Sunday, December 30, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #4/5 (2019) editorial section

Confrontations about on Memesis this week. It may just be me, but it feels like Yagyuu's art was a little off this week? Of course he's permitted to have off weeks like any other person --and his scenery porn is still the best the magazine has to offer if the spread below is any indication. Though it feels like, I dunno the artwork for the characters themselves seems weird. Maybe I'm just over thinking it. Rose finally meets up with Leon, and the result of this is....pretty mellow. It's not really surprising considering how flighty she is. Though she is admirable for asking about her friends upon not seeing them first before settling things with Leon who says they're in a safe location. It really does feel like however that Memesis might be ending soon --especially with the third volume in a row failing to really make a splash with readers in Japan. With Leon here the events really can briskly move toward defeating the demon king. I hope if this is the case that we get a good amount of closure for all of these characters. I still can't quite peg Leon even this week --he heals Ash and Kijira's wounds and even unlocks everyone's latent abilities which results in Rose looking like...that, haha. Of course Ash and Kijira can't possibly thank Leon for his help --no, it's completely unnecessary! Though again, other than for a few laughs what does he really get out of helping them I wonder? Hm. 

And again as if Yagyuu is trying to tell us subtly that the series is heading toward some sorta climax, we get a scene like this with the advancing Demon world troops all hell bent on destroying humanity. It's impressive artwork (as to be expected from Yagyuu), but yeah I can't shake the overwhelming feeling that Memesis like Marry Grave is on the chopping block as unfortunate as that would be. 

Although we've known they're siblings for the last few weeks, it's only now that Makoto and Seiichi really are reunited. Via flashback, we also get a glimpse of their childhoods along with the children that now attack them. Fujita's great at these flashbacks --they really don't serve to be unique in the sense of groundbreaking new story material both in and out of the work itself, but being thematically satisfying invoking a sense of importance for the characters themselves. His single focus on the Souboutei and the time traveling shenanigans probably have left Seiichi overwhelmed, but now he does remember his little sister Makoto. 

And it's because of the flashback being brillantly placed that we do get that emotional pay off --that attachment to what the characters care about. In this case a boy that Seiichi used to play with is one transformed by the evil of Shino and the Souboutei. He has to make the choice between slaying this enemy and saving his sister, and it's thanks to Fujita's evocative artwork that we can see how pained he is to finally leap into action for Makoto's sake. It's a tough choice that is met with a happy ending for the duo --ah, even I was moved a bit with Seiichi telling his sister not to cry because then he'd start crying too. 

Meanwhile it's been some time but finally Sakamaki and Kurenai are back in the picture. There's something about not hearing from them in a while due to covering this weekly that makes this reunion more Sakamaki asks Kurenai to model for him all with the knowlege that she intends to kill him. Yet, he doesn't seem to fight against this, rather he says after she hears him out and models again she can kill him if she wishes. I wouldn't be surprised of course if Sakamaki is saying this because he knows she can't kill him, though. 

Some rare humor from Xeno as the "Baron" arc opens up. Though more than being funny, I enjoy what this means for Xeno and Ayla's characters. They've now come around to a point where they can naturally be themselves around each other and it's truly rewarding to watch. I've said it before that I really only stuck with Xeno (the series) because I found Ayla to be interesting, and I'm glad my intial instincts bore out. This time, Xeno is off to meet Baron who owns a shady club called "Purgatory" home to a Casino. Xeno immediately gets immersed into gambling and much to Ayla's horror, begins gambling away her wages along with his own money, hah. 

Comedy aside, Baron is an interesting existence in Xeno --being betrayed by someone, the shady mogul wants Xeno to find out who would dare commit this high act of treason so that they can be "eliminated". Baron deals in information, and so is well aware that there are people who would love to see the mogul in a casket. Xeno's able to rightly identify three such people, and Ayla (as seen above) able to stop a third proving their mettle in this situation. Though there's a snag in this --Baron makes Xeno an offer he can't refuse (Or really shouldn't, at any rate) for the information he seeks in regard to his past, he will need to identify the traitor for Baron all while knowing full well that when their identity is known that they will be killed. Is the Detective okay with stepping on corpses and using them as a support to his goal? It's definitely a scenario filled with a tension unheard of in this series, and I look forward to seeing how it all shakes out. 

Evans litterally jumped into a burning building for his porn last week and I'm not really sure how this arc can top that, though Kuriyama is certainly welcome to try. In seriousness, Evans isn't even trying to hold back his duplicitous nature in this chapter, hah. Like he lies and says that the case Nona and Ted have is filled with drugs just so they won't open it, (though It's implied Nona might know better.) And he while trying to rescue the two leaps into action. Of course Evans does care about his assistant and his would-be-girlfriend. I mean look at the signs and how long Nona's been around. Kuriyama's clearly got something planned for her to essentially make her part of the main cast. Of course this might be wistful thinking on my part... Things get more complex when Nona does figure out that Evans is lying, though even she can't quite figure out why. Ted figures Evans has filled the case with a dummy and intends to fool Ed Williams with it, so he hands it over in exchange for Williams promising not to kill anyone. Oh how the misunderstandings are so beautiful in this. Williams intends on taking what he wants and isn't willing to deal however, which is enough to spur Evans into action and give the bounty hunter a fist of his own.  Meanwhile Pheebs is just collecting the wanted posters for herself and it really is crazy, how everyone is just doing what they want. Evans is still up for the Porn cause until he remembers a flashback with his dad which states the obvious. "What you need is real experience with women....not porn." So when Pheebs is in a jam, Evans chooses her over porn and thus the day is saved. 

Getting the cool phrase at the end after being anything but cool throughout the arc is pretty much the trademark of this series and even here that's the case. "Giving up the case/dummy is worth it if I can protect you." Evans says to Pheebs, and none the wiser she falls just a little deeper for Evans. You could argue that she really shouldn't fall for someone like him, and I almost think that Kuriyama is making that point in a subtle way. Love is really what we make of it, and that's not always realistic or well, even sane. Though it can be a lot of fun. Next week is the finale of this arc and of course the question on most Evans readers minds (I assume) is will they or won't they? 

That number above brings with it more despair than the snake king could ever hope to offer --there are three chapters left of Marry Grave. I've seen a bit of a movement on twitter after Yamaji answered an overseas fan that the series could continue if there is more support from people. I don't think he necessarily lied when he said that as there have been cases now of works continuing with enough consumer support be it through kick starter or simply the author letting fans know the situation as Yamaji has, but it's also pretty clear with most of these publications that endings are decided on well in advance --sometimes up to six months. So Marry Grave might already be in it's final resting place as far as Yamaji is concerned, but who knows --maybe a surge of support afterward might be the Deadman's recipe it needs to soldier on for another battle. 

So for the chapter itself, I wouldn't say so much that nothing happened as quite a bit did occur Most of it beneficial to the Snake King. But as for forward momentum there really wasn't much of that --interesting for a series that's pretty much announced it's at death's door. In another work that's going on for a bit longer I wouldn't have blinked an eye at this turn of events (or lack thereof), but really the most that happened is Sawyer and his party are pretty much owned by the Snake King, and Dante encased in stone has his heart begin to move remembering his meeting with tiny Sawyer and Rosalie and how after he met them he became acquainted with many others and now isn't alone anymore. The highlight of course being Rise and Sawyer teaming up for some intergenerational magic, but that not even being enough to stop their enemy as Dante slowly begins to awaken. Next week is the second out of three final chapters, and I don't think it's unfair to be rather concerned with how rushed this ending will be in two weeks....I just hope that maybe Yamaji is going to keep things open ended in the vain chance that he might be able to continue the series down the line. 

This week's Youkai giga features the "Uwan" which is a disembodied voice that hangs out in abandoned temples and homes. It doesn't have a physical form and thus isn't actually dangerous, and only yells "uwan" at people who enter abandoned places.  

For this week's Youkai Giga, A girl --Yae feels the need to apologize, but not to her friend Tae, but to an Uwan she's known since she was a child. She's been aware that it's livelihood (And I really like how a lot of these stories have the fact that Yokai scare people as a part of a way to earn a living rather than just being natural behavior.) is based on scaring people but she had forgotten about it yesterday. She really wants to apologize to it and asks her friend to come with her. She finally convinces her to go and the two visit the Uwan of which she's made a sweater for? Yes somehow this girl has been able to knit a sweater for that which has no form. Consider that for a moment. Moving along, Yae apologizes and the Uwan explains while it was trying to scare her from the outset, after some time it realized it kind of grew to care for her instead. She's so moved by this that she begins crying and her friend (along with most of the audience including me) are kind of confused on what's going on here. That's your Satou twist to folklore though --sometimes love can come in a shape that's really incomprehensible to anyone else. 

And that's it for the editorial this week! It's the final one of this year, so let me say Happy New Years to everyone and thank you so much for following along this year! I hope that 2019 in the blog sees more friends, more series, and of course more Sunday! I couldn't have done this blog without all of you all reading this and I truly appreciate you coming along to spend a bit of time with me. Hm? Where's Saike's final chapter? You ask? Stay tuned....

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #4/5 (2019) Features section.

One week in, another week out. Another issue with two numbers means that there's another week without Sunday coming up, so we best batten down the hatches and enjoy what we got. No need to fear however, as after this week we'll be back to Sunday at full power! It's a bit late and I apologize, but if you've been around long enough you know I'm all about forward momentum, so let's go, go, go!

On the cover is surprisingly a boy band! I say surprisingly because typically for whatever reason while female models/actresses are okay to grace the cover of Sunday their male counterparts are not for whatever reason. If you remember in the last features piece (found here) in the preview for the next issue there was an odd space left out. It seems it's okay to have male models on the covers of the physical magazine, but the digital one is different....until now! Of course I don't know anything about the males just like I don't the females so you shouldn't expect much on that front from me. Instead let's look at the new serial from Tenshi and Akuto's Aya Hirakawa "Fire Rabbit!!" more Imouto Rireki, and of course a one shot from KOTOYAMA. 

And as I said, above is a blank spot where the features for the guys would be. In fact, they're not actually in the magazine at all....I guess the cover was the most they could wrangle out. Oh well. The more important thing here is the TOC and the answers it holds to this week's question: "What was the moment you were most nervous in your life?" Straight from Ishikawa.

Fire Rabbit!! (Aya Hirakawa): It's been some time hasn't it! My third serialization is going to be about Fire Fighters! I'll do my best to ensure that this manga is entertaining!
Special Oneshot Itookashi (KOTOYAMA): KOTOYAMA here, it's been a while. This is a spinoff type thing that I really wanted to draw....what do you think of it?
Detective Conan (Gosho Aoyama): The time I met Sakamoto of the Kyoujins. (Lol)
(TN- Not 100% sure, but I think Aoyama is referring to the Yomiuri Giants who are also known as the Kyoujin.)
Hatsukoi Zombie (Ryou Minenami): When I was at my part time job and got into an argument with someone --I kind of wondered if I might get stabbed.
Imoto Rireki (Kei Nishimura): When I had my first Thank-You-Party and had a conversation with Rumiko Takahashi-sensei.
Gopun go no Sekai (Hiroshi Fukuda): When I met Kazuhiro Fujita-sensei. (lol) His aura was so immense that I felt like I could see it.
Komi-san ha Komyusho desu (Tomohito Oda): My interview for high school. I feel like I was blabbering away super fast. 
Be Blues (Motoyuki Tanaka): (Pretty much any time) I have to speak in front of others.
Memesis (Takuya Yagyuu): When I a back up assistant for "Tegami Bachi". My whole body was shivering!
Souboutei Kowasubeshi (Kazuhiro Fujita): From here on in and afterward it's all on me! It was when I first became a part of Shougakukan!!
Kimi ha 008 (Shun Matsuena): Whenever I have to go out in front of people I always get nervous.
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san (Aiko Koyama): Whenever I meet someone for the first time I always get super nervous. 
Aozakura Bouei Daigakkou Monogatari (Hikaru Nikaido): The first time I had to take the role of shield bash as ifrit. 
Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu (Teppei Sugiyama): Whenever I have to sing or do anything in front of people it never fails.
switch (Atsushi Namikiri): My Marriage Ceremony.
Amano Megumi ha Suki darake (Nekoguchi): When I announced my candidacy for the student council in school and had to make a speech in front of all the other students.
Sokyuu no Ariadne (Norihiro Yagi): When I had to introduce myself on stage as a part of a manga competition I entered.
Maoujo de Oyasumi (Kagiji Kumanomata) When I took on my first manga job I was crazy nervous.
Tonikaku Cawaii (Kenjiro Hata) After my first thank-you party, I ended up having a conversation with Adachi-sensei and Takahashi late night in a bar.
Chrono Magia: Infinity Gear (Takeshi Azuma): When My child was born.
Daiku no Hato (Michiteru Kusaba): Whenever I have my meetings I'm nervous. Since it feels like I'm having a battle with my editor. (Jonetsu Tairiku BGM playing.)
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ (Mizuki Kuriyama): It's not when I was most nervous, but a time was graduation when I was up on stage to accept my diploma.
Saike Matashitemo (Tsubasa Fukuchi): Thanks for your support over these last four years!! The final volume has a release date of February, so I'll see you then!!
Marry Grave (Hidenori Yamaji): I dunno about the time I was most nervous, but when I first started with manga I was pretty nervous.
Youkai Giga (Satsuki Satou) I think when the birth canal opened.
Tokaichi Hitoribocchi Nouen (Yuuji Yokoyama): Recently when my cousin who was getting married asked me to make a speech I was nervous.

So on a very relatable level, a lot of folks here are nervous when they have to do anything in front of people. Satou's answer is.....confusing, but on a weird level I think I understand what they're getting at? Also I didn't know Azuma had kids and Namikiri was married! The things you learn from these --as well as Takahashi makes people nervous, (though understandably so.) As you can see above and if you've been paying attention to the blog this should be obvious but Saike has ended with this week's issue. This....fills me with a lot of emotions I'm still sorting through, in all honesty. Though aside from that it's business as usual, no worries.

A new opening and ending have been revealed for Karakuri Circus's second season. The OP will be by Kana-Boon and sport the title "Haguruma" (Gear). While the ending will be by Memai Siren and be called "Evening Shower". Kana-Boon has been featured on Naruto before, while Memai Siren is only breaking into the biz with this being their first single. I'm a bit behind on the anime due to it being outside my normal anime purview (Crunchyroll), but I love me a new opening and ending sequence, so I'll be looking into these when they start. 

First up on the hit parade is Aya Hirakawa's new serial Fire Rabbit!! ...I gotta say that logo looks awesome, and I hope Hirakawa will keep to it. As for the series goes, it was quite a bit different than what I was expecting. At least, this first chapter was in terms of pacing and content. Hirakawa has an approach to her stories that's both very much her while also managing to be rather unique each time through, and that familiarity is a great guide as we go through this first chapter. 

Although I hadn't read Tenshi and Akuto from the start, something I quickly got from reading chapters for the blog is that Hirakawa is all about making even things that shouldn't make cool battle manga into cool battle manga, heh. Her first serial "Kunisaki Izumo's Situation" was closer to Tenshi and Akuto as it was about performances (this time the stage rather than voice acting.) Though even then the passion in the series felt what you'd expect from a hot blooded sports manga with a kind of quaint/odd sense of humor. That's what Fire Rabbit leads off with --one fire fighter saying with aplom much like you'd expect a shounen hero in another genre to say that all walls that stand before him are coming down --and to press forward is the job of a fire-fighter. I like that the others on the scene are dismayed but not surprised. It really sets up the scenario here wonderfully.

Oh and her artwork is super nice. Perhaps it's just the subject matter needing a different approach than Tenshi and Akuto did, but it's great to see Hirakawa can rise to the occasion.

The cast of characters we get are all really interesting too and have dynamic personalities that set them apart from one another, even if because of the way Hirakawa's artwork looks they don't look all that different from each other. There's nothing wrong with this inherently, since in all other aspects Hirakawa's artwork is really polished and it shows throughout this first chapter. Though that beings aid there are two characters who look really similar. 

That all aside, I dig this platoon's moxy. They do their job, but they're super Dynamic about it. In fact their leader as pictured above excuses them having rather unorthodox methods (Like running into a building alone or tying up other fire fighters with hoses) as perfectly fine as long as they're dynamic! Dynamism is what fire fighting is all about after all!! That's not right, but it certainly is entertaining. 

And I don't think I've hidden how much I love the gathering of unique characters together, especially when they're odd and offbeat like the first squadron as pictured above. This is the "Fire Rabbit" unit, which gets their name from the name "Usagigahara" (Rabbit fields.) Their methods are odd, (one guy has a friggin chainsaw), but if you need saving from a burning building, you couldn't ask for a better bunch! Even in the fire pictured in the first part of the chapter they were able to save everyone with only minor injuries!

We then move along to a certain high school and where a certain student --Mahiro Totaka (who has the kanji for "rabbit" in his name as well.) is more interested in programming and games than, well, anything else really. To the point that he totally misses that they're doing evacuation exercises and has to be personally invited to join the group outside. He has amazing grades and a straightforward personality --perhaps to a fault since he can't recognize things and people around him due to being too engrossed in his ambitions to be a programmer. 

Some fun interaction between Mahiro and his uncle (Yes that lady is his uncle) Aijiro occur when he returns home. Mahiro really isn't malicious, he's just really (seemingly) unable to read the room, and even though he and his uncle have the same interactions in regards to saying his real name in public (he shouldn't) and blames himself for baking trouble for someone who's raised him, it's more a thing where he's just really unsure how to act than acting a certain way on purpose. 

Even here when paying respects to his dead parents, the only thing he says is "I've finally got it--the ability/strength to live on my own." The preview of the series indicated this aspect of his character, but I guess I just wasn't expecting it to be expressed like this. 

Though a brief flashback shows he wasn't always like this, which I admit is a little disappointing. Or well, not quite disappointing, or even safe.....I guess I just would have found it more interesting if Mahiro were just the type who kept to himself and that was seen as maybe not a positive attribute but at least one that doesn't necessarily need to be changed. Of course this is only the first chapter so there's a chance the trajectory of the story won't be quite as predictable as it's implying any case, Mahiro has passed his exams in school and finally sets out to live on his own in a hotel that's a bit run down. He's ready to to set out on his solitary life when he realizes his floor is on fire! Itsuki the leader of the Fire Rabbits is out shopping when he sees the building, and you know he's going to have to step in. It's interesting the two leads haven't met each other on the first chapter, and their narratives are still separate, leaving a sense of apprehension as to how these will cross over eventually. We'll have to wait till next week to find out, and you can be sure I'll be here for it! Fire Rabbit is off to an interesting start and has all the ingredients to be a familiar but fun entry into the shounen demographic. The question is will it be able to mix these things into something lasting? 

Mr. Shounen Sunday is still investigating this week with a promise that the mystery will be solved in the next chapter --but as Conan usually goes, the case itself is far less interesting than some of the plot elements bubbling in the BG. Sera is out looking to prove that mild mannered half-pint Detective Conan is actually Shinichi Kudo, and he has far more going on than meets the eye! At least at first, until her attention is shifted over to Ai Haibara, who drops a bit of information about the pharmaceutical company her father works for --the very same that seems to be implied to be behind the drug that shrunk Conan in the first place. Within all of this, he's still able to get the clues he needs to discover who's behind the serial murders, and the deduction show will be in the next chapter. Will the little crumbs revealed this week play into the conclusion? 

Hatsukoi Zombie's got a cute autumn(?) Colored page for it's 14th volume being out and the series popularity. I've heard from some people that the series feels like it's coming to a conclusion, which wouldn't be out of place with all the new works heading to Sunday soon, but I couldn't say myself since I'm not quite caught up with current events. Though the artwork at least is a beaut to behold.

Probably the strongest thing about Imouto Rireki is that we're only maybe sorta sure of what the little sister in the series is actually thinking aside from what Sakutarou's wild delusions and access to her internet history give him. Like, I really do think if we were given proof positive of her thought processes that a lot of the magic would be lost. Is little sis searching the internet for things she's actually concerned about, or is she trolling around out of boredom or even more insidiously, just trolling her brother for attention? The answer to this question isn't any more clear with this week's set of chapters, but I think just kind of finding the "voice" of this manga makes it a little easier to know what to expect. The first half of the two chapters we get is about scary stories, and the implication that reading them is what's got little sis too scared to go to bed or to the bathroom for that matter.  Saku can't have that, and goes out of his way to make it so his sister doesn't have anything to be afraid of by turning on all the lights in the hallway to give her clear passage. It's cute in a weird way, until the punchline hits and now her searches are about her bro waiting by the toliet, and how that's creepy. She's not wrong, really, but man that's gotta hurt. 

The second chapter of this set chronicle's little sis's interest in becoming a "gyaru" or "gal" which has a cultural significance in Japan that I could spend this entire blog entry talking about, but since this ain't that sorta place, I'll just direct you to wikipedia. Again Sakutarou is just trying to steer his little sister down the "right" path (Gyaru's have a certain stereotypical significance), but he goes about it all wrong --instead of explaining that she'll be looked at differently if she should pursue being a gyaru, he instead comments on her clothes saying if she makes her skirt too short her underwear will show. Yeah, gotta say hearing that from your bro probably would be a little...yeah. I almost think this manga could be named "Brilliant insight, sub-par delivery" and not have to change a thing, haha. Though Ikumi decides herself after meeting a gyaru and being unable to keep up a conversation with her that maybe she's barking up the wrong tree as stated in her search history with things such as "Yeah, this is impossible for me" and "it's too soon.". Probably the best thing is Sakutarou commenting in a kind of monotone: "Uh, did something happen"? This half was a bit stronger than the other, but it does leave me wondering how long this idea can possibly keep going if the series does prove successful....though I suppose it really is simple enough that ideas can come from anywhere, and it walks that line between being awkward and genuinely kind of sweet too.

One of my favorite phrases is "For every greeting there is a farewell", and that time has come with this week's chapter of Komi. Rei's mom has come to pick her up, and farewells for both girls is hard when they've really started to connect. Komi's actually brought to tears at the idea of Rei leaving, and she in turn cries over being separated from her new friend as well. Though even with Rei continuing to hop around the world and see new places, there's something she gained from her time with Komi --the ability, --no, the desire to make friends. To take that first step to reach a hand out and want in turn to be reached out to, as she does at the end of the chapter when another kid picks up something she drops and hands it back to her. It's a simple enough gesture, but I really like how Oda (not that one) shows that it's the simple things that can have the biggest changes. If we get nothing else from the Rei arc, that should be it. While shounen is a demographic where friendships and the like are usually born from (direct) conflict, I really do appreciate Komi being that series that gives us another POV on what is the bread and butter of shounen friendships and interactions.

A bit of errata, I'm not perfect as you may know from my sometimes questionable writing decisions but I reported before that KOTOYAMA's new one shot would take place 8 months after Dagashikashi ended, but after reading through this, it's clear that they meant it's been eight months since the series ended in real time, and that has no bearing on this new work. Rather, this takes place from Hajime Owari's point of view before she found her way to the Shikada store. Shougakukan didn't make any effort to hide that the one shot would be about Hajime at least, haha. Though yes, she takes the main stage in "Itookashi", which ended up being a bit more somber than I was expecting from something Dagashikashi related. 

I feel like somewhere along the way Hajime became a favorite of KOTOYAMA during the run of Dagashikashi. This is just my speculation based on how much more she was featured in the story (even taking the cover of the final chapter rather than the main characters!) and now her receiving an "origin story" of sorts. I can definitely understand creating a character to fulfill a role, and then falling for them to a point that they take a life of their own. I don't quite remember, but I think Hajime is 20 in Dagashikashi, but in this one shot she's 18, a college drop out, and trying her luck with drawing manga by bringing her work to an editor who's not at all sure what the heck he's doing in this industry either. (I did say this is a bit more dour than the series that preceded it, didn't I?) Though I feel like because of that we really get to see KOTOYAMA's chops as a character writer. Hajime is barely a year into college before she gives up, something the editor expresses surprise at --though she says she wasn't really able to make friends and realized she didn't really want to be in school ---that manga is the only thing she really enjoys.

She's got little to no confidence in her work, but the editor asks her to bring everything she has drawn over the years, and even has her introduce herself to the rest of the editorial department. Though Hajime goes through with it, she asks to never have to again. This is exactly why she dropped out of college in the first place, and to have to talk in front of others is a waste of time. The editor is so dumbfounded by her frankness that he isn't able to say a word and can only watch her go as she says she'll draw more manga for him to see. He (and we) get a better idea of what kind of person she is, as well as the tempo of this manga that really does feel more like it'd be at home in a seinen publication. There's just something slow, calm, and maybe even a little brooding about this that feels way different than Dagashikashi, and I really like it. Although this may just be based on KOTOYAMA's experiences and not really reflect real life, there's something genuine about it all. 

He suggests serializing her work, and Hajime eagerly agrees. While the story of the manga she turns in is interesting, the speed of which she's pumping out chapters is far too fast, (a day between them...) and Hajime seems to be more tired and withdrawn every time he sees her. She shakes off his concerns, and at first he's content to take her word for it, but then just out of a sense of meandering doubt, he goes to her house and finds she's living in squalor. Not eating, not even remembering to buy furniture --it becomes clear that it's not she has no interest in anything but manga, but she has absolutely nothing to live for other than it. Realizing he's failed her as an editor not to notice this, he cancels the serialization.

Again, I have no idea if this is a personal anecdote, or KOTOYAMA just really knowing what it is to be a mangaka, but the way the rest of this plays out is extremely genuine. Like it feels as if I'm being told this story directly rather than reading it second hand. Her serialization cancelled, and feeling like she has nothing else, the editor says that rather than looking at life as something where you do things because you have nothing else to do or live for, having something that one can look at and feel like "this is good" or "this is what makes me happy" is important. When she finds something like that then she can give him a call and they can pursue the manga thing again. Even though he knows he's letting a talent slip through his fingers, he knows deep down it's for the best. A few years pass and he's welcoming in a new talent --Koko! Glad to see that the Dagashi connection is indeed there. This time Koko's taking the walk on the stage, and there in the audience taking his picture is...

A much healthier, happier Hajime. The one shot ends there with the two meeting again awkwardly, and I think that's perfect. Like this isn't a story that needs a grand sweeping conclusion to be "complete".  Rather, it's the beginning of another story so ending right here is exactly what it needs, plus the full circle effect is wonderfully done --we know who Hajime becomes, and this was clearly to show who she once was. Not only that any more would --to me cheapen what KOTOYAMA was going for. Itookashi was a short read, and maybe just a little uncomfortable for someone coming off Dagashikashi expecting more of the same, but to me it solidifies the author as one to watch --that he can do oddball ensemble comedy and something more poignant as well. Luckily for us the side text reads that KOTOYAMA is preparing another work as we speak, so hopefully it won't be long until we see him again. Itookashi was a surprise on pretty much every level but I enjoyed it, and might even say it was my favorite oneshot of 2018. Come back soon KOTOYAMA!

Saike itself will come later, but since this is the features section, I feel like I should report this right away --the time traveling hero may be saying farewell but not Fukuchi. Shougakukan thinks he's a big enough deal to take out a whole page ad saying that he is hard at work on his next work and more news is on the way!  It looks like we get a bit of a sketchy preview above of a girl, two boys(?) another boy being pierced through the chest with a laser beam, and...well it looks wild. Fukuchi said in this week's Sunday blog entry that his next series will probably be completely different from Saike though he'll be taking what he learned from writing it and applying it to the new work. Not at all sure what that means, but more Fukuchi makes this blogger very happy. 

If not having Conan constantly in the magazine is letting you down, well Aoyama has the recommendation for you! Yes, even the man behind Mr. Shounen Sunday is in love with Shinigami Bouchan to Kuro Maid if the series just being charming wasn't enough for you to check it out. I just hope Aoyama isn't using the series as another reason not to draw his own, hah. 

This week's diary entry comes Kyouichi Nanatsuki who writes Xeno. (with Teppei Sugiyama drawing the artwork), and it details his "origin" of sorts --- his little brother give him an issue of Weekly Shounen Sunday, and he entered a contest for new works being offered by the magazine. Hitting writer's block, he thought about giving up, but kept plugging away until the very morning that the entry was due, having no choice but to take it to Shougakukan himself in order for it to make the deadline, but finding that he was being stymied by Goldenweek and such the post office wouldn't take it! He ended up going there and handing the manuscript to someone in the building itself --and now 28 years later he's still writing for Shounen Sunday, musing about how his inability to give up may have changed the crossroads of his life.  This is pretty cool to run in the same issue as Itookashi, really, even if they almost have a entirely different message --no, in spite of that. 

It was rather short, but that's the features section for this week! Next issue (which is not next week, by the way.) Features the premiere of Ashibi Fukui's new series --Ano Natsu 1959, color pages for Imouto Rireki and Fire Rabbit, The first chapter of The "Tokuten Ranbu: movie" manga by Shinobi No's Rokuro Ogaki, and the solution part of Conan's current case among other things. Once again I'll have a week off before Sunday returns to it's weekly wares which will give me a chance to calibrate and reload so that the magazine is hopefully not quite as late as it has been lately. I hope to have the last editorial of the year out before the end of 2018, so we can start 2019 with issue 6 as nature intended. Until then, take care, and happy holidays!