It’s a dim, cloudy kind of morning over here in western Massachusetts, and I can’t seem to shake the grogginess I woke up with today. It’s a perfect day for cozy blankets, grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, and manga.
Here are a few brief thoughts on new chapters of xxxHolic, NANA, Bakuman, and Bleach.
SPOILERS after the jump!
xxxHolic 169: After the pretty intense revelations in the past few chapters of xxxHolic and Tsubasa, I found it incredibly comforting for this chapter to open with Watanuki and Doumeki sitting comfortably together like this, and Watanuki’s reassurance that he wants “to be here” actually brought some tears to my eyes. Everything has been about Syaoran lately, and it’s nice to be reminded how strong Watanuki has become on his own, and also just how much I love his friendship with Doumeki. I was also quite glad to have the cooking lessons arc return. It hadn’t necessarily been a favorite of mine, but it was weird to have it dropped the way it was, and now I’m really curious about what Watanuki has figured out about this strange woman, and whether or not it might be related somehow to all the new information we’ve just been given.
NANA 78: We are, of course in a pretty dramatic, emotional place in this story, and the wait between chapters feels excruciating. Before I read this chapter, I’d already seen some complaints online about the drama of this moment being dragged out to long, and having now read the chapter for myself, I have to wonder what kind of drugs these complainers are on. I mean, really. (I am serious about spoilers here. Last warning.) A major character has just died in a tragic accident, his body has just barely been identified, characters are (rightfully) freaking out, not even a fraction of the way through the stages of grief, and it’s taking too long? This is most likely the climactic moment of the series, the event that sends everyone reeling into the future we’ve already seen glimpses of, and you’re complaining that the author is actually taking a moment to let it happen? I am truly aghast.
To get back to actually talking about the chapter, I had tears pouring down for pretty much the whole thing–Hachi’s desperation to be allowed to go to Nana, Nobu’s breakdown in the morgue, Yasu’s helplessness to find a way to protect Nana from inevitable pain. Even Takumi showed some real humanity in this chapter, though I cynically wonder if his greatest concern is the ramifications for the band. Ai Yazawa, you hurt me in the very best way possible. This story continues to be utterly enthralling.
Bakuman 13: This manga has gotten more and more interesting to me. The, uh, “romantic” relationships still feel like an awkward distraction, but the main story is something I’m really enjoying, and actually finding pretty educational. I’ve thought it was interesting that so much lately has been about what does or does not sell in Jump, when the manga itself doesn’t necessarily seem like the normal Jump model, and then at the end of this chapter, suddenly we’ve been thrown into a real battle between teenaged mangaka, and I’m giggling to myself over it. It’s a battle manga after all! Ha. In any case, I’m pretty much hooked, and still wondering how much of the story is based on the authors’ own experiences, maybe even with Death Note, especially in light of Mashiro’s recent decision to turn back to a more realistic drawing style. Very interesting, and I look forward to more!
Bleach 333: So, just as I opened my mouth to say, “I’m really getting bored with these battles,” we got a little cliffhanger at the end. “Who is it!?” Please, please let it be something interesting. I know I’m doing myself a disservice by reading these week-to-week instead of waiting for full volumes. I’m too old, I guess, for my interest to be maintained by drawn-out battle scenes, and I do a lot better when I can rush through those sections to get to the real meat of things. Yet I can’t seem to restrain myself from keeping up with the series. So I’ll put my hopes on the next chapter.
That’s all for now! Happy Saturday!