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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.

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History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 406

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

I don’t think Apachai has ever looked more imposing or dangerous than he does now. The eyes are being used to showcase his current state, and they’re blazing with light. Consider this “fight” over before it has begun, folks.

Protector of Children

The whole dialogue about how Apachai gained his strength, and the small flashback, were both handled very well. Not only did Apachai have the strength to disable Agaard for two whole days without killing him, but he has enough left to defend his disciple to the very end. Very well done, and if anyone had any doubts remaining about who came out on top in the fight between masters, this should settle it.

Once again an excellent use of white space, breaking through the sword and through the weapon user’s face, also. This page and the one following it relate force through artwork, something which is tough to do well. You can feel the impact of the blow, and you can tell that the force is something out of this world.

Out of nowhere, four straight pages of some of the most gratuitous fanservice I’ve seen in Kenichi, and that’s saying something. I don’t understand what’s happening, and at this point I really hope this is an issue introduced by the editorial staff and not the mangaka. I understand that sex sells, but this is cheapening key moments of plot and distracting from the focus of the story. I want to be able to recommend Kenichi to people without an asterisk commenting on the fanservice.

I had to separate myself from those pages so I could appreciate the final page of the chapter, but it does its job well. No one following this manga wants to see Apachai go, but his exit has been handled exceptionally well, and at this point I would consider it an insult for him to survive this storyline. Based on what respect I have for Matsuena-sensei, I take this as his farewell, and it is fitting.

Heart-wrenchingly delicious

Final Flash: A well-handled end for a beloved character, marred by a few pages of very shameless fanservice.

Hayate no Gotoku! 295

November 12, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by reddevilshn]

Luca not having any money draws an immediate parallel to Hayate in my mind. When I realized it did so, I had to laugh a little to myself, that I could associate something like poverty to a character. Perhaps wherever she needs to get to in a hurry is a job? That would seem pretty appropriate.

Nagi has no idea what to make, but she wants to do something original? So that means her previous works we’ve seen are things she doesn’t consider original. I’m interested, to say the least. Her offhand comment about Maria being a weird maid was pretty funny in her current company.

Hayate no Gaijin 4-koma

Hata Kenjiro is definitely not out of touch with the mainstream comedy of today’s internet. He’s put a few things in this chapter that are obvious shout-outs to 2ch- and 4chan-type internet culture. They’re not out of place in a comedy series like Hayate, which makes so many references and in-jokes.

Hayate’s fight with the robot is handled pretty well, in that there’s one page where I felt like I was reading a magical girl series. Maybe the attack names help. Hayate quickly realizes things are getting out of hand, and moves the fight elsewhere. It should be noted that Hayate doesn’t really do action except in these small flashes, but they are well done. By no means do I ever want this to turn into a battle series.

He manages to settle it in a timely manner, but Luca being hurt tosses an interesting event into this. I’m not at all against it; we’re getting a direct encounter so soon. I just hope Luca also resembles Hayate in her ability to take abuse.

Useful without any editing

Final Flash: Great comedy as always with excellent references. Next chapter, I hope we get a conscious Luca talking to Hayate.

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.

Series Roundup: 10/31 – 11/6

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

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

Code:Breaker 110

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

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

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

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

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

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

Defense Devil 71

[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

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

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

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

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

GE ~ Good Ending 57-58

[scanlation by iMangaScans]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 313

[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

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

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

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

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

Kimi no Iru Machi 111

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nurarihyon no Mago 129

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

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

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

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

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

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

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

SWOT 15

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

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

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

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

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

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

Feel that one or more of these series should be getting full-review treatment each week? Show your support by participating in chapter discussion in comments. Actively-discussed series will be considered for full reviews.

The World God Only Knows 121

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

I love the job Haqua is doing filling in for Elsie. Her disguise is flawless, except for the fact that she gets questions right in math class.

Specially mentioning Akari now is a bit odd. It is true that Keima still doesn’t know her true identity, but she does feel a little out of place when talking about the other conquests. While her arc was an interesting one to read, it seems more out of place in hindsight.

Akari’s also eliminated from consideration by virtue of the now-defined borderline: only girls Keima could plausibly encounter in a regular school day could have goddesses. This category includes Chihiro and Ayumi, as well as Shiori (the library girl), Tsukiyo (the doll girl), and Yui (the body-swap rich girl). Chihiro and Ayumi are fairly obvious at this point, but as for which of the other three are going to be in there, I can’t be sure; all of them feel equally important at this juncture.

The montage of girls who have been systematically been eliminated from the plot disappointingly includes some very interesting ones, particularly Sumire and Nanaka. At least they earned a mention.

Seriously, the shop could have been a sweet hangout spot

Of course, knowing where the goddesses are is exactly half the problem. The key point of this search is that they have to be dragged out from hiding. I expect this necessity of the arc to shift Keima’s focus from analysis to action.

Haqua’s sleeping over? Excellent. The evolving chemistry between her and Keima as partners is becoming increasingly fun to watch as she gets more and more dragged along by him.

The mention of Kanon is being used a lot to prompt serious mood swings. I do get that Keima regrets what happened, but there’s a limit to how much that point needs to be hammered home. We could do with a little less of that at this point.

Haqua’s shower was a fairly obvious setup for what happened next: an oblivious Keima walking in on her. While this situation is as old as it comes, the author still gets props for avoiding the pitfalls Kimi no Iru Machi has encountered of late by not stuffing the shower scene with full frontal. He gets even more props, however, for this:

A sound effect to define the decade

Haqua provides a typical Tsundere reaction, prompting a peculiar statement from Keima. Now he’s going to be a demon? Does that mean he’s going to start acting like a Black Rainbow protagonist? The impact of this statement is only magnified by the fact that he delivers it buck naked. Gotta love this guy.

Final Flash: Serious development at the end aside, this chapter got good results out of deepening the chemistry between Keima and Haqua.

The World God Only Knows 120

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

The search for the goddesses continues, taking us all the way to a neighboring university town.

I never get tired of being reminded about just how awesome Keima has managed to be. 16 conquests is quite an achievement, though it does make the task at hand somewhat more difficult.

It's not him, it's that sex pistol of a PFP

Meeting up with the wrestling-obsessed teacher again brings back some fond memories of earlier, less-serious arcs. It’s a fun set of memories, and seeing Haqua forced into the role of fake girlfriend is a nice bonus dose of cute.

Keima’s mention of the boundary line and subsequent interaction with Jun does seem to disqualify most of the girls we haven’t seen since their conquest. It is somewhat intuitive that the ones we’ve seen nothing of are going to continue to be less relevant, as they’d be much harder to integrate into the main plot. Still, it’s too bad we won’t get to see the ramen shop girl again.

Another check with Minami, the underclassman in swimming club, confirms Keima’s theory that only girls close to him are possible goddess-holders. Also worth mentioning: Keima is acting like more of a bona fide playboy in this scene, matching his current public image. His confidence with normal girls seems to have increased significantly since he started doing conquests.

I would pour hot coffee on this face

Keima’s attitude on the rooftop is a jolting moment of character introspection. He still has the conflicting emotions over getting Kanon involved in things hanging over his head; add to that mix the realization that the conquests he put so much effort into were so easily erased, and it makes for one terrific effort by Wakaki Tamiki to put a dent in his confidence.

Final Flash: Nice to see girls from prior arcs, but I will miss the girls who were not (and will probably not be) shown.