Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Covering Sunday February 2018 Edition

I'm not late! I'm not late! I cry as I throw this entry up on the last day of the month. Though it really isn't my fault this time --I had trouble getting the covers for Dagashikashi and Meteor Girl, and even though I got them they're....quite low quality. Still, something is better than nothing.

Starting things up is K.O.I's third volume. I loooove Wakaki's adorable art but question his choice in manga topics, but I think you all have heard me say that, so yeah. It's a cover with wonderful color work aside from the two characters featured (who manage to look very distinct from one another, I might add) and my usual peeve of the volume # being too obtrusive is also taken care of. I'd grade it down for the logo being right in the middle, but I think in this case it's fine. as it doesn't get in the way of anything important. 

Be Blues slides in on the side this week, and in all honesty I wish more series would take this approach rather than trying to fit artwork horizontally. Granted in this case there really isn't much going on here, but It looks nice and accommodates all the characters on the cover. I realize it does probably look awkward from a reading standpoint, but the cover is to entice and you won't be seeing it anyway as you read so.

Saike #11! Not to say Volume 10 was a let down by any means, but 11 is a much better showing by Fukuchi by far, second only to volume 9's amazing cover. I still really like that Fukuchi's name is unobtrusive on the side giving much more room for the illustration itself, which is a great hodgepodge of things that occurred in the arc itself without seeming too messy. 

Feels like so long ago when I was talking about Quadrable week to week...Arai's artwork looks penciled in here --maybe it is, I'm not too good yet at being able to tell. Either way it feels "quaint" like adventure manga of past eras. The use of color here too is warm and enticing as well! Also regaling everything to a square on the side is a nice touch so we can enjoy the cover in all of it's glory. 

Simplicity is the name of the game with Hiiragi's 7th volume, and for the most part it works. Nishimori has very unique artwork that I feel like a busier cover might have obstructed, honestly. Hiiragi is the poster girl for this manga, and as such she should be the one we first see which is what this does perfectly. Plus I like the placement of Nishimori's name, the logo, and the volume number so that they all compliment Hiiragi in the center. 

I just noticed that Evans and Pheebs are holding hands here, sorta. Way to show off your end game Kuriyama, hah. Though I guess if you're reading Evans this is all but obvious to you. I really like that this is clearly a scene out of their daily life opposed to being something flashy for the sake of grabbing attention --it manages to do that all without needing to be garish, which takes a good amount of work. Evans has a strong logo so having it in the center is perfect, and the upper left with the translation of the Japanese is a nice touch too. 

It's Meteor Girl's fourth and final volume and....while I like Hane, I wonder if she was really the best pick for the finale? Like this would have been fine for volume three, but for a last cover it leaves me a little baffled. I read the series so I know what happens, but I do think that the main character --Tetto should have appeared on the final cover at least....and Hane's posing is kinda strange too as are the falling meteor girls. I won't assume that Ishiyama kinda threw something together cause the series got cancelled, but it does kind of feel that way.

And last but not least is Dagashikashi's 10th volume. KOTYAMA certainly knows how to get the most out of a simple concept both in the book and on it's cover. Yutaka and Hajime look smug and awesome, and while the text is a little big for the simple logo, Hajime's coat in mid motion gives this whole illustration a confident flair like "I don't need you to read me, but you may if you wish". And I like it enough to make this my cover of the month. 

I won't make any promises for the next entry since I'm at the mercy of what I can find, but I think I may have figured out something that might mean I can get these out a little sooner. We'll see in March, and I hope I'll see you here as well. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #14 (2018)

Wow, Issue #14 in February. While due to how the magazine numbering system works it totally makes sense, it's still weird to think that we're already well into the double digits despite the year being only a little under two months old. Not only that but we've seen a lot of series begin and end in rapid order, though at least for now the turmoil has subsided and we're here with the last new series for a bit. Lotta sunday to talk about, and I know I'm ready....are you?

On the cover is Nao Kosaka of Keyakisaka 46. Or well, as written there "Hiragana Keyaki" which would take more explanation than it's worth, really, especially since I know little to nothing about idols. I think probably what's more fetching than Miss Kosaka is perhaps the plaid iteration of the logo. I'm not sure how I feel about it --though I can't stop looking, hah. Below her is Takuya Yagyuu's new series "Memesis" which is the serialization I am looking forward to most out of the new set. No worries, I will be using my skills to tell you all about it!

Before we go further, we must check in with the TOC gatekeeper.

Memesis by Takuya Yagyuu (New series/lead color)
Tonikaku Cawaii by Kenjirou Hata (Chapter 4)
Komi-san wa komyushou desu by Tomohito Oda (Chapter 128)
Dagashikashi by KOTOYAMA (Chapter 180)
Kimi wa 008 by Syun Matsuena (Chapter 2)
Be Blues! by Motoyuki Tanaka (Chapter 322)
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ by Mizuki Kuriyama (Chapter 44)
Amano Megumi ha Suki darake! by Nekoguchi (Chapter 112)
Shinobi no by Rokuro Ogaki (Chapter 30)
Tenshi & Akuto by Aya Hirakawa (Chapter 154)
Maoujo de Oyasumi by Kagiji Kumanomata(Chapter 90)
Major 2nd by Takuya Mitsuda (Chapter 129)
Hatsukoi Zombie by Ryou Minenami (Chapter 115)
Marry Grave by Hidenori Yamaji (Chapter 10)
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san by Aiko Koyama (Chapter 57)
Aozakura Bouei daigakkou monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido (Chapter 79)
Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu satsujin misshitsu Story by Kyouichi Nanatsuki Art by Teppei Sugiyama (Chapter 12)
Sokyuu no Ariadne by Norihiro Yagi (Chapter 11)
Daiku no Hatou by Michiteru Kusaba (Chapter 41)
Birdmen by Yellow Tanabe (Chapter 57)
K.O.I King of Idol by Tamaki Wakaki (Chapter 36)
Saike Matashitemo by Tsubasa Fukuchi (Chapter 106)
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou 
Tokaichi Hitoribocchi Nouen by Yuji Yokoyama (Chapter 12)

Not in this issue are the following:

Detective Conan
Souboutei Kowasubeshi
Zettai Karen Children

I'm, uh, not even going to comment on Saike because it's far too painful. Rather let's talk about how the new series have all sort of congregated in the middle --or, well, the old new series. (My time moves fast in the world of weekly shounen manga.) I had heard Xeno was poorly received in Japan but it's ranking is in fact the most solid out of the three old new's. Now this might be the editors running interference, but I do think that perhaps this is a sign of reader fatigue with Ariadne as well. Part of why I didn't cover it last week is because, well, it's just not been that interesting lately, and it feels like all of the potential it had is being squandered. Granted it all comes down to volume sales in the end, so if it does well there --which it probably will, then there's a good chance that it's low ranking won't matter. Marry being the highest of the new series is nice, though it seems to yo-yo, quite often. Otherwise aside from Pops being rather high up in the magazine --a good sign, it's the old-olds that lead the pack which isn't at all surprising since they're still around for a reason. Though a bit of news --apparently KOTOYAMA announced recently that he has finished the final chapter of Dagashikashi and it won't be long until it's complete. This correlates with a chapter I covered some time ago where Hotaru mentioned leaving soon, so I guess I'm not surprised as much as I am a little shocked? They're different, I swear. Like since he telegraphed it so early it's not surprising to see the candy shop preparing to close it's doors, but due to the series' popularity I guess I wasn't expecting it this soon? I'm certainly glad the quasi-myth of editors extending series superficially to rake in the cash doesn't seem to be true, but can Sunday really deal with losing another moneymaker? The answer to that seems to be "maybe" as the Magazine's revenue has gone up slightly in the last few years --it's higher than it was in 2015 and 2016. --and now sits at a growth of 13%. Not bad, but I know they can do better, so fight on, Shougakukan!

Nao Kosaka is this week's Sunday Girl, and she was born September 7th 2002 in Osaka. She's in her second year in Keyakisaka, and this is her first solo photoshoot. I'm assuming she's new to this since there aren't any other credits to speak of, so here's hoping to a great career for a very pretty young lady.

I'm not covering Megumi this week due to the sheer volume of stuff there is in the magazine for me to talk about --but rejoice as I thought to at least include this step by step guide to cosplaying as Amano Megumi herself. Considering she doesn't really wear anything that'd be too difficult to recreate, I'm kind of surprised a guide is necessary, but who am I to judge? Hopefully with the "Obligatory" coverages ending slowly over the next few weeks I can get back to giving Amano more of my time. For this week however, this is the best I can do. Sorry!

Welcome to the Takuya Yagyuu's world where monsters roam the land waiting for intrepid heroes to slay them, and look pretty dang impressive while doing it. The opening text remarks on a certain hero --a "Lord Leon" being an important face here --if only he were here....but what does that mean exactly? I'm not much of a hero, but I'll be glad to be your knight as we explore the treacerous world of Memesis. 

Ash and Kijira are two heroes slaying monsters as heroes in dark fantasy stories do, and already I get this very distinct "Light Novel-esque" feeling from the series. Now I know LN's are often looked down upon for having derivative writing and characters, but I think this fusion between shounen tropes and LN writing might have something going for itself as it doesn't take itself too seriously. The monsters Ash and Kijira battle against are grotesque, cool and over the top which lends itself to the notion that this isn't meant to be taken too seriously. Plus...

Yagyuu's artwork oozes style. Here Kijira and Ash are reflecting on the aforementioned Leon and quickly grow disgusted upon hearing his name. So they had a relationship with Leon, but things clearly didn't end well. 

It's not long after that they aid another warrior --Linda It's an ordinary name for English readers, but sorta exotic for Japan, I guess. And she's pursuing the Demon King's Stone soldier who stole her family, her home, and everything from her. Unfortunately she's woefully ill equipped to take on villains, but at least Kijira and Ash come along to give her a helping hand. It's through her that we find out they have quite the reputation too --upon learning their names she's immediately impressed as tales of their monster hunting exploits have spread like wildfire. 

More exposition comes from Linda --who explains she was looking for their travel mate Leon, but she'll settle for them. Kijira and Ash are both immediately angered by the mere mention of Leon's name, but inspite of (or probably because?) of this they accompany her, though Linda can tell there's something going on with the two. She doesn't push though, comparing whatever they might have lost or endured to the loss of her parents and understanding their reluctance to talk about it. They soon arrive at the Stone Soldier and man if he isn't a sight to behold even as he slumbers. 

Linda's ready to give up her life in this fight to avenge her parents, but Kijira and Ash ask her to stay behind as they take care of the monster on their own. Linda is bewildered that they're this willing to risk their lives and despite herself asks for their story. 

And this is where the manga takes a...surprising turn. See, I was expecting a fairly typical and well, to be honest, humorless story spun in the embroidery of the dark fantasy genre, but Yagyuu perhaps knew what we were all expecting and duck expertly out of the way to reveal, well...this. So Leon was indeed a third warrior who traveled with Leon after passing an examination, which says a lot about how highly sought Leon's skills are, huh? He doesn't just accept travel partners --you gotta pass an exam to make the cut. Ash and Kijira were able to keep up with Leon as they traveled through the "sea of poison" and a "hidden forest of flame" forging their bonds over three years, but then a year ago a terrible incident befell the trio. One day they came upon two of Leon's fangirls and considering how popular he is, Kijira and Ash didn't think too much of the ladies throwing their affections at their friend --but...

A few days later, Leon decides to break up the band and choose his fangirls over Kijira and Ash. Not only that, he essentially says he doesn't need them anymore to add insult to injury. Though he does break it down pretty succinctly --Ash is far weaker than him yet acts like a big shot and Kijira's magic casting leaves a lot to be desired. So over the last three years Leon has been carrying the group, and now he's decided he'd rather carry girls. The right page shows rather nicely how Ash and Kijira take this sorta, kinda betrayal, and their exaggerated expressions go great with this sudden turn of events. Though I have to wonder what made Leon put up with them with three whole  years if he really thought they were useless? Surely he's met a girl or two in that period of time, so why now? In any case, this is the reason why Ash and Kijira have set out on their journey --to basically show how much better they are than Leon, and eventually kill the demon king before he can. 

Linda's reaction was mine and probably is yours as you read this. It's all so ridiculous that one can't help but laugh. Even as Ash and Kijira bravely go to face the stone soldier, Linda is too dumbfounded by this idiocy to respond to their request that she pray for them. Also the title gets kind of a drop here, and boy is it a doozy. So, "Memesis" is loosely related to the Japanese word "Memeshii" or "effeminate", which I'll explain more of in a moment, so keep it in mind. 

Still, all the siliness aside, Ash and Kijira are pretty dang good at slaying monsters and Yagyuu's pretty dang good at drawing them doing it as these pages show. Ironically enough, they did actually take Leon's belittlement in stride since Kijira does know a certain level of healing magic now, and Ash is strong enough to bear the giant stone soldier's attacks. Yagyuu's panelwork isn't quite as strong as say--Fukuda or Fujita, but the potential is there, judging from the panels right above this page, like the one showing the explosion from underneath the stone soldier's foot and the topmost page above these two with the tumbling SFX which immediately brings Mitsuhashi's work on RYOKO to mind. Ahhh I miss him so much. Yagyuu is what a manga artist hoping to break into the action business should be about --bold wide strokes with unique storyboards. 

Oh and flashy finishes like this. I still just find it great they've actually inadvertently gotten stronger because of Leon while simultaneously hating his guts. 

Her parents avenged, Linda starts off on her own journey, despite Ash and Kijira inviting her to join their party. ....though they really only invite her along because they hope it'll make Leon jealous. Meanwhile Leon has heard of their progress and admits they've come a long way, but they've still got a long journey ahead if they hope to compete with him --and judging from the monsters hes relaxing on, I'd agree with him. 

Kijira and Ash are carving their own legacy now --even if it's one built on the back of pure unfiltered jealousy as they look to overcome Leon in both monster slaying and women wooing --which is where Memesis comes in --these two knights want a lady in arms, and until the goddess of luck smiles upon them they'll leave a swath of dead monsters in their wake! And thus is the last of the three new serials. Cawaii and Memesis have both betrayed my expectations in positive ways while 008 has been just solid no frills Matsuena action. Of course 008's coverage will begin in a bit, as well as Cawaii's last "obligatory" chapter, (right below!) Though in all honesty I'm not sure what to make about Memesis despite all my praise of it. I guess it's good I have another two weeks to decide if it has a place on my blog, because I do definitely think it has potential, and I like having my expectations broken like this, in all honesty. Either way Sunday's on fire in a way I haven't seen since I started the blog, and I couldn't be more excited for the future. 

Cawaii is in an interesting position right now. As a series written by A Sunday veteran it has no reason to rush, and as such isn't really. In fact usually by now you'd expect there to be one or two more characters introduced to round out the protagonists, but we're still only getting to know Nasa and his new wife Tsukasa. Or well, she's not really his wife yet as in this chapter they're going to get their union officiated. Tsukasa even praises Nasa for his name by citing some facts about the space fairing agency. --Something no one has ever done for Nasa since most simply mock him for his name or ask if he'll be an astronaut. It's then that he really does begin to realize he's actually about to get married to a girl he barely knows, and well...can barely hold hands without getting embarrassed, though when he finally does he realizes just how incredible "marriage" is --to hold onto someone's hand, their being for the remainder of their does feel personal on Hata's part. Although this manga hasn't outright been classified as a biographical one, it certainly feels that way. In any case that's essentially all that happens this week, and with this being the 4th chapter (but third occurrence) of Cawaii, I have a decision to make. Sadly I won't be doing dedicated coverage for Cawaii, but it's actually not because I'm not enjoying the series, no, rather it's because the lineup is so strong that I just can't give it the time I think it deserves. Admittedly the series is closer to the bottom of my priorities list, but it has surprised me with how much I do want to see what'll happen next. For sure Cawaii will pop up on the blog occasionally, so please look forward to that. 

Surprisingly the story from last week's Komi chapter continued this week. Tadano's "date" with his buddies goes off without a hitch despite him lying to his sister about where he was actually going. Still, after that there's the matter of giving Komi her gift --and he goes to do just that despite how awkward it'll be. And it is indeed awkward when he shows up rings the bell and gets her brother on the intercom --he hangs up though, hah. Eventually mom comes out and very forcefully asks him to wait inside as Komi has gone out to do shopping. So with that Tadano waits and perhaps the scariest thing known to man enters --the father of the girl you like. Worse, he actually sits down and silently regards Tadano! Granted he doesn't know that Komi takes after her father and the two are just bad with speaking, so he thinks he's doing something wrong, hah. He's unable to take all of the silence and basically gives him his life story along with why he's there. (To give obligatory chocolate, nothing intimate here!) Luckily before it gets any more awkward, Komi comes back and escorts her dad out of the room. Thank goodness huh, Tadano-kun?

Is what I'd like to say but again, like father like daughter. It just becomes a different kind of awkward with her in the room. It's completely silent as Tadano drinks the Tea and Komi wonders if he likes it or not (she assumes he doesn't) and Tadano unable to calm down enough to give her the gift he has just fidgets nervously, but the text boxes clue us in on what's going on, thankfully. The gift that Tadano('s sister) gives Komi is hand cream which she finds absolutely adorable along with a bit of candy.

I think Komi's reaction to the candy is my favorite thing in Sunday this week. Oda (not that one)'s effective use of storyboarding has always been a highlight of this series, but it's only now that I think he's made it an art form of it's own. I also like that the eyes in Komi are not the standard anime ones making for a unique look to the series. They're not intricate or shiny, which makes them stand out even more in my opinion. Komi is excited enough by the gift to use it immediately after Tadano leaves and thinks it smells wonderful. You're moving up the ladder my boy, and I couldn't be prouder, though next time take her out for lunch and don't go out for a cold one with the boys. 

Spy School is in session on the second chapter of 008, and Matsuena doesn't wait long to drop some heavy classwork on readers --(Thanks to a reader of the blog who recommended I spell his name like this, a good choice if I'm to be honest) as the man who called our protagonist into the school in the first place says that his father was doing work to prevent a third world war from happening. I've said I really like the "Kingsmen" vibes this series has been imbued with, and this is totally in line with that. Matsuena is going all in and I couldn't be happier with the result since --in my opinion, this is really what he's good at.  

Though that leaves the question of why Eito, and where is Dad? For now the narrative progresses under the notion that he has died, and that for whatever reason left Eito in the hands of his old buddy who runs a spy school, though he did all this without actually telling his kid what it is he does when he leaves the house. This reeks of something suspicious, but it's only chapter two so. Eito isn't too pleased with this sudden direction his life has taken, and Ayame recommends that he just leave if he's not willing to give this school everything he's got, and for good reason. This probably isn't the kind of place you should be in --much less hope to survive if you're not ready and willing. 

Eito asks what kind of person his Dad was, but if he's not sticking around, then there isn't any reason to tell him much of anything. Ayame bids him farewell with a genuine smile --despite how aloof she appears, Ayame does care for Eito a little bit --at least enough to recommend he leave to avoid being killed. 

Eito returns home after his ordeal and while his sister and mom ask about his injuries, he's had it drilled into him by the lecturers that if he says anything they will all be "dealt with". It's weird they'd let him go anyway then, but I suppose he is the son of one of their top agents, so maybe they're willing to let more slide than usual? Eito dwells in his thoughts for a while, the realization that he actually knows nothing about his father really gets to him. His mother comes in and tearfully remembers how his Dad was a silly and friendly man, but Eito can't bring himself to tell her that this may have been a lie constructed to protect his identity. This is...surprisingly well done for Matsuena, not that I mean to talk down about his work, but I never really figured him to be able to do retrospective well. Sure, it makes sense for Eito to feel this way but the effective use of flashbacks and panel work really makes it come through, like the empty table above and the scene of Eito's Dad not looking at us as we view him from behind. 

After all that Eito heads back to the school much to Ayame's chagrin, and in true shounen style he says that he can't just leave things as they are --he wants to see the other world where his father lived with his own two eyes. --Not too dissimilar from Gon in Hunter X Hunter who became a hunter to see what was so great about the life that he'd give up raising his kid to do it. In fact this series does have more than a fleeting similarity to HXH as well. Though in that case Ging certainly wasn't dead, or seemingly dead at any rate. 

So Eito is back on board for the classes, but since he had all but dropped out yesterday he doesn't have a student number, and not only that he really doesn't have any sort of abilities to speak of that'd make him stand out in a school like this, something the other students are readily able to point out. Then that begs the question of why he's even here, so everyone gets suspicious and surrounds him and Ayame, the latter of which says it's up to him to do what he wants even if the other students don't quite like the idea of having a useless bum dragging them down. Still, their turn is called and the conflict doesn't escalate. 

Unfortunately for Eito he and Ayame are separated, and he's left to fend for himself in what seems to be an ordinary classroom --except, nope, it is by no means ordinary at all as a wall comes crashing down on a nearby dude. Breaking the wall with weapons doesn't do any good, and they're doomed if it falls any further, but then the guy Eito saved in the first chapter appears and his first true ally aside Ayame who's allegiance isn't clear quite yet aside from just worrying about him joins in the fray!

He manages to keep his cool and begin to pick the lock to the door to get them out, but they find that the door is blocked by reinforced concrete and their fate sealed until Eito thinking quickly...

Borrows a Door and keeps the classroom from becoming their grave in an impressive two page spread --one of the few that I've seen Matsuena do that isn't just a character changing upon another or a huge show of power. 

Some students managed to find hidden doors below when the ceiling fell, while others leapt through the doorway as soon as trouble occurred but the rest left in the room with Eito were the ones with the highest amount of passing marks since they managed to stop the wall rather than just escaping from it. It's perhaps because of this that they're allowed to drop out if they feel like this is too much for them, and some students actually do. Eito is concerned about that "dealing with" part, but more importantly he still wants to know more about his father. The lecturer won't tell him anything now, but perhaps if he manages to rise through the ranks he will be given permission to look into his father's file himself, thus providing the "plot" of the series. It's pretty simple as far as things go, but so was Kenichi and that lasted a good long time, so sometimes simple is best. Plus it gives Eito a lot of leeway within the series itself, so this is fine. 

For now, Eito is happy to see Ayame is safe and sound, though she mocks him for being worried about others when his situation is pretty crappy. This peaceful mood doesn't last long however as the lecturer picks up a gun and to the surprise of everyone shoots Ayame point blank several times. Next time is the final obligatory chapter of 008 --so I'll be bringing you the contents of that chapter and saving you from a cliffhanger, but beside that, I do like just how...simple this series is so far. It's great sometimes to have a work that one can just turn off their brain and read, and this is certainly it though Matsuena will need to do more if he doesn't just want to coast on his veteran status, I feel. 

Evans has a color page this week to celebrate a new volume going on sale soon, and as such the series is boosted a little in the TOC. I'd say it's ironic that the series which has been great (to me) lately has been down in the dumps but sadly this is not a unique situation when it comes to my taste in manga....though it's Evans who's got the real trouble here as the storyline brought up a while ago rears it's ugly head again --Evans is a targeted man, and even though he captured one of the people after him --a former swindler named Jean Adler, she gleefully informs him that there's someone else who's out for his blood. Unfortunately Jean doesn't tell him when this person is coming or what they'll look like so for a few days Evans is just on the edge of his seat waiting for this person to come, to the point that he wants to be attacked just to get it over with. When Pheebs comes in looking for more bounties to bag, he's jumpy enough that he clears a pass to his ceiling as seen above, hah.  

Another woman has come calling for Evans and her name is Annie McGregor. Normally Evans would crush on a lass this pretty but he's more concerned with the fact that he's never met her before, so she could very well be the one out for his life. That being said she is the wife of the stable keeper, so I guess she's off limits anyway. Evans has actually met her before when he closed a case at the stable, but since he has assassins on the mind, all he can see is a woman out for his head. She brings a cake to repay him for his hard work, but, well, one can see where this is going. 

Pheebs isn't sure who she is and asks, but Evans not being sure if she's an assassin or not answers vaguely. Annie figures his straight behavior is because he forgot the women in this series have great intuition, don't they? And Evans himself consults his Dad's lectures to come to conclusion that perhaps he's been a little too careful. Pheebs asks again what's going on, and Evans is still frustratingly vague as he tries to decide on how he'll handle the situation....

Leaving Pheebs to think that she's actually his ex --and it's great that the side text reminds us again that Evans has no experience with women, so this isn't the case at all. Meanwhile the actual assassin seems to be closing in. All of these points crossing together means one heck of a time next week and I'm looking forward to it. 

Loving the fronstpiece for this week's Shinobi no. I think that art style is my aesthetic if I'm to be frank. Especially when contemporary manga artists use it on their characters. This arc is all about art, and the Moonlight Beauty is about to dye (or die) the canvas with Ei's blood as the chapter begins. 

I'd have been surprised if there wasn't some kind of play here --both because this is a shounen manga even if it's a little bloodier than most, and because it's a shounen manga with Pops as the protagonist. I start thinking about how long a series with a protagonist who --so far hasn't failed can continue to be interesting, but so far Ogaki hasn't dropped the ball, so I guess I'll just roll with it. Anyway, Toudou and Kaede are on the scene to both distract and stop the Moonlight Beauty. A shame Toudou isn't so great with shuriken, but at least he managed to keep Kaede from literally losing her head. 

I really only included this page because I like Pops' ragtag team. I thought I was fine with the old man shinobi acting on his own but there's a certain synergy that Kaede and Toudou Heisuke bring that make Shinobi no all that much more....not interesting per se, but appealing, I guess? 

This is more than the Moonlight Beauty is ready to deal with, so she makes a break for it as Toudou attacks and nearly succeeds in cutting her down. The kid might not be too bright, but I admire someone who's able to back up their big talk with action. While the Moonlight Beauty is making an escape, they encounter Ei who was supposed to be in hiding, but chooses a pretty bad time to make a heroic stand. She may  not think much of her father, but when compared to someone who kills for money, her father's a saint. She won't give up the painting even if it kills her, which the Moonlight Beauty is more than happy to grant, but luckily for her Pops is here to protect the artist as he promised, except this job just got a tad bit more...interesting. 

The Moonlight Beauty is actually...a Moonlight...Stud? Even Pops wasn't expecting this judging from his expression. Though surprising, does this change much of anything? Next week! 

Admittedly I've been cold on Tenshi and Akuto since it's doubled down on it's romantic content, but I am enjoying how these events are unfolding in a realistic-ish manner. Akuto and Nari are officially an item and their careers are taking off as they get more roles, but it seems a certain unknown someone is spying into their lives and leaking it to the media.  It's due to the weather one time that Nari stays over at a hotel with Akuto where nothing happens, (in fact Akuto stays up the entire night.) but the way that media can twist the most innocent of things depending on it's bent is represented well here. In fact it's a POV I wasn't expecting from Tenshi and Akuto even if the series --other than the dramatic reads has been pretty free of the supernatural. 

Nari recieved a few texts but now it's in the news how they were seen together at a hotel, but who's aiming for them and why? The next week's chapter promises things are only going to heat up from here. I figured of course these idyllic chapters couldn't continue forever, and I'll be keeping my eyes on future events even if I can't cover them due to time.

Merry Grave continues with the adventures of Jean and Sawyer --which sounds like a PBS special now that I think of it, hah. Though one thing I hadn't thought about until now is's taken Sawyer 40 years to get as far as he did, something Jean immediately points out. It's true, Sawyer has been essentially walking around aimlessly on his own this whole time, and doesn't have a whole lot to show for it. This is already exactly what I wanted out of a new POV in Sawyer's journey and why it's excellent to have a cast of characters in any work. Not just because it's more to like but because they can bring different perspectives a single main character can't. 

Also, as Sawyer says here, it's just fun to have someone to banter with --for both him and us. Plus since he and Jean have the same very long lifespans they're gonna be buddies for a while. No lie, Jean is adorable as she realizes that while she has "friends" Sawyer is the first "friend" she has that she has something in common with. She's also far more aware of the world outside of the Fairy's land than I would have taken her for, as she's able to open up a map and tell Sawyer where they need to head to next. It's around "Gondole" That Jean and Rozalie said their farewells, so that's a good sign that while he's been delayed quite a bit, Sawyer is indeed headed in the right direction. 

After this is a few pages of a Sawyer and Jean having fun being buddies montage that I wish I could include, but space constraints keeps me from doing so. At the very least you get a page on the left there, and it's all just as cute as that. They soon arrive at the valley where the next ingredient lies, and it's creepy enough that Jean thinks they should turn back, and warns Sawyer as such. Unfortunately for her, she's unaware of just how much Sawyer loves his deceased wife, as he hugs the ground and celebrates walking the same place she did while running like an idiot into the valley without being prepared for what might be waiting there. It's too late to regret your choice of travelmate, Jean! 

Indeed on the shopping list of the dead is the feather of a Harpy, and Sawyer figures such docile looking creatures wouldn't mind hanging over a feather or two if they just ask nicely, right? Aha, no. They immediately bare their fangs evidencing it's going to be a long fight. Jean and Sawyer's expressions on the bottom right are my favorite things ever. 

I might have exaggerated that "Long fight" bit, however as they only really need a feather, and after a bit of fleeing for their lives, Jean and Sawyer manage to pick up plumage, however they find that they aren't alone...

The mystery man from the bar has followed them all the way here, and can immediately tell that Sawyer has returned from the dead, and not only that he reveals that he too has a grocery shop from hell --as he is looking up the deadman's recipe! The implications of this are wild as now we have to consider the fact that Yamaji never once said in the narrative that there is only one book, which means aside from this stranger there may very well be many people out there looking to achieve the same thing Sawyer is! This makes the scope of Marry Grave huge as this is no longer just about Sawyer and Rozalie....

Xeno surprised me this week with a chapter that's perhaps not particularly thoughtful or enigmatic, but way different than I would have been expecting from the series, especially after last week's events and the story in general. To see into the mind of Xeno is one thing, since, hey, he is the main character, but I hadn't at all thought about what is in there, and the world illustrated by Sugiyama and explained by Nanatsuki is...well, I hope I can explain it in this week's entry. Essentially Xeno has dreams of a place --a field where children run past him, pushing him along to scenery of which brings his dream to an end.

Sugiyama's figured out the character designs of the series, and it shows with Ayla looking quite cute in the top panel on the left. Her job seems to extend to being Xeno's caretaker as she wakes him up. Apparently he's no fan of her coming in without announcing herself but when she rang the doorbell he didn't answer which left her no choice. Xeno comments on his day ritual of observing people when she asks why he's in a bad mood. (He says he has no interest in talking about that --his dreams with other people) pointing out a college student, a painter and an office worker. He's also able to tell that each one of them has a problem, ranging from issues with graduating on time, their life savings, and trouble with her love life --of which she's tangled with a married superior. The last of which he knows from her habit of looking at her cellphone in irritation, while hiding it from others. 

Xeno comments that his ability is to suss out information from others but he has no important information of his own due to his memories being lost. Up until now he's had a detached coolness to things going on around him, but this is the first time I've gotten a sense of frustration from him --He does want to be like normal people, but doesn't know how to which is perhaps why he finds his dream so frustrating. Though an hour later when Ayla notices the office worker returning that Xeno says something is wrong. When she passed by before, she had a heavy expression, but upon her return she looks much happier which fills him with a sense of malease. Ayla goes to talk to her directly, when she suddenly begins screaming..

Turns out she had almost murdered the man she was having an affair with. Perhaps the feeling of malease he had was perhaps the same as the woman --a willingness to do anything. Though he can't be sure. He then goes back to sleep but not before commending Ayla for saving three people today. Though she asks what he means by that when there are clearly two.....oh.

The gentle fade in as Xeno heads back into his dream world, and realizes his friends from earlier have run off without him on the top panel is some good stuff --again Sugiyama has shown some real initiative with this chapter. This time around though Xeno goes after them --and interestingly enough says it's thanks to Ayla that he found the inspiration to do so. As he runs forward he finds a small pocket mirror and looks inside of it. 

"Was I once a person who smiled like this?" He asks. "I'd like to meet him again someday..." Hands down, Xeno was my favorite manga in this week's Sunday. I really feel like I connected with the characters in a big way this week and it didn't take a huge detour to do so. It also helped that Sugiyama's art was on point leading to this sad but hopeful crescendo at the end. Xeno's become more than just a detective, but a person who desires something, and I can only hope the readers in Japan will --despite what I've heard about it's poor reception want to see Xeno find what it is he desires.

A bit of errata to correct first --the key character in this arc is "Lord" not "Road" so silly me there. I really have to thank eagle eyed visitors for the blog for being so helpful. In any case, this week's chapter of Birdmen features the titular species of...people? Starting a conversation about the future at Lord's behest. He wants to ensure that they act for the sake of the future and not themselves, and then reveals he is working with a Birdperson known as "Silver Eye" who's got the ability to see into the future....? Silver Eye looks like a sullen kinda guy until he stands up...

And professes that everyone shouldn't fight over him, as he just does this as a hobby. Gotta love that bait and switch. Silver Eye Colins is a guy who's easily excitable from what his friends say, though the don't seem to think too much of him, heh. He predicts the future, but essentially backs up Lord saying essentially the only real future is the one he's working toward. So this is less a conversation and more bragging or even a threat of sorts, because Silver Eye goes on to state that they should just throw away their wings and live as humans if they want to remain fortunate enough to have a future. 

Lord caps this off by saying that the time for humans to spearhead change has come to an end and they will be the one to lead the ship that is the future forward. Later he approaches their group and confirms that they too have some ability to read into the future ---asking them if they think he's all he says he is.  

I mostly linked the page on the left to show the breadth of Tanabe's character designs, from the man on top to the girls on the bottom --one of which (the red-head) is Robin who's agent name is "Queen". Robin's playing double agent for another organization, who is spying on Birdpeople, but it seems she might have been made by Alva Rason who promises to make an actual Queen out of her using their abilities as a "balancer". I'm not at all sure what that means, but the story is moving along on several fronts. We'll have to see where things are headed next month, though. 

Johann, Silva and Sumire arrive in Mexico in this week's chapter of Saike! I do like how the series has this global storyline going for it despite Saike himself being primarily based in Japan. Sadly the series is doing quite poorly if it's location right above Youkai Giga is any indication, but Ill try my best to remain positive by looking into Sumire's eyes and letting that cheer radiate into my soul. Although the trio is keeping their abilities secret from other people, they can't help but be excited to perhaps get leads on where the oracles originated, though most of all they're happy to know they're not alone, as these powers have made them feel isolated from society, so this is more than just a search for answers, it's a search for comradire, for acceptance. Using Silva's ability he's able to pinpoint exactly where something is buried in the ruins and the trio are sure this is the thing they need to learn the "roots" of the oracle powers. They only have three weeks there to dig down and get it though, so it's best to get started!

I've not known Fukuchi to dabble in romance in any of his series --well, Takkoku, but that's clearly meant to be over the top for plot reasons. Perhaps I'll find time to talk about it someday....but for now let's stay in the present. Sumire is --at least for now, a plot point moreso than a character though it's not her fault really, or bad writing on Fukuchi's part either. This is the kind of thing that happens to a character who's fate is a foregone conclusion. We know something bad happens to her, because of the current timeline, so this is just waiting to see what that bad thing is. That being said, she's so full of energy and cheerful that I don't mind if there's not much more to her for now. The romance angle comes in from both Johann and Silva having feelings for the girl --Johann says he intends to confess to her after their search is all said and done --only hastened when Sumire suggests that they talk about their new dreams after they find what they came to look for. He suggests that they both say what is on their mind to Sumire so there will be no ill will between them, and Silva more or less agrees.

He says it's because he doesn't intend to lose to Johann, but deep down it's because he cares about them both, which agrees with what he's doing now explaining all of this to Saike. Unfortunately things can't stay this way for long as I explained before --something seems to be wrong with Sumire. 

She suddenly falls ill, and if that's not bad enough, a student on the trip has been filming them and although Fukuchi doesn't make it clear at the end, it's implied that he might know about their abilities. The Hirayasu incident has demonstrated what happens when people learn about the existence of oracles, so this bodes badly for the group of friends --even if for the audience it keeps things interesting. A lot is happening in this arc, which hastens my worries about Saike being on his last legs, but the threads in the tapestry Fukuchi is weaving this arc does allay my biggest fear that if Saike should end soon, there would be many unanswered questions. With each chapter this arc gives us, that possibility shrinks just a little and considering the circumstances, this is all I could hope for.

This week's Youkai giga features the Shakuji, or a stone worshiped in place of a God. As much as I love Kuro, it's nice to have a little something to write about this week! Two Shakuji are marveling over the work a human girl did for them in fixing their temple, and want to thank her somehow, but all they're good at doing is shining stones and making them look pretty. They decide to use their best on cleaning up the temple and giving her a place to praise them by "erecting" a statue that she can rub all she wants! Oddly enough she's not into it, why would that be? Could it be the shape of that statue? Or perhaps....the stiffness? I'll stop, I promise. Never would have thought Satou could do lowbrow humor in such a sweet way but she managed it, heh. 

And that's it for this 14th issue of 2018 Sunday! Next issue we have Color pages for 008, Memesis, and Marry Grave, though none of them will be on the cover. That goes to Mikoto Hibi! 008 will be coming off obligatory coverage so I hope it impresses and I'm looking forward to more Memesis and time with all of you! Until then, see ya!