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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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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.

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.

Kekkaishi 330

[scanlation by A-Team]

Well, the entire first half of this chapter is just one very elaborate charge-up scene for Nura. She takes in lots of energy from her demons and gets younger. Not really much to comment on there, so let’s move on, shall we?

The activation of the larger kekkai was significantly more notable. Containing the battle damage is one thing, but being able to see the sea snakes is a huge edge versus Nichinaga’s forces. This does a whole lot to make up for the fact that the Yagyou aren’t involved in the active battle this time around; at least they are being extremely effective as support. Also interesting is the fact that we now have proof that Zekkai isn’t the only effective in-universe sea snake counter.

Just a little bit

The battle starts with a full-out charge, which merits a few pages of dialogue-free action to give a sense of the situation. Good atmosphere, but again, very little to comment on there, and it doesn’t help that most of the combatants are nameless demons and minor Urakai members.

The focus eventually shifts to Masamori who is presumably coming close to a character defining moment, but we’ll have to wait at least one more chapter to get any serious action out of him.

Final Flash: An okay chapter, but not an exceptional one. It mainly got a lot of less important moments out of the way.

The World God Only Knows 123

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

Chihiro seems to be responding less favorably to Keima’s conquest plan than Ayumi did. At the very least, she’s putting in a fair bit of effort to shrug it off, to increasingly less polite degrees. Indeed, Keima appears to have done less well with her than with Ayumi, but he still seems to think he did well enough.

The Haqua/Keima partnership continues to be fraught with physical abuse. Haqua isn’t missing any chances to be violently tsundere. She really pulls no punches (or footstomps, in this case).

Whether or not the “corrected-misunderstanding” kiss is in fact the best way to finish off a dating-sim, a point which could be debated to no end, it is probably the best that could be made of the current scenario. Keima certainly seems to think it is; his impassioned speech-making on the subject is fun as usual, and opens the way for a fantastic bit of straight-manning by Haqua. Her snarky reactions to Keima’s lecture are an excellent example of a type of entertainment we miss out on with Elsee being Keima’s only partner. I really hope Haqua sticks around after this arc is over.

Buzzkilling for fun and profit

Now that Keima’s dealt with the two girls known to be in the gray area, he moves on to the real challenging ones, starting with Tsukiyo. For all the confidence he had with Ayumi and Chihiro, he’s immediately thrown off balance by Tsukiyo’s appearance and trademark distant personality, hesitating to start saying his lines. Seaking of good deadpan moments, Tsukiyo’s immediate response to said lines takes the cake.

Of course, Keima’s not immediately giving up on Tsukiyo. Instead, he follows her out to the roof, eventually cuing in on the fact that she’s putting the carpet back out again. That could be just another piece of evidence that she is one of those who forgot, but kudos to our hero for noticing.

Ayumi’s arrival on the rooptop triggers an amusing sequence of events. In his desperation to not turn his 4 love triangle conquest plan into a dodecagon plan, he ducks behind the couch and somehow manages to still peg Tsukiyo as in the gray area, before pulling off an ingenious escape from Ayumi… all while hiding under a blanket.

This guy regularly outdoes Solid Snake

Next up on the gauntlet of girls Keima has been running: Shiori, the library assistant. It really has been a while since we’ve seen her. I wonder if she’s learned to talk normally in the interim.

Final Flash: Happy to know that Shiori’s up next, but also sad that, with Elsee being absent, her scene will involve no fire trucks.