Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #31 (2018)

If you strain your ears, you can hear that second Sunday coming before it makes the rounds. It sounds a little bit like a certain blogger typing away quietly...ah, that came off as a little more lonely sounding than I would have liked. It's not time for pity, it's time for Sunday! ....Or both.

Mr. Shounen Sunday reminds us that this is his world and we just live in ti with this cover. Two series, one magazine, and both are super popular! Arguably it's like "Do we need all of this Conan?" Apparently the Japanese fans don't mind as the pint sized detective just seems to get more popular with each passing week!

The TOC is full of mysteries that I'm sure even Conan can't solve, but I'll at least try to list and explain.

Detective Conan: Zero's Tea Time: Supervised by Gosho Aoyama/ Art by Takahiro Arai (Lead Color page/ Chapter 8.)
Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu: Story By Kyouichi Nanatsuki/Art by Teppei Sugiyama (Chapter 28)
Kimi wa 008 by Syun Matsuena (Chapter 18)
Gopun go no Sekai by Hiroshi Fukuda (Chapter 9)
Komi-san wa Komyusho Desu by Tomohito Oda (Chapters 146, 147, 148.)
Shinobi no by Rokuro Ogaki (Chapter 46)
Maoujo de Oyasumi by Kagiji Kumanomata (Chapter 106)
Souboutei Kowasubeshi by Kazuhiro Fujita (Chapter 107)
Tonikaku Cawaii by Kenjirou Hata (Chapter 20)
Detective Conan by Gosho Aoyama (Chapter 1016)
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san by Aiko Koyama (Chapter 73)
Saike Matashitemo by Tsubasa Fukuchi (Chapter 117)
Major 2nd by Takuya Mitsuda (Chapter 144)
Amano Megumi wa suki darake! by Nekoguchi (Chapter 128)
Be Blues! by Motoyuki Tanaka (Chapter 337)
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ by Mizuki Kuriyama (Chapter 60)
Aozakura Bouei Daigakkou monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido (Chapter 94)
switch by Atsushi Namikiri (Chapter 11)
Hatsukoi Zombie by Ryou Minenami (Chapter 131)
Daiku no Hatou by Michiteru Kusaba (Chapter 55)
Marry Grave by Hidenori Yamaji (Chapter 26)
Sokyuu no Ariadne by Norhihiro Yagi (Chapter 27)
Memesis by Takuya Yagyuu (Chapter 17)
Birdmen by Yellow Tanabe (Chapter 61)
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou (Chapter 59)
Tokaichi Hitoribocchi Nouen by Yuuji Yokoyama (Chapter 28)

Not in this issue are the following:

Zettai Karen Children
Chrono Magia
K.O.I King of Idol

This week sees a significant shake up in several ways. First, the Conans aren't together actually a good thing? By having them separate, anyone who's flipping through the issue will have to read a few other series between the two and just might discover something new to read, so I approve of this. Shinobi no and 008 are high flying which is great, though it's weird since the former seems to struggle making sales --yet polls incredibly well. My buddy Saike is also much higher up than usual, which again gets me wondering just how it's ranked to begin with. Xeno is also incredibly high up --and seems to be ranking well for the last few weeks so perhaps it really is a success-ish? Meanwhile Evans is lower, switch is at the lowest it's been it's entire run, and Marry, Ariadne, and Memesis are all in the danger zone. Memesis is most worrying since this is it's second week in the basement, and it doesn't have the prestige that Marry and Ariadne have, though really Marry also doesn't have a whole lot saving it from the ban hammer once it appears. On that note a new serialization round hasn't happened yet --not surprisingly since we had a lot of new series in a row, but that means cancellations and endings will probably start happening soon....also, as a side note, Chrono Magia has been out of the magazine for a few weeks despite being announced to have a one week break, and it seems like it's going to keep up next week too --very similarly to how RYOKO rose and fell. I wonder how Dousei is doing? I've cheked her twitter for info, and she last tweeted on the 17th of the month --it seems she's at least good enough to RT things from Fukuchi and other artists in her circle, so is the reason for Magia's absence something else?

I'm still not sure how I feel about Zero as a series, but seeing Arai's take on Aoyama's classic art style is always a treat. I don't have enough of a discerning eye to tell if this is digital or hand drawn, but it definitely has more of a "pop" than Aoyama's more..."quaint" artwork. (Not that I mean this in a bad way, but Conan color pages and artwork always look very old fashioned even if I have heard that Aoyama uses computers nowadays as well.) If it sounds like I'm going on and on about the art a lot for this series,'re not wrong. It's just, well, the subject matter doesn't really lend itself well to really expanding upon much. 

Like the chapter itself is about Amuro meeting a cute doggy friend and washing his Car. That's really about it. No revelations about his secret identities, no interactions with the other characters, nothing like that. It's kind of relaxing to read on one hand since one can just sort of turn their brain off and watch Amuro go through his day, but on the other it does make me question the need for this series. Eh, I guess I can postulate on this all I want, but it does well in both sales and polling, so whether I think we have a need for Amuro or not, he's sticking around. Personally I'm not terribly fond of series that are just here for eye candy which this one tends to lean hard into sometimes, but it's also so inoffensive that it's hard for me to really dislike it either. The first volume is slated for August 8th, and I'm almost positive that if it doesn't smash sales numbers it'll at least do extremely well for itself. 

The investigation begins proper in Xeno this week as it sits the highest it has since it's premiere in the magazine, even managing to rank above the Veteran Detective Conan. I'm not sure if this fares well for Xeno's second volume which should be arriving in stores soon, but I'm certainly happy to see the amnesiac detective in high spirits. Well, not too high of course, since someone did just y'know, die, and to add to the mysteriousness of this death, it totally fits with a set of lyrics Xeno heard not too long before the body was found. It's then that the officer from the boat comes to investigate, and is reunited with Xeno and Ayla. 

Now if you remember Manami's foolish request for Xeno to read her a few weeks back, you'd also recall that he put her on blast and revealed she was once engaged, but  that was cut off. In both a fortunate(?) and unfortunate turn of events, the person who died --Sakuma, was her former fiance, which puts her very high on the list of suspects. Luckily a friend of hers from high school --Yohei Sonoda is on the scene and declares her innocent of any wrongdoing. Two other friends, Gen Wakasugi and Rin Nishina have also gathered in concern for Manami who was on site for a stabbing and now the death of her former fiance. This girl really does invite misfortune would appear Sakuma was choked to death with a wire, and a note was left in his mouth reading "Gen". 

Gen isn't one to take any chances and books it out of there immediately rather than explaining himself, and...yeah, that's not a good way to promote your innocence if you are innocent my guy. Xeno can't tell if he's innocent or not without proof, but there's clearly a reason why he's running first and avoiding dealing with questions. The mystery gets even more baffling with Xeno is informed the song he heard is a children's lullaby from long ago --but it was one that should have disappeared from his world some time ago. Although I humbly ask you don't put too much stock into my flimsy translations, I'm fairly sure that's what that line reads, and if so it doesn't make sense to me which might actually be the intent? Either way the plot thickens and next week can't come soon enough. 

If you've been following this blog long enough --thank you first and foremost. --More importantly, you'll know I love the gathering of new characters to support the leads and Gopun is giving me what I wanted this week, along with a whole new set of interesting possibilities when it comes to abilities that the characters posses. The spherical weapons that really do a number on the rampaging buddhas are possessed by all of the characters pictured above, who all have different ages and appearances. Jirou says that if Yamato can learn to manipulate that power well, he might be a force to be reconed with, though another guy, Himawari who's the 25 year old in the picture above admits it's only been about two to three days since they manifest so they're still not too sure on how to use these abilities. 

The activation requirement is a pretty sharp one however --it involves stabbing the user in the neck with something called OW-54. That's not really explained this week, but considering the literal mark it's left in everyone, I think it's safe to assume it'll be a huge plot element down the road. After all, a power like this will most likely come with drawbacks, no? Jirou admits if Yamato isn't prepared he shouldn't bother going through with it. It's not a thing one can do if they're not fully prepared, and many have died trying to acquire this power. Yamato is caught between the fear of his own death and being able to go back to save Ninjin and of course Michiru --speaking of which he gets a whiff of her scent, and dashes up to locate the source when he finds...

The very same Buddha who killed her in the first place. There isn't anything I don't love about this page from Yamato's enraged panels, to the angle Fukuda chose to draw the Buddha from showing it from a position of strength by focusing on the sole of it's foot as if we're about to be crushed like an afterthought. I'm still amazed by how Fukuda combines his love for flashy compositions like this in a series that's obviously much more lowkey than his previous work in Mushibugyo. 

Yamato wants revenge against his bitter enemy, and Jirou obliges sending the boy into a deep sleep after essentially stabbing him in the neck with a sharp object. In his consciousness he meets with Michiru again, and I like the composition of everything taking place from his point of view so it feels like we're seeing what he's seeing, thus connecting us as more than merely passive spectators. This is a conversation they had in the past about Yamato quitting the soccer team, and while he offers a bunch of reasons, the main one is really that Yuuto is on the team and better than him. Michiru says that she's watched him practice 4560 hours on soccer --an amount that seems like a huge waste now, but Michiru spins it like this --he was entranced by something and did his best at it as long as he could, so it wasn't a waste. 

Yamato awakens and has a jet black ball of his own. Jirou recommends he take some medication and rest as he can't guarantee Yamato won't drop dead trying to use the weapon, but with his enemy right in front of him, Yamato can't back down and heads into battle against his advice. Of course it wouldn't do to have the hero die, so I'm sure Yamato will at least do well to keep his life....or will he? I didn't expect the childhood love interest to die and seemingly stay dead this long so perhaps Fukuda will surprise me again --in fact I hope he does. 

Y'know it wasn't  until I read this chapter of Komi (or set of chapters as we get three in one go this week.) That I realized that Komi didn't really have anything resembling a set of delinquents, wannabe or otherwise. Well, fret no more yankee fans, we have a set of bad kids who are ready to rumble! Well, they would if they weren't incredibly bad at being bad, hah. For one thing, thanks to Najimi's missinformation, they're under the mistaken impression that Komi is also someone to be feared. The "Discommunication" Komi. The group is hoping to recruit her into their ranks and visit her class to do just that --except they get the wrong idea and think that the hulking Katai is Komi due to his threatening aura. When they call out to Komi and Katai doesn't answer they just think he's even cooler, when in fact he's just not aware they're trying to get his attention, hah. 

Things just continue to collapse from there when Katai seemingly continues to ignore them, flipping the leader of the delinquents switch --Suteno's MK5! Which is actually euphimism for "Majide Kireru gobyou mae". Or "Seriously about to get pissed in five seconds". Suteno introduces his gang and what's great about this is apparently no one has any idea who they are and Komi (who he keeps calling out to) is seriously confused why they're talking at her. Suteno realizes that he's an unknown element and goes to his desk depressed where his gang has to cheer him up, hah. What the heck did you guys even come here for? 

The second of the three chapters is only about a page long, and features the gang sending a callout letter to "Komi" for a fight most likely, but the letter doesn't get delivered and thus they're left waiting for someone who won't come because they're not aware they need to, hah. The last of the trilogy features the gang going directly at "Komi" who is so absorbed with getting a fly away from his person that he completely misses their attempts to strike him down. Suteno packs his fist full of change (something that makes his punches stronger apparently?) and delivers a blow to Katai's back that...tickles him a little. 

In the end Katai thinks they're lending him money and with a face that could scare a demon thanks them for their kindness, thus lending to the legend that Komi isn't one to be messed with. This is misunderstandings on a level that Evans only wishes he could reach, hah. I think it was a good idea to split this up until a trilogy even though it was only the typical 18 pages this week, since it reads very quickly but are three separate incidents. Though I do wonder how this might affect the actual Komi's ability to make new friends....

I had kind of wondered what direction Ogaki would take Shinobi no with the sudden timeskip, and one of my thoughts had been that we'd be seeing more of a focus on Todou. Seems I might be on the money as Pops doesn't make an appearance this week --rather we're taken right to the Shinsengumi post time skip. Okita looks really weird to me if I'm to be quite blunt about it. When he was a kid, he was kind of cute, but as an adult something seems a bit off. Either way, while at first Okita doesn't remember Toudou, he soon remembers the soon-to-be shinobi, and they are down for a continuation of their match seven  years ago. Something to note is that Toudou has grown a little in the time we last saw him, as he doesn't want to just be strong for the heck of it, but because he knows Pops will soon no longer be able to do serve as a shinobi and he wants to prove that his training was in fact meaningful. That being said, Toudou still wants to be a samurai and not a shinobi --and history supports the latter. 

Actually it seems no one on the Shinsengumi side readily recognizes poor Toudou. Shinpachi does on first glance, so he's got that going for him I suppose? The Shinsengumi were in town for supplies and return casually inviting Toudou to go with them. Right now they're in the midst of dealing with Joui patriots who want to chase foreigners out of the country, but Kondo claims that this particular group wants nothing more to take the name of patriotism and use it to attack foreigners for cash, and he's not about that. Hijikata and Yamanami imply that Kondo acts as if he's the protector all of Edo, which really brings back memories of that other silver soul'd series. The group --Shinsengumi are vastly out numbered, and the Joui have a captive as well, so they're at a distinct disadvantage with only three members currently with them. Hijikata and Yamanami argue about how to handle things --Hijikata believes fighting for victory should be their "plan", and Yamanami disagrees, but in the end without much choice, the two leap into battle --until a certain familiar face suggests he lends a hand. 

Let's not be confused --Saitou says he doesn't really care which side he's on --he only chooses the Shinsengumi because the underdogs are much more interesting in his eyes. He easily slaughters all of the Joui, and introduces himself as if he's on a leisurely walk. Saitou is a member of the shinsengumi too, so I had been wondering how he'd eventually end up in league with the group --guess this is how. Right now, even with my admittedly limited grasp on Japanese history, I'm finding Ogaki connecting the dots and forging bonds I'm somewhat familiar with to be quite interesting. Though the big question is --how does evil Sakamoto's plans figure into all of this? 

Fujita hits us with those dual page spreads twice in this week's Souboutei --luckily Frol isn't a statistic when the monster released from the unholy house attacks and the military defends in kind, thanks to the Kirita sisters saving her int he nick of time! Now that they're freed from their mind control, they're fighting for the good guys. They immediately regret what they've done, but Auguste isn't one to simply forgive and forget. 

Still, he says he didn't really trust them from the start, so if they're willing to push their weight and help them destroy the killer house, he might be willing to forgive them. There's a bit of back and forth between the doctor and Frol who wants to go with them into the confrontation, but after using her powers, she's too weak to really be of use to them. Madarame --Yadorigi's supervisor acknowledges what's going on and gives the official greenlight to go into the house and bring it down once and for all --and he will provide backup with the men he has. It took a long while, but it would appear everyone is finally on the same page in regard to the souboutei and the danger it possesses --a rewarding conclusion to the "Jailbreak" arc. 

Which means it's now time to revisit Sakamaki and Kurenai. Is it weird of me to say that I sort of missed Sakamaki? (Kurenai too!) His enigmatic nature and ability to make some of the most over the top expressions while being completely calm have made him one of the most entertaining characters in the series for me. The end of this installment implies Sakamaki asked Kurenai to be his model on a whim, a whim he's only now been able to qualify with reason. What is that reason? We'll have to wait till the next issue to find out! 

Conan finds itself in a slightly lower position than usual and separated from it's little brother. Still, if there is any series that defines "safe" in this magazine this one would be it, so I don't think there's much to worry about here. I think basically everyone figured Yumi would live, but I don't think anyone expected her to actually not be injured at all! Turns out Takagi had asked her to recreate the crime scene for him, and she had fallen asleep due to spending the night playing mahjong. So now the question is, who is the actual culprit, and where are they? The only thing they have to go by is the last phone number dialed by one of the victims "7155". Considering Miike was with the two officers who were already killed, it seems likely she might know something --or be the next victim. Miike doesn't really know anything about the number, but while speaking to Yumi on the phone, the culprit overhears and kidnaps her! Conan happens to be investigating the area when Chiba shows up, and they're the ones who receive the call from the crime scene as the Culprit doesn't know that Miike's phone is still recording their conversation until the very end. Can Conan and Chiba make it to her in time? 

Color me still surprised by Saike's adherence to taking things slow even five chapters into this new arc. This week was a bridge chapter, and while in another series this might be ill advised with apparently(?) so little time left, I'm glad Fukuchi is methodical in his approach and isn't rushing like his other cancelled series in their last innings. It's nice to see Johann again as well as Mako and Kuroda, even if the gathering of the forces implies that Saike really is on it's way out. Mikan hears the truth from everyone about Saike's involvement and his heroism, and connects the dots as to why Saike has seemed so much more reliable here than he was in the past. Though she isn't really surprised as she knows --and has always known that Saike the hero has always been deep within Saike the disinterested. 

So their proper reunion is really wonderful --she knows everything about his world and embraces him, in a sense freeing Saike from the last of his "worries". I didn't include it here due to space constraints, but Saike did attempt going back in time to keep Hizu from being kidnapped, after taking a Taxi to Mogura Pond, but all it did was return him to the Taxi again when he awakened, which properly explains his power. --He returns to about 7am of the current day, and by the time he and Ana managed to catch a ride it was already 7:30. Thus there's no way for him to take back the day before, and Hizu won't be saved by simply keeping his kidnapping from happening. So the only choice now is to find Will and save Hizu by force. Johann provides an important clue from a conversation he had with will about his favorite place watching the Sunset, and his comment that the sunset always makes him think the world is going to end. Although Kuroda too remembers this, it can't be a clue can it?

Saike decides to bite and takes a map of Japan, figuring that Will was intending to take he and Hizu to his hideout from the start before he escaped --and they were around the Aichi area of Japan. Saike is doubtful he'd stop anywhere along the way since time is of the essence, and he recalls that Will asked which of them will follow him to the "island" and be his human recycling bin. Combining this with the knowledge of where the sun sets in relation to the hideout Will was in before with Johann, Saike is able to narrow down the focus of their search to a particular island. Though even doing this, Saike is in a bind --Ana is in the hospital, Hizu is kidnapped, and he can't possibly involve the others in his problems. Johann however offers to help, stating that it's his selfish intention to, and not because he's waiting for Saike to ask, as does Silva. With the three of them, they should have no problems, right?

Yes but Ana makes four, and with the best line of the chapter "Let's go save the princess" she makes one heck of an entrance. I was a little afraid that Fukuchi would write her out of the possible final battle but he didn't and I'm glad for that...heck, all of the characters being there for Saike in his time of need. The counterattack is starting and he's going to need all the help he can get! 

Evans is out on the town doing what sheriffs do best.....keeping the streets clean by buying porn before anyone else does. I'm sure if Evans were real that's what he'd like to tell us, but we know what he really wants. What should have just been a dirty deed done dirt cheap turns into a whole incident when he runs into Pheebs who happens to be tailing some criminals and immediately sees through his disguise. Evans is concerned about his public image should it be found he has porn, and I like how the narration snidely remarks that he's not considering "Not buying the porn in the first place" as an option, hah. Things get even more dicey when it's revealed Evans went over to the next town to buy his goods in a hope he wouldn't be recognized, something Pheebs points out almost immediately. If he wanted to buy books why not do it closer to home? 

It's actually great how much thought Evans put into buying this. Like he even prepared a dummy book just in case someone did ask him what he bought, and it's this book that he presents to Pheebs --and the very blunt English title "Shootings for beginners volume one" only adds to the hilarity. Seriously if one is going to go this far, maybe it would be easier to just not buy them. Pheebs realizes when she sees a guy with a bounty on him that her search for a criminal robbery ring has brought her to the right place, and goes in blasting, but she finds herself in a tough pickle when the leader who was out shows up right after she blasts her way in and has her cornered. Meanwhile Evans has a crisis of concience when he watches Pheebs go in, hears gunshots and doesn't follow immediately. Luckily an inner monologue with his Dad fixes that and he heads in...

Using his porn as a weapon to knock out the leader. Poor Pheebs if only she knew exactly what she was about to hand to Evans in the last page of the chapter. It's sort of implied this might continue next week, but only vaguely. I don't think there's really a need for it, but one thing Kuriyama has proven proficient at is being able to make a lot out of seemingly nothing, so I anticipate it either way. 

Three years have passed in Switch, and the locale has "switched" to High school! How does the basketball story stack up in a new arena? Well we don't get an answer to that right away, but the potential for growth is definitely there. I have to commend Namikiri for not dwelling too long on the events that have brought Raimu here --the boy mostly grew up from his brother's death in a significant way without it becoming a fulcrum for drama which I appreciate. It's eleven chapters in --so slightly into the second volume and the story feels like it's finished it's prologue and moved into the main focus.

This is going to sound weird, but it feels like the character designs are more "sports series" like with this chapter. If I had to take a stab at describing this admittedly vague statement, I guess sports series come off as being slightly more realisticly proportioned than their action counterparts if that makes sense? Either way this first chapter in high school is basically about Raimu reconnecting with friends and attempting to join the basketball team, which judging from the expression of the guys there now is going to be a challenge. 

It wouldn't be fair of me to cover a new stage in switch's development and skip Daiku which is also starting a new arc this week, so here we are. According to Sunday itself, this is the "first year fall arc" so it seems the series is going to take another page from Silver Spoon (along with it's general premise, though the two do things quite differently.) Like switch before it, Daiku's first chapter of it's new arc is mostly catching up with the characters and laying out the framework for the next stage of the story. Kusaba's way of doing this however is pretty unique --he reintroduces the characters through the girls talking about how attractive they are in secret. Maybe not the most intuitive way of doing things, but it definitely feels organic. The hottest guy in the class ends up needing to be saved by Minato, though so I guess it's true that you can't judge a book (or hunk) by his cover! As thanks for the food, the guy decides to lead Minato on a tour of the tastiest (and cheapest) places to eat in Nagasaki, making this a lo-fi chapter from beginning to end. Maybe not the most exciting thing, but sometimes it's nice to lean back and just watch things unfold without drama. 

No lie, I almost forgot about Jean so I was wondering if I had missed something when she appeared on the frontspiece of this week's chapter. Not sure if this is a good sign or bad --as this flashback has run for a bit. It's an interesting flashback, and Yamaji has done a good job leading into it, so it doesn't feel abrupt, but it also kind of exudes this aura of "Hope this flashback will win back the fans" or "Well, if the series is headed on it's way out, might as well explain as much as I can". It being so low in the TOC also supports this, which is a real shame as Marry Grave really did feel like a series with a lot to offer when it started, and not to sound like I've given up on it, as it still feels like it has a great story to tell, but the pages of weekly shounen magazines are unforgiving and it might just be that MG might not get the mercy it deserves, even as the world building continues to be great. The chapter opens up with the Cape Side group wanting to investigate the children in their midst, and Rozalie realizing this is problematic for her since she doesn't want to be linked back to the church she ran from. So she burns her belongings in hopes she can bury the truth and move on with her life, but the questioning proves to be much more in depth than she expected. 

Not surprisingly they want to know where they have come from and their backgrounds, and it's here Dante's past comes to light --he is a survivor of a village completely wiped out by monsters, and he's been searching for this "utopia" ever since. Meanwhile Sawyer was abandoned by his parents, and doesn't know where he was born, but found himself saved by Dante. Dante complains that's not what he intended by saving him, but Sawyer says he's learned from that experience that he wants to live a full life so he came to Cape side in hope of doing so. Sawyer and Dante's stories check out, leaving Rozalie to come up with one of her own --she claims to be the only survivor of "Charlotte" and on a journey like the others to find this place, "Utopia". The stories seem to clear some scrutiny, and the children are allowed to stay, however...

The priest has seen through Rozalie's lie --"Charlotte" was his hometown, and it was destroyed long before she would have been born. I think it says a lot that what connects these stories and exposes Rozalie's secret is the wanton destruction of villages by demons. The world of Marry Grave isn't a forgiving one to live in, and the bonds/trust of others is what makes it manageable. Which is why as much as I like Rozalie, I can understand the need for her to be truthful with the people of Cape Side. Rozalie is asked to stay behind while Sawyer and Dante are put through more examinations much to their surprise. Meanwhile the priest gives Rozalie one last chance to explain herself....will we get the past that she's trying to desperately to hide? 

Speaking of world building, Ariadne has a sample this week as we return to the flying city that is this series' namesake. One of the knights from Rashil's battle way back when is being reprimanded for not bringing back the stubborn princess, who he admits has a bit more resolve than he expected. The princess is needed for what sounds like a grand council of kingdoms and something called the "Seventh Sword". Implying that it's what will protect the kingdom that has fallen into a state of unease. I do like it when major events are foreshadowed properly, and Ariadne has the sales to at least keep it afloat for a bit, so I hope Yagi can get to revealing what these major events are. 

The newly formed group reach the Territory of Light Lufrea (this is my attempt at romanizing it, and I may very well be wrong.) And it's quite the futuristic looking city --standing in defference to what we've seen in the world of Aridane before now especially if we're to take Rashil and Rulu's reactions to seeing it as gospel. Speaking or Rulu, she still has absolutely no idea who Rashil is even if he claims to remember her. She ends up following them though she claims she doesn't remember promising to accompanying them on their journey just because she lost to Rashil, and Leana's matter of fact explanation that "The weak have always acquiesced to the strong, and you should know that as a queen" is pretty great. Rounding back to Lufrea itself, Leana reveals that this is a place where the photon energy is produce in masse, the likes of which only seven others exist in the world. Mmm, like that world building quite a bit. 

Unfortunately conflict has followed the group, as Rulu's forces from the forest haven't acknowleged her stepping down as queen, and followed her into town to do battle. Rulu is the type that figures the best way to solve things quickly is with violence and starts a fight in town with them, leaving Rashil to try and act as mediator while Leana heads off to reunite with a figure from her past who seemed to have been expecting her. It definetly feels like many parts of the Ariadne plot are starting to move at once, and for the first time since it started, I'm really looking forward to how things will proceed from here. 

Surprisingly Shogi's interaction with Leon didn't take up much of the chapter as I thought it would last week, and his story is pretty straightforward --he's a gambler who took a major bet against Leon, and lost big. So in this case at least, Leon isn't actually the reason for someone's downfall, though arguably other than Ash and Kijira (and even then only barely) he hasn't ruined anyone. Shogi thanks the duo for feeding him, but he doesn't really think much of them until he misunderstands their intentions and believes they're taking the ultimate gamble by resisting the demon king. After all that's the only reason they'd possibly take on a bet they stand to lose right? He even considers them like minded allies! I kind of have to wonder if Ash and Kijira's biggest folly isn't their lack of self esteem? For even when Shogi misunderstands the situation and only calls them allies cause he thinks they're gamblers too, they seem more than happy to accept him in a backhanded way. any case, they're not able to really celebrate long as they're dropped into a nest of demons, and Yagyuu really flexes his artistic chops as the trio go into battle, slaying their way through the demons and heading to the second floor where they think the Princess Linda awaits...

Except they end up in a dessert while inside the castle? What's going on here? 

I didn't include the frontispiece, but the chapter for this issue of Birdmen is called "friendship" and that's really what this chapter is about. Though before we can get to the friendship part, we start with Alva sending out a call for those who would assist her (yes, apparently she's a she) become queen, promising those who follow her will be welcomed to the next level. --Though the meaning of this isn't immediately clear, something tells me it's bad news. 

Meanwhile Shoma is steadfast in his decision to not become a Birdperson, but realizes he's probably holding his older sister back from being with the others. Even though Karasuma apologizes for his actions in trying to force him, Shoma wonders if he's upset with him for not transforming along with them, but Rei explains that while on the outside they've all changed, they're still essentially human on the inside, and really the thing he wants most is just to be able to continue hanging out with his friends.

The girls too are testing out Maraika's abilities and it truly does "erase" any sense of anxiety or sadness from their minds. While they're doing that, Fiona (above on the right) remembers how Takayama said that she should give him all of her power as it's useless to her, and this leads her to a expository haircut seen often in anime. I'm not too sure on what baring on the plot this has, however, but in most cases it's a sign of a character growing up and gaining a new sense of resolve. What that resolve will lead to is a question for a future chapter, for now though. 

But the centerpiece of this chapter is probably Maraika's declaration she's leaving home with the many friends she's made. It's simultaneously heartbreaking and warming as she declares above she'll return and do lots of studying and become a great doctor like her grandmother, who's eyes have started to go bad, and as such she promises to make her Grandmother her very first patient and learn all kinds of things while she's away with her friends. 

In the end a letter she wrote is given to her older sister by another of the birdfolk, with the simple request that she read this to her grandmother. Birdmen is described as a "Juvenile sci-fi story" and while sometimes the descriptions for these series seems a bit odd, I want to say that that this very much is the case for this particular work. Although Maraika's a bit young to be considered in the same league with the other characters, the idea of literally spreading her wings and seeking out ambitions of her own really is in line with the idea of a teenage story of growing up on a large scale. I think that really is the "heart" of Birdmen that makes it a must read in my opinion as it's more than just a story about "kids saving the world" as much as it is also finding direction in one's life and making the tough decision of choosing oneself and heading into the unknown over staying protected in the realm of the familiar. 

This week's chapter of Youkai Giga features the "Onibi" Which literally means "Demon Fire", though it can be associated with western concepts like the "will o wisp" or "Jack o lantern". In this chapter, a boy is drying clothes in the rain when he sees a flame seemingly floating in the middle of the wet weather on it's own. The Onibi isn't sure if this boy is simply lost or a runaway and wonders what it should do in this case. It ends up asking the boy what he's doing out here and he explains his mom is with a man and asked him to head outside for a bit and he did --but got stuck in the rain while exploring. The Onibi feels compassion for the child, but it's job is to keep people from this area in the forest, so this is quite a problem --made worse when the boy is actually pretty kind and gentle so outright scaring him would be a shame. When two other men appear in the forest, the Onibi has no problem scaring them away, but realizes the child probably would be terrified too and run off --and there lies the schism, it likes this kid that isn't afraid of it, but it's job is to be scary so what to do? To it's surprise the boy sticks around and says fire is warm and bright so it doesn't scare him at all! Upon hearing this the onibi can't help but weep happy tears as a new friendship has been born. Good for them! 

And that's it for issue #31! Next week Tonikaku Cawaii gets the cover of the magazine and a lead color page, while Evans gets a color page of his own. It seems lately the magazine has been light on color advertisements for whatever reason, but that's not too unusual, I suppose. As always I'm glad everyone came by to check out this wonderful issue of Shounen Sunday, and until we meet again I hope you'll fare well!