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Zettai Karen Children 241

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by JS Scans]

Feather’s arrival prompts a quick heel kick from Momiji, and one coordinated bathroom trip by the two of them sets up a quick strategy meeting for both sides. Each conversation reveals something meaningful. In the case of the guys’ talk, we get a glimpse into Sakaki’s opinion on women as a pro flirt. He makes a good foil to Minamoto’s complete and total innocence on the subject.

Spoken like a veteran wingman

The girls’ conversation yields an alliance with the goal of dividing the guys between them, and reveals that Momiji was only after Sakaki from the beginning. For once a female in this series is romantically after someone who’s not Minamoto. Momiji being attracted to Sakaki makes a lot of sense, and does a fair bit to legitimize him. Despite occasional flashes of extreme competence, he has appeared a bit too much on promo art relative to his importance in-series. This a good chance for him to do something relevant to the current plot, and which adds a layer of depth to Momiji in the process.

Getting kidnapped by way of the floor, Minamoto immediately falls into helpless mode as Feather drops him onto a bed in the director’s office. I still don’t like Feather in this role. Unlike scenes with Hyoubu, where the rivalry dynamic keeps them on an even keel, he’s kind of just at Feather’s mercy here. The scene featuring Sakaki and Momiji is better handled; it’s nice to see characters acting like professionals in this sort of stereotypical romantic comedy situation… or, in one case, pretending to act like one.

It is still a romantic comedy

That shot of the kids at the end makes things really interesting. Them simultaneously cuing in on Minamoto’s distress is quite a sight, and ensures that what follows will be appropriately zany. Overreactions in situations like this are a strong point of ZKC as a manga.

Final Flash: Romance with a savvy partner is uncharted territory for Sakaki, but being raped is hardly a new thing for Minamoto. Overall, much more promising than last chapter.

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Enigma 13

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by CXC Scans]

Looks like Kurisu’s just lost one of his key advantages: exclusive knowledge of the password. Whatever on Earth it is that “Q-510” means, Haiba now knows that it’s a password, courtesy of his new improved diary. Speaking of the improved diary, there’s an unclear point as to what exactly it does. In the last chapter, it was clearly Haiba’s hand making the modifications. However, here it seems that the picture is moving on its own. I’m assuming for now that it’s just Haiba’s hand modifying the picture, but better word choice there would have saved some confusion.

Even if Haiba does have the password now, it won’t help him in dealing with Kurisu, at least not directly. He comes up with quite a strategy to provoke Kurisu into pursuit, pretending his power-up allows him to communicate with the main group. It’s relatively common for a character to use a power-up to escape a dangerous situation. It’s considerably rarer for someone to receive a limited power-up and bluff his way to victory, as Haiba does here. Kurisu being a smart, cautious villain ensures the plan’s success, at least as far as keeping him in the picture for now. You know a bluff is good when the main character compliments himself on the plan.

Gloating is always allowed

Kurisu still controls the whole world of the picture, though not to godlike degrees, otherwise Haiba would just be dead. He can still turn a stick into a fully functional katana, though. It works for a mystery-series chase scene. Kurisu himself is actually much less scary than the picture world, which, in a perfectly rigid state, keeps Haiba from any kind of safe haven. Potential weapons can’t be moved, potential hiding places have doors stuck shut, and he’s still being chased by a guy a foot taller than him wielding a katana.

A very visible difference in height

Now locked inside of a supermarket, Haiba and Kurisu begin their game of cat-and-mouse. At least, they would have, had Haiba not immediately and loudly begged the future diary to evolve. That’s not the most savvy decision from someone who knows he’s outgunned.

Haiba’s pleas to his diary don’t seem to have been in vain. He foresaw Kurisu’s attack, and seems to have a counterattack plan involving a cell phone and the password written in blood on the wall. This should be good.

Final Flash: Bluffing is a main character’s best friend, something Sakaki Kenji fully comprehends.

Kekkaishi 331

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by A-Team]

Nura is completely dominating the rank-and-file Urakai. Her control powers are so completely overwhelming that not even the sea snakes are having any effect on her ogres, and even the non-ogre allies are getting visibly affected.  Despite Tokine going down last chapter, this series always does a good job of having and showing off strong female characters. Her ogres casually knocking out guys and stacking them in a heap underscores just how much she’s steamrolling.

An ordinary Wednesday at the office

Granted, the ones Nura has been taking out have been small fries. The bigwigs are out for blood now, bringing tons of Colossus-sized firepower to bear. It will be difficult to deal with that crowd without the chance to instantly drop mind-control snakes all over.

Looks like said bigwigs are going to be a job for Shichiro. That makes sense, given that his powers are somewhat more suited for quick assassination than anyone else in the group. Raijin definitely seems to have thought out the group’s strategy. The only member of the group who doesn’t seem to have a specifically defined role is Shiromi. He is thus relegated to the minor role of slicing Kurokabuto into pieces.

Somehow the most boring job of the group

It’s fascinating how politics are entering into this battle. Raijin’s specific order to confirm the death of Meian carries a nominal logic behind it, but is at the same time pretty clearly a part of her scheme to have Nura replace him as Urakai head after the dust settles. The best planners never stop, and Raijin is really earning her stripes in that category.

Cut to Masamori, who is having trouble finding Nichinaga. Apparently, his original plan was to follow where the snakes were coming from, which might have worked had Nichinaga not lost Haruka, who, as it turns out, actually was his power source. It could be interesting if he remains in this depleted state, forced to rely on his one remaining loyal minion, Ichigo, for protection. Given how bent he sees on finding the traitors, though, I doubt this will end without him getting his hands on at least one of them.

Final Flash: Good to know that the subtle manipulations of Urakai politics aren’t stopped by a little thing like a full-scale war.

The World God Only Knows 124

December 12, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

For all that fuss that was raised over the renovation of the library towards the climax of Shiori’s arc, it doesn’t seem to have changed too much. Her desk is a bit different, no longer cluttered with a giant stack of books.

Shiori’s still stuttering out some words, but she seems on the whole to be more stable and talkative than she was in the past. The way she belts out the location of every Osamu Kawabata (actual author, by the way) is a great reminder of her detail-oriented personality. Understandably, the male student she’s helping only wants the easiest to find books, the ones at their current location. What follows is a great scene, as Keima was hiding behind the bookshelf in question.

We meet again

Immediately after seeing Keima, Shiori reverts back to silent “…” mode. That reaction might just be a combination of her inherent shyness with her being a bit flustered, but it seems to be a bit more than that, given her subsequent efforts to specifically avoid Keima while helping other patrons. More importantly, it’s no coincidence that a magazine about Kanon is next to her desk. She’s definitely in the gray area at least.

Avoidance in no uncertain terms

Hmm, that’s a surprise. I didn’t expect Yui to show up here at all, and certainly not to pull what she pulled. Introducing herself to Keima makes it almost certain she doesn’t remember, but her getting him down on the couch makes it just as certain that she does. In the proud tradition of the Yui arc, Keima’s the one being seduced this time. Shiori watching makes it very clear that this is a pivotal moment for her as well.

Final Flash: Very cute first half, very dynamic second half. This series is splendidly playing its characters off one another.

Toriko 120

December 11, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Hi Wa Mata Noboru]

Musings from Melk II on the brilliance and dedication shown by Komatsu’s knife are quickly interrupted by Komatsu’s other other knife (if you know what I mean), though sheathed. Meat-print underwear is, well… at least it’s not a meat-banana hammock. Oh, and he has knife-print undies too, though somehow I doubt wearing those would have flustered Melk II less.

He's the fanservice character, alright

Melk II, now alone, is thinking back to Komatsu’s naked body and blushing. Those who had theories about it being a woman under those bandages are gathering more and more evidence in their favor. Still, knowing this series, it could as easily be just Komatsu’s inherent cuteness.

Awkward underwear moments now out of the way, we’re back to Toriko, who has now reached a heavy enough gravity level that the blood circulation in his body is getting messed up, forcing more blood into his legs and making him anemic. As always, great attention to physical detail by Shimabukuro. Taking Komatsu’s knife along definitely seems to have been a good idea, as it manages to stab Toriko out of a half-conscious state.

The explanation of how Toriko’s body evolves to overcome gravity more than makes up for the “science” behind the higher gravity of the Gourmet World. The average reader is almost certain not to know this, but without electromagnetic forces within the human body, people would be ripped apart by differential gravitational forces from the Earth, as would the moon if it came within 2.9 Earth radii of Earth. Naturally, in order to overcome the increased differential force that comes with extra gravity, Toriko’s cells just need to vibrate faster, generating additional em force. Not only that, he starts rolling instead of walking to conserve energy. Being a human pinball is more painful, sure, but definitely takes less energy than the piston-like motion of walking. Superb physics.

Even without Komatsu actually being there, his knife, when dropped, leads to a treasure trove of rare but easily-killed ingredient crabs. Talk about a phenomenally lucky character. Not very lucky, though, for the Ruby Crabs, who just became Toriko’s next meal.

Like pirate treasure, but more delicious

Speaking of luck, Komatsu has now managed to have a walk-in bath scene in a series with formerly only 2 (now 3) female characters. Melk II is a woman, for anyone who didn’t see this coming. The “put on some clothes” line being reused, this time by Komatsu, is a nice bit of boomerang comedy.

Normally, that surprise goes the other way

Now fully charged from cannibalizing an entire ruby crab colony, Toriko readies himself to confront the minotaur beast we saw last chapter. Get ready for an entertaining fight.

Final Flash: Excellent chapter, and not just for the Komatsu/Melk comedy. Good to know this series actually cares about its physics.

Zettai Karen Children 240

December 7, 2010 3 comments
[scanlation by JS Scans]

The kids waste no time in mounting a search effort for Minamoto and Sakaki. This is not as excessive a search as some the chief has deployed in the past, unfortunately. Aoi and Kaoru are just going around checking popular date spots, while Shiho analyzes the “Star Foxs” coffee they left behind. A very interesting choice of false brand name.

Can't let you drink that

The search through popular date spots prompts some interesting reactions from Kaoru. Carrie is an odd person to recall at this juncture, but if this arc is a prelude to actual romance, then it’s a fitting example. Of course, it could just be a setup for the scene with Kaoru measuring her height; that dotted line is a nice touch.

Meanwhile, back at HQ, they’ve made it inside. Apparently, the security flaw Momiji mentioned was right inside the room where they keep their supercomputer. Seriously? Yes, the villains in this series usually have the upper hand. Still, it’s hard to believe that there would actually be a blind spot right at the most critical piece of equipment. It doesn’t really help matters that Momiji has a full outline of all other security flaws that Pandra has been exploiting.

Momiji’s backstory leaves a bit to be desired. The whole “civil war destroyed my hometown and orphaned me” spiel has already been done with Mio, and is somewhat cliché. The most that can be said for it is that we do get to see child Magi taking down a helicopter.

Now Feather steps in. Huh. I didn’t even mention Feather’s brief appearance while covering last chapter because it seemed to very solidly indicate that she was out for the arc. Given that, her suddenly thrusting herself into the thick of things is a bit of a surprise.

Final Flash: Momiji’s backstory was a rehash of an existing character’s. Also, Feather stepping in here does not bode well for this arc.

Zettai Karen Children 239

[scanlation by JS Scans]

The very idea of Minamoto sorting Barret and Tim’s doujins is awesome. The poor fellas have no privacy at all.

Minamoto and Sakaki show up to the meeting place to find Momiji got there early. As is standard in this manga, the guys are being followed, and the support staff is monitoring them in an extremely obvious observation van. Even the diplomat is getting in on the action this time.

Also typical in these situations, the date-followers are having a much more interesting time than the ones they’re observing. Kaoru is still Kaoru, coming up with an oddball cabaret club analogy out of nowhere. Kashiwagi’s contribution to the scene, getting hit on by (and subsequently hitting) the one diplomat guy, is befitting of her minor character status.

She's not fooling anyone

Looks like Momiji is a savvy enough character to know she’s being followed. Just when all hope for any kind of success for this mission seems lost, Sakaki busts out his Psychometric bag of tricks. Initial D-style escape driving is about what I’d expect from a guy who can put a scalpel through the barrel of a sniper rifle from 50 yards away. Smooth.

How much tofu is in the car, etc.

The guys may be ditching their pursuit for a good reason, but odds are they’ll be in more than a little trouble once they hit debriefing. For one thing, Kaoru’s reaction face is a very confused mixture of anger and shock. For another, they’re taking her to Babel HQ, probably in violation of at least a few security protocols.

Momiji knows a security flaw that will allow the three to sneak in unnoticed. Sneaking into Babel should be fun, but I’m a little disappointed that the first real focus on Momiji paints her as being on Hyoubu’s level of total nonchalance towards anything the main characters attempt. One character like that works, but rehashing makes it go stale very quickly.

Final Flash: There were a couple of entertaining moments, but we didn’t really get anything interesting about Momiji, who should be the main focus of this arc.