Haikyu!! (Vols. 1 & 2) by Haruichi Furudate

This is another anime that I love that I decided to read a manga.

Cover image of Haikyu!! Volume 1

Sports is not a thing that usually gives me Feels.

In Real Life ™, I tend to find sports very boring. I would rather watch grass grow or paint dry than sit though football or soccer or baseball (live or on TV).  Plus, sports kind of traumatize me, generally. I was a nerd all through high school. Participation in gym was required and so I suffered through it. Gym was always the one class this A-student was perpetually on the verge of failing.  I always the worst at everything, always picked the very, very last because absolutely no one wanted me on their team.  When Calvin of “Calvin & Hobbes” described gym class as “state-sponsored terrorism,” I felt a deep kinship.

Thus, it shocks me how much I love this manga.

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I should definitely hate Hinata, Haikyu!!‘s main character.  Often described as freakishly athletic, he’s nothing like me–well, outside of being short, but his character profile puts him at 5’4″ which is two inches taller than I am. He’s the kind of jock for whom the sport is LIFE.

But, Hinata is SUCH a shounen hero, I can’t help but love him.

Hinata is spellbound after catching a glimpse of a high school player called “The Tiny Giant” in passing on a TV in the window of an electronics shop. After that point, he pursues his goal relentlessly. Very shounen.

Hinata is so shounen, he’s even prone to giving in-game speeches to rally his teammates like this: “Listen, the most important thing to remember about volleyball is that EVERYBODY on this side of the net is your ally. NO EXCEPTIONS!”  Which, because Hinata isn’t actually that smart, is literally something he’d been told by one of the upperclassman not five minutes ago. But, that’s the thing about Hinata: if you tell him a thing, he BECOMES it.

Like a good shounen hero, Hinata (or the entire team) will also get power-ups as needed during critical moments during a game.  When Mason and I were first watching this anime, Mason mocked the heck out of this trope.  He was actually almost a little turned off by how over-the-top some of this shounen stuff gets.  Me? I ate it up!

Plus, look at these action shots!

Interior panel: Haikyu!!

 

Aitsu! (That guy!) Am I right?

But, what I love about Hinata is that, outside of these natural bursts of athleticism, he’s not actually very good at the game. He doesn’t really even understand all the rules, and certainly doesn’t have any sense of strategies.  Hinata has mostly been practicing on his own, because no one in middle school was as into volleyball as he was.

A classic rivalry is set up when Hinata manages to get enough of a team together to play in a middle school tournament.  It’s a disaster.  Especially since they’re up against the team who has a naturally gifted “setter,” Kageyama.  Kageyama has the nickname “King of the Court,” but for all the wrong reasons. It should mean that he’s the star, but his teammates all see him as a greedy tyrant who wants everything done his way. Even so, Kageyama’s team wipe the floor with Hinata’s.

Hinata vows to get better, because all he wants is to spend time in the game!

Of course, when high school rolls around, Hinata and Kageyama find themselves as teammates.  A good portion of the first volume is them figuring out how to be allies, instead of enemies.

Can I admit something?

I’m enough of a sap that when we learn Kageyama’s origin story (basically he became such a tyrant that no one was there when he set up the ball) and Hinata vows to ALWAYS BE THERE, I might have teared up a little bit.

What?

Look, I sign up for shounen because this is what I want. I want people fighting together, for each other, and giving it their all, and making vows to ALWAYS BE THERE, and Haikyu!! might be a little over-the-top melodramatic in its shounen-ness but that’s LITERALLY what I want from shounen.

Bring it!

Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun (Vols. 5-7) by Tsubaki Izumi

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A few weeks ago, a reader accused me of having crappy taste because I don’t like anything popular. Well, here’s an exception for you.  At least according to Wikipedia, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun consistently places in the top 20 of Oricon’s weekly manga list (which appears to be analogous to our Billboard 100.)

My taste might still be crappy, but I share it with a lot of Japanese folks, because I think Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun is incredibly cute and charming.

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Volume 7, which is available in English (despite what it looks like in the image above,) brings the reader to chapter 71 (out of 85, at least on MangaReader).  Volume 8 will be officially available from Yen press on July 18, 2017.

As I said above, I’m still enjoying the heck out of this manga.  Normally, humor doesn’t work for me in text, but something about Nozaki-kun breaks through and I’m able to enjoy it. There are still puns that sail over my head, but I like the characters and the tone of this manga enough that not getting it doesn’t bother me as much as it usually does.  It’s very possible that I’m still able to enjoy the written humor because I was so very, very fond of the anime —which I can NOT recommend enough, keeping in mind my fondness for slice-of-life. If you prefer high-octane action, this is not for you.  But, say, if you liked Free!, I would think Nozaki-kun would be a good bet for you.

One of the things I’m charmed by in the manga is how, over time, you see the rest of the high school accept Nozaki-kun and Sakura as a couple, even as the two of them continue to be blissfully… well, not exactly unaware of the sexual tension, since Sakura is still in full-pursuit mode, but more like… blissfully unaware of how comfortable they’ve become with each other in the way of Real Life ™ lovers.

Maybe this is why Nozaki-kun is getting the designation of ‘shounen’ despite being a romantic comedy.  The relationship is, despite the humor and classic rom-com antics, really very realistically portrayed (even while all the shoujo tropes are being parodied by Tsubaki-sensei).

The other thing I love about it (and the anime) is its gentleness.  For all of the shoujo send-ups, there’s hardly a mean bone in any character’s body and you can easily root for all of them.

Of course, being me, I also appreciate all the insights into the editorial and production processes in manga publication.  There’s a scene in volume 5 or 6, where the two editor characters Ken Miyamae and Mitsuya Maeno are in a planning meeting for a themed issue of the magazine “Let’s Fall in Love” (Nozaki’s manga) is serialized in.  I found that, and their “all-nighter” in which they wait for a mangaka’s overdue pages to come in (not Nozaki, he would never do that), totally fascinating.

This is the kind of slice-of-life stuff I live for.

I would suspect much of it is fairly accurate since Tsubaki-sensei not only has a lot of experience as a mangaka herself (her other long running series is Oresama Teacher), but, apparently, she has a sister who is also a mangaka (though Wikipedia did not say who that was, exactly.)  She also started publishing while in high school, just like Nozaki-kun. So, that’s kind of a fun detail.

 

Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-Kun (vol. 1-4) by Izumi Tsubaki

I loved the anime for this on-going manga Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-Kun/Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. When I saw that the Saint Paul Public Library had several volumes of it, I decided to check it out.

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Apparently, the last time I reviewed this, it was on a podcast.  Rather than making you listen to Mason and I yammering on about Bleach and everything else, I will re-summarize everything for you here.

The story behind Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun is a cute one.  Our heroine, Chiyo Sakura is super-attracted to Umetarou Nozaki and works up the courage to make her love confession.  She blurts out, “I’m your number one fan!”  Much to her confusion, he takes this utterly in stride and said, “Oh, okay, here’s my autograph.”  She’s very, “???”  Then, he asks what’s she’s doing because the “others” have cancelled (“eep!” she thinks, “he has a harem!?”) so does she want to come back his place right now?  Poor Sakura is completely confused and a little horrified by all this forwardness, until she gets back to his place…

….and is asked to ink a manga sheet.

Turns out Nozaki is actually “Sakiko Yumeno,” a super-popular shoujo mangaka known for “her” sensitive storylines and gorgeous art style.  When I explain this concept to people less familiar with manga, I say, “It’s like finding out the hot high school football player writes Harlequin romances.”

As you know, gentle reader, humor is often a hard sell for me.  But, since I already fell for this particular story in its anime format, I found a lot to enjoy in this manga.  The one thing that’s very different about this manga than most others that I’ve read is that the story is cut up into short, self-contained single-page, four panel stories. It reads more like a comic strip than a comic book.  But, after a while, you get used to it, and like “Judge Parker” or other soap opera comic strips like that, the stories occasionally follow one after the other.

Like in the anime, a lot is made of gender stereotypes and Tsubaki-sensei loves to flip gender roles.  For instance, Nozaki has modeled his heroine after his best buddy, Mikoshiba (aka “Mikorin”). As I suggested in my earlier rant, the ‘oh, it’s so gay!’ is played up often and always for laughs.

I still love this one.

I almost never laugh out loud reading humor manga, but these first three volumes had a couple of moments where I did.  I especially loved the scene when Sakura tries to use Masayuki Hori (the background artist/theatre manager), whois pulling an all-nighter with Nozaki to finish up the chapter for deadline, to find out what kind of pajamas Nozaki wears.  Hori, of course, gets Sakura’s text and just ask.  Nozaki basically sleeps in sweatpants and a tee-shirt, but once apparently an adoring fan of his female pseudonym sent him a frilly pink camisole.  So, Hori texts back: frilly pink.  Sakura is suitably confused/horrified.

What? It tickled me. What can I say?

The one thing that’s very different from the anime, outside of the fact that its still on-going and the anime only had one season, is that Nozaki has a younger brother, Mayu, who shows up from time to time, who is deeply in love with the mangaka who lives in the same apartment building as Nozaki, Yukari Miyako.  He also doesn’t like to talk…. or do anything strenuous.

Here’s Mayu talking to Mikorin….

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The joke here is that Mayu is so profoundly lazy that he will do whatever is easiest, even if it means doing something he hates.

Ha ha?

But, you can also see how these four panel one-shots work.  They all have sidebar titles, too, which help prepare you for the punchline.

I think the thing I like about Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun is how utterly clueless and dorky Nozaki is.  Also, as I’m sure I’ve confessed before, I love stories that give glimpses into the life of mangaka (and of course I love slice-of-life as a genre a LOT).  I liked this about Bakuman, too, despite all it’s faults.  At least with Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun, the women characters are as weird and wonderful as the male ones, and there is a whole cast of side characters if you don’t end up bonding with the main ones.

The anime is equally charming and is only one season, so it’s a quick watch.  You can catch it on Crunchyroll, if you like.

The Trials and Tribulations of Queer Otaku

I’m going to go off-script for a moment and make some general commentary prompted by an essay over on Yaoi Playground.  Apparently, there’s some shipping crisis over in the Tokyo Ghoul fandom.  I’m not going to pretend I know anything about what’s happening there. Knowing ship wars from Bleach, I’m sure it’s ugly af. But, Yaoi Playground’s essay implied that gay/queer ship fans are particularly angry.  As soon as I heard that, I have to admit, that my sympathy shifted 180 degrees.

Queer fans get the shaft a lot.  And not in a good way.

There’s a couple of things going on here that I’d like to address specifically from a queer point of view.

I feel like queer fans of shounen have been blind-sighted by sudden canon pairings a LOT.  Naruto and Bleach being the most obvious and most egregious examples of this. Both Bleach and Naruto are shounen manga. What most queer fans read shounen for is the same thing I imagine all shounen fans sign up for: Explosions! Action! BIG-SWORDS! Cool fights! Honor and Justice! Big, obvious, evil bads!  Random, unbelievable, but totally awesome power-ups!

Am I right, fam?

Romance, if it’s present at all, tends to be very much of a subplot.  Both Naruto and Ichigo had straight love interests, but that was not what the story was meant to be ABOUT, at least it didn’t seem that way when the stories started.

Then, all of a sudden, at the end, there were marriages and babies and WTF.

I think straight fans should have been angered by those endings, too, and, from what I can tell, many of them were.  Ending an action story with some kind of unnecessary time skip where there are marriages and babies makes literally no sense, and in fact does great harm to your story. You can tell J.K. Rowling I said so, too.  I get the impulse to tie up all the loose threads, but unless you’re specifically writing romance, what a good writer should focus on is making sure that the PLOT is complete: the bad guy(s) are defeated and the world/characters have changed/learned something.

Queer fans are particularly hurt by this impulse because no one ever thinks of us.  (Exceptions being Yuri on Ice! and Legends of Korra.) But, 99.999999% of the time, no matter how hard you shipped their ‘precious friendship,’ the likelihood that the male hero is going to end up with their best male friend/rival is zilch.

The reason queer fans get angry about this isn’t because we expect everyone to be gay, it’s because there is LITERALLY NO REASON TO END AN ACTION MANGA THIS WAY.  The manga can end without a canon ship tacked on.

You don’t see queer fans being upset when the shoujo couple gets together, do you?  (I mean, there are crazy fans, so probably you do, but…) most people know going into shoujo that they’re going to get a girl falling for a boy! That’s the main point of the genre.  Romance novels, end with a romantic HEA.  That’s the deal.

Similarly, no one expects a yaoi hero to suddenly fall for a woman at the end (though I have seen that happen in yuri, so I guess there are exceptions to every expectation/rule.)

My point is, I think queer fans get particularly bent out of shape when a manga that is not otherwise marketed as romantic feels the need to slap on a straight romance.

Speaking of Harry Potter, this move also often feels punitive. I am pretty sure Rowling knew how hard a lot of her fandom shipped Harry and Draco.  I’m also pretty certain that Kubo-sensei knew that most of his fandom preferred one straight ship over the other (all you have to do is see how the Bleach: The Musical was written to confirm.  Similarly, if Kubo-sensei was ever in the audience when the fans screamed when Renji and Byakuya held hands briefly or when Kyouraku flirted with Ukitake, he also knew that he was purposefully breaking hearts when he broke those fan favorite gay couples apart.)  I felt that, too, when Isayama-sensei tacked in a wholly unnecessary “no homo” comment on Reiner and Bertholdt in some of the later chapters of Attack on Titan. Like, it came so out of the blue, that my only conclusion is that the mangaka was reacting to fandom.

And, that’s the second thing.  We have to put up with a lot of queer-baiting.  When I discussed this before in conjunction to Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We…? a lot of straight fans got bent out of shape.  But, this is a real phenomenon. There are plenty of examples of queerness being used as a tease or as a joke, so that the straight/cis reader can be titillated and/or have a moment of “Oh, haha! People think they’re a couple! How uncomfortable for them, teehee!” when the author has no intention of ever getting the two same-sex characters together.

Often, this happens in shows/manga that I really enjoy.  An example I brought up on my comment over at Yaoi Playground, is Free! Iwatobi Swim Club/Eternal Summer. I loved that show for its queer subtext, but let’s be honest: no one gets together at the end. No one ever explicitly comes out as queer.  People will argue that’s not what that show was about (it’s about swimming!), but I will argue right back that the writers knew what they were doing and did so intentionally.  There’s a whole episode that’s entirely subtextual where Nagisa has to “come out” to his parents and is kicked out.  I mean, sure, you can read that entirely on its surface, but subtext only works if there’s a there there, if you know what I mean?

Girl’s Monthly Nozaki-kun has a lot of this, too.  I also adored that story, and because it’s a shoujo, I was not mad about the ending of the anime.  But, there are definitely moments where there’s a gay element that gets played up…. remember the dating sim episode?  I loved it, but it was a wink-and-a-nod, not full on ‘baiting,’ per se, but it was queerness played for laughs.

These queer-baiting moments aren’t meant to be hurtful, I don’t think.  I think they’re just as the Wikipedia article defines queer-baiting: what they are is trying to draw in queer-friendly audiences.  But, that being said, they are also done with NO INTENTION of ever making good on the queer ship tease.

Queer fans get double-slapped this way.  We get your straight pairing rammed down our throats, while we’re also expected to laugh along at hilariously awkward it is when straight people get mistaken as a gay couple.

I’m not even going to touch the odd fetishizing of our sex that happens.

My point is, if you run across a queer fan who is angry about a straight ship becoming canon?  Try to consider the source. Some fans are just crazy, we all know that. But, sometimes this hurt we’re feeling comes from all the other places where we were unexpectedly, or even intentionally, jerked around. We love our ships with the same passion you do.  We hate to see ours broken, but was also have this huge history of having to be broken.  It used to be that even gay writers wrote only tragic gay romances, where you could find love, but it had to be torn from you.  Ukitake had to die, that was the only way to have pure queer love.

And we’re sick of it.

Thank goodness for “Yuri on Ice!,” eh, fam?

Ao no Exorcist #89

Sorry that it’s taken a while for me to get around to reviewing this. I read it right away when it came out, but there’s not a lot to say about it.  If you missed it, however, you can find it here: http://www.mangareader.net/ao-no-exorcist/89

 

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The birthday/Christmas party is off to a rough start. As Izumo (Fox Girl) points out, they manage to from zero to total destruction in about 30 seconds.  But, they salvage what’s left and have a hotpot, which looks more fun to me, personally.

In the middle of the festivities, pink-haired Shima gets a call from his brother with big news: they’re going to have a baby.  A big celebration is planned back home around the New Year.  Brother wants to know if everyone is coming home for the holiday. Bon makes noises like he might be too busy, but Light tells him to go, after all, “I’ll just be sleeping.”

When everything is said and done and they’re all heading back, Plant Girl (Shiemi) pulls out a present for everyone: four left clovers for luck on their exams.

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At this point, Rin officially loses it and confronts Shiemi about her decision. He demands to know if this is her “final farewell,” is she DYING or WHAT?  She confirms “or what” and tells everyone she’s not going anywhere. She won’t say why, but she’s decided to be support to the troops.

Back at the Okumura brothers’ apartment, Rin is still complaining about Shiemi.  Shura (Boob Lady, dressed, naturally, as a slutty Santa,) busts in (as it were) and asks for a glass of water. Rin is literally like, “Go home, you’re drunk,” but we find out Shura has an upstairs apartment.  She decides to give them a “present” since they’re all grown up.  Of course, they both assume it’s sex, but she tells a story about their mother, instead.

We find out her name was Yuri Egin.  Apparently, Shiro (the boy’s foster dad) had no idea how to “raise a girl” and so he took Shura to Yuri.  Yuri is very domestic and even offers to play house with Shiro, suggesting they could raise Shura together like a family.  Priestly Shiro says they can’t do that can calls Yuri a “weirdo.” Meanwhile, tiny Boob Lady is jealous because Yuri is so pretty and compassionate.

After Boob Lady leaves and the boys are tucked in bed, Yukio tries to talk to Rin about his burning desire to know more about their birth. Rin, meanwhile, is very… Rin.  He’s just happy to know his mother’s name and that she was pretty and kind.  He’s fairly certain anything else would just be depressing. (I think he’s right.)

Yukio is having none of this lassies-faire attitude.  He jumps out of bed and gets all up in Rin’s grill and calls him a coward for not wanting to know.

Chapter end.

Normally, I feel like Kazue Katō hits all the right notes in her work.  But, for me, this chapter’s end was a little off somehow.  I think maybe the issue is in how I’m reading these chapters, once a month, because I suspect when read in tankōbon, all at once, the connection between Yukio’s attempted suicide and this desire to understand his origin story, his birth, will be stronger.  I mean it’s not that many chapters ago Yukio was throwing himself off buildings and trying to shoot himself in the head to see if he could trigger his Satanic powers.

With luck, the opening of the next chapter will give me what I’m looking for: that connective thread between his birth story and Yukio’s source of angst/pain, as in like, what he hopes to gain from knowing it.

Because, frankly, I think that far from being cowardly, Rin’s attitude is healthy.  Thing is Rin has to find ways peace with his Satanic side every SINGLE day.

In case we’ve forgotten, Kazue-sensei gives us this visual reminder when Rin get’s up to pee:

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Dude has a f*cking TAIL.  He’s tried hiding it, but there’s really no point.   Unlike Yukio, Rin has never been able to pass as “normal.”  I think this whole “it is what it is, dude,” attitude comes from that, not from a place of fear.

So I’ll be curious to see where things go from here. I suspect that if knowing is something Yukio really wants, Rin will capitulate because he loves his brother.  I feel like Kazue-sensei has nicely set up that Rin will do it, even THOUGH he knows it will only lead to heartbreak.

So, while I’m not entirely satisfied by the ending of this chapter, I can see what it may be setting up.  Good strong set-up chapters are important.  I also continue to love the way Kazue-sensei writes her light character moments and weaves them in between these emotional key notes.

Women mangaka rule.


P.S. I’m still getting notifications about Shingeki no Kyojin even though I rage quit some time ago. If you’re still reading the new one can be found here: http://www.mangapanda.com/shingeki-no-kyojin/93/

Blue Exorcist: Chapter 88 (Happy [Merry X-Mas] Birthday Eve.)

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Since officially giving up on Shingeki no Kyojin, I do believe the Ao no Exorcist is now the only manga I’m reading as it comes out.

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Chapter 88 starts with Rin, our hero, convincing himself and those around him that Plant Girl (Shiemi) is dying and that THAT’s the reason she no longer wants to be an exorcist.  While a number of the others agree that’s a possibility, none of them will let Rin straight-up ask (because that would ruin the plot device.)

Shiemi derails speculation further by organizing everyone into teams to put together this giant birthday/Christmas party.

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At the mall, the speculation about Shiemi’s potential upcoming demise continues.  Several alternatives to death are offered–many of them based on Japanese folktales–until pink-haired Shima says, “Look, maybe she just changed her mind.”

Which everyone finally accepts as a possibility.  However, both me and my friend who read this with me this morning, instantly thought: HE KNOWS SOMETHING.  Izumo thinks the same thing and confronts him.

Tell me, does this look like the face of a liar-liar-pants-on-fire?

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I think so, too.

We bounce around through the various “teams” doing their party prep, and then switch to Suguro (Bon) who is trying to sort through all the information that he and Light got about the secret clone project.  Randomly, Bon comes across a familiar name: Shiro.

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Yeah, Bon, you and me both… I had NO IDEA who this was at first….

I had no idea, even with a visual prompt, I still had nothing. THANK GODS for the wiki (and a friend who with a better memory for names who double checked) because even with the surname supplied, I still had no idea that Shiro Fujimoto was our heroes’ DAD (or adoptive dad.)

Though this suddenly makes sense as to why Satan was able to possess him on the Night of Blue Fire or whatever it’s called.

As if this wasn’t enough of a plot development, Bon notices that there’s a page missing from the list of clones.  In particular, subject 005 seems to have been struck/stolen from the record, leading Bon to believe “Subject 005” is likely the successful Satan clone.

My money is still on Shiemi, btw.

Waking Light up to tell him this news, we get a funny interaction where Bon is fed up with Light sleeping instead of investigating and Light tells him that be works best when he’s accessing his unconscious mind (aka sleeping.) Me, too, brother.  Me, too. Bon is irritated by this, but decides maybe now is the time to ask for permission to go to the party.  Light’s all, “Whateves, dude. You’ve never been required to follow my orders, anyhoo.” (Paraphrase.) Bon, being terminally serious, takes this as an okay. (ILU, Bon.)

Other ways in which Bon is me:

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I really think I might have to take all the volumes out of the library again and re-read.

After this we flash to boob-lady (Shura) who convinces younger-brother Yukio that he, too, should try to relax a little and hang out with kids his own age for a change. Yukio wonders why she’s not going and she drops the random bomb that she’s off looking for a life-partner. (?? Okay! That’s kind of his response, too.)

We then discover that Yukio is legit crappy at crafts, and always has been. When he tells a meant-to-be-heartwarming/self-depricating story about how Father Fujimoto used to indulge his and Rin’s inability to art, Bon pulls the OMG SAD I KNOW A SECRET face, but Yukio doesn’t press him overly much about it, and they go back to crafting their decorations.

The very last scene in the chapter is another flashback in which we find out that while Rin has been content not to know anything about their “true” parentage (or at least he was then), Yukio has always had (and continues to have) a burning desire to know.

Which given this final image:

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What is that? THE FLAMES OF HELL? The crumbled void of nonexistence???? The yawning maw of Hell Itself????!!!????

Whatever it is, it is NOT HAPPY FAMILIES!

If I need to say anything in conclusion of this chapter, it’s that I will forever adore Katou-sensei for her ability to continue serious, intense plot, while giving us these lovely, light, fun character moments.  Shopping trips are kind of like the ultimate in “curtain fic,” and yet, we’re treated both to some wonderful character development between Fox-Girl (Izumo) and pink-haired Shima, in which we see Izumo not exactly warm up to him, yet seriously discuss the ways in which she’s decided to deal with him as a potential double-agent (while also fan-girling over cute cakes!)  Similarly, we get goofy “I don’t art” from Yukio, which is just sweet and silly, yet which seamlessly leads into a major character/plot issue, which is: what is up with Satan? What exactly is this world? And what is Gehenna? (which are the literal questions that Bon asked Light, previously.)

Frankly, this is fairly brilliant stuff.

So, you know, I feel like I could almost let myself join this fandom.

I’m just… still so BURNED from Bleach, that I’m afraid…. Still. I may just have to risk it again.

Thoughts?

 

One-Punch Man by Yusuke Murata (One)

Since all the cool kids were doing it, I thought I’d finally get around to checking out One-Punch Man.

I read the first volume and I sort of feel like my review could be summed up by this (web) comic strip from Questionable Content: “I can’t tell if it’s a brilliant deconstruction of shounen anime tropes or just garbage.”

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Yeah, it’s pretty brilliant parody.  I mean, I guess.  I don’t fail to see the humor in a guy who “over trained” and can now defeat all his enemies with one punch. I kind of even adore that he got into hero-ing for “fun,” (although the author seems to change his mind about this backstory and there is, at least, some sense that Saitama has a well-honed sense of justice that go him into hero-ing even earlier.)

But, will the joke sustain me?

Eh, I’m not sure.

This is where I get into arguments with people who try to tell me that the best comic book superhero movie of all time was “The Incredibles.”  Yes, it’s a good movie.  But, to say that “The Incredibles,” which is intended as a send-up, a parody,  is the best superhero movie  is to actually discount what I LIKE about superheroes, and to only enjoy the ways in which people make fun of superhero tropes.

I feel very similarly about shounen.

I know it’s cheesy. I know it’s melodramatic.  I know that so many of the fights are unrealistic and drawn out and could just be over if someone would just Do The Thing (or if the villains weren’t quite so OP, too.)

But, okay, one of my favorite themes is good conquering evil–and part of that story is always how HARD good has to fight to win.

I dunno.  Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for this.  Probably it’s better consumed as an anime, even though it was the web comic that went viral.

The robot is cute, though. I now at least understand the copious amounts of fan art of him. And I do kind of love this art style when it crops up:

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So, I don’t know. I guess I’m going to go against the grain here and say, “whatever.” Have fun with it, kids. I’ll just enjoy your fan art instead of canon, k?