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.

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Beamcast Hiatus

December 12, 2010 4 comments

Due to some major, unavoidable issues, Beamcast will be on hiatus through December, and possibly through the first week of January. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we also hope that such a break will allow us to focus more on written content and the evolution of the Shonen Beam website.

Rest assured, despite the use of the word “hiatus,” none of us are lazing around playing Dragon Quest. We will return as promptly as possible with the best content we can provide. We eagerly look forward to our next recording session, which will likely be a major 2010 retrospective episode. Our attention now turns to regular site features such as reviews, Power Rankings, and articles, as well as exciting new ideas which will be announced as soon as they are ready.

Thank you for your understanding, and you’ll hear from us again soon. Happy holidays.

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Toriko 120

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

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

He's the fanservice character, alright

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

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

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

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

Like pirate treasure, but more delicious

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

Normally, that surprise goes the other way

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

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

One Piece 606

December 8, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

It’s reassuring to see that, for as intelligent as he is and for how much he’s grown, Chopper still has enough moments of overpowering naivete as to make him resemble the sheltered little reindeer-boy we met so long ago. How he finds it acceptable to attempt to interact with a deep sea creature is beyond guessing.

Unlike Nami, Brook actually functions fairly well as our science correspondent, given his tendency to use brief snippets of correct information only as passing remarks en route to talking about himself being a skeleton. It’s a silly little throwaway joke, but this type of information conveyance is much more effective than Nami’s barrage of facts.

Just when it seems Caribou has the chance to make a stand and come off as a decent (if still minor) villain, his internal monologue reveals his desire to sneak into the girls’ room. With that, any shred of credibility he had left has gone. Frankly, though, I don’t find that much of a disappointment. Even if he does turn out to have Logia abilities, his current personality isn’t suited towards making him even a mid-card villain.

Of course, Caribou himself is still under the impression that he is menacing, and while his thoughts turn to more nefarious acts, Franky’s slow approach and subsequent containment of the barrel housing Caribou is a great comedic foil to the would-be antagonist. Interestingly, while not directly addressing the issue, this series of panels serves as the best evidence to date that Caribou is a Logia. The way he has manipulated his fairly large frame into a barrel would likely be impossible without the ability to restructure his body. If this does turn out to be true, then the nonchalant attitude shown by the crew towards Caribou is a strong indication of just how far and how powerful the Straw Hats have grown. Previously, only Luffy had managed to defeat Logia users, and even then, victory in each instance required some kind of natural counter. Franky’s assessment of the situation might be correct, in that Caribou hindered his own plan by being an idiot, but the mere fact that Franky (who is by no means at the top of the Straw Hat hierarchy) was able to so calmly analyze the situation and deal with it quickly is representative of major evolution in the strength of the crew.

… and naturally, this serious analysis of battle savvy and character progression is immediately followed by Morse Code nipples.

Can't wait until he greets an approaching ship like this

Despite the apparent mastery of undersea biology and general science demonstrated by the crew in the last few chapters, they somehow manage to fall into an incredibly obvious trap set by a huge angler fish. It’s hard for anything underwater to be cliché, given that it’s not the most common of settings, but this comes pretty close, and as such is difficult to reconcile with the recent National Geographic-like dialogue.

The acorn-headed Umibouzu is a unique find that truly helps to set the tone of just how grand this adventure is. Beyond the folklore charm, an Umibouzu would seem to be a major enough creature for its existence to be accepted knowledge throughout the world. However, only Usopp (and perhaps the silent Robin) is able to identify the creature, indicating not only fear but also surprise, which reaffirms the sense that the voyage to Fishman Island is perilous and rarely attempted. These aren’t exactly “uncharted waters,” but they’re unknown enough to instill appropriate feelings of discovery and wonderment to the crew, and by proxy, the audience.

On the other hand, the Flying Dutchman isn’t particularly impressive or exciting. It’s odd to say such a thing about a ghost ship, but Brook and Thriller Bark have given One Piece all the undead flavor it needs for years to come. Any more introductions of ghouls, zombies, or the like will only lessen the major impact of Brook’s role.

Ho hum, a legendary ghost ship

I don’t have any particularly colorful language with which to describe the intervention of the Kraken. A gigantic squid-beast delivered a right straight punch to a mythical sea-person. That’s colorful enough.

Quite unsurprisingly, Luffy delivered on his intent to tame the Kraken, and he even had the decency to do it off-screen, so the audience can later learn about Luffy’s new abilities in a more serious scenario. Vows of revenge, reunion reactions, and imminent eruption round out the chapter.

Final Flash: Some truly interesting setting establishment is somewhat hindered by a lack of a real driving force behind the plot. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable adventure.

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.