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AR∀GO 41

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Trinity BAKumA]

Even if Arago is right to claim to be in trouble, the fact that his regeneration has kept him alive through this barrage is hugely impressive.

Arago’s insistence on staying out of the line of fire despite his Brionac powers is a comforting sentiment. This series would suffer immensely if Brionac evolved to the point where Arago could eschew clever tactics and trickery in favor of brute force. Some series work well with conventional shonen stereotypes, but AR∀GO would not be one of them.

The scene played out over only a half a page, but Arago refusing to fire Brionac in a manner that would kill a human has the potential to be a series-defining moment. Arago has always intended to protect humans, but this fact was never highlighted as intensely as this moment. Another more directly threatening moment could force Arago to reassert his refusal to use Brionac on humans, which would inevitably draw comparisons to pacifist protagonists such as Vash the Stampede and Kenshin, not that such comparisons necessarily would be unwelcome.

In stark contrast to the earlier reassurance provided by the explicit limitation of the regeneration ability of Brionac, the ability to fire beams is disappointing. The strength of this series lies in its exploration and adaptation of various myths and legends. This alternative feel has been complemented by the low-key Brionac power, which has somewhat resembled a Stand from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, in that it’s been shown as a limited power used in situational and insightful ways, rather than as a linearly-upgraded, Dragon Ball-style power. If Brionac continues to evolve down such a path, I can’t help but worry that Brionac would be overpowered for the subtleties of the legends AR∀GO explores, which could lead to Arai seeking balance by changing the overall feel of the series to a more traditional shonen style. Hopefully this is an isolated incident, but I admit to being wary.

Please, leave the shonen beams to the professionals

The next day, Cloteaux is noticeably absent from the investigation proceedings, and Coco is unreachable. After the disappointment of Brionac-beams, this is a pivotal moment. If Coco has been kidnapped for the purposes of a straightforward “damsel in distress” plot line, this series will have made major strides in an unwanted direction. On the other hand, if Arai defies expectations and uses Coco’s disappearance as an opportunity to establish her as a self-sufficient character, or at least varies a kidnapping scenario by having Coco actually suffer in some capacity at the hands of Cloteaux, then AR∀GO will still retain its unique feel compared to its shonen contemporaries.

Final Flash: Still an enjoyable chapter, but one that presents far too many unpleasant possibilities for the future.

Beamcast – November 1

November 1, 2010 3 comments

[download link – 135min, 57mb]

In this week’s show:

News

Weekly Oricon rankings (10/18 – 10/24)

Discussion / Weekly Poll
Last week’s results:

Which of these 100+ chapter series is most deserving of an anime?
1. Psyren (49%)
2. Yankee-kun to Megane-chan (26%)
3. Bloody Monday (9%)
4. Code:Breaker (8%)
5. Kimi no Iru Machi / MiXiM☆11 (4%) (tie)

This week:
Which sport do you prefer seeing depicted in anime/manga?
(Baseball, basketball, boxing, soccer, tennis)

The Great Shonen Tier List
Character re-tiered:
Arago Hunt (AR∀GO)

Characters added:
Foxy (One Piece)
Yamato (Naruto)
Kousaka Shigure (History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi)
Sango & Kirara (InuYasha)
Death the Kid & Liz/Patty (Soul Eater)
Scar (Fullmetal Alchemist)

This Week in Manga
0:28:14 – Mirai Nikki 57
0:29:33 – Donten Prism Solar Car 2
0:33:00 – One Piece 602
0:38:49 – Bleach 424
0:44:10 – Bakuman 107
0:48:25 – Beelzebub 82
0:56:14 – Fairy Tail 207-209
1:04:22 – Hayate no Gotoku! 294
1:08:59 – Kekkaishi 327
1:14:25 – AR∀GO 41
1:19:29 – Toriko 116
1:24:23 – Gamaran 69
1:28:42 – The World God Only Knows 119
1:32:04 – Defense Devil 70
1:34:30 – Mahou Sensei Negima! 307
1:42:01 – Psyren 140
1:45:55 – Nurarihyon no Mago 128
1:49:07 – Zettai Karen Children 236
1:51:51 – Kimi no Iru Machi 110
1:55:10 – SWOT 14
2:01:35 – Enigma 7
2:08:39 – Deadman Wonderland 39a
2:10:42 – Air Gear 293
2:11:59 – Gintama 328
2:12:53 – Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 312

Chapters of the Week

Final Flash

Comments / questions / additions? Email the show.
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Credit: AnimeNewsNetwork

Beelzebub 82

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by CXC Scans]

This casual relationship between Toujou and Shizuka deserves a little explanation. It makes sense that strong characters would know each other, but we have yet to receive any backstory. That said, I’m certainly not asking for a flashback here, but hopefully this storyline will be explored later.

Izuma vs. Toujou? This is unusual timing. Granted, they have unfinished business, but there are far more pressing matters in the story that deserve the attention.

Great comedy as Oga tries to shirk his responsibility. Beelzebub always follows through with small running gags to maximum effect.

As if to prove my point, Baby Beel imitating Oga’s action from earlier in the chapter is hilarious.

Slow down there, Kitamura

En has an old-school Game Boy! That’s pretty unusual for someone of royal descent, but amusing nonetheless.

Since the announcement of the anime, the scene of En failing miserably at the Resident Evil spoof for PS2 is the first scene that I’ve strongly felt that I want to see animated. The entire scene is hilarious, from Sachura calling Furuichi a douche bag, through En boasting about his SNES and Genesis, to the mandatory trademark parodies, and finally to the ludicrous resolution.

For a kid, he sure has his priorities straight

The decision to convert En from potential enemy to background amusement, while introducing Behemoth as the new antagonist, is a great one. It is a bit jarring to suddenly be presented with another new enemy, right as we were beginning to understand En, but En isn’t nearly menacing enough to be the enemy to carry a demon world storyline. Just from the silhouette given of Behemoth, his suitability is obvious.

Oga is left in near-panic by En’s warning, and the chapter ends with Zenjuurou implementing one of the old badass standbys: Lounging around, perched high atop scaffolding. Training time?

Final Flash: Great comedy and a necessary villain switch. The gears are in motion.

Bleach 424

October 28, 2010 5 comments
[scanlation by Binktopia]

That Jump cover… wow. Don’t look excited to be back or anything, Ichigo.

Ichigo… Ichigo! Good morning, Ichigo! Come on, sleepy head! Get up! (Does anyone not think of this when an opening scene shows a character waking up?)

The color scheme of the cover spread and the liveliness of Ichigo’s house are evocative of the old Bleach, from way back at the beginning of the series. Let’s hope Kubo felt nostalgic about quality, too.

There’s been a timeskip, apparently. Hmm… a timeskip… haven’t some other series done that?

At least Ichigo's hair isn't retractable, and I don't see Sakura anywhere

Joking aside, this timeskip has the potential to be the most story-relevant and meaningful of the Big 3. Unlike the other two, Bleach has the chance to completely change its tone and direction. The story is as close to a blank slate as any series could be after 400 chapters. Will Kubo actually opt to go down a different path? Probably not, but the option is there, should he want to be adventurous and make these next few years worth something. Frankly, even if he sent the story in a new direction and produced a story as lifeless as what we’ve suffered through for the last few years, Kubo would deserve immense respect just for breaking convention and not relying on established success.

Of course, I don’t see any of that happening, but I want to remember this moment as the fork in the road before Kubo steered us right back into the ditch.

Ichigo told Chad and Inoue (among others) what happened while he was sleeping? That’s so many levels of bizarre. What were you doing sleeping around a whole bunch of people? Why can you sleeptalk so accurately? (EDIT: The Binktopia translation has since been corrected, to Chad and Inoue themselves telling the others while Ichigo was sleeping.)

I hope the mention of Karin’s improvement and increased responsibility is more than just a casual aside. The main cast needs to be shaken up, and not only Karin would be a bright addition, but such a move would fulfill some plot potential from early in the series.

Ishida running in the hallways, presumably to take care of a Hollow, presents another interesting storyline possibility: Ichigo, now powerless, faces an identity crisis as he tries to leave his previous fame and importance behind him. As his former colleagues and allies continue to fight, Ichigo fights against the depression naturally associated with his irrelevance. Once again, do I see this happening? Certainly not, but I can dream.

Background of the week

Ichigo shooting down any semblance of loneliness or dependence on his now-former life is disappointing. I’m not asking for Bleach to suddenly turn into an emotional, introspective work, but a little character emotion outside of “callous shonen hero” would do a world of good.

At least Kubo hasn’t failed to remember that Ichigo is still a very fit young man. Chasing down a thief is a bit of a cliché, but compared to the gigantic attacks from the last few years of Bleach, I’ll gladly take any semblance of subtle, subdued action.

There I was, about to compliment Kubo on his art, for angling the “camera” below the bag so that the zipper also somewhat looks like a scary set of jaws… when the full-page shot of this mystery character reveals that Rob Lucci is now making cameo roles.

CP9 of th-- ahem, Twist of the week

Final Flash: A completely acceptable chapter, but nothing actually happened, so that isn’t saying much. The “new,” post-timeskip Bleach will be judged more fairly when the real action resumes.

One Piece 602

October 28, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

A title like “Rudder Straight Down” must mean we’re finally off to Fishman Island, right? … right?!

I’m immensely appreciative of Oda keeping the flashback of Luffy training under Rayleigh to two small panels. It appropriately conveys the feeling of gratitude without ruining any pacing.

Perona looks lovely after her timeskip redesign, but you didn’t need me to tell you that; Sanji made that quite evident.

This is the face of addiction withdrawal

Brook has finally arrived aboard Sunny-go. While his interaction with Nami was funny, it doesn’t make up for how much focus he’s received, and how long it’s taken for him to get here. Of all the crew members who could have been justified becoming famous and being hinted as being bigger than the crew, Brook is dead last.

Finally. For the first time since chapter 512, released September 1, 2008, the entire crew is together. Despite some truly excellent storytelling throughout the War arc, it’s been an agonizing wait. I still don’t feel like the weight has been fully lifted, because of some of the outlandish crew redesigns, but complaints aside, seeing everyone reunited is a major relief.

A moment literally years in the making

Of course, they’re not back together for an entire minute without Luffy being awestruck by Franky’s redesign, or without Sanji spilling his body weight in blood from his nose at the sight of the ladies. This kind of crew interaction has been long overdue.

The Straw Hats are getting quite a lot of help in escaping from Sabaody Archipelago. That’s actually a positive; it removes the need for them to fight their way out and reveal all (or any) of their interesting new abilities. Also, it provides an interesting look at these mentor characters outside of their previous surroundings, and creates the opportunity for crew members to react to each others’ helpers.

Of course.

I sincerely hope we’re treated to some cover stories chronicling the whereabouts of these mentor characters. Many of them are too interesting to cast aside for good after this arc.

After a satisfying explanation of Sunny’s bubble coating and how the ship will sail using undersea currents, we’re off to Fishman Island. If waiting for the crew to reunite felt like a long time, waiting for Fishman Island has been an eternity; it was first mentioned in chapter 69, way back in 1999.

Final Flash: Another setup chapter for the next arc, but a completely acceptable one, given the amount of interesting events in it. After years of waiting, we are finally at this incredible moment. Everyone ready for next week?

Weekly Power Rankings: 10/10 – 10/16

October 27, 2010 2 comments
Rank
Change
Series
Chapter
Score
1 Beelzebub 80 80.00%
2 Hayate no Gotoku! 292 77.82%
3 +6 Kimi no Iru Machi 109 72.82%
4 +1 Toriko 114 72.18%
5 +2 AR∀GO 40 71.11%
6 +2 Nurarihyon no Mago 126 70.00%
7 -1 Bakuman 104 68.02%
8 +7 Enigma 5 67.13%
9 +2 Psyren 138 66.61%
10 +2 Kekkaishi 325 65.95%
11 -8 History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 402 64.96%
12 -8 Gintama 64.94%
13 Gamaran 68 64.59%
14 Code:Breaker 108 64.22%
15 +3 Air Gear 291 61.24%
16 -6 Fairy Tail 204 61.08%
17 -1 Mahou Sensei Negima! 305 60.96%
18 -1 The World God Only Knows 117 59.63%
19 Defense Devil 69 56.28%
20 +1 One Piece 599 55.89%
21 -1 Naruto 512 55.09%
22 Kyoukai no Rin-ne 69 48.08%
23 GE ~ Good Ending 55 46.91%
24 Zettai Karen Children 234 37.59%
25 Bleach 423 29.36%
26 MiXiM☆11 115 26.39%
27 Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 309 19.52%

Absent: SWOT

Series Roundup: 10/17 – 10/23

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

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

Air Gear 291-292

[scanlation by SSA Scanlations]

(291) Just in case you weren’t convinced that this is a bizarre arc, Kaito utters the phrase “Even if you’ve trained your balls […]”

Kaito’s cigarette trick is a nice touch on its own, and Lind knowing to take over control of the body and not interfere shows another facet of the relationship between Kaito and this multi-persona character.

Apparently Lind is Gazelle? That’s interesting, but it’s also just the same cliffhanger/twist as last week.

(292) This proposed trade is a neat idea, but Lind shutting it down might be for the best. Arthur and Shalott are decent characters, but we’ve been away from the main group for too long.

I’m curious about this Gazelle concept, but with the pacing already stretched because of all the individual fights going on, this is not at all a great time for a flashback. This could have been saved for after this entire arc.

Code:Breaker 108-109

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

(108) The opening pages of post-mystery explanation are slightly tedious, but Aoba being revealed as the Code:Revenger is a good enough twist to reclaim my interest. Great two-page spread artwork of Aoba’s glare.

Ogami using Belphegor to no effect shows that Aoba isn’t using any abilities. This is a great writing choice; this series has become entirely about special powers, to the point that a character being this strong on innate power is a pleasant surprise.

Aoba reveals a hint of her motivation, saying that Ogami took her beloved away from her. The One, perhaps?

(109) Heike’s introduction might finally lead to some serious development. He’s been hinted as having his own motives ever since he was introduced, but the plot has yet to focus on him intently.

Aoba’s leg submission on Ogami is another clever touch, and Ogami’s attempt to counter it leads to losing his power. Finally, Sakurakouji’s intervention prompts a pained expression on Aoba’s face. In its entirety, this is a fantastic exchange, and a great way to establish Aoba as a meaningful character.

Interesting aside about Toki. His presence has been sorely missed recently.

Wonderful series of pages to wrap up the chapter. Heike’s role as one of the founders of Eden (whatever that is – we need some more information about that), as well as his age, finally gives his character enough material to stand out. These were a great couple of chapters.

Defense Devil 69

[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

Judging from the opening pages, it seems this chapter is yet another diversion from the main storyline. A Shugarl chapter should be more acceptable than last week’s fanservice, at least.

That said, Shugarl does serve as quality female fanservice, apparently. His female onlookers are amusing.

Jupiter’s nightmare is suitably scary for a series that doesn’t focus much on horror.

Attempting to intervene on Jupiter’s behalf is an effective way to solidify Shugarl as a “good” character. I suppose that was necessary development, but this still felt like an oddly detached chapter.

Donten Prism Solar Car 1

[scanlation by CXC Scans]

Immediate impression of this series: Great art, as was to be expected from Murata. Also, the use of narrative boxes to quickly establish the protagonist is much appreciated in a monthly series. Also, the protagonist himself is an interesting character, with a good backstory, character design, and traits.

What a unique scenario presented by the first conflict in this series. Building a solar car is (to my knowledge) completely unprecedented shonen plot, and Kaneda’s displeasure with these students coming into his everyday life should make for interesting relationship development for many chapters to come.

Whether he’s justified or not, Kaneda is being a jerk to the engineering students. That fact alone makes him far more dynamic than most protagonists through one chapter.

It’s a pity this is a monthly series, rather than weekly, because the first chapter was about as engaging as it could have been. I’m already looking forward to next month.

Gamaran 67-68

[scanlation by Overload Scans]

(67) It’s been long enough since we’ve had a break from serious action that I’d forgotten that this series is capable of good comedy.

These two idiots are boasting in front of the absolute last person in this series to mess around with. They’d be better off joking around with Jinsuke than challenging Iori.

Juuren Village? Sounds like a training arc. That wasn’t too hard to see coming, though.

(68) Of course some folks from Juuren Village just happen to be wondering about the Ogame school. How convenient.

Interesting note about Ranmaru becoming Naoyoshi’s bodyguard. That, combined with Ranmaru’s conversation with an aggressive Kai, sets up the long-term possibility of Ranmaru having his own motives independent from Jinsuke’s vision, despite all the emphasis placed on Ranmaru’s loyalty in this chapter.

Great little scene of Naoyoshi having a crisis of conscience regarding helping his mother versus remaining loyal to Gama. So far, despite the Grand Tournament of Unabara ending, Naoyoshi is still getting necessary spotlight and development.

A foreign ninja girl attacks the Ogame group? This is the most out of place character design yet shown in the series, so Juuren Village is already looking to be a change of pace.

GE ~ Good Ending 55

[scanlation by iMangaScans]

Pages and pages of aggravation. I can’t quantify how much I’d rather be reading a series about Eri or Izumi.

Errand boy Seiji crashes into a girl at the photo lab. The absolute last thing this series needed was another harem member, and yet this series is terrible enough that such a meeting already cements this girl as a love interest.

The mixup between Seiji and the mystery girl means each character’s photos land in the wrong hands, and some professional photographers get a look at Seiji’s pictures. As uninteresting and unrelated to existing plot as this is, perhaps it will lead to Seiji finding something to do as a career, which would satisfy his self-imposed requirement for dating Yuki. Maybe this could lead to something positive.

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 311

[scanlation by Binktopia]

It’s depressing that Amano feels the need to explain the concept of the 10-year bazooka. That’s yet another sign of how far downhill this series has gone; if Reborn! was still as good as it used to be, Lambo would have been featured prominently in fun roles all along.

Rauji is a huge stag beetle. Ridiculous.

Lambo’s “pride” is pretty comical. Even in 15-year old form, he’s still the most enjoyable character in the series.

Oh so coincidentally, Lambo’s weapon gives him horns. Horns vs. jaws. Yawn.

An entire chapter wasted on putting on a helmet. Even Lambo can’t redeem this.

SWOT 13

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

This week’s SWOT despair-saving TV theme is the intro to CHiPs. Help me, Erik Estrada.

Of course Yamikura can use Resolve already. He’s been off-screen. That’s all it takes in bad shonen.

Yamikura was able to defeat the sophomore in a matter of pages. I know this series is on the verge of cancellation (thankfully), but that’s still criminal.

Wonderful, a moody eyepatch character. Thanks for reminding us that no matter how bad it was, Lock On! was still indescribably superior to this garbage.

What the hell? Discounting the overall idiocy of the last page, look at Manabizaki’s teeth. It’s obvious the author can’t write worth a damn, but at least have the decency to draw properly.

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.

Bakuman 106

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

I didn’t mind Mashiro learning from Shiratori last chapter, because I felt it was a way for Mashiro to remain down-to-earth. This chapter, though, the emphasis is being placed on just how good Shiratori is to be able to teach an established mangaka, rather than Mashiro being an open-minded professional for learning from an assistant. This shift in emphasis is slight but enough to make a considerable and upsetting difference.

Moriya’s outburst is more exciting than anything Shiratori has done since his introduction. I wouldn’t approve of Moriya getting the amount of spotlight that Shiratori has received, but at least some of the time that’s been wasted on Shiratori could have been used more effectively to develop Moriya further.

What excellent taste you have

Moriya is in love! How adorable.

Otter #11 is being canceled? What a horrible turn of events! Also, it’s sad to see The Time of Green Leaves leaving the magazine as well. That said, this plot development has led to my personal favorite piece of artwork ever produced by Obata.

A completely new kind of testament to Obata's brilliance

The decision to parody the real Jump’s “Top of the Super Legend” one-shot series is both amusing and perhaps the most up-to-date reflection of the manga industry yet featured in Bakuman. Also, it’s a good method to keep side characters relevant and involved while the primary focus of the series is in transition.

Hilarious exchange between Hiramaru and his editor. I miss when “Weekly Aoki Ko” was a regular feature of the series, rather than an occasional joke in between Shiratori plot elements.

Excellent comedy duo

Mashiro’s demonstration of his two drawing styles is an impressive achievement from Obata, as well as simply being an interesting peek into the life of a professional artist. I can’t overstate how much I appreciate the way this series has kept the technical side of manga accessible to readers. It would be extremely easy of Ohba and Obata to include tons of advanced details, all of which would be accurate but potentially over the heads of the audience; instead, they’ve managed to include just enough to make the series feel authentic, yet not so much as to confuse anyone.

Of course Eiji wants to contribute a one-shot. He can apparently do anything, so why wouldn’t he?

I’m pleased that Iwase is determined to enter, since she’s been marginalized for a little while now, but the strong hints of her pairing up with Mashiro are worrisome. That would be yet another development that leads the story further away from the original goal of Ashirogi Muto and Azuki, and this one could feel worse than any of the others, considering the unsettled rivalry between Iwase and Takagi, as well as Iwase’s earlier dislike of Azuki.

The chapter ends with a united declaration from Ashirogi that they are entering the Super Leaders’ Fest, yet I still can’t shake the feeling that Takagi will be too overwhelmed to uphold his end of the deal, and that Mashiro and Iwase might end up working together. If that’s the case, I’d be extremely disappointed by this chapter, in that the story didn’t just move directly to such a partnership rather than traveling through drama and turmoil first.

Final Flash: A few splendid moments only serve to break up the frustrating monotony of where this series has gone in the last couple months.

Beamcast – October 25

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

[download link – 157min, 68mb]

In this week’s show:

News
Sket Dance anime adaptation set for Spring 2011
One Piece has 200 million books in print
New shonen magazine, Sakura Hearts

Licensing announcement
Viz: Ao no Exorcist (Blue Exorcist)

Non-shonen news
Fruits Basket, Pluto live action adaptations

Weekly Oricon rankings (10/11 – 10/17)

New releases

[anime]
Fullmetal Alchemist – Second Season Viridian Collection (DVD) $49.98
Naruto – Season 4 Box Set 1 Uncut (DVD) $49.95
One Piece – Season 3 Part 3 (DVD) $49.98
Trigun – Complete Series (DVD) $49.98

[manga]
Kuroshitsuji (vol. 3) $10.99
Cirque du Freak (vol. 7) $10.99
Code:Breaker (vol. 2) $10.99
Hero Tales (vol. 4) $10.99
Negima! (vol. 28) $10.99
Pastel (vol. 15) $11.99
Soul Eater (vol. 4) $10.99
Zombie Loan (vol. 10) $10.99

Discussion / Weekly Poll
Last week’s results:

Which among the Jump “Super Legends” is your favorite author?
1. Toriyama Akira (Dragon Ball, Dr. Slump) (46%)
2. Sorachi Hideaki (Gintama) (20%)
3. Kishimoto Masashi (Naruto) (17%)
4. Konomi Takeshi (Prince of Tennis) (10%)
5. Akimoto Osamu (KochiKame) (5%)
6. Usuta Kyousuke (Sexy Commando Gaiden: Sugoiyo! Masaru-san, Pyuu to Fuku! Jaguar) (2%)

This week:
Which of these 100+ chapter series is most deserving of an anime?
(Bloody Monday, Code:Breaker, Kimi no Iru Machi, MiXiM11, Psyren, Yankee-kun to Megane-chan)

The Great Shonen Tier List
Characters added:
Oars (One Piece)
Akimichi Chouji (Naruto)
Dio Brando (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
Jirou (Toriko)
Sasagawa Ryohei (Katekyo Hitman Reborn!)
Son Gohan (Dragon Ball)

Anime Discussion
Nurarihyon no Mago (ep. 16)
Legend of the Legendary Heroes (ep. 17)
Shinryaku! Ika Musume (ep. 3)
To Aru Majutsu no Index II (ep. 3)
The World God Only Knows (ep. 3)
Bakuman (ep. 3)

This Week in Manga
0:41:57 – Donten Prism Solar Car 1 (new series!)
0:47:18 – Naruto 514
0:54:42 – One Piece 601
1:03:11 – Bakuman 106
1:11:31 – Beelzebub 81
1:17:12 – Fairy Tail 206
1:21:27 – Hayate no Gotoku! 293
1:24:51 – Kekkaishi 326
1:31:27 – History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 403-404
1:38:23 – AR∀GO 40
1:44:07 – Toriko 115
1:50:23 – Gamaran 67-68
1:55:22 – The World God Only Knows 118
1:58:49 – Mahou Sensei Negima! 306
2:04:19 – Zettai Karen Children 235
2:08:33 – GE ~ Good Ending 55-56
2:12:35 – SWOT 13
2:16:44 – Enigma 6
2:26:27 – Bankara-san ga Tooru
2:31:49 – Air Gear 292
2:32:48 – Code:Breaker 108-109
2:34:17 – Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 311

Chapters of the Week

Final Flash

Comments / questions / additions? Email the show.
Want to share with friends? How kind. Have a shortlink: http://wp.me/pJOZe-Qa

Credit: AnimeNewsNetwork

Naruto 514

October 22, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Uh, Kishimoto? As enticing as the title “Kabuto’s Plot” is, I can’t be made to overlook your attempted Disney-esque subliminal drawing.

... ahem.

Even in a fight against completely new opponents, it’s still disheartening to see Deidara in action, with all his old abilities.

I would have much preferred to infer Naruto’s stupidity, rather than to be explicitly reminded of how stupid he was through cheesy internal monologue. In fact, there have far too many internal thought bubbles in Naruto recently. That’s a terrible storytelling crutch on which to rely, akin to Togashi’s excessive use of narrative boxes.

Kurotsuchi’s combination attacks are a nice use of forethought and skill, but it was again accompanied by internal thought bubbles. Also, there’s no way Kabuto is falling victim to these opponents.

Even Deidara is getting in on the thought bubble bonanza. This is ridiculous.

SAY THAT. With your mouth.

As expected, Kabuto was both too prepared and too strong to be defeated by Kurotsuchi, Yamato and the rest. Capturing Yamato is an interesting choice, as well.

Just as Deidara and the Tsuchikage are about to use their powerful attacks against in each other in grand shonen fashion, Deidara is recalled by Kabuto through one of his now-trademark coffins. This confuses me slightly, as I was under the impression that Deidara was a reformed Zetsu clone, not an undead summon. If he’s the latter, then I don’t quite understand the earlier exchange between Kabuto and Madara, when Kabuto offered to help if he could borrow a Zetsu clone. If Deidara is a Zetsu clone, however, then Kabuto suddenly becomes considerably more intriguing, as the ability to summon and recall these clones at will is a huge asset.

Tsuchikage conveys the urgency of the situation, as Yamato is brought before Madara. The information that could be drawn from him already makes Kabuto’s improvised choice of kidnapping Yamato a sensible one, and one that further raises his credibility as a villain, but the less obvious and more interesting part of Kabuto’s statement is his claim that with Yamato, Madara can now produce “a lot more [Zetsu clones].” If this is true, then Kabuto’s tactical analysis and quick decision-making cement him as the premier villain of the series, far and away superior to the all-too-straightforward Madara.

Final Flash: Great chapter for developing the best hope this series has remaining for a great antagonist, and a mercifully brief display of less interesting characters, all of whom have “Tsuchi” in their names.

One Piece 601

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

It’s so odd to see so much focus on Brook during all of this. Yes, he’s in a very prominent position right now, as an apparently world-renowned musician, but he’s definitely one of the less relevant crew members. Seeing full-page shots of him when we’ve seen so little of everyone else is frustrating.

Sanji talking down to Zoro is absolutely hilarious. To me, even including all the crew changes and serious plot set in motion, this is the standout moment of the last four chapters.

Unsurprisingly, fake Luffy’s makeshift crew fails to even follow the first order he dictates. The “big picture” question is, though: Do we have another confirmed death?

That looks pretty serious

The Pacifistas turning up so promptly after hearing of Luffy’s arrival is an effective reminder of the notoriety of the Straw Hat Crew. It’s also a useful way to disperse this crowd full of one-note pirates without Luffy having to show off.

Doughty, no! Who's going to bust up a Starbucks now?!

I’m glad Oda didn’t neglect to give us a name and appropriately pathetic bounty for our Luffy impersonator.

Finally, the cloak comes off and the world sees Luffy again. The scar is going to take some time to get used to, but his pose is distinctly indicative of his familiar personality.

There’s the first major sign of concern, and it mimics the worries I’ve announced on Beamcast almost verbatim: Luffy coolly dodging an attack and dryly calling it “Slow.” That may be befitting of a powered-up shonen hero, but it’s for that exact reason that it isn’t suitable for Luffy. Luffy may not be the antithesis of a shonen hero, but he’s been shown to eschew enough stereotypes to set him apart from other protagonists. To have him so composed in the face of attacks is a betrayal of the lovable hero that has been so well crafted in the entire first half of the series.

Please don't become a trend

Fortunately, right after putting away the Pacifista, Luffy does return to his smiling self upon seeing Zoro and Sanji, who combine to take out a Pacifista themselves. Interestingly, Luffy is shown using Gear Second and Jet Pistol to defeat the Pacifista, and the trailing smoke behind Sanji’s leg (as well as the end of Sanji’s leg itself) seems to indicate he’s using Diable Jambe. Zoro, however, is not seen using his Enies Lobby power-up (Asura). Could it be that compared to where each of them were pre-timeskip, Zoro has made the most progress?

In any case, I have mixed feelings on all this. I don’t want the crew to be so strong as to make any challenges they face in the New World seem convoluted or overly situational. On the other hand, I can’t overlook the feeling as a fan of pure enjoyment upon seeing these “good guys” who I love so much stomping all over the “bad guys.” Also, if the “monster trio” hadn’t been able to dispose of a Pacifista with such little effort, I’d have to question exactly what the timeskip was for. Overall, then, I’m more pleased than disappointed, but I’d prefer more creative developments than a generic display of strength.

Luffy’s parting exchange with Rayleigh rounds out the chapter in a manner appropriate to the title of this chapter.

Final Flash: Still no full crew reunion, but at least this time there was some action that deserved the focus.

Beelzebub 81

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

Right from the start, fanservice. I wonder who came up with the term “fanservice,” anyway. Given that shallow and unnecessary flaunting of sex appeal does nothing for me, I take exception to the term “fanservice.” I’m not being serviced. Give me some narrative and serious characters, and get these wet nurses out of here.

Less this, more Furuichi, please

Baby Beel’s older brother looks oddly reminiscent of someone from Medaka Box, but I don’t feel like depressing myself by looking up character names for that series. Regardless, the introduction of someone literally closely related to Beel is an exciting development. I’ve been longing for a return to demon-related plot, and even more than Zenjuurou, this obviously signals the full transition into such a storyline.

Izabella’s ability to summon a throne raises interesting possibilities for the future of Hilda. Clearly, comparison to the wet nurses serving En reveals that she is in dire need of improvement, and the rivalry between these camps (and specifically between Hilda and Yolda, at least) provides the necessary incentive for Hilda to power up. She deserves to remain a support character, and summoning abilities would suit her well.

There’s nothing more mature than Sprite on the rocks, after all.

Shaken, not-- wait, no, don't shake Sprite

Oga’s nonchalant explanation of the situation to Kunieda is fantastic deadpan comedy the way only Beelzebub can do it.

Oga going along with En wanting potato chips would be funny enough to stand out if it weren’t for the hilarious scenario immediately following it, with everyone involved taking the confrontation over to Furuichi’s house.

Oga understands the straight man role quite clearly

The last line of the chapter is exactly right; the king of Hell is extremely random. Zenjuurou’s earlier warning that Oga and Beel need to strengthen quickly seems to be proving correct far earlier than anticipated, and the scenario proving is right is much more direct than expected, as well. I hope this doesn’t turn the series into pure battle shonen, but more fighting is welcome, especially after the volleyball arc.

Final Flash: Excellent comedy and interesting developments, hampered slightly by an uncertain future.

Weekly Power Rankings: 10/3 – 10/9

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment
Rank
Change
Series
Chapter
Score
1 Beelzebub 79 80.00%
2 +1 Hayate no Gotoku! 291 75.78%
3 +7 History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 401 74.99%
4 +3 Gintama 326 74.94%
5 +1 Toriko 113 74.22%
6 -4 Bakuman 103 73.55%
7 +2 AR∀GO 39 71.73%
8 -3 Nurarihyon no Mago 125 71.55%
9 -5 Kimi no Iru Machi 108 70.22%
10 +5 Fairy Tail 203 69.28%
11 -3 Psyren 137 67.71%
12 +2 Kekkaishi 324 65.39%
13 Gamaran 67 63.72%
14 -3 Code:Breaker 107 63.24%
15 +3 Enigma 4 62.18%
16 +3 Mahou Sensei Negima! 304 56.99%
17 -1 The World God Only Knows 116 55.42%
18 +2 Air Gear 290 54.65%
19 -2 Defense Devil 68 54.09%
20 -8 Naruto 52.35%
21 Hia One Piece 598 50.59%
22 -1 Kyoukai no Rin-ne 68 46.28%
23 -1 GE ~ Good Ending 54 45.07%
24 -1 Zettai Karen Children 34.19%
25 +1 Bleach 422 24.81%
26 -1 MiXiM☆11 114 24.36%
27 -3 Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 308 20.79%
28 Abs SWOT 13 18.31%

Absent: Bloody Monday: Season 2

Series Roundup: 10/10 – 10/16

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

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

Gamaran 66

[scanlation by helz0ne]

If there’s anything worse for Gama than being demolished by his opponent, it’s being allowed to live “because that is Jinsuke-san’s will.”

The compassion shown by Zenmaru’s brother contradicts the rest of his character… until he then offers to “let him off” with only one arm lost. That’s reassuring in the worst way.

Naoyoshi may not be right about everything because his fault, but he is right to finally act.

It’s shocking enough that Naoyoshi’s mother was waiting for him at the castle, but her revelation that Naoyoshi is to become the next Daimyo is a complete surprise. It’s a great one, though, and one that helps the series transition from the previous long-term plot (Grand Tournament of Unabara) to new material.

Hayate no Gotoku! 292

[scanlation by [C]hán]

Six years is an impressive milestone. It’s been a quality journey throughout.

The concept of Nagi doing image training for a doujinshi convention is hilarious, and the Kamen Rider 555 reference is even funnier. Great comedy chapter thus far.

Housen has some kind of connection to the picture Hayate found of “the 28th.” We seem to be in store for some serious plot, which makes the backdrop of the doujinshi convention even more striking.

The gym teacher punchline (and subsequent “introduction”) is absolutely priceless. What a great choice.

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 310

[scanlation by Binktopia]

I don’t recall Lambo being shown naked before. Has Amano taken influence from Baby Beel?

Of course the geological structure is exactly the same as where Vongola Primo did something. All this series cares about is what Vongola Primo did, probably because Tsuna is Vongola Primo in some stupidly convoluted time loop.

For as terrible as this series is, it’s still fun to see Lambo strut around confidently. Remember these few pages of comedy, as they’ll probably be the last bit of enjoyment to be derived for the next 50 chapters.

Obviously, it would have been too creative and fun to have young Lambo somehow stumble his way to a victory, so as always, here comes 10-years-older Lambo to save the day. Will that be enough, or are we in for 20- or even 30-years-older Lambo? Frankly, I don’t care, and it takes effort by Amano to make me stop caring about Lambo.

Mahou Sensei Negima! 304-305

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

(304) … why is Dynamis getting naked?

Excellent action scenes throughout this chapter. This is a case where manga action may actually trump what an anime adaptation would produce, since each scene would be focused on longer and lose the frenetic pace.

Ako’s 1.8cm syringe artifact presents a rather comedic (if awkward) scenario, yet also produces some impressive results.

(305) It’s no surprise that Asuna has been taken away, given both that Fate was here and that such an act is par for the course for such a fantasy storyline.

Kaede is as impressive as always. Her fighting is such a joy to watch.

Great reaction from Negi not to become intangible, but it was a bit naive of him not to take Dynamis seriously.

Nurarihyon no Mago 126-127

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

(126) The more we learn about Rikuo’s father, the better. The lack of information regarding him has effectively built up tension for any plot involving him.

The past between Hagoromo Gitsune and Rikuo’s father is being made deliberately unclear. Rikuo claims she killed him, but the small flashback vision she sees could indicate a misunderstanding.

Kurotabou’s plan hints at a mid-fight development of Rikuo’s powers of some kind. Meanwhile, is the Nue hatching already?

(127) The colors on the cover page are nice, but I would appreciated a scene even moderately related to the current action.

Finally, some concrete information regarding Nura’s father. His name was Rihan, and he invented Matoi. Those tidbits are nice, but the most exciting knowledge is that Matoi is a technique specifically designed for youkai-human hybrids. Considering Rihan’s implied strength and the fact that he was only half human, Rikuo stands to be established rightfully as even more powerful, considering he is three quarters human. This is a great way to explain the strength of the protagonist.

Amid the excellent action, Rikuo poses a fascinating question to Hagoromo Gitsune. If she is indeed partly human, it would prove an interesting twist in the story.

The Supreme Commander’s words and Gyuuki’s presence indicate some ominous and fun plot ahead. The Supreme Commander’s face at the bottom of page 18 is particularly well drawn, too.

If that huge eyeball-having youkai is indeed the character pulling the strings, I give tremendous credit to Shiibashi for setting him up properly. His lunge at the elder Nurarihyon when Hagoromo Gitsune was close to giving birth was an action befitting of an underling, so I never gave this character second thought. Well done.

Psyren 138-139

[scanlation by Muda Scantrad]

(138) Wonderful little scene with Marco, especially with the proud parent boasting afterward.

Miroku’s final intended action is impressive, and the facial expression Mithra gives in reaction is haunting. She may have been introduced far too late in the game to be a great character, but judging each scene on its own merits, that is a great shot.

So… this is just Chrono Trigger now? Time travel and Lavos? I know Iwashiro is probably trying to wrap things up far earlier than he intended, but this is a considerable reach. Knowing this and Mithra’s relation to Quat Nevas is also hugely disappointing in terms of missed opportunities: In Chrono Trigger, Lavos was just a huge alien being. Introducing Mithra as a speaker and representative of such an alien being could be fantastic, but she would have had to have been introduced much, much sooner. In fact, if this Quat Nevas business was a legitimate storyline option before a couple months ago, the groundwork should have been laid far earlier. It’s a shame.

(139) I can’t say I found the death of Kusakabe moving whatsoever. He’s never been any more than a completely minor character.

Old enemies are now allies by way of a common enemy! Well, they’re not all old; some just met for the first time mere chapters ago. Old and new enemies are now allies. Sort of.

The world is practically ending, and Nemesis Q appears, making a pseudo-closing statement. Are we in line for a “bad end,” with the world being consumed and destroyed? I can’t say I’d find that horribly out of place, frankly. It would still be jarring, considering we only just met Quat Nevas, but it would be a creative approach.

SWOT 12

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

What old TV theme song will make SWOT tolerable this week? Let’s try Starsky & Hutch.

This new bad guy is wearing his pants way, way too low. At least quit freeballing there, Murderface.

Sophomores! Run away!

… seriously though, of course the next class up is the next level of strength. It’s SWOT. Everything is predictable and bad.

The big guy can do E. Honda’s attack from Street Fighter II. If you’re going to rip off video game attacks, couldn’t you at least pick something interesting?

Wait, if his head is impervious to damage, how is he defeated after landing on it? It doesn’t matter if he fell from higher; the tiny establishment we got of this character was that he can’t be hurt on his head. This is idiotic.

Frankly, the delayed Resolve slash idea is actually pretty cool, but it’s being wasted on a dull character in a horrible series.

Oh good, it’s Yamikura. That’s all we needed: Bleach-style fight interruptions. Putrid.

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.

AR∀GO 40

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Trinity BAKumA]

I’m still thrilled at the prospect of Cloteaux, the Black Horseman, being embedded within the group of perceived friendlies.

The exchange between Arago and Cloteaux doesn’t seem to have alerted Arago, who could stand to be a bit more discerning about who to trust.

Cloteaux staring intently at Coco potentially indicates a motive of his involving her. Kidnapping is the obvious choice, as it’s someone close enough to Arago that Cloteaux could threaten to bring Brionac closer, but it’s also such an obvious choice that it would be a little unimaginative of an otherwise creative author to rely on such a crutch.

Hello there, shonen hero. You’re looking dangerously like Tsuna in this shot, complete with Dying Will Flame. Cut back on that a little, would you?

As long as it isn't Reverse Resolve

Seth’s explanation, understanding, and coaching of the Brionac power makes me think Arago is going to be considerably stronger not too long from now. That’s exciting news for those of you who follow The Great Shonen Tier List, but it’s also somewhat worrisome, as much of the charm of Arago’s battles comes from the clever application of the limited Brionac ability. AR∀GO is not at all a generic shonen battle series, and the writing could suffer greatly if Arago becomes too much like a stereotypical overpowered shonen hero.

Not all shonen characters should have beam attacks

For being coy about his motives and his status in relation to Arago, Seth sure is proactively analytical about Arago. Granted, this is giving him an opportunity to learn about the power he’s chasing after, but it’s still amusing to see a character as intentionally distant as Seth drawing up detailed diagrams.

Arago is getting a named finishing move? What is this, Gintama?

Cloteaux’s new golem is appropriately fearsome, and it certainly makes an instant impact, ripping Arago to shreds. This will surely be a test of the regeneration ability of Brionac, and it’s enough of a dire and urgent situation to put Brionac to the ultimate test, especially considering how worn out Arago is from training.

Final Flash: Interesting insight on Brionac, great Seth moments, and a good villain, but a little too close to formulaic shonen for this series.