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Posts Tagged ‘Mahou Sensei Negima!’

Beamcast – September 13

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

[download link – 121min, 53mb]

In this week’s show:

News
One Piece Strong World tops DVD/BD charts for second week

Weekly Oricon rankings (8/30 – 9/5)

New releases

[anime]
Dragon Ball Z – Season 4 Dragonbox Set (DVD) $59.98
Dragon Ball Z Kai (DVD 2) $49.98
Dragon Ball Z Kai (Blu-Ray 2) $54.98

[manga]
Arata Kangatari / Arata: The Legend (vol. 3) $9.99
Hayate no Gotoku! (vol. 16) $9.99
InuYasha (vol. 52) $9.99
Oh My Goddess! 2nd edition (vol. 15) $10.99
Rin-ne (vol. 4) $9.99

Listener Mail

Discussion / Weekly Poll
Last week’s results:

1. Beelzebub (38%) | 2. Gintama (22%) | 3. The World God Only Knows (15%)

This week:
Multiple choice – Which of these shonen genres do you enjoy?
(Action, Comedy, Mystery, Romance, Sports)

The Great Shonen Tier List

Characters re-tiered:
Nura Rikuo (Nurarihyon no Mago)

Characters added:
Portgas D. Ace (One Piece)
Uchiha Itachi (Naruto)
Yuki Onna (Nurarihyon no Mago)
Komatsu (Toriko)
Nougami Neuro (Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro)
Father (Fullmetal Alchemist)

Anime Discussion
Highschool of the Dead (ep. 10)
Legend of the Legendary Heroes (ep. 11)
Nurarihyon no Mago (ep. 10)

This Week in Manga
0:48:51 – Bleach 419
0:54:17 – Naruto 509
0:58:51 – Bakuman 100
1:05:01 – Beelzebub 76
1:10:18 – Fairy Tail 199
1:13:05 – Hayate no Gotoku! 287
1:15:55 – Kekkaishi 319-320
1:20:29 – History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 397
1:25:32 – AR∀GO 34
1:28:33 – Toriko 109
1:35:21 – Gamaran 62
1:40:07 – Mahou Sensei Negima! 300-301
1:44:51 – Nurarihyon no Mago 121
1:49:25 – Kimi no Iru Machi 104
1:52:24 – SWOT 9
1:55:25 – Bloody Monday: Season 2 – 40
1:57:12 – Code:Breaker 103
1:58:10 – D.Gray-man 194
1:58:46 – Gintama 322-323
1:59:25 – Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 305

Chapters of the Week

Final Flash

Comments / questions / additions? Email the show.
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Credit: AnimeNewsNetwork

Series Roundup: 9/5 – 9/11

September 9, 2010 1 comment

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

AR∀GO 34

[scanlation by Trinity BAKumA]

Great action in the fight between Arago and the werewolf. Arai’s art style makes even speed lines feel new and interesting.

The werewolf has regeneration similar to Arago’s Brionac and unbelievable speed and strength. Arago defeat is unsurprising, but the process reveals two interesting notes: the seam in the werewolf’s fur, and the fact that the werewolf didn’t kill Arago.

Joe reveals a variation on the now commonly-accepted werewolf legend, and his version is absolutely fascinating. This is a brilliant writing choice.

Code:Breaker 103

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

This is becoming bizarrely metaphysical. Granted, this series isn’t restricted by any sense of realism, but Ogami entering “the hell of darkness within [his] heart” is still jarring.

The physical incarnation of the Emperor is disappointing. Even if this form is supposed to be a weaker, limited version of the character, this character type is overdone.

After a rather cliché test, Ogami is granted the second of seven flames. Suddenly, Flame of Recca comparisons are completely appropriate. Ogami’s use of Belphegor of the Dark is interesting and well-drawn, though.

Gamaran 62

[scanlation by helz0ne]

Iori seeming like he’s in control of his situation while at a numerical disadvantage makes some sense, as he’s been established as an incredibly strong swordsman, but seeing the same poise from Ranmaru is unusual.

Wow. Ranmaru’s killing blow this time is at least as brutal as his last one. Jinno serving as the setup for it is a little disappointing, because it does little to explain Ranmaru’s confidence, but the scene is still strong.

If the teaser is true, Gama vs. Ranmaru should be thrilling.

Hayate no Gotoku! 287

[scanlation by reddevilshn]

Hugging someone of the opposite sex is the universal symbol for “I’m here to rent a room.”

Why does “Gundam” need to be censored in text bubbles if the word is left intact on the box?

After a series of individually amusing jokes, “She was quickly kicked out” is a great punchline.

The mystery girl was behind the fireworks incident after all, but the name Housen Yozora doesn’t ring a bell, and her motives aren’t yet obvious. Interesting.

Kekkaishi 319-320

[scanlation by A-Team]

(319) Lovely atmosphere as Masamori is led towards the castle.

Hazama certainly is demanding, but his sudden meeting with Masamori finally helps to tie his actions directly to Yoshimori’s. Also, it’s interesting to see Masamori simultaneously shot down in comparison to Yoshimori, yet also reinforced as important because of his own particular skills and connections.

(320) A little too much time is spent on Shichiro remarking on events. If so many interesting things are happening, the author would be better served just showings those events directly.

Raijin may have ended up being introduced as a seemingly devious woman, but she has both the power to legitimize herself and superior connections than Masamori, considering her ability to bring Nura into the fold. Also, her claim that Masamori is to defeat the founder is an intriguing one.

Mahou Sensei Negima! 300-301

[scanlations by reddevilshn: 300 | 301]

(300) After so much preparation and so many chapters of diversion and side characters, it’s fun to see Negi himself firing off some of his devastating magic.

No matter how impressed Anya is by Negi’s display of power, I can’t accept her statement that he could be as strong as his father.

Haunting panel at the bottom of page 13. The stark lack of background combines well with Negi chasing after his barely-visible father.

Unusual timing for Asuna to be so moved by Negi’s determination. Nothing has been accomplished yet.

(301) It’s difficult to reconcile the serious side of Dynamis with the one that jokes with his young female subordinates.

Very little to comment on, as this chapter is mostly setup for the next fight for Negi’s group. The bit with Koutarou’s covert group is amusing, at least.

Nurarihyon no Mago 121

[scanlation by ShinraTensei]

Rikuo’s reasoning is perfectly befitting of someone in his leadership role. Great speech, and an excellent full page pose.

Beautiful art as Kidoumaru invokes Rajoumon.

Kidoumaru being able to prevent Tsurara and Rikuo using Matoi presents interesting complications for that ability in the future. Even if Rikuo presumably wins this fight, he’ll certainly fight tougher opponents in the future. Rikuo could stand to adapt a new way to use Matoi, such as perhaps being able to use the fear from his Hyakki Yakou through the markings on his back, rather than needing his followers to physically cast their fear on him in person.

Kurotabou and Kubinashi are a welcome sight. They should provide some interesting complexity to the fight next week.

SWOT 9

[scanlation by Red Hawk Scanlations]

The fighting maniac’s special move is called “Chaos.” Was he not generically counter-culture enough already?

“Pray that Manabizaki will defeat this monster” is the kind of senseless, idealistic comment from an onlooker that I would expect from someone watching Ichigo fighting in Bleach. That scenario is already bad enough, but at least Bleach has the publishing length to back up such a statement. Why should the audience be invested in the fate of a one-dimensional protagonist in a series that hasn’t yet reached double digit chapters?

Manabizaki’s opponent suddenly has glowing hands. I wasn’t aware it was possible for a series to “jump the shark” within 9 chapters, but I am ready to declare that SWOT has not only done so, but that it also holds absolutely no reading value.

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.

Beamcast – August 23

[download link – 138min, 57mb]

In this week’s show:

News
One Piece volume 59 sets first-week sales record of 1.85 million copies sold
Dragon Ball Z Kai premieres on Toonzai
Love Hina one-shot in September
Pyuu to Fuku! Jaguar ends

Licensing announcement
Viz: Nurarihyon no Mago (Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan)

Weekly Oricon rankings (8/2 – 8/8; 8/9 – 8/15)

New releases

[last week]
20th Century Boys (vol. 10) $12.99
Vagabond (vol. 32) $9.95

[this week]
Bleach (DVD 31) $24.99
FMA: Brotherhood Part 2 (Blu-ray) $54.98
FMA: Brotherhood Part 2 (DVD) $49.98
Genshiken DX (DVD) $34.99

Discussion / Weekly Poll
Which ending of these manga series did you enjoy the most?
(Cross Game, Death Note, FMA, Love Hina, Rurouni Kenshin, Shaman King, Slam Dunk)

The Great Shonen Tier List

Discussion (Freiza vs. Bleach characters, Orochimaru vs. Jiraiya)

Re-tiered this week:
Kuchiki Byakuya (Bleach)

Introduced this week:
Namikaze Minato / Fourth Hokage (Naruto)
Urahara Kisuke (Bleach)
Brook (One Piece)
Hiei (YuYu Hakusho)
Cell (Dragon Ball)
Giorno Giovanna (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)

Anime Discussion
Highschool of the Dead (ep. 6-7)
Seitokai Yakuindomo (ep. 7)
Legend of the Legendary Heroes (ep. 7-8)
Nurarihyon no Mago (ep.6-7)

This Week in Manga
0:47:52 – Soul Eater 77
0:54:25 – Kure-nai 33
0:56:59 – Sankarea 9
0:59:55 – Naruto 506
1:02:49 – Bleach 416
1:08:35 – One Piece 596
1:18:10 – Bakuman 97
1:22:09 – Beelzebub 73
1:26:35 – Fairy Tail 196
1:29:22 – Hayate no Gotoku! 284
1:32:39 – Kekkaishi 316
1:34:56 – History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 394
1:39:36 – Toriko 105-106
1:43:51 – The World God Only Knows 110
1:45:40 – Mahou Sensei Negima! 299
1:49:10 – Psyren 130
1:51:11 – Zettai Karen Children 226-227
1:54:07 – AR∀GO 31
1:56:15 – GE ~ Good Ending 46-47
2:01:27 – Metallica Metalluca 11
2:04:34 – SWOT 6-7
2:09:15 – Deadman Wonderland 37
2:10:36 – Gintama 319
2:12:21 – Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 302
2:14:14 – Kimi no Iru Machi 101
2:15:39 – Nurarihyon no Mago 117-118

Chapters of the Week

Final Flash

Comments / questions / additions? Email the show.
Want to share with friends? How kind. Have a shortlink: http://wp.me/pJOZe-AI

Credit: AnimeNewsNetwork

Beamcast – August 2

[download link – 107min, 47mb]

In this week’s show:

News
To Love-Ru spin-off
Funimation pre-paid debit cards

Weekly Oricon rankings (7/19 – 7/25)

New releases

[anime]
Naruto Shippuden (DVD Box Set 3) $49.95
Naruto Shippuden Special Edition (DVD Box Set 3) $69.99

[manga]
Bakuman (vol. 1) $9.99
D.Gray-man (vol. 18) $9.99
Gintama (vol. 19) $9.99
Hikaru no Go (vol. 20) $9.99
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (vol. 15) $9.99
Muhyo & Roji (vol. 18) $9.99
Slam Dunk (vol. 11) $9.99

Current/Classic Reviews
Kekkaishi
Double Arts

The Great Shonen Tier List

Introduced this week:
Nico Robin (One Piece)
Tsunade (Naruto)
Hitsugaya Toushirou (Bleach)
Shishio Gen (Kekkaishi)
Elraine & Kiri (Double Arts)
Saotome Ranma (Ranma 1/2)

Anime Discussion
Highschool of the Dead (ep. 4)
Seitokai Yakuindomo (ep. 5)
Legend of the Legendary Heroes (ep. 5)
Nurarihyon no Mago (ep.4)

This Week in Manga
0:45:19 – Mirai Nikki 54
0:46:42 – Bleach 414
0:54:37 – One Piece 594
1:04:51 – Naruto 504
1:08:49 – Beelzebub 71
1:12:37 – Fairy Tail 194
1:14:56 – Hayate no Gotoku! 282
1:15:59 – Kekkaishi 315
1:17:11 – History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 392
1:20:47 – Toriko 104
1:24:45 – The World God Only Knows 108
1:26:38 – Mahou Sensei Negima! 297
1:30:37 – Psyren 129
1:32:43 – Zettai Karen Children 225
1:34:33 – Hajime no Ippo 902
1:36:17 – AR∀GO 29
1:37:26 – GE ~ Good Ending 44
1:39:56 – SWOT 5
1:41:33 – Air Gear 285
1:42:14 – Gintama 317
1:42:22 – Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 300
1:43:17 – Kimi no Iru Machi 99
1:44:11 – Nurarihyon no Mago 115-116

Chapters of the Week

Final Flash

Comments / questions / additions? Email the show.
Want to share with friends? How kind. Have a shortlink: http://wp.me/pJOZe-xB

Credit: AnimeNewsNetwork

Beamcast – July 26

[download link – 138min, 60mb]

In this week’s show:

News
OneManga closing
Yen Press+ launching as online magazine
Marvel anime to run on G4 in 2011
Bakuman spin-off in upcoming Jump double issue

Weekly Oricon rankings (7/12 – 7/18)

Licensing announcements
Seven Seas: To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
Yen Press: Highschool of the Dead
Viz: Genkaku Picasso, Death Note Black Edition

New releases

[anime]
Dragon Ball Season 5 Uncut (DVD) $49.98
Love Hina – Complete Series (DVD) $39.98
Soul Eater: Part 4 (DVD) $59.98

[manga]
Black Jack (vol. 12) $16.95
Cirque du Freak (vol. 6) $10.99
Code:Breaker (vol. 1) $10.99
Negima! (vol. 27) $10.99
Oh My Goddess (vol. 15) $10.99
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (vol. 7) $10.99
School Rumble (vol. 14) $19.99
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (vol. 27) $10.99

Current/Classic Reviews
Toriko
Devilman

The Great Shonen Tier List

Introduced this week:
Jiraiya (Naruto)
Tony Tony Chopper (One Piece)
Ichimaru Gin (Bleach)
Devilman (Devilman)
Coco (Toriko)
Minami “Ikki” Itsuki (Air Gear)

Anime Discussion
Highschool of the Dead (ep. 3)
Seitokai Yakuindomo (ep. 4)
Legend of the Legendary Heroes (ep. 4)
Nurarihyon no Mago (ep.3)

This Week in Manga
1:06:47 – Naruto 503
1:12:12 – Bleach 413
1:17:02 – One Piece 593
1:26:43 – Bakuman 95
1:32:01 – Beelzebub 70
1:35:26 – Fairy Tail 193
1:38:21 – Hayate no Gotoku! 281
1:39:58 – Kekkaishi 314
1:42:08 – History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 391
1:47:11 – Toriko 103
1:50:55 – The World God Only Knows 107
1:52:52 – Mahou Sensei Negima! 296
1:55:24 – Psyren 128
1:58:56 – Zettai Karen Children 224
2:00:32 – Hajime no Ippo 901
2:02:47 – AR∀GO 28
2:04:56 – GE ~ Good Ending 43
2:06:57 – SWOT 3-4
2:11:17 – D.Gray-man 196
2:12:43 – Gintama 316
2:13:37 – Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 299
2:14:37 – Kimi no Iru Machi 98
2:15:45 – Nurarihyon no Mago 114

Chapters of the Week

Final Flash

Comments / questions / additions? Email the show.
Want to share with friends? How kind. Have a shortlink: http://wp.me/pJOZe-wj

Credit: AnimeNewsNetwork

Power Rankings – First Half 2010

July 15, 2010 1 comment
Rank
Series
Chapters
Score
1 One Piece 569-589 86.55%
Aside from overall excellent quality, chapter 574 stands out as the most important shonen manga chapter in the next 10 years.
2 Bakuman 68-91 81.92%
Great character development across the entire cast, most notably Mashiro and Iwase. Highlight: Mashiro breaking down and calling Azuki (ch. 74).
3 Cross Game 156-160 81.50%
Brilliant ending to a magnificent series. In particular, the last page of chapter 158 is still breathtaking.
4 Beelzebub 43-66 78.58%
Expertly funny. Highlights: OHKO (ch. 56), Demon World / huge Baby Beel. Furuichi still among best comedic straight men.
5 Toriko 78-101 76.50%
Toriko vs. Tommyrod: Best fight so far this year.
6 Bloody Monday: Season 2 10-33 76.08%
Consistently thrilling and packed with interesting twists. Highlights include a powerful death and a wonderful kiss.
7 Gintama 291-314 74.83%
Four Heavenly Kings arc again proving Sorachi’s talent for poignant seriousness amid absurd comedy.
8 Psyren 101-124 72.75%
Great trip to Psyren. Excellent Shao/Vigo fight. Kyle, Frederica, and Kabuto also noteworthy.
9 AR∀GO 2-26 72.30%
Fascinating narrative and a perfect cast of characters combine for a strong showing from a young series.
10 Kekkaishi 289-312 71.92%
Few series make training arcs as interesting, and the huge steps forward in the story have left nothing to be desired.
11 Hayate no Gotoku! 254-277 70.67%
An extremely impressive serious arc (Athena) set this series apart from ordinary comedy fare.
12 GE ~ Good Ending 18-41 70.67%
Great relationship buildup that has only recently begun to disappoint.
13 Defense Devil 34-55 70.27%
Fantastic art, clear action, and solid (if not overwhelmingly engaging) plot.
14 The World God Only Knows 81-104 70.25%
Uncharacteristic half-year for this series, with neither major arc following the series’ tried-and-true formula.
15 Nurarihyon no Mago 89-112 69.00%
Finally experiencing a return to form after focusing on everyone except Nura for far too long.
16 Ane Doki! 25-26 68.00%
Suitable, enjoyable conclusion to a short series.
17 Hajimete no Aku 47-71 67.50%
Fun but unremarkable episodic comedy.
18 Gamaran 31-54 66.08%
Excellent fights interspersed with fights featuring comparatively less interesting characters.
19 Mahou Sensei Negima! 275-294 65.50%
Straightforward, enjoyable fantasy action with just enough humor (and a little fanservice) to keep things lively.
20 Hunter x Hunter 291-310 65.00%
Biggest “what the hell” moment of the year to date (ch. 299). Great to finally see Gon relevant in this arc.
21 Kimi no Iru Machi 74-95 60.27%
Strong start to the year marred by a largely disappointing trip to Tokyo.
22 History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 366-389 59.83%
Some fantastic fights, some fantastic new enemies, a heartwarming moment, and entirely too much fanservice.
23 Air Gear 265-283 53.34%
Excellent art, unintelligible plot, “fanservice” bordering on hentai, and President Obama body-swapped with a high school girl.
24 Zettai Karen Children 200-222 53.28%
Notable positives (Kugutsu, Kaoru’s maturity) counterbalanced by questionable moments (“Lost Guys” arc, Feather’s tremendous power).
25 Hajime no Ippo 879-899 52.74%
A horrible half-year for an otherwise fantastic series.
26 Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 272-295 48.17%
Thankfully, the end of the pitiful Future arc. The Shimon arc started well, but is beginning to regress into Future arc territory.
27 Naruto 477-499 48.07%
Sasuke ruined any plot involving him. Madara’s “Moon’s Eye” plan is laughable. Series very recently began to improve drastically.
28 Fairy Tail 165-190 46.90%
Cats.
29 Metallica Metalluca 1-7 44.79%
Acceptable but completely generic shonen, most notably borrowing liberally from Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Hunter x Hunter.
30 Lock On! 1-18 43.22%
Horrible art, formulaic plot, generic characters. One exceptional highlight: Sanada’s flashback in chapter 16.
31 MiXiM☆11 78-102 37.90%
Over-dramatization of ridiculous elements (the death of a finger puppet), predictable fights, and dime-a-dozen characters.
32 Bleach 387-409 22.41%
Invisible story, uninteresting characters, terrible pacing, awful art, incomprehensible fights, most insulting moment of the year (ch. 396 – ‘everything according to plan’).

Beamcast – First Half 2010 Review

July 14, 2010 1 comment

[download link – 143min, 60mb]

The Beamcast crew presents a special 2+ hours mega-episode recapping the first half of 2010!

Series Discussed
0:00:17 – One Piece 569-589
0:16:59 – Naruto 477-499
0:27:46 – Bleach 387-409
0:37:16 – Bakuman 68-91
0:49:24 – Beelzebub 43-66
0:57:53 – Fairy Tail 165-190
1:05:07 – Katekyo Hitman Reborn! 272-295
1:07:23 – Hayate no Gotoku! 254-277
1:12:36 – Kekkaishi 289-312
1:17:05 – Gintama 291-314
1:18:45 – History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 366-389
1:23:03 – Toriko 78-101
1:28:12 – Gamaran 31-54
1:30:27 – The World God Only Knows 81-104
1:37:14 – Hunter x Hunter 291-310
1:39:16 – Mahou Sensei Negima! 275-294
1:44:16 – Psyren 101-124
1:51:02 – Deadman Wonderland 31-36
1:52:22 – D.Gray-man 191-195
1:53:11 – Soul Eater 70-75
1:55:31 – Zettai Karen Children 200-222
2:00:59 – Hajime no Ippo 879-899
2:03:30 – AR∀GO 1-26
2:06:11 – Nurarihyon no Mago 89-112
2:08:47 – GE ~ Good Ending 18-41
2:12:25 – Kimi no Iru Machi 74-95
2:13:37 – Lock On! 1-18 (complete)
2:14:36 – Cross Game 156-160 (end)
2:15:24 – Mirai Nikki 49-53
2:17:23 – Fullmetal Alchemist 103-108 (end)
2:19:20 – Metalica Metaluca 1-7

Awards

First Half 2010
Best Comedy
Best Drama
Best Action
Most Improved
Biggest Disappointment

Second Half 2010
Most Promising
Least Promising
Dark Horse

Series of the (half-)Year

We encourage you to let us know what you’ve thought of the first half of 2010. Leave a comment, email the Beamcast team, make your voice heard. We’d love to hear from you!

Share this with your friends! Convenient shortlink: http://wp.me/pJOZe-ta

Mahou Sensei Negima! 289

[chapter link]

Poor Ako. A dream like this must be torture.

Good to see Ako isn’t a pushover. It’s not like I’m expecting stunning female characterization in a series like this, but I appreciate a little backbone.

Pactio! It’s been a little while.

Is this a special occasion or something? Eva’s wearing clothes. I’m confused.

Another pactio! It’s been… well, never mind.

Why not: pactio #3! Makes sense to get them all in now.

The translation I’m reading has been a little shaky, so perhaps this could be an issue of word choice, but Negi saying “You’re great” to Makie after their pactio seems awkward.

Final Flash: A setup chapter that had to happen.

Mahou Sensei Negima! 286

[chapter link]

Amnesia is so convenient for the novelty of having a character fall in love with the same person again.

I appreciate quick releases of low quality scans… but man, this one is terribly difficult to read.

Akamatsu’s art style is enjoyable, but sometimes the drawn-characters-obviously-pasted-on-backgrounds approach is too overt. At least lessen the white outlines around the black outlines of the characters.

P15, large center panel: “What’s this, then? Some kind of magic? Hand power?” Yes, use your hands to make him feel better. All of you. … wait, this isn’t a doujin yet, never mind.

Final Flash: Supremely uneventful chapter. Training arcs are difficult.

Mahou Sensei Negima! 285

[chapter link]

Negi, the perfect example of a male protagonist unwittingly making every girl around him fall in love. So innocent.

Why, hello Evangeline. So nice of you to drop in.

(Love that she’s playing a retro game on a retro TV, the way it’s meant to be done.)

Shonen paraphrasing: “There is an option but it’s dangero–” “I MUST DO IT”

All these overt parallels to RPGs (well, video games in general) present the obvious, mandatory scenario: An American release of the inevitable comprehensive Negima (Suikoden-esque) RPG encompassing at least the entire Magic World arc. This must happen.

Page 15: Kage Bunshin no Jutsu and Chidori on the same page? Hm.

Nodoka meets up with Yue, too! I was hoping this would happen soon.

Final Flash: Great fight scenes and the final character development necessary before the climactic fights.

Mahou Sensei Negima! 284

[chapter link]

Luna, officially part of the harem. Welcome aboard.

Damn, Asuna. You old.

Are we sure it’s “Gatou” and not “Gâteau?” I could go for the latter.

Seriously, it’s good that Asuna is finally remembering the past. Unlike Hayate, where the recent serious arc (while very good) had to keep itself in check somewhat because of its overall genre, Negima has successfully bridged the gap from harem comedy to fantasy action. More Asuna drama, please.

I was hoping for a little more depth out of Fate. (I am fully aware of the comedy in that statement.) ‘People are going to die so I’ll kill them myself’ is pretty tired at this point.

Wait, was everyone being an illusion not already revealed several times? Maybe not explicitly, but I think every reader knew that by now.

Final Flash: Good to see Asuna again, and even better to see that we’re seemingly heading toward the final showdown.

Mahou Sensei Negima! 283

March 21, 2010 1 comment

“We’re in the middle of an extremely serious situation right now, and I really don’t think it’s the time [for a fan-servicing bath scene]…” – Negi, reading my mind

I need to verify whether or not you’re a fake, so… let’s have sex? Good plan.

So much dialogue for a scene with a half-naked girl in chains.

Kissing solves everything. Oh, sorry. “Pactio.” By the way, why aren’t there hundreds of Negi cosplayers at anime conventions? It’s the perfect excuse to run around and try to kiss as many girls as possible. Just draw them a card and apparently they’ll be satisfied.

A new harem member! I’m relieved. Negi was running low.

Final Flash: Whether or not you like this storyline, you can’t complain about the pacing. The series is progressing through important storylines much more quickly than most current series.

Mahou Sensei Negima! 282

Up to this point, Negima has always been able to pull off lighthearted fantasy in a decently original fashion, but every time I see the Great Grand Master Key, the series feels a little too childish and Kingdom Hearts for my tastes.

That said, it’s good to see young Negi again. It was beginning to feel as though Akamatsu was trying to force the coolness a bit too much with Negi’s older self.

“I am about to enter the Hyperbolic Time Ch– I mean, the Diorama Sphere…”

Akamatsu sure loves making this series as close to an RPG as possible.

Finally, some development in the fake Asuna storyline is coming.

Final Flash: Nothing terribly exciting about yet another transitional chapter.

Cross Game Retrospective

February 19, 2010 1 comment

Cross Game, the most recent series by renowned mangaka Mitsuru Adachi (Touch, Rough, H2) has finally come to a close. Beginning in Shonen Sunday in September 2005, it has entertained readers for nearly five years, and with a breathtaking climax that does justice to the quality of the entirety of the work, it belongs in any recommended reading list.

Cross Game follows Kitamura Kou, the son of a sports equipment store owner, a pleasant, somewhat sarcastic boy with only enough of an interest in sports to push sales for his family’s shop. Most of the story and character development is driven by the relationship between Kou and the sisters of the Tsukishima family, primarily the middle two sisters, Wakaba and Aoba. Kou and Wakaba were born the same day in the same hospital, and have shared a close relationship since birth, while Aoba is jealous of the attention her older sister gives to Kou. Aoba is a naturally talented pitcher, and Kou, with an increasing interest in baseball, uses her as the inspiration after which he models his pitching form. These scenarios, coupled with a momentous event early in the series, form the foundation of the fascinating relationship between Kou and Aoba, which itself is the focal point of Cross Game.

That focus on character relationships is complemented by Adachi’s ability to give his characters a familiar humanity. The current shonen landscape is overwhelmed by unrealistic characters defined almost entirely by one trait each. Natsu (Fairy Tail) is indomitable. Sasuke (Naruto) seeks revenge. Some series even feature an entire cast of one-note characters; Mahou Sensei Negima! is an enjoyable series, but the members of Class 3-A are hardly shining examples of character depth or development. By contrast, the cast of Cross Game features realistic complexity, with entirely ordinary traits used tastefully. Senda is showy, awkward, insecure, yet positive. Azuma is independent, determined, and driven (but not ruled) by his past. All are human traits, and all are displayed in balance with each other to further reinforce the series’ realism.

Similarly, the writing is true to life. On the diamond, Cross Game accurately portrays the duality of Japanese youth baseball, combining the professionalism of self-imposed pressure to strive for Koshien with enough mistakes and immaturity to remind the reader that despite any measure of success, the protagonists are still a group of kids. Unlike other sports series such as Prince of Tennis, which announced the dominance of its stars too early and robbed the series of any building anticipation, Cross Game uncovers talent slowly and subtly. Kou’s pitching ability grows throughout the course of the series, and that growth is largely dependent upon those around him, particularly Aoba. Meanwhile, the romantic comedy elements of the series are intentionally faint. Even quality shonen romantic comedies like Suzuka put the characters’ feelings on full display, leaving nothing to the imagination, and depend heavily upon fan-service. By contrast, Cross Game credits the intelligence of its audience with characters authentically secretive about their romantic interests, characters with which the reader can relate.

As a visual piece, the art style is appropriate for the tone of the story. Each character design is clean and suitable to each personality, if perhaps somewhat familiar. After all, when presented with a picture from one of his many series, even an avid Adachi fan would be forgiven for confusing one character with another:

Touch

H2

Cross Game

That said, Adachi deserves as much credit for his art as for his writing. The foreground action is supported by detailed backgrounds evoking a calm suburban Japan. Scenes are also carefully interspersed with views of the landscape or wordless crowd reaction, speaking volumes through art alone. In fact, Cross Game was used in a 2007 academic presentation to the International Research Society for Children’s Literature as an example of silent narrative. Many series have both excellent art and writing, but few series feature art and writing that complement each other so perfectly.

Like respected predecessors Slam Dunk or Hikaru no Go, Cross Game transcends its genre. It is not just an excellent baseball series, but an excellent series, requiring no particular love for or interest in the sport. The characters are diverse, the story is compelling, the art is enriching, but above all, the cohesive work is brilliant. Cross Game has long been well-received, even winning the 54th Shogakukan Manga Award for shonen, and it will continue to receive far more lofty praise than a review on a blog, but nonetheless, I offer my personal recommendation:

I read a huge amount of manga, some out of self-appointed obligation but most out of enjoyment. That enjoyment varies, but even the most amazing chapters of my favorite series rarely elicit more than a smile and a good mood from me.

Chapter 168 of Cross Game froze me in my seat, sent chills down my spine, and left me with an impression I still feel three weeks after reading.

I hope you read it, and I hope you feel the same.

Weekly Power Rankings – 1/3 – 1/9

January 13, 2010 2 comments