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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Weekly Shounen Sunday #9 (2019) Editorial section.



RYOKO was a tour de force this week! I'm still slightly worried about it's future since it could very well just be proceeding to an end to free up space in the magazine for something new, but with a chapter so rich in content as this one I suppose I could leave my worries about the future aside for a bit and enjoy the present. I mentioned it last time that what really makes RYOKO work as a series is it's heart along with being a frenetic action series, and this week really sees Mitsuhashi put all of those things to good practice. Rere is having issues getting used to her new place --especially with the rainy season being over and the weather being hot. Rere can't help but think that there's something lacking in regard to Ryoko herself --and it's less the craziness of her fighting food monsters in a schoolgirl outfit and more...something fundamental. They catch their quarry --a cherry fruit without much of a problem, but it's watching the interactions between the kids that Rere figures it out and brings it to the attention of Ryoko's Dad --she's a bit well, simple. Dad admits that he knows this and the chapter ends on a dubious note --"The people concerned for Ryoko's future increased by one" is the literal quote, haha. Meanwhile shady figures have found the dead abalone and in lieu of reporting the bad news, the guy asks the intelligent rice to take his arm as payment instead. Plot, humor, and a bit of character development all in 18 pages! Not only that but Rere is fitting in perfectly with Zen and Ryoko as the cool big sister who's got a pretty good head on her shoulders and thus can see things from a POV they can't. It's only been two chapters since the return but Mitsuhashi is hitting this stride as if he never left, and I'm loving it. The next chapter promises more developments, and this one even says that the series is in a "new chapter" so at the very least it seems like the story isn't moving along too fast. The true test will be of course how well the next two volumes sell when they launch on February 18th. I sure hope Japanese fans haven't forgotten RYOKO since it's long time off...



Xeno on the other hand pushes things into high gear with a high speed chase in this bridge chapter into the next arc. It seems the last volume didn't do very well sales wise, so perhaps this is a sign of a series trying to save itself, but I think it might be a little soon to assume the worst. After all these events so far do fit into Xeno's narrative without seeming too out of place. Baron doesn't answer Xeno's question as to whether he's the masked man in his memories and simply says they will meet again. The truck without a driver is discovered by the police to have been driven by satellite and GPS, thus leaving no traces of who was behind Xeno's near death experience. Though that's not the end of his troubles as he and Ayla are subsequently tracked by two strangers with obvious ill intent. This leads the two to run for it to escape their pursuers, and hastily get on a train that seems to have come at just the opportune time....or has it? 


That may not be the case, or at least it wasn't as coincidental as it seems. The train is headed to Soumacho known as "The Grim Reaper's city" to a mysterious woman who begs for someone to save her. It definitely does feel like Xeno's typically meticulous pacing has given way to something in a much bigger hurry, but it's hard to tell where this is all leading to. (But of course since it's only the first chapter of this arc.) There are a lot of moving pieces here however, and I'd assume with Baron playing his cards to his chest at the moment that this case may not have anything to do with his secrets. Putting Xeno the series aside for a bit, I do wonder how long an author (or in this case authors)? has to come out of a slump? Although I thought the last arc was good, if it's true the volume didn't sell well then Xeno's gotta shake off the doldrums as soon as possible. That being said, the series was only doing well enough to not be immediately cancelled and not superb so it's hard to say if Shougakukan will grant it a second chance. I'm certainly interested in seeing where this next arc will take us, but I sure hope Nanatsuki and Sugiyama don't have to rush to get us to the destination.



Memesis is striding off into that Shounen Sunset with it's final chapter this week. I've covered a few final chapters in this blog so I know how things go. The question is how does Memesis do in it's clearly cancelled finale? The answer to that is....pretty dang well considering things! Like even with the short page count this series is known for, Yagyuu gets pretty good mileage out of the finale by having the characters we've met so far come and say what they're up to now that the series is over. It's oddly satisfying, and I like that Yagyuu decided to have a chapter for an epilogue rather than just have the series end with the final battle against the demon king. I know not all authors have the opportunity to pull something like this off due to how their stories are structured and the timing of the plug being pulled but I'm happier to see this than a sudden stop. Kayoko returns to Japan with her party who seem to really enjoy the sights (though her arm remains the same), Linda finds herself changing from a princess class to a adventurer one, Rose makes friends with Debitch and the other demons --and the thing they have in common is Ash and Kijira being there in support of their allies. 



In a weird way what I like most about the ending is the sentiment that while Ash and Kijira were single mindedly focused on one-upping Leon, their presence in other people's lives did matter. They wanted to be heroes who surpassed Leon and while on that level they technically didn't succeed they got something a little more important and in the vein of this series having "meme" in the title, a pretty meme-ish lesson from their adventure --it really was the friends they made along the way that were most important. Of course I can only infer from the information given in the series up until this point but I'd like to wonder if perhaps their betrayal by Leon hurt so much because they didn't have anything else going on in their lives aside from y'know, looking up to him and being heroes? There's only so much we can infer from the ending, but it does really feel like now that Ash and Kijira have something else other than their need for revenge that they're far more well adjusted. Why they're even able to joke with Leon at the end as their adventure continues, commenting that he'd better not fire them again just to travel with women, and he replies with a "I dunno, I kind of like seeing you guys get angry". I would have liked to see his suggestions to them in earlier chapters play into their development into stronger heroes, but there's only so much time one has in 16 pages. Memesis is a strange series --I feel like it wanted to be a lot of things which is fine in and of itself, but it chose to try something...not experimental, but perhaps ill-fitting for it's strengths. I think a Memesis that was more of an action epic rather than a comedy with really nice art might still be here now. Still this is Yagyuu's first serialization so I can only hope he's learned from this and will return stronger than ever. Sadly like Marry Grave before it there's no notice saying that Yagyuu will be back with another series, which is a real shame. It could just mean that perhaps he's going to take a break and come up with more ideas, or that he really is leaving the magazine for good....either way he's a name I will watch out for. It was short, but I was glad to cover Memesis over this (almost) year. I wish you luck in your future endeavors Yagyuu-sensei! 



Evans is none too pleased to have Matthew James calling on him, especially when he unintentionally flexes by having all of his ladies leave the room so he and Evans can talk. Matt keeps unintentionally pressing Evans buttons by asking if he has a girlfriend, and then explaining how there's a girl who wants to marry him, despite his disinterest in getting into martial affairs. It's not really as if he means to annoy Evans, he just wants some advice! Though yes Matt wants to end their relationship without hurting the girl's feelings, and asks Evans how he should go about doing that. Or well, more like he offers his soon-to-be ex to Evans in hopes she'll get attached to him instead. I do applaud Evans in at least saying that the girl should make her own choice as to who she'll date (even if it's more because he pridefully doesn't want to help Matt out.) though ultimately he says he'll at least talk to her and find out if he'll like her (a chance is a chance after all.) Evans does his homework on the girl (as his father advises) and...


Finds out she's actually a con woman who uses her appearance to swindle people out of their money through fake marriages. Although it's mostly out of luck that Evans avoids getting swindled (and inadvertently helps Matt out), he still avoided a pretty big bullet, haha. In the end Matt is sorry about what happened and offers to introduce him to someone else which Evans turns down....for now. Next week we get a color page for the series receiving a second printing (good news!) And the sudden appearance of "those two". No lie, I have no idea what two are being referred to, but that makes the wait all that much more exciting. 


Souboutei is a bit lower in the magazine this week, but I'm sure there's nothing to worry about. No way Fujita is going to be booted out of the magazine before he's good and ready to leave. Interesting that it's in the basement as we switch from the POV Kurenai and Sakamaki to the rescue force who is also underground at the moment. I had thought we'd get a new perspective after last week but hadn't even considered this group. Admittedly I am happy to see them though! 


This group aims to destroy the house itself, and as you can see above Auguste is armed to the teeth to do just that. In fact everyone is. (I wish I could have included some of the cool machines featured in this chapter but time's at a premium, and I gotta leave something for you guys to anticipate!) Fujita really is talented at drawing all sorts of things, and it's no wonder he's such a legend. Though to the story itself, the pacing is solid due to all of the characters having agency in their different missions, and Fujita dedicating a whole chapter to the underground excavation is important --cutting away now would undermine the story. Sure this group is in a supporting role to Takoha and the others, but in order for the stakes to be believable it's essential that all the characters featured feel like they have a stake in what's going on. 


So while a lot of the chapter is basically showing off the character's toys and digging through the depths of the house, it's still an important chapter overall. Though the main attraction is undoubtedly in the end where we connect the previous week's chapter with this one --Zanka was under attack by someone, and now the identity of his opponent is clear....it's Auguste's group?! Now two groups are together, but what an entrance.....




I had just commented on how Kuro hasn't been around for a while last week and I guess Satou was listening! This week's Sunday feels like it was all about taking different points of view from other characters and Kuro followed suit --this time featuring the home front away from the war. I love how Minoru, Makoto and Kuro start their morning by saying good morning to Seiji who's out fighting. It's such a sweet family thing to do. Kuro does it's best to watch over Seiji's family as he asked, but Minoru is at an age where he's interacting with other children and they not surprisingly don't take well to a kid who talks to a youkai they can't see. Minoru seems to take this in stride until he suddenly attacks one of the kids? What's going on with him? 


And that's it for the editorial this week! While Features will be going away with this issue, you can still read my thoughts on select series here! In all honesty I'm not sure how I'll go about this section in the future as things end like Memesis did --heck this section might go as well depending on how future series shake out. Still, I hope to have something for people to read over, be it impressions of select series or other Sunday tidbits. Oh and before I forget to mention --Birdmen and Yuugami will be moving to the twitter as well, rather than being included here. So be sure to look out for them each month as well! Until the next editorial, take care!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Weekly Shounen Sunday #9 (2019) Features section.



Hello and Goodbye! Ah, I got a little ahead of myself. This is a greeting to all of you Sunday enthusiasts, but it's also a farewell to the features section despite it's short, short life. As detailed in the last (er, the one before this one) features section (which you can read here) the blog now has a dedicated twitter (which you can check out here) where news and impressions of new series will be located for now on. The TOC and editorials will still receive their own entries so no need to worry about them! Now, let's get this last show on the road.


On the cover this week is Nogizaka 46, as well as what really bring people to Sunday. (The idols are a part of it, but we wanna read manga!) While it's most likely because it's new, it's great to see Undine being included on the cover despite not having a color page or anything special going on. Aozakura is recieving the lead color page, and Komi/Zero are the Sunday headliners. In short it's business as usual.


Today's highly relatable topic comes from Kanagawa and asks "Tell us what you'd consider your biggest waste of money to be."

Aozakura Bouei daigakkou monogatari (Hikaru Nikaido): I can't think of anything I wasted money on.
Jyokyou Koala (Fujiminosuke Yorozuya): I hope you enjoy both the serial in webry and the volume of the series.
Undine ha Kyou mo Koi wo Suru ka? (Shinya Misu): I bought a stylish mini rose....and it withered within a week.
Maoujo de oyasumi (Kagiji Kumanomata): I got hooked on jewelry (When I don't have savings.).
Anonatsu 1959 (Ashibi Fukui): Probably when I was in my fourth year of college, forgot my reports and ended up having to repeat.
Fire Rabbit!! (Aya Hirakawa): When I'd buy a second of something I already have without realizing it.
Detective Conan: Zero's Tea Time (Takahiro Arai): The mountain of unmade Gunpla (It's been so many years since I've said I'd eventually get to them.)
Sokyuu no Ariadne (Norihiro Yagi): I don't even go out that much yet I've bought two cars.
Amano Megumi wa Suki darake!! (Nekoguchi): I spent 30 thousand yen on a beginners electric guitar set.
Imouto Rireki (Kei Nishimura): I got the wrong Apple pencil and ended up having two of them.
Kimi wa 008 (Syun Matsuena): I don't buy anything too expensive but I like jewels...
RYOKO (Kaito Mitsuhashi): When I buy two copies of the same video game, I guess....Why did I buy them?
Komi-san ha Komyusho desu (Tomohito Oda): Shoes! My friend said that the ones I had were lame and like an idiot I bought into it.
Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu (Teppei Sugiyama): It's so horrible that I can't say. Sorry.
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san. (Aiko Koyama): I bought a plane ticket and got the day of departure wrong. By the time I noticed I ended up having to pay extra fees.
Daiku No Hatou (Michiteru Kusaba): A VR (Virtual reality) game (that immediately made me motion sick.) and a drone (which immediately fell apart.)
switch (Atsushi Namikiri): I don't waste money.
Memesis (Final chapter) (Takuya Yagyuu): "Memesis" is over! I'd like to thank my assistants and readers!
Tonikaku Cawaii (Kenjiro Hata): All of the audio I've ever bought.
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ (Mizuki Kuriyama): A box that I bought back when I had to move that remains in a room unused.
Be Blues! (Motoyuki Tanaka) An Electric Guitar. I never once played it...
Hatsukoi Zombie (Ryou Minenami): My school fees (By my parents).
Gopun go no Sekai (Hiroshi Fukuda): Let's just say life.
Chrono Magia: Infinity Gear (Takeshi Azuma): A Chinese electric bicycle. I bought it and the first time it rained it broke. Furthermore when I took it to the bicycle shop to have it fixed they couldn't do it so I had to toss it in the trash.
Souboutei Kowasubeshi (Kazuhiro Fujita): I went on a trip to Mont Saint-Michel to gather information, but when I got ready to draw, everyone had moved on!
Youkai Giga (Satsuki Satou): The trick to not thinking of something as useless is not to look back on the past, I think.
Tokaichi Hitoribocchi Nouen (Yuuji Yokoyama): There was a motorcycle I admired thanks to Street Racing and bought it....but I can't ride it at all!!

It's rare for all of the answers to resonate with me, but...they do. The spirit of buying something and regretting it immediately is one every person has experienced at one time in their life, no? I'm used to Namikiri's curt answers, but for some reason this one cuts deep, hah. Though I mostly want to know what Sugiyama bought that was so horrible...Also Fukuda giving a very Minenami like answer is...new. Sadly this is goodbye to Yagyuu --his upbeat answers were always fun to translate (if not a little weird from time to time.) It's also a slight bit surreal to have a TOC with Mitsuhashi in it --It's gonna take some time to really feel like RYOKO is back. On that note, the TOC itself is...kind of weird. Souboutei being basically last, Ariadne being suuuper high up, and Komi being lower than usual....it's probably no more than a blip, but still.



This week features not one, not two, but three Sunday gals from Nogizaka 46! This is actually their first time having a photo shoot in a manga magazine, so for it to be in Sunday is a big deal! (I think.) Above from left to right is  Sayaka Kakehashi, Mayu Tamura, and Sakura Endou. They were born (respectively) in the years of  1999, 2002, amd 2001. Nogizaka will be celebrating it's 7th year anniversary with a live show on Thursday February 21st 2019. The theme of this shoot seems to be these ladies facing their fans and their idol career with unflinching focus which is admirable! 




We're used to Sunday manga being a smidgen off season so you'll excuse Aozakura for having it's Christmas celebration in what's basically February, won't you? I've been kind of paying attention to the series for the last few weeks and the characters have been practicing dancing for this special occasion. This was mostly a chapter of the various characters getting together in preparation to dance --and the chapter ending with the unlikely combination of Kondo and Okita('s sister) preparing to dance. Which is a weird thing for me as the former Gintama translator to think about, really. That aside Forgive me for sounding maybe a bit harsh when I say I'm really surprised this series has managed to keep a pretty measured grip in the magazine --it's definitely a Sunday series through and through from it's pacing to atypical subject matter, and of course I'm not reading it nearly as closely as others, but Aozakura has always felt like the one odd duck in a magazine of oddities. Doesn't focus on a heroine, but isn't really an action series either. It's premise makes it seem as if it should have some agency, but yet it's approach is more in line with a slice of life manga. I'm not really complaining, just observing. Of course I want Sunday to have as many successes as possible so I'm happy it's doing well but it's an interesting case of being the oddity in a magazine full of them.



Apologies to Maoujo/Sleepy Princess fans! With the influx of new series I've been neglecting the series as of late, but now that this has slowed down a bit I can hurry back and...go to sleep. With some pretty accurate timing it almost feels as if the princess is crying over being forgotten for so long but in reality it's because of a drink she had that's meant to keep one awake --and she decided to casually drink it to see if it'd work on her, and it..does to shocking effect. The chapter is essentially the princess crying over her loss and one of the monsters --Poseidon trying to cheer her up and misunderstanding the situation. Probably what makes it great is Poseidon is having his own issues but thinks whatever is bothering the princess is way worse than anything he's going through and thinks of himself as selfish for thinking his little issues (which are actually a big deal --I mean your brother coming by after you left home to make something of yourself and finding that not only hasn't that happened but the demon king you're serving is...not fairing so well against the princess he kidnapped is a fair amount to be concerned about.) The princess implies they're having all the same kind of problems, so Poseidon spills his guts to her just to find out once the drink wears off she was actually really sleepy the whole time and just couldn't sleep. (By the way the princess spends 14 hours awake and 10 asleep, which Poseidon says is normal....though that sounds a bit off to me.) It's great to be able to talk about the princess again, and that's no misunderstanding!




Fire Rabbit makes a return, and by now you know my bias for when the main cast/new characters gather in a story so it should be no surprise that when Mahiro meets the characters of the Fire Rabbit squad that I'd feature it. I can say straight up that I didn't read all of Tenshi and Akuto (yet) but at least from what I can tell here, Fire Rabbit is way more....unhinged? Wacky? Weird? Than Hirakawa's previous work? At least the characters are all distinctly off kilter in that wonderful, wonderful way that only Shounen manga can do. I mean I really don't even have to describe what's going on above for one to understand that these people are by no means normal. I like that Hirakawa dedicated a whole chapter to just how weird these people are behind the scenes. From a klutz, to a chainsaw enthusiast, to a machoist, and finally the chief exercising in the buff, we can be sure the cast of Fire Rabbit is going to be entertaining even if it's much to Mahiro's chagrin. 




Stepping in for Major and showing Ano Natsu how it's done is Zero! I don't think I've mentioned it much on the blog, but I recently found out from the official Zero twitter thanks to Arai posting storyboards from the series that Aoyama actually does do more than pitch story ideas --he actually corrects the artwork too. Gotta say I'm not really sure how to feel about this. It makes sense on a level that he'd want to ensure the artwork is as close to his as possible (though other spinoffs usually do their own thing, so it is a little unusual.), but y'know, it's also a thing where I have to ask if the Conan hiatuses aren't to allow him to rest but to allow him to work....on Zero's Tea Time. I want to believe that this isn't the case but man if this were a Conan case the evidence would be mounting...especially since Aoyama has gone on record to say that he's pretty happy drawing Conan (and the revenue it generates) so it wouldn't be surprising if Shogakukan just decided "Well if the series is going to be around for a while anyway, then..." Though I don't mean to diss Zero as whether we believe in Amuro or not, the sales indicate he's here to stay even if Aoyama gives Arai the keys to the car so to speak. Admittedly this (two part!) baseball game was pretty impressively drawn so if Aoyama is giving Arai a hand it does look like it's well worth it. 



Komi's another series that got shuttered by the new serializations, though with the upcoming English release, I have to wonder if my little inconsequential yammering about it is necessary? I am happy to see so many more fans of the series coming out even if they're able to enjoy the series without my help. (Actually all the better if they can!) The last few weeks have seen the cast tackling a test of courage, of which Rumiko and Tadano have been paired together on. Oda (not that one) has done a pretty good job of being "romantic-ish" but not flat out "romantic" with the series --it's always been pretty squarely focused on the friendship of Komi and her classmates with hints of something more between she and Tadano. Though since Rumiko's entry into the series a bit of a love triangle has started to form. I say "a  bit" because while it's heavily hinted both Komi and Tadano have a thing for each other, no one has actually acted on it, and that's more because while Oda (not that one) teases a bit, he never dwells on such things for long, and it's soon back to classroom hijinks for an unspecified period. It actually kind of works I think to keep the series from going too far into one direction. Though with this chapter, it's clear a storm is on the horizon, and dare I say it --it might be interesting to see how these developments shake up the status quo. Though it doesn't seem like we'll get that in the next chapter --rather the end of chapter text implies the siblings will get the spotlight. I can't complain as having a strong set of characters is what I like most about Komi.



Fujiminosuke Yorozuya (A very unusual name that stands out even if you don't understand Japanese) isn't a stranger to weekly Shounen Sunday. They've drawn mostly tie ins --including "Character Times" which followed the everyday life of the LINE emote characters and "Snack World" based on the video game from Level 5. The former series ran in Weekly Sunday for a while despite it being a commercial of sorts. NowYorozuya is back in the magazine for a brief moment to advertise again --though this time around from what I can tell this story is completely their own. Joukyo Koala is a series about two Koala brothers coming from their native Australia to Tokyo and the misadventures they have on the way. 



It's a cute little romp helped out by Yorozuya's stylized artwork utilizing thick lines, but I can't help but wonder if this was the right place for it? This definitely feels like it would have been a better fit for one of Shougakukan's children magazines opposed to this one for teens. I don't want to be misunderstood --I'm not saying that as a knock against it's quality since it is genuinely very charming, and the characters cute. The jokes are simple enough to get --the type of things you'd see from misunderstandings and culture clashes, but nothing too serious as to take away from the very good tempo of this fourteen page chapter. I just think it would have gotten a bit better visibility in another magazine. Though I admit it is interesting to know that manga like this run on Webry which seemed to skew more toward the shounen and seinen crowd. (Though I do know that this is technically considered shounen too.) The bros only make it as far as the airport in this first chapter so if you're interested in seeing more you'll have to either head to webry or read volume one!



I know, it's weird to see Hatsukoi Zombie here when it's not getting a color page, but I felt like I needed to comment on this chapter. First thing; Ryou Minenami has been slated to draw manga for a new online publication for Shougakukan --a sort of "Sunday after hours" deal where "immoral" manga will run. No need to hide the kids though --the site will only be available from 6pm to 6am each and every day, (okay so maybe hide them a little.) It's an interesting experiment, and I'll give Shougakukan credit for trying something new and giving artists a reason to push their limits. Also for truth in advertising since y'know they're straight out saying it's "immoral" hah. Can't get mad at the content when the warning is right there, right? I think you well informed viewers at home can figure out what this might mean for Hatsukoi Zombie --and this chapter does feel pretty endgame-ish. Eve is "suddenly moving out of the country" at the end, and the whole chapter feels very somber. Of course it's not unheard of for an author to do two series at once, but as Hatsukoi isn't exactly a megahit and has run in the magazine for a while I think the more likely event here is this ends and Minenami moves to the new mag. We'll have to see in the upcoming weeks if my prediction bears out, though.


And with that the final features section comes to a close. As a parting gift (that isn't much of a gift at all, admittedly) I'll tell you what to expect in the next issue. Zero grabs the front of the magazine and gets a color page, leaving Evans with one of his own (to celebrate a reprinting of the series, so it's actually very good news!) and Yuugami will be stopping in for his monthly chapter. For the next issue you'll have to check out the twitter for the news, color pages, and a peek at the series not covered by the editorial. With the new format, I'm hoping I can comment on the entire issue for now on, perhaps, maybe. Of course they'll be snippets and nothing like these entries but I do feel like that'd be easier to read (and write) than these each week. I thank you very much for understanding these rapid fire changes --I really do want the blog to be a one stop Sunday source (or at least among the first five stops people make!) So I won't be neglecting this entirely...in fact I do have plans for the written blog over the next few months so please keep watching this space. As for the editorial, I'm thinking those will be out Thurs or Fridays most weeks, though Wednesday isn't completely out of the question. Until then, take care and know I appreciate your time.