Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #49 (2018) Features section

'Round and round the week goes, where it stops...someone determined a long time ago making the modern calendar. Yet! This blog, in it's quaintness still stands out in it's bid to redefine what we call a week by injecting two Sundays into it! What's this other Sunday doing this week? I investigate.

On the cover is Chisaki Morito of Morning Musume '18, along with the new Chrono Magia manga, Xeno who's got a grand color page, and of course Zero who basically owns this joint. I gotta say I like the picnic table cover coloring of the WSS logo this week --something about it is really appealing to me.

I've noticed a few new people have been coming from Okachi to the blog, and I'd like to say hello! Well, considering it's a French site and I'm writing in English I'd have to wonder how many people coming from there are reading the blog okay....ah, I really shouldn't assume that everyone coming from there can only read French! Either way, I'm glad our partnership of sorts is bearing fruit. Now for my end of the deal --TOC Talk!

This week's question comes from Osaka and asks (or more like says): October 31st is Halloween! What are you going to dress up as?

Chrono Magia: Infinity Gear (Story by Homura Kawamoto/Hikaru Muno/art by Takeshi Azuma) It's been a while since I've been back! Looking forward to being here! (Azuma)
We Brothers will do our best with the story. (Kawamoto/Muno)
Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu: I'd probably wear some Godzilla Pajamas. (Nanatsuki)
Komi-san wa Komusho Desu (Tomohito Oda): I'd like to try some Zombie makeup!!
Be Blues (Motoyuki Tanaka): Kuuga. (TN- As in, Kamen Rider Kuuga.)
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san (Aiko Koyama): Hmm...the Moon.
Kimi wa 008 (Syun Matsuena): Something like Zorro or The Phantom or the Opera, maybe?
Detective Conan: Zero's Tea time (Takahiro Arai): It'd take the least amount of effort for me to be a zombie as long as I don't sleep.
Amano Megumi wa Suki Darake (Nekoguchi): I'd like just once to put on Zombie make up and be in the "Thriller" video.
Gopun go no Sekai (Hiroshi Fukuda): Deido Sakamaki (TN- As in the villain from Souboutei.)
Maoujo de Oyasumi (Kagiji Kumanomata): A not quite real Bear Suit. (With proportions at about 4)
Edelweiss and Dialog (Masaya Jiki) Something like A pumpkin monster.
Yuugami-kun ni wa Tomodachi ga Inai (Jun Sakurai): A Gundam.
Hatsukoi Zombie (Ryou Minenami): A cute one would be nice...Maybe like the ComaDoff Warrior. (TN- From Mad Max Fury Road.)
switch (Atsushi Namikiri): A High School Girl.
Memesis (Takuya Yagyuu): Chomeji from "Idejuu" or Pearl from One piece!
(TN- Idejuu is a manga by Taishi Mori which ran in Shounen Sunday from 2002-2005. One Piece is...One Piece.)
Sokyuu no Ariadne (Norihiro Yagi): On a day like this my self portrait would suffice!
 Tonikaku Cawaii (Kenjiro Hata): Jack O' Lantern.
Marry Grave (Hidenori Yamaji): Ryo from Shenmue. (TN Shenmue is an open world RPG created by Sega in 1999).
Saike Matashitemo (Tsubasa Fukuchi): I hadn't thought about participating in Halloween...(Sweat)
Aozakura Bouei Daigakkou Monogatari (Hikaru Nikaido) A Defense unit from a defense academy.
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ (Mizuki Kuriyama): I dress up as a person dragged into the Halloween Spirit every year.
Souboutei Kowasubeshi (Kazuhiro Fujita): I thought about being a Zombie slowly lumbering around.
Zettai Karen Children (Takashi Shiina): I like seeing pretty girls do cosplay but I can't say I have any interest in doing it myself.
Youkai Giga (Satsuki Satou): I'd put on a Cat.
Tokaichi Hitoribocchi Nouen (Yuuji Yokoyama): A Sushi Chef. 

Some pretty interesting answers here --seems like most people are just using these prompts to reveal how weird they are, hah. Fukuchi and Kuriyama don't seem to be too big into Halloween, while Fukuda revels in his Sunday fanboyism, and Namikiri....well, you do you man. My favorite thing is the amount of shoutouts this week! It was work to look some of these up, but seeing some of these artists reveal some of their favorite things (or ability to troll), was a lot of fun. 

This week's Sunday gal is Chisaki Morito of the "Morning Musume 18" group. She was born Feburary 19th 2000. Her hobby is Dance and her favorite sport is Basketball. If you're fortunate enough to buy the digital version of Sunday (Like I do!) Then you get extra pictures of her as seen above. The Hello! Project which sponsors Morning Musume is celebrating it's 20th anniversary and she was chosen to promote this with these pin up pics. I don't know particulars of course, but I am familiar with the name "Morning Musume" and their different iterations over the years. I can't quite think of a western equivalent, but it's needless to say that they're a part of the Japanese Entertainment landscape. Here's to 20 more years! 

Xeno's got a heck of an opening Color page this week! Though if you've noticed my writeup on the Sunday covers here you'd know that I'm perplexed on Ayla's ever changing hair color. Now it looks more like it did on the first chapter's color spread, but on the volume three cover it's black. Ah, I guess it's not really worth delving too deep into...the advertising text promises that we're reaching the "climax" of this arc. Of course what this really means in shounen language is that we're approaching an ending that may or may not be coming soon, but when the story is this good who's complaining? More on Xeno in the Editorial! 

Rei's still around in Komi this week, and I'm glad to see it since she has a lot of potential as a kind of foil/parallel to the main character. She's like what Komi would be if she were more aloof than shy, and this week she meets up with Tadano and Najimi, the two of which cause her to open up a bit more just like they did Komi way back. Najimi being pushy has that effect on folks huh, hah. Even Komi's a little happy when Rei hides behind her from the aforementioned, and even though she claims she finds them annoying, Tadano notices she has a big smile the whole time they're playing around. I do wonder if Rei's got a back story more than what we were given, though. It's not necessary of course, but I'm admittedly very curious. 

There's a little extra at the end of the chapter and well, Rei's very direct even if she's polite about it. Najimi asks if she likes them, and she says no. Najimi tries to "convince" her, and asks again, completely confused as to why Rei could possibly say she hates them now. From the end of chapter text, it's implied that Rei will be around next week too, and I'll be darned if I'm not getting kind of endeared to her. More please, Oda! (Not that one.) 

Not much for me to say about Be Blues other than: Golly it looks good. Ah, I have such a weird relationship with sports series --I don't find games particularly interesting, but most if not all of them are really well drawn. Tanaka especially seems to have a great handle on knowing what he wants out of a page and going for it --it's almost a shame I can't really stitch these pages in a way that would convey just how much power comes from the SFX placement and composition. While with action series you can take some shortcuts and still preserve momentum, I feel like sports don't have that luxury --and while I can't appreciate them from a story telling standpoint, I can say they're usually enthralling from an art one --Be Blues being one of the exemplary examples. 

Zero sees a familiar face this week --and I'm now assured that Aoyama knows what he's doing in supervising this manga. He knows just the hook that will make bored Conan fans (who aren't also Amuro fans, trust me they do exist.) turn their heads and pay attention without ensuring people don't forget who this series is about. It helps too that most of the stories are easy enough to follow without any real knowledge of Conan or Japanese for that matter, really.  I mean if you look above I think you can mostly make out what's going on, which in a sense is a strength. Though yes, that is Elena Miyano, the mother of Shiho Miyano who's currently Ai Haibara in the main Detective Conan story. I'm actually surprised that other than peeks here and there we're not getting more of the main cast in this? As I mentioned above there are actually Conan fans who don't care much for this spinoff, and I think that could be helped somewhat if other characters from the main series were to appear. That and where is the Police Academy arc we were promised earlier? I would have thought by now we'd be getting an inkling of that, but it seems this session of Zero is probably going to end with more one-off stories. I guess there's no rush since it's not like the series is doing badly, but it's interesting for them to advertise something that isn't coming soon. 

A Megumi chapter without fanservice? Say it ain't so! Sorry but I cannot tell a lie. This chapter is special in that it mostly relies on the characters to tell a story and does so rather effectively. Though, no that's disingenuous --Megumi is always using the characters effectively, but it can be hard to maneuver through the beefcake if that's not your sorta thing. It's a pity since when I do cover Megumi from time to time it really is a charming little series who's characters are fun, and while the fanservice mostly works because it's less "naughty" and more "innocent", it still doesn't change what it makes the series look on the outside. I respect Nekoguchi for drawing what he likes though, can't be mad at him there. Like Zero before this, the chapter is pretty easy to follow without really understanding much --Megumi has an important fencing match and despite doing her best falls short of her goal. As much as she tries to play this off like she's okay, the truth of the matter is...

Not measuring up to your own standards is more painful than failing someone else. The end of the chapter and even the advertising text work well in tandem here --Ma-kun kind of clumsily apologizes for everything, as Megumi just asks him to stand as he is for a bit longer. The text at the end says "Even as a strong warrior, when I'm standing before you...." (It's awkward I know, but the Japanese language lives on those vague hanging sentences.) I really did enjoy this foray into a T&A free Megumi chapter, but I can't lie and say that the series feels the same without it. 

I'm coming to really like this short serial...even though I know we'll be coming to an end sooner rather than later. Jiki trades in melodrama for something a bit more genuine and I think for the most part it works, simply because the art and sense of pacing are well done, even if the former sometimes shows that this is a first time serial, but yes Natsuki is that Natsuki, Aika's first love and they have managed to reunite after a long while though Natsuki is quite different now by his own admission. I like that Aika's friends are discussing this slightly out of earshot as if it's a battle manga, which is kind of hilarious to me. Natsuki isn't interested in joining the Drama club because to him there's "no meaning" in it. Despite his father as seen above being really into performances (to the point that he's a demon to his son, but extremely gentle to everyone else.) 

Aika's fallen for that smile and will do anything she can to convince Natsuki to join the club. It's here that we find out she has a terrible time with stage fright and Natsuki hits her in the center with it --he'll join the club only if she performs in front of everyone. Of course since I'm reading this weekly along with you all I can't say whether this is something he's doing from a place of spite or if he really wants to help her, but I can see it being a little bit of both? Of course Jiki's use of sideway angles exudes power --or in the above case the terrifying prospect of performing live in front of others. That this little tidbit was kept from us until now is an interesting choice, but I can kind of see where it's going --had we known this all along, that would have been too much "Telling" and not enough showing, I think. 

In the end Aika makes her decision to perform on stage before others. Probably this might seem a bit contrived to some, and I wouldn't blame anyone for thinking that way, but from another POV, sometimes we do need that kick in the butt to do something we've been dithering on for a long time, and while a soft kick might be preferred, a hard one is often what we'll get.  With two chapters to go, I'm feeling pretty confident Jiki will get the emotional payoff that's been building so far --unless the story doesn't decide to play it safe which is a possibility too, hmm. 

Yuugami looking like a tonally different series on this color page brings in this month's chapter. Though I guess really it doesn't give away what kind of series it is from this so it's not too far off the mark? I quite like the page, but the cover for volume 14 which won October's cover of the month is way better by far! Anyway, for Yuugami's shenanigans you'll have to wait for the editorial page due out later this week. 

It's the first time the "features" section has featured a new series, even though it's kind of not a new series in the strictest sense of any case, say hello to "Chrono Magia: Infinity Gear" as written by Homura Kawamoto and Hikaru Muno and drawn by Azuma Takeshi of Denpa Kyoshi fame. Kawamoto and Muno are actually brothers (as the TOC comment) revealed, and Kawamoto is the writer behind "Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler". It's a unique combo to be sure --and from the look of the artwork, Azuma's gone through a bit of a change since he was last in the magazine. It still looks like his style, but...not really at the same time? It's not exactly worse or better, just different. It's as if he's trying to do his best "Kakegurui" imitation to live up to the legacy of the writer, hmm...oh, and on that note, the girl on the color spread isn't in this particular chapter, but she looks like the mini sized one from Dosei's take on the Chrono Magia world. I haven't the foggiest idea of this, but perhaps that girl is a mascot character of sorts? 

In any case, this take on the series seems much more dire than the previous one by Dosei which seemed more like a romantic/action series that featured cards. I don't even think we really got into the first real match there, while this version jumps right into it. If you've read (or watched) any Kakegurui, you'll feel right home here with the expressions of the characters, and the narrative --basically Card games determine one's worth in the school --Tsukiyomi Academy, and those who can't game are basically "pigs". (A word/concept that's repeated several times in this chapter.) The school was once in chaos but due to the power of a Magia wielding girl, the chaos was quelled and the new system with the Student Council running things was put into place. I've read a bit of Kakegurui (I should get back to that actually..) and it really does sound very similar to it, but to be fair the trope itself is one that's found in many manga of this sort. 

The girl pictured above (who's face is hidden to us either because she's supposed to be just a "mob" or bystander character or perhaps her face would reveal something about a future plot point) had the unfortunate luck of losing to a rather sadistic lass who's hobby is labeling her "pigs" to her liking as seen above. Before she can get her write on however, another student appears and saves her pride, except he's apparently what's known as an "eternity pig" --Hiderakei (I'm not sure if that's a first and last name, but I'll go with this for now.) He's got no Magia (which is implied to be the same as having no magical power in a world where magic rules), and thus nothing more than a pebble in the road. Still he refers to the sadist girl rather sarcastically, so he must have something on her and the higher ups, right? 

He challenges her to a battle and declares he'll defeat her without using any Magia. That's enough for the girl to quit laughing and take him seriously. So already this Magia is heading right into first gear, and with a somewhat interesting premise --at least when compared to other card game manga/anime, the protagonist can't actually play cards! In fact he goes on to say that he's got a multitude of ways of defeating monsters without actually drawing a single card, and uses the properties of the monster the sadist girl drew (one who has poor eyesight so as long as he doesn't move it can't actually hit him.) to his advantage. Okay, I might be easily impressed, but that's kind of cool on some thought, and kind of hilarious in another sense --can you imagine the characters in Yugioh applying these rules to their battles? 

He then uses a sudden downpour to his advantage --the monster the girl is using is made of metal so if thunder strikes she and it are toast. After all any damage the monster takes, the main body --or the player takes as well. Of course she doesn't believe that he can actually predict lightning and stands her ground, but his counting down the time until she's fragged is enough for her to drop her guard allowing Satou --the pig-girl to snatch her deck with a well played slight of hand. Turns out she and Hiderakei were in cahoots the entire time, and now that they've gotten her phone which acts as the deck, this game is over. 

He threatens to take a picture of what happened here today and show all of her friends --after all her standing won't amount to much if everyone knows she lost to a pig herself. Though he didn't do this all for Satou out of the kindness of his heart --no, his intent is to take down the "humans" by using the very system they do to enslave the "pigs". He asks Satou if she'll be one to conquer or be conquered, and when she doesn't answer affirmatively he backs off disguising his tirade as a joke. "So a Pig is just a pig, huh" he thinks to himself. He knows it's impossible to become the student council president with the power he possesses, but he can sure make the current president kneel to him --and that is how the curtain on this story rises. No lie, I came into this with extremely low expectations, and honestly? I'm not going to say this was the greatest ever, or that it's even "good" yet, but it did manage to at least do something unique with it's premise, even if so far it feels like "Kakegurui x Yugioh". But hey, sometimes it isn't about being original --it's about having great execution and so far this series has that much going for itself. It has two more "obligatory" chapters after this, so I'm looking forward to seeing what this duo of writers and artist can pull out of their deck. 

And that's it for the features section of issue #49! Next week Komi takes the cover, 008 gets a lead color page, Hatsukoi Zombie gets a center color and Evans too will get the color treatment. That's a lot of colors next week (something I feel like we haven't seen in Sunday for a while.) So the features section might have a bit more weight than usual, and you know I'll be here to cover it. Until then, take care and hold on for the editorial!