Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Weekly Shounen Sunday #31

This week was less of a day, so lets get our day of the Sun on! That made more sense in my head, trust me.  But yes, I've managed to get WSS on time this week, and that means one very important thing....the blog is safe! (For now.)

Magi adorns the cover this week along with it's three leads. It's unfortunate despite being the host of this blog that I haven't actually read this series in a few years. At this point it might be easier for me to just wait for it to end as the final arc has been advertised --despide that simply meaning in shounen language that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm sure the editors at Shougakukan don't want to let one of their more successful series go --especially after having to do so several times in a row.

In what seems to be an almost weekly segment, here's our installment of "Conan things that unless you're in Japan you can't enjoy". This time around it's a Conan cafe starting in July and ending in September....

Along with an art gallery going down from July 5th to October 9th. If you're gonna be in Japan in July, and love Conan then perhaps you could drop a brother a line or two? I'd love to report on it in the blog!

First up is one of the few manga that's in season -- Aozakura! Our cadets are all enjoying their summer vacations in various ways. Let's check in on 'em, shall we? 

I've said this several times, but I think it's awesome that Nikaido is keeping up the tan for these characters several weeks in. It gives them --especially the girl --Otome. Actually their character descriptions Sakaki (the dude/no relation to me) and Otome reveal they're related and...respectively have a sister complex and a brother one. The things you learn when you read...anyway the brother and sister are having a conversation similar to the one Kondo had with his superior a few weeks ago --is she ready for the path she's walking upon? When she confirms she is, her brother seems fine with that --but then seems curious as to what Kondo's secret training is....with an aura that could possibly kill.

Meanwhile we get a bit of a running gag here where the big guy here is seen walking with a girl who's face is continuously censored by random objects leaving Toujou who's following them to assume that the girl look similar to the guy as pictured in the left page. Meanwhile Okita runs into Kondo's childhood friend and makes the cliched mistake of calling her his girlfriend which she immediately takes offense with. He sort of implies that he and Kondo are good friends and she brings him home with her much to Kondo's chagrin. (Guess they aren't that close after all.)

They see fit to feed Okita at the very least. (Though Kondo wants to charge him which his friend immediately denies.) Meanwhile Sakaki (no relation) has written a text to the rest of the platoon letting them know that hellish training starts tomorrow. Good luck guys. 

Major 2nd slides into 2nd base --or well, it's 2nd year and 100th chapter with a color page that practically looks anime ready. I'm sure it'll get one eventually with the sales it's getting. A shame this isn't translating to overseas popularity...

It's been a while since I've covered this on the blog --admittedly because I don't find sports in general very interesting, but I will say I like this mixed gender team the series has going on at the moment. Unfortunately they don't have much time to get ready as they're going to make their debut in a game in a mere two weeks. You know what they say though, when the going gets tough, the tough get going! The practice begins and everyone is determined to strut their stuff. 

Ah apparently since the last time I read the series, a new character Anita Kabashima has joined the cast. She's only partially Japanese as her name suggests, and apparently is from the Kansai area judging from her accent. She's the ambitious sort, saying that she's not in this to play games but to aim for the top. Daigo's satisfied with taking things slow, so it'll be interesting to see how their differing ambitions clash. 

Looks like we get to see that a little sooner than I thought. Anita is setting up the team the way she sees fit, despite Daigo being the team captain. Here he's reminding her of that fact. It seems a confrontation is likely, but how will things end? We'll have to see...

If Major 2nd is making the pitch, then Meteor Girl is the fly ball that got away --or in my case can't seem to stay away since every week when I think I won't report about it, I end up doing just that. I'm not sure if the series is legitimately compelling or just very good at stringing me along..(maybe both?) but here I am. Anyway we start things off with Ryoko reminiscing about times with her older sister and how clingy she could be. When her sister calls her out on it, they end up having a fight and not talking...right up to her older sister's apparent death, though the narrative itself seems to imply she simply disappeared one day. I might be assuming things but considering what we know, it might be a safe bet to assume that she didn't survive whatever happened to her.

Is what I'd like to say but here's the older sister not looking older at all. Due to the way Japanese works, we only know her as "Oneechan", though the very convenient text on the sides of the pages (something that seems exclusive to Sunday --at least I don't see it done in Jump), reveals her name is Sachi Koyama, and her sister Ryoko. --Though the text has a question mark beside her name and description. That being said this stuff is written by the editorial department and not the author themselves, but I think we can assume the name at the very least is the real deal. 

In any case, Sachi seems to remember her not quite little anymore sister, and Ryoko is determined to save her from the men in black that threaten to take her away. Of course it wouldn't be very thrilling if it were easy would it? Poor Tetto though, he's just kind of going along for the ride and gets a head injury for his troubles. 

The guys try to escape but they don't get far --though it's not clear exactly what happened --but I'm assuming she stopped them and hops out the car. The sisters have a tearful reunion, Ryoko apologizing for being such a bother to her older sister, and Sachi apologizing for being so mean to her. 

The sisters then say they love each other, and well, me too Tetto, me too. Ishiyama has this way of panel set up that's easy on the eyes and conveys a lot of information without being too busy. I especially love the closeup to Ryoko's eye, and the seemingly empty panel with a simple "whistle" sfx. It's a precursor to something else happening and...

The men in black aren't quite done yet, and target the two sisters using a space age looking weapon of sorts. Tetto manages to get the gun from them, and blufs his way into threatening to use it while Sachi and Ryoko run --admittedly not sure of where they're going to go. 

The pursuit becomes more dire and Sachi tells her sister that she's done more than enough and should leave her behind. Ryoko has grown up and says that this time around she wants to be the one to do something for her sister. Unfortunately the men in black catch up with them and don't hesitate to use their ray guns. Ishiyama's focus on eyes is really interesting and unique --especially on the bottom right page. There's something not-manga-esque about that panel --it looks more like pop art of a kind which is really appealing to me. 

Tetto is wandering around --apparently there's been a power outage in the surrounding area, and he's positive he won't see the sisters again, that is until Ryoko appears again in tears but this time understandably so --the men in black were able to make off with Sachi, leaving her with just a noticeably mechanical arm. Ishiyama's really got the chops for horror manga --I mean look at the composition and detail of the chapter's final page. Though honestly as horrific as it looks, there's something heartbreaking about Ryoko's expression too --even if one only saw the final page, that'd be compelling enough to find out what happened. I guess I'm on the hook for Meteor Girl next week too, but maybe that's not a bad thing? 

Looking dapper in a suit is Evans --making a rare(?) two chapter debut this week! (Although Komi does two chapters regularly --including this week, I've never seen a regular-ish sized series do it except when they're trying to push it out of the magazine, and it doesn't seem like Evans is doing poorly.) Either way, double the Evans means I've got my work cut out for me, so let's not dawdle.

The chapter begins with a short detail of the legend of Evans --a gunman with no equal. I know I stated it before that I wonder just how good Evans is, and well it seems he really is deserving of his title! So much so that he's received a letter challenging him to a duel! His assistant, Ted asks if he's going to do the thing, and Evans as cool(?) as ever, says that his authority as a man of the law isn't to be used to fight with amateurs, however the guy who sent the letter appears in his office and accuses him of just being scared. 

Evans completely ignores this challenge and focuses in on what's most important --who's the chick on this dude's shoulder? Though --the dude, Matthew James, is slighted by Evan's general disinterest in him. He asks who he is (though this is actually directed to the girl.) though on futher thought, Evans figures anyone who'd hang out with a flighty guy like that isn't worth his time  (though he is actually mad jealous, hah.) He rebuffs Matt again, but Matt points out that while he might think he can walk away from this, will the people of the town be able to think of him the same way? 

Evans might have been fine with men disliking him --hey, it's part of his job description, but Matt actually gathered a bunch of ladies who scorn Evans for not taking him down. Not only that, he reveals he's actually a wanted man, so now Evans can't turn down this bout. There's no other way around it now --Evans will have to teach this guy what defeat tastes like. 

Wait, uh...I was thinking it'd be a chapter or three? We've still got another one this week, Matt. You wen't down far too easily! Though I do like the Oda (not that one) -esque storyboarding here. It actually enhances the joke since it seems like everyone's just kind of awkwardly paused here after seeing this hyped bout just sputter out. 

Evans figures he'll be a nice guy and let Matt off with a warning. --After all he's a criminal from another town so he has no reason to haul him in. Unfortunately this has the opposite effect on the ladies he was hoping to impress --they think he's an arrogant jerk, and cheer Matt on when he proclaims that the next fight he's in will result in a victory. Poor Evans won the match but lost in every other aspect, which is what he comments on as chapter one of two comes to an end. 

It just wouldn't be Evans if Pheebs didn't appear, and that she does in the second part of the two chapter blitz. Pheebs is a bounty hunter, and where's a better place to get info than from a lawman like Evans? Of course that's not the only reason why she's there, but you'd have better luck getting a horse to water and making him drink than for them to admit their feelings to each other. 

Ted and Evans reveal that they had a run in with Matt just a bit earlier, and Pheebs surprises them by revealing she knows him. 

A year ago, Pheebs was hot on Matt's trail, but he managed to get away. For once she's secretive not because she likes Evans, but because her pride won't allow her to tell him that she actually slipped up and let a quarry go, so she's very vague as to what her relationship is with Matt --which Evans completely misunderstands to be that they had that kind of run-in. Pheebs asks Evans if he had a duel with Matt --and how that went down.

"Pride goeth before the fall". Evans tells her the truth --he wasn't really anything much, which Pheebs equates with her not being much because she wasn't able to take him down. She then wonders aloud --in an effort to save her pride if maybe Matt didn't take Evans seriously? Which Evans misunderstands as some sort of guilt complex towards him? Evans wants more particulars but is too prideful to ask --luckily Ted is there and doesn't mind being blunt. 

Pheebs deflects this by saying that she has done things in the past she doesn't like talking about, which...yeah that's super duper vague. Evan's dad checks in and says that a man doesn't question a woman's past if she doesn't want to talk about it --especially not about past boyfriends and the such. Evans drops the subject but advises Pheebs eventually deal with her past --by which he means forget about it, but she assumes he doesn't know anything and agrees. It's at this moment that he gets another challenge from Matt, and hoping to reclaim the pride that Pheebs didn't lose in the first place, he goes in ready for revenge. 

When Evans asks about his relationship to Pheebs, Matt says he doesn't know who she is --which is fair, she was pursuing him as a mark. Unfortunately this pisses Evans off enough that he slugs the dude and eschews the proper conduct for duels completely which catches Matt off guard. Gotta say, this new dynamic with Matt could be the start of something interesting. Kuriyama's managed to keep Evans a lot of fun and I'm glad for it. Next time implies some wardrobe malfunctions will occur, so if you're into that don't miss the next blogpost! 

Next up is Komi-san. While she might have gotten her looks from her Mom, she got her shyness from her Dad. It is really cute how they communicate in this first page --Komi wants to go shopping but isn't sure how to bring it up --but Dad who's of the same taciturn nature knows what's up immediately and gives his daughter the cash she needs. 

Oda style storyboarding going on here --as Komi wants to buy some sweet potato but isn't sure how to say this without speaking. It eventually turns into a game of stop and go between her and the driver of the sales car, until eventually he sort of catches on to what she wants. He opens up the stall and Komi happily buys five sweet potatoes--way too many for her to eat alone!

What's a girl to do? For the end of this week's first chapter, we don't know, but seeing her merrily head home is more heart warming than those sweet potatoes wrapped up fresh from the oven. 

In part two, Tadano is chilling in his room when the sudden realization that the entire school saw him dressed as a girl at the culture fest (which I did cover) hits him. 

He remembers being able to interact with Komi back then, and wonders if she had something to say to him --or if he should have said something to her, but waves this off --as his little sister (who I didn't know existed until now) watches him get flustered as he wonders just how Komi feels about him. She's pretty, smart and --way out of his league right? Tadano decides to head out to clear his head, and his sister asks if he's off to buy porn --which he denies. Gotta love the precocious little sister type. 

More Oda (not that one) storyboarding. I really like shounen manga that say more with paneling and layout than with words, honestly. The left page conveys as sense of restlessness and familiarity with Tadano from different angles --a restlessness that only grows when he runs into Komi fresh from her shopping trip in the previous chapter. 

Tadano considers doing the impossible --maybe asking Komi to hang out with him over the upcoming winter break --but then chickens out at the last minute by saying he'd only do so as a friend, and nothing else. While I get it, nothing ventured, nothing gained Tadano-kun! The right page is linked mainly for Komi tugging on Tadano's sleeve as she offers him one of the treats she bought. 

And this page just because again --so much is conveyed with out words. He asks if she'll hang out with him during Winter break, and with a nod (the sfx indicates this) Komi agrees. It's out of season, but it still warms my heart in summer to see this pure interaction. 

Flapping in for it's monthly visit is Birdmen! I really oughtta do more work to actually catch up with this series so I can talk about it on a narrative level, as with the way things are now I don't really know what's going on. In any case it picked up a color page for it's 10th volume which is now out in stores! I do really wish an English version that people could buy existed cause it's really a crime Tanabe's work is being shafted like this. Maybe if it gets an anime...

Horizontal text means that the characters are speaking in a language other than Japanese usually --I guess we can assume it's English? The imagery in the right page on the bottom is accompanied by the text that a new world will be born from angel like wings swallowing the old world whole and being born anew. I just love how cool that looks the world itself is an egg --as well as the overhead set up of the left page. Tanabe's strong character designs really pop with her good choices in panel set up and approach. 

I do know that they've been gathering members for their group with different distinct abilities --and here we meet Pierre Kaiyu (I'm not sure I'm spelling that right, so forgive me) who's supposed to be the group healer despite his young age --11. He's got an inflated sense of self, but hey when you're the one in charge of ensuring others don't die, I guess it's deserved? 

If you didn't spy it above, the chapter title is "World Wide Nightmare" and we do get a look at different locales as the Birdmen continue to gather. That top left page has a dynamic sense of lighting that's gorgeous --though the right page is no slouch either. 

Some more interesting panel choices, especially the bottom one on the left page, as this lady here says that everyone who lives without noticing everything should die, and that everyone should see the same nightmare. Ah, I feel so guilty that I too am one of the people she's talking about --I don't know what's going on either, but I don't have time to read the entire series from the start! 

It seems the next member of their party is going to be one who has the ability to turn dreams into reality?! That's a heck of an ability if true. We'll have to find out in the next monthly visit of Birdmen, though --I can't promise it, but I do hope that by then I would have read a little bit more of the series!

Sounding off next is Tenshi and Akuto with a profile of the "bitter girl" Cocoa Kurono --a girl who fights enemies to become stronger and has a dangerous air about her according to the text box there. Hirakawa is doing the anime-in-manga thing with a sense of importance that I personally like --the Sugar girl anime has it's own story and isn't just a means to an end in the series --like if she wanted to she could just draw a manga about it. Of course Akuto wouldn't let himself be upstaged by some magical girls, so lets get to him.

Tamaki --a voice acting vet who's in charge of playing the last boss of the anime exudes a veteran like air as she prepares to leave after recording for the day. When asked by the producer how she felt about the others acting, she condescendingly asks "Oh, they were acting?" in the sense that what they were doing wasn't barely worth noting. The other cast members are simultaneously awed and dismayed --she's too good to be in an anime like this, right? Akuto simply says they're dead me--women walking, and he's on a level above them. He's certainly got confidence --baseless or otherwise. 

However he's not all spice and no nice --if someone like that granny (his words, not mine) is on an anime like this, then they have no choice but to exceed their limits to meet her and make Sugar Girl an amazing production. To that end, he suggests that they lodge together and have a training camp. Of course for various reasons the girls all object to this --from the scandals that would come about from a girl living with a guy, to Akuto being downright scummy, to it being a despised harem with him as the protagonist. Akuto defers to them and says they can practice after karaoke then, if they're so inclined. 

Akuto senses that Subaru has some hidden talent beneath her clumsy exterior --something that he can possibly bring out of her with a bit of concentration and practice. She might just be the key to nailing a performance that Tamaki will have to acknowledge! 

To that end, Akuto does something extremely uncharacteristic --he offers her the lead role in the next recording session! For someone as haughty as him to defer to her must mean something major --but what exactly? We'll find out if I'm able to cover it next week in the next writeup! 

Bringing down the house was the goal of this manga so after a nitrogen explosion, things should be over now right? Well, the smoke is still in the air and no one has come out alive so the question now is did they really win? And if they did, at what cost? 

Takoha and Frol make their way up the stairs of the now dilapidated house --and Frol to her own surprise is still alive. Frol is too weak to use her ability to speak directly to Takoha, but he tries his best to explain what happened and thank her for saving their lives. There's a lot he's not sure of either, but escaping should be their first priority for now. 

I've said a bit about how art without dialog is something I enjoy, but in deference to that, I will say here that Takoha sort of rambling on about how he's not sure if they've died and ended up in hell --though that can't be right because they wouldn't be going "up" stairs if that were the case gives a certain believability to his character. He does seem like the sort of gregarious guy who'd just talk without really thinking about what he's saying.  Frol says --in Swedish I assume, that she can walk and while he doesn't seem to understand her he does say that they're almost to the sun --something he's sure she wants to see. 

Rokuro and Takoha are reunited! I hadn't realized that it's been a good 20 or so chapters since they've been on the same page together. Rokuro isn't even sure why or how Takoha ended up in the Souboutei. Man how time seems to slow down a lot when you read a series week to week! 

Rokuro wants to get help for Takoha immediately, but it seems that's not in the cards as Takoha suddenly stops moving, and again the big guy's dialog is really telling of his character. "Uh, seems like I can't quite join you over there". Cue the Souboutei reaching out and touching someone --or in this case restraining them. Seems the killer house isn't quite dead yet. 

Takoha's expression on the bottom of this panel is one of silent reservation --he knows the house isn't going to let him walk away scott free. He reveals that whatever is living there is weak to Nitrogen, however there's a river below it --the house that if left alone will allow it to spread it's evil around the world --leaving Rokuro with the fate of telling the adults around him what needs to be done. Something I found out recently is that Fujita revealed his inspirations for Souboutei are two novels --Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, and Hell House by Richard Burton Matheson. As revealed in this tweet. A bit off topic, but he said "Ushio and Tora" was inspired by the novel "The mage of the moon and sun" by Tanith Lee --I'm pretty sure that's the Japanese title of the book and not the English one but I can't find the original any case the house isn't dead and the souboutei-ing continues next week.

Mushibugyo picks up from last week's despair filled chapter with some great panel work and our crazed villain declaring war on the entirety of Japan for the sake of his twisted ideal of what "happiness" is. It might be the reptilian part of my brain talking, but full scale destruction in manga is fun to behold, especially when drawn with a water like quality that Fukuda favors --both the transformation of the land and the panel layout just seems to ebb into each other creating a sense of dissonant serenity. 

It continues here as these pillars rise --and the gooey quality of the villain's hand as he forms more destruction. I haven't said it before (I think?) But Fukuda's SFX font has always been a particular favorite of mine. It's kind of blocky and smaller than most, which keeps his unique art from being obscured. 

The destruction continues here as these pillars rise all around Japan --dig those Edo-era style clouds in the air, and some more of Fukuda's particular brand of SFX. 

Now it's on, as Jinbee and company rush to destroy their opponent before he can level the entirety of Japan. I'm a little concerned with how things are dragging out in this final fight, but that's just how it goes with shounen climaxes. They're slow burn affairs that take time to completely unfurl. Still, if Fukuda can keep things as well illustrated as this, I don't mind sitting a bit longer with the Bug magistrate office. 

Sadly Kuro isn't here this week, but I think we're getting used to Satou's tempo in this youkai story. This week's selection is of the Ubume --a female youkai ghost who implores upon passerby's to take her child and then disappear --the child becoming heavier and heavier until they crush the unsuspecting victim. 

The chapter begins with the narrator recalling the plight of a poor woman stuck with a child of a man who betrayed her and her feelings toward men in general --that they should suffer and die for leaving her to such a fate that us until she breaks the fourth wall and is like "To hell with that! I've got no time to be cursing men for a mistake I made!" A man appears --lost and looking for a place and being unable to find anyone to ask for directions. What's interesting is the woman seems to want him to leave so she doesn't have to kill....what could this mean?

The woman agrees to lead him to where he's asking, but this turns out to be a ruse --and the man intends to rob her of her child, after all it's her fault for not heeding the warnings of woman traveling alone at night. The woman seems distraught at first, but as you can see on the bottom panel she's actually quite relieved he's a scumbag, because....

There's a reason why legends endure --and maybe it's because there's a bit of truth to them. In any case, the guy is messily crushed as the woman wonders if there are any decent men anywhere in this world. At the very least the world's been rid of one not so decent one, at any rate, but still *wince*.

And that's it for this week's journey through Sunday! Next week reunites us with two favorites --Saike, and Silver Spoon! Saike will get a color page and Silver Spoon will be proudly on the cover. Also returning for his monthly visit is Yuugami, and the common theme between Saike and Silver Spoon seems to be...couples?! More on this exciting development next issue! Until then, take care!