Skip Beat 248

I don’t even know if I ever mentioned Skip Beat, but I’ve been reading it ever since my brother’s first girlfriend introduced me and that was ages ago. It’s quite amazing how little this manga developed story wise in this period of time.

skip_beat_44_8You see, when I stated reading Skip Beat, it must’ve been around 2005, so it’s been a long time. In these 12 years, I’ve read and finished so many manga while this is is one of the few that I’m actually still reading from this period of time. Skip Beat has easily always been the manga I’ve complained about the most about it’s speed of development story- and character-wise. The fun part is, I’ve also always been reading Detective Conan and there’s nothing happaning at all, very few instances when we had a bit of actual story, but it’s not much.

The difference is, Conan is designed very periodic, so we usually have a couple of chapters revolving around a case. The case is finished and we move onto the next one, so every few chapters we have some kind of resolve and we accomplish something. It’s a weekly manga, so it’s usually between a months or two before we finish one mini-arc.

Skip Beat drags on a lot more. First and foremost, it’s monthly and it’s not just monthly, it also has a very small page count for a monthly manga. You know, I’m used to the Fullmetal Alchemist type of monthly manga around 40 pages per chapter, sometimes even close to 50. Skip Beat has about 25-30 ish pages per chapter and as you can see: huge difference. Okay, this can be thanks to different art style, working conditions, health issues with the manga-ka, whatever, you know, there are many reasons why we skip_beat_78_25have less pages per chapter and if 25-30 works good for Nakamura, then that’s fine.

Unfortunately, Skip Beat has not exactly been the most regulary released manga on the planet, skipping a month here and there. Actually, it used to be released bi-weekly, which might be the reason why the page count is that low for a monthly release, and was moved to a monthly release a few years ago if I remember correctly. Which is fine, again. I’m sure there are reasons I don’t know about and I don’t have a problem with that.

Now take all what I’ve said so far about page count and not-as-regular-releases-as-we-would-like and add a painstakingly slow narrative to it – THIS is where it starts getting annoying. I swear to god, Akagami no Shirayukihime managed at least twice as much substance in 85 chapters than Skip Beat managed in 248 chapters. I constantly feel like we’re walking on the same spot without getting anywhere, as if we’re stiped to a conveyer belt or something.

We did make some progress over the time, no question. Kyoko went from hating love after being mistreated by Sho, to admitting to herself that she’s in love with Ren. She also developed into a capable actess, even though she’s still officlally an idol and head chef of the Love Me section, but I actually think she was surprisingly good right from the start. I skip_beat_241_4mean, she was never “bad” at acting, she had the talent all the time and impressed people all over the place even with her early works.

Thanks to the amazingly slow narrative, the mini-arcs in Skip Beat take years to finish, which can drag on a lot. For example: Kyoko was talking with Moko-san about the role of Momiji, that she’s currently auditioning for, 14 chapters ago – that’s 14 months, if a chapter was released every month during that time. I think the whole thing actually started even further back, but that’s already over a year and she still didn’t get the part just yet. It looks like she will get it very soon and Ren has come back from Guam earlier only to see a picture of Sho and Kyoko kissing, which is not that good, I guess…? I mean,  Ren is 21 years old currently and Kyoko is 17, which officially makes then illegal. Sho and Kyoko are of the same age, so at least Sho is not breaking the law.

Akagami no Shirayukihime has been dragging on a lot lately as well, because Shirayuki and Zen have been separated for a while now and I’m dying to see them together again. At least they’re an official pair, that’s much more than Skip Beat can claim to have. I’m also dying to know what Ren will give Kyoko as a White Day’s gift. He sent everyone a gift, except Kyoko and Yashiro mentioned months ago that he knows what Ren got for her, so I think it’s certain to say he got her something special and wants to give it to her skip_beat_219_8in person. That was, before he saw that picture of Kyoko and Sho kissing, which might delay thing a tiny bit… and by that I mean probably another half a year.

Yeah, that’s one way to keep your manga running, but apparently there’s still enough people interested, or Skip Beat would’ve suffered the same fate Bleach had and would’ve been axed. At least we still have a chance to see a proper end to this.

Digimon Tri Kokuhaku

tumblr_nnxtm1qtsl1qjy21oo1_500Like basically every other kid from the late 90s/early 2000s, I’m absolutely in love with Digimon Tri. After seeing Saikai I already wrote that this anime pushes all the right buttons and two movies later, it still does. It has the right amount of 90s/early 2000s vibe to it, but still modern enough to not feel “old”.

I think the main reason why Digimon Tri is as good as it is, is because the anime knows it’s audience damn well and the audience is the same audience from 17 years ago. It’s not meant for teens or adults and it’s not meant for just any kids, it’s meant for the kids from that time who’re now adults. Of course this anime is very well watchable for kids as well, but let’s be honest: to understand what’s going on generally speaking, you need to know Digimon in some way or the other. To understand the more specific character relations and plot developments, you need to have seen Digimon Adventure and Digimon 02. Digimon Tri explains absolutely nothing and this is a very strong indication who this anime is meant for.

After 3 movies we’ve now reached the halfway point. It’s progressing real slow, because tumblr_ny4u76golr1r72ht7o1_500we have to wait for months between every new movie/batch of new episodes, but the wait is so much worth it. The moment I hear the intro, I’m sold, I forget my impatience and just enjoy the ride. I have to admit, the second movie Ketsui was lacking the wow factor a litte bit, because it had a lot of build up going on. It was still very good, though.

Saikai benefits from the massive waves of nostalgia after seeing these characters and Digimon again after so many years. The second movie doesn’t really have that so much. Kokuhaku on the other hand has it again, because that’s when the Digidestined go to the Digiworld again. So far, the humans have stayed in the human world, but now they’re all back into the Digiworld! That’s so exciting! And the way they did it, too! They didn’t care about the possibility of not coming back home, because they’ve already gome through this when they were in elementary school. I just loved it when, I think it was Joe, said by waiting they’re just going to turn into adults. That really hit my inner child, it’s like telling the audience that even though it’s been so long and we’ve all gotten older, it’s okay to be a child again and do what you love.

I have to admit the return to the Digiworld, even if it’s just the rebooted one and apparently not the same from the past, because we see noticable differences, was my absolute highlight of the third movie. I felt like my 13 years old self again, being glued to the TV. That was a straight nostalgia jab into my face and I love this anime for doing that. I honestly think Kokuhaku was the best movie so far. We saw how much the Digimon love their humans, how much they all evolved, we finally got a better glimpse of our actual opponents, the entire reboot idea was simple but effective and Tentomons megaevolution was so cool! Besides, Takeru and Patamon … right into the feels.

giphy2Talking about feels! You can’t talk about Digimon withou shipping wars. We finally got a hint of Takari, which was cool. We all know Takari was that one pairing, that absolutely needed to happen ever since we saw these two adorable kids in Digimon Adventure. Besides, their brothers are Yamato and Taichi, who used to fight so much, the alpha-males of the group so to speak, and now they’re totally best friends, but I would just love to see Taichi getting jelous over Takeru for steeling his baby sister away. We haven’t seen anything from Takeru that specific, but he was very occupied with Patamon in Kokuhaku, so he’s excused. I hope it’ll come.

On the other ship that totally should set sail, there has not really been going on that much. I do feel the love triangle between Taichi x Sora x Yamato is being hinted on and slighty teased every now and then, but it’s very low key. The shipping wars have been huge in this fandom and I think it would be cool, if they acknowledged it a bit by teasing it slightly more. Not too much, they don’t have to go the Avatar road, I mean they were just cruel to their fanbase. Admittedly, they were nice enough to clear it all up at the end and even though a good portion of fans was still unsatisfied with ALTA, everyone’s pretty cool with Korra. How often do you have a lesbian endgame ship? I’m totally shipping Makorra and I still think that end was cool.

Either way, Digimon Tri is the ultimae chance to right what’s wrong. It’s the chance to free me from my ultimate shipping nemesis Sorato and finally make Taiora canon. Please, Digimon Tri, MAKE IT HAPPEN!

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Manga of the Year

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Akagami no Shirayuki-hime

Manga of the year is a lot harder to do than Anime of the year. A manga can be completed in Japan, but is still published overseas or the scanlations are not that fast. Also, if it’s not by a famous manga-ka, a new manga is usually not even translated starting chapter 1. Scanlators and official publishers alike usually pick popular manga to translate, so there’s a lot of stuff I can’t possibly have read, simply because there’s no translation available – and in some cases not even raws.

Another problem is the longevity of manga. Of course there are great short manga, but more popular manga tend to run a lot longer than your average anime (12-24 episodes), especially when the title is published semi-monthly (Fruits Basket) or monthly (Fullmetal Alchemist) and the magazines sometimes skip a week/month, too.

To make a long story short: I’ve read way too much to remember everything I read, you usually don’t start reading a manga starting from the first chapter published in Japan, especially when you don’t live in Japan and long runners such as Conan or Ippo will probably still going in 10 years from now, so I’m just going with whatever I still remember I read this year. I’ll try choosing titles that left an impression on me.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso already appeared on my anime of the year list

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Ichi Ni No San!

and it’s here again. I’d like to mention this one, because I rooted a lot for a happy ending, even though I knew it would end up having tragic ending. It was well done and you need some guts to kill off a main character.

Shokugeki no Soma has also been on my anime of the year list and I started reading the manga because of the anime. Especially in recent chapters there’s been a lot going on and when Azami took over the school, it feld like every new chapter came with a huge new surprise and that was very cool.

Diamond no Ace Act II started off on the really wrong foot with me, so it’s mostly negative memories I have with this one. It’s still more Furuya no Ace, even though every idiot should see just how much Sawamura is worth. The manga-ka is in love with Furuya and that’s super annoying. That’s the reason it was even more satisfying when Miyuki “said” about Sawamura: “Make them realize that you exist!” in chapter 13 and in chapter 14 Sawamura delivered a flawless game, exceeding the expectations from every single person in the stadium. That was cool. Unfortunately the focus is yet again on someone else…

Hirunaka no Ryuusei is a nice Shoujo with a surprising twist at the end. Suzume is in love with her teacher, an old childhood friend of hers, and I have to admit in most manga like this, the girl gets her man. However, in this case, even though he fell in love with her as well, he pushed her away and she got together with another guy. He realized too late, that she won’t just come back and in the end, she decides to let go of him an stay with her current boyfriend. While the end was disappointing for me, because I was rooting for the teacher, it was nice to see a manga actually going for this route.

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Sakamoto desu ga?

Sakamoto desu ga? will soon be over and there haven’t been that many chapters scanlated this year, but I’m super excited every time I see a new one. It’s a manga I enjoy a lot, because it’s a great parody of the perfect guy every girl falls in love with. It’s so overexeggerated that it’s absurd and it’s one hell of a joy to read that. It doesn’t even follow a real plot, it’s just Sakamoto reacting to everyday life situations or dealing with jealous guys.

Blue Sky Complex is a yaoi manga I recently discovered and I like it especially because it’s less about two guys being in love as opposed to two people being in love. The former hetero partner doesn’t care at all that his new partner is a guy, because he fell in love with the person and not the gender. It’s also quite funny the delinquent ends up as the uke and the more serious and silent former hetero guy is the seme.  You’d expect it the other way around.

My two top contenders for Manga of the Year 2015 are Piano no Mori and Ballroom e Youkoso. A story about a boy who learns the piano and another story about competitive ballroom dancing. That’s just so much like me. Both manga are being scanlated, but both are behind in recent chapters. Ballroom saw a few more scanlations lately, but I’m desperately following

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Ballroom e Youkoso

the raws as well. The characters and energy this manga delivers are amazing. I’ve done ballroom dancing myself and it’s really hard, so I can relate to it. Piano no Mori on the other hand was finished in Japan this year and the scanlations still have a long way to go, but it was a great and very satisfying ending, even without understanding a single world. Let’s just hope the actual translation won’t ruin it for me.

After all, I guess Ballroom e Youkoso makes the cut and is my manga 2015. I’ve been obsessed with it from the day I discovered it and I would love to see a proper anime  adaptation – that usually means more popularity and faster scanlations.

Girls of the Wild’s

158693lGirls of the Wild’s is a Manhwa fully colored and published online. It’s about Jae Gu Song, a poor guy who has to take care of his younger siblings after their mother left them due to personal problems regarding the recent death of their father.

So in other words: he’s head poor and needs to go to school while working. After Middle School he decided to go to a formerly Girls-only-School nearby, because he was given a scholarship simply for being there and ended up as the only male student in the entire school.

This school is special, though. It’s all about martial arts and the students are ridiculously strong – mind you, they’re all girls, except our main character, who feels terribly out of place, because he can’t do any fighting at all. He’s even been bullied during his Middle School days and meets his bullies again, getting nothing but a beating out of it.

He befriends the president of the Taekwondo Club and S-class-student, Dal Dal Choi, a cute and small girl with deadly kicks. At first she wanted to befriend Jae Gu, because it was said to bring her points for her grades, but she developes a huge crush on him and follows him around everywhere.

Another friend of his is Moon Young Lee, president of the Boxing Club and S-class student, as well as close friend of In Gyi Yoon (“Queen”). She has a crush on him at first, but later moves on to another guy.

The third and last of his main group of friends is Queen Yoon, she’s not in a specific club, but an S-class-student as well.She’s close friends with Moon Young and the strongest fighter at Wild’s high and won last year’s “Wirld’s League” with no problem at all. She’s very cold and starts out on the wrong foot with Jae Gu, but later develops romantic feeling for him.

In an act of revenge, Queen chose Jae Gu as her first opponent in this year’s Wild’s League, however since she doesn’t need to go through the prelims, Jae Gu would need to win those first. His initial idea was to simply forfeight the first fight and therefore get out this dilemma unharmed. He eventually decides to take the prelims seriously and learns basic fighting moves in Boxing and a few simple kicks from Dal Dal and Moon Young.

This is the basic overview. Interestingly, though, MAL lists this manga as a harem, 80467lsomething I don’t quite agree on, because it’s more a love triangle than a real harem, especially since Moon Yong drops out, what leaves only Dal Dal and Queen. Sure, the rest of the school is still kind of interested, since they get points for being close to him, but the story doesn’t really care about that at all.

I usually don’t like harems. I have a soft spot in my heart for Love Hina, because it’s the mother of all harem manga, but it’s not just random girls throwing themselves onto the main character. It does have a very clear main pairing and above everything else, is really fun to read. I don’t see this manhwa as a real “harem”, even though the set up smells a lot like it. It’s really not.

So if you don’t like harem, don’t worry, there’s not much harem in here. Would I recommend this Manhwa? Sure, why not. It’s fun seeing the girls being the strong ones for once and Qeens younger brother is really funny. It’s a good read.