Archive

Archive for the ‘Weekly Shonen Jump’ Category

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?

Enigma 7

[scanlation by CXC Scans]

Sensible decision of the guys to leave someone behind to guard the girls. There will indeed be no lame hostage plots in this manga. Well, the president is already captured, but none of the “save the distressed damsel” plot that lesser series seem to love.

Matsurigi is indeed in the incinerator. Strange, though not entirely off-base, for him to cite his student council duties so insistently now. He’s clearly not the leader figure after being captured so easily. Still, it does provide us with a solid moment of comedy.

Student council members: They just always know

The next password hunt/test begins. This time, it’s a moral dilemma problem. One key, two doors, and something important behind each one. Fairly standard setup. Of course, ever the hero, Haiba vows to get both.

Moto vanishing the door is a pretty good utilization of his power. This is a clever way for him to contribute, and it also soothes one of my few lingering worries about this series. Up till now, we were dealing with puzzles deliberately written to make characters useful. While they were well-written puzzles, they were situational. Moto’s actions here show that Sakaki Kenji is abundantly capable of applying set powers to a wide variety of situations.

Opacity doesn't stand a chance

Unfortunately, seeing through the door does little to help the guys figure out a way past it. Matsurigi, about to be taken over by the shadow, seems resigned to lose his life anyway. Too bad he went under before he was able to spill that one critical bit of information about the shadow’s identity.

The shadow taking over Mitsurigi triggers an abrupt personality change. Evil Mitsurigi now is demanding to be freed. It seems like he’s going to play Haiba and Moto’s humanity against them. This would be an appropriate time for the hooded guy to step up to the plate.

Final Flash: Very solid chapter. This series has a good way of delivering situational uses for the limited powers it gives its characters.

Toriko 116

[scanlation by Hi Wa Mata Noboru]

With Melk now revealed to be a fabulous bishonen, Toriko and Komatsu certainly show enough shock. I guess we were expecting a bit less sparkle and more muscle, based on the rumors they heard.

Despite the shoddy maintenance of Melk’s hut, Komatsu’s totally geeking out over its contents. That aspect of his character never gets old, and given that this is a spotlight arc for him, I’m expecting fun times.

Better than an ocean of penguin drool

It’s a bit odd that Melk’s house would be this slashed up. On one hand, it fits his design, but on the other hand, what we’ve seen of his knife skills indicates he has a bit more control than that. Toriko seems to be aware of this, also.

Okay, the cuts in the floor make sense if a comparatively dull Melk knife can bury itself blade-first in the floor just by free-falling. The knives have to be at least that good for them to be a serious level-up for Komatsu, anyway.

It’s an interesting choice on Toriko’s part to backhandedly insult Melk and then mess up the floor of his house. He has to be deliberately provoking Melk for some reason; I can’t see Toriko being this much of a jerk by accident. Melk has certainly been provoked enough.

We'll settle this with a caber toss

Knife fight time! Toriko’s hand-knife matches up evenly with Melk’s, and after a little action, he has Melk down on the ground. The twist at the end, that this Melk is not, in fact, the real one, raises a couple possibilities: possibly he’s a disciple, or else Melk is a company’s name rather than a single person’s.

Final Flash: Felt like a short chapter. Hopefully the fake Melk plot doesn’t lead to a sizable detour.

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.

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.

Toriko 115

[scanlation by Hi Wa Mata Noboru]

Rumors about Melk build him up as too much of a manly badass beforehand. There has to be some other aspect to his character.  That said, each of the steps up his mountain are personally carved man-height stairs, so he’s definitely your average Toriko character.

Komatsu does his own speculating as to Melk’s true identity. We’ll see soon enough whether he or Toriko is more on the mark.

Planes cannot be used as an effective means of travel in this world while giant squids patrol the sky. Why did the engineers of this world even bother to invent them?

More of an air-travel deterrent than bag fees

Capture level 15 beasts indicate the danger of this mission is, at least for now, way below the difficulty of Vegetable Sky. Just as well. There won’t be a cucumber at the end of this one to de-age Komatsu, after all.

Melk’s done a good job of scaring the animals from ever coming close to his workshop. Clearly his intimidation-aura projects pretty far out, confirmed by the depiction of Toriko’s face being pseudo-cut by selfsame intimidation.

Hello again, Match

Melk makes a show of his power by scaling a live animal, though imperfectly, from a distance using a knife that’s far from the sharpest he can make. Yeah, he’s a power character. Interestingly, aside from being an obvious bishie, he seems to have a character design based on a cross between a Sashimi chef and a blacksmith.

Final Flash: Made it to Melk’s place quickly enough. Now let’s see what he has to say about Komatsu’s new knife.

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.

Enigma 6

[scanlation by CXC Scans]

Escaping through the ventilation shaft? Not in this manga.

Sakaki Kenji must not be a fan of that cliché

Hiina’s hand was unable to stop a ceiling fan. This is unequivocally a good thing. Too many fight-capable characters can fill a mystery-puzzle manga with more plotholes than you can shake a stick at. Limited, specific powers offer the opportunity for significantly more writing depth.

Haiba falls back under, then finds the last piece in the ceiling fan. There was indeed trickery at work here. The fact that this room was basically designed as an unwinnable puzzle suggests Enigma (or someone, anyway) has a penchant for watching the participants squirm while having an obvious solution right before their eyes. This brings the possibility of a torture-maniac type villain all the more likely.

Haiba’s way of stopping the ceiling fan – wrapping his jacket around his arm for a cushion – is a believable one. Hiina proves herself useful one more time in stretching to grab the final piece. Game clear.

This series definitely has a love triangle brewing. Works for me, I guess. Hiina is interesting enough, and Shigeru is a character who fits a fairly standard childhood friend role (for now, anyway).

It feels a little bit soon for Haiba’s power to be evolving. His current dream diary power is useful enough in the e-test without having to give him anything extra this arc. Obviously we can expect the power to evolve at some point, and the hint here makes it fairly clear as to how.

Maybe the improved foresight on Haiba’s part is just an offset to balance the fact that he’s now flaunting polka dots. That sweater will take some getting used to.

Good time to balance the puzzle-solving with the events of the outside world. Naturally, their attempts to reach the people walking around outside fail; it’s never that easy. There are people there though, which, as Haiba points out, is big. Eventually, people will be using this school. Unless the characters are somehow intangible, they should be able to communicate then.

… not if the people in question are already “infected” by shadows, though. Pretty shocking page, that. Either this world isn’t the real one or Matsurigi is not the shadow’s first victim. Creepy.

You don't want him picking your kids up from school

The girls are taking a well-deserved rest. This other diary entry now opens the door to showcase the remaining two male characters, and to get a better look at what’s happening to Matsurigi. What it does not open the door to is having the girls kidnapped while they sleep.

Final Flash: Getting the last puzzle piece was cleverly handled, and the revelation in the latter half was a creepy one.

Enigma 5

[scanlation by CXC Scans]

We last left our heroes in a deathtrap of a gym shower. Gym showers are hazards in more ways than one, but not all of them try to drown you.

So we’re hunting not only puzzle pieces, but transparent ones. So they then start finding them by touch, and naturally, the girl with the stretchy third hand can do that exponentially faster. That is a pretty legitimate way to make Hiina the key to winning this scenario.

Needles, your haystack days are numbered

Also, nice quick realization by Sumio that Hiina has and is using a power. He didn’t know earlier, so a little reaction, exactly what is shown, is about right.

Of course their allies can’t open the door. That would spoil the fun of this puzzle having a time limit. Not sure why they don’t just smash a hole in the glass, but maybe the door is more solid than that. Anyway, I’d much rather see legitimate nick-of-time puzzle solving.

The shadow hunting people down apparently both has a personality and is not the only player in this game, referencing another who will “consume” Matsurigi, who incidentally seems to be covered in shadows. Also, he seems to know Matsurigi, his first victim. This provides fuel for too many interesting theories to list here.

Dark matter says hello

That water gets harder to search the higher the level is accurate, and also proof that the author paid attention in math class. Yet another nice touch in a series full of them.

Backstory time, it would seem. Her parents both slept around a bit, rather than just one. The hand was seemingly either developed as a direct response to bullying attempts, but even the way it was used, lifting a wallet from her bag and putting it back in the owner’s stuff, is atypical enough to get the Law of Ueki junkie in me even more excited over the skill sets these characters have.

Hiina wants ‘bonds’ out of this game. That’s a pretty abstract goal, but it does open up the possibility of setting up a long-term plot with her as one of the main party.

Haiba seems set to deliver those bonds of friendship as well, lifting her out of the water as it overtakes her head in a typical shonen hero moment.

Exactly 1 piece still missing. No bets as to it being on the ceiling.

Final Flash: This was a solidly enjoyable chapter for the puzzle hunt and did a good start forming the framework of the larger mystery surrounding the e-test.

Toriko 114

[scanlation by Hi Wa Mata Noboru]

Ichigohan translates wonderfully into Strawberrice. That is such a convenient cross-language portmanteau.

This food would be even more notable if not for the fact that Komatsu was getting tears (and snot) of joy all over it. Bromance much?

Truth be told, the more I think about it, the less I mind the increased levels Toriko and Komatsu’s relationship as taken. Given that he’s going to have to have Toriko’s protection throughout the Gourmet World, it makes sense that they would become closer friends. Plus, it’s a funny way for the author to give Komatsu another reason to worry himself silly about nothing.

Sani having been behind Komatsu being behind Jiro coming to rescue Toriko is not totally unanticipated, given the aloof attitude he took in their conversation earlier, despite knowing how bad of a blender the Gourmet World was. He is the type of guy to take a subtle approach to things like that.

And, eating. Wouldn’t be an action-free Toriko chapter without it.

Fruit snacks for men

The meat banana, immature jokes aside, looks delectable. Toriko does all food well, but there’s something special about the way the meat in this series is drawn that makes me even hungrier.

More affirmation of Torikomatsu’s combo status is interrupted by Komatsu’s knife being broken by a reader submission. Speaking of reasons for Komatsu to freak out…

Shock so strong it won't fit into an ordinary speech bubble

This brings us very naturally to a Komatsu “power-up,” a souped-up kitchen knife, that is totally character-appropriate. Nice.

Final Flash: The nature of the arc coming up is a good indication that Komtsu’s going to be back in the plot for a while. Personally couldn’t be happier about that.

Bakuman 105

October 16, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by SleepyFans]

This week, on The Adventures of Shiratori

Mashiro’s idea for a new PCP storyline is noticeably superior to Takagi’s. Takagi is right to point out that Saiko can now construct a story, and this is promising knowledge for Mashiro’s immediate future. Still, in the long run, I hope it only contributed to Ashirogi’s overall success, rather than downplaying Takagi’s importance or (worst of all) leading to Mashiro successfully splitting off from the duo.

Having to read about poor little Shiratori out in the cold is bad enough, but having to sit through another flashback is borderline insulting.

Kaya, Takagi, and Mashiro holding a small secret meeting about the state of Shiratori’s hygiene is amusing.

This entire scene in the park is completely intolerable, but seeing Mashiro and Takagi acting almost parent-like is funny. It’s almost like I find interest in them because I care about the main characters or something. How odd.

Yet another bizarre and blatant admission of a healthy relationship between Takagi and Kaya.

Strangely honest

Admittedly, the “pet potty” line is fairly funny. Shiratori’s ineptness with household appliances is decent, too, but combined with all the other focus on him, it’s just too much.

Shiratori’s father is the kind-hearted good guy who understands that his son isn’t fit to run the family business, while Shiratori’s mother is this arc’s embodiment of evil, pushing her son to do what best pleases her? This is setting up far too easily and obviously for the father telling off the mother rather than the two coming to an understanding, or even the father politely helping the mother see the error of her ways. Does Ohba have a problem with women?

Shiratori has finally contributed to the characters who matter! His explanation to Mashiro of inking the characters from outlines is a fantastic idea, and an excellent way for Mashiro to achieve the improvement he desires. That said, this revelation could still have been made to feel powerful without weeks of building up Shiratori.

Finally, the classic (or overused) public showdown with the controlling parent.

Wait, are you going to stab her?

I can respect both Mashiro and Takagi showing some outrage at this person who has entered their studio and blatantly insulted their passion, but I can’t accept Takagi defiantly opposing Shiratori’s mother to the point of heatedly declaring that he will work on Rabuta & Peace. This series is about Ashirogi challenging the manga world and defying the odds to succeed. At this point, given the manner in which Shiratori has been made so prominent so quickly, I simply cannot be made to care about him.

For those curious about where this series has gone, I did a little counting:

Pages containing Mashiro: 13
Pages containing Takagi: 11
Pages containing Shiratori: 16

Final Flash: A few funny moments aside, this was yet another disappointing chapter, and one that practically guarantees several more, considering Takagi’s confirmation.

Naruto 513

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

Tsuchi Tsuchi Tsuchi. Is everyone in the Tsuchikage’s group going to have Tsuchi in their name somewhere? Plus, combining themed names with color-related prefixes makes them sound like a sentai team.

Bench! is done, Kishimoto; draw proper noses again

It was bad enough that Deidara’s appearance was being reused; it’s considerably worse that his personality and consciousness have returned. Deidara was a pretty enjoyable character, but his time has come and gone. Reusing defeated characters cheapens both their final scenes and the current plot.

Pandaman! Oh, wait...

Bee playing Rock-Paper-Scissors against a crab is a great little joke.

I understand that Naruto is under the impression that he’s on an S-rank mission to study ecology, but I really don’t need to know about an armadillo’s private parts, thanks.

It’s nice to have confirmation that this isn’t the real Deidara, and that he really did die, but was that really an outstanding issue? I didn’t read this reappearance of “Deidara” as a shocking announcement of his survival, but rather a manipulation from Kabuto. It makes sense for the Tsuchikage to realize that he’s a fake, but spending more than one panel on this knowledge is a waste of time.

Manda lends credibility to just how powerful Kabuto is supposed to be, but it’s slightly unfortunate that Kabuto has to continue to rely on techniques and summons lifted from Orochimaru. Orochimaru was an excellent villain, but now that he is gone, Kabuto needs to stand out on his own merits.

The Six Million Dollar Snake?

Kishimoto has fallen in love with grand-scale attacks and artwork. The scene with the giant turtle being capsized would make for excellent animation, too.

The armadillo punchline is unnecessary and takes away from the seriousness of Kabuto’s first major action as an independent villain. Leave the blatant male nudity to Beelzebub, please.

The chapter ends with a fight poised to break out between fake Deidara and the Tsuchikage. This is immensely frustrating, as Deidara has already been defeated; any display of strength the Tsuchikage exhibits will mean significantly less against an already-fallen opponent. It shouldn’t have taken this long for the Tsuchikage to get in a serious fight, either.

Final Flash: Unfortunate treatment of Kabuto, inappropriate humor, and too much setup time for a useless fight.