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Shonen Showdown 7-9-2013

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Full of charged imagery

Welcome to the latest week of Shonen Showdown, Japanator's weekly battle anime and manga recap, where this week's installment of Bleach can't help but wield some strangely charged imagery for no discernible reason. What do you think of the...er, thing in the header?

Other than questionable icons we've got an extra-sized Fairy Tail recap for you courtesy of Kristina, the ever-reliable dose of Hunter x Hunter from Chris, and I'll be trying to plumb the mysteries of Naruto and Bleach. Particularly Bleach this week. What the heck's up with that thing? Is it a pot? A Dragon Quest slime monster with wings? A visual stereotype of a particular racial-ethnic background?

You decide. Because I can't, for the life of me. Will someone please tell us in the comments? Oh, and talk about your favorite fight shows as well.

Anime

Chris Walden

Hunter x Hunter Episode 87


This certainly wasn't on the level of some of the previous episodes, as it seems the focus has been shifted to help set up the incoming battles. We get to see a bit of the queen, a bit of Neferpitou, a bit of Colt, and we even get a little bit of training in there. For an episode that exists to give future episodes something to work with, it did pretty darn well to stay entertaining.

This was largely in part to Knuckle, our new bancho friend. Part typical delinquent, part emotional young man who has an affinity for animals. I can see him quickly becoming one of my favourite characters, so I'm just going to hope that he doesn't follow these recent trends and end up getting eaten/torn apart/both by a chimera ant. I think it's pretty safe to say at this point that all four of these folks battling to join the folks fighting chimera ants are going to end up in there. 

Butterfly-guy was missing for this episode, so I'm going to assume he was kidnapped by a fujoshi.

[Hunt for this show on Crunchyroll!]

 

Josh Tolentino

Naruto Shippuden episode 320


The most important thing to take away from today's episode isn't what happened in it, but what it says will happen next week, i.e. things get back on canon track. Oh, thank goodness! Strangely enough, that gives me even less reason to cover the show in detail (though I still will), but this batch of filler content has run on for far too long, and gotten long in the tooth.

Anyway, the show caps off its filler with a look at Omoi, Cloud ninja, disciple of Killer Bee, and a person whose sole point of characterization is that he tends to worry on a slippery slope, imagining increasingly outlandish worst-case scenarios with the horror of an internet commenter.

Omoi leaves his position with Kakashi's battalion to go off and rescue the Thunderclouds, the Cloud Village's youth squad, who've been trapped behind the lines by poison gas-belching Zetsus. Naturally, things happen and he carries out the rescue, but the show does manage a half-clever gag, playing off the filler's tendency to just throw Naruto's clones into the battles at the last second to save the day. That totally happens as Omoi begins his assault, but after a handy save, Omoi accidentally kills the Naruto clone, leaving him to undertake the rescue alone.

Fun stuff, but in retrospect it's only funny because I'm tired of seeing it happen. Thank goodness it looks like it's over.

 

Manga

Kristina Pino

Fairy Tail chapters 338-340


This and next week, Fairy Tail is going to have three chapters a-piece because the mag it's on is having an event of it. So this week's update gave us all kinds of information.

For one thing, it turns out Ul is definitely on her way out, and Grey noticed it. Kind of some nice drama there as he realizes it. Sticking to Grey for a bit longer, it looks like it won't be long now before he has a talk with her to lay it all down. At least, it looks a lot like he's going to tell her to forget about him romantically sometime soon. 

Natsu actions in the castle produced one of the most hilarious, laugh-out-loud scenes I've ever seen in Fairy Tail. Just everyone's reaction to his completely brazen crown-steal, and presenting himself as the king and everything. And the perfect two panels of Makarov losing all his hair. Speaking of Makarov, he had two reaction panel sections in this stretch - the second one came when the mayor of Magnolia told Fairy Tail that the city had pitched in and completely fixed up their guild hall. So I guess there's one more thing conveniently tied up. 

I'm wondering where Yukino is going to go. I guess it was too good to be true that she'd quit being a mage and just give Lucy the rest of the zodiac, but at least we know who has the other keys now. It'd be a little too perfect (and a bit confusing considering Lisanna looks just like her) if Yukino joined Fairy Tail, and I suppose either Mermaid Heel or Sabertooth would make the most sense. I'm kind of gunning for Mermaid Heel, though. 

I didn't really appreciate Kagura's character change, initially. I guess it makes her a bit goofy and stuff like Erza, but going as far as saying she wants to regard Erza as an older sister just seemed out of place entirely. Then again, maybe there's just too much little sister anime in the air and it's affecting my outlook on the general prospect of little sisters. It does make sense for Kagura to make that request, it just came out of left field for her to totally break character like that.

Finally, we've got that meeting between Mavis and Zeref. Until now, I didn't know they had a history, though it looks like they go way back. Mavis seems pretty hell-bent on Fairy Tail eliminating Zeref before Zeref can destroy the world, though. I'm happy about this turn of events, but at once disappointed. I'm glad because we finally got an update and we can see something is going to happen. I'm not because the whole Zeref thing is a little uninspired. It's been a long time coming, back since the early stuff when the manga first kicked off, but I sure hope some good writing goes into this business and we aren't just going the way of Bleach - like after they beat the ultimate god of evil, Mashima will have to sit and think, "how could I top this?" It's just one of those cases where.. I don't need it to be topped in terms of bigger baddies. I just want it to keep being a good story.

 

Josh Tolentino

Naruto chapter 637 and 638


As Naruto takes the next step in setting up its final boss fight phase, things take a turn that was unexpected, if not exactly unpredictable. We knew Obito wouldn't just let himself lose to Kakashi and go quietly into the night, but I hadn't anticipated that he would basically bogart Madara's attempt to resurrect himself and become Jinchuriki to the Ten-Tails.

Instead, now Obito hosts the creature, which the Eight-Tails claims isn't even the thing's final final form. With the tables turned, now it's Madara who won't quite go quietly into the night. I wonder how the pair's original "Tsuki-no-Me" plan is faring under the circumstances. The conversion to Jinchuriki seems to have affected Obito's sense of self, and it was his Sharingan that was supposed to be reflected off the moon to plunge the world into an eternal dream-state.

Whatever the case, even the initially all-powerful Hokages seem like small-fry compared to the newly powered-up Obito. I can't wait to see what comes next.

 

Bleach chapter 544 and 545


As the training arc continues we check in with the rest of the foes, as well as some of the friends. Chapter 544 introduces Stern Ritter members at the "Z", "P", "T", and "G", as well as satisfying this arc's "chick with a harem" quota.

Last time around it was Espada #3, Tia Halibel and her Fraccion, but this time it's Stern Ritter "D", Bambietta Basterbine. From the looks of things, this crew are pulling double duty fulfilling the "crazy ladies" quota as well, as Bambietta has something of a snuff habit. By "snuff" I mean it in the "murdering people" sense, naturally.

Also examined in the chapter are King Yhwach's possible motivations for promoting Uryuu up the line, which could be a move to keep him in check, as well as recognize that the younger Ishida has something that no other non-Vandenreich Quincy seems to have, something related to his surviving Yhwach's ascension (which killed all the "mixed" Quincy). This still doesn't answer just what's happened to Ryuken, but seems to confirm that Uryuu is at least more "special" than your average mixed Quincy (I'm assuming he's mixed given his mother's heritage).

On the other side of the line we check in with Ichigo's friends, including Renji, Rukia, and Byakuya, who are hard at work training with the Zero Squad, as well as the other humans. The Kurosaki family is back at home, thinking Ichigo's gone off to soccer training (do they still not know a thing about his nature?).

 Orihime and Chad, who've met up with...some people, who I'll probably assume are Grimmjow and some of the remaining Espada, if not the Fullbringers. In the background, as ever, is Urahara running support through the vaguely uncomfortable-looking flying pot seen in this week's header. Yoruichi or the other members of his crew are still unaccounted for, but it's unlikely they won't show up before too long passes. In the meantime Urahara seems to be assembling what looks like a Quincy Cross. How much do you want to bet that's Ichigo's personal Quincy cross, to be "returned" to him at a moment of need for some amazing dual-power badassery?

Even the Visored get a few panels, being on Earth and assigned to clear up whatever's blocking it off from the rest of Soul Society (or something like that). Is it just me, or does anyone else think it a bit weird that of the Visored only Kensei, Rose, Mashiro and Shinji actually returned to their Soul Reaper duties? Why are they still hanging around deserted buildings for no apparent reason? All of them are around captain-level in strength, so they'll definitely be needed when the poop hits the fan. 

After months of continually upping the ante with regards to this final Quincy/Reaper war, Bleach has settled back into the training arc rhythm, setting things up before the next lengthy set of confrontations to come. It's a necessary step, and no doubt there's some fun in speculating just who's next to be revealed, but the fact that we've gone through similar valleys in the series' pacing makes it a little less special this time around. Let's hope we can get back to a period of action before everyone loses interest, yes?

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 


 


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