Archive for the ‘Manga’ Category

Usagi Drop: on the Yukari and Daikichi non-romance

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

You read that right.

I think the manga ending was great.

B-b-but muh incest!

It’s probably because I’m an abnormal person, but I think the second half of the manga wasn’t bad. To me, the manga was short from being a masterpiece because of one relationship: it’s the one between Yukari and Daikichi. I could understand most of the other characters’ thought progressions, but I couldn’t logically understand why a mutual love has to be let go of, especially when there are no hindrances.

But then I thought more about it, and realized that Yukari was trapped between her love for her son, and her love for Daikichi. As a parent, she chose Kouki. Because if one thought about it, Yukari pursuing a relationship with Daikichi and accepting his offer of marriage will also mean that Rin and Kouki have to live together in one household, and as siblings. Both Daikichi and Yukari wished for Rin and Kouki to be together, which is the primary reason that they haven’t become anything more than good friends in all the time that has passed.

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When Kouki messed around with Akari and his life, however, Yukari still couldn’t accept Daikichi’s feelings, especially because she’s also grown to love Rin as another family member. Think about it: Yukari couldn’t bear the thought of Kouki hurting Rin and Daikichi in the process. She loves her child, but she loves them too.

When Rin finally got over Kouki’s inconsistency and irresponsibility, Yukari still couldn’t accept Daikichi’s feelings, because it would again show that she put her happiness above her child’s. Daikichi also understood that it wouldn’t work if they were both happy yet their children would be suffering: Kouki would be suffering from an unrequited love, and his rejection would resonate every time he’d see Rin in their house; Rin would probably seclude herself even further from the world.

It would never work.

So as painful a decision it was for Yukari, she had to make it for the sake of the other important people in their lives. Do I think she loves her new husband? She does, but she doesn’t love him as much as she loves Daikichi. When one sees what Daikichi has done for her and for her son’s life in all the times she’s been down, one realizes that it would be hard to surpass what Daikichi did. She just loves her son more.

Kouki is one of the main reasons why I don’t want children. You can strive all you want, but if you have the misfortune of giving birth to a piece of shit like him, you’ll end up losing against life. He single-handedly destroyed the realization of the best possible relationships just by being a piece of shit. He couldn’t man up for Rin; he didn’t do enough for his mom; and he couldn’t even give Daikichi the woman of his life because he was such a turd.

That just really makes me sad.

Honeymoon Salad: one of the best

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

This is in my top three manga of all time. Honeymoon Salad really is, to me, that good. I advise people who do plan to read this series to read Baby Leaf first, however. Baby Leaf is the prequel to Honeymoon Salad, and introduces one to the reason why the three main characters live such initially tragic lives.

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‘There’s no way to make a clean end of things of things. At this age, I’ve finally realized that,’ quipped Minori, the male protagonist of the series, at the very first chapter. It’s insinuated that he has problems ejaculating because of the psychological trauma his first girlfriend gave him when she left him out of thin air.

In short, shit’s happened in his life, and the primary reason is the girl who left him. The great thing about this series is that while all three characters are broken, being together with each other allows them to function the best that they could. (more…)

Umi no Misaki: the anti-harem

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Umi no Misaki is surprisingly good. While, of course, it doesn’t rank as well when compared to universally-acclaimed series, it’s among the top three in all the harem series I’ve read. It’s also just a really good manga. There are many reasons as to why, but I think the foremost is that it turned the usual cliches of harem series on its head while delivering a wonderful story, to boot. The harem, ultimately, is a necessary choice within the manga’s universe.

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First, Goto Nagi as a harem protagonist is someone who has balls. He’s a guy that I think most men should aspire to be: while sexual intercourse is never far off in his mind, he consistently tries to understand and appreciate the women he’s with – and he plays no games with them. In fact, he’s a mensch for holding himself back from the women who surround him. A common trope in harem series is a protagonist who is chased by the women for no reason other than inscrutable attraction, and this protagonist is often spineless until the very end. We’ve seen this type from Love Hina to the recently-ended Nisekoi.

Nagi isn’t such a character. The women grow to like him because he is a genuine and kind person. As the manga progresses, the women do just as much initiating as he does once each of them are comfortable in their relationships among themselves. And ALL of them follow through.

Second, it’s a manga that’s not merely a game of ‘who will he pick?’
As the manga progresses, the central conflict alluded to, even in the earliest chapters, is really the clash between love and duty. The maidens understandably all fall in love with Nagi, but their raison d’etre, or their deontology, is primarily to the island that has borne them and provided them with such responsibilities. At the end of the manga, this is what ALL the maidens, as well as Nagi, are striving to overcome. When a manga series reminds me of Immanuel Kant, I know that that manga series is good.

Finally, the series appropriates and transforms the harem ending into a necessity. While most of us expected Shizuku (the first girl he saw) and the one Nagi has the most ‘experience’ with end up together, it is subverted by the deep responsibility each girl feels towards her role as Cape Maiden. When what happens behind the Dragon Ritual is revealed to Nagi, he decides in such a way that only true heroes can – outside of the box, and fucking destiny along with it. Chapter 116 reveals the depth of thought Shizuku gave into her decision, and is the climactic point that leads the reader to the ending.

Frankly, while I would have liked a timeskip, I was glad the author didn’t cop out and ended the story on a positive note in the present time. Each one of the maidens were drastically changed by Nagi, but the ending shows one that they could go through it together. (The fact that Nagi has great endurance was a great Chekhov’s gun for the manga’s end.)

I highly recommend it.

P.S. I prefer Soyogi because she has similar characteristics in women I like, but I’m totally fine with how the series ended.

Prison School c. 209-211 impressions

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

I tackled the character development of Mari with regard to her misandry in my last post. Although Mari is still, quite definitely, wary of men, she recognizes Kiyoshi’s ability and has grown very reliant on him. He had literally died during chapter 209, because Hana, in an act of desperation, not only exposed him wearing panties: she also exposed his penis in fron of the school’s thousand girls. The same chapter established that Kiyoshi’s heart belongs to only Chiyo: he bemoaned during his death that he couldn’t tell her he liked her. There are no other women in his life, and this was supported by the fact that in his resurrection the following chapter, the rest of the women he knew were merely breasts to him.

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Chapter 209 ended very bleakly. Kiyoshi has just died, while the only person Kiyoshi loves called him a disgusting pervert. Akira Hanamoto, being a masterful writer, however, turns it all around in the succeeding chapter. Chiyo greatly respects Kiyoshi because she believed (and was partly right) that the panties were all his plan to throw the Kibasen into chaos. Mari manifests her intelligence by performing precordial thumps on Kiyoshi, who eventually comes to his senses exhibiting quirky behavior. He has become Death, the destroyer of worlds: his exposure ensures that he will be seen in the school as a pariah, and my interpretation is that he goes on simply because in a previous chapter, he asked for Mari’s blessing with regard to Chiyo, and she acceded to his request. In addition, since despite his perversions he has a heroic nature, he plays with the boys who wish for the reinstatement of the wet T-shirt contest. His resurection brings about his fearlessness. I think that his ‘Let us go,’ simply means that he wishes to go all the way for Mari and for the boys’ sake: like Mari, he no longer has anything to lose as well. Besides, as he’s assured of Chiyo’s sister support, he just wishes to complete his task.

211, I think, is the nadir of his social reputation. Not only is he unable to put his penis inside the striped panties, he is actually empowered from it. Kate succinctly and accurately interprets their condition: even if the USC will win, they will no longer demand a following. Mari has fallen from grace, and Kiyoshi’s hijinks will be inexorably connected with her.

Impressions:

I don’t know what to expect anymore. It will definitely be a Pyrrhic victory for any side, but I can’t see Kiyoshi and Mari escaping from prison this time.

Mari x Kiyoshi: pictures paint a novel

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

I have committed a grave error against Mari in my write-up yesterday. Redditor necktie_13 mentioned that most of Mari’s reactions with regard to Kiyoshi were unspoken, and that led me to a gaffe in analysis. Because I’m very used to textual analysis, I didn’t pay too much attention toward Mari’s facial reactions in regard to Kiyoshi. However, Mari’s interaction with him have gained a considerable amount of softness. Prior to even the incidence between them with the snakes, Mari subtly has already modified her perspective towards Kiyoshi during their conversation in chapter 112.

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Instead of berating Kiyoshi, she understands that he was truly trying to help Meiko as she fell off the ladder without any intention of harassing her.

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Another notable interaction between the two of them occur during the chapter with the snakes (chapter 120): while he was bitten by a viper, Mari was actually reminded of her father with Kiyoshi. Despite the fact that their relations have soured during her time in Hachimitsu, it’s undeniable that her perspective of males is being slowly rehabilitated because of Kiyoshi. Chapter 118 also shows her being visibly flustered at the thought that (surprise!) not all men are out to only have sex with or use women.

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Her flustered appearance is once again repeated in chapter 121, when Kiyoshi vows to save her above himself.

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Her emotional investment in Kiyoshi percolated through the next few chapters until chapter 124, where she slaps him because he wanted to grope her before dying as he believe he was poisoned. This was no longer the distant Mari, aloof from all men. She felt offended — more importantly, however, she asked Kiyoshi for forgiveness because she had started to understand him, not as a piece of garbage, but as a person.

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She becomes more willing to have physical contact with him, even if that were because of a reward.

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By chapter 129, she smiles openly in front of Kiyoshi.

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Later on, in fact, she once again loses her composure when Kiyoshi attempts to send a message to the men.

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She blushes for the first time while asking forgiveness from Kiyoshi a second time in chapter 131. When we are embarrassed with the person we treasure, we blush. People don’t blush towards people they don’t take emotional stock in: people blush towards people they give a damn about.

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And, of course, after affecting her escape, she speaks to Kiyoshi in chapter 166. Her perspective of him has clearly transformed: he is at the very least a good friend, but it seems that he may become so much more. Particularly telling is the ninth page of their conversation: instead of ‘we,’ she rephrases her answer toward Kiyoshi: ‘once this battle is over, take me out to eat some delicious yakiniku, Kiyoshi.’

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When Kiyoshi touches her breast in chapter 204, she doesn’t even react in an overly violent manner. She slaps him, but actually slaps him harder when he was fondling Meiko.

Finally, in chapter 205, both Hana and Mari affect shock when Kiyoshi tells them he’d confess to Chiyo.

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She shows disappointment.

Hers is probably the slowest tale of love to develop among the three characters Kiyoshi has had protracted interactions with, but it’s also equally tragic as Hana’s. They started off being biased against him, yet despite that he proved them wrong and showed them his propriety every time. While she still has to overcome her misandry, it’s clear that the snow queen’s heart has already melted. Sadly, her king is in love with her sister.

Transactional psychology in Prison School, or, why Chiyo will win

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

I. Introduction

It has been more than six months since my last anime-related blog post. I have as much consistency as a schizophrenic does with his thinking. It’s been a few years since I have written volubly regarding anime. I’m not making any excuses: it’s not as if it’s surprising that working as a medical doctor takes a lot of time away from writing and enjoying anime. I’ve never really stopped watching anime, although I do it sparingly nowadays. I was still able to watch Zankyou no Terror recently, and while I planned a write-up on that one, it never really materialized because of its disappointing ending. I just think it would have been a better anime if it focused on Nine and Twelve and the girl in their quest for truth rather than introduce a confounder into the series which is counterproductive because the series is short at only 12 episodes.

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I wasn’t as passionate with that series as this one that I just finished watching. I have spent the better part of two days devouring everything I could on Prison School. I came for the fun and the tits, but I stayed for the story: I say this with a straight face because the story has great insight on abnormal psychology. I am heavily invested in this series: I recall it was when Tatami Galaxy aired that I was this involved with a series, so it’s been a very long time. My only problem now is that I have to wait for the future chapters of the manga, although the chapter the manga is at during this article’s writing (ch. 208) is a great spot to elaborate my thoughts on the series. (more…)

Sundome: strangulation of the pre-climax

Friday, March 25th, 2011

I like Sundome.

It’s not the same as other people saying ‘I like ice cream.’ Most people like ice cream, and the statement does not come out as something definitive: it’s merely a weak affirmation of what most people believe in anyway. Liking Sundome is as different from raising your hand in a wave of raised hands: liking Sundome has to be a strong opinion, because there will most probably be little support coming from one’s peers. It is a polarizing, complex work that (I believe) has evolved from a manga about sex play into something much more. Liking it is akin to breaking the anonymity of silence and emptiness in a room of quietude: liking it is a statement.

The premise of the manga is extremely interesting: ‘I will not let you come.’ It’s essentially a series of psychological bondage that has its roots on weakness (for the guy) and desperation (for the girl). A girl transfers into a school and catches the eye of a pushover. She allures him because she is his ideal girl. She plays with his heart, and ultimately joins his club to continue their sexual games. Her final words during their first meeting was ‘I will not let you come.’

The manga has probably been treated by most as softcore hentai. It probably is, for the most part. But as the story progresses we learn that the sexual games by Kurumi is actually her own twisted way of forcing Aiba to grow up into something more manly. While she probably started the manipulation just because it feels good to dominate something or someone, she kept on doing it because it gave her a sense of purpose. It was eerily obvious that there was something insidious bothering Kurumi: all Aiba could do was keep on trusting her. For his part, Aiba, who was once a pushover, slowly became stronger physically and mentally because of the tortures and the twisted reward system that Kurumi implemented in their sex games.

While it was alluded early on that she had sex with different men, it was made more obvious later on that she was suffering from a chronic disease that debilitated her a lot of days in school. As time passed it was also made more evident to her that beyond the master-servant relationship, Aiba really cared a lot of Kurumi despite his perversions, and also acted accordingly. Like the telling sex scenes in Lust, Caution, the subtle evolution of their relationship from people who used each other to people who actually cared for one another despite their circumstances was something that I delighted in. I thought that the final act of Kurumi breaking her promise to have sex with Aiba in the place she wanted to be was something sad but not heartbreaking: I think it was a triumph for both of them to have become meaningful people despite their limitations. Aiba learned the pain and pleasure of love, and Kurumi found meaning in her short time with Hideo. It’s a dynamic that is better portrayed by pictures than words, but it’s a dynamic that’s wonderful to watch so long as one is open-minded enough.

Quoting Tatami Galaxy,

Watashi: ‘Why do you haunt me so?’
Ozu: ‘It’s how I show my love.’

Aiba and Kurumi were both Watashi and Ozu at some points in the series. But as the ending suggests, it was undeniable that they loved each other in their own twisted ways. It’s a great manga, but it’s something that has to be experienced rather than recommended. People may see me as perverted otherwise. 😉

The return of disequilibrium

Monday, October 4th, 2010

I love The World God Only Knows and Good Ending. These are the manga series I follow week in and week out because I’m a sucker for good and funny love stories. While Good Ending is currently middling, The World God Only Knows is at an arc where the wheels really turn and the plot is bounding forward: in the recent chapters another goddess is discovered among Keima’s capture targets, and because she recalled everything that happened between her and Keima she turns to him for help as she’s chased by who seems to be the first real enemy of TWGOK. This shocks the classroom, especially the girls who were the past targets of Keima.

I love the sweetness between them.

I love the sweetness between them.

That’s not the only thing to be celebrated, however. One of my favorite romance manhwas, Unbalance x Unbalance, has returned to serialization and is approaching its ending. I’ve always been intrigued by a teacher-student relationship especially when the teacher is significantly older, and Unbalance x 2 has realized that desire of mine in a well-done manga. I pertain to well-done not in the sense of having flawless writing or plot, but as being good all-around. Jin-Ho is a very likable guy with a one-track mind, and the women in the series are very attractive, as well. I’m glad they’re finally going to properly end it.

Chapter 72 could already have served as the ending, but there was something missing, and that is the closure that the recently released chapter is building up. While Hae-Young has already confessed that she likes Jin-Ho properly despite the taunts of Jin-Ho’s senior, it was done under duress. I do believe that his confrontation with his senior was the climax of the story, with the following chapters setting up the denouement of the manhwa. I’ve been thoroughly entertained during the time I read it, and I can’t wait for the ending so that I can read it again.

There’s something I can look forward to once again.

The ‘epilogue’ of Ane Doki

Monday, September 6th, 2010

The epilogue is actually anything but open when one takes it in the context of the series. Remember her condition: ‘when you get older, and your feelings still haven’t changed, let me hear you say that again.’ No matter how his friends goad him to pursue Sakurai (very possible to be even more attractive), he stays mum on the matter. He also didn’t arrive with any girl. Moving is something major, and I think if he really had a girlfriend she would be around to help him do it. From their conversation, however, it doesn’t seem he’s seeing any girl (again, he’s being goaded by his friends to see Sakurai).

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Kouta quips in the ending that ‘as long as I don’t forget these feelings …’ and Natsuki reaffirms this with ‘Definitely some other time.’ In the epilogue, upon his return to town, Natsuki lay in wait at exactly the same spot with a very smug, knowing smile. This is in contrast to the time where they first met, where she talked to him with a straight and serious face. The ‘I love you’ in white background doesn’t even have to specify whether it was Kouta or Natsuki who said it, just that it was said and that no matter who said it would probably still mean the same thing (it’s probable even both of them said it!).

Although I wish just like any other guy for a better closure, this was done very well for a discontinued manga.

(Yes, I actually like Mizuki Kawashita’s works. I hope this gets a proper anime treatment by Kasai Ken’ichi and J.C. Staff.)

Birth of the 2D complex

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

I started reading Ai Kora about three years ago. The chapters were released with relative speed, and the story was entertaining. However, something must have happened to the original scanlators of the series because they have been excruciatingly slow these past two years. (I am not blaming them: I am grateful of the work they have done and I have no right to complain; I am just stating a fact.) It was to my surprise that a band of different scanlators have worked on the series and one of them have finally released the last chapter of the series. I had already finished college and am now into post-graduate studies to become a doctor, but I am extremely thankful that it was finally done. (more…)