Souboutei is firing full throttle.
Though really, when isn't it? This week as Makoto takes on not one, but two opponents who would dare hurt her older brother. Even the way she speaks is way different than what we've been used to from her....hell hath no fury than a little sister scorned. I kind of hate how appropriate that is with today's anime/manga landscape. In all seriousness, it's really a thing to behold to watch Fujita do his thing so that Makoto can do hers. The entire chapter is made up of double page spreads, and If I wasn't careful I might have ended up posting the whole thing!
Of course this means there's not a whole lot for me to talk about since it is all about the action this week --Makoto has seemingly defeated one of the kids after her and Seiichi, but there's still another in the wings waiting for the chance to strike. She might have made this look easy, but by the end Makoto is pretty tired out and with another opponent ready to go she may not be able fend him off...If there's ever been a time for a turnaround shounen-style comeback I'd say it needs to be right now.
Evans is Pride vs Porn this week as the struggle gains a whole new layer of complexity. Ed Williams who's appearances are really shaping him up as a kind of "This is what Evans could be if he weren't obsessed with women." Yet, in a weird way it's like Ed is the one getting the short end of their exchanges every time they meet simply because he plays the cool cowboy trope straight. Evans' world is one where misunderstandings are the true characters and the flesh and blood counterparts are simply playing roles. I don't mean that in a bad way, since of course it's what's kept the series going for almost two years now. I guess what I'm yammering about here is how Evans is a character driven comedy (since y'know the plot is really just "Guy wants girl: western edition.") but it really does feel more like the premise is calling the shots more than the characters. It's probably obvious to everyone here, but it's a weird hodgepodge of elements that probably should collapse upon itself but actually works really well.
So for the events in the chapter itself, we have Evans, Ed, porn, and wanted posters. Ed is here to collect on Evans, and Evans is here to collect the briefcase full of smut that he's inexplicably ended up obtaining. They corner the guy who might be behind all of this but he claims innocence and has no idea what's going on himself. Ed proves he's kind of a villain too by setting fire to the plant where the accused's friends are in order to get him to talk. Ed's a little miffed at Evans after the last time they met and he ended up with Evans porn (ah continuity!) and quasi sees through the Sheriff's efforts....it's great that it's happening all over again in the sense that Ed is just trying to do what bounty hunters do and Evans is inadvertently getting in his way. In the end, the man reveals that he is indeed the one they're looking for and in a desperate bid to save his friends tosses what he thinks are drugs into the building that's on fire. Ed's fine with things getting that much easier, while Evans literally runs into a burning building for his nudie mags, and it's the greatest way to end this chapter. It feels like this is going to be a short arc, but as per the Evans tradition it's been really good.
Saike's got one chapter left after this and this week's is super sized at 34 pages....essentially about two chapters for the price of one. It's good in the sense that the chapter doesn't feel like it was two chapters slapped together and flows well from one point to another, though I'm still a little saddened that this final volume that felt like it had a lot of promise is being shafted a little bit. That all being said, what we do end up getting is perhaps the best case scenario in regards to a conclusion for this series. This whole final lap has been unique in that rather than focusing on the looming threat it instead focuses on each one of the characters receiving their well deserved "endings". I can't say I've read every shounen ever, but I don't think I've seen anyone tackle a final arc quite like this --where the last obstacle is actually treated as less important than the characters themselves.
Yup, as you can see above Saike and his friends have aged up in the three years since they went their separate ways to gather ability users to prevent the world's destruction from a massive volcanic eruption. Hizu looking like a buff Edward Elric is endlessly fascinating to me, and Ana is as cute as ever. It's interesting that Saike is only seen from the back and side in the final parts of the chapter....would seeing his face ruin some plot point? Or probably more likely is that it's for dramatic effect? Either way I'm happy to see all of the characters we've met so far in this journey on center stage. It's one of my favorite tropes when everyone in a story has a purpose in it's conclusion, no matter how small it might be. Saike also says out loud what the series has been hinting all of this time --that his ability had nothing to do with Mogura Pond, but with him dying. Thus he could use his ability anywhere at any time ---but now he realizes he doesn't need it to save people. All it takes is an outstretched hand to change the world....
And save it. Next week is Saike's finale, and I could say that arguably it's the most important final chapter this blog will see.
Memesis how I wish you could embrace your action roots more often like this...though this chapter felt really One Punch Man-ish. It might just be because of the way it ended, or how the building tension was handled, but the similarity to ONE's most popular work cannot be denied. Ash and Kijira are being beaten down mercilessly and to their enemy's dismay they just keep getting right back up. They do explain that they have their reasons for not giving up --basically being dumped by Leon which is what makes all of this great. Like, although we as the audience get why they feel jilted, their explanations to anyone else don't make any sense, hah. Even the demons are just flabbergasted that they'd keep standing up for such a ridiculous reason...and quickly realize that Ash and Kijira are idiots. Despite this they are able to quickly slice right through their foes, but what makes this a bit more interesting than other fights in the series is that they don't immediately go down. In fact, even with their usual Leon-rage-induced-boost, Ash and Kijira are still only barely able to keep up with these demons.
But then speak of the devil....Leon shows up! The way he's drawn in the first panel above really is reminiscent of OPM. Leon casually says he's gonna go defeat the demon king and asks if they want to tag along. A bold claim, but we've seen how strong he is so he's probably not bluffing. Leon being back and the Demon king being this close does make me wonder (along with the new serializations on their way) if Shougakukan is gently trying to push Memesis out, but I honestly can't tell with this series. I wouldn't be surprised if an ending is on the way, but it could easily run a bit longer too.
Dante is the subject of this week's Marry Grave, and his backstory isn't surprising in how similar it is to Sawyer's. In fact what it reveals is probably why he felt a kinship to the young boy despite him being so antagonistic toward him. Abandoned by his parents, Dante worked with Medusa the snake lord as a servant/hired hand. He was impressively strong even as a child as the opening of the chapter shows him taking down a group of fully armed men on his own. Due to his own past and being the right hand of a monster, Dante viewed all of humanity as his enemy. Medusa even had Dante calling him "dad" in a twisted way of showing his ownership over him.
Interestingly Dante either already knows the truth or finds out later that his parents didn't abandon him but were mercilessly slain by the snake lord. Let me pause for a minute and once again (You knew this was coming) point out how amazing Yamaji's artwork is. Like wow, the use of framing and positive/negative space is pretty dang incredible here as the snake lord mocks Dante asking him if it feels good to get revenge for his parents? Not that he can of course. That right page shows movement and intensity with such force that it sends shivers down my spine. Even if Marry Grave might really be ending, I'm glad Yamaji isn't relenting in his artwork.
In the present, Sawyer and the others struggle against the snake lord and find themselves on the losing end of his attacks. As Sawyer takes an attack meant for Dante himself, it's shown that deep down he can hear his friend's voice. Though as he's trapped in stone, and Sawyer is seemingly down for the count, is it too little too late?
A robbery gone wrong, a pocket watch, and the truth behind the crime are what open up this week's Xeno chapter. The thieves should have had everything they needed to rob a bank blind --the knowledge of how the security system works, the password, and even the schedule. So why did everything go horribly awry? Moreover why this job in the first place? Apparently it's the work of someone named "Baron", and the burglars are convinced that Xeno is connected to them due to his pocket watch. Baron said themselves that people with the emblem on the watch are his close friends and that's proof positive they're connected, right? So it isn't so much that they know anything about the watch as much as it is that they've seen it before. Still a lead is a lead --but Xeno's in no shape to be thinking about that as the burgers are highly volatile and ready to pop. The lone woman in this group seems to be caught in the middle of this situation, but Xeno sees right through her --she's actually an agent sent by Baron to kill the other two and clean up the loose ends!
Shino (the girl) Shows her true colors but Xeno points out that she too is being used --as a tool to test him. After all there are too many coincidences here for it to be chance that they met here. Shino's not buying it and is ready to rub the detective out, but it's good to have a former assassin as your assistant as seen above. I like that even in her "domesticated" life she's still very much capable of using her training to turn the tables, and look awesome doing it.
As Xeno figured however, Baron really is just testing him --seeking him out through a very roundabout way to send an invitation/challenge. Does the amnesiac detective know this Baron from his past life? Or is it something grander? Xeno's low in the TOC this week but I'm thinking that's a temporary blip as it polls well even if it doesn't sell gangbusters. At least that's what I'd like to believe as the series continues to keep a high level of intrigue. For now we're headed into another arc, and the prospect of that has got me excited.
Kuro's farewell to his master is a moving one, though saddening since it's only now since his childhood that he's been able to see the little youkai. There's not much time left before he has to go into service, and he'd rather the youkai look after his family than be on the battle front with him. Although the stories in Youkai Giga have always been about how youkai and humans live with each other, this story taking place over a lifetime really hits home harder than if it had been only a one off story like the others ones in the series. Not to say there haven't been some good ones of course! Kuro separating from his master after just really being able to see him again is sad enough, but Seiji admitting that he wanted to tell Kuro how much he wanted him to stay but couldn't is the worst/best part. I'm still really hoping that Satou will have this family reunited at the end of this war, but the death flags are waving mightily.
And that's it for the editorial section! Hah, the editorial was on time this week but the features were late....in any case you'll be seeing me again week after next as there is no Sunday next week. Enjoy your Christmas vacations everyone, and I'll see you one last time before the end of the year.