Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Covering Sunday August 2018 Edition

....Let's just forget the fact that I'm baaaarely sliding in on time and get to the goods shall we?

So saleswise for the August series, we've got the usual suspects acting in their usual ways. Between the release date of August 13th to the 19th the following series ranked:

Zero's tea time: 80,571 (with total sales of 331,396) Rank: 1
Major 2nd #15 59,989 Rank: 12
Tonikaku Cawaii #2: 22, 978 Rank: 28
Be Blues! #32: 22, 672 Rank: 30.

It's actually a little boring to talk about this since it's literally exactly as you'd expect. Hata is a vet --but even putting that aside his aggressive self campaign works really well, and Zero/Amuro is not only based on an already popular franchise but the character himself is insanely popular too. Though man, as of this writing Zero's looking to surpass even Conan in single volume sales so perhaps the main series isn't even needed anymore. I'm kidding of course, but it's crazy to think about isn't it? I don't have numbers for anything else but from what I hear Xeno is hanging in there while Marry Grave has sadly slipped even further as has Shinobi no. It wouldn't be surprising if when new series appear soon that these are the first two victims...

First volume up is Tenshi and Akuto's finale! Yes I do appreciate that irony. I love it when final volumes are an ensemble of the cast together since it really feels like everyone has come to say goodbye. Plus I like that Hirakawa even made the logo much more colorful than usual --even splitting it so it doesn't take up too much space. It's a lovely aesthetic and somehow makes me even more sad to see the series go. I really don't have anything negative to say about this cover other than "why does this have to be the last one?" Till your next work Hirakawa-sensei.

I'd be remiss not to have this guy up here since he's probably going to be featured a lot in the blog and Sunday in general due to his overwhelming popularity. I like the "Zero" being included in the # of the volume --it's a nice touch, as well as the English translation on the side. I do think the Japanese logo is a little huge for my liking, and the pure white doesn't do this any favors. (I feel like it being on a black background would have worked on a narrative an aesthetic level, honestly.) I've seen Arai's covers and I know he can do better too. I hope as he gets more experience drawing in Aoyama's art style that he gets a little more adventurous as he does in the volumes proper.

Speaking of white, ZKC's 52nd volume also goes with lack of color for it's cover. I do like that the covers have become much more modern looking when compared to the previous releases --it really does feel like ZKC is evolving and growing along with the characters. The logo and volume # leaning over also gives a weight to the cover that makes it easy on the eyes, but I think some background image would have made this more visually interesting.

Be blues on the other hand comes by it's cover just right by giving us leafy greens behind the visage of Ryuu and his assured smile. The color work of the logo, the BG and Ryuu himself all work together in tandem to make a visually pleasing cover! I like that the green squares come off looking like a fence too so it creates a whole tale on it's own --like after a day of training he's at the park relaxing when a friend snaps a selfie of him. I think that entices people to look into a series when the cover page itself tells a story.

Major 2nd sticks with it's "uniform" aesthetic with it's #15th volume. I think I'm slowly beginning to like it too. Like stacking these all together on a shelf with the spines showing makes it look as if the series really is a team of players ready to head out on the field, and maybe that's what Mitsuda was going for? I can't say for sure, but it's pretty clever either way. As I've said in the past I like his simple but effective character designs, and since his covers are more or less the same, the other points --his name and the volume # haven't changed either. 

Amano Megumi on the other hand goes for something different, though I do feel like this works a lot better as a center color image than a cover for the manga going out on sale. I guess to me it's just not visually engaging enough to be something that sits out for people to buy. It's cute, don't get me wrong, and Nekoguchi's color work is enticing, but with only Ma-kun and Megumi on the cover, there's just not enough going on here that people who haven't read the series would find interesting enough to flip through the other 11. 

This was almost cover of the month, to be quite honest. There's just so much to like about it --from the cute Princess's sleepy yawn, to Kumanomata's mastery of depicting flames, and the other monsters in well as the sort of foreboding-yet-funny image on the mountain in the background, everything about this cover is just right! I even like that there's someone in the foreground to really make this seem like a gathering of partygoers at the hot springs. So close princess, but there's just another cover I like a little more out this month.

King of Idol brings back the white, but at least does something interesting with it by having it fade into yellow toward the bottom of the cover. Wakaki's artwork has always been adorable so the girls (and boy) being the focus here is a really smart idea and works to really make this pop. Why, if K.O.I does make the leap to anime at some point I could see this being a CD cover for the character songs that are bound to come out for it! 

Shinobi No's 5th volume features the Shinsengumi in all of their awesome glory. I like that they're all visually unique enough to carry a cover on their own, as well as the blue colors used in Ogaki's name and the #5 on the side. The shadow effect on the characters and logo of the series are great, as well as it cascading from top to bottom so that the eye travels all over the cover. Although the cover is technically white like several of the others on sale this month, Ogaki's choice of placement and color actually hides that this is otherwise pure white which is good on his part. 

And now the cover of the month award goes to Tonikaku Cawaii. That's saying a lot since I don't really read the series, but I still found this cover to be the most visually appealing one in August if only because Hata did a wonderful job with every aspect of it. It just looks very warm, gentle and inviting from the dress that Tsukasa is wearing to the colors of the bouquet she holds. Even the sunlight in the background and the hand (I assume Nasa) that lifts her veil seems to all really come together to make a beautiful wedding-like portrait. I also dig the work Hata did on the embroidery to make it really pop despite being on a flat plane. I'm ready to say "I do" to this cover this month!

I kind of wonder if white is Shougakukan's color of the month? Sure seems like a lot of artists decided to go with it for whatever reason...008's 2nd volume is pretty serviceable as far as things go --I like Eito's somewhat cocky grin and stance as well as the logo of the series and Ayame's cut on a leaf that flutters somewhat distorted due to the illusion of distance, but other than that there isn't much to speak of with this cover which is a shame since the series is pretty wild and over the top and the cover really should do a better job reflecting that I think.

Memesis's 2nd volume also almost got the okay for "cover of the month" due to it being so well designed --I love that all of the information you need to know is right in the middle of the cover so that the artwork can do it's thing. Kijira, Ash, and Rose's colors compliment each other, and the blue color behind them really makes their charge at the reader pop! The gold(?) pieces that break from a central location and spread around the cover is a nice touch as if they just defeated one enemy and are on their way to the next. Like Maojo, it was a tough choice but Tonikaku just barely beat this one out.

This month really did have a bevy of great covers! Which series are you interested in? If you're up to it, tell me in the comments! Until next month, take care. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #40 (2018) Features section

It's a brand new world here on the WSS Blog! not really, but I am doing things just a smidgen differently for now on. For some time now I've looked back at the blog and thought one thing: "Wow this is a lot to read". I appreciate everyone coming in and joining in the fun, but I can understand that this is a lot to deal with on a weekly basis! So after some thought, I've decided to condense things down a bit so it's easier to parse. This here is the "features" section, and generally speaking I'll have this out Tuesdays right after the magazine is released in Japan. It'll include color pages, the cover and other interesting things in the magazine that aren't related to the pillars (Saike, Shinobi, Evans and so on.) So this is a quick read to tide you over as I prepare the "Editorial" section which will feature the pillars. I might have an "extras" for non pillar manga eventually but let's try this out. I'm also announcing a new name for the blog to follow up with the the newspaper theme: "Weekly Shounen Sunday Edition". Since Y'know, getting whole entries out on Tuesday probably isn't going to happen anymore, and I'm all about branding, hah.

This week's Cover features three members of Keyakizaka 46, the return of Mr. Shounen Sunday and his rival, Aozakura celebrating 100 chapters and Be blues and Evans with color pages. Although Aozakura is taking up the corner, I can't help but think this cover being very pink was by design to give it that extra "congrats".

As mentioned in the last issue's write up, I won't be posting the TOC here in an effort to save time and space. If you're interested in seeing the lineup please check out here for a much more aesthetically pleasing look at the order of series for the week. Although the site is in French, I've direct linked the TOC for easy access! Please give the site a look see, since I contribute when I can, and the webmaster is a pretty cool person. 

Though I gueeees I could do something a little more fun: 

So with the TOCs come author comments. In Weekly Shounen Jump for example these are usually just random comments from the author about anything ranging from the manga they're currently serializing to what they ate for breakfast that morning. Shounen Sunday is a wee bit different. Rather than allowing it to be free form, the editors choose a question from a fan, and every author with a manga in the magazine that issue answers it. This week's question is from "Tofuu Kaku" of Tokyo and is something like "Is there someone in your age group who gets your way of thinking?" Here are the answers:

Motoyuki (Be Blues) Tanaka: I see a lot of people on TV who are the same age like Matsuko-san and Kenkoba-san...
Hikaru (Aozakura) Nikaido: I'm all alone (Bloody Tears).
Gosho (Detective Conan) Aoyama: Maybe Brad Pit? (Laughs).
Tomohito (Komi) Oda: Kenshi Yonezu-san! We were born the same year and month!
Kagiji (Maojo) Kumanomata: If it's someone of the same age then Mana Ashida-senpai would be mine.
Hiroshi (5 minutes) Fukda: My siblings (lol).
Aiko (Maiko) Koyama: Rather than thinking the same way, I have great respect for Kaoru Mori-san.
Atsushi (switch) Namikiri: Haruka Miyase.
Mizuki (Evans) Kuriyama: I can't relate to people I see in media who were in college at the same time I was...
Syun (008) Matsuena: Good luck Ichiro.
Takuya (Major 2nd) Mitsuda: Ultraman.
Nekoguchi (Megumi): Keisuke Oka who was in the same class as me. Oh and other comrades in Sunday who write romantic comedies.
Norihiro (Ariadne) Yagi: I don't really have anyone like that, but I am interested in those my age.
Ryou (Hatsukoi) Minenami: I don't have anyone since I'm usually fighting against myself.
Kazuhiro (Souboutei) Fujita: I don't really care about those my age! Being a mangaka is my everything!
Teppei (Xeno) Sugiyama: Everyone around my age have become wonderful adults, so it's kinda hard to say I think like any of them...
Kenjiro (Cawaii) Hata: Amatatsuu (It's a reference to a Japanese weather caster Takeshi Amatatsu)
Michiteru (Daiku) Kusaba: Kokoro Tereada
Takuya (Memesis) Yagyuu: Tatsu Murakoshi-sensei, Yamato Fujie-sensei, Tomohito Oda-sensei DJ Matsunaga
Rokurou (Shinobi no) Ogaki: Kenjiro Hata-sensei. We're the same age, but more than thinking the same way, I have great respect toward him.
Hidnori (Marry Grave) Yamaji: I'm more or less just conscious, (lol)
Tamaki (K.O.I) Wakaki: All of the mangaka I've met.
Yellow (Birdmen) Tanabe: Hata-sensei. We're about the same age, but his writing is so much more awesome...
Tsubasa (Saike) Fukuchi: There isn't really anyone I can think of...
Satsuki (Youkai) Satou: Demon Kakka (His Excellency Demon). This refers to the lead singer of  heavy metal band Seikima II.
Yuuji (Tokaichi) Yokoyama: Fedor and Nogeira.

I hope this helps people learn just a little bit of their favorite artists...and it was kind of fun to TL! 

The three Sunday gals for this week are well...their names are right there, hah. I swear I'm not being lazy but there really isn't a reason for me to rehash what's there in English is there? 

Miho Watanabe was born February 24th 2000 in Saitama, and is a 2nd year in Keyagizaka. Meimi Kakizaki was born December 2nd 2001 in Nagano and is a first year, and Akari Nibu was born February 15th 2001 in Saitama and is also a second year. This page advertises their appearance in a stage play of the popular "Madoka Magica" anime series. That just gets me interested in watching it again at some point, though I wonder if my heart is ready?


Aozakura celebrates two years of serialization --and thus 100 chapters (although this is actually chapter 101) with a color page lead in. The series sells pretty decently so it's not surprising it's made it this far --but I always marvel at how something with this subject matter has managed to thrive in a shounen magazine. Granted it's really just is a slice of life manga for the most part which is totally Sunday's aesthetic, but it's still surprising that it's managed to find pretty stable footing here. I'm also happy for Hikaru Nikaido since their art is pretty unique and I quite liked their first Sunday effort "Heaven's Runner Akira". I'm not at all sure if that's been translated on the world wide web for browsing, but if you can find it, it's a charming read about a sport I've not seen much in any demographic --track and field. Though the sport itself seemed more like a framing device for the characters to interact than it was the reason to be for the series which is just the way I like it. For the most part this is just another day in the training for the characters despite it being a landmark chapter, but that's a good sign that the series has a future ahead of itself. Here's to another year Aozakura!

Mr. Shounen Sunday returns and brings Kaito Kid with him this week! Sadly it's with the knowledge that his stay is a limited engagement since Zero's last chapter indicated it'd be back in issue #44. Four weeks of Conan is better than nothing, and there are a lot of moving parts this week. Kid for one thing --you know he's here to steal something and that "something" is the "Fairy's Lip" --pictured above. Meanwhile Heiji has been feeling the burn what with Shinichi and Ran's relationship moving from "will they" to "they did". --in regard to them being an official couple. Now he wants to move his own relationship forward with Kazuha but with a cop from Nagano getting involved with Kid's heist, there are lots of players and only one stage. I have no doubt Aoyama has the moxy to pull this off in four weeks since he's been doing it for more than 20 years, but man I gotta admit only seeing Conan every two months is getting to be hard to bear. At least he'll be on the cover next week so that's something to look forward to. 

This week's Komi is about studying and the hijinks that ensue when you have a class like this gathered in one place where they can't speak too loudly. The use of the old "paper-fan" gag seen in anime and manga was so good here as well as everyone trying but failing to actually study. Definetly Komi works as an ensemble piece just as much as it does when it focuses on it's titular character, thanks to the strong writing. That being said the series is weirdly reserved a lot of the time? Like it does dabble in the absurd sometimes, but generally speaking you don't get chapters like this where if anyone speaks or makes a sound over a certain decibel, they get smacked in the head with a paper fan by men in black. It's such a silly premise and a breath of fresh air for Komi. Though with school starting maybe it's a thinly veiled message to the demographic reading this as well?

Be Blues keeps kicking it's goalposts a little further down the field which is actually a good thing for it, all things considered. It's sales are strong, and the artwork remains some of the best in the magazine. Tanaka doesn't seem to have any intention of slowing down with 32 volumes and 345 chapters under his belt either! Though, it would be nice if this got an anime sooner or later to really capitalize on what it's got going on, even if I personally question if an anime could really capture the magic the manga has. The characters are in the middle of another game --not surprisingly so there's not a whole lot I can talk about, but it's great to see that this sports manga still has some kick in it.

This one was a week of Fukuda embracing the artwork I so love of his --as well as a liberal slice of despair for "After the Five minutes". We've also got a street date for volume one: September 18th. I have no idea how this will do in the sales since TOC positions can be really misleading if you look into them too deeply. I certainly hope it'll do well since so far it's been an entertaining read, but I'm going to reserve my judgement only after the volume is out in stores. For now, Yamato and Kakeru are in a pretty bad situation that only appears to get worse (and better somehow?) when the Buddha begin to fight amongst themselves for reasons unknown. Even with them being distracted by each other however, Yamato isn't able to do anything to save his best friend's little sister --luckily the cavalry arrives just in time to save him! Though so far any little bit of hope given to the heroes has had just a pinch of despair with it, so I don't think they're out of the woods yet. Hoping Yamato will see his way through this with his friends, both in and out of the series proper.

Evans is also hitting newstands on September 18th, and because of this, Kuriyama gives us a color page! Now the actual writeup for this will come with the "Editorial" section due out this week, but I'll be featuring all color pages in one go for those who just want to see them right away. I can tell even with my poor eye for art that Kuriyama definitely leans on computers for their artwork, but I like that they're getting much more comfortable and consistent with linework. Pheebs looks real cute in this picture, and the color work itself is pleasing. I should point out as well that the color page commemorates the new volume and the apperance of a new assistant which seems to imply Max will be a staple of the series, maybe? I dunno what he'll add to Evans and Pheeb's rapport, but I trust Kuriyama to make it work --after all this is the 68th chapter so they have the experience, but man time sure does fly doesn't it?

It's still hard for me to justify the existence of this manga when it's sales are...not great to put it lightly, but I also can't really say I want it gone either when it's just so good at what it does --which is making Nagasaki and boating more accessible! From the fronstpiece we're introduced to Nagasaki Kunchi, which is a festival held from October 7th to the 9th and acts as a culture festival of sorts. Minato ends up getting sick out at sea --but he's still able to request high class food to which none of his classmates know how to make, hah. In the end the simple broth they make him brings him to tears, so it's safe to say he'll make it. There's also an element to the idea of eating and how to make food --in this case fish and whale taste better that while I can't say I'm completely behind, is pretty genuine for a series like this which I appreciate as Daiku isn't trying to be anything grandiose, and it reflects through the characters ambitions and the pacing of the series. 

Now for some actual features! If you pick up WSS's bigger sister magaine "Sunday Super" You get some limited edition art of Amuro and Conan drawn by Aoyama himself! Although the advert is in black and white, the illustration is in color. 

And while I won't be TLing the TOC itself, I figure I should at least explain where it comes from. So above here is a list of the series in this week's issue and a questionnaire. Generally speaking one would pick five series they enjoyed this week and write them down, as well as answer a few questions about what features in the magazine they enjoyed, what products featured in the magazine would they be interested in buying, as well as how they felt about the pin-ups and what manga they'd like to see continue and which ones they don't much care about. There are prizes involved in actually voting for these things to entice people to do them, but for the most part it's to figure out what people actually want in the magazine. Although the editor is the one who makes the final decision, the readers do have a lot of sway on what actually sinks or swims in Sunday --or any manga magazine really. So while it might seem pretty random there actually is a science to this, and it does have to do with the readers more than some faceless corporation dictating what we read. 

And with that we're done the "features" part of the magazine! What did you think? Does this work for you? Please let me know in the comments~ The "Editorial" part will be out before the end of the week hopefully. Next week's features will, well, feature Xeno receiving a lead color page due to it's popularity, as well as switch, and Conan will be featured on the cover! Ah you might wonder why I don't talk about the series on the bottom there --well, they're mostly advertising upcoming events in a random three manga --this week it's Youkai Giga, Saike, and Zettai Karen Children. These summaries are usually vague (on purpose) to create hype without giving away anything pertinent so I usually don't bother with them. I might start doing a little more with these preview pages on the features section, so by all means keep an eye on things here! 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #39 (2018)

It's time for the magazine that while quaint and quiet on the outside has all the goods on the inside --Weekly Shounen Sunday! I'm glad for everyone who's still hanging with me despite the move to Sundays (same channel though!) I do have an announcement though --the next writeup will see a way different vibe than the ones before it. This is to keep viewers engaged and make this as easy on me as possible. So this will be the final issue with the usual format. What the heck am I talking about? Next week will come with all the answers! So let's kick this last Sunday the usual way into warp speed!

And in this week's issue of "Zero's Tea Time weekly" ....ah, I'm kidding of course but one wouldn't be remiss to think that about the magazine. Though hey, it sells so can you blame Shougakukan? At least this week they have the very pretty Yuuki Yoda on the cover as well as three series getting Color pages --Maoujo, 008 and Memesis, as well as Cawaii that's taking the lead. 

So one spoiler of sorts is that the TOC may or may not be making the leap with the new format. There's a site that gets it much earlier than I do, and can present it in a much easier to read format, so I'd honestly say it might do people better to check that out here. The site is in French but finding things should be pretty easy. Since this is handled elsewhere, should I focus on something else? Hmm..for now, here we go with issue 39's TOC.

Tonikaku Cawaii by Kenjiro Hata (Chapter 26/Lead color page)
Detective Conan: Zero's Tea Time: Supervised by Gosho Aoyama/Art by Takahiro Arai (Chapter 14)
Major 2nd by Takuya Mitsuda (Chapter 150)
Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu: Story by Kyouichi Nanatsuki/Art by Teppei Sugiyama (Chapter 35)
Kimi Wa 008 by Syun Matsuena (Chapter 25/Color page)
Komi-San wa Komyushou desu by Tomohito Oda (Chapter 158)
Soukyuu no Araidane by Norhiro Yagi (Chapter 34)
Amano Megumi wa Suki darake by Nekoguchi (Chapter 135) 
Souboutei Kowasubeshi by Kazuhiro Fujita (Chapter 114)
Memesis by Takuya Yagyuu (Chapter 24/Color page)
Saike Matashitemo by Tsubasa Fukuchi (Chapter 124)
Maoujo de Oyasumi by Kagiji Kumanomata (Chapter 113/Color page)
switch by Atsushi Namikiri (Chapter 18)
Hatsukoi Zombie by Ryou Minenami (Chapter 138)
Aozakura Bouei Daigakkou monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido (Chapter 100)
Be Blues by Motoyuki Tanaka (Chapter 344)
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san by Aiko Koyama (Chapter 80)
Gopun Go no Sekai by Hiroshi Fukuda (Chapter 16)
K.O.I King of Idol by Tamaki Wakaki (Chapter 56)
Daiku no Hatou by Michiteru Kusaba (Chapter 61)
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ by Mizuki Kuriyama (Chapter 67)
Yuugami-kun ni wa Tomodachi ga inai by Jun Sakurai (Chapter 73)
Zettai Karen Children by Takashi Shiina (Chapter 514)
Shinobi no by Rokuro Ogaki (Chapter 53)
Marry Grave by Hidenori Yamaji (Chapter 33)
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou (Chapter 62)
Tokaichi Hitoribocchi Nouen by Yuuji Yokoyama (Chapter 35)

Not in this issue are the following:

Detective Conan
Chrono Magia

I'm actually rather glad to see Xeno doing so well! I wouldn't have thought originally that the Detective would have been the one in his class to survive, but here we are. Though on that note Ariadne seems to have experienced a resurgence of sorts being higher up for several weeks in a row. However, to keep from getting too far ahead of ourselves, let's remember that 1) TOC aren't (only) reflective of popularity but what the Editor thinks of a series at the moment, and 2) Sunday especially seems pretty open to flipping things around to promote series that need help. So it's hard to tell what's really going on with anything --though Shinobi no and Marry Grave are both in a lot of trouble since they're both selling pretty dang badly and polling badly too. It's getting close to new series time too, so even if we consider Saike to be on it's final arc there's going to be at least two more series that need to end alongside it --though Chrono magia going on hiatus might free up a spot (Interestingly enough it's going on sale next month as a single volume despite being listed as "on hiatus" in the TOC.) It's hard to tell since the page counts for WSS series are variable, and thus unpredictable.

This week's Sunday Gal is Yuuki Yoda, a member of Nogizaka46. She was born May 5th 2000, though it oddly doesn't state where she's from like many of the other Sunday gals., nor does it really state her hobbies or anything --just information of the newest single from Nogizaka and where to check it out. Either way she's quite pretty, so you're welcome for the photo shoot. I can say I'll probably keep these around in the blog's new iteration, so no worries there.

Doing pretty well for itself as it heads down the isle is Tonikaku Cawaii! I'm only really glancing at the series once in a while, but people have told me it's actually very charming, and I get the feeling it really is when compared to Hayate that felt like it was trying too hard to be funny sometimes, and other times was really directionless to me. The series itself is selling quite well, ranking only below series like "Orient" in Shounen Magazine (By Magi's author no less!) And it's probably mostly in part thanks to Hata going out of his way to really sell the series to his fans --appearing at public places and talking to fans on twitter whenever he can. There's something charming about that --and it goes well with the charm inside of the manga too. Not to mention Hata's color pages are really gorgeous too. 

The chapter is pretty straightforward in it's content --Tsukasa meets the parents, and things go over pretty well. Nasa's Dad heard how she saved his son after his unfortunate accident way back on chapter one and thanks her. Mom on the other hand is just overly nervous to meet her son's fiancee and it's all just super cute. The series seems to have shifted back into a slower pace --or well, to be fair to it it's maintained the same pace since the beginning, it's just more characters made things feel like they were moving along more quickly. I almost think asking this is a sacrilege for the series, but I do wonder how far Hata is going to take the lovely couple? I wouldn't put it past him to go all the way with family life too, but would that be something readers would want to see in a shounen magazine? I say that, but it's almost assured that most of the people buying this aren't in the target demographic, I feel like. Either way, I do really like Cawaii as a series, way  more than Hayate simply because it feels much more genuine in what it's trying to do while also keeping with Hata's sharp sense of humor. I may not be reading it as closely as other series in Sunday, but I do pray for it's success and Tsukasa/Nasa's happy marriage. 

Zero's heading out for a bit after this week's chapter, so it's fitting this is about him coming down with a case of the sniffles. After this issue, Conan will be back for, well, there's no point hiding it --four issues judging from the #44 there above. It's also said upon Zero's Tea Time's return that it will be sporting two chapters rather than one, so it seems the editors at Shougakukan are interested in getting the next volume out right away, and that seems about right as the projected date for Volume 2 is October. Zero's also selling incredibly well which is no surprise, so something tells me that it'll be around for some time acting as the stop gap when Conan's on vacation. Honestly this works out for both series even if it does feel like one is doing more heavy pulling than the other. In any case this week's chapter is straightforward too --Amuro feels a little ill and eats some home made Celery to feel better, but neither his dog or co worker appreciate his green thumb, which makes me wonder just what the heck he's growing. He insists on it being celery, but two pe--er, a dog and human can't be wrong can they? 

Mysteries deepen in Xeno this week as the longest arc so far marches on. I'm glad to see the series in the top half of the magazine a little more often since it really has been on the top of this game both artistically and narratively --and it feels like to me that Nanatsuki feels more comfortable venturing out of the series premise to give us a case that not only builds upon the lore that is Xeno, but the world itself. Not only that but Suigyama is no slouch in the art department if you just give the right page a gaze. Xeno reveals that this island is in fact Christan in nature despite the legends saying to the contrary --that they were strictly controlled and persecuted. Two people knew of this --Kai Shichirou, and Hina who as of this moment is missing. Hina had realized the hidden past of the island, and the song that Ai had been singing upon everyone's arrival. 

Apparently this is the island Adam and Eve of the Bible had been exiled to in the book of Genesis after partaking of the apple from the forbidden tree as Xeno explains above. In fact the chapter really does go into the biblical stories of old --invovling Cain and Abel as well. It's interesting to consider that Nanatsuki felt the need to recap the Biblical stories here --though it makes sense with the cultural differences. Like this is all very familiar to me, but maybe the average Xeno reader wouldn't know much about it, thus necessitating it. Cultural exchange sure is an interesting thing huh? So the song from before was actually referring to Cain and Abel, and that explains that much...and it also explains the deaths of the family members --brothers being killed as if they were trying to recreate Cain and Abel in real life.. 

No one would pick up on this of course without knowing the origin of the song and it's explained that the "GEN" we saw earlier wasn't a name but short for the Biblical book "Genesis" and doubles as a message from Hina, who ended up teaching the song to Ai and here we are. Hina didn't tell anyone of much of her plans, but as her classmate notes when Xeno figured out what was going on, she was actually in happy tears that someone figured her out...and now she's missing, and the one person who would benefit from no one knowing about what she founds is the current matriarch of the family who sits before them right now and has all of the motive in the world. 

I almost feel like this arc could have been a story of it's own in how it just seems to expand wider and wider the more Xeno investigates and uncovers the truth. Even at the end of this case, with one culprit found and many mysteries solved, there's still more --as Kyoushi is taken away for his part in this crime, Finding Hina and discovering the trick behind Kai's dubious Murder doors becomes the new objective. Xeno's on a roll and I'm glad to be on this ride. 

008 gets a color page this week so it's in the lineup. Gotta hand it to Matsuena, as much as his penchant for panty shots pains me, he's really good at drawing from different POVs as this week's chapter shows. I dunno how he manages to do this and keep a typical page count without taking breaks, but Matsuena has been around for a long time in the pages of Sunday so he probably is just that good. Straightforward seems to be the theme of Sunday this week as what you see is literally what you get. --The Eito trio are climbing a wall as a part of a test of their mettle this week, where one distraction could prove pretty fatal. I admit I have a soft spot for ridiculously over the top tests in shounen manga, and Matsuena definitely scratches that itch. 

So far however --Eito seems like a poor man's Kenichi. Granted at least his motivations are far more grand than his big brother's but other than that they seem to be essentially the same character. I'm not entirely sure yet if that's a good or bad thing in all honesty since the series is still in it's formulative stages, but it is interesting. It might just be Matsuena writing what he knows, but usually when authors do more than one serialization their protagonists at least have distinct visual designs and personalities. Again I won't give 008 too much guff for it now, especially since for the most part it works in the framework of the series, and Matsuena's art is still a visual delight to behold, but I hope Eito can stand out from the pack a bit more. Still, as far as this series --what you see being exactly what you get is perfectly fine. 

Komi takes a rare look into the life of one Miwa Omojiri --a teacher. So far Oda (not that one) has seen fit to explore the student side of the population in his fun little series, but has oddly left the teachers out. That ends today with the very prim and proper Ms. Omojiri! Of course this series is all about things not being what they seem underneath their surfaces so you know she's got her own issues to deal with, and hers comes in the form of being proper on the outside and slovenly on the inside. 

It's a brilliant facade until Komi catches her with her hair down (almost literally) in the supermarket! It's a continuation of the "straightforward" theme this week seems to have --you can probably tell exactly what's going on without really being able to read anything, and I honestly think that's a plus in the series' favor. Between Omojiri being scared of being exposed and Komi just being plain timid, it's fun seeing these two bounce off each other. Well, even that is being a bit deceptive --Komi is so worried when she sort of scares Omojiri out of doing her grocery shopping that she makes her a lunch to make up for it. In the end Omojiri is moved by this kindness enough to let her natural kindness shine through just a little bit, so perhaps their meeting was for the best after all. 

I've given Megumi so much coverage over these last few weeks that you wouldn't be remiss to think that I like the series more than I'm letting on, but no, I'm still basically only reading it occasionally. Still the artwork and feelings in this chapter were so good that I felt wrong for not including it so here it is albeit in a truncated format. To get to the point --there wasn't any confession, but there was an advancement of sorts --Megumi and Ma-kun decide to keep things casual for now, so in a roundabout way you could say they end up kind of confirming their feelings for one another without actually doing so. Gotta love that romantic comedy progression. All kidding aside, it felt just right for this series so I think fans won't be too let down. Besides at the end (not pictured) someone else's relationship got an upgrade, leading me to believe that perhaps Nekoguchi is probably going to hook everyone else up before he does the main couple. I don't read too many romantic comedies so I don't know if this is how things go, but it's an interesting idea. For me this week at least, I just really enjoyed Nekoguchi really getting into the artwork of this chapter and how important it was to telling the tale of Ma-kun and Megumi realizing their feelings even if they don't act on them right away. 

Sakamaki really has turned this series into his own playground. He's got the narrative of Souboutei wrapped around his little finger and all we can do is go where he indicates without an idea of where it'll lead. I can't even really say I dislike it, to be quite honest. So after his flashback comes to an end, Sakamaki turns to Kurenai to get her reaction to everything and gets...legitimately angry when she as his model has the audacity to pity him? He strangles her stating that he very much intends to bring his sister back --somehow, through his artwork. I think this is the closest we've gotten to finding out just what the enigmatic man's motivations are aside from drawing the "perfect picture". I can't really say too much as this is obviously only scratching the surface, but this humanization for the otherwise unfathomable Sakamaki is interesting at this stage of the game. Fujita has said and the narrative seemed to imply that we're in the end stages of the series but this element might be the antithesis to that. 

The chapter ends with Kurenai finding out that Sakamaki takes part in a grisly ceremony known as Kusouzu which erases worldly desires by depicting the corpses of women as they rot away --filling them with gas to speed along the process. Even he doesn't know how many people he's killed using this process, but he does imply that what he showed Kurenai is exactly what he did for each of these women --so then, is she the next to die? The end text says that Sakamaki is completely beyond understanding, and for once I'd say that's a fair assessment. I gotta say though, Fujita not letting his determined demographic dissuade him from digging deep is really what makes him a master of story telling. Things don't always have to be grimdark to tell a story that entertains as much as it terrifies, and "mature" doesn't necessarily equal better. 

Now this is a side of Memesis I'd like to see more of! I think the comedic stylings of the series are good most of the time, but Yagyuu's artsyle lends itself much better to being full of action satisfaction, and I just adore how this entire chapter came together both narrative and artistically! Runlun is a serious threat, and Yagyuu wastes no time in illustrating this in particularly brutal fashion. Above would have to be my favorite page of the week --the slight change in panel work, character position and BG make for a striking image as Runlun makes her grand appearance. Even the color page seems to say "this is getting serious so pay attention!" But yes, Runlun has killed a few heros before Ash and Kijira's party made it to her floor, and she's definitely not done yet. 

Jogi who had been strong enough to keep up with Ash and Kijira with a piece of french bread is easily dispatched by the evil demon, decapitated with impunity. Runlun comments that he'll make a good "commander" --something she mentioned earlier in the chapter with the other heroes she killed, which implies heavily that the demons roaming the land were once human and that lends itself well to some world building too. All in all this week's Memesis was short and to the point but lost nothing from it --perhaps being the best chapter of this entire arc. It perfectly sets up the stakes and shows potential for later events and does so with Yagyuu's characteristic artwork that is one of a kind in this magazine. Ash and Kijira might have met their match, and I'm eagerly anticipating their response to this chain of events. 

Saike doesn't pull any punches this week either. Or well it does, but kicks are a thing it excels at, courtesy of my dear Ana. Not surprisingly after getting a new lease in life thanks to Calim, Saike quickly works on a new strategy and has his friends attack Will's elite forces in a different order than they did the first time around. For Saike (the series) it's always been less about the what --we know Saike (or in this case Calim) will reset things and more about the how. Does the "how" of this week stack up? Let's take a look.  

One thing I was a little surprised about (and maybe a smidgen disappointed in) is Pedro getting a tiny bit of backstory during his fight with Ana. I realize Fukuchi's probably up against the clock if this really is the final volume of the series, but I would have appreciated a bit more time with Pedro who's backstory is merely serviceable in the scheme of things rather than being compelling. In short it's heavily implied that his power was born from his own inability to make a decision when he needed to. He wanted to go into wrestling, but as the "heel" who's sort of the villian in the ring despite his own personality as a gentle giant. His inability to choose to be true to himself or his desire lost him his girlfriend, and lead him down the path he's on now, which does serve as a reason to do what he does, and it was integrated well within the confines of this chapter, but the sense of haste really killed some of the momentum for me. 

Still, Ana's victory and the reason behind it made up for that small gripe. She says making a decision is one thing, but considering other's feelings is another. Decisions can indeed affect others, so having that empathy is important --and it's why she was able to beat Pedro who was so caught up in his own decision making process that he didn't consider what Ana could be doing, what she was thinking. Fukuchi's always been the type to think outside of the box with his ability battles --even moreso when he became hugely into Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Pedro is down for the count, and rather easily to boot, but who's up next week? That's the "how" part I was talking about --we're doing this for a second time and in theory that should make things less interesting, but Fukuchi's good at playing up this enigma to keep us on our toes. 

The sleepy princess is back in the blog too with a cute color page! The monsters want to have a bash, and you know what that means. She's going to find a means to ruin it by "helping". Though really they do a bang up job of this on their own with their inability to decorate which leads to the princess deciding to step in in the first place. The poor demon carpenter just wants to set things up but everything the princess makes makes his handiwork pale in comparison. Even when someone jokes about having a machine gun the princess somehow ...makes one? Has one? It's hard to tell, but the ridiculousness of the gag is more than enough to get this blogger laughing. 

In the end since the higher ups (The demon king and his court) want things to look good, they have no choice but to let the princess out to help. What's hilarious is she's usually able to just get out on her own, so what's stopping her this time? Heh. In any case, she just takes all of the things she previously made and puts them together making it look horrifying enough for even the monsters to be terrified, and after helping well...once, she's ready to go back to sleep. The party is only getting started which means we're getting an arc of sorts! I wonder what other kind of "help" the monsters can expect from their "barely-a-hostage"? 

5 minutes has a weird kind of emotional dissonance going on for itself this week. Though to be fair, I think this is intentional by Fukuda as the series has always had this kind of "So over the top that it's funny" thing going on for itself, come to think of it. It's just this week's chapter really leans into that identity, and yet again it's pretty easy to see that from just looking at the images --from Yamato's expressions to the Buddha asserting it's dominance and then lying down. It weirdly kind Like the series has basically been ruled by it's looming sense of tension, and since it'd be even weirder for Fukuda to turn around and have a light hearted chapter out of nowhere this kind of does that work without derailing the buildup so far. 

That's not to say the chapter was completely devoid of what has brought it thus far. Kakeru being on one of the trains the buddha has in it's possession, along with Yamato swearing vengeance against this particular killer Buddha has reminded us that despair is still right around the corner in this work. Not only that but there are two of the mega Buddha standing before Yamato, as he realizes he fooled himself into thinking there was only one when there was no basis for that before now. As I've said before when reviewing this series --it still impresses me that the namesake still hasn't come into play at all even up until now, though I feel like even when it does come into play there will be a high price to pay....

Evans has another understudy in this week's chapter of the series in the from of Maxwell Quaid(?) who wants to become a sheriff as soon as possible! When Evans asks him what exactly he's in a hurry for, he gets a response not unlike his own reasoning --To be popular. Now this is a fun little experiment --how does Evans react to a new guy who's apparently just like him, and then there's Ted who's been here first? Evans looks at him as a possible comrade while Ted is much more straightforward (man I feel like I've overused that word this week.) Though even I had to laugh when Ted straight up says "this isn't the type of job you take on if you want to be popular" right in Evans presence. Kuriyama elects to do something a little different this week with the humor --rather than be based completely on misunderstandings (at least on Evans part) it kind of pokes fun at the cowpoke's whole being. Like when a girl comes to them for help, Max turns on the charm and asks her out straightaway --Ted reacts understandably with exasperation while Evans is like "You gotta check to see if she has a boyfriend first, dude." 

The trouble is this young lady's former boyfriend acting out and Max being as dense as he is pretty much goes straight for the kill again asking if he'd do as a new boyfriend. Weird for me to say this but I think I like how straightforward Max is, to be honest. In this series where everyone is reserved --being pushed by misunderstandings and pride, to have someone who is "trigger" happy like Max really gets the best kind of milage out of Evans who keeps mentally correcting Max's conduct (and not because he's being a dope, but because his form is all wrong) as Ted gets more and more annoyed with his flightiness --which in turn sort of hurts Evans since he's almost the same way, hah. 

Impressively Max is able to put down (with an injury) the former boyfriend saving the girl from trouble, and Evans tries to explain that being popular isn't easy, but it seems Max doesn't quite get that lesson, and that's further compounded when the girl asks Max if Evans is seeing anyone just as he's thinking maybe being a sheriff isn't for him. He swings right back on that train and it seems we've got ourselves an arc. I'm down with this as so far Max has been really fun to have around.

Yuugami caught me by surprise this week by really feeling like it's in it's literal final inning. This entire chapter exuded this aura of one on it's final stages despite it being a slice of life comedy work --and one that sells pretty decently for Shounen Sunday. Granted all things considered Yuugami has been around for a while so it's not as if it's being taken out before it could reach it's potential. Plus this is just me speculating --but I haven't been wrong quite yet so....

Yuugami unfortunately isn't able to hit the run that would take his team to the Koshien, surprisingly. To me that just feels even more like Sakurai might be slowly winding things down, as a koshien run would mean actually depicting Yuugami and his friends there. Now I know it's sounding very much like I'm suggesting Sakurai backed out out of laziness, but that's not what I think, I swear! I just feel like Yuugami is a tale about the quirky titular character and his interactions with his friends that has baseball as a framing device. It's hard for me to really convey what I mean here --I don't mean to say that Baseball isn't important in the world of Yuugami, but it's less of a priority? Again it's hard for me to say. In any case Yuugami's team loses the match and life goes on. 

Most of all though is Yuugami's surprising take on this whole matter. If you remember, his father said that if he can get to the Koshien, then he'll help him live on his own. Since that didn't happen, he intends to get a job to support himself instead. Still, as a suprise to both the audience and Chihiro, he thanks her for her support despite being kind of stand off-ish in regard to her up until now. Of course some well timed fireworks drown out his thanks and he's too prideful to say it again. Could this be the start of a change in Yuugami? I'm not sure, but the end of chapter text implies that High school life is slowly coming to an end for these characters, and like Cawaii way above, I have to wonder how far Sakurai intends to take us in the lives of these characters.

Shinobi no is sprinting fast --toward a conclusion? I'm not sure but the several time skips with nothing to show for it in between and this battle having a very "finite" aura about it suggest that the series is indeed trying to make an exit. I've said it before however --it feels like at least with Sunday artists that even when things are their darkest, they continue to put every effort into making sure that exit is as flashy as possible. Seeing Todou not only take pops' likeness but his raw power into battle is something to behold, especially with that fierce aura that got Pops notice in the first place. It was implied earlier of course, but Todou is well aware of Saitou's treachery and his teaming up with Sakamoto to wage war on Japan.  The latter who's been pretty laid back up until now expresses an interest in killing Todou himself, and thus the battle begins. It seems up until now while Todou was aware of Saitou's doings he wasn't privy to the fact that the trio had killed (or well "killed") pops seven years earlier, until Saitou flat out tells him ---

And Todou is about to run wild on them until he remembers Pops' lessons --and I really like that even with their current strained relationship, Todou takes those lessons to heart, calms down and remembers that recklessly diving into battle isn't "strength" at all. 

A bit of errata however, I thought that Okita had died behind the scenes of the previous chapter, but apparently I was wrong. He and the Shinsengumi are perfectly fine and ready to battle with Sakamoto's forces. Koto warns the group that even if they manage to kill everyone here, they cannot stop the dark ship from it's goal. I don't doubt that the good guys will find a way to persevere in the end, but Pops surviving and being in the background --albeit in no shape to fight interests me especially with Ogaki really stacking the odds against him even before his fight with Sakamoto's group. What role will he play in the ending? I can't even fathom him sitting this out since Ogaki has seen it fit to keep him around, but what can he do now? Though at least for the time being the focus is on stopping the ship and Sakamoto's plans, so while it looks likely the Shinobi might be out of a mission before long, we have at least a little more time left before then. 

Marry Grave continues to be a well drawn spectacle despite it's worrisome position in the magazine and it's even more worrisome sales. I don't doubt it'll at least get four volumes out of it's serialization, but as good as this arc has been it'd be a real shame if after this flashback we're carted into the endgame, as it's clearly hinting at something bigger in the series, and it's narrative focus of finding oneself even when the odds are stacked high. Despite having no magic of his own, Sawyer still jumps into the fray against Sergei and delivers a mighty punch, reminding Rozalie that her place is where she makes it, and she can choose to be with them.

I like seeing Dante get involved too --he's come a little way from where he was when this arc began as he decided to follow Sawyer out of a sense of concern (even if he'd never admit it.) More than just Rozalie, I think Yamaji is doing a great job balancing all of the development of these characters. They all really do feel like they're coming into their own slowly but surely. The question of course for Dante here is what happened to him by the time Sawyer and Rozalie get married? He isn't mentioned or seen anywhere, so things aren't looking too good for him...

Turns out Sawyer --while not knowing everything at least had figured out that Rozalie was a lot more than what she was telling him, but even then he accepts who she is and doesn't blame her for keeping quiet. In fact he asks her to always remain at his side, smiling. Ah, not only is this satisfying from a character perspective, but it is from a story one too. Unfortunately Sawyer's wounds are deep and even with Dante's best healing magic he isn't able to save him from the brink. It's then that Rozalie --her confidence restored takes over in Dante's stead and well, the next chapter preview promises a "miracle". Not that we don't know what that is considering these two did eventually get married, but the execution is going to be key here.

This week's Youkai Giga features the "Shirobouzu" A faceless pure white youkai who prides itself on scaring humans. The chapter itself is about a man and woman --the man believes in the Shirobozu and asks if the woman --Kaya will go out with him if they see the shirobozu. Meanwhile the afformentioned Youkai is having an issue of it's own --for the first time in it's life it has a stomach ache! Now the pressure is on because if it doesn't show up then it's possible these two won't fall in love, and the Shirobozu overheard the man's proposal. It even tries to create a double to do it's job for it, but the double too has a stomach ache, haha. In the end Kaya confesses she's always liked the guy too and they don't need a monster to come out to confirm their feelings. I'm glad things worked out for them, but someone please go back and look after the Shirobozu! 

And that's it for this week! Next week Aozakura gets a color page celebrating it's 100...well, technically 101st chapter, but close enough. Be blues and Evans also receive color pages, and Mr. Shounen Sunday comes back for a limited four week engagement. It's also the first week I'm going to try something a little new with how I handle blogposts, so it'll be exciting for the blog and for the magazine itself. Until then have a good week --Sunday included!