Saturday, October 31, 2015

UQ Holder 99: Battle of Passion, Battle of Fury


I was a huge Mahou Sensei Negima fan, but the harem and fanservice aspects to the last series were always things that I tolerated about it. One thing I liked about about UQ Holder was that it was clearly moving away from those genres, despite a handful of obligatory bath scenes and stripping scattered throughout the first ninety chapters. Kirie's crush on Touta I thought was interesting because it was never in our face and Kuromaru's relation to him was always played for laughs so it rarely came to attention, however as of the last few chapters a more typical harem is clearly starting to form and I really, really don't want to see that happen. At least in Negima they were upfront with it in the first chapter, but you can't just dump in a harem 100 chapters in. I suppose Negima did something similar with the shounen battle genre, although at least in that case we had 2-3 arcs of build up leading to it so we barely noticed any sudden shift. I might take it better if the newly (re)introduced love interests were more 3D dimensional - unfortunately they seem like pretty typical harem characters at this point. I have hopes for Shinobu, but right now I don't care about Mizore at all.

I don't particularly want to see the Touta-Kuroumaru ship happen, though I don't mind the rethinking of their relationship becoming a core part of the latter's character development. But come on, in true clueless-harem fashion this was clearly how this confession was going to go down. Kuroumaru has become such a satellite character for Touta since his introduction, and the author seems intent on keeping the status-quo. At least he's come to terms with his feelings here; I just hope he doesn't spend another hundred chapters before deciding to deal with them. If he decides to pursue them, I also hope he doesn't feel obligated to become female just because he likes Touta despite considering himself male. There's nothing wrong with a gay relationship, and this is the future so it's not like reproduction would really be an issue as Touta's own existence proves.

Has Touta really surpassed Karin? Even if they're on around the same level now, I'm surprised given how far she seemed to be from him just an arc or two ago and that Dana made it clear Touta wasn't even close to finishing her training course. And, of course, he wins with the obligatory stripping move (though knowing her she's still gonna fight). This is going to be a regular thing with him, isn't it? Like grandfather like grandson, I guess.

Just what is this idea of Touta's? He's been reeking confidence ever since the last story arc finished (which I did enjoy), and I'm still not sure if I like it or not. I thought he matured, but he still seems like your run-of-the-mill idiot hero. I thought his total disinterest in fighting or getting stronger were his most unique traits, and in losing those he's possibly become even more cliche.

Really, I just want to get the Mahora Tournament under way (the author might be saving that for the big 100, though). The as-of-yet unutilized Ayaka might be swooping in as a sponsor to cover the entry fee, which would disappoint me a little as I wanted to see a return to the Prelim tournament even if it was just to make waves. Touta's really hogged the spotlight recently, so I hope other characters get their time in the spotlight soon.

My Hero Academia 65: Walls

As always, My Hero Academia gives us a fluid and beautiful fight sequence. After an arc where the students succeed in taking down a top-class villain, it's good to be assured that there's still a sizable gap between them and full-fledged heroes. Even wearing weights and being far from his prime, we're reminded that All Might is an absolute beast. The chapter title is greatly appropriate, proving the massive cliff those aiming for the title of #1 Hero will have to scale. The imagery we see of him towering over the two was suitably matching, and even Bakugou has to accept that he's outmatched.

I liked the callback to Recovery Girl's advice in the Sports Festival - even though it was meant for Midoriya, it's definitely advice equally suited to Bakugou as well. It obviously didn't stick, of course, and it seems like it's going to be a problem for him in a future arc.

If there was anything that disappointed me, it was that the fight didn't last longer. I was hoping to see at least another chapter, and maybe some more of Midoriya's ingenuity, but knowing Kouhei's breakneck pacing I was hardly surprised. There was also the fact that All Might very likely could have still stopped him, but was frozen from admiration for his heir. I think it would have been better if All Might did manage to cut him off at that point, and we had another chapter for Midoriya to wake Bakugou and work out a final stand. Maybe I just want to see more All Might action though.

I'd say that, for the awesome action spread throughout the chapter, the ending was a touch anti-climatic, but that last smash was still hella satisfying.

Fairy Tail 458: Morning Star

I have to admit, the ending of 457 had me really uneasy. I had some confidence that the author wasn't going to let one of the Spriggan 12 get defeated quite that easily, but this would hardly be the first time Erza would have won a fight in a completely underwhelming way. Surprisingly, this turned out to be a more satisfying fight than I expected.

It does seem a bit bit disappointing to see one of the 12 get defeated after a couple chapters of combat so early on in the arc when it wasn't that long ago the heroes were being terrified just by being in their presence. But I guess with 12 of them, Mashima would have to reduce their number at some point. I'm partially expecting a comment about Ajeel being 'Weak for one of the 12 anyways' or something to that effect to be dropped at some point later on. His squad was certainly useless.

I have other gripes too, unfortunately. Why is Erza only bringing out Neptune's Sword/Sword of Poseidon now? This has always been something that I've found a bit irritating - her fights often involve her being beaten mercilessly, until suddenly she brings out a new set of armor that completely turns the tides. Better than a friendship power up or 'because she's Erza', but still leaves me thinking 'Well, why the heck are you using it now!?' She would have taken a lot less damage if she'd used it at the start of the fight. That said, 'The power to harden sand' seems oddly specific, and the same logic applies. Why did you wait to use it against a sand user, when before you were being overwhelmed? Does any water work?

Ajeel's powers reminded me more of Crocodile than I would have liked in this chapter. Sand powers are cool and pretty general, but sucking up moisture seems like another step closer to the Sand Sand Fruit.  He has the same weakness too. The moisture-sucking ultimately didn't do any visible damage, though. Luffy got rapidly mummified, while Erza just choked a little. I sort of feel as if this scene would have been much less dramatic for me if I wasn't familiar with Crocodile's power, as Mashima didn't, in my opinion, do a good job of introducing this aspect of Ajeel's abilities.

The cannon being used was a cool touch, but as fast as Ajeel was shown being a couple pages pages before, I expected him to dodge it. A few chapters ago, he blocked the same attack with one hand too. Also, for some reason Erza was being choked/drained to death by him in the same moment at arm's length away, but was not blown away by the same attack despite the beam's huge radius and destructive power. Did I forget something about it not affected Fairy Tail members?

Well, whatever, I liked the fight. Fairy Tail often has its 'Hell Yes!' moments on first read through, as it did for me on my first reading of the chapter, but upon going back and thinking about it, you realize that the logic holding it together is rather weak.

I'm expecting a couple more of the Spriggan 12 to fall with about the same amount of effort. The ones that are left after this attack (if this is not the Alvarez arc's big climatic battle, which is what I suspect) will probably either be more dangerous and treated more similarly to the Hades fight, or else the heroes will fight them on more even terms. Maybe Acnologia and/or Gildarts will show up at different points later on and oneshot one too.

One Piece 805: The Mink Race

Is it just me, or does there seem to be a big difference between the male and female Minks we've seen so far? Male minks look to be much closer to their animal counterparts, while the females are clearly humans with some animal features (a tail, ears, nose/snout, probably having fur). We might still see more Minks that break that trend later, but that kind of sexual dimorphism that only seems to serve to make the females more attractive bugs me a little. I would have rathered they be separate species that are closely related, like the fishpeople/merpeople. Then again, I do recall the term 'Lesser Minks' be thrown out recently, so maybe that is in fact the case (although I thought it was used in reference to humans). A minor gripe overall, though.

Glad to finally have an explanation for just what Beppo is. I always assumed that he was like the starfish Pappug - an animal that learned to talk. Maybe Pappug is part Mink himself (although him being a fishmen would make more sense). 

Interested to see what this 'Electro' is. At first I assumed that it was some sort of tool that generated electricity like Sky Island's dials, but upon rereading the Bull Mink Rody didn't seem to have any items on his head that he could have use to electrify his headbutt. Is it possibly some new form of power altogether? Or maybe a Mink-specific ability.

A while ago, a friend of mine talked about how Oda still had a lot to reveal about Haki, and might possibly reveal more forms/colors of it. I didn't really think there was much to that, but now I'm having second thoughts. Electro could in fact be a new color of Haki that the residents of Zou specialize in. Plus, if you can electrify one's haki, why couldn't it apply to other elements like flame or ice? That could possibly shine a new light on Sanji's Hell Memories technique.

Obviously no one is buying that Sanji's group has kicked the bucket. No way Oda is going to kill main characters off screen, if he even kills anyone at all. I just hope the explanation for why they're apparently dead is better than what happened with the Yeti Cool Brothers back on Punk Hazard ('confirmed' dead, actually just knocked out). Maybe Wanda has befriended Nami and is hiding them from the rest of her race.

Has it been confirmed that Jack is with Kaido? Seems likely at this given that who Sanji fought seemed to be wearing Kaido's symbol, and that Jack himself intended to go after Doflamingo. There's not really much else he can be with all the Yonkou and Shichibukai seats accounted for (though I guess Law's is empty as of recently). Oda seems to really be building up the guy, but the mere fact that he's probably not a Shichibukai or Yonkou makes me not really care as much. 

Who knows if he'll actually play a role in this arc though. The current situation reminds me a lot of the Drum Kingdom arc, and Blackbeard is still a long ways from being fought. I want to know why Zou was attacked, and if Jack's men are still occupying the island. 

I'm really hoping that, if Jack is indeed with Kaido, this doesn't turn into the typical island-to-island serial escalation. I want to see a huge fluid arc with a story spanning across numerous islands rather than something like 'Fight Kaido's fourth in command on Island A, his third in command on Island B, second command on Island C, and finally go after Kaido himself on Island D'. That's too plain, but I have faith that Oda will really shake things up.

Introducing NSE

I'm not the best at introductions or talking about myself, but I'll give it a shot.

I've been a reader of weekly manga for more than five years now, and it has become an important part of my life. A long time ago I was embarrassed about this and kept it a secret amongst my friends,  but since entering college I've met fellow fans who I can't just talk with endlessly about series we love. I think I might be slightly the odd man out in that I much prefer to read manga over watching anime. When I do watch anime they tend to be original series rather than adaptations of manga; though that's not without exception. I can't really pinpoint my favorite series, although One Piece and Hunter x Hunter are both definitely up there. I mostly read Shounen series, though I tend to enjoy Seinen as well. People that know me in real life or have read fiction of mine have often seen me as a pessimistic or cynical person, but, the truth is, I tend to prefer series that edge towards the idealistic side of the sliding scale (yeah I'm a troper too). In general I like happy endings, but I want to see people really struggle to earn it.

I love writing too, and am an avid play-by-post roleplayer. More than anything I love storytelling and worldbuilding, with my goal being to eventually become a novelist although I'm still far from confident in my writing quality. For a long time now, I've been planning out various book series that I intend to write and try to get published. I've had numerous setting ideas over the years that I've gradually expanded on. It's worth noting that I've extensively planned out several of my own manga series as well, that I once intended to publish as web comics, although my absolute lack of drawing skill makes it unlikely that that this will ever happen. Lately I've been thinking about turning them into text, and have considered releasing one of them on this blog as an experiment.

Sometime within the last year I discovered the manga/anime reviewing community on Youtube, and found the concept of reviewing pretty interesting. My favorite reviewer is LuffytheDragonSlayer, although I'm not particularly a fan of live reactions unless the chapter/episode itself has some sort of bombshell.One gripe I have is the tenancy for some reviewers to simply restate the events of a chapter in their review without actually analyzing them. Another thing I dislike is when the reviewer simply gushes about a chapter's quality (or lackthereof) without actually giving any thought-provoking observations. I don't say that as if I know I can do better, this blog will mostly involve me writing down my thoughts, but that's what I prefer when watching/reading other reviews. I never thought about making a youtube profile to review these series myself , however, because I'm not very good at talking.

Recently I started keeping a journal about a certain subject, and was surprised at how interesting it was. Whenever writing fiction or roleplaying posts, I am constantly focusing to make sure that I'm properly conveying the story I want to tell, and it tends to take me a long time, but in this case I was just jotting down my thoughts about a subject that interests me. I found it fun, and started to think about other subjects I could expand into another journal. Manga reviewing came to mind, and I decided to start jotting down my thoughts on new chapters as they are released. From there, I decided to turn it into a blog.

I have quite a few ideas for what I want to do with this blog, so there will probably be quite a bit of experimenting. As I said, the main goal is to publish reviews of weekly manga, but I'm also considering doing whole volume reviews, series reviews, arc reviews, and also updates about various manga-related subjects that might come to mind.

The weekly series I intend to do as of this now are - One Piece, My Hero Academia, Fairy Tail, and UQ Holder. Possibly Toriko and Tower of God (although I realize its not a manga) as well. Volume Reviews I'm thinking of doing are Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, My Hero Academia, and UQ Holder (all starting with the first volume). I may do Attack on Titan and One Piece volume reviews, starting at the new volumes as well. A friend of mine recently asked me to review a certain anime series, Tatami Galaxy, so I'll try to do that as well.

One subject I've been thinking about is a series on in-universe power systems. Discussing different systems such as Hunter x Hunter's Nen or One Piece's Devil Fruits, for instance. as well as talking about WIP systems from my own series.

As I wrote above, I'm also considering turning a certain manga/webcomic series I had planned out into text and publishing it here as well. Mostly I'm just thinking of it as practice for other novels I would like to work on, but it is a story I'm excited about too. I may discuss it more later.

Anyways, that's about it. I hope this all sounded interesting. Please look forward to my reviews!