Aimless Wanderings 3: Shut up, Universe! You don’t know me!
Contrary to what some might be expecting, there is not going to be a major theme this time around. Unless of course I think of one at the last minute, but then I’ll edit this out and you will never know I even said this. This sentence, however, will remain regardless, so let’s talk some manga.
Ware wa Ken ou is somewhat out of pattern for me. Normally, I stay away from most high school fighting manga like Freezing because they quite honestly depress me. Everybody gets played off as a homicidal psychopath who wants nothing more than to kill those who are more likeable- I mean weaker than them. Except for the main characters, of course; they are the pinnacle of morality no matter what they choose to do. Maybe it pisses me off because I know that life is never like that, and I just can’t find it believable, magic weapons and monsters notwithstanding, of course. I suppose the punchline is that Ware wa Ken ou is no different than any of the other series in the genre but I still thoroughly enjoy it.
It tells the story of Hongou Yoshiaki, a normal, if a little overly large and resilient, student entering into high school. He chose his desired school purely because it was famous for its fights. Because he likes fighting, you see. He still gets a surprise when he shows up on the first day to find a small girl being bullied by two boys and the other students laughing as they pass as if this was entertainment. After delivering his personal brand of justice, a la dropkick to the face, he helps the girl carry her things to her dorm, as she was just entering high school as well. She seems to take a liking to him and declares that he will make a fine sword, and asks him to make the vow. Then a classroom explodes, and he runs off to see if there’s a fight he can get into. It’s a long first chapter, so I’ll shorten the rest. Hongou discovers that the school is populated by Kings (generally the rich and powerful) and Swords. The Kings are ranked from A to F, F being the lowest, depending on how much influence they have at the school. The Swords are their indentured servants, granted magical powers for duels to the death with the Swords of other Kings. It’s a shockingly lighthearted take on the super deathmatch-style storytelling, but it certainly has its dark moments. One in particular comes to mind; early on, it is determined that students cannot fight until a set time in the semester, like the second day or something, I’m not too sure of the specifics. The point is, what was quite a nice looking school quickly turns into a bloody mess, littered with corpses once that deadline (no pun intended) passes, and nobody seems to care at all. One example of many in a very well written manga. It’s too bad it only releases twice a month, in a good month.
A high school boy’s paradise: an all girls school that just went co-ed, and you’re one of the only male students in attendance. Except for Takatoshi Tsuda, who is simply going there because it is the closest to his house. On his first day however, he finds himself caught by the student council president, Shino Amakusa, because his tie wasn’t done up tight enough. And she also drafts him to be the vice president pretty much on the spot.
A refreshing take on the girl’s high school theme, seeing as, save for Suzu Hagimura, the student council treasurer, Tsuda is the lone straight man in a sea of mainly sex based gags, usually coming from the president, but she hardly holds exclusive rights; it’s nice to see a show that highlights that girls can indeed be just as vulgar as guys, sometimes even more so. While the comedy can grow a bit tiresome at times, there are enough breaks for serious “will they? won’t they?” moments that help keep things fresh. A word of warning, there aren’t a whole lot of meaningful moments that aren’t quickly deflated by somebody referencing a penis, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you certainly won’t find it here. The long and short of it is that Seitokai Yakuindomo is a gag manga heavily built on raunchy humor; it’s certainly good for a laugh, and the anime is hysterical, despite some characters being left out. Guaranteed to cheer you up, whenever you’re feeling down. I suggest small doses at a time, however.
If you have been listening to the podcast, you would know that both DeadMan and I love this next series. As of yet, I don’t think that we have succeeded in getting anyone else to read it, but with any luck, you folks will check it out. I am, of course, talking about Ratman.
A short hop into the future (or maybe it’s happening now, I don’t know when you read these things), technology has advanced far enough to enable giving people some minor superpowers, provided they can foot the bill for the gadgets and implants involved. Shuto Katsuragi is a very tiny student, but he loves superheroes. So, when he and a classmate get kidnapped by the evil organization, Jackal, he is devastated when the hero who shows up to save them falls. Luckily, the hero gives him his transformation watch so now Shuto can be the hero! It’s his life-long dream, finally realized! Except it’s all a trap and he is transformed into the supervillain Ratman, and is now contractually obligated to do Jackal’s bidding… no, seriously. It is this way that he gets immersed in the world of superheroes/villains; not his desired method, to be sure, but he soon finds some disturbing secrets. Maybe the heroes aren’t as good as they want us to believe? Maybe Jackal isn’t all that evil? Maybe it was a bad idea for them to have three incompetent henchmen, all named Jacky?
Truly enjoyable as a series. It has anything somebody could ask for: comedy, drama, fights, heroes, villains, and yes, even a little bit of romance. Admittedly, a lot of the comedy centres around Jacky being an idiot, but as you progress into the story, there is a surprising amount of complexity to it. I find myself anxiously waiting for the next chapter as soon as I finish the most recent one, and I don’t think you can get much higher praise for a series.
Be sure to check back for when I take a look into the upcoming Summer Anime Season (I mean the 2012 one, you people reading this in the future).