Weekly Shonen Jump (April 20, 2015)

This issue includes chapters for Nisekoi: False Love, Toriko, World Trigger, Food Wars!, My Hero Academia, Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment, and Black Clover. There’s also a special section devoted to Naruto fan art from a contest Weekly Shonen Jump ran late last year.

For the series that carried over from previous issues I’ve read, I tried to put a little more focus in my write-ups about the progression of the story from the previous chapter. I will warn you that these write-ups will more than likely contain spoilers.

I only started reading Weekly Shonen Jump back in late February/early March of 2014, which means there’s a number of series published in the magazine that I jumped in the middle of. Since then, I’ve been able to start reading older chapters of some of the titles, but I haven’t managed to do this for all of the titles yet. Because of this, there may be times I might inadvertently include incorrect information in the write-ups. If you see something in a write-up that’s incorrect due to my having not read earlier chapters of a series, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Not only can I correct the incorrect information in the write-up, it will also help provide information for me to have when reading future chapters of a series in Weekly Shonen Jump.

Of course, you can always check out Weekly Shonen Jump for yourself by subscribing to the digital publication at VIZManga.com.

Weekly Shonen Jump (April 20, 2015)

Nisekoi: False Love CH:167

Raku and Onodera have 20 minutes to retrieve the pendant and key, as well as to get to the legendary fir tree. Raku believes that it won’t be possible to do both. We see that Onodera thinks there’s no way Raku would to go the fir tree now because of how important the locket is to him, and has to make up her mind as to what she’s going to do. But then we see that Raku has decided to go to the tree instead, while Onodera seems to have decided to retrieve the locket. But right at the end of the chapter, Raku gets a major surprise.

Huh, so this hasn’t quite turned out how I expected. I’d thought that they would both rush over to the garbage in order to retrieve the locket and key and sacrifice the tree lighting. But that’s not what happened. At first, I thought this could be Komi’s way of trying to get rid of the locket so he wouldn’t have to deal with that particular element. However, the last time Komi made it seem like a major change would happen with Chitoge moving away, it ended up not happening. I’m almost expecting that some kind of “Christmas miracle” will happen that will allow them to see the lighting of the fir tree and get their locket and key back.

Toriko CH:320

They work at trying to extract pair, but it’s going very slowly. When they wonder how long it will take to get enough for even one person to enjoy, Kaka suddenly shows up and says that it’ll take an extremely long time to get enough for everyone. Toriko and the others and unhappy to see that Kaka is still alive. But Komatsu says that she’s on their side, and that this is the real Kaka. Kaka says she will explain the true method to prepare pair. While it’s nowhere near as long as the natural drip method they’re using, it’s still a time-consuming process. Komatsu then points out that there’s a hole in the pair. Just then, there’s a flood of pair; apparently, Komatsu was able to prepare it in one stroke. Everyone partakes in the pair, but Toriko and the others discover that by drinking a certain amount of it, they become the opposite gender and reveal new senses of taste. But Kaka tells them that one more mouthful will return them to normal. Right at the end of the chapter, it’s revealed that they can now see the spirit world.

Oookay, then. I know Toriko has gotten strange at times, but, um… wow. With the revelation that they can see the spirit world, I suspect that the next chapter will be placing an emphasis on this aspect. But it was good to learn that the Kaka who had been traveling with Toriko and the others had been a fake. I liked Kaka and was disappointed when it appeared that Kaka was actually evil. But definitely a lot of exposition right at the beginning, with major surprises taking place right at the end. If it wasn’t for those two major surprises, this probably would have ended up being a rather dull chapter.

World Trigger CH:100

The chapter opens with more commentary to catch the reader up on what’s taking place at the various fronts. Almost half of the chapter is devoted to commentary before the reader truly gets to see the actual action as it’s taking place. When the action does pick back up, the focus is on the battle between Yuma and Murakami. But after four-and-a-half pages of the fight, we’re taken right back to the commentary again.

Overall, I have to say that this wasn’t as action oriented of a chapter as I had hoped it would be. While the commentary can be nice to understand what’s going on, I’d also like to actually see the battles going on that are being commentated on. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help that I saw the newest episode of the anime earlier, which focused more on recap and exposition than it did on action. This could be making me more frustrated with this chapter than I might normally would have been.

Food Wars! CH:115

Shinomiya asks to taste Soma’s dish. He takes a bite, and the art makes it clear that he’s very impressed by what he just tasted. Someone else tastes it and has the same reaction. Soma then launches into an explanation of what he did, and all of the other chefs are surprised. But in the end, Shinomiya says that Soma’s dish isn’t worthy of being included on the menu at Shino’s Tokyo because it’s too low quality as it currently is. Shinomiya offers to show Soma how to do it if it was his recipe. But there is a nice twist right at the end of the chapter.

So this is another chapter that shows that while Soma is able to do something better than others expected, it’s still not necessarily the best that it could be. I do like seeing that Soma doesn’t always come out on top and seem to have the world handed to him on a silver platter. It’s refreshing to see a shonen lead having to work hard but not always being number one. And it looks like Soma has one more week for his Stagiaire Challenge, so it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up next.

My Hero Academia CH:039

After some sizing up, Midoriya and Shoto rush toward each other… and Midoriya lands a punch into Shoto’s stomach. There’s concern about the injuries that Midoriya has sustained up to this point, and the idea of stopping the match is considered. As this is being considered, the match continues, with Shoto asking Midoriya why he’s going this far. After Midoriya answers, we get a flashback of when Shoto was five years old and what ultimately led Shoto to hate his father as much as he does. Right at the end of the chapter, Shoto does something that no one expects.

For the most part, not much truly happens to progress the match over the course of this chapter. However, there’s some really good character development for Shoto here, and by the end of the chapter, Shoto seems like he’s starting to have a change of heart about some things. But the flashbacks and the prodding he’s getting from Midoriya have pushed Shoto to do something that he said he’d never do. I have a feeling that the next chapter will more than likely show us what the results of Shoto’s decision end up being.

Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment CH:019

In this chapter, Pine is informed that she is unable to serve as the prosecutor for the classroom session because only top prosecutors from the special investigations unit are permitted to handle Class-A incidents. Pine insists because it was her friend who was hurt. This doesn’t move Yui, though. Meanwhile, Abaku and Sarutobi are trying to figure out how the incident could have occurred in a way for Tento to be innocent. In a flashback, we see that Abaku has revealed more about the Bloody Session to Tento. Later, we see Sarutobi thinking that when he first met Tento, he felt comfortable around him because he felt familiar.

It’s now the day of the classroom session, and Pine comes up to Abaku with a summary of the day of the attack. This summary primarily focuses on the girls in the class. The classroom session is called to order right at the end of the chapter.

So this story continues to build, and more hints seem to be getting dropped. But which hints are truly important, and which ones are red herrings? Hopefully the classroom session will bring a lot of things into light, and maybe even expose the true identity of Red Ogre. With the way recent chapters have been progressing, I’m just convinced that Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment is probably just about to end.

Black Clover CH:008-010

We get three chapters of Black Clover this week to help the readers of the English version of Weekly Shonen Jump get caught up to where the series currently is in the Japanese edition.

Chapter 8 sees Lord Heath using his ice magic and it appears Asta has been pierced by an ice spear. But Asta suddenly comes up behind Lord Heath and declares that he’s not done. Asta’s pretty beat up, but he still insists on going after Lord Heath. Magna jumps in to give Asta some help. Together, Magna and Asta are able to draw Lord Heath in with a decoy. Noelle is also able to control her magic and jumps into the fray.

Right at the beginning of Chapter 9, Asta is able to get a good hit in on Lord Heath. Right after he defeats Lord Heath, Asta falls asleep. But Asta is awakened by a swallow pecking at him and giving him a stone from the village. Later, we see that Lord Heath’s magic has been sealed, but that he has a magic item inside of him. In the end, Lord Heath and his men self destruct. We then see the group that Lord Heath was working for, and it appears that the swallow gave Asta a magic stone.

In Chapter 10, we see that the Black Bulls have been awarded a star by the Wizard King for Asta, Magna, and Noelle’s actions. Asta also receives his first paycheck, and is taken to the castle town of Kikka in order to spend it. While they’re there, Vanessa takes Asta and Noelle to the black market. They run into Har, a guy that Asta did his entrance exam with, and a thief comes running past the Magic Knights. Both Asta and Har chase after the thief, but it’s ultimately Asta who apprehends the thief. Right at the end of the chapter, we see that the Wizard King is wandering around Kikka in disguise.

While that battle with Heath was interesting, I’d really like to know how Asta managed to survive being attacked by an ice spear. Oh well. But over the course of these three chapters, there’s definitely a dynamic being developed between Asta and Noelle. Black Clover is starting to become a lot more interesting, and it’s starting to feel a little less like a Naurto clone. And was it just me, or did the Wizard King come across as being a little creepy? Hopefully Black Clover will continue to progress in a way that will make readers care about the characters, the story they’re going through, and the world that they inhabit.

Kishimoto Sensei’s Top Picks and Naruto Fan Art

This section reveals the ten entries for the Weekly Shonen Jump cover art contest that featured Naruto characters that were Kishimoto’s favorites and he comments on each one. There are some amazing entries that are featured here, and I enjoyed reading Kishimoto’s comments. And right at the end of the feature, it’s announced that the Naruto mini-series will begin running in the next issue.

Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 19

Bleach DVD Set 19 includes episodes 268-279 of the series on two DVDs. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Bleach DVD Set 19

English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: December 10, 2013

The episodes in Bleach DVD Set 19 focus completely on the canon storyline from the manga source material. The first five episodes in the set have a strong focus on the battle that’s raging between Ichigo and Ulquiorra, which leads to Ulquiorra transforming into his second release. An epic battle takes place between the two, and Uryu and Orihime also find themselves in the middle of everything. Of all the battles that appear in this set, I would have to say that this one is the best and most interesting one. I was actually a little sad to see it come to an end.

While Ichigo and Ulquiorra’s battle is taking place, there would be the occasional cutting away to Rukia, Renji, and Chad battling with Rudbornn Chelute and the Exequias. While there was some progress made in this particular battle, it ended up not being as memorable as the Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra battle or the battles taking place in the fake Karakura Town.

There are three battles that are focused on in the fake Karakura Town: Hitsugaya vs. Halibel, Soi Fon and Omaeda vs. Baraggan, and Kyoraku vs. Stark. A lot of action took place during these battles, and it seemed like Hitsugaya and Soi Fon had actually beaten their opponents. Unfortunately, thanks to interference from Wonderweiss, the Espada are able to escape from what the Soul Reapers did to them and continue fighting. Let’s just say that after how long it took for those characters to be subdued, it was more than a little frustrating to see that we weren’t done with them after all.

Right near the end of the set, the Visoreds make an appearance in the fake Karakura Town, with the potential to possibly turn things around. They may be unhappy with the Soul Society, but they like Aizen even less. At the end of this set, it appears the stage is set for the Visoreds to play an important role in this particular story arc.

While it was great to finally see more of the canon storyline, the ending of this set was frustrating due to the fact that it basically wiped out most of the progress that had been made in the fake Karakura Town. At least Ichigo’s battle and its outcome truly advanced the story. Here’s hoping that this story arc will make more of a progression in the episodes that appear in the next box set.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake continue to be cut off from the end of the episodes and are gathered together in the “Omake” feature that’s included on each disc. I genuinely laughed out loud at a couple of the omake in this set, but for the most part, I was left feeling like, “Meh. Whatever.”

Each disc also has Production Art as a bonus feature, which include either 21 or 22 pages. For this set, all of the images included were line art of the characters that appear in these episodes.

It was surprising to discover that this set also included a “Clean Opening,” because a textless version of the opening hasn’t been included on the Bleach DVD sets prior to this one. It’s the same clean opening on each disc since only one opening theme was used for all 12 episodes that were included in this set.

Each disc also has a “Clean Ending.” The first disc has one clean ending, while the second disc has two. The ending theme changed for the final episode that appeared in this set, so that’s why two are included on the second disc.

“More From VIZ Media” is the exact same five trailers that appear at the beginning of each disc when it first starts up. It didn’t seem worth it to also include them in the bonus features.

If you’re a Bleach fan and want to have all the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection, then you need to get a hold of Bleach DVD Set 19. While the story progression may be on the slow side, at least every episode included here has canon material from the original manga source material.

The reviewer checked out a copy of this item through the King County Library System

Weekly Shonen Jump (April 13, 2015)

This issue includes chapters for One Piece, My Hero Academia, World Trigger, Food Wars!, Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment, Bleach, Nisekoi: False Love, and Black Clover.

For the series that carried over from previous issues I’ve read, I tried to put a little more focus in my write-ups about the progression of the story from the previous chapter. I will warn you that these write-ups will more than likely contain spoilers.

I only started reading Weekly Shonen Jump back in late February/early March of 2014, which means there’s a number of series published in the magazine that I jumped in the middle of. Since then, I’ve been able to start reading older chapters of some of the titles, but I haven’t managed to do this for all of the titles yet. Because of this, there may be times I might inadvertently include incorrect information in the write-ups. If you see something in a write-up that’s incorrect due to my having not read earlier chapters of a series, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Not only can I correct the incorrect information in the write-up, it will also help provide information for me to have when reading future chapters of a series in Weekly Shonen Jump.

Of course, you can always check out Weekly Shonen Jump for yourself by subscribing to the digital publication at VIZManga.com.

One Piece CH:783

The fight between Luffy and Doflamingo continues. Luffy tries to rescue Law, and asks Robin to take care of him. Luckily, she can use her Devil Fruit ability to create a net and catch him. However, Doflamingo tries to turn his attention to Law since he’s not finished with him yet. Cabbage arrives and decides that she needs to cross swords with Doflamingo now that he has seen her. But after Luffy says he needs her to take care of the others, she agrees. Luffy gets Doglamingo to turn his attention back onto him. As Doflamingo fights and appears to be getting the upper hand, he also gloats that the birdcage will begin to kill people. But this seems to egg Luffy on, and he just launches an attack when the chapter end.

This is one of those chapters where there’s a lot of action going on, but not a lot actually happens in the long run. It looks like Law has resigned himself to not making it out alive from this battle, but at least Cabbage is with him to keep him company. I’m sure that by the end of this arc, Luffy will triumph over Doflamingo and Law will make it through, but I don’t know how much longer Oda intends to stretch this out. And with the added tension of the constricting birdcage getting closer to claiming its first victim, the tension has risen dramatically.

It should be noted that One Piece will be off next week.

My Hero Academia CH:038

The fight between Midoriya and Shoto begins. Unfortunately for Midoriya, Shoto’s matches have ended in a flash before this point, so he had no way to learn much from watching him. So Midoriya has to learn while fighting. Unfortunately, Midoriya finds pretty quickly that his right hand is done, followed close behind by his other hand. But Midoriya surprises everyone by using his quirk while he has broken fingers. Right at the end of the chapter, Midoriya tells Shoto to come at him with everything he’s got, instead of just half of his power.

I’m not surprised to see that this chapter ends before Midoriya and Shoto’s match comes to an end. Knowing how the story had been building up to this moment, there was no way I could think that it’d be done in one chapter. Hopefully this match can either come to an end or be right about to end as the next chapter finishes. The pacing is good so far, and I don’t want it ruined by the mangaka trying to stretch things out for too long.

World Trigger CH:099

Kumagai and Murakami begin duking it out, but during the battle, her Trion body loses one of its hands. She uses meteor to try to turn the fight into her favor. We learn through Kumagai’s thoughts that this is the first time that she’s used a shooting trigger. But in the end, Kumagai ends up having to bail out. Yuma appears in front of the victorious Murakami right at the end of the chapter.

The first part of the chapter placed a strong emphasis on commentary, so the action part of the chapter was near the end of the chapter. While the commentary is useful to help the reader figure out what’s going on, having too strong of a focus early on in the chapter like this does make the chapter more of a boring read than if the commentary and action could be have been intercut a little more. But it looks like the foundation is being set for the next chapter to focus on Murakami and Yuma, and it’ll be interesting to see how that goes.

Food Wars! CH:114

Shinomiya allows Soma to submit a dish to the new recipe contest. We learn from Mr. Chapelle that the dish Soma comes up with will essentially decide if he passes or fails this week’s Stagiaire. Soma learns from the others that they’re all taking the new recipe contest very seriously. We then see Soma furiously working on making his dish. He has a flashback of learning things from his father and comes to realize that everything his father came across his life as a chef he condensed into his ideal vision of a family restaurant. It’s now time for the judging, and Soma brings out his dish right at the end of the chapter.

This chapter basically focuses on Soma as he realizes that he has to break free of everything he used to be as a chef. The flashback that’s included in this chapter also gives us a little bit more insight into what Soma has learned from his father when it comes to cooking. I wasn’t surprised to see that the chapter ended just as Soma brought out his dish. I figured it would be that way in order to build the suspense. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with his dish in the contest during the next chapter.

Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment CH:018

As Higashide is trying to arrest Tento, Abaku and Sarutobi are invstigating the crime scene. Abaku swears to save Tento, while Tento is sent to the Children’s Detention Center because of being taken into custody for a Class A Offense. Yui Kijima, the third of the three tongues, has been named the lead prosecutor for Tento’s classroom session. We see she has a violent way of questioning people, and we see that she’s already decided that Tento is guilty. She can tell he isn’t lying at first, but once she asks if he’s hiding something right now, she figures out that he lies when he says no. Just as Yui is about to question him further, Abaku arrives and the two begin sniping at each other. Meanwhile, Higashide receives news that a metal bat was found on the rooftop and it’s thought to be the weapon that was used in the attack. When dusting for prints and comparing them with fingerprints voluntarily submitted by all of the students, they found a positive match that isn’t Tento. Right at the end of the chapter, Abaku reveals to Tento that he had received an email prior to transferring to the school that appears to be from Red Ogre, who apparently is the true perpetrator of the Bloody Session.

Wow, that Yui is a rather frightening kid. But it was also disappointing to see that a sixth grader has been sexualized in the way that Yui has; this was done with both her attire and through the fact that it appears her interrogation methods look suspiciously like BDSM.

But from everything that’s been presented in this chapter, it appears that Tento is indeed innocent. And with various revelations made near the end of the chapter, it’s becoming clearer to see that this series is close to ending, and that it wasn’t planned to run for this short of a time. It appears that the reader may already know who Red Ogre actually is and that both this case and the Bloody Session could be solved rather quickly. At this point, I think it just depends on how many more weeks Weekly Shonen Jump is willing to give this series before it’s forced to conclude.

Bleach CH:623

Kurotsuchi makes it clear to Aizen that he is controlling the level of his restraints. Aizen challenges Kurotsuchi to turn his device all the way up, and Kurotsuchi obliges. Just then, NaNaNa Najahkoop and some of the other Quincies arrive. Just as Nanana is about to attack, Bazz-B attacks NaNana. Bazz-B says they’ll give the Soul Reapers a hand because if Reiokyu falls then they’ll have problems, too. But in order to get their help, he demands something in return. If the Soul Reapers build the gate to Reiokyu, the Quincies want to be taken to the royal palace so they can kill Yhwach for abandoning them.

The early part of the chapter establishes what Aizen’s power is, while the end of the chapter sets the stage for the Quincies to potentially team up with the Soul Reapers. The Soul Reapers don’t give an answer by the end of the chapter, so hopefully we’ll see where this storyline goes in the next chapter. There’s definitely potential for the story to get exciting soon, so I hope that the potential I see will manifest itself in the series’ upcoming chapters.

Nisekoi: False Love CH:165

Raku and Onodera continue to kill time as they wait for the lighting of the legendary fir tree. They have some awkward interactions, but the two of them still seem to be having fun together. But as time goes on, the awkwardness starts to go away, and they genuinely seem to be having a great time. At seven o’clock, Raku decides he wants to buy a present for Onodera and suggests they split up for a little bit and that they’ll meet at the plaza with the tree right at eight o’clock. While he’s looking around, Raku discovers that the battery on his phone is dead and that he hasn’t heard from the locksmith. The locksmith finds Raku and tells him that the pendant and key are missing. The locksmith figures they were accidentally thrown away and says they have until eight o’clock to find it at the central collection spot.

It was fun getting to see Raku and Onodera having such a great time together, but already knowing what had happened with the pendant and key in the previous chapter made it clear that their good time wouldn’t last. I was just waiting for Raku and Onodera to find out the bad news, and we finally saw it right at the end of the chapter. So now they have to get to the central trash collection and find their items by eight, as well as get to the legendary fir tree. It looks like getting both things accomplished could be impossible, so it’ll be interesting to see how this is handled in the next chapter. I have to say that this has been one of the more interesting chapters of Nisekoi: False Love that I’ve read in a while.

Black Clover CH:005-007

We get three chapters of Black Clover this week to help the readers of the English version of Weekly Shonen Jump get caught up to where the series currently is in the Japanese edition.

Chapter 5 introduces the other new recruit to the Black Bulls, Noelle Silver. It turns out she’s a member of the country’s royal family. She’s a snob and holds the fact that she’s royalty over others. That night, Asta gets lost while trying to find the bathroom and wanders outside. He finds Noelle practicing her magic, which she seems to have little to no control over. Later, Noelle traps herself with her own magic, and it’s up to Asta to neutralize it. He succeeds, but it looks like he’s going to fall to his death; fortunately, Yami comes to his rescue. When the Black Bulls learn Noelle can’t control her magic, they don’t make fun of her like she thinks they will. Hopefully Noelle’s attitude will start improving after this.

Chapter 6 officially introduces the other members of the Black Bulls, so the reader gets to learn their names and personalities. Asta and Noelle are given their first mission, which is to go to the village of Saussy and hunt boar. Getting to the village is a problem because neither Asta nor Noelle can fly on a broom. Magna has to take them on his broom. When they reach the village, they find it’s been covered with magic, and Asta is asked to neutralize it. When they clear the mist, they find an execution in progress. Magna uses his magic to stop it. As the executioner tries to continue with what he was doing, Asta tries to use his sword to stop him.

Chapter 7 reveals that the executioner is Lord Heath. When one of his men tries to conjure another mist, Asta is able to negate it with his sword. In a flashback of Asta’s, we learn that there is prejudice against commoners with weak magic. As a kid, he decides that he wants to become the Wizard King and get rid of the prejudice. Lord Heath launches a major ice attack against the villagers, but Asta is able to repel that magic. Noelle tries to help, but she can’t control her magic. Magna tells Noelle to retreat. She’s about to run, but a little girl comes over and begs her to save them. Noelle develops heightened emotions and her magic becomes stronger and she can control it.

These three chapters start progressing Black Clover a little further. At first, I thought I wasn’t going to like Noelle, but she has started to grow as a character by the end of Chapter 7. While I can still see some of the similarities Black Clover has with Naruto, it does seem like this series is starting to diverge away from the Naruto formula as it progresses. I really hope that this continues to be the case, because I do think there’s potential for this series to become more than just a Naruto clone. It’s just a little frustrating that it had to start out as a such a Naruto knock-off, though.

Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 18

Bleach DVD Set 18 includes episodes 256-267 of the series on two DVDs. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Bleach DVD Set 18

English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: September 10, 2013

The first 10 episodes in Set 18 continue the Zanpakuto: The Alternate Tale story arc, and these episodes show what happens after the fall of Muramasa. The final two episodes in the set finally return to canon material from the Bleach manga.

The first 10 episodes introduce the Sword Beasts, which are the zanpakuto of Soul Reapers who have died. The zanpakuto didn’t die with their respective Soul Reapers, so they are lost and start going on rampages. These episodes see the Soul Reapers and their zanpakuto in their materialized human form taking on these various Sword Beasts. Each of these episodes is a stand-alone story; while there were one or two stories in this filler arc that were interesting, the vast majority of them were rather stupid.

The final episode of the Zanpakuto: The Alternate Tale made it clear through various dialogue cues that the episode would end with everything resetting to zero. The fact that a super Sword Beast that absorbs the spiritual energies of other zanpakuto and causing them to turn back into swords also helped cement the idea of this being the final filler episode in this set. The frustrating thing about this episode is that the zanpakuto talk about this super Sword Beast like they’ve known all about him for a while, yet this episode was the first time this particular Sword Beast was mentioned or referenced.

And while it was great to finally return to canon material in this set, the first of these two episodes was simply a recap of the various battles that had taken place between the previous filler arc and the Zanpakuto: The Alternate Tale arc. And the final episode in the set does a short recap of the very end of the previous canon episode before finally progressing the story arc forward. So while I was grateful to finally return to the canon storyline, I was also disappointed at just how little that story progressed before Set 18 came to an end.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake are still being cut off from the end of the episodes and only appear as part of the “Omake” feature that’s included on each disc. The omake on this set were rather mixed when it came to how humorous they were. Some were amusing, while others just seemed to fall flat.

Each disc also has Production Art as a bonus feature, which include either eight or nine pages. Most of the production art is line art of the characters that appear in these episodes, with a few pages that also included occasional color art.

Each disc also has a “Clean Ending” option in the bonus features. The first disc includes the textless version of the first ending theme that appears on Set 18, while the second disc includes textless versions for both ending themes that appear on that disc.

If you’re a Bleach fan and want to have all the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection, then you need to get a hold of this set. Unfortunately, it’s still primarily filled with filler material and only includes a couple of canon story episodes that don’t progress the main storyline very much. But if you want to have all of the episodes that feature canon material, then you need to get a hold of Bleach DVD Set 18.

The reviewer checked out a copy of this item through the King County Library System

Anime Blu-ray Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 5

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Ranma 1/2 Set 5 includes episodes 93-115 of the series in their original Japanese airing order. Surprisingly, all of the episodes in this set appear in the exact same order that these episodes appeared on VIZ Media’s original DVD releases. This release also uses the original Japanese title cards for the episodes instead of the ones that were created for the English dub. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Ranma 1/2 Set 5

English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: March 3, 2015

Ranma 1/2 Set 5 consists primarily of filler episodes and the stranger canon storylines from the original manga. This includes episodes that focus on Martial Arts Tea Ceremony, Martial Arts Dining, Martial Arts Shogi, and Martial Arts Calligraphy. To me, the best episodes in the set are the ones that introduce Gosunkugi, reveal that the principal of Furinkan High School is really the Kuno siblings’ father, and Kodachi being reunited with her long-last father. While there were occasional filler episodes that were somewhat amusing, such as Ranma temporarily becoming Nabiki’s fiancé, the vast majority are either painful to watch or just did nothing for me. Of the five Ranma 1/2 sets that have been released up to this point, Set 5 has the weakest episodes.

This Blu-ray release includes remastered high definition video straight from the Japanese Blu-ray masters. Overall, the Blu-ray remastering looks decent on this set, although I did see an occasional scene that looked grainy or looked washed out. It’s possible that the Blu-ray masters VIZ received from Japan had these same issues, so I’m not blaming VIZ for the occasional visual defects on this set. However, I do have to hold VIZ accountable for the couple of subtitle errors that I saw while watching this set with the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

When it comes to the bonus features, there are a total of five that appear on Ranma 1/2 Set 5. The first is “We Love Ranma Part 5 – We Love Collecting,” which runs for about nine minutes. It includes interviews with cosplayers, voice actors, superfans, and anime industry professionals talking about the various Ranma 1/2 items that they’ve collected. Once again, this feature places more emphasis on the cosplayers, who I don’t know and don’t really care about, over the industry professionals and superfans. Overall, I’ve been rather disappointed in the “We Love Ranma” interviews that have appeared on these sets.

“Next Episode Previews” is a continuous piece that includes all of the next episode previews that aired with the episodes that appear on Ranma 1/2 Set 5. I don’t understand why this feature is included, since the previews are already included at the end of each episode.

The “Clean Opening” includes a textless version of the opening that appears on each episode in Ranma 1/2 Set 5, and “Clean Ending” includes a textless version of the closing that appears on each episode. Trailers are also included as a bonus feature.

This Blu-ray edition also comes with a 32-page booklet. The booklet opens with a “What Happened Thus Far” write-up that summarizes what happened in the episodes that appeared on the previous Ranma 1/2 set. The majority of the booklet provides a brief summary and screen shot for each episode, as well as production credits for the original release of the series and the credits for those involved with this Blu-ray release. The booklet has glossy pages that look nice, but are a little slippery for holding when you’re reading through it. It’s still a nice booklet, though, and I’m glad to see that it was included. The set also came with an art card with a picture of Ukyo that was used as the cover picture for the Ranma 1/2 Random Rhapsody DVD box set.

The box that the Blu-ray case, booklet, and art card come in is very sturdy and looks nice. The back of the box that gives a description of the product is actually something you take off of the box after you unwrap it.

While the episodes included in Ranma 1/2 Set 5 may not be the strongest in the series, I would still recommend this set to fans of the franchise. This is the best way to get Ranma 1/2 in high definition on Blu-ray without having to pay an arm and leg to try to import the Japanese Blu-rays.

Manga Review: “Yukarism” Volume One

Yukarism Volume 1 introduces Yukari Kobayakawa, a 17-year-old high school student who is an accomplished writer. His writings include amazingly accurate historical details about the Edo period, even though he has never researched that era. Somehow, it’s as if a faint memory of the distant past exists within him.

Yukarism Volume 1

Written by: Chika Shiomi
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 2, 2014

Volume 1 opens with Yukari encountering a girl named Mahoro Tachibana and feeling like he knows her from somewhere even though this is the first time they’ve met. It turns out that Mahoro is a fan of Yukari’s writing, and she starts trying to hang around him. One day, Yukari notices an old burn on Mahoro’s wrist and then faints into a deep sleep.

It’s then that the reader learns how Yukari knows as much as he does about the Edo period without any research. It turns out his soul travels into a woman from the Edo period named Yumurasaki, who is a renowned courtesan. Since Yukari’s soul is inside Yumurasaki when it travels to the Edo period, it causes Yumurasaki to act differently than she normally does. But somehow Yukari finds a way to make it through without giving away that he’s not really Yumurasaki.

When the reader first sees Yukari’s soul travel back to the Edo period, he discovers that he did know Mahoro back then, but as a man instead of a woman. Yukari also meets Yumurasaki’s apprentice, Hitoha. This becomes important when Yukari returns to his world, because he later meets Emi Yoshizumi, the reincarnation of Hitoha. Hitoha’s reincarnation is another fan of Yukari’s writing, and Mahoro becomes jealous of the interest that Yukari shows in her. At this point, Yukarism seems to be establishing a love triangle between Mahoro, Emi, and Yukari, but with Yukari not seeming to be romantically interested in either of the girls at this point in the series.

When Yukari returns to Yumurasaki’s body a second time in Volume 1, he is introduced to Shizuka Takamura, a man who everyone refers to as a witch doctor. As Yukari spends time around him as Yumurasaki, it becomes readily apparent that this guy is poised to be the villain of the story. And when Yukari returns to his own time, it’s hinted at the end of the volume that he encounters the modern day reincarnation of Shizuka. From seeing Yumurasaki’s memories, Yukari knows that she will be murdered, and it appears that Shizuka could potentially be the murderer.

For the most part, Yukarism Volume 1 spends most of its time establishing the major characters, the world that the characters inhabit, and the concept of the series. So far, it appears that Yukari will end up going back and forth between his world and the Edo period and encountering the modern day reincarnations of people from the Edo period when he returns to his world. Hopefully the story has gotten a lot of this accomplished in this first volume, but there could be the potential for others to appear as the series continues. Yukarism has an interesting, yet strange, concept going for it, and I’m hoping that the next volume will work at starting to progress the overarching story.

When it comes to the art in Yukarism Volume 1, I really have to give Shiomi credit for the detail she goes into during the scenes in the Edo period. This is especially true when it comes to Yumurasaki’s character design. While there is some good art included the modern day scenes, most of the standout panels and designs appear in the Edo period scenes. But in both time periods, the art style helps to keep the reader engaged and interested in what’s going on in the story.

Yukarism Volume 1 gets the story off to a decent start, and hopefully the promise that this volume shows will continue as the series progresses. Shojo manga fans that enjoy stories that include historical and supernatural elements will probably enjoy reading Yukarism.

Manga Review: “Library Wars: Love & War” Volume 13

Library Wars: Love & War Volume 13 has a concept based on the Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries that went into effect in Japan in 1954. In this series, the Japanese government has passed the Media Betterment Act (MBA) in 1989 which allows the censorship of any media deemed to be potentially harmful to Japanese society. Agents in the Media Betterment Committee (MBC) are deployed with the mandate to go after individuals and organizations that try to conduct freedom of expression activities in the media. However, local governments opposed to the MBA establish armed anti-MBA defense force units to protect libraries from being raided by MBC agents. The story of the series begins in 2019.

Library Wars: Love & War Volume 13

Written by: Kiiro Yumi
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: April 7, 2015

Volume 13 primarily follows Iku Kasahara and Atsushi Dojo from the Library Defense Force (LDF) as they try to protect Kurato Toma, a famous writer that the Media Betterment Committee is trying to silence. As it becomes apparent that the MBC has received information on where the LDF is hiding Kurato, Iku and Atsushi are forced to find elaborate ways to smuggle him away from their hiding place to the LDF’s base. If seeing this smuggling transpire wasn’t amusing enough, we also see that Iku is having a hard time controlling the feelings she’s been secretly harboring for Atsushi. As we see the two of them interacting, it appears that Atsushi may have feelings for Iku as well. But with both of them trying to hide what they feel from the other, it creates awkward, yet amusing, interactions between these two characters.

We also see Asako Shibazaki calling Hikaru Tezuka’s older brother, Satoshi. Satoshi is part of the government’s Future of the Library Committee, and she wants to make sure that he’s not the one who revealed Kurato’s hiding place to the MBC. From what we see in this scene, it’s obvious that both of the brothers are interested in Asako, and it almost appears that Satoshi is challenging Hikaru for her. As I read this scene, I couldn’t get over just how closely Satoshi resembles Shigure from Fruits Basket; the resemblance was so similar that I had to remind myself that he wasn’t Shigure.

There’s also a storyline that focuses on Mikihisa Komaki and Marie Nakazawa. Marie is Mikihisa’s childhood friend who has a hearing impairment. From what’s shown in Library Wars: Love & War Volume 13, the two of them are romantically interested in each other. This storyline is rather sweet as it shows the two of them buying rings together, getting crepes together, and ending with Mikihisa kissing Marie. At least someone’s love life seems to be working out in this volume.

While there’s a lot of romance involved in Library Wars: Love & War Volume 13 there’s also some action that takes place. However, the action primarily takes place when Iku and Atsushi are trying to get Kurato to safety. But since this is a shojo manga, it’s not terribly surprising that more emphasis is placed on the romance and the relationships between the characters than on the action.

When it comes to the art in Library Wars: Love & War, the character designs include some of the basic tropes of shojo, such as having several “beautiful boy” male characters and female characters with large eyes. But what catches my attention here is that Yumi is a bit more conservative when it comes to the screentones that are used for this series. While some of the sparkly and bubbly screentones that are associated with shojo appear in Volume 13, they’re not as prevalent as I normally see in other shojo titles. I guess that would be due, at least in part, to what the basic concept of the series is.

Overall, I found Library Wars: Love & War Volume 13 to be an interesting read. There’s an interesting concept going into Library Wars: Love & War and I think readers who enjoy shojo romance stories with a political backdrop will find something to like about this series. And readers who are already reading it should like seeing how the storyline progresses in Library Wars: Love & War Volume 13.

The reviewer received a review copy from VIZ Media