Two days, two Sundays. (Well it's more like Monday and Tuesday, maybe Wednesday). I'm not sure how much I'll regret doing this, but lets through caution to wind and get this blog entry started!
On the cover is Tamaki Wakaki's new serialization --K.O.I which has been revealed to mean "King of Idol". The tag line says "Aim for the top of girls idols!!" ...I'm actually a little intrigued despite being really disappointed that Wakaki seems to prefer romance/quirky girl series over action --especially since I love his cute art style.
And now the TOC!
K.O.I by Tamaki Wakaki (New series/Color pages)
Magic Kaitou by Gosho Aoyama(Chapter 2 of 3)
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ by Midzuki Kuriyama
Maiko-san no makanai chi by Aiko Koyama
Tenshou no Quadrable by Takahiro Arai (Color page)
Amano Megumi Suki darake! by Nekoguchi
Daiiku no Hatou by Michiteru Kusaba
Komi-san wa Komuyoushou desu by Tomohito Oda
Dagashikashi by KOTOYAMA
Be Blues by Motoyuki Tanaka
Magi by Shinobu Ohtaka
Major 2nd by Takuya Mitsuda
Majou de Oyasumi by Kagiji Kumanomata
Kyoukai no RINNE by Rumiko Takahashi
Hiiragi-sama Jibun o sagashiteru by Hiroyuki Nishimori
Yuugami-kun ni wa tomodachi ga inai by Jun Sakurai
Souboutei kowasubeshi by Kazuhiro Fujita
Aozakura Bouei Daigakkou Monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido
Tenshi to Akuto!! By Aya Hirakawa
Saike matashitemo by Tsubasa Fukuchi
Jojuu Senin!! Mushibugyo by Hiroshi Fukuda
Tokiwa Kitareri!! by Shun Matsuena
DameTerasu-sama by Shun Fujiki
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou
Sunday Higaku kenkyujyou by Yuuji Yokoyama
Not in this issue is
Zettai Karen Children
Oddly Youkai Giga is right at the bottom after a mere issue of serialization. I believe this might be intentional though, sort of like how Yokoyama's manga is always at the bottom. What is odd is that while Shounen magazines aren't strangers to series that have fixed positions (usually at the bottom) there are usually one per mag, rather than seemingly two. Though Sunday did start the whole "one monthly series in a weekly magazine." thing so maybe they're pioneering new things. Otherwise nothing to report. Still no RYOKO, DameTerasu is at the bottom and yeah, the same old, same old. Though Maojo is a bit lower than usual, I guess.
For the new series, some understanding of Japanese idol culture is necessary, and I'll be very honest and say I have very little knowledge of them. It'd be easy to say that they're simply manufactured celebrities, but that'd be over simplifying this facet of the culture. Though I guess "marketable celebrities" are a decent-ish way to describe them. In any case, Wakaki's new series is about a girl who has come to Tokyo with aims to join the idol class.
The title of the series, K.O.I was probably intentionally conceptualized to sound like "koi" which is the Japanese word for "love" which is referenced on this cover page. --Though as we know now it's "King of Idol", and here we get our heroines, and the tagline of making the entire world fall in love with their singing voices.
Kamisaka (a city in the center of Tokyo)) is the HQ for the National Entertainment and Music school --known as "NEMS" for short. our heroine --Mahoro has come to take part in something called the "final selection."
Mahoro runs into Hitomi who's having trouble making her way through the crowd to the Final selection, and the former offers to walk with the latter to where they need to go. Meanwhile another girl is watching them from a distance mentioning that she shouldn't have a problem beating them in the competition.
Mahoro doesn't see any other way to get through the crowd, so she asks Hitomi to cover her ears, and then asks nicely for everyone to move. I kind of like the non standard font used here --clearly Mahoro's voice has some kind of special quality to it as everyone just moves simply because she asked.
They manage to get to the Final Selection and are surprised to see that only one other girl --the one who was spying on them earlier is there. This girl mentions that this year's competition is no joke --and that it's weird that they came without even knowing that much.
The heroines of the story get suited up, and I have to admit they are pretty adorable, but that's just Wakaki's art in action.
The other girls wonder about Mahoro who's not dressing up, but she says she's already ready to go so they shouldn't worry about it.
And with that the 7th annual NEMS final selection begins! As the finalists head on up, the girl spying earlier --Sena begins to wonder if she's out of her league. Some of the others who have made it this far are at the top of their game.
Mahoro being the sweet gal she is uses her voice ability again, this time telling Sena to believe in her dream. Again the non standard font is awesome as well as how it spills out of the bubble. If K.O.I manages to get to the anime stage I wonder how they'll portray this?
Mahoro reveals that she's not going to be just an idol, but at the zenith of idoldom --the King of Idols!
Some nice scenery pages as her turn at bat comes. Wakaki is really bent on selling this voice aspect of the series---I mean she was able to make a literal heart appear in the sky by just singing! That would be all well and good, but there's actually another hook here that I'll admit took me by surprise.
All of the finalists for the 7th annual NEMS pass through, but Mahoro is nowhere to be found. As the other girls wonder about this, we find that she is a he and he is apparently singing a song his mother sung. He also mentions that this is only the first "gate" cleared. The end of chapter text says the next chapter is going to be entry into schooling of some kind...I'll admit I was put off by the series when I thought K.O.I meant "love" and honestly I'm not all that enthused by idols, but this twist has me interested in what's going on in Wakaki's head. I'll at least cover the next two chapters, so let's see if it'll keep me hooked. The cute art as me at least willing to keep following it for that reason, anyway.
Magic Kaito's 2nd out of 3 chapters was in this issue. There's really not a whole lot to talk about in the chapter --I'm sure most of the contents have been spoiled already if you know where to look, but at the very least we get a reminder the long awaited fifth volume is out in July. Conan's back in two issues as well so it'll be interesting to see what Aoyama will do now that the series is nearing 1,000 chapters.
Here we are with Evans chapter 4. I'm surprised Phoebe is back so soon, and is seriously being touted as Evans' rival. Though as the rundown of this page suggests, the two are really just hopeless gunslingers. Evans wanting to have a girlfriend for the first time in his life, and Phoebe wanting to experience true love. Will the bounty hunter (Phoebe) and the Sheriff ever figure out that they have what the other wants?
Evans is after a mark and pursues him to what appears to be a brothel ---where he finds Phoebe who's after the same guy. The problem is the two automatically assume the worst about the other person for coming to a place like this. Phoebe's expression on the bottom panels says a lot, lol. Meanwhile Evans is surprisingly concerned for her.
A flashback to the night before where Phoebe takes the job from the lady running the joint despite clearly being sick. She figures she can just do the job fast and head home, but Evans showing up complicates things. If he gets the mark before she does, she won't get the bounty.
Of course she can't tell him that so she just says nothing's going on and drops the conversation, but Evans thinks she's having problems with bounty hunting --and because she seems so familiar with the staff and whatnot, he assumes she's turned to a life of debauchery to keep herself afloat. Phoebe waves off his concern and goes off with a girl who works there just to find out she's in on the bad guy's deal.
Phoebe's been captured, and is too sick to defend herself. Meanwhile Evans flashbacks into a Dad lesson where pops says that there are times a woman will make a bad decision but will refuse help from anyone. Lil' Evans asks his Dad what to do, and of course he says to stop her. (I know some people will think these Dad lessons are kind of sexist, but at the very least in this case they're trying to stop a perceived step into sex work?)
Evans has bad luck with women, but excellent timing. He runs into the room to stop her from making a mistake and manages to nail the bad guy in the face.
Evans reveals why he's here and begs Phoebe to take better care of herself, that she shouldn't degrade herself in this line of work. Of course Phoebe thinks he means this in the sense of "You're important to me so take care of yourself" since joining a brothel wasn't her intention in the first place. Evans even gets the bounty and tries to give it to her but she turns him down because she doesn't want to owe him anything. She does offer a sheepish "thanks" in reply, in which Evans asks her to consider other jobs like a general store which Phoebe doesn't get. I really have to say that Kuriyama has an excellent sense of pacing and comedic timing --that reminds me of Takahashi really. Considering that Evans is getting another color page next issue perhaps WSS wants this one to last, and I'm down with that.
Here with a dash of color is Tenshou which gives it a very western feel. I almost wish this series could be published in color all of the time as it really looks magnificent this way.
There aren't many times I can say that expressions have captured me as much as they do in these pages. There's a sense of intensity in each one of these shots as the boys fight a female demon in Macau. What accentuates this is Arai's super intuitive sense of panel work. The eye is guided in, given a feast by those expressive panels, and guided out. It's all extremely well done.
The chapter ends with a sense of forboding as one of the boys seems to have a tear in his chest, and another mentions him being his life savior. It'll be interesting to see what this leads to in the future.
Hatsukoi Zombie gets a color page for it's new volume and progression into a new arc. Of course since the series has a dedicated scanslation I'm not talking much about it much, but I'm actually really surprised the series is still moving along and heading toward a second year as it doesn't sell particularly well. Could we be seeing the birth of a new Keijo? (As in mediocre sales, but manages to avoid being cancelled somehow.) Though this one has art I like, so I actually don't want to see it go. (Sorry, but not Sorry Keijo.)
And now chapter 3 of Hatou! After being told to give up on kicking some bass, our protagonist decides to play it up even harder and catch the fish the siblings of the shop says he can't.
Unfortunately it slips through his fingers and they inform him that if he wants to catch it now, he's going to have to hop into the ocean and go after it.
Turns out he's willing to go all the way, though! Man the lines on this guy as he jumps in and the focal point being not his face, but his hands and the net makes this page spellbinding, not to mention the bubbles on the opposite page as well as the darkness in the water. Kusaba is an artist without compare in the mag right now.
What's interesting is up until now the series has been in prologue mode. A new character, Natsu Hirase appears and reveals that she (and the other girl) are actually about to enroll in college (Making them a little older than the demographic of this magazine, interestingly enough) which means they're the same age as the protagonist. Though they're not just going to any college but one that focuses on aquatics --which means the series is only starting now after three chapters. This is the last chapter I'm obligated to cover, but I do think I'll post about it on the blog once in a while even if it's not weekly like Evans.
Komi-san is back with a chapter for the guys as they discuss the most important thing of all --which girl they'd like to date if at all possible. It's an interesting showcase of the other ladies in this manga aside from Komi who's in the spotlight.
Of course Oda (not that one) makes it very clear on every single page that these are simply fantasies the boys have of the female characters and shouldn't be taken as canon interactions. Tadano meanwhile simply listens in and makes comments in his head.
Not going to lie, even if these are just fantasies, these girls are all super cute. I really like that Oda gave them a chapter to shine, it gives me a better appreciation of his writing and it's cool to have characters other than Komi to cheer for. Not to mention his art really makes each girl's unique personality shine through --even the silent Komi-san.
Speaking of Ladies, the three leads of Dagashikashi grace the cover of this week's chapter. There wasn't much to say about the chapter other than this, but I thank Kotoyama for giving us three visions of loveliness. I also like that all three of their designs look like they could have been from different artists. It shows just how deft his art is.
The championship game that they've been playing for the last few weeks in Be Blues has reached it's climax, and my contractual obligation to bring you the dual page spreads continues. The leads in this are trying to break the stalemate between their team and the opposing one and...
They shoot and they scoooooore!!!!
Maoujo is back and we get a glimpse of the hero Akatsuki as he and a magician --Kishiyou converse about the princess and an ability that could possibly locate her using the jewel in the queen's crown --apparently if they use just a bit more magical power they can open a portal to the demon's castle whre she's being held! --and with good timing as it seems the princess is in a dire situation as she's lost to what amounts to a demon bed sheet.
The princess was trying to cut herself a new sheet using the demon world cloth, when it took on a larger and more terrifying form!
She does her best Ryuko from Kill la Kill impression to try and subdue the sheets, but she can't cut it. Luckily the demons who found her happen to be very into scissorblades, and give her a new weapon to vanquish her foe.
And thusly is able to make the bed sheet of her dreams.
The demon who gave her the new scissors is proud of his handiwork, but what terrible timing --the hero Akatsuki has just opened a portal to the demon world and apparently has found the princess, but right when she's under a demon's watch! Next time it would appear a confrontation is unavoidable.
Yuugami's back again for his monthly visit as well! I really wish more of this were being translated, because it's actually pretty charming. However in favor of covering K.O.I and Tenshou more, I had to cut coverage of Yuugami-kun this month. Sorry bro, hopefully next month when you return I have a bit more space to talk more about you.
Souboutei time! Seiichi has been out of the action since his flashback several weeks ago, but it seems he's back now! There's no one else who wants to destroy the house more than he does, so it makes sense that he's back in focus again.
The slaves of the house discover Takoha's group, leaving them no choice but to defend themselves in whatever way they possibly can.
These pages are linked mostly because they're exemplary of Fujita's style. So much intensity using simple blacks and whites and saturated shadows. It it any wonder I preordered the digital version of volume four? Souboutei is just so good to me.
Frol (I apologize almost every time she appears for ruining her name but I really don't know what it's supposed to be.) makes an impassioned plea using telepathy for someone outside of the house's walls to come and save them which Seiichi immediately picks up on.
Seiichii hears the call and shows up at the house ready to wreck some stuff. Now the whole party is assembled, so now there's only one thing left to do ---bring down the house.
I have to say that I love how Nikaido has kept the character's tans during the water training they've been doing. When an author goes out of their way to include small details like this, It always pleases me.
This week's chapter was more on the slice of life side of things, but I really enjoy this kind of thing in shounen manga since the demographic typically is full of stories where something is constantly happening all of the time.
Once again these tans are pretty epic. I wonder if they'll be around next issue?
Saike is up next and for his 80th installment it seems our hero is going to do something very unheroic, but...
He can't bring himself to do it. In fact when Hizu and Ana decide they're going to beat the poor boy till he trusts them, Saike can't idly stand by and saves him from the plan he came up with.
Hiryasu asks Saike what's wrong with using his power to better his crappy situation. What's wrong with wanting revenge against those who hurt him? What's wrong with wanting abilities in the first place? What's wrong with the weak wanting to defeat the strong? These are all questions Saike wasn't prepared to answer, and as such his plan to convince Hirayasu not to attack others with his powers falls apart.
Hirayasu runs away and into the arms of the guy who beat him up in the first iteration of this timeline which lead to the whole tragedy in the first place, and while Saike and his friends rush to the scene to stop this, they're too late. Hirayasu is taking his beating, and it seems he'll just have to redo this timeline again in hopes he can convince the boy the next time around, but watching him get beaten up doesn't sit right with him even if it's meaningless to step in due to the nature of his ability.
"There's meaning in the meaningless." Saike Says as he prepares to go help. While it redeemed itself in it's ending --especially this page --I like when Fukuchi draws his characters with slightly more realistic features (noting Saike's hand and eyes) I do think the shift to humor was a little bit forced and derailed the momentum Fukuchi was rolling with this entire arc. It wasn't too terrible though, as things are back on track again, so I'll chalk this one up to a minor misstep.
Dual page spreads and great layouts aplenty in this week's Mushibugyo. Honestly speaking I think Fukuda has really grown as an artist from the start of this series until now. --And it wasn't like he was a slouch at the beginning either! It's just now his already strong panel work works well in tandem with actual drawing ability. The character designs for the characters are much more appealing here, as are the little details he puts into them (like the intricate designs on the wings of the bad guy here) that make it his own.
Of course it's not Fukuda without a dual page spread that shows wanton destruction on a huge scale. The final battle is only heating up and I'm really engaged in seeing where things will go next.
Speaking of final(?) Battles, Tokiwa really spammed the dual page spreads this week. --Not that I have a problem with this since while I'm not a fan of Matsuena's penchant for boobies, I do love his character designs and use of these splash panels. I mean look at this and try to tell me that it isn't cool looking.
Though with two spreads that are simply hyper beams, and it's location at the bottom of the TOC, it's safe to say that this series is slowly packing it's things up. Matsuena is a veteran so I'm sure the editoral staff at Shogakukan is taking this into consideration, but the writing is on the wall for Tokiwa, and it's sad it couldn't do as well as it's predecessor Kenichi. A new volume is due out in June, so we may very well see the end of Tokiwa before fall unless I'm way off.
Youkai giga is up next, and to my surprise Kuro from the first chapter returns.
Kuro is still protecting his master Seiji, but he's noticed that Seiji's behavior has changed --the normally punctual young man has been sleeping in and getting to places late for some reason, and every Wednesday at 2:00 he's been having something delivered for whatever reason...
Kuro seems to have figured out what's wrong with Seiji after he notices the delivery girl with another person, and rushes off to do --something. I'm assuming this will continue next issue.
The next youkai featured is Oi no Bakemono --a youkai who exists in a carrying case similar to a backback. In this story the oi no bakemono has been abandoned after many ears of use, and wanting to be carried one more time decides to take matters into it's own...appendages and look for someone to bear it's burden.
The monster has...not aged well unfortunately, but that doesn't deter it from wandering around and finding a young girl and pleading it's case with her.
The girl doesn't really have any interest in a backpack since she doesn't have much to carry as is, so the youkai offers to give her things to carry if she honors it's request. The girl can't turn down free stuff and figures that it wouldn't do her any harm until...
She has a look at what's currently inside the backpack and leaves without a word. Guess the Oi no bakemono is going to have to shoulder his own load for a bit. Considering the nature of the series and whatnot, I think it actually makes sense to wrap up the magazine with it every week --if that's what WSS is doing and hasn't just decided it's a flop before it starts. Only time will tell though..
And here we are at the end of issue #24! Next issue will feature the last of the new series --Meteor Girl by Ishiyama Riichi, the final chapter of Magic Kaito's return, color pages for Evans and Akmoto Manatsu on the cover. Meteor Girl's blurb doesn't make a lick of sense to me, so I'm interested in seeing what the series will have in store for us, especially since Ishiyama's last one shot ended with a girl eating a boy, so I'm not sure what to expect from a serialization from him/her. As always, I thank you all for hanging out with me on this mid-week Sunday! Take care!