Tag Archives: Shounen

Everyone Should Read This Manga

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Hey, everyone, I’m back haha

The final stretch of this last semester at college was a bit harder than usual, for reasons that honestly have more to do with me than with any of the actual work. I will probably have an update post sometime in the next week detailing more personal stuff, so look out for that. For now, though, I wanted to put out something a bit more substantive to really get back into the writing grind.

One series, in particular, has been holding my attention more than a lot of others, despite the fact that, as of the writing of this post, it only has 8 chapters due to its monthly release schedule. (As an aside, I am actually totally ok with this. Monthly release schedules for manga seem way healthier than the hell that is weekly chapter releases, so I kinda hope that becomes more of an industry-standard).

Show-Ha Shoten is a shounen comedy about a high schooler Azemichi, who in his free time calls into radio shows to deliver the best jokes around, going by the alias Everyday Shijima. One day, he gets to me the famous child actor Taiyo Higashikata while doing some work for the student council. The two quickly realize their shared passion for comedy, and so when Higashikata’s partner bails during the school festival, the two deliver a powerful comedy set that gets the whole school laughing.

Ok, But Why Should I Read It?

Well for starters, it’s only eight chapters. While the feeling of diving into a longer-running series and catching up is certainly fun a lot of the time, there is something to getting in early and seeing how it develops. I can only imagine what it must be like for people who have been reading One Piece religiously for the last decade. The chapters are a bit meatier than most manga, averaging around 40 pages outside of the first, but given the aforementioned monthly release that kind of makes sense. Still, I imagine after reading the title “Everyone Should Read This Manga,” most are probably looking for something a bit more compelling than it is quick to read.

Ok, let us start with the characters then. Azemichi is in a position that I think a lot of people who are at least in high school can probably relate to. Clearly, his interests lie with comedy, but social expectation, both from his parents and from society at large says that comedy is not an option. In that way, there are a lot of comparisons to be drawn between himself and Blue Period‘s Yatora Yaguchi. Azemichi, though, does stand out on his own. His nervous attitude is typical, but not so paralyzing that he is unable to take the risk of doing what he loves.

Higashikata is a bit harder to talk about without giving too much away since a good portion of his backstory is intertwined with developments in the most recent chapters. Still, if the phrase “child actor” did not set off a few alarm bells, well then it definitely should. Even threw his backstory, however, Higashikata has managed to be charming and funny, with his weirdo personality often taking center stage, both literally and metaphorically, in the duo’s relationship.

What’s So Funny?

Talking about the comedy in Show-Ha Shoten is ironically the hardest part of explaining its appeal. On the surface, this feels like it should not be the case. After all, comedy is comedy, right?

Most understand the idea that what one person finds funny is not what other people find funny, and no, I do not mean in the edgy, “politically incorrect” way. That topic is far too big for a series as straightforward as this. Rather what I mean is the cultural differences between American and Japanese humor. While certainly not a new aspect of discussing comedy manga/anime series, given how much focus there is on how the comedy itself is judged and critiqued, it is worth talking about.

To but briefly, Japanese humor, in general, relies a lot more on setup and storytelling than it does on being witty or pun-focused. Thus, the judging and response of the audience reflect that. A duo that fails to tell a compelling story usually scores very poorly, whereas duos that can execute a particular beat well do better. All of this is to say that the comedy which the series tends to focus on, both in and outside of the structure of routines, is a lot different than what most are probably used to.

What makes Show-Ha Shoten so compelling is not necessarily that every joke lands perfectly, but rather that the jokes, in combination with the shounen battle elements, create a cheery, feel-good atmosphere, occasionally challenged by the more serious contemplative moments of whether or not Azemichi can actually make a career out of his passion.

Conclusion

Ok, fair enough, I cannot promise that literally, everyone will enjoy it. Still, while its attempts at humor may not be for everyone, the passion behind the comedy and its well-written main duo makes it something that everyone should at least check out. The artist for death note also did the art for this, so that is a plus.


Have you already read Show-Ha Shoten? How do you feel about it? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

Thanks as always to our Patron Jenn for being absolutely amazing!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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The Observation Deck: Chainsaw Man Part 1

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While I did not list it as one of my goals for the year, I would like to read more manga in 2022, if for nothing else than to gain a bit more perspective on upcoming releases and get ahead of the curb in discussing them. Though this series finished in late 2020, it is still making waves both for how popular its manga is and because its anime adaptation is on the horizon.

During a trip to visit my grandmother over the holidays, I decided, “eh why not?” I paid my $2 a month for Viz and binged most of Chainsaw Man in a few days. I returned home shortly afterward, only to finish the series the following evening. So, what does Chainsaw Man‘s manga have to say for itself?

What in the Everloving Fu-

Chainsaw Man, for the uninitiated, focuses on an orphan boy named Denji, who, after losing his family, befriended a chainsaw devil named Pochita. Fast forward a few years, and Denji is working for the yakuza killing other devils for money. Just as he is starting to feel content with the world, he is tricked, and the Yakuza figure he worked for is now himself a demon set out on destroying the young boy. Denji, on the brink of death, is given a new heart in the form of Pochita, and gains strange new powers. He is now Chainsaw Man.

If that was not enough, it gets even crazier, as Denji eventually meets Makima, one of the heads of the Public Safety Bureau, along with some of the other Bureau members, such as Aki, Power, Kobeni, and Himeno. The initial chapters move at a fairly brisk pace as far as advancing the overall story. Fast enough, in fact, that even Denji as a character is having a hard time really absorbing everything that is going on. In a matter of days, he goes from living in poverty to having what seems like a middle-class job in which he makes real money.

Btw, if it was not made clear already, this show is about devils. Hunting devils, becoming devils, and often working alongside as well as making contracts with them. Denji, armed with the abilities of the chainsaw devil, has gained the attention of Makima (and later many others). Thus, she takes good care to keep an eye on him. The way the series just throws the audience into Denji’s world without much explanation feels fairly emblematic of its overall storytelling philosophy.

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Yes, There is a lot of Blood

Though Chainsaw Man certainly has a lot of fast-paced, 1v1 fight scenes that are typical of actions series, its approach to violence and the depiction thereof is decidedly more horror. If the literal devils did not tip people off, the show has no problem giving a ton of unhealthy reminders. In this manga, it could be argued that the gore involved in each fight is as much a storytelling device as it is an aesthetic choice.

Part of this is fairly direct, as it is noted early on that demons need to drink blood to replenish their strength. A good example comes during one of the earlier fights in the series, where Denji, having been betrayed by Power as food for a bat devil, is now forced to rescue them from his stomach. Thus, the only thing he can do is cut open his stomach using his unique powers.

Part of this, at least, is mitigated by the black and white nature coloring of traditional manga, which is to say nothing of mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto’s extreme eye for detail in a lot of panels. In many of Chainsaw Man‘s fight scenes, Fujimoto takes great care to make sure that the people reading can remember individual demons based on their…insides.

Sex! That’s it, That’s the Joke.

In much the same way as violence and gore, sex often becomes a core aesthetic and thematic part of what makes this story work. Denji, a 16-year-old with a healthy libido, is constantly thinking about sex. At first, he merely wanted to touch a pair of boobs, but after feeling up Power and realizing that there was something special missing from his experience, Denji realizes that he also wants a sense of intimacy with Makima.

By the same token, many of the women in Chainsaw Man use sex as a means of controlling Denji. Again, this is primarily the case with Makima, but Power and Rize do engage in this behavior as well. In Power’s case, it happens when she tricks Denji into saving her cat, and in Rize’s, she simply wants his literal, and for a period metaphorical, heart. Denji is thus both the end and a means to an end at the same time, both himself and also Chainsaw Man. He is continually confronted with the idea that these two people are, in fact, different people.

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The Point, Please?

I am getting there, jeez. Ok, so Denji is a half human/devil hybrid who is hired by a secretly very shady organization to help kill rogue devils and whose members occasionally make contracts with devils which the humans then use to help kill more rogue devils and-yeah ok I have lost myself. So, does it mean anything?

As Esoteric as a task it is to try and find meaning in a gore-filled nonsense-fest like Chainsaw Man, I do think it can be done. Regardless of the arc, the primary focus of the series never ceases to be Denji, the one who uses the heart of a devil. He goes from just a homeless kid barely scraping by with pocket change to having not only money and food but friends who genuinely care about his well-being. When we consider this change in ascent, along with Denji’s character, the focus of the manga becomes apparent.

Denji is not only playing himself but is rather a symbol of those affected by cruel and unyielding social, economic and political systems. This central idea is further reinforced in other parts of the manga. In one scene where Denji is talking to Rize, she emphasizes that Denji having never been to public school, along with his current arrangement at the public safety bureau, is both out of the ordinary and also incredibly “messed up.”

While it is true that the primary reason Rize says this is because she wants to lour Denji away from the other devil hunters, her underlying shock is totally justified. After all, while fighting devils may still be a reality for many people in this universe, that does not excuse the moral dilemma of not having a basic K-12 education.

Conclusion

Chainsaw Man, in a lot of ways, is just an excuse to be transgressive around the amount of physical violence people are willing to accept in their storytelling. More than that, though, it is a story about the human experience, one which tells us that, no matter how evil an act, it can be no more evil than the worst immorality of all: taking away someone’s human element. In that way, it is a phenomenally entertaining series that it feels fair to say many will enjoy.


Have you read Chainsaw Man? What are your thoughts on the series? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

Special shoutout to our Patron Jenn for the continued support!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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My Shounen Anime Tier List for 2020

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Since I am about to inundated with school related stuff, I figured it would be fun to take a chill day and do something a little more simple. So, I decided to make a shounen anime tier list. This was originally going to be a lot bigger, but then all of my work got deleted after the internet went out at my house, so here is a much smaller version.

Just a clarification about how I make my tier lists: Just because a show is relatively low compared to another does not mean I think there is nothing good about that show, only that it has less good than other shows. Also, the shows are not ordered within each tier. If two shows are in the same tier, that means I probably have a very similar opinion about both, just maybe with different strengths and weaknesses .Going over all of these would probably make for a pretty drab post, so I’ll just highlight my reasoning on a few of them.

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Naruto and Bleach

While I do consider both of these two big three members to be fairly good shows, ultimately I don’t think they rise above the best of what shounen has to offer. They definitely has their moments, “Naruto” especially so, but shows like “FMA” and “The Promised Neverland” have much better highs and lows, even relative tho their episode count.

Dragon Ball

It should be noted that my rating for “Dragon Ball,” along with “Black Clover,” is based solely on the amount of the show that I have seen. For Dragon Ball, that would be up to the destruction of Namek and for Black Clover up to the initial exams, respectively.

Othewise, that’s my list.


Feel free to discuss down in the comments, civilly of course. Let me know what you think, and send me your own if you have a different opinion.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!