Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #30 (2018)

Round and round we go, where we'll stop? Well, for me that means at least two Sundays so that means it's a high chance I'll land on one of them! Question is, are you willing to risk the odds to join me this July 4th (issue of Sunday)?

Despite the date of this issue coresponding in the US as a very red, white and blue holiday, this is a very green cover, but it works well. Mr. Shounen Sunday and his big bro spin off are prominently featured as is Be Blues and most importantly Yuka Ogura with an illuminating smile. Oddly enough it's pretty light aside from that....Ogaki of Shinobi No fame said that his series is getting stiffed by cover placement, and while on one hand it makes sense to have your most popular series front and center, it is kinda...well, look how tiny Shinobi no is on there, though Komi and Yuugami are also pretty tiny too, so it's definitely not a thing where they're singling Pops out. Could Sunday use with better all rounder advertising? Hard to say, really...

At least the TOC is pretty clear cut....or is it?

Be Blues! by Motoyuki Tanaka (Lead Color/Chapter 336)
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ by Mizuki Kuriyama (Chapter 59)
Detective Conan by Gosho Aoyama (Chapter 1015)
Detective Conan: Zero's Tea Time: Supervised by Gosho Aoyama/Art by Takahiro Arai (Chapter 7)
Soboutei Kowasubeshi by Kazuhiro Fujita (Chapter 106)
Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu: Story by Kyouichi Nanatsuki/ Art by Teppei Fukushima (Chapter 27)
Amano Megumi Suki Darake! By Nekoguchi (Chapter 127)
Marry Grave by Hidenori Yamaji (Chapter 25)
Shinobi no by Rokurou Ogaki (Center color/Chapter 45)
Komi-san wa Komyusho desu by Tomohito Oda (Chapter 145)
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san by Aiko Koyama (Chapter 72)
switch by Atsushi Namikiri (Chapter 10)
Gopungo no Sekai by Hiroshi Fukuda (Chapter 8)
Aozakura Bouei Daigakkou monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido (Chapter 93)
Tonikaku Cawaii by Kenjirou Hata (Chapter 19)
Maoujo de Oyasumi by Kagiji Kumanomata (Chapter 105)
Major 2nd by Takuya Mitsuda (Chapter 143)
Kimi wa 008 by Syun Matsuena (Chapter 17)
Sokyuu no Ariadne by Norihiro Yagi (Chapter 26)
Saike Matashitemo by Tsubasa Fukuchi (Chapter 116)
Hatsukoi Zombie by Ryou Minenami (Chapter 130)
Memesis by Takuya Yagyuu (Chapter 16)
Zettai Karen Children by Takashi Shiina (Chapter 508)
Yuugami-kun ni wa Tomodachi ga inai by Jun Sakurai (Chapter 71)
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou (Kuro 28)
Tokaichi Hitoribocchi Nouen by Yuuji Yokoyama (Chapter 27)

Not in this issue:

Daiku no Hatou
Chrono Magia
K.O.I King of Idol

This is There's a lot of series missing without anything really replacing them other than Yuugami which has longer chapters anyway. I usually like to keep next issue stuff for the bottom when I'm done with the issue's writeup, but it seems that Chrono is out for two weeks? I believe that K.O.I was slated for two weeks off so that's not surprising --well it having sudden two weeks off is, but at least it seems like it'll be back in issue 31. Meanwhile Chrono just started so having two weeks off seems to be indicative of a bigger issue....I just checked and while it was slated to be off this week, it doesn't appear in the preview for the next. Dousei is pretty active on twitter and didn't say anything about this so I hope it's not indictiative of a bigger problem, as this is how Fukuchi's hiatuses started, and how RYOKO ended up on extended vaction. Meanwhile, Xeno is really high up which pleases me, as is Marry Grave and Evans. Unfortunately that came with the sacrifice of Memesis, which is at it's lowest...ever. I don't think it's in any danger at the moment, but hopefully this is no more than a blip. Same for Gopun, which is lower than usual this week too. 

This week's Sunday Pinup gal is Yuka Ogura who seems to be just a model with a very pretty smile. I do note that the "models" seem to get more swimsuit pics than the idols or movie stars, which I guess makes sense on a level. Her spread is themed as a "summer date". Ah to have a date with a cutie who has a big smile like this would be nice this summer, but I'm taken in more ways than one. Mostly by writing about this magazine for all of you!

Be Blues is on the field with a pretty cool color page between the rival teams. There's a little more at stake this week than a win or loss, as the players have personal connections to each other from past events that I sadly don't know much about since I haven't read the series from the beginning, so I'm just going to talk about things from a purely aesthetic/execution standpoint. Starting with Ryuu having a flashback to a broken leg that's enough to wake him up with a start. Not only that but Tanaka focuses on the leg again in the bottom panel of that this foreshadowing? or something else? In fact, a lot of this chapter is done in flashback, which makes sense as the leader of the rival team seems to have some history with Ryuu, and they're not exactly on the best of terms. 

There were a lot of quiet moments and it makes sense as this is the lead in to the destined game against two bitter rivals. It's like the silence before the first charge into war, except rather than horses and artillery it's a soccer-ball and cleats. I begrudgingly admit that sports series have some amazing artwork when in the middle of games, and Be Blues is probably highest up there of them all. It's also a given that the current "World Cup" is a big reason why this series got a color page, and Tanaka may have even tried to plan events so that this big game would occur while in real life everyone is charged up to see their favorite teams play. I can't say for sure, honestly but it'd be really neat if it were the case! I'll be keeping an eye on Be Blues for awesome artwork specimens and knowing Tanaka, I'm sure it won't be long until one comes up. 

So after his Bounty hunter adventures, Evans comes back for some r and r, --rest and responsibility. Michelle is still in his lockup, and she's rather jealous that the new guy is getting transferred to the proper authorities right away while she's gotta hang behind. Evans would like to "escort" her personally, but with Pheebs around he has to play the role of a law abiding sheriff whether he likes it or not as seen above. 

This chapter more or less sees a return to the formula that the series is familar with --misunderstandings abound and Evans teetering on that line between being decent and letting his wild horses get the best of him. Michelle has a sob story about her past, but as she's a con artist, Pheebs rightfully doesn't believe anything she says --is what I'd like to say but even she takes a little pity on Michelle. Her crush on Evans keeps her from really helping the con lady out though, and it's because Evans wants to stay a paragon of goodness when she's around that he doesn't try to openly hit on Michelle. Yup, it's Evans at his finest, though it is admittedly a tough show after the great arc that preceded it.  Evans steps out to confirm what she said as Ted keeps watch he too incredulous to Michelle's words. He's convinced Evans has seen through her already, which is...nah, Evans totally was duped. It's then that the man Michelle worked for comes in to testify on her account. Evans is reluctant to let her go since he'd look soft in front of Pheebs, but he has a fatherly flashback to when Kurt turned down Momma Evans' food and she was none too pleased. So he decides to let her go as long as she goes back to where she was working and doesn't steal again. Michelle's all but ready to head back into the criminal life when Evans reveals a certain "Ed Williams" works in the place she's going to -the very same person she thought was stalking her (he's actually a bounty hunter who even appeared in the last arc.) and hearing that he's around again is enough to put the kibosh on her criminal ambitions. Michelle opts to stay in jail, Evans gets to look good in front of Pheebs, and no one is the wiser that he was actually duped. In short, Evans is gonna Evans. 

Pardon me if I'm speaking from mis-attributed knowledge, but I think this might be the first/rare Conan case where Conan hasn't actually investigated anything despite things being 3 weeks in. It makes sense as this case is clearly meant to be longer than the norm, but it feels...weird, to say the least since I feel like most of the time even in longer cases Conan has a suspect by the time the third week is in at the very least. Though it's not as if he's just chilling and waiting for murders to happen as the mystery of what happened with Amuro and Akai still hangs in the air, and the former has been spotted a few times while the latter hasn't been seen. Aoyama has been known to juggle the ongoing plot with the episodic cases, but never both multiple times simultaneously. Usually it's case --> plot. With the revelations the series has had lately, it's not far fetched to believe that perhaps the plot is now encroaching upon all aspects of the series, but I'm still not convinced that Conan is going to move any more quickly than it has in the past. Whether that's a good thing or not comes down to each indivual reader, so I won't comment on that much. Rather, the somewhat shocking serial policewoman killing case marches on --shocking because it feels so much more grim than the typical Conan cases, and even moreso now that the culprit has hit close to home in the attacking Yumi who's basically part of the main cast? Aoyama is a guy who (I believe) has said he likes happy endings and isn't one to tinker with his status quo, so I'm sure she'll be fine....right? At least we get another Conan next issue to find out. It feels like the series has settled into a Saike-like schedule of serializing a story and then taking a break so I'm sure we'll see this one all the way through which is good since I'm looking forward to more.

Although Zero is clearly a spinoff of the main Conan canon, seeing the boy detective actually pop up as a cameo here really drives home that point --as well as the pic right above this paragraph of the men deceased in the line of duty. Of course with the Cafe and characters like Vermouth appearing it's hard to argue that this isn't a Conan spinoff but it hasn't really felt that way until now. Arai is also getting better at drawing in Aoyama's style so along with his very good panel work we're getting double duty here. Ze--er, Bourbon is on the phone with Vermouth about "sleeping Kogoro" (who we know is a front for someone else, hah.) which seems to suggest that this spinoff isn't taking place at the same time as the main canon? Of course I'm not sure since the timeline is pretty vague, but I'd think Vermouth would know all of this information already --and probably a lot more than she lets on. 

I've said it before but if Aoyama ever does decide he wants to simply write Conan rather than illustrate it, he couldn't have a better person to rely on than Arai. Not only is he getting better at drawing in his style, but his storybording and composition is incredibly nuanced. The sunshine on Amuro as he thinks back to his fallen comrades --and how above they say that he should hurry to join's saddening and a mirror into the mind of the man who has many faces and it's a wonder how he manages to keep them all without losing himself in the process. 

You probably know my bias now since I'm incredibly bad at hiding it, but action girls are totally my jam, especially when they're competent and capable like Frol, despite me still being worried that I'm not spelling her name right. It's so great that Sunday has an abundance of them, as they're a rare bread in shounen manga. This whole time I thought she was going to go for something flashy to stop the sisters, but instead she's using her ablity "Apotsu" to detox them of the Souboutei's evil influence. That's....not as flashy but a way better idea in the end, admittedly. 

Thanks to Madarame and everyone else buying her the time she needs, Frol is able to pull off the move in the nick of time, saving the sisters! I had thought on an original readthrough that she had been injured but no, using her ability is just that much of a strain on her body. No wonder she needs time and concentration! Though they go from one problem to another as the authorities rush in to take Frol down on suspicion she's hiding something --and while she is it's for their benefit. Unfortunately in the scuffle she drops what she removed from the sisters' brain and things go from triumphant to tragic very quickly. 

You could say Fujita's use of two double page spreads in 18 pages is a little egregious, but he doesn't waste a second in either one of them. Plus he's just the sort that gets so much done in two pages --and has such great composition that it's both visually arresting and easy to follow. The monsters inside of the sisters brains take shape and attack the people there, leaving everyone no choice but to run or be devoured. I like that he includes the scene of the monster forming as well as it's advent upon the hapless people as it's just that much more terrifying. 

The others --specifically Yadogi want Madarame to give the order to open fire, but that's not a thing he wants to do suddenly, but Frol's unfortunate position by a fallen car and right in the beeline of the beast leaves him no choice. In this spiral of madness, there's so much going on at once, and barely any time for anyone to think or react, and now a sudden tank (A well drawn one at that) is on the scene and opening fire. We haven't even seen what's going on in the house and things are just heating up! 

Speaking of artwork, Sugiyama has always been great at drawing BG, but his admittedly unusual artwork for the humans in Xeno has been off-putting even for me who personally likes it. I do really enjoy watching an artist improve in what they do as time goes by and Sugiyama really has been getting better at a consistant rate from the first chapter of Xeno until now. Take a gander at Manami on the first page of the chapter there --the strong composition of the waves and the island in the distance being very striking --I wish this had been a color page in all honesty. That being said, let's not take away from the humor on the right where Xeno seemingly has a statement for Manami, but before he can spit it out, Ayla comes to the rescue, turns his head and he literally spits out quite a bit. They've come so far from being an assassin and her target to having a tacit understanding of his bodily functions. Also, Manami's reaction to this is priceless as well. 

But yes, we find out before Xeno spills his guts into the ocean that Manami is also chasing after Kai's shadow, which is why she's headed to the island herself. She excuses herself from the duo citing that they'll be meeting again soon as his client is her father. Ayla goes to get Xeno a drink and while she's away, Xeno runs into a child who is having a play wedding ceremony that captures his attention for a bit before the child discovers him and runs off. They look pretty similar to him, interestingly enough but I'm sure this'll come up again later. 

After this, Xeno meets Kinoshita who is Kuga's secretary and he's taken to his house which is impressively built (and drawn.) Upon arrival he is introduced to the Kuga brothers --Koichi the oldest, and Shuji the second child. Koichi gets down to business and says he's looking for his father, Ichizou, who is also the father of Shichiro Kai?? So that means that the Kuga brothers are in fact siblings to the illustrious man behind the murder rooms, and I'm sure that'll complicate this case even further. Back to the facts though --apparently Ichizou disappeared two months ago without a trace and the building they are about to search is one given to the father by Kai himself. 

To refer back to the child earlier, they were singing lyrics that were strange to Xeno while playing marriage, and now when they open the door to the building --Sakuma an aide to the family that had gone missing is there...except he isn't. He's dead, and his body has been found in exactly the same way that was mentioned in the child's song. What does this mysterious song have to do with this new corpse? Next time...!!

Dante's looking for utopia and not an inferno this week in Marry Grave, but what he, Rozalie and Sawyer find instead is themselves at the wrong end of a sword from an attacker who's liable to ask questions never and chop people down first! I dunno how Yamaji does it, but his artwork is not only detailed on closeups but his composition is very dynamic as seen on the page to the right. 

The trio that has attacked the merry marry? band of misfit kids are a vanguard for a society who lives in a city protected by a magical veil. Christophe, a priest stops the guards from chopping them up and asks the pertinent questions --who are these kids and how did they get in here in the first place? This says a lot as their surprise that the barrier was broken (by young Rozalie no less...!) suggests that one who can pull off such a feat isn't an ordinary magician. Christophe gives Dante the third degree, but of course he has no idea how the barrier was taken down either and deflects their concerns to Rozalie. She's forced into a corner by the inquiry, and looks like she'll have to admit to it, but...

Sawyer asks bluntly how they can get around this whole ruckus and make it so they can be trusted. One guard offhandedly says they just want to be safe, so Sawyer figures by stripping he can prove he has nothing on him and thus isn't a threat to their safety. The way he just cavalierly strips and asks the others to do the same is a sign that Sawyer isn't quite all there, and I get the idea that the story from here might be to "reeducate" him in having more value in himself. I certainly hope it works since this innocence isn't quite working for me on a storytelling level. At least we get a laugh with Rozalie saying above "You're the absolute worst". Christophe decides to let the kids in as they don't seem to be dangerous, and he is interested in how they managed to see through the magic barrier.  With that the group is welcomed into Capeside, where there's no telling what to expect. 

If there is an award for how much whiplash one can have from a color page to a first page then Shinobi no would certainly earn it. It's been seven years since Kaede has seen Pops and Toudou, and how do they have their reunion? By leaving nothing to the imagination. Interestingly on Toudou's info box above, he's known as "soon to be" Shinsengumi. Hmm. Anyway Kaede is pretty happy to see the two so she lets the fact that they've seen her birthday suit slide, even as the two attack each other in the bath --seems training is something that never truly "ends" even when one is in the bath. 

Kaede launches a complaint with Katsu Kaishu who finds the whole idea of meeting again in the hot-springs to be hilarious. Katsu like many in Shinobi no is based on an actual person of the same name --a navel engineer during the early Meiji period who eventually became the commissioner of the Tokugawa Navy. It seems Katsu knows Jinsaburo --Pops through his exploits with Perry and Ei, which is why he called him here along with Kaede. 

I haven't mentioned it yet, but everyone's recieved quite the glo up in 7 years, and I particularily like Pops' new design --he's an old guy so we shouldn't expect him to look totally different, but he's distinct enough that we know time has passed, and speaking of that time, Kaede and Toudou are confronted with the truth of the times with pops offhandedly says he can't defeat age. At 65 years old he certainly isn't the type who should be running around doing the things he is, and Toudou maturely accesses the situation wondering just how long he --Pops can hang in there? Katsu breaks up these thoughts by announcing that he's suddenly headed to America, and while he's gone he'd like Pops and Toudou to look after Japan. He knows that they know of an "Unseen enemy" who's lurking about and he trusts they can keep this enemy in check. 

And true enough in Nagasaki, a salesman named Thomas Graber is approached by a very familiar Sakamoto Ryoma who says in no uncertain terms above that he's in the market for weapons. Thomas seems to know Sakamoto and is compliant to all of his requests...interesting. After the trade is done, Okada Izou, Saitou Hajime, Hattori Hanzou Masayoshi, and Nakazawa Koto meet up with Sakamoto and they too are all grown up. It's here Sakamoto reveals his intention to head to Edo, and that the child with him is "Mitsuhide", and that their intention is to take back the heavens. That's one heck of a company statement, even if Sakamoto's actual intentions are still murky....

If Sunday has a theme for each week, then this week's would be "great artwork". Though really Oda (Not that one) is always on his best game, but something about the deftness of his artwork this week really is a pleasure to behold. So what will happen between these two shy teens? Exactly what you'd think. They're both far too embarrassed to do anything other than sort of gawk at each other awkwardly. This sort of continues until Komi finally says she doesn't want Tadano to catch a cold. He remembers how she took care of him when he was sick before, and that's enough for him to take a knee and join her in the sheet, and despite that they keep a healthy distance between each other, until Tadano asks flat out if she really wants him to be close to her, and she answers's not that she doesn't. 

And you gotta know that Hitomi would butt in at exactly the right time --or the wrong one since she wanted to see her brother and Komi kissing, but due to her intrusion that was ruined. She even uses the same line her older brother did earlier, haha. In the end, the siblings end up in the hot-springs with each other, and after spending a little time with each of the younger siblings...

Komi is convinced that Hitomi is adorable, and Tadano thinks Shousuke is really good looking! Guys, what about you two, think of each other! Ah, oh well, I guess no romantic advancements this week, but we were close at least.

After the Five minutes has been an interesting study in survival horror. It's got an obvious premise, but keeps ducking right under it and giving us answers to questions not yet asked while somehow weaving in a narrative with even more questions to keep us engaged. The series namesake hasn't been a thing at all throughout it's entire run, and even this week it still isn't, but now at least we have a name for the mysterious stranger who saved Yamato and Yuuto --Jirou. As well as the reason why their friend Rock is here. He isn't from the future or anything like that, no, he was saved by Jirou. Rock isn't exactly happy to see Yamato however. Jirou explains he's come from a year in the future and has been around for a week confirming that he is in fact the same as Yamato. The boys figure this is their chance to finally learn more about what they're up against, but there's an unfortunate truth to this...

Jirou's been fighting the rampaging Buddhas, but he knows nothing about them. He's searched high and low to find a means to save the planet from them, but hasn't gotten a single clue --confirming the grim truth that the Buddha problem isn't localized and in fact is what ends the entire world as far as a year in the future. This is a pretty big revelation hidden in plain text and goes right back to what I was saying before about this series holding us at arms length....I'm honestly excited and impressed at Fukuda's handling of the plot thus far --especially when you consider his first series Mushibugyo was as pure action as one can get. To see him deftly handle a suspense series with gusto is rewarding as it shows his evolution as not just an artist but a writer. That being said, I can understand there being a bit of fatigue since it seems like the entire first volume is going to be an epilogue of sorts, and somewhat similarly to Marry Grave, the brothers don't have much agency in their own story. Granted the major different here at least is that their story is still fresh.

He may not have any clues, but Jirou has plenty of fighting spirit and declares his intent to fight every Buddha until the last to survive. This inspires Yuuto and Yamato to chime in and say they'll take the struggle to them as well and change the future. Jirou is curious about this remark and it's here that Yamato shows that he has the ability to time travel as well shocking Jirou. However rather than dismay, he seems to be hopeful? He comments that they met a fortune teller as well, and then asks if they too have an "Odd Genius" as well. I'm not sure of English reading of that, but the Japanese kanji says "ability", so I think we've come upon this world's version of super powered abilities. Personally I'd like to see Fukuda go for something of a monomania with time related powers, as that could be really interesting and further distinguish this series. Whether he takes the story in that direction or not however is left to be seen in future installments. 

Komi's been making the rounds in the blog lately thus making it kind of difficult to keep the promise I made about rotating shorter series so they all get screen-time. I had to include the princess this week however, since recently she cross the pond in a bed-made-boat and started speaking English! That's right, Viz has released the very first volume of Maoujou --or "Sleepy Princess in Demon King's Castle" and I have purchased it myself! I might do a runthrough of the first volume before the month is out since this is a momentous occasion --new Sunday acquisitions are rare, and I'd be remiss not to talk about them here. There might be more in store when it comes to that, so stay tuned~ For now let's not sleep on this week's chapter. The hero has come back again to fight the monsters for his princess's safe return, but during the fight they reveal rather bluntly that she doesn't want to come back with him, and he's surprisingly compliant, saying he'll just wait until she does want to return which leaves the monsters in a quandary..she's supposed to be their captive, sure, but she's also supposed to y'know want to return, especially with all the trouble she causes them. Realizing this folly they start asking the princess what she wants (without outright hinting they want her to say she wants to go home). Rather than this she asks for weird things, like oil, rope, and large quantities of  gunpowder. Turns out she was building a firework which has explosive results as seen above. 

This ends up blowing up a huge chunk of the Demon King's castle, and the monsters have to admit to themselves, they're only spreading themselves thin because if she really doesn't want to go back then they have a serious problem, especially if the hero's just going to wait. The demon king doesn't take that as an excuse since the hero Akatsuki is the type who can't take a hint, and when another hero asks what'd hed do if the princess doesn't want to return, he replies he'd bring her back anyway. So there really isn't a reason to kowtow to her whims --not that this will stop them anyway, hah. 

What I think I've come to understand about Ariadne the more I read it is this: Yagi is wonderful at character interactions and worldbuilding, but really not the greatest at fights. I'm much more invested in Ariadne when Rashil isn't kicking butt than I am when he is, and it's mostly because the characters are so interesting and heck, a little charming. So as a recap, Leana and Rashil take a bit of a detour on their journey so that Rashil can hook up with a friend of his from the war --a girl named Rulurola. (To be known as Rulu for now on cause that's just easier for me to type, and in all honesty I'm not sure how her name is supposed to be spelled anyway.) It's through their conflict --as lopsided as it is, that we kind of figure out what kind of relationship they had during the conflict despite Rulu apparently not remembering Rashil at all. I get the idea that she might remember him a little more than she lets on, or at least, she has tactile memories of him. As when Rashil pats her on the head (accidentally) and applauds her use of photon powers, (which involve spraying them out in bead form and calling it "Heavy Rain" as seen above) she immediately feels her chest hurting and her face growing hot. Seems despite coming off as an edgelord, she's really just a pure maiden deep down. 

Probably what makes this chapter great is how Rashil really has no idea of what's going on with Rulu, but Leana has it all figured out mere seconds after that first headpat. She drolly gives Rashil advice despite not being too pleased with what she's seeing --she did make a promise that Rulu could come along with them, even though anyone with average intelligence over that of a typical shounen protagonist can tell how very complicated this is going to get, hah. In any case, Rashil is at a loss, and Leane gives him a suggestion on what to do. He isn't sure why she'd suggest such a thing, but he goes in for the kill--er, hug. 

Leane's probably the one who came up with the line he says here "I'm sorry for everything, and I'll never let you go again!" That's enough to knock Rulu out for the count, freaking Rashil out as he has no idea what's going on while Leane is so deadpan about the whole thing. "Ah, yup, I figured", and "I did promise so I guess she's coming with us". The accompanying text on the side already suggests that they're going to be a party --these three, so it seems Rulu is going to figure big in the future of the series --a prospect that I'm personally a bit excited for. Done properly she could be a great foil to Rashil and Leane, but adding a new character to an established cast is always a difficult thing, especially when the leads have a great rapport with one another, but so far Yagi's hit all the right notes for me, so I'm willing to wait impatiently to see how this pans out. 

Saike starts off fairly quiet which I appreciate after three weeks of data-dumping. Personally I don't much like the fine art of the data dump much, as it often comes as a result of an author not trusting themselves and their story enough to introduce elements organically --dumping a lot of information on the audience to get it over with because they hadn't planned events out far enough in advance, and as much as I love Fukuchi, he did make it clear in a Q & A session that he had really only planned the first six volumes of Saike out. I did enjoy seven and eight (the nepal arc) quite a bit, and nine was well done too, but current events --as much as they've been great at settling us into a new narrative with a villain unseen before in Saike, do come off as something he came up with recently and thus has to pace himself to explain. Of course I realize that the nature of weekly serializations is unforgiving and thus doesn't allow for too much planning ahead -especially when a series is struggling to make sales like Saike, but I do wish more could have been done to set this up in advance so it felt less like a last minute addition. Fukuchi's artwork and Ana being the heroine of the hour are enough to satiate my unease with this arc's execution, and while I don't like the way it was presented, the fact that Saike is back in a situation where it's hard to tell where the series is going next has an appeal all of it's own. With the former arc about Johann, the story had a very straightforward focus --defeat Johann, and although the Will arc has the same basic goal, there are several unknown factors in play that are enigmatic and thus extremely appealing. 

I was sure that Saike was on it's way out after this arc, but Fukuchi's pacing has surprisingly slowed down considerably, and not only that he's introduced new characters! I won't get too attached to them as it does feel like they're here to serve a purpose and less to be interesting additions to the cast --but their designs are at least somewhat distinct, though the guy on the right above looks a lot like Shinonome. Though to dip into the chapter's contents a bit, Will has prepared a room for Hizu where the contents of the Akashic records will be transferred into him over the period of a day, after of which he would have died. The tiny terror assumes Saike and Ana died in their decent from the helicopter since they had no parachute, but Will is clearly not demographic savvy. Or is he? Still, he is at least prepared in obvious (the three guys above and Calim) and not so obvious ways with a function by the room that he doesn't explain to Calim or the audience, interestingly enough. Speaking of Calim, he's still ruminating over Hizu's words to him in the last arc and I haven't forgotten how Hi bit him, so could he be their savior in disguise? 

And then as if to step on all of my hopes again, Will dares Saike to come if he can, citing that this is the "final battle". Granted with this "run" already a good way done, perhaps this is going to be a longer fight than I think, unless of course Fukuchi pulls another Nepal and has two volumes for one run in him, which I could see happening in all honesty. Either way the ball is in Saike's court to counter attack, but what can he do other than go back to the beginning of the day, and how will that serve useful in this situation? 

I couldn't include them all, but Memesis is certain the site of returning faces this week with Linda from chapter one, and Debitch from earlier both making a reappearance this week. The chapter itself is pretty straight forward, attesting to how short the page count is, but I wouldn't exactly call it a miss in terms of what occurred, as it seems pretty likely that Yagyuu wants to attempt something a smidgen longer than his past arcs. Of course being this low in the TOC is a worrying sign, but let's think about that next week. For now, Linda has caught sight of Kijira and Ash via demon surveillance,  and she vainly tries to warn them that this is no ordinary demon officer's castle...

Meanwhile the boys, surprisingly without Rose are wandering about the castle --they were transported with teleportation magic and apparently separated from everyone. As I had speculated last week, their helping out their fellow man has come in handy as the guy they shared their bread with happens to cross their paths --in very much the same way he did before. Except he's able to save them from a trap using bread to chop clean through a stone?! Before that though, Ash shows off his further dedication to improving himself by being able to cast light magic, a nice touch that harkens back to how I mentioned that while Ash and Kijira are sore towards Leon, his advice for them has served them quite well all things considered. I wonder if the boys will eventually realize that they actually did learn a bit from Leon and thus be able to release their anger towards him and become better people? It'd probably make the series a bit less interesting, but I'd still like to see that character development. 

But leaving all that aside for now, the person they saved on a whim last week ends up having quite the connection to them! Turns out his life was going pretty swell until he met up with Leon....wait, again? I like that for a guy who is seemingly known as a "hero" he seems to have inadvertently ruined quite a few lives, but on the flip side, it also feels like his brand of "ruining" would be another person's "inspiration". In either case we're slated for another tale of woe next week, so whether you're a Leon lover or hater, there's bound to be a little more for you to go on then. 

It's the "Final summer" for Yuugami and his buddies and what does that mean? Aiming for the Koshien! Yuugami's interviewed as to what his secret will be to reach the hallowed baseball mecca, and he answers "Jugem" --a famous Rakugo, and when pushed for further answers he answers with that smug expression above that it's a "trade secret". Even when the "last summer" on it's way, Yuugami's not going to change. I am intrigued by this extra advertisement int his regard though, as Yuugami's series is one that could seemingly go indefinitely if Jun Sakurai so wished it, even though it's likely that after Yuugami and his friends graduate high school that the series will conclude. Although I've been paying more attention to Yuugami since I've started writing about him in the blog, there's still a huge gap of chapters I haven't read and thus the passage of time is kind of weird for me. Has it already been an entire high school career for him? 

The left page has a lot of character, and I'd be remiss to not include it in my writeup. Sakurai acts like a camera person, filmin--er, drawing around Yuugami rather than getting into his face directly or drawing him exclusively from the side, so it looks like he's being fillmed from the ceiling, which really leans into this idea of Yuugami actually realizing just how much weight this next ball game has. Surprisingly there's a bit of continuity here --if you remember a few chapters ago, Yuugami's Dad said if he could make it into the Koshien, that he'd help his son move out. Thus even though Yuugami's been mostly pretty flippant about his baseball prowess, this game really does mean a lot to him. Meanwhile Yuugami's got another rival in Nanda who wasn't able to hit a single of his fast pitches in the previous year. It's not surprising that a guy like Yuugami who even at a time like this is reciting Rakugo to psych himself up and thus ignoring the others around him would have a few enemies, but Nanda seems to be the real deal. Meanwhile in an odd yet hilarious twist of fate, Yuugami's grandmother is sort of cheering for him to fail so he won't leave, hah. 

I'll always enjoy how Yuugami doesn't try to be accommodating, but he's not cruel either --just very straightforward. The others on his team come to ask him for a pep talk and encourage him to do his best, but he simply replies "I just do what I have to....I'm not one who can change the fate of others or shoulder their dreams!" I mean hey, it's not wrong to temper other's expectations of you, but normally one'd read the mood and try to play along? Not Yuugami, he's got his goal in mind and that's all that matters to him. It's oddly...refreshing to have a character who's not really self absorbed (okay,  yes he is.) but more just disinterested in others. Yuugami isn't a bad guy, just one who dissociates from people without pushing them away. It's up to the viewer and his friends to decide if they want to spend time with him --he won't beg to keep you around or push you away. 

The game is in the 6th inning and the score 2-0. Tensions are rising, and it'd probably be a bad time for someone to get injured....which is what happens to Yuugami's pal(?) Kadota who's been trying his best too keep up with the former pretty much this entire game --and while pushing himself has gotten results, it's also seemingly effectively benched him. Yuugami did tell Kadota that they're in trouble if he's injured and now that's exactly what happened.....has Yuugami's dreams of home ownership also been benched? We'll find out in issue 34 when Yuugami returns. 

Kuro and it's master have taken to the army and grueling days of training in this week's issue of Youkai Giga. The master strives to protect Japan, while Kuro strives to protect him. I won't talk too much about the war effort itself (at least not this week) because I don't feel like I'm in the position to really comment about that, and Satou didn't really focus on it either --rather she chose to focus on the body at war and the heart at home --master misses his son and wife, and Kuro knows it. Still, when he stands up for a fellow soldier, Kuro's the one who takes the hit for it's master's sake and even though he can't see the little youkai, he still gives him his thanks. The chapter ends with an emergency summons for the sleepy soldiers, as if the tension wasn't already high enough! Kuro's gonna be busy as this unfolds, and while I'm not going to delve too much into the war as long as Satou doesn't, it's to be seen just how far the series will go into this time period. 

And that's it for issue #31! Next week Conan's current case heats up as the little detective takes the cover of the magazine, and Amuro grabs a color page. Oddly enough, that's it in way of color pages/cover announcements. Although Daiku, Birdmen (back for it's monthly visit) and Saike are featured on this page, that's more in the capacity of "here's a little preview of what's going on with these series!" then outright promoting them....well, I won't let a lack of color pages deter me from bringing the goods next week too! Until then, take care!