Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Weekly Shounen Sunday #44

There are lots of Shounen magazines in Japan, but only one has it's day every week (kinda). Welcome to another week of the Sunday on Tuesday writeup! I'm proud to bring you this blog every week despite how much time it takes to do so, hah. Though enough about that, lets get to the goods.

On the cover of issue #44 is Nanase Nishino of Nogizaka 46, with a big advert for Souboutei right above her! Komi's also present on the side, with the same with Tenshou. I'm no photography buff, but I do like the composition of the cover with Nishino looking back at us --it's probably my favorite pinup cover in recent memory.

Appearing in this issue are the following series.

Souboutei Kowasubeshi by Kazuhiro Fujita (Lead color)
Amano Megumi Suki Darake! By Nekoguchi
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san by Aiko Koyama
Hatsukoi Zombie by Ryou Minenami
Be Blues by Motoyuki Tanaka
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ by Mizuki Kuriyama
Tenshou no Quadrable by Takahiro Arai (Center color)
Komi-san wa Komusho Desu by Tomohito Oda
Major 2nd by Mitsuya Takeda
Aozakura -Bouei Daigakkou Monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido
Tenshi & Akuto by Aya Hirakawa
Dagashikashi by KOTOYAMA
Kyoukai no RINNE by Rumiko Takahashi
Shinobi no by Rokuro Ohgaki
K.O.I King of Idol by Tamaki Wakaki
Maoujo de Oyasumi by Kagiji Kumanomata
Magi by Shinobu Ohtaka
Hiiragi-sama wa Jibun wo Sagashiteru by Hiroyuki Nishimori
BIRDMEN by Yellow Tanabe
Daiku no Hatou by Michiteru Kusaba
Meteor Girl by Reach Ishiyama
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou
Sunday Higaku Kenkyujo by Yuuji Yokoyama

Not appearing this week are these series:

Detective Conan
Zettai Karen Children

First off, man is it weird to have a TOC with no Mushibugyo. This is going to take quite a bit of getting used it always is when a long running series comes to an end. Now that the new breed have dropped their first volumes (or in the case of Hatou, first two volumes) I think we're gonna get a better idea of where they stand. In this case, K.O.I has dropped quite far from it's idol throne, and the series indicated in my selling sunday post here have all congregated in the basement save for Evans and Youkai who lives there. (Kind of appropriate for that series though.) Color pages elevate series for promotional purposes so Tenshou being so high up doesn't mean much right now, and Souboutei is basically immune to immediate (note the word "immediate") cancellation due to it's author. I feel like with Fujita's pedigree they'd axe the rest of the magazine (save Conan and whatever Takahashi is working on) before letting him go. I think it's safe to say the countdown for a new serialization batch is under way --especially considering that according to Ohtaka herself, Magi is on it's way out in three weeks! So the magazine is losing one more action series, and with at least two-three of the new series bidding farewell soon, the mag is going to get pretty light. Saike will be back soon, but that's only one series, and who knows when RYOKO will return to hunt? (I really want it to be soon, but Mitsuhashi's health is top priority.) In short we're going to be seeing a paradigm shift of sorts sooner rather than later. 

Meet Nanase Nishino! She's a member of Nogizaka 46 born May 25th 1994. It's quite likely that her appearance in the magazine this week is to tie in with her portrayal of the lead in the movie adaption of the manga Asahinagu, which is pictured in the fourth picture. It is illustrated by Ai Kozaki and runs in the seinen magazine (also published by Shougakukan) "Big Comic Spirits." 

I'd say Nishino does a pretty good job of capturing the look of the main character, but what do you all think? 

Souboutei's tagline is that it's a "Spectacle modern horror story" but the color pages that bring us into the chapter this week have an extremely retro vibe, --in fact they look like a throwback movie poster advertising the series. No complaints from me though, as I really like Kaerikuro's color scheme in the bottom color page, as well as seeing Zanka in color. It's super tiny in the top right, but the volume six cover is also featured, and I can't wait till I can get my digital edition. On the left are the names of the "stars" of the movie, Seiichi, Takoha, Kurenai, Rokuro, Zanka, Kaerikuro and Sakamaki Teido. I wonder if anyone will ask Fujita to do a movie poster for them after this? If there are no plans there really should be. 

Rokuro realizes the girl that he was pursuing is not only not his sister, but younger than him. He instinctively asks who she is before realizing very quickly that she can't be up to anything good if she's in this house of horrors. As if to confirm his suspicions, she asks him flat out if he's ever killed anyone, before saying she killed "Teido". I use quotation marks because she refers to him (possibly?) using Hiragana, rather than the kanji for his name. Typically this is done to be as vague (or easy to read) as possible, so it's hard to know if she's talking about the Teido or something else. (By the way Teido can mean several things, ranging from "Degree/amount" to "Imperial Domain.") It's now that Rokuro realizes he's seen this girl before --in one of the paintings in the house! 

Meanwhile Takoha speaks to the aforementioned about why he's in such a creepy place to begin with, and how the heck he hasn't noticed 90 years passing him by. Sakamaki continues to be blithely and frustratingly vague, rather than answering the question he asks if Takoha is afraid of him now? Which Takoha admits he's terrified. 

But you gotta hand it to him, Takoha puts aside his terror and asks Sakamaki just what the hell is the Souboutei? It was clearly Sakamaki's doing that dragged Takoha back into the house after everything that had happened, so he must know things right? Sakamaki dodges the question again, but at least points out (above, right) where exactly Takoha is, and the general shape of the Souboutei. It's nice to see that the house looks as evil on the outside as it does on the inside. I wasn't able to post the picture, but Sakamaki then takes Takoha into a room where his failed paintings are to explain just what it is he's trying to achieve in the house of horrors. 

I marvel at how Fujita can draw work like this without setting down linework first, but that's just part of his magic. Not only that, this is probably the most we've seen Sakamaki emote in, well...ever. He's suffering from a major case of artist's block I have many artist friends who can relate.  As the colors he has at his disposal aren't to his liking. He can't find the "color" he wants in books or in reference materials --although he states that everything is "color" the colors that exist in the world pale in comparison to the ones in his mind. Sakamaki rages that his limits are such, and that the colors he wants to portray, the ones he sees in his minds eye cannot be conveyed on the canvas. 

It was that night he ventured into the basement of the house and found present day, he takes Takoha into the basement --as a fellow artist he should be interested in what he saw that night, right? Well Takoha is mostly just scared out of his mind, but follows Sakamaki after some prodding. The scene fades back into the past where Sakamaki makes his way into the basement after hearing a strange sound down there.  He notes that it's just something leaking into the basement and resolves to call someone to take care of it in the morning, but that's until he takes a closer look...

And realizes what's dripping into the basement is a color of which he's never seen before!! When Takoha asks what the heck he's seeing, Sakamaki explains it's "Various colors that have taken in light and become a black watery-like substance that bubbles up through the floor". The tagline text at the bottom of the page says that this is the "water" that started everything. This arc has been all about explaining character motivations, and the house's origin, but the central mystery of why the house is this horrible has eluded us so far, but if the side text is any indication, perhaps the tale is finally turning in that direction, and I for one can't wait to see what horrible truth lies at the bottom of those black depths. 

Been a while since I covered Be Blues, and sadly it's only a short stop in this week, as Ryuu continues to practice with his new team who casually dismisses him even as he says he won't give in --as he's a survivor. On the bottom page on the right, the guy there says that he's "Dead and just hasn't realized it." Ryuu's eyes indicate otherwise --I do really like that he's quite determined to show them up, as well as Tanaka's expressive artwork. Even though the last few weeks have been mainly practicing and getting to know new characters, it's still been a joy to take in Tanaka's artwork. I'm not sure when I'll cover Be Blues again, but hopefully it'll be during a game where the aforementioned artwork can really shine. 

Evans is a lawman who takes pride in his job, even if said job takes him into unlikely places and brings him into contact with unlikely people, such as this beauty who he's tracking for purely professional reasons ---though if you believe that, I have a bridge in Sapporo to sell you. Our "really wants a girlfriend" sheriff has only one thing on his mind, and it ain't justice, that's for sure. 

Evans notices a lady in a crowd, and judging from the heads she turns as she walks by, she must be a real looker! For him, seeing is believing, so he leaves Ted behind to check things out for himself. Meanwhile, Pheebs is tracking this lady who's actually got a bounty on her head --Missus Amy is one who marries rich men, and then disappears with their money before the honeymoon period is over, and she got intel that the Missus would be in town. What should have been an easy mark is complicated by Evans showing up, however. Pheebs knows Evans' reputation, and that once he finds a wrongdoer, he bags them without fail --a shame he really doesn't know Amy's reputation and simply just wants to take a look at her face.

Of course Evans' Dad lecture mode informs him that a Gunman must overtake his target in order to be popular, so it's not good enough for Evans to simply walk up and play peek-a-boo, no. He overtakes Amy, in hopes he can cooly glance over his shoulder and see her that way, but she suddenly changes direction kiboshing that plan. Call me a simple person, but comedic timing with such a plain gag gets me laughing harder than overly elaborate jokes. Meanwhile poor Pheebs is just left confused by what's going on. Surely Evans knows of Amy's reputation and is here to slap the cuffs on her, so why would he outwalk her? 

Amy then breaks out in a dash for reasons unknown, (though I guess one can assume she feels like she's being followed and decides to hoof it to the train for a quick escape), leaving Evans and Pheebs no choice but to step up their games and follow her to the station. I mostly linked the second page on the right because Evans running toward us awkwardly in the bottom panel is hilarious --added to that the conductor being like "what the heck is this guy doing running towards us like this?" It's the compounded jokes just coming at us rapid fire that really make this chapter work for me. 

Honestly when I was reading through the chapter to decide on what to include in the writeup, I was almost sure that Kuriyama would have a sight gag to cap things off, but he doesn't and confirms Evans' guess that she's a hottie by making her a hottie. Evans' self assured grin is funny on it's own though, so I'm fine with this. Pheebs catches up and thinks Evans is allowing her the bounty, when in fact he just had no idea Amy was a wanted lass. In the end she gets the score, but feels like she's totally lost to Evans, oh if only you knew the truth Pheebs, if only. This chapter was a bit better than last week's in my opinion, and draws on Kuriyama's strength which is taking an ordinary situation to it's logical extreme via good old Japanese misunderstandings and creating something priceless out of it. Next week is apparently about buying sweets and making a choice....sounds like it'll be delectable! 

Entering a new arc with a shiny color page is Tenshou no Quadrable! It seems this arc will be known as the "Faust" arc, and will star Miguel and Julian's little sister Shun as the leads, in one of the biggest shake-ups I've seen in manga in a long while. Admittedly I've only kind of been paying attention to Quadrable up until now, so I cant say if this turn of events was properly telegraphed, or if it's a bid to save the series from being doomed, but it is exciting nonetheless. Let's check out what's new as the Quadrable soars into new territory. 

I wouldn't be surprised if readers only familiar with the basic premise of the series were really thrown off by these opening pages --it's almost like a new manga now! Though no, the "Black sickness" that plagued people in the first part of the story is still a thing, and Miguel who was one of the leads from the first arc is around, but he's a boy---er, man driven by revenge now. Shun accompanies him, but he's resolved to do what he can by himself, treating her as an annoying accomplice rather than an outright partner. They're about to attack an enemy, and Miguel commands Shun to stay behind, but she does her own thing, and comes in for an assist --something he is none too pleased with. 

The two argue about their relationship (or lack thereof) until village people come to thank them for their services. Miguel has already introduced himself to them by name, and when they go to thank Shun, she begins to introduce herself as her brother --Julian, but Miguel says she's merely his vassal, before remarking she's 100 years too early to take on her brother's name. See, this is what I think the earlier part of the series was missing --internal conflict between characters. Arai's art is still as good as it always has been (look at poor Shun's eyes on the bottom left page), but there was no conflict between the characters so it became difficult to become invested in them. While there's nothing wrong with a group who are on friendly terms, one gets a better sense of the people they are when they have conflict amongst each other. Miguel seems brash and arrogant, but he's clearly hurting over losing his friends which is why he both berates and pushes Shun away --the latter of which seems to understand that, but wants to help in her own way as shown by her training in the page on the right which is illustrated with grace. 

As far as set up chapters go, this once again feels like it could have been the first chapter of a new serialization, which works really well for it, I think. Arai clearly wants to create the image of this being a "reboot" of sorts for Quadrable, and on several levels that's what it is --without completely severing the ties from what the series once was. Miguel swears he'll kill their enemies with his bare hands, and reveals he knows they're in Europe. Meanwhile, the end of the chapter brings us to the Faust in question, Johann Faust that is! I might have mentioned before that Arai is a nerd for all things European, and it shows in his artwork for the final panel of this week's chapter. The next location of the adventure has been identified, and the enemy(?) is waiting. If Arai can keep up this tempo, I might be a born again Quadrable fan, but it's hard to tell at the current moment whether Japanese fans will be in for the ride. 

Surprisingly, Komi hasn't received a color page for it's 2nd year of serialization/ 100th chapter, which is odd for a series of it's popularity. I am aware that these celebratory color pages aren't always given on the exact chapter of the milestone, but I'd think Komi would have gotten a honorable mention at least. Anyway, Oda (not that one) is up on his name game with a narcissistic new character named "Naruse Shisuto". (Which sounds awfully like the Japanese pronunciation of  Narcissist.)Who, I have to admit is pretty attractive --a shame his personality is awful though. He even comes with his own lackey named Chuushaku Kometani who's first name is homologous with "Annotation". In any case, Naruse sets eyes on Komi and tries to woo her, but his attempts fail mostly because of her cheering squad who ensure he regrets the day he decided to stand in her shadow. (Check out that third page and all of that terrifying text!)  Komi unaware of this notices the guy and gives him a hankerchief to clean up, which he immediately takes as her noticing him when in fact she wasn't even paying attention to his face, heh. 

Naruse might be a handful but thanks to his buddy Annotation who explains his grandiose gestures in standard Japanese, we find out that he wants to become friends with Tadano in order to become closer with Komi. Tadano's at a loss for words but accepts his friendship which means we'll be seeing more of Naruse in the future. 

Tenshi and Akuto steps away from the mic with this week's chapter where we celebrate Akuto's 20th birthday (which interestingly makes him older than most shounen protagonists.) which means he's now legally able to get hammered, and the hilariousness that ensues from everyone trying to get him drunk in various ways is the theme. The manager of his group invites him out late night, but Akuto coldly rejects him because he's seen how grabby the guy is when he's drunk, which leads to everyone trying their best to convince Akuto that a little booze will do him wonders. 

In Japanese culture, sharing a drink with your boss is a part of the job --the way one gets to shmoozing, and more importantly building relationships at work. Eventually Akuto comes around and decides to have a drink with the manager after all, but he basically passes out after one drink and can't remember a thing he did the next morning, and the manager flatly tells him that he's better off staying sober since he's so weak to alcohol. I've mentioned it before that I really like when shounen slow down and do little chapters like these where nothing really happens, but battle shounen rarely do so I have to live with it in stories like this. Still, it was a pretty funny chapter and seeing Akuto get his comeuppance is always fun. 

Pops is the guy who needs a drink after a night like his --except his night is still going in the 11th chapter of Shinobi no, and it looks like things are only going to get worse from here, what with Yoshida and Toudou commandeering a ship and using it for ends not yet known. 

Pops sees American technology for the first time and marvels to himself that "one hell of a future is coming" while the Americans celebrate President Millard Fillmore giving them the official permission to disembark on American shores. I was only glancingly familiar with this, but Fillmore played a role in opening up Japan's closed borders during the 1800s. You can check out the letter he sent with Perry to Japan here. Granted, I'm pretty sure in real history, Perry wasn't a warmongering villain hoping to raze Japan to the ground, but I guess this does make the story being told in Shinobi no that much more interesting. 

Miranda's not happy with the idea of going into Japan "peaceably" as she was hoping to finish off the yellow monkeys next time she sees them. Still, orders are orders, and she can't go against President Fillmore and Perry. Now, if an act of aggression against the Americans were to occur, maybe things would change. Ah, well as you can see in the bottom page linked that's exactly what happened --Yoshida Shioin opened fire on the other ships and well...needless to say no one is going to take this act of aggression lying down. 

"For those gathered here at this time in this place, this would be a night that they'd never forget". An exact translation of the words on this page, as well as an assembly of everyone involved. Interestingly enough there's an old man I've never seen before, and I have to wonder what role he'll play in this. Also, who's that hooded person on the left? The intrigue just deepens....

Pops' expression of rage and confusion is palatable on the right as he finally catches wind of Yoshida and Toudou's involvement (also he seems to know them as he doesn't ask "who the devil are they" --rather he calls them both idiots --in a sort of familiar way? It's hard to convey in English and I may very well be wrong.), but Perry steals the show in the final page of the chapter --when he declares their actions to be an act of war. The tagline text at the bottom says that Japan's fate hangs in the balance as the worst night ever begins. I had wondered how Ohgaki plans on pacing things as it did seem he was moving fast, but perhaps I was wrong to be concerned as there's enough intrigue to keep this shinobi on the prowl for some time. Next week can't come fast enough! 

Need a repreve from the nonstop action of Shinobi no? How about a Pajama party in Maoujo? This week's chapter is the planning stages for just that with the princess visiting the Demon King himself to "practice" for the event. I never thought I'd say this about the Demon King of all beings, but his ideas of what people do at a Pajama Party are endearingly innocent. Stuff like playing games and talking about secret crushes --which are things the Princess either doesn't want to or cannot do. (Seems she's not really crushing on anyone at the moment.) The Demon King tries to assuage her feelings but can't seem to no matter what he does, which leads to him asking if love between demons and humans is possible in the last page linked above --something his adviser happens to overhear when walking in for official business. What way can one take that line from the Demon King of all people toward an underage princess? The misunderstandings promise to continue when the Pajama party occurs next week --which depending on what I have on my plate I may or may not cover. 

This month's Birdmen has the gang delivering one dangerous package in the middle east --a giant scorpion! Efforts to convince the prince of this nation to join their ranks are ongoing, as Tanabe's art continues to steal the show. At this point, I really do feel like I need to just start the series from the beginning to fully appreciate the events unfolding, as I'm only kind of sure of what's going on. I'll admit I was hoping a Birdmen anime would be greenlit making my efforts (or lack thereof) in catching up that much easier, but Shougakukan is gun-shy when it comes to animating works in their shounen magazine for reasons I don't quite understand. In any case, Birdmen is still about the youths gathering their forces against a larger threat --a search that is taking them (and the narrative) all around the world. 

On that note, we're taken to Africa where an appropriately masked Monkey Monster is on the attack against a Bird youth. 

After bringing the monster to it's knees, the guy declares to his Bird followers that he has no use for those without strength. Seems that our next location in this flight across the globe will be Africa, though it's unseen as to when the main characters will end up there. For now, Birdmen is off for another month, and will return in Issue 48. 

As I was hoping, Daiku no Hatou continues with Nagiko's ongoing adventures to avoid starving to death. She finally finds a fellow friend who not only feeds her but shares her interest (after some prodding) in fresh Whale on a plate. It seems that Nagiko has been having trouble finding those who support eating whales opposed to saving them. She's so happy that she hugs her new friend who likens her to a stray cat she brought home as a child. Despite this the two women become fast friends, and introductions are in order! On the top panel of the fourth page linked is Ena Moriura hailing from Hokkaido. Ena asks Nagiko for her LINE information, but if you remember from my first few chapters of coverage, Nagiko dropped her phone in the sea, preferring a flip phone instead. Seems like this friendship is off to a whale of a start, and once again I hope we'll see more of it in the following weeks. 

Down at the bottom of the crater known as Weekly Shounen Sunday is where Meteor Girl dwells, and while cancellation is looking likely for the series, I can't help but express how much I love the setting of the story. Like, note Tetto's cellphone in the first panel. It has a weather app which isn't all that unusual, but thanks to the advent of meteor girls, there's also an app to predict the likelihood of girls falling from the skies too. It's little touches like that which really endear me toward a series, and this is no exception. Tetto's not here to admire the weather though --apparently this is the promised day Chihiro had been talking about and he's here to find her. 

To his surprise he runs into Hane, but isn't able to talk to her as another classmate from school is there. It's through this person that he's able to find out where one can see the stars and with this information he makes a beeline for that spot. 

Meanwhile on the pile of bodies her friends have gathered, Chihiro comments that she's happy that even as a Meteor Girl she's able to be emotionally moved by things. Now to unpack this a little --this is the first time a girl has explicitly said she has "become a MG", and Chihiro's waxing poetic implies that when girls make the change somehow, they're normally stripped of their emotions. What then makes Chihiro and her gang different --and why them? Also is this connected to their blood thirsty urges? These are all questions the series has to answer soon if cancellation is in it's future, and i'm hoping we'll get them sooner rather than later. 

Chihiro isn't quite convinced that Tetto will remember the promise, but says she has her own things to do, "so that everyone will notice". That look in her eyes is mechanical --just like the meteor girls we've seen up until now. 

Ishiyama's use of font to create a creepy atmosphere is a nice touch. I can feel the page "wriggling" just by looking at the font for the SFX --also the sense of lighting on Chihiro on top is unnerving too --it's like shes rising from a pile of bodies rather than reanimating them. Meanwhile Ikeyama is taking pictures of this whole gruesome display while looking rather elated. What is the plan here? Is it to cause as much chaos as possible, or something deeper? 

One of the MG's happens upon a bunch of people --I almost forgot that they're a normal occurrence in this story, so the amount of disrespect heaped upon them is almost passable, but still. A drunk guy dumps his drink on the MG in order to cool her off, and gets a hug in return --that scalds him. 

The MG is burning up and man, Ishiyama spares us the gruesome details but only barely. See that on her face? It's the other dude's skin. This is a shounen magazine so no doubt this was done to save innocent children's minds, sorry I couldn't say that with a straight face. But the very implication is enough to be terrifying. If this is MG's farewell, Ishiyama wants to make it a gruesomely memorable one. Tetto appears on the scene and reacts upon hearing the scene unfolding not too far from him. Next week's teaser text suggests he'll run into Chihiro in this chaos, but what then? 

This week's Youkai Giga features the "Kage Onna" or "Shadow Woman" a Youkai who appears at the shadow of a woman on doors and windows when there isn't anyone around to make said shadows. They typically don't harm people --just scare them, but in Satou's take on the tale, a lonely woman simply wants to be told she's pretty without being feared. She ends up coming to the residence of two guys who believe that if they seem happy to see her, she'll run off. So they go with a bit of reverse psychology and call her ugly instead.....

Big mistake. Love that the bottom text says "Be they ayakashi or human, one should be careful of how they address ladies." 

I normally don't talk about the Unscientific laboratory, but there are two reasons why I'm bringing it up in this week's entry. --One, they talk to the guy who came up with the current logo for the magazine, Tariji Sasaki, who turned the logo from something more feminine seeming (his words) to the paragon of manliness that it is now. (Also his words.) Though the other reason why I brought the lab into this week's entry is apparently it's having a big announcement next well as it's final chapter. I never thought that the lab would close it's doors, but apparently that's what's happening! Though with a big announcement, I have to wonder if it's some kind of sequel or something, hrm. That honestly wouldn't surprise me, but we'll have to wait till next week to find out.

And that's it for Issue #44! Next week, Megumi takes the lead color spot, with Maria Makino being the pinup of the week. Ashibi Fukui hops from normally serializing in Gessan (Monthly Shounen Sunday) to a oneshot in the main magazine called "Ace to 4th" which will be 40 pages, and most likely about baseball. Mr. Shounen Sunday returns, and the blurb on the page implies that the fallout of his case in Kyoto will be sooner than we thought, much to my surprise! Till that next issue drops, have a good Sunday!