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.

Recent turn of events in Hajime no Ippo

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Okay, so after 20 years of serialization we’ve come to a point where… our main character is broken. This doesn’t really come as a complete shock, a) because the possibility of getting hit by too many punches has been in the room for a very long while and b) Hajime no Ippo is obviously inspired by Ashita no Joe, who also suffered brain damage (and eventually died).

m018Still, I always expected this manga to end on a more positive note, maybe because it has been very happy-go-lucky in it’s early stages with many dirty jokes and the classic hard working shounen type of sportsmanga. You don’t see it very often in sportsmanga that human limitations and illnesses are addressed, especially in shounen manga where the sport is usually glorified and all’s good, if it’s a semi realistic manga. Then there’s manga like Kuroko no Basket that we don’t even need to start talking about, because it’s so far away from anything realistic.

Ippo has always been on the more realistic side and the possibility of brain damage is nothing new, like I said. I actually really like how this topic has been slowly made more and more prominent. Ippo noticed himself he has problems, but he brushed it off and therefore the reader also brushed it off. Now that the cast is openly talking about Ippo being broken and Punch Drunk, it still fells like this manga has suddenly turned into a very dark direction. It’s not like this hasn’t been foreshadowed, it’s more like until now it hasn’t been a real threat to Ippos career and at least I didn’t expect it to affect him this badly before his shot at a world title match.

Takamura is fully aware of Ippos state. He straight up told both Ippo and the coach. What b004else is he supposed to do? Beat Ippo to a crap so he can’t lift a finger anymore? I think this situation is very complicated for Ippo, Takamura and the coaches. Ippo may have managed to draw a straight line in front of them, but he’s well aware that he was damn lucky, because the last time he tried at home, he horribly failed. And I’m pretty sure Kamogawa doesn’t trust the line Ippo drew, he has a bad feeling himself and he also trusts Takamura. The odds are simply against Ippo.

It looks to me as if Ippo is crumbling under the high expectations he set upon himself and is loosing his grab on reality. On the one hand he’s telling himself he’ll stop before it gets bad, so he can still take over his family business, on the other hand he’s straight up lying to Kamogawa so he can step into the b013ring again. As things are right now, I think if he wants to avoid being unable to take over his family business, he needs to retire RIGHT NOW.

We are heading into the direction that Ippo will step into the ring again and he will take punches again. His condition will gradually worsen, the only question is how long can Ippo fool his coaches and go on. The happy-go-lucky manga from 20 years ago is long gone, this is about Ippos health and his brain is already damaged, maybe even permanent. To continue with boxing equals self destuction at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ippo ending up in a vegetative state, instead of taking over a fishing boat.

Do I think Ippo might die, like Joe? No. I don’t think this will happen, but I really welcome this turn of events in this manga. It’s finally interesting again and actually ending with your main character broken and severely ill after 20 years of serialization is a brave move – inspired by Ashita no Joe or not.

Bleach Chapter 666

…Tite Kubo, you won’t let Urahara die. You. Won’t. Let. Urahara. Die. End of discussion.

On the other hand, I was shocked he killed off Byakuya, Grimjow and Hitsugaya. What do they have in common? They’re all alive. However, Ukitake is probably dead for good, but he was severely ill to begin with.

I think it’s really cool seeing some of the Arrancar back in action. Kubpo wasted so much time giving us backstory about them, it’s good to see them having some screentime after all. I mean, who’s not in foir some Grimmjow action? That guy’s just cool, but judging from his background, it was pretty obvious he would fight on the good side eventually. Either way it’s pretty nice and Urahara is just bein his awesome self as well. That’s why you can’t kill him off, Bleach would immediately loose half it’s fun. I mean, the one half that is still left.

Talking about fun… am I the only one who thinks Hitsugaya was massively out of character in this chapter? Maybe being a zombie grilled more of his brain cells than I expected, but that joke-szene with Byakuya was just painful to read.

Romance in Ballroom e Youkoso

It’s finally done: the latest chapters have been translated and now the big wait begins. Apparently the manga-ka is ill and therefore the manga has been on hiatus ever since. Let’s hope he makes a full recovery.

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The lastest two chapter 41 and 42 heavily focussed on the background of Akira and Chinatsu and apparently Akira is in love with Chii-chan. Ever since grade school she wanted to be her only partner and refused to learn the male steps, so she can funktion as Chii-chan’s only female partner when the other girls became interested in other things. Chii-chan on the other hand wanted to dance the girl part as well, but Akira wouldn’t let her.

tumblr_o0g7259mkw1tk1u0yo1_1280Even thought the current relationship between Akira and Chii-chan seems to be very bad, Akira is still in love with her former partner and boils with jealously over her relationship with Tatara. What brings me to my personal highlight: since I’m shipping TataraxChi, of course I fully support Akiras jealously, after all, if there is nothing going on and everything’s safe, there’s no need to become jealous. After only 4 months Chii-chan and Tatara have already developed a better and much more dynamic relationship than Akira and her partner and arguably even a closer relationshion than Akira ever had with Chii-chan.

Back in their grade school days, Chii-chan hated boys and she said it was disgusting to dance with them or hold hands. Now she’s finally dancing the female part she always wanted and even though she still has trouble not being the leader and accepting Tataras dance, those two have come a pretty long way already and in some rare occasions of unity their dance is simply astonishing. There’s so much insane potential in this pair, I would cry in frustration if they broke up – and they promised to break up, if they don’t win this competition. They can’t do that!

Tatara has already evolved so much, he’s not the same person he used to be when he danced with Mako. While they used to be a good couple, I don’t think they would fit that well anymore. And yes, Mako has a crush on him, but it’s guaranteed that’s not going anywhere. Tataras crush on Shizuku is a more serious matter, but even though I shipped them before Chii-chan came into play, I would rather have her and Hyoudou funktion as rivals for Tatara and Chii-chan rather than breaking the couples up and re-arranging tumblr_nzd9akXjch1soj3yeo1_1280them.

To sum it up, so far we have these confirmed romantic interests:

  • Mako -> Tatara
  • Tatara -> Shizuku
  • Akira -> Chinatsu

Throw Gaju into the mix, who’s protective over his sister, Makos jealously over Chii-chan, Akiras jealously over Tatara and Chinatsus own very unindentified feelings, we have a nice bag  full of teenage love problems. I think it’s interesting to see where Shizuku and Hyoudou are going. I’m rooting for them, they’ve known each other for a very long time and their inner timer clicks the same. As for Tatara, I personally think his crush on Shizuku is a result from his admiration for her as a great dancer.

Bleach Chapter 651 (Spoiler) – WHY? WHY?

If anything, the only reason I still read Bleach to be able to say “I finished it.” when it’s over. giphylIt was a very cool shounen, but really should’ve ended after Aizen was defeated. Unfortunately, it’s not over yet, but the ships are keeping me entertained. Well, somewhat, character chemistry has been lacking as of lately, imo.

Basically, I have three main ships in Bleach: Ichigo x Rukia, Hitsugaya x Hinamori, Shunsui x Nanao – and I won’t argue about any of those. I know what can happen when you bring up a pairing that involves Ichigo and either Rukia or Orihime or both. I’ve been there, I’ve taken part in the infamous Bleach shipping wars. And I’m on team IchiRuki.

As for HitsuHina, I usually age them. I mean, they’re what? They look like they’re 13 or something, make them 20 and I’m all in. I’ve never seen anything in MatsuHitsu and Matsumoto has Gin anyway. No, Aizen doesn’t count for Momo.

And the last one, ShunsuixNanao effectively got destroyed in chapter 651. Thank you 1376262901664Bleach, for destroying 1/3 of the joy I have left from reading you. When I found out Nanao is Shunsui’s niece, I felt so weird. They’ve always behaved like an old married couple since the start of the manga and now you’re telling me they’re 3rd grade relatives? No!

As much as I would simply like to refuse to believe it and ignore it’s existence, it came with a very awesome love confession by Nanao. I mean, for some reason, it’s just damn cool she knows about all of this and simply doesn’t give a fuck. She just doesn’t care. Her mother tried to save her from the curse? Doesn’t matter, she wants to fight with that sword anyway. She’s in love with her uncle? As if he cares.

I’m usually strictly against incest relationships and 3rd grade is very close. Even 309relationships between cousins are often not approved and they are 4rth grade relatives and legal in many countries even today, but thanks to Nanao not giving a damn, it kind of feels ok to continue to like it. Even though I know it’s wrong, I also know Tite Kubo has been making up the weirdest stuff in Bleach for plot convenience and this is just another one of those. I know I should dislike it, but I just love them so much. Shunsui and Nanao are awesome, I’ve always enjoyed seeing them every time they walked through a frame.

Ookiku Furikabutte (Spoiler)

After I was told a bazillion times I should watch Ookiku Furikabutte, if I like sports anime, I finally did. There. Happy everyone? I finished Season 1&2 + both specials. There’s just one question left unanswered:

When’s season 3 comming?

tumblr_nkd1uaA1mZ1slopz6o1_500Yes, I enjoyed it. The characters are all very likable and it’s one of those stories that try to be on the realistic side. Between Slam Dunk and Kuroko no Basket, it’s the Slam Dunk. It tries hard to be as realistic as can be without being boring or only interesting for baseball fans, but it still has a heavy focus on the matches. Especially the second season.

I admit, I have not yet read the manga. I will as soon as my next exam is over, but so far I can only talk about the anime and if there’s something that I didn’t like as much, it’s probably the pacing. The first season with it’s 25 episodes was very slow. A lot of time was spent on the games, but there was also a fair amount of time spent on training, SoL and tumblr_ntwywoDYpK1u6xtrco1_540building frienships. In comparison season 2 felt very rushed, everything was shorter. They squeezed 4 games (3 of which were actually shown) in just 13 episode. The lenght of the actual games shown was fine, I actually liked the somewhat shorter games in S2 better than the very lenghty ones from S1, I just missed a bit more stuff happening between the games in S2, but that was simply not possible in 13 episodes, I guess?

Then again, I don’t know if this was done, because there really was no time, or because it’s faithful to the source material. A 13 episode sports anime is kind of weird to begin with, if you ask me. You can’t get much done. Initial D S2 pulled it off really good, but that’s the only one I can think of. I really want to read the manga and see if it’s done any different over there and I really want to know, if Abe can hold himself back until the fall tournament. I’d like to see Tajima catching more – that means more Tajima screentime overall and more Tajima is always good.

I have a sweet spot for Tajima. He’s very talented, but he’s still working hard and a great team player. He has a fun personality and acts as Mihashis older brother/interpreter. He seems to be easy going, but he’s able to fully concentrate when he’s out on the field and cheers up his teammates. (Who didn’t smile when he complained that his brain was tumblr_nkljqhwpUJ1say8hro2_400hurting after catching against Bijou?) Sounds like an awesome player, right? Well, unfortunately, he has a tragic side to him as well, because he might be extreamly talanted, but due to his small build he’ll always fall short. I guess this really makes you feel sympathy for him and adds to the overall appeal: on first glance, he might appear perfect, but he has a major flaw and no matter what he does, he can’t willingly do anything against it.

To sum it up: Was it worth it? Certainly. However, I have to admit there are other sports anime I enjoyed more, but this one’s really good, too. Highly recommended for anyone who’s into the realistic type of sports anime.

Finished my TTGL Rewatch-Marathon (spoiler)

I love doing a manga or anime marathon, but it only works with really good titles, otherwise you get bored or annoyed really fast. I marathoned Slam Dunk 3 times by now and I’m planning my 4rth one, but I usually don’t rewatch anime. It’s not like me to reread manga that often as well, but I did reread Trigun Maximum, Fullmetal Alchemist and Rough, for example.

However, my TTGL rewatch has shown me why it’s good to rewatch anime and why I probably should do it again when I find the time to do so. The reason is rather simple, but I never really thought much of it. The first time you watch an awesome anime, it blows you away and you can’t exerience the same feeling again. You can only lose your virginity once, so to speak.

Watching a second time will give you other benefits, though. TTGL has blown me away so tumblr_njz9yjYNda1unctdgo1_500much the first time I watched it, I didn’t pay that much attention to detail, especially in the last third of the story when the anime throws away every last bit of common sense. This time, I caught some interesting details and even though I wasn’t as overwhelmed as the first time, it still enhanced my overall experience, because some things actually make sense and some character decisions are better understandable now.

Overall, I guess the rewatch made me realize this animes crazyness even more, but also made me understand it better and it was still amazingly fun. Also, TTGL is one of the few anime that dares to kill off one of it’s main characters mid season in order to properly develop the other main character. Even after 8 years, this still deserves more than just one round of applause. Kamina, your death was worth it.

One anime I would love to rewatch is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, even though I probably won’t gain much from it, because I know the source material so well. It’s just such an amazing anime, it’s worth seeing a second time. I admit, I’m a fangirl, FMA is my favorite shounen and ranks in the top 3 of my favorite manga and anime, but this is seriously the best shounen I’ve ever seen. If you have never read or watched anything FMA related, I highly recommend you doing that right now.