the manga. We touched on that very briefly in the Sept. 20 Beamcast.

    Either way, hope you enjoy catching up on it.

  4. Mario
    September 22, 2010 at 4:10 am

    Not yet finished with the series (halfway there), but I’d have to agree with Jean. While the strong point of the manga is indeed the relationship between Minamoto and the Children, I prefer the comedy more. I read it kind of how Gintama is written by Sorachi – mainly comedy, but the serious parts-arcs in the story are certainly great as well. It’s just that I prefer comedy to the other genres. However it is indeed the relation between them that makes the comedy so good. It’s as you say, it’s difficult to find a manga with such a deep approach to a parent/child relationship, but comedy in this series is so good at times that for me it overshadows the more mature, serious themes of ZKC. So I actually read ZKC as if it were a comedy series. It’s just an issue of preference, but I believe that comedy is the series’ strongest point.

  5. September 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    That’s fine. I do know that ZKC, especially the first hundred-ish chapters, is a comedy-focused work.

    When I first started ZKC, I was coming from GS Mikami, Shiina’s other big work. At that point, I was more a fan of his comedy. I really started liking the dramatic/relationship side of it after two particular story arcs, the ones starting on 115, which established how Minamoto and the kids first met, and 194, where the series really started showing off the kids’ character growth. Around chapter 200 or so, it became something I read primarily for the plot. Everybody goes about it differently, though. Considering how few readers ZKC seems to have (it’s one of the few series we’ve tiered with no separate wiki), I’m happy to welcome one more reader to the fold.

  6. Mario
    September 23, 2010 at 6:21 am

    I had completely no idea Shiina was the author of GS Mikami. I read the first volume of GSM some time ago and when I started reading ZKC I could swear Fujiko reminded me of someone, but couldn’t remember who. I can understand why you claim the first chapters of ZKC to be comedy, as both series by the author are heavily comedic in the beginning, but I agree with you regarding the more dramatic parts as I read the two story arcs you mention yesterday (20 chapters left at the moment) and the story arc where Minamoto met and took charge of the Children was needed to make the relationship between them much more interesting as well as set aside some of the comedy for drama. Still, comedy is what I primarily read this series for. But it’s true that as the story progresses, arcs begin to be more plot based rather than random arcs/missions that are comedy oriented.

  7. September 23, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Well, if you do like ZKC for the comedy, that makes GS Mikami a fairly strong recommendation. Because it’s a) by the same guy and b) more comedy-centric. The main villains/serious plot of GS Mikami exist, but they take significant time outs during a lot of episodic comedy arcs. Takes a little while to get good, though.

  8. Mario
    September 24, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Ok, just read the latest chapter, and heard the ZKC section of the latest beamcast (wouldn’t listen to it earlier to avoid spoilers) to hear about the debate. I want to comment on Jean’s statement that the comedy overshadows the plot, because the comedy is way too good. I don’t think that it’s because the comedy is way too good that people read the manga without caring much for the plot. I believe that when everyone reads the first part of the series they expect P.A.N.D.R.A. to be a major enemy, but they are way too familiar with the children and Minamoto, so that they cannot be considered as dangerous, and the moments they actually plot to do something usually end to comedy chapters. Granted, if they weren’t all friendly with the children we wouldn’t understand why the children would lead Espers in the predicted future (actually it might have been more interesting if they weren’t that friendly and a future arc explained how they would later turn against normals), but doing this makes the series lose a much needed villain. If why try to sympathise with every opponent and they all become friendly with the children, like Feather has started to do lately, there is no completely evil character that we can be afraid of. I considered Phantom to be one in the beggining of the series (Now we have to sympathize with her personality disorder issues). That is why in a plot where Major Hyoubu is the “villain”, I just expect comedy. It’s not as if he’s going to harm the children, he’s going to piss off Minamoto or something. The plot is not as serious and interesting due to this “villainous impotency” the villains show. I do not expect someone to actually try to harm Minamoto or the children in this series.

  9. September 24, 2010 at 9:42 am

    That’s a fair enough point. I kind of see it differently; I don’t think ZKC really needs villain characters for another couple years.

    It is true that ZKC does not have a truly evil villain at this point. This actually feels right to me reading it because it has been stated in series (via the prediction) that it’ll take about 10 years for the human/esper conflict to come to a head. I see the central conflict of the series as something entirely different: The 100% certainty of a bad future vs. Minamoto’s (and also Hyobu’s) attempts to raise the children and in doing so change that future. To me, phantom has always represented nothing more than an arc villain, albiet a major one. The central conflict of Minamoto vs. Hyoubu vs. the future over a 10 year timescale gives more than enough room for a lot of comedy along the way. Also, the 10 year timescale allows Shiina to show gradual growth in maturity over time, instead of just bumping up the kids into super-mature mode. That pace and direction of conflict both tie back to the whole parenting/growing up theme of the series of which I sing so many praises.

    I’m really glad ZKC runs in Sunday, because it’ll probably get a chance to finish that plot seriously that it wouldn’t have otherwise.

  10. Mario
    September 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Granted, the central conflict of the series is how Minamoto raises the children, but there are signs that other people can alter the future somehow, even to a slight degree. Feather’s appearance managed to do so (in that Kaoru in the future has one earring less and carries Momotarou – though it seems a completely trivial change), so I expect there to be others on future arcs that will also play their role in Minamoto’s efforts to finally avoid the prediction. While it’s true that at the moment villains might not be needed in the series – we all enjoy the comedy – I doubt it will take 10 years inside the ZKC universe to actually see how the conflict is resolved. That would take way too many chapters with the pace the series currently goes (although that’s not necessarily bad).

    Why wouldn’t ZKC run in any other magazine? I think that after a certain number of chapters, you can’t get canceled even in Jump (i.e. Hunter X Hunter) even if reader ratings are low (then again, I don’t know much about how serialization issues work, only what Bakuman occasionally mentions).

    By the way, here’s the latest chapter if you haven’t read it:
    http://www.mangareader.net/335-57576-1/zettai-karen-children/chapter-231.html

  11. September 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Read the chapter a few days ago. I tend to stalk JS scans’ site.

    The one thing from the most recently mentioned flashback that stuck me as nontrivial was the mention of Aoi as an ally of the espers at that point. Her and Shiho’s role in the prediction were totally unclear prior to that point. That would mean that whatever Kaoru told the two of them when they met up at the apartment made at least Aoi switch sides.

    I mean, it could take less than 10 years in universe to resolve the conflict, but I would be a little disappointed. I think the concept of the kids getting into high school/college has too much potential to remain unexplored.

    I don’t know about that certain number of chapters thing. Maybe it holds true for Kochikame, but not so sure about shorter 100-200 chapter series. You can avoid abrupt cancellation past a certain length, but Psyren is still fairly obviously being pushed toward an early conclusion. HxH is more of a special case than a rule for that magazine (even other jump authors have mentioned that Togashi is getting special treatment).

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