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Series Roundup: 10/24 – 10/30

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment

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

Air Gear 293

[scanlation by SSA Scanlations]

I’d love to see more of the Air Gear world before ATs, or like this, more of the world as they’re just starting to discover them and everything associated with them.

Gazelle is a girl now? Seriously, what’s going on here? I’m sure Oh!Great has a direction he’s going with this, but constantly changing the identity of Gazelle without any real indication of plot connection is starting to become tiresome.

“Upside-down glowing ice cream cone” is the best description of Tokyo Tower ever. More relevant to the plot, Gazelle being a blank slate and serving as the world’s (or at least this part of the world’s) introduction to ATs is a nice touch.

This suddenly-revealed relationship is far too happy to last, unfortunately. Tragedy is poised to strike Kaito at the end of the chapter, but it’s safe to assume he’ll be saved, which perhaps directly leads to Gazelle’s demise… or turning into Lind? That part is still confusing. What an unfortunate time for a missed chapter next week.

Defense Devil 70

[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

Maybe it was conveyed or drawn in an awkward fashion, but Kucabara’s back-and-forth reaction to his watch being taken isn’t very good. Everyone falling asleep right after that is pretty funny, though.

The very moment of her first mention, Kucabara’s sister arrives, flying beside Jody. That’s a little too convenient.

She has a spell called Pyun-Pyun Bird. Combine that with her face, and I’m finding this character difficult to like already.

There’s an acceptable twist. Bird just being an illusion created by Kucabara’s late sister is far more interesting. The powerful magic she has and her invisibility to anyone but Kucabara still means that she’d be out of place in the main cast, so I hope she doesn’t stick around permanently, but she’s far more tolerable with this kind of bittersweet feeling to her.

Flashback, rainbow bridge, clock hands moving again, end of chapter. Is Defense Devil ever going to return to sensible, extended plot?

Donten Prism Solar Car 2

[scanlation by CXC Scans]

The unnecessarily convenient introduction of Professor Saeki effectively ruins all of the tension from the excellent first chapter. What a complete and immediate disappointment.

Saeki’s lofty speech about the lives and ambitions of students is made bizarre by the mention of the solar car as the path to the future. It’s still a bit early to lean on the crux of the series like this, given that this series is likely an introduction to solar cars for most of the audience.

The car accident provided the perfect opportunity to introduce a little romantic tension, as well as reintroducing some resentment via the destroyed bicycle. Instead, the author opted not only to have Shouta electrocuted, but also to have him talk to his dead father in his sleep? Ridiculous.

Freshly released from hospital, Shouta confirms that all chapter 1 tension is gone by repairing the solar car by himself. Surely, it was obvious that he’d eventually come around, but the second chapter is far too soon.

Junko’s insistence that this project is a responsibility could provide some much-needed drama. With all but the long-term goals from the first chapter resolved, there simply isn’t enough conflict to engage the reader.

Gamaran 69

[scanlation by Overload Scans]

This is a pretty comical conversation to be having with someone ostensibly related to the fearsome village where the Ogame school knows to train.

Rintaro is pretty jovial for a huge swordsman. However, his potential menace is revealed as his eyes are hidden from view when he comments on Gama’s intent to defeat Jinsuke.

The design of Juuren Village is immediately promising. That huge spire seems particularly menacing, and will likely play a major role in the upcoming training arc.

Sakura’s face is noticeably somber after the mention of Juuren being the location where the next Ogame head is chosen.

69 chapters in, and we finally meet the first woman in the series to be introduced as attractive: Rika. This is actually a positive; the fact that the author didn’t go out of his way to draw previous females in a more presentable fashion nicely evokes the era, as well as being a small victory for rightfully-empowered ordinary women everywhere.

Excellent emotion displayed by Gama, and even more pleasingly, the forced rest is completely skipped over, with the end of the chapter leading directly into the beginning of training.

GE ~ Good Ending 56

[scanlation by iMangaScans]

In addition to being one of the worst, most thoroughly inept romance protagonists of all time, Seiji is also the world’s worst Uno player, in that he fails to meet even the most basic requirement of playing the game.

A training camp arc in a romantic comedy only works in series with at least a halfhearted focus on its particular sport. For example, Suzuka could have pulled it off, because the two protagonists visibly participated in their sport. In Good Ending, tennis is an ignored backdrop at best, but more often a laughable extra.

The brief cooking comedy is welcome, but the positive interplay between Seiji and Yuki is frustratingly kept out of focus. Instead, the spotlight falls on Shou, who is saddened to notice the two having fun together. This author is absolutely infuriating.

Regardless of whether or not the window was open, how the hell would Shou think that Yuki overheard her express her love for Seiji? That’s another example of terrible writing.

Shou asking Yuki for help with Seiji is irritating, because of all of the drama it will inevitably bring, but Shou is at least a respectable character for being honest and brave with her feelings.

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 312

[scanlation by Binktopia]

“Never refuse an invitation to get it on!!”? Are you coming on to me, Reborn?

This “Lightning vs. Stag Beetle” fight has been amended to a “Lightning vs. Earth Stag Beetle” fight. That’s at least a little more appropriate.

With lines like “I can make the very earth my ally,” I’ve finally figured out Reborn: It’s for kids. I don’t mean it’s aimed at a demographic of young adults and teens, as defined by its publication in a shonen magazine. I mean, it’s actually for small children. Eight year olds (… Dude). Think about it: If you were eight, stag beetles would still be cool and relevant to you, Rauji would be huge and imposing, and the line “I can make the very earth my ally” would be badass. Judged by typical shonen standards, Reborn is trash, but if you look at it as My First Shonen, it starts to make sense.

Lambo dials back on the motivation, so that he can obviously dial it back up later for yet another silly linear powerup.

Reborn (the character) finally plays a role for once. Why has he been ignored so much? He was such a huge reason why this series was so entertaining in its early days.

“Just now, I remembered how to use the Vongola Gear from my past memories.” Complete and utter drivel.

As bad as some other series can be (Bleach, MiXiM☆11), at least they have the decency to attempt cliffhangers properly, even if they often overdo it. A Reborn cliffhanger goes as far as showing the form of an attack, but then doesn’t actually show it striking at anything. Pitiful. Frankly, the most credit that I can give to this series anymore is that it’s making me run out of negative descriptors.

Nurarihyon no Mago 128

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

There’s another reference to the human side of Hagoromo Gitsune. This fight seems to be headed for a murky ending, sadly.

It’s pleasing to see that older characters aren’t being forgotten. Though his appearance is brief, Jami is a welcome sight.

The 13th has become annoyingly repetitive. We’re well aware by now that Rikuo and Yura must work together, and that the final blow must be struck with Nenekirimaru. Continuing to emphasize this point is a waste of space.

Yet another interruption in the fight from Hagoromo’s human side. We’ve had enough teases for this; it’s time to reveal what’s going on.

The pieces are all in place, but the first major action leading to the resolution of this fight will have to wait at least until next week, at which point the fight will need to end fairly soon. This battle just never felt quite right.

Psyren 140

[scanlation by Muda Scantrad]

Everyone being sent back is an odd choice, considering how little publishing life is left in the series. It does provide a truly painful scene, though, as all the kids are essentially left behind to die.

Being sent a year ahead of the previously established present is a good choice if the plot has time to unfold, but again, with a matter of weeks left to tell the end of the story, the author might have been better off ending the series with a climactic fight in the future.

The final arc is set: Find Present (+1 year) Miroku, probably fight him, kill Mithra. That’s a lot to fit in to a few weeks. I’m pleased that this series has a semblance of a chance to wrap up, but breakneck pacing isn’t much better than an abrupt ending.

SWOT 14

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

Speaking of series with only a few weeks left, if SWOT doesn’t get canceled before Psyren, I may just shut down the website completely. This week’s distraction is the Knight Rider theme song, because even David Hasselhoff commands more respect than Manabizaki… and because watching KITT jump over things is infinitely more entertaining than reading this.

A tsundere in the first panel is an appreciated warning about the forthcoming suck.

No, adding romantic comedy elements to your series is not going to help matters. You’re still going to get canceled, so you’re only watering down what little substance you have.

All the girls in the series worked at one café, and now Yamikura works at the one convenience store we’ve seen? Does this city only have three locations?

Ladies and gentlemen, the transition between pages 8 and 9 is, officially, The Single Worst Manga Moment of the Year. Granted, SWOT could yet trump itself in its remaining chapters, but it’s going to take some serious effort to top this. No matter how bad a manga may be, the single most fundamental aspect of a manga is using art to tell a story. By replacing visible action with speed lines, SWOT has failed to achieve even the simplest, most basic, most absolutely necessary concept in all of comics, let alone manga. Even Bleach chapter 396, Aizen’s infamous “everything was according to my plan” chapter (and my previous contender for Single Worst Manga Moment of the Year) at least managed to show characters performing actions. This is an affront to manga. This is unforgivably abominable. I rate each chapter of each series that I read on a scale of 1 to 10, and while chapters like Bleach 396 deservedly earned a 1 for culminating years of plot in a single putrid sentence, SWOT has set a new low. SWOT 14 earns a zero.

There isn’t much else to review. Some little kid is the leader atop Teppen. I’m not concerned about that. I’m concerned with people who actually enjoy reading this series. I don’t even mean that in an aggressive or confrontational way. I simply don’t understand how anyone can find this remotely legible on a recreational basis. I feel like observing you with binoculars from behind a massive steel fence, as though we are from completely different species. I want to learn from you. Please, someone, explain a single point of appeal presented in SWOT that hasn’t already been done exponentially better in another series.

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.

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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.

Series Roundup: 9/26 – 10/2

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

Air Gear 289

[scanlation by SSA Scanlations]

We’re actually kinda supposed to root for Sarome? That’s helpful; I was doing so anyway. Anything to get Onigiri out of the picture.

He still won. Sarome disrobing herself was just fanservice after all, and not ridiculous Oh!Great logic.

Once again, I have no attachment to Sarome, so seeing her scrapped (then later saved) does nothing for me. Authors shouldn’t attempt to place emotional importance on brand new characters.

Even more Onigiri fighting? Surely he’ll lose this next one, but having to read more of him is tiresome.

Code:Breaker 105

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

That’s a pretty weak flashback. Yuuki deserved a stronger driving force in his past than this.

“[The fight is] merely starting” — and all variations of that phrase — is too overused to seem cool, even if I care about these characters and this situation.

I appreciate that Yuuki’s last resort isn’t intended to kill Ogami, but instead to give Ogami his remaining power, but Yuuki dying here feels cheap.

Thankfully, Sakurakouji is here to stop him. I sometimes tire of her preaching, but I’ll tolerate it here if it means Yuuki lives.

Morse code? Yuuki’s comatose friend just happens to know Morse code and have a telegraph. Ridiculous.

D.Gray-man 199

[scanlation by Binktopia]

Wait, I just barely understand why Alma is exploding, but why is Kanda crumbling? I need CliffsNotes for this series.

This just in: Alma is a girl. … sort of. There might be some kind of bizarre pseudo-reincarnation stuff going on here. I have no idea.

Alma turns into a giant-living-bubble-statue-thing, Kanda is somehow still alive, the Earl and the Noahs get wrapped up in something (literally), and Allen uses the Ark to teleport Alma and Kanda away somewhere to supposed safety. Did I get that right? I seriously can’t follow what’s going on. I promise that I’m trying, but I can’t really analyze and evaluate something that makes absolutely no sense to me. The one thing I take away from this is that Allen can freely control the Ark, which makes him pretty damn powerful. That aside, I’m totally lost, and I’m pretty sure the blame for that lies with the series and not me.

Defense Devil 66-67

[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

(66) … what the hell, cover page?

I’m not terribly interested in Y’s past, actually. Her introduction is too recent and her actions and motives are too trite for her to get this much attention.

Y stupidly frees herself from Kucabara’s rescue and chooses to fight (and lose to) the Naive Devils, forcing both Kucabara and Bichula to drop down and use full power (granted from Idamaria) to protect her, thereby nullifying the last couple chapters. I don’t mind the action at all, as it’s a welcome change, but I do mind that this plot choice means that all that pacifism just wasted our time.

(67) Is it possible to be tsundere about sniping?

Kucabara is the warrior/tank, Bichula is the scout/thief, Idamaria is the cleric/support, and now Y will be the rogue/sniper. (I’m not counting the damn talking/flying car.) When did this series become so formulaic?

When Luffy is oblivious and stupid, it’s classic. When Kucabara is oblivious and stupid, it’s cliché.

Her name is Samus? Seriously? How is that not on the international list of Names Never to Use?

Enigma 3

[scanlation by CXC Scans]

At first glance, Hasekura seems only to fulfill the role of the mandatory group coward, but his exact interpretation of such a role is amusing.

Excellent scene in the hallway, with Hasekura revealing his power to escape the incoming shadow. That was pretty thrilling for a scene in the third chapter.

Hilarious bad photo of Hasekura in his flashback, too. I’m enjoying this character so far.

Sumio is a decent protagonist, and his optimism and attitude clearly have him set up for an integral leadership position, but his “Mayday call” catchphrase just doesn’t cut it.

Wow, what a creepy moment. The man in picture changed from wearing a serious face to one with a horrific grin. I’m truly impressed.

Appropriately intriguing cliffhanger for the next chapter, too. Chapters like these give the series great hope for the future. Very well done.

Gamaran 64

[scanlation by helz0ne]

I was hoping for something a little more imaginative and exciting than “I will conquer the the country” for Jinsuke’s backstory. After tremendous hype for the 63 chapters leading up to his introduction, something this straightforward and overdone is a letdown.

It’s also unfortunate that so much of Jinsuke’s imposing aura is being built up by his subordinate’s internal monologue, rather than through Jinsuke finally taking action himself.

Gama’s rage upon hearing part of Jinsuke’s plan is good. Even if he is completely outclassed here by Ranmaru, his hatred of his father needs to be made evident from time to time.

There will be an actual demonstration of technique from Ranmaru next chapter, apparently. That should be more interesting than this chapter.

GE ~ Good Ending 52-53

[scanlation by iMangaScans]

(52) No more baseball, please.

In addition to “summer festival,” “natsu matsuri” also translates directly into “mandatory yukata fanservice opportunity.”

It’s logical for Oonuma to be at the festival as well, but it’s disappointing that she had to join with this group. There aren’t nearly enough moments alone between Seiji and Yuki anymore.

Yuki had her moment alone with Seiji many chapters ago, and Shou had hers recently, so now it’s Oonuma’s turn. Yawn.

(53) Finally, Seiji shows a little backbone. I don’t expect him to suddenly be a likable protagonist, but judging each important moment on its own worth, this is a good one.

… and that’s followed up with a pratfall and a sudden lack of clothing. Way to ruin a positive moment.

Oonuma is certainly taking her time in covering herself back up, too. At least she’s been written consistently since her character transformation, I suppose.

Once again, Izumi’s observations are spot on. His exchange with Oonuma was direct and provoked an interesting response from her, too.

Nice conversation between Eri and Kouno.

Yuki sees Seiji and Oonuma flustered and starts forming a reasonable assumption about what they were doing. We’re headed for more drama. I know that the “right” girl in a harem series always has the bulk of her romantic development saved for the end, but can’t Yuki have any?

Hayate no Gotoku! 290

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

Nagi’s thoughts are surprisingly complex. We knew she thought highly of herself, but “needing” to be a genius is a revelation about her character.

What a devilish cover page.

Ashibashi-sensei’s facial expression and Nagi’s reaction are both excellent. This is a surprisingly serious chapter.

The fact that Ashibashi only read one page of Nagi’s manga makes his earlier long pondering that much more telling. Excellent delivery.

Appropriate ending to a very nice chapter. The manga part of this storyline probably won’t matter too much longer, but I hope Nagi’s realization about her place in the world affects future storylines.

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 308

[scanlation by Binktopia]

“It looks exactly like the sun!” Please feel free to stare directly at it for extended periods of time, then.

“Maximum Sunshine Counter” is about as bad of an attack name as Amano could have come up with.

A draw. This fight ends in a draw. This colossal and unprecedented waste of time and effort doesn’t even have the decency to end in a way beneficial to either side. Pathetic.

More Vongola Primo stuff. Moving on.

Somehow Katou Julie had the silhouette of Mukuro. That’s fractionally more interesting than the fight that just ended.

Kekkaishi 323-324

[scanlation by Binktopia]

(323) Raijin’s conversation with the earth god is an interesting one, and one that continues to portray her as a fascinating character.

Kakeru not only is resisting Oumi’s mind control, but also plays a vital role in Oumi’s plan. That’s a good twist for a character who shouldn’t be neglected.

Oumi’s ultimate plan is immensely disappointing. He’s gone from an intricate villain to yet another with a world-destruction plan.

(324) It’s so nice to finally see Tokine in action again.

Yuugami is a good character, and I like his interactions with Tokine, but something about the way his hair sits on his forehead irks the hell out of me, especially in the scene when he offers his help to Tokine. Weird.

Everyone receiving precisely designated tactics is a huge positive. The author has done an excellent job establishing unique characters, and here she is taking full advantage of their specific strengths and abilities. That said, my excitement is wholly reliant on each character following through with their assignments, the most important of which being Masamori killing Oumi.

Nurarihyon no Mago 123-124

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

(123) Beautiful color page.

Nura’s masterful use of this new Matoi is impressive. It’s also a relief that it doesn’t seem like we’ll have to endure a training arc where he learns to use it properly.

The new Matoi enhances Nura’s existing Fear (and its related techniques), rather than replacing them. This is a very strong power, but I have to wonder how much of its future development relies on Nura improving, rather than just finding new members of his Hyakki Yakou to do it with.

(124) Of course they’re too late. The party is always late in stopping the cataclysmic event from starting, and stops it after it’s at full strength afterward. This is obvious, really.

A gigantic dark matter-baby is floating around and destroying buildings. If this was One Piece, I’d be begging for this to be cover story material after this arc ends.

Surely the Onmyouji are here to serve no purpose greater than losing to the Nue to make it look strong.

Psyren 136-137

[scanlation by Muda Scantrad]

(136) “There are billions of stars in space. For us to meet again on one of them, it sure is fate.” Well… maybe, but you did sort of kill billions of people on this planet, the planet where the two of you met. The chances weren’t exactly infinitesimal.

Nemesis Q and Amagi Miroku are siblings. I suppose that’s not as shocking as it seems; it’s a fairly common plot twist, and their hair color is rather similar.

I cannot overstate how much I appreciate the small comedic moment between Nemesis Q and Ageha (saving her when it was unnecessary) not being overdone. So many other series would have accompanied Ageha’s “Ah… my bad” with a ridiculous facial expression that would have been horrible out of place.

On the other hand, I’m not so sure I appreciate Ageha flying off into a rage as he activates his new Nova power. He hasn’t been written as that kind of a shonen hero; it’s a bit late to make him the temperamental type. At least his Nova looks cool, though.

(137) The way the new Melchsee’s Door is being drawn really accentuates its increase in power nicely.

Yes yes, dark is good and light is bad. You’ve switched them around. I see that.

The amount of dialogue in this fight breaks up the pacing of the action.

Miroku is dead within two chapters. I know Iwashiro is moving quickly towards the end of the series, but it took two chapters to kill off the only substantial villain of the series. Now we’re stuck with whatever aftermath results from his death, including the massive overflow of energy, whatever “new life” will be born that Miroku alluded to, and Mithra.

SWOT 11

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

It’s time to read SWOT! Put on the Magnum P.I. theme song or something; we need anything moderately exciting to get us through this.

Toudou was aiming for the top for a dead friend. Even this shoddy villain gets the “he was just misunderstood” copout. Leave evil characters evil! I’m going to have to turn this into a campaign.

“I– It’s not like I did it for you or anything” has just cemented SWOT as the worst series of the year. More anti-accolades are forthcoming, I’m sure.

A maid café. Wow. Apparently all it takes to get a series published these days is a large enough hat to put every shonen stereotype in, to later pull out a few per chapter.

There isn’t even the pretense of this series being bound by natural laws anymore. If people can transform weapons and command nature in this universe, why didn’t we find out about it until now? For anyone who may try to answer that rhetorical question, “the author is hopelessly grasping at straws, trying to keep his series alive” is not an acceptable answer.

Apparently every girl in this series works at this one café.

The World God Only Knows 115

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

It’s been fine for a couple chapters, but this blond devil working for the “old Hell” needs to take action soon or face irrelevance.

Thank goodness for Diana. Now that Keima is aware of the specific presence of a Goddess, the plot should move more quickly.

Kanon’s paranoia is excellent to watch. This series has disappointingly moved away from its strengths (short arcs featuring Keima capturing spirits) to uncharted territory with a long-term serious plot, but the tone of the series hadn’t yet made the switch. Apollo warning Kanon of constant imminent danger helps to legitimize the current plot.

Finally, the antagonist acts. This is about as genuinely scary as this series gets, and it’s an enjoyable change.

Kanon directly confronting Keima and confessing to remembering everything is fantastic. It saves us the time and agony of chapters of miscommunication.

Zettai Karen Children 232

[scanlation by JS Scans]

The heart attack medicine omake was hilarious.

This confrontation between Hyoubu and Yuuri, on the other hand, is less than exciting.

It makes sense for Kugutsu to control a fake Yuuri to cover up what’s happening, but I like that he’s been caught in the act.

Yuuri tricks her opponent’s brain into thinking that she has been wounded, and the body reacts as though it’s in pain… but the art shows a real wound with real blood? That’s a bit much to chalk up to artistic license. Representative artwork is fine, but that usually is done more effectively without the accompaniment of lengthy logistical explanation. Then again, representative artwork in general is a bit problematic (see Air Gear).

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.

Series Roundup: 9/19 – 9/25

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

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

Air Gear 288

[scanlation by SSA Scanlations]

I would like to casually remind you that the girl you see on the first couple pages with practically nothing on is, in fact, body-swapped President Obama.

The color cover page is another example of fine artwork (despite some fanservice) from Oh!Great.

Am I the only one who finds absolutely zero interest in anything involving Onigiri?

Sarome not being a Gravity Child isn’t much of a revelation, considering how new of a character she is.

Rika at risk of being brainwashed into becoming the Thorn Queen is a much better and more urgent reason for Kogarasumaru to rescue her than a simple kidnapping.

Defense Devil 65

[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

I suppose it’s been a little while since the last blatantly fanservicing cover page. Acceptable.

Kucabara’s plan may be working, but it’s not doing much to promote him as a credible hero. It’s fine to rely on intelligence, but a protagonist in this style of series really needs to support that with at least a small display of power.

This is a decent time for Y to reveal her true motive, but it’s not at all a good time to reveal her troubled past, much less through a flashback.

Kucabara, suffering greatly from poison, still manages to save Y. This is far too straightforward.

Enigma 2

[scanlation by CXC Scans]

Our group of protagonists has cleared the first suspense/thriller hurdle, at least: Don’t split up. Never split up.

Poor Shigeru. Even when faced with only one female adversary, Sumio’s attention doesn’t fall on her.

In such a completely modern trap, a typewriter-lock on the door is a nice anachronism.

The secret “emergency evacuation” broadcast code is an excellent and realistic touch.

Matsurigi is the first casualty of the shadow. (Lower case, mind you. I don’t see Interceptor anywhere… yet.) The art depicting the abduction is effectively scary.

The focus of Sumio’s Dream Diary is obviously the prediction it generates, but the accompanying artwork is amusing.

We’re set to see a new power, as Hasekura apparently must “erase” the person in the photo blocking the necessary name tag. Without yet knowing the exact nature of this power, the initial concept is already suitably interesting. Good chapter and a good sense of intrigue heading into the next one.

Gamaran 63

[scanlation by helz0ne]

Funny exchange between Gama and Zenmaru, and great artwork of their faces.

What an incredible difference in power between Gama and Ranmaru. I could have expected Gama to be at a disadvantage because of his recent fight, but this sheer gap in class is surprising.

Jinsuke already had much to live up to, but our anticipation is made to increase even further with the news that he is behind literally everything that has happened to Gama recently. With this much riding on his shoulders, let’s hope Jinsuke’s introduction lives up to the hype.

Zenmaru’s reunion with his older brother is both suspenseful and shockingly informative, with the news that the grand tournament of Unabara has ended.

This underling of Jinsuke looks as close to Two-Face as a samurai-era character could reasonably get.

Finally, Jinsuke himself. Not much in the way of plot-related introduction, but his appearance alone is monumental. Nakamaru has done a good job of drawing him to look similar to Gama.

GE ~ Good Ending 51

[scanlation by iMangaScans]

It was about baseball.

… seriously, if the author can’t be bothered to write a chapter that has any relevance to the plot, then I can’t be bothered to review it.

Hayate no Gotoku! 289

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

The summary of Important Detective is riotously funny.

Ayumu’s ignorance regarding manga is proving useful for multiple solid punchlines.

Plenty of meta mangaka humor here. It’s like if Bakuman tried pure, nonsensical comedy.

Hilarious face-off between Ayumu and Azumamiya.

Amazing realization by Nagi on the last page. It takes a seriously excellent moment to overshadow such a strong comedy chapter, but this is worth the praise.

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 307

[scanlation by Binktopia]

P3, top-right panel: Pitiful art. I can see he’s against the spiked barrier, and that he’s bleeding, but what the hell is that black mass by his waist supposed to be?

Ryohei needs to charge up to full power to defeat him? No kidding. Thanks for pointing out the obvious flaw with your ridiculous power: Every fight of yours from now on will be an endurance test until you’re fully charged.

Speed lines around the characters, in the projectiles, and in the physical attacks themselves. I derive more enjoyment from looking at graph paper.

He’s fully charged. Yawn.

Kekkaishi 321-322

[scanlation by A-Team]

(321) Interesting and pleasantly brief exposition on Shiromi’s family life. That, combined with the knowledge that he has two powers, could set him up to be an interesting character.

Bizarrely direct conversation between Masamori and Hazama, consider their complete lack of any relationship.

Tokine! Finally.

(322) Yoshimori’s dad is… unique.

Wow, Tokine is flooding Yoshimori’s thoughts. This series hasn’t handled their relationship too much until now; this is a pleasant change.

Tokine’s job as a diplomat is perfectly suited to her. She’s strong enough to support herself, yet not quite strong enough to take on a role akin to Yoshimori. This is an effective differentiation between the two main characters.

The embrace between the two is just what anyone could have hoped for. It provides just the right amount of connection between the two, without over-developing their relationship at this stage.

Mahou Sensei Negima! 303

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

It would have been amusing if Koutarou had just taken out Fate here.

This “meeting” is really just Akamatsu’s roundabout way of cementing Fate as a colossally strong character. I’m not entirely convinced Fate didn’t notice and ignore Koutarou’s group, either.

Setsuna’s fights are always a good source of action. The art complements the action nicely, too; speed lines are used in such a way as not to overpower the characters or attacks, and the most important scenes have no speed lines at all.

That teacher in Setsuna’s flashback seems far too similar to Tsuruko Aoyama, Motoko’s older sister in Love Hina, just to be a coincidence.

Tsukuyomi wielding a cursed sword is a minor disappointment. I’m frustrated at the ever-growing trend of evil characters having a particular reason why they are so evil, therefore redeeming them. Why can’t evil characters just be evil sometimes?

Psyren 135

[scanlation by Muda Scantrad]

It makes sense for Vigo to be killed off, considering Vigo has had his moment of spotlight, but it’s unfortunate that he’s being replaced by someone as unknown as Mithra.

No, Marie! You’re able to contact Shao, so get out of there! Don’t sit around with dying Vigo! Don’t pull a Vivi!

Mithra’s flashback regarding Miroku is decent enough, but the wolf/sheep metaphors make no sense whatsoever.

Some nonsensical turns of events later, Ageha arrives, right behind Miroku and poised to attack with Melchsee’s Door. It’s a pity that the preceding backstory made such little impact, but I’m ready for what could be the series’ climactic final fight.

SWOT 10

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

It’s confirmed, then: This is no longer a terrible delinquent series. It’s now a terrible supernatural delinquent series.

Manabizaki has a “99.9% chance of losing.” Could this series try any harder to be generic?

Reverse resolve. In one chapter, our semi-realistic protagonist learned a perfect counter to a newly-introduced supernatural element. Absolutely pathetic. This series has managed to evoke the same feelings that I typically reserve exclusively for Bleach, except that SWOT has managed the feat about 200 chapters sooner. What a thoroughly putrid series. Nothing deserves cancellation more than SWOT right now, Bleach included. That statement isn’t even exclusive to Jump, either; I’d cancel SWOT sooner than MiXiM☆11, too.

The World God Only Knows 113-114

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

(113) Keima’s attempts at building his own perfect human are amusing but obviously futile. This seems hopeless.

What a strange series of panels, featuring awkward, pseudo-philosophical dialogue. I’m not exactly sure what the author was trying to achieve, but unless the goal was to alienate me, I think the objective wasn’t quite met. I don’t see how any of the points raised in these pages couldn’t have been better addressed through ordinary storytelling. There’s no need to over-complicate the narrative.

Keima was unable to win from the very beginning. This teacher is rather interesting, but she needs to proceed with whatever she’s planning. This is the second time she’s been teased as a major behind-the-scenes character; best to capitalize on the existing anticipation before it’s lost.

(114) Not only is Kanon back, but she has a goddess! This is a refreshing change, particularly after the previous chapter.

Apollo is certainly less reliable than Diana, but that better suits Kanon.

Fairly sad last couple pages focusing on the distance between Keima and Kanon.

Zettai Karen Children 231

[scanlation by JS Scans]

The brief comedy of Kaoru holding a cherished maid cafe ticket is considerably more interesting than anything the preceding or following pages have to offer.

The maid cafe mixup is amusing.

Thanks, Shiina, but I haven’t forgotten that Kaoru is in love with Minamoto.

Good dialogue in the last panel. The wordplay works well with Hyoubu’s current double-natured character.

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.

Series Roundup: 9/12 – 9/18

September 19, 2010 12 comments

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

Air Gear 287

[scanlation by SSA Scanlations]

Beautiful color page. This is a perfect example of quality art and a tiny bit of fanservice easily trumping over-the-top gratuitous fanservice.

Ringo has every reason to feel like she’s at fault about this. Regardless of where the blame lies, though, Ikki’s Regalia must be repaired quickly, or else not only will he be unable to win his fight, but also the plot will be unable to progress.

This is mostly setup after setup for each fight. I suppose it’s acceptable as a way to refresh the audience’s memory, after six weeks of no Air Gear.

Ikki demonstrates some strong leadership qualities by getting everyone back on track. Between the Regalia hunt and the various battles, the next few chapters should be exciting.

AR∀GO 35

[scanlation by Trinity BAKumA]

Cute cover page.

Interesting nod by Arai towards boxers, and lightweight boxers specifically. It’s true that this training should help Arago’s evasiveness.

I’ve finally figured out the secret behind the worst arc of Hajime no Ippo: Woli had Brionac.

The reactions from Rio, Coco, and Seth to Arago’s request are as funny as they are vastly different.

Captain Tsubasa now? This is an oddly sports-themed chapter.

Arago’s idea of a duel (and the werewolf’s immediate acceptance) is fascinating. The two-page spread of them exchanging blows is great, as well.

Code:Breaker 104

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

Not that I could put a face to the name, but Dekasugi going missing right after Yuuki drops the hint points to Code:Revenger having been closely watching everything all along.

Ogami’s new flame is incredibly powerful and far more versatile than the first flame. It’s also more bizarrely supernatural, perhaps even spiritual.

Once again, Ogami’s unique sense of justice, where he continues to quietly burden himself with others’ problems, is enjoyable to read.

Yuuki is obviously torn over having to fight Ogami, but chooses to turn to his trump card, in the form of some pills in his collar. I hope Yuuki doesn’t die in all of this action.

Defense Devil 64

[scanlation by I Eat Manga]

Kucabara’s focus on pacifism is a bit out of place. He has been established as a “good” character, but this feels more like time-wasting than personality establishment.

Several pages later, and Kucabara has exactly the same stance. It’s taking far too long for anything to happen.

His brilliant plan was to shoot out the lights? That’s a bit childish.

The naive devils throw the “soccer” field into chaos, and Kucabara drops in like Batman to save Idamaria. Sadly, the spurt of action at the end of the chapter doesn’t redeem the time wasted at the beginning.

Enigma 1

[scanlation by CXC Scans]

Love to see a brand new series get scanned right away. I hope CXC will keep up with this one.

The main character has a “Dream Diary” that predicts the future. A future diary. In Japanese, one would call that a Mirai Nikki.

Sumio’s flirting is a decently enjoyable character trait, but not one that stands out too greatly.

The skull with the reversed jawbone is an appropriately scary symbol. Good design.

The way Sumio’s mother panics provides some intrigue as to exactly why Sumio saw the symbol.

Sumio’s larger panel poses are too generic.

Sumio and six others wake up in a gymnasium, unable to exit or contact the outside world. Then, the Enigme symbol appears on a screen and gives them an objective. So, this series isn’t just Mirai Nikki; it’s also Gantz. Wonderful.

Based on only one chapter, this series has far more potential than recent Jump newcomers (Lock On!, Yotsuya, SWOT, etc.), but its success will depend entirely on the execution of the premise introduced in this chapter. Sadly, the two major concepts the series is built on are far too derivative of other, existing series.

GE ~ Good Ending 50

[scanlation by iMangaScans]

Yuki’s farewell smile to her mother and attendant is creepy as hell.

Evidently Yuki’s family is aware of whatever horrible business went down between Yuki and Touru. I appreciate him being unwelcome there; I don’t appreciate the focus being on him running around trying to find her. This series needs less drama.

This bald guy being on a Koushien-bound baseball team comes out of nowhere. How odd.

Oonuma finally snapped at Seiji! That’s exactly what needed to happen. Finally, a little positive progress.

Never mind. It’s all undone by some ludicrous fireworks and a statement that reflects just how right Oonuma was about Seiji’s superficial kindness. Seriously though, fireworks?! Fireworks.

fireworks.

Kure-nai 34

[scanlation by JAC Scans]

It’s finally sinking in to Shinkurou that Kirihiko is an assassin. To be fair, she’s right in pointing out that she said that when they first met.

She stabbed him, with no effect. Is she taking it easy on him, or is has his Houdzuki training again rendered him impervious to blade attacks?

Interesting competition proposed by Kirihiko. It’ll be good to see how Shinkurou reacts to her when she’s in a killing mindset.

I can’t accept Yuuno’s explanation of the manner in which Kirihiko cut Shinkurou. A time-delayed cut? This makes absolutely no sense.

Strangely comedic ending. Saving someone from suicide does not tend to immediately lead into a job offer.

Hayate no Gotoku! 288

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

Nagi’s “plans” are hilarious. Her obliviousness is always great, but she’s so certain here that she can succeed.

Excellent meta comedy! The Jump joke is apt, and the Sunday praise is fun.

Ashibashi-sensei may have been a completely minor character, but he was very funny in his limited role as the author of the successful series “This or That Depresses Me,” which clearly does not parody any real life series whatsoever. He should provide great interaction with aspiring mangaka Nagi.

Brilliant punchline from Ashibashi, and an even better reaction from Hayate and the girls. What a funny chapter.

I love that Ayumu had no idea how successful Ashibashi was.

Mahou Sensei Negima! 302

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

Excellent detail in Akamatsu’s drawing of the various magic attacks.

Negi is trying to be everywhere at once. He should rely on the girls more. He’s obviously far more powerful than any of them, but they’re far from incompetent.

Dragonfolk? I thought it was Demonfolk. The Dragonzord joke is catching on… sadly.

Nodoka is ridiculous. Time manipulation is one of the most potentially broken powers in any setting, and she just crashes into the user. Wasn’t she supposed to be the shy one?

Very nice affirmation of the girls’ abilities over the final pages.

Nurarihyon no Mago 122

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

Multiple ways to perform Matoi should eventually both solidify Rikuo as a seriously strong protagonist, and also keep the more prominent members of the Hyakki Yakou involved in the main plot. This technique is a fantastic idea.

Kidoumaru is a legitimately strong enemy with some good techniques of his own. Ouka is impressive.

Kurotabou’s pride is nice to see. Rikuo really has grown considerably since the beginning of the series.

Beautiful full-page art of Rikuo using the new variation of Matoi.

Rikuo is wearing Kurotabou in a far more literal sense than his previous uses of Matoi. Does this mean Rikuo will become the type of character who routinely uses other characters’ powers? While this version of Matoi is interesting, I hope Rikuo doesn’t rely on it too much. Members of the Hyakki Yakou need to stand out on their own, rather than be relegated to pure supporting roles for Rikuo.

Psyren 134

[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

“Now, the battle between Matsuri and Grana–!!” … and two pages later, we switch focus to Kagetora. Amusing.

Kagetora has always been fun to watch fight, but he’s even more interesting here in the future, surrounded by those with flashier abilities.

Back to Matsuri/Grana, and this fight is far more of an exchange of psychic abilities. Grana’s admittance that Matsuri has more battle sense is what keeps this fight balanced and interesting.

Ageha and Amamiya chase after Miroku, and the chapter ends. Some fun fighting, but not too much plot progression.

Zettai Karen Children 230

[scanlation by JS Scans]

Great omake page. Of course Hanzo is a Naruto fan. … oh, pardon me. Maruto.

Kiritsubo’s overprotective nature has grown tiresome.

Hanzo’s Naruto fandom extends within the chapter! He even has the Mangekyou Sharingan. Good comedy.

I’m pretty sure the shirt worn by the character on the last page is intended to represent a browser’s Refresh function. The shirt says “F5” (the keyboard shortcut for Refresh), and has circular arrows above and below the lettering. Amusing. That said, the comedy of this chapter far outweighs the attempt at engaging serious plot.

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.

Psyren 128

[scanlation by QandA]

Amamiya’s Nova becoming intertwined with her sword could make for good attacking variety, setting her apart from the other protagonists.

A little Hiryu action, for once. It’s a shame he’s fallen so far out of the spotlight for so long.

Lavos needs a hug

Frederica complements Kyle’s fighting style nicely. It seems Iwashiro is in a rush to show as much plot development as possible in a short time, so these fights are more concentrated. We get to see the large attacks, but not very much in between.

Ridiculous power from Frederica.

Grana saves Uranus at the last minute, though who knows what kind of fighting condition he’ll be in for the remainder of the arc. Time to switch fights, and perhaps switch focus as well, hopefully to Shao and Kabuto.

Final Flash: Good, straightforward action chapter.

Psyren 127

[scanlation by QandA]

Finally, a major opponent for Frederica. She deserves someone strong enough to display her full power against.

Many large-scale attacks going on here. This would be fun to see animated.

Odd scenes of the Wise, particularly Misura. It’s unusual to see much (or any) face time for the Wise apart from general antagonism, given how little has been revealed about them personally.

It’s Kyle! The more these fights become intertwined, the more exciting the action should become.

Awesome has arrived

Absolutely fantastic panels on page 14.

Excellent fight design

Hey, it’s Hunter x Hunter!

Which one's Killua?

Shao and Kabuto should prove to have an interesting combination fighting style if they’re paired up similarly to Frederica and Kyle.

Final Flash: Good action chapter held back by some bizarre introspection from villains who usually stay quiet. Also, it must be said, the translation I used was vague and difficult to read.