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Naruto 516

November 14, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

I’m still sickened at the sight of all these resurrected characters, but at the very least, I can appreciate that they are aware that they’ve been resurrected. I realize that this facet of Impure World Resurrection had been established as far back as the Third Hokage vs. Orochimaru fight, and again reestablished as recently as the beginning of Deidara vs. the Tsuchikage, but it bears repeating that this quirk of the jutsu exists, because it’s the only minor detail preventing this scenario from being 100% awful. With this included, it may only be 99% awful, but that’s worth something.

It's not much more enjoyable for us

Sasori’s remarks on the present state of Akatsuki do provide a somewhat surreal feeling, as it’s bizarre to watch someone learning about the world after their own death. That poignant moment is quickly moved past in favor of unsatisfyingly easy comedy between Sasori and Deidara.

Kabuto’s plan to erase each resurrected character’s personality is a tactically wise one, and one that is in keeping with his intelligence, but it will negate the only redeeming quality of his overall decision to revive meaningless characters.

After some more moments of discovery by returned characters, and an irritating mention of Sasuke, some action begins, in the form of a fight between Kabuto and Anko. This is tremendously disappointing; of all the possible fight combinations and potential matchups, we have to begin with one that is entirely too familiar? The plot between Anko and Orochimaru may never have been thoroughly resolved, but that plot thread seemed to have been ignored on the basis of lack of interest, not on the basis of a later return. Kabuto clearly isn’t going to lose here, thus Anko will either be rescued and still seek revenge, or blatantly lose and negate the point of even having her exist.

Predictably, a hastily-assembled army comprised of warring factions must deal with internal strife. I realize that Gaara’s rank would rightfully be questioned by those unfamiliar with him, but it’s a shame that such doubts weren’t played out in a more subversive way.

Gaara’s speech doesn’t really suit him. His transition from brooding antagonist to anti-hero to leader has mostly happened off-screen, so while I can accept that he’s an ally of the protagonists now, I have a difficult time accepting that he’s able to deliver such an inspiring, impassioned speech.

Furthermore, Gaara’s speech revolves around Naruto to a fault. Using Naruto as an example of the heroic people in the world worth protecting is fine, as is mentioning Madara’s plan to collect the tailed beasts, but relying on Naruto at the end of speech sounds entirely selfish. “Save my friend” is far too specific of a cause to inspire true unity among such a large, diverse group.

"Also, I want you guys to do my laundry!"

Final Flash: Complete setup chapter. After the lingering disappointment of the resurrections, Kishimoto has a long way to go to recapture the excitement surrounding this arc.

One Piece 604

November 14, 2010 4 comments
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Lackluster Jump cover, but the chapter cover page more than makes up for it.

Brook mistaking a whale for Laboon is funny enough, but Luffy correcting him by claiming it’s Whitebeard is even funnier.

Any worries over Caribou attacking pretty quickly are being assuaged by the appearance and reaction of Mohmoo. These circumstances are funny, and I appreciate that we aren’t diving into a serious battle right away, but reintroducing Hatchan might have been enough of a nod back to Arlong Park. That said, this the precursor to Fishman Island, after all, so I can’t criticize it for simply being a forced attempt at nostalgia.

It would be uncharacteristic of the Straw Hats to simply throw Caribou into the ocean, but I’m a bit disappointed they didn’t. Caribou isn’t a particularly interesting character so far.

Usopp serving as the crew’s lie-detector would be an amusing touch.

Trust him, he's a professional

Sanji kicking Caribou for ogling Nami leads to a comedy scene, but the kick itself should not be ignored. The fact that Sanji was able to make contact with a character who has claimed to be a Logia user means either that Sanji has developed Haki more than was perhaps expected of him at this point, or that Caribou was being deliberately vague, and he isn’t a Logia at all.

What is this, Bill Nye the Science Guy? I’m supposed to be reading about a glorious adventure into an amazing undersea world. Stop scientifically explaining away every last detail of the mysticism.

Magic everywhere in this bitch

At least all of Nami’s intelligent dialogue led to a great group punchline. Luffy judging things as “mysterious” truly never gets old, and he finally has company.

Caribou giving a warning to the Straw Hats to turn back makes me think that he may end up serving as a “guide” type of character instead of an antagonist. I could easily see him being frightened by a display of strength from Luffy, realizing he has no chance, and instead offering some guidance and advice to help push the Straw Hats forward into new territory, both figuratively and literally.

Ignoring unfunny catchphrases and jokes, the use of a Kraken here is actually a positive choice. It’s too early for the crew to get involved in a major battle against a particular antagonist, but a limited demonstration of their newfound strength against a neutral creature is a perfectly acceptable way to show a little action without requiring a major investment of time or future consequences. This also lends some credence to my thoughts regarding Caribou, as taming the Kraken would seem to be more than sufficient proof that he is outmatched.

Final Flash: The Caribou stuff is acceptable but not hugely engaging, and the explanation of climate and currents was too lengthy, but the Kraken seems like it will provide the first genuinely interesting plot element since the timeskip.

Weekly Power Rankings: 10/31 – 11/6

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment
Rank
Change
Series
Chapter
Score
1 Beelzebub 83 77.33%
2 Enigma 8 76.76%
3 +3 One Piece 602 76.76%
4 +1 Code:Breaker 111 75.22%
5 +3 Nurarihyon no Mago 129 75.08%
6 -3 Toriko 117 73.72%
7 +3 History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 405 72.29%
8 -4 Hayate no Gotoku! 295 71.69%
9 Gamaran 71 71.12%
10 +3 Psyren 141 70.75%
11 +6 Bakuman 107 67.52%
12 +3 Fairy Tail 207-9 66.46%
13 +1 The World God Only Knows 120 65.85%
14 -3 Gintama 329 63.33%
15 +4 Defense Devil 72 63.30%
16 -9 Kekkaishi 61.66%
17 +4 Kimi no Iru Machi 111 59.36%
18 +4 GE ~ Good Ending 58 58.27%
19 -7 AR∀GO 43 58.06%
20 -4 Mahou Sensei Negima! 57.09%
21 -3 Air Gear 52.51%
22 -2 Naruto 50.03%
23 Kyoukai no Rin-ne 72 47.33%
24 Zettai Karen Children 237 36.31%
25 Hia Bleach 424 31.72%
26 -1 Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 312 24.46%
27 -1 MiXiM☆11 118 23.24%
28 -1 SWOT 17 16.61%

Weekly Power Rankings: 10/24 – 10/30

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment
Rank
Change
Series
Chapter
Score
1 Beelzebub 82 80.00%
2 +1 Enigma 7 76.39%
3 +3 Toriko 116 74.36%
4 -2 Hayate no Gotoku! 294 73.46%
5 +4 Code:Breaker 110 71.61%
6 +7 One Piece 601 71.09%
7 +1 Kekkaishi 327 70.21%
8 -4 Nurarihyon no Mago 128 69.51%
9 +1 Gamaran 70 68.31%
10 +2 History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 404 68.24%
11 -4 Gintama 328 68.24%
12 -7 AR∀GO 42 68.05%
13 +1 Psyren 140 67.82%
14 +1 The World God Only Knows 119 67.22%
15 -4 Fairy Tail 206 65.95%
16 +1 Mahou Sensei Negima! 307 65.70%
17 -1 Bakuman 106 62.67%
18 +1 Air Gear 293 62.06%
19 +1 Defense Devil 71 60.98%
20 +1 Naruto 514 60.40%
21 -3 Kimi no Iru Machi 110 60.05%
22 +1 GE ~ Good Ending 57 50.49%
23 -1 Kyoukai no Rin-ne 71 48.45%
24 Zettai Karen Children 236 38.87%
25 Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 311 25.33%
26 MiXiM☆11 117 23.61%
27 Abs SWOT 16 16.17%

Hiatus: Bleach

Series Roundup: 10/31 – 11/6

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

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

Code:Breaker 110

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

Sakurakouji’s comedy on the first page is totally unnecessary and ruins much of the suspense and interest built up from last week’s major cliffhanger.

Heike’s account of power users in the Meiji era is interesting. This series has answered some of the questions regarding characters and identities, but this is the first time it’s really delved into its own history. World-building is fundamental, and while this is very nice, it should probably have been addressed sooner.

The Emperor used to be terrifyingly strong. I can accept that he’s somehow contained in Ogami’s body now, but it’s a pity he’s lost all of his edge and become cute.

Heike has always had the power of light, but this is the first time I can recall him explicitly using certain aspects of such an ability, such as speed and refraction. He’s become a legitimate opponent.

Despite everything going on with Heike and the Emperor, Yukihina could have provided the most interesting moment in the chapter, but he is stopped right before the Emperor steps in and handles matters. I still want to know what those markings on Yukihina allow him to do.

Defense Devil 71

[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

The cover page depiction of the priest is pretty exciting, but is this really the time for more backstory? There is no plot to propel the series forward right now.

Father Selma had some pretty awful hair back when he was Kanto.

It’s great to see Elimona brought back in to the story in a more directly involved role. Certainly, it always seemed as though she had a part to play in the overall story, but I appreciate that we’re finally getting to see some of her behind-the-scenes dealings. Handing a second chance to Kanto is an interesting choice.

Little Idamaria is cute, and having her visibly being possessed by this legendary demon makes for a strong scene. Not only does this further raise questions about the motives of Elimona, but this is also enough to bring the entire story back to its main focus, provided that this flashback mini-arc is the last bit of sidetracking the plot takes.

GE ~ Good Ending 57-58

[scanlation by iMangaScans]

(57) Yuki stood up for herself! Stop the presses! Alert the internet!

It’s sad that Shou has to be the one to pull away from more-than-casual interaction from Seiji, but as long as someone is doing it, I’m satisfied.

“If I die […] please burn the porn magazines in my bag…”? You carry them around with you at all times? That’s dedication.

This surprisingly deep conversation is tarnished a little by our idiot protagonist trying to sound wise. No amount of false bravado or humility can make up for all his actions over the last several months.

Cue stereotypical romantic comedy situation. This time, at least, it involves the right people.

(58) Yuki’s fear of ghosts is an amusing trait that I wish we’d seen sooner.

Seiji trying desperately to be manly and climb up to the second floor is funny as well. This is a way that his stupidity can be applied in a positive manner.

Finally, a beautiful, rewarding, drama-free scene of romantic development between Yuki and Seiji. I can’t even complain that Yuki had to take the initiative, negating the chance for Seiji to finally grow a backbone, because Yuki’s expectation of a proper confession gives Seiji such an opportunity, yet with added incentive. I still worry that Seiji will be distracted by other girls along the way, but future concerns aside, this moment was excellent.

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 313

[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

Further illustrating how terrible Amano’s idea of cliffhangers is, the Lambo/Rauji fight ends in the first four pages. Without the slightest hint of exaggeration, I can safely say that her style of twist-cliffhanger (showing the pose/form of an attack on the last page, only for it to connect in the following week’s chapter) is worse than Bleach twists. As pitiful as many Bleach twists have been, at least Kubo has had the decency to show actions in full within the same chapter.

As bad as these fights are proving to be, equally terrible is knowing that after every one, we have to suffer through another boring flashback. I cannot possibly overstate my disdain for Vongola Primo and constant references to him.

At least Lambo provided a decent line to end this fight. Tsuna really should be the “brother”-style of leader, instead of the dull, uncharacteristically suave leader he has been for a few arcs.

… no. I refuse to accept that Byakuran, the character at the root of the ruination of this series, is here. He was defeated, and has absolutely no reason to exist, not that he ever should have been conceived in the first place. Now, he’s back to interfere with the first arc after his own miserable one? No. This is practically grounds for dropping the series, and it certainly cements Reborn as one of the five worst series currently publishing.

Kimi no Iru Machi 111

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

I’m a bit tired of references to Antonio Inoki. They were amusing at first, but why not change the wrestler being referenced? It’s like calling every strong person Hulk Hogan.

I know the Japanese education system tends to push through masses of students in the same manner, but I find it a little naive of Haruto to immediately assume that Shiori is the same age he is.

Mishima deserves so much better than the drama she’ll inevitably receive thanks to the unnecessary plot interference of Shiori.

There exists such a thing as a “Hot Spring Circle.” If ever there was a reason to wish you had been born in Japan, I think that’s it.

Takashi is making this chapter irritating. He is a walking stereotype of “annoying buddy.”

Unsurprisingly to anyone but Haruto, apparently, Shiori is older than him. The brief explanation of her age in relation to her schooling year is actually rather interesting, as an attractive young woman with an active interest in studying makes for a decent character, but it’s not enough to redeem her from being the “wrong” choice girl, particularly because she was introduced far too late.

Wow. She’s pretty direct. I’ll give this character credit for one thing, at least: She is decisive, and decisiveness is a trait not often found in love interests in romance series.

Nurarihyon no Mago 129

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

Seimei is reviving? This is so abrupt that I had to double-check to make sure I hadn’t missed a chapter. I suppose this cements how repetitive and subpar last chapter was.

Lovely imagery as the memories of Hagoromo Gitsune are displayed on the shattering fragments of the Nue’s shell. For all of the faults of the anime, this scene would adapt wonderfully to animation.

As expected, Hagoromo Gitsune is unable to strike the decisive blow, because of the flood of memories from her human side. While this is demeaning for Rikuo, it does help the long-term future of the series that he wasn’t strong enough to defeat her on his own, and that he will (presumably) only attain a circumstantial victory.

I still have no emotional attachment to any of the onmyouji except Yura. This far into the story, I don’t think there’s any rectifying that.

The conceptual design of the invocation of the Hagun is solid, but the overly-stylized skulls take away from the scene. They’re far more warped and comical than scary or impressive.

father?! Rihan is her father? That would make Rikuo her brother. Is this right? I’ve re-read it several times, and I keep reading it the same way, but it keeps seeming to be wrong. If that’s true, that’s an excellent shock.

SWOT 15

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

Perhaps a little MacGyver music will inspire us to overcome the challenge of reading this chapter. I could use an elaborate contraption, though.

Manabizaki is the worst tsundere ever, and the scene is made even worse by his hard-hatted lackey stating the painfully obvious in an internal thought bubble.

What the hell is this? Good Ending? SWOT can’t even stick to its own terrible storyline; it has to continue to try to steal ideas and themes from other series. Give it up, author; you’re getting canceled.

Pages and pages of woeful attempts at romantic comedy. This is painful.

After a brief interlude of the main plot of the entire story, we’re right back to harem idiocy. This chapter may not have been as overwhelmingly awful as chapter 14, but it was still thoroughly putrid. I genuinely cannot fathom how anyone can write a story this terrible.

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 108

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

Is there anything more irritating than being around a couple fawning all over each other when you are single/longing/heartbroken? Mashiro’s anger is both comical and relatable to the average reader.

Very nice nod by Ohba to some non-Shueisha properties. As far as I’ve been aware, all earlier references to other manga have been references to other Shueisha properties, but Touch was Shogakukan and Ai to Makoto was Kodansha. Company loyalty is perfectly understandable, as is copyright safety, but a series about manga should definitely look at the entire range of series, not just at Shueisha.

Granted, Touch has been completed for a very long time, but considering how few Westerners have read it (in stark contrast to how many should read it), Kaya’s explanation of the plot is a little too comprehensive.

Anything else you'd like to spoil?

Even shoujo series are being referenced, and amidst these references is another cross-publisher nod, with a mention of Nodame Cantabile in the same breath as a few Shueisha titles. This set of references feels a little more overt, though; much in the same way anyone can tell when a line of dialogue in Family Guy has only been written to provide the setup for a cutaway joke, this (and some other) bunch of references feels a little gratuitous, as though its role isn’t to add any meaning or relevance, but rather to trigger a sense of familiarity in the reader.

Great comedy from Mashiro, as he tries to escape receiving help on the feminine perspective from Kaya.

Kaya, not exactly a typical woman

Looking at Hiramaru calms Takagi down? That’s completely bizarre, yet also completely hilarious.

“Miss Jumps” is a pretty great way to refer to Aoki and Iwase together. Thank you, Fukuda.

Finally, this incredible coincidence is being presented to the editor-in-chief. Thanks to some persuasion from Fukuda (whose passion hopefully means he will retake some of the spotlight soon), a quick alcohol- (and Aoki-) influenced decision by Hiramaru, and an unexpected appearance and prompt agreement from Arai-sensei, the editor-in-chief announces what was pretty obviously going to happen: “Super Leaders’ Fest” is now “Super Leaders’ Love Fest,” which sounds awkward no matter how many times you say it.

In keeping with the importance and grandeur of the moment, Mashiro goes so far as to call Azuki. Her response is shockingly direct, and her general willingness to help Mashiro by providing personal details and emotions is a pleasing sign of the strength of the Mashiro/Azuki relationship, regardless of the distance between them.

Final Flash: Good comedy, much-needed plot advancement, and some future plot setup that didn’t take time away from what is currently important. Solid chapter.

Beelzebub 83

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by CXC Scans]

Furuichi’s uncharacteristic seriousness is immediately tempered with some expected perversion, which leads to one of the best punchlines in weeks.

No one's stopping you from getting in the bed

There isn’t much to glean from En or his wet nurses. Behemoth is even tough to deal with for En, and it’s possible to summon a car.

What better way to break the tension between Oga and these ladies than by forcing Baby Beel to sing? Every awkward social situation should come with a baby, preferably of the demonic variety.

The horror of Eiffel 65 all over again

Does every lady in every series now solely exist to be kidnapped, taken hostage, or otherwise used as a pawn? Kunieda has been proven as a strong, independent, enjoyable character, and yet even she succumbs to being captured. Whether or not her captor, Hecatos, is an interesting character, it’s insulting that Kunieda has to lose dignity merely to introduce a new enemy.

Hecatos introduces the idea of human contractors, which paves the way not only for Kunieda to become involved more directly in the main plot, but also to reveal that characters we’ve already met have already had demonic association. Of course, this segues nicely back into the fight between Toujou, who is noticeably tired, and Izuma, who ends the chapter by unveiling his own demonic ability. This resolves the previously unanswered plot thread regarding the “demon lurking within the school” that Hilda had noticed, and it also puts Izuma in line for an extended stay in the story. Looking back, then, I find it unfortunate that the entire Oga vs. Miki arc, complete with several chapters of build-up to no payoff fight, served only as a precursor to Izuma. He can still be a good character, but the manner in which we were introduced to him was displeasing.

Final Flash: With the clearly superior comedy concentrated within a few pages, the drama of this chapter was a bit draining.