that sentence was a lie )


Dec. 6th, 2013 01:43 am
When you feel extremely shitty and cannot sleep, the appropriate thing to do is re-read all of Battle Angel Alita. All of it. I just got to the Last Order arc where Kishiro got grumpy and started drawing dicks all over everything.

SERIOUS BATTLE ANGEL ALITA SPOILERS: Aliens tried to contact us by sending a giant dickbot to kill us with its giant dick, because their observation of human culture led them to believe that that's pretty much how we roll.

Kishiro really doesn't get enough credit for the solidity of his worldbuilding. Never before have I encountered such a chillingly plausible first contact scenario.

Fortunately there were a couple SPACE KARATE dudes, who SYMBOLIZE SHOUNEN MANGA, because, that is how shounen manga works, it has some fucking SPACE KARATE in it. One of them became the Bodhisattva of PUNCHING STUFF IN SPACE SO HARD IT EXPLODES, but then the other, whose hair is a bunch of smaller robot dicks, PUNCHED the Bodhisattva SO HARD HE EXPLODED along with his whole temple. Then he PUNCHES the giant dickbot SO HARD IT EXPLODES.

Young vandals, this is the sort of craftsmanship to which you should aspire. This is what it looks like when a dedicated professional draws dicks all over everything.
Absolute Boyfriend, by Watase Yuu

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, Watase Yuu became envious of Chobits, Video Girl Ai, Saber Marionette, and the rest of the loser-guy-gets-a-sexbot genre, and decided that she would make her own loser-girl-gets-a-sexbot series. It was exactly like all the others, except by Watase Yuu. The end.

Accel World, by Kawahara Reki, Aigamo Hiroyuki, and probably the Devil

In the future, everyone has an internet port installed in their necks at a young age, which allows you to enter a Second Life-like virtual reality. An insecure fat kid named Haruyuki plays virtual reality games to escape from daily bullying. His skill at gaming attracts the attention of the most popular girl in school, who invites him to join a secret game called Brain Burst, which confers special real-world powers on its players.

Though Haruyuki's uselessness and social anxiety are impressive even for a shounen manga hero, he is nonetheless constantly surrounded by blushing big-eyed girls who stare deeply into his eyes and tell him all about his good qualities. Which I guess he demonstrates offpanel, to avoid any risk of making the reader feel outclassed. Even his game avatar is initially a cartoon pig. When in battle, he switches to a skinny robot which is literally faceless, to make it easier for readers to project themselves into the fight scenes.

I hope that this manga represents the industry's apex of cynical calculation, because the thought of what lies beyond this peak cannot but terrify. It was, obviously, released in conjunction with a light novel series, an anime, a video game, and at least two other separate manga, in a hideous supernova of corporate evil.

Vampire Knight, by Hino Matsuri

Vampires, as we all know, desire nothing more than to go to high school. Those bastards absolutely love going to high school. I mean, they never learn anything - they barely even go to class, that would cut into their brooding time - but it affords them the opportunity to fondle the throats of virginal teenagers, which is all that's really important.

Yuuki is a human girl who is simultaneously in love both with Zero, a short-tempered tsundere human boy, and Kaname, the gentle but ambiguously ominous vampire boy who once saved her life. It takes only a bare modicum of genre knowledge to realize that any relationship she might form with the Kaname is horribly doomed - especially once Zero turns into a vampire himself to up his exoticism and danger to appropriate levels. Unusually, this does not stop Hino Matsuri from taking Yuuki as far as possible along the wrong track without actually showing her having sex with Kaname. (It runs in Hana to Yume, which I don't think lets you do that.)

This is enjoyable angst-ridden shoujo with 200% the FDA's daily recommended intake of unresolved sexual tension. Unlike those other two manga I just discussed, however, it's not as slick a formula thing as Hana to Yume would probably like it to be. Hino cuts off plotlines at odd times, suffers from a problematic inability to make her male characters visually distinct from one another, and forgets to establish characters who will be important until the chapter in which they became important. (At one point I think she actually does this in the notes-from-the-author sidebar.)

This won't bother you if you're skimming over the other stuff to get to the scenes between Yuuki, Kaname, and Zero which is probably the sanest thing to do. While their relationships make perfect emotional sense, if introduced to even the slightest whiff of logic this series would disintegrate.
I cannot rule out the possibility that Kimi no Kakera is a deadpan satire of all the most revolting elements of the moe aesthetic. It's not impossible; there do, after all, exist shounen magazines which appear to exist at least in part as some sort of practical joke. All the available evidence, however, suggests that this manga simply a collection of all the most revolting elements of the moe aesthetic. It's by Takahashi Shin, creator of Saikano, who is evidently even madder than that might suggest.

Extreme close-up of wide-eyed, weeping face.
Every single panel.
It shares with the unpleasant Letter Bee both its MacGuffin - a missing sun - and its pornographic fascination with the suffering of wide-eyed, androgynous children. The protagonist is Icoro, a princess who, for reasons not entirely clear, is forced to do menial jobs to support her little brother while being heaped with verbal abuse. She is also constantly starving and cold, never gets a full night's sleep, has no friends, and was born incapable of smiling or laughing. When these various indignities build up too heavily upon her, as they do every two or three pages, Icoro cries massive, bulging, physically-improbable eyefulls of tears, so that it sometimes resembles a face less than a molten Venusian landscape. It's usually snowing, though.

If you worry that watching a Princess cry in the snow might get a little tedious, fear not, for sometimes she also wets herself. Also, there are other children to be tormented. These include her little brother, who is blind, sickly, and probably doomed; two emotionally stunted child soldiers; and an amnesiac boy whom she names Shiro, because he can't remember his name. Shiro, like Icoro, is missing certain emotional responses - he's incapable of crying or expressing grief, even when seriously injured, or explaining to Icoro that she is the first friend he's ever had.

Unfortunately, Shiro loses his memory again every time he's forced to fight to rescue her from something, meaning that he is constantly forgetting about her. Given that, with the exception of her doomed brother, he is literally the only character who doesn't abuse her (even her cute animal sidekick hates her), this sets off even more weeping on her part.

At one point, at the climax of a particularly intense cycle of abuse-and-weeping directed at Icoro, two sets of her tormenters - the child soldiers and some evil adults - are fighting over which gets to kidnap her. She bursts into tears so effectively that everyone has to stop to look at her. She's a virtuoso. She says, "I feel sorry for you all!" and launches into a tearful speech about how pathetic all of their lives are.

One of the child soldiers, later, spends a good deal of time thinking reluctantly about this. He begins to admire Icoro for this; her pity of them, in fact, strikes him as the highest emotion to which one could aspire. He sees something deeply profound in it.

I've been formulating a theory about moe.

Cut for length. )
Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton

It's a Regency romance novel with cannibalism! The characters are all dragons, who eat each other:

"You wouldn't dare," she said. "To be known as the Exalted Lord who ate his mother when she was strong and well?"

He's expected to eat her when she dies naturally, see. There'll be troubling social repercussions if he doesn't wait that long - he'll probably have to rusticate for a season or two.

Also, when female dragons lose their virginity, they turn pink, and if they turn pink before they're married they are Fallen Dragons and cast out of their homes, and other dragons can eat them with impunity. The children of the poor are also eaten pretty much whenever by the upper classes, as are elderly servants, and their wings are often bound to keep them from flying. The more other dragons you eat, the bigger you get, so that dragons of the upper classes are the only ones who regularly grow longer than seven feet, making it easier for them to dominate the lower class dragons, and by the way are these metaphors clear enough.

Yet it's not an obtrusively didactic book. The cannibalism and turning pink is gracefully established the rules in the first couple chapters, without any special emphasis, and Walton follows them precisely throughout the book - but none of this actually changes the character of the Regency era as-seen-in-romance-novels much. It just reads like a Georgette Heyer novel. It's appropriate to call it satire, but it's that sneaky kind of satire that can just as easily be enjoyed as an example of the medium it's poking holes in.

Superior v 1-9, by Ichtys

The hero Eksa has been sent to destroy the Demon Queen Shira, with whose forces the humans are at war. Shira sees him coming, and on her second-in-command's advice decides to spy on him a little to ascertain his weaknesses before trying to kill him. She does this pretending to be a weak demon-in-distress who needs his protection. This works pretty well on Eksa, who actually wants to make peace with the demons, and hates killing.

Though the Demon Queen finds this idea baffling and contemptible, she against her will falls in love with him in chapter one. Her thinking on this is basically, "Darn it, this is going to make it hard to kill the guy... Oh, well." Still hiding her identity from him, she goes off and has adventures with him, Shira struggling with alien human ideas like "you can't eat everyone you don't like" and Eksa anxiously trying to make peace between the demons and the humans.

Because all fantasy-manga adventurer parties should consist of four people, I guess, they shortly acquire a womanizing swordsman guy and a short-tempered magician girl. Because all fantasy-manga adventurer parties require a Boss Fight to look forward to at some point in the future, Shira makes a golem that looks like herself to take her place while she stays with Eksa, and the golem turns on her, declaring itself the true Demon Queen. Its name is apparently just Copy, though. It should change that.

It's honestly pretty stupid; though it starts as comedy, there are volume-long collapses into limpid angst. Most of it is a pattern of Stupid Pratfall, Stupid Angsty Fight Scene, People Express Inane Ideas About War While Weeping For Like The Whole Chapter. All kinds of sparkly shoujo tears; the whole cast does it.

But I finished it up because Shira does stuff like this:

Shira: It's not a problem if it is right or wrong, you just beat the ones who say otherwise. That's how I gained control of the entire world.

I find this refreshing in a shounen manga heroine. It ends at volume nine in the middle of a plotline, but there's a sequel series called Superior Cross, which I may go ahead and read.

I've decided to start grading translations, by the way; as you may have guessed from the panels above, none of the various scanlation groups that have worked on this get more than a C from me.

(Hoshin Engi is in same situation, and I include the regrettable official Viz translation in this judgment. I seem to recall that some scanlation project working about eight years ago did a decent job on the first few volumes, but I can't find those particular scans now.)

Hahaha, I love this manga.

Houshin Engi is a shounen manga based loosely on the Chinese novel The Creation of the Gods. Dakki, a powerful fox demon, has enchanted the Yin emperor Chuu-oh and is destroying the empire by means of her peculiarly high-spirited atrocities - cheerily throwing huge crowds of people into pits of snakes, making excitable cooking shows in which she feeds people to their parents, etc. She's just having so much fun! Sadly, the immortal sennin of the Kongrong Mountains don't appreciate the mess she's making of China, so they send a sennin-in-training named Taikobo to defeat Dakki and her followers.

You know that thing about shounen manga, where the hero is pretty much the strongest guy around by the end of volume five or so? That doesn't happen here. Taikobo is genuinely not very good at fighting, and usually achieves his goals by getting people drunk or getting them mad at him. (He's really good at getting people mad at him.) The fighting he mainly pushes off on the stronger allies he makes throughout the series; he's mostly a stategist rather than a combatant.

There's a scene late in the series where his team is getting beaten up, and one of them insists that he help, only to find that he's passed out from the strain of an earlier, more minor fight; another character points out, reasonably, "He's never really been all that good, you know." This manga ran in Shounen Jump from 1996 to 2000, and I'm pretty sure that the magazine no longer permits this sort of behavior. (He's obliged to get some power-ups for the Final Battle, which I found disappointing.)

Dakki is an extremely enjoyable villainess, and she always remains a threat, and more powerful than Taikobo. This is refreshing, given that characters like her have a habit of being shown up by male villains at some point. Doesn't happen here! However, like Taikobo, Dakki doesn't go in much for physical force, meaning that she doesn't get many traditional fight scenes. She prefers to get things done by manipulating the people around her. It becomes clear pretty quickly that she commits her worst crimes not for their own sake, but for the outrage they engender in Taikobo and the other protagonists. Their hatred is a tool she's using to achieve another goal. (Though she does seem to enjoy watching people get mad at her.)

Though the series has a lot of dark moments - a big chunk of the cast is dead by the end - it's consistently funny even during the finale. A lot of the humor is self-referential; the characters all know that they're in a manga. Taikobo at point wins a fight by transferring himself and his opponent into a 4-panel newspaper comic, and Dakki complains that the plot of the anime diverges too far from the manga. Another guy, defeating Taikobo, temporarily turns the series into an earnest high-school sports comic.

The most powerful Sennin the world, an evil clown named Shinkoyo who declines to take sides in the central dispute, evidently derives his power from the fact that he has read the script. He's constantly feeding information to both Taikobo and Dakki, "to keep things interesting," and provokes fights between their forces when things slow down. When Taikobo and company are gearing up for the final battle, Fujisaki has failed to provide a reason for Taikobo's lazy mentor Roushi to get himself over there - so Shinkoyo kidnaps him, on the grounds that it just wouldn't look right if he missed the finale.

Various other notable things about this manga:

* There's no heterosexual romance. The only non-comic-relief and non-immediately-doomed male-female relationships are parent-child ones, and the one that gets the most page-time is abusive. What's up with that, Fujisaki.

* Dudes do stare soulfully into each other's eyes a lot, though.

* There's a huge cast of characters, but they're nearly all guys; I think there are maybe ten named women, and probably seventy guys. Here, I'll try to list all the women: Dakki, Kibi, Kijin, Chuu-oh's first wife, Nataku's mom, Sengyoku, Ryukitsu Koushu, Hekiun, Hekiun's sister, Supumama, Ko Hiko's wife and sister, Venus, Queen, Madonna, one of Otenkun's subordinates, Yuukyou, Jyoka. Okay, I'm wrong, that's eighteen - but I just found a character guide and counted the names, and it looks like there are about a hundred and thirty characters total. Also, two of the women I listed have no dialog, two more die in the chapter they're introduced in, and another is already dead the first time we see her.

* Taikobo's second-in-command Youzen looks suspiciously similar to Kurama from YuYu Hakusho. Nataku (you knew some version of Nataku was going to be in this comic) looks and acts kinda like Hiei.

* Taikobo rides around on a timid talking hippo named Supushan, who has a Supupapa and Supumama and comes from Supu Valley. How the Moomin family ended up in feudal China is not clear.

* This is a small spoiler: Read more... )

* This is a big spoiler: Read more... )
Over the past year, I've made a lot of long, grumpy posts about books/video games/etc that have disappointed me. (I've even got two sitting on the desktop unfinished right now.) I have written relatively few positive posts about stuff I like. My resolution is that for every discrete media item I take the time to thrash at, I will also talk about something that was good.

(I'm not going as far as "expend as many words on positivity as negativity," because I am a jerk and that is impossible. Perhaps it will be my son who finally brings balance to the force.)

To get started, I have recently read and liked these shounen manga which have "x" in their titles for no good reason:

Hayate x Blade, by Shizuru Hayashiya - A comedy shounen manga about a private girls' school with mandatory swordfights. The girls have to fight in pairs and get a gradually-increasing amount of money for each fight they win. The Kind-Hearted-Idiot-Type title character, Hayate, needs the money to save an indebted orphanage (of course!), while her partner Ayana, the Short-Tempered-Straight-Man, wants to redeem herself for having hurt her original partner.

Every plotline goes like this:

* Two girls are having problems with their relationship! Oh noes!

* Hayate tries to fix this in improbable and counterproductive ways. She hits on Ayana, Ayana hits her.

* Fight scene! "NOW I'LL SHOW YOU MY TRUE POWER" etc

* Hayate's plans have failed, but the girls probably work it out anyway.

The manga with the most similar tone is probably Ouran High School Host Club: it fulfills all the parameters of its genre, but it's always self-aware and never takes itself too seriously. It's gotten slightly darker as the series has progressed - little piles of angst have accumulated in every corner at this point - but Hayashiya has too much sense of perspective to let things get too heavy.

Hunter x Hunter, by Yoshihiro Togashi - So you know how at the end of Yu Yu Hakusho, Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei go into the demon world where everything's all brutal and decadent and better-drawn? And there's no longer any standard shounen-manga black-and-white moral conflict - just people with conflicting loyalties doing battle and betraying each other in increasingly baroque ways? (And Mukuro!) And then it ends really suddenly without quite resolving in a satisfying way. (And Mukuro gets -ed over.)

Hunter x Hunter is essentially Togashi trying for a re-do of that last arc. Its protagonists, Gon and Killua, are two adorable little martial artist kids who are not exactly sociopaths. They care about their friends, and Gon has kind of an abstract allegiance to the idea of not murdering anyone without a really good reason. But he'll do just about anything else. There's not a lot separating them from the mass-murdering villains - and there's dialog making this explicit. They're just on different sides, is all.

There are no innocents in this series. At one point a character becomes bodyguard to a defenseless young woman; she turns out to be a rapacious collector of black-market human body parts, and is never in any physical danger against which she needs protection. The cast consists almost exclusively of people who would be villains or, at best, the morally-gray rival in any other series. Hunter x Hunter a bizarre mutant species of shounen manga, in which the essential phrase, "I'll protect you!" is never once uttered. It's refreshingly honest.

HxH has been one of my favorite manga since I was in high school. I am currently engaged in probably my tenth re-read of the York Shin Auction storyline, which satisfyingly combines nearly every shounen manga element I like. My only serious problem with it is Togashi's inevitably weird treatment of his female characters.
I am not interested in hearing any arguments to the contrary.

Because James Cameron's priorities are screwed up, the movie he's been allegedly planning to make since the 90s is going to focus on motorball, aka the Inevitable Tournament Arc. This is a mistake; the motorball arc, compared to the superior Tuned arc, has few scenes in which Professor Nova mounts his head on things, cuts his head open with a buzzsaw, attaches a spare head to his stomach just in case Alita cuts off his main one (she does), or makes a merry-go-round, which is evil.

Also, no Lou, Den, or old-enough-to-talk-Koyomi.
My process for reading this manga is like this:

Me, reading an even-numbered-chapter: This manga is stupid. It's getting stupid all over me. I should have stopped reading when she killed [person].

Odd-numbered-chapter: OH MY GOD THAT JUST HAPPENED

Even-numbered-chapter: Aw, now it's all stupid again. Stop introducing unnecessary new characters and bring [person] back to life.

Odd-numbered-chapter: OH GOD THIS MANGA IS AMAZING AND I AM NOT BEING IRONIC okay, maybe sort of ironic

Chapter 65 is an odd-numbered chapter. It is possibly the odd-numbered chapter. I AM SO HAPPY THAT THAT JUST HAPPENED, IT IS GREAT AND WILL RUIN EVERYTHING.

(I am not talking about the fact that Cain Gil tells Jizabel Vincent "Get your personal life in order! Quit hacking up dolls!" Though that's pretty good, too.)
I will not be happy with Pandora Hearts until it 1) brings Elliot back to life, and 2) makes Leo put his glasses back on.

I actually feel like my first condition is more reasonable than my second one. That death was weak.

Apologies to anyone who saw this when it first went up without the spoiler-hide. It's too late at night for CSS.
Every manga with a smiley, manipulative guy who knows everything but chooses, gratuitously, to share none of it with his ostensible allies, needs a scene like this. (No spoilers, except for Break not being dead yet.)

I especially want this inflicted upon Sanada Yukimura from Samurai Deeper Kyo, Sohma Shigure, and Ichimaru Gin. Screw those guys. (I'll leave Fai alone, he has enough to deal with.)
that it has repeatedly forgotten that Break has gone blind in the middle of the arc about him/her coming to terms with said blindness.


Mochizuki Jun, you are even better than Kubo Tite at remembering your characters' disabilities.
On an eternally dark world infested with giant insects, all mail is delivered by Letter Bees - basically, heavily-armed mailmen. A Letter Bee finds that his most recent "package" consists of a small boy. The Letter Bee's name is Gauche Suede, which is not the stupidest name in the series; this honor goes to the little boy, our hero Lag Seeing. (Though there's also a guy named Ziggy Pepper.)

All letters contain "heart," which can be seen by, uh, shooting it with your magic gun, which is powered by soul amber. By shooting at the mail they deliver, Letter Bees can make visible the true emotions of the sender of the letter, and display them to the recipient in a sort of telepathic blast. I think this may mark the first manga actually based on the results of [personal profile] telophase's random manga plot generator.

Anyway, I personally would consider this procedure overly invasive, but people on eternally-dark world seem to be cool with it. Lag, however, initially hates Gauche for his habit of alternately treating him like an object and being endearing and innocent, which I think is pretty reasonable of him. But when Gauche saves Lag's life and rides off into the sunset to deliver more mail, Lag does the reasonable shounen manga thing and declares that one day he will become a Letter Bee just like Gauche.

...So, putting the premise aside, this manga kind of skeeves me out.

It has the basic shape of a shounen story, and the art is very standard - it looks like Asada'd been reading a lot of D. Gray-man - but I've really got the feeling that it's being written around a fetish I don't have. Lag, who is a teenager for the main storyline, looks like a little kid, wears clothes too big for him, and bursts into tears constantly. He acquires a love interest, another childlike teenager who also cries all the time, and who wears elaborate ruffly clothes. Other characters whose appearances promise to be less consistent also cry. People look vulnerable and cast their eyes down and talk about their hearts.

Annnd there's a small girl whose clothes are always coming off. It's pretty obvious who she's there for. Jesus, Jump SQ.

Are all of these items just stuff that the lolicon community goes in for? I'm not well-versed in the genre conventions there, but that's the conclusion I'm reaching. I opened chapter 11, found that it involved the small girl jumping really high to reveal frilly underwear, and decided I didn't really want to know any more than that.

* This retroactively renders Gate 7 and some portions of Claymore, which also run in Jump SQ, rather more disturbing. Though I'm not actually sure Jump SQ has an editorial policy at all, much less a pedophilia-oriented one; its current lineup of titles seems completely thematically random.


Aug. 22nd, 2010 12:31 am
  • I re-read a couple volumes of Ranma. "St. Bacchus High School" and "Kolkhoz High School," huh.

    I first read Ranma when I was about twelve, and I assume that it did not occur to me at the time that "Kolkhoz" might not be a Japanese word. But I knew Greek mythology, and yet I do not recall thinking anything in particular about the name of Kodachi's school.

  • I also read Jeff Smith's Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil. Jeff Smith, these giant robots look suspiciously like the rat creatures from Bone. Also, in this comic, everything that happens happens for essentially no reason. Not that I mind! It's way too cute for me to mind!

  • Apparently Saburo Ienaga went to school in Aichi and taught in Niigata! I totally followed in his footsteps! Except for, you know, the part with all the fighting for justice. I need to get out and do that more.

  • Sometimes I just feel the urge to shout, "Fools! I'll destroy you all!"

    Relatedly, I'm considering engineering school.
Apparently they published Black Butler, Pandora Hearts, and E'S?

To explain why this is notable,

* Black Butler = Cain Saga but cynical and self-hating. It borrows big chunks of Cain Saga's plot, so this isn't subtle.

* E'S = X with less homoeroticism and no likeable characters. Similarities include character and background designs, obsession with tarot cards, and a doomed blond girl who the hero loves. Her brother goes nuts and tries to kill him. The guy doesn't look like Fuuma, at least? But that might be because he's supposed to be Nataku instead.

* Pandora Hearts = Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle with more cravats, no pacing, and, uh, for some reason Van Hohenheim from Fullmetal Alchemist is there? They're travelling around looking for the heroine's memories, which have been scattered; the hero looks like Shaoran, and might not have a soul or something; and the smiley guy looks like Fai and lost his eye to a guy who wants to use its magic to protect the heroine's memories.

I mean, they have to be aware that they're doing this.

(Despite its inability to plan more than three chapters ahead at the absolute most, I like Pandora Hearts. I'm mid-way through volume 6 right now, which is what prompted this post.)

that sentence was a lie )
I was writing a response to a comment of [livejournal.com profile] chomiji's and it got out of hand, so it's getting its own post.

At the core, 95% of shounen manga are fantasies of power. Most of them specifically work with the idea of an "inner strength" that's greater than outer strength - because, you know, most people reading manga are not big huge muscle-dudes. So the idea that this person of apparently ordinary physical size and strength could become the hero that everyone looks up to and fears, because of some internal quality, is very appealing.

Manga depending on this idea - and this occurs in shoujo as well as shounen - usually have some visible symbol of "inner strength." Bankai and transformations are Bleach's. Displaying and using your inner strength is simultaneously an act of aggression and a form of communication - if two shounen manga characters beat each other down with all their inner strength, they nearly always at least respect each other at the end. Sometimes they become BFFs! (See: like, half of Ichigo's current relationships with guys. He has beat most of these people up!)

In the most compelling shounen manga battles, when you agree to "show someone your true power," what you're doing is offering them a kind of intimacy, because you're showing them your soul.* And like in real life, making that offer requires a certain surety of oneself. This is why, when a Bleach character has summoned his Bankai for the first time in the past, he's always looked cocky or solemn or angry. He may also look tired or like he's under strain (Ikkaku did, and I think Hitsugaya?), but he never looks scared, because it goes against genre logic for a person who's not sure of himself to voluntarily put his soul out in front of someone else. It would be self-destructive - hence the trope where someone who's panicking or deluding themselves about something tries to use their secret technique, and either can't summon it, or loses control and kills themself with it.

Now, in later uses of the "true power," it's okay to portray it merely as a weapon, because the reader's already familiar with the character's soul, even if the opponent isn't. If every opponent reacts the same way to the revelation of the hero's power, the readers will start rolling their eyes. This is part of why characters like Ichigo just keep powering up throughout a shounen series. It's not purely escalation of the danger level; it's also a reassurance to the readers that the characters still have depths yet to be explored, and that they're growing and changing.**

(Some of the most successful manga of this kind are, I think, the coming-of-age stories, where these transformations mark a character's movement towards self-knowledge and responsibility. In my experience, shoujo manga does this better than shounen - Sugar Sugar Rune and Divine Melody are my favorite examples. Though Divine Melody still has time to kill everybody and break my heart.)

So, what all this was leading up to was: Soi Fong's first use of her Bankai, which is also the first time a female character has used Bankai in combat. Spoilers up to the end of Soi Fong's fight with Barragan (I don't remember the chapter number). )
I'm all caught up in Bleach! Also, I kind of hate myself.

At the beginning of the Arrancar arc I started keeping score on the female fight scenes. This is how my scoring works:

+1 for female hero winning
-1 for female hero losing
+1/2 for female villain winning
-1/2 for female villain losing

So, a neutral score would be zero; Claymore's score would be fairly close to zero, because the Claymores mostly fight women; and Battle Angel Alita's score would be, like, 7.63 * 10^9, because Alita almost always fights men.

Note that it doesn't matter who the woman fights here. If Yoruichi were to defeat a moderately-sized talking sea snail entirely offscreen, while onscreen we had, like, Hanatarou, Kon, and Don Kanonji fighting big terrifying things with lots of trash-talking? Yoruichi would still get a full point for her dead sea snail.

What I'm trying to say is, I feel I was being fairly generous.

Obviously, lots of spoilers under the cut.

All the battles involving female characters from the beginning of the Arrancar arc on. )
The plot is still stupid, but it is at least - unlike certain shounen manga I might name - in motion. I still love you for that, infuriating manga.

Also, for this chapter, wherein half the cast switched genders for no good reason. I am easy to please.

And this is not slapdash gender-switch, where people look the same but with slight modifications to the chest area! Oh, no. Ohkubo was so enthusiastic about this idea that everybody got entirely new character designs and outfits for the occasion. Yet they're all fairly recognizable - except for Soul Eater, who, being a fighting manga hero, logically had to turn into a magical girl manga heroine.

I also like how he immediately switches from guy-variant-tsundere behavior to girl-variant-tsundere behavior when he sees Maka getting a nosebleed over another girl. And the conclusions Maka draws from her nosebleed. "Oh, I've gotten a nosebleed! My observations lead me to believe that this is a crucial part of shounen manga male sexuality! What an educational experience!"

Ohkubo clearly gave far too much thought to this development. I can easily imagine him scribbling these ideas out madly and giggling, most likely very late at night. Is it possible to troll your own comic? Because you just know the guy has been checking out forums for reactions every day since the chapter came out. Probably Pixiv for fanart, too. I have just checked Pixiv for fanart, by the way.

I'm just disappointed that Kidd's missing out on the big genderbending party. He could have had asymmetrical boobs and freaked out about it. I think this is a missed opportunity.

Hinamori suffers an episode of Crazy-Eyed Antics.
- Bleach Chapter 101, by Kubo Tite
This term describes a situation in which a female character possesses some sort of power comparable to or greater than that of male characters, and her possession of this power is shown to be toxic to her and to those around her.

The power in question might be psychic or magical powers, martial arts skill, political power, wealth, business acumen, skill at sports, cooking skill, board game skill - or any other sphere which a sufficiently motivated manga artist might attempt to transform into a competition. "Power" can also apply to simple self-confidence, particularly in conjunction with a lack of romantic interest in or rudeness to a male character intended to be sympathetic.

The toxicity of power commonly manifests itself as a lack of self-control or self-knowledge on the part of the female character. In its classical form, lack of self-control leads to Crazy-Eyed Antics. This is when a woman who had appeared emotionally stable earlier in the narrative - at a time when she either did not possess her power, was not exercising it, or was not exercising it to its fullest extent - opens her eyes wide and develops dark circles under them as an accompaniment to destructive behavior. When engaged in Crazy-Eyed Antics, a character is as much as or more of a danger to herself and her loved ones than she is to her enemies. Beloved childhood stuffed animals should be stored in a safe place during episodes of Crazy-Eyes.

Common triggers for Crazy-Eyed Antics include: )

More examples requested! (Also, is there a TV Tropes entry with a similar premise to this?)

Edit: Please note that there are major spoilers for the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender at the bottom of the Dreamwidth comments!

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