Friday, November 30, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #53 (2018) Editorial section

Coming off of Karakuri to Souboutei really does help illustrate just what it is that makes Fujita so enduring and why he's a mainstay in Sunday. Yes his amazing sense of paneling and artwork that doesn't know the meaning of "restraint" is a big part of it, but in all fairness I think Fujita has a formula that he sticks to and it's that "familiarity" that really attracts people to his works. Formulas are usually chalked up as to why something is worse off, but really, I've found that a lot of the time people want the familiar more than the unknown --essentially execution counts. While Fujita is very much a man of his time tested crafts, its the execution he nails every time which brings me to Souboutei this week. At least in comparison to Karakuri (I have yet to really sit down with Gekko Jorei, so I can't quite speak for that), Souboutei has the similar theme of a young boy being tossed about by fate and while at first he is timid, he grows fierce in the face of adversity until the time where he stands above it. Here, Rokuro has reached that moment --the injury he got from before that left a mark on his finger has allowed him control of Shino's thralls. Of course Fujita has been hinting that this injury would be important in some way for some time now, but the way this all comes into play is immensely satisfying. It helps as well that the entire chapter has some of the best art of the entire series. Fujita knew this was Roukuro's big moment and put out his best art for it! 

Not only that but Rokuro finally got his "reason you suck" speech (In TV Tropes parlance) to Shino --he knows that she (it?) is afraid of Sakamaki, and all of it's efforts have been to try and understand why Rokuro, Takoha and everyone else have been able to stand in defiance of this man that they --the alien invaders could only cower in fear against. Feelings hidden from even Shino bubble to the surface --denial, more fear, and indignation. Even then however the aliens can't do anything to stand against Rokuro who has inherited their strength. Though Seiichi being in dire straights stops him from being able to confront Shino. However, it's thanks to this that he's able to reach Makoto by Telepathy and inform her that her brother needs her help ending the chapter. Rokuro got to play hero this week and it's like I said in the opening --we knew he would eventually due to the Fujita tradition but seeing it play out is what really makes the wait worth it. 

Now if it's the unexpected you expected (or didn't expect) Memesis has got you handled. I don't really think I even need to translate what's going on here since the pics above really say more than any amount of words I could type do. I had been really ragging on Memesis for the last few weeks so I say with just a minor amount of pride since, y'know it's not like I'm drawing the series that it's fully recovered and become the series I knew it could be, and heck it's even a little more than that since for the first time in a while I'm actually kind of excited to see where the series will go next. Straight up, I think Memesis should opt to be a straight up action series over a sorta action comedy --at least for a while until Yagyuu has more than one joke to tell. Cause his artwork and sense of pacing really do thrive in this format more than the other. Though yes, Ash and Kijira for the first time in the series have been completely owned by their enemies. Of course you'd have to pick up the magazine (or volume) to see the whole picture, but while off screen fights are usually a bad thing, I kind of like that's how things were handled here since Ash and Kijira normally slay monsters in one or two panels/pages. So to see them get utterly wasted off screen shows just how powerful their opponents are this time around in both a literal and meta sense. They need a page, these monsters don't even need that much.  It's also a thing that the enemy designs are scary but a little silly too. I mean more fearsome monsters have been stomped by these two yet its these guys who return the favor. Of course I know what I'm dealing with here, and it's likely our heroes will stand firm and see their way to victory, but man I can't help but be excited to see them get trounced, even if that does kind of make me a bad person, lol. 

So as indicated in the preview (check out the features section) It's heavily implied Marry Grave may be headed to a conclusion soon-ish. Now as I've detailed on the blog before, the word "climax" typically just means that an ending is in sight but we've got a ways to get to it. Still, mentioning this now of all times seems to imply that the series is indeed going to end without the long life it so deserves, yet it's oddly getting a color page to commemorate this fact? So yeah things are a little confusing outside the world of Marry Grave, but inside well....they're a little less confusing but only a little less. Sawyer, Zel, and Rise have come across little folk --dwarves, and one spins the tale of woe. For 100 years a medusa (or maybe the medusa?) has been terrorizing them and turning them into stone. A warrior from Cape Side was protecting them but then even he fell into rui--wait, Cape Side? You mean that Cape Side?

Yes indeedy! Seems that the warrior mentioned by the dwarves was none other than Dante! I can't say that this element is enough to start bringing the series to it's conclusion but it's certainly not something I was thinking about in the scheme of "Marry Grave" conclusions. I am glad that Yamaji remembered about the guy of course, but I wouldn't have been too mad if he was just a thing that existed but didn't get a conclusion. Looks like I'm wrong as when Zel, Sawyer, Rise and Jean take on the snakes, they find Dante turned to stone in their stronghold looking exactly the same as he did way back then. The editorial text makes it sound like he went through some time traveling, but my bet is he just simply was on standby for several years until now. How will his reappearance affect the story? Also, it's kind of sad to think that the only member of the Cape Side bunch who had a fulfilling (of sorts) life was Rosalie....

Xeno's come to a conclusion. Of this arc. Ah sorry to miss-lead you. Though you walked right into that trap much like the people in the house did for Shuji's revenge against the hateful Kuga family. Aiming to kill them in the 4th murder room that's actually a house soon to be flattened by a boulder! I gotta say I like how these murder rooms are only barely rooms a lot of the time --gotta like how Sugiyama and Nanatsuki are really getting the most out of that premise. Though yes, Shuji using a plan crafted by Kai himself is able to turn the house into his very own revenge plot. It's all rather impressive really --using the underground tunnels and the amount of rainwater around the estate, he's able to siphon the water into a path and using a button control release it at once causing a bolder placed in the way to be pushed by water pressure and thus flatten everyone. This was all thanks to his very own family --the Kugas taking everything from him and his older brother being far more awful than initial appearances allowed. He admired Kai, even more so when the switch and the plans for this murder room were mysteriously sent to him. 

However thanks to Kinoshita leading everyone down an underground path away from the house not a single person died. I can see some people being disappointed that the ultimate conclusion to this was rather simple after the arc itself took so many twists and turns. It's that inelegance that really makes it memorable to me however --sure Nanatsuki could have come up with an equally as complex and convoluted plan to end this whole arc with, however that Shuji did all of this planning just to be foiled by an underground path kind of says a lot about the need for revenge in the first place. I certainly can't say Shuji was wrong for wanting to take back what was stolen from him, however that it could all be foiled with a well placed tunnel and Kinoshita switching sides is a parable to how humans and destiny can change on the smallest of whims. With that the longest arc in Xeno's career (at least in this manga) ends. It's a little cut and dry (the ending, not the arc!) for my liking --especially since it's not as if this series seems to be in a hurry to go anywhere with it's rather good polling and sales that aren't terrible, but the final page does what the second half of the chapter didn't --Mai Tooyama is alive, and he's acquainted with Kinoo who's has the key to Xeno's past! The editorial's text seems to imply the next arc will tackle just that, but with 3 more doors to go something tells me it won't be nearly that simple. 

I'm still not sure of Yuugami's distant future since this chapter had a whole lot of "Not much time left" vibes, but at least for now we're still gonna not be friends with him. Curiously the chapter opens up with Chihiro remembering a time where Yuugami was a good guy --or at least one who was conscious of the needs of others. Though she herself says it was the worst kind of dream to have, so I have to wonder what exactly is going on here? 

So this time around is the festival proper, and Yuugami makes sure to get around to everything as antisocial as he likes to act, interestingly enough. Though he seems disinterested in actually finishing things, hah. I mean I guess it's to be expected from him considering the kind of guy he is, but I find it kind of funny that while he's availble enough to come around to everything and make comments on how they aren't good enough  he's unable to stick around until the very end. It's weird enough for his family to take note too --why bother going at all if you're not going to stick around for anything? A flashback to an uncle of Yuugami out at a festival with him and his little sister may provide some insight into that --Uncle preferred to play games while everyone was watching fireworks so that he'd be uninterrupted. Sounds like Yuugami to me, hah. 

At the end of things he doesn't even stick around to have his picture taken with everyone else who provided a hand to get the festival off the ground. When the others complain about his coldness and inability to read the atmosphere, Chihiro realizes then that while he's a bit offbeat, Yuugami does have his considerate side, coming to see everything for the sake of a classmate despite his disinterest. Chihiro has enough of the others badmouthing him and for the first time calls him a "friend"....? Admittedly I haven't read enough of the series to really be taken by this development, but the flow and pacing certainly seem to make it important. We'll be waiting a bit to see where this goes, but I do believe that we are seeing a development --one on enough scale that it might be considered end game.

I'm not one to say stuff like this, but Nona and Ted are such a cute couple, and I sorta hope that Kuriyama isn't just playing this up as a joke at Evans and Pheeb's expense. It certainly doesn't look like that since she --Nona has actually proven pretty useful to everyone so far. Last week there was an advert that this would start a new arc for Evans, but he's surprisingly absent for a lot of the beginning even though he is the subject of this matter. Pheebs comes in for new bounty heads and upon not finding anything heads home, but before she can Ted stops her with a new hit --Evans! Except this poster of his has a small mustache. That aside, Pheebs is immediately able to tell someone took a picture of his from the newspaper and placed it on a wanted poster....for reasons aside from her being infatuated enough by Evans to collect the wanted posters and scrutinize them, hah. Pheebs acts uninterested, but Nona can see right through her, and after an impassioned plea from Ted, Pheebs has no choice but to take them along as she tries to get to the bottom of this. 

They manage to spot the person placing these around the town, but they're pretty slippery and escape. Meanwhile Evans is out doing a dangerous mission of his own. (Buying porn), when he comes upon a case of wanted posters featuring his likeness. The plot is only thickening! I don't have a lot to say about this right now since it's only unfolding, but the presence of Nona and Ted and their subsequent development have me quite pleased. That and Evans arcs are usually pretty great in their own right so I am anticipating yet another hilarious and maybe just a little cool helpings of Evans. 

Saike's still occupying a strange place. Fukuchi does seem rather determined to give all of his beloved characters a proper conclusion which would be awesome if we didn't only have essentially three chapters left. Not that I want anyone to be left out of course, but I never thought I'd say that I'm worried that the central conflict of the final arc might be in danger of being left behind if we keep getting bogged down by character development. Though even as I say this there's a pause since this character development is all quite good. Like despite Hizu and Ana being together this entire series they've always sort of talked to each other with Saike as a medium rather than directly. There's still a bit of that this week too, but it's nice to see the two have actually come far enough that when push comes to shove they can provide back up to each other both in and out of fights against enemies. 

To sum things up, Ana is still feeling a little left out due to Saike and the others heading overseas and leaving her in Japan. This turns into a contest with her and Hizu one upping each other in how helpful they can be to others, and when Ana ends up lagging behind to Hizu she tearfully admits she wish she were a boy who could help them more. Hizu goes to her and gives her a pep talk --when he was unable to see, she was the one to step up and give Saike a hand in rescuing people. She is as important to Saike --and him as they are to her, and she shouldn't forget that. 

It's a wonderful moment of clarity between the two, though I could totally understand someone being put off by how little is actually happening in the grand scheme of things. It does feel like Fukuchi is taking a while to say goodbye to his characters. I'm of two minds where I like this but do hope that we won't have a shafted finale because of it. I believe that Fukuchi knows what he's doing however, but yeah, this week's chapter was a bit lighter in substance than last week's that also had a reason narrative to it. I'm glad to see that Ana and Hizu are getting along, but this is something we've seen implicitly throughout the series. That all aside, it was still a warm chapter that really does drive home how much I'll miss these characters when the series ends in three weeks. 

Speaking of goodbyes, Master and Youkai are saying farewell this week.....which is to say that Seiji can finally see Kuro?! Even after he asked Kuro to stay behind, he realizes that the youkai has followed him, and asks if it doesn't think he can take care of himself. He then says that he doesn't need him and asks that he please go to those who do lamenting how Kuro hasn't changed a bit since the old days, and praising Kuro for doing so well despite being so small. Ah, this was a pretty moving chapter....Iv'e said it for a while that I've been worried about how long Seiji has to live considering how many death flags are hoisted around him, but now Satou has added just one more. It also does feel like Kuro's story is also going to come to an end soon which gets me wondering about Youkai Giga in general --it's sales aren't great and the fixed place in the TOC doesn't help indicate it's popularity. I'd never want to see it on the chopping block, but signs point to it. Still we could do worse than having a chapter like this where the two are reunited at long last as part of a moving finale. 

And that's it for this week's editorial. Sorry it was a bit late, but tis the time of year for all sorts of distractions. Next week should be a little better, I think. Either way I'm glad you keep coming back for more Shounen Sunday! Until next week, see ya!