Random Manga Roulette #1

Posted in Misc with tags , , , , , on May 30, 2010 by masterchibi

While pining on figuring out what to write about next I was given the suggestion to pick a handful of manga at random that I had absolutely never heard about from a grand list, read them, and then rant and rave about them. I loved the idea so I decided to go with it. Out of a list of close to 3,500+ titles, I chose the following six manga to read. I call it the random manga roulette because hopefully out of these six there will be at least one series to warrant the effort of going through this entire exercise.  Hopefully. As a heads up; I will not be linking to any of these, nor let the source of the images be known either. All you good boys and girls out there in internet-land can find your way around just fine without me. These are also listed in no particular order, outside of the order I actually read them in. With that out of the way let’s spin the cylinder and see what we end up with, no?

Let’s Bible!

Author: Youn In-Wan
Artist: Yang Kyung-Il

What it’s about? China’s greatest ‘genius monk’ Haomei is minding his own buddha business meditating when he notices what looks like a shooting star in the sky. That’s what he tells himself anyway, until he realizes it’s not a shooting star at all but a flaming school bus (hold off on the Magical School Bus jokes please). It crashes near by, prompting him to check it out. Fast forward to him answering questions from the other monks at the temple that he resides in, where they ask questions regarding the ‘real truth’ and all that philosophical stuff. After dropping off his religious regards of the day to the ‘headmaster’ of the temple Haomei walks over to their storage shed / shack where we see a girl / woman / female in a white button down shirt (and nothing else) in a torn and battered state, her legs covered in bruises. As he begins to attend to her wounds we return back to the other monks of the temple and their current dilemma, a voluptuous  woman in lacy black attire is walking around with a peace pipe in one hand and a business card in the other. The monks tell her to get her (sexy) ass out of the temple. She replies to this by holding up said business card which reads ‘Moby Dick’. Moments later the temple is attacked by a giant tsunami with one lone fishing boat floating on top of it. Haomei realizes there’s trouble afoot so he runs out to find our luscious lady amist the wet remains. She introduces herself to him by presenting another business card, this one reading ‘Club HoneyComb’. Upon looking at the card himself Haomei is suddenly attacked by a bear. His life is spared only due to the quick thinking actions of the gal whose wounds he had be treating. Still confused, the lady in black addresses the entire situation at hand. The female adorend in just a shirt next to him is ‘Iesus Nazareth’, the child of god that saved mankind two thousand years ago. Her own name is Janjira, and she is the child’s child’s child’s child of Lucifer himself (and no, that was not a typo). Apparently after all the chaos that happened two millennium ago Lucifer’s crew thought they had everything under control until the apostles of Jesus himself had taken matters into their own  hands with Iesus. So now they’re back, god and Satan can’t interfere, and the kids are picking up their slack. Plus they’re angry, and stuff.

Should I read it? Yeah, go for it. Two hot chicks representing jesus and satan, a buddhist monk stuck in the middle, and the fate of the world at stake. Not bad.  Action’s nice, Janjira’s power is pretty cool, art is ok. Let’s Bible! is said to be in two parts, but as of this entry only the first part is available translated.

Lines worth noting:

Haomei: I was of the belief that only spirits and fairies would have survived such a strange and horrible accident.

Haomei: SIX CYCLES OF SAMSARA!

Ane Pani

Author/Artist: TAGUCHI Kenji

What’s it about? Our story opens up on the very first day of high school in some quaint, innocently random town. We find two youngsters making their way among the falling leaves to their first steps as high school students. One is enthusiastic about what the future may hold, and the other, well doesn’t give a damn. Meet Konoe and Jin, fraternal twins. Konoe is the brother with a pleasant demeanor and kind soul. Jin, his sister however, is the complete opposite; she’s a super strong ‘vigilante’ if you will whose violent (yet somehow heroic) antics have not only made a name for herself, but entangled her brother into it as well. Konoe hopes that with the start of a new school life that things will be given a fresh new start, and that somehow his sister’s nature as a playable character in a Streets of Rage game will change for the better. Unfortunately a few punks are already making trouble for them, leading Konoe to wonder if anything will change at all.

Should I read it? I suppose you could. It’s not entirely funny, and the characters aren’t exactly original, but there is a part of me that is slightly curious to see how bad ass Jin can be. I would likely enjoy seeing the flip side, in wondering how long Jin can keep up her appearances in school before the cat is really out of the bag. Don’t get your hopes though, Ane Pani is only one chapter, so take it as a quick snack and do what you will with it afterwards.

Lines worth noting:

Konoe: But I suck at being feminine!

Konoe: Thanks to that fake smile I have neuralgia!

The Prince’s Cactus

Author: Xu Ci
Artist: Misha

What’s it about? Mon Hin-Dan was the victim of traumatic childhood expierence that left her hating sunlight. Couple that with her body’s weak nature in handling sunlight and it looks like Dan-dan (what she’s usually referred to) doesn’t exactly enjoy half of her day on a daily basis. As if this wasn’t bad enough Dan-dan has made her way to Greece (!) to attend her sister in law’s wedding, in the summer. Being in the Mediterranean during that time results in some of the hottest, sunniest times you may ever find yourself in, which obviously doesn’t bode well for Dan-dan. Already annoyed at the universe being against her she looks around the port to find her escort to her sister’s wedding when she bumps into a tall, blonde young man in an expensive suit. She pardons herself and tries to walk past him, looking for shade from the sun beating down on her. Our lanky bystander isn’t just happy with a pardon and so he fires back at Dan-dan (verbally) that is. Turns out that he’s Prince Elian, his mother is actual royalty and his father is a descendant of Queen Victoria herself. So this guy’s been born with confidence (read: arrogance). Dan-dan doesn’t give a shit who he is however, and reprimands him for his behavior before ‘accidentally’ bumping him into the water and getting onto the boat to her sister’s party. With a smirk on her face she bids a coy farewell as he swims back to the pier. Later in the day Dan-dan finally meets up with her sister and her husband to be, where they have formal introductions. As she aims to head to bed her sister introduces her husband’s son, who (wait for it) just happens to be Prince Elian himself. The two have nothing but evil glares for one another, and this is where the story begins, as Dan-dan points that in this situation that with her sister marrying his father she would actually become his aunt, making her his aunt, and of higher authority then him in the household. Big trouble in little old Greece.

Should I read it? Yeah, I would definitely say it’s worth a read. I believe it’s only eight chapters, but they’re each around 30 pages in length. I like Dan-dan’s personality, the prince not so much. I’m not talking about him being arrogant or snobbish, just more like his character in general isn’t anything special. The plot is worthwhile too, but be forewarned of the amount of talking, there’s an abundant amount. Art is acceptable, though there are moments where Dan-dan looks pretty hot. One thing I’d like to point out is that I myself am Greek, and having been to Greece I question where the prince got those bald, black bodyguards. I guess that’s just a ‘manga thing’, most of the time the bodyguards tend to be bald and black, aren’t they? Haha. I was pleasantly surprised when Elian mentioned the fortune telling being done with the remains of one’s coffee. My grandmother had done that all the time, and it’s still something that’s carried out and respected to this day in Greece. Pretty cool. I don’t understand the title though, there aren’t really cacti in Greece. Oh well.

Lines worth noting:

Dan-dan: Greeks are so selfish and loud!

Elian: I say, you are really easily hated.

ChunRangYulJun

Author/Artist: Park Sung Woo

What’s it about? The kingdom of Goguyreo is in the middle of the war, one that’s been going on for decades. In need of talented warriors to aid and lead them Yuan Ohrang is sent out into the enemy’s territory in search of his oldest brother (note that brother in this case is more of a comrade and not of an actual blood / family relation). As he’s sent off on his mission Yuan’s master (pretty big name as a warrior and general) passes away, leaving the next in command as Yuan’s second oldest brother. Unfortunately for Yuan this guy doesn’t like him (in fact he’s always been jealous of Yuan’s martial art prowess) so without warning Yuan is suddenly labeled as a traitor and immediately hunted down. He barely escapes his homeland, but he’s done with it a price as he’s close to death. As he’s ready for death to take him away a beautiful maiden bestows her presences upon him, healing him as he drifts off into unconsciousness. The next time he opens his eyes he finds himself in the middle of a village of other refugees as they’re being attacked, prompting Yuan to help them out by kicking the ass of the opposition. And so begins the tale of Yuan punching horses and taking names.

Should I read it? Yeah. It’s typical shonen more or less, but it’s not half bad. I’ll admit that the way the action is portrayed can be a little confusing, but it’s definitely more than tolerable. I like how the plot develops, and again, the art could use some work, it’s rough and resembles Fujisaka Ryu’s work in Houshin Engi. The real fault this manga has is that it introduces too many characters far too quickly, leaving you overwhelmed. They aren’t fully fleshed out either so  you’re left wondering if they were just there to occupy a panel and be done with it. Once the real plot of the series is established though, things become much smoother. This series is still ongoing by the way, though it’s been several months since the last update.

Lines worth noting:

Yuan: WHITE TIGER AVALANCHE!

Enemy: DAMN HE BROKE THROUGH MY BAEK PA HWANG KYUNG!

Kenka Shoubai

Author/Artist: KITA Yasuaki

What’s it about? Satou Jubei has moved to a new home and is looking forward to a renewed life in his new high school. Things sound pretty normal until you find out that Satou is an expert at kicking ass and a gigantic pervert. I mean really perverted. Somehow those two traits coincide with one another, for him at least. On the way to school he roughs up some punks, all the while wondering what his introductory speech should sound like. Finally making his way to school, and then his homeroom he finds himself friends with his homeroom teacher (pictured above with his eloquent statement), cringing at his seat being in front of Victoria, trying to hide his hard on from the girl sitting diagonally from him, and battling the punks he encountered earlier in the day who know have a Yakuza in tow. Sounds like another normal day for Satou Jubei.

Should I read it? Maybe? This shit is weird. I would like to say it’s akin to Cromartie High School, but CHS is much weirder and not as locked down into ‘reality’. It’s more like a perverse and oddball Great Teach Onizuka if you will, just nowhere near as funny, and not really as ‘empowering’ so to speak. As of this entry there’s only three chapters available, so the question is whether or not there will be more fighting taking place to contrast against the perverse nature that runs pretty thick in Kenka, otherwise things will got old pretty quickly. The pages that start off the first chapter are something else though, not bad, but I can’t entirely say they’re ‘good either’. If anything it’s as if someone painted over some rough 3d models. This brings me to the art, which is, uh, a mixture of comical yet realistic. It works, though it suffers a bit when there’s action involved. I have to admit that Satou’s homeroom teacher is hilarious / awesome. Also, shit is Victoria ever ugly. Eww.

Lines worth noting:

Satou’s homeroom teacher: Believe me, I know high school girls best!

Satou’s homeroom teacher: TO DYE HER IN YOUR OWN COLORS, HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF DOING THAT?

Midnight Children

Author/Artist: Shinjo Mayu

What’s it about? A young, frail girl finds herself lying on the ground, cold, hungry, and wet from the pouring rain. Moments later two young, male twins find her, but question what to do with her, asking themselves the consequences of helping her out versus finishing the errand they were sent out for in the middle of this storm. We then find ourselves in the posh apartment of a group of tall pretty boys where one of them is awaiting the return of the twins. It seems that the twins had gone out to bring back some pastries. Cue the twins walking in with said pastries in hand, and the girl right behind him. Naturally they all freak out at the sign of a girl as they’re in a dorm for males only. They ask her to wait in the bathroom as they assess the situation. She does so but is then greeted by someone in the shower stepping out of it and asking for a towel. The other guys run in to alert of that, but they’re met with a loud shriek. Showerman gets some clothes on and they all sit down to figure out what’s going, but the girl suddenly faints, prompting them to take her to the hospital. There they find out she has amnesia due to some unknown mental trauma. So with nowhere to go and no clue on who she is and what to do, the story of the group of pretty boys and their discovery begins.

Should I read it? Nah. It’s not really bad, it’s just the run of the mill pretty boy harem with one girl schtick. There’s not much to take in here, I’m sure they’ll cycle through the lives off the guys and go deeper into her past but it’s hard to really care for any of them. The art is all over the place too, sometimes it’s really nice, and sometimes the proportions are horribly off. Once again the title makes no sense in relation to its content either.

Lines worth noting:

Sumire: I just can’t cry!

Yamato: I’m not a rich kid like you!

OVERVIEW

A few things worth noting:

  • One of these manga are clearly Korean. I like that. I think there’s a market for Korean manga here in the states that hasn’t been fully explored yet.
  • Let’s Bible! sounds like an activity you’d teach at Sunday School, not the name of a series staring a Buddhist monk.
  • I’ll admit that while it’s a guilty pleasure, I did like The Prince’s Cactus. Being Greek has nothing to do with it (of course).
  • The page with that horse punching in ChuRangYulJun is a winner, you have to check out the manga just for that page.
  • Kenka Shoubai is a little too weird for me. I’m positive I’d find myself wanting to take it more seriously then enjoying the oddball comedy angle.
  • Somehow Jin wearing pantyhose in Ane Pani doesn’t make sense to me.
  • Midnight Children is a club track I’ve heard in the past, I’m sure of it.

I really liked this excerise. If you liked this too I would love to do it again (hence this being #1, in hopes that there are more in the future). Let me know guys, and thanks for reading.

Top 11 Manga with Hot Womenz!~

Posted in Blubber with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2010 by masterchibi

If art can be ugly, then it can also be beautiful.

And if art can be beautiful, then it sure as hell can be hot.

Now of course I appreciate real women more then simple drawings, but to be quite frank, there are some absurdly hot chicks in manga. There’s a certain knack to honing the skill of drawing the female body, and I’m here to pay respect to that. The following is a list out of what I perceive as the top 11 manga with hot girls / women in them. Just remember, this is my opinion, and I’m sure that there are series out there I may have left out that you would have put in. You know, shit like Ikkitousen or Battle Club, but I had to limit the amount of ‘guilty pleasures’ this list had so I could keep my morality in check (or something like that). Remember, this isn’t just a list of ‘hotness’, there’s quality amongst the ‘hot’ the higher up you go in the list, so it’s not all just superficial. Perhaps in the future the list will be added onto. The title image is from Freezing by the way, which merely receives an honorary mention. Just cause. Be sure to click the images this time, they’ll lead back to the original.

11. Sekirei

Ah, this is one of those shows. You know the one I’m talking about. Horrendously pathetic guy whose luck has run out, no direction in life, can’t get into a college or got kicked out or whatever derivative excuse you can come up with to attempt to either feel sorry for him (or relate to him even, this is Japan we’re talking about) suddenly has a wondrous member of the opposite sex just fall into his lap. Literally. He’s just walking and sulking and bam, chick falls from the sky. Fantastic. Who is this chick? Who cares? Ok, maybe someone does. Said falling chick would be Musubi. She’s a “Sekirei”, and the guy she’s fallen on top of is her “Ashikabi”. I could go into much greater detail about what those two terms actually mean, but to be frank it’s basically putting ‘aliens’ in place of Pokemon. Aliens that are gifted with an hour glass figure and breasts that will leave them hunched over like Quasimodo eventually. Schmuck for brains (I don’t care for his name either) being an “Ashikabi” (see, if the title has the name Ash in it, so Pokemon, jerks) gives Musubi the power to battle other Sekirei. This means there are other Sekirei to fight, and that he himself can get more alien chicks into his freaking entourage or whatever harem deal they’ve got going.

Why is it number 11? The story is shit. It’s immediately forgettable, just there to thinly hold up the rhyme and the reason of having more and more hot alien chicks kicking each other’s ass with clothing falling off as quickly as your IQ will be falling the longer you read it. The action is sub par too. The outfits the “Sekirei” are stupider then they are hot, a few of them look like they were made out of the snowflake patterns you’d make in elementary school with construction paper (just not as colorful). I stopped it reading it after a certain point, but hell, the art’s not bad, and most of the girls have this thing with their hair that’s kinda cute. Maybe. Still sucks.

Whatever. Hot aliens.

10. Air Gear

Manga can make most anything we find normal and turn it upside down and shoot it down a rollercoaster. Take what Air Gear does with a simple thing like roller skates. Just put some wheels on the bottom of a shoe and you’ve got some roller skates. Straighten them out and you’ve got in-line skates. Nothing special. In the world of Air Gear however, they go a step further. Why not throw a freaking motor on those bad boys and turn those wheels into actual tires? Now you’ve got Air Treks. This is where we get our story. Ikki (otherwise known as Babyface) is shacking together with four sisters (go figure) leading the life of a typical high schooler. He’s the leader of a bunch of misfits who generally go around just beating the snot out of whoever they please. One night he stumbles onto the secret life of the sisters’ he’s been living with. They’re a legendary Air Trek gang / group / troupe / whatever known as Sleeping Forrest. They invite him to the world of Air Treks, where he samples what he believes is the closest you can truly get to flying, and from that point on he just doesn’t want to stop.

Sounds pretty cool, right? Well that’s how we get off the ground. Three hot chicks hanging out with Ikki, crazy awesome gravity defying stunts with Air Treks, a bit of pride with the likes of battles between gangs, and even throw in a mystery chick for good measure. Add in the fact that Oh! Great’s art is really fucking gorgeous and you get a pretty nice package. Until the story just takes a nosedive.

Why is it number 10? The story. It starts out simple enough. Ikki finds out about Air Treks and he starts wrecking shop once he figures them out. He starts to have alot of fun and adventure, and in turn the manga is just as fun and adventurous. Unfortunately this is Oh! Great we’re talking about, and humble beginnings lead to something else entirely later on. At a point that I can’t even recall now, the story shifts from the joy and pleasure of using Air Treks to this convoluted tale involving people trapped in a damn tower and an underground society full of specialy fancy pants who can take over the world and all this other shit that just ruins the story. The cast grows much larger and the original enjoyment you might have signed on for just disappears in the middle of all this mind fuckery and beautiful art.

I’d still hit that teacher though. Totally.

9. Tenjo Tenge

Tenjou Tenge (which I affectionately refer to as Tangy Tangy) is what happens when you decide to inject some actual philosophy and soul into the sometimes brainless ‘fighting’ subgenre of action in anime. It starts out typically enough; Nagi and Bob, two high school delinquents make their way to Toudou Academy. Their intentions are little more then to beat the stuffing out of anyone who decides to get in their way as to the aim to take over the whole school. They seem to be doing a good job until they realize Toudou Academy isn’t like the rest of the schools they had dominated in the past. Toudou was actually founded to help teach and integrate different styles of fighting. Soon the two find themselves joining a club opposing the school’s Executive Council, more or less a group of students who in charge of the school.

Now when the story started out here it was fine. The fighting was great, very visceral and very brutal at times. The humor was also a welcome addition to everything, there’s some really hilarious moments. And of course, the gals are freaking hot. Sure, they’ve got these impossible big breasted figures with legs that just never end, but it never becomes too overbearing as the series is actually mature enough to work with (sex is part of the story too). I have a personal fondness for Emi, the gal in the header image. The problem here is the same thing that happened with Air Gear. Oh! Great injects these bouts of philosophy at certain points that will either drive you mad or have you happy to appreciate the characters not being lifeless cardboard cutouts. He piles it on real thick, leaving the character in question to wallow in Oh! Great’s fantastic artistic landscapes, but leaving you wondering when the hell they’re going to kick some ass.

Why is it number 9? Unlike Air Gear the story is much more tolerable, but that isn’t saying much. The fanservice is much more readily offered though. The flashbacks are thrown in just as heavily as the pandering to character’s questioning their reasoning to fight and the inner workings of the story. The story in particular goes far, far beyond the simple high school deal they throw at you in the beginning, so it’s really up to you if you can attempt to keep up with all the symbolism and philosophy to stick around with the gorgeous art and hot gals.

Even if Maya’s got that cockroach thing going with her ahoge.

8. History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi

Talk about a mouthful. I’m talking about the title of course. Ahem. History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi (which I’m going to call HSDK from this point just to keep the likes of carpal tunnel away for a few more seconds) is the story of how Kenichi is leading the standard life of a high school freshman when he bumps into Miu, a classmate of his. The two become friends, share a lunch together, that type of thing. On the way home from school Kenichi finds Miu surrounded by a group of gangsters. The thugs are talking shit left and right but Miu isn’t having any of it. Kenichi on the other hand is cowering around the next corner. He’s about to run away when he realizes that he would like to protect Miu, even if it ends up being the stupidest or most dangerous thing he’s ever done in his life. He dashes out from the corner, runs at the gangsters with the intention to save Miu only to trip and roll forward, bumping right into one of the thugs and giving him a little bruise right on the nose. This angers him, leading Kenichi to think this guy’s face of fury is the last thing he’ll see before he dies, but out of nowhere Miu jumps atop the head of one of the thugs, breaks the fingers of another, and kicks the thanksgiving leftovers out of the one infront of Kenichi. Moments later the gang is unconscious on the floor, leaving Kenichi shocked (but in awe) and Miu in appreciation of Kenichi coming back to save her. Kenichi soon finds out that Miu is clearly no ordinary gal, and eagerly learns some basic martial arts from her. One dumb bully fight later Kenichi is in the middle of a buzz that has all the big name fighters of the school coming after him in curiousity of his skills. This leads Kenichi to further his martial arts by moving in with Miu, who lives with six individuals who are masters at their own respective art. The fights get bigger, crazier, more unbelievable, but through it all Kenichi sticks to his guns about gaining more strength to protect those he cares about.

Well isn’t he just special? Someone give him a gold star to put on the refrigerator. Kenichi’s as pure hearted as they come, but the thing about him and HSDK is well, that he sucks. He isn’t born with some innate talent or freakish trait that is a borderline superhuman power, the kid just keeps trying harder and harder and the fruits of his labor often pay off. Even at this point in the story he will still run the hell away from those training him out in fear of what nightmarish regime they have cooked up for him next. Anyways, the ladies in this are everywhere. The good girls. The bad girls. The bad girls who become good girls. All of them. Shigure (the master of weaponary and of one of the residents at Kenichi’s dojo) in particular is my favorite. Her face is always shown with a cold stare but her actions say otherwise, and she’s the sexiest weapon master I’ve seen, I’ll say that much.

Why is it number 8? HSDK is fun, alot of fun. That’s how it’s meant to be taken in. Sure the fights get bat shit crazy sometimes, and the things some of the characters are doing push your sense of disbelief realllllllllllllly thin, but it knows that and works with it. The whole ‘I was your enemy but now I’m fighting with you deal’ is ok too, but he practically recruits the entire legion of people he was fighting with in the first big arc the story has. Lastly, as much I love Shigure (she’s too damn hot and funny) the girls in this manga all look the same as one another. They’ve all got these huge breasts, wide hips, and just enough roundness on that rump, but that’s the problem. If you’ve got a whole cornicopia of food but all the food is the same, you tend to tire of it. Sure, that’s being superficial, but hey characters like Kisara show there’s more to females in HSDK the being molded out of Miu.

I always wondered how Shigure’s eyebrows got that way though.

7. Maken-Ki

It’s almost porn! Ok not really. This is going to be a short one. Takeru is a typical perverted teenager. He’s attending his first day of high school when he bumps into two women. One is an old childhood friend of his he hasn’t seen in three years. The other is simply out to kill him. As the day wears on he finds out that the school itself is populated with people who can use a type of magical power with an item or weapon called a Maken. Takeru finds that there is no suitable Maken for him, leaving him up in arms about what to do as ‘duels’ take place regularly that use Maken to showcase their power and ability, and he just doesn’t have one. So now he’s got to deal with a childhood friend who says she’s his fiancee, another chick who just wants him dead, and literally being powerless. Great.

Woopy. X-Men with high school chicks and items and stuff. That’s about the jist of it. I wish I could tell you there’s more to get out of this, but outside of the art, it’s nothing special. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is drawn by Takeda Hiromitsu, who basically draws some of the hottest damn hentai out there. I just love his art style, even if a handful of chicks are sporting breasts that look like gigantic water balloons.  He does manage to actually create variety with his ladies, which I would wager is a given for someone in his field.

Why is it number 7? It’s Takeda freaking Hiromitsu. The story is passable, but it’s just the art. It’s not necessarily ‘pretty’ in the vein of Oh! Great’s work, it’s just hot. Seriously. They could be talking about the economic status of Russia for all I care, it would still be on this list.

Oh and the nurse. She’s going to need a forklift later in life.

6. Change 123

Hooray for schizophrenia! Our story opens up to Kosukegawa, a short, meek teen sitting in front of a vending machine for toys, constantly putting in more money and turning the knob in hopes of getting the figure he’s looking for. After several failed attempts he decides to give up and starts walking away when he finds Motoko (a classmate) in trouble in a nearby alley (it’s a staple, deal with it). Realizing he’s outmatched he decides to run away until the image of Kamen Rider (his personal hero) tells him to get his back there to help the classmate. Ready to call 911, he runs back, only to find the classmate literally booting the assailant onto a nearby car, knocking him unconscious. Surprised at her strength he begins to lavish her with praise, but this prompts her to plead with him to not let anyone know of what happened. He replies that he has no problem keeping it secret, and the two form a friendship from this chance encounter. Things seem normal until a beach date where Kosukegawa finds that Motoko is hiding a much wilder secret, her schizophrenia. Apparently as a child her mother had passed away, leaving her in the care of three adoptive fathers. These guys weren’t your normal bunch however, all three were masters in their own rights. At an early age Motoko is subjected to the strict, rigorous training of the masters, to the point where she gains schizophrenia from it. It isn’t simply a change of personality either, her actions and physical appearance change with it, each with their own names; Hibiki is a tomboy skillful in karate, Fujiko has a calm demeanor and the skill to wield any weapon expertly, and Mikiri is the playful soul with their uncanny knack for submission holds and the like. Collectively they’re known as Hifumi. Kosukegawa finds himself falling for Motoko (and each of her personalties respectively) but wishes to help her find a way to eventually subdue them, all the while accompanying her to any challengers that may face her along the way.

Sounds like alot, but it’s not. The fact that the main chick has three split personalties can actual alter her personal appearance is sort of hard to accept too, but you either roll with it or you don’t. If you do, you’ll find that Change 123 is one hell of a ride. The three personalities are distinct yet fun, and develop pretty well. The cast grows larger too, the action / fights are always great, and the art just works perfectly to portray it all. On top of which, each of personalities have attractive traits to them, so you’re bound to like one of them, and there’s more then enough fanservice to keep you grinning regardless of who you happen to like.

Why is it number 6? That’s hard to explain. I love all the personalities, I love the fights, I love the fanservice, but I don’t like Kosukegawa. I don’t hate him, but amongst all the crazy stuff going on this little kid whose full of bravery inspired by Kamen Rider just never clicked with me. The notion that FOUR separate personalities stemming from one person also happen to fall for him is something I can’t entirely wrap my head around either, but everything else pretty much makes up for it.

Not as much as seeing Fujiko in an apron though. Just an apron.

5.Good Ending

Behold one of only the two series in this list that are by our human standards is normal! No special power ups, no fighting, just some good old lovey dovey. It starts with Utsumi, a normal teenage guy who has a thing for Shou, one of the girls in his school’s tennis club. Being a typical guy and all, he likes to hide in the bushes or other hidden locations in hopes of catching a glimpse of her as she’s playing (I would have chosen a nearby tree, adds that ninja flair). So as he’s watching her one day he gets caught by another member of the tennis club, Yuki. She quickly comes to the conclusion that he has feelings for the girl he’s been watching, so she decides to help him out in getting his feeling across and all that good stuff.

That’s as much as I’m going to tell you. There’s much, much more to Good Ending then that little snippet, but that’s precisely why I’m not going to ruin it. Let’s just say that Good Ending actually manages to not be the standard romantic shit that tends to infest the genre in manga / anime. You know the type, where the guy is horrendously oblivious to everything, is a complete loser, but still has like fifty chicks gunning for him. No, GE actually develops quite nicely, its pace is natural, and the gals are actually the most realistic I’ve seen in a manga in a while. They’re sitting on the dead center of dumb anime proportions and humanly possible, which just makes them even hotter.

Why is it number 5? The story is good, the art is good, the ladies are hot, all the pieces work well with another. So why does it sit at the fifth spot? I can’t come out and say it, but while the story is good, the series falls prey to doing something that many, many other series in this genre do. I would love to come out and say it, but ultimately when it occurred my eyes rolled so far back into my head I could see down into my stomach. It’s a personal grievance of mine but it’s enough to keep it from going higher up on the list.

I do wonder if that chick with the ‘TAKEMENOW’ face just had it stuck unable to revert that way one day.

4. Highschool of the Dead

That’s one hell of a name for a series, wouldn’t you agree? It’s quite fitting though. A lethal disease spreads itself worldwide, killing most of its population. Those infected quickly die of the disease, only to find themselves mindlessly walking around as the undead afterwards. The undead then run off to find others to munch, which in turn spreads the disease further. In the middle of all this apocoplytipc behavior a group of high school students band together with their school nurse in hopes of surviving it all while trying to figure out why it happened in the first place.

Man High School of the Dead is so much fun. It’s just too good. Is my saying that not being professional? Who cares? This series starts just roaring straight out of the gates, hitting the road with all it’s got. All the characters are awesome, the action is brutal and violent, and the gals in HoTD are just dumb hot. That’s to be expected when you’ve got fucking Inuzama behind the art. While Maken-Ki coasted to #7 on art, Highschool of the Dead ranks much higher because it’s simple, it knows that, and it’s wildly entertaining because of it. Zombies are fucking up everything up, we’ve got to figure out why and kick their ass while we do. Also all the chicks involved have crazy big breasts and are hot enough to melt ice just by looking at it (seductively of course). I don’t think I’ve ever been wild for a character like I am for Busujima. A samurai chick with an evil side that wears thigh highs, garters, and shin pads over them. It sounds ugly but it’s extremely sexy.

Why is it number 4? Being #4 on this list just means the three above it just have a special knack all their own that put them above the rest. While you could call HotD pandering to simplicity by just throwing hot chicks into a zombie landscape that doesn’t keep it from being entertaining, far far from it. Hell, it’s #4 because it doesn’t come out regularly enough. I’m lucky now that the manga has been kicked back into a normal rotation, and there’s an anime coming out.

Animated Busujima? Thanks Jesus (wherever you are bro)!

3. Unbalance x Unbalance

Riding down that home stretch with that second title with its feet planted firmly in normalcy! Unbalance x Unbalance (aka UxU, deal with it!) happens to be the only entry on this list that doesn’t hail from the glorious land of Nippon, and I suppose that’s why it stands out.  One fine day in the UxU universe a teenager named Jin-Ho happens to find a wallet belonging to somebody else. Luckily he finds the owner of the wallet and returns it to a Miss Hae-Young Na, who was relieved until she checks how much money is in the wallet. Apparently Jin took it upon himself to grant his own wallet a reward by taking out a bit from hers (you know, just for finding and returning it of course).  Hae doesn’t take this lightly and consider it a loan, of which she expects him to pay back. They then part ways, until the next morning of course, where he finds out that Hae is his now his homeroom teacher. And so begins the many trials and tribualtions for Jin-Ho and Miss Hae-Young Na.

Honestly this series is a breath of fresh air. An extremely sexy breath of a fresh air (it doesn’t have to make sense damn it) mind you, but in the midst of the romantic genre it is most welcome. UxU follows the countless situations that come about from Jin-Ho being a stubborn teenager and Hae-Young opening up her heart to him ever so slowly. Jin-Ho has a past that he keeps to himself, and yet it still continues to affect his present day actions, while Hae-Young finds it hard to even fall for her student at first, but realizes that age doesn’t play as much of a role in this development for her. That being said, oh my god the females in this series are mouth wateringly hot. I don’t know if it’s a Korean touch but you just do not get figures like the ones the gals in UxU rock in regular manga. In one word it would be voluptuous. In two words it would be magically delicious. Seriously I have to get corny just to describe it. Hell even Jin-Ho makes that voluptuous proclamation after noticing it himself. That’s just the ideal figure I’d love to smother myself in~.

Why is it number 3? UxU does not hold back. Jin doesn’t get all shy and retarded when he sees the female body. Quite the opposite. If he likes you, you’re going to know it, and that’s the driving point of UxU. You’re not stuck banging your head into the nearest wall pleading that he’s going to grow balls and let Hae-Young know how he feels. He’s got a pair right from the damn start, leaving actual normal development to come from everything else. It keeps the story fresh, even when you realize that the ‘teacher – student’ relationship is a plot device used to justify the situations they happen to get into over and over. You just want to stick around because you find yourself actually caring for the characters and the predicaments instead of wondering how you’ll set a pool up to bet on who is going to end up with who at the end.

Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good~

2. Black Lagoon

First off, if you so much as tried to imagine using a one liner on any of the femme fatales in Black Lagoon you can consider your balls breakfast for the local alley cats. With that out of the way, let’s get to the premise! A humble salaryman known as ‘Rock’ is kidnapped by the Lagoon company, a band of pirates / mercenaries for hire. The crew consists of three people, a tatooed hottie named Revy who is viscous with her two custom 9mm in either hands, a tall muscular black man named Dutch who is in charge of crew, and Benny, the technical expert of the group. While contemplating the conditions of ransom Rock soon finds that the company he had been kidnapped from doesn’t give a flying shit that he was kidnapped, and the notion of paying money for him to be let go isn’t even considered. He’s pretty much left for dead. At this point Rock realizes how meaningless his life had been working for him so he opts to join the very group of people who had kidnapped him in the first place.  Somehow they take him in, having Rock tag along to every hit, smuggling, and other deal they can get their hands on.

This series is brutal. HotD may have been gruesome, but they were dealing with zombies. Black Lagoon is just down gritty, dirty, and violent. Absolutely everyone in this show is fucking scary. I’ve never seen colder, more brutally killer stares in any other series before. Even if they all look like they feel a stereotype (the maid, the girl in a china dress, the gothic lolita) it’s by looks only, which makes this shown insanely entertaining. The series plays a huge amount of homage to other films and the like, both in the manga and anime. Amongst all the graphic violence and tiny portions of dark humor (thanks Revy) there are actual underlying themes to be found. There’s the simple concept of right and wrong that we get from Rock and Revy’s moral choices bouncing off of one another, the notion of free will, the uniquely Japanese form of social obligation known is Giri and Ninjo, and even modern day Nazism. So Black Lagoon happens to have brains behind all the bullets and breasts. How nice.

Why is it number 2? I hate to sound chauvinistic, but this is a pretty manly show, even with all the hot women in it. Please note that I said women this time, and not gals or ladies. That’s a great thing to note. Some of you may not appreciate that, but I love it. There’s really no fan service to be found either, but you soon realize that would definitely detract from the overall Black Lagoon experience. If anything I’d have to say that the fact that they’re all liable to turn me into kibbles and bits due to them all being criminals knocks dow the hot quota just a notch.

There is almost nothing hotter then Revy in a skirt though.

1. Gunsmith Cats

(Before I start, I have to say it was impossible to find official art that didn’t suck, so I went with fanart.)

Yeah, that’s right. Gunsmith Cats. A series from that olden time when anime was still be lent around by borrowing your friend’s VHS copy that they bought at Suncoast and manga barely occupied a shelf or two at your local bookstore and were printed left to right. The story revolves the life of Rally Vincent, a 19 year old cutie running a gunshop in Chicago. Yes, Chicago. Rally operates the store with her adorable 17 year old friend May Hopkins. Business is decent at the shop, but unbeknown to their customer Rally and May are bounty hunters when they’re not running the store. Rally says its a hobby but it’s pretty much her main source of income. The series follows them from one job to the next, where the bump into all sorts of folk, good and bad, pretty and ugly.

Man, I love this series. Of course this is old man blubbering syndrome going on but this was one of the first things I read when I got into manga / anime and it just stuck. I fell in love with everything about it. Rally’s incredible skill and knowledge with any firearm she could get her hands on, her expertise as a drive, May’s knack for the explosives, all of it. This series just nailed everything. Characters, story, backstory, character development, execution, action, art style, everything. And while everything in this list has been lusty hot label, Gunsmith Cats is a classy sexy hot. The type that’s just light years out of your league that you can’t help but admire anyway.

Why is it number 1? There’s just nothing hotter then seeing how Kenichi Sonada has the two of them kick ass and take names. Period.

Well, that’s it. I hope you guys enjoyed the read. I’m sure you’ll agree or disagree or what have you, but that’s what the comment section’s for! Thanks for reading.

Kobayashi Jin can kiss my ass.

Posted in Arrggh with tags on May 12, 2010 by masterchibi

Why me?

I have a weird relationship with this series.  At first I had jumped into it a little over four years ago because I’m a sucker for romance in most any genre really.  If there’s a hint that there’s a possible relationship to be had, I usually try and stick around to see what develops.

At the start School Rumble fell into this category pretty easily.  With a little bit of humor, a little bit of charm, and plenty of love, the show gets off to a good start. It establishes a love triangle and gives us a good taste off all the unique, eccentric characters we could look foward to enjoying in the future. The series really had its own way of going about the same old mundane stuff we’ve seen before in this genre (romantic comedy if you will), and it was genuinely funny at the same time. For all it was worth, the show had this great amount of potential.

Then Kobayashi went and fucked it all up proper. I don’t know why he decided to do things the way he did, or to ‘end’ (I use that term very loosely) the way he did, but having followed the series in an any form for four years, I’m pretty much here as a giant warning beacon to anyone else who may be getting into it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t check it out, but if I let you know of things beforehand you’ll hopefully not be anywhere near as disappointed as I (and many, many, many other fans) was.

So without further delay,this is why Kobayashi Jin can kiss my ass.

-= The Plot =-

School Rumble [at its core] is a light hearted comedic romance. It makes fun of the genre while being genuinely funny. The main premise (I use that term loosely) is that girl loves boy A, boy B loves girl, but boy A does not know that girl loves him and girl does not know that boy B loves her. On its own that is enough to concoct plenty of material to work, but School Rumble unfortunately falls in line to the same old tracks we’ve been lead on before in other romantic shows, but here it contrasts badly due to the shows comical nature. Let’s look into the real cast of characters that make up the meat and potatoes of School Rumble to see what I’m talking about and why I feel things just went astray.

Ok, the show originally starts how I first described it, with three characters. One girl, two guys, all three more or less oblivious to the others’ true intentions. Tenma (the girl ready to shoot her brains out in the picture above) is said girl. She’s absurdly pure hearted, caring, goofy, friendly, but utterly mentally retarded; by nature or design, who knows. Karasuma is the object of her affection, weird as hell, head over heels in love with curry (and not much else), surprisingly athetlic. Lastly, we have Harima, a delinquent who turns over a new leaf after coming across Tenma in his past, falling in love with her and doing his ‘best’ to just be in the same sentence with her.

So where do we start? Well Tenma loves Karasuma (boy A). Harima (boy B) loves Tenma. Karasuma loves curry (oh boy). Karasuma is set to leave to America at the start of the story, but decides to stay after receiving a love scroll (yes, you read that right, a scroll, not a letter) proclaiming an infatuation for him. This is from Tenma, but because Tenma is a moron, she forgets to sign her name, so she loves him, he knows someone loves him, but doesn’t have a clue that it’s her. That leaves Harima. Our goatee adorned ‘rebel’ has a bit of a small history with Tenma, one that lead him to falling in love with her and attending school on account of it (more so as a way to be with her and less a means of turning over a new leaf).

The three of these characters, on their own are more then enough to sustain the show with material to work with. Tenma is charming but aloof, and yet her feelings for Karasuma are 100% pure. Her execution in getting closer to him and expressing these feelings are what I love about her. Harima could be considered the male counterpart to Tenma, but he comes off more as naive yet earnest. Where Tenma continues to stay the same for the majority of the series, Harima is the one that manages to develop the most (as a character). Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Harima slowly gains more focus then Tenma and Karasuma. The problem  here is where the story happens to go with him.

Harima becomes the central cog that turns all the gears in the School Rumble universe. In one way or another he is the proverbial Kevin Bacon, where most characters (that matter) are connected to him somehow, and things either evolve from  him or due to him and so on. This is where the show begins to branch off and things just become a mess and starts falling apart. The show jumps back and forth between being a comedy and being a romantic drama, but never manages to sit square in the middle where the show originally began, and where it clearly excels. Call it bad writing or perhaps a new direction, but whatever it was, it wasn’t good. Let’s get a time line going to really understand this.

-= Passing Tense =-

Harima lucked out. Originally a much, much, MUCH more generic character was going to take his role as a main character in the series, but the planets were in aligignment and the gods saw it fit to see him in that role instead. As the ‘male lead’ of the show, Harima is unlike those that came before him to fill in that same archetype. Anyways, ‘his past’ of  consists of a happening in the past between himself and Tenma. At one point in his life Harima is a rebel or a delinquet or what have you. While just doing his ‘thing’ on the streets (ie beating the crap out of peole), he happens to come across Tenma who is being held at knifepoint by a random (well dressed) thug. Harima gets into a scuffle with him, while Tenma manages to pass out after Harima eventually wins. He takes her back to his apartment, where he sits next to her waiting for her to get up. Tenma begins to mutter a bit, which prompts Harima to get closer. She mutters louder this time, saying “I love you,” and then wraps her arms around Harima while attempting to kiss him. He tries to pry away from her, putting his hands on her mouth, which causes her to stop breathing momentarily, awakening her, with him still ontop of her. He immediately tries to explain the situation, but she gets up and starts to dash for the door. He puts a hand on her shoulder to stop her (and tell her what really happened) but she summons miraclous strength and flips him over her shoulder to the floor. Stunned, he lays on the floor looking up to her as she leaves, where she stops to thank him for saving her, but states that being a pervert is too much. It’s from this point that he falls in love with her, driving his infatuation, and resulting in his change of life. Now he’s attending the same school as her, and everything more or less goes from there. This barely spans more then a chapter, or even half an episode in the anime, but it’s all we’ve got on the guy and why he’s apparently in love with Tenma. This leads us up to the present, where we get a little sampling of what the show has before things go awry.

-= Harima’s presents =-

Ok so now we know that Harima’s going to school to follow Tenma around and express his feelings to her (eventually, somehow). Upon starting his infatuated escapade he finds he has a rival to contend with, the curry obsessed Karasuma. The only catch is that curry boy has no idea that Tenma loves him and that Harima loves the same girl. This is where the show gets pretty funny. Tenma is busting her ass to get her feelings across to Karasuma, but he’s oblivious. I’m not talking about the type of oblivious that many male leads is anime portray, you know the one where it’s so absurdly obvious that someone’s trying to tell you but they’re as thick as the La Brea tar pits and it’s used to simply delay the story further and less as a real character trait. Even when he knows someone likes him (remember the scroll from the start of the series?) he’s too freaking odd ball to go anywhere with it. He walks home in the rain in attire resembling creatures of old japanese folklore, his love for curry is unyielding, and his face shows so little emotion you have to question if he’s putting botox into his breakfast cereal instead of milk.

Can you imagine being in Harima’s shoes at this point? What do you do? You want her to be happy,  but you can’t see it working with someone like Karasuma. Hell, even if you were to go as far as to address him about what’s going on, would it actually go anywhere? Again, this is why I enjoyed the show in the beginning. The way the three of them played off of one another was all I needed. Would she ever get Karasuma to realize her feelings? Would Karasuma ever actually snap out of it? Would Harima even get anywhere at all? Simple questions, but answered with hilarious execution. The interplay between the three of them never feels forced or contrived. It’s to the point where I can’t even find a proper adjective to describe the three of them. Tenma is simply Tenma, Harima is simply Harima, and Karasuma is Karasuma. Unfortunately this does not last very long, things change pretty rapidly and never return to the charming escapades of these three. No, suddenly Harima’s tree begins to branch off, and that’s where things ultimately lead off into the jumble that occupies the rest of the series. The three do continue to play off of one another, but it gets convoluted the longer it goes on.

-= The Few Chores =-

On the left we have Yakumo, a shy, passive girl. The quiet yet cute archetype. She has the ability to read people’s minds. She also happens to be Tenma’s younger sister.

On the right we have Eri, a rich girl with blond hair tied into two long pig tails. A classy yet cold demeanor. The tsundere princess archetype.

These two girls are both the blessings and curse to fall upon Harima and School Rumble as a whole. Up to a certain point Yakumo and Eri are supporting characters. Yakumo is there to help support her stupid sister at home (by being a housewife). Eri is there to support Tenma as a good friend and classmate. Sure, they get their own little chapters for development here and there, like when Eri is trying to cook for her father or Yakumo finds their cat Iori for the first time, but things elevate far, far past that. Now I don’t know if it was naturally part of Jin’s plan to include these two from the start, but it sure doesn’t seem like it. What happens first is that during a funny chapter where Harima pretends he’s a fortune teller he feels down on his luck and suddenly feels that Tenma is there to comfort him in his time of need. He takes this as an opportunity to tell her how he really feels, and out comes to words “I love you” in a confident proclamation right in her face. Hell, he’s even on one knee and holding her hand. Perfect opportunity and perfect execution, right? Almost. As he looks up he finds that he blurted out the whole thing to Eri. She’s taken aback by this, realizing she’s never really be confessed to in such a manner, so she takes a moment or two to gather herself. Right when it looks like she wants to talk about it some more an older beauty (twenty something) comes up from behind Harima and wraps her around him, coyly greeting him with her pet nickname for him, Hario. This is where Eri snaps and seconds later Harima eats a flying knee to the fact that would have even had Sagat cringe in pain. She then walks away in disgust, leaving him with the older beauty, but with a bruised face and confused ego. I hate to say this but this sets the groundwork for most of the development between the two from this point onward. I’ll get more into it later.

Now the girl was actually a good Samaritan who took Harima in when things didn’t ‘work out’ for him as he tried to become a manga-ka. Sure, she tried to comfort him in a more loving matter, but things did stay rather platonic. So that’s the princess, but what about the shy girl? In Harima’s (mid life crisis-esque) quest to become a manga-ka he comes to Yakumo for advice on the manga he’s working on, and eventually to ask for her help in inking and the like. It’s only after Harima’s fateful encounter with Eri does he suddenly become romantically linked to Yakumo, but not by his own doing (Eri herself is actually the one who happens to set everything off, again, due to a misunderstanding, and a tiny bit of jealousy). She continues to help him in his inking endeavor as the series continues.

So the original cast of three becomes five. Girl A loves Boy A. Boy B loves Girl A. Girl B likes Boy B. Girl C likes Boy B. One plus one plus one equals harem. We’ve got the typical stereotypes to push, we’ve got one guy and two girls, neither of which he likes romantically. So what happens now? Boy B must deal with Girl B and Girl C, leaving Girl A and Boy A to themselves to actually get somewhere. Well that’s just fantastic. Not only has the original love triangle been broken up, but we’ve got a harem to boot? Doesn’t sound look like a good deal. It’s not. Remember how Harima’s first real encounter with Eri is a misunderstanding? Well that’s actual basis for the ‘development’ of this harem and two loose ends from this point on. Take every inane misundesrtanding, throw Tenma, Yakumo, and Eri into it, and put Harima in the middle and just spin the wheel. Oh, Harima did something completely normal with Eri but Tenma misunderstand and now she thinks he’s a jerk. Yakumo is helping Harima but Eri thinks it goes beyond that, the list goes on and on. The irony is that Harima will continously get screwed over during all this while the ladies intertwined amidst this all will actually develop. Eri in particular develops leaps and bounds more then anyone else had imagined. Yakumo continues to fall for Harima, but is caught up in the misunderstandings regardless of that. Her feelings nurture amidst all the stupidity, so there’s no real catch to it (unlike Eri’s chance encounter).

Speaking of which, apparently Eri’s inclusion to be part of it all set the fan’s hearts a flutter, and she gained massive popularity that put her above everyone else in the series. Where she started off as a side character and a completely typical tsundere, by the end of the series she’s gotten to know herself better and bettered herself too. Almost all of the real drama in the series pinned Eri opposite Harima, with requisite (by Jin’s standards) misunderstanding from someone else. Harima still continues to chase Tenma, but that literally becomes a side plot to Eri and Harima. Heck, you really begin to fall for her, but because Jin repeats this ‘development process’ over and over it becomes incredibly annoying. The misunderstandings begin to pile up and you just tire of it. The real problem is that even when the characters are developing, the realtionships are not. They go absolutely nowhere. In fact Tenma and Karasuma are the only ones that actually get anywhere, at least within the realm of School Rumble. We go through over 300 chapters of this and in the end we get thrown to the side to watch this cop out of a conclusion.

-= Con’s closure =-

Ok, fine. You love Eri. Or you love Tenma. Maybe Yakumo, whoever. Take out your pennant, wave it about, and start cheering for your girl to ‘win’, the way most shows tend to treat this genre. It becomes a sporting event. You sit on the sidelines, roll your eyes while you wait, and suddenly your chica is up to plate. You’ve got your fingers crossed, you were with her all season, your voice is at its loudest as your cheer. The pitcher throws his first. Strike one. “YOU CAN DO IT” you yell. The pitcher throws again. Strike two. “DON’T GIVE UP!” you shout, along with the multitude of other fans who are there with you. Her grip on the bat tightens, the fire in her eyes intensifies, it’s all or nothing. This is it. The stadium is on the edge of their seats.

Bam. A giant fucking earthquake comes out of nowhere, destroys the entire field, a tornado forms, sucks everyone up and throws them this way and that, and Godzilla comes in to take a heaping laser filled shit on the smoldering remains for good measure. A god damn heaping laser shit. Welcome to the end of School Rumble.

Around chapter 250 or so School Rumble starts getting pretty serious. Things start to fall in place, and as a fan the thought that ‘something might actually be happening to this clusterfuck of a gang bang romance’ starts to dance around in your head. For all you don’t know, that idea sounds pretty damn plausible. Why wouldn’t it? Everyone starts questioning how they really feel about their respective situations, some get stuck into their own situations, and it all basically forces them to come to grips with themselves. To put it bluntly, the end is near. The comedic aspect of School Rumble takes a breather and all these revelations come out of nowhere. Yakumo is talking to a ghost that’s meant to symbolize herself, so she finally mans up for a one on one with the damn thing. Eri gets thrown into an arranged marriage to help save her family. Tenma is taking steps to get closer and closer to Karasuma, and from the looks of it she’s actually succeeding. What about Harima? Well, that guy knows for sure now that Tenma loves Karasuma, but he doesn’t care, he still loves her. That leaves, Karasuma. This guy is the reason why I would put a cellphone into the back pocket of my jeans just so I could tell Kobayashi to call my ass. After Eri and Yakumo joined the party Tenma was left to do her thing with Karasuma, and surprisingly enough she actually does. The two start eating lunch together, she talks to him more often in class, they become good friends. As their last senior activity rolls around, Karasuma realizes it’s been a year, and that he’s got to get back to America now. Why? We don’t know. Not at this point anyway. So Karasuma shows up, running along side of Tenma (the senior activity is a nature jog). The two share an intimate conversation, but we’re left out of what happens at the end. Moments later Tenma’s friends show up to ask of the results, only to be greeted by her smiling face, tears cascading down her face. Karasuma is nowhere to be found. Harima finds out, Yakumo fills him in no what happened, and Harima immediately knows where to find curry boy. Now by this juncture Harima is well aware that Tenma absolutely loves Karasuma. It’s not so much that he accepts the fact, just that he acknowledges it. Well with Tenma crying Harima runs off in a fury (on a bicycle) back to the school where he finds him in their homeroom, looking out the window. He turns around noticing Harima, and is promptly greeted with an angry fist to his face. They beat the crap out of each other. They finally stop and Harima is told to go watch over Tenma since he’ll be going back to America (the two exchanged spoken word along with their fists). Karasuma leaves, and Harima makes his way to Tenma’s, where it looks like he’s finally going to get his chance to confess.

Until he decides to kidnap Tenma instead, rushing her to the airport to follow after curry boy. He’s screaming to himself the entire time he’s speeding there, they finally get to the airport, he takes his glasses, she realizes he’s from her past, she leaves, he symbolically throws his glasses towards the plane as it flies away, and that’s it. We don’t know why the hell Karasuma is in America (we’re all under the belief that he’s going due to his career as a manga-ka, because we really don’t know otherwise) until a few chapters later where we find out that the guy has a disease that will screw around with his memory, making him forget all that he’s expierenced up to this point. So Tenma is chasing after a guy who won’t remember her by the time she gets there.

Did we just sit through 270+ chapters, roughly four years worth of reading material, books upon books of moronic misunderstandings, comical shenanigans, and heartfelt emotions just to fall face first in front of some disease that was absolutely never mentioned, let alone hinted at previously? The absolute worst part is that Kobayashi strings you alone in the chapters following this by showing you that Tenma and Karasuma are getting closer to one another. He even goes as far as to have the guy leave without telling anyone, including you, HIS READERS, why. He just leaves. He’s in America. Why? Who knows? He wants to start a movement to bring back Waffle Crisp on a national level. Noone knows at all, but now Tenma (poor Tenma) gleefully runs to him in the hospital where she finds out (in the most heart wrenching pages in the entire freaking series, they’re just empty white panels with text in them) that he doesn’t remember a thing about her. Can you imagine that? You just traveled to a foreign country you know nothing about, you’re on the heels of reuniting with the one you love, and then you come up to this. This makes the Titanic look like a kid broke his bath toy. What a disaster. So what does Tenma decide to do? She decides to stay in America where she’s going to become a doctor. A DOCTOR. The stupidest (and I mean that in a nice way really) person in this story is going to become a doctor. She transfers to a school in America, where she doesn’t know ANYONE, with no prior knowledge on the country, or without the ability to actually speak English, because she loves curry boy that god damn much. Holy shit that makes no sense, but fine. I’ll take it. This takes Tenma out of the picture for Harima, forcing him to choose Yakumo or Eri. Kobayashi naturally has him pick NEITHER because he’s a giant douchebag. I’m not even going bother detailing the entire event but Harima decides to play the role of Eri’s fiance to save her from the arranged marriage, but at the same time he’s living with Yakumo where he’s going to continue his career as a manga-ka. Fantastic. Even when Kobayashi shows three panels with future representations of Eri and Harima (with no explanation as to where the panels came from, or what they truly represent) with a kid, you don’t have a clue what really happens to Harima. There is no actual closure, the series technically ends twice (and manages to bring up a point of Karasuma’s condition) and that’s it.

Somewhere along the line I called this series the Dragonball Z of romantic comedies. Every time you thought one relationship would go somewhere this misunderstanding rears its head, it actually ends up being funny (or not) and nothing happens. It happens time and time again. Jin goes as far as to tug you along in certain chapters, where it seems something is finally going to happen, or where you’re clamoring to see what happens the next day, only to be stuck with stories regarding the side characters or some alternative dimension shit or whatever. He comes jumping back and forth from romantic to comedic, without every balancing the two as well as he did when the series started out. The two are supposed to play off of one another. Romance can be funny, relationships can be funny, being in love can be funny, but Jin keeps fucking it up by being dramatic and romantic, but then using comedy as the reason / result. It’s painful because the comedy is actually funny. It really is. There are so many times in this series where I’ve had to hold my stomach in pain from laughing so hard, and I love that, but I don’t like being lead around to dead ends. I keep wondering if I should actually take the romantic drama seriously or just ignore it for the comedy. Then you start questioning the actions of the characters, but you don’t know if it’s really out of character or not because of they’re being developed. I kept thinking, something is finally going to happen, but even in the end it didn’t. I mean even the one couple that had no obstacles baring their path to actually forming a relationship with one another had it completely erased by some cock eyed reason Jin probably came up with at the last damn minute just so he could end this series. You can tell where the tone of the series makes a 180, and you’re happy that something is happy, but then you realize that it’s apparent that Jin is half assing the entire thing and you don’t really know why. Was he trying to concentrate on Natsu no Arashi more (a series he was doing at the same time as School Rumble)? Was he sick of School Rumble at this point? Who knows, and who cares. As a fan at the end you feel horribly disappointed, pretty empty, and honestly betrayed. That’s a pretty horrible thing to do your fans who fell in love with your characters, don’t you think?

That’s ultimately what it boils down to; what you want out of this series. If you want to laugh, then yes, I highly suggest reading School Rumble, it’s funny, really funny. Huge cast of characters, plenty of wonderful and unique personalities to play off of, lots to work with to make you laugh. If you want some romance and a little bit of drama stay the hell away. That’s it.You will get nothing out of it in that regard. Sorry for having rambled on for so long. Thanks for reading!

Shank a Girl Named Shana~

Posted in Blubber with tags on August 18, 2009 by masterchibi

A month or two ago it come to my attention that Shakugan no Shana was getting a third season of sorts.  So I had to go and reach back into the back of my mind to find what memories I had of this series. Third season, eh? Well the first season was pretty damn good on all accounts. Then there was the second season. Oh right, the second season. Ugh. Someone out there in that crumbling Japanese economy thought to themselves, “Hey, let’s bring back Shana for a third go around! What otaku doesn’t want more of this type cast little bitch?”

I don’t motherfucker, not after that atrocity we were given as a second season, so I’m going to hate all over it, and the fact that we’re being blessed with some form of continuation that will likely prove itself to be sub par and quite forgettable. I don’t care how the manga or the novels or whatever the original source material played out, you’ve ruined an entirely worthwhile set of characters and engaging plot, so I’m going to start bitching about it.

So read on to see why I’m up in arms about the return of this fiery little archetype, why I hate the second season, and why I really would love to shank a girl named Shana.

-: The Difference Between Directions

There’s two things inherently wrong with Shakugan no Shana right now. The entire second season, and the fact that there’s a third. To understand why these streak marks are what they are, we have to go back to the first season, where it all started, and to be honest, where it should have all ended. Please regard my synopsis as just quick summaries from memory, at this point I am assuming you have seen what is out of Shana at this point. I won’t go into deeper details and what not, and if you haven’t seen it, well then I’m jealous.

Basically, what we have in the first season is boy meets magical / action tsundere girl. While walking home from school one day our main character, Yuji Sakai, suddenly realizes that everyone around him has stopped moving except for what seems to be a giant monster at the end of the street. The monster is wobbling back and forth with its mouth open, apparently inhaling blue flame coming from all around the shopping area. We cut to Yuji, who is now picked up by this monster (a giant demon baby of sorts) in hopes of downing him as a snack. Is this the end of Yuji (I wish)? No, of course not, along comes the midget-esque, flat chested, flame haired hunter Shana, brandishing a sword that cuts off the demon’s arm. Yuji falls to the floor, Shana continues to kick demon baby diaper ass, and we see the supposed leader of the attack show her head. An older woman, she too guns straight for Yuji, thrusting her arm right into his chest, rummaging around in there in hopes of squeezing his heart or something else reminiscent of the Temple of Doom I’m sure. Once again, Shana comes running to save his ass (this will very much be a recurring theme), only this time she slices completely through Yuji’s shoulder to get to the leader. So he’s sitting there crying like a bitch while the leader shows her true form, that of a pig tailed rag doll. The doll teleports away, and Shana turns back to Yuji who is still whining and crying like a bitch (this is also a recurring theme). Using some convenient magic, she fixes his shoulder and goes to repairing the rest of the shopping area.

Sounds decent enough, right? Yeah, nothing out of the ordinary, but this is why I was pulled into the show from the first episode. It’s in this scene that Shana explains to her where that blue flame came from, and why Yuji is still kicking. When an existence leaves this world (by whatever means) an substitute is put in its place so as to not upset the natural balance. Eventually these ‘stand ins’ disappear, and existence they had been filling in for is flat out erased in every form imaginable. Memory, photographs, and so on. These ‘stand ins’ are referred to as ‘Torches’, given that moniker likely due to the fact that they have this blue flame hovering around in their torso. Yuji acknowledges this, only to look down and notice that he too has this flame, thus making him also a ‘Torch’, and already dead lord knows how long ago, with an uncertain amount of time left for him to even be left in his current state.

That’s where I took a look at the first episode and said, “Hey, I wasn’t expecting this, this is actually pretty interesting, I think I’ll keep watching.” Having only seen fan art of the show before I had only low expectations, but this first episode managed to deliver, so I decided to go along for the ride. For the most part, the first season is pretty good. The original premise kept me sitting down to watch more (along with the ‘coupley notion’ you all know I’m fond of in anime) until the end. I would suggest it to most anime fans that can stomach a little bit of cliche and moe along with their bouts of action, character development, and story telling. Sure, they introduce other characters, go into the backstory a bit, bring up another love interest, etc, but this show was all about Shana and Yuji. It doesn’t break any ground in that sense, but it does just fine on its own to warrant watching it.

So with a solid foundation to work with, you would think that a second season would be pretty easy to work with, right?

Please go back where you came from.

Nope. The second season manages to take everything that made the first interesting and entertaining and just throws it out the window. At the end of the first season, Yuji and Shana hook up. There is no need to debate this, as they literally walk out flaming ruins and whatever else is torn to pieces at that point, hand in hand, with Shana and Yuji being comfortable with the notion of being with each other, despite that which surrounds them. Literally within the first ten minutes of the second season’s first episode they RESET THE ENTIRE RELATIONSHIP. I don’t even remember how it happened, but she denies that entire deal where they save the god damn city and walk with another hand in hand just so she can go back to fulfilling her role as a tsundere bitch for the rest of the season.

This pissed me off instantly for many reasons. One thing I kill for in a show is to have an actual intimate relationship to be established between two characters. Most romantic shows or what have you, end with this happening. Someone gets kidnapped, or someone almost dies, whatever, it’s basically a necessary slap in the face to the main characters to wake up and realize that they like the other guy, girl, alien, etc. Taking this into account, I saw that season one ended with a couple, which lead me to believe that season two would naturally begin with a couple. This is where the second thing I kill for comes in, actually developing said relationship. This almost NEVER happens in anime, so when season two of Shana rolled around of course I became excited. We’ve got two people in love, and twenty six episodes to work with them, right? Right?

No. You get nothing. Good day sir. Take your ‘established’ relationship and tell it to go fuck itself (oh it does). Take any prior development between Yuji and Shana and tell it body slam itself off a cliff into a ravine full of dirty needles. Then we can start all over again for some inane reason, only this time we’ll make things completely overdramtic and oversaturated with horribly forced dialogue and mannerisms. You get entire episodes that focus on Shana and that other bitch whose name I don’t feel like recalling right now just watching Yuji from afar. Talking to his father about love. Her trying to confess to him again. Oh the list goes on and on, but the problem here is that we already went through ALL of this development in the first season.There is no viable point in making her go through it again at all, let alone throwing two other characters into the mix. We have to sit through a good fifteen episodes of this shit all thanks to:

This character, Hecate / Konoe is from the first season. She ‘synchronizes’ Yuji towards the end in hopes of filling up her empty existence with his memories, feelings, what have you, but it backfires because she’s still a lonely, empty little loli. She was more or less the ‘villain’ of the first season, for the lack of a better term. In the second season (I’m totally going to spoil this for you) she returns, but in the guise of a clueless little twat that just happens to attend Yuji’s school. Great. Now we have a love square. Just so we’re on the right page, that shit never ever works. Things becomes old and stale fast when you have to swap out between three characters constantly in hopes of developing them somehow, but in the end you tend to make the object of their affection even less appealing to the viewer. You chuck the fact that the main character is a twit with a string on his back to pull when it’s convient and just start cheering for a girl to end up with him purely because you like that character, again, even if you hate the character THEY like. It ends up as a sporting event and just degenerates everything. Anyways, returning to ‘Konoe’, this character sucks out EVERYTHING from the show as long as she’s in the show. Yuji is such a fucking altar boy that he has no problem with walking her home and back, or sitting next to her in class, or being next to her every damn moment they’re in school without any other motives otherwise. At one point he could have put a dog tag and leash on her, because that was the extent of what she did on her own, but it gets uglier because Shana and ‘that other bitch’ ® are sitting on the sidelines just watching this happen. They become incredibly jealous, their forced development begins, and my eyes start rolling to the back of my head so quickly for fifteen episodes that you would think I was a human slot machine. Around episode fifteen the ‘shell’ goes back to Hecate (the real name of this loli) and lots of other almost interesting stuff happens. Whatever. Who cares.

I really wish there were perfect words in the English language to describe how mind numbingly boring and life sucking these first fifteen episodes are. Where the first season had a balance of developing characters, action, and story, the second season of Shana literally becomes every other third rate high school shit harem show you’ve seen far too many times. One scene have her and ‘that other bitch’ standing in class pounding on the windows as Yuji walks away with Konoe. ALL THEY’RE DOING IS WALKING HOME FROM SCHOOL, but they’re treating this shit like your grandmother’s shitty soap opera. Shana and ‘that other bitch’ do nothing about this for fifteen episodes because they know Yuji’s balls left his body at the begining of the second season, so we have to wait for her to phase out of reality for the entire matter to be concluded. This brings me to…

That other bitch, aka the other point of the love square, or the original love triangle, also known as Yoshida. She is the most useless character in the entire second season. You could have a cardboard cutout with her face selling cat food and you’d get more out of her then the completely lack of DOING ANYTHING AT ALL. I really want to stress that point. It’s one thing to reset the situation for Shana, it’s another to have this character just be part of the background for the whole season. Even with the first fifteen episodes being the bile that they were, this chick is still worthless. Konoe was the one fufilling the other love interest portion of the show, Shana is the one we care about seeing win at the end, and Yoshida is just fucking there. The only (read: ONLY) worth she has to the show falls with that necklace that’s sitting pretty between those mammeries of hers. One of the characters in the show gives her the necklace telling her that if she needs help, or wants to help another that to use the necklace to do so, but in doing so the power needed to call her is being supplied is her own life. Awesome. As soon they dropped that bomb you can see me just repeating, “Call the bitch call the bitch call the bitch” incessantly to myself. Unfortunately (spoiling you again) she never calls her for the rest of the show, even in the very last episode, where she could have things easier, but instead chickens out completely, making my lack of interest in her even lower, which I didn’t know was humanly possible.

So where’s that leave us?

  • A perfectly fine and workable realtionship from the first season gets thrown away to ‘re-develop’ the characters.
  • Shana loses her appeal quickly as the show becomes a bore fest of a high school harem drama.
  • Konoe becomes the leading cause of horribly contrived development for Shana and worthless interjections from Yoshida.
  • Yoshida becomes completely and utterly useless in every imaginable understanding of the word.

That leaves us with only other character worth talking about, the one they’ve all been itching to ride into the sunset since the start:

Utterly average every fuck who just happens to have the fate of city / world / universe resting on his shoulders. Now I can hate on him for being like every other nice loser oblivious schmuck in every other harem ever created, but that would be too easy. I can question what good he is to anyone in the show without that eternal night light in his chest, but that wouldn’t go very far either. Instead, I’ll go a step further and just start laughing at what he becomes. You see, once the shit really hits the fan in this show, this guy’s twig and berries decide to come home. Out of nowhere he suddenly gets the surge of intillegence and strength that goes completely against everthing the show’s built him up to be (aka nothing) up to now. He never displays this manner of behaviour for the entire first second and 3/4 of the second season, and I’m supposed to just up and accept the fact that he can suddenly lead the pack and be of some use?

Yeah fucking right.

That’s not happening, sorry. I can’t stomach the notion that this guy actually has the cojones to do anything, because the transition is too quick and jarring to be applied properly. It’s like saying Ghandi suddenly wants to head up the NRA, or Mother Theresa becoming the Secretary of Defense. Suuuuuuure. I really was laughing at the show at this point.

What’s there to say at this point? The main characters lost all their prior development, and what they were given to work with the second time around was atrocious, the love triangle becomes a square and then becomes  a triangle again. Yuji becomes MacGyver somehow, and everything falls to the last episode amist the Christmas season.

That’s has to be the biggest stab in the back. The way this show ends is by giving Yuji the decision to go with Shana or Yoshida (why) by meeting them in the shopping area of town to go on a date. The whole damn final episodes finishes, up through the damn credits even, and instead of actually seeing Yuji infront of us, walking to either girl, all you’re shown is a shot of Yoshida then a shot of Shana waiting, then Shana suddenly smiling towards the camera. You don’t see him. You don’t see him and her together. All you get is a them a shot of a Christmas tree as they pan downward to footprints in the snow and him uttering some shit, then credit towards to the sponors, end season two. Does that mean he went to her? I guess? Why didn’t they just show him then? What’s the footprints supposed to symbolize? Are they really going to drop something ambigous like this for an ending? Yeah they are.

This second season sucked ass. It had so little of what made the first season entertaining, and even when it did, it was too little, too late, too forced, and it just wasn’t cutting it. The character development was a joke, the realtionship aspect was non existant, the action was passable, and it strains me to reccommend it to anyone, so I won’t. Don’t bother with the second season. It might appeal to some of you who can actually tolerate the changes made, but if you enjoyed the first season, and wanted a proper expansion of it, well, you’re not going to get it here. Sorry. You really have to question a show whose best character development happens to side characters involved in all the bullshit going on. You really do.

Makes the world go round~

Posted in Blubber on February 29, 2008 by masterchibi

It occured to me in the past few years that I didn’t really have a clear favorite when it came to the type of genre I enjoy in anime / manga. I’m open to watching / reading most anything you can imagine. I’ll go from Pokemon to Devilman, Ninja Scroll to Peach Girl. Simple children shows to complex adult thrillers. I would always get asked that question online too (I love to just blubber on about something I’ve gotten into or just finished, which is why I’m deciding to go with this blog), but somewhere along the line someone pointed out that I had already picked a genre without even knowing it, only it wasn’t one that had an already established label to it. I took a look into the older shows I enjoyed such as Urusei Yatsura, Lodoss Wars, Sailor Moon and Kodocha, then show I had seen very recently such as Karin, Buso Renkin, and Eureka 7. What the hell did these shows have in common? Urusei Yatsura was a pure comedic fest of insanity, while Lodoss Wars was practically the complete opposite of it. Sailor Moon is godmother of all magical girl anime, while Kodocha was comedic while having quite a very serious plot twist in its later chapters. It was when I started looking at the series I’ve watched / read recently that I started bringing things closer together. Karin, Busou Renkin, Eureka 7, Full Metal Panic, etc all had a male and female lead /as their main characters. For the lack of a better term, it was couples. I loved watching shows with even the tiniest inlking of a coupling going on. Now to be more specific, I’m not talking actual ‘shipping’ as is usually the case in shows with a large cast (such as Naruto, or One Piece), but shows where there is an actual established male and female lead. Bleach fits into this because of Ichigo and Rukia, while Naruto does not because Naruto is clearly the main character (hello, the show is named after him!~) while the likes of Sakura or Hinata are just fodder after a certain point in the story.

Now is there a real name for this ‘genre’? It can fall under romance, but it’s not limited to it. I’m tempted to just list shows that I consider to fit my ‘coupley’ genre, but I’ve got a distinct feeling that it would end up being quite a broad list that wouldn’t make sense to much anyone out there but those few who know my tastes very well. I guess the bigger question would be “Why ‘coupley’ shows? I’m not sure really, but it’s just a purely enjoyable feeling to watch characters hook up, fall for one another, or just make those subtle hints (even in the midst of a shonen series). If I had to give an example at this very moment, I’d say a show like Busou Renkin has name written all over it, especially given the two main characters, Kazuki and Tokiko. Miss Scarface in particular is one of my favorite female leads in quite a while. While she’s pushed as the gritty, warrior type who should have ‘tsundere’ written all over her face, she manages to stand atop the stereotype while being a character all her own. Kazuki is a bit of a cliche male lead, wanting to save everyone and what not, but he sure doesn’t hold back when it comes to protecting Tokiko, or being honest in how he feels for her. I suppose I’d better stop before I start to really gush about the show and end up coming off as some tweeny-something reject who types all her messages lIkE tHiS. Haha.

If you’re looking for the point of this intial blog post, I guess it’s both a warning and a request for a favor. I say warning because if I come across a show that fits snugly into my personal ‘coupley’ demographic, the blog posts of said show will be hopelessly long and dumb because I’ll be going on auto pilot until my brain farts out whatever it needs to to feel satisfied. I also say request because I would love to get more of these shows into my fat head, so I’m all ears for suggestions!

Also, if you’re looking for the anger, don’t worry, that’s coming soon enough. True Tears and Clannad are getting on my damned nerves as of late, and the general anime populace can go suck it.

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