katmic (Level 11)

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Was that cheating? I think it was. Because Midoriya didn’t exactly overcome that brainwash guy on his own.

But then again, that would be no different from accusing avatar Aang of cheating in his battle against the Firelord. After all, considering the fact that the Avatar state called upon the powers of every Avatar that had lived before him, the final fight in the last Airbender wasn’t exactly a One on One battle.

+THE CHAPTER:
The first round of Midoriya’s third stage ends.

+MY THOUGHTS:
What happened to Midoriya in this chapter is the closest thing to a power-up we have probably seen in Boku No Hero Academia since the manga begun. And it isn’t a bad thing.

More shonen manga could benefit from being a little more subtle; and I have to say that I like the direction Midoriya’s ‘All in One’ is going, introducing an avatar style idea, with Midoriya possibly provided the opportunity to reach out to and interact with the past wielders of his abilities.

It wouldn’t surprise me if ‘All in One’ turns out to be a much more noble ability, emerging out of antiquity as a power created to maintain justice in a world that would have otherwise been torn apart by the machinations of super powered beings.

A sort of Noblesse ability among the many quirks. Everything we have seen so far seems to be pointing or at least hinting towards the possibility that Midoriya is meant to play a far greater role than we can hope to imagine.
-Shinsou Hitoshi- was a waste of time as a villain. First of all, the idea that a Brain washing power somehow ruined his chances of becoming a greater hero can’t even begin to make sense. The mangaka will have to explain how what should be one of the most powerful characters in the series is suddenly so debilitated in his ability to become a famous hero that he would feel sorry for a faulty canon like Midoriya.

I didn’t buy the drama the chapter was trying to sell; and everything we read in the last chapter made it seem like Ojiro hadn’t told Midoroya a thing about Shinsou’s powers. The excitement of the previous chapter’s cliffhanger was dependent on the fact that Ojiro had somehow forgotten to educate Midoriya about some very sensitive matters regarding Shinsou.

Which didn’t look like the case this week.

+RATING: 6/10, all in all, fairly average chapter, excluding the stuff about ‘All in One’. The art was pretty impressive, though.
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The Melk Stardust Arc! And odd arc to review, if there ever was one. And the question some might be asking is ‘Why?’

The answer is simple. Melk Stardust is the first arc in the Toriko manga that I read after becoming a relative fan of the manga; and having just finished it, I thought providing an overview of the relatively unimportant saga was worth the trouble.

But, first:

+My Toriko Story

I first encountered Toriko via the anime, which I actually enjoyed until about halfway its run, at which point it became somewhat odd and very unentertaining. So I dropped it.

The anime eventually ended and I thought I would give the manga a chance, starting with the tournament arc, which is roughly where I left things with the anime, give or take a dozen episodes.

Things didn’t work out. 15 chapters in and I decided Toriko wasn’t for me. Simply put, it was almost too much: the characters too wacky, the world too warped, the stories simply too silly for me to take seriously. So I dropped Toriko the manga as well.

Until I realized that the Toriko hype, which I had expected to die out eventually was only picking up pace; so I thought I would give the title one more chance, this time from the start. It didn’t take me long to finally acclimate to all those elements of the manga I initially thought were too much, now that I was exposed to them in a slow steady manner.

I think I truly begun reading Toriko at the Ice Hell Arc; I wasn’t having fun just yet. Rather Toriko simply wasn’t terrible anymore and I wasn’t speed reading through the chapters just to see what happened at the end, which meant the manga could pass the odd hour or two.

Things didn’t really heat up, at least in terms of my interest, until the Ozone herb arc; a series of chapters that constituted Toriko and Komatsu essentially climbing a long vine for several pages on end, but which I actually enjoyed.

And suddenly I actually cared what happened to Toriko; it mattered that he had just formed a combo with komatsu and the idea of the Gourmet world actually created a sense of adventure.

Which brings us to the Melk Stardust Arc, the most recent arc that I have had the pleasure of reading and, more importantly, the first arc I have read while boasting a real interest in Toriko.

Interesting as Ice Hell was, I honestly just wanted to see what happened with Tommyrod. Simply put, my interest in the manga hadn’t been sparked quite yet.

Not like it is now.

Anyway:

+THE MELK STARDUST ARC- Plot

When Komatsu breaks his favorite knife, Toriko embarks on a journey to accomplish a mission for the IGO president even while fulfilling Komatsu’s wishes to replace his cherished blade.

+THE MELK STARDUST ARC- My Thoughts

Can I just say that, while everyone was busy accusing Hiro Mashima of Plagiarizing from Oda, I was under the impression that One Piece and Toriko existed in the same universe.

Both series simply jelled waaay too perfectly with one another, so much so that I was certain the Gourmet Age came before or after the Pirate Age, and that Oda and Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro were working together to expand the One Piece Universe.

-

Irrelevant. That is how I would describe the Melk Stardust arc; considering the momentum built up by the Ozone herb and Gourmet World arcs, the Melk Stardust saga essentially brought the Toriko story to a grinding halt, achieving almost nothing in the long run.

That being said, the arc wasn’t without its positives:

-Toriko and Komatsu

If there was one goal the arc managed to achieve, it was to further develop Komatsu’s relationship with Toriko, not really breaking any new ground, merely cementing what had begun to take shape.

In a way, because they were forced to split up-Toriko seeking the stardust stone, Komatsu aiding Melk II in finding her confidence- they each continued to grow separate from one another even while sharing the same spirit.

Komatsu shared his brilliant spirit with a desperate soul while Toriko continued to prepare for the Gourmet World, now with a clear understanding of his limits and abilities.

Again, nothing mind blowing but, it was something.

-Melk

Precluding Toriko’s minuscule development, this arc would have been largely unimpressive if not for Melk I and II. Melk I, despite his size, was hilarious. His near silent interactions with Toriko and the revelations about the misunderstandings that littered his life in light of his soft voice made for some very interesting reading, presenting a number of somewhat heavy subjects with a humorous tone.

Melk II’s journey from timid apprentice to master craftsman gave the arc a purpose, specifically watching her open up to Komatsu as he gave her the confidence he had taken from Toriko.

-What I didn’t like?

The same stuff that has always irked me about Toriko didn’t really change with this arc. Specifically all the bizarre creatures. I don’t mind the odd combination of animals that constitute the monsters of the Toriko manga.

But I don’t see why each chapter needs to introduce a bunch of new creatures with new names and classifications, none of which I am ever going to remember.

And then there is Zebra, showing up at the end of the arc, which was a good thing actually. Created the suspense and intrigue that the arc needed.

Except I remember the first time I encountered Zebra in the anime, thought he was pretty scary for a character, presumed he would play the role of the evil heavenly king, accepted that he was more anti-hero than anything, a not-so-good guy that can manage to squeeze out a decent act or two.

And then the series revealed him to be a man not quite as bad as we were led to believe, who went to jail for some fairly righteous actions rather than the heinous crimes that were hinted.

Not that that makes him a terrible character; I simply expected one thing, got another, and as a result his appearance doesn’t exactly excite me as much as I hoped it would.

+RATING: 6/10. The Melk Stardust arc ran for ten chapters, from Chapter 114 to Chapter 124. Overall it ranged from mundane to mildly entertaining. I doubt I will remember the arc or any of the new characters that were introduced.

The arc didn’t really do anything for my interest in the Manga, positively or negatively; I could still be better described as mildly curious rather than an outright fan. Whether or not that will change by the time I catch up to the present arc will depend on the quality of the manga.

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I am starting to understand Magi art a little better. The best manga strive to paint a comprehensive picture that places a character within a specific environment and even goes so far as to show you the impact experienced by this character within his environment in reaction to some external force.

Most manga though choose to prioritize the character over his environment, with titles like bleach pouring great detail into each individual while showing little to nothing of the surroundings. 

Magi is somewhere between; the mangaka will represent the surroundings and the characters in the same panel and image, but without these two elements actually being connected. 

An example would be chapter 256, where we are shown Judar unleash twisters of wind and what I think was fire from above, as well a close up of their destructive impact on the trees, the ground etc.

In the same panel we see Aladdin, juxtaposed against the trees as they are being ripped from the ground; except he’s flying, with Judar just above him.

A cursory glance at that image can create  confusion, especially when all you can see is Judar and Aladdin standing in the midst of explosions and squiggly lines. You have to look close enough to put things together, that everything happening behind Aladdin and Judar is just a background image, showing what’s happening on the ground while Aladdin and Judar continue to fight in the air.

What I am trying to say is that I might have annouced Magi’s art as being bad, but maybe I simply misjudged it.

+THE CHAPTERS:
The battle between Hakuryuu and Judar, and Aladdin and Alibaba heats up.

+MY THOUGHTS

No. Excuses aside, Magi art is indeed very messy, so much more than I can sometimes stomach. It’s almost like Shinobu is trying to cram waaaay too much into each panel.

But maybe that is a compliment; because Magi isn’t drawn like any manga I have come across. Most mangaka try to keep the virtual camera on present events when drawing. If Aladdin and Judar are fighting in the skies, then that is all you are going to see. Not until they drop to the ground can we expect to see the impact of the supernatural elements on the environment.

Where it proves necessary to first display the full extent of an unleashed ability, mangaka tend to assign entire panels to such matters. That’s why you tend to find entire panels in Manhwa dedicated to showing the earth as it’s being ripped apart.

Shinobu isn’t helped by the fact that she seems to take short cuts in presenting some of these fights, making it difficult to follow the events fluidly from panel to panel.

That isn’t necessary a bad thing, though; because so much more happened in just one chapter of this fight than what we normally see in the typical Bleach battle, with Kubo more interested in showing the step by step elements of each fight whereas Shinobu keeps things frenetic.

+The Good
These are some of the best fights we have seen in the series in a while; and I had to read these three chapters a third time to fully comprehend what they had to offer.

If I am being honest, it is the fact that Aladdin and Alibaba are managing to hold their own against their clearly superior foe that these chapters are proving to be so entertaining.

And they are not simply holding their own; Shinobu has managed to give Aladdin and Alibaba an edge that is not only impressive but believable. 

A few weeks back I stated, more than once, that Team Alibaba didn’t stand the slightest chance of defeating Team Hakuryuu. Yet, watching Alibaba rise to the challenge has allowed his character to grow exponentially. 

His tenacity doesn’t eliminate the many irritating flaws of his character; as a King and primary protagonist, Alibaba is sorely lacking. However there is something endearing about watching him stand up to Hakuryuu and showing a determination to back his idealistic words with strength of will.

This is Alibaba as we have rarely seen him, especially in light of that chaotic exchange of blows and his final declaration to bring Hakuryuu to his knees. 

Could he actually win this bout? Well, Hakuryuu’s Belial transformation was impressive as hell. He continues to prove why he’s such a badass villain. And Alibaba has yet to corner him.

So, No. Alibaba isn’t winning this. But he will lose with a certain sense of pride, knowing he didn’t simply lie down and allow his former friend to walk all over him.

Aladdin has the makings of a truly powerful Magi, and for a long time the series seemed to forget him. Even with his showing at Magnostadt, his worth seems to have disappeared in light of juggernauts like Kouen and Sinbad.

These chapters finally allowed him to come into his own, portending his future as the biggest threat Il-Illah will ever face.

The talking took a back seat in all three chapters, which was a good decision on the Mangaka’s part, because these four characters more or less expressed themselves fully in the previous two chapters.

Any more talking (or begging on Alibaba’s part) would have felt redundant.

+The Bad
I have no problem reading a chapter a second or third time in order to understand some concept that I am yet to grasp. However rereading a chapter just because I didn’t quite understand what was portrayed on the page can get annoying. 

Magi’s art was waaay too messy. Chapter 257 was mostly consistent, but Chapter 255 and parts of 256 required some squinting and focusing to make sense of who had done what exactly.

Aladdin’s flash back was also terrible. IN fact the entire 255 was terribly paced. Shinobu rushed those moments of Aladdin trying to master Solomon’s Wisdom.

In fact it felt like she unnecessary shoehorned them into the chapter. 255 was just a mess top to bottom, barring a few decent Aladdin/Judar panels. 

This as opposed to the Hakuryuu/Alibaba panels, which were great, especially the sword/scythe stuff. That is where Shinobu’s habit of trying to fit several panels’ worth of work into a single panel paid off. The fast pace of the fights really resonated, as well as the desperation behind every one of Alibaba’s blows.

RATING: 7/10. Magi is getting its form back. Not that it was bad before. More like lackluster. It is considerably boosted by the unpredictability of this fight, from Aladdin’s display of space warping magic to Hakuryuu’s Belial Djinn equip and Alibaba’s roaring determination.

HIGHLIGHTS: Hakuryuu and Alibaba’s sword/scythe exchange. Aladdin’s potential omniscience.
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I am not so sure about the direction this business with King and Ban is going. The way the chapter ended, with a giant bearing down upon the Fairy King’s forest, waiting for either King or Ban to take action would have worked better if King actually needed to prove himself.

Are we really expected to get excited about watching King show off at Ban’s expense? Because the outcome is obvious. There is nothing in Ban’s arsenal that is going to allow him to actually impact next week’s fight, at least not without a sacred treasure.

More importantly, all of this would have only mattered if we were actually really interested in watching King find his lost confident, stand up to his naysayers and finally prove himself as the true Fairy King.

Unfortunately the mangaka seems to have forgotten that he actually already did this. The Hellbrum fight heavily explored King’s past.

We saw him fall to his lowest. Then he found his courage, realized that Chestiefol had chosen him once more as the true Fairy King and proceeded to kick Hellbrum’s Fairy Ass.

+THE CHAPTER:
Meliodas unleashes the fury of Lost Vayne. King and Ban must protect the Forest against a menacing threat.

+MY THOUGHTS:

I am seriously finding it very difficult to believe that King cares that greatly about the fact that his Fairy subjects have rejected his kinghood. Considering the character growth he is supposed to have undergone during the final chapters of the last arc, I would have thought that he would be content with simply possessing the strength from Chestiefol to protect his friends and the forest.

Ban and King’s mini arc was fine when it was approached as little more than a fun ride, showcasing King’s child like persona. But, with the story seemingly heading to a place where King has to overshadow Ban to prove himself, I am not interested.

-Ban
Ban is a very difficult character to read. Just how much of a hero is he? Because it seems like the majority of his life has been heavily intertwined with Elaine. We know he joined the sins mostly for fighting (and possibly because of Meliodas’ companionship).

Yet he was ready to kill Meliodas for Elaine’s sake. We know there is nothing saintly about his actions assisting in the rebirth of the Fairy King’s forest, just another step taken in Elain'e’s name.

What happens when his goals and intentions for Elaime fail to pan out? When she rejects him after returning, or he fails to revive her?

We might be in for another Obito scenario.

We all know that Obito didn’t lose himself to Madara’s dark side just because he loved Rin. He was obsessed with her, and the loss essentially broke his mind. 

Granted Ban isn’t a child; and he has greater mental fortitude. But again, it could be argued that the only thing keeping him on the right path is Elaine.

-Meliodas/Lost Vayne
I honestly expected so much more from Meliodas in this chapter.

Every time we have witnessed the advent of a sacred treasure, the results have proven to be catastrophic. Meliodas’ Lost Vayne felt a little tame.

Then again Diane’s first battle with Gideon was against the powerhouse that was Hellbrum, backed by Hendricksen and a whole host of Holy knights.

Maybe Meliodas requires a challenge of greater worth than a golem before we can see Lost Vayne truly perform. 
 
-Golem
I think we can safely say that there is some sort of design in the attack pattern of these golems. First it was Camelot and now the Fairy King’s forest. While Meliodas suggested that they had been woken almost automatically by the appearance of the Commandments, there is probably a plan in motion.
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Okay, a lot of this felt unnecessary. Or maybe it wasn’t, but chapter 32 was so weirdly paced that it made most of its 24 pages almost irrelevant.

+THE CHAPTER
The third stage of the tournament begins.

+MY THOUGHTS
The fact that the first two stages of the tournament were filled with such tension and intrigue emanated from the thrill of watching Midoriya essentially overcome his more talented opponents with nothing but his mind, making a conscious effort to keep a lid on his powers.

The third stage of these sorts of tournaments, the One on One part of every such event is often the most entertaining. And why shouldn’t it be. All shenanigans are thrown aside as both heroes and villains square off in single combat.

And considering just how impressive the first two stages were, this final battle oriented stage of the Boku no hero tournament should prove to be the most entertaining of the last ten or so chapters. 

However the set up that was chapter 32 wasn’t just mediocre; in some ways, it was almost bad. In less than half the pages of the chapter, during which we experienced that expected lull that happens between tournament stages such as these , the mangaka not only attempted to execute some miniscule amounts of character and plot progression but the weird reflection that many of the heroes seemed to be doing just didn’t work for me.

All of it essentially felt like drama for the sake of drama, except I didn’t even understand the drama. Two combatants dropped out of the 3rd stage for reasons that seemed a little too nonsensical. 

Midoriya faced his first opponent of the stage, and got angry really quickly for reasons unexplained. It all felt either pointless or too much too quickly. 

The mangaka would have been better off restricting chapter 32 to the lull before the 3rd stage, which should then have kicked off at the end of the next chapter. 

RATING: 3/10

HERO OF THE CHAPTER: Uraraka and Bakugou. The idea of these two fighting is oddly amusing. 

LOSER OF THE CHAPTER: Everyone that dropped out of the 3rd stage. Honestly it all sounded so dumb.
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