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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Covering Sunday October edition.



Welcome back to another edition of that which compells us to buy --the Shounen Sunday covers! We've got quite a crop this time around, so I do hope you'll stick around till the very end.


First up is 2nd. Major 2nd that is. My tastes swing wildly from uniform covers with different characters to super different things for each cover so it really comes down to execution which Mitsuda knocks out of the park so to speak. Beyond that, I really just like his character designs --especially the eyes for his characters. They're just personally appealing and this cover with these two ladies is no exception.


Wow, just...wow. I'll admit I've been a little underwhelmed by Souboutei's covers up until this one --not so much because they're bad or anything, but if the art in the weekly chapters is anything to go by, I just felt like Fujita could do better, and it's nice to be proven right with Souboutei #6! This could easily be splash art for a movie based on the series, and I love the use of warm colors and the logo spilling over the side. Can't wait to own this one myself!


Speaking of Six, Komi-san's 6th volume has an interesting layout with Komi doing dishes on top, and Tadano looking nervously over at his male classmates on the bottom. Oda (not that one) has good color artwork and it's a shame we rarely get to see it, but I feel like the layout should have either been split into two covers or left out entirely. It's kind of distracting as is, if I'm to be honest.


Volume 8 of Megumi, and I realize now that quite a few of the series in Sunday are really young --though I feel like my age addled brain probably mentioned that before. I think aside from the old vets and Saike, that now with Magi and Mushibugyo (both coming up soon in this post) that most of the series aren't yet at their tenth volumes. In any case, Megumi looking cute and just a little imposing on this cover works really well for me. I can almost picture Ma-kun chastising her that she shouldn't scare people off from buying the series. 


Maojou's 5th volume has a wispy look to it that I enjoy --especially on the princess as she looks down at her loyal kidnappers/subjects from above. I like the angle that the demons are shown from as well, as it's not quite overhead but not quite straight up and down either? It's also here that I notice that the title of the series is "Sleepy Princess: Maoujou de oyasumi" or "Sleepy Princess: Good night in Demon castle." So maybe Viz isn't too far off with their translation of the title. Speaking of which, English speakers will be able to see this series next year!


On the verge of that 10th release is Hatsukoi Zombie with Mei Ebino gracefully ascending into the spotlight. I wonder if authors other than Fukuchi offer their artwork without the text on twitter or other social media platforms? I'd love this picture without the logo or volume # text --the latter of which is a little too big for my liking. Otherwise it's a good cover, and very fitting for the series.


Mushibugyo's final volume is released with a colorful splash befitting the series's grand farewell. I'll miss Fukuda's in-your-face artwork and vivid character designs....I mean look at Jinbee's sword! It looks like it just reaches right out of the page doesn't it? 


The 12th volume of Tenshi and Akuto has best-ish girl Shikimi and Akuto showing off their particular rivalry. Shikimi's color design is different than I would have imagined, but I think it's fitting for her. Like Hatsukoi before it, I do wish the volume # was a little smaller but I like it's placement a little better than the former's. I also think the two character's expressions do a good job of representing enough intrigue for new people to check it out.


Yuugami plays it straight with his 12th volume, and I have to say it works for the series mainly because Sakurai's color artwork looks completely hand drawn as opposed to done with a computer's assistance. I also like the little "No!" to friends part of the logo design --though that being said, I do wonder what's going on between Chihiro and Yuugami in this picture? He looks confused, and she looks upset. I guess like Akuto above it's enough intrigue to pop it open and read to find out, which is a good thing.


The penultimate(?) volume of Magi is a lot simpler than I would have imagined. Not that this is necessarily bad, just less than I would have thought for a series in the middle (at the time) of it's ultimate battle of ultimate destiny. Also, Ohtaka gets volume # size just right here which makes me wonder if the artists decide that? 


And last but not least is Pops! Admittedly I was a little disappointed that this is essentially the promo art we've seen a few times with small differences, but the lighting in the BG and the font for the logo win me over. Also I guess I should be spelling "Ohgaki" as "Ogaki" according to this, hm. Anyway Pops's daring smile and the detals such as crosshatching on his clothes are amazingly well done here, and while the volume # sizing issue pops up again it doesn't detract from the artwork since Pops is smartly placed on the side of the cover. Almost looks like he's gonna cut that "1" down a bit on my request. Thanks daddy-o!

And that's it for October! Next month we see the likes of Saike, Quadrable and Meteor Girl return with new covers, so it'll be interesting to see how they stack up! Until the next entry, see ya! 


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Weekly Shounen Sunday #47




Welcome back to the blog you can set your calendars to for the most part,  Sundays on Tuesdays! We've got another full issue of fun times in the magazine that calls a day of the week it's own, and I can honestly say this might be the best single issue of WSS I've had the pleasure of laying my eyes on! Since this is a anthology of works it's difficult to have a week where things are in "sync" but somehow issue #47 has managed it! Each of the series I read on a regular basis were a lot of fun/interesting which means more for me to say! I hope you enjoy this week as much as I did.




On the cover this week is Major 2nd with a Major announcement --It's getting an anime! One thing about these announcements --generally speaking although the magazines like to pretend they're a big surprise they generally aren't if you know the signs. Still they do a really good job of building up hype so no complaints from me! Yuugami is also decked out in his baseball uniform to celebrate the occasion...oh and I think this might be the first entry I've had where a serial got a commemorative anime cover! Sweet!


And the winning line-up for a winning issue!

Major 2nd by Mitsuya Takeda (Cover, Lead color page)
Komi-san wa komyushou desu by Tomohito Oda
Amano Megumi wa Suki Darake! By Nekoguchi
Tenshi & Akuto!! By Aya Hirakawa
Dagashikashi by KOTOYAMA
Hiiragi-sama wa jibun wo sagashiteru by Hiroyuki Nishi
Shinobi no by Rokurou Ohgaki (Color page)
Hatsukoi zombie by Ryou Minenami
Souboutei Kowasubeshi by Kazuhiro Fujita
Kyoukai no RINNE by Rumiko Takahashi
Be Blues! By Motouyuki Tanaka
Maoujou de Oyasumi by Kagiji Kumanomata (Color page) 
Aozakura Bouei daigakkou monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido
Zettai Karen Children by Takashi Shiina
Saike matashitemo by Tsubasa Fukuchi
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ by Mizuki Kuriyama
Daiku no Hatou by Michiteru Kusaba
Yuugami-kun ni wa Tomodachi ga inai by Jun Sakurai
Maiko-san chi no makanai-san by Aiko Koyama
Meteor Girl by Reach Ishiyama
Tenshou no Quadrable by Takahiro Arai
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou

Not in this issue are the following

RYOKO
Detective Conan
K.O.I King of Idol

Something of a weird issue perhaps due to the color pages (Three is quite a few.) Still, it's odd to see Evans so low after having a pretty good sales week --right below Saike who's generally used to living it up in the basement. Quadrable is right at the bottom which is frustrating and worrying as the series has been really great lately, and Souboutei graduates from the depths for the first time in a long time. Otherwise the top and bottoms of the mag are pretty uniform --Maiko-san is also low-ish, but I feel like this is a temporary blip for it more than a sign of the times. Actually in general it feels like the TOC is more about promotion than being a popularity contest --especially in Sunday though there is an element of the top series being the more popular ones while the bottom ones are less so. I'd love to hear a Sunday editor speak about this like the Jump ones have --but Sunday editors in general seem quite content in keeping their secrets secret. 


Conan may not be around but his presence is not forgotten in the magazine. For Halloween, Kaito Kid steals the show in Gessan --or Monthly Shounen Sunday with a series of line stickers where the main characters from series in the magazine dress up as him. On the other side of the spectrum in this lovely magazine, The release of a Special Aoyama 30th anniversary book of goodies from his manga career is being released and will have special art from other artists, an interview with Aoyama himself, and apparently Kazuhiko Shimamoto of Aoi Honoo and Blazing Transfer student fame will have a contest with Aoyama! I'm seriously considering buying the book myself since Aoyama's color art is always a treat. The article here doesn't mention it, but I believe the book lands on the 16th of the month, meaning that it's out so go crazy and grab a copy!




Sliding into first base of this week's magazine is Major 2nd with a huge anime anoucement and color page! On the left there we can see Goro and Daigo's anime character designs and the reveal that the series will run on NHK starting April 2018! Takeda thanks the readers for supporting the series yet again after the first series of Major, and says while the first series had 40 volumes to work with, this one has a lot less so he's (jokingly) wondering if it's okay to announce an anime this soon. Still he asks everyone to look forward to it! As a major (heh) Sunday proponent, I feel sort of like I should watch this, but I'm not a major (Okay I'll stop.) sports fan by any means, so I'm not at all sure where my loyalties lie. I guess if it's streaming anywhere legally (It'll be hard to imagine it won't be, of course.) I'll at least check out the first few episodes to find out what I missed before I started doing this blog. 




Part of what makes sports series hard to cover besides my aforementioned lack of interest in them is when the characters are in the middle of a game it's hard to really comment on anything going on. The art really says everything to the reader --which is why I have a ma--, huge respect for Takeda and Tanaka. Some manga can get away with using text to tell a story and let art be a backseat driver, but Sports series really do need to have excellent art and story-boarding since they don't have animation and sound to deliver those big hits. I do apologize that I can't give a rundown of events as I don't really know what's going on, but I have been told by some fans they'd like to hear more of what I have to say, so this is me saying things. I'm still very enamored with a mixed gender team, though I feel like as Major 2nd progresses this will fade, so while the magazine titled "middle school" arc progresses, we should come to enjoy it. I can tell you this much about the events in the chapter --Daigo's team is facing an uphill battle and it's through Mutsuko's pitching they're hoping to get out of the mounds and back into the game. 



But by the end of the chapter, they're now once run closer to getting out of the hole and back on track! Can they pull it off? The side text suggests their specialty of "swift attacking" has brought them here, though the kanji is different than the normal use for that term suggesting it has something to do with the leg. I really should read this properly, but will I? 




Amano Megumi is up this week, and only five chapters away from 100. I wonder if I should do some kind of countdown for it and cover it the next five weeks? It could be interesting, but my coverage pretty much fully depends on what's going on in the magazine at any given time and less on what I actually want to cover. Still, I'll consider it --especially if the chapters are as fun and easy as this one. This week has Megumi and her friends on a girl's night out playing around and trying some cosplay. Yes, yes, Megumi does come off as --heck, is fanservice, but there is a certain amount of respect I have to give Nekoguchi for knowing what his series is and not shying away from it. Furthermore, I think by embrasing that side of the series rather than shamefully running away from it, the stories have a certain amount of "man-I-remember-when-I-was-like-that" in them. Ah, maybe I'm just reading into this too much, I dunno. In any case, I think this chapter really does sum up Megumi in it's totality --the girls are just out to have a bit of fun, but due to Megumi's voluptuous figure everything ends up being slightly sexier than they were expecting. 



Megumi wants to show her funtimes pictures to Ma-kun and well it seems her friends accidentally caught a wardrobe malfunction instead. Poor Ma-kun's phone, you were a sacrifice for the jollies of boys in Japan that won't soon be forgotten. 



With the first of two weeks of color pages, Shinobi no sneaks in almost undetected. Volume 1 is now out in stores and if you can get your hands on it I recommend doing just that! I'll be waiting for the digital version which I assume will be out a few weeks to a month after the physical copy has landed in stores. The chapter starts off with Pops Jinsaburo with a serious wound --serious enough that he's actually wondering if he'll die here and fail the mission to assassinate Perry. This is Pops at his most vulnerable --an interesting contrast to the man we've been following since the serial's beginning --though his wish to have the shinobi go out on a high note is still very much a core of his being. 



Faced with the possibility of his death, Jinsaburo --pops remembers the day where his father passed away peacefully in bed --a fate that the narrative seems to lament more than his death itself. A shinobi isn't supposed to have a peaceful funeral --as illustrated by the panels on the left page. They don't even get graves. The only "grave" they get upon death is their kunai at the bottom of a river where others lie dormant. With his father's death, Pops is the last of the shinobi and as he comments to himself on that page --before he knew it, he had become the very same age that his father had been when he died. He offers naught but an apology that the age of the shinobi is probably going to end with him as he apparently accepts his death on the ship. It's sad to see pops giving up like this, even if he does so with a certain amount of grace and humility. Except it seems the "worst night ever" isn't quite done with him yet. 



So far Shinobi no has settled into a certain amount of realism --but has that gone out of the window with the appearance of this...thing? It's huge, whatever it is --bigger than any animal on a ship like this should be. Not going to deny that it's pretty cool looking though. 



There's someone riding that monstrosity, and not only are they commanding it to attack Yoshida Shioin's men, but it senses that Pops is the problem child of the evening since he reeks of blood. Pops shows his human side a little by yelling "Don't come over here!!" At the beast as it lunges --and Ohgaki drops a little bit of exposition on us --apparently there was a beast of legend in 18th century France known as "Gevaudan" --a man eating wolf that attacked people and killed them by ripping out their throats.  I've read a few articles for this entry (your welcome) suggesting there was one or more than one of these things, and as Ohgaki explains, there are a few of them left even in the time period of the series, and beast trainers who use them for hunting. For more info, I'd suggest starting with handy-dandy Wikipedia. Pops isn't afraid of the big bad wolf once he sees through it's disguise, and the elderly man heading toward his death is replaced by a shinobi with a plan. 



Starting off with a "Tori no ko" a smoke bomb developed with tori paper --oft used to make the sliding doors seen in Japan, except Pops has modified his to include a smoke that induces hallucinatory side effects. (The text box implies this is wholly his creation --the drug side effects, I mean.) Followed up by a "Maoubi" jutsu (The Kanji reads "Demon King flame", and jutsu is like an "art" or "ability.") This is a ball made of bamboo shoots, borneol, and sulfur made to confuse and disorent. Pops figures --and rightfully so that even if the animal is huge, it's still just an animal --afraid of loud sounds and sudden movements like having a smoke bomb thrown in it's face. What kind of world does one (beast) which is already scared when faced with more fear?



I'm not sure myself, but Ohgaki pictures a world of pure instinctual fear to look something like this. I can't even fathom the extent of what I'm seeing so I'm at a loss for words on how to describe it which I'm sure is the point. Personal side note here that I'm sure no one will understand, but I adore the aesthetic of huge Japanese text over spreads like this. There's just something about it that English lettering as good as it can be can't replicate. I've liked stuff like this even back when I couldn't read Japanese even! It just looks so...cool for lack of proper vocabulary to describe this. 



The master of the beast is trampled under his charge when it freaks out, ending his life. Pops comments that a beast like this can't be many in number and this may just be the last one to exist, making them similar in breed even if they aren't in species. --They're both part of clans doomed to go to ruin and die out as soon as the flames powering their lives are extinguished. The wolf monster dies there before pops, leaving him once again alone --the personal and professional stakes of his mission once again made apparent. 




Pops invigorated by this retrospective and is about to make his way back to the top of the ship when a rather surprising guest literally drops in --Toudou Heisuke! Guess his fight with the mysterious old man ended up not going so well. Although the two are featured on the series' introductory color spread, this is the first time they've met face to face. The center box there says what they're probably both thinking. "Who the hell is this guy?" And the bottom text is the hype man in this fight. "The strongest geezer and the worst brat have met!!" Hype indeed. Will Pops and Toudou beat each other to death or find reasons to work together? Again, judging from the 1st color page, I'm thinking their fates won't be decided by something as straightforward as a battle to the death. 




Souboutei's 75th outing is the next up in this issue of champions, and Sakamaki Teido reveals at long last what exactly happened when he was dragged into one of his works by a mysterious being. I know it depends on the author, obviously but I really like how Fujita whips out dual page spreads like they're free candy at a bank, but unlike said candy they're good no matter how many of them you have, or, well see. 



On the left, Takoha is a perfect audience stand in as Sakamaki explains his actions upon being dragged into his painting. He just casually asks "who are you people"?  Takoha is like "Um, wow, way to stay very calm in a situation like that?!" Sakamaki states that the visages of his sister had him intrigued, but rather than answering his question, the aqueous life form shifts and leaps into his brain to ask him a few questions of it's own....directly. It flows into his body and fills his senses making him feel as if he's drowning while standing up on dry land. 



Oddly enough Sakamaki is mostly fine with the experience --in fact the probing is mutually beneficial(?) as he hears the thoughts of the aqueous life form, in that it wants to find somwhere else to live somewhere safe for its kind, as it looks through his body hence the out of this world artwork on this dual page spread. It flows through Sakamaki as he flows through it. Searching, probing, being found being lost it all happens in the upper panel. 



However the life form deems Sakamaki worthy of destruction and digs through his subconscious to annihilate him from the inside out, and it's there that it gets into a place in his mind that it's not welcome in. --His painful memories of his sister, though from the text on the left page, the life form isn't sure what to make of this "human's" memories. I wasn't able to throw up that page, but it's implied Sakamaki's older sister was withering away due to a sickness of some kind and laments being unable to find love or experience life, so she asks her brother to come to her via letter and has a request for him....which I'm beginning to think might be related to what Zanka saw a few weeks back. Could it be that what he witnessed Sakamaki doing to his sister was in fact her request? Fujita (and Sakamaki) are the only ones who know, and for now they aren't going to say. 




The life form decides to use this knowledge to infect Sakamaki, but probably not surprisingly for someone like him who seems to be lacking in emotional resonance, his mental fortitude is amazingly sound and he via these extremely impactful (and somewhat nightmare fuel inducing) pages Sakamaki informs them that they chose the wrong part of his brain to dirty with their presence. The line between good and evil continues to blur in Souboutei and I think next week is going to give us some answers as to Sakamaki's relationship with the horror house. 




Rinne heads to what could be considered an otherworldly evidence locker to pick up the "highest class good" they have. Kain warns him to be careful of what he's taking, setting up the ominous atmosphere that pervades this chapter. Rinne takes home a painting that looks like a celebratory piece, but it in fact has a secondary effect --depending on meeting some preexisting conditions, one can up the amount of money they receive from shinigami work. That's our Rinne, always looking for ways to make a quick buck. Sakura comes in as he's talking to a ghostly client who worked hard from poverty to affluence, but lost the ability to trust others and died alone. The day before he died, he had the painting made, but was unable to have it taken to his funeral service which is what he wants now. 



I mostly linked this because it's something I wasn't expecting --a romantic-ish continuity nod! Rinne notices that Sakura is wearing the bracelet the two got in the last chapter, and Sakura notices the same. As blase as Sakura is towards everything she admits on a page not pictured here that she's actually really happy he's wearing the bracelet. Could it be they've made an advancement of sorts? The chapter swiftly moves on to the next point so it's not known, but Rinne is happy that Sakura is wearing hers too. He's quickly overwhelmed by requests --perhaps because of the painting, and becomes too busy to hang out with Sakura, but this is what he wanted to rake in the cash! 



But then a few days later Rokumon shows up and apparently he's been fired?! Sakura asks if maybe they had a fight, and Rokumon recalls how Rinne's granmother Tamako had arrived in his place asking for some help. Just before that the two boys had a great meal for the first time in ages and Rokumon had fallen asleep with a full belly just to wake up and find that he had been fired?! He feels like Rinne's comment that he eats too much might have lead to this, but the truth probably isn't quite so simple. Sakura inspects the painting again and comments that she feels something weird coming from it, a strange feeling that seems to beckon something calamitous heading their way...though what this is will have to wait till next week. 





Decked out with a Halloween color page is Maoujou de Oyasumi, and not surprisingly the monsters are ready to get their mash on in this week's chapter. Though through a bit of lost in translation or culture shock --take your pick, the princess doesn't realize that while humans like dressing up as demons on this day of trick and treating, the demons like to adorn human garb?! Suddenly Halloween is a lot less interesting to the princess when everyone is going as things she's familiar with, hah. She's completely given up on having a fun time until the demons treat her to candy in which they all eat together, and the demons find that she's actually got a list of them to help her remember their distinguishing features, hah. It was a pretty straightforward chapter, but I really like how it played around with expectations. I mean, what would demons dress up as on Halloween if not humans? Each other? Nicely played Kumanomata. 




Picking up from the last chapter of Aozakura is Takei who's having a tough time of it --though it might just be well deserved considering he only started the "I love you game" last week because he was jealous of all the attention Kondo was receiving from the ladies. So when his turn comes around, he's quickly served some humble pie by Kanou who's nonstandard character design rocks his world and puts the existence of reality in this manga in question. I mean...is she a real girl or a figment of our imaginations created specifically for a gag? Meanwhile Kondo runs into some trouble of his own when it's nearly found out that he's on a group date at a mixer, but he convincingly lies to get his way out of it. After all of the festivities are done, Takei can't help but think of Kanou's mini moe-ness and wants to go back and clear the air...



By asking her out?! I guess it's true, love really is blind. Not that Kanou-chan isn't cute, just ehhhh? Too bad she has a boyfriend, as she sadly has to confess to Takei on the bottom left page. Poor Takei doesn't take it well, though in his ranting he does make a good point of not coming to a mixer if you have a boyfriend, hah. The chapter ends with Kondo's lie of not being at a mixer getting exposed and the text saying that a further tragedy was beginning to unfold. Oh man, I do hope I have the ability/time to cover Aozakura next week so I can share how this will go down with all of you, but either way I'll be reading! 



Saike returns again with a clifs notes of the situation thus far. Johann's group is looking for a Red Panda with the ability to give others abilities --something Kuroda and Saike's groups can't have happen so they're seeking it out first! It's a three team two way struggle for supremacy over a cute critter in the second chapter of Saike's 11th part!



The groups decide to use Rock, paper, scissors to split into three person cells with Saike teaming up with Kuroda and Mako, leaving Hizu and Ana to team with members of Kuroda's group. I'm really loving the bottom frame with everyone at attention on the left. Although Fukuchi's character designs aren't quite as varied as say --Ohgaki's, each of the characters is unique to be easily identified by names. Though there are admittedly a lot of names to remember.  I had been worried that like Kuroda himself, that these characters would be background fodder once Fukuchi and Johann had used them, but it's wonderful to be proven wrong. 



As if finding a Red Panda in the middle of a Japanese city wouldn't be easy enough, this particular specimen has a mark on it's back that looks like the Japanese katakana for "Hi". Kuroda refers to it as "Hi-gou" =gou being something like "number" or "ss". I'm going to stick with "Hi" for purposes of quick translation, so keep that in mind. Anyway, Red Pandas are naturally careful creatures so Kuroda warns them that if they catch wind of the little guy they should most definitely not let him escape. Meanwhile Calim, Uzura and Ming-ming of Johann's crew (which means formerly Kuroda's crew) have tracked the target down, and prepare to leap but a bit of internal strife keeps them in place. Ming-ming and Uzura want to run in, but Calim airs on the side of caution and advices them to do the same as Silva who seems composed --except he's just fainted because he doesn't do well with woodland creatures. 



These characters appeared in volume 3 of Saike so I'm familiar with them (and if you've read my translations, you are too!) But it's worth talking about them a little here since really only Calim has had any real character so far. He seems to be a kid obsessed with JRPG's, even humming level up themes and whatnot when he makes achievements of any kind. His power is to create and control chains, which he uses to great effect to try and capture the red panda but it gives him the slip by slipping off it's GPS collar leafing Calim open to his friends ridicule of him being all tree bark and no bite. 



It's the little things that I enjoy in my entertainment. Fukuchi wouldn't be wrong to change scenes or cut to another attempt on Hi, but this moment of Ming-ming and Uzura mocking Calim for calling them loud and obtrusive earlier over three panels where he gets visually more annoyed really makes me happy. It's even funnier that they're using his exact words to belittle him, so it's not like he can deny anything. I feel like this develops Ming-ming and Uzura in a way that throwing them into combat against enemies couldn't, and I'm so happy Fukuchi gave us this page. 



But yes, Fukuchi transitions from this moment of levity to Saike asking Kuroda the big question --who are they up against in Johann's group of his brainwashed allies? Kuroda explains that Will who has the ability "Heart breaker" is the one who has them under his control, but he's a normal boy with no combat abilities so it's unlikely he'll be in attendance of this Red Panda hunt. That leaves Silivano, Calim, Ming-ming and Uzura. I had to skip the page, but Kuroda explains that oracles have three different classifications --those that "control" something, those that "transform" something, and to modify something by adding or subtracting it. Ming-ming however falls into a completely different category --a "world" class ability which makes her extremely dangerous. In fact, Kuroda advises Saike that if he should run into the little girl, that he run for it --anything that is in the area of her oracle will be dragged kicking and screaming into a "demon's game" where she is the judge, jury and executioner.  This information is overlaid with Ming-ming taking notice of the building they're in, and although she seems cute enough, her eyes are filled with a kind of creepiness that can only be found in innocence. Nice job capturing that feel, Fukuchi. We were given a lot of information to unpack here, and with Ming-ming closing in on the heroes, it won't be long till we find out just how terrifying she can be.



Evans is a little further out west than I'm used to seeing him, but perhaps now that the Gunman is popular in ways that don't help him find ladies though maybe girls buying the series might like him a lot?  The editorial staff at Shougakukan doesn't think it worthy to have him at the top of the TOC. Either way this was a fun chapter, so lets unpack it a bit! Meet Tonio Leone, Gunsmith extraordinaire --and Pheeb's personal gun maintenance guy. Pheebs trusts the guy enough that she's able to leave her piece with him and then keep an eye on Evans.



We cut to Evans and Pheebs a few days later where Pheebs is working a bar for information much to Evans' surprise. Pheebs says it makes sense for her to find her marks here while she waits for her gun to come back from the shop, Which gets Evans wondering if he should do something about his own weapon. It's then that Tonio appears with Pheebs' gun repaired a whole day earlier than promised. Not only that, Evans knows the guy, but didn't realize it's the same person Pheebs takes her gun to --and not only that, he's cleaned himself up for her right down to shaving and wearing a nice suit! Evans gets a bit nervous before concluding this is some kind of weird joke until Pheebs asks Tonio what she owes him, and he asks if a date would be okay? It seems this song and dance is something they've done before as the narration notes Pheebs is cold towards Tonio now not because she's tired of the spin, but because---



And heck, even Tonio's figured it out before the narration can finish that thought --She's got someone else she's crushing on. Pheebs is never going to answer this question straightforwardly with Evans around so she just shoves Tonio out and declares that she has no obligation to answer him. Unfortunately for her, two ladies at the bar comment that they seem to get along great and would make a cute couple. Now here's an important distinction --while Evans crushes on anything that's female, Pheebs seems to only have eyes for him. It wasn't so clear in past chapters, but it's moreso now as Pheebs' first thought upon all of this is how Evans will perceive her. Now I don't want to make Evans seem like a dog he's perfectly capable of doing that himself. No, because if he were, his reaction to all of this wouldn't be to walk outside disappointed and dejected that Pheebs might be with someone, which is exactly why he's out there. Ahh how I wish you guys would just be honest with each other.



Evans gets an idea however, and comes back in with his gun looking like a sledgehammer hit it. Which is what happened, though he's the culprit in that caper.   Evans was able to read the mood and Tonio's too distracted by having a Gun to fix to pursue Pheebs for the moment and runs off to do his thing. Pheebs then recalls she saw the gun in perfect working condition just a little while earlier and puts two and two together before thanking Evans for being a life saver --of course he acts as if he has no idea what she's talking about as the chapter comes to a close. I think this was a good chapter if only because it illustrates what Pheebs sees in Evans that we may not have. Now if only they could get over themselves long enough to say what needs to be said...!



Yuugami stops in for his monthly visit, except rather than Yuuji the protagonist, it's Yuuko Yuugami --his little sister who opens up the chapter. She's not doing so hot in school and if she doesn't do something about her grades, she'll be sending summer vacation in summer school. Her friend suggests she asks her older brother for help as he's an honor student, and her expression on the color page before the frontispiece says it all. On that note, I really like the color page and wish Sakurai got to do more of them. --The positioning of Chihiro, Yuuko and Yuugami himself is well done as well as the contrast of darker colors with the scenery's natural lighting.



As someone with not one, not two, but three little sisters, I can sort of understand Yuugami's disinterest in being bothered when he's not in the mood. I'm just lucky that my sisters are all way smarter than me so I never got stuck helping them with homework, heh. Though I suppose like Yuuko on the first page here, they probably found/find me annoying, I think. Totally a fair assessment.  This chapter is mostly told through vignettes of Yuuko remembering just how much of a pain her older brother is, and aside from my personal experience, I think it's a great framing device for the chapter which has an otherwise straightforward premise. The first page is Yuugami explaining to his little sister in a flashback that licensed merchandise is more expensive and she should go for a cheaper non character alternative (They're buying fireworks.) Yuuko wins out in the end, but she admits she always disliked how....reasonable he was. Even when it came to helping her study, Yuugami would less teach her the concepts than point out how she's wrong, how he's right and basically explain this ad nauseum, so it's no wonder on the second page on the right that Yuuko looks exasperated just asking her brother for help, and Yuugami looks like he'd rather die than assist her.



I wish I could have left in how Yuugami explains that his energy is sapped by everyday activities so by the time he gets home he has none left for her, but alas, this flashback of the elder yuugami being very bad at keeping his sister company when she was sick just took priority. To be fair, Yuuko first asks her brother to read to her, then sends him out for ice cream, that she quickly doesn't want to eat, and asks for the book again. Though it's because she wants her brother to well...be genuine with her. He looks unhappy but he continues to do whatever she asks without question as if she's just another chore to deal with and even though she's still just a child she gets this. In the present Yuuko does admit she was being selfish, but I think I somewhat understand where she's coming from. Her brother showing genuine emotion to her instead of being reasonable and acquiescing to her every whim was more important so she tried to make him mad on purpose...and it failed. Yuugami is a guy who doesn't need friends, and just goes through the motions, so I guess it's not surprising that even his sister can't get a rise out of him. It's an interesting dichotomy --a brother who is subservient or true with his feelings of annoyance for being stuck with his sister...which is better?




Yuugami tries to give his sister what she wants by praising her efforts but even those come off as phony, so Yuugami does something surprising, he observes Chihiro at school the next day in an effort to understand her dedication to studying. A shame it comes off as if he's trying to start a fight with her when he mentions that he's trying to understand how "those who suck at studying" think. Luckily he's able to explain that he's trying to help his sister, and avoid Chihiro's wrath.


Rio who's friends with Yuugami and Chihiro talks with the latter later and learns of the former's request, suggesting that perhaps Chihiro try to have a study hall with Yuuko to get closer to her and her brother. Yuuko seems suspicious of the whole affair, but goes along with it when her brother informs her of Chihiro's intentions. I didn't mention it before, but I think it's really charming that the Yuugamis look so very similar to each other right down to their expressions of disbelief.



Chihiro is at the library waiting, but to keep herself from being distracted, she turns off her cell phone, which keeps Rio from finding out if she made it to the study date okay or overslept. Rio gets worried and contacts Yuugami to try and call Yuuko back as Chihiro is off the grid, but Yuuko doesn't have a cellphone, so Yuugami is stuck going to the library to look for her out of annoyance and worry. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for him, Chihiro is at the library and Yuuko has safely found her so things are absolutely fine.



Another flashback of Yuuko getting lost in the park and Yuugami finding her as he pedals as fast as he can to the library to make sure she's okay. Turns out no matter how "reasonable" he may be, Yuugami is still a big brother who looks out for his younger sibling. He makes it to the library and upon finding his sister is absolutely fine, leaves without a word. Of course neither Yuuko or Chihiro can believe that Yuugami would leave baseball practice out of concern for someone else, so they wave this off as a case of mistaken identity as Yuugami rides off into the sunset. Guess even a guy like him cares in a very...Yuugami way. I think I can say this is my favorite chapter of the series I've had the pleasure of covering since I started this blog, and not just because I can personally understand the motivations of the characters, no, but the execution of flashbacks and pacing made this one off(?) story really flow well. Yuugami will be back in issue #51 in November, so look forward to him again then.



Meteor Girl is still at the bottom of the shounen Sunday crater this week too, but to my delight, it is an chapter that's both exciting and filled with some promise --not so much that MG will have much of a future, but that some of the mysteries in the series will receive an explanation. Most of all, one of the most enigmatic figures in the series --Hane gets a chapter in the spotlight this week! Could I ask for more other than for more sales? Probably not.



Hane heads out to find Tetto on her own, when she runs into a strange MG, one who seems to still retain her consciousness. Not only that she asks Hane why she's still alive, and why she's become a MG in the first place. After explaining that she's no one suspicious and introducing herself, the girl asks if Hane isn't afraid, and Hane explains that she is different from other MG before the girl breaks down asking why she's the only one still alive when she's sure she was killed.



The puzzle pieces click together with scary precision when the girl describes her death at the hands of Chihiro --meaning that she is the very same unlucky lass who's family was slaughtered a few chapters ago. Hane lays the facts bare for her --that she did indeed die and it seems she hasn't yet registered that she is a MG. The girl is inconsolable now --admittedly it is heart breaking to see her cry over her brother and parents who are dead as she lives on as a half human half robot(?) alone. Hane listens to her with a detached coolness at first until a brief flashback seen on the right page's top panels seems to imply that her own family was killed in a fire, and her father(?) tells her to forget about them and live. Hane then explains to the girl that she actually is quite fortunate --she still has memories of her past life, her self awareness and most of all options, the first of which is what she will do from now on.



The girl wants to die. That Ishiyama gives this a single panel and a funeral black speech bubble is all but saying that this story does not get an upbeat ending --or at least in the typical sense we're used to in shounen manga. Hane's expression on the left page's second panel is intriguing too --is it sadness? Frustration? Understanding? So much is conveyed between the girls in these two panels without words. One has decided to die while another lives with a burden. One girl takes the "easy" way out, while the other continues to struggle. Again, I'm not sure how Hane actually feels here, but she acknowledges the girl's wish and grants her peace through death using her abilities. Meanwhile Ikeyama has spotted Hane --interestingly saying she's a normal human being with the ability to stop MG's in their tracks. The two end up running right into Hane and Ikeyama being impatient leaps in an effort to kill before being killed by whatever Hane can do...



And after a brief skirmish kicks her to death. It's not pictured here, but the girl with the glasses (I feel like her name was revealed but I don't remember what it was..) is outright angry with Ikeyama for killing people without a second thought which I find interesting. She's also the one who allowed Tetto to run off and find Chihiro rather than stopping him, so I have to wonder if perhaps she's secretly against Chihiro's mad plans, whatever they are but just doesn't have the bravery to stop her? In any case, Hane seems down and out...



Except she isn't. With an expression that says she means business, Hane says she's not in a very good mood right now, and asks if it's fine if she repays the favor with one of her own. What's Hane got up her sleeve, and what exactly is she as someone who has so much knowledge on what MG's are and what they are not, along with strange abilities of her own? I hope MG keeps up this hot streak in the next chapter, as it might be the one that brings the story to it's end unless there's some kind of miracle...





Shun's in a tight spot as Quadrable begins this week, as Mephisto reveals his devlish machinations allow him to drain the captive girls of their fear and feast upon it. Shun tries to get free to save everyone, but she can't and all seems lost until Miguel shows up! He tosses her a sword and the battle is on!



Both Shun and Miguel despite their differences sync together in a beautiful combination attack here on Mephisto. There's just so much going on in this page that I enjoy from the closeup on the eyes of the two to the special effects in the top panel....it's good to see that Arai is dedicated to making this manga look good even if it's dead last in the magazine.



But that's not enough to bring Mephisto down, and he shows that this isn't even his final form by transforming into what's called a "Clown of Fungus" which explains the plant motifs in his collection of energy and in the panels surrounding him. At seeing this transformation, Miguel rightfully asks if their enemy is immortal?!



It's here that Faust reveals he made a contract with Mephisto for his knowledge, and it's through this that his weakness is exposed. Old man Faust's heart is the lodging for the parasite that keeps Mephisto running. If they're to stab his heart --killing him, then Mephisto to will die. Miguel is willing to make that sacrifice, but Shun doesn't want to see anyone sacrifice themselves to save her, and declares she'll kill Mephisto herself! Interestingly enough (although as I've said on several occasions, the end of chapter text is not written by the author, but the editors of the magazine) the closing words indicate Shun will "overcome her brother's death". I'm not sure that they ever said he died --that any of the other characters did, but that'd be big if true. Either way, hopefully Shun can make good on her boast next week!





This week's Youkai Giga features the "Waira" who gets it's name from a corruption of "kowai" which is the Japanese word for "scary", and this thing is just that. It is a cow-like Yokai that lives in the mountains away from people and has claws on all four of it's very long limbs. Though Satou seems to have altered the appearance of the beast slightly in her story this week, as this Waira looks pretty human. A young family is looking forward to an auspicious occasion with good food to boot, so the child a spry little thing asks if they can invite their friend in the mountains to the meal, and the parents agree to this. So the child heads into the mountains as the father of the family heads out to "make this place safe to live for their child." The child heads off to invite their friend --a Waira to the festivities, but he has reservations declaring that his appearance will terrify her family. The child convinces them that they're friends and always will be, so tomorrow the waira should come to dinner and everything will be fine. Except what Dad was heading off to hunt was the monster living in the mountains....



And the text of the promise between the two to maintain their friendship is overlaid with the results of the hunt before dinner in which neither Dad or best friend survive. Satou might have fun with the youkai from time to time, but stories like this are reminders that the difference between species has a dark, sad, and tragic underbelly to it.



And that's it for issue #47! Next week will see the second of two consecutive color pages for Shinobi no and Maoujo, Christmas illustrations from the artists currently in Shounen Sunday, a return visit of a monthly nature for Birdmen, two(?) one shots from Masaya Jiki --"Test Taking students" and "Adults or Children", and Komi taking the cover for the release of her sixth volume. (It doesn't appear the series will get a color page, just the cover though.) She writes in her note that she's embarrassed by her popularity but will do her best ---as will I next week when I cover her series and more! Take care!