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Excluding those very few moments in the manga’s run during which it has slowed down to a crawl, Magi is almost always consistent, at least with regards to the story.

What isn’t consistent is the art, however; this chapter falls into that category of chapters whose material somewhat lost its impact because of the wonky drawings.

THE CHAPTER:
Hakuryuu’s battle with his mother approaches a desperate end.

MY THOUGHTS:
One of Magi’s biggest draws over the last two or three weeks has been the manner in which Shinobu Ohtaka has portrayed the madness of the situation, specifically Grokuen’s descent into insanity.

I don’t know if she was attempting to achieve a similar feat this week but it didn’t translate well; some of the panels were so messy that I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was even happening.

The Good:

There is no such thing as a battle that is too long in shonen; it isn’t the length of a fight that makes it drag but the manner in which it plays out. 

  Magi has managed to maintain the dynamic nature of Hakuryuu’s fight with Gyokuen over four battle oriented chapters; which is no easy feat. Rather than changing the terrain and scaling up the fight in terms of destruction, Ohtaka has instead worked to keep the themes of each fight oriented chapter fresh.

Chapter 249 was a brutal dog fight, in which both sides threw their bodies against one another, deploying every skill and weapon in their arsenal, swords, teeth and all in what felt like a final dash towards the finish line.

It was the perfect use of 20 pages, within which Hakuryuu’s desperation came to life, coupled with Gyokuen’s ever increasing power and madness, the resolve of two aging generals who only sought to protect their kingdom after years of blind servitude, and the objectivity of Judar in determining that he could bring nothing positive to the fight and instead chose to retreat, lest he lose his life in vain.

Watching Hakuryuu take a bite out of Gyokuen’s neck would have been so much more impactful had Ohtaka strived to inject some sharpness into her art.

None the less the desperation of the situation  was palpable as both sides wrestled, special skills and magics forgotten, to force a victory through the difficult circumstances present.

The Bad:
There was a really scary moment during this chapter where Ohtaka almost ruined the momentum of her story; I am talking about those two pages were Hakuryuu goes on the offensive and seemingly begins to overwhelm Gyokuen with what seemed to be little more than resolve.

I am not a big fan of shonen manga that attempt to transform emotions into physical ability; that is how nakama power comes into being.

And while those events actually worked to further portray just how desperate team Hakuryuu was, the mangaka could have taken a more believable route in achieving this goal.

For 200+ chapters, Magi has done an amazing job of allowing its characters to depend solely upon their physical and magical abilities to attain victory. I don’t want that to change.

RATING: 7/10, the art somewhat ruined things in this chapter, which none the less continued to portray the Gyokuen/Hakuryuu battle in a dark, gritty and desperate light.
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Woooo! These are the sorts of Noblesse battles I have been waiting to see for a long while; fast paced and explosive; considering the fact that these were 20 pages of battle oriented material, it isn’t surprising that chapter 348 none the less managed to thrill, especially considering the number of quiet chapters that came before.

THE CHAPTER:
Rael finds a safe spot to engage his enemies, and quickly finds that neither Grui nor Gaitan are anything to scoff at.

MY THOUGHTS:

Sufficing to say, this was a very enjoyable chapter, a very fast read but none the less entertaining.

The chapter wasted no time in throwing readers headlong into Rael’s long awaited battle against what I can only assume are werewolf hybrids.

And the result wasn’t too different from Rael’s own battle with RK4, with Grui thoroughly and effectively schooling him. ON my first read it was a bit odd to see how easy it was to put Rael down.

I mean, considering his heritage, this guy should be faster than almost anyone we have met so far, and yet he was losing rather handily to some side villain that hasn’t been in play for more than a few chapters.

Giving the chapter a second read however revealed that Grui’s victory was anything but direct, and Rael indeed made effective use of his speed, his failure emanating from the fact that he didn’t have the power to actually harm Grui.

An interesting note upon Noblesse's art, which was superb, as always; I can't decide if I simply glossed over the panels that actually showed Rael striking Grui, or if the art was simply that wonky in those sections.

None the less, gripping stuff; Noblesse does speed so effectively that the manhwa actually leaves you at the edge of your seat, wondering whether an opponent will take a hit or if they will seem to vanish like smoke before launching a devastating counter attack, which might or might not make contact.

If there is one reason to read Noblesse, it is for kinetic battles such as these; from panel to panel, the events of the chapter transitioned so smoothly that, well, it might have as well been animated.

RATING: 8/10, Regis’ arrival doesn’t bode well for Rael; Regis has never been the most powerful noble, which, I suppose, makes him perfect for the rather weak RK4. I see the pair taking quite the beating in the next week or two before the rest of RK4 finally makes their appearance.

Which isn’t even that comforting; because I don’t think RK4 and Rael combined could beat Grui, at least not with what we have seen so far. And Gaitan is still just standing there, ready to kill someone when the need arises.
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I’ll be honest; the only reason I decided to give the manga MY HERO ACADEMIA an honest chance was because the mangaka, Horikoshi Kouhei and I share something in common: Naruto.

Where it not for the fact that Horikoshi respected Masashi Kishimoto immensely and believed Naruto to be the greatest manga he has ever read, I don’t know if I would have given this, Horikoshi’s recent work after a series of failures, a chance.

THE PLOT:
People are not born equal; a realization that 4-year-old Midoriya Izuku faced when he was bullied by classmates who had unique special powers.

Izuku is one of a rare set of individuals born with absolutely no unique abilities. This did not stop Izuku from pursuing his dream, a dream of becoming a hero like the legendary All-Might.

To transform into the great hero he hopelessly wants to become, he will join the ranks of one of the highest rated "Hero Academies" in the country: Yueiko. With the help of his idol All-Might, will he be able to claim the stars and become a true hero?
 
MY REVIEW:

Considering the fact that Sensei no Bulge, Horikoshi’s last-and possibly most promising- manga was met with cancellation mere months after it first begun serialization, it is easy to approach Boku no Hero Academia as another potentially impressive series waiting to meet its end at the whims of Shonen Jump.


Sufficing to say, Horikoshi seems to have finally found that one gem he has been struggling to create after a string of failures.

+THE GOOD
Is Boku no Hero Academia the next best thing in manga, and possibly, anime? Well, I made that same assumption about a certain manga, only to watch it crash and burn after only 24 chapters.

Then again Hungry Joker never enjoyed ratings anywhere within the realm of Boku No Hero Academia.

The Manga presents a number of fairly interesting elements that are bound to work in its favor, at least as far as attracting the adoration of Japanese readers is concerned:

-Heroes- My Hero Academia is heavily influenced by American comics, not only in its character designs but the story arcs and even villains.

And the American theme actually works in allowing the manga to take on the vibe of a bad yet entertaining American comic book series, with its bright costumes and flashy battles.

With One Piece, Japanese audiences proved their fascination for all things foreign oriented, pirates being chief amongst them; and few things are as western themed as costumed heroes with secret identities fighting to save the world from the grand plans of dark villains.

Sufficing to say, it makes sense why Boku No Hero is appealing so strongly to Japanese markets.

It isn’t quite the perfect fusion of East and West, Manga and comics, but the spirit is present.

-Quirk- Boku no Hero Academia has an abundance of quirk and oddness to it; from boisterously heroic characters like All Might to humorously titled attacks like Detroit supelex and the Tennessee Kick, Horikoshi's manga enjoys bathing in the quirkiness of its universe, this despite the fact that it manages to take itself seriously enough to generate tension and thrills.

Sufficing to say, the humor isn’t to everyone’s tastes, this despite the fact that Boku no Hero Academia, like One Piece, usually manages to balance its quirkiness with a serious tone.

-Cast- Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia thrusts its hero into the confines of a special academy designed to transform young and gifted minds into honorable heroes ready to stand in the gap between evil and it’s innocent victims.

Naturally the manga’s cast is quite large, presenting a wide variety of boys and girls, men and women with unique personalities and abilities, each of which the series has actually worked to incorporate into the story in a noteworthy manner.

Then again that is something most shonen manga can accomplish effectively today and which isn’t really worth commending the manga for.

The question is whether Boku no Hero Academia can keep up the practice where other manga would normally throw their weight behind two or three primary heroes.

-Midoriya- The primary protagonist is pretty likeable, if a little too wimpy; the eventual rise of an underdog to the position of super star never gets old, and for the moment, Horikoshi is doing a pretty decent job of retelling this story.

+THE BAD
Horikoshi Kouhei is a MASSIVE KISHIMOTO FAN; and, for the love of all that is manga, he needs to tone his admiration down a notch, because it shows. 

15 chapters in and Boku no Hero continues to struggle under the shadow of Naruto, with so many elements correlating so closely to Kishimoto’s series that the similarities, not in concept, but story structure can become difficult to ignore.

One doesn’t need to be a massive Naruto fan to realize that Midoriya was clearly inspired by Naruto; and Bakugou and Uraraka are obviously Sasuke and Sakura facsimiles.

With a similar rivalry already emerging between the pair of potential heroes, the cool but mysterious Aizawa-sensei-who’s clearly channeling Kakashi- the villainous plot perfectly timed to coincide with a major event in the life of Midiroya’s class-clearly reminiscent of the chunin exams- Horikoshi walks the fine line between paying homage to Naruto and manifesting the major influence upon his career as a mangaka, and potential plagiarism-well, maybe plagiarism is an over exaggeration. 

However, in the same way One Piece and Naruto begun with a Dragon Ball influenced mindset before eventually going their own way, Horikoshi doesn’t seem content with simply repeating the same formulas that work, instead already working to stamp his own signature upon the shonen genre less than 20 chapters into his manga.

+VERDICT:
America’s Got Powers is an American series published by Image comics; it tells of a universe in which the entire human race acquires special powers and abilities, but for one single human, the hero of the comic.

Boku no Hero Academia mirrors America’s got powers, with a somewhat miserable hero in a world where everyone is special except for him.

His burden is the desire he carries to play the role of hero no matter his circumstances and the resistance he faces from the powerful figures around him who deem him undeserving of the title hero because of his normalness.

In displaying a wide array of heroes working to save the world using a number of unique methods even while fighting for the adoration of the public and the financial benefits that come with them, Boku no Hero Academia also manifests hints of Tiger and Bunny, with a world that has more or less commercialized the hero status.

Reminiscent of Toriko, with the quirkiness of its villains and the oddity of the super powers in play, the shadow of Naruto isn’t likely to chain Boku no Hero Academia down, which is extremely fast paced, almost like it wishes to outrun the shackles the mangaka restricted its progress with.

15 chapters in, and the manga seems ready to finally blossom into its own thing, and could potentially develop into the weird, action packed yet story driven series Horikoshi clearly wants it to be.

While still finding its footing, My Hero Academia shows potential and can prove entertaining for curious readers.

RATING: 7/10. The first chapters of the manga are not exactly inspiring. Yet as My Hero Academia continues to progress, elements of the story begin to stand out.

Only time will tell whether this embryo of a series will mature into something noteworthy.
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Wednesdays and Thursdays used to be all about Naruto, One Piece and Bleach; now that Naruto is gone, maybe Magi can fit into that blank spot, because this manga is simply on fire.

It was more than worth waiting another week to read these chapters back to back; why can’t more manga and manhwa series do stuff like this?

Shocking, entertaining, crazy. That is Magi.

THE CHAPTERS:
Hakuryuu and Judar’s confrontation with Arba turns chaotic as the witch brings her fury down against her son.

MY THOUGHTS:

These are the sorts of series I crave to read; where scrolling down to each new page fills me with deep anticipation regarding what is about to happen next.

These two chapters kept me at the edge of my seat, from panel to panel; and manga rarely does that, where the contents of each new panel are so enticing that simply sweeping your eyes from one side to the other becomes an adventure.

+Gyokuen.
Arba is a monster; that is all there is to it. And she’s as crazy as they come. I am always complaining about Ohtaka Shinobu’s art, but the amount of effort she clearly pours into Gyokuen’s creepy facial expressions is simply inspired. 

The power she displayed in this chapter cemented her as the one true villain of the Magi series, the apex of Al-Tharmen and eventual destroyer of the world, if events continue down their current course.

One needs to question how Hakuryuu and Judar defeated the demented woman. No, scratch that, do we even know that they defeated her?

Because at this point everything we have come to believe about the events that happened at the heart of the Kou empire came from Judar, who could be lying out of his teeth.

The idea that Gyokuen might have attained victory and could be controlling both Magi and King vessel is exciting and would elevate Magi to new heights of greatness.

Not that Magi isn’t epic enough as it is; shonen series today simply do not display the level of madness that Ohtaka managed to elicit from Gyokuen in two chapters. 

Great villains make great manga; and if Judar and Hakuryuu are great villains, then Gyokuen is something entirely superior. Next week cannot come fast enough.

I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. And I cannot get enough of Gyokuen; knowing her back story only sweetens the spirit of her current level of madness.

+Hakuryuu
Hakuryuu deserves his own series. The manner in which he continues to prove himself as a decisive ruler and determined seeker of justice for his father and brothers’ deaths places him in a class far apart from Alibaba.

Truth be told, I couldn’t care less about Alibaba.

Where Alibaba, the primary protagonist of the series, has basically spent the last 50 chapters changing loyalties and basing his strategies around who’s leadership he should fall under, Hakuryuu is taking charge, so much so that even those most loyal commanders and generals of Kouen are standing ready to serve him, moved to action by his determination and fervor.

Hakuryuu is everything a primary shonen protagonist should be, and what Alibaba clearly can never be. It is almost tragic, considering how far Alibaba has fallen.

+Judar
That the dark Magi is no longer the irritating little runt whose every action was driven by his need to satisfy his own dark desires is surprising; Judar keeps proving with each new chapter that he is clearly not the person he used to be.

He is a loyal servant and, dare I say friend, of Hakuryuu, willing to follow him to the very end and more than ready to support his goals with his life.

This is what has always set Fate/Zero apart in my eyes, its ability to elicit as much entertainment and intrigue from the villains as it did from its heroes, so much so that picking a side to support became a difficult endeavor.

As things stand today, I would be hard pressed to choose Aladdin and Alibaba over Judar and Hakuryuu, even considering the journey we have enjoyed with Aladdin and Alibaba over the last 200 chapters. 

Chapters 247 and 248 were largely battle oriented, and yet covered so much ground, providing a ton of character development even while showing off the true extent of Gyokuen’s magic.

RATING: 10/10, from Arba nearly tearing the palace apart with her magic to Hakuryuu introducing his fists to her face repeatedly in a most brutal manner, these chapters were among the best the series has produced all year.

That scene between Arba and Hakuryuu was…odd. I thought they were related.
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Chapters like this provide fair insight into the difficulties of writing manga on a weekly basis; with barely 20 pages to work with, there is an art to providing material on a weekly basis that is not only entertaining but which progresses the story.

Which somewhat explains One Piece’s relatively slow pace; there is no easy means of moving so many pieces at a go within so little space. A factor that Noblesse has proven, considering the relatively slow pace it adopted in arriving to this point.
THE CHAPTER:
Grui and Gaitan begin closing in on their target.

MY THOUGHTS:

The battle between Muzaka and his pursuers is inevitable; and chances are the writers of Noblesse intend to use that time to show us just how powerful the werewolf lord is.

And if Cromble is involved, then the chances are high that he will be spotting a few impressive upgrades, enough to make him a worth while threat to Rai.

That being said I am curious to see how Rael’s fight with the pair of hunters will unfold; the fact that they aren’t werewolves in the strictest sense suggest that we might be in for a few surprises.

The only way this arc can receive new life is if the next few chapters are explosive with action; either that or the story progresses in a previously unforeseen manner.

Because Noblesse really needs the boost, having sacrificed its edge in trying to move so many pieces into place at the same time.

For the first time in a long time, RK4 might play a bigger role than simply keeping the enemies at bay till Rai arrives; the Manhwa cannot afford to keep repeating the previous pattern.

There is only so much fighting and pathetic losing that the group can do before we finally begin expecting some meaningful deaths.

RATING: 6/10, Rael, as with most nobles, looks like he’s finally coming around to liking the humans.
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