Archive

Author Archive

Enigma 10

November 21, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by CXC Scans]

The group’s back together again, which makes the absence of the mascot guy all the more conspicuous. It is fairly weird that he left the infirmary, given the obvious danger of going out alone.

Using narrative boxes to skip an exposition scene is perfectly acceptable by itself, and thankfully we don’t miss Hiina and Shigeru’s reactions to the truth about the shadow. Those facial expressions are a nice transition out of the first narrative. The second narrative, which is just Haiba speculating about stuff, is less necessary.

Haiba holding onto all three passwords seems like a bad move. It’s understandable given his de facto leader status, but still, leaving all the passwords with Mr. Trusting makes the odds of them getting stolen pretty darn high.

It’s time for the reveal, set to an appropriately ominous tone. When the mask comes off, it’s quickly clear why he was wearing it for as long as he was. Turns out Mizusawa is in fact Kurisu Ryou, the guy with the creepy smile from the first password photo. He’s a flirtatious bishonen, too; I did not see that coming.

The comedy surrounding Mizusawa/Kurisu would be much funnier if this wasn’t a mystery series. Seriously, it’s hard to enjoy a character being extravagant when you know there’s going to be a serious catch somewhere in his story. That said, if this manga does get into a lighter arc or intermezzo after the e-test, scenes like this may well be worth it.

The rivalry over the harem begins

Ryou’s explanation of how Enigma was supposedly mistaken seems extremely fishy. Although it is conceptually possible for someone to avoid revealing themselves simply out of nervousness, in a head-games/mystery series like this one, that’s very unlikely to be the actual reason. On the other hand, Kurisu floating the theory that his mistaken identity was a deliberate choice by Enigma meant to create group conflict, given how little we know about Enigma, does at least raise reasonable doubt.

What uncertainty is raised, though, is not nearly enough to quell said infighting. Takemaru vocally challenging Kurisu is a fairly obvious development, given that he operates on the opposite side of the trust spectrum as Haiba. More interestingly, Haiba sticking up for Kurisu leads to actual punches thrown. The tension between those two was there from the beginning, and to have it reappear here leaves a lot of ways for this plot to play out.

Going bad cop on the good cop

While Takemaru may have left the group, Hiina and Moto following him once again precludes the possibility of the party being picked off one by one. This series seems to be actively avoiding that particular cliché, so far to great effect.

No points for figuring out that Ryou had some sort of ulterior motive. However, rather than something to do with the larger Enigma/shadow plot, it’s just the selfish desire to escape at the expense of the group. Of the available options, that was one of the better choices.

Final Flash: Ryou’s proper introduction, while not itself a fantastic scene, does provide a good starting point for the next mini-arc.

Zettai Karen Children 238

November 21, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by JS Scans]

The Children’s initial reactions to the mission briefing: more delusions. I would have been fine if Minamoto going Bond-style suave on Momiji was just the whole chapter. As it stands, there’s been a tad too little of his competent side visible lately.

Even Minamoto is curious as to how this became their job, and rightfully so. Despite the fact that level 7s have been specifically assigned to this mission, it’s true that, except for Shiho, their powers are pretty useless for this. The government is throwing espers at their problem expecting a brute force solution, but as an experienced terrorist agent, Momiji is really unlikely to be persuaded via force. Seduction as a mission is going to take other experienced hands at Babel who actually know how to handle women, which means Sakaki, pimp cowboy outfit and all.

Sakaki’s inclusion in this arc pays immediate dividends. He may be capable of hitting a sniper rifle with a thrown scalpel, but his most important job is that of the womanizing comic relief. His shift in tone from enthusiastic to evasive is quite amusing. Of course, he’s not getting out of there so easily.

Got a Death Star you want blown up instead?

Apparently, the obvious way of blackmailing Muscle is out; Robiet is claiming the ambassador is a different person from the criminal that fires Hard Gay beams. I had been wondering about why Muscle’s past wasn’t being used as leverage. If anything, it’s a testament to the competence of Babel that somebody kept that footage intact, presumably resisting the urge to burn the computer it was on.

Yet more signs of growth from Kaoru. This time she’s practicing cooking, starting from the basic omelet. This act of maturity is quite possibly the biggest step forward. Before, she was taking more responsibility for and being more conscious of the actions of those around her, but now she’s actively concentrating on self-improvement. This is such heartwarming progress she’s made from the 10-year-old who relied on her natural gifts for everything and thought that “adult” only meant 18 and over.

Though it may take a while yet

At last, we finally start to see Minamoto reacting to Kaoru’s maturity. Like a real parental figure, he’s happy for her, but immediately he starts feeling lonely. While he’s a long way yet from being an empty-nester, he’s definitely paying for Kaoru’s newfound independence with the closeness they used to share as pseudo-parent and child. Those are some very complex emotions, and the method used of displaying old memories use to depict them is very effective.

Well, it’s officially a date; Minamoto, Sakaki, and Momiji are going out to have some fun. I’m really looking forward to more exposition on Momiji, and the prerequisite comedy that comes from Sakaki trying way too hard.

Final Flash: Excellent chapter for a number of reasons, from cowboy Sakaki to Minamoto’s memories.

The World God Only Knows 122

November 21, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

Excellent chemistry between Haqua and Keima continues to entertain, especially after that shower scene last chapter. Keima has to be one of the most single-minded harem protagonists of all time (TWGOK soon will be one if it isn’t already). He’s seriously so centered on the goddesses that he continues to miss the most obvious hints of tsundere coming from Haqua. I’m not complaining; it’s kind of hilarious.

Excellent use of bold text

Make no mistake about it, Keima’s focus right now is the goddesses, and he’s definitely done a good job of thinking ahead. Yes, they need the goddesses drawn out quickly, but the Vintage agent is still around, and bringing out a powerless goddess would just invite more stabbings.

Starting with Ayumi, the mass conquest plan begins. The apple on the desk is a pretty classy touch, and the rooftop confession scene is an extremely enjoyable one, all the way to the ending high-kick by Ayumi. For all the extra plot elements behind Keima’s actions now, Wakaki Tamiki never loses his touch in making romance cute. It’s also fun to see the school tabloids have not been idle.

Your source for all Idol x Geek related gossip

Keima’s plan is to power up the goddesses through copious doses of love, with the end objective of stealing first base. This plan is totally appropriate for this series. Frankly, it’s just a great excuse to see more quick romance.

A similar confession scene with Chihiro brings about a fantastic punchline: Keima not only has a script for each confession he’s going to do, but it’s the same script (albeit with a decision tree built in) for each one. That is so very like this manga. I’m loving this arc already, and we’ve still got a couple more interesting characters to go through. This series has been showing us nothing but its very best of late.

It always pays to plan ahead

Final Flash: Hilarious, fast-paced, and fun. There’s still no evidence as yet as to what part of Keima’s new plan is “demonic.”

Kekkaishi 328

November 17, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by A-Team]

Kekkaishi’s getting the Shonen Sunday cover for once. Excellent.

Shichiro and Raijin are up in the sky, sporting some sweet new banchou-style outfits. Also, talk about a large-scale kickoff to the festivities. The giant storm that they whip up should certainly be some effective camouflage, which is kind of a necessity given the nature of what’s about to start. Certainly, any storm large enough to cause school closures will keep normal people from noticing large scale paranormal warfare.

Free at last

Surprisingly, our cool new outfits get a bit more exposition. Apparently they’re what Raijin and Shichiro’s father used to wear. The way this comes up in conversation is a reminder that Shichiro still has outstanding family issues of his own, as do most of the side-characters in this series. This little chat doesn’t exactly add much to the plot at hand, but it does continue to contribute to the richness of character background that this series thrives on.

Cut away to the Yagyou, who are prepping for the support role they’ll have to play in the upcoming battle. This is probably one of the last times we’ll get to see Sen, and he seems more committed now than ever to the background role of information gatherer. Given his abilities, it was the job that most suited him; his acceptance of that is a sure sign that he’s matured.

Especially compared to a certain someone

In rather ironic contrast with his squad, Masamori does actually have a critical role on the front lines, and he’s visibly feeling it. For a long time, he actually was the strongest character that we knew, before others such as Shichiro and Mrs. Sumimura started showing up. Once he wasn’t the strongest, we saw increasingly visible signs of an inferiority complex. All of this buildup gives his excitement at having finally gained a chance at the spotlight completely understandable.

Pressure he's always wanted, that is

The plan Zerogou mentioned last chapter is revealed: Suigetsu and Nichinaga’s companion girls are in hiding, stored away in a magic room that will presumably be quite difficult to find. Nichinaga is as pissed as we’ve ever seen him. At least as far as psychological warfare goes, Zerogou’s plan seems to have worked excellently.

Final Flash: We got see a couple of nice moments from the allied forces, and Zerogou chose the correct way to hurt Nichinaga.

Toriko 117

November 16, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Hi Wa Mata Noboru]

It looks like this isn’t the real Melk after all. The title page definitely seems to indicate that the real Melk is in fact super-buff like Toriko was expecting.

Toriko’s explanation of how he deduced that this Melk was fake is another reaffirmation that, while Komatsu may be better at observing ingredients, Toriko is no slouch in the brains department. The size thing wasn’t exactly easy to miss, but it’s pretty impressive that he didn’t just chalk up Melk’s youth to Gourmet Cell magic (as I did at first).

The shocking truth is that this Melk is the second generation disciple of the previous one. That’s not too surprising, really. Given that Melk knives have still been coming out without anybody noting a drop in quality, somebody had to have been doing it in the first generation’s stead.

Having finished the Century Soup continues to pay dividends for everyone’s favorite midget chef. It’s good to know this widespread recognition isn’t changing his personality at all. Classic impressed-by-everything Komatsu is one of the main linchpins that makes this series fun.

Some handle fame more smoothly than others

Komatsu’s knife taking three years to finish due to order backlogs is the kind of obstacle this series overcomes regularly enough. That segment is worth nothing aside from a quick Komatsu facial gag. Much more interesting is the notice Melk II takes in the blade of Komatsu’s old knife. We know Komatsu’s been handling his knife well, and this is just another way of indicating how impressive of a chef he is.

Melk I has been away hunting for the stardust for six years, and now Toriko’s going to go retrieve him and the stardust in exchange for getting Komatsu’s knife faster. That neatly wraps up the three main plots of this arc: finding old Melk, finding the stardust, and getting Komatsu’s knife. Given the fact that this arc is very marginally relevant to the main plot, I appreciate that it’s going to be handled with appropriate brevity.

We close by introducing a new environment: the Heavy Hole, a super-gravity cavern. Considering that Toriko recently dealt with something similar in the gourmet world’s enhanced gravity and got his tail whipped, he’s going to have to step up his game just to get to the bottom. As a side note, the sequence of panels with the dinosaur struggling to get up is a pretty effective way to show off truly crushing amounts of gravity. Not only can’t he get up, he’s actually sinking into solid rock. That’s an appropriately intimidating introduction.

Should have done more Pilates

Final Flash: Heavily an exposition chapter, but the Heavy Hole looks promising.

Enigma 9

November 14, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by CXC Scans]

Congrats to Sakaki Kenji on earning enough votes for a top-5 Table of Contents spot and a color page. This manga certainly deserves it.

Last chapter, we were left waiting with baited breath to find out the nature of Matsurigi’s “cubic subtraction” ability. This chapter wastes no time with the reveal: Matsurigi can shrink (and otherwise modify) objects. The ability does fit the name, but I’m not sure how a miniaturized flagpole will solve our current predicament.

Further proving that these abilities are well thought out, the cubic subtraction ability is numbers-based, restricted to powers of 10. This makes it a bit less useful than straight alchemy, but such a limit allows Matsurigi’s character and intelligence to be brought to the forefront. Even the most creative power is still only just a power until it gets paired with an interesting user.

Matsurigi’s motivation is perhaps the easiest to appreciate of any other thus far; he wants to be a doctor because he wants to save lives. His motivation, more than any other, hints at character development he underwent between discovering his power and the current e-test, probably something having to do with seeing his parents work as doctors. It’s an appreciably subtle way of hinting towards something deeper with this character.

Ok, that’s how you use a shrink-regrow power. That whole sequence – shrinking it from 600cm to 6cm to get it through the crack, then partially regrowing it to 60cm to block the heat vent, then returning it to full size to ram down the incinerator door – was an unpredictable level of badass from this character. That’s what I’m talking about; limited powers make their users look much cooler.

Cool guys don't look at explosions

Haiba reminding Matsurigi of “that man” is a worrisome tidbit. First of all, we don’t have any clue who “that man” is. Also, it feels a little soon (specifically for a mystery series) to start drawing comparisons between the main character and important people from the past. It’s not a huge concern, but this device for building up the main character has been abused a lot over the years.

Of course, there are consequences for Matsurigi’s busting down the incinerator door: Haiba now has blackmailing material to get out of cleaning toilets. This is a delightful short comedy bit showcasing the chemistry between these two characters.

Not friends in everyday life

They’ve acquired the third password, along with a capsule which cures the shadow. Shockingly, Matsurigi not only chooses to avoid taking it, but makes a big show of fooling the others into thinking he has. I can only guess as to what his reasons are, but they’ve got to be good ones.

Now the guy wearing the mascot costume is evidently set for an arc. Talk about total unknown quantities.

Final Flash: The use of cubic subtraction was the most badass utilization of powers this far this series, and one of the best-planned.

Zettai Karen Children 237

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by JS Scans]

After the Phantom Portrait arc, we’re due for some comedy, which Muscle Okamarov the ambassador is certain to provide. It was quite a shock when we first learned that he was actually a hyper-competent diplomat. Only now does it become obvious as to why: the Japanese foreign ministry has exactly no female diplomats.

Better diplomacy through gay chicken

Meanwhile, at school, a fall down the stairs results in an accidental kiss between Hanai and Touno, the perennial non-couple. Mio sees and tells everyone, leading to a quite entertaining lunch conversation among the main group. Kaoru is kind of expected to want all the juicy details. However, delusional fujoshi Patty taking the story as yet more evidence that Kagari and Touno are a gay couple is a nice sidenote gag.

Shiho, level-headed as always, understands what actually happened. Thus, the focus turns from kissing at school to other scandalous romantic moments, specifically all those times the kids came on to Minamoto. Now a bit older and wiser, they realize how disastrous their early attempts at romance could have been.  This is another instance of the reflective part of this manga; I love the way it sets up early situations with the kids acting immature and ties it in with their current growth.

We can’t get too serious here. Any reflection by Kaoru on deeds past wouldn’t be complete without a wild delusion or two.

Not pictured: a realistic Minamoto

Tying back with the beginning of this chapter, the Children have now been charged with trying to get leverage over Muscle by getting Momiji to defect. This is interesting, considering Momiji is probably the most relevant character about which we know nothing.

Final Flash: This was a fresh-feeling introduction to an arc featuring a proven comedy character and a totally unknown quantity. Very promising.