Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Weekly Shounen Sunday #40

We're a little closer to the normal target date for the world's least timely magazine blog, but I'm still ahead of the curve for weekly Shounen Sunday! Starting this week, I'm going to change up the way I cover series, cause as much as I love writing the blog, man is it ever a lot of time to do so, and as much as the time I spend here would indicate otherwise, I'm actually a busy sorta person. Essentially I'll be shaving down the amount of pages I include with each review down to four per series --excluding the pillars of Saike (when it's running) Souboutei, Evans, Meteor Girl, Youkai Giga (though that's short and Shinobi no. Series with color pages will still get extra long treatment as well as one shots, but this way I can cover more manga in less time so I think it's beneficial for everyone!

And proudly for the first time ever in Shounen Sunday History, Shinichi and Ran grace the cover of the magazine! Now, keep in mind it's usually Conan who takes the cover --so don't let the little details deceive you as one truth prevails! Corniness aside, this pretty much confirms that Sunday and most of Japan consider Conan to be a totally different character from Shinichi which is an odd thing to consider as they are literally the same person, but I guess it makes sense in a weird way too? Hm.

Aand the TOC!

Tenshi & Akuto by Aya Hirakawa (Lead color page.)
Detective Conan by Gosho Aoyama (Cover)
Amano Megumi wa Suki Darake by Nekoguchi
Zettai Karen Children by Takashi Shiina
Dagashikashi by KOTOYAMA
Meteor Girl by Reach Ishiyama (Center color)
Major 2nd by Mitsuya Takeda
Aozakura Bouei Daigakkou Monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido
Komi-san wa Komyusho desu by Tomohito Oda
Magi by Shinobu Ohtaka
Souboutei Kowasubeshi by Kazuhiro Fujita
K.O.I King of Idol by Wakaki Tamaki
Be Blues! By Motoyuki Tanaka
Hatsukoi Zombi by Ryou Minenami
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san by Aiko Koyama
Shinobi no by Rokurou Ohgaki
Kyoukai no RINNE by Rumiko Takahashi
Tenshou no Quadrable by Takahiro Arai
Daiiku no Hatou by Michiteru Kusaba
Saike Matashitemo by Tsubasa Fukuchi
Hiiragi-sama Jibun wo Sagashiteru by Hiroyuki Nishi
Birdmen by Yellow Tanabe (Monthly)
Jojuu Senjin!! Mushibugyo by Hiroshi Fukuda
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou
Sunday Higaku kenkyushou by Yuuji Yokoyama.

Not in this issue are:

Maoujo de Oyasumi

Admittedly it's weeeird to see Zettai back in the lineup after what felt like an eternity being away. Not only that it's super high up, though that might just be because it's basically a new serial at this point. Meanwhile two series that haven't seen color pages in a while --Meteor girl and Akuto (though I guess to be fair, Akuto got one last week) have received a blessing this week, and as such are higher in the TOC than usual. Shinobi no is slipping down the charts, which is worrying since it's only just started, but the first volume is due out in October so hopefully the editorial staff won't be putting the last shinobi out to pasture just yet. I don't think Maoujo has been on break the whole time I've written this blog so that was weird to include at the bottom there, while it hurts me to get used to seeing RYOKO at the bottom...Mitsuhashi, I hope you're okay, and can get back to the series as soon as you're 100%...

This week's pinup is Madoka Yoshida, born March 24th 1996 who will be in a move called "Nidome no natsu nido to aenai kimi" Or "The second summer where I wasn't able to see you again." Which will be in theaters September 1st. She's also the lead vocalist and guitarist for a girls band named "Tancobuchin" who you can check out here. I'll have to have a listen to their music at some point, as I do tend to like female vocals a lot of the time.

Chapter 130 of Tenshi and Akuto opens up with an impressive color page and the very big text indicating that this is the climax ---of this arc, or maybe the anime they're recording for? Either way something is coming to a head and Shougakukan saw fit to give the series color pages two weeks in a row to commemorate it. On the top page, Akuto is between the decision of using a passionate plea to return the Bitter sugar girl to the ranks of her friends, or the power of a gentle voice in trying times. It's still so much of a joy that this series takes voice acting to a logical(?) shounen battle extreme, and that it embraces it's narrative with such zeal. 

Something I hadn't noticed before is that the leader of the group of magical girls uses the masculine "I" pronoun --"Ore". I'm not sure if that's the reason why Akuto was chosen to play the part as I sadly hadn't really started paying attention to this series until I started the blog, but it's intriguing to see a character like this in a magical girls anime. In any case, as far as the recording goes, Akuto realizes while there is a time and place for projecting himself into his work, now isn't one of those times! Defeating the final boss? Subjugating others below him? That's what he wants! What does Sugar --the leader of the sweets girls want to do at this very moment? 

It's here that Sugar says that she just wants her friend --Bitter to come back with them. The producer is so taken by Akuto's sudden sincerity that he remarks that it's as if Akuto has become Sugar herself. Gotta love when a character reaches this kind of emotional pathos --Akuto has put aside what interests him and truly poured himself into the work, and his expression on the left is indicative of this new placement of his priorities. I think moreso than what's happening now, where these feelings Akuto has discovered will take him next is much more interesting. Plus, I can't think of anyone who wouldn't at least be a little moved by Bitter and Sugar's embrace on the right. 

On the side, the producer(?) comments that this is the chemical reaction of performing, even getting into the show himself --commenting "If it's these 5 they can win...!!" Meanwhile Tamaki puts on a menacing performance as the last boss. 

The spread on the left is pretty awesome, though the attack name "Final Decoration" takes off a bit of the edge --sorry I had to go and ruin things by translating it, hah. Though yes, the final attack is impressive enough to leave everyone shell shocked, and Hirakawa having Sugar stand in for Akuto is a nice touch --everyone there believes that Akuto has ascended merely playing a "role" and has become the character herself. 

And that's a wrap! Episode 49's recording has been completed! Gotta say Akuto pumping his fist in triumph really sells this ending for me. The side text indicates that the final battle is complete, but then in really small text on the side indicates that a "shocking development" will occur in the next issue. Akuto and Saike sell about the same about, and if Saike has been implicitly confirmed to continue for at least another volume, Akuto should be safe, unless Hirakawa has told the story she wants to tell? We'll have to find out in the upcoming weeks! 

Mr. Shounen Sunday. Sr continues his investigation in this week's chapter --as his Missus wonders if he's at all interesting in sealing their relationship with a kiss, Sera seems suspicious of his pint size alter ego --pointing out his clothing is folded in a way that suggests a child wore them...Meanwhile, Momiji from the most recent Conan movie shows up in one heck of a cross promotional stint. I've heard that Aoyama wanted this to be part mystery, part love comedy staring the main cast, and this would be the way to do it if that's his goal. It's not pictured here, but there was one more murder at the end of the chapter, heightening the stakes of this case, and all but confirming that this one is going to be an arc rather than a mini-series, which is fitting for the detective's 1,000th exploit! 

Heading to Evans, his loyal sidekick/assistant Ted has someone he'd like his teacher/boss to meet! Initially Evans is pretty dismissive of this, and rightfully so, as a gunman on the side of the law he's got plenty of enemies who'd love to see him in a casket. Though all caution goes out of the window as soon as Ted mentions that his visitor is a female. On the left Evans acts disinterested but we know him by now, don't we? 

Ted is totally surprised by his boss's agreement to which Evans asks if there's something he should know. Ted begins to describe the girl --(The lady pictured above is his approximation to what she'd look like.) as someone who constantly wants things, to which Evans replies that he likes women who are honest about what they want, which Ted follows up with her believing in and blaming her problems on ghosts, and Evans says a lie here and there makes a girl pretty cute. 

Ted can see his boss is pretty insistent to meet this lass, so he gives him one final set of warnings --she picks her nose, flips her own skirt, and sometimes wanders around naked. I think it's awesome that each time he says something on the left, that Kuriyama zooms in on Evans' dismayed expression. "What am I getting myself into" he's wondering, up until Ted throws in that this prospective guest has stated her intention to marry the lawman --which makes every other of her shortcomings all but vanish. Or at least gives him the opportunity to toss in a cool one liner. "I'll consider it if you act more refined." Oh Evans, stop. 

Turns out it's his 6 year old Niece, --now those warnings make sense. Of course Evans says she's a bit young to be thinking about marriage which the poor girl doesn't take too well. It was a cute chapter, but I have to admit the buildup wasn't worth the payoff --not that it was predictable or anything, just I'm not sure why but it didn't work for me --but a miss after 20 chapters of more-or-less hits is barely a blip on my radar. In any case, Pheebs is back next week and it's her birthday which means nothing but trouble, and I'm looking forward to it. 

The Children are in top form in the 2nd chapter of the re-serialization of Zettai Karen Children! Looking at this art, it's clear Shiina wasn't just kicking back during his time away. They're attacked by their old friend Naomi who after going on a pretty impressive rant turns up the heat on their mission underground, leaving them in a perlious situation as Naomi is an opponent they are ill prepared to take on! Without Minamoto around, will they be able to get past this trial and tribulation?

And here's a qu--smal--brief---eh, it's an advertisement for the Shounen Sunday "Sunday Webry" ap p that's as verbose as it is fabulous. I'm not going to even try to read that so use your imagination and a dictionary to get an idea of what Hyobu thinks of the new app. 

We move to Dagashikashi which is all about fads with the new "finger spinners" that come with the snacks that Koko and his Dad sell. Well, it's not only that, but the idea of selling candies with prizes that become a big deal to the children who buy them. Except, while the kids are into the finger spinners --an obvious take off the fidget spinners famous here in the west, when he tries to up-sell them a chatter ring, they're not at all interested, putting them right back in the sales hole. That's the thing about fads, they're unpredictable! At the very least Koko looks pretty impressive on that final page doesn't he? 

Meteor Girl is here with it's 15th chapter which sports a color page. I'm not sure at the moment if we saw Chihiro's color scheme before now, but there's something haunting about her ruby-red eyes and dour expression. Speaking of which, it might be a bit hard to see but preview art of the first volume is up on the right and admittedly it looks pretty cool. On the left of the right page, the genre of the manga is apparently "Dramatic horror", which is a little different than it was before, but still interesting for a shounen magazine I think. In any case, Chihiro and a few other Meteor Girls(?) watch Tetto's predicament with mild interest at best, and complete disdain at worst. 

While Tetto is struggling to not die, Ryoko tries to revive Hane who seems to be out for the count despite her best efforts. Ryoko decides to undo the hood on her head in hopes of getting better access to her neck, but then something weird happens. Also, I realize now we've never seen her without that thing on, which begs the question --what the heck is it for?  

Anyway Ryoko has almost completely got the hood off when she feels an odd sensation that causes her to pause, and to her surprise, Hane awakens --and simultaneously the hand choking Tetto falls off and his life is saved. I think I've finally figured out how Meteor Girl -- a series I didn't intend to cover fifteen weeks in is still has to do with Ishiyama's ability to be bluntly oblique. Which is to say this sequence of events is clearly connected --Hane awakening and Tetto's handjob coming to an abrupt end. sorry not sorry Yet, the mystery of these confidences is palatable enough to keep readers coming back for more. It helps that the series does move at a pretty good pace --at least lately, and the art is pretty good too. It's weird, but now that I'm able to see her weird-ish haircut under the hood, Hane's actually a little cute? Go figure.  

We saw this before, but Hane's ability to quell the raging beast in MG's comes in handy again, and the poor girl is able to rest easy, finally. This time however, Tetto and Ryoko bear witness to this phenomenon, and it's gonna be hard for Hane to escape without any explanation, right? 

The girl with the hat on the left seems disappointed at this peaceful end of matters, while the one in the school uniform says that things were getting out of hand. The two girls begin to fight amongst  themselves indicating that there's a bit of bad blood between hat (Ikeyama, apparently) and the girl in the long dress who's name isn't mentioned. They're both subservient to Chihiro however --implying that she has some sort of seniority over them for reasons not yet revealed. Meanwhile Chihiro simply watches over the scene, her expression and intentions unclear. On the other hand Ryoko orders Hane to take the ambulance with the man in black as she's still injured --and Tetto is worried about her, enough that he cried when she was unconscious! Tetto's a man's man, and denies this of course!

D'aww Hane can be cute when she wants to be. She rewards Tetto with candy --and we can once again see more of her head under that hood --seriously what is it for?! Though she immediately runs after giving Tetto his treat for being a goood boy, leaving Tetto no choice but to chase her down. 

The chapter ends with Chihiro leaving her two friends(?) and following Tetto while remaining out of sight. Tetto thinking that he has found Hane approaches Chihiro and --well, it goes without saying (though I'll say it anyway) that if Tetto and Chihiro do meet it's going to be source of all kinds of drama --since as far as we and Tetto know she died and shouldn't be here now. I'm looking forward to the next chapter for the possible answer of what exactly happens to dead girls that turns them into MG's in the first place, and while it's not 100% assured we'll get any answers next week, it's at least highly likely. 

It's been a while but Komi hits up the blog --and I feel bad leaving her out for such a long time just to give her a truncated entry, but I think with as popular as she is in Japan (and online) that she didn't need my help. Though in this week's chapter she's more concerned about her hair than her popularity as she's out shopping. It's nice to know that even while I've been away, Oda's (not that one) penchant for the storyboard (fourth page above), is still there along with his ability to take the simplest facets of life and make them cute and amusing. Komi just can't get her split end to split no matter what she does, though in the end her friends don't even notice it! Guess some fussing isn't worth the time. 

Souboutei rolls in with it's 68th chapter innocuously named "May 15th." I'm thinking it might have been something Frau bestowed upon Seiichi, but the boy can see into Hotai -- (the military garbed guy's) thoughts to a time where he had to gun down an old man in cold blood, something he's not too fond of, but allows Seiichi to do after a bit of grumbling about it. (And something I realize now is "hotai" is akin to "bandage" in Japanese, so it seems Seiichi is referring to him by his appearance and doesn't seem to know his actual name.) 

In the past, "Hotai" was the Ensign of the Tokyo military police's fourth squadron --Zanka Kinoshita, and he was tasked with investigating some strange occurrences in the vicinity of the souboutei, as well as hunt down a group who has fled to that area. 

Unfortunately this group of brave soldiers is not at all prepared for the creepiness that is the Souboutei. Once inside all of Zanka's men find themselves captivated by the art hanging on the walls and lose their will to proceed any further, where they meet up with a certain individual...I know I say it all the time, but man is Fujita's panel work some of the best I've ever seen. I really enjoy how all the panels of the page frame the large one of the hallway on the left which is foreboding even if one doesn't understand Japanese. The sense of unease transcends the language barrier and only a master like Fujita could pull this off. 

The man at the painting states his name --Teido Sakamaki, who Zanka apparently remembers, but with a different name...Yoshitarou Sakamaki! Weirdly, Teido seems kind of mystified by this, languidly commenting as if he's not sure he ever had that name before. Zankaa talks about their time in school in Okayama so the two go way back, but why is Teido in this house and why does he seem to have forgotten everything about those days? 

When Zanka asks Teido why he's here, the latter responds that he's painting their portraits, and then everything goes to hell as the paintings grow arms and drag all of the soldiers into them, therefore revealing the origin of the solders Takoha and the others found when they were in the house. This sense of the splintered stories coming together is most satisfying, but I feel like we're only wading knee deep into the true mystery that is the souboutei --a mystery that will have to wait to next week to unfold just a little more. 

Sentarou recaps the events up until now in a pretty humorous way in this week's Shinobi no, basically starting with "an old man fell from the ceiling in front of me." If that's not funny enough, Pops's expression on the following page should at least incite a smile, as Sentarou wonders what he's gotten himself into. 

Sentarou --affectionately shortened to "Sen" by Pops wonders how a very much old man could possibly have what it takes to best Perry. It's then that Pops states his intention to head off to Perry's biggest ship --the "Saskuke hana". On the left, Sen relays the info on how often said ship is open to access by mini boat for the relay of information and reports, though what Pops is most interested in is Sen's newfangled device --a watch which Pops wants to use to capture a cat? It's not pictured here, but Sen reminds the old shinobi that he has quite the insurmountable wall to climb if he even wants to see Perry much less do anything else. Pops cuts this conversation short by telling them to hide as his sharp nose senses the approach of someone with a killing intent that's through the roof. Meanwhile the man introduced at the end of the last chapter has made out that there are intruders from three loose strands of hair and nothing else....which is pretty impressive to say the least. 

Mostly posted because Ohgaki's art going from silly to dead serious is a spectacle in and of itself. As the man lurks looking for the intruders, Pops befriends a baby calf, freaking Sentarou out. He-- Sen explains that Jerome used to be the guard on Saint Helena where Napoleon --the Napoleon was imprisoned. There are plenty of evildoers there, and Jerome took them all down and shaved their ears clean off. Though when Jerome got a glimpse of Perry, he had a change of heart and joined his crew on the black ships. 

Jerome quickly finds them in a bloody swing, and it looks as if Pops has met his match, but...

All it takes is one second --a second of hesitation or distraction to decide a match. Jerome is distracted by the baby calf who's mother he just killed, and Pops being quite the opportunist leaps upon this opportunity and...

Bye bye Jerome. The shading, the angle, the blood spray....Ohgaki how do you manage to get away with this in a shounen magazine? Pops' "Nothing personal kid" expression is also great here, as this was a death match without all of the shounen swagger. Just brutal death to those who dare to show any kind of weakness. Shinobi no is a bit lower in the TOC this week which is worrying, but hopefully this is a temporary blip, as I really do love how quickly the story is moving without seeming rushed, and having a manga like this in Sunday where action is noticeably absent. 

In Rinne, the titular protagonist and his friends find what seems to be a house that has self cleaning properties despite no one living in it. So Souboutei but less evil?! And his mom Otome recognizes the place from a time before he was born --when she and his dad were planning to get a house of their own. --So yes, this house is in fact the one they were planning to buy! --except Sabato lost in the horse races and therefore their dreams of a love nest went down the drain. Though even with that, Otome's feelings remained behind and kept the house clean like a good housewife would. Though upon entering the house again, said feelings turn on Sabato and beat him senseless for being the reason why this house isn't their house. The left over will is able to work out it's aggression and disappear, but without her around the house goes right to the pits, hah. Rinne is off next week, so we'll reconnect with the spirits in issue #42!

Saike is rounding the corner of 100 chapters with 90 this week. The usually inept Koutarou lands a blow on the thread using oracle user, and in a show of defiance won't back down even when threatened, as a big brother shouldn't when his little brother is in peril! One thing I really like about this week's chapter is just how on point the expressions are --it is amazing to behold Fukuchi's growth since his Ueki days --as it would be for any artist that one has followed for several years. 

Like look at the one on the left! That fury is so palatable that it just seems to ooze off the page, and it's accentuated by the good character design. In any case, Koutarou is suddenly awesome, and there doesn't seem to be any plausible reason for it! 

Saike tries to rationalize it. He's been through this day before after all, so other than his actions, everything should be a done deal, so why is Koutarou suddenly so awesome despite it being a day where his abilities don't work so well? --It was revealed a few weeks back that he's got good days for his ability and bad ones, and this was at least on a few of Saike's other repeats a bad one, so why are things clicking into place now? He's unable to come to an answer because...

He's taken captive, and the situation gets screwed up fast. Saike can't use his oracle here, and now Ana and Koutarou can't either without risking his injury. It's turned into a standoff and Saike is both the prize and the victim as he begs them to stay firm and not be tempted. What will they do? Find out next week! 

Last time we left the boys of Birdmen they were trying to use their psychic abilities for matters of the utmost importance --peeking on the girls. No need to worry this manga doesn't get X-rated as they quickly figure out using their own abilities what the boys are up to and put a kibosh on that stuff real quick by filling their heads with an overwhelming aura of dread leaving them no choice but to immediately cut the connection. 

It's not all fun and games though, as their new soon to be partner wants to ensure that he's not giving his abilities to those who would abuse them. He is very succinct in saying that power is a demon, and being able to use that power properly is something they have to be prepared for --but what could he mean by this? Unfortunately Birdmen only come to roost once a month, so we'll just have to wait until issue 44 to see them again. 

It's shounen 101, but when executed this well, I can't complain at all. Jinbee is on the cusp of nonexistence in this week's Mushibugyo, but the realization that he has people in Edo waiting for him and supporting him is enough to grow the appendages back that were taken from him by self doubt. I love how weird he looks, but how earnest the narrative is in regard to his realization so that you have absolutely no choice but to take it seriously. To me this is the heart of a good shounen manga --the heart. Bleach reference not intended. It's about taking the ridiculous and --frankly cliched plot beats of the genre and making something exciting out of them --which I have to admit is probably Mushibugyo's biggest strength and perhaps why it's lasted so long in the magazine --long enough to perhaps get a natural ending! No matter how similar the villain says Jinbee is to him, without that sense of comradire, they are worlds apart, and I really like how Fukuda conveyed this. Now the question is...where do things go from here? 

This week's Youkai Giga is all about the Keukegen --a disase spirit that lives in damp dark places and causes people to get sick. A funny thing about it's name --other than how funny it sounds, is that when read with a different set of kanji --希有怪訝 it can mean "An unusual thing that is never seen." Though the normal kanji illustrated here means something closer to "furry hair appearance". These youkai usually herald in bad luck but in this case, two young lovers confessing their feelings to each other is so heart meltingly-cute that the demon just flies away without doing anything. I guess even youkai who possess bad luck and love to pass it to others have feelings! Though hey, even I had to audibly d'aww when reading this chapter for review in the blog. It was only a week away, but I missed you Satou! Great to have you back! 

I thought this was funny and I find the interesting way Sunday advertises it's wares to be creative so here we have a advertisement suggesting against turning in a book report of sorts about the manga that are all going on sale September 15th --which is basically all the new manga that started this serialization round --Tenshou, Daiiku, K.O.I, Evans, Meteor Girl, and Youkai giga. Yes they're books, but I don't think any teacher would want to read an upfront report about them! Manga at home, books at school, okay? Though I do intend to at least pick up Youkai Giga and Evans once they hit stores --what will you be reading? 

And that's it for this week! Next week, receiving a big bright and shiny color page is Hatsukoi Zombie! It's a little early to celebrate two years of serialization (although it's really close!) so I'm assuming this is just for general popularity. There will also be a oneshot by Atsushi Namikiri called "Kantsuu" which has different meanings ranging from "piercing" to "being well versed" (in something). So I'm not entirely sure which one it'll be until we see the oneshot, which I will most definitely cover! Until then, have a good Sunday, and I hope to see you back!