Posts Tagged ‘manga’

Miscellany

March 20, 2010

What’s been going on lately?

Well, a while ago there was some kind of weird fail chapter in Shounen Sunday’s manga by Watase Yuu, Arata Kangatari. One of the guys Arata had to fight had this underling who was a big, infantilized fat guy, who for some reason never moved. I guess this was supposed to be funny. Fortunately he largely disappeared after the one chapter in which he figured prominently. (Can I just say that this whole kudashi thing kind of freaks me out? His sword basically eats all his opponents. I hope they all get restored at the end because Arata’s magic sword is all special like that.)

In that Gakuen Tengoku manga in Wings, the fat character lost a lot of weight over a completely unrealistic time period. Like, a couple of days. That doesn’t even happen on The Biggest Loser. How did this happen? I don’t really know, but I think it was through vampire magic, and possibly vampire sex. (Sex burns calories, ha ha joke.) Now that he is thin, his vampire girlfriend treats him with kindness, but she wants him to be fat again because she realized she liked his body that way and that was why they initially got together. (If he does, will she resume treating him like dirt as she did before?) I thought there might be more explanation of this, but they have gone off to other plotlines instead. My theory is that they realized they had a fat character who was not entirely relegated to being the butt of jokes and they had to do something to stop that regardless of whether it made sense or contributed to the story in any way, possibly because readers wrote in to complain about having to look at a fat character without mockery. But they could come back to it later. I won’t get my hopes up.

Sakura can't do anything except believe!In Shounen Jump, I have been peeved by the casual killing off of female Naruto characters, but they never stayed dead so I guess it doesn’t count. Plus, there have been other huge death cheats lately as well. Last week, Sakura tried to do something I won’t go into because of plot spoilers, but didn’t have the guts and required rescuing. This week, she goes on for a page about how useless she is and how she can’t do anything about the current situation the characters find themselves in, except for believing in Naruto and another important character. This is because she has a terrible genetic condition where her Y chromosome has an extra leg, making her unusually prone to inaction and fervent believing in people. Also, it was revealed that she accidentally poisoned someone while she was screwing up last weak. Fail, Sakura. You are the female lead and you are not anything remotely resembling on a level with the male lead. You are several tiers down from the characters who actually influence the plot. And it really annoys me that you spent a page pointing this out to the readers. (This is not Sakura’s fault; it is the author and editors’.)

On a superficial level, the Naruto world is pretty gender equal. There are a lot of female ninjas. But aside from the one who gets to be Hokage for a while (who uses ninja magic to make herself comply with the giant-boobed young-looking beauty ideal, and whose gambling addiction arguably makes her honorarily one-of-the-boys*) they are all fairly unimportant to the overall story (mostly supporting other characters and for the duration of a plot arc and then dropping off the radar). Sakura is part of the original trio of classmates, and she has accomplished nothing compared to Naruto and Sasuke. So I think there is a message here (not saying it’s intentional, but that it is possible to get this impression) that girls can have all the opportunities that guys can, but they just don’t have the same potential to actually achieve anything. Maybe the setting is less gender-equal than it seems on the surface, but we haven’t seen this because we don’t see any stories from a female viewpoint?

*There is a trope of the sexy girl who likes all the things guys stereotypically like as one ideal of the most desirable sex object, because you get the sexy sexy body without being expected to tolerate “girly” interests (although she probably does have an interest in makeup/beauty products because she has to look super hot at all times, but she doesn’t bore you by ever talking about it–or she doesn’t need those because she just naturally looks like a photoshopped supermodel with no effort). Of course I am not opposed to female characters having interests traditionally associated with masculinity (like being a ninja), but we really don’t have a shortage of sexy eye-candy girls who like robots or guns or stuff. (Not that girls who like robots or guns can’t be great characters — see Fullmetal Alchemist.)

By all rights there should be pictures to illustrate these comments, but I hate my scanner and it hates me back. [Oh, but I found the Naruto page on the internet!]

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Oh girl comics, why must you normalize being a complete asshole?

July 20, 2009

Read the latest Hana to Yume today.

Skip Beat: I don’t read it, because I read the beginning and it had that infuriating gratitude toward assholes thing going on. Because really, the only way you can be motivated to do something with your life is to be treated like absolute dirt by a huge asshole so that you then want to prove something to them. HEALTHY!

Voice actress comic: A girl goes to voice actor school. I stopped reading as of this issue because I am sick of her betting the farm on ridiculous arbitrary goals set by assholes. I am also sick of the asshole she is bound to fall in love with.

Gakuen Alice: I don’t read it, so I am not sure how much it involves falling in love with guys who are complete assholes.

Kami-sama hajimemashita: I love Tomoe, but he is totally an asshole. Just not enough of one that I hate his guts like the asshole in Monochrome Kids (which was not running this issue).

Gekkan Nakatoba: Didn’t read because I don’t read comedies unless they actually make me laugh. Not intended as a judgment, just doesn’t meet my tastes.

Ore-same Teacher: Masaomi is a huge asshole. But to be fair, he was not in this chapter very much!

Chotto Sekai Made: One-off comic about a girl tutoring a bunch of foreign exchange students at Japanese. The Swiss guy is a huge freaking asshole and also the love interest. DUH. I am getting the impression that Swiss people are jerks. Nooo! A prejudice!

Love So Life: Gee, a comic about taking care of little kids! Boring! The kids need to have superpowers and transform into giant cat robots or something.

Shiawase Kissa San-chou-me: Don’t read, therefore cannot judge asshole content.

Kyou mo ashita mo: It seems the only way to teach people how to draw manga or whatever is to be really really mean and tell them they are completely pathetic wastes of space. Then they will be motivated! Yeah, I’m putting this one in the asshole column.

Lovesick: I got bored with this a couple issues ago. But I don’t specifically recall any characters being raging assholes.

Jiu Jiu: This is awesome because it has subservient demon wolf boys. This issue also features some kind of vampire prince, who is a total asshole, of course. But he isn’t a love interest or authority figure or in any superior position over the protagonist, so I hesitate to actually tally this one on the asshole column.

Grimoire and O’Toole: I am sure I am getting the title wrong but that is what it sounds like. Anyway, the time demon guy is an asshole. Asshole column +1.

My point is that every single comic I read except one (and it still had an asshole guy whom the heroine was nice to) in this magazine (and also some that I didn’t read and some that were taking a break this issue) featured a complete asshole as love interest and/or authority figure (sometimes there are separate love interests and authority figures who are both assholes) and pretty much the only option heroines have in dealing with assholes is to suck it up and work extra super hard on the slim hope that the asshole will be impressed enough with the results to tone down his assholishness by a tiny fraction which of course then causes the heroine to be totally elated and/or fall madly in love with him.

I think shounen comics have this problem too sometimes (or a similar one — not so much with the female authority figures there, so I don’t think there’s much falling in love with your asshole superior, but there is certainly the “being treated like dirt is the only/best motivator” philosophy on occasion), but not with the saturation that shoujo comics do. It is depressing. I almost hope the comics that make this magazine worth reading for me would hurry up and end so I could stop buying it.

Also note that there are no consequences for being an asshole if you are a guy! Everyone will adapt to it because that’s just the way you are! (I have totally experienced this in real life, too.) But if you are a girl, you will be shunned by everyone and hated and despised, because your first duty is to everyone else’s feelings, especially the assholes whose feelings you have hurt by being adversely affected by their assholish treatment of you. At least, if you are the protagonist. Sometimes other girls can get away with being assholes — to the protagonist.

Of course, a perfect person would be able to work under any asshole without feeling threatened, because she would have perfect judgment and therefore know exactly how much of an asshole he was. But for real people who might actually put some faith in the opinion of their superior or lover, desperate resentment is not really the number one desirable attitude for productivity.

I wouldn’t mind if romances about falling in love with total assholes happened occasionally in the context of “Let’s take a totally unlikely love interest and try to make a feasible story about falling in love with him!” But really, 90% of (male) love interests are complete assholes. (Note: that is one of the 47% of statistics that are completely made up. But you get the point — it is a very strong trend.) It is not original or interesting! It does give the message that there is something wrong with you if being verbally abused does not make you all twitterpated though. (Okay, not really. It’s the slight lull in abuse that makes you twitterpated. What’s totally abnormal is if you consider a constant stream of verbal abuse to be a turn-off. YOU PERVERT.)

Oh! Synchronicity! Girl-comics are a vehicle for corporate brainwashing, I guess.

Goodbye, Blade

June 23, 2009

You were a good and kinda gender-neutral geek-oriented magazine, and then most of the comics I liked moved into the new, more female-audience-oriented Comics Blade Avarus. I kept buying you because you had that old-timey fox demon comic, and Mother Keeper (which is about cyborgs; Mother is the name of a computer), and someday I am totally going to catch up on Elemental – I’m sorry, Eremental Gerad. But then you kept introducing annoying comics about spunky heroines getting humiliated by nasty men, or else playing sports, which strike me as designed for a male demographic, and more importantly, which I find annoying. And then Mother Keeper got onto this plotline where Female Lead is enslaved and forced to fight to the death all the time, which is much more creepy and less cool than when she was doing things like impaling Male Lead with bladed weapons, and speaking of that, whatever happened to Male Lead anyway? Seeing as how he is the protagonist and all. I think I will try some tachiyomi, and maybe I will buy you again if you have a nice color page for one of those comics.

Other comics I am disappointed in lately: Jump. It has a lot of comics I find disgusting (the one that is entirely about oozing dripping meat; the one about the preschooler who wears neither pants nor underpants; the usual boob-and-crotch one; and I still hate Bakuman for its early spiel about how girls should not get good grades because their purpose in life is to be cute, whereas boys should because they might need to actually do something with their lives), and D. Gray-man is on vacation again. I’m still going to read it for Bleach and Naruto though, because my girl comics do not have enough ninja and shinigami fighting action. Meanwhile Sunday has new comics by renowned artists Takahashi Rumiko and Watase Yuu, and their bishoujo harem comics are the relatively inoffensive and visually cute Kami nomi zo shiru sekai and Hayate the Combat Butler – and maybe Zettai Karen Children, which I don’t read, but at least it’s not saturated with fan service. Now if only they would stop putting photos of models on the cover, because they have nothing to do with comics.

While I am being negative (it’s easier to find flaws in things than demonstrate that they are good), here are two plots I am feeling totally sick of right now: 1. The one where the protagonist undertakes a completely impossible goal but is rashly, illogically convinced they will succeed; at first they fail and everyone makes fun of them, but then they discover their miraculous hidden one-in-a-million power/talent that they just happen to have and then eventually succeed beyond anyone’s expectations, thus justifying their initial completely unjustifiable optimism. 2. The one where the protagonist tells an outrageous lie and then wacky hijinks ensue as they try not to get caught, but finally they get caught just as they were about to come clean anyway and eventually everyone forgives them and they realize that there was no need for the outrageous lie in the first place. We get it! Honesty preferable to outrageous lie requiring untenable and elaborate deception!

This Month’s Asuka…

May 23, 2009

…features one story about making low-calorie sweets because EVERYONE loves counting calories and HEY LET’S ALL DIET except that guy because he eats eight muffins in a sitting and never gains weight HOW COULD THAT BE it’s almost like it’s genetic OH WAIT STOP THINKING, and one story about a penguin who wants to go see the south pole before HE DIES and he knows he’s going to die because he is metabo. Way to take it one step further with the “fat = ABOUT TO DROP DEAD AT ANY SECOND” meme. Because I bet you’ve never seen an old fat person.

DuckTales character Doofus is also made of 110% pure Fail.

How to Betrayal

May 23, 2009

This post contains lots of spoilers for Pretear, Deltora Quest, and a minor spoiler for the latest chapter of Monochrome Kids. Non-spoiler summary: It sucks when a character betrays the protagonist by saying “Mwahaha I was evil all along and all my character development up to now was a lie.” It is much less annoying when a character betrays the protagonist for actual reasons that are in character. This is where I would use the lj-cut tag, but this isn’t LJ and I don’t know how to cut things.

So, I really hate Monochrome Kids, but I kind of have to keep reading it because of all the cat ears and junk. This issue, main character Kureha finally meets a hyena who is all kind and polite and helpful. “Yes! Someone who is not constantly insulting and threatening to kill me!” the protagonist thinks. “Yay, a nice animal,” I think. “I bet he is totally going to try and kill her.” The asshole leopard refuses to let her work with the hyena and insists on helping her himself, while keeping up his usual steady stream of verbal abuse and justifying his helpfulness as sadism (because being helpful for the sake of it would ruin his image as a huge asshole). Then she has to give a speech and the hyena says he left her speech on the podium. She goes up to the podium, but the papers there are blank. She has to ad-lib a speech to avoid the potentially lethal wrath of the student body.

Betrayal Classification: Annoying. I saw it coming a mile away, and it really pounds you over the head with the message that people who are kind and polite to you can’t be trusted, because they are just getting you to let your guard down so they can hurt you worse later. Don’t you know that nobody is genuinely kind, so you can peg anyone who fails to insult you as a liar? Not to say you can trust all assholes, but you can trust some assholes, whereas nice people are scheming lying backstabbers and you should punch them in the nose at the first sign of politeness.

It occurs to me that I hate this kind of plot, where a character that I liked or had marginal hopes for liking suddenly reveals that they were pure evil all along and everything up to that point was a complete act with no hint of truth whatsoever. A much worse case of this type of betrayal is in the anime (it comes in other formats but I haven’t read/played them) Deltora Quest, wherein a certain character – I guess I won’t give too much detail and limit the spoilerage – turns out to be a horrible deceiving crab monster of some kind, near the end of the series, with absolutely no redeeming qualities (and completely two-dimensional, since he had to start from scratch and didn’t have much time and, oh yeah, was generically evil). (I didn’t finish the series once I was sure they were done with this plot point, so someone tell me if I’m wrong and this was retconned out at the last second.) This is better than the Monochrome Kids hyena in that people who aren’t assholes exist in the Deltora Quest universe, so it doesn’t deny the existence of non-assholes at all. But it is worse in that that was a frickin’ long series and I watched most of it only to go “Ugh! This is stupid! I’m watching something that doesn’t suck instead,” at the end. Not that it wasn’t a pretty simplistic show the whole time, but things that piss me off could at least try to be sophisticated. Betrayal Classification: Monumentally annoying.

Contrast to an anime I did like (although I haven’t gotten around to reading the manga), Pretear. (Can I just note that the transformation is weirdly freudian? The guys go into her heart and then armor and weapons and junk form from sparklies that come out of her womb-type area.) It’s been a long time, but as I recall the main villain turns out to be the previous Pretear-heroine-person, and one of the guys is still in love with her and eventually takes her side against the protagonist and the rest of her harem. I always liked him better than the main love interest, because in accordance to the Protagonist Always Chooses Asshole if She Has a Choice Rule, the main love interest is kind of an asshole (although of course, regular assholes pale in assholishness compared to the leopard in Monochrome Kids). But the thing is, after the whole betrayal thing, I still didn’t hate him and he didn’t become an entirely different character! He was the same character but with some new elements revealed, and they changed a lot but did not contradict his previous character development! THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE IT NOT STUPID. Betrayal Classification: Deliciously angsty.

Body Image Fail and Win

May 19, 2009

Fail goes to Zotcha no Nichijou (a very well-drawn comic about a cat published by Margaret Comics) for the character of Bravo and the way she is treated. Google image search only found one relevant result for Bravo: here is a fanart of Bravo, whom the artist finds adorable. My friend said the same thing when I showed her Bravo, but my cynically defensive side was pretty sure she was just being politically correct. Zotcha himself, of course, finds her butt ugly but since he is a Nice Guy he didn’t actually treat her like rubbish like all the other cats.

In volume 7, Bravo goes on a crash diet (after a tree branch breaks under her weight). Everyone showers her with praise. The vet warns her that sudden weight loss is bad, but also tells her her weight loss has made her cute. She is suddenly the most popular girl-cat in town and all the boy-cats who were complete assholes to her before want to get a date with her. But she starts dating Zotcha, because he was not a complete asshole to her when she was fat. At first this is totally awesome, and if you caught some chapters of the serial publication but not others you would get a diet success story. Then Zotcha notices things like how she can’t walk any distance without becoming exhausted and she keeps falling asleep while he is talking to her. Finally he tells her he liked her better when she was fat. She starts eating again and gets slightly fatter than before (because dieting does that to your metabolism). Zotcha is still dating her, because dumping her at this point would be too assholish, but he is not as enthusiastic about it. The manga itself mocks her earthquake like steps, which makes zero sense considering that, being a cat, she weighs much less than the stylishly skinny human girls in the comic, and their steps do not cause earthquakes when they run.

So, it sucks to be Bravo. The story wasn’t wild anti-fat propaganda but it didn’t provide much counterpoint to all the “wow, you are so cute now that you have dieted yourself to a weight that is unhealthy for you”, and the manga still mocked her with fat jokes, and Zotcha may have learned a lesson but she deserves someone who actually finds her attractive.

Body Image Win goes to Gakuen Tengoku (of the previous Fail post) for having a character concerned that Hawt Babe Vampire and Fat Geeky Boy are not a good couple, not because Fat Geeky Boy does not deserve a hawt babe, but because Hawt Babe Vampire treats him like dirt and he deserves better.

Arale

Arale

Another Body Image Win goes to a cartoon I have seen all of two episodes of on weekday morning reruns called “Dr. Slump”. I knew of its existence from Jump Super Stars on the Nintendo DS, which featured a wide variety of comics from Shounen Jump. In these days of Dora the Explorer getting a slimming makeover and government-funded programs practically teaching kids to ostracize the fat kids, it’s refreshing to see an old cartoon consistently portray a chubby-by-today’s-standards girl like Arale as cute and adorable. Just look at the ending credits where she wears different adorable outfits like a tanuki and R2-D2 costume.  (Sure, it’s kind of relegating her to eye candy, which always happens to women in ending credits, but at least it’s body-positive eye candy.)

Of course, it also has Fail, because while all the men are pretty square-shaped, all the women of attractive, marriageable age (that is, all female characters who are not little girls or old women) look like supermodels, because duh, their function in the male viewpoint world is to be sexily attractive. Presumably Arale will too when she gets older, unless she is some kind of non-aging superhuman android–she does seem to have super strength.

Bonus Win for the sentient pink poop on a stick. I found a plushie of it at a yard sale, but my dad took it home with him.

Bonus Female Character Fail: I saw that Summer Vacation with Coo the Kappa movie and it was much less kiddy than I expected. But why are the daughter and mother so shallow and unlikeable? Because women are fickle and make no sense! (I also would have liked to see more affection for their dog on the part of the whole family, like, before xyz happened. The mother was the only one who seemed to care for him, because you know, women are sappy like that, when they’re not going on about how old they look and how smooth their skin is.)

Disappointment

April 11, 2009

In the category of things that I was looking forward to that turned out to be extremely disappointing: Monochrome Kids (Monokuro Shounen Shoujo) in Hana to Yume. It looks to be by the same person as – what was it called – Nousatsu Junky? I never really got that comic, because everyone is so angry all the time, especially male lead. And it has models. Reading Ciao for a while left me really, really sick of models, idols, fashion designers, and hair stylists (which of course are the only things girls want to be when they grow up, except maybe florists).

Monochrome Kids is about a girl who goes to a school for princes and princesses of animal kingdoms. One thing they are studying is how to resist the urge to eat humans. (Way to present the image of wild animals as bloodthirsty monsters, huh?) So she is disguised as a rabbit, the only non-carnivore present, but apparently less irresistible than delicious human. (Whut?) So far so good. I don’t really buy the portrayal of carnivorous animals, but hey! People with dog ears and cat ears and tails! Add cat ears to anything halfway decent and I will love it forever.

Unfortunately, I kind of hate it. The animals are all jerks, but Protagonist Girl seems to be falling for the one with the most severe case of Bishounen Jerk Syndrome that I have ever seen. Last issue, he very nearly got her killed, and he calls her “chibibusu.” (Chibi = small, busu = ugly.) Obviously they are destined to be together, and he is totally a really nice guy underneath all the being the hugest asshole in the world. It’s the polite and kind ones you have to watch out for: half the time they end up being a spy for the villain or something. In fact, you should probably just preemptively punch in the face anyone who says anything not rude to you. It’s like shoujo manga is propaganda for the Nice Guy (TM) conspiracy (the one that says girls only like assholes).

That issue was just not fun for me. The comic version of S.A. (also an anime) ended, and I thought I’d peek to see if I found it as infuriating as ever, and I did. (This is subjective. I identify too much with the protagonist’s competitiveness or perfectionism or something. If I ever decided to kill myself, I’d just overdose on this series without first ridding my surroundings of pointy things.)

And Cyboy (Cyborg + Boy) did a volleyball plotline which I found both tedious and infuriating, because it used that plot device where the protagonist is goaded into letting the outcome of a sports competition determine whether his relationship with his friend has any worth or not. At least he didn’t bet the farm, but really, don’t feed the volleyball champion trolls. Then he got injured, but then he won anyway, against the reigning champion team. I hate it when protagonists win against all odds for no reason (although of course two tendencies of fiction are that the protagonist goes up against near-hopeless odds and that the protagonist wins; but in this case my rooting for the protagonist to win was far outweighed by my annoyance at how stupid he was being). I am annoyed that he didn’t have to face how stupid it was putting his estimation of his friendship on the line like that.

This comic is about a guy who used to be geeky and unpopular but his friend has given him a total makeover and helps him maintain his image so now he is popular (but the love interest doesn’t like that type of guy, oh irony). This sort of “be careful what you wish for” plot tends to focus on the less desirable consequences of getting your dream come true, but sometimes I feel it’s a bit too uncritical of how differently people get treated based on appearances. There isn’t any indication that maybe people should have been nicer to him before he got made over. No one’s entitled to chocolate on Valentine’s Day, but some of the pre-makeover treatment was actively cruel. It also leaves me bitter and cynical when the only way to get shallow people who only value appearances to shut up is to have a friend who is attractive enough to garner their respect swoop in to the rescue (a la the latest issue).

In other news, I’ve been watching Kenshin again! It’s been 8 years since I first saw this show and said “Hey, they all have funny sleeves!” I have more context to judge it now and it’s not beyond reproach (although I still love it). Particularly, Yahiko says Kaoru is strong (when he’s saying he’d still rather learn swordsmanship from Kenshin, which is understandable because Kenshin is the best in Japan, except maybe Shishio and Hiko Seijuurou), but Kaoru, despite having her own dojo, is highly ineffective against all the low-level thugs Kenshin beats up in the first few episodes. (I think she does beat up some of Takeda Kanryuu’s low level thugs later. Why are these disc 1 thugs so awesome?) These first few episodes really don’t have much plot (I noticed this even 8 years ago): bad guys do bad stuff until Kenshin finally shows up and hits them with sword. Kaoru and Misao really should have had more opportunity to kick butt. Yahiko defeats more bad guys than them. Yahiko. (Also, I wish Kenshin had been forced to fight that German ninja lady in season 3; it might have almost justified season 3’s existence.)

Body Image Fail

April 11, 2009

Wings is running a comic called Gakuen Tengoku (wait, wasn’t that a yaoi anime? No, that was Gakuen Heaven — totally different) about a high school kid with supernatural powers and his twin brother and various supernatural beings who want his supernatural powers.  This month he has gotten the hang of his powers enough to try and help the werewolves, who are going extinct because they have no females of child-bearing age.  So they’re going to turn some of their male members into females.  Hilarious sex change magic!  (I’m kinda concerned that playing this for comedy is offensive to transgendered people, but hey, what do publishers care about minorities in the audience?)

wings1

So, the kid screws up a bunch of times before he gets it right.  The first failure is that he makes this man into a woman, but OH NOEZ, he didn’t change her body-type to “petite hourglass” and therefore HILARIOUSLY there is a large square-ish-shaped woman!  Oh how droll!  Not like a REAL woman at all.  Fortunately, all his subsequent failures result in proper feminine appearances, because no matter what you would look like with a Y chromosome, having two X chromosomes means you are TINY AND SLENDER.  (He just screws up the genitalia and presence/absence of breasts — because primary and secondary sexual characteristics are comedy gold.)

Of course, the first failed transformation looks much more like me than most women in manga.  Yes, the Japanese population has a much lower percentage of large or fat people than, say, the US.  But it’s not like they don’t exist at all.  I have seen them on the train.

Speaking of this comic, the fat guy who runs the occult club is one of the most positive portrayals of a fat character I have seen recently.  He is kind of weak-willed and geeky (being the head of the occult club and all) but generally nice (as opposed to a bad guy in need of beating up or something).  A girl even likes him — but it’s problematic, because she is very verbally abusive, and her attraction to him is based entirely on a fat fetish she didn’t realize she had and doesn’t involve anything like respect or mutual interests or anything.

You know what would be great? A theme that didn’t use this stupid font that makes a dash look, if anything, shorter than a hyphen [edit: unless you type spaces around it, but my habit of typing a dash as two hyphens is hard to break].

State of the Sunday

April 8, 2009

Comics currently running in Shounen Sunday and what I thought of them in general and this week.  Romanizations may vary.

Artist Acro: A world where people called “artists” have special magical abilities to manipulate matter.  Most of them have gone over to the dark side where they have no qualms about practicing their craft on people.  The bizarre fantasy powers come off rather kiddy, but it’s not bad if you don’t mind that.  This week, Acro is fighting an evil dude–pretty standard.

Arata Kangatari: By the author of Fushigi Yuugi, Yuu Watase.  She is a great story teller.  Since this is shounen manga, the guys get to do all the cool stuff and the girls are all cute and supporty, but I expect there will be a certain level of not-gratuitous-male-fan-service maintained.  This week, doubts are cast on the circumstances behind the assassination of that priestess girl.  Maybe what’s-his-name (Kannagi?) is not pure evil after all.

Itsuwaribito Utsuho: Utsuho makes it his business to help people using the medium of lying.  Cute tanuki mascot.  So far so good; this week’s wrapping up of one plot line and setting up a new one seemed a little abrupt.  Is that guy already recovered from falling in a pit full of spikes last week?

Ocha Nigosu: Scary-looking guy in the tea ceremony club -> comedy.  A while back there was a scene with a corn dog that I found immensely hilarious.  Occasionally the sheer stupidity of the characters becomes tiresome but overall it is entertaining.  This week Kaho (I think) defeats bad guys, although by running away rather than by fighting.

Kami nomi zo shiru sekai (The World God Only Knows): A romantic comedy about a boy who is a master of romance games, who must get various girls to fall in love with him in order to evict demon things from the empty spaces in their hearts.  Interesting from a geek perspective, cute visual style, sometimes prone to annoyingly stupid philosophy/psychology and general messed-up-ness, traditional gender roles–one girl does martial arts but her problem in the story is that her feminine side is repressed.  I can’t think of an example of a story about a similarly geeky female character, which is too bad (although I can think of one or two shoujo stories about geeky guys; what the heck).  This week… I think it was taking a week off.

Defense Devil: New this week.  And lots of color pages, I was impressed–they’re only obligated to make two or three and there were, like, five.  A demon who lost his power as punishment for being too nice has a scheme to get it back by proving the innocence of humans who are being wrongly sent to Hell.  Not bad so far.

Traumeister: This comic was kind of messed up and then it got more and more messed up, with the monster-birth symbolism and this Da Vinci guy molesting his pre-school Mona Lisa Artman (think Artman = patronus).  Bleah.  Fail.

Maou Juvenile Remix: I am still peeved at the one scene some time ago where Protagonist Boy and his brother remarked how EWW they didn’t want to be like that gross old guy who bought a soda in a fast food restaurant because his being alive was totally meaningless.  What do they know about this guy?  Where do they get off judging him by his appearance like that?  This week, I found cute-assassin-girl’s twice-repeated crotch-grabbing attack to be gratuitous, especially since she had her fingers in her mouth two panels later.  Overall, it’s an engaging suspense story.  But sometimes it suffers from enough fail that I don’t think I’d pick it off the 105 yen shelf.

Others: I don’t read them because they are about sports*/I tried them but I got bored after one or two chapters/I flipped through them and they looked boring.  Except Kekkaishi, which looks interesting so I want to read it from the beginning.

*If people are going to take competitions that seriously, I want them to be life or death.  So I read fighting manga but not sports manga.