2011 in Manga
So this year's been pretty good for manga developments, I guess. Probably will just go through all the series I read regularly and talk about the developments they had during 2011.
Wait wait hold on first what the heck where are all these supposed 2011 posts, why did this take so long, etc?
There are many reasons but whatever let's just forget about it.
This year we had... Lots of Nanamine, it seems. He's an okay character in my book. Good execution of a pretty traditional villain-type, which isn't common. What else... Eiji's run to end Crow was pretty entertaining, it was a nice exciting arc with some genuine suspense. Their new series is all Death Note mode, seems cool, always knew they'd do that eventually so it was pretty, I dunno, triumphant or climatic or something. Whole series has that tone lately. Even the Aoki/Hirawaru story climaxed in a hilarious fashion. Really seems like the series is wrapping up and I'm glad, I think if they go out now with a terrific arc, final showdown against Eiji, all that, they'd really cement this as a great shonen manga. A
So this year we got something like uh seven chapters of Berserk which is okay but they're all just him dicking around in some big sea god belly, fighting pirates or zombies or something, and then there was mermaids and I don't know. I really don't. Chapters are still really fun and exhilarating and just absolute elder god tier artwork but I don't even know what I'm looking at half the time and I'm having a hard time remembering what I'm excited about OH YEAH FAIRY ISLAND, let's get on over to Fairy Island, okay? I honestly can't even remember why we're going, something about Casca? I just want to see more of Griffith's sweet-ass kingdom and for Guts to see it so he can scream at it. B+
Oh... God. What... what is this. What is happening? This year in Bleach we went from confusion to utter despair as the shambles of plot staggering out from the great corpse of Aizen proved, as we all knew deep down, to be nothing more than... nothing. Ichigo meets some people who want to do something something powers and then surprise twist betrayal. Then a big fight with the absolute weirdest pacing I have ever experienced in anything, everyone shows up, the sideliners get sidelined again, everyone introduced dies or something, and we're right back where we started with even less hope, if it was possible. D
2011 covered most of the S-rank examination/Tenrou island arc, basically from the initial fight between Markov and Hades to the supposed time skip. I dunno, when I look back at this arc, I can honestly say I do not feel even the slightest bit good about it. I seem to recall tolerating it when it was running because there was a lot of crazy art and some of the fights were pretty entertaining, but what manages as 5-minute-a-week entertainment really can't stand up as, y'know, good shonen manga. Like, what was the plot here? Fairy Tail's special island is under invasion, sure, that's a good enough premise. But nothing really follows from it. More and more contrived stuff just kept cropping up. I felt like I was playing Katawa Crash. Or rather I'm just thinking about Katawa Crash a whole lot these days and felt like saying that, but the analogy works. He writes like his characters fight – in a corner? Losing steam? Don't worry, something will pop out of nowhere and give you a little boost for no reason. And then that timeskip. Oh man, don't get me started. What happened there? It just baffles me. As does most of the transition into the new arc, although some of those chapters were kinda fun. On the plus side, the characters are still likable and I'm danged if his art isn't some of the best in a regular weekly series. I think he knows the plot is about as feeble as it's allowed to get and compensates by working really really hard at every other aspect. And that's more than admirable. C
It's Not My Fault That I'm Not Popular!
New series this year and oh boy is it funny. Art is perfect, timing is perfect, gags are perfect, premises, situations, references, everything. I feel like it's sort of painted itself into a corner like most sitcoms where no matter how great they do characterization or how intricate a world they build up, they'll never be able to do anything besides just funny. Which is fine I guess but I feel like there's some stuff here that approaches a border of being able to actually provide some touching insights into a tragic character. Or maybe not. Just funny is more than good enough when it is this funny. S-
So the big war arc (penultimate arc?? I'm crossing my fingers!!) has been going on for about a year now, eh? Well geez it's been one big blur for me. Some of the villains have actually been kinda neat, I'll admit. I mean, Kishimoto can do whatever he wants with this stupid thing. It is stupid, yeah, but at least when he does something stupid he makes it so stupid that he can get away with anything. Like an army of resurrected ninjas, okay. That's dumb. But he gets the chance to bring back any character he wants, plus add any new one that can do anything and he can write whatever “cool” back story he wants for them too. Former Kages, legendary assassins, whatever. Total freedom. That's pretty smart. Sure I can only remember like two or three winners generated by this system – those being a few of the former kages that had cool designs and did neat things – and I can remember many more utter failures (remember those Batman villain guys with the magic jar that would suck you in if you said the wrong word? I wish I didn't) but really I think what's most unimpressive is the vast number of characters introduced this way that were just really really uninteresting. Like guys who would get multi-chapter arcs and they'd just have these stupid little gimmicks that got old and usually forgotten within two pages and then it would just be another ninja fight. Seems weird that for characters that are supposed to specialize and individualize as they matured, pretty much everyone in Naruto these days seems to fight using the same stupid fireballs or summons or big wave of whatever moves. Dumb dumb dumb. Seriously the more I think about it the more utterly mindblowingly dumb things I remember like the whole retcon about Gaara's mother or when Madara showed up and threw a big rock or the stupid little arc in the medical tent with the imposters or oh geez it just goes on and on, special negative bonus points for any fight where the enemy's emotions would leak through or whatever and they'd shout their weaknesses at the good guys, that was absolutely painful. And uh anything with the tailed beasts is dumb, there was another “what's the real body?” fight that was dumb, lots of fights that start and then don't go anywhere aw man screw it this was just too dumb. F
Okay, so was this the year One Piece jumped the shark? Or went into the deep end? Har har har harummm yeah Fishman Island wasn't quite what I hoped it would be and it's really bugging me. Pacing problems I can forgive, it reads a lot better in volumes, but there's something else a little weird. People compared it to Skypiea a lot and I think Oda wanted it to be like a new Skypiea maybe? With the ending I get that sense, plus a lot of the other parallels. But Skypiea's real strength I think was the really simple three-act structure to it. They showed up, had an adventure, got all split up and came back together. That was act one, lots of world building, few major fight scenes. Then they had a good reason to go back in, the whole survival game which I think is generally just genius gave a really clear but compelling way to get everybody fighting, there was several really good fight scenes between established characters, and the build-up to the final act, with the flashback (I guess this could be an act in itself, but it's really more of a gaiden, if you will) and the ark arc (lol)... it was just sublime. With Fishman Island, everything was muddled. Everything seemed a bit less natural. Many characters underwhelmed. Instead of spread out all over this cool island, things seemed to be happening in this vague poorly space that seemed almost... dare I say it? Bleachean. And none of the fights really seemed that exciting once we realized that the New Fishman Pirates weren't real enemies. I mean, it was cool 'cause we got to see the Straw Hats' new powers, but it didn't really seem to be building to anything. And the climax was just pretty absurd, I think. Van der Decken going down basically off-screen, Hodi not really doing anything interesting, and the final suspense of Luffy almost punching a boat to death. It's just... weird. And all the half-assed resolutions of Caribou and the treasures and Shirley's prophecy really don't seem like Oda. Unless they're not really resolutions but geez I don't know what they could do at this point. ON THE PLUS SIDE: the flashback has grown on me since I last talked about it, the art's fantastic as always, there were some really exciting parts, all the characters and their new powers are so cool I just oh wow, and oh man that Big Mom arc is looking really really exciting, the character designs of her crew are just fantastic, I am hyped. A-
This year we got volumes 7, 8 and 9 but really volume 7 actually came out the year before so I'll just focus on 8 and 9. Both of these volumes really impressed me, but what can you expect, it's Asano! Uhh I dunno I feel like I've said mainly what I want to say when I first talked about the volumes. I think the series is wrapping up and it's doing so in a grand, all-encompassing fashion. How it will end I have no idea but I think we're in for something truly special. Both the Pegasus and Punpun plots are getting pretty intense, and all the side characters are being developed wonderfully as well. The big twist with his friend uh the hallucinating friend, that was pretty crazy. As was the holy crap realization of the connection between the cult Aiko's family was in way back in volume 1 being the same one that Pegasus is involved in now. Oh yeah retroactive spoiler warning whoops. Also not sure if there will be any supernatural elements or if I want that or not. Hmm, hmm. Good stuff though yeah. *
To Love-Ru Darkness
Man why am I admitting I read this? Well no one's ever called me out on something like this in my blog 'cause no one reads my blog so bun whatever. I guess the real question is why am I reading this in the first place? I don't know it's just fun, I guess, and I'm pretty invested in the series and characters after reading all of the original and all that. Plus sometimes they provide small bits of what appears to be an actual plot when they have time but I don't really see that going anywhere. Oh well, it's more of what it is, and I think it's just getting more and more refined in its unrefinedness. B
So this year I think we got 10 chapters? Probably 12 actually I don't think I remember him missing a month. And honestly I don't know what I can say about Yotsuba, it certainly hasn't gotten any worse which means it's one of the best comics running. And actually a lot of these recent chapters have been above even that lofty average – Duramulin's surgery arc was intense! Cameras? Classic! The return of Danbo??? I dunno this is probably the BEST comic running right now! Yeah yeah!! **
Okay those are the series I read regularly this year and how I thought they did this year.
This year I also read a bunch of old manga but really the only ones I feel I ought to mention particularly is that I read Nausicaa and Phoenix for the first time and loved both of them, but more serious rambling on that subject will have to wait until I do some sort of “top 10 manga” post, so like essentially never sorry I'm lazy.
Next will be... anime of 2011? I dunno.