Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Weekly Shounen Sunday #16 (2018)

It feels like for every bit of bad news I receive from my favorite day of the week related book comes a bit of good news as well. A balancing of the scales so to speak. I guess that is part of the excitement of covering a magazine that's currently in an upheaval of sorts, huh? Ah, before I start to completely wax poetic, I guess an explanation is in order. Just keep right on reading and all will be clear.

The big news that is Fujita related, but not quite about Souboutei itself is that One of Fujita's previous series --Karakuri Circus is receiving a TV anime! It's been about 12 years since the series ended, but miracles do happen! I guess Ushio and Tora didd well enough for them to move on to another Fujita work so can we ultimately expect to maybe see all of them get anime? Well, let me slow my roll a bit --it's great to see Sunday works getting this kind of consideration even if it is years later. I kind of hope it'll air while Major 2nd is so we have a sense of cohesion going on. (And more than one anime running alongside Conan at a time.)

In this circus, the TOC is the ringmaster.

Souboutei Kowasubeshi by Kazuhiro Fujita (Lead Color/cover/ Chapter 93)
Komi-san komyushou desu by Tomohito Oda (Chapter 130/131)
Kimi wa 008 by Syun Matsuena (Chapter 4)
Dagashikashi by KOTOYAMA (Chapter 182)
Be Blues by Motoyuki Tanaka (Chapter 324)
Shinigami Bocchan to Kuroi Maid by Koharu Inoue (Mini chapter 2)
Maoujo de Oyasumi by Kagiji Kumanomata (Chapter 93)
Tonikaku Cawaii by Kenjirou Hata (Chapter 6)
Amano Megumi Suki Darake! by Nekoguchi (Chapter 114)
Tenshi and Akuto!! by Aya Hirakawa (Chapter 156/Color Page)
Aozakura Bouei Daigakkou monogatari by Hikaru Nikaido (Chapter 81)
Memesis by Takuya Yagyuu (Chapter 3)
Hatsukoi Zombie by Ryou Minenami (Chapter 117)
Major 2nd by Takuya Mitsuda (Chapter 131)
Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san by Aiko Koyama (Chapter 59)
Shinobi no by Rokuro Ogaki (Chapter 32)
K.O.I. King of Idol by Tamaki Wakaki (Chapter 38)
Daiku no Hatou by Michiteru Kusaba (Chapter 42)
Sokyuu no Ariadne by Norihiro Yagi (Chapter 13)
Hoankan Evans no Uso ~Dead or Love~ by Mizuki Kuriyama (Chapter 42)
Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu Story by Kyouichi Nanatsuki Art by Teppei Sugiyama (Chapter 14)
Marry Grave by Hidenori Yamaji (Chapter 12)
Saike matashitemo by Tsubasa Fukuchi (Chapter 108)
Zettai Karen Children by Takashi Shiina (Chapter 498)
Youkai Giga by Satsuki Satou
Tokaichi Hitoribocchi Nouen by Yuuji Yokoyama (Chapter 14)

Not present in the big top this week are the following:

Detective Conan

So the gang is all here mostly, and the new series are really taking the brunt of it. Well, the last new batch before the current three. I hadn't been prepared for the possibility that they'd all fall through to various extents, though, wow. Of course, this is all pre first volume sales, which will certainly change how this is all percieved, but Ariadne which was flying high is now close to the basement, and the other two --Xeno and Marry Grave are in pretty scary positions as well. It's not like Sunday to put such a push on newer series like this (though to be fair they are promoting the new kids as well so..) so I am surprised to see all of the last batch down so low. Though even Memesis is lower than I'd think for a new serial --essentially in the middle of the magazine. On that note, they're really pushing Inoue-sensei's work. At this point it might as well move to the magazine, hah. 

So here's the star of the show this week --Souboutei's older brother from the same father Karakuri Circus and it's anime announcement. It took 12 years, but it's finally happening! Fujita's commentary indicates that even he was surprised to learn an anime of this would be created, and not only that, new deluxe editions of the manga will be printed and put out for sale in the future. Interestingly enough there will be open auditions for the upcoming TV anime, so if you know some Japanese why not give it a shot? I'm just clowning around, hah. I'm looking forward to this as I became a dedicated Fujita fanboy after the Ushio and Tora anime. It's not quite Souboutei but I didn't expect that to get an anime so soon anyway, honestly. This is encouraging though as now there's only one other completed Shounen Sunday work of Fujita's that hasn't gotten an anime --Gekkou Jorei, so now maybe that will see an anime too somewhere down the line, and then of course Souboutei. I know, I know, I'm probably being overly optimistic, but a circus is where dreams and excitement come together, no?

Souboutei color pages are always a sight to behold and this one is no exception. I guess in the case of Fujita it's not weird to consider but man for one older series to get an anime announcement while yet another receives a color page is an odd disconnect. Speaking of disconnecting, Seiichi's grip on reality is tenuous at best as the chapter opens up and Takoha goes in to encourage him to get a grip. The squirming mass that he --Takoha has firmly inserted himself into is apparently his heart --as conjectured by Rokurou, and boy does Fujita have a way with colors to make an image look slimy without any additional stimulus. 

Takoha reveals that he had talked to Seiichi's grandfather when he was dead and that the lies the Souboutei is trying to spread to him are all false. I like that the big guy actually commands them to shut up while he's talking to Seiichi, hah. Through the din of the false voices in the Souboutei, Seiichi hears it --his mother begging him to stop --but it's drowned out by the louder voices from the souboutei. Takoha is conflicted by this as he knows Seiichi is a good kid, but what can he do to stop him when he's this determined to end himself? Enter Rokurou! 

Except when Rokurou enters he's immediately rejected. Seiichi is convinced his death is the only thing to make up for his parents deaths. Rokurou keeps at it, reminding him about what they've been through thus far --remarking about how they ate together and how much fun it was. Meanwhile Takoha reveals that Seiichi is his grandfather's older brother's son so they are in fact family (it also weirdly makes the younger Seiichi Takoha's uncle, go figure.) He's finally able to hold Seiichi down so he actually listens to what Rokurou is saying and it's thus that his voice reaches him and he asks how the sausage onigiri was --and Seiichi in control of his faculties once again replies that it was delicious. 

It's rare to get a dual page spread from Fujita that isn't high octane, so let's just treasure this for a moment. Seiichi is calm and finally hears it --his mother saying she'll always protect him because she loves him. 

Mostly I really just like that the pacing for this whole chapter was impeccably done. Seiichi's despair was palatable but not padded on for dramatic reasons, and the artwork of his emergence from despair is great, but I'd expect no less from Fujita really. It wasn't the anime announcement for Souboutei we were expecting, but this week's chapter was a reward in it's own right. Souboutei creeps towards it's second year anniversary and I'm hyped to see what it'll bring to us this year. 

In an unusual change of things on the blog, I'm covering a fourth chapter of 008 how odd to say.  Without really committing to it as an ongoing part of my coverage. This is contributed by several factors really, one being of course that I like the series, but simply liking something isn't quite enough of a reason to write about it each week. I gotta see potential for growth and popularity as well --I say as someone who covered the very doomed Meteor Girl from beginning to end, heh. Oh, and considering that this is Matsuena, I'm sure people are working on scanslations as we speak so that's also a factor to consider as the blog is meant to focus on works not scanslated or with stalled TL's. Either way it gets one more week --opening up with Eito having to explain to his family that he won't be coming back for a while as the school is one with a dorm. Eito is surprised by this but figures it makes sense they didn't tell him much as it is a "spy" school. I like that Ayame clarifies that they're not training to be spies, but agents. His mother asks him to come home, but Eito shows an amazing amount of backbone and says he won't. Before he can say any more, something takes over the phone call and poses as Eito before hanging up on his family. Guess he's really in it now! 

And now a thing I love in shounen manga --the gathering of auxiliary characters. I find a lot of the time in these stories that the true strength comes not from the hero, but his allies and rivals. We were given a glimpse of these characters in the earlier chapters, but now since Eito is sharing a room with two of them, it's obvious we'll get way more exposure which pleases me. First impressions mean a lot both in universe and out and if the oppressive atmosphere upon entry says anything, Eito is in for one heck of a time. This includes the guy Eito saved on chapter one, who's happy to see him since the other two guys they're sharing a room with are well, terrifying. Eito wants to do introductions, but the guys make an excellent point --while it is true they're students, they're also secret agents and thus can't blabber their life stories in an effort to be neighborly. After all there might be times where they're tortured for info and can't talk so being prudent is the best way to go. 

Eito doesn't care and introduces himself anyway. The guy he saved is Hideo Nohara, and when the others refuse to introduce themselves, Eito threatens to give them embarassing nicknames instead which prompts the guy with the sword to introduce himself as Taiga Kamidzuki. Taiga might have consented to giving his name, but he doesn't consider them friends at all, something he quickly and forcefully tells Eito. He's come --with great risk to himself to this school to become an agent and thus doesn't have the luxury of being chummy with strangers. It's all for the glory of his family name! So not only are they not friends, but they may actually be enemies! 

There's trouble in the lobby and the guys head out to see what's going on to find that there are two of the same student and both are accusing the other of being a fake! Is this another test or something else? I'll agree that Matsuena is at least varying his normal formula so this feels less like "Kenichi 2" so that's got me intrigued, but considering his pedigree and the liklihood of this being picked up unofficially (or maybe officially? Kenichi probably didn't get the green light for an official release because it was so long, but 008 might stand a chance as a new series, maybe?) I'll have to regale the tale of sp--er, agents for irregular coverage. Of course I might revisit this if something else ends, but for now I'd say Matsuena's newest work probably doesn't need much help from me, which leaves me open to covering the less fortunate. 

It's summer time in Dagashikashi and the story is reaching it's climax?! That's what the chapter frontispiece is advertising at any rate. KOTOYAMA did mention in volume ten that he's essentially done laying down the framework for the finale, so it's question of how much longer does the series have until it reaches that point? If you remember, Hotaru did say she's only got until the next summer to stay with Koko and the gang, and now the time is here. She and Koko head off to a secret spot, and Koko assumes it's because she wants to tell him the reality of the matter --that she can't wait anymore, but...

The truth is she just wanted to drink some Ramune here since there aren't any customers to bother them. Still, it's summer, and that promise she made looms in the air. Will Dagashi end with this excursion to the beach --without anything happening between Hotaru and Koko? It's hard to tell at this point since KOTOYAMA isn't at all any hurry since the series is still a big seller and thus isn't on the chopping block, but the author himself has said he's ready to end it so it's a matter of if and not when at this point....

By now you know if it gets a color page I cover it, so Cawaii returning to the blog this week shouldn't be a big surprise. Admittedly what does surprise me is that it's still moving rather slowly. Heck, at this point the first volume wouldn't have introduced any characters other than Tsukasa and Nasa, which is a big surprise to me, though perhaps this is how the genre as a whole works? I'm not sure in all honesty since I typically don't read this type of series. In any case Tsukasa is about to head out and buy a futon on her own, but Nasa is afraid he won't see her again so the two end up going together to buy their new sleeping quarters. 

And I'm really not trying to skimp out on details, dear readers but that is essentially the chapter. The newlyweds buy a futon and it's implied the next chapter will be their first night sleeping together. Not that way, pervs.  It is a wonder how long "Nasa being flustered and Tsukasa taking charge" will sustain this series, really. Before I was wondering about the supernatural undertones the series had, but for now it seems content to just keep those secrets to itself --and admittedly I'm getting a little impatient. This chapter was cute and everything (and we learned the difference between futons made with down and feathers), so it was effective in what it set out to do, but I'm way more interested in knowing what the long game will be, even if it is just marital bliss. That being said, I'm almost convinced that this really is at least somewhat autobiographical, 'cause while I'm growing impatient with the speed of which things are happening, there is a sense of "realism" that comes from how things are unfolding that can't be faked, I think. 

While other series are moving kind of slowly, Tenshi and Akuto shows it has life in the ol' afterburners after all. I've been proven partially correct by the color page above --Hirakawa has entered the final arc of the series, but if anyone knows their shounen, "final arc" really doesn't mean a whole lot other than "there is light at the end of the tunnel, but the distance is negligible", and true, I don't expect the series to end right away with Akuto and Nari in the lurch so to speak. Poor Nari is harassed by people who saw the news report of her staying over with Akuto (actually we're not sure who spread that yet, are we?) though her manager promises the agency will protect them. Meanwhile Akuto is attacking his work with a unseen before zeal --probably because he's voice acting with his girlfriend Nari? That's what the audio team thinks at any rate, and I can't say they're wrong. 

After the recording, Akuto heads to a bar and seemingly talks it up with some ladies and reveals that he's only dating Nari to get better roles for himself and climb higher up in the voice acting world. No way, could it possibly be? The waitresses are sure he's probably drinking too much, but it's revealed that he hasn't had a sip yet. So these are his true feelings? A pair of prying eyes seems to take particular interest in this....and wouldn't you know it, a bit later Akuto's indescrecions pop up on the internet, much to Nari's dismay, but it doesn't end there...

It becomes readily apparent that this was all a ploy by Akuto so that he could quit his agency, a decision Nari doesn't approve of. Though Akuto hasn't just quit his agency, he's quit being a voice actor, all to separate himself from Nari and his being the son of a politician. Nari reminds him of their promise to stand together and pursue voice acting together, but Akuto says he doesn't want to be the stone that keeps her from flapping her wings freely in pursuit of what she desires. The chapter ends with Akuto thinking to himself that she is the first person he's truly loved --a real angel. I'm sure Hirakawa has something in mind to reverse this downward trajectory because man it would be a bummer if the series were to end on this note.....though this is the final arc and not final chapter so there's still a ways to go. 

The third chapter of Memesis means the final "obligatory" one. Will the not-so-noble tale of Ash and Kijira be one that continues to unfold on this noble little blog? Find out here! That being said, this chapter was a little...odd, though not completely in a bad way. I understand Memesis is still finding it's legs however, and I did enjoy what we got, so I'm willing to roll with it at least for now, especially when opening spreads look like the one above. Seriously Yagyuu, how do you do this and please don't hurt yourself. Kijira being the domestic one of the two is a bit of a surprise as he hangs up the laundry after Ash has an "accident" in bed after a dream of Leon's betrayal. Incidental revelations are some of my favorites since it's often conversation between characters that reveal more than plot related events. Like here Kijira offhandedly says he comes from a large family and is used to doing laundry. At the very least he and Ash get along just fine as he tells the latter not to be embarrassed about his accident in bed. 

After all, once they defeat the demon king --and do so before Leon can, that'll solve Ash's bedwetting issues, won't it? Unbeknownst to the duo, there's someone listening into their conversation and she finds their friendship sickening --a lowly private ranked soldier of the Demon King's army Debitch. (I guess it could also be spelled "Debicchi" or "Devich" but considering she looks like a succubus, I'm assuming the first is what Yagyuu is going for.) Debitch is amazed that two apparently weak willed dudes were able to take down the stone soldier seen in chapter one, and figures if she can bring the demon king their heads she'll get a pretty nice reward --which is cutely being patted on the head by the king of demons, d'aww. That being said, she refers to who I think is the king by name "Devil Runrun" which is an adorable name, honestly but I'm not sure if that's her boss's name or the actual demon king, so let's tread carefully around that. 

The guys arrive at the "Sake town Jintoro" where a salesman tries to sell them something on a high markup, but Kijira showing a lot of insight quickly denies him the sale knowing that the price is far too high. I never thought we'd get so much development for him so quickly, but I'm all for it! Kijira seemed like the one who'd have less depth based on first appearances, but he's quickly shrugging off that impression. Ash is no slouch either, as when they go looking for new swords, he's able to identify the make of one by just looking at it and thus earn them a healthy discount on what would have been a pricy purchase. Turns out the two fighters are actually well suited for each other! I kind of wonder if the end of Memesis --which I hope doesn't come anytime soon, will find the duo realizing that they're really just better off without their Leon vendetta? I kind of hope so.

Debitch is still following them and getting increasingly disgusted by how buddy-buddy they are. She's at least wise enough to back off and not confront them directly, deciding instead to wait until they're separated to strike. Except she spends the whole day tailing them and they're never apart! She has to wait until they're asleep at night to even consider attacking them. She finally makes the approach later that night, but Kijira talking in his sleep causes her to take a moment of pause. On that note, I do want to make a small note on how packed-yet-organized Yagyuu's panels are. There's rarely any white space in any of his storyboards, even where a little would be permitted. Like in the right page above, the night sky is indicated at least a little in every panel, as is the soil and trees of the forest. I have to wonder how painstaking this must be for him to do each time, and admire his dedication. 

Also the expressiveness of the characters can't be beat either as Debitch starts to attack Kijira just to find that Ash is right behind her! Her mouth hanging open is drawn with such great detail that it actually looks kind of cool rather than being hilarious. Debitch doesn't know what Ash is doing and she's terrified she'll be in the middle of both of them if she doesn't act right away, so she changes targets and goes for Ash, but he smacks her good. Admittedly I had been wondering about Ash's gender since on promo images I thought he was a she, but at the very least Yagyuu's quick profile of him on a page not present here (sorry). Says he's Albert Ash, and currently suffering from "hero sickness" due to the trauma of being fired by his fellow in arms Leon. What's interesting is although in his waking hours Ash is enraged by even the mere mention of Leon, in his sleep he's in tears and begs Leon to wait, hmm...

We're right back at the beginning again with Kijira doing the laundry after Ash had another accident, and Debitch ruing them after failing her mission and almost guaranteeing she'll be back. As for me, I think I'll keep on this train for a bit. Welcome to full coverage on the blog Memesis! You'll be a great replacement for Meteor Girl! I think Yagyuu has quite a bit of potential, and while I've heard through the grapevine that the series might receive an unofficial translation soon, I think it's still worth following this work. 

To my surprise, Shinobi no's follow up to last week's events is pretty low key. I was thinking the fight against Bansai would have gone for another chapter at least, but Ogaki figured this wasn't the case, apparently. On that note, both Adachi and Takahashi have made comments about Shinobi no, recommending the series! It's great to see Sunday supporting their own --as Fukuchi does on twitter as well, even singing the praises of Memesis when it started. I'm not sure if that praise will correlate into higher sales, but Shinobi no appearing on Webry is a good sign for it too. As for the chapter itself, things open up with a man playing with ants by a nearby river and commenting on how beautiful it is....meanwhile Pops, Kaede and Heisuke bid their farewells to Ei, though Kaede gets an earful from the owner of the hall where the painting was displayed. Can't blame him as the place did get burned down. Though Ei comes in and takes the blame, as it was her who set the fire in the first place. Still, Ei asks Pops to come see her next painting, and he promises he will as they bid her farewell.

I just like the composition on this page, so I'm sharing it with you --rejoice. It's implied by the narrative text that this is the second version of the Fuji painting this time done by Ei herself --though now she's using "Katsushika Oui" now that she's accepted her father, so it truly is a happy ending. Meanwhile in the shadows a group discusses Gensai's failure and how his insistence to dress and act as a woman is what lead to his end. 

However a man disagrees with this saying that it was interesting while it lasted. This man is Sakamoto Ryouma, a retainer. Once again my wires are crossing as the translator for Gintama, as the Sakamoto I'm used to is "Tatsuma" and while he looks similar in Gintama to this version in Shinobi no, their mannerisms are very different. Admittedly this and Gintama are the two manga I've had close contact with that deal with historical figures, but it's still a trip to see them come to life in two different stories. In shinobi no, Sakamoto loves observing ants and comparing current issues to them, much to the confusion of the samurai with him, hah.  He compares people to ants and remarks that the group tends to lead the leader, as they are rigid creatures who follow a sense of "order" to an overblown degree. If the leader ant were to move in circles, the entire colony would do the same until they all collapse upon each other as a mountain of death --and all Sakamoto had to do was to snap the antennae of one of the ants --implying that if he were to strike at the authority of people would they too collapse? 

Heading back to the village he found merely a half year earlier, it is now no more than a field of death. He comments on how the village depended on the river and by doing something as simple as changing it's "flow" would result in antagonism between villagers as their sense of dissatisfaction grows due to the environment changing and their needs not being met. If weapons were introduced to such a place, what would happen? It's exactly what you'd think taking a gander above --Sakamoto mentions that ants and people are endless. That one man could bring a village to it's knees like this without being anywhere near it is terrifying and brings us into the next arc of Shinobi no with Sakamoto as a villain? The whiplash to me as a Gintama fan and translator is huge here, but I'm intrigued. Next week can't come fast enough! 

It's been a while for Hatou, and we return to Minato out on the town. It seems the series really has completely shifted gears to be about him moreso than Nagiko and his search for her. I can't say for sure if this will save it, but any opportunity to see Kusaba's wonderful art and storyboarding is a win for me, even if I know deep down the only reason why this series persists is because there hasn't been a major hit yet to take it's place. Ah how it must be nice to be a veteran author in a magazine like this..but yes, the chapter itself really is just Minato being at home alone at first and realizing he doesn't much care for that --however all of his friends are out. He does at least mention Nagiko, so it's not as if she's completely gone, thank goodness and we do get some wonderful scenery shots and storyboard as seen on the page above this paragraph on the left. After that however, Minato suddenly take an offer for a part time job ---and his first one at that. The series is very much fine meandering about, but that'll probably only last as long as it takes for one of the new series to take foot and perhaps become popular. For now however, let's enjoy hatou while it lasts. 

Ariadne is down in the dumps which saddens me as it's just now started getting interesting again, but it serves as a wake up call to Yagi that he's gotta keep this journey moving if he wants to keep people interested. Granted it just might be due to the new crop just being that interesting, but we'll have to see as new volumes are released. In any case, Leana tries to save Rashil by floating above the rock eating worms, but their reach extends further than she thought, and she can't move all that quickly in the air. Despite the misstep of the last arc, I do still enjoy Rashil and Leana as characters --she's got an overwhelming amount of confidence in him to the point that when her plan fails, she just tells him to defeat the worms --but Rashil declines and takes the more level headed approach of finding another way around. 

Also these kids being so excitable is also infectious as Rashil reveals the'll be heading into the territory of the Shuu clan. Leana is excited that she'll be able to meet them for the first time, though Rashil reminds her not to do anything rash as they're a rough and tumble group. 

....Or not. If this is "rough and tumble" then the world of Ariadne is a far more terrifying-and-awesome place than I would have thought. 

The shuu clan rarely see customers in their midst so they're rather welcoming to the princess and her knight, even giving them a sample of the local delicacy --their milk. and it's administered just the way you think it would be from a clan of what is essentially bovine women. This is a shounen magazine so don't go expecting anything too lewd though. Rashil wants to ask more about the mountain range, but their formerly accommodating host shuts him down and says they'll have to leave after they're done drinking as the mountains are on lock-down. Leana has apparently given up on crossing the range much to Rashil's bewilderment, but that's not actually the case as she takes him to a door sealed shut and commands him to break it down --seems like they'll be using force after all. This won't go over well with the shuu clan, but it'll be interesting for us won't it? 

When I first read this chapter, my immediate thought was "Huh, have Evans and Ted ever hung out as assistant and master?" And then I was overcome with a curiosity as to how the sheriff met his boy wonder. Sadly that question isn't answered this week, but at the very least the two go out to eat together, except even this is a ploy to get women by Evans --or well, not so much get them as much as figure out where to dine with them once he manages to find one. Yup, Evans has invited Ted out under the pretense of getting lunch, but it's actually because there's a place he wants to check out for prospective dates, so this is a way to satisfy that curiosity without looking like a loner. 

Sadly they're closed by the time they get there and Evans not wanting to look like an idiot acts as if that isn't the place and leads Ted even further in. Thing is he's determined not to go to their normal place that he desperately looks for other places, but the first one they happen upon has nasty food as commented on by disappointed patrons, the next is full up, and the one after that is closed. They finally happen upon a place, but Evans needs a deciding factor before he can decide on this one --and he gets what he's looking for in the form of Pheebs. 

Evans has a Dad flashback which basically says that if a woman says the food is good it has to be this is actually good advice for once. And when Pheebs walks away coyly saying she thought she was the only one to know of this place, the boys settle in for some grub when Ted wondering what he should get comments that Evans usually gets the same thing so he'll be fine. Evans tries to play this off as well, saying that he's going to try something different --and then immediately says he'll have whatever Ted is having. It's good to see that even when ladies aren't involved (directly) Evans can still be an awkward and very funny guy. 

O--oh, right Umi is a character in this manga isn't she? In all seriousness I had forgotten about her until now --she hasn't had much characterization outside of being a human lie detector, and while that in and of itself is an interesting idea, it hasn't seem much use in light of Xeno's almost supernatural deduction skills. Though to be fair to the manga itself, we're still a mere 14 chapters in so perhaps Umi will earn her worth given more time. She's certainly on the way with the beginning of this week's chapter of Xeno --she's out shopping with Ayla and declares all of a sudden that a crime is about to be committed. She happened to brush up against three middle school girls and from the brief bit of their conversation she could pick up, it was filled with lies. 

It looks like a fairly paltry crime in the scheme of things --shoplifting. It would seem two of the girls are pressuring a third with offers of friendship and support in pursuing a boy if she steals from this store, and Ayla is ready to leave well enough alone, but Umi strides over to involve herself spurring Ayla to act in her stead. She takes the item from them by simply bumping into them, leaving the girls none the wiser that they have been stolen from. I don't think it's any secret that I've so far followed the series due to being really interested in Ayla (the last few weeks have done a lot in endearing me to Xeno, but she was my primary interest.) and this exchange has only made me that much more interested in the ex-assassin to be. 

Oh, and while she was helping the bullied(?) girl out, Ayla filled the other girls bags with stolen merch and got them busted. Umi is unsure of this method, but Ayla says that she knows their type, and they only learn things the hard way. Intriguing as this means she's gone to school before taking on her job as assassin and then Xeno's partner in justice. Umi on the other hand says she's never been outside of Kai's household due to her "sickness". Though she does appreciate Ayla's consideration of her --sometimes she can't tell the truth but she doesn't outright lie either, which is an important distinction. 

Of course I write these after I've read the chapters --I'm not bold enough to post pages sight unseen! Still, I'm reeling over this revelation of Ayla even now. She steps outside of the store considering what Umi has said when a man comments she's doing well --a man she refers to as her father. He looks relatively young for someone to have a child her age, but discounting that, he refers to himself as her "warden", rather than "parent", and asks about the mission she was given. Responding it's on hold because Xeno figured out what she was, and she only accepted the job as his assistant because she's keeping an eye on him, and that she knows her "father" doesn't think of her as an assassin, but he reveals the higher ups don't share that opinion. She's actually in a good position to them, being close to Xeno and thus is extremely valuable to their "organization" So while they're not overtly interested in Xeno at the moment, should he pose a threat to the organization her position might change from "observer" to something else quickly --if you catch my drift. "Dad" says this while adding in the oddly father-like advice that she not fall behind in her studies before leaving. 

And this is the stinger of the week --Ayla continues to protest that she's not cut out for this work, and this entire time I've been of the same opinion, but then Dad doles out the cold hard truth...she's killed before, and thus is very much an assassin even if she doesn't believe herself to be. Her hands are already dirty and there's nothing she can do about that. Wow, just--judging from the first impression we got from Ayla I thought she was only breaking into the business and couldn't hurt a fly, but to find out she has in fact killed before --and something to note is that Dad specifically says "once" before, so there's no mistaking that Ayla has done the deed, but she's no bloodthirsty least not too much of one anyway. While the story of an assassin (or would be one in this case) running from their past and seeking refuge isn't anything groundbreaking, it just solidified my interest in Ayla's backstory. I really want to know everything about her, and how she ended up where she is now. 

Umi asks about the conversation she just had, and Ayla begs her not to, as there's no answer she can give that she won't be able to immediately identify as a lie. Umi backs off, but reminds Ayla that she is the daughter of the man who created the murder doors --Shichiro Kai. Umi and Ayla return to Xeno's place to find that he and Onikobe are in a conversation about Kai's assassin and a letter the latter received addressed to Umi herself from something called the "yatagarasu" --a Japanese mythological youkai that looks like a crow with three legs. While the letter is addressed to Umi, it's contents are a challenge to Xeno that will take place on a train heading to the Tohoku region in 2 days. The stakes are a lead on Shichiro Kai, so Xeno's in, though one has to consider why they'd send the letter to Umi who's in his care? Xeno doesn't force the girl to accept the invitation, it's up to her if she wants to go or not. Umi wants to stop the person who's setting up murders in her father's name, so of course she can't turn this down. The third "murder door" has been opened and it's going to be on a train --a classic setting for murder mysteries. Xeno's been on my radar since the wonderful chapter two weeks ago, and this only reconfirms my commitment to the amnesiac detective. If the next case can keep the intrigue, then I think the series may have what it takes to last. 

Rock is looking positively terrifying this week on Marry Grave which appears to have one foot in the grave judging from it's position on the TOC. I certainly hope this is just a temporary blip, as the series is one of my favorite to read and cover from week to week. It does seem like these series have the issue of getting really good right around the time the fans have started to turn away...but Marry's first volume isn't out yet so maybe it can right itself before it really is marching off the Sunday mortal coil. Something I'm only noticing now is that Rock's sword is not only creepy, but it...talks? It also seemingly refers to Rock as "Zel" which Sawyer seems surprised by --and not just because it means the previous name he gave is On that note, Yamaji really does a great job in not only making the sword creepy but very expressive. Unfortunately for Sawyer, it seems to recognize there's something special with him, and Rock (or Zel?) gives it permission to go find it, leaving Jean and Sawyer no choice but to fight. 

Zel and the sword --Valmung aren't exactly pally with each other as Zel threatens to finish it off if it screws up, and Valmung isn't too pleased with being ordered around, promising to remember and repay Zel for his impertinence soon. Jean and Sawyer on the other hand are in top form and give each other the support they need, managing to land a pretty nasty blow on Zel. However, the swordsman isn't an easy opponent to take down by any means and manages to take an arm off of Sawyer despite his own injuries. Sawyer regenerates, and it's then that he explains he is a result of the deadman's recipe which shocks Zel --interesting he doesn't actually know what it does, but not totally unreasonable. 

It's through this that Zel figures out what Sawyer's weakness is, and it has to do with the coffin he's been carrying around --another revelation. It seems Sawyer's own life force is tied to the one who brought him back --perhaps this is the condition for all those brought back back by the recipe? Either way, when Zel stabs Rozalie's corpse, it's Sawyer who begins to bleed. So Sawyer isn't completely immortal, and now Zel --and by extension the audience knows his critical weakness. We've all been seeing dead...person, but it seems like a proper explanation of what the books properties actually are will be provided sooner rather than later. 

Flashbacks like this usually hinge on what occurs after them, so you could say the pressure is on Saike now that Silva has detailed how they got to this point, as well as asking him to stop Johann. He also says exactly what I had been thinking for a while --that Johann and Saike are actually very similar, except not in the way I would have thought --in that they both sought strength for the sake of someone else rather than their views on abilities. Rather, Silva comments that's where they're different, more than anything. 

Saike admits to Silva that he may be overestimating him a bit. He didn't become a hero because it was the right thing to do, but because he wanted to validate his existence --and wow if that line didn't take me back to the Saike on the rewind articles I wrote way back when I had more time. This has been Saike's journey throughout the series --and now it feels like he really has understood what it is he's been doing and how that contrasts and compares to what he wants. This has never really been about saving people --at least not completely, it's been about Saike wanting to leave something behind to have a legacy. Without his ability he doesn't have a means to demonstrate how special he is to the world, and being "ordinary" just isn't enough for him. In a sense, Ana's words to him when she first met him --"a fool addicted to his ability" weren't far off the mark. Saike also comments on a bit of irony that he kept going around and around, and in the end his friend --the one he developed powers to save is still in terrible danger. "It's terrible really" he says. "In order to save Johann, I'll have to abandon my ability." And thus he moves forward with what he calls the "last action". Probably to tie in with the chapter's title "Last Action Hero" --named for a movie, but it takes a whole new significance here. 

Returning to earlier that day, he confronts Johann, but reveals he doesn't have Hi, and rather he proclaims he will stop Johann for Sumire's sake. 

Calim once again runs interference --to Johann's surprise, and drops Mikan, laughing that Saike has effectively killed her. His response? "Heroes are not alone." Of course they searched the scene for Kuroda and the others and none of them are here, so what is he talking about? 

And then the true hero of the week appears! Koutarou was the last person I was expecting to show up this week, but I am totally happy for this if only because it validates the otherwise strangely placed "brothers' arc. Saike's words as the chapter closes do indicate that the boy has wizened up and taken a page from Kuroda, from Ana, from everyone he's met thus far --that "heroes" are everywhere and anywhere, a sentiment that pleases me even as I know it's significance.....I thought Saike might perhaps have at least another volume after this, but now there is a real chance that this arc could be the final one. I certainly hope not, but even if it is, Saike's development in this chapter and overall pleases me enough that while I'd be sad to see him go, I'd be satisfied. We'll see.

This week's Youkai giga gives us the Tecchi otherwise known as a  yamaba --an old woman like youkai that lives up in the mountains. It often takes care of people lost in the mountains so it seems like a pretty decent Youkai, but Satou has proven us wrong in those respects, and this week she sort of leans into that with hilarious results. A boy and girl are in the forest preparing to meet the latter's grandmother. The girl --Kaede warns the boy that her grandmother doesn't like lies so he should tread carefully. When he arrives the old youkai attacks him until he admits he's been seeing another girl behind Kaede's back. He promises that he'll break up with the other girl immediately. That seems to work until the youkai talks to Kaede and she explains that her grandmother is actually kind of impressed that he'd be able to tell another lie while already lying. It's like he doesn't know fear at all! That's actually impressed her to the point that she wants him and drags him away using, can see it, can't you? Kaede wishes for their happiness as the boy is dragged away to a futon protesting, and trust me it isn't at all romantic and cute like Cawaii was this week. 

And that's it for issue #16! Next week Komi takes the cover, Yuugami appears for his monthly showing, Shinobi no gets a color page, as does Megumi! Two issues without models on them in a row? it's more likely in my sunday than you'd think. Until issue #17 drops next week, take care!