Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #44 (2018) Features Edition

Here we go with this week's features! It's a low-key issue but there's still a thing or three to talk about!

Zero's back and the magazine is more than happy to announce this fact with a pretty cool cover. I'm sure this is Arai's artwork since it wouldn't make much sense for Aoyama to draw it but's getting to a point where I honestly can't tell the difference. I know it's pretty much unheard of, but imagine if Aoyama were to just let Arai take over the main series on the down low. Would we be able to tell at all? Hmm...

You know the drill: Okachi for the lineup, the blog for the comments. This week's question comes from Kanagawa and asks Something along the lines of  "What kind of Autumn is this for you?"

Yellow (Birdmen) Tanabe: I'd like it to be an autumn of reading, but things move so fast that it's more like the Autumn of books going into oblivion. 
Takahiro (Zero) Arai: Autumn of eating!! I'm always thinking of what I can eat while working on the manuscripts.
Kazuhiro (Souboutei) Fujita: I want to eat Dangos. Skewered, or red bean jam---it doesn't matter. Gimmie Dangos.
Tomohito (Komi) Oda: Autumn of Food! White Rice is delicious!
Norhihiro (Ariadne) Yagi: Autumn of beer and snacks!!
Takuya (Major 2nd) Mitsuda: Autumn of Life.
Syun (008) Matsuena: An Autumn of Challenging yourself!! Ah, well that's all year long, though.
Hidenori (Marry Grave) Yamaji: I generally lose track of what season it is. (lol)
Aiko (Maiko) Koyama: Autumn of Coffee. It's the season of finding something refreshing, hot and delicious. 
Teppei (Xeno) Sugiyama: Autumn of taking strolls, yeah? 
Nekoguchi (Megumi): The Autumn of cute girls fashions....ah, I'm...kinda sorry.
Hiroshi (5 minutes) Fukuda: I mean, is there anything other to think of aside from eating?
Michiteru (Daiku) Kusaba: Autumn of the stars.
Takuya (Memesis) Yagyuu: Autumn of Eating! By the way, September 26th is Haruse-sensei's birthday! (Congrats!)
Kagiji (Maoujo) Kumanomata: It's always the Autumn of Bears!!
Motoyuki (Be Blues) Tanaka: Eating!
Mizuki (Evans) Kuiryama: Autumn of walking. I had to take summer off due to life.
Hikaru (Aozakura) Nikaido: I never feel anything for the seasons. (Bloody tears)!
Ryou (Hatsukoi) Minenami: The Autumn of realizing I spent a year not doing anything and now it's over...and now my bitter memories of youth are coming back....
Atsushi (Switch) Namikiri: Autumn of Fragrant Olives.
Kenjiro (Tonikaku) Hata: Autumn of Comic1 (This is a popular doujinshi convention.)
Tsubasa (Saike) Fukuchi: Autumn of Eating! There's always lots of great things to eat in Autumn!
Tamaki (K.O.I) Wakaki: Thank you (for reading). Starting tomorrow I'm going to play my fill of video games.
Satsuki (Youkai Giga) Satou: Autumn of Gold.
Yuuji (Hitoribocchi) Yokoyama: Autumn of Curry.

Lots of folks just love to get their grub on! Though someone should probably go confort Minenami-sensei....even if that is a big mood for me too.

Did anyone ask for more Karakuri Circus VAs? Cause I've got them for you! Starting on the left, we've got Hisao Egawa as Shinobu Nakamachi, Ryouta Iwasaki as Noriyuki Nakamachi, Kaito Ishikawa as Hiroo Nakamachi, and on the right Daranda Lizerotte Tachibana voiced by Tomoyo Kurosawa, and Velma Son as voiced by Marina Inoue. All of these characters are a part of the "Nakamichi" circus as some of their names imply! With the show set to start fairly soon, I'm surprised we haven't gotten OP/ED info but I suppose that'll happen within the week. On that note I wonder who'll offer Karakuri streaming on this side of the pacific?

I've received a lot of questions and comments about Sunday not really doing much to promote their manga. To some extent that's true --they really don't use the internet to the extent they should since it's cheap as free to advertise, and usually doesn't take much more than viral tweet or post. I'm not gonna get into the whole "They need to make more anime" thing because that ignores a whole bunch of realities. Instead let's look over at this advert which promises TV commercials of Sunday manga --in Webry. It's a start though! Shogakukan is really pushing to make Webry the manga app, and are doing so with a "Autumn push"! Offering a whopping two thousand points to lucky readers, starting new serializations, and even getting newbies in for one shots. Not only that but there's a huge announcement coming next issue. Could it be maybe new serializations for the main magazine?! It'd be nice considering one series ended last week and another is this week, but I'd think it'd be odd to announce that here instead of on it's own like they have been.

It's twice the Zero for the price of one this week, which means a whole lot of me not being sure what to write about other than "Oh man this artwork looks nice". (So y'know stuff that you can see without me pointing it out.) Actually weren't we going to get a police academy arc? I guess to be fair they didn't necessarily mention it'd be as soon as the series returned, so that's a thing. For the most part the double chapters are in an effort to have enough chapters for the second volume due next month. I sure hope this isn't too much work on Arai, even if the chapter page count is so low that two of these are only a little more than a typical WSS chapter. It is kinda nice that these are pretty simple and straightforward so there's not much for me to TL here --Zero and his co-worker Kazami head out to eat, and one can deal with extra spice, while it's not so nice for the other. That's pretty much it, in all honesty.

The second half is even more of Arai just using this manga's lack of a real plot to show of his art, and gosh if it isn't' working. Again, the story is pretty straightforward, a cop gets wiped out by a neer-do-well, and Zero takes it on himself to serve up some fresh justice by chasing the guy down. It really makes me wonder what Aoyama does in this process. I mean he supervisors, so I'd imagine his primary role is to ensure Arai doesn't go off the rails with his character, but this feels safe to a point of tedium. Still, it sells so can I really complain at a time like this where Shounen Sunday needs a big hit? Next time we get Azusa's older brother who I can't remember ever appearing in the main Conan series...

I know I covered Komi last week but this week sure left an impression. Aside from the multiple art styles (references) that Oda (Not that one) used to make things even more hilarious, there's the little twist at the end with Rumiko and Tadano. Komi's being scanslated pretty rapidly by folks out there which almost makes me wonder why I bother talking about it --especially since by the time I write this up the English version will be out, but this is my blog after all! Anyway Rumiko and Tadano has been kind of hinted at since the former's introduction, but Oda (not that one), has always been pretty firm in leaving it as an implication and not much else. This week however, Rumiko finds herself being hassled by some guys until Tadano steps in and defuses the situation by saying he's her boyfriend and they should step off! Even after the incident is settled, Rumiko is thinking about it later in a state of disbelief. Sadly we're not going to get more on that next issue as the preview on the bottom of the page makes it clear instead it's going to be about Komi's mom and dad. Though I'll admit the idea of a love triangle has some interesting and worrying (for me) implications. Still, I'll trust Oda (not that one) that he knows his characters well enough to keep this development interesting!

Ariadne has been the victim of circumstance on the blog. I've really wanted to cover it, but there's just been a whole lot of other things that were way more prudent to talk about. Well, this week I made sure to find a bit of room for the adventure series, and that paid of big time! It not only was an interesting chapter from an artwork standpoint, but a story one too. Leana's name is apparently not her real one as the being of light starts to reveal this week, but for whatever reason she's really against that truth getting out there. I know it's a thing in stories of all kinds where one's "true name" being revealed is a distinct disadvantage for the person who holds the name, but this is the first time it's come up in Ariadne so I have to wonder what having a different name means in this 'verse, and why Leane would be using a different name to begin with. As if that isn't enough to be curious about, Rashil and Rulu return and they seem...different. Much more like the child soldiers they were raised to be....even at the end of the chapter pictured above, Rashil coldly says they're going to "eradicate the enemies" and return to where everyone is. This arc of the series has been about discovering some of the truths of the world and it seems the fans have responded --it's been high up in the TOC for several weeks now. I hope that I can start covering this with a little more frequency too! On a slightly related note, it's interesting to see this lighter less bold artwork next to Souboutei (covered in the editorial!) --the stark contrast is what I really like about Sunday's lineup, no two series look the same.

Yet another series I wasn't thinking of covering this week --but man that last page pretty much commanded me to is 5 minutes! Though appropriately enough it's first volume hit recently so I guess it is worth talking about. It premiered around the 80th slot on the rankings and dropped to 90 after a day or so. Not the greatest of premieres, but the fact that it's hanging in there for a little bit is a good-ish sign. I don't think this is any real danger of being cancelled as y'know, Fukuda's got well deserved veteran swag, but as K.O.I has demonstrated, even that can only save a person for so long. For the chapter itself, well it's still doing the doom and gloom with a little sunshine that it's known for. I'm not at the point where it's tiring for me per se, but it is getting to be a tiny bit of a slog to see the series essentially be one long fight for several weeks without any reflection or forward momentum. It's why the end of the chapter where we find out the Buddha's can talk is the spark of interest I needed to feel like Fukuda is indeed going to address some of the questions that haven't been answered since this started. Although I'm not asking him to answer everything within the next chapter, it would be nice to feel like there's a bottom to this well of despair. 

Birdmen will get more coverage in the editorial --though I sort of wonder if it shouldn't go in the features too since it's featured only once a, with Shinobi no done, I guess it's more fitting to take it's place even if it really isn't since again...once a month. I do really like this color page, for it's unintentional humor, and just how well...colorful it is when compared to the series aesthetic. For more about what happened this month, tune in for the editorial piece!

And thus here we are for King of Idol's final chapter. You all probably know by now how little I've actually read of this series past the first three obligatory chapters, but I still feel a small pang of sadness to see it march off like this, especially since it's second half was much more compelling than the first, and I will always be a huge fan of Wakaki's adorable art style. 

I will say that I like how the finale brings together all of Japan into one really well drawn display of idoldom. Idols really are unique and a big part of Japanese culture so to see them celebrated in this way is kind of great, even if as I thought Wakaki doesn't really address the underside of the industry. Maybe he might have with a little bit more time/success, but alas it wasn't meant to be. I can offer all kinds of theories on why it didn't hook fans despite idols being as huge as ever in Japan, but as someone who knows nothing about the idol culture at all, I think it'd be disingenuous for me to try. It's why even though I do like the second half more than the first, I can't say much about the series in general due to me not reading much of it. 

I'm always sad to see a series go when it had some potential, even if I didn't really read it. The reason being because I can tell even without reading the series much that there was much more Wakaki would have liked to do for a finale, and cancelled series only get the nominal 16-18 pages to do it in, unlike series that get their grand finales told as they were meant to. Especially in this case where Mahoro's -goal --being able to reunite with his mother isn't accomplished by the end of the series. It truly is a shame, but one of the risks of serializations. All we can do now is imagine what might have been and wonder...Wakaki, I won't tell you to do an action series again in the vein of Albatross way back when I first discovered you since it's clear you don't want to (and in all fairness with the success you found with The World Only God Knows I can completely understand why you wouldn't.) but it'd be great to see you capture some of that magic you had with the first series with a premise that isn't a limitation from the get go. (Though again to be fair, Idols are a big deal in Japan so...) I'm glad to report that at the end of the chapter the notice that Wakaki is working on his next series is there so perhaps he'll return to Sunday someday soon. No matter what it is you have, I will look forward to it so rest up and keep that pen working Wakaki-sensei.

And that's it for the features of issue 44! Next week 008 grabs a lead color page, and switch gets a center color! Yuugami will be in for a monthly visit as well so there's plenty to go around. I thank you for coming in for the features and hope you'll find a little time to read the editorial too! See you!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Covering Sunday September 2018 edition

Hey all! I hope you've been minding your budget as it's time for you to put your money where your mouth is with all the Shounen Sunday releases of the month! Saleswise I don't have anything spectacular to say as most things are per the usual --Komi debuted at number on on it's release day,  5 minutes at 87th, Saike at 37th, Souboutei at 3, Maiko in the top 50 at least, and Evans at 20th. I still haven't learned the fine art of how these translate into actual volumes sold but after monitoring things a bit, Saike dropped to 78th after a second day and after looking at it this morning it seems to be at around 286th now, with 5 minutes at 256. Not sure if this is good or better for these series (I think it's slightly better for Saike, maybe) but there's a bit of a sales situation for the interested. I'm still trying to find a means to have this be a more frequent part of the blog, but sadly I'm terrible at numbers and finding people who have enough interest (and Japanese knowledge) is tough, but I'll keep trying!

Making a rare appearance (due to its low page counts) is Satsuki Satou's Youkai Giga! I wasn't even aware until this morning when I went to fetch the volume cover that the Mizuki Productions group recommends this manga. That's pretty high praise as this is the same group that holds the rights to Kitaro which can be called the forefront of youkai manga. I dunno how well this sells (and since it wasn't on the charts at any time I checked it's likely it doesn't sell well at all, unfortunately) but receiving praise like that is definitely nothing to sneeze at. As for the cover itself, it's pretty much what I've come to expect from Youkai Giga which makes me kind of want to have these physically on a shelf since the uniformity is kind of comforting. 

Speaking of Uniformity, Birdmen keeps doin what it does best with this release's cover as well. I don't remember what it's initial release ranking was, but it's currently sitting at a pretty 70th which despite how it looks is pretty good for a series with no anime for now? I'm not too sure how I feel about the cover color though. I don't dislike it, but it's oddly....plain. Or well, not really even that, just not exactly eye catching in my humble opinion. Still Maraika is pretty cute so I can't complain.

Saike on the other hand always does something a little different and I appreciate it, even if this cover isn't quite as visually interesting as some of the others. To be fair, this volume in particular was mostly about revelations than anything action packed and since Fukuchi is wedded to drawing what actually occurred on them for each one, it probably left him little choice but to go with this. Still I like that the Akashic Records is an alien red color in comparison to the very green everything else, and it's big enough to be eye catching to those who are reading the series by volume or haven't at all yet.

Hatsukoi Zombie is another that has a formula it's familiar with and thus sticks to, even if I wish it wouldn't. The artwork is so good for these, and since Shougakukan for whatever reason doesn't release art books of their serialized artists (though I don't know how much of this is the artist wanting to do an art book and how much it is the company seeing the worth of doing one --since Fujita and Aoyama get them) these covers are often the rare times we get pretty colorized artwork. Thankfully due to social media we do sometimes get graced by the author with covers without text, which is all I can hope for here --everything is far too big and obscures the artwork to a degree that's disappointing. It's Hatsukoi's trademark at this point, but it does sadden me....

Meanwhile Souboutei has a trademark and really makes it work for itself! Though ironically my praise is how it actually varied things up this volume and went for something a bit less dreary --the pink font for the logo, and Takoha/Seiichi's green coloration really goes super well together, and the touch of the Souboutei's sign being right behind them is excellent too. It was so close to being cover of the month, but that award goes to...

What can I say, I'm a sucker for the arts. This cover isn't just pretty, it's downright magical. The one downside is I do feel like the center image should have been a little bigger if only because when I post this around it's hard to see at first glance, and the borders are almost distracting next to the beauty that is the center image. Still, the use of color and light/dark is so powerful that I think it'll be okay. Not only that but the font choice for Koyama's name and the logo are in tune with the entire cover without being overwhelmed! Definitely deserving of this month's praise.

Aozakura is an example of a formula that works really well despite me not actually reading the series. I like that everything is always centered giving great focus to Nikaido's excellent character artwork, and the BG uses lighter colors but the fade helps keep them from being plain. Oh, and the cherry blossoms in the background are a nice touch as well as they provide some character to the image without taking away from the girl in the center. It's a cover of  balance and poise both of which Nikaido knocks out of the park.

I always dig how Komi (and Meugmi) volumes illustrate a scene between characters rather than being a compilation of events in a volume if that makes sense. Yes this is something that happens in the chapters included in the book, but it looks like it tells a story on it's own which makes for a way more enticing cover, I think. Plus the use of font, logo, and composition compliments itself well here as nothing trips up anything else and there's a weight to all of the elements that ensures that all of these get equal focus. Komi's really got these covers down to a science, and I'm glad to say volume ten continues a proud tradition.

Honestly if I weren't trying to be impartial here, Evans would take the cover of the month every month it appears. I'm not at all sure how Kuriyama manages to make every cover better than the last, especially considering the subject matter, hah. It almost feels like the lie of sheriff Evans is that his covers look way cooler than the actual manga is! Also Kurt looking smooth as he puffs on his pipe and Abby's earnest expression just make this cover even greater and somehow more hilarious. It makes sense too as this duo is the one who leads the way in this volume.

Ah seeing this just reminds me of the sad tale that was Chrono Magia and how this single volume is all we'll be seeing of Dousei's great artwork for a while. The artwork aside, I like the logo for the series, and seeing Dousei's name written in such an elegant way. Sadly but understandably there's not much going on with this cover since not much happened in the story before it came out, and even if the series hadn't been unceremoniously cancelled, this is still but the first release. Basically the whole thing screams "potential". A potential that'll never be realized, sadly. I hope your next work manages to reach those lofty heights I know you're capable of, Dousei-sensei!

Last but not least is Hiroshi Fukuda's newest series "The world After the five minutes" or as he's called it "After the five minutes". I like that he's stated the title several different times here, and the font used for both his name (in English) and the series title. I would have preferred the cover BG to be something other than red, since it clashes with the city scene he's drawn, but I can understand why he'd opt for this color as well. That being said, I like the three leads being right in the middle of things, as Fukuda's character artwork is really unique. It also helps that the cover itself doesn't give away anything much like the title was obscured before the serialization. Fukuda is great at drawing in this very "pop-art" ish style and that comes through here --this would make great advertising as much as it does a manga volume cover. 

And that's it for the month! Signal boost your favorite volumes in the comments and I'll see you again in October with more sales and Shounen Sunday volume info!