Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #18 (2018)

We march into the final Shounen Sunday of March with our heads held high and hopes in our hearts! As spring rises in real life, what will rise in the pages of the magazine that brings us Sunday twice a week?

On the cover is Hikaru Takahashi along with Cawaii and Memesis despite neither of them getting color pages or anything of the sort this week. In the case of the former, I guess it's understandable since it's Hata and apparently very popular? (I've read some accounts of Japanese reception being rather good for it.) But the latter is a lot harder to tell. I don't want to have my heart broken, so I won't read too into it, but I hope it means Memesis is the darling of the editorial department. Meanwhile 008 and Marry Grave are both recieving color pages and once again the former is understandable while the latter inspires more hopes and dreams. April's the month that's gonna separate the men from the shounen, so to speak, however...

TOC is up!

Kimi wa 008 by Syun Matsuena (Color page/Chapter 6)
Komi-san wa Komyushou desu by Tomohito Oda (Chapter 133)
Major 2nd by Takuya Mitsuda (Chapter 133)
Shinigami Bocchan to Kuroi Maid by Koharu Inoue (Special Mini chapter)
Dagashikashi by KOTOYAMA (Chapter 184)
Marry Grave by Hidenori Yamaji (Color page/Chapter 14)
Tonikaku Cawaii by Kenjirou Hata (Chapter 8)
Memesis by Takuya Yagyuu (Chapter 5)
Amano Megumi wa Suki Darake! By Nekoguchi (Chapter 116)
Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu Satasujin Misshitsu Story by Kyouichi Nanatsuki/ Art By Teppei Sugiyama (Chapter 16)
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san by Aiko Koyama (Chapter 61)
Tenshi & Akuto!! by Aya Hirakawa (Chapter 158)
Be Blues by Motoyuki Tanaka (Chapter 326)
Maoujou de Oyasumi by Kagiji Kumanomata (Chapter 94)
Shinobi no by Rokurou Ogaki (Chapter 34)
Daiku no Hatou by Michiteru Kusaba (Chapter 44)
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ By Mizuki Kuriyama (Chapter 48)
Hatsukoi Zombie by Ryou Minenami (Chapter 119)
Souboutei Kowasubeshi by Kazuhiro Fujita (Chapter 95)
Saike Matashitemo by Tsubasa Fukuchi (Chapter 110)
Birdmen by Yellow Tanabe (Chapter 58)
Aozakura Bouei Daigakkou monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido (Chapter 83)
K.O.I King of Idol by Tamaki Wakaki (Chapter 40)
Sokyuu no Ariadne by Norhiro Yagi (Chapter 15)
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou 
Tokaichi Hitoribocchi Nouen by Yuuji Yokoyama (Chapter 16)

Not in this issue are the following:

Detective Conan
Zettai Karen Children

Admittedly if you had told me when it started serialization that Ariadne would be the one struggling to survive as volume one's street date approaches I wouldn't have believed you. Yet, here we are --in all fairness Marry Grave has a color page, so it doesn't really count, but Xeno climbing up on it's own to a respectful position,  Evans maintaining a spot on it's own as well, and Saike climbing out of the basement for a week does seem to suggest that it's not Sunday that's the problem but Yagi. I've expressed my own issues with the story but I don't think it deserves this. That being said things are a little weird with Hatsukoi and Aozakura being a lot lower than usual, and Birdmen also being on the low side, but otherwise it's same order, different Sunday.

This week's Sunday Gal is Hikaru Takahashi, born in Shiga ken, September 22nd 2001. She's a sporty gal, playing Basket ball, Volley ball and having an interest in Dance. So far she's only been in a few commercials, but her star is rising, as she's set to be in a drama --"Pafuchiku" March 31st! She's got an enigmatic look about her and a cute smile, so I wish her luck!

Full disclosure, but while I don't like censoring the blog in any way since it'd defeat the purpose of me doing it, Matsuena is back to his old tricks with the other part of the color page and a part of the chapter, so if you're really curious you'll have to pick up Sunday yourself. I don't have any issues with fanservice per se  though it does absolutely nothing for me.  But I want this blog to be something people can read without shame anywhere so I had to snip that part out. That and it really doesn't lend to the story, so I didn't really feel guilty doing it. I'd feel kind of bad not telling you all at least, so there's my confession. To get to the meat of this chapter, Ayame's past is detailed a bit, and it seems she was an agent even when she was a wee tyke. She and a man she calls father get caught in a mission and he tells her to run on her own. Granted when she calls the man "Dad" he says he's merely a collaborator --a Case officer, and says that they were only "playing house" so to speak. So it's hard to tell if this guy really is her Dad or just someone assuming a role, but either way she's forced to watch him die for the sake of the mission --considering she's a lot less stoic then, I'd assume that this among other things is what changed her into the woman she is now. The scene changes to dinner with the facility that soon goes awry when everyone who eats the food faints. I love that before this the instructor says there isn't poision in the food, but it's a lie by omission --there isn't poison, but there are sleeping drugs. 

And then Eito ends up...well, adrift at sea. Well, one can't say that 008 is a series that's not audacious enough. Personally I really enjoy that about it, but as I said after the obligatory coverage, Matsuena's pedigree and the fact that I have more than enough to cover as is means I can't give this attention I'd like to. I do wish Matsuena all the best in this series as the potential it has to be better than his other works is rather high! Just, I wish he'd rely a little less on T&A maybe...

Ah that wonderful time where a younger sibling ends up going to the same school as an older one. It's happened to me before, albeit briefily, and now it's Komi's turn as her brouther Shousuke is headed to high school. (Something I noticed just now is that the "Shou" in "Shousuke" uses the kanji for "laughter" which this kid really doesn't do much if at all.) So while one Komi child doesn't communicate well and wishes to better herself, the other younger one doesn't think communication is necessary. Hense the double title above. "Komi-kun wa Komyu wo hitsyou to shinai" or "Komi doesn't think communication is necessary." Sounds like he and Yuugami could be friends, if the latter didn't also think friends are unnecessary. 

What's great is it seems like the Komis' and the Tadanos' fates are tied together. Shousuke starts his first day of High school, and who does he meet? None other than Tadano's little sister, Tadano Hitomi! Who admittedly is very cute when she's center focus. (Also her name could mean something like "Just an eye" in comparison to her brother who's name means "Just a guy". Oddly enough her eyes are actually smaller than most animanga girls, upon closer inspection, but I attribute that to Oda (not that one)'s art style, and I think it makes her look unique! But yes, history repeats itself as Hitomi tries to endear herself to the silent Shousuke, except she's waaaaay more....uh, not pushy per say, but extroverted? Yeah, let's go with that. When Shousuke refuses to speak to her, she more or less pushes her way into his space, even rapping an introduction to get his attention. Ah Hitomi you're one of a kind, and I wish you had more screentime. She immediately gets the attention of the class with her spirited greeting to everyone as well so I'm not alone I don't think! 

When it's Shousuke's turn to introduce himself, Hitomi does it for him when it's clear he really doesn't want to talk, hah. The other male students try to get him to eat lunch with them but he simply slides past them --used to running away from conversations he doesn't want to have, but Hitomi isn't going to make it easy for him in the least. She pesters him about his favorite food, and when he finally answers, she pesters him as to why he'd like that (mackerel) of all things. Shousuke  quickly realizes that Hitomi is going to be bad news (for him), hah. I really like this idea that the Tadanos are going to be the ones to bring the Komis out of their shells, even if their methods are different. Poor Shousuke though, he looks destroyed at the end of the chapter. That being said, the preview at the bottom of the page implies next week will be about Komi and her new friend Manbagi, so is the story going to split between two narratives? 

Chapter four of the shorts for the Black maid and her Grim Reaper master is here, and this time it's a question of her outfit which she made herself. When the young master asks her to perhaps wear something more maid-ish, she takes this to mean she should cut the skirt even lower, and then messes with him even further by saying she won't wear anything. (She's joking of course....right?) But really this is the manga in at a glance --and it does what it sets out to quite well and manages to be really charming too. I have to wonder if this is leading up to a move into the main magazine though? It would be a good fit, even if I'd like to see Sunday keep in the action trajectory it's been headed in. Still with Dagashi on it's way out, this might make a decent replacement? I know things don't work that way, but it's worth a thought. 

Speaking of Dagashi, the countdown towards the end continues to march along, with two chapters left. Koko doesn't say anything when Hotaru leaves him to his path as a mangaka, instead returning home in a daze that Saya has to snap him out of using force. (Can I just gush over how KOTOYAMA's artwork is so dynamic that even though it's a still, Saya rearing back to hit Koko looks like it's popping off the page?) Though in all seriousness, Koko wonders if Hotaru would have any interest in him if he's got nothing to do with sweets, and Saya smacks sense into him. Hotaru is a selfish type who wants everything to herself, so if she's leaving him behind it's because she doesn't want to get in the way of his dreams, not because she's disinterested in him. The framing of the chapter --the last look back at the end as Hotaru hesitates is splendidly done as the time ticks toward the conclusion and thus --the ultimate choice. 

Receiving another color page for it's 14th chapter and probably the most a series has had out of the previous serial round, is Marry Grave! I don't say this as someone who doesn't believe the series deserves all of this, I want to see Sawyer enjoy his reanimation as long as possible, but the obvious shilling of the series has me wondering whether it's because they think it needs the help or if it's doing really well with readers....I have no idea, and it does cause me some anxiety. Sawyer on the other hand doesn't know the meaning of "anxiety" as he marches right into the Deathtic River despite Jean's warnings where they meet an actual Mermaid.

But...well, Sawyer has never seen a Mermaid before and thinks it's the lord of the swamp --the Rotted King. Except that intel is 100 years old and this is a Mermaid Lagoon now. Or well, it used to be until a demon with one heck of a design as seen above rotted it away. I really enjoy Yamaji's overly detailed for a weekly shounen magazine artwork. He'd be right at home with Western artists with how his artwork --at least at first glance isn't quite as simplified as some in the demographic. 

The Mermaids were in trouble due to the appearance of this Demon, until their hero appeared, a woman who should be very familiar...yup, that's right! Rozalie! I've said it before that I'm a little sad she's not the protagonist, but Yamaji does a wonderful job of chronicling her adventures to the point that it feels like she sort of is the protagonist albeit one who appears mostly in flashbacks. Rozalie came looking for mermaids and upon finding ogres instead, makes her way past them to the sea-fairing folk in a dire situation. It's great that she indeed does have some agency in the story and is more than just a plot point. Though what happened between then and now, and how does Sawyer figure into things? 

Sunday really is a heroine magazine when you think about it --though not in the way they probably intended --sure we have Komi, the Sleepy Princess, and Hotaru, but the action women are slowly catching up to their slice of life counterparts --especially now with Memesis introducing a female character of it's own. Picking up from last time, it seems this lass had her friends stolen by Leon, and she's out to find them and beat some sense into the hero. She grew up in a martial arts family as the only girl, and thus had no contact with women ever. Soon she went out on a journey to prove her strength, and ran into the two girls Leon travels with and saves them from a jam only then experiencing the female form and falling for it hard enough that she wanted to protect the two girls. Unfortunately it was soon after that they dumped her for Leon which brings us to the current story. Never would have thought Yagyuu is the progressive type since the story seems to check more of the shounen tropes than anything else, but it does make this girl that much more unique in the scheme of things.  

I don't mean to keep referring to her as "the girl" but her name isn't revealed in the chapter, though it's kind of unceremoniously dropped during the preview for the next Sunday, I think anyway. She might be "Rose" but the preview is pretty vauge about it, so for now I'll operate under occam's razor and assume nothing until she says it herself. So what I like most about her is that she has all the traits of a male shounen manga protagonist --brash, straightforward, and a bit dimwitted. It's a refereshing change from the typical female roles in this demographic. She's also hella strong, able to give Ash and Kijira a run for their money despite not being a sword wielder herself. She proposes she toughen them up after hearing their reason for pursuing Leon and ridiculing them on it. "How girly!" she says, even managing to drop the series' title! She's not wrong, while their ambitions are noble, their reasons are not. 

The trio fight, and find that they're actually all scarily strong --once again due to their common interest --or hatred of Leon. Most of all the girl is just happy that someone could take her punches without getting completely destroyed. Oh right, there's a monster involved, but the poor thing gets in the middle of this fight and in turn is eradicated. The girl is happy to have met Ash and Kijira and suggests they travel together to cover each other's backs! I should point out that she way she phrases her proposal, it sounds more like they will be teaming up with her rather than the other way around, but the boys are so happy that someone is willing to team up with them that while they act nonchalant about it, they immediately accept the girl's offer. 

Although she's also the type to constantly want to spar, hah so the poor guys won't be getting too much sleep with her around. Still I'm really excited about her addition to the group and what potential fun it offers. I liked Memesis before, but now I'm actually excited for more of it! 

The mystery deepens in this week's chapter of Xeno! The last chapter had the victim of the case die via drowning, despite being on a moving train and there ostensibly no way to bring water aboard, at least at first glance. I thought maybe this was a manipulation of the body somehow but no, when the investigation opens up, the man's room is completely drenched --so he really was somehow dunked into water --but how could one get enough water into a room like this without anyone noticing and drown a guy in it without him escaping? Xeno is on the case! 

Despite not having the support of well...anyone on board, Xeno zips around and does his investigation. According to him, it'd take twelve thousand six hundred liters to drown a guy in this particular room, and for the sake of thoroughness, has Ayla check the bathroom which is completely dry --very clearly making this one of Kai's Murder Rooms. He also declares that he is the only one who can solve this case much to the annoyance of the police. Especially since to them he's treating this as some sort of game --a point that's not completely wrong, if one were to think about it. Other than finding out about himself, there's little reason for Xeno to insist on solving this himself, which while I get is a matter of pride for him brings me to wonder something else --just how desperate is the normally mellow Xeno to find out more about who he is? He seems content just poking his nose around in things that interest him, but this outright declaration is quite interesting. 

Kamo --one of the prime suspects here is sure there's a much more believable conclusion to this case, and declares he'll use Umi to find it --he knows about her ability as a "human lie detector". Xeno of course refutes him and says he'll take the cooperation of the military police in it's place. Ayla points out something after this exchange --he sure seems calm for someone who saw their supposed friend's corpse. More importantly, Ayla recalls waking up in the middle of the night to some noise, and at about 2am there were some workers running about the train's length for some reason....before they can really investigate that matter, Kamo returns and takes Umi by force, claiming he will take over the investigation and find the culprit himself. There wasn't much of an investigation this week, to my surprise, but I suppose I'm just really used to Conan's usually "three chapters per case" pacing, so something a little bit more deliberate from Xeno seems to take a lot longer. Xeno's few cases haven't been that much longer, so I'd imagine within a week or two we'll have the deduction, but I like that this pacing allows for more moving parts thus keeping things from grinding along too slowly. 

Tenshi and Akuto is full of surprises this week though you have to dig to find to find 'em. The chapter starts out with Akuto's politician father laying into him for being a failure and an embarassment, right up until his phone rings and its a tune from the very same show his son voice acted on --That's right, Daddy Ikurumi is a fan of Sugar Girl! It's kind of hilarious to watch him deny it for a bit, until the image on the right leaves no room for doubt. Turns out Dad did come here to chew Akuto out, but not quite for the reason we all thought.

He's upset that his son is giving up what makes him happy. Ikurumi men don't give up anything once they've set their eyes on it. Be it voice acting or politics! It's actually a pep talk! --He tells Akuto to protect everything that he deems important, no matter what the cost. Things get even more surprising when Akuto gets a call from America?! Apparently someone who knows the producer of his agency needs to talk to him --good timing as even with all of this going on Akuto can't just waltz back into work, so maybe someone with enough pull can get him back to where he once was? But then there's the whole issue with Nari looming in the background...

My plan for the short series (Maoujo, Komi, and Dagashi) were to rotate them in each week, but my plans have been scuttled by one approaching it's finale, the other being downright interesting lately, and the last just being a victim of the other two. Well fret no more Princess Sleepy fans, I saw fit to cover all three this week, though I can't say I'll do this all of the time. This week's chapter of Maoujo is about a fairly human custom --April Fools Day! The Demon King has a bit of fun with his cabinet by announcing that the castle is to fall to the humans and he has lost --it's a joke of course, but the Princess overhears it and believes it as true! The monsters try to explain it was just a bad joke on part of the king, but she promises to protect them and repair the castle all on her own which makes it awkwardly difficult to tell her the truth. She starts to tell them how much she wants to stay with them and how much it means to her that they're around and it only gets harder and harder to tell her the truth of the matter, hah. Finally the Demon King just blurts it out and as you can tell from the third image on the left, Princess doesn't take it so well --not only that she told her Teddy Bear minions about the fall of the castle and now that rumor is spreading out of control --it's implied this story ends this week however. Ah, Maoujo is still so much fun to visit from time to time for a bit of cute fun, which makes me feel a little less guilty about not covering it weekly. 

Pops closes in on the ringleader behind Kawakami in this week's Shinobi no --a series that continuously suprises me with how fast events occur. It's almost as if Ogaki is guarding himself against quick cancellation by being even faster sometimes, and with Shinobi no's lagging sales, it does seem like Pops' fate is to fall before his time, but at least for now the series polls well and has plenty of series beneath it in the scheme of things so we can push those worries aside and enjoy things as Pops crashes the party and silences Kawakami. 

Thing is the boss doesn't seem at all phased by his current situation, something Pops points out. However he seems rather confident Pops won't have the mettle it takes to slice off his head since he's enjoying this situation way too much. He does some pretty impressive mental gymnastics by pointing out that his plan going perfectly is actually what will cause him to fail because he'll hold back instinctively due to not wanting anything to go wrong. He does admit that out of everyone he's ever met, and despite only knowing Pops for a few moments that he can tell that he's one of the strongest people if not the strongest person he's had the pleasure of being in the company of.  Though he gives himself the very same praise and points out this is the further reason why he won't kill him --he knows, Pops that is, that he can provide him with more excitement in the future. 

Saitani talks a big game, but Pops points out that his body has been shivering during his whole "break-em-by-talking" speech, and Saitani admits he has been kind of fidgety, but because he's excited in regards to their future as well. It's not every day one meets an actual Shinobi after all. Plus this place is set to explode in a few seconds so there's that bit of excitement too. Pops is confused by this sudden revelation and can do nothing as the place blows and Saitani makes his way out through the flames. 

Gwah, the gore...Kawakami is willing to trade his body and life to protect Saitani, because he is the man who will change this "rotted country". This is sounding similar to Abe's ambition, hmm...

Pops manages to escape from the explosion, but only barely. HE comments on how a person like that who seems to lack basic human emotions is going to be troublesome to deal with, meanwhile Saitani is revealed to be Sakamoto Ryouma (who didn't see that coming?) Though interestingly his unnamed compatriot is named....John? Pretty exotic to the Japanese, but fairly normal to us. I do wonder if there was an actual John in history that assisted or knew Sakamoto? Next week begins a new chapter of Shinobi no, and while it's not clear Sakamoto will appear in that one, it's safe to assume we'll be seeing this unique interpretation of this historical figure soon. 

Misunderstandings are what Evans and the crew live off of in the Wild, Wild West, but usually it's either Pheebs or Evans doing the misunderstanding. What happens when it's the two of them that are the source of misunderstandings instead? We get this week where poor Ted is the one left wondering just what in tarnation is going on. To be fair, it's Melissa (who's back again!) Who spurs this conniption into notion as she still thinks Evans and Pheebs are a happily wed couple --or well not so happily, I suppose? As their conversation in secret sounds like they're celebrating the day they got divorced --as Melissa figures. Ted's confused "who?" pretty much sums up the chapter. 

In fact honestly it's Ted's expressions and continued decent into despair over being left in the dark that makes this entire chapter tick, honestly. I've been enjoying Evans, don't get me wrong, but this has been one of the best chapters since the Mattie arc simply because it's a fresh take on the formula. Evans also has a bounty on his head as Pheebs shows off above (I love how direct it is. No chaser just "kill him.") Evans jokes that Pheebs is worried about him, and to the eavesdropping Ted and Melissa, it sounds like she's saying she'll fight against him in court, rather than with him against the ones who set the bounty. I'm leaping way ahead of myself here, but a lot of the jokes of Evans rely on characters mishearing others which is indicated in the text by the parenthesis, but how would that work in a possible anime adaption? Well, we're still way off on that regard so I won't think about it too much, but it's a challenge the anime staff (if there is to be one) will have to face. Meanwhile, poor Ted is completely convinced by Melissa that his partner in justice Evans has completely left him out of the loop when she tells him they have a child.  

Speaking of said child, all of this secret planning and talk was because Mattie was coming over to hang out, and the two were making sure everything was good to go for her visit. Melissa can't take it anymore and goes to confront Evans for not even telling his partner, but upon seeing her everything becomes clear, and the final panel of the chapter on the right above is the best thing as Melissa confesses she was convinced of their familial unit and all three are like "In what way?" Definitely one of the best Evans chapters in recent memory. 

The boys are back in the house with Souboutei! How many 90's era references can I fit in one sentence? The answer is that many. In all seriousness, it's great to see everyone back together and with such big smiles --except for Zanka, but no one expected him to crack a grin anyway. Except, there's one little issue, Kurenai's been kidnapped by Sakamaki! 

Kaerikuro only knows that Sakamaki remarked that he'd make Kurenai his "model". Takoha wants to go after her immediately, but his hands are a mess due to trying to stop Seiichi's berserk state inside the painting. Luckily Kaerikuro is here to take care of his wounds so he doesn't have to suffer long --I also hadn't realized that Takoha and Kaerikuro hadn't properly met until now. 

It's great how Fujita finds different ways to make Sakamaki's visage as terrifying and foreboding as possible. Still that doesn't deter Takoha who's looking as brave as ever in his bid to rescue Kurenai from the evil painter. He also explains that the alien invaders use his paintings to travel, and that if they don't stop him before he completes his painting that they're all doomed. I think it's safe to say that a new arc of Souboutei is now beginning --I read that Fuijita joked with Nanatsuki (Xeno) that this series would end before his, but there hasn't been a Fujita series that's less than 20 volumes, and while I can't fathom for a moment where the twists and turns will end with Souboutei, I also don't imagine that the series will break Fujita's pattern. 

Almost as if it was waiting for me to utter that last paragraph, the scene changes to a set of characters we haven't seen in quite some time in the form of Dr. Auguste, Frol and the demon sisters. Actually all the auxiliary characters in the house before the nitrogen explosion are here! Though under the guise of an "investigation" it seems Auguste and everyone else have been detained for the past three days. (Ahh Manga time is such a fun thing.) 

The investigation is holding everyone back from rushing in and helping Takoha and the others but the sisters seem to be relishing in this for whatever reason...I guess this is a good point as any to focus on the characters we haven't seen in a while....and I mean that, really. I am a little put off since things were getting exciting inside of the house, and I honestly haven't been thinking of these characters in a while, but now that they're in the spotlight again I am wondering what Fujita has planned for them. 

Saike VS. Johann is truly underway as this chapter opens. Rather than it just being a physical battle however, it's one of ideals that are far heavier than any fist. Johann does point out something that I'd wondered about since volume 7&8 --Saike's life was in danger once due to the use of his ability, and while he was healed what's to say this won't happen again if he continues down the same path? Saike replies that this is the last time he intends to use his ability so it doesn't matter --should he defeat Johann in this battle then he will foresake his ability. This really does seem to spell the end of the series, even though it makes me proud to see Saike finally set aside his own sense of worth and separate it from his ability. I'm now positive that even if the series is to end after this arc that his character arc would have come full circle and come to a satisfying end. Even as Johann fights he asks Saike what's wrong with a world of ability users? All he's doing is providing fire to those who were unlucky not to have the same flame as others, right?

Saike answers that the problem here is how that "flame" is used, not that it exists. Johann equates the abilities to "guns" and if everyone has one then it should be fair --but then Saike counters --if a child should receive a gun, a weapon they cannot control, does that make things "fair"? A child will only harm itself and everyone else with a "weapon" it doesn't know how to use --he understands it now. If it's a world where people need to be "fair" then the better alternative is one where there are no powers at all, rather than granting them to everyone. It's a little bit of a stretch, but this is definitely Saike's message summed up wonderfully, and a mark of maturation in Fukuchi's part as an artist. While Ueki, Takkoku, and Anagle had their messages and were artistically sound --Saike actually has something to say relative to it's character's development, and what a message it is --it bites the hand that has fed Fukuchi throughout his superpowered protagonists career. I think it takes a lot to look at your body of work and without blinking come to this conclusion that it may all actually be flawed. 

The realization hits Johann as he remembers how Sumire left everything to him --calling him her hero. Saike refutes Johann's points --all of them by saying that he doesn't hate humans nor is he striving for the sake of oracle holders, he simply couldn't stand that someone he treasured --that he loved was rejected. He thought he was being a hero, but he was simply being greedy --greedy for a good reason, but greedy nonetheless. He was never a hero. Which is to say Saike who was fighting for Mikan and then his own self worth wasn't either. They were both selfish fighting for what they claimed to be "right" because they couldn't accept the loss of a beloved one. It might be right, but it isn't heroic. Johann under the weight of this revelation falls silently in the snow as the final chapter with no text at all speaks volumes with it's panel work and Silva's face as it all ends. Johann has been defeated, but what's left in his wake --in Saike's is the epiphany that good intentions can only take you so far before they are warped beyond recognition leaving nothing but tragedy. If Saike is really to end with this arc then this message while bittersweet will resound within the entire work. 

Birdmen opens up with a spellbinding page of lights despite the pages actually being black and white. Tanabe you're just going to guilt me into catching up on this manga aren't you? It's working, it really is --especially now that I've mostly completed a Kekkaishi re-read, reminding of just how great an artist Tanabe is. Not only is the artwork amazing, but her panelwork is also incredible, telling a story without the need of any text. 

There's a lot to unpack with this month's installment --it seems like several stories have convalesced into one chapter, slowly churning into something new. Sadly, my lack of knowledge of past events really doesn't help in understanding what's going on here, even with my shaky Japanese. I can speak a little bit on Maraika's story since that started during my tenure --she's still wavering back and forth between here life and what "Lord" gave her as a gift. Meanwhile, one of Lord's associates has managed to finally get in contact with a person important to him --Rose, and despite him being glad of his achievements with Lord, Rose seems withdrawn, tired even. She congratulates him before revealing she's deleted all of her information, and she apologizes before saying farewell. 

I'm not sure what's going on with Rose, but what seems to be her end is handled with a sad reverence --so much so that it would almost be disappointing if she isn't dead, not that I wish that upon her or anything. Heck, I barely know her. Though I like the pacing of her final moments that defy the normal bombast that comes with the shounen demographic. I feel for her, despite barely knowing her story, all because Tanabe just does a great job with panel-work and mood. 

Silver Eye --the boy who treasured Rose is no longer able to function with her supposed death, leading Lord to make a move, as seen in this two page spread. IT seems their enemy EDEN has captives that they want, and Lord intends to take them by force, even if it means losing a few of his comrades in the process. 

Things only get that much more complex when the group is forced to retreat due to a scouter --a witness supposedly seeing them, and a helicopter landing --it's arrival shrouded in mystery. Beyond that, a huge snag in the plan takes the form of Shouma Umino --Tsubame's little brother being walked out of the helicopter, apparently a captive. Tsubame doesn't take this well at all and leaves the group at a standstill. 

Lord planned for this which is exactly why he had Maraika blessed with the power of the Birdmen --to serve as backup should just a contingency occur. She can sense something is going down and flies off to help, but what exactly will she find upon getting there? Moreover, what does EDEN --their enemy have planned that requires hostages? How I'd love to promise to be caught up by next month, but that's unlikely. Despite that I can tell Birdmen is building toward something big as all the signs are there --and now all the characters and we, the readers can do is to face forward and tackle the future head on. 

This week's Youkai Giga chronicles the "Kamaitachi" or "Sickle weasels" who live in the Alps of Japan and feed on smaller creatures. Although they're fairly dangerous youkai, Satou's story about them doesn't really detail them as popular media would, rather telling a story of flower petals being spread in the air from the trees by billowing winds, and two people worried about their futures at their jobs --despite being there for four years (both of them) they feel like they're really not learning anything. The woman is to be a nurse and can't even make a bandage for the man when he is injudred by the winds, but it's because they have this in common that they are able to make a promise that in four years if they remember each other they should meet here. Jump to four years later, the woman is there waiting for the man but he seems to be a no show. The wind blows again and this time slices her in the leg but she's able to make a perfect wrap to stop the bleeding unlike before, and seemingly the man has arrived to see this and congratulate her on getting better at her job. One thing I learned is that the Kamaitachi work in threes --one slashes at the legs, the other slices them with a thousand cuts, and the third heals them before they realize anything has happened. To the two people here it seems like they just got minor injuries but could it be the kamaitachi did this to bring them together? Hmm...

And that's it for Sunday #18! Next week Zettai Karen children graces the magazine with a color page to celebrate the 500th chapter along with news of the art exhibit, and something else that can't be missed....I wonder what it could be? Also Major will be on the cover and get a color page for it's upcoming anime, as will Ariadne for it's first volume coming soon. Saike will have an expanded 22 pages for climax of this arc (though it doesn't specify if the series will go into hiatus again or end after next week) and a series from Webry will have a special chapter in the magazine --"Hana ni Arashi" by Luka Kobachi. So a few color pages to gander, and plenty of series to talk about! Hope you'll be back again for this Tuesday edition of Sunday!