The Monthly Manga Review - May/June 2012
A new addition to the manga reviews section of this site, here comes the monthly manga review. After putting up a poll to see what people wanted reviewed most, I decided to take into account what readers wanted but at the same time indulge myself in covering more ongoing manga.
First off the poll results for what manga the readers wanted reviewed most:
As you can see Ao no Exorcist ended up at the top but the next ones become harder to rank.
The monthly reviews will appear in the following order:
- Ao no Exorcist
- Kaichou wa Maid-sama
- Kimi ni Todoke
- Gate 7
- Shingeki no Kyojin
Much like with the Shonen Jump Issue Reviews, chapters will be posted up as time goes by because some get released at different dates whilst others get scanlated later. The order in which the reviews appear are in order of popularity based on the poll results, an act that's my recognition to the readers that I did take into account what you wanted.
The reason that I decided to review all the manga which I was considering was that the poll results pointed that out as the best option seeing as whilst Ao no Exorcist got the most votes, D.Gray-man, Claymore and "All of the Above" were tied for second and thus made me unable to say no for those who truly want all the manga reviewed.
Here's the chapter reviews:
Ao no Exorcist - 36
Last chapter I thought that this arc was going to be a little breather that would be concluded by this chapter so that the main story can progress; boy was I wrong, but not angry.
The chapter still leads me to believe that this arc isn't really a long lasting arc that's going to play an important role in the main story but it was an important chapter and arc nonetheless since it addresses some of the tension between Rin and Yukio. Ever since the Impure King arc, when Yukio could somehow access Rin's eyes, it's been obvious that he's held some resentment and fear against the possibility that he might be connected to Satan, like Rin and even though he doesn't blame Rin for their fathers death he still doesn't want to let him off free.
The tension between the brothers was contrasted by the few panels we got where the other Esquires talked about Rin's sudden jump into danger and Bon even revealed that he finds himself cheering on Rin regardless of how reckless his actions are. All of this goes well with the Okumura brothers fight, reminding us that even with Rin being accepted by all, he is still only accepted by his fellow Esquire and will have a harder time being liked by real exorcists like his brother to which Rin responds with an expected reply that proclaims that he's absolutely fine with who he is and is tired of being annoyed about it.
Rin's acceptance and Yukio's fears made a nice reversal of character for the two and also allowed some character development for Shiemi, who was otherwise an extra character had she not been the one to befriend Wadatsumi. She doesn't reveal anything new about her character nor does she develop right there on the spot but instead her realisation that Yukio isn't perfect could act as a stepping stone for her to get stronger mentally and physically.
Other than the focus on repairing the relationship between the Okumura brothers, the other parts of the chapter didn't really do much for me. The pledge to Wadatsumi and the fight against the Kraken isn't the main attraction of this arc was never going to be, for the simple fact that following up a battle like the one in the previous arc with a fight in this one would only irritate the readers and seem very weak. The ending does suggest that the Okumura bros will take on the Kraken alone in the next chapter to save Shiemi thus signalling that their bonds have been restored.
Overall, this was another good transitional chapter for Ao no Exorcist and because it's taking it's time it gives opportunity to build up for a main fight in the next arc all the while allowing for character development and smaller plot points to be explored.
D.Gray-man - 214
To me, D.Gray-man has been a manga that's taken a nosedive with this current arc; the previous had a lot of impact and climaxes coupled with new developments and exciting battles but so far this one has been quite dull and slow moving, especially the previous chapter which was plain boring. This chapter doesn't exactly break the manga out of it's slump but at least picks up the pace a little.
My fear regarding the flashback taking up the entirety of this chapter didn't come true (luckily); the flashback was short and sweet, done from the point of view of the 14th (Nea) aka Mana's brother. Clearly this was something Allen would be happy to experience, seeing as he holds an attachment to Mana and it explained a possibility of how Allen allowed the 14th to take over his body, a development in the plot which was predictable but welcomed by me.
I didn't care much for how the 14th's awakening was done because it had been built up over a long period of time, so it seemed kind of half-assed and anti-climactic to just have Allen wake up as the 14th after passing out on the streets post-battle. As far execution goes, it was terrible but the silver lining is that the 14th has finally awakened, something that is long overdue and had the author decided to postpone it even more that would have been more irksome than the actual execution of his awakening, because there is only a certain number of times that Allen can reject the 14th from gaining some control (regardless of how small) of his body; Naruto went into kyubi mode on various occasions and the lesson to be learnt was you can't suppress forever.
The chapter ends at yet another point that does make you want to read the chapter because quite a bit has happened and you want to see what happens to Allen and Jonny, who is now unconscious, though I will say that it also makes you feel that the chapter hadn't accomplished much (like how Bleach does). It seemed obvious how Kanda was able to discern that the 14th had awakened but whether he sticks to his convictions and challenges him in the next chapter is yet to be seen - I personally want a fight between the two because we haven't seen either of them at full power.
D.Gray-man's chapter this time around was average bordering on good but because of how the arc has been progressing I kind of feel like the chapter has suffered a little because of it. Hopefully the next chapter will have some genuinely exciting developments or battles.
Claymore - 127
After causing one of the biggest uproars with fans thanks to a certain editorial mistake, it was nice to see Claymore back with a new arc though I can't say the same thing about this chapter.
It's not bad by any standards but it's slow and is one of the wordier chapters of Claymore that I'm not fond of. The chapter didn't accomplish much at all with all the talking, which was very cryptic but it also didn't really reveal anything new and made the entire pace of the chapter slower and more dull than what I was expecting.
The most memorable part of this chapter was Deneve suddenly ripping of her top to explain something properly to Raki about the Claymore body and what it looks like. This particular part of the chapter made for a nice addition since it not only re-confirmed Raki's love for Clare, after them not seeing each other all this time but it also established as Raki as one of the true friends of the Clamyore and what's more the only male that they can truly trust.
The focus on Raki being Clare's possible saviour was a focus that I liked since it went back to the roots of Claymore and the original story when Clare became a saviour after the one being saved and now it's time for Raki to repay her and of course he's already become a saviour for the trainees.
As a transitional chapter I can't really hate it, even if what I've written has been a little negative, although it did seem a little dull. Now that the old arc has been wrapped up, this new one should focus on Raki and the Claymore saving Clare.
Kaichou wa Maid-sama - 71
I found it a little hard to write anything about this chapter of Maid-sama, only because I can't really see this manga progressing much further in terms of story and also because it felt a little repetitive.
I enjoyed the comedy in this chapter which saw the return of Aoi, always a favourite character when it comes to comedy and the development in this chapter with his voice breaking and his involvement with Misaki's dad only added more comedy to the chapter.
That said, the only other thing I picked up from the chapter was Hinata's talk with Misaki's dad, which might not have been a huge moment in the chapter but since Hinata's been spending a lot of time with Misaki's younger sister I figured this not only came from someone who knows the family situation very well but also someone who may have started to develop the same feelings as Suzuna.
And of course this left Misaki and Usui's usual conversation between the two where Misaki felt embarrassed and Usui was agressive, a conversation that didn't bring much to the table but at least now allows Misaki to be truthful with herself as she now admits that the happiest times she experiences are with Usui. As an ending to the chapter it didn't make me feel satisfied with Maid-sama but I did forget that this current chapter was just after the arc which introduced Mr. Ayuzawa so I think it was an appropriate time to have another breather chapter like this one. I will say that I don't know if this series is going to go on for much longer, since there is still plenty of plot left to explore but it doesn't really make me excited about it.
A neither here nor there chapter for Maid-sama this time round, but presumably next chapter will go back to the original story and fastrack towards somewhat of an ending.
Kimi ni Todoke - 69
Wow how long does it take for a couple to be formed
Even with the almost snail-paced progression of this chapter (much like the previous one) I still found myself enjoying every page. Chizuru and Ryu's love was one of the more complicated ones in Kimi ni Todoke, maybe even more complicated than Kazehaya and Sawako's, so it's understandable that a lot of the focus would be on them being awkward around each other as they attempt to break through the many obstacles that have held them back from falling for each other properly and then becoming a couple. You can definitely tell that their romance is on the verge of being wrapped up since their present exchange ended up leaving a strong impression on each other, especially Chizuru, and Ryu has continued to be a more forceful character which has speeded up the process as well.
The other focus of the chapter (after a good 16 pages) was back on Sawako and a little bit on Ayane and Kent. With Sawako still feeling bad about herself, it was nice to see her being worried for a reason other than Kazehaya since it's been quite a few chapters since her problems have been based around something or someone else entirely different and what better way than to worry about one of her best friends.
It was also good to see a talk between Sawako and Kent, since they've always had a friendship of sorts, which up until now hasn't really been displayed as true friendship. Since Kent is after Ayane, it's good to see Sawako being involved in a deep conversation about her with Kent which ended up further pushing Kent towards Ayane. Of course at the end of the chapter where Kent meets Mogi in the bathroom made me think for a second that this romance is going to be stalled for a while but I don't think it would be in Kent's character to be so hung up about the past, considering all he's said and done; even if the case is about Ayane, I don't think he'd be the type to get discouraged by an ex-boyfriend talking to him.
Before the ending, Pin made an appearance which is always a delight for myself. With another mix of Pin comedy and him giving a serious speech it felt like a lot more went on in the chapter than it actually did, and as usual when Pin wants to be of actual assistance he can be; in this case he gave Sawako some solid advice about her worries with Kazehaya and how she should continue on without worrying as much and do what she wants. I like that Pin is mostly a gag character and of course his entrance into the chapter added some comedy to an otherwise romantic drama heavy chapter but of course another reason why he's a good character is that he always has good intentions and always knows what to say in these types of situations (remembering about what he said to Ayane on the trip).
Shingeki no Kyojin - 34
What a chapter! So much going on that this chapter but it was done so well that I'm sure this was my favourite chapter of the month; the only other chapter that was better was One Piece chapter 667 but that was technically published in May so it doesn't count.
I'm always amazed at how Shingeki no Kyojin manages to keep surprising me with it's plot developments and this chapter was no exception to it's ability to keep me a little surprised by everything that happens and believe me, finding out that there are titans sleeping inside of the actual walls was a huge development and has now added more mystery to the story - possibly predictable but definitely not in a bad way.
After the initial shock of this new plot direction, I couldn't have asked for anything better than Hanji taking multiple shots at the priest and even threatening to kill him. I don't know if it has to do with my strange liking for when stories in any type of entertainment (anime, manga, films, books etc.) bring up the failures and hypocrisy of religion but seeing Hanji angry and worked up over something as serious as this was refreshing, not to mention that the conversation between Hanji and the pious priest added a sense of urgency to the current situation.
The frustration came at the end when the focus switched to Sasha and Co. who have been out of sight for a little while right now and they're discussing their desires and own frustrations over having to wait it out on the outskirts. I liked how the cliffhanger was essentially given to us before the focus shifted to Sasha and the others, seeing as it ended up broadening the scope of the chapter from just focusing on the titans in the wall but also because it sets up the next chapter quite nicely, without letting the pressure and pace drop whatsoever.
Great chapter from Shingeki no Kyojin this month, leaving me wanting more but not leaving me unsatisfied and impatient for the next one.