Ongoing Investigations: Case #192

narutaki As I creep closer to the end of Kekkaishi, I’m comforted by Yellow Tanabe having another work out that I can jump into. Laughter in the End of the World (chs.1-2) is another great excuse for her to draw monsters.

I’m already impressed that out lead (he has no name yet) is different from Yoshimori of Kekkaishi, his attitude is more subdued yet confident and he is at a point further along in his life path. He carries a distinct mark on his cheek which people believe makes him a demon, but none of that is at all clear yet. Instead we know he hunts demons and that is what he is up to in these first two chapters.

We also get a flashback through a priest who lived through The Afternoon of Darkness which lead to the appearance of the White Demon and all demons thereafter. The White Demon was seriously freaky and gave me the chills, I can tell the horror bend of this series will be a bit stronger.

The first fight only begins in the last couple of pages of the second chapter so we’ll have to wait to see how that plays out. I admit I’m really curious about it and our leads powers.

Good start, looking forward to more!

We here at the Reverse Thieves have been pretty big advocates of Kekkaishi since we learned about the series back at Otakon 2007.  So when it was announced that Yellow Tanabe started her newest series we were both pretty excited. The series is called Laughter in The End of The World and while it is clearly very different from Kekkaishi you can see seeds of the series in her previous work. But if you are expecting a lighthearted romantic adventure this might not be for you.

Twenty five years ago an almost incomprehensible creature, called the White Demon (who is not Amuro Ray), devoured 70% of the world’s population and was only stopped after a 7 day long battle with the greatest holy magicians. Since then certain people have been marked with “the mouth of the demon.” Those people become immortals shunned for their connection to the monster. The main character is one of these cursed immortals, who along with his sister, specializes in killing his own kind.

While parts of Kekkaishi were mainly fairly straight shonen action the series did dip into the macabre with storylines like Heisuke Matsudo and Byaku. While Laughter in The End of The World is still distinctly in the shonen mold it seems to be tapping into the darker slightly more seinen parts of the pool. In a way that might position it to be a possible hit outside of Japan. Series that feel older but are rooted in the shonen mold have a better chance of gaining an audience in English. In fact if it were not running in Shonen Sunday I would assume it would have a distinct chance of becoming popular or at least gaining a strong following.

The story distinctly has a Book of Revelation feeling to it all. The White Demon seems to be based somewhat on the beast from the sea and the church in this world has distinctly Christian feel. But at the same time the world seems to have a very gray morality. The first immortal that the unnamed protagonist is hunting seems to have murdered several people. But it seems to come after repeated attempts of the villagers to kill him in various gruesome manners. So there are serious sins on both sides of the equation.

The main character himself is still a bit of an enigma much like the world itself. He comes off sort of cocky with a bit of a dry humor to him. But he seems to have the experience to back up that attitude. The real test will be when he throws down with his fellow immortal. Yoshimori has such an unusual fighting style so I hope to see something similar here.

I’m glad to Yellow Tanabe staring off on the right foot. I think Laughter in The End of The World has a good deal of potential so I look forward to the story fulfilling it.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #187

Cross Manage is an interesting choice for a new manga to appear in Shonen Jump Alpha. Right off the bat it is a sports manga. While the Japanese love sports manga it is consistently one of the worst selling genres in the U.S. So I am slightly surprised by Viz deciding to run with a lacrosse manga in the online publication. I’m not saying it is a horrible idea. If your going to try to test the waters with an unpopular genre than a lower risk medium like an online magazine is definitely the way to go. Plus the only way that sports manga will ever succeed in the US is if a title is there to change people’s mind. It might not be Cross Manage but at least Cross Manage is getting a chance to see if it could be that manga.

The other unusual factor is that it is about a girl’s lacrosse team with a male manager. So far it seems to be in a general vein of a shonen sports manga only the genders of the cast have been flipped. This is hardly the first manga to do that but there are somethings that makes it stand out from your mainstream sport manga that does this. The first is that the team hardly seems to be moe girls. We only really see Misora but I am getting the impression that the lacrosse team falls more into the mold of standard shonen roles than moe character roles.

So that means that the standard BL support for a sport series is pretty much torpedoed. There might be additional male characters besides Sakurai but the cast is not the normal smorgasbord of hot guys waiting to be paired up like it usually is. I’m not saying that girls can’t get aboard a show without guys to ship. If the female characters are good I am sure it can easily gain a female fanbase. But it will not have the automatic fujoshi fanbase your standard shonen sports manga would have.

At the same time you don’t have the standard K-On! with lacrosse outfits audience as well. So I am left wondering who (if anyone) will latch onto this series. It is not like there is nothing to like about the manga. The characters seem fun and the lacrosse is hardly an overused sport for manga. I will say the plot, characters, and even art style almost seem a bit more Shonen Sunday than Shonen Jump but maybe that is just me.

I have to say I was impressed with one minor factor. Sakurai is very clearly afraid of girls. He goes out of his way to avoid contact with women all together. You have to be particularly dense to miss that point. They show it constantly. The thing is no one directly says it. None of his friends go, “Man that Sakurai sure is gynophobic. He has been afraid of women for as long as I have known him.” I know that some people have a problem with modern manga being a bit too heavy of the tell and not the show. This nicely proves that is not always the case even in a simple sports manga.

I don’t think I would have casually guessed girl’s lacrosse manga as what replaced Barrage in Alpha even if you had given me 100 guesses. So I am very curious to see how this pans out the U.S. and Japan. It could be a quickly forgotten fluke or it just might slightly shake up the world of shonen sport manga. Only time will tell.

I couldn’t have been more excited to hear a sports manga would be appearing in Shonen Jump Alpha! I’ve been hoping for something like this, but honestly I know how far most American publish turn away from sports titles. In addition, Cross Manage also ended up being a rather unexpected story for Jump.

Sakurai starts the manga in the photography club and we quickly learn that he has been making his way through the clubs at school without much passion for any. Still he is determined to find something but out right rejects sports as an option. I found him likeable and root worthy as it is hinted at that he got a bad injury that has put him off playing sports despite a love for them.

Misora is a basically energetic and happy character, but she doesn’t feel one-dimensional. If I could complain about anything, it’s be Sakurai basically learning how to hit the ball in Lacrosse in under 5-minutes. He then proceeds to show Misora, who’s been practicing nonstop, how to do it right. It just felt a little patronizing towards her. On the other hand, it fleshes out his competence with sports and again makes us wonder about his refusal to play.

What is most interesting to me in this setup is that Sakurai can’t become a sports star if we are focused on a girl’s Lacrosse team. And that rather excites me. Lately I’ve seen more series focusing on or at least highlighting super awesome managers or coaches so this could follow in that line.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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S.W.A.T. Reviews: Summer 2012 Pt. 3

The premise of these reviews is simple: watch the first episode of a series and then immediately sit down to record a review mini-podcast. The reviews are five- to ten-minutes long and entirely off the cuff. As always we only review new shows (so no sequels or continuations) and try to avoid anything that just looks outright awful. Here are nine from the new season:

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Listen – Episode 1 of (Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu) Utakoi from NAS with the opening “Love Letter from Nanika?” by ecosystem and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Natsuyuki Rendezvous from Dogakobo with the opening “Mune Kyun-kei no Ballad” by Yuya Matsushita and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate from AIC Build with the opening “Signal Graph” by Annabel.

Listen – Episode 1 of Campione! from Diomedea with the opening “BRAVE BLADE!” by Megu Sakuragawa and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero from Arms with the opening “Realization” by Faylan and is streaming on Funimation.

Listen – Episode 1 of Sword Art Online from A-1 Pictures with the opening “crossing field” By LiSA and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Kokoro Connect from Silver Link with the opening “Paradigm” by eufonius and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Binbougami ga! from Sunrise with the opening “Make My Day” by Pico and is streaming on Funimation.

Listen – Episode 1 of Tanken Driland from Toei Animation with the opening “Together ~Tanken Driland~!” by Sakura.