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?

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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.

SPOILERS

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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.”

SPOILERS

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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?

Ao no Exorcist 87 -“Embryo” – Kazue Katou

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This title page is pretty fascinating.  It’s obviously Shiemi (Plant Girl)… who otherwise has a seemingly minor roll in the current chapter.  God, I love Katou-sensei!

SPOILERS

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The chapter actually continues the conversation in the bath with Mephisto, Light, and Bon.   We find out that after the Blue Night, Lucifer took some of the research (the elixir, specifically) from the secret clone project and kept working on it.  Mephisto remarks tat he thinks it’s kind of amazing Lucifer managed to get the information all on his own and that he suspects a traitor.

Light has this to say…

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And does make a compelling case that it would make sense considering Mephisto used his time powers to keep a section of the secret project in existence in an alternate universe/timeline.  Mephisto is also very cagey (though vehemently denies knowing anything about) the existence of the missing Dr. Neuhaus.

Mephisto pressures Light to give up on that line of questioning. Light goes along with it, wanting to know who among the higher-ups knows about all this. We find out Angel is a survivor of the Blue Night, but remembers nothing.  The only Arc Knight involved was some guy with a monocle named Drac Dragulescu, who–if I’m supposed to remember anything about him, I don’t.  We find out he died under an alias, so maybe he’s a dead (pardon the pun) end.

When the bell rings at midnight, Mephisto says ‘times up’ and the boys are kicked out of the bath.

Light takes off and who do they run into but Angel, himself.  They have a humorous exchange in which Angel can’t believe that Light doesn’t stink for once and gives all the credit to his new apprentice, Bon. This scene is entirely played for laughs, but I was weirdly unsettled by it. I think it unnerved me because so far, everyone Light and Bon have met, completely ignore Bon, like he isn’t even there.

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Look at this. Dude even remember’s Bon’s name.

Creepy.

At the Paladin Headquarters Light goes to see Azazel, an entombed Grigori.  (Normally, I have all of this Biblical reference stuff, but I did not know that Grigori were a thing.  Here’s  what the Internet tells me about them: “The Grigori, (also known as The Watchers) The mysterious eighth order of angels, the gentle Grigori were created by God to be Earthly shepherds of the first humans.”)

Bon later calls Azazel one of the ba’al, but I assume he’s just using the Hebrew here, generally meaning ‘lord,’ and not Ba’al in specific.

There’s some discussion about where the ba’al reside. Apparently,  some live in Hell (aka Gehenna) but three “emperors” are here:

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Then we meet the watcher and get additional information that he’s a substitute nephillim (who takes on Azazel’s form in an emergency) because Azazel’s line died out.

Or…. did they?

Because when Light goes up to see what remains of Azazel (he refused a body and so returned to an elemental state,) Light calls Azazel “gramps”

Then we get a very dramatic scene of Shiemi (Plant Girl) waiting through the rain for dawn.

After that, we flash to Academy and everyone gathering at the steps talking about winter break. Seems everyone is skipping it to stay at school, Christmas is Rin and Yukio’s birthday and everyone shares theirs and discusses how they skipped it.  Shiemi rallies everyone to the idea of a joint birthday party… while dropping the bomb that she’s decided she isn’t going to be an exorcist after all.

Something is going on here and I’m deeply worried.  I think with the title and everything we learned here, Shiemi is going to be set up as one of the clones.  I do think she looks an awful lot like Lucifer (frankly, I think Angel does, too, but whatever.)  So…

I guess this is a wait and see game.

I continue to be impressed with Blue Exorcist.  How about you?  Thoughts?

Ao no Exorcist/Blue Exorcist #86

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The latest Ao no Exorcist #86 by Katou Kazue is out… kinda. I had to find a downloadable version because there’s something wonky with MangaPanda’s link. Mangastream doesn’t seem to have it yet, and my other usual places are also mysteriously corrupted.

Could it be…… SATAN??

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Before I get too far into my review, I have to say that Blue Exorcist currently gets my vote for some of the very best in shounen manga being written.  I think I have a new-found girl-crush on Katou-sensei.

Big time.

So, okay, when last we left our intrepid heroes–in this case Bon and Lightning, they had just discovered the cloning facility that existed in the pocket alternate universe in the basement of the Holy Cross Academy. Not only that, but the clones were specifically ones of the eight demon kings.

As Light says:

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Yep, pretty damn evil.

Mephisto, having been spying on them this whole time, ‘natch, does one of his weird-a$$ spells that lands our boys, naked (because why not?) in the bath, back in our time and space. There was some other action with the containers exploding and Light doing one of his “and et cetera” spells, but, honestly, I don’t think much of what happened in that scene was terribly important–other than the general suspicion that some of these clones are people we KNOW, for certain Amamon.

Back in the bath, the boys are treated to a history lesson… which I f*cking loved.

In it, we learn that demons are kind of just a concept. But, as humans developed, their edges began to be noticed, and eventually they were able to become incarnate by possession.  There was a war in heaven (as it were) about whether or not humans were useful, Lucifer being in the “nope” camp, and Mephisto being “yep.”

Which… let me take a moment to lay down a little cautionary tale. I’m not sure we should believe Mephisto here, this is literally a COMPLETE REVERSAL of what Lucifer’s name means. Lucifer is often understood to be translated as “bringer of the dawn” or “light bearer” (or “morning star,” but that’s a whole other thing,) and there are plenty of apocryphal ideas out there in which Lucifer is a knowledge bringer, an illuminator–that it’s THAT kind of ‘light’ he bears.  Of course, in his guise as the snake in the garden of Eden, Lucifer is the one who gave us “the knowledge of good and evil.”

I think it’s also telling here, that sensei chose to draw this “knowledge” as a flame (could it look more like a falling angel, too? And who was the first of the fallen? “How you have fallen from heaven, oh, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” [Isaiah 14:12] ):

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Mephistopheles, meanwhile, is translated as “plasterer of LIES.”

Just sayin’

So… back to the story.

I guess the war gets kind of resolved, but a problem remains: demons burn through bodies like fire through paper.  The stronger you are, the faster you degenerate.  And, it’s horrible and painful and Lucifer is sick of it. He’s in so much pain that he thinks it’s a grand idea to just let go–become an idea again. Only problem is that expelling that much energy at once is an extinction-level event. For ALL of us.

The other demon kings are not so keen.

Mephisto, in particular, uses his forked, silver tongue to convince his brother that cloning is a better deal.  So, yeah, here’s the confirmation Light was looking for: all this “pretty damn evil” stuff was done under the aegis of Holy Cross Academy.

Then we lead up to my girl-crush moment….

We find out that Katou-sensei ACTUALLY UNDERSTANDS CLONING BETTER THAN MOST SCIENCE FICTION AUTHORS.

I’m, OFFICIALLY, in love.

She points out through Mephisto’s narration that cloning doesn’t f*cking make perfect copies. Turns out, that’s not how it works. So all this effort into cloning isn’t enough. The bodies have to be enhanced and altered through horrific experiments.  Finally, a few start to take, specifically Amamon’s.  But, Lucifer is still a big problem.

One day… (and I bet you can guess just about how long ago)… the perfect vessel was born.

Unfortunately, another soul gets there first.

Mephisto describes it as the essence of Gehenna… which kids, you all understand, is the Jewish analog to Hell.  It’s Light who puts it together, I think, and realizes… could it be…. SATAN?

Yes.

Yes, it *is* Satan.  Satan stole Lucifer’s body-double.

And, thus, began the road that led to the Blue Night.

Bon has some kind of epiphany here at the end of the chapter that I have to admit I don’t quite understand. It may be that he’s finally realizing that the poor Okumura brothers have been given way too much credit for causing the massive clusterf*ck that is the Blue Night… or I missed something critical about their involvement that Bon pieced together but didn’t quite spell out for us.

If you think you have it figured out, please tell me.

My other moment of deep appreciation for Blue Exorcist actually falls to the translators. I don’t know if the scan I read came direct from Viz Media or if it was a fan scanlation, but whoever translated  the kanji for “half-breed” to “nephilim” is a f*cking genius and I love you and your apocryphal Biblical scholarship! I think, technically, the singular is ‘naphil’ but no one but me and three other people would ever recognize that, so good on YOU, translator-person, for realizing that 9 out of 10 people have likely heard the word ‘nephilim’ and know that it refers to the offspring of demons/fallen angels. (Elohim, one of the names of God in Hebrew, is actually plural. Think on that for two seconds.)

But, okay, enough of my Biblical geekery.

What’d you all think?

Shirasunamura by Imai Kami

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“Ringu” rip-off anyone?

Actually, the premise of Shirasunamura isn’t necessarily a bad one.  The story follows antisocial Oogami, who is a full-time exorcist/”god undertaker” and part-time detective.  His only friend is his ghost-sword, Kazari.

It could have been passably interesting, especially since I was kind of amused by how Oogami really, really would rather be a detective but he keeps getting pulled away from his passion to fight vengeful spirits.

Unfortunately, the execution is some kind of hot mess.

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I found Shirasunamura by pressing the ‘surprise me’ button on MangaPanda again.

According to Baka-Updates, there are 10 volumes of this manga in Japan.  Six chapters have been scanted.  So, this is another one that cuts off abruptly… which in this case is probably just as well.

The whole thing felt like a rip-off of things we’ve seen before.  There’s all that stuff that reminded me of “The Ring.” (which is clearly intentional since there’s an image of everyone watching that movie at the start.) So maybe I could forgive that, especially since there’s a wonderfully rendered spooky truck driver scene near the end of chapter one,  but the whole thing reads like someone thought that what Bleach needed was more panty shots and less substance.  Because like every shounen in the history of shounen supernatural adventures our hero has a sentient sword (who appears as a middle/high school girl, complete with short-skirted uniform, which is handy for those up the skirt eye-view panels).  Plus, any time there’s some battle, he calls out ridiculous sounding super-powers and spits up buckets of blood.

So, there’s that.  Add to that WILDLY inconsistent art.  Our hero looks like an 80s reject with a terminal case of yaoi hands.

On the same page we can go from that overly cartoony, mis-proportioned miss-mash to almost photographically rendered art:

shirasunamura-4839069.jpg

Whoa! Artistic whiplash!

I read all six chapters, though, because…  because… actually, I don’t know why I kept reading.  Maybe I was hopeful there would be a quick resolution?

I was kind of intrigued when we find out Oogami is actually ranked 88th, and is considered extremely expendable by the Undertaker’s Headquarters. But, that was obviously going to be part of his main character arc: Must. Get. STRONGER!

Frankly, there weren’t enough of those moments to hook me.  It’s kind of an amusing train wreck, though. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can find it here: http://www.mangapanda.com/shirasunamura

I will probably return to yaoi after this…