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!