Tokyo Ghoul:re Chapter 67: Soul Shift

“Unconsciously, my finger silently cracked–“

_re 67 Img006

Impression

_re 67 Img002I’ve got a bit of preamble this week. I’m writing this after having waited for MS to release their version of the chapter, but in retrospect I liked Helvetica a lot more. Putting aside the fact that they were a lot faster, it feels more like a literal translation cleaned up in order to make grammatical and stylistic sense, which is exactly what I’m after from a scanlation group. Just like IS used to do, MS takes a lot of liberties with the way they translate – and honestly it feels more like a localisation than a fan translation at times, which annoys the purist within me. Some lines are aesthetic decisions, and I can accept that. Others have clearly been localised, with Matsuri telling Urie to ‘cleanse the beach’ in Helvetica becoming ‘make this beach pretty again’ when translated by MS. On occasion it even causes confusion, because Kaneki telling himself ‘I just need to do my job’ (MS) has an entirely different implication to ‘I will do what I need’ (Helvetica). I don’t know what the original sentence said, but MS has implied that Kaneki will be defending Cochlea. It’ll be interesting to see how the scanlation scene for this series develops now that MS has started to face some competition in recent weeks.

1457219275

Anyway. And here I was thinking last week’s chapter was already intense! I didn’t realize at first that this is essentially what we’ve been waiting for this entire time – not Centipede crawling inside Cochlea (definitely not coincidentally a part of the inner ear canal, need I mention) but rather Kaneki’s inner thoughts as Kaneki. All this time we’ve only seen him from an external perspective, and this chapter was the first time we’ve been able to properly get into his conscious thoughts and into his head – well, we don’t hear his thoughts, but his actions this week speak volumes and are more than representative of his mindset. And what a mess it is.

_re 67 Img005

He’s been acting stoic and emotionless this entire time, but the very moment he’s alone he then does something I never thought the current Kaneki would do, just like how I thought he’d never smile – he curls up on the floor and fucking cries and shakes, telling himself that he has to do what he needs. Holy shit. And mixed in with my shock is quite a bit of confusion too, because I don’t know what Kaneki’s feeling and I have a suspicion that he’s not quite sure himself. Is it fear, at having to fight Arima? Is it guilt, over having to betray Arima? As Haise, his memories start from when Arima was kind to him – when Arima gave him books, company and helped him with his name (the derivative kanji interestingly being ‘coffee world’ put together, which I assume is a reference to Anteiku). But now that he’s Kaneki again, he’s also remembered the time when he was still himself, when Arima gouged out his eyes, walked into his cell and told him that all his friends were dead, because he killed them all like a heartless bastard. I guess Koma and Irimi really aren’t coming back, huh.

1457219523

You know, I didn’t realize Number 240 was Kaneki at first – I thought he was looking in a current prisoner, and it took me a panel or so of thinking he looked a lot like post-Aogiri Kaneki before it suddenly dawned on me that it was Kaneki. After all, I was under the impression that his time as Haise started right after Arima gouged out his eyes – I thought it was the damage inflicted during that V14 battle which was responsible for his amnesia. So it’s interesting that he actually grew back his eyes (before clawing them out himself every night), still had his memories and was in the same unstable mental condition he had at the end of the original manga until the shock of learning everyone was dead suppressed his Kaneki personality. Haise was born at that moment. I wonder what they would have done if Kaneki had stayed mentally deranged the entire time – were they counting on him developing amnesia? By the way, ‘oedipism’ as a medical term means ‘serious self-inflicted eye injury’. And in Greek mythology Oedipus stabs out his own eyes. He also kills his own father, the king, and wins his throne. I hope you see where I’m going with this.

Even if we put aside the Oedipus analogy I think it’s quite obvious that Kaneki is planning to turn traitor. And this internal turmoil has led to an emotional breakdown, because at the same time he’s formed attachments within the CCG – which do include his relationship with Arima, and with the Qs like we saw last week. He hasn’t become cold and emotionless, he’s just gotten a lot better at pretending he has. I don’t know whether doing what he ‘needs’ involves breaking prisoners out of Cochlea, but a direct conflict with Arima is almost unavoidable at this point. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s feeling both guilt and fear, because now he remembers the V14 fight and how powerless he was even at what was then his best. What’s more perplexing is Arima himself – what does he think of Haise? How would he react if Kaneki betrayed him? Does he feel anything for Haise beyond perceiving him as an autonomous quinque? Haise thanked him with all his heart when he got his new name, and Arima just… looks at him. What is that supposed to mean? What the fuck does that face mean, Arima?

_re 67 Img001

No matter what Kaneki plans to do within Cochlea, it clearly wasn’t him who set off the alarm. He looks shocked in that last panel. It also wasn’t Ayato, he hadn’t yet done anything when the alarm went off (who knows where he even got a Cochlea key card) meaning that most likely intruder is Amon. Hopefully with Kuro. As hyped up as the Cochlea side of things is getting, Ishida will probably go back to the Rue Island stuff so he can drag the suspense out of a couple more weeks – it’d be just like him to do something like that. As exciting as the Qs now are and the Houji match-ups will be (as well as some Ui redemption scenes, given that it only took him three pages into the raid to kill some ghouls this time!) I think we’re all more looking forward to Kaneki and Amon instead. Hinami, just wait a little longer okay? Onii-chan’s coming for you!

1457220023

Tokyo Ghoul:re Chapter 66: Old Guard

“Kill the One-Eyed King.”

_re 66 Img001

Impression

I’m writing this having not yet read today’s chapter. I know, I know. It was hard for me too, you know? I refused to read it so that I could write this up whilst completely unbiased. For me, the first thing that came to mind was how the flashback at the end of Kaneki’s fight with Arima at V14 now makes a lot more sense.

“I saw it. On that night, at the end of Rize’s gaze, a Clown was laughing.
…In hindsight, I don’t know what meaning that held. Since I’m already–“

f013

Now we know perfectly well what meaning that held. Not only is it confirmed (to no-one’s surprise) that Furuta is Souta, but we now know that Rize and Furuta were childhood friends – and that Rize recognised that Clown mask as belonging to her acquaintance from the Sunlit Garden. All that we’re still unsure of is Furuta’s motive. Did he do it on orders of V in an attempt to dispose of Rize? Or, as a lot of people think, was Furuta in love with Rize? A popular theory is that Furuta got jealous after being cucked by Kaneki, and decided to spite Rize by seriously injuring her and turning her into a kakuhou farm to be exploited by Kanou. Eto asked him whether it had something to do with V, but Furuta replied it had something to do with personal complications – so this theory about him failing to win the semen demon of his desires could be quite plausible. In relation to that, the fact that Rize is from the Garden now confirms that that Garden is analogous to V. It was uncertain before, as all we knew was that it was somehow related to CCG recruitment and that the V members Arima and Furuta also happened to have come from the Garden. But if a ghoul like Rize was also ‘bred’ there (implying that the Garden, with all its Adam and Eve connotations, is essentially a eugenics breeding ground) and she came from V, the only logical conclusion now is that the Garden is V. It would mean that Hairu would also be from V, but she certainly had the same ridiculous reflexes and dodging ability that Arima and Furuta have. At any rate, she’s too dead for that to matter, right Ishida?

_re 66 Img004

I’ve come to really like Eto. It’s like she’s in cahoots with Kaneki at this point. I love how she just casually tells him to just knock for her if he wants to visit, like they’re neighbours or something.

_re 66 Img005

She’s sharing lots of free info with him, and even getting him to plant recording devices in her cell for his benefit – Kaneki must have learned a lot from that alone, not least of all the fact that Furuta is in V and that Furuta was responsible for making him the star of his very own tragedy to begin with. Most of all, Eto has done something that no other character in the series has yet managed to do – get one up over Furuta. All this time he’s been portrayed as an infallible mastermind, right from when he first killed Matsumae – he’s affiliated with so many different factions from Aogiri and the Clowns to the Ghoul Restaurant, the CCG and V. It’s like he’s been in control of everything this entire time. What Eto did was to knock him down a peg or two, and reveal that he’s not perfect – he has weaknesses like everyone else (except Arima) and it’s that he’s supposed to be a Washuu. I don’t know whether this means the Washuus are all from the Sunlit Garden too, but it seems as if Furuta is Yoshitoki’s disowned son or something. It’d make him Matsuri’s brother, but for reasons yet unknown Furuta has not been accorded the status of a Washuu. And he’s incredibly bitter about it. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside when Eto destroyed him. Maybe if I wasn’t already devoted to Hinami I might have fallen for her then.

_re 66 Img003

Speaking of Hinami, we now have a designated rescue squad for her – consisting of Ayato, Banjou and Amon! Or is Amon not with them? I mean, I’m happy to see him back (hopefully with Kuro) but it would be a little odd if he’s opted to work not only with Aogiri, but also in pursuit of Hinami instead of on Rue Island. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to confront the majority of his former colleagues? He might be after Donato in Cochlea, and Ayato could want to try freeing Arata too if he’s still alive. I think we have enough going on at Rue to make things exciting even without Amon being there – Tatara vs Houji is being hyped up for example, as is Takizawa vs Houji and perhaps Akira fitting somewhere in there. At Cochlea we might get a re-match for Kaneki vs Ayato and perhaps even Kaneki vs Arima, depending on how he chooses to act when confronted by them.

_re 66 Img006

The only other thing I wanted to mention was the One-Eyed King. Why exactly does Eto want Kaneki to kill the OEK? Wasn’t her final book supposed to rally all the ghouls under this figurehead to revolutionise society? I feel like I don’t understand the slightest thing about the OEK, just like Furuta. If it’s ‘in their bellies’ as Eto says, does that mean the belly of the CCG or V? Does that mean it’s Arima? I know it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s not entirely human, and if he’s blind in one eye it’ll be a symbolic title for him and all that – but wasn’t Arima aligned with V? It’s probably not Kaneki purely because Eto is asking Kaneki to kill whoever it is, unless it’s some deep philosophical notion about Kaneki killing a personality within himself or something stupid like that. I really don’t think it’s Kaneki. Who are we left with, though? Amon? Hide?

_re 66 Img007

[Manga Mondays] Vampire Knight

VK Vol 1Title: Vampire Knight
Author: Matsuri Hino (Story & Art)
Genres: Shoujo, School Life, Romance, Supernatural, Tragedy, Drama
Published: 2004 – 2013 (Complete)
Volumes: 19
Japanese Publisher: LaLa (original run); Hakusensha (tankobon format)
English Publisher: Shoujo Beat (original run); Viz Media (tankobon format)
Available to Purchase in English?: Yes (Amazon / Indigo / Barnes & Noble)


[Note: This post contains mild spoilers]


I remember coming across the Vampire Knight anime after it had just been released, before the series became super popular in the West. I wasn’t a huge fan of anything to do with vampires (and continue to have little interest in them to this day), but it was a new show so I decided to give it a try.

Vampire Knight is about a highschool girl named Yuuki Cross. She attends Cross Academy, where her adopted father Kaien is the school’s headmaster. She attends classes during the day, but helps patrol the school grounds during the night as a school guardian alongside her classmate Zero Kiryuu. Yuuki and Zero have been friends since Zero was brought to live with her and her father several years prior to the start of the story; it is later revealed he was bitten by a pureblood vampire during an attack which killed his entire family, and is himself a vampire.

However, Cross Academy has a big secret. While students who attend classes during the day are known as members of the Day Class, the Night Class students are sequestered in a separate dormitory because they are… dun dun dun… vampires! Aside from their late afternoon walk from their dorm to the main campus for their classes (where, as members of the school’s Disciplinary Committee, Zero and Yuuki have to physically keep the rest of their classmates at bay), the Night Class students are never seen mingling with the rest of the student body. The Night Class students are all also extraordinarily beautiful, simultaneously fueling the Day Class’ overexuberant reactions and fulfilling this manga’s bishounen & bishoujo quota. vampire_knight_yuki_by_manga_love86d62cgbw

As the story progresses, it becomes evident that much information is being kept from Yuuki. The recurring dream she has where a young Kaname saves her from a rabid vampire, the story behind Zero’s transformation into a vampire, Yuuki’s family history, and even a big secret about Yuuki herself – these things are all eventually brought into the light (pun intended), where Yuuki must confront them and decide if these challenges will change who she is.

Vampire Knight started as a manga, and later two seasons of anime, two drama CDs and three light novels were created. An official fanbook titled “Vampire Knight Fanbook: Cross”, an artbook, and a Japanese dating sim game called “Vampire Knight DS” have also been released. If you decide to watch the anime, please note that it has an alternate ending as the show was created while the manga was still ongoing.

I was initially drawn to this manga because of the characters. Yuuki is the spunky, occasionally clueless lead, while Zero and Kaname are her romantic interests. Zero appears to be cold and distant, but he has secrets of his own, secrets he can’t bring himself to share with Yuuki. Kaname is the main object of Yuuki’s affections, and he appears to reciprocate her feelings. But when his ties to Yuuki are revealed, will their relationship change… or become something greater?

The relationships between these three are what kept me reading on, even after the plot started to drag and I felt like events were getting repetitive. However I feel like I should point out that my decline in interest is not necessarily reflective of the series itself, as I already mentioned that vampires are not supremely interesting to me. I did eventually end up dropping the series around two-thirds of the way through, but made sure to read the ending of the manga once it became available. Yeah I know, slightly hypocritical of me, but hey after so many years I wanted to know how it ended. What can I say? *shrug*

The artwork of this series is pretty stellar, with most if not all of the characters having the large, sparkly eyes characteristic of a true blue shoujo manga. Vampires and other supernatural creatures often evoke feelings of sexuality, eroticism and mysteriousness, and if you peruse the art from this series you can see that Hino-san definitely channeled some of those characteristics into her work.

The love triangle between Yuuki, Zero and Kaname is what kept drawing me back into the series, although in later years I became more critical of the relationship between Yuuki and Kaname. (The series’ ending somewhat negates much of this criticism, but the dynamics of their relationship earlier in the series was often frustrating to read.) The final nail in the coffin for me (woo, I’m just rolling out the vampire puns today!) was the repetitive and sometimes boring plot. I feel like this series could have been a lot shorter than it was, and in exchange been much more memorable.

My Score: 7.5/10
Do I Recommend This Title?: If you are a fan of vampires and want to read what all the fuss is about, then yes. If you’re like me and you can give or take when it comes to supernatural series about vampires, then I feel like you could skip this manga and not miss too much.

Artbook_cover_poster 2

Tokyo Ghoul:re Chapter 65: Heavy Steps

So he can still make that sort of expression, huh?

161

Impression

Is Arima blind in one eye? I don’t think it was ever in doubt that Arima would defeat Shachi – rather, the question was exactly how far Shachi would be able to push him, and exactly what would happen to him after he was defeated. Although he appeared to lose fairly easily, Shachi may have noticed something about Arima that his past opponents have not – if he really is one-eyed, then that has not only huge symbolic implications but will also be a glaring weakness that Kaneki could use to his advantage.

09

Pity Shachi is now too dead to tell everyone else about it. I think some people have pointed out that it’s been foreshadowed in the past (one of his eyes has sometimes been depicted as darker, and when we saw him look at Haise through his eyes at the end of the auction arc, the entire background apart from Haise himself was hazy and dim) but I’m really not sure how much of a stab in the dark this is. When Shachi talks of Arima’s weakness being his ‘blind spot’ this chapter though, it’s notable that the very next page has Arima slice through one of Shachi’s eyes before stabbing him in the neck and frying him with Narukami.

_re 65 Img003

It’s very possible that he’s blind. If he is though, I really do think he’s still human and that it’s nothing to do with artificial alterations or ghoul kakuhou implants or anything like that. I want Arima to have some sort of natural flaw instead of his blindness being the price he has to pay for some shounen-type increase in power level. I’m also glad we got to see a post-Aogiri Rize in that flashback. She’s sitting up in bed! Hooray!

_re 65 Img002

Banjou somehow keeps managing to lead wards despite having hardly any strength. At least he’s back! All we’re waiting for now is a proper Rize appearance, Amon and Hide. I guess he’s not Scarecrow if he’s busy elsewhere – he only ‘heard’ of the events on Rue Island after all. I wonder if Ayato is essentially asking for Banjou’s help in breaking into Cochlea again. Has he not thought of the possibility that the CCG might keep a last line of defence behind at Cochlea, in the knowledge that Aogiri might think it’d be the best time to try to break in? I feel like it’s heavily foreshadowing another meeting between Ayato and Kaneki – what I’d like is for the Arima Squad to spread themselves out over several floors of Cochlea. Arima will of course be on the bottom floor, and they’ll put Kaneki (and maybe someone useless like Ui) on the S-rate floor where Eto and maybe Hinami are. Ayato will turn up and Kaneki will let him waltz past him while pretending to put up a struggle so that Hinami will be freed and Aogiri will take the blame. It’s the best case scenario, anyway. What’s more likely in reality is that Arima is put on the S-rate floor and he ends up fighting Ayato and a rouge Kaneki as they try to keep Hinami safe.

_re 65 Img004

I didn’t even know the current Kaneki could show positive emotions. He reminded me an awful lot of pre-Aogiri Kaneki – the innocent, naive one who didn’t want to eat humans and had pacifistic desires. Ironically, it’s only now that things like ghoul rights movements have started spreading amongst human society – I felt this was pretty over the top though, especially since all this emerged from one best-selling author (who is still just a cultural figure in the end, no matter how famous they might be) outing herself as a ghoul on TV. I can understand if that led to increased divisiveness over how society treats ghouls, but having entire segments of society turn pro-ghoul just because of this is too far-fetched for me. Not that it’ll have any major impact on the story as of yet – enough is going on between the CCG, Aogiri and V.

Also, Furuta is pretty much confirmed for Souta now, right?

_re 65 Img006

_re 65 Img007

Tokyo Ghoul:re Chapter 64: A Devouring Gut

“There is one more RC cell reading that those machines will not detect.”

_re 64 Img006

Impression

Rize is from V!

_re 64 Img005

I’m so glad that Ishida hasn’t forgotten about Rize. If Rize is from V, then she is definitely endgame material – whether she’ll be Kaneki’s ally or not we don’t know, but at the very least she might be someone who’ll lead him to V and establish a connection between them and him. It brings up yet another huge plethora of questions. What is Rize? An experiment? Is that why Kaiko referred to her as a ‘thing’? Does her regenerating kakuhou have something to do with that? I can see her as having been a test subject of some sort, who then escaped while she was a child (loli Rize is just too cute, by the way). I entertained thoughts of her binge eating having some relation to it all, but she probably just really likes eating humans. The fact that Rize was from V, and fled from V, also now completely changes the context of her ‘accident’. Souta might not have just had a grudge, or wanted to mess around with her as a member of the Clowns. Souta may have been acting on the orders of V to dispose of Rize as punishment for her defection. This becomes even more likely if Souta really is Furuta.

_re 64 Img009

Linking into the Rize revelation is the truth behind the RC gates and the very possible theory of Eto’s that the Washuu clan is cooperating with ghouls. I have to say, I didn’t see the RC gates thing coming at all – I think we all just assumed that Kaneki and Eto could pass through it without setting it off because they were half-ghouls. But it makes sense! The RC gates are supposed to detect RC cell readings, and if half-ghouls have kakuhous and can use a kagune then there shouldn’t be any reason why they wouldn’t trigger the alarm too. At the same time, it’s also all slightly ambiguous – when Eto says the Washuu clan (and by extension, the CCG) are cooperating with the ghouls, doesn’t she actually mean that the Washuu clan are cooperating with V? Washuu Yoshitoki wants to destroy Aogiri after all. If the RC gates are designed to ignore readings from V members, then surely that’s who Washuu are cooperating with.

_re 64 Img004

Which then begs the question – what exactly is V? Is it an organization comprised of ghouls, or both ghouls and humans? It would mean that Furuta could very well be a ghoul, because all along everyone has assumed he had to be human because he could pass the RC gates. Either that, or that he’s a one-eyed ghoul. But if the CCG took steps to waive any V member from being subject to the RC gates, then anyone could be a ghoul so long as they’re a V member. Arima could be a ghoul. Or at the very least, not entirely human. You tend to have two types of high-ranking CCG members: Special-Classes like Kuroiwa, Ui, Marude or Juuzou aren’t really hiding anything or suspicious. They’re very much employees of the CCG, and that’s it. Then you have the Washuu family, Arima and the Sunlit Garden members, who are all a little weird, eccentric and have multiple hidden agendas. Well, except for Hairu. Not that she matters though, right Ishida? Because she’s dead. Deep sobbing.

It’s interesting that the public are evenly split over Takatsuki Sen. They’ve been conditioned to think of ghouls as mindless, flesh-eating monsters – I wouldn’t be surprised if the standard human thought of ghouls in the same way that Mado treated Hinami’s mother. But now that a high-profile figure has revealed herself to be a ghoul, and dedicated her final book towards her fellow ghouls, the general population are perhaps beginning to realize that there’s not so much difference between them and the ghouls after all. It feels like Eto’s trying to rally the ghoul population completely behind her and Aogiri in an attempt to go all-out against the CCG and V – or rather, behind the One-Eyed King. In her book, it’s the OEK who leads his fellow ghouls in a rebellion. It’s like she’s trying to encourage every ghoul to unite beneath a king and fight to put an end to that oppression, and it’s all leading up to the idea that if she’s not the king herself the next best thing she can do is to assign someone as the king. Like Kaneki. Are they friends now, by the way? It seems like the wrong word to use, but they’re talking casually all the time now. It’s completely different to back when they fought at Lunatic Eclipse. They share information, he compliments her haircut, she asks him for favours – it sometimes feels like she’s leading him on, but at other times she’s genuinely teaching him things like the existence of V. It’s a really nice dynamic, I get all warm inside when he tells her “I read it” and she simply replies “I appreciate it”.

_re 64 Img003

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Torso. He needs to die a horrible death. Thank god Ayumu made it back, but Mutsuki looks set to go through some physical torture of his own. Come to think of it, if the last chapter was the parallel for ‘I am a ghoul’, then the Yamori torture happened at about this time in the original manga, didn’t it? And Mutsuki is supposed to represent pre-Aogiri Kaneki after all. In retrospect, since Torso’s fetish is to cut off the limbs of his victim and leave them as just a torso, everything surrounding his obsession over Mutsuki was pretty much leading up to this moment (though Kaneki had all his fingers and toes cut off instead). Will Mutsuki escape on his own? Will he be saved by Urie? Will Shachi manage to run away from Arima? Will Hinami ever smile again?

_re 64 Img002

[Manga Mondays] Usagi Drop

bunny drop vol 1

Title: Usagi Drop (Bunny Drop)
Author: Yumi Unita (Story & Art)
Genres: Josei, Slice of Life, Comedy-Drama
Published: 2005 – 2011 (magazine); 2010 – 2014 (manga) [Complete]
Volumes: 10
Japanese Publisher: Feel Good magazine (original run); Shodensha (tankoubon format)
English Publisher: Yen Press
Available to Purchase in English?: Yes (Amazon / Indigo / Barnes & Noble)

This week I wanted to introduce Usagi Drop. It is another series from my shortlist of all-time favourite manga.

Usagi Drop is like nothing else I have read before. It centers around a single thirty year old bachelor named Daikichi, whose grandfather one day passes away. At the wake Daikichi meets Rin, a five year old girl who is apparently his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter. When the rest of his family shuns Rin out of shame and embarrassment, Daikichi gets pissed off and steps up to take care of Rin. The series explores his sudden transition from a workaholic bachelor to a single father. Along the way Daikichi learns how to balance childcare and daycare, gets parenting tips from his coworkers, finds Rin’s birth mother, and deal with the changes in his relationship with Rin as they both get older. Initially Usagi Drop is very much a child-centered series, with many of the plots revolving around topics like fatherhood and issues at school. In later volumes, the series becomes more about changes in friendships and relationships, and life beyond high school.

There have been both an anime and a live-action film created based off the manga, but while I can’t speak for the live-action film because I haven’t seen it, the anime primarily differs from the manga in that the anime only covers up to volume four.

Why is this? Well, the manga is part of the josei genre for a reason, let me put it that way. If you’ve read a wide variety of manga, or seen anime from many different genres, you may have noticed that certain trends or topics are not considered as taboo in Japan as they are in the West. (Anyone else remember the teacher from Card Captor Sakura who was in a relationship with Sakura’s friend Rika in the manga?! (????)????? ) And from volume five onwards, starting when Rin is a fifteen year old high school student, certain events happen towards the end of the series which not all readers may be comfortable with. usagi-drop-1315014

Indeed if one reads the Amazon reviews for the last 2-3 volumes of the manga, they will see that many readers are turned off of the chain of events which sum up the final three volumes of the manga. I personally do not mind this plot twist; in fact it can be debated that my second-favourite series, Saiunkoku Monogatari, has a similar situation with two of its characters. But to each their own, right?

So if readers choose to read Usagi Drop, because of the way the series is structured they have the option of stopping partway through the series without feeling like they’re missing much of the content. One can either read the first few volumes of Usagi Drop and enjoy the tales of child!Rin and Daikichi (as the anime portrays), or they can read the series through to its end.

The art style of the manga is rather simplistic, but I think that gives the series a certain amount of charm. It’s easy to read and it can make some things like facial expressions and body movements rather comical. The flip side is that this style can sometimes appear a little rough or hurried.

Between the art and the story arcs themselves, I found myself really caring about the characters and what happened to them, which is a mark of a really good series in my book. Above all else, to me this series is about family and people finding their way to one another through unconventional means.

My Score: 9/10
Do I Recommend This Title?: Yes, though I’d recommend it to readers who consider themselves open-minded or able to deal with more mature content, just to be on the safe side. I will say that prior to reading this series, I hadn’t bought actual physical copies of a manga in a long time, and I enjoyed Usagi Drop enough that it made me brave buying something from Amazon for the first time. It’s just that good. Overall it’s a cute series, and the parent-child relationship between Daikichi and Rin will warm your heart.

Tokyo Ghoul:re Chapter 63: Tree of Burial

“I am a ghoul.”

_re 63 Img001

Impression

I don’t think anyone had any doubt that this parallel would be here. It was unclear as to what form it would take (whether it’d be Kaneki proclaiming something or otherwise) but it turned out to be Eto outing herself to human society. It’s interesting that, as a ghoul, she revealed she was Takatsuki to Aogiri – and now, as Takatsuki, she’s revealing that she’s a ghoul. I have no idea what she’s playing at here, but I’m sure it’s not just a publicity stunt for her latest and final book. If that wasn’t a death flag, I don’t know what is. And speaking of death and books, poor Hinami has had her execution date decided – and if you remember from way back at the start of the story, Takatsuki’s book ‘The Hanged Man’s McGuffin’ was all about prisoners on death row living within an enclosed facility. Ishida strikes again.

_re 63 Img006

Kaneki’s also been duped, it seems. I would have liked to have seen more of their little ‘date’ (I don’t really ship them, not least of all because Eto’s probably going to die, but I can’t deny that it really did look like a date) but Eto must have planned the entire thing out – including asking Kaneki to accompany her up on stage. This is the first time we’ve seen the current Kaneki with this expression on – he really, really didn’t expect her to say that. It’s his ‘oh shit’ face. What is she going to say next? That the man next to her is the One-Eyed King? Is she even going to be allowed to say anything next? Why did the CCG even let Kaneki and Eto out by themselves? Takatsuki is very high-profile in human society, they definitely must know something about it all. Is it some sort of bigger plan involving V? Every single faction was somehow watching the broadcast (and so they’ve all seen Kaneki) on TV, and this is going to throw some doubts into people’s perceptions of exactly what a ghoul is and their place in society.

0M9FY2R

Also, for a secret Illuminati organization V has a rather flashy set of headquarters. It’s behind a massive door with a huge winged emblem on it (I know this means something, but I can’t recall what – it’s not CCG’s dove is it?) and the entire floor has a massive V drawn on it. It’s like some sort of catwalk stage. It was only a single double-page spread, but we learnt a lot – that Furuta is from the Sunlit Garden, that everyone knows Kaneki is Kaneki again and that Kaiko is the superior of both Furuta and Arima. Which is pretty amazing, if we assume that power levels play a factor in determining hierarchy. As a Rize sympathizer I’m not happy that Arima will be sent after her, but it’s pretty funny that V thinks that Kuzen is dead. What happened to Kaiko telling him he couldn’t escape? In fact, what even is Kaiko? Why is he still alive and apparently still the same age?

PC5aTjA

Assuming they have just as many feelers out in the various factions as the Clowns do, you’d have thought that whoever they have stationed in Aogiri would have realized that something was up with the huge numbers of Owls being produced. Watch how Takizawa and Shikorae don’t actually eat Hachikawa and we see an H-Owl coming back to torment the CCG in the future.

_re 63 Img004

Finally, I already knew this, but Ishida really is a bastard. He seems to have this fetish for killing off cute girls, and that doesn’t sit well with me. With Hairu, it felt like he created her for the sole purpose of killing her off. Even Minami from Jack wasn’t spared. Hinami’s about to die. Irimi died. Eto’s going to die. Rize might die now that Arima’s after her. Touka is for all intents and purposes as good as dead given how irrelevant she’s been throughout the whole of :re. Now he brought back Hachikawa (not a cute girl though) and Ayumu for no good reason other than to discard them and set up a meeting between Torso and Mutsuki. I presume Ayumu is dead, or at the very least close to drowning. You know, he could have killed her perfectly well without showing her face. He could have. Then I wouldn’t have known any better. I’d have been mildly disappointed but that’s it. But instead, he has Torso pull up her mop hair and reveal a super adorable face that did nothing wrong before slamming her head against a rock wall and throwing her into the ocean.

Thanks, Ishida.

_re 63 Img003

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NOT AGAIN PLEASE

Tokyo Ghoul:re Chapter 62: Embracing the Capital

Eto a qt.

_re 62 Img002

Impression

If you were impatiently waiting for more V scenes featuring Arima and Furuta, you’ll be disappointed. But we got an Eto chapter instead! If that hasn’t made her death flag even bigger than it was before, I don’t know what will.

_re 62 Img001

Young Eto was such a qt. It’s interesting that, although she was still strong enough to have a kakuja at that age, she wasn’t as nihilistic as she is now – was there something that happened in the meantime? Did Noroi die after this? When she says she wants to get strong enough to beat ‘them’, does she mean Urie’s father and Kuroiwa? Or does she mean V? I wonder if we’ll eventually get extracts from Ukina’s journal. The only time she reminded me of the current Eto was when she passed by Anteiku and saw Yoshimura through the window. If she’d decided to go in at that time, this entire story might have turned out differently.

_re 62 Img003

Although she had some sort of small following even in her pre-Aogiri days, it looks like Eto led a really harsh life growing up – but the strange thing was that she didn’t seem like a ghoul at all whilst doing it. I don’t know why, but I completely forgot she was a half-ghoul until Shiono found the skinned face marinated in blood in her fridge. Eto looked like a human street urchin who stole from others to make a living, and who one day decided to try writing a manuscript and submitting it as a way of making money. She could have just killed and eaten everyone she wanted to, and taken their possessions after making a meal out of them – but she didn’t. It felt like she lived more as a human than as a ghoul before Aogiri. I guess this is Ishida’s way of reminding us that she’s a half-ghoul in the end, and that she’s supposed to be (but ended up not being) someone with a connection to both the human and ghoul societies.

_re 62 Img004

I love how that one single page with Kaneki and Eto staring at each other left so much implied but unsaid. Eto turned herself in to save Shiono (it’s also odd that she seems to have a such friendly relationship with a human, but I guess he did help her out a whole lot and stayed with her even after finding out she was a ghoul) but I think she knows what Kaneki wants from her. Kaneki can’t directly do anything to Cochlea, right? But here’s Eto, an SSS-rate ghoul who’ll probably be placed on the S-rate floor instead based on the information Kaneki’s given to the CCG. All she has to do is conduct a massive breakout, and coincidentally rescue Hinami along the way as payment for getting all of her captured Aogiri ghouls back. Hinami is actually supposed to be in Aogiri too, so really there’s no reason for Eto to refuse. They’re just using each other for mutual benefit!

_re 62 Img008

All that had to have happened after the Rue Island speech, right? It’s still slightly confusing though, because Hachikawa was listening in on it and his panels have come after Eto turned herself in for some reason. Hopefully he didn’t actually tell Takizawa he was second-rate out loud, because there’s probably nothing else that’ll infuriate him more. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait even longer to have a fight featuring him reuniting with a CCG member he knew more than just in passing – someone like Akira, Amon, or Houji. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Hachikawa’s going to get absolutely rekt though, not only by Takizawa but by Shikorae now too – that ‘Chuu’ pun was quite funny. I laughed, at least. It’s an Ishida joke, everyone!

_re 62 Img005

Tokyo Ghoul:re Chapter 61: The ENT

ISHIDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

_re 61 Img003

Impression

WHAT.

ARIMA IS PART OF V?

Holy shit. I feel like I’m getting too old for this. He must be part of V, right? If he’s giving Furuta a message from them, it would make sense if he’s also within their ranks. His strength also means he definitely qualifies, since V has been hinted to have extremely powerful members (with Yoshimura having been a ‘cleaner’ for them). Furuta must be part of V too. It felt like Arima was speaking to him as a fellow colleague in V instead of as his superior in the CCG. And do they know that Haise is no longer Haise? What does this mean for everything Arima has been doing with regards to Haise? Did he reform his identity and put him in the CCG on V’s orders? Is it possible that they’re linked to the reason he’s so ridiculously strong? Do they have anything to do with the Sunlit Garden? Or with the ‘parent organization’ that was formed to deal with the first One-Eyed King that appeared? That one single panel at the end has opened up an incredible number of possibilities with where the story might head in the future, not least of all a whole new realm of possible antagonists who might be able to match Kaneki in strength. Eto is definitely not the final boss. She might not even remain an antagonist for too much longer, given that V are not likely to be Kaneki’s friends and Eto seems to want to get rid of them. I know some people thought V was just an unexplained entity that were used to help us understand Yoshimura’s past a bit better, but this shows that they really are the real deal.

_re 61 Img002

Furuta must be part of V, too. He seems to have ties to every faction, and it’s now even more confusing as to which one he’s genuinely aligning himself with, if any. I have a feeling that V are taking notice of Kaneki now that he’s been designated as the One-Eyed King by Eto. I don’t think it means anything more than a title that Eto is handing out – but the way Eto’s denial of it being her coincided with several frames of Kaneki definitely means something. It sounds more like Eto is ‘looking for a king’ that she can get to lead Aogiri against V, and has finally found a suitable candidate: it’s like she’s saying ‘I won’t be your leader, but this guy will’. In the interim, Eto did play the role of the One-Eyed King, but she wasn’t the true king – instead, it’s the second king Kaneki. He doesn’t seem too excited by the prospect of leading Aogiri though, given how he reacted to Eto six months ago. For now, I’m a little worried as to why his hand still seems to be horribly deformed and kagune-like, even though he’s regrown way worse injuries than a lost hand before. Is this some sort of new fashion?

_re 61 Img007

As a very vocal Hinami supporter, which I’m sure you know I am, I feel obliged to point out that Kaneki seems to be paying close attention to his calendar there. And in one of the documents near the bottom left, there seems to be what looks like a diagram of Cochlea and its inner structure. Hinami, your onii-chan’s coming for you!

Eto has also revealed herself to the rest of Aogiri. I haven’t found myself to be much of an Eto fan as of late, but I have to admit that Ishida sure drew some wonderful Etos this chapter. All of Aogiri (including Miza and Ayato, it seems) must have been shocked to learn that the strange kid with the bandages turned out to be a hot girl who’s also Aogiri’s founder. I’m certain her references to the ‘twisted birdcage’ refer to V, given their goal of maintaining equilibriums in the shadows and interfering when necessary to keep the current state of things as they are. The bigger question is why she wants to destroy them, as well as whether she even has the power to. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Kanou turned out to be part of V as well, now that we know they accept humans (or whatever Arima is) into their ranks. At any rate, it’s now clear that the fundamental conflict in this story goes beyond having Aogiri as a primary antagonist, and we’re potentially seeing something on a much wider scale in the works.

_re 61 Img004

Takizawa seems to have found Hachikawa and Mutsuki. As ever, he really doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about his old colleagues in the CCG, because here he’s reacting similarly to how he reacted when he saw Akira at the end of the auction arc – he said hi, and left. I do hope they manage to escape though, because the two of them have literally walked in on the entire Aogiri and their entire war potential all in one place. Eto is even unmasked, and I don’t think she’d be too happy with the CCG getting away with the info that she’s actually Takatsuki Sen (assuming she doesn’t know Kaneki and Furuta have trashed her house).

_re 61 Img005

I think that’s pretty much the meat of the chapter. There was some stuff about the new Qs, but it didn’t seem to substantially add any more to what my impression of them was when they were first introduced – which was that their very existence counts as a death flag for them, and that I really didn’t care much for them either way. Especially Shao, since her parallels to Hairu extend beyond her being a semen demon as she’s also from the Sunlit Garden and possesses similar talent. She’ll die. Higemaru is just like that jobber Ui. He’ll die. The younger Aura might survive, I don’t know. They’ll have to really work to make me care for them, and we’re probably about to leave the CCG anyway.

Also, Matsuri needs to eat a bag of dicks.

[Manga Mondays] The Rule of Standing on Tiptoe


RST 1Title:
Senobi no Housoku (The Rule of Standing on Tiptoe)
Author: Puku Okuyama (Story and Art)
Genres: Shounen-Ai, Slice of Life, Romance, Comedy, School Life
Published: 2010
Volumes: 1 (oneshot)
Japanese Publisher: Craft magazine (Taiyo Tosho)
English Publisher: Digital Manga Guild
Available to Purchase in English?: Yes (online only)

I had another title I was planning on covering for my first Manga Monday post, but then this adorable manga came at me out of the blue and knocked me into a sugar drift of sweetness, so surprise!

While I used to own a volume of shounen-ai manga (though I couldn’t read it due to my subpar comprehension of Japanese), I’d never really sat down and *read* anything categorized as shounen-ai from start to finish. Then the other day I came across The Rule of Standing on Tiptoe rather randomly, and after seeing how cute the characters looked I decided to give the manga a try. I’m glad I did, because I was definitely not disappointed!

The Rule of Standing on Tiptoe starts with high school sophomore student Kosuke being run over by a tall guy on a bicycle on his way to school. When Kosuke arrives at his classroom, it turns out the guy who crashed into him is the new student in class. Raku Kunugiya is a brunette, good looking, and very popular with the girls, leaving Kosuke initially slightly jealous because he is the polar opposite of Raku (blond, and not a girl magnet unless they’re giggling over how small-animal-cute he looks). To make their differences even more apparent, Kosuke clocks in at 4’11”, and Raku is a full foot taller than him. In addition to Kosuke’s small size, due to the way the last part of his name is written, Kosuke acquires the nickname Ham-chan. This is why there are numerous hamster references throughout the story and they’re all so cute. ?~(????)

However Raku has a secret, one which Kosuke quickly picks up on. Raku asks Kosuke to keep it to himself, and the latter agrees. The two guys quickly become friends, but as the school year passes they find themselves starting to notice the other more often as they grow closer together. Hijinks and comedic scenes help give them the occasional nudge forward, and what’s this about a rival trying to help move their relationship along??

I think what sold me the most about this title is that it’s so well-done and believable, something I look for when I’m reading/watching a romance series that revolves around relationships. Raku and Kosuke begin as friends, but their progression to something more is gradual, until at the very end- well, you’re just going to have to read it to see how the very sweet finale plays out, and what the actual rule for standing on tiptoe is.

I did also appreciate that nothing about their relationship felt forced, something which I feel is all too common in many romance series. Even though it feels like (to me personally) that one of the two male leads has a firmer grasp on their feelings than the other, both Kosuke and Raku are tentative in the progression of their friendship, very hesitant to say or do anything that might hurt or push the other away. It leaves the reader with the impression that both characters genuinely care for each other.

Another plus is that the artwork is easy on the eyes, and I love the little details which are penciled into the background. It’s a very “casual” style, but it suits the story perfectly.

My only criticism for this title is that it’s not longer. Seriously, why is this only a oneshot?! *cries*


My Score:
10/10
Do I Recommend This Title?: Hell yes! It’s a great manga on its own, and I think it also serves as a good introduction to shounen-ai for those who haven’t read much/anything from the genre before.