Saturday, March 30, 2019

Weekly Shounen Sunday #17 (2019) Editorial section.

This week's question comes from Tokyo and asks "It's Graduation Season! Do you have any special memories of your Graduation?"

Souboutei Kowasubeshi (Kazuhiro Fujita): I can't go back so I don't really think about it~
Hatsukoi Zombie (Ryou Minenami): I never would have dreamed that the serialization would last this long! Thank you so much for reading until the very end!
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san (Aiko Koyama): The day before I slept over at my friend's house and helped them out by lending them a suit.
Fire Rabbit!! (Aya Hirakawa): In regard to this...well, I can't remember anything. (crying)
Komi-san ha Komyusho Desu (Tomohito Oda): I couldn't get rid of even one Peony....
Detective Conan: Zero's Tea Time (Takahiro Arai): I was a bit jealous of my friends who were crying their eyes out.
Kimi wa 008 (Syun Matsuena): Strong Memories, huh....
 Undine wa Kyou mo koi wo suru ka (Shinya Misu): I remember being praised for "having a good attitude toward singing".
Tonikaku Cawaii (Kenjiro Hata) It was after I graduated that I picked up a copy of Spirits and read the climax of "Mezon Ikkoku" and started crying.
(TN- Spirits is a Seinen Magazine published by Shougakukan, and Mezon Ikkoku is a manga drawn by Rumiko Takahashi.)
Gofun go no Sekai (Hiroshi Fukuda): I wasn't able to give anyone peony during my second set! I wonder if I should try again..
switch (Atsushi Namikiri): I had ramen with my buddies on the way back.
Amano Megumi wa Suki darake (Nekoguchi): In my elementary school graduation, I got to take a picture with the girl I liked.
Maoujo de Oyasumi (Kagiji Kumanomata): I can baaaarelly remember my College Graduation ceremony but nothing really happened...
Be Blues (Motoyuki Tanaka): That night we all went to karaoke and it was so much fun...
RYOKO (Kaito Mitsuhashi): Saying what you earned your rolled up diploma in, right?
Chrono Magia: Infinity Gear (Takeshi Azuma): Back then rather than going to see flowers, I preferred to go drinking.
Zettai Karen Chilren (Takashi Shiina): "I was given Red and White manju!" "Red and white Manjuu!!" 
(TN- Red and white are colors for auspicious occasions, and manju are steamed yeast bun with fillings.)
Aozakura Bouei daigakkou monogatari (Hikaru Nikaido): Is everyone at Fudoumaru Elementary doing well?
(TN- A school in Yokohama Kangawa.)
Imouto Rireki (Kei Nishimura): The Taxi driver started singing "Aogeba Totoshi". 
(TN- This is a song sung at graduation ceremonies in Japan --said to be borrowed from a Scottish Folk song of unknown origin.)
Anonatsu 1959 (Ashibi Fukui): I don't have a single bittersweet memory of my youth. It was overwhelmingly normal.
Sokyuu no Ariadne (Nobuhiro Yagi): I had made a promise to go fool around afterwards and had a good time.
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ (Mizuki Kuriyama): For the time it was a lot of standing, sitting and stuff like that, I think?
Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu Satsujin Misshitsu (Teppei Sugiyama): There was a letter in my shoebox. (^^)
Youkai Giga (Satsuki Satou): I whispered to myself that my memories would be engraved on my heart.
Tokakichi Hitoribocchi nouen (Yuuji Yokoyama): I sung the songs I liked at my graduation.

A lot of people really don't remember much huh. Considering the ages for most of the authors I guess that's not too surprising. Hata usually gives me the most trouble to translate but this week was oddly..(or rightfully) genuine. Fujita as well wasn't very surprising --he really is a guy who's personality shines through his manga. I'd judge Yagi and Azuma, but maybe it's me who didn't live it up enough after my graduation(s). Though wow time flies, it feels like we only just were talking about graduations (in both real life and in the mag!) Maybe I too am getting old...also I'd be remiss not to mention Minenami's graduation from the magazine. Of course I hope they'll be back (and signs are pointing to yes!) Though take a good long time to rest and relax, you've earned it. 

Not much in the way of forward momentum this week in Souboutei, but that's not to say it was a boring chapter, just a set up one. Izu is really as powerful as the sisters said he was last week, and even though the infiltration band is strong themselves, they just don't stand a chance against him. Though what's interesting to take away from this exchange is we still don't really know his alliance in this battle to bring down the house. Is he siding with Sakamaki? Doing his own thing? What's your deal, Izu... Though I gotta say this much, I'm really looking forward to seeing Souboutei animated someday(?) Granted we still have one whole Fujita work to get through before that point. Izu's ability to neutralize his opponents with a shout is bound to look great animated. 

Though we don't learn much about Izu himself, the chapter does leave off on a pretty healthy bit of speculation --Izu implies that he's more than just the teacher of the sisters --as he has the same mark on his body as they do and asks who they think their father is. That's some awfully brutal parental love if it's the truth, and brings in the very Fujita-like possiblity that Izu's here to show his kids the ropes before they take on the bigger threat that is Sakamaki. It's a plausible situation perhaps --though for now Fujita's only supplying more questions than answers. 

RYOKO's chapter title is somewhat deceptive this week which is unusual. There isn't any fire to speak of, but I think I understand what Mitsuhashi is going for, and it's an interesting change for the series as well as leading to a whole new set of implications, and for the record I kind of like how the chapter title and the contents are at odds with each other. 

Since Ryoko has entered the forest in search of Zen and Ryosuke she's been pledged to fight for revenge. Heck, the last chapter even sort of implied that she'd be fighting against the Broccoli dragon rather than what happened --she negotiated with it. The Dragon has it's own beef with Kogarashi and the Rice, see what I did there? Hungry yet?  And while it's none to pleased to help a puny human, Ryoko's refusal to bow in the face of it's threats wins it over. Though Dragon Broccoli does promise that once Ryoko has taken out Kogarashi and the Rice that they will be enemies again much to Rere's chagrin. It was implied on chapter two or so by Ryoko's master (I wonder where he is nowadays?) that there will be foodstuffs who are capable of more than lumbering around and Ryoko will have to take that into consideration. At the time I'm sure I and most of us assumed something more along the lines of Ryoko becoming physically stronger to combat them, but Mitsuhashi taking it in a different direction with dialog over danger is interesting and at least somewhat unexpected. Unfortunately for Ryoko, Kogarashi's bae Parsley catches wind of this agreement in the works and yanks her away to places unknown. It's been implied by Kogarashi that Parsley is a strong fighter so we're not ex-naying combat completely in this series. 

Ah so his last name is "Wayne". Well, I've said it before that romanization is more of an art than a science, so you'll forgive this old timer won't you? In any case this lass's expression as she points out the truth "You didn't actually do anything" is as hilarious as it is painful for that old timer. 

Wasn't expecting a follow up to the last arc where Evans and Pheebs really don't do anything until the end, but I think it works if only because Wayne's personality of being an old guy who's pretty cool but needs someone to constantly confirm it for him is both funny and a smidgen relatable. There are times where we're pretty self reliant and don't need anyone to tell us that, but it's easy to get addicted to being told how cool/interesting/pretty/smart you are. It'd be a thing if Wayne really wasn't all that great and had a false sense of superiority, but man all he really just needs is a bit more self confidence. Things just get worse when intrepid Reporter Wanda Roberts comes in wanting a scoop, and Wayne has no choice he actually does have a choice but to give her a story, despite, again not really doing anything. Though we do get a little bit of Evans backstory --apparently Papa Evans asked Wayne to look after his son some time ago, hmm. In any case, Wayne does finally get to show off his cool side though he ends up sort of blowing his cover as being "injured" to do it. Luckily for him, the ladies just think he forced himself to use his injured hand, and he even gets Evans jealous at the end. Pretty straightforward chapter, but it shows off Evans strengths as a character driven comedy really well. 

Now this one caught me off guard --A chapter that's all about Xeno's past? Sign me up! No mysteries to solve or investigations to be done, it's straight up a flashback chapter for the most part. Why we even get Xeno's true (?) name --Tomorrow. Which now that I think about it makes sense with Kinoo's name (Which is Japanese for "Yesterday"). Yesterday and Tomorrow, huh..In any case this chapter has very distinct "The Promised Neverland" vibes from children being trapped in a seemingly idyllic home with a dark underbelly, and the desire to escape as well as a kindly teacher who seems to mean well. Tomorrow --or, well, Xeno (cause I'm just used to that name now after more than a year of it.) Wants to see the outside world and while at first Mr. Hazama the teacher promises him just that, it's revealed in the chapter that the children will not be joining society as adults because they're "products". (Another Promised Neverland vibe!) Products created to be placed in high positions and places to take over for those who know someday they will die and want to leave their legacy to only those who have superior abilities. 

Though the similarity to Neverland ends there --in this case the teachers while seeming as if they're in on the scam actually plead with the children to escape the garden. Sadly the escape is only a page long possibly because Xeno really doesn't have a whole lot of time left if it's TOC position and lack of color page advertisement for it's next volume is any indication. Still the chapter is really good despite it's limitations. We have a clear idea of the person Xeno was and what happened to him without revealing too much. The kids managed to escape just to be caught by adults who want to exploit them --lead by a single man who is in the audience of this play at this very second! It takes everything Xeno has to keep himself from drowning in memories and focusing on what's before him now --and its' always great to see the normally stoic detective lose his cool. (Sorry.) Xeno does reclaim himself and gets an epiphany on what the 5th murder door is --and maybe just this once they can stop the crime from happening. It'd be a change for this series, but it will likely not be easy to prevent....

This week's chapter of Youkai Giga features the "Fukuro Mujina" or "Bag Badger". These Yokai are badgers (or tanuki in some cases) who dress up in human clothes that look like noblewoman who carry large bags on their shoulders. They are usually tricksters and it's implied by some that the bags are actually haunted entities rather than badgers taking human form. 

As for the Youkai Giga take on this particular case, two girls are musing over saying farewell to their school lives (so I guess this week's question was relevant for this series, huh.) and one girl who's very obviously a Fukuro Mujuna wonders about her choice to take human form as she has. I like that one line refers to the old trope of grabbing each other and crying, which Fuuka (the Fukuro Mujuna) immediately shuts down. Though as the chapter continues, the other girl "selfishly" (her words, not mine) proclaims how much fun she had with Fuuka over the year, and the two reminisce. Though Fuuka only goes on and on about the food she had --makes sense for a youkai, I suppose, hah. Fuuka says that her mother gave her the back she has to put important things in, but she hasn't found anything of the sort (So I wonder is the bag passed down between these youkai? If so, that's Satou for you, sort of playing with tradition in a very nonchalant way.) The other girl --Shizue gives her her beloved comb to make up for the lack of important things she has, and she reveals she's been walking around with chairs this whole time --not because they're important, but they're useful, hah. Her real important thing is...her friend Shizue that she now has a memento to remember her by. You can probably tell from the pic above that despite them going against old tropes sometimes emotions just demand you give in. Youkai Giga, you're still great at using those 8 pages effectively --never change.

And that's it for issue 17! If you haven't already, check out the impressions and features for the issue on twitter here. 18 will feature an interview with Adachi and Aoyama which I have a snippet of, but I'd rather wait for the whole thing to be out to make a decision on whether I'll translate it all and put it on the blog. It'd be a fun change of pace, no? We'll see. Until then, take care and have a good week --both Sundays included! 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Weekly Shounen Sunday #16 (2019) Editorial section

This week's question comes from Tokyo and asks "If you could say something to your Elementary school self, what would it be?" 

Fire Rabbit!! (Aya Hirakawa): You're going to become a manga artist, so don't give up on your dreams!!
Komi-san wa komyusho desu (Tomohito Oda): You can definitely ride a bicycle!
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ (Mizuki Kuriyama): Anyone who says "What if you became a manga artist?" to you is actually a prophet.
Souboutei Kowasubeshi (Kazuhiro Fujita): Read manga for all of Japan's history, you idiot! (Lol)! Though it's good to read.
Detective Conan: Zero's Tea Time (Takahiro Arai): You don't have to be in a rush to be an adult. After all, age will catch up to you in no time anyway.
Kimi wa 008 (Syun Matsuena): Be prepared for all sorts of things!
Maoujo de Oyasumi (Kagiji Kumanomata): You're such a good kid!! Your best times are going to be when you're small!!
Tantei Xeno to Natasu no Satsujin Misshitsu (Kyouichi Nanatsuki): No matter how old you get, don't change.
Amano Megumi ha Suki darake! (Nekoguchi): You're a man who will become a manga artist. Though ultimately that means only drawing panties every day.
Undine ha kyou mo koi wo suru ka? (Shinya Misu): I'm you from the future~
Tonikaku Cawaii (Kenjiro Hata): Buy stocks in Nintendo, and then when it reaches 70 thousand, sell out before the stock falls.
switch (Atsushi Namikiri): Take care of your Zoids and card games.
Anonatsu 1959 (Ashibi Fukui): Your beloved Kintetsu Buffalos won't be around come 2004!
(TN- A Baseball team that was bought out and had their name changed in 2004.)
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san. (Aiko Koyama): Being able to draw manga, eat well and live well is the best life!
RYOKO (Kaito Mitsuhashi): "From this point forward don't think that everything will go the way you plan it."
Imouto Rireki (Kei Nishimura): Stop dodging the responsibility of speaking at the school arts festival every year.
Daiku no Hatou (Michiteru Kusaba): Live a honest life.
Okashi Danshi (Yori Katakura): Draw nothing but snacks and guys every day. Nice to meet you, I'm from websunday. 
Sokyuu no Ariadne (Norhiro Yagi): Moderate how much you doodle in your textbooks.
Zettai Karen Children (Takashi Shiina): "Invest in Microsoft and Apple".
Chrono Magia: Infinity Gear (Homura Kawamoto/Hikaru Muno): Defend your Super Nintendo games from mom even if it means death.
Hatsukoi Zombie (Ryou Minenami): Someday you'll meet Rumiko Takahashi-sensei!! Though I'll bet you won't believe me. (lol)
Aozakura Daigakkou Monogatari (Hikaru Nikaido): Don't betray your muscles.
Be Blues (Motoyuki Tanaka): You should be fine as is, no?
Youkai Giga (Satsuki Satou): "The white Mobile suits will win".
Tokaichi Hitoribocchi Nouen (Yuuji Yokoyama): If you don't say something no one will understand (you?). 

Wow, a lineup that was mostly..pretty straightforward and some actually was good advice other than the few who decided to spoil things for their past selves. Mitsuhashi's is a little forboding even if it is true --I wonder if he's referring to his most likely unplanned two year hiatus. Hata and Shiina sound like old men cooking up get rich quicker schemes and that's hilarious, and Nekoguchi's frankness really won me over. I wonder what my past self would think of me learning Japanese on my own and opening a blog dedicated to a single manga magazine? I can't say for sure, since I totally didn't think I'd end up here like this. 

Introducing a character late in the game for a manga, no, for anything is a bold and risky move since it can come off feeling like artificially elongating events just for extra story cred. Fujita's been in the business long enough for me to trust him, however --and as I said in the last entry I don't think Souboutei is rushing to an end even if the author himself has said there's not a whole lot left. That being said this is a new guy we haven't heard much of until now and I wouldn't be surprised if some readers found this new enemy appearing to just be a little too convenient. Though I am being maybe just a little too forward in calling this guy an enemy since he did clear out the soldiers who were threatening the main characters. 

Though hey he is a rather important guy. The sisters try to fight him off with their spells and summons, but he bats them away as if they're playthings. Makes sense when they realize he's the originator of their specific set of spells Oujin Izu in the flesh. To them (and rightfully so) there's no way they can possibly beat the guy who created their movesets. 

Recently I saw Fujita's Manben episode (Manben is a series where Naoki Urusawa --a manga artist, interviews other manga artists.) and it really was enlightening to see how Fujita tackles his work. That and now I can totally understand how a page like the one above came to fruition and how frustrating it must be for Fujita's assistants to deal with a guy who just has to fix things until they meet his high and constantly changing expectations. That and Fujita just goes right into drawing without really setting down a layered sketch. It's not exactly doing everything in "one take" but he just doesn't want to ink something and realize he doesn't like it, haha. It does lend a certain "organic feel" to his artwork, I think. In any case Izu izu not, I'm not sorry going to let his students or any of their friends escape so I guess he really is an enemy. Flipping back to Fujita's artwork, we're getting a color page next week so that and Izu's objectives are what we have to look forward to and I can't wait for either. 

Xeno takes his act on the road for the 5th murder room. It's interesting just how inventive these rooms get to the point that they're essentially not rooms anymore, haha. I'm sure there are plenty of mystery series out there that focus on a unique aspect of whodunits, but i'm amazed at how much milage Xeno has gotten out of basically being about closed room mysteries, even as the series might ostensibly be coming to an end soon. This week is about a play that the elite are attending, you'd think they'd try not to all be in the same room considering that's a huge death, er murder flag. That Xeno has interest in due to the stadium being built by Kai himself. The lead actress --Sumire Kandagawa is also familiar to him as she was a part of the last case though he didn't have a reason to suspect her of anything back then, even if she did seem really suspicious just sort of...watching everything happen. Though according to Ayla who keeps it from Xeno --she wasn't just staring out into space, but at him directly...hmm.  

The play continues but Ayla (and I really like that she's much more active here than in the last case) notices something again in the lines of the play --and the actress herself. See the play is similar to but not the same as something she heard on TV where a goddess of death married a man and bore a child. The couple were involved in a war and were seemingly lost while the child grew up to be a teacher who went on to teach children in the far recesses of a mountain unknown. A tale Xeno seems to know...

Well enough to move him to tears?! Could it be...could it be? Though yes he does straight out say that these are memories he had lost. The actress may very well be the teacher he had as a child and thus an important key to his memories. Though the crime has yet to happen, and I'm not feeling optimistic for Xeno's chances of learning anything here...Still this is compelling stuff --Xeno's search for his memories have always been vague and fuzzy, but this time things seem a lot more certain, even if the more certain something is the more it hurts to lose it.

A mind is a terrible thing to trick, as Pheebs finds out this week in Evans. It's a bit odd to me now that I think about it, and I can see some folks having an issue with how Pheebs' character is evolving even if it does make this chapter hilarious. Like --at least lately her obsession with Evans is played up a lot more than her competency without needing him. Kuriyama is still operating with enough of a soft touch that it's not overdone but it is teetering dangerously. Especially when Evans himself is depicted as less than loyal to her. In fairness since these idiots won't just outright confess he doesn't know that she likes him and won't spit out his feelings either so it's not as if he's being disloyal. That being said, without playing up more of his positive attributes it might come off as Evans being too much of a dog to deserve Pheebs and Pheebs being too desperate to realize he's got more faults than good qualities. It's a fine line to walk, and maybe it's just this arc that has been waxing and waning on for maybe just a smidgen too long that's showing these faults, but it's more a thing I've noticed lately than an outright problem with the series itself, and maybe once this story ends and the cowpokes have moved to other pastures things can get back on track. 

That aside this chapter is still really funny. The two have totally forgotten that the love potion is part of a larger swindle and are out to buy the stock in Pheebs' case. Thing is it really doesn't do anything to or for Evans, while for Pheebs it seems to have triggered a sort of somatic response where she sees Evans as her type of guy --vaguely effeminate and very, very, very pretty. Thing is it only works on her so no one gets why she's acting weird, haha. In fact Evans thinks that maybe he didn't have enough and offers to buy more so it becomes a huge mess. Pheebs is convinced everything Evans does is vaguely romantic, and the swindler is out for their heads now that he knows they're law folk.  They're able to wrangle him at last and Pheebs wonders if the potion really worked since she didn't find the con-man hot at all (ah how this triggers the old "yell-at-the-screen" response.) In the end Evans confiscates the evidence while secretly wondering how much he needs to get a response. I think the end of chapter text probably sums it up best --"The potion was fake, but the heart racing was real". 

Not much to say about RYOKO this week, but that's a good thing as it feels more like Mitsuhashi is taking his time to set up the stakes. The dragon that has been the bane of Ryoko and Rere's existences is actually a huge broccoli foodstuff, and the reason why the bewiching woods got it's name is when this critter moves around the entire landscape changes. Meanwhile Zen finally gets to show off his cool side briefly, but I like this character development of the otherwise laid back guy. He's not able to strike out at Kogarashi and Ubume, but he isn't giving up either --he will get back at the bad guys no matter how long it takes. Of course the main attraction --main course is Ryoko making her stand and despite the odds saying she will serve up some broccoli, and advance toward her brother and friend. Take all the time you need Mitsuhashi --I'm enjoying the ride. 

Kuro's got it's hands full with it's new "student" who views every little thing it does as some sort of training. Her--or it's earnestness really is the best part of the chapter, it's trying too hard and comes off as clumsy and genuine, very genuine. All it wants to do is protect her master Osamu even though the kid can't see Youkai. Who would have thought Minoru would be the least of Kuro's problems, haha. Though it speaks to a bigger issue of feeling needed or necessary by someone and I can definitely understand that feeling. Whether one is youkai or human the desire to be relied upon and to rely on others is pretty universal, I think. The fox(?) youkai is only so over active because it wants to serve some kind of purpose. Especially after it's last master abandoned her upon adulthood because he thought of her as useless even after she helped him become a fine adult who joined the military --very similarly to Kuro...worse yet when that master returned from a box. This chapter went from charming to heavy really quick, geez. You gotta know that Kuro's thoughts drift back to his own master who's away at war and the future.....for now it holds onto the present and the fox yokai who just wants to have a purpose after losing it once.

And that's it for #16's editorial! You should give the associated twitter a follow here as the preview for issue 18 is already up. (And it's a little more active than the blog...for now.) I know I say it a lot, but I do really hope to turn this blog into something more not that the news is handled on the twitter, as well as get the blog more into the mainstream manga focus (while still focusing on Shounen Sunday of course!) It's a lot of work but I'm hoping to balance everything the best I can. Until the next week (which I hope will be on time...) enjoy your whole week....both Sundays included!