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I could be imagining this, but Shonen Jump seems to have accumulated a whopping 24 chapters of Boku No Hero Academia in a little over two months.

Which makes sense, what with Boku no Hero averaging two chapters every week; with the manga having released a surprising four chapters in just the previous week, one has to wonder what the hell is happening.

And am not complaining; reading four chapters in one go does provide so much more exhilaration than a single Boku No Hero Chapter; however  you have to wonder if there isn’t a comparison to be made between Boku No Hero and what happened with Toriko a few years back, where the relevant parties were so convinced of the manga’s future as an upcoming juggernaut that they began promoting it through every possible avenue.

It is possible that Shonen Jump has Kouhei working at four times the pace with the aim of getting enough material out there for an anime adaptation.

Again I am not complaining; more Boku No Hero Academia works for me.

THE CHAPTERS:
In the aftermath of the attack on the academy, Yuuei comes together to unravel the mysteries behind the villain alliance, even as Class 1-A gears up for an upcoming festival.

MY THOUGHTS:

  Boku No Hero is continuing to make strides in the arena of character development, which is oddly surprising, considering how many recent anime and manga series have failed to build their universes outside of each series’ primary protagonists.

Even though mostly done through the most subtle actions, with many characters in fact receiving little more than a line or two, the manga’s large cast is starting to define itself, with many characters already separating themselves from the pack, chief amongst which are IIda, Todoroki, Tsuyu, Mineta and a few teachers.

When it comes to writing a great story, the challenge lies less in creating great characters, and more with allowing your audience to actually ‘know’ each member of your cast.

Admittedly, Boku no Hero’s ability to define its cast is hardly unique for a new series; whether or not the manga can actually maintain this approach is what will set it apart.

Within these four chapters of Boku No Hero Academia, a few things stood out.

-Shigaraki Tomura
So apparently Tomura can disintegrate matter with one touch?

When exactly did that happen? I don’t actually remember Tomura doing anything beyond looking threatening throughout the invasion (which was, in itself, quite effective).

More importantly he touched a lot of people during those few chapters, none of whom actually turned to dust.

Whatever the case, everything about this guy intrigues me, specifically that one bit that seemed to imply that there might be so much more to him, enough that he might be a bigger threat than Noumu.

What are the chances that we get a Bleach style twist, where we learn that Tomura is actually All Might’s son; it didn’t occur to me that the hand covering his face might actually be concealing his identity.

However I think it is a little too early in the manga for a ‘who’s behind the mask?’ question to hold any weight; the series needs more time to grow and for Tomura’s identity to become a mystery worth solving.

At the moment though, it is the ‘We’ that stood out most during the earliest panels of chapter 21, during which Tomura’s benefactor first identified itself as singular, before speaking in plural.

Which means we might be looking at a senior Villains Alliance standing above Tomura’s Junior alliance, sort of like how the Esparda in Bleach stood above the Arrancar.

That they could give Noumu enough power to rival All Might makes them a dangerous threat.

-Midoriya
I think we all presumed early on that Midoriya would step into All Might’s shoes once the veteran hero passed on; it was curious that the mangaka chose to simply come out and say it out right, making the majority of the upcoming arc a test to prove Midoriya’s worth as a successor to The Symbol of Peace.

IN a way that actually makes the manga a little more unpredictable, specifically with regards to where the mangaka intends to go with the story; the manga is progressing at such a pace that it feels like he could kill All Might off at anytime.

But it wouldn’t be impactful enough of a death though, so it wouldn’t be the best way to go, at least for the moment.

-Todoroki
Even though he hasn’t attracted much attention over the last few weeks, Todoroki quickly shaped up in these chapters to become a bigger and even more interesting rival to Midoriya than Bakugou.

Even without chapter 24, we knew he stood as the most powerful member of class 1-A; and the sudden the emergence of his rivalry with Midoriya makes the story of All Might’s successor all the more intriguing. 

The only way this manga will work is if we come to care enough about Midoriya that his rise to the top can drive the excitement of the series, which these chapters showed it could do.

Todoroki so far comes off as one of the coolest characters of the series along with Aizawa. If this was Naruto, then chapter 24 would be the part where Sasuke took a step back so that Neji could become the primary rival for our hero.

-Class 1-A
It is good for the story that so many of its primary characters have so much to prove, especially to currently successful family members whose reputation as heroes they will seek to surpass.

The focus upon Class 1-A initially felt like it might have come out of nowhere, but this approach can only force the mangaka to place even greater focus on his characters than ever before, which can only advance the quality of the story.

It makes sense that they would attract so much attention after surviving such a brutal attack; the mangaka deserves some credit for following up on the consequences of his previous arcs. And more than just Midoriya, the rising importance of the entire class provides for a chance to attach oneself to a wider range of diverse characters.

RATING: 7/10, every shonen manga has to do a tournament arc at some point. It is surprising that Boku No Hero is doing its tournament arc so early, but the seeds are already planted for some pretty great material.

The question is, are we going to see the entire festival play out, or can we expect some sort of interruption halfway? How many shonen manga have actually gone all the way through their tournament arcs? Besides Fairy Tail.
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I didn’t see that coming; there is no way anyone saw that coming. There is genius to how layered Deadly Sins is becoming, the way its plots are starting to grow deeper, changing every time you think you have the entire picture figured out.

A few chapters in, this new arc is promising to be something especially spectacular.

THE CHAPTER:
Our heroes scramble to make sense of previous events, even as seemingly defeated villains prepare to move against the kingdom.

MY CHAPTER:

There are so many peculiar things I could point out about shonen manga, not least of which is the amount of focus placed on the most minute details.

That Hauser and Gil could take note of the fact that Dreyfus stumbled at a most crucial moment, using this as a clue to reveal the ruse behind Dreyfus and Hendricksen’s game  can be forgiven.

Or maybe not; people are not perfect. Is it really that hard to believe that a knight, even one as experienced as Dreyfus, could make the odd clumsy mistake? It is possible that shonen manga series place way too many expectations on the shoulders of their characters.

Which doesn’t actually matter, because Hendricksen is alive. Who saw that coming? Here we were, happy to finally bring the longest arc in the series so far to an end, looking forward to a new set of villains, only for Hendricksen to remerge on the scene.

I said this before; we don’t really know what is happening in the Nanatsu no Taizai ; 100 chapters in, there is so much left to explore, so many secrets waiting to be revealed that every new arc is most likely going to shift our perspective of this universe.

There was nothing easy about Dreyfus’ transformation during the war with Hendricksen. Everything about the Holly knight seemed to point towards some form of redemption.

The idea that it was all a ploy, that Dreyfus is actually the primary villain of this entire plot changes everything. What is this obsession with the demon tribe?

Who exactly is Dreyfus? Everything in this chapter seemed to suggest that the former great Holy knight might not be the true Dreyfus. Yet I think that assumption might be more accurate for Hendricksen, who we all know is nothing more than a leech for demonic energy.

Dreyfus on the other hand boasts the same mark as Meliodas, and clearly has demon blood running through his veins; something tells me we are about to get a Magi style revelation arc, in which we finally learn of the deep connection between all the events of the last few decades, this including the death of Zaratras and even the fate that befell the Deadly Sins .

Merlin has to be involved somehow; Meliodas has hinted more than once that she might have played a direct role in having the Sins framed and banished for Hendricksen’s crimes.

What are the chances that Hendricksen turns out to be an Itachi in the making, a white knight forced to go dark for the greater good?

That would be an awesome twist. 

Even while lacking the depth in its story, Nanatsu no Taizai is right up there with Magi when it comes to entertainment value.

RATING: 9/10, this chapter was just one giant revelation, which actually created more questions than answers given. The only way next week’s chapter fails is if the mangaka decides to waste precious pages and panels on Ban and King. Those two couldn’t be any less important right now.

If you think about it, there are so many ways Dreyfus could have taken Elizabeth’s blood without having to fake fight Hendricksen and fake dying; hell, what was the point of sending thugs to force Elizabeth back to Leonas in previous chapters. She has taken so much damage over the course of the series, and bled so many times. They could have acquired a sample of her blood any time they wanted.

Now that they no longer need her, I really hope Elizabeth doesn’t lose relevance.
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Ever encountered a panel in a Manhwa that was a so gobsmackingly awesome that it made you skip with excitement? Because that last panel of chapter 350 got me more excited than I have been for the next Noblesse chapter in a long time.

THE CHAPTERS:
Regis and Rael find themselves on the losing end of a deadly fight; and just as Grui and Gaitan prepare to bring the duo to a violent end, a ray of hope emerges.

MY THOUGHTS:

Let’s not waste too much time with chapter 349; 349 wasn’t that important; it wasn’t bad, but the best parts came at the end, when Regis finally became a badass.

Let’s be honest. The last time Regis looked even remotely impressive was back when he was still a mystery and we hadn’t met any other nobles.

Since the Lukedonia arc, Regis has taken so many beatings that he has been reduced to an irrelevant side kick.

That is until the end of chapter 349. I have said this before. Noblesse works because it knows exactly what it is: a shonen manhwa.

It can be funny when it wants to be, even tragic, but at the end of the day Noblesse is all about the action; and that final transformation of chapter 349, when Regis finally activated Regasus, well, it was like being transported back to the earlier days of Bleach, when Ichigo first went Bankai.

Chapter 350 was perfectly complimentary to the final moments of 349; Noblesse seems to have finally found its groove in an arc that has been a little shaky.

349 might have felt a little clunky with the fights, but 350 was crazy, the panels finally reacquiring that fluidity we have come to expect from Noblesse; though it was the choreography that really did it, the awkward yet entertaining manner in which Regis’ strength and Rael’s speed came together to overcome Grui.

But again, all this doesn’t matter, because that last panel…RK4 is finally here, and despite all my reservations about how misused they are, the way they always need saving, that last panel somehow managed to convince me to expect more this time.

Maybe it was the Bleach like poses they struck, the confidence with which they approached the battlefield, the fact that we are getting to see them fight so soon after their training…I have every reason to expect them to fail, yet I am still expecting ballistic stuff from next week’s chapter, if there is a chapter next week.

RATING: 8/10. 349 was a little tame for my tastes. However chapter 350, well, that is what I have come to expect from Noblesse after 300 chapters: none stop, off the rails action.
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There has been a lot of news coming out of the Naruto world ever since its finale was announced two or three months ago; a marketing ploy that has worked if only to keep the word ‘Naruto’ in the limelight.

With the manga finale behind us, there has been a lot of talk about the future of Naruto, a ton of rumors about what we might expect and a surprising amount of criticism about the series' continued run next year, most of which seems somewhat uninformed.

But before that:

+The Naruto Finale
There are a lot of things that could be said about the Naruto manga Finale, but satisfying isn’t one of them. Even considering the positive elements of chapters 600 and 700, the final moments of the series were ridiculously rushed, with so many plots brushed under the rug and numerous characters and villains either forgotten or relegated to one or two panels near the end.

Which makes you wonder, why the rush? What about Shonen Jump’s plans had them determined to end the manga series at a perfect 700 chapters?

Complain as one might about the length of the final arc, Naruto as a series would have been better served had the final moments of its run, even the final villain been assigned to a short, separate 15-20 chapter arc, bringing the series to a close in a slow steady manner.

Are we really supposed to believe that Kishimoto was so tired of drawing his manga that he made the irrational decision to end the long awaited Sasuke/Naruto clash in five chapters? No, it doesn’t make sense, or maybe I am giving the mangaka too much credit.

Whatever the case, it happened, nothing can change that. And while the rush cannot be forgiven, we can show appreciation for a kickass final battle, specifically the hand to hand elements.

Giant and flashy attacks are fine and all, but there is something so much more visceral about two shinobi beating the holly hell out of one another with their fists.

There is every chance that, no matter how these events played out in the manga, the anime is going to make these final chapters the best we have seen in Shippuden.

RATING: 5/10, a massive Naruto fan I might be, but I wanted so much more out of this finale than Kishimoto actually gave us. That being said, there is a rationale to the way that final fight played out.

Considering the fact that the Fourth Great Ninja war Played out over a period of four days, and taking into account the enemies they have encountered in that time, could we really have expected the fight between these two young shinobi to last any longer?

More importantly one has to appreciate the poignant dialogue presented in the exchange between Naruto and Sasuke, Kishimoto using very few words to say so much.

+The Future
It’s happening, we are getting more Naruto. And you are either going to rejoice at the idea or curse.

Either reaction makes sense. If you loved the original series, then the Bolt Story cannot come fast enough.

If Naruto irritated you to the core, then you cannot understand how anyone could waste so much time, money and effort on another 100 or so chapters or even episodes of the series. Otaku are divisive beings with diverse opinions. And to an extent it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.

Rather than wondering what the fandom (and haters) think, time would be better spent trying to understand the logic behind carving out a few more years of Naruto. A better question would be this:

-Does Naruto Need/Deserve a Third Series?
The number of people all too ready to jump down Kishimoto’s throat at the mere idea of a third Naruto series is staggering, many of them choosing to hate on the manga before they even have the chance to read it.

Who cares if Kishimoto has spent the last 15 years writing Naruto and has shown, on numerous occasions, that he has what it takes to produce some great material? What does it matter that Naruto has managed to hold onto its position in the top 10 best selling manga of each year for 15 years where many of its rivals have risen and then fallen away?

Kishimoto is just a greedy bastard that cannot see further than his paycheck, after all, right?

Why all the hate for a story Kishimoto has even yet to write? The answer is pretty simple. Dragon Ball GT

-Dragon Ball GT VS Naruto
Akira Toriyama was the first so called greedy bastard that so many comments on YouTube speak of, a talented mangaka that supposedly sold the soul of his greatest creation in an attempt to extend the already over-extended Dragon Ball franchise beyond its breaking point.

The obsession with Dragon Ball GT is baffling; it was bad, yes, but the idea that its existence somehow proves the folly of anime and manga continuing longer than they must is erroneous.

Why are so many people expecting the third and final Naruto series to suck? Because Dragon Ball GT sucked.

But let’s be clear here. The comparison between Naruto and Dragon Ball is ridiculous; they might share a few similarities but these two series are completely different from one another.

Yes, Dragon Ball GT sucked, but who didn’t see that coming? The fact that Dragon Ball Z managed to succeed is nothing short of a miracle. Akira’s entire concept has always been flawed, at least in the context of long running series.

When you base a story on fighting, when its core is heavily dependent on the creation of epic battles, there are only so many places you can go before running out of room. Every arc finale in Dragon Ball Z ended with Goku achieving a power-up of such weight that you knew the key to the success of Akira’s next arc lay, not in his ability to tell even more engrossing stories, but whether he could create an even more powerful villain, which would necessitate an even more powerful Goku to emerge.

Guren Lagan understood that once you began down this ‘Who is the most powerful?’ road, there would be no stopping; which is why it went all the way, creating galaxy and universe sized mechs within its 24 episode run.

Dragon Ball kept riding this train for more than 300 hundred episodes; and the result was GT.

Because when you think Dragon Ball, the only question you can ask about any upcoming movie/series/story is: who are they going to fight next?

And like Bleach, whether or not GT succeeded came down to how well Akira could answer this question; once you have fought mercenaries, you have to move on to aliens, androids, super saiyans, and now gods. And once he defeats the gods and becomes the greatest of them all, then what?

The flaw in dragon ball is clear; there is an obstacle that Akira cannot hope to keep overcoming.

NARUTO ISN’T DRAGON BALL. It has never been about Naruto Uzumaki becoming the strongest there is. Nor have any of the arcs ever focused upon creating the most powerful villains the series has ever seen.

Naruto has what DB GT never had, a story and great characters. And every jutsu created, kunai thrown and action scene drawn was only ever purposed to tell Naruto Uzumaki’s story, not his rise to power per say, but his attempts at finding peace in the ninja world, and saving his friend.

Kishimoto has every advantage going for him that Akira Toriyama never had with Dragon Ball GT.

And there is one important factor that so many people seem to forget:

-Bolt
It would be difficult to accuse Kishimoto of pushing the Naruto series past its expiration date when the Naruto Manga we are expect to see next spring won’t even be Naruto.

We all need to understand this: Naruto ended this year, 2014, on chapter 699 (with chapter 700 playing out as more of an epilogue). Excited as some of us might be about the return of Naruto in a few Months time, the next time Kishimoto’s work hits the internet, it won’t be Naruto.

Instead the focus will shift upon Bolt (Boruto), Naruto’s son, and a whole new generation of shinobi. Even with Naruto and group making an appearance every once in a while, the Naruto story is over. 2015 is bringing us a whole new story, one that Kishimoto can be trusted to succeed with if you consider the skill with which he authored Naruto Part 1. And with a whole new cast and an ENTIRE WORLD to explore, the comparisons with Dragon Ball GT more or less lose weight.

-So Does Naruto deserve another series?
Well, let us consider what the future of Naruto has in store for fans. Kishimito intends to tell a minimum of four stories revolving around characters like Kakashi, Shikamaru and Gaara; there is every reason to expect these side stories to entertain, especially with regards to further expanding the Naruto universe and plugging a few holes and gaps in the series.

The anime is expected to continue past chapter 700, under the direction of the same writer and director that developed Naruto: Blood Prison. Which allows for a sense of optimism. Blood Prison was a decent animated movie, very grounded in the Naruto universe.

Beyond merely adapting the novels to screen, we can probably expect to catch up on Naruto’s life between chapters 699 and 700, at least for a few months, allowing Kishimoto enough time to finish the third installment of Naruto, which, according to interviews, is expected to be a mini series and will not run for more than 24-30 chapters.

There has been no indication of a closing date for the Naruto anime, which means it could continue even past the Bolt mini series.

Whether or not this is a good thing is difficult to tell; at the rate at which the anime is progressing (taking into consideration the upcoming filler), Shippuden should reach chapter 700 by the time the first chapter of Bolt’s story hits the internet, which makes one cringe at the thought of the amount of bad filler we might have to endure.

Yet, there is only one thing you can take away from this; Naruto isn’t a one trick pony. There is clearly more to the story than Madara and giant chakra beasts. The victory against Kaguya was just that: a bad guy was beaten.

Does that mean the shinobi world stopped moving? Is their peace the world over? Clearly not. You wouldn’t suggest that the defeat of Hitler somehow brought the hard times to an end, and that the world has been enjoying peace ever since.

Of course not. There is still turmoil and drama and chaos.

IN a similar manner, Kaguya was one person. Life continues. Naruto has spent the majority of its run within the confines of the hidden villages. What do we even know about the real world in the Naruto Universe?

Nothing, that’s what. There is still so much story left to tell; it just won’t be a story about Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura.

+EXPECTATIONS
The anime has a lot of potential, specifically when it comes to closing all the holes in the Naruto story and providing us a glimpse of events yet to be explained, starting with the filler in January which, if the internet is to be believed, will chronicle how the Konoha 11 became Chunin and Jonin, basically covering the gap between Naruto part 1 and 2.

A recent interview with Kishimoto also further unraveled the mysteries of the upcoming third series. And if the translations are to be believed, Orochimaru and Kabuto are going to be the final villains of the mini series, essentially capping off the remnants of old Naruto stories and putting the previous two series to a final rest.

If Kishimoto can provide fans all the answers he promised and failed to deliver in the final arc, then the new era of Naruto seems set for greatness.

It is worth keeping in mind that, for us anime only fans, Naruto hasn’t yet ended. We are still marching forward with the final War arc; so maybe this question of Naruto’s future is fairly irrelevant to us until we actually wrap up with the Naruto story
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The only thing wrong with this chapter is the fact that this dynamic duo of Hakuryuu and Judar is going to be defeated by Aladdin and Alibaba.

It is expected; they are, after all, the heroes of the series. Yet, It becomes difficult to stand behind Aladdin’s idealistic dreams and Alibaba’s indecisiveness, not when faced with the realistic and somewhat incisive approach that Hakuryuu and Judar bring to the table.

THE CHAPTER:
The battle against Gyokuen comes to a close. Kou has a new emperor. Hakuruyuu and Judar set their eyes upon the rest of the world.

MY THOUGHTS:

That was unequivocally brutal. Say one thing about Magi, say that it never really holds back on the gore and despair when it needs to cement a point.

This is it; the point when Hakuryuu and Judar finally became the central villains of the story.

Sure, there are a lot of negative things you could say about Kouen and his ilk; yes, few other characters in the series are quite as conniving and untrustworthy as Sinbad. Yet none of these characters have truly given themselves over to depravity, not when compared to Hakuryuu.

One might say that the Magi story just turned onto a new path this week; Hakuryuu finally got his revenge, and in a most brutal fashion, especially when you read this chapter together with the last panels of chapter 249, where Hakuryuu tears the flesh out of his mother’s neck with his teeth, with Gyokuen then lumbering towards the salvation waiting beyond the boundary of the barrier, only to fall to Judar who hands her life to Hakuryuu.

That Hakuryuu could kill her without a second thought, unmoved by the sorts of silly tricks so many heroes tend to fall for in the very last moment, shows his resolve.

That he understands the depths of his intentions, the blood he will have to spill in his conquest means that he is unlikely to fall to the sweet words of Aladdin and Alibaba about right and wrong, the evil of his path and any salvation they might offer.

Simply put, Hakuryuu is the perfect hero turned villain; there are no forces pulling his strings without his consent, which means we are unlikely to run into another Obito situation.

He is fully aware of his own madness and accepts what he must do to accomplish goals that, to an extent, even he realizes are wrong; which means his clash with Aladdin will more or less come down to a last man standing type situation, where Hakuryuu and Judar must be put down lest they bring the world to its knees.

Magi has created a situation so perfect, with the rising conflict between Aladdin, Hakuryuu, Kouen, Sinbad and Al-Tharmen, especially with so many of the lines so blurred, that it would be difficult for Shinobu Ohtaka to ruin this arc.

She doesn’t even have to deliver deaths on any scale to create a satisfying conclusion to what might be Magi’s last, or at least one of its final sagas.

+RATING: 9/10, Judar never seizes to surprise, specifically how far his character has come, with each chapter continuing to compound upon just how reliant the Magi is on his friend’s madness.

Hakuryuu is the soul mate Judar searched for and failed to find in Sinbad, which probably has something to do with the fact that Sinbad is so much more mature than Hakuryuu and thus less likely to succumb to Judar’s darkness.

Gyokuen will be missed; she showed the sort of madness and resilience few villains have manifested in anime and manga.
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