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Posts Tagged ‘Shiina Takashi’

Zettai Karen Children 241

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by JS Scans]

Feather’s arrival prompts a quick heel kick from Momiji, and one coordinated bathroom trip by the two of them sets up a quick strategy meeting for both sides. Each conversation reveals something meaningful. In the case of the guys’ talk, we get a glimpse into Sakaki’s opinion on women as a pro flirt. He makes a good foil to Minamoto’s complete and total innocence on the subject.

Spoken like a veteran wingman

The girls’ conversation yields an alliance with the goal of dividing the guys between them, and reveals that Momiji was only after Sakaki from the beginning. For once a female in this series is romantically after someone who’s not Minamoto. Momiji being attracted to Sakaki makes a lot of sense, and does a fair bit to legitimize him. Despite occasional flashes of extreme competence, he has appeared a bit too much on promo art relative to his importance in-series. This a good chance for him to do something relevant to the current plot, and which adds a layer of depth to Momiji in the process.

Getting kidnapped by way of the floor, Minamoto immediately falls into helpless mode as Feather drops him onto a bed in the director’s office. I still don’t like Feather in this role. Unlike scenes with Hyoubu, where the rivalry dynamic keeps them on an even keel, he’s kind of just at Feather’s mercy here. The scene featuring Sakaki and Momiji is better handled; it’s nice to see characters acting like professionals in this sort of stereotypical romantic comedy situation… or, in one case, pretending to act like one.

It is still a romantic comedy

That shot of the kids at the end makes things really interesting. Them simultaneously cuing in on Minamoto’s distress is quite a sight, and ensures that what follows will be appropriately zany. Overreactions in situations like this are a strong point of ZKC as a manga.

Final Flash: Romance with a savvy partner is uncharted territory for Sakaki, but being raped is hardly a new thing for Minamoto. Overall, much more promising than last chapter.

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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.

Zettai Karen Children 238

November 21, 2010 Leave a comment
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The Children’s initial reactions to the mission briefing: more delusions. I would have been fine if Minamoto going Bond-style suave on Momiji was just the whole chapter. As it stands, there’s been a tad too little of his competent side visible lately.

Even Minamoto is curious as to how this became their job, and rightfully so. Despite the fact that level 7s have been specifically assigned to this mission, it’s true that, except for Shiho, their powers are pretty useless for this. The government is throwing espers at their problem expecting a brute force solution, but as an experienced terrorist agent, Momiji is really unlikely to be persuaded via force. Seduction as a mission is going to take other experienced hands at Babel who actually know how to handle women, which means Sakaki, pimp cowboy outfit and all.

Sakaki’s inclusion in this arc pays immediate dividends. He may be capable of hitting a sniper rifle with a thrown scalpel, but his most important job is that of the womanizing comic relief. His shift in tone from enthusiastic to evasive is quite amusing. Of course, he’s not getting out of there so easily.

Got a Death Star you want blown up instead?

Apparently, the obvious way of blackmailing Muscle is out; Robiet is claiming the ambassador is a different person from the criminal that fires Hard Gay beams. I had been wondering about why Muscle’s past wasn’t being used as leverage. If anything, it’s a testament to the competence of Babel that somebody kept that footage intact, presumably resisting the urge to burn the computer it was on.

Yet more signs of growth from Kaoru. This time she’s practicing cooking, starting from the basic omelet. This act of maturity is quite possibly the biggest step forward. Before, she was taking more responsibility for and being more conscious of the actions of those around her, but now she’s actively concentrating on self-improvement. This is such heartwarming progress she’s made from the 10-year-old who relied on her natural gifts for everything and thought that “adult” only meant 18 and over.

Though it may take a while yet

At last, we finally start to see Minamoto reacting to Kaoru’s maturity. Like a real parental figure, he’s happy for her, but immediately he starts feeling lonely. While he’s a long way yet from being an empty-nester, he’s definitely paying for Kaoru’s newfound independence with the closeness they used to share as pseudo-parent and child. Those are some very complex emotions, and the method used of displaying old memories use to depict them is very effective.

Well, it’s officially a date; Minamoto, Sakaki, and Momiji are going out to have some fun. I’m really looking forward to more exposition on Momiji, and the prerequisite comedy that comes from Sakaki trying way too hard.

Final Flash: Excellent chapter for a number of reasons, from cowboy Sakaki to Minamoto’s memories.

Zettai Karen Children 237

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by JS Scans]

After the Phantom Portrait arc, we’re due for some comedy, which Muscle Okamarov the ambassador is certain to provide. It was quite a shock when we first learned that he was actually a hyper-competent diplomat. Only now does it become obvious as to why: the Japanese foreign ministry has exactly no female diplomats.

Better diplomacy through gay chicken

Meanwhile, at school, a fall down the stairs results in an accidental kiss between Hanai and Touno, the perennial non-couple. Mio sees and tells everyone, leading to a quite entertaining lunch conversation among the main group. Kaoru is kind of expected to want all the juicy details. However, delusional fujoshi Patty taking the story as yet more evidence that Kagari and Touno are a gay couple is a nice sidenote gag.

Shiho, level-headed as always, understands what actually happened. Thus, the focus turns from kissing at school to other scandalous romantic moments, specifically all those times the kids came on to Minamoto. Now a bit older and wiser, they realize how disastrous their early attempts at romance could have been.  This is another instance of the reflective part of this manga; I love the way it sets up early situations with the kids acting immature and ties it in with their current growth.

We can’t get too serious here. Any reflection by Kaoru on deeds past wouldn’t be complete without a wild delusion or two.

Not pictured: a realistic Minamoto

Tying back with the beginning of this chapter, the Children have now been charged with trying to get leverage over Muscle by getting Momiji to defect. This is interesting, considering Momiji is probably the most relevant character about which we know nothing.

Final Flash: This was a fresh-feeling introduction to an arc featuring a proven comedy character and a totally unknown quantity. Very promising.

Zettai Karen Children 236

[scanlation by JS Scans]

Supplement’s back, thankfully.

It seems last chapter was not the end of the Phantom Portrait arc, despite several indications that it was. Instead, we kick off with a curtain call for the play. Likely this chapter is going to be a wrap-up one for the arc.

The truce between Fujiko and Hyoubu continues for now, but that doesn’t stop them from baiting each other. Despite subtle hints that Hyoubu is becoming more open-minded towards normals and the government, it’s nice to see he can still banter like an antagonist. While I still expect him to change more significantly in the long run, last chapter was enough of a personality shift for a while.

Minamoto, being still in the dark about Hyoubu’s hidden agenda, compliments him for coming just to see the kids’ play. It seems like Hyoubu is going to slip under the radar this time, which is all the more promising. That said, his reaction when he realizes he just got a compliment from Minamoto is great.

It's not like I agree with your principles or anything

Kaoru kind of knows that Hyoubu did something, but has no idea what. Her intuition could do with a little more elaboration. Knowing vaguely that something happened doesn’t do anything much here other than give Hyoubu another opportunity to knee-combo Minamoto.

Yuuri seems to be building up a library of memories and souvenirs, the latest being her costume from the play. It’s fairly insignificant by itself, but if it becomes a thing, it could be used to flesh out her character whenever Phantom Daughter reemerges.

Last of all, the mascot characters, the most disparate pair in terms of relevance. Seriously, Feather is a plot-central timestream-hopping super-esper, while Momotarou is Hyoubu’s telepathic flying squirrel.

Because you're a squirrel

Apparently Feather’s obligation to change the past didn’t come into things today. Given how broken she’s been shown to be, it’s probably good for the plot that she’s not involved in every little thing. That statement she makes at the end, though, the one about things that Hyoubu let happen, is cryptic and could be referring to either his backstory or something yet to occur.

Final Flash: The Phantom Portrait arc ended without another major upheaval, which is probably for the best.

Zettai Karen Children 235

[scanlation by JS Scans]

No omake this time around, and another Hyoubu cover. This claims to be the last chapter of the arc, which should work given that most of the action is wrapped up.

We get to see a little more of the play. Not fantastic, but it is supposed to be middle school students acting. They’re not all going to be Oscar-winners.

Kaoru gets a vision of Yuuri in her head somehow and rushes off in the middle of the play, leaving Kazura and Hino to cover for her. The script for the play may not be great, but watching characters improvise on stage is a ton of fun.

Written by Gainax

Kaoru rushes backstage to find Yuuri is fine, except for a total gap in her memories of the first half of the play. With all the maturing she’s done recently, she could stand to come out of this a little more suspicious of Yuuri.

Apparently, Hyoubu got Nai and Hanzo to take Yuuri back for him, after having temporarily sealed Mirage off. An interesting thing I took out of this flashback: Hyoubu changed his wording when saying that normals had made Yuuri suffer. He casually corrected himself and instead blames the adults around her. This is a subtle shift in the character that used to blame normals for everything without a second thought, appropriate for the long-term track this series takes.

The decision to get Mirage to quit Black Phantom on her own, allowing her to spend time as Yuuri, is not perhaps the best possible one to come out of this arc, but it is more suitable for Hyoubu. He can’t kill other espers for two reasons very central to his character: 1) needing to be morally above Minamoto in Kaoru’s eyes, and 2) his own strong esper-supremacist stance. It wouldn’t quite be appropriate for him to go all Killer 7 on other espers now.

As always, the anti-villain

Thus, the play ends with a middle school-level story twist – a reincarnated character. I guess it sort of fits with the serious part of the arc.

Final Flash: The play itself didn’t amount to much story-wise, but Yuuri vs. Hyoubu was interesting, and Mirage being sealed means that Black Phantom is not going to be a plot focus for at least the next arc. I’m looking forward to whatever Shiina decides to shift focus to.