January’s Manga of the Month: Afterschool Charisma

I will admit I have little understanding of what is actually popular on this site other than Narutaki talking about graphic design and Narutaki talking about sex. This explains the fact that when we retired the Manga of the Month last year we discovered it was apparently extremely popular. It just so happened no one ever mentioned it. Ever. So as Natalie Merchant once said we give em what they want. In 2011 Manga of the Month rises from the ashes like Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix. The Final Denouement is being retired as we try to put out more solo articles on Tuesday through Thursday. Since many of them would have been final denouements in their own right the Final Denouement has become somewhat redundant. Also like a phoenix the tears shed by Manga of the Month have immense healing powers. Hopefully these articles will get everyone to pick up some manga they might have easily overlooked considering how much there is to choose from.

Afterschool Charisma (放課後のカリスマ) by Kumiko Suekane

IKKI has always been VIZ’s attempt to try to broaden the manga market by letting people sample some more offbeat seinen series that would otherwise go over looked. With a few exceptions  what sells in the U.S. is shonen fighting and shojo romance. So while adults might read manga so far most adult manga has not caught on here. Afterschool Charisma is a quirky manga that has some appeal of the popular genres that sell books in the US while still distinctly being off the beaten track to hopefully broaden some reader’s horizons.

St. Kleio is a most unusual experiential school. All the student are the clones of famous historical figures who have been gathered together in hopes that with proper care they can surpass the accomplishments of their originals. Along side these luminary and sometimes infamous copies is Shiro Kamiya, the only student who is not a clone. When the clone of John F. Kennedy is assassinated Shiro learns that everything at the school is not exactly what  it seems. There are crazy cults, Byzantine conspiracies, and deadly experiments lurking in the shadows. Maybe even Shiro himself is part of some greater sinister machinations.

I usually see this manga compared to the old Clone High cartoon on MTV. They are both set at government controlled high schools that have characters who act silly in humorous contrast to their original  historical personas. But at the same time despite all the wacky hi-jinks in Afterschool Charisma we see from the first chapter there is a disturbing  undercurrent to the events at the school. This manga seems like a bizarre and goofy Hetalia at school but quickly turns into a taut thriller. It is definitely worth a look if you want something different that is able to mix humor and intrigue in equal measure.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #097

hisuiconI finally saw the much-anticipated One Piece: Strong World movie. It was the first movie with a large amount of input from Eiichiro Oda so most people have been going in with very high expectations. There was even an official One Piece chapter zero comic made just to give back story to the movie and make everything canonical. Overall I found that I was hyping up Strong World in my mind better that it could ever have been. But it was still the most entertaining One Piece movie I have seen yet. The movie is a lavish affair even more so than the standard theatrical affair.  I noticed that they spend a good deal of attention to making Nami’s hair lavishly animated (as well as throwing her in the shortest of short shorts). In fact almost everyone goes through several changes of clothing which is surely done to sell tons of merchandise but I find it a welcome addition. Their best costumes  are when everyone is in suits as seen by the Portrait of Pirates figures. The plot is solid. While it never reaches the greatest highs on a normal One Piece storyline it never feels like a filler episode as well. Shiki is a decently memorable villain with a strong and unique power.  His subordinates were far less interesting. If you are a One Piece fan many of the movies are usually fun but utterly disposable but this is the one must see movie so far. I assume that Funimation is waiting for the DVDs to catch up to the point where Strong World takes place before licensing the movie which makes sense to me. I can’t wait to buy it whenever they pick it up.

Giant Killing is something I look forward to every week. And each episode pumps me up so much that it is kind of a crime they are only 22 or so minutes long. In the most recent installments the team is starting to take on bigger and bigger challengers, which is only natural. At this point, they are struggling again to regain their confidence but at the same time you can really see that the team is following Tatsumi, though doesn’t always blindly see his point of view. The Osaka Gunners are really out doing themselves rivaling ETU, especially because of the personality clashes on both sides. And I can see each side has some of the same types of people. Though I have to say, I find fake-Tsubaki utterly annoying and for the life of my I’m not sure why exactly. The coming episode maybe be the final part against Osaka and I truly don’t know which way the wind will blow. It is kind of amazing that Giant Killing is able to so readily keep you guessing about the outcome of games.

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