Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Weekly Shounen Sunday #5/6 (2018)

Shounen Sunday returns! Just to disappear again, but let's not dwell on that~ We've got another double issue ready to go and lots to talk about so lets get on it, shall we?

On the cover this week is Evans with a sincere wish to be poplar in 2018. With the way his manga is selling, he might just get that, I think. Meanwhile Hiragi is on the cover for her final chapter, as well as Hanzawa sneakily attaches their way onto things. As I pointed out last week, the physical cover is different than this since for some reason the group "Sexy Zone" which should have been here is censored on digital formats. 

Even on Shougakukan's website apparently. If you all want that pinup and actual cover, you'll just have to get a physical copy of the magazine. 

Next, the TOC.

Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ by Mizuki Kuriyama (Lead Color page/ Chapter 35)
Marry Grave by Hidenori Yamaji (Chapter 2)
Sokyuu no Ariadne by Norihiro Yagi (Chapter 3)
Major 2nd by Mitsuya Takeda (Chapter 121)
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san by Aiko Koyama (Color page/ Chapter 49)
Komi-san wa komyusho desu. by Tomohito Oda(Chapter 117)
Tantei Xeno to Nanatasu no satsujin misshitsu Story by Kyouichi Nanatasuki/Art by Teppei Sugiyama (Chapter 4)
Aozakura Bouei daigakkou monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido (Chapter 72)
Detective Conan Hanin no Hanzawa-san by Mayuko Kanbo (Chapter 2/ Special serialization pt 2)
Amano Megumi wa Suki darake by Nekoguchi (Chapter 104)
Be Blues by Motoyuki Tanaka (Chapter 317)
Daiiku no Hatou by Michiteru Kusaba (Center color/Chapter 33)
Dagashikashi by KOTOYAMA (Chapter 172)
Souboutei kowasubeshi by Kazuhiro Fujita (Chapter 84)
Hatsukoi Zombie by Ryou Minenami (Chapter 106)
Shinobi no by Rokuro Ogaki (chapter 23)
Tenshi & Akuto!! by Aya Hirakawa (Chapter 146)
K.O.I King of Idol by Tamaki Wakaki (Chapter 29)
Maoujo de Oyasumi by Kagiji Kumanomata (Chapter 82)
Birdmen by Yellow Tanabe (Chapter 55)
Hiiragi-sama wa Jibun wo sagashiteru by Hiroyuki Nishimori (Chapter 84/Finale)
Tenshou no Quadrable by Takahiro Arai (Chapter 36)
Meteor Girl by Reach Ishiyama (Chapter 31)
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou (Kuro Part 17)
Tokachi hitoribocchi nouen by Yuuji Yokoyama (Chapter 4)

Not in this issue are the following:

Detective Conan
Zettai Karen Children

Hiiragi is the last (For now) of the series leaving the magazine right on the heels of RINNE. It's odd to consider that we've lost pretty much all of the vets in the magazine (aside from Fujita) all at once like this. Though I guess Kusaba is a vet of sorts, as is Takeda. In any case it's intriguing to notice just how many series here aren't yet at their year mark (50-ish chapters.) Oddly things have gone topsy-turvey with Maoujo being really low along with Tenshi and Shinobi. Though I think this is a natural progression of things with the new series around. 

With Conan away, his fans shall play, and they do so very artistically as seen above on a blackboard! Gotta say it's a really awesome recreation of this color page. Aoyama even chimes in with his own comment that the quality is crazy good and how he'd like ten of these. That's one heck of an endorsement for these three ladies! 

Evans (and Pheebs) are doing quite well for themselves --a second volume and reprinting of the first are well underway, and this color page while simple is leagues better than the last few. Better make sure you don't make the mistake of thinking that they're ready to settle down just because they've found a bit of fame and fortune though! That's what the villian in the top page made a mistake of doing, and he got the evil eye something fierce. They're arguing over who gets the cred for the capture, but to the bad guy they look like a married couple. They act indignant, but the truth is, well, if you've been reading Evans here or anywhere for that matter, you know how it goes. 

I might have just missed it before, but Evans and Phoebe live in the city of "Marquest" in the wild-wild west. The quarry they captured in the opening of this chapter has led them some ways from their comfortable stomping grounds to a place far more lawless. It's going to be a little while until they can get the bounty prepared, but the sheriff of this town suggests they hang out at the train station where "Hubby" Evans can get train tickets for his "wife" Phoebe! That's twice you two, twice people have outright said you'd make a good couple. It's great that in the right page they're actually overjoyed, but act annoyed to each other's faces, heh. 

Evans heads off to buy the train tickets while they wait, where he hears his name in casual conversation and is ready to quick draw when he finds that it's actually a young lass who pulled on his handle. Evans is calm, but this little lady knows her stuff, so Evans asks why everyone's heavily armed, and it becomes clear that she doesn't want to be seen. Turns out the nearby gang --The Black Hound has kidnapped the banker's daughter to demand an exorbitantly high ransom, and guess who the daughter is in this scenario? You guessed it, the very girl he's talking to --Mattie Bridges. She managed to make a quick escape from her captors, but they're a persistent bunch. 

Not surpsringly Evans finds this tale hard to believe, and Mattie strides off to deal with her situation on her own putting on a show of bravery --but Evans can see right through her act --she acts like a big shot but is a scared little girl. While Evans is sticking his nose in a place it simultaneously does and does not belong in, Phoebe has grown impatient with waiting, and the sheriff makes an off-color joke suggesting Evans has headed off to see his "secret love child" which earns him the former's ire. 

Evans tries to sneak Mattie through the train station, but the guard there isn't having it and insists that he see her face which is hidden from view. Evans declines on her behalf and states that this is because she's his child --just as Phoebe shows up. Welp, I think we all know where this is going, and I'm going to be there to see how it plays out in the next issue! 

Yamaji's Marry Grave heads bravely into it's second chapter with gutso, and art that matches it's somewhat lofty ambitions if the dual page spread above is any indication. This time the undead hero Sawyer is in the forest looking for something called a "Mandoragola" which is in a forest nearby...that he quickly gets lost in, and runs into some very unfriendly fauna. 

However a not really cool head prevails as he yanks the tree from the ground and gets what he's looking for! He wasn't looking for the tree itself, but the root that hides underground and manipulates nearby plants. That should be it for this week right? Well, this is chapter two, and you'd got to know that those are extra long for a very good reason --to introduce us to the world of a new series! The root tries to make a run for it as Sawyer gives chase where he runs into a young lady. 

The two bond a bit --Sawyer explains his quest in gathering ingredients for his recipe which the girl seems somewhat interested in, at least until Sawyer explains that this is a tincture intended to revive the dead, which the girl cruelly laughs at, as if he could believe in something so ludicrous! He really must be a poor, simple man. Seems this young lady might have more to do with what Sawyer is looking for than a first blush would indicate. 

Tezerette, (Teserette?) is the girl's name and she takes Sawyer home with her (By force, I might add since I couldn't add the exact pages.) And introduces him to her parents as an "acquaintance." Yamaji's work on expressions shines through on here as Sawyer really digs and digs into the food. 

He relays to them his journey and the state of the lands he's been in due to the onslaught of demons and how it's been one trial after another on his journey --and surprisingly the couple are more than willing to give Sawyer a place to stay overnight. He takes them up on their offer, and on the right page Tezerette leaves him in with a panel I can't say I've seen often before --one from Tezerette's POV. (Right page second panel). I think this gives a real depth to the page we wouldn't have been able to see if drawn conventionally. I'm just impressed that Yamaji puts so much effort into every single panel, set aside page --ah to be young and just starting a new serial. Is there anything more precious? In any case, Sawyer is happy to stick around, but he can tell something isn't quite right in this place. 

By all apperances it has everything one would consider in a warm house --warm food, warm surroundings and a warm family, feels unnatural somehow. Sawyer follows the tour for some time before checking out a room without permission and finding...well what he finds on the right page. Two perfectly preserved skeletons. 

Tezerette's hatred toward Sawyer's goals of bringing back the dead are because her parents are no longer with her because they were attacked by demonkin and killed a year before. Then what was it that Sawyer saw earlier? It's the demonkin that Tezerette has turned into her new "family" using magic, and she's looking to expand on her family members, by including Sawyer! 

The reason Sawyer had felt something off about the whole situation is the house, the people, everything he saw was the effect of a monster known  as "slime" which takes people into it's liquids state and in turn breaks them down into liquid. Tezerette admits she did really think Sawyer was a good guy, but her little slime is hungry and he was on the menu---or so she thought when he appears behind her without a scratch on him. He quickly figures out he's not the first person to fall for this trick, and to her surprise asks how long she's been at this. 

Sawyer explains that he had thought a small family with a little girl living in the forest was completely unnatural, and upon following Tezerette, used the magic of the mandoragora to cause her to slightly hallucinate. Tezerette asks just how long has she been under a spell, and rather than answering, Sawyer hits the slime with a powerful "Salamander flame" spell, melting it. 

Tezerette is distraught and wants to go with her "parents" though as Sawyer says, she knows full well the slime is simply taking the "shape" of her folks and isn't the real deal. Still, she'd rather die than be alone, so Tezerette jumps into the flames and prepares to meet her maker, choosing death over solitude. 

We're treated to a small flashback of a happier time of stew and family moments before Tezerette awakens in Sawyer's arms still alive. He jumped into the flames and protected her, though this was tough even on his undead body. 

Sawyer says she has to live, and under no uncertain terms says there will be times she'll suffer, and have to repent for her sins --along with her regrets, but he does understand where she's coming from, for he too has someone precious that he has to keep moving forward for no matter what it takes. Marry Grave had a strong second chapter, and I can continue to confidently say this might be the best of the three new serials --all of which have been really strong! If Yamaji can nail the third chapter, then the blog might just have a new member to add to it's lineup! Speaking of which, to our next feature-- 

It's the third chapter of Ariadne and farewells are difficult for Rashil's little sisters, and despite being a trooper after the end of the second chapter --our plucky protagonist as well. It's only been about half a day --no way he's already homesick is he? Rashil claims he isn't --it's just he left his sisters when they were asleep and regrets not saying goodbye to them properly. He's known them since they were babies after all, and while Gramps looks like he's unfazed by his leaving home, he's gotta be lonely too, right?

A reminder from Leana that Rashil is her knight is enough for him to shake off the tears and get back on track however. The princess explains what a knight's duty is --and in short it's to follow the orders of the royal family despite their past or social status. Once one is a knight, their first and foremost priority is to serve their master. The "Blue Sky Knights" are only one of four knight squads, the other three being the "Daybreak" knights, the "Dusk" knights and the "Moonlight" knights. (The last of which is read "Tsukuyomi" of whom I'm well aware is a moon God, but to fit in with the others, I'm altering the name slightly.) In short there are lots of knights out there that Rashil will probably run into sooner or later. Leana and Rashil's interactions are still comedy gold as Rashil claims he understand her explanation, and without a beat Leana says "I know you don't understand, but just think of them as cool, and that's good enough." The two's first stop is "Gulliver Canyon", but before they get there, they encounter Kismo, cute little critters that can suck one's blood if they're not careful, as according to Rashil above. 

Nature's matter-of-fact cruelty is on display here as one of the Kismo is eaten by a shark despite this being...desert. Rashil remembers that he forgot to inform the princess of these creatures appropriately known as "Sand Sharks", and the kids have made the unfortunate mistake of wandering into their territory! They've got to make a quick break for it or they're done for, as Rashil doesn't know how to handle them on his own since he's only ever encountered the sharks when he was with his Grandfather. 

Rashil takes on the sharks in some man-to-fin action, where we get another comedic scene. He commands Leana to grab onto "buruburu" which she doesn't understand. He heads off to fight explaining she was on barubaru, and the creatures names are horuhoru, that he named buruburu and barubaru --all of which is extremely confusing as Leana states on the bottom-most panel, and I don't blame her, heh. Man I like these kids' personalities. 

Rashil uses another photon burst to ward off the Sand sharks, but his boots start to malfunction laving him in a bad way. Unfortunately using two Photon Bursts in a day is extremely ill advised as it drains him of a lot of strength. The sharks are circling in the sand now, and Leana's got no choice but to cast off her own boots and pick up one heck of a weapon. 

With the gun weighing her down, Leana's able to take aim and fire with what amounts to a sand bomb that stuns the sharks and keeps them from moving. 

...Wait she's not wearing the boots so isn't that bad? Not really, since the weapon's weight keeps her down, and Leana with a great amount of bravado here says that she's just gonna travel holding that huge weapon the rest of the way, which obviously isn't going to work as Rashil says --what kind of impression will they have on people if she walks into town touting that thing? In any case, gramps is happen to see his kid going off on a coming-of-age journey, while complimenting the princess on having far more pluckiness than he would have thought. 

The chapter closes with two mystery people discussing Leana disappearing under radar and how this doesn't matter much since those with abilities will be moving one by one to go after her now, indicating that the stakes are rising --the five envoys directly serving the king are heading out, and It'd be hard to believe a boy and his photon powers would be enough to stop them. Unfortunately, after a lot of deep thought on the matter, while I do really like Ariadne, I do think with it's author's pedigree and being an action series that other outlets will translate/cover it much more timely than I can, so after this obligatory third chapter, I won't be covering it regularily. That's not to say that I'll never talk about the series again, perish the thought! Just I won't be as often as say, Saike or Evans. I've gotta consider fair coverage for all series and my own time and sanity, so Ariadne is on the chopping block, sadly. The first chapter is out scanslated if that's your thing though, so by all means check that out. 

Two weeks of Maiko-san in a row? Say it ain't so! It is, and due to my rules of covering series with color pages no matter what, I'm throwing in my hand with this week's chapter that recieved color attention due to a new volume! Scanslations are mostly caught up to this one, so I won't talk too much about what's happening --Koyama's artwork is still simply divine, and this week is another look into Kiyo's past with her friends Suzu and Kenta, where the former was hurt and the latter carried her home on his back. the two pages before the final one above indicates maybe there might be a bit of unrequited(?) feelings between Kenta and Kiyo, but the story moves right along --not too fast and not too slow --a perfect pacing for a series like this that really only can exist in Sunday, and for now probably will, as it's sales have been some of the best in the magazine --for good reason! I may not talk about it since the series is translated by a fine group online, but it is a warm, gentle read despite it being a short series without any real plot. Don't misunderstand, these aren't knocks against it, no, these are it's strengths that it plays beautifully into. 

When we left Xeno last week, the mystery of Kai's death had been apparently solved when the oldest of his three adoptive daughters admitted to the deed. All's well that ends well right? It'd seem that way, but there's a little hitch to this. Riku has confessed to the crime, but not without adding that she intends to kill everyone in the house. So much for having a peaceful ending to this case! 

The police order everyone to stay away from the building, but for the officers still inside --along with Ayla and Xeno, leaving is easier said than done. Riku's somehow gotten control of the magnets inside of the house and turned them up to very deadly levels.  Ayla checks on Xeno who's completely unfazed by what's going on around him, instead concentrating on how interesting he finds the entire situation until Ayla smacks him. 

Ayla asks if he has a human heart? Sure he might be a big shot detective, but doesn't he fear being hurt or dying? If he's really interested in regaining his memories, he should help her save everyone! She says....Ayla's still an interesting one I'd like to find out way more about in this series. She's bad at lying, and ostensibly being an assassin, yet here she is in the middle of all this. Ironically enough she also seems to have a better moral compass than the "good guy" Xeno, so I really want her story sooner rather than later. Speaking of him, Xeno seems to take being slapped quite badly, and Ayla thinks it's all over for her ---after all he knows she's an assassin, so all he has to do is drop this knowlege on the cops and it's curtains for her, but to her surprise Xeno stands and sets out to do what she ask--er, commanded and help everyone. 

He steps out and proclaims to Riku Kai that she is not her adoptive father's killer, and he can see right through her. He knows that she's covering up for her younger sisters reaction to her lies --and that the true killer in this case is actually the youngest of the three daughters, Sora. Xeno came to this conclusion through a video tape of the daughters offering Ayla tea, citing that 3'oclock is tea time, but Sora's watch was about five minutes too fast. 

The clocks in the manor have been screwed up thanks to magnetism, but Sora's watch being a quartz isn't the same as this so unless she was nearby the magnets it shouldn't have any effect, which means she would have to have been in the room closest to the magnets --this is the proof that she was in fact in the room with Kai! Unfortunately for all his bluster, Xeno made the mistake of announcing he has proof of a crime to the culprit, and Riku takes him up on this and prepares to eliminate him. When the cops open fire on the magnets in a hope to save Xeno, they burst open a nearby coolant device, which chills the air around them, rendering the magnets useless. As everyone rushes to the hidden room to find Riku, she pens her defeat and why this whole case happened to begin with --and it all has to do with Kai revealing to the girls that one of his "adoptive" daughters is in fact blood related to him. 

Kai claims it is Sora who is his true daughter, and the only one deserving of his love, and oddly within her eyes, one reflected that this is the "truth" while the other showed that it is a "lie" and Sora in order to protect herself killed her father. I'm not sure what the implication of "love" was here, but it's suggested it was something rather twisted, as Riku swore from that moment on that she would protect her youngest adoptive sister even if she had to bear the brunt from the entire world. 

By the time the police are able to find Riku, she has already passed away due to being in the secret room by the magnets --she died from exposure. 

Even after this tragedy, it's not over --audio of Kai congratulating Xeno for solving the case, as well as an invitation to challenge his first "Locked Room murder". So even when dead, Kai serves as the puppet master of this case, and according to the text at the end of the chapter, the truth will be revealed. I'm on the hook for another Xeno, and I can't say I necessarily dislike this, as the series seems to be only getting more intriguing. 

If Xeno's too serious for your liking, how about mystery with a slightly more comedic bent (hold the mystery) with Hanzawa-san? Chapter two of the special serial continues the misadventures of the shadowy figure often seen in the Detective Conan manga! This time Hanzawa is looking for housing to start their brand new life, in the city with the highest crime rate in the world. Pretty much this chapter is about how all of Hanzawa's ambitions could be seen as extremely murderous, simply because of their appearance. Unfortunately for Hanzawa, they don't have a lot of money to splurge on a house, so they've gotta look for cheap places to live which only looks even more suspicious. Still, they find a pretty decently sized room for a good price so all should be great right? No, no, Hanzawa gets to thinking that this all too good to be true, and that's where the problems start. 

Luckily it seems all of Hanzawa's misgivings are allayed when they see the place and it's not an apartment but a mansion! (Keep in mind that in Japan a "mansion" is more like a "Condo" than an actual manor with butlers and the such.) One thing I have to note with Kanbo's style is that she manages to capture Aoyama's early Conan artwork pretty wonderfully. Like, she could have gotten away with the artwork being super exaggerated (And sometimes she does just that), but the adherence here to Aoyama's actual artwork is pretty good, and actually accentuates the humor. In any case, Hanzawa finds all of this suspicious --how could they get such a nice apartment for so cheap? I love how Hanzawa threateningly takes off their scarf as they ask these questions, and the old guy  continues to say that it's all quite normal for Beika, and for one very good reason...

This specific property has quite the past attached to it, as levers people have died here....and then the splash page with several cases from Conan taking place in this very same apartment building...ah, Kanbo your sense of humor is savage, moreso than some of the murders in Conan itself. It's normal for this place to be so cheap because it's the site of horrific crimes! 

Hanzawa is frightened of this new place, but can a beggar be a chooser? Apparently they can, as Hanzawa asks to see other rooms in the building, but each one of them have increasingly horrible backstories from a room with a bath where a mother and daughter died, to another room where a double murder took place...finally Hanzawa has to ask specifically if there are any rooms without..."histories", and the reaction of the real estate agent. (Subdued shock) says more than enough, hah. On the top right page, the huge books on the shelf are properties where deaths and other accidents happened, while the smallest one on the end contains places that are "clean" so to speak. Yikes. 

The prices for those are pretty ridiculous, and that's when the real estate agent asks if he's underestimating (or Overestimating?) Beika city. He says in the last 20 years there have been bombings, killings, and other horrible things happening because of a certain Shinigami (Grim Reaper)'s appearance. (Right page bottom-most panel) Wait a second ---20 years? Isn't that around the time Conan's serialization started....naaaah, that has no relation, it can't. The agent says if Hanzawa can't hack it, they'd better go back to the boonies where they came from. 

Hack it? Don't mind if Hanzawa does! If he can't cut the prices, then Hanzawa will just have no choice but to cut him. Like the first chapter, the criminal shadow acts out what it'd like to do in it's head with a sinister smile, but in the end... 

Hanzawa asks to have a little time to think about making a decision instead. Kanbo's savage sense of humor combined with the true-to-form Conan art makes this a must read for Conan fans and people who just want a laugh! I think I'll purchase the first volume, because these two chapters previewed in WSS have been hilarious more often than not. Like the premise alone is great enough, but the (well natured) pot shots at the Conan canon are icing on a very deadly cake, and I'm willing to risk a few criminally sinful calories to read more. I can only hope that one day this will be out in English so more people can read it as well! 

We're cooling down and looking to warm up all around the world(?) and it seems Daiku no hatou is the one bringing the summer heat. I find it intriguing the series is getting a color page for a new volume when it's sales seem to indicate that fans are less than excited for it. (Heck, I wasn't even able to find a cover for this month's covering Sunday....) This tells me --along with the slower pace of the series that Shougakukan has decided to allow it to stick around as a sort of stabilizing agent while they see how the new serials do in the magazine, sort of like what's going on with Saike, except Saike still sells better than Daiku. Though definitely compared to the likes of Meteor Girl and Quadrable which are more or less out the door, Daiku is being given a leisurely push if any at all. Anyway, Minato is on the beach participating in his class exercises despite being a poor swimmer, and putting a fair amount of gusto into his actions. He seems to be doing well enough until the upperclassmen warn him and his class that the "last boss" is coming. I like the comparison that the first three years of class in the school are considered "human" while the fourth year is considered "Gods among men". Though by the end of the chapter, the person they're introduced to seems...less than Godly. Still, for the time being Daiku is riding the waves, so it should be interesting to see how far from shore it can get without sinking. 

Souboutei is all about the action this week as Seiichi comes in and saves Kaerikuro from her precarious predicament, in a way that only flashy shounen like this series can provide. Even in exposition chapters Fujita lets his art do the talking, so can one imagine what'll happen if he comes in swinging without text to get in his way? We get stuff like the above page in all of it's harmonious discord. 

There's really not much for me to say as Seiichi goes to town on the creatures lurking in the Souboutei, the very same ones that were giving Kaerikuro a run for her money a few weeks before. Zanka orders her to look after Takoha, but the other men aren't about to give her that much free reign, so the commander has to step in to discipline the men he once commanded. 

They have a laugh at him that he'd dare think he could possibly oppose them in the house that gives them power, but Zanka doesn't back down, instead calling them fools and rushing right at them with bravado, taking on several when he himself is injured and alone. 

This is just plain crazy, but I love Fujita for it. Being a magazine vet comes with perks like these where violence is allowed and one has the bravado/experience to make it look this good. 

Seiichi and Zanka finish taking out the trash, but Kaerikuro has bad news for them --she can't revive Takoha, meaning that his life might just be over despite their overwhelming victory. The side text suggests the reason for this is something beyond their expectations, but this isn't written by Fujita himself, so what is actually happening is completely up in the air until the next issue. 

Perry's lost his bodyguard, but as this chapter of Shinobi no opens, he's actually rather overjoyed --to meet a warrior of Pops's caliber. Unfortunately while Perry heaps on the praise, Pops who doesn't understand a word of English just finds him long winded, heh. Perry likes how guys like Pops don't turn away from their mission no matter what happens --warriors who put their lives on the line to accomplish big things. 

Sen shows up at this moment stating his intention of preventing Pops from assassinating Perry...he has this responsibility as the person who brought Pops aboard to begin with. He might be Japanese by birth, but right now he is an American sailor. Pops chides him, saying that he doesn't have the guts to kill someone, so he shouldn't push himself. Perry realizes quickly that Sen can act as a translator, and has him convey to Pops that he wants a final battle to the death. Say what? 

Meanwhile Abe is watching the ships with great interest back in Edo Castle, all while keeping the Shogun Ieyoshi company. Tokugawa Ieyoshi was the 12th Shogun of Japan, though in Shinobi no it looks like he's about ready to step off the throne. Abe likens him to the decrepit state of the country and invites the old shogun to rejoice as he's going to be the last shogun Edo will ever have once Perry and his guys run through the country. 

Sen explains the situation To Pops --their last battle has a time limit it on it. Pops(or Perry) has to finish this battle before Abbot --Perry's right hand man gives the command to open fire on Edo. If he --Pops can win before that, Edo avoids going to war. However, if Perry wins then Edo turns into a sea of flames. Pops asks if Sen has misunderstood why he's here? He's a Shinobi, not some kind of warrior --his job is to come in and assassinate Perry, and that's all there is to it.

Pops tells Sen to scram as he's going to fulfill his duty. If he stays any longer then he'll be lost to the darkness....whatever that means. Sen wonders if completing this mission is really for the best? Or perhaps they might be worse off for it? Either way Edo's future is in the balance, and there doesn't seem to be a clear answer. While this is going on, Abbot gives orders to the men as Perry instructed, and it seems all is going to plan until Abbot goes to retrieve the commodore, and finds instead a room filled with smoke, and...

This is probably the most striking page in the magazine this week. I don't know how Ogaki manages to keep drawing at this level for a weekly release but he's pulling it off and with gutso. Look at the sense of dramatic lighting on both Perry and the object sitting before well as the flag sticking out of him --it almost seems as if it's fluttering in the quiet wind indicating a life snuffed out. Though now what? Pops and Sen are nowhere to be found, and Abbot has given the order to raze Edo. Although the final boss(?) has been defeated there are still so many more thrills and questions to be answered in Shinobi no. I'm constantly astounded by the artwork and pacing in this series, and hope Ogaki can keep delivering on both fronts. 

To my surprise, Maoujo seems to be bringing it's A-game to it's seeming plot like developments?! The monsters manage to fool the queen by bringing the very similar looking Succubus (Remember her from a few chapters back) into play and to the demon king's surprise the queen falls for this hook line and sinker thinking that the demon is her actual daughter. (The dialog after this works is so good. "Of course parents like these would give birth to a daughter like that." The monsters want to run while the coast is clear, but the princess doesn't want to leave her body double behind and acts surprisingly noble in her pursuit to get the succubus back. Meanwhile the royal knights are assembling, their ire against the demons growing. While the princess continues to slowly forget why she came to the castle (to get her things and return back to being the demons captive) the knights have discovered that there's an intruder in the castle, and band together to track them down. Things are going from bad to worse for the hapless monsters, though for the series itself the outlook is quite rosy --the series is releasing a new volume January 18th, and getting a reprint of older volumes as well, which is an excellent sign! Though returning to the chapter itself, I'm a bit surprised that the Queen barely appeared this week outside of finding the succubus and thinking it's her child. Hmm, of course this seems to be building up into an arc of sorts so maybe she'll be back later.

Birdmen takes a surprising (for me, anyway) turn in almost exclusively focusing on a girl in Africa over the Japanese protagonists this month --not only that, but the pacing for the chapter allows for plenty of time for us to get to know her from her older sibling(?) asking her to watch out for her Grandmother, to the legend of the bat men coming out at night. I like the idea that Bird-people come in different shapes and forms in regard to legends --makes the series seem that much more realistic as different perspectives bring up different responses to urban myths. 

I also just truly enjoy how much this chapter doesn't need text to convey a story. This is about Maraika and her daily life. Tanabe's art tells us all we need to know about her. It also helps that her design is unique and very cute as well! This almost feels like a brand new serialization despite being the 55th chapter of this series, and I like that fresh feeling of new experiences, but with the foreboding mystery of a series currently being serialized. It's like getting the best of both worlds!

Of course it can't all be about having fun with Maraika --not with the Birdmen around. One other thing I like is how this entire story takes place on a worldwide scale. Often in shounen manga the scope is limited to the immediate surroundings of the protagonists whether they be Japanese or otherwise. I understand why that is --the demographic probably finds it much easier to relate to characters of the same background as them, but Tanabe taking on this challenge is appreciated. In any case, Maraika runs into Birdpeople saving one of their own, and they ask her if she'd like to become an "angel" like them. 

The little girl is invited into the league of the Birdpeople of this region, which leads to the question of how does one become one of these so-called do gooders? I remember reading a little bit about this way back when the series started, but my memory is hazy. Though if I'm correct, this might be bad news for Maraika who enthusiastically asks if she can really become one of them. This was a way enjoyable session of Birdmen just because it felt so fresh --not that the series has been a rotten egg of late or anything, but it's much easier to jump in during new arcs like this. 

It's another case of me feeling really guilty I wasn't able to really get into the series as it comes to an end, as I have no idea what's going on in Hiiragi-sama's finale. I read the series a little bit when it started, but since I had no idea I'd be doing something as ambitious as this blog back then, I really didn't internalize the information I was seeing in time enough to really talk much about the series other than one off chapter way back. It's even worse when Nishimori is considered one of the pillars of sunday and I know next to nothing about his works either....this is definetly something I want to do more about should he return to the pages of Sunday yet again. I can say this much, it is a bittersweet ending as the main character Keijiro apparently dies in the arms of Hiiragi the heroine in the end --though his last words to her are to find someone to love even if she is reborn. Ahh, how this might be more moving if I knew more about the series --admittedly I didn't think it was more than just a supernatural comedy, so for Nishimori to take it down this route in the end is a bit of a surprise that might have been telegraphed if I were reading this.  

Hiiragi chooses to believe that she and Keijirou will meet again, and will continue to believe, enjoy herself and have fun until that day should come. I'm happy at least Nishimori gave us a beautiful backdrop on the very last panel as seen above. It's weird to think that right after Takahashi --another vet takes her leave, he's going too, and Aoyama is on break for the forseeable future leaving Shiina as one veteran actively in the mag now (although Zettai Karen Children didn't appear in this particular issue.) For those of you who were reading Hiiragi, no need to fret, the last two volumes come out in Feburary and March respectively, and then on Valentines day the series will return with a special one-time- chapter, which I will try to bring to you the best I can. I apologize I wasn't able to give your work the fair share it deserved Nishimori-sensei, but appreciate your work nonetheless. 

The Quadrable keeps marching on in this seemingly final battle against their former instructor, though the battle to return Miguel to his senses came with a high price tag --Mancio's life now hangs in the balance after bringing Miguel back leaving the former in a guilty stasis as the situation only gets worse --a dark version of himself has now been born from the dregs of Miguel's dark emotions and blood, and this thing is powerful enough to take out their former instructor without batting an eyelash. The battle up until now had seemed unwinnable against him, but now they've gotta face something even stronger?! Not only that this creature has Mancio in it's sights and won't stop until it's killed him. 

However, Miguel isn't about to let a dark version of himself lay a finger on his friends. A tall order as "Dark" Miguel has all the same techniques his light half has just stronger and faster. Still, Miguel isn't going to back down from this challenge against himself --a battle that Mancio manages to recover enough conciousness to cheer him on in. The stage has been set for a finale of sorts, and Arai is streamlining things to head straight to it. His art as you can see from the pages above is still a treat even in the late stages of this battle. I'm looking forward to Miguel vs. Miguel in the next issue! 

Chihiro the seeming villian of Meteor Girl asks why Tetto and Hane have come --it's not like they can actually kill her, right? This isn't a question of hubris, or maybe it is, but not completely. Tetto's never taken a life, and he's still got some residual feelings toward Chihiro even as he steels himself to take  her life. Oddly enough Chihiro asks Hane to leave the room so that she and Tetto can have a bit of alone time --citing that she'll kill her if she refuses. Hane replies she's here of her own free will and will stay as such. This provokes Chihiro into attacking and with her heightened reflexes, Tetto is unable to land a hit on her as she targets Hane. 

Tetto gets a hit in on Chihiro who promises to liberate him from his suffering. Tetto asks her angrily what her intentions are by killing people, what can she possibly gain from hurting so many --including herself? 

Chihiro says it's because no one accepts her other than Meteor Girls, yet they're treated as nuisances by people at best, and monsters at worse. It's as if people have completely betrayed her --betrayed them. Aren't they the ones who wanted the girls to come back to life? So how could they treat them like this? Right now with no one to love her or for her to love she's at the bottom of her existence. While Hane does pity her situation, that doesn't make it right to kill others --she's merely a sad existence who can only lash out at others who have what she wants, and that's not something Chihiro wants to hear from someone who doesn't understand her pain. 

Chihiro refers to Hane as "human" here --which threw me for a loop, I thought by now it had been established Hane was a meteor girl, but I guess not? To be fair, Ishiyama has never really directly addressed what she is other than being unique in some way, so maybe I just assumed something that wasn't correct? The jig is up for the two though, as Chihiro manages to grab the gun Tetto was packing, and proclaims this the end of their running about. Tetto steps in to save Hane from Chihiro, and begs her to take over their mission to kill Chihiro after his death --if she's to die then there's no way for them to stop the Meteor Girls after all.  

To their surprise (and mine) when Chihiro discharges the gun, it explodes. Hane takes the brunt of the blast to save Tetto, and while he's okay, she's looking rather bad off, and it's here that she's revealed to also be a Meteor Girl ---so there's the official reveal, I suppose. I guess wearing that hood was to hide the damage on her head? Hmm. Also I have to say the art of the final panel is some of the best Ishiyama has offered in the series. Heck, this whole chapter was well paneled and drawn. It's a shame Meteor girl has to be the sacrificial lamb for Ishiyama to grow as an artist, but I believe it's well worth it for the experience. I flipped through old issues of the magazine and there's a marked difference between now and then. I just hope that when the meteor falls it's a landing Ishiyama can walk away from and perhaps start another serial. 

Kuro's back again this week in Youkai Giga, and there really isn't too much I can comment on in this chapter as the pictures really do tell most of the story. Kuro reflects on how his master was all alone in his youth, and how it was a creation of that mind deluged in solitude, and now how he's managed to find a heart to connect to, all while trying to make heads or tails of the new house --I guess the move is something it'll have to get used to as well. In any case Kuro keeps a steady guard outside as his master and Makoto spend intimate time together --it's as the side text says at the end there "It's one of those sorts of nights, isn't it?" 

And that's it for Issue 5/6! After another week off, Sunday goes back to Tuesday releases, which means my vacation of sorts is over. Still I enjoy what I do so I can't complain too much! For Issue 7, we'll get a lead color page from Dagashikashi (which will also grace the cover) for it's new anime starting it's broadcast, color pages for Xeno and Tenshi & Akuto which celebrate's it's third year of serialization, and the third chapter of Marry Grave! It'll be out around the 10th of the month, so until then, enjoy what's left of 2017 and I'll see you again in 2018! Thank you for a years worth of follows and interaction!! I hope we can continue to bond over Shounen Sunday in 2018 too!