Bleach 627 - The Creation
One Piece 787 - Four Minutes Away
Naruto 700+4 - Chance Encounter 2

Naruto - The Conflict between Message and Readers' Expectations

Posted Jul 22nd, 2014 by Jinn

Since the beginning of the series, Naruto spread messages against hatred and war. You could notice it already in the first episode, when Naruto declares his wish to be Hokage and prove himself in the eyes of the villagers who hate him, and later on when Iruka accepts Naruto as a human being and not a monster that killed his parents.

During the pre-Shippuden part, these kind of messages keep popping up in some occasions. For example, Naruto's speech in the Zabuza arc in attempt to explain that ninjas are people with emotions and not just tools of war. But the important thing for this discussion is; the message of the manga was never a main key element in the plot itself at that time.

The focus changed during the Shippuden part, and the message of the series became the main topic of the story. You could see it clearly in the Pain arc and Nagato's ideology of "The Cycle of Revenge". The manga's message, brought to the readers by Naruto, is that hatred and war can be stopped if people choose to cease violence. In this particular case - not killing Nagato and avenging the death of his beloved sensei. Eventually, Naruto beats Nagato by the infamous "Let's Talk no Jutsu" which most of the readers feel uneasy with.

Now, let's discuss recent events. Since Sasuke's defection from Konoha, the readers expected the manga to end with a final clash to the death between him and Naruto, who both were presented as eternal rivals since their bromance in episode 3.

But it's not going to happen.

Why is that? Mainly, because it will contradict the entire message of the manga. This turn of events was hinted since Hashirama's story about the founding of Konoha with Madara in hope to stop the blood spilling between the clans, and became even clearer by Naruto's and Sasuke's recent conversation with the Six Paths - in order to achieve peace, the endless fight between Senju and Uchiha must stop. Naruto and Sasuke fighting to the death now would only mean that nothing has changed.

So here lies the conflict: What should a writer do - fulfill the readers' expectations or stick to his message to the end, whether the readers like it or not?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by adi P. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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Fairy Tail Zero & Fairy Tail Ice Trail

Posted Jul 17th, 2014 by Jinn

These two spin-off chapters were serialized in the debut issue of Mashima's own, new monthly, "Monthly Fairy Tail Magazine".

The first, Fairy Tail Zero, details the meeting of the founders of Fairy Tail and exactly what happened between them to lead them to found the guild. Ice Trail is a spin-off manga concerning Gray.

Both were written under Mashima's supervision, but while Mashima personally draws Zero himself, his executive assistant Shirato Yuusuke is the artist behind Ice Trail. Both are therefore official canon. Also published in the magazine are two special art pieces of Natsu and Igneel, which we have included as part of the first chapter.

Both of these series are monthlies and we will continue to cover them as they come out.

 


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Interpretations vs Adaptations

Posted Jul 14th, 2014 by Jinn

I recently watched the Death Note anime and I noticed that, aside from a handful of scene changes, it was almost shot-for-shot with the manga. There was no filler and besides translation differences, the dialogue was pretty well the exact same the entire way through. I found that this actually hurt the anime, as characters continually explaining what they just did really slowed down the action, and there was no improvement on the disappointing ending.

This got me thinking on manga adaptations in general. Manga is a unique form of story telling, as it provides a fully-functioning storyboard within its medium. This means that most anime will just be a colorful, moving read-aloud of the manga they are based on, with almost no artistic liberty given to the script writer or story boarder. As well, seasons are generally not limited to a small, abstract number of episodes, so the story doesn't need to be shortened.

Now, compare this to other stories: novels have to be compressed to fit screen time, so many scenes are removed, added or changed; American comic books have inconsistent plots written by multiple authors, so a few concepts and characters are chosen and turned into a screenplay; most TV series are very episodic, so reboots just create an entirely new plot. This method of interpreting a story, opposed to adapting it, is a double edged sword. Sometimes, through inconsistencies or just sloppy production, the interpretation does not do the source material justice. Meanwhile, there are others that have taken the story above and beyond what it had been before, albeit in a changed fashion.

So, what if we were to apply this concept of “interpretation” to manga? Say an animation company got the rights to reboot a big anime, like Dragon Ball or Full Metal Alchemist (or, most recently, Sailor Moon), this time with the artistic freedom to change the story as they pleased, while keeping to the very bare-bones plot. Would you, as a manga reading community, welcome the change and like to see how things could be done differently? How many of you would say that the changes could somehow “ruin” the source manga, and why? What series would you like to see changed into an interpretation, rather than a simple manga adaptation? Any suggestions of your own on how you would change a favorite story in a more cinematic way?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Adam. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39

 


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Power Scaling And Power Ups

Posted Jul 10th, 2014 by Jinn

Whenever I read manga, one thing I value very highly (since it helps me enjoy the fighting more) is the attention to proper power scaling and balance with regards to power ups. By power scaling I mean keeping in mind a definite level of power and ability for characters and using that to relate to how they fare in battle with their opponents. Even when this isn’t explicitly shown (as in Dragon Ball Z), I find it helps me enjoy it a lot.

An example in One Piece, is seeing Usopp going against Trebol and Sugar, knowing there is no way he can win against them and wondering how Oda is going to pull a victory off. Mangas I think have good attention to power scaling are Feng Shen Ji, One Piece, Soul Eater, Berserk, History’s Strongest, UQ Holder and Negima. Those I believe don’t seem to give it much importance are Bleach (the recent defeat of Zaraki) and Fairy Tail.

With regards to power ups, usually they tend to feel very biased in favour of protagonist when not handled properly. An example, in my opinion are the free christmas (or easter) gifts Naruto and Sasuke got from the Sage of the Six Paths, and Orihimes tears bringing a dead Ichigo back to life with a plethora of abilities suited for dealing with Espada number 4.

What do you think? Do you feel power scaling and power ups need to be handled right in shounen manga or do they just not matter? Has a correct or abysmal handling of them ever made a significant difference in your enjoyment of a manga? If so, can you share those experiences?

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Lightsyde. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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A Consideration of Reading Choices

Posted Jul 3rd, 2014 by Jinn

Have you ever made the decision to step out of your comfort zone and read a manga that you knew little about? Consider the different factors involved in the decision whether or not to give a manga a try.

First off, what drew you to mangas like One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach in the first place? Was it the strong personalities of the characters? Was it the storyline that had you wrapped up from page one? Or was it just because it is popular and you could discuss it with your friends on a weekly basis?

Many previous posts have attempted to generalize these most popular manga series. This is because the most popular manga (OP, Naruto, Bleach) are like popular music: formulaic and catchy. Researchers have determined that pop music is basically crack for your brain. Naruto was the "gateway" manga that got me hooked on the medium, but it is easily not the most meaningful manga I have read.

Manga, like any other art form, can elicit many different emotions from a reader other than just giddy excitement. So please consider what you want from reading manga. Can you suggest a series that is meaningful to you and believe other people should read? To begin, that series for me is Homunculus (Mature/Seinen Drama).

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Zach. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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Do you think Bleach should have ended after Aizen's defeat?

Posted Jun 29th, 2014 by Jinn

For a while, I agreed with the argument that Tite Kubo should have ended the manga series, Bleach, when Aizen died. The following arcs after Aizen seemed like Kubo trying to milk his success on Bleach's popularity, and that if it did end with Aizen's defeat, the series would be a master piece.

The fullbring arc felt like a rushed and disappointing excuse to return Ichigo's power in order to continue the series. Even now, this feeling remains. In my opinion, not only was it  terrible, but also boring.

But now with the Quincy's arc, I realised that Kubo's purpose of extending Bleach seems to have more meaning behind it, and that's to answer the mystery between the Shinigami and Quincy, along with the king of Soul Society. This might spoil a little, but Uryuu Ishida's family and past has been very vaguely shown early in the series, showing the struggle of the Quincy's beliefs and the Shinigami's system. There's also the problem with Ichigo's parentage - why is it important for him to belong in both sides of the war? Is Ichigo a "Romeo and Juliet" device, ultimately reuniting the Shinigami and Quincy (possibly through his death) due to his race?

My opinions on whether Bleach should have continued or not changed. I think it's good for Kubo to answer the mysteries he created in the first place, and Bleach is finally getting more and more interesting again. Do you agree? Is there any more mysteries Kubo created previously that hasn't been fully explained? Would you have been satisfied without knowing the past between Quincy and Shinigami?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Rhastae. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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Go On, Finish It! But...How?

Posted Jun 24th, 2014 by Jinn

As I was recapitulizing on FMA and how perfect in tune its ending was with the general concept of the series, I got around to thinking about how I would end a manga, specifically a shounen manga. So I presumed I had a series running in Jump for example (yeah, I've been watching / reading Bakuman lately, I admit it), and my editor and I came to the point where we both agree that it's time to move on and let my story end. Would I let the protagonist (or at least deuteragonist) die? Is that marketable? Would people still like it? Would I like it, after all the hours I probably would have put into creating, developing and drawing this little guy or girl for years of my life? Or should I make it a pretty, wibbly-wobbly, timey-dimey... ah, happy ending? Facing a decision like that must be pretty harsh. So I'm asking this: How would you want your favourite shounen series to end?

Now I myself am not really thinking that much about Bleach and Naruto. Possibilities in these two series are getting more and more limited, and I don't want to skip ahead to it. I'm waiting for Kubo-dono and Kishimoto-dono to show us their idea of a satisfying ending. No, personally, I really focused on the road down the Grand Line, speculating (once again) what finale would fit One Piece's and Oda-dono's style the best. I for myself would love to see Luffy not become the Pirate King. Wait, what did he say? Yeah, I love seeing him in the role of the challenger, you know? It's the same with Ippo. Whenever he's defending I'm not nearly half as thrilled as when he's challenging. And I love that about Luffy. He always goes places he's not supposed to, and he always gets it done in a way you wouldn't expect of an established, worldwide-renowned and feared pirate. He's the guy who gets his excitement out of upsetting the odds, as is typical for shounen, I admit. But he does it in his own airheaded, yet totally passionate and awesome way. And even if those upsets will become more and more of a rare sensation as he closes in on the very strongest, I still don't want him to end up as a ruler or a patron or whatever, effectively becoming the strongest guy around.

But that's only me and my strange ideas. How would you want to see it end? What ending would you see fit, if not for One Piece then for Naruto, Bleach or Fairy Tail? Do you even want One Piece to end? Perhaps I don't...

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Crowy. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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Romance In Shonen

Posted Jun 17th, 2014 by Jinn

Shonens seem to have some trouble dealing with romantic issues. Yes, obviously there are fantastic mangas about human relationships, but I'm talking about shonen in particular. I've found the way all my favorite shonens handle the relations between the sexes unsatisfactorily to say the least. They tend to skirt around issues of dating and attraction, or simply relegate them to comedic relief moments. I've never quite understood this.

To me, having characters show romantic feelings - and all the joy and heartbreak that goes along with it - is one of the most convincing ways to make characters come alive, to make them endearing and relatable. Characters will ramble on and on about protecting nakama, but what about protecting the woman/man you love? Those feelings should be just as powerful.

It seems the authors are uncomfortable talking about these issues. Is it that they themselves are unsure of how to properly depict their characters in such a way? Do they not know how to write romantic scenes? Or are they afraid they'll bore their younger audiences?

Let me pick on One Piece for a moment, because it's a manga almost all of you have read. What would change if One Piece dealt with mature romantic relationships between the characters? Wouldn't it be entertaining if Nami ever reciprocated Sanji's feelings, if even just a little? Or if Robin and Zoro started showing some feelings for each other? To me these situations would make the Strawhat Crew an even more endearing family. Instead all we get is Sanji's nose bleeding and Brook stealing panties. We all know Oda is a fantastic storyteller, so why has he ignored these potentially captivating story threads?

What do you think? Do you want more romance and relationships in your mainstream shonen, or do you think it's a waste of space? Why do you think this aspect of life has been so overlooked in these works? Are there any shonens you read that get it right?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Stephen. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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Implied Deaths vs. Shown Deaths

Posted Jun 9th, 2014 by Jinn

Because of the demographic to which many of our favorite series appeal, implied deaths have become a norm in flagship pieces such as One Piece and Naruto.

In One Piece there are many implied deaths during arcs like Water 7, Impel Down, The Paramount War, etc. I mean how do you feel knowing that Luffy murdered a large number of people while trying to save his brother, i.e. the guards who fell to their deaths in the boiling water/blood, soldiers and pirates during the rescue, etc.?

In Naruto countless Shinobi die without so much as an introduction, whilst a main character like Neji is used as an emotional tool for the readers.

Do you think it’s OK for authors to use secondary characters’ deaths merely as fodder, and use main character deaths as an emotional tool? We aren’t saying that those moments aren’t fun (like when a planet blows up in DBZ) but isn’t it a little bit cavalier in teaching kids in about how little value some lives have, versus the weight that the lives of “important” people have? It would be absolutely impossible to give a voice to every character, and the deaths of the main characters have weight because of our attachment to them. Still, it sometimes bothers me that these fun-loving characters murder all the time. Just a thought.

Do you, our esteemed patrons, ever feel the same?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by James and his crew of two. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39

 


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The Four Tribes Of Manga

Posted Jun 1st, 2014 by Jinn

While browsing through TED I came across an interesting talk titled “The Visual Magic of Comics”, by Scott McCloud, an American cartoonist who is better known for his nonfiction books about comics. Among the topics he touched on was his categorization of different types of art. McCloud calls it the “four tribes of art”, which can be applied to any medium of art including music, literature, film, and manga.

As the label suggests, there are four groups in McCloud’s classification. The first group of artists are called animists. This group is best characterized by their devotion to transparency of content. They emphasize the substance that comprises their works. The second group, classicists, are devoted to beauty and craft. They seek to perfect the composition of their art, and this goal remains priority above all on their list. The third group, iconoclasts, are devoted to the truth and nothing else. They seek to portray the human experience as it is, as raw as it can be in its truest form. They are couriers carrying authentic messages of the human condition. Last but not least, the formalists are distinguished from the others in their love for experimenting with their art. They are devoted to form, which includes details of style and technique in their art and those of others.

It is important at this point to clarify that no artist can be described as being only “classicist” or only “animist”. This classification is useful because it allows us to identify qualities that every artist possesses, only in different proportions. Needless to say these proportions are what make each artist unique.

With my newly acquired awareness of McCloud’s four tribes of art, I couldn’t help classifying every manga that crossed my mind. For most shonen manga such as One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach, the authors seem to have equal proportions of animist and classicist qualities. Although the plot is crucial, as it is in every story telling medium, because manga is a visual medium its art is equally important, especially because it lays out the world the reader comes into contact with.

With certain seinen manga such as Berserk, I see more of the classicist qualities. The artwork is beautiful, and you can immediately appreciate the amount of effort that must have went in the process of drawing each chapter. The iconoclast qualities of devotion to the truth is also more prevalent in the genre of seinen manga, such as one of my most favorite works, Monster by Urasawa Naoki.

Formalist qualities are very hard to see in manga. Many prominent manga authors have experimented with their technique and developed a style of their own, but in many of the mainstream manga that dominate the markets today, art styles have become standardized. It would be more interesting to see more experimentation on the market, because it is something that has become all too rare.

Scott McCloud’s classification of art gives us a great way to think about manga. Can you identify your favorite works as having the qualities of one or more of these tribes of art? I would love to hear about everyone’s opinions.

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Brian.


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Pick Your Poison

Posted May 29th, 2014 by Jinn

Every long-running manga generally develops a formula. It is a dreaded, yet sometimes necessary tactic for lengthening a manga. Some mangaka rely too heavily on the formula, and it makes the story stagnant. Others figure out how to keep it exciting, even if the reader knows the general formula. Below are some of the formulas I have noticed in the Big 3, plus a note on DBZ and HxH.

Bleach: Fight a super-strong enemy, and right when things look really bad, get a mega boost and overpower them. Get the enemy against the ropes, only for the enemy to reveal they were hiding their true power all along. Hero gets beaten nearly to death (but you are made to think they are dead). Then another hero (who just got a power boost from secret training) saves the day. Rinse repeat, and nobody but the bad guys die.

Naruto: Present an enemy. That's not your real enemy, but you won't know that until you defeat the decoy. Use team effort to defeat the decoy. Sometime between defeating the decoy and defeating the true enemy, everyone else gets overpowered and they put their trust in Naruto. Naruto has beefed up sometime before the final battle, and OP-Naruto saves the day.

One Piece: The Strawhat Crew is going somewhere, but ADD Luffy gets distracted and decides to do a side mission. The crew eventually splits up (Zoro always gets lost, Sanji always gets distracted by a girl). All of the crew fight someone of greater strength and just barely manage to win. They move on to the next place, slightly stronger, and with a bigger bounty on their hands. (They may or may not have picked up a crew member.)

Hunter x Hunter / Dragonball Z: You fight. You get defeated. You train. You get stronger. Some people die. You fight again. You win. (One story is severely more complex than the other though.)

 

Do you agree with the assessment, or have you found a formula of your own, maybe for a different series? What are your favorite and / or most despised formulas? What do you think about formulas in general? A necessary evil? Did you spot any exceptions to the listed formulas above?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by bijun.


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A Thank You

Posted May 29th, 2014 by Jinn

I want to thank all those of you who submitted an article for the blog. Sadly, out of the 53 we got so far, we can only post one at a time. We got a few pretty good ones and an even bigger number of articles that have great ideas in them but need some rewriting and sometimes shifting of focus to make them work. There's also quite a bunch that won't make it on the site, mostly for the same simple reasons, which I'd like to mention here so a) the same mistakes hopefully won't be done again and b) you'll understand our reasons better, which I feel we owe to all of you who put in an effort writing these up.

Most of the articles that we won't be putting up were still a fun read. They were, but they didn't provide much of a basis to discuss anything further. In fact, that's the main issue with most of them. Neglecting the discussion aspect is a big problem, we don't want to just provide a platform for stating opinions.

Also we're not going to put up reviews. Neither reviews of (non-mainstream) manga, nor chapter reviews. For chapter reviews, you got discussion threads at the end of each chapter and for manga... well, we might have a special and post one or two of those, but not right now, not while we have plenty of material that we know people will definitely be interested in talking about.

There were a few that were just way too short, or not thought out at all, but fortunately, they were the exception. In general, I'm pretty happy with what we got and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them all.

The submission for blog topics is still open and will stay so until further notice. If you're interested, check out this blog post explaining all the details: http://mangastream.com/blog/39

And since I've been all big on encouraging you to concentrate on asking questions in this blog post, I've also got one for you: Would it really bother you not knowing whether your submission will be posted eventually or whether it's just been sorted out for one of the reasons stated above?

Three thoughts from me on that: Emailing everyone back is a pain in the neck when I also have lots of other tasks here, like working on the manga every week. Not a big fan of template-emails, I still treat emails as something personal and would rather keep it that way. And finally, for a number of them I just don't know yet - there are quite a few with very similar topics and eventually one will probably be chosen; and it also depends on how many and what kind of quality submissions we get in the future - there are factors involved that make it hard to tell for many of them.


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Looking For Writers For The Blog

Posted May 24th, 2014 by Jinn

So, truth be told, I've been running out of ideas for blog entries lately. No surprise there really, I barely manage to squeeze out any at all in between working on various series. Could really need some help with that, so I figured I'd ask our community; in other words - you lovely lot.

Some organizational things first, or general things to consider:

  • Blog posts have to be in English - decent English, if you aren't a native speaker but have great ideas for topics, ask someone to help proofread your article / post.
  • I have no idea how well this will be received, if nobody's interested then that's that, but if you suddenly mail us 50 new topics per week - well, I'll be honestly sorry but I'll have to pick 2 out of that bunch at most, as we aren't going to post more than 2 new topics per week.
  • Your topics should be neither too short, nor too long. Don't ask for word-counts, just consider that most people don't want to spend more than 5 minutes reading something before they can post their own opinions about it. Don't make it a giant rant - unless it's a great one, heh.
  • Your topics should create discussions. They can (should, really) be (thought-)provoking, you can be partial, and you should end them with a question or two that can be discussed, or with a thought that can be commented upon.
  • The topics should definitely have something to do with manga. It can be a post about say, adaptations of manga in video games - which series are fit for it, which aren't, and so on. It can be about light-novels based on manga or vice versa. It can definitely be, and that's probably most appropriate, about a specific topic of a specific series or group of series. Like Bleach vs OP vs Naruto, I dunno. Ideally you'll talk about big series and make your point there, so as many people as possible can express their opinions about it. Wouldn't mind a topic highlighting some great non-mainstream obscure series either though. Basically, stick to manga.
  • If we do have lots of submissions, we'll be tough judges and pick the best posts. There's absolutely no guarantee we'll be featuring your post, though be assured that at least 2 people will read it in any case, haha. Seriously though, even if you don't get featured, we very much appreciate your participation. Honestly.


If the above didn't scare you off, feel free to email your blog post article to -- smokybarrettms (at) gmail (dot) com -- please put 'blog post' in the title of your email so it doesn't land in the spam folder. Also don't forget to give your article a title.

And I probably shouldn't have to say this but before anyone asks - of course we'll give credit where credit is due. You'll be clearly stated as the author of the post, just let us know which moniker you want to go by.


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Your Manga Needs You! (aka Recruitment)

Posted May 17th, 2014 by Smoky

It's that time again! We're looking to add a few more people to the team, mainly people who can help with Jump (because soon we'll be working on five Jump series and that's... a lot). That means we need people who can be available for a few hours any time between 6:30am GMT to 3:00pm GMT every week on Wednesday. The two main positions we're looking to fill are:

Redrawers - are probably the highest demand right now. Feel free to download the test and give it a try even if you have no experience because we're likely to offer you some training either way - redrawing mainly needs a good eye for detail. The main thing to aim for, when you remove the overlay text, is a seamless transition between your art and the mangaka's.

Test: Download this file, redraw the page and send it to: smokybarrettms (at) gmail (dot) com

Typesetters - this one you really do need some previous experience for because training people from scratch takes a huge amount of time and effort. You do not need to use any particular fonts, just go for something simple. We'll be judging based on shapes and sizes for now.

Test: Download this file, typeset all four pages and send them to: smokybarrettms (at) gmail (dot) com

Feel free to tell me a little bit about yourself and any relevant experience you may have; things like timezone and schedule are fairly essential for me to know. We very much appreciate everyone who takes the time to apply so thank you!

Oh and, exceptional editors are always welcome too - if you want to apply as a cleaner, just send me an email.


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If You Were To Write Your Own Shonen Manga

Posted May 15th, 2014 by Jinn

Imagine your favorite mangaka calls you up and asks you for your help. He's wrapping up his current series and really needs ideas for his next manga. What would you suggest?

I'm really interested in hearing some of your story ideas, I love reading short plot-overviews, and it's fun to find out what kind of stories all of you would write, what you all are into. Maybe there's some kind of plot idea that you've been spinning in your head for years?

Are there plots or certain kinds of characters that you feel are too rare in mainstream series and if they are present for once, they are done really badly and you'd write them completely differently?

But also, are there any aspects about shonen manga that you feel are really overused and you'd make a great effort avoiding them?

Looking forward to your ideas!


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Your Favorite Sports Series?

Posted Apr 29th, 2014 by Jinn

As the title says, what's your favorite sports series? My personal top three are;

1. Hajime no Ippo

2. Captain Tsubasa

3. Eyeshield 21

Now, don't judge me on Captain Tsubasa, I was little so the series holds nostalgic value. Ippo I discovered pretty late, but it's my favorite sports series by far. Heck, it's probably among my top three series of all times.

What is it that makes a sports series more enjoyable than others? Honestly, the part I enjoy most is humor; somehow sports series simply sem to have a lot more room that you can fill with jokes and Takamura-moments. One thing I don't enjoy? Dragged out scenes. You know what I'm talking about if you also read Ippo. On the other hand, they don't seem all that bad when you read a big amount of chapters in one go instead of following it weekly. And if you really want to experience dragged out scenes, read one of them football/soccer mangas like Captain Tsubasa, where the field appears to be several kilometers long in each direction and they just keep running and running and running and running and...

Now I lost my train of thought. Not that really ever had one - oh yeah, I was saying, or rather asking - which are your favorite sports series, and what is it about them that makes them so special to you? Let me know in the comments!

 


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Series That Have Already Ended

Posted Apr 10th, 2014 by Jinn

I've been going through some old favorites of mine and wondered what they'd be like if they continued until today. Series like Psyren come to mind, which sadly got cancelled too early and still felt like it had a lot of potential to explore. Though series that ran for ages but eventually ended, like Dragon Ball, are also interesting to think about.

So here's some questions to ponder about:

  • Are there any series that have ended and you feel should've gone on for a while longer?
  • Which series had a nice and fitting end that you were happy and satisfied with?
  • Were there 'natural' ways for your fav series to continue, or would it have felt forced?
  • Do you think that 'unnaturally' prolonging a series (think Dragon Ball GT) is essentially the right holders 'milking' the series and ruining it in a way?
  • If you have any particular series on your mind - can you describe how exactly you would've made it continue, in other words, 'what would have happened next' in the series?

Personally, Psyren and Gantz are two series I'd have really liked to see for a while longer. And I'd like to mention Berserk and Hunter x Hunter here too... while they haven't officially ended, their mini- and maxi-hiatuses are as bad if not worse, imo. T_T


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Your Favorite Protagonist / Antagonist

Posted Mar 20th, 2014 by Jinn

Been a while since the last blog post, huh? Well, I've been busy reading and re-reading quite a few books and studying the representation of protagonists and antagonists, mainly. Which made me think of characters in manga and leads me to this question: Who are your favorite lead characters, and who are your favorite bad guys?

Personally, I can't help but say Goku, first. The archetype of typical shonen manga protagonist - a glutton, a tad slow, a guy who can make friends out of enemies and improves every time he fights a stronger enemy to match their strength.

And then there's the classics, Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop, Alucard from Hellsing, Mugen from Samurai Champloo - I could go on and you'd keep noticing how they're mostly seinen series. Though before I move on to the bad guys, as a sort of lead-over I have to mention my favorite character - Takamura (from Hajime no Ippo), for sure.

So, bad guys. Vegeta anyone? Killing your pal and one of the last 3 (known) survivors of your race because he can't beat someone who's obviously stronger than him? Pretty evil, in a good way.

In fact, let me stop here and let you carry on, I'm more curious of who you can think of and I'll probably use your comments to re-read or re-watch a series or two. :)


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Your Favorite Kind of Arcs in Manga

Posted Feb 26th, 2014 by Jinn

I've been re-reading a bunch of the old mangas on my shelf and had this question on my mind that I wanted to ask you all. What kind of arcs are your favorite?

Personally, I'm really into tournaments. Really, really into it. Think of the Tenkaichi Bukokai tournaments in Dragon Ball, especially the first 3, where Jackie Chun, Tenshinhan and, finally, Goku win - in that order. Or the Hunter exam, in Hunter x Hunter - and the Greed Island arc, which was a sort-of tournament, too.

The Chunin exam was also easily one of my favorite arcs in Naruto and the recent arc in One Piece is pretty awesome too, imho. Though One Piece is a whole different story; it basically felt like a tournament-kind of thing this entire time - they move from island to island, fighting new enemies on each one of them. Plus you get changes in setting the entire time, which makes it particularly interesting.

In general though, I seem to much prefer the beginning of a series rather than when it gets to the final fights and climaxes. The first half of Naruto for example was just a lot more enjoyable (when they were actually sort of fighting like ninjas with superpowers) than the stuff we got now where they are so close to firing kamehameha's and destroying the whole planet, Freeza-style.

Does anyone else feel like that? What kind of arcs are your favorite - or are there any particular arcs that are your all-time favorites? Don't say the Golden Age arc in Berserk, that one's too obvious.


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Paramecia vs Zoan vs Logia

Posted Feb 20th, 2014 by Jinn

Which of the three devil fruit classes is superior to the others?

I've been rewatching One Piece recently, really appreciating Oda's creativity in coming up with all those unique devil fruits - particularly in the Paramecia class. So I've got two questions on my mind that I wanted to ask you all; which of the three classes do you think is 'the strongest', and which new devil fruit powers can you come up with?

Personally, I have a hard time making up my mind. Clearly Logia seem the most overpowered at first and they definitely were for the first half imo, before the whole Haki concept got introduced and relativized a lot of their strengths. Until that point I was always wondering how Luffy would ever be able to fight Smoker on equal footing.

But then Vergo showed us that not only can Smoker be hit, his ability is actually a weakness - turning into smoke meant there was more area that can potentially be targeted. Is Logia then only useful against enemies who don't have any Busoshoku Haki, or a weaker one than the Logia user? We're talking about how useful it is in a fight here, since Aokiji's turning an ocean into ice is clearly pretty damn useful any time.

Anyway, then we have the Zoan type. When the different types were introduced I was quick to misjudge that it was the weakest of the three, but not I'm not so sure anymore. The usefulness of the transformations aside, the biggest benefit I see is their increase in physical strength. I mean, imagine Luffy having a Zoan, and turning into a mountain of muscle - or how it would enhance Zoro's strength? Part of why Rob Lucci was so damn strong was because he could turn into a beast 5+ times the size of his human body. Now that Haki seems to determine a person's strength more than anything - doesn't it make Zoan that more valuable?

And finally, the Paramecia class. My personal favorite, because of it's diversity. There's powers that seem at first pretty much useless (think Luffy before he mastered the ability), and there's powers that are really hard to find a good strategy against. Though that's also part of the weakness; once you know how a Paramecia works, you can come up with a good plan against it. Like knocking out Sugar to break the spell. In a way it limits the user's range of techniques, all Miss Valentine could do for example was crush people to death with her weight-shifting ability.
 
Though it also means physically 'weak' characters can become pretty strong fighters - Robin doesn't possess superhuman strength but with her ability she can take on a number of physically stronger fighters at the same time quite easily. The range of different Paramecia is quite stunning, from Magellan's poison to Basil Hawkins' voodoo dolls to Law's Ope Ope no Mi, or Capone Bege's obscure harboring his personal army in his body ability, there seems to be an endless amount of possibilites.

And that brings us back to the question I asked in the beginning, which you probably forgot by now, so allow me to pose it again. Which devil fruit powers can you come up with? And which of the three classes do you see ahead of the other two in terms of potential benefit to the user in battle?


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Naruto; Match-Ups That Never Happened

Posted Feb 13th, 2014 by Jinn

In one of the previous blog posts we've been speculating how the series Naruto could go on after Madara is defeated. That got me thinking about all kinds of possibilities and one that I didn't mention now 'cause I figured it'd be worth its own post, is a re-imagining of the story. Now, I know it won't happen, they won't do it. But still, it's a fun discussion to have.

How would scenario X have went if it wasn't (group) Y who fought Z but (group) Q. There's just so many situations where we got the match-ups we got, and it could've turned out completely differently if somebody else had 'went'. Personally I enjoy that idea most when it comes to the Chunin-exams, arguably my favorite part of the series - back then I was *really* into it. What if Sasuke had fought Gaara earlier? What if Naruto would have had to fight Hinata? Or Tenten?

Though you can also apply it to the likes of Akatsuki - would Asuma have died if, say, Kakashi was there? Or some other specialized Ninja who would've had that one ability that would've flipped the tides? What ability would that have been? The kage mane technique was already plenty useful. Or was it merely a matter of having insufficient intel?

What if Sasuke would've been the one to fight Pain, at a stage in the series where it would've been possible. What if Itachi decided to spend the last days of his life fighting Madara, would he have had the chance to stop the plan in its motion, not allowing Madara to gain the strength he has now? Couldn't he have gotten help to achieve that?

Which match-ups that never happened would you have really enjoyed seeing happening? And how do you think would they have turned out? Let's share some scenarios and have some fun discussing, shall we?


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The Gourmet Series Back On MS!

Posted Feb 5th, 2014 by Jinn

So the secret's out, it's Toriko that we picked up. It all started with a question on facebook I posted - which series would you like us to pick up the most. We received tons of feedback, both on that facebook post and via email. Knowing what the fans want us to do the most, we discussed our options and the staff's favorites, and came to the obvious conclusion - we had to pick up Toriko.

We've all been big fans of the series for a long time; back when we had to drop it we did so with a heavy heart, it was inevitable at the time, as we had difficulties with getting a translator for it and also carried 6 (!) Jump series at the same time, burning out the staff quicker than a wax candle. But now, we're all set up for one more Jump series and can fully dedicate ourselves to it. We got a new, old translator (welcome back, dzydzydino!) and are up to the game this time.

Oh and, the timing could not have been better either. Toriko just came back with the 2nd Act of the manga last week, which is why we decided to do last week's chapter as well. It's definitely worth a re-read if you've read it elsewhere already, I promise you will enjoy the extra effort we put into it during the past couple of days.

Finally, I'm not gonna promise that we'll release this early every week, but we will definitely try and stick to an early Wednesday schedule, so come by next week and until then, enjoy the two chapters! We certainly did!


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Current Status of our Projects

Posted Jan 31st, 2014 by Jinn

In this blog post we want to provide an overview of our projects and how things are coming along. This is also to answer all the questions of those asking for specific series, though it won't really answer much, it will let you know why some things are 'late'.

First of all though, I should very briefly explain the different steps involved in scanlation. If you know how the scanlation process works, you can skip this part and move on to the actual list of series below.

Everything begins with getting the RAWs, ie going out to buy the magazines the series are in and scanning them in. We rely on RAW providers for this - in other words, this step is out of our control. We get RAWs as quickly as possible, and the moment we get them, we begin working on them. If we don't have RAWs for a series, we can't do anything but wait, that's all.

As soon as we have them, we send them to the translators. This is also arguably out of our hands; while the translators are part of our team, they are still individuals who are doing this single task. Think of them like goalkeepers in football, they're part of the team yet have a completely different function.

Simultaneously, we begin cleaning the chapters. All series are published in phone-book sized weekly or monthly magazines, printed on paper of a far worse quality than toilet-paper - which is understandable, seeing how the circulation numbers are in the millions. Either way, cleaning up the images of a standard 18 page long chapter takes about 5-7 hours, usually split between 2-3 cleaners.

Another thing that begins as soon as pages are cleaned is redrawing. Redrawing is basically all about erasing Japanese text that was within the panels, on the art. After erasing it, we fill up the blank spots, usually by re-drawing those parts. Small redraws can take 2-5 minutes, really big and annoying ones that cover half a page with really detailed art can take easily a whole day, but we try our best.

One way to make redrawing easier is typesetting. We can only start doing that after we received the translation, naturally, as typesetting means putting the English text on the pages. We take great care to place the text exactly where the Japanese original was, for stylistic reasons but also to cover up big parts of the spots that need redraws. This isn't always easy, as English text goes left to right while Japanese goes top to bottom.

Except for 2-3 series which have a dedicated proofreader, the typesetters also make sure to quality check the chapter, reading what they are putting in the bubbles and looking out for noise or smudges that were missed during cleaning. And with that, the process is complete, the chapter released and updates about it are posted on the website.

Phew, that look longer than expected, although it was an extremely summarized version. Now, on to our current line-up and their status.

One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Fairy Tail, Übel Blatt, Attack on Titan, UQ Holder, Area D, Claymore and History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi -> We're all caught up on these series and waiting for the next RAWs.    
         
Green Blood, Hajime no Ippo, ReMember, Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth-> For all these series, we're currently waiting for translations.    
The Heroic Legend of Arslan -> This series is currently being redrawn. It has very many pages that need redraws and we'd really need 2-3 new, active redrawers who can help out with difficult redraws. Applications are welcome.

Attack On Titan Before The Fall -> We are going to finish the 4th chapter, but will sadly have to drop this great series after. The amount of redraws and difficult to clean pages is too taxing on our already understaffed crew. We may consider picking it back up if we ever find ourselves in a situation where we have plenty of active redrawers.

Dragon Ball SD -> We have decided to drop this one as well. Aside of the redraws, there was also too little interest by both, the staff members and you, the readers, so we decided it be best to let go of it.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei -> We picked this one up on the request of the leader of the group Mangaholic. He's been part of our staff for quite a while, so we did not mind hosting it (with the intention of giving it some extra publicity and attention). Unfortunately he ran into some private difficulties lately, and we wish him the best to recover from it all and hopefully soon return to get this series back on track.

D.Gray-man, Hunter x Hunter -> As far as Hunter x Hunter is concerned, we're still huge fans and will work on it the moment it returns. As for D.Gray-man, I'm not sure if we would pick it back up again or not, but either way, both series are on hiatus right now and we have no information whatsoever when either will return, unfortunately.

 

That's all! If you have any further questions about the series I mentioned or if I missed any series, let me know in the comments! But please, do not ask us to pick any other series up.

Oh, on that note - there might be a series that we'll pick up very soon. The feedback we received on facebook the other day was very clear and we had a long discussion following it. I won't give it away right now, so stay tuned to find out more about it!


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Oda's Inspirations - References to Western Culture in One Piece

Posted Jan 23rd, 2014 by Jinn

One Piece has it all; a great cast of characters with insanely creative (devil) powers, an exciting environment with a whole world to discover and a story that is so intriguing, and at times touching, that once you begin reading, you can't put it aside.

One of the things I really like about One Piece is how, occasionally, it feels very familiar on a level that's hard to understand. That is, until you realize how many references it has to the culture us Western fans grew up with - a fact surprisingly many fans whom I spoke to seem completely unaware of.

Most notably there are many references and pointers to fairy tales, particularly the ones collected and written down by the Grimm Brothers. To start off with a rather obscure and less well-known one, we have the tale of 'The Singing Bone' - I don't think I need to say any more, you all know who's meant.

We have a reference to Rapunzel (which yes, I know is heavily influenced by the Persian tale of Rudāba) in Shirahoshi, who has also been locked away in a tower by her father. There are subtle hints at Snow White on two instances as well - one, Alvida's line in the beginning of the series, going 'Who's the most beautiful on all the seas', not unlike Snow White's step-mother asking her mirror the same question. The other one is Doc Q giving away poisoned apples on Jaya.

There are references to Little Red Riding Hood during the Enies Lobby arc; when Jabra (the Wolf Zoan member of the CP9) attempts to lie to Sanji (who introduced himself as 'The Hunter') about being Nico Robin's brother he is shown in his half-wolf form with Robin in a red-hooded cloak. Finally, there are also several instances where Oda mentions the Town Musicians of Bremen, including the cover of chapter 34 and a color spread in chapter 604.

There are references to other, non-Grimm fairy tales as well, for example Jack and the Beanstalk in the Skypiea Arc, or Pinocchio (Usopp) but also a bunch of biblical stories, like Noah's Ark (even named 'Noah' in the series) or the story of Jonah who supposedly lived in a whale (he'd have certainly had space in Laboon - a real whale, not so much...).

Other allusions to Western culture, media or even locations include Jurassic Park (Little Garden Arc), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Abominable Snowman (both Chopper), Santa Claus (Dr Kureha coming down from the mountain on a sleigh), Venice (anyone who's been there can confirm that Water Seven is based on it), Captain Hook (Crocodile), Zorro (Zoro), Melville's novel Moby Dick (the name of Whitebeard's ship) and probably many more.

Those are all the ones I could think of. Can you think of any more? Did you notice them while reading or watching the anime? Most of them are pretty straight-forward, but Oda manages to give them such a twist that they can be easy to miss. And what I've been thinking most about while writing up the above - which references are yet to come? Which famous fairy tales are left?

 

Update: Wow, some of the comparisons you guys brought up are pretty cool. Especially Eric Ester Burgos, big shout out to you man, I really enjoyed your post and everyone interested in cultural references should definitely click his name and go read it.


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