Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: Manga (1964) Volume 3

So immediately following the end of the last volume where 009 said he didn’t want to hitch a ride on the train because it would slow him down, volume three has 009 immediately jumping on the train and exclaiming “Wow! This thing is really fast!” Guess Joe changes his mind in a blink of an eye too.

0012’s remaining servants, barring one, make quick work of the goons who were trying to steal Kozumi’s potion, and we learn that the fourth member of their team is a seemingly ‘slow’ individual who speaks mostly in mutters. However, he also appears to be kind since he removes Kozumi’s gag, much to the annoyance of the other servants.

Joe enjoys his return to Tokyo, but he quickly realizes that walking around in a bright red outfit with a long yellow scarf is a bit too noticeable, so he heads to his old friend, Scar Nose Yasu’s, house to borrow some less conspicuous clothing. Yasu is more than welcoming of his old friend, insisting to go out and get some food and drinks for him. Problem is, he quickly realizes he has no money.

The mysterious member of the servant group comes around the corner with some bread and milk, which is good news for Yasu who quickly tries to strongarm the groceries from him.

Joe stops him, however, and gives back the groceries back to the guy. Being surprisingly understanding after nearly getting robbed, he happily insists that they both eat some bread and milk with him. They accept, but they’re soon interrupted by the other three servants who attack Joe.

009 is able to defeat Scarecrow, who commits suicide by swallowing his tongue, but right as the other two arrive, the mysterious member starts acting strangely. His eyes are finally revealed from under his hair, and he seems more serious and disturbed than before. He tells Joe one thing before taking the initiative and leaving with the other servants – “Thirteen.”

Throughout the past handful of pages, we’ve been intersecting to a massive humanoid robot in the middle of the sea. It destroys a ship and is later seen suddenly emerging from underground to rendezvous with the other servants. It dumps Kozumi from the car into its body and uses him as a hostage. When 009 arrives, he deduces that this giant robot is the 0013 he’s been hearing about.

009 has an incredibly destructive battle with the robot, who can not only burrow underground like a mole, but he can also detect objects above with electromagnetic sensors. 0013 can also cause massive earthquakes, has an accelerator, though it’s not as fast as 009’s, and is aiming to demolish all of Tokyo from the inside out. It even goes into the city itself to reduce the chance of military interference.

The robot very nearly kills Joe, but opts to spare him this time. He reveals that he’s repaying the kindness that Joe showed him earlier. He’s lived a harrowing life, so he truly appreciates the gesture. Joe deduces that the robot is actually being controlled by the mysterious member of the servant group – the real 0013.

Joe rushes through the incredibly heartbreaking destruction of Tokyo, even rescuing a little toddler who was crying over the crushed body of her mother. With the child still in his arms, Joe makes a plea to 0013 to stop his robot since innocent people are being killed. And if he won’t stop the robot, at least agree to travel to a more void area where they won’t hurt anyone with their battle. 0013 struggles, but Machine Gun isn’t willing to listen to any of this, so he shoots at them. In a cold display, he even says he doesn’t care about the baby in his arms and that she’ll make a fine cyborg. WOW.

Before he can continue his assault, 0013 lops off Machine Gun’s gun arm with a karate chop. Realizing he’s turned on them, Roentgen attempts to attack him, but Joe strikes him down.

Machine Gun tries to kill 0013 with a regular gun, but 0013 karate chops him in the neck, sending him flying down the flight of stairs they’re on, breaking his neck and killing him.

Joe is delighted to see 0013 revolt, but it seems 0013 still wants to fight. He directs Joe to put the girl down first so she won’t be hurt. Joe tries, but the girl is simply too scared. 0013 tries to cheer her up by making silly faces and offering her candy. She smiles, and 0013 takes her from Joe and brings her to a swing set so she can enjoy her candy and have fun swinging.

Joe and 0013 start fighting right there, accelerated so they’re only barely noticeable to the little girl. While the giant robot may have only been able to go about mach 1, the real 0013 is able to go at speeds much faster than 009 to the point where it seems like there are multiples of him.

Their fight ensues, but is soon interrupted by Roentgen, who was blinded by 009 after breaking his cybernetic eyes. Using his heightened sense of hearing, he’s able to find where 0013 and 009 are fighting and strike 0013 on the back with a few slashes of his blade, even while they’re accelerated. 0013 is not pleased by this and smacks him in the head so hard that it kills him.

Joe wants to stop the bloodshed, but before he can get a good shot at 0013, his giant robot shows up. Joe is forced to hold the little girl again, meaning he can’t accelerate (because normal humans can’t handle his speed without dying.) 0013 enters the robot, and all seems lost for 009 until 0013 retrieves Kozumi and releases him.

He doesn’t wish to cause anymore unnecessary bloodshed. He’s finally done with fighting.

We learn of 0013’s truly tragic story. Black Ghost designed him to be fully in tune with this robot, to a point where it’s extremely detrimental for him. First of all, while he can control the robot with his brain waves, he lost the ability to speak. The robot, known as 13 Robo, acted as his mouthpiece. Every thought he had was turned into speech through the robot.

But that’s not all. Black Ghost must have realized what a flight risk he was, so they installed a failsafe in 13 Robo. If he betrayed Black Ghost, the robot was rigged to explode. Realizing that 13 Robo would explode soon, he told 009 and the other cyborgs, who arrived really late to the party and did nothing, to flee.

Joe pleads with him to escape, but he refuses. Either to get the robot further away to lessen the damage or because, like the others, he believed he must die, 0013 insists on staying behind. Hearing one final plea from Joe at the last second spurs 0013 to at least try to make an escape, but he fails.

As he lay on the ground dying he writes “I wanted to become friends.” in the dirt. Joe assures him that they are friends. The little girl hops down to the ground and grabs 0013’s hand. He smiles one last time before his hand falls and he finally passes away.

Joe laments the loss of the friend and becomes more enraged than ever at Black Ghost. He vows to never stop fighting them until they’ve been destroyed and 0013 has been avenged.

I’ve always loved this plotline, and it never fails to choke me up. 0013 is such a brief character yet he makes a lasting impact. In fact, in the 2001 anime, in the end credits, a mockup of 0013 wearing the 00 Cyborg uniform was included as part of the collection of drawings of the main team, like he was spiritually with them.

It always felt like 0013 was more of a hostage of Black Ghost than any Cyborg before him. 0010 Plus and Minus didn’t really have any actual reason for being loyal to them, especially since they robbed them of the ability to have any physical contact with their own twin brother. 0011 was probably the closest example, but he was more tricked than he was held hostage. 0012 seemed to greatly enjoy her power and tormenting the other cyborgs. With 0013, he was forced into obeying.

His hostage situation was basically lose-lose. It’s either allow the robot to cause massive amounts of death and destruction/cause massive amounts of destruction yourself or betray Black Ghost…and cause massive amounts of death and destruction. Granted, at least in the latter, he could die doing the least amount of damage (not killing any of the 00 Cyborgs and stopping the robot’s rampage as well as redeeming himself in the process) as he did here,

Even though I love his story, it’s not entirely perfect. Why did Black Ghost only put a bomb in 13 Robo? Why not put a bomb or termination device in 0013 too? Putting the bomb in 13 Robo without putting anything in 0013 himself to kill him means he could have lived and stayed on the side of the other Cyborgs (and remember, he still has an even better accelerator than 009, and he has an insanely powerful karate chop technique.) Black Ghost had to bank on 0013 being too selfless and honorable to let 13 Robo explode while also sacrificing himself.

Why didn’t they just make 0013 the robot himself? They’ve already shown they’re more than willing to put human brains into giant robots and even sentient houses, so why not put 0013’s brain in the robot instead of having them be two separate beings? How is that a benefit to them, especially since the servants were always complaining about how useless he was? None of this is really a big plot hole or issue or anything, but I’m just wondering what logistics went into those decisions.

Next chapter, we’re starting off a new storyline. 004, 007 and 009 are battling with a fighter plane to help protect Dr. Dolphin and his daughter, Iruka. And yes, that means her name is Iruka Dolphin, or literally Dolphin Dolphin.

I first thought this was an error by Tokyopop, but according to the good folks at Cyborg 009’s Fandom page, Iruka really was Ishinomori’s intended name for her, and some translations opted to change her name to Cynthia to avoid this redundancy. Why did he name her that to begin with? I have no idea. I have a feeling it might have just been a placeholder name until he came up with something else, but he never did….or maybe the dude just really liked dolphins, I dunno. The submarine that the 00 Cyborgs get later is even called The Dolphin and Black Ghost uses dolphin spies……*shrug* Dolphins are cool, though, so I get it.

004 manages to shoot down the plane with his machine gun hand, but there’s a weird tank just around the corner. 004 and 007 are felled by the tank after it sends out a strange signal. After ensuring the doctor’s and Iruka’s safety, 009 heads over to see what’s happening and is also felled by the sound.

Cut to some time in the past where we see 004 shoot at leaves with his dart fingers. Hey, they came back up again! Yay! Inside the house, 007 is practicing some Shakespeare while Joe is reading comics. They get a call from Dr. Gilmore and head out.

On the way, they explain that Professor Dolphin is an old friend of his who lives in Yokohama. Gilmore went to his house, which has this weird sign out front that says “His joke fell flat.”

Cyborg 009 VOL3 SCREEN1
????????

but when he got there, he was smacked with the butt of a gun and Dolphin was kidnapped.

They find a note from the kidnappers telling them to not call the police otherwise Dolphin dies. And it’s signed NN with a swastika.

Dr. Dolphin was kidnapped by Neo Nazis. If you didn’t expect that, congratulations, you’re everyone.

Joe takes Iruka to her dorm to get some of her things so she can stay at Kozumi’s house with everyone else in order to keep her safe while they save her father. On the drive, Iruka explains that she doesn’t know anything about her father’s work besides the fact that he has built many massive robots. He was also so entranced in his work that he constantly neglected her, even forgetting her birthday. She started resenting machines, robots and even her father.

They’re suddenly stopped in the road and gas attacked by a group of men. Iruka is quickly knocked out, but Joe is resistant to the gas due to his cybernetics. He swiftly takes out all of the men and saves Iruka. Joe tries to question one who isn’t knocked out, but he swallows a cyanide pill and dies. What is with the last handful of chapters and people just peacing out the instant anything happens?

Joe contacts 004 and 007 to tell them what happened. They come up with a new plan – let Iruka be taken by the thugs. Joe doesn’t like the idea because he doesn’t want to put her in danger, but he agrees because he knows it’s the best way to find Dr. Dolphin.

Later, the thugs wake up with Iruka unconscious in front of them, They believe Joe must’ve accidentally fallen over the side of the cliff, so they decide to take her and run. They spot the guy who committed suicide, believe he must’ve done it on accident and just chuck his body over the side of the cliff. Who would’ve thunk Neo Nazis would be heartless assholes?

Following a tracking device hidden in Iruka’s watch, the trio follows her to a runway where a plane is waiting. Not wanting her to be loaded onto the plane, because they can’t follow her that way, the group decides to strike, but not for the reasons you’d think. They mostly distract the group and sneak onboard so they can follow her to the main base. On the way, they discover that 007 forgot to pack their super guns, and apparently the place they’re heading to is really cold.

Now. I need you all to prepare yourselves for what I’m about to convey to you. I promise you, with all my heart, I am not kidding when I say any of this. This is happening. Okay? Okay. You ready? Let’s do this.

They land the plane, and outside they see….

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a bunch of giant penguins doing the Heil Hitler salute….

I will give you a break so you have time to parse that information.

Isn’t it glorious? Bask in the everything that is amazing about this. I get to review a manga that literally has the line “Nazi Penguin costumes, eh?” The Neo Nazis decided to dress up as penguins for reasons my brain cannot begin to process.

They are in Antarctica, I think anyway, but this still makes no sense. Even if there were a lot of people around in ANTARCTICA they wouldn’t be fooled by giant man-sized penguins….who are heiling Hitler! And if they would be…..is that some sort of commentary on penguins!?

I haven’t watched March of the Penguins in a long time. Is there a deleted scene with Morgan Freeman narrating the penguins as they partake in their daily reading of Mein Kampf? But they removed it after backlash from the penguin community?! They could have SS lightning bolt tattoos on their bodies. We wouldn’t know. THEY HAVE FEATHERS!

I can’t stop laughing. It’s too hilarious for this world. What was Ishinomori on when he wrote this? And where can I get some?

*sigh*….This is a beautiful day.

004 and 009 grab some of the penguin costumes to blend in, which means we also get them going undercover as nazi penguins….I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying life right now.

The leader brings out Professor Dolphin and asks him about the missing component of the mad machine mark one, which is presumably the tank from the beginning of the chapter. There was one major component Dolphin didn’t map out on the schematics they stole, and they can’t make it work without it. However, Dolphin, knowing how powerful the machine is, would rather die than give them that information. As leverage, they use Iruka instead.

They get the information from him, and 004 and 009 use that opportunity to attack and retake Dolphin and Iruka. They escape on a plane, but it’s shot down. The other fighter plane swoops in and we cut to right where we left off before. All of the cyborgs are down for the count and the Neo Nazis come in to claim their prizes, but the cyborgs come back in full force. 004 uses his leg missile to blow up the tank and that’s that.

Dolphin relays why he made these machines in the first place. During the war, his wife had been badly injured by a rocket strike. She had lost a leg and burnt her face beyond recognition. She went from being a happy, lighthearted person to a dark and gloomy individual. Not even giving birth to their daughter brightened her any – in fact, it tipped her over the edge. She never wanted their daughter to see her disfigured face, so she killed herself.

….Quite the tone change from the nazi penguins…..*cough*

As a result, Dolphin dedicated his life to creating machines that would drive the men who operated them insane – hence the mad machine mark one. His machines were always intended on working against war machines. Iruka happily and tearfully embraces her father, gleeful that he also harbored hatred for machines….

I’ll be honest, I don’t understand this all too much. So…he made a machine that was a weapon that would drive the people who used it insane…but…it didn’t do that. The Neo Nazis weren’t negatively affected – only the cyborgs were. And…you made a machine that would make the operators go insane?….Wouldn’t that make them do even worse stuff because they’re, ya know, insane now? You don’t make any sense, man.

Iruka then says “Machines are evil…” which is Tokyopop’s doing again – the original line was just her saying “Machines…” while looking scared.

Iruka and Joe give each other a pensive look. Throughout the chapter, it had been hinted that Joe liked Iruka romantically, but now she knows he’s part machine and it’s obvious that that’s something she can’t overlook.

Joe, Albert and GB head off back home to reunite with everyone else. And the Neo Nazi penguins were never seen again. 😦

In the next part of our story, the cyborgs and Dr. Gilmore head out from Japan, fearing it’s become too dangerous with Black Ghost back on their tail. They bid Kozumi a fond farewell, and we get this hilaradorable shot of 005 carrying 001 and Gilmore on his shoulders.

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Our next chapter, and yes the previous one was just them leaving, is called The Man with the Expensive Castle. Apparently, this was supposed to be called The Man in the High Castle to be a reference to the novel of the same name, but Tokyopop changed it to this stupid one because I dunno. Copyright worries, maybe? I dunno.

Anyway, masked men with jetpacks are kidnapping a little girl who turns out to the be the Prime Minister’s daughter.

The cyborgs catch wind of this and report back….which is when we meet, whom I refer to as……..*sigh* Lil’ 007.

Cyborg 009 VOL3 Screen3

Okay, some backstory. Around the release of volume three came the first film adaptation of the series, which is great! The producers of the movie wanted some manga promotion, so Ishinomori wrote this specific story to tie into the story of the movie. He was fine with doing that, but they wanted one more thing. They wanted to change 007 into a nine year old kid (though he honestly looks like he’s three or four) to help sell the movie to kids.

Reportedly, Ishinomori didn’t want to do this and hated the change, but was basically forced into doing it by his editor. Initially, he wrote this change as 007’s default form de-aging due to him shape-shifting so much, and no that doesn’t make any sense, but go along with it. However, this change didn’t stick forever. He would eventually change back to his adult form without barely a mention of it, though he would occasionally slip back into child form for one reason or another for sporadic amounts of time – it’s really inconsistent and confusing.

Despite the change being forced and hated by Ishinomori, it was apparently quite popular with fans so he made it into a character for a gag series called Cyborg-Chan of which I can find really no information or images. All I know is that it was about a cyborg boy whose power was transformation, exactly like 007.

I thought this change was just stupid. I didn’t really hate it because 007 was already the comic relief so he didn’t act too differently when he was Lil’ 007 but just the fact that they now had a little kid around was annoying on a visual level. Instead of having a goofy bald dude in his 30s making sarcastic quips every now and then to cut the tension we now have a bald kid who thinks he’s funny making almost every line he delivers a joke, cutting pretty much any tension ever when he’s on screen. I tolerate him being here, but adult 007 can’t return quickly enough.

Back to the story, the kidnappers have taken several girls in addition to the Prime Minister’s daughter, and for their safe return they’re asking for….

Also, I’m not kidding. They legitimately ask for 100 billion yen.

Granted, yeah, there’s the conversion rate, which makes this roughly 945 million USD, but there’s also the fact that this took place in 1966, which would mean that amount of money today would be about 7.5 billion USD today. And just for the sake of being thorough, with inflation from 1966 in Japan, 100 billion yen today would actually be nearly 400 billion yen, which equates to 3.7 billion USD.

Joe and the others try to wake 001 to see if he can psychically determine the location of the girls, but he’s fast asleep. Like I mentioned, 001 requires a lot of sleep to function. He sleeps for 15 days at a time and then stays awake for 15 days. He’s got a few days left on his most current sleep cycle, so they move onto other options.

Over the radio, they hear that the kidnappers have established a dropoff location for the ransom money at the summit of Mt. Fuji at four o’clock…..why are they giving away that information on the radio?

009 and 002 head off because they have acceleration switches, but Lil’ 007 wants to go too. Joe, however, forbids it because he’s a child, which is stupid because we know he’s not a child, 007 even points out that he’s not a child, but we have to embrace this change so he gets treated like a child. 007 whines for a bit then turns into a baby shark so he can tag along on Joe’s back. I don’t get why he’d turn into a baby shark for that, but it doesn’t matter, he gets to go.

The exchange is starting, so the boys head into position. The kidnappers aren’t screwing around, but they also won’t show the girls until they have the money in hand. After they kill one of the government officials, the three start combating the kidnappers. Lil’ 007 helps by bopping them on the head with a tiny mallet….Why isn’t he transforming into something that can actually help or at least use his super gun?

Because then he wouldn’t be in child form and this stupid marketing ploy wouldn’t work.

They let some of the kidnappers get away, leading them to their base.

At the base, the kidnappers attack again, and this time 007 actually transforms….into a snowman. And he was able to knock out one of the kidnappers with his teeny mallet because they were stupid enough to hide behind a snowman in the middle of a fire fight.

002 gives them a lift over an electric wall surrounding the base, and after a quick tangle with some guard dogs and robots who look like they have dryer ducts for heads, they infiltrate the main room.

All of the girls are being held in glass boxes strewn about the room. A strange looking man is threatening them with poisonous gas if the cyborgs don’t stand down, but, being super fast, 009 won’t take any of that. It seems like he got more than he bargained for when they’re all suddenly thrust to the floor. The man is psychic and is using telekinesis to pin them down. The man says he needs money in order to build a massive laboratory for all of his experiments, and he’ll kidnap and/or murder all the children he needs to in order to do it. Lovely guy, this one.

He’s about to murder the girls when suddenly 001 bursts into the room with his eyes drawn in that creepy alien way I hate. The man, who, by the way, is never named, can’t match 001’s powers. Using his own telekinesis, 001 breaks the girls free and all of them rush out of the lab as it explodes, killing the man and presumably everyone in the building…The uh….end?

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Make it go away.

Yup, that’s the end of the volume. Quite the random note to end on, quite abrupt too, but it was pretty much a marketing ploy anyway.

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And that was volume three! What’s not to love about this volume besides the ending chapter? 0013’s arc was just great. Always been one of my favorites. I really wish we got to see more of that poor guy.

The storyline with Iruka may have been pretty simple and the resolution about her dad really makes no sense to me, but this was pretty much the first time the group were outwardly hated or discriminated against in some capacity because they were cyborgs, and that’s something that they really needed to cover. It was slight because she never really stated she hated them but just saying she hated machines and turning away from Joe at the end, despite everything they did for her, was enough.

Plus, it was a wholly entertaining arc on its own. I mean, come on. NEO NAZIS IN PENGUIN COSTUMES. How can you not laugh yourself into a coma at that whole section? I’m laughing writing this right now.

The main weak point is the final chapter. Not only is it the introduction to Lil’ 007, but the story is bland. Usually, bland plotlines are supplemented with character development or new characters that help pick up the slack, but here there’s nothing.

The best part of the chapter is that the main baddie is an esper, like 001, but he’s ridiculously underpowered compared to 001. Not to mention that this is one of many times 001 is basically a deus ex machina. This guy was seconds away from killing a slue of children with three of our heroes pinned to the ground, and then 001 just bamfs in there, nabs the girls and leaves. The dude doesn’t even get a name.

However, it is understandable that this chapter is so forgettable because Ishinomori’s heart really wasn’t in it, but still.

Join me next time in volume four!


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AniManga Clash! Yu-Gi-Oh! Season Zero Episode 9: Explosion! Yo-Yo Ultimate Technique/Manga Chapters 48-49 (Notes on 11-12)

Plot: Jonouchi is showing off his awesome yoyo skills, but he’s halted when a boy named Nezumi rains on his parade. He hates yoyos because a group of thugs with yoyos attacked him the previous day. Jonouchi and Yugi declare that they’ll help him get revenge on the yoyo-ing thugs, but quickly find out that it’s a trap laid by Jonouchi’s old comrade turned enemy, Hirutani.

He wants Jonouchi back on his side, and he’s willing to do anything to achieve his goals, including trying to kill Yugi.

Breakdown: In typical fashion, anything involving Miho is 100% anime exclusive. This week, she expresses interest in the yoyo, but Honda tells her not to do it because he’s afraid she’ll…get hurt and die?

However, Honda is actually in the first scene where Jonouchi is messing around with his yoyo. Like always, manga-wise, though, he’s just kinda there. In the anime, he catches Jonouchi’s yoyo to make him stop. In the manga, Nezumi made him stop by yelling at him and explaining his story.

Nezumi doesn’t seem to exist in Season Zero, unless he’s that guy who gets attacked in the cold open, but he doesn’t look a thing like he does in the manga if it is meant to be him.

Let me get this out of the way, yes, the concept of this story is super goofy even for Yu-Gi-Oh. The concept of a yoyo gang is about as silly as the bicycle gang in Pokemon, but at least they were plausible, especially since they were on a stretch of road that was meant only for bikes. A gang that mainly uses yoyos as a weapon? I mean, yeah they’d hurt if they hit you, but they’re certainly not the most efficient weapons in existence – most notably because, once they hit their target they usually stop spinning, meaning you have to manually yank them back and manually wind the string back up to throw it again.

Can someone please explain to me why they live in a world where elementary school students are whipping out switchblades and uzis but one of the most feared near adult age gangs in town wields a bunch of yoyos?

Since Nezumi doesn’t exist in this version, the reason Jonouchi wants to go out to challenge the yoyo gang is because they’ve just been harassing people in general and he wants to put a stop to it. I kinda don’t mind this change because Nezumi gets away at the end of this arc in the manga and ultimately vanishes entirely. It’s clear that he was a willing participant in this, not threatened or blackmailed into luring them down there, so it’s a little disappointing that he never got comeuppance.

A very short scene of Yugi at home worrying about Jonouchi is not present in the manga.

From this point until the commercial break, pretty much everything is adapted from chapters 11-12, which I covered in the review of that arc. If you haven’t already, please go read that review. Not a ton is changed between versions, but it’s still a good idea to read that and check back here afterward.

This is still technically in regards to chapters 11-12, but Honda interrogates one of the Rintama gang members outside of the bar before going in. That’s not present in the anime. Additionally, when Yugi and the gang entered the bar, they found the gang member that hit Yugi on the ground, but Jonouchi is nowhere to be found. Fearing the worst, they all split up, but Yugi finds Jonouchi by asking the Puzzle to help him.

In the anime, they ask the bartender what’s up. He tells them that, if the gang is not at the bar, they’re likely either in a fight on the streets or in the warehouses, since that seems to be their base. The bartender notices that they’re Domino High students and tells them to avoid the Rintama gang because they recently coerced a Domino High student into joining them.

Yugi proclaims, out loud, that the bartender must be talking about Jonouchi and that he really was forced into joining back up with the gang.

Then possibly one of the stupidest things they ever could have done happens. Honda lies to the girls…again…and says Jonouchi is probably just hanging out with old friends. Miho happily agrees and says he’ll probably be back in school tomorrow. Anzu also agrees and says he’ll be back to swing around his silly yoyo like he was before. Then they leave.

……Are Anzu and Miho braindead? Are they deaf? They’ve been right next to Honda and Yugi during this whole conversation. They just heard the bartender say that the gang coerced a Domino High student to join them and Yugi proclaiming Jonouchi was forced into being a gang member….but Honda brushes it off like he’s just hanging around with old buddies and Miho and Anzu are like ‘Oh phew, that’s a relief. Let’s go home!’

Even if they, for reason, ate up this excuse without question, are they also forgetting that they saw Jonouchi being entirely complacent with the gang beating up some poor guy, the fact that Jonouchi said he didn’t know Yugi and the others and that he both said and did nothing when one of the gang punched Yugi in the face? You’re either ignoring or forgetting ALL of that and are just expecting him to be at school tomorrow like nothing happened? What the hell is wrong with you two?

The only reason I can see for them doing this is that they wanted the girls out of the picture so they could head to the warehouses and get Jonouchi back, but it was entirely unnecessary. What was wrong with the manga version where they split up to find Jonouchi and Yugi manages to find them with the Puzzle? If you need Honda to be there in the anime, just have them split up in teams of two and tell them to not engage with Hirutani and the gang without getting the others first, as they did in the manga.

This scene just serves to make Anzu and Miho look like oblivious idiots and all for the purpose of ‘gurlz kant b envolvd n sumthing soooo danguriss!!’ Even though they have been involved in a multitude of dangerous things, so this just seems pointless even in canon.

When Honda and Yugi arrive at the warehouse, they try to convince Jonouchi to come with them, explaining that they know he was forced to join the gang, but Jonouchi stands firm against their claim and says he’s with them by choice and is sick of his life adhering to rules and pretending to be their friend.

Honda presents the band to Jonouchi, pleading with him to remember their friendship. Jonouchi drops the band on the floor, steps on it and punches Honda in the stomach.

The next day, Honda and Yugi head to Rintama High. Honda challenges Hirutani to a fight – if he wins, Jonouchi goes free. Hirutani agrees and whips out his yoyo….his yoyo with retractable spikes…. Ya know, between this episode’s gimmick and the last episode with the fully realistic adult woman marionette being controlled by a dude behind a curtain with two pieces of wood, I’m really just finding my footing in the marvelous insanity of this series. I’m not kidding, it’s a hilariously fun ride when it’s not being miserable.

By the way, Hirutani doesn’t even have his own yoyo in the manga.

Honda gets felled rather quickly, and when Hirutani throws his yoyo for a final blow, Yugi steps in the way. His Puzzle deflects the yoyo back at Hirutani, cutting his face.

Hirutani is not happy about this, so he ties up Yugi in the warehouse and has his goons relentlessly wail on Yugi. In the manga, both Jonouchi and Yugi (With Nezumi) had entered the warehouse and when Yugi got jumped they literally hung him by his Puzzle. Jonouchi had to concede to Hirutani or else Yugi would die.

Jonouchi enters the warehouse and tells Yugi once more that he shouldn’t keep pursuing him. With a flick of his yoyo (….That sounded dirty) he seemingly tries to attack Yugi, but ends up hitting one of the guys who was beating him up instead. Jonouchi challenges Hirutani for going back on their deal. He said if Jonouchi joined their gang, he’d leave his friends alone, but now that he’s broken that promise, Jonouchi wants to take Hirutani down.

The other gang members surround Jonouchi with their yoyos, which is also what happens in the manga. I assume all of their yoyos are metal and not plastic, so they’d definitely hurt being hit by them, but in each version Hirutani’s acting like it’d be absolute torture to walk through the hail of yoyos. Yeah, it’d hurt, but again, once they’d hit their target, they’d fall. And, really, how insulting would that be to their friendship? “Yeah, I love ya, Yug, but I ain’t getting smacked with a few yoyos to save yer life. Deuces!”

Admittedly, it is extremely sweet when, in both versions, Jonouchi braves the yoyo storm and tries to protect Yugi, but you really have to focus on the fact that he’s being nearly beaten to death and ignoring the fact that the weapon of choice is a bunch of yoyos. The manga is more dramatic and sweet, in my opinion, though.

In the manga, Jonouchi saves Yugi by giving him a boost and allowing the Puzzle’s rope to gain enough slack to be removed from the hook. Jonouchi then asks to borrow the Puzzle and spins it in front of the yoyos, getting the strings tangled up with the Puzzle and stopping their assault. He then takes their yoyo strings and hooks them up to the hanging hook, lifting them up in the air by their fingers, which is insanely dangerous, but also quite easy to get out of.

In the anime, Hirutani tries to shoot his spiked yoyo at Jonouchi, which gives Jonouchi the opening he needs to throw his own yoyo, deflecting Hirutani’s yoyo and….somehow…Jonouchi’s yoyo slices the rope and frees Yugi.

Sooo….is Jonouchi’s yoyo super sharp or is this just stupid?

Once Yugi is freed, Jonouchi is knocked down by a swift strike to the back of his head via one of the bigger gang members. This finally prompts Yugi to transform into Yami. Jesus, Yami, what took you so long? It took him the same amount of time to transform in the manga, but still, why did it take so long?

In both the anime and the manga, the other gang members chase after Yami, who has escaped to the roof. Yami reveals that he also, for some reason, has a yoyo, and he has some rad skillz with it.

Shadow Game (Kinda)

Yami challenges the thugs to a game. Whoever is the last one on the roof wins. Yami runs from the gang, simply grazing the roof with his yoyo as he runs around and dodging the strikes of the gang, who are also frequently hitting the roof when they miss Yami. They corner Yami on the roof and proclaim that they’ve won. However, Yami turns the table on them and directs their attention to the roof below their feet. It’s rusted and old metal, easily punctured with a yoyo, but it will soon crumble beneath their weight. Yami is supported on the corner beam of the warehouse, but the thugs aren’t so lucky and fall through the roof.

This game is exactly the same as it is in the manga….and yes, it’s just as silly. I mean, if the roof were THAT weak, they never should have been able to stand on it in the first place, let alone run around like it’s a basketball court.

Meanwhile, Jonouchi challenges Hirutani to a fist fight. Jonouchi is getting the better of Hirutani, but he plays dirty and throws BROKEN GLASS INTO JONOUCHI’S EYES. Geez. You’d think that would leave Jonouchi with lasting vision problems and maybe even blindness, but nope. He’s temporarily blinded but perfectly fine by the end of the chapter/episode…

In the manga, after Jonouchi struck Hirutani, causing him to hang from the ledge, Jonouchi was just fine. However, in the anime, he also falls for some reason. Honda saves him by throwing him the band, which he used to hang from the hook and return to the ledge. That sure was necessary.

In both versions, Jonouchi uses ‘Walk the dog’ (Or Jonouchi’s version “Let the Dog Out.”) on Hirutani’s fingers, causing him to fall. By the way, in Season Zero, you can clearly see that Jonouchi’s yoyo has ‘Made in USE’ written on it. Quality products always come from the United States of ‘Erica. (In the manga, it says ‘Made in the USA’)

In the manga, Jonouchi reunites with Yugi and proclaims that he’ll kick Nezumi’s ass if he ever sees him again and that’s the end of the chapter. In the anime, he thanks Honda for saving his life and Yugi happily returns affirming that Jonouchi would never change like that.

Meanwhile, back in school, Jonouchi tries his variant on ‘Around the World’ again, but this time he does it so fast that the wind causes Anzu and Miho’s skirts to fly up. They get pissed and Jonouchi runs off. The end.

—————————————-

Well, that was a bit complicated to compare, but as a whole….The manga does both stories better than the anime’s combination of the two. It’s to be expected. They’re not only merging four chapters but two stories into one episode, but it’s not just that. The little changes that they made that didn’t need to happen just made the story worse off, if you ask me.

That scene with Anzu and Miho is still irking me, and, overall, I feel like Honda’s presence was poorly written in this entire episode. It’s like they’re having Honda and Yugi struggle for the spot of Jonouchi’s best friend but no one will point out that Yugi’s obviously winning. It’s like they adapted the manga chapter pretty well and then the anime writers wrote on the script ‘Oh yeah, and Honda’s there too.’

The backstory they made for Jonouchi and Honda was just stupid. He passed off a band to Jonouchi in a track meet, which he was meant to do, Jonouchi won and they’ve been buddies ever since?….But they also don’t seem to be all that close? In the anime, Honda may fight people if need be, but he’s not a fellow ex-bully like Jonouchi. He’s a rule-abiding, strict goodie-two-shoes. The only thing we really know about Honda’s past is that he aimed to be class president but didn’t get the role.Those two would never hang out pre-Jonouchi’s attitude change, but yeah, I totally believe that pink track band is a huge emotional symbol of their friendship.

In the manga, it makes more sense because Honda is an ex-thug like Jonouchi and hung around with him because he liked picking fights. He’s still a superfluous character, if you ask me, but his story makes more sense. In neither story does Honda play a big role outside of explaining Jonouchi’s family situation, for the most part, and Jonouchi’s past with Hirutani, and that’s all he really needs to do.

Instead, he’s jammed in here like broken glass in Jonouchi’s non-blind eyes. Reading the manga alongside watching the anime really makes that moment when Honda saves Jonouchi stick out like a sore thumb as something that felt like it was tacked on. Did he even need that band? Wouldn’t it have been easier and more realistic to just grab the hook itself? How did he have time to both catch it and loop it on the hook without having time to just grab the hook? Would it even support his weight? How did Honda even throw it up that high? It’s a frickin’ band of fabric.

In addition, the more emotional moments were better in the manga, and I liked that it was moreso a great moment for Jonouchi and Yugi’s friendship instead of having Honda butt his nose into it. Like I said before, Honda can exist and Jonouchi can have more than Yugi as a friend, but Honda doesn’t have any purpose being as prominent as a character as he is in the anime.

I know this tirade seems contradictory given my statement in the review of chapters 11-12 where I praise them for giving Manga!Honda more story to work with, but that’s mostly because his presence so far in the manga has been to be set dressing. It’s nice to see him get a bit of an actual role in their dynamic, but as I’ve pointed out here, he doesn’t need to be anymore prominent than that. If Hanasaki, an objectively much better character, has to be dumped almost entirely, Honda can be mostly in the background too. Either that or give him more independence and agency as a character. Stop making him entirely reliant on those around him.

The yoyos make this whole story rather goofy, of course. I do think yo-yos are a fun weapon idea, and I’ve seen before in Yu Yu Hakusho and HunterxHunter, but there they were enhanced/created with supernatural abilities, not bought at Target in a three-pack for $9.99. They really easily could have just adapted the first story and been all the better off for it. It’s a much more dramatic story, and it’s pretty much the one they adapted outside of all the yoyo stuff and the psuedo-shadow game.

Or, here’s a thought, maybe try keeping both stories. Hirutani’s return, barring the silly yoyos, was well done. We needed a reprise for this storyline where Jonouchi actually comes out on top over his former comrade. The first story provided the backbone and the last story provided the payoff. It’s not like they don’t have filler episodes they can lose to squeeze it in there.

Another thing I didn’t care for was the way Jonouchi acted. In the manga, he has to struggle to restrain himself when Yugi is punched. He doesn’t even make it more than 10-15 minutes before he punches the guy who did it. That punch was more than enough to break their deal, and Jonouchi knew that.

In the anime, Yugi gets punched by the same gang member and he deals with it, even though that should have broken their deal. He socks Honda in the stomach, sending him to the ground and thinks nothing of it, which makes no sense. I get that he’s trying to convince them that he’s bad and to leave him alone, but he’s trying to save his friends from getting hurt and here he is punching one of them.

Next time….

Final Notes: Hirutani never once makes an appearance in the 2000 anime, nor is he referenced, but he does make an appearance in one of the video games. And when I found this out, I was kinda floored.

Hirutani is in the Dungeon Dice Monsters video game for the Game Boy Advance, only his name in that version, in the American release, is Diesel Kane. I love the Dungeon Dice Monsters video game, and I actually remembered that dude. It’s really cool that he’s not just some generic thug made for the game, but I wish they had explored this dynamic more in the actual game. All I remember and all the Wiki says is that the guy has a vendetta against Jonouchi, but you never find out what it is.

All of his gang members, both from the taser story and the yoyo story, are also in the game but they’re never given names.

Coincidentally, Nezumi also exists in the DDM game……..And his name is changed to…..Nibbles. Look, I get that both names are a reference to West Side Story, but that name is just as silly as a gang using yoyos as weapons.

Apparently, a ton of manga-exclusive characters are in DDM with funny names. For example, the escaped convict from the Burger World story is Jackpot, the old bald guy who owned the store Mokuba stole a Capsule Monsters machine from is Egger Baldwin, Kokurano (fortune-telling character we’ll meet later) is named Fortuno,Kujirada is named Beluga (Get it?! Because whale! He’s fat!….Again!) Sozoji is named Fender Shrill, and Hanasaki is named Lint Greendale…….LINT. His name is LINT! Hasn’t this kid been through enough without naming him Lint?

….Also, Yugi’s mother’s in DDM, which I didn’t remember at all. She doesn’t get a goofy name, but she is merely called ‘Yugi’s Mother.’ Like, guys, I assume she has a real name. At the very least, she’s Mrs. Muto…..


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Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: Manga (1964) Volume 2

Picking right back up where we left off, (The first chapter in the volume is even considered the second half of chapter eight) the 00 cyborgs have successfully infiltrated the Black Ghost base, intent on destroying it once and for all. Some of them are ridden with guilt because destroying the base means they have to kill the soldiers that are inside. They simply have no choice in the matter, however.

Once inside, they aim to blow up Black Ghost’s nuclear arsenal. 009 bumps into their commander, Skull. And I really just can’t help but laugh as Skull’s design here. The art goes through a lot of changes throughout time, but this version of Skull is hilarious, especially given the circumstances. His eyes just look so sad like he’s going ‘*sniff sniff* W-why are you destroying my base? I thought we were friends….*sniff*’ And look at his jaw. It looks like the bottom half of a medieval helmet.

They succeed in triggering the bombs, but they’re very concerned that 009 couldn’t get out in time before the place blew sky high. Just when all seems lost, he pops up and reveals that he was able to escape in the nick of time. He shares the shocking news that, at some point, Skull seems to have turned himself into a cyborg as well, and he has an accelerator just as powerful as 009’s.

They assume he probably died in the explosion anyway, but it’s soon revealed that Skull is alive and well and Black Ghost won’t be defeated as easily as they believe.

Still piloting one of Black Ghost’s old subs, the cyborgs head to Japan to seek refuge with Dr. Gilmore’s old buddy, Dr. Kozumi.

That’s the official end of Part I of the manga, so now we’re onto Part II The Black Ghost, starting with the insanely long chapter nine.

After a brief recap, we cut to the group in Japan where they’ve already taken up shelter at Dr. Kozumi’s house after a month of laying low. (Side note: Dr. Kozumi is a pretty chill dude. He doesn’t do a whole lot, but he’s a very nice guy.) Joe is troubled because he worries that Black Ghost is not entirely gone, but Francoise tries to get him to accept that Black Ghost has been defeated and that they can enjoy some peace and quiet for a change, even if the sudden shift is quite jarring and unsettling even to her.

In the middle of their conversation, Francoise suddenly hears a strange voice saying something about medicines at Dr. Kozumi’s place so they rush back, fearing intruders have invaded their hideout. Kozumi explains that the men must be talking about a potion he’s concocting to restore youth and possibly even grant immortality. However, it’s very far from complete and is fairly dangerous to use right now. That doesn’t stop people from believing he has finished it and is simply holding out on potential buyers in the pharmaceutical world.

Kozumi doesn’t have a care in the world over this because Joe and the others are on the case and he has total trust in them, which was a very sweet thing to say.

Joe gathers the other cyborgs and they head out to find the would-be thieves. They find a group of masked men and start confronting them only to have their targets blasted by a new enemy – the lightning powered 0010! If you’re wondering what I was wondering when I first saw 0010 “Why is he not 010?” then all I have to say is….I dunno. I mean, the project is called the 00 Cyborg project, but it still makes the numbering seem out of whack.

In the month that they’ve been gone, Black Ghost has gone further with the cyborg project and made 0010 – who has intense lightning powers that he can command via his hands and body, incredibly powerful eye beams, and he also has an accelerator that matches Joe’s. 003 is the first to be taken out by him because of course she is, but 004 and 007 fall soon after. Joe faces the new cyborg alone, but can’t find a way to outmaneuver him or overpower him.

What’s worse is that he’s not the only 0010. He has a twin brother with the exact same powers. They’re named 0010 Plus and Minus, and together they can make electric attacks so powerful that no one should be able to withstand them.

Joe struggles a lot with the cyborg duo and is felled by them, but he’s suddenly saved in the nick of time by 001 who has discovered that he has the power of teleportation. As long as the subject is willing to be teleported or is unconscious, 001 can teleport whatever he wants. He managed to teleport 009 before he was fried, but that doesn’t change the fact that Plus and Minus are still right around the corner and need to be stopped.

001 deduces that Plus and Minus each emit the opposite electrical charge of the other, meaning if they hit each other they’ll short out and die. Giving them both the super-speed runaround, Joe manages to force them both into colliding into each other, creating a massive surge of electricity and causing them both to die. As they lay on the ground, they’re seen with their hands touching each other. Joe laments that they were brothers, but Black Ghost made it so they could never touch or hold each other again, which is another testament to their evil.

I always thought Plus and Minus were a really great pair of characters, and I’m sad they never got a proper backstory. Sure, they were loyal to Black Ghost and took delight in taking down the other cyborgs, but they truly loved each other. For the record, we do see a hint at their contact weakness when they nearly short out by simply standing too close to each other and they have to jump away quickly. Afterward, they stare at each other with forlorn looks in the rain. And just for the sake of symbolism, rain is brought up in the next part as being a character’s tears, so it’s not hard to infer that their situation is deeply hurting them right now.

It’s a shame these two were taken out so quickly. They could have been upgradable repeated enemies or good allies. Their weakness was a bit on the ridiculous side, though. Yes, there’s a lot of poetic tragedy in their situation, but…..really Black Ghost? They explode and die if they touch? These two cyborgs who work best when they work together and also move at supersonic speeds making accidental collisions or contact nearly unavoidable at some point? How could you not make some sort of failsafe for that before sending them out in the field?

Once 0010 Plus and Minus are felled, 009 returns to Kozumi’s house where 003, 004, and 007 are resting. 003 is in particularly bad shape because of course she is. However, there’s no time for rest because, believe it or not, the next cyborg in the line, 0011 is knocking on their door.

And by ‘knocking’ I mean he’s destroying the house.

And by ‘0011’ I mean a

GIANT

ROBOT

SPIDER

Yup, skewing pretty far away from the human-given-cybernetic-implants angle is 0011, who is just a brain in a giant robot spider. I don’t actually know what the point is of just putting a brain in a giant robot spider, but believe it or not, in the outlandish design department, 0011 has absolutely nothing on 0012, whom we’ll get to in the next chapter.

0011’s abilities include missiles that contain some weird sticky substance that hardens into a stone-like material used to encase his enemies, an accelerator because everyone needs to have that thing now, flight and a projectile that is filled with poison that can even kill cyborgs.

Unlike 0010, who was brash and itching to fight, 0011 is oddly calm and understanding. He doesn’t want to fight the cyborgs, but Black Ghost promised him they’d put his brain back into his body if he did, so he has sworn allegiance to them. This is obviously a lie, but all 0011 has to live for right now is that promise. He starts his assault, and 005, 008 and 002 rush out first, since 009 is still weak from his battle with Plus and Minus, but he soon follows after anyway. 005 and 008 are quickly encased in that weird substance I mentioned earlier, so they’re taken out of the battle disappointingly quickly, leaving 002 and 009 to battle him.

It’s not quite that simple, however, because 0011 not only has both of their main powers and more, but he’s also incredibly well-armored. None of their shots can even hope to break through his defenses. They only have one option – the sliding doors that cover the openings for his guns. They wait until he opens them back up again and shoot inside, causing him to fall apart.

As he lay dying, 0011 shoots a projectile into the sky and it starts raining. 0011 dies peacefully having gained his freedom from this metal shell he was forced into. He equates the rain falling down his ‘eyes’ being the closest thing he’ll get to crying. But in his one last act to try and achieve his goal he reveals that the projectile is actually causing the ‘rain’ falling around them. It’s poisoned, and 002 and 009 have to act quickly in order to survive. He bids them farewell and explodes.

001 teleports all of them back to the house. First things first, they have to extract 008 and 005 from the stone. They have life-support systems, but they’re running low on power and oxygen. 006 is the only one who can remove them with his flames, but he has to be incredibly careful or else he’ll severely injure them. He’s able to remove them from the stones, though a little on the crispy side, so it’s time to address 002 and 009. In his infinite wisdom, 001 has not only been able to pinpoint what poison is affecting them, but even tells Dr. Kozumi…the…ya know…doctor…what to put in the antidote to save them.

All of the group recovers to full health, concerned about what else Black Ghost might have up their sleeves….and uh….it’s a doozy.

Chapter 10 introduces us to the weirdest cyborg of the 00 line – 0012. I say this because 0012 isn’t so much a cyborg or a robot even….she’s a sentient immobile murder house.

Bear in mind that the 00 cyborgs were created with the intention of mass producing and distributing them to various governments in order to perpetuate war – especially in outer space.

A sentient immobile murder house is one of those cyborgs.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s a really well-designed, powerful and AWESOME sentient immobile murder house, but she’s still an immobile murder house, who, by the way, doesn’t have any external weapons, which means as long as you don’t have a reason to go on the property, you’re golden.

Granted, she does have ‘servants’ which act as her ‘limbs.’ Each servant is their own character, and each is given disabilities that are compensated for with cybernetics. For example, the first servant, Camel (Known as Rakuda in the translation) has a hunchback. Yeah, not the most sensitive of names. I can understand why TokyoPop changed it to the literal Japanese version, if they did that intentionally.

His hunch was made cybernetic, allowing him to open and close it like it a venus fly trap or bear trap. This sounds cool, but unless someone’s trying to tackle him, it’s really inefficient. He can also spit?…I dunno. In his battle with 009, he’s spitting something at him over and over but I honestly don’t know if it’s a projectile or just spit. But get it?….Spit…..Camel….Ha….Ha? I really want to say he just has spit as a ‘power’ because ew no one likes getting spit on.

The second servant is Scarecrow, a man with a prosthetic leg who walks using a cane. His prosthetic is spring-loaded, allowing him to jump very high, and his cane doubles as a club and machine gun.

The third servant is named Roentgan (Lentgen in the TokyoPop version) who is blind. He’s able to see thanks to binocular-esque cybernetic eyes that also grant him the ability to see long distances and through objects. When those eyes are broken, he can track people through a heightened sense of sound, so he’s essentially their 003. Other than that, he has a sword hidden in his cane, which is a bit of a rip-off considering Scarecrow’s cane could be a club or a machine gun.

The fourth servant, The One-Armed Man (He’s not given a name, though in the 2001 anime he’s called Machine Gun) is, well, a one-armed man. His arm was replaced with a machine gun, kinda like 004 but it’s just a literal machine gun instead of a machine gun shaped like a working hand, which seems counter-intuitive. (In the earlier parts of this arc, his hand is a hook hand, but Ishinomori changed his mind on his design and powers.) Reminder – these guys are a package deal with 0012, meaning their designs all came after 004. There’s really no reason why 004 would get a regular hand that doubles as a machine gun but The One-Armed Man would just get a machine gun duct-taped to his stump, basically.

The final servant is one we’ll address a little later because he requires a bit more attention to detail.

We get a pretty nice scene of Francoise and Joe enjoying the fall leaves together.

Aaaannndddd that sweet moment is immediately ruined by 0012 drowning a dog in quicksand right outside the house. Thanks for that….

0012 sends out her servants to lure the cyborgs to her hou–…to…her, I guess, by kidnapping Dr. Kozumi, which they do quite easily by gassing him as he’s leaving his house. They leave Rakuda behind to do the rest.

Meanwhile, we get to see the other cyborgs enjoying some downtime. It’s always nice to just see them hanging out with each other. Albert is showing off the ability to shoot darts from his fingers, which I don’t think ever comes up again, but that’s cool, and Geronimo and Pyunma are making a bassinet for Ivan. They don’t give it wheels, but, being telekinetic, Ivan can just make the bassinet float around. Not sure why he doesn’t just float himself around, but it’s better than needing to carried by Francoise 24/7.

Rakuda goads Joe into battle by popping up wearing Dr. Kozumi’s hat and running off. He’s a bit slippery for Joe, but inevitably gets caught.

They interrogate him, and he reveals that he doesn’t know about their plans, he’s just following orders. He draws them a map to 0012’s location, and 001 reveals that, while Black Ghost is currently an issue right now, there’s another enemy lurking in the shadows – the same ones who tried to steal Kozumi’s medicine most likely (He doesn’t say that last bit, but I assume. They look like the same guys.)

They tie Rakuda back up and throw him into a room, but he’s not planning on giving them any more info or helping them. He bites down on a cyanide capsule he had in his tooth and dies.

009 decides to go out and investigate the location Rakuda was talking about. It’s a big fancy house out in the middle of nowhere. He spots the same goons in black from before – the not-Black Ghost-dudes – and they try to hop the wall into the yard, but one of them is shocked by an electric barrier and the others are lost to the quicksand yard, though 009 doesn’t realize this.

He thinks they entered the house, so he goes in after them only to accidentally get caught up in the quicksand. 004 and 007 arrive to help him out, however, having been guilted into it by 003…..Come on, guys, really? 003 needed to push your buttons to help 009? Actually, now that I think about it, why isn’t 003 here if she’s so concerned?

Joe: “Well, I’m glad someone cares about me.” It’s certainly not 003.

0012’s next trick comes in the trees in the yard, the ones 004, 9 and 7 are taking refuge in, having controllable vines that continuously wrap them up and try to strangle them. However, with 004’s knife hand and a few shots from a super gun, they’re down for the count…literally, they’re falling down. The trio then has to hop to the roof for something safe to stand on, but of course not even the roof is safe.

A door opens beneath them, and they nearly fall into a pit of spikes. 007 displays an ability I didn’t know he had, which is the ability to suction-cup to walls. I guess it makes sense if he can turn into anything, though. 009 is holding 004 while hanging from 007. 004 blasts a hole in a nearby wall and they hop through it. As they enter a new corridor, 0012 reveals herself as being the house that they’re currently in. Oh yeah, hey, we got our second woman in the 00 Cyborg series!

AND

She tries to blow them up with a chandelier, and they rush around to find Dr. Kozumi, finding traps around every corner, including a dummy Dr. Kozumi that was actually a bomb.

The next trap is her basically trapping them in her ‘stomach’ and trying to melt them alive with gastric juices IE acid. She damn near succeeds too, but the three are able to blast their way through the walls and escape.

As they’re continuing their search, they stumble upon the goons in black from before….I hope that means the dog’s alive too. I’m just gonna believe that’s what it means.

They’re the ones who sent a fake telegram to Kozumi to lure him out of the house with intentions on kidnapping him for his eternal youth potion, but 0012’s assistants got him first so they tracked him down to get him themselves.

The trio don’t really have reason to hurt them, so they just break their weapons and knock them out.

009, 7 and 4 decide to go straight to the epicenter of 0012 to end this once and for all – they’re going to destroy 0012’s brain. The instant they get close, however, she emits a powerful ultrasonic wave that drives the three to their knees. 009 is just barely able to get a shot off at the wires surrounding the brain, and that shuts off the noise.

0012 switches from being maniacally sadistic to begging for her life, so 009 says they’ll help her if she tells them where Kozumi is. Her servants took him out of the house and are transporting him to Tokyo. Her last word is ‘0013’ before her console explodes and her brain is destroyed.

It’s not over yet, however, because the house starts rumbling and falling apart. The trio barely escapes before the entire house collapses in on itself and sinks beneath the quicksand. 007 believes she was trying one last time to kill them, but 009 believes she was trying to give herself a proper burial. I disagree with both of those theories, however. Considering there seems to be a running theme of ensuring there’s nothing left behind of the cyborgs when they get defeated, or at least assuring they die once they’re caught (The bodies of Plus and Minus were taken in by 0011 and got blown up when he blew up, 0011…well, blew up, Rakuda committed suicide and now 0012 destroyed and buried herself.) I think she was just following whatever orders she had in the case of defeat.

009 rushes off to find Kozumi while 007 and 4 go tell the others about what’s happening.

The final chapter, which is going to explore 0013, is only part of the chapter and only shows Joe chasing after Dr. Kozumi while he runs alongside a train.

———————————–

And that was volume two! Admittedly, I am a tiny bit disappointed at how quickly we’re introduced to 0010 Plus and Minus and 0011 only to have them be knocked off rather quickly, but they were memorable in their own right. 0012 was really cool, even though the design makes no sense if you think about it for longer than a few seconds. Now all I can think about is a murder house floating around in space.

Think about how much money they had to have put in 0012. And now think about a show on HGTV that could’ve been made on her construction.

“Now, this is going to be the room that fills up with acid, so we’re gonna knock down these walls here and bring in some super strong steel walls. These are vulnerable to blasts from super guns, but we had to follow budget. A great aesthetic choice the homeowner made here was this exploding chandelier. But it’s also a bit of a money sink for obvious reasons. Really ties the room together, though. We’ve already lost a few workers in the pit of spikes, but they all signed waivers before working, so it’s all good. And as we were putting the final touches on the brain room, we got an offer on the house from someone named John Kramer, who is quirky fella who signed his name with a drawing of a jigsaw puzzle piece. Weird.”

We also got a bit of a power upgrade with 001, a soon to be mostly forgotten power in 004, and it all culminates in the buildup to 0013, who is my favorite side character in the series.

Overall, though, a lot of fun, some really cool action and quite a few funny moments with GB (007). Here’s looking forward to discussing volume three!


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Yu-Gi-Oh! (Manga) Chapter 24 Review (AniManga Clash! Season Zero Placeholder)

Hey guys, who remembers that short Yu-Gi-Oh! Spin-off thinger – Capsule Monsters? I sure do!….Kinda!…I remember it existing. I remember watching some of it and being rather bored.

Fun fact: The Capsule Monsters anime, despite being based on an actual game in this old-ass version of the manga (No idea if it’s played the same way, though), wasn’t something the original anime creators wanted to make. In fact, the series never released in Japan.

Also, apparently, according to the Fandom Wiki anyway (I really question whether this is true), despite never once airing in Japan, there is a Japanese version of it. Why they dubbed it and never released it is beyond me.

Who was actually behind this spin-off no one asked for, no one paid much attention to and amounted to nothing but basically being a money sink? Why, who else but the donut bakers themselves, 4Kids?

Yup, 4Kids, for some inexplicable reason, ‘commissioned, produced and editedCapsule Monsters when Yu-Gi-Oh’s original run was reaching its final season. They also did the kinda skeevy thing of re-editing the series into a movie (Two movies, I guess, technically?) and treating it like it was a new movie based on the series. Because that’s never sketchy or annoying, especially when you’re dealing with something aimed towards kids.

At least they released the movie for free for one day on their website for some reason so some people could be made aware that it wasn’t new content….No idea why they did that, but they did.

I really have to review Capsule Monsters at some point, but back to the topic at hand….Uh…well, more Capsule Monsters.

I brought up the anime because, even when that aired, I didn’t really understand how the game was played nor did I feel very compelled to learn because the anime, to my recollection, was quite boring.

Capsule Monsters, otherwise known as Capsule Monster Chess/Capmon in the manga (sometimes) is Mokuba’s niche game in the manga. I could’ve sworn he was also a player of the game in the anime. I would have bet a substantial amount of money on that….but he’s not. Mokuba not only isn’t an avid Capsule Monster player in the Capsule Monsters anime – he’s not even in the anime. Poor Mokuba. Were you too busy being kidnapped to be in the anime?

What of the first depiction of Capsule Monsters in the manga? Let’s find out.

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The manga actually explains fairly well how this version of the game is played. Capsule Monsters are dispensed in gashapon machines, which I just learned are supposed to be called ‘blind boxes’ in America, but I have never once heard that ever. They’re also called ‘gacha’ machines, and if you play pretty much any MMO or mobile game in existence, that word awakens something visceral in you.

Yugi explains how the game is played, for the most part. The capsules all have one number between one and five on them – this indicates their attack power. Within the capsules are….the uh…well, the monsters, of course. Each player unleashes five monsters onto an 8×8 game board, of which there are 50 different types. This game area mimics the planet of ganastar….I’m not sure why that matters, but okay.

All of the monsters stay within the capsules when they’re setting the game up, so each side starts the game mostly blind to the monsters the opponent is playing, outside of their attack strength. Monsters all have their own ranges, types of attacks and effects, so strategy comes into play when moving the pieces and battling the monsters. Whoever destroys all of the opponent’s monsters wins.

Yugi’s in line to get some capsules when, in typical Yu-Gi-Oh manga fashion, he comes across an asshole. This asshole kid cuts in front of him in line then says Yugi’s too old to play the game, being in high school. This game is equated to chess and yet it’s aimed squarely at middle school and younger?

He lets Yugi get his capsules eventually, though, but Yugi’s money gets lost in the machine. He, strangely, loses his shit and starts swearing at the machine, shaking it violently. Bit of an OOC moment for him. I know he’s passionate about games, but he’s never one to have a temper like that. The old man who owns the candy store that the machines are in starts screaming at him.

Suddenly, Mokuba Kaiba makes his debut appearance, looking just as frightening and creepy as you’d expect in this manga’s art. Apparently he’s such a Capsule Monsters baller that the other kids go silent in his presence. Like Seto is a champion in Duel Monsters, Mokuba is a champion in Capsule Monsters.

So, did you guys forget that you’re reading Yu-Gi-Oh’s early manga days? You did? Oh, let me remind you by showing you this scene where Mokuba, the small child, orders these small child children of the kid nature to attack Yugi. They have a taser………..a switchblade……………..And….I’m not kidding…..A fucking Uzi.

What kind of world does this manga take place in?! Not even the chapter with an actual murderer involved a fucking UZI.

Mokuba wants to fight for his big brother’s honor, so he’s kidnapping Yugi and taking the candy shop’s gashapon machine (After throwing the owner a stack of money to pay for it.)

They bring Yugi to their secret base, which is just a warehouse, so they can play. Beforehand, though, Mokuba’s little goons try to intimidate him some more, saying stuff like he’s wimpy and they’ll burn down his house. Ya know, typical schoolyard stuff.

They cross the line when they try to touch Yugi’s Puzzle, however, because, under threat of smashing it and trying to grab it from him, Yugi instantly shifts to Yami, who flips his shit and screams at them to let go of his Puzzle.

The goons are shocked at this change, but, surprisingly, Mokuba’s not because apparently Seto told him about Yugi’s ability to transform. *shrug*

Mokuba says he stole the gashapon machine to make the capsule picks completely blind so he wouldn’t have an unfair advantage using his own capsules…..then he reveals in inner monologue that he rigged the machine, paid off the candy shop owner from before Yugi even got there and rigged the machine to give him the better capsules anyway, so….I don’t know why he even bothered trying to act like this was fair.

Also, again with making the Kaibas cheaters. Granted, in the 2000 anime, the one and only time you see Mokuba duel, against Yugi, he cheats by trying to steal some of Yugi’s star chips in the middle of the duel, but that was in desperation to keep Kaiba Corp from being sold to Pegasus.

Yugi’s capsules result in attack strengths of 1-1-1-2-4 while Mokuba’s are 4-4-5-5-5….I think anyone with a single brain cell could have deduced that Mokuba rigged the machine just on this result alone without him immediately telling us, but okay.

Before they start, Mokuba lays a bet down. Now, you’d imagine that, considering he’s playing for his older brother’s honor, his wager would be something like Yugi would have to kiss Kaiba’s feet or give him all of his Duel Monster cards or something, right?

……His wager is, if he wins, he’ll CUT OFF ONE OF YUGI’S FINGERS! He’s even holding a folding knife as he says it. What the hell is wrong with this manga?!

Yugi says, if he wins, Mokuba will suffer a penalty game.

Anyway, as expected, even though they laid out the rules at the beginning, much like with the part with Duel Monsters, they just pretty much do whatever without explaining anything. Like, what determines which piece moves how far and when? Why do formations matter all that much if you can move freely? If attack level is all that matters in battles, then doesn’t that mean the match can be decided before they even get on the board? If monsters have effects or abilities, like duel monster cards, where is this information held? In some sort of book or something? Because there’s no text on the capsules or in them.

Yami gets pummeled, only managing to kill one of Mokuba’s creatures on a stalemated attack, so he had to sacrifice his most powerful creature for that.

He’s down to his last monster, and it seems all is lost until, luck of all lucks, Yugi reveals that he was luring all of Mokuba’s monsters into a diagonal line, and his last monster, which is level one, just so happens to have the ability to literally insta-kill any monster with its attack, even if it’s level five. And it shoots this ability in a diagonal pattern, meaning all of Mokuba’s monsters are defeated in one shot.

If you think this situation stinks at all, it’s because Yugi totally pulled this win out of his ass.

Mokuba may be a cheat, but he’s still a Capsule Monsters champion. And even if he cheated in those championships (We don’t know that, but he cheated here and it’s suggested that Seto cheated in his championships, so it’s not a far cry to say Mokuba did too) he definitely knows the game well enough to play the part. He’s making observations about strategy and formation as if he’s a veteran, so he has to be pretty skilled. All of the monsters get revealed at the start of the game, meaning he had to know what that monster was and what ability it had, so he should have been very careful to not do anything dumb like line up literally all of his monsters in a perfect diagonal line right in front of him.

How does this low-level creature have such an awesome ability anyway? If it’s a simple straight diagonal line of insta-kill damage, he could kill a monster from the other side of the board if he aimed carefully. And it insta-kills even the strongest monsters, too?

Granted, they did set this up visually. As you’ll note in the first shot of the game board when they’re done setting up, the bird thing that has this ability is off on its own, further back than his other four creatures, which were meant to cut off Mokuba’s creatures on the way there and set up this line.

The problem is, though, he gambled a hell of a lot here. I know the Heart of the Cards thing has basically become a meme by now, but come on – this isn’t even Duel Monsters. Is there a Heart of the Capsules? The luck in play here is insane. What if Mokuba caught on to his game and avoided the diagonal line? What if he sent one monster off to approach from directly ahead or off to either side? Or what if he spread out his monsters even a tiny bit more? If he didn’t get all of those monsters in one shot, he definitely would have lost. And Yami never once seemed the slightest bit concerned that his plan wouldn’t work. He was sporting a cocky smirk the whole time like his plan was foolproof when it was about as airtight as a moth’s nylon stocking.

I feel like this is the anime version (Season Zero) of the duel with Seto where Seto just pulled a sudden ‘It’s a draw lol’ card out of nowhere at the last minute, right as he was about to lose.

Anyhoo, Yami sentences Mokuba to a penalty game, which is being trapped in an illusion of being sealed in a Capsule Monster capsule (and it has a level one mark on it – nice shade, Yami.) But before it’s closed, Mokuba teases that this isn’t over. Seto is setting up for his revenge against Yugi with something called Death T.

Also, this chapter ends with a pretty cool illustration of a little dice game you can play to try and beat Kaiba. I might try it for myself sometime. It’s a neat little addition.

——————————

So, uh, this chapter was pretty messed up, wouldn’t ya say? Uzis and switchblades and threatening to cut off people’s fingers – all brought to you by elementary school students. Fun fun.

The story is alright. I still think that ending was complete bullshit, but it’s not like this series is a stranger to bullshit wins. Mokuba’s a friggin’ psychopath in this version, and I can’t really tell if I love that or hate it. In the 2000 anime, he’s kinda Seto’s morality pet more or less, but, on his own, he’s really not all that interesting. He’s basically Tristan just with more of a purpose (behind the scenes anyway) and 10000% more kidnappings. He’s a nice little kid with a good sense of justice and very strong loyalty to Seto, and he’s very forgiving, but he’s just not that interesting.

Can I even say this version of Mokuba is more interesting, though? Because he’s just a nutcase. There’s nothing likable about this future mob boss besides his desire to avenge his brother’s honor, and that’s kinda watered down by the fact that he doesn’t even try to face Yugi/Yami properly before cheating. The little prick cheated before he even MET Yugi.

I actually like the concept of Capsule Monsters here, even if I’m still kinda confused about it. I hope it becomes a little clearer when we revisit the game later (at least in Season Zero. We might revisit it again in the manga, I’m not sure. The manga and anime will stray away from each other quite a bit in the future.) I’m not holding my breath, though because even the Wiki page for it says some concepts are just flatout poorly explained, like abilities.

I thought I remembered Capsule Monster toys being a thing when I was younger and turns out I was right. It was very shortlived, obviously, and didn’t get a lot of distribution in stores, but apparently they pushed it enough for me to remember it being in my local Walmart for probably a month before it faded in obscurity.

Also, it seems like this version of the game is played differently from both the manga and anime versions.

Not only that, but apparently there was a video game version of Capsule Monsters made for the Playstation in 1998 called Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Capsule: Breed and Battle that was only released in Japan. Golly, a video game released in 1998 where you collect monsters in small balls and raise them to help them evolve into stronger monsters that you will use to battle other monsters. How did that not immediately take off?

To my surprise, there was another video game that came out in 2004 based on Capsule Monsters for the PS2 titled Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum. I had followed the Yu-Gi-Oh video games pretty well when I was a kid, but I didn’t have much money to buy many of them, and I never once remembered seeing this game in stores. Maybe I did – the box art is just the slightest bit familiar – but, again, they didn’t seem to push this game very well. I remember them pushing the Dungeon Dice Monsters game, and I bought that, but the Capsule Monsters game is a blur at best.

Also, it’s weird that they spelled ‘coliseum’ like that, isn’t it? You don’t typically see it spelled that way. It’s usually spelled ‘Colosseum.’ Ya know….like, uh, hm what’s a good example?…..Uhm….Oh, how about Pokemon Colosseum….the game that was also released in 2004?

I’m just poking fun at the Pokemon connection, really, because Capsule Monsters does seem like a fun game and honestly isn’t a ripoff of Pokemon, given the board game aspect and chess-like strategies. I just think it doesn’t do a good job of explaining how different it is out the gate. You hear ‘capsule monsters’ and see that the blurb is just ‘collect, raise and battle monsters in small balls’ and you can’t help but think ‘Pokemon rip-off.’

And, to be completely fair….the concept name of Pokemon was literally Capsule Monsters, so they’re kinda asking for it.

I think if it had taken off more I would’ve definitely gotten into it. Maybe not so much because I was spending enough money on Yu-Gi-Oh cards without buying packs of small toys that probably cost even more. It just seems like, no matter how much they tried, they couldn’t get this game off the ground. They really hit their stride with Yu-Gi-Oh/Duel Monsters, but I think you could still make something great with Capsule Monsters. It’s a shame, really. Seems like a missed opportunity. Maybe the timing wasn’t right or something.

Final Notes: This episode is only extremely lightly referenced in episode 11, and that’s because the Capsule Monsters game played there is basically a mirror of the one played here. Literally everything else is different, including there being a different opponent.


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My AniManga Clash-ish Thoughts on Angelic Layer

I haven’t watched Angelic Layer in quite a long time, but it still holds a place in my heart. It’s a rare shouJO gaming anime that had likable characters, a fun game to focus on and a decent story. It had its problems, but none of them were so severe that it badly damaged my perception of the series.

When I started reading the manga of Angelic Layer, I really thought I wouldn’t even wind up writing one of these posts because, frankly, there wasn’t much to talk about. The anime and manga, as far as I can remember anyway, were pretty well matched for several volumes. There wasn’t much in regards to changes to the story or characters, so what was there to say other than ‘Yeah, they’re pretty much the same.’?

But then I got to the ending.

And here I am.

Before I get to the ending, I would like to discuss some things regarding earlier parts of the anime and manga. As far as I remember, the anime had a more gradual buildup to Misaki eventually becoming the ‘Miracle Rookie.’ There was more in regards to her playing Angelic Layer with other people before she was flung into tournament play. In the manga, she has one match before she’s entered into the regional tournament.

Because of this, her ‘Miracle Rookie’ status irks me a bit more than it did in the anime. She is about as rookie as a rookie can be before she’s entering a major tournament – and she winds up winning that tournament. Then it’s immediately followed by the national tournament, which she doesn’t technically win, even though she does in the anime.

I say she doesn’t technically win the tournament in the manga because, even though she lost in the finals to Athena, the very last scene is the crowd cheering on her tournament win? (The announcer says ‘Here is the winner of our tournament!’ when she walks out.) She’s wearing a royal cape thing and crown at the end of the tournament – Hikaru (her Angel) even gets the same outfit. The epilogue has people calling her the Angelic Layer Champion, too. I don’t get it. Was Athena like a set champion to try and defeat once she won the main tournament? Like how there’s a league champion to defeat once you defeat the Elite Four? I dunno.

Either way, she somehow managed to make her way to the finals at least despite being almost completely new to the game when she started out in the tournament bracket as a whole.

She does practice a lot and studies frequently in between matches and tournaments, and it’s not like her record is flawless, she does lose a couple times, but so many of her matches are Hikaru struggling → Misaki struggling → Can’t give up! → Oh I figured out how to win against this highly-experienced veteran. → One-hit defeat. (And by that I mean the only hit that actually does damage. A lot of the time her hits will connect but do nothing.)

Many of her victories are one-hit wins, even though her Angel is built mostly for speed and is very light. There’s no reason why she should have such powerhouse hits that they either cause impressive ring-outs or deplete an Angel’s full health bar in one go. This is especially frustrating considering that Hikaru takes so much damage during these battles yet she always manages to keep hanging on, despite the fact that, again, she’s not built for defense – she’s built for speed.

Even when they make a huge multi-volume long deal out of Hikaru’s mystery weakness to build tension, it’s not that significant or interesting when revealed (Hikaru’s really light……We already knew that, and it’s been mentioned numerous times over the course of the series. She’s a small model built for speed. Of course her weight means she both can’t land moves as powerful as others, and she, by default, has a disadvantage against heavier models.) and it’s resolved rather quickly and easily.

Coincidentally, her weakness is revealed on a field that gives Hikaru the advantage. They were on a beach layer, so she had Hikaru grab her opponent and dive into the ocean. Since Hikaru is light, she could swim, I guess, even though it’s never established that Angels are buoyant, and her opponent, being heavy, just sank.

Being completely fair, I never got angry at this happening. I just kinda started rolling my eyes after a while and found myself not really immersed in the matches because I came to expect that Misaki would win, which, in itself, is a big problem because Misaki’s supposed to be the underdog. Her motivation is all about proving how small, seemingly weak-looking people can face their toughest challenges and come out on top. She does that, but she does it too easily. I greatly admire her passion for the game and her love of Angels, but she’s just too good too quickly to truly be relatable to anyone in the real world who would sympathize with her.

Moving onto the ending changes, we have two significant alterations to discuss – the first being Misaki’s relationship with her mother/ her mother as a whole, and the endgame romantic relationships.

Starting with Misaki and her mom, Shuko, the story still remains about 50% the same. In both the anime and manga, Misaki doesn’t even really remember her mom much. She left Misaki in the care of her grandparents when she was five years old. Turns out, her mother holds a high position in the company that developed Angelic Layer and is the Deus of Athena – the strongest Angel in the league and the Angel that Misaki saw in a commercial that got her interested in the game in the first place.

That’s where the similarities end. In the anime, the reason Shuko abandoned her daughter was because she had a neurological disease that confined her to a wheelchair. She decided to dedicate all of her spare time to researching a cure/treatment with Icchan, which incidentally lead to them developing Angelic Layer. She was so ashamed of her condition that she couldn’t bear to imagine what Misaki might think of her as she grew older, so she left her in the care of her grandparents. She had hoped that, one day, when she was better, she would reunite with her daughter. Until then, she’d cut off all communication with Misaki and keep tabs on her from the shadows.

After a bit of a dark tonal shift upon their reunion during the national tournament, Misaki and Shuko air out their feelings and work things out before their final match, which Misaki manages to win….even if it is pretty much one of the most asspull-ish wins I’ve ever seen in anime.

In the manga, the reason Shuko abandoned her daughter…….

….is almost insultingly dumb.

Something you should know about me before I go on – I have severe social anxiety disorder and general problems with anxiety. So believe me when I discuss the stupidity of Shuko’s manga backstory.

According to any info page on her character, Shuko has severe social anxiety disorder. However, it’s not actually social anxiety disorder. The manga never once uses the term. She can be out and about and live her life with little issue. She’s seen talking to Icchan and Ojirou numerous times, and, from how they talk about her, it seems she’s regularly socialized with them for years. She’s a famous Deus who participates in many tournaments, and numerous people seem to know her personally.

I’m not saying all of these factors means she absolutely doesn’t have some degree of social anxiety – you can live a fairly ‘normal’ life externally but be suffering significantly internally – but I am saying that, considering how she can cope with her anxiety enough to do all of these things, there’s no reason why she can’t cope with it enough to be with her child.

“So, why isn’t she?” you ask?

Shuko’s problem in particular is being around people she loves. The more she loves someone, the more anxious she gets, to the point where she has ‘panic attacks.’ She loved Misaki too much to be around her without freaking out all the time, so she just flatout abandoned her child at the age of five with, I guess, no intentions on ever returning.

That….is not….how anxiety works…..like even a little. Does the feeling of love make you flustered and nervous? Oh yeah, definitely. It makes everyone feel that way. In people with anxiety, it’s worse, of course, but 1) that’s usually just in regards to romantic love and new relationships and 2) if the anxiety really only comes when you’re in the presence of someone you love, the odds of the core issue being social anxiety disorder are very, very slim. That is either a symptom of some other disorder or it’s just not a thing.

One of the few things that helps alleviate anxiety is having loved ones around. They make you more comfortable, they help pick you up when you’re spiraling and they work with you to help you through the tough times. Why would a loved one make you so ridiculously anxious? Unless it’s a situation where you love them but they’re very abusive or something, but this isn’t the case here.

Lest we forget, she has a freakin’ child. She used to have a freakin’ husband. Which means she has dated, fallen in love, gotten married, had sex, gone through pregnancy, birthed a child and raised it for five years all without noping out of there because of her anxiety. They even briefly mention that her condition must’ve made life for her husband really difficult. Yet, for some reason, when Misaki turned five, she suddenly decided she couldn’t take it anymore.

You could argue that her husband dying (I think he died anyway) was the crux of her abandoning Misaki, but you’d think that one fewer loved one around would make it easier for her to deal with her love-based anxiety. Plus, her husband is never mentioned as a correlating issue here. He was only slightly mentioned at the beginning of the manga.

The most angering part of this whole plotline is that it’s all simply brushed away. After their match, Misaki chases after Shuko to reveal that she knew she was her mother since the match started. And, unlike in the anime where there’s a pretty dramatic exchange of words, their reunion in the manga is more or less comedic. Her anxiety is treated comically (Less ‘realistic panic attacks’ and more ‘cartoony turning red and chibi with little dot eyes.’) Misaki has absolutely no axe to grind with her mother, which is just ridiculous and practically makes a joke out of this whole situation – even more than it already was. In the absolute end, they simply suggest that Shuko try living with Misaki and Shoko (Shuko’s sister/Misaki’s aunt whom she’s been staying with after moving to Tokyo) and Shuko agrees.

In the epilogue, Shuko’s still very much flustered around Misaki, but they work through it by having Shoko basically tell Shuko to chill out and they live happily ever after…..Yup, that’s it. No reason whatsoever why Shuko couldn’t have been doing this from the very beginning. She’s literally just giving a single iota of effort to deal with it and it’s fine now.

Actually, let me be completely fair. Before the epilogue, Shoko mentions that playing Angelic Layer with Misaki more might help because Shuko is more comfortable while playing the game, but that’s it. Granted, there is a lot of value in having an activity that helps reduce the feelings of anxiety – art and games help me quite a bit – but that just feels so cheap and corny to act like Angelic Layer will cure her eventually and that its existence basically saved their relationship. And I mean that literally. Shoko tells Shuko that they should thank the person who made Angelic Layer when she brings up them playing more to get accustomed to each other.

Speaking of Shoko, does Shuko not love her sister enough to panic around her? She’s having a conversation with her normally, albeit with a blush on her face.

I never thought Angelic Layer would make me feel like I was too harsh on the mom from Aishiteruze Baby. At least in that situation it was a traumatic event and fear of becoming an abuser that caused her to leave. At least she tried to reach out to her daughter while she was gone. At least she attempted to better herself. At least she came back for Yuzuyu a year later. Shuko? She just bounced the instant things started getting difficult. She didn’t seek therapy, she didn’t ask for help from family, she didn’t send Misaki letters or try to communicate with her for over seven years, and she lived a fairly normal life after the fact, even becoming the top player of a game in the meantime.

She’s never held accountable for what she did. Misaki forgives her without a thought, Shoko welcomes her with open arms, and she gets to live a happy life with her child even after doing something so terrible to her for such a pitiful reason. Seven years of fully abandoning her daughter wiped away with nary a stain left behind.

Her story may not be perfect in the anime, but having a debilitating disease that leaves you in a wheelchair and being so distraught over your condition that you feel too ashamed to face your daughter anymore is much more understandable than ‘I can’t be your mom anymore, Misaki. Being around you makes me 😳.’ It’s still not enough to warrant never communicating with her for seven years, but it’s better.

They even work in the Angelic Layer aspect better in the anime by saying Shuko helped create it when she was trying to develop a treatment method (or means of helping her walk. I forget.) with Icchan. She naturally became a master at it because she was using it as a means of medical research. In the manga, she’s just an employee at the company that makes the game and, I guess, played it so much that she became a master at it. So much time spent pointlessly playing a game that could have been spent with your daughter and/or in therapy.

I know how much of a struggle it is for anyone with mental health problems to seek therapy, and it’s particularly a problem when you have social anxiety disorder (for obvious reasons. There’s a joke that’s like ‘There was a group therapy session for people with social anxiety, but no one showed up.’) but I’m convinced she doesn’t have social anxiety disorder. She has ‘flustered female anime character’ syndrome. There’s no reason whatsoever that Shuko hasn’t reunited with her daughter by now. There was barely a reason to abandon her in the first place, but there is definitely no reason why she’s left her daughter without so much as a note for over seven years.

In the anime, Shuko is held accountable for her actions, even if she is also forgiven by Misaki. In the manga, no one’s ever mad at her for what she did. Misaki never so much as makes a frown at her. Not only is that very frustrating, but it’s such a disappointing payoff for this whole running plot.

Onto more lighthearted fare, it’s time to talk about the romantic relationships.

In the anime, they tease Kotarou and Misaki getting together for a long while. If we’re gender-flipping the typical shounen formula, Kotarou would take the role of the token girl/love interest. He does know quite a bit about the game, but he doesn’t play it and mostly sits on the sidelines cheering on Misaki. Outside of the arena, he helps her by giving her advice and teaching her about fighting via his karate moves.

Tamayo is Kotarou’s childhood friend who is rather loud, physical and teasing. She loves hugging Misaki and play-flirting with her, and she loves tormenting Kotarou with wrestling moves. As the series goes on, it’s clear that Tamayo has a crush on Kotarou. However, he’s too enamored by Misaki to notice. Plus, by his own admission, he never saw Tamayo as a woman before. Once she makes her feelings clear, things between the two get pretty awkward, but he eventually warms up to the idea of dating her, which they, presumably, do at the end.

Not a romance for the ages or anything, but I did like this pairing. It was nice to skew away from the predictable route of having him end up with Misaki, even if their chemistry was good, and I thought this pseudo-love triangle worked very well. It feels a bit one-sided for my liking, I thought they would make a very good couple over time.

As for Misaki, she ended up with Ojirou, who is Icchan’s step-brother and a very highly-ranked Deus. He adores Angelic Layer and has a strong personal connection with the game, just like Misaki. He’s clearly enamored with her over the series, flirts with her numerous times, and, once they meet in the arena, it seems like the feeling is mutual. By the end of the series, it’s also implied that they start dating.

In the manga, neither of these pairings happen.

Instead, the pairing that you’d expect to happen, Misaki and Kotarou, wind up together (canonically, as it’s established in an epilogue that they start dating officially) and….for some reason, despite never sharing a single line of dialogue or having anything even remotely in common, Tamayo ends up dating Ojirou (again, canonically).

I have no qualms with Misaki and Kotarou ending up together. It’s predictable, sure, but their chemistry is fine and they set up the relationship well.

I am kinda bummed that Tamayo and Kotarou didn’t even get touched upon, but what can ya do?

As for Tamayo and Ojirou……just…HUH?! That pairing had no lead up whatsoever. I don’t even think they properly met. Where the hell did this come from? Their personalities could not be any more different, which wouldn’t be a big problem if we saw them interacting and understood how their dynamic worked, but nope. The epilogue just slaps us with ‘Lol ya, they’re dating now.’ I guess they did share in making Misaki flustered by guessing what her underwear looked like, but 1) that’s dumb as a basis for a relationship, and 2) They never did that together. Again, I don’t think they ever even met before. Ojirou clearly had a crush on Misaki in the manga as well. He never once acknowledges Tamayo.

What’s even more confusing is, somehow, they’ve been dating LONGER than Misaki and Kotarou. The epilogue takes place a year after the end of the national tournament, and Misaki explains in narration that Tamayo and Ojirou have been dating for a month while Misaki and Kotarou have been dating for a week.

Keep in mind, Misaki and Kotarou were practically unofficially dating when the tournaments were going on. How did this all happen? Misaki and Ojirou made much more sense, even if they didn’t have quite as much buildup as Misaki and Kotarou. It feels like a complete afterthought to put Tamayo and Ojirou together.

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At the end of the day, the anime beats the manga handily.

Reading the manga highlighted the problems with the series as a whole more than the anime did. There’s not really a lot to be gained from either watching or reading this outside of ‘believe in yourself’ and ‘being small/short doesn’t mean you can’t be strong.’ The Miracle Rookie stuff also gets very repetitive, as does everyone constantly focusing on and praising Misaki.

Gaming anime typically don’t have to have deep storylines or messages, but that’s usually because the fun action of the game makes up for that, and fun action in gaming is so difficult to capture in manga panels, especially when the art isn’t that impressive. There were numerous instances where I honestly couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. I still have no clue how Misaki won her second to last match of the nationals. She was struggling, she couldn’t figure out how to win, everyone was worried she’d lose and then, fwoop, she won somehow.

I still really like the concept of Angelic Layer, but, quite frankly, reading the manga just made me yearn to watch the anime again just so I could see the concept done better. Not only do action/sports/gaming anime already have a leg up because they can show action in a more engaging manner, but the anime simply did a better job telling this story. The anime felt like it had more freedom above all else. There was better pacing in regards to Misaki’s development as a Deus, and everything involving Misaki’s mom made much more sense and was far more emotionally impacting that what the manga came out with. The romantic stuff I can give or take, but in my opinion they even did much better in that regard.

If Angelic Layer’s plot interests you, I fully recommend the anime. I had a lot of fun with it back when I first watched it, and I think anyone with an interest in gaming anime will have fun with it too. I still wish we had gotten a spin-off or sequel or something, and I’m forever sad Angelic Layer as a game doesn’t exist….

I can also recommend the manga, but not as enthusiastically. If nothing else, it’s a relaxing little gaming title that never has the ol’ cliché of ‘The fate of the world rests on my ability to play a children’s game!’. It’s nothing deep or introspective, you won’t tear up or yell at your screen, but if the premise sounds at all interesting it will likely entertain you for a while.


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The Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: Manga (1964) Volume 1

I love Shotaro Ishinomori’s works, but the one that has stayed close to my heart over the years is Cyborg 009. I first remember watching the 2001 series on Toonami way back in the day, and I was very disappointed when the series just kinda stopped. Only half of the series got dubbed, so I was left without any resolution until years down the line when I was able to find a subbed version of the entire series.

Years later, I was happy to see new Cyborg 009 anime being made, but I noticed that Cyborg 009 still stands as one of those franchises that people just don’t seem to talk about very much, even when new stuff comes out. Kamen Rider is by far the more popular Ishinomori title, and that’s very fair. I enjoyed what I read of the manga, but it’s just disappointing that Cyborg 009 doesn’t get nearly the same level of recognition.

So I decided that I’d got back and review all that I could of Cyborg 009 to celebrate the vast series that Ishinomori literally died writing. We’ll explore the characters in all of their various incarnations, talk about some of the topics they address, and even discuss some of the more problematic aspects of the series. Granted, I wasn’t able to get my hands on every single thing Cyborg 009 related, in fact some of it is impossible get right now, but we’ll address that way down the line.

With that, let’s start with the first volume of the Cyborg 009 manga.

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Starting off, you’ll first take notice of Ishinomori’s art style. It’s a bit weird, but it’s also really unique and I love it. It’s goofy and cartoony while also being very stylized and interesting to look at. It reminds me a bit of old cartoons from the 20s and 30s. I especially love when he decides to get into more detail, particularly during scenes that are meant to be threatening and imposing. Don’t get fooled by his goofy cartoony style – he can strike fear and dread into your heart with a single page if he wants to, and he has a lot of talent in realism.

The first chapter sets the stage of our story in the midst of the cold war. A bunch of rich guys are having a meeting with Skull (Who will be known as Scar in the TokyoPop version – which is weird because he doesn’t have a scar…or if he does, we never see it because we never see his face. I’ll be referring to him as Skull though. Also, in nearly every incarnation they call him THE Black Ghost too, but it’s too confusing with the organization being given the same name.), the always imposing leader of the evil organization Black Ghost, which acts as our main antagonist for a long, long time. All of these guys are war mongerers, but they constantly fear that war will become a thing of the past and they won’t have anything to profit off of in the future.

However, Skull offers a proposition. They will perpetuate war and even bring it to outer space by creating cybernetic beings. They will be enhanced for combat, be modified to survive intense environments and follow the whims of their respective governments. Mass produced, they can make millions if not billions of dollars selling them en masse to every major super power in the world.

The rich guys all jump on the idea, and thus the 00 (Pronounced Zero-Zero) Cyborg project was born.

It’s actually a bit scary how much this plot still applies to real life. I mean, we’re not making cyborg soldiers or anything, but there are people who believe war is necessary for both the profit of greedy rich assholes and furthering science. I can’t even believe I have to say this, but the concept of war in space is also one that keeps getting thrown around, no matter if it’s jokingly or otherwise. Unless we’re in the process of developing mobile suits or X-Wings, I don’t want to hear it.

They needed a diverse set of people to experiment on and make a set of prototypes before mass producing the cyborgs, so Black Ghost sent out individuals to kidnap good candidates from across the globe.

This is another reason why Cyborg 009 appealed to me – it has one of the most diverse casts I’ve ever seen in an anime/manga. Each cyborg is from a different part of the globe. 001 is from Russia, 002 is from New York (and is Italian-American, but that doesn’t really come up much), 003 is from France, 004 is from Germany, 005 is Native American, 006 is Chinese, 007 is British, 008 is African and 009 is mixed-race Japanese.

That being said…bear in mind…..this IS a manga from the 1960s….and….uhm….Well…..Let’s just cut to the chase – racism’s here.

Pyunma (008) is the most egregious example of this manga showing its age BADLY. Actually, scratch that, any black person in this manga is problematic because, I’ll just go ahead and say it, it’s very blackface-y. Pure coal-black skin, little ball nose and massive lips all around. The first time we see Pyunma, he’s on a ship that’s delivering slaves and then basically gets saved from slavery to be enslaved by different people.

It should be noted that Pyunma is one of the first ever main characters in manga to be black, which is cool, but that doesn’t change the problems here. He is given several redesigns over time (like many of the characters) and looks so much better later. However, it did take quite a while for these changes to take place. In some versions of the early anime adaptations, even after some tweaks to his design, he still holds some racist qualities in his appearance (IE the large lips are still present in the 2001 anime, even if they’re toned down). He doesn’t really lose those all of those features until the most recent entries in the series.

Chang Changku doesn’t fare much better in the design department. Even in the 2001 anime, he has eyes so squinty that they pretty much don’t even exist. They’re just little shapes like backwards 3s.

Geronimo Junior, the Native American, is referred to as an Indian. Geronimo is down on his luck because he finds it difficult to get a job with people discriminating against Native Americans. His own design doesn’t help much because he fits the stereotype of the large stoic Native American man. He bumps into a producer who offers him a job – a very degrading role playing a caricature of a Native American chief in a folk dancing show (but only after he makes a comment about not deserving a job because he’s a ‘filthy Indian.’) Geronimo, who is usually extremely gentle and quiet, socks him and yells at him for treating his culture and people like sideshow freaks, causing the man to run off – good riddance.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s clear that this manga aims to be open-minded and accepting of all races. Like I said, it definitely has the most diverse cast I’ve ever seen in a manga, and each character gets their own focus and plenty of character development. Joe is obviously the main character, the show’s named after him and all, but I don’t feel like the rest of the cast suffers too much in comparison overall (Barring one thing I’ll get to in a moment). They’re a team. They’re equals. They need each other. They’re a family. They love each other.

This is probably going to come off like I’m making excuses for him, but hear me out – Ishinomori’s art wasn’t just a product of the times, it was also a product of the location. Japan was very isolated from the rest of the world during the time in which he was writing this manga. Seeing people from other parts of the world was rare. At least Ishinomori made the effort to include so many people from various cultures, kept changing his designs in order to be more appropriate and he was open to listening to others about their suggestions. Took way too long to get to a truly comfortable place, but at least it was moving forward.

The entire team of cyborgs never once treats each other differently because of their races. One chapter in this very volume highlights that. Jet (002) points out that Joe (009) doesn’t look Japanese due to his brown hair, which makes Joe visibly upset because he’s always been treated differently and ostracized in Japan due to being mixed-race. However, the other cyborgs all comfort him and say they don’t care if he’s mixed race. Pyunma in particular says they’re all human – or cyborg anyway – and that makes them all brothers. In fact, they tell him he should be proud of his mixed race heritage because it’s a symbol of erosion of the borders between nations and races.

In this group filled with people from every corner of the planet is the one place that Joe finally felt like he belonged.

Racism does pop up numerous times over the course of this series, but never once is it an issue among the cyborgs themselves, as far as I can remember – barring one. The gang that Jet’s crew fights in the manga, the Sharks, is made up of Puerto Ricans, and his fellow gang members throw out a lot of racist comments. One of his gang members even calls the leader a slur. Jet doesn’t say anything racist towards them, but he does accidentally kill the rival gang leader in a knife fight. Jet’s gang and Jet himself are obviously shown to be the ones in the wrong here since they were antagonizing the Sharks, but that doesn’t change what Jet did nor does it change the fact that, in the past, Jet was racist. As the previous scene I discussed shows, however, it’s quite apparent that he is no longer as such. In a weird way, becoming a 00 cyborg made Jet more accepting and caring as a person.

(Pre-posting edit because reasons: So apparently TokyoPop (The version available on Comixology, which is where I got my copy) made some alterations to the script that actually made this scene seem more racist than it originally was….which…uhm….Why? Why did they do that?

Here’s an excerpt from the Cyborg 009 Wiki on the matter:

“Much of the dialogue in Jet’s origin was altered, with one particular example being during the switchblade fight. In the original script, the other Jet gang members chant “Hey, hey!” “Get him!”, cheering Jet on. In Wellman’s script, they instead shout “Let’s go, spic!” and “We got enough of youse PRs!”, with their dialogue now aimed at the Shark leader. This had lead to misconception of the chapter promoting racism (though the Jets are still meant to be racist and discriminatory in the original text, just less blatant and without slur usage).”

So uhm, yeah. Thanks TokyoPop for being racist and making me write more than I had to. Appreciate it, ya dillweeds.)

Likewise, I never once felt like any of the characters acted in a manner that was particularly stereotypical of their race. The only three I’d ding in that regard is probably Geromino, Jet for being an impulsive thug sometimes and Francoise (003) for being…..*sigh* The Girl ™.

Look, as much as I love this series for its diverse cast and stories, they kinda dropped the ball with 003. She literally is just the girl ™. The only girl, mind you. The love interest for the main hero. The caretaker. The support. Her role 90% of the time is to sense things and babysit 001, who, despite his immense knowledge, is still just a baby that needs to be carried around and fed. 003 is consistently the only character in the cyborg team that gets treated differently within the group because of what she was born as, and that just sucks so much I can’t even begin to tell you.

Granted, she’s generally still treated as a fellow cyborg, and she does fight when needed. She’s pretty brave and sympathetic, but she’s consistently the one they need to protect, the one that gets the most questionable comments thrown her way, she’s the most pacifistic of them all and her main cybernetic enhancements are purely meant for support (Enhanced senses, x-ray vision etc.) Her profiles even describe has as being physically the weakest and slowest cyborg, even though she does have superhuman capabilities in that regard. Her support abilities are invaluable to their battles, don’t get me wrong, and depending on the version she does get improvements to her abilities and more to do, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s still the typical girl role of support.

Speaking of characters, we’re soon introduced to our 00 cyborgs one by one.

First up is 001 – Ivan Whiskey.

He has what could be considered the most tragic backstory of all the main cyborgs. His father was a scientist named Gamo who aimed to unlock the hidden potential in the human brain, and he used his son as the main test subject for these experiments. He secretly performed brain surgery on Ivan while his wife, Erika, was away, but she came back unexpectedly. She was horrified at what Gamo was doing and threatened to call the cops, but Gamo, unwilling to give up his scientific advances, hit Erika over the head with a wrench and killed her. The Black Ghost operatives, who seem to have the best timing ever, arrive on scene and offer Gamo a cushy spot on their team of scientists while Ivan gets recruited into the 00 cyborg project.

Ivan’s case is considered one of the most tragic not just for these reasons, but also the repercussions his cyborg nature will have on him in the future. Ivan will never be able to grow up. He’ll forever be more or less reliant on others to care for him in some way, and he’ll never be able to mature or grow as a normal person would. Everyone else is either a teenager or a full adult, even though they can no longer grow either. They can’t have families or find romantic partners outside of their own group (which is why Francoise is the center of a love triangle between Joe and Jet sometimes.) but they can find romance sometimes and lead somewhat normal lives when all of the fighting is over, albeit temporarily. Ivan can’t.

Ivan is later given the nickname ‘The Brain’ or ‘The Electronic Brain’ because he’s the smartest one of their group, their main strategist, and his powers are all in psychic based like telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation and hypnosis.

Next up is 002 – Jet Link. His name is Jet. And later we’ll learn that, because of his flight capabilities, they granted him the “nickname” ‘The Jet.’ In conclusion, his name is Jet. Also, TokyoPop made a flub in the translation and made it seem like even his gang was called ‘The Jets’ which really just seems egotistical of Jet. It’s pretty funny.

Jet was the leader of a gang in New York (and, oddly, the first panel of them shows them dancing in the streets. Jet’s story is based on West Side Story, so maybe that’s a throwback, but it’s really weird given the context.) who started a fight with a rival gang, The Sharks. While having a switchblade fight with the leader of the Sharks, Jet accidentally drove the leader’s own knife into his stomach and killed him. The cops have the best response time ever and immediately drive over as soon as the dude hits the ground, so everyone runs away. Jet bumps into the Black Ghost operatives who claim they’re on his side and want to help him, so they make off with him.

Given the moniker 002, Jet is outfitted with an accelerator and boosters in his feet that allow him to fly at speeds up to mach 5.

003 – Francoise Arnoul, has the funniest backstory. She was just randomly kidnapped. No real reason, just eh, she’s there and she lives in a boarding house so she won’t be missed I guess. That’s not the funny part, though.

Her brother, Jean, who was in the air force, comes home right as it’s happening and we get a very, very long, drawn out comedy sketch where her brother takes various modes of transportation to chase the car in which she was kidnapped, crashes them one by one and then just steals something else to continue. He calls a cop over at first…to steal his bike. Then he crashes it. Then he steals a motorcycle and promptly crashes it into a car, so he steals the car. Then he crashes the car because the Black Ghost guys shoot out his tires. They leave in a plane, so he steals a plane, but the plane is extremely low on gas so he’s forced to bail out before he gets far, allowing the plane to crash somewhere nearby.

And that’s it. She’s gone, and Jean doesn’t pop up much after that. Wow.

As I’ve mentioned, 003 is outfitted with extremely powerful senses such as telescopic vision, x-ray vision and enhanced hearing. She’s also the only one of the group besides 009 to not get a nickname for some reason. I am forever sad that this series predated MASH by so many years, because it was a missed opportunity to call her Radar.

004 – Albert Heinrich has what I would consider the very close second most tragic backstory of the group, and he remains my favorite character of the lot (002 being, fittingly enough, my second favorite, and 007 being my third.) Living in post WWII East Berlin, Germany, Albert longed for a better life with his fiance, Hilda, so he concocted a plan to smuggle them out across the Berlin Wall. Granted, this incarnation’s version of events is a bit goofy, but still.

In pretty much all versions, he tries to smuggle them out by pretending to be a truck driver delivering some goods, but in this version the ‘goods’ are a pair of lions for a zoo. The reason this is kinda goofy is because he dresses up Hilda in a lion costume….And somehow that works.

They’re found out either way and endure a hail of gunfire. Albert crashes the truck and is distraught to find Hilda dead on the ground. Albert himself has suffered many horrible wounds both from the crash and the bullets, but Black Ghost operatives, again having just the best of timing, covertly take him away acting as if they’re going to find him medical care.

Albert’s wounds are so extensive that he winds up being the most mechanical of all the cyborgs with basically only his head being left intact. His entire body has been made into a weapon. He has an electromagnetic knife in his left hand, a machine gun in each finger on his right, and missiles in each knee. He also supposedly has a nuclear bomb in his body, but whether or not that’s true has never been revealed.

I’ve already pretty much explained Geronimo Junior/005’s backstory. The only thing I really left out was that Black Ghost arrives right after he punches the jerk and they offer him a ‘job’ which is obviously just a trick to get him to come with them. However, when they tell him the job is a bit far from home, he tells them they have no home anymore – he just goes wherever he can.

He’s later granted incredible levels of physical strength and durability. He frequently acts as a shield and protector to the other cyborgs when they’re being overrun by an enemy. He’s also given the nickname of ‘The Iron Man.’ I should mention that these nicknames don’t really stick. I was actually a little surprised to go back and read this volume, because I really didn’t remember any of them having nicknames. I remembered 006 being referred to as The Mole once or twice in other adaptations, and 004 mentioned he’s been called The God of Death or The Angel of Death, but that was about it.

Chang Changku or 006 was a struggling pig farmer in China. His farm was failing, he was starving, the last pig he had was too thin, he couldn’t keep up with taxes, he was completely broke, and finally he was driven to suicide. The super timing of the Black Ghost operatives stepped in, however, and shot the rope he was about to hang himself from. They just grabbed him and threw him in the car after that.

He’s been given the nickname ‘Mole’ because he can shoot intense flames from his mouth. The flames get so hot that they can easily melt rock, allowing him to tunnel underground easily. He’s also immune to pretty much all intensities of heat. Outside of 007, Chang is the most lighthearted of the group, typically focusing on cooking when they’re not in the heat of battle (haha, I make puns.) He’s also close friends with 007, and they make a really good comedy duo.

Speaking of 007, GB or Great Britain (His real name is unknown – Great Britain is his stage name) was a struggling actor who basically became a drunkard staggering around in the streets just looking for cigarettes or booze. Black Ghost simply threw a bottle of booze into their car and he jumped in after it, which makes this the second funny backstory to the cyborgs.

007 was granted the ability to change his form into anything he wished. (He couldn’t transform his clothes at this point, so he has to take them off every time he transformed in the early days of the manga.) He was also given the nickname of the ‘Chameleon.’

008 or Pyunma was one of many Africans set on a plane bound for an unknown destination to become slaves. He managed to escape his captors, but was cornered. He begged for his life, and the Black Ghost operatives shot them. Pyunma was very thankful for them saving his life, but they just put a gun in his face and forced him to come along with them anyway.

008 has, arguably, the least impressive powers. He can breathe underwater (Which is a power also given to 009) and withstand high levels of underwater pressure. He also has incredible swimming abilities and propellers in his feet to make him go faster underwater, making him their best sea-faring fighter. These abilities do come in handy more often than in most shows that have a water-based heroes because their base is an island and they travel most frequently via a submarine,

Granted, his skills as a freedom fighter (which we’ll explore later) give him an edge in combat on land, but, objectively, he kinda got screwed in the cyborg powers department considering most of the cyborgs can fight just fine in the water.

His nickname is ‘Merman’ for obvious reasons.

Finally, we’ve reached the titular character of Cyborg 009, Joe Shimamura.

As we’ve discussed, Joe was always treated differently because of his mixed-race heritage. He was orphaned at birth, and when he was old enough to work he quickly ended up in juvenile hall for reasons not given. He, along with another two boys, tried to escape the facility, but one of the boys ended up getting caught, though Joe tried to save him, and the other boy seemingly died from falling off of a cliff. Black Ghost operatives then captured Joe.

Now, something we need to address with Joe is that he has a tad bit of the ‘Main character/leader of the team gets the best stuff’ trope going on. He is told by 001 that they may be great, but 009 is top of the line. Since he was the last one built, he basically has the capability to do everything they can do, which is objectively false, but Joe does have, by far, the most amount of powers and abilities.

His main claim to fame is his speed. Joe has an accelerator switch in his molar that allows him to move so fast that time slows down and sometimes comes to a near halt when the switch is activated. However, even his main power was one adapted by an earlier cyborg. Jet also has an accelerator, but it’s not nearly as powerful as Joe’s.

In addition to that, though, he can also breathe underwater, is nearly as durable and physically strong as 005, has some heightened senses like night vision, an increased sense of smell and electromagnetic detection like 003 (Though why, of all things, give him heightened sense of smell but not sight or hearing?), heightened memory capability, a built-in language translator and even the ability to transmit messages in Morse code. He doesn’t have fire breathing powers, shapeshifting, built-in weapons or psychic powers, but he does have quite the collection.

He’s also noted as being the best pilot on the team. In the first volume, even though he’s never piloted a plane before and is scared out of his mind, he’s able to do incredibly impressive maneuvers, defeat the enemies and land safely.

I just find his situation to be a little silly. Why is 009 the only one who gets powers from previous cyborg models? Wouldn’t they do that with all of them? Why is 008 so blah if he was the cyborg that came directly before 009? Why would they not also include some of the most powerful abilities in the group – especially 001 considering he’s a damn near demi-god.

Yes, as impressive as 009 is, there’s no denying that 001 is just flatout more powerful. The only reason 001 isn’t more of a deus ex machina in the series (even though, trust me, he is definitely a big deus ex machina) is because his psychic powers wear him down so much, being a baby, that he needs near constant sleep. But if they put those powers in the body of an adult and gave them better energy output, he’d be unstoppable. They specifically recruited the guy who made 001’s powers possible, so there’s really no excuse why he’s the only one they allowed to have psychic capabilities.

Either way, Joe gets the best stuff, barring the god-like psychic powers, just cuz. He’s also the leader just cuz. It definitely doesn’t make him OP or anything, but it kinda rubs me the wrong way that there are numerous instances of ‘yeah Joe has that, but better.’ Like 002 was attacked by a Hydra V that pierced his skin with a tranquilizer, but 009 was developed after they created artificial skin to protect against those kinds of assaults so he could get through it just fine, but 002 was downed. Even though, you’d think flying unprotected at speeds upward of mach 5 would warrant some reinforced skin.

Once 009 is complete, he is awakened by the telepathic messages of 001 telling him to run. He is currently undergoing a field test by Black Ghost who are throwing robots, tanks, and fighter planes at 009 to test his combat prowess. With the guidance of 001, he passes with flying colors. The Black Ghost scientists introduce the 00 cyborgs that preceded 009 to him, but SURPRISE, this was actually a staged coups. The cyborgs have brandished some laser rifles and are rebelling against their creators.

They take Dr. Gilmore as a ‘hostage’ and convince 009 to join them. Black Ghost obviously isn’t going to let them go without a fight, however. They want to take them alive because they don’t want to destroy their hard work and valuable assets, but they are prepared to destroy them because allowing their technology and plans to leak to the general public is considered worse than simply losing the cyborgs they have.

It turns out Dr. Gilmore was actually the one who organized this rebellion and breakout in the first place. He felt guilty for all of the terrible acts he had partaken in, so he vowed to free all of the cyborgs and help them with any other troubles they may experience as a result of their augmentation or Black Ghost.

The rest of the volume is them trying to escape from the nearly endless onslaught of attacks from Black Ghost, who are utilizing drone planes, spy robots that take the forms of bats and dolphins, dinosaur-esque attack robots, tanks, massive mechs, submarines, soldiers, basically anything that they can throw at the cyborgs, they are. That’s another thing I really love about this series – there’s such a wide array of various enemies to fight that each have their own powers and abilities and they take on so many forms.

It’s a really cool display of all the cyborgs’ abilities, too. I especially enjoyed 005 just smashing up tanks like they were made of Legos. We may get reminded here and there that Joe is the most advanced 00 cyborg, but all of the characters get a good amount of time to shine in their own regard. Even though I may rag on 003 for being support and not doing much in actual combat, like I said, she is invaluable to their battles and strategies. Without her, they’d be dead.

Now they’ve commandeered a submarine and are trying to infiltrate Black Ghost’s base to try and take it out from the inside.

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And that was volume one. Phew, that was really a lot to go over, but we had to discuss the fundamentals before we could properly carry on into the rest of the series. Subsequent volume reviews should be shorter.

Overall, this was a really great introduction to all of the cast, their backstories and how they became the legendary 00 Cyborgs. Of course, it’s not perfect for all of the reasons I already explained, but it has really interesting characters, fun art, exciting battles, and even commentary on issues that are still very much relevant today, even if some of the specifics are very outdated. It sets the stage quite well for what’s to come and leaves you wanting more.

At the end of the day, I’m really glad I started this project, and I hope everyone has just as much fun along with me as we examine the rest of the franchise (As much as we can anyway.)

Also, I apologize in advance for flip-flopping over and over between the characters’ 00 numbers and their actual names. It’s a bad habit I got into a long time ago, and I have no idea why I do it.

Recommended Audience: Errrrrrrr…..Well…..Comixology lists this as being for ages 12+, but then again they also put that same rating on frickin’ Tokyo Mew Mew and that’s just…strange. I’d say that rating is much more fitting for Cyborg 009 than TMM. Is this one of those situations where they mis-rate anime and manga just because it’s anime or manga? This volume alone has death, murder, some blood, hinted suicide, racist overtones, alcohol….there’s not really sex or nudity I guess, so there’s that. Sure, let’s give it a 12+


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AniManga Clash! Yu Yu Hakusho Volume 2

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Chapter 9: The Momentary Resurrection

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Picking up where we last left off, Keiko was in the hands of the thug, Daisuke, who brought her back to some seedy bar to show her off to his friends. She doesn’t go quietly, however, especially when they start trying to do pervy things to her. They beat her up and knock her unconscious, leaving them open to sexually assaulting her. However, Yusuke, who comes in wearing a mask he won at a pachinko parlor, rescues her before they do anything.

Kuwabara, who got the news when Yusuke did, arrives on scene to save her, but Yusuke hands over the unconscious Keiko to Kuwabara so he can pretend he saved her – making it so she won’t ask questions or realize he’s alive for a day.

I don’t know why Yusuke is allowed to talk to Kuwabara but not Keiko or his mom. Also, Keiko is just faking being unconscious right now, she woke up a little earlier…so…what’s the rules there? She’s allowed to acknowledge that he’s temporarily alive, touch him and hear him speak, but as long as he doesn’t speak to her and vice versa….it’s fine? That’s so dumb….

Keiko continues to fake being unconscious for several more hours, I guess to force Yusuke to not go traipsing around town and risking his body like that. When she leaves, Yusuke realizes she put a little kissy mark on his face.

This was…a fairly okay little arc. It was cool to see Yusuke back in action, and his ridiculous masks were hilarious. Plus, this was a cute little moment between Keiko and Yusuke, but this is just one of so many instances of Keiko being a damsel in distress. And the continued aspect of threatening sexual assault is uncomfortable.

Not to mention that I just find the whole aspect of him being able to see and converse with literally anyone else BUT Keiko and his mom is a grade A plot device that doesn’t even function logically. Yusuke put on a mask so Keiko wouldn’t recognize him, but it turns out she can acknowledge everything about his existence except communicate with him. And if he wrote that note to Keiko at the end, the one where he acts as if he’s Kuwabara, doesn’t that count as communicating with her?

I can definitely see why they didn’t put this in the anime.

Chapter 10: Forbidden Games

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Another manga exclusive story, this chapter returns us to Shouta, the boy from a few chapters back who was dealing with confidence issues and the loss of his beloved dog, Jiro. Now, Shouta is doing pretty good in life, but he’s haunted by the spirit of a girl named Sayaka. She’s dragging him out of his body every night to play with her because she’s so lonely, as she was also very lonely in life. Shouta doesn’t remember these encounters after he wakes up, but when he’s in spirit form he resists going with Yusuke and abandoning Sayaka because he doesn’t want her to be lonely.

This is the first spirit Yusuke actually fights in the manga – and he loses pretty badly. Sayaka’s loneliness has created a deep darkness in her heart, and it’s granted her incredible power that Yusuke just can’t stand up against. If Sayaka continues to take Shouta’s soul out of his body night after night, she’ll eventually weaken his soul enough to drag him to the afterlife with her, but since her soul is so corrupted by loneliness, she’ll only be entering a world of darkness and despair with him.

After a few days of being Yusuke being unconscious (how that works as a ghost, I don’t know) we discover that Shouta is becoming pretty weak, though still not realizing what’s happening at night. Yusuke goes to confront Sayaka once more, but she refuses. She wants to finally bring Shouta to what she believes is heaven, but when she goes to force Yusuke away again, she finds her powers to be entirely diminished.

It seems that hanging out with Shouta so much has quelled the loneliness in her heart, and her powers have greatly weakened because of it. She still doesn’t want to leave Shouta and vice versa, however, so Yusuke happily offers to be a big brother to her and play with her until she’s finally ready to pass on for real.

She agrees, and Shouta returns to his regular life, healthy as a child should be, but it seems Sayaka is sticking around for longer than they thought.

I really liked this story and, truth be told, it’s better than the anime version of Sayaka.

Yes, Sayaka exists in the anime, but she’s basically changed so much that she’s not even the same character outside of the design. In the anime, she’s a one-episode character, taking the role of a spirit investigator sent to determine if Yusuke is really worth saving. She evaluates Yusuke’s friends and family as well as Yusuke and his relationship to them. Most notably, she investigates the relationship that Keiko and Yusuke have. She’s uncertain about her findings until Yusuke willfully sacrifices his spirit egg, his one chance at returning to life, in order to save Keiko’s life.

Sayaka’s report on the matter impresses Koenma, who agrees to bring him back anyway since he showed such selflessness.

Sayaka just always seemed like an unnecessary character. Isn’t Botan doing enough investigating and reporting on Yusuke’s attitude and relationships that Sayaka’s role is redundant? I never disliked her in the anime or anything, but she wasn’t really made interesting and, like I said, her presence seemed pointless.

In the manga, her story is much more interesting, and even somewhat heartbreaking. I absolutely loved that Yusuke offered to be her big brother and play with her without any hesitation. He knows she’s not a bad kid, she’s just lonely and sad. It was also nice to see Shouta again. It’s good that he’s still doing well and is turning into such a sweet kid, even if it is slightly implied that he’s becoming a bit of a ladies man….as much as an eight year old can be, anyway. I dunno why they needed that implication. Can’t he just be a nice kid to both genders without implying that he’s being nice to girls to impress them?

I was a bit sad that Shouta didn’t even mention Jiro, but Yusuke brought up his promise to Jiro, and that was really sweet. We’ll have to wait and see what Sayaka’s continued presence will bring to the series.

Chapter 11-12 A Broken Friendship/Demonic Hand

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This is a two-parter story involving two best friends, Emi and Natsuko. They’re both top of their respective classes, and they’re competing for the lone spot offered by their school to go to N High School – a very prestigious school that everyone’s pressuring them to attend.

Recently, Emi has been having very ominous feelings, as if something is watching her or causing her to suffer misfortune. Yusuke spots the seeming culprit, the spirit of a boy who used to attend the school five years ago. He committed suicide, and I quote “due to some setback” but very much regrets his decision.

He’s not really the problem, though. He was attracted to Emi due to a dark power resonated from her because of an amulet. Natsuko had placed a curse on Emi to cause her to slip up in her studies and stop being competition for her for the spot in N High School. Natsuko was pressured even more by everyone else, especially her family, to get the N High School spot. This pressure was compounded by the fact that Natsuko was consistently second place to Emi throughout their entire friendship. She resented her for it, but those feelings would usually quickly dissipate after saving Emi from bullies or spending time with her.

Evil and corrupted spirits were attracted to the amulet, making it more powerful. However, the boy’s evil energy started fading when he kept seeing what a kind person Emi was. He didn’t fall in love with her or anything, but she showed him a light that drove back the darkness.

Meanwhile, Natsuko started regretting her decision after hearing Emi talk about not wanting to bother Natsuko with her worries, especially since Natsuko believes in the paranormal and may freak out.

Natsuko rips up the ‘amulet’ which I think is moreso a talisman, but okay. However, she’s shocked to find the mark of the amulet now tattooed on her wrist. At the same time, Emi is being pulled across the railroad tracks by a dark entity right as a train approaches.

The boy vanishes before the second half of the story. Yusuke asks if he’s moving on now, and Botan says suicide is too grave a sin to move on yet. He has a lot of repentance to do before he can do so.

Sayaka, who alerted them to Emi’s problems in the first place, notifies them of Emi’s current situation. However, they can’t do anything about it since spirits can’t really interfere much with human matters, and this evil entity is too powerful for any of them to take on. That’s not enough for Yusuke, however, as he rushes in and tries to bite the entity into submission, but he’s literally chucked all the way into space as a result.

The boy’s spirit returns and manages to bring Natsuko to the tracks to save Emi. That’s all he’s able to do before he disappears once more.

Natsuko pleads with the entity to let her go, and after a touching speech, the entity finally vanishes, as does the mark, and Natsuko saves Emi.

Later, at school, Natsuko and Emi tell their respective teachers, who have been pressuring them a lot since the class of the student who goes to N High School will get a lot of respect and adoration (and Natsuko and Emi are from two different classes) that they want the school to take them out of consideration for the N High School spot. They’ve both decided to not listen to anyone who is pressuring them anymore. They want to make their own decisions from now on. They’ve decided to go to S High School together, much to their teachers’ dismay.

This story was pretty good, even if I’m not sure it warranted being a two-parter. Emi and Natsuko have a very realistic friendship. Even the best of friends can have hidden resentments and anger amongst them while still being very strong friends, and such massive pressure on the both them could easily make them do crazy things, especially if they believe it won’t actually work. Despite believing in the paranormal, Natsuko didn’t believe her silly spell would work until she realized something was actually troubling Emi, and when she realized it was real she almost sacrificed her life to make things right.

My two main problems with this story are the boy spirit and the roles of Yusuke, Botan and Sayaka. The boy spirit, who is never named, mind you, seems like he could have an interesting story. He’s a kid who committed suicide at the very school the girls are currently attending, but we get an almost insultingly pitiful amount of information on him. Not only do we never learn his name, but we never learn of his story or why he committed suicide in the first place. “Due to some setback” is so vague it’s almost irritating. It was only five years ago. Why is he so unspecific about it?

And even though I get that suicide is taboo in a lot of religions, it does bother me that even in YYH suicide is apparently so grave a sin that you can’t go to heaven once you do it. They never imply he’s in hell or anything, just that he has to do god knows how many good deeds as a spirit before he can move on, but still. The kid was suffering so much that he killed himself and now, as a ghost, realizes he lost everything and regrets it. Isn’t that bad enough?

He does come back and help Natsuko save Emi, but then he vanishes and is never even brought up again. It’s a sad ending to an already sad story and it’s pretty much glossed over.

In regards to Yusuke, Botan and Sayaka, this is another story where they might as well have not even been there in the first place. You could completely remove them from this story and everything would have been exactly the same. The trio basically just acted as audience surrogates – creating an avenue for the characters to give exposition without it being narration or something, and that wasn’t necessary because…yeah, just have it be narration.

It’s not like Yusuke did any Spirit Detective-ing either. He literally just talked to the ghost stalking Emi and asked what’s up. The boy ghost was even the one who found out it was Natsuko who cursed Emi.

Yusuke attacked the entity, and that was a little funny, but it did absolutely nothing and the girls weren’t even able to notice he did it.

So, in conclusion, decent story but it didn’t have to be a YYH story nor a two-parter.

Chapters 13-14: Prerequisites of a Loved One/Inside the Flames

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Ah, finally. We’re at another chapter that was reflected in the anime – Prerequisites for Lovers.

As I mentioned before, Sayaka is not a spirit investigator in the manga as she is in the anime – she’s just the spirit of a little girl. She has grown extremely attached to Yusuke, and she and Botan basically follow Keiko around so Sayaka can see if Keiko and Yusuke’s relationship is true love.

Everything else in the story is exactly the same barring the very ending. In the anime, Yusuke was told that the only way to save Keiko’s life was to use the power that has been stored up in his spirit egg to create a pathway in the fire. This would mean sacrificing his one chance at coming back to life, but Yusuke does it anyway since Keiko’s life means more to him than his.

After the ordeal, Koenma appears. He’s so impressed by Yusuke’s selflessness that he agrees to bring him back to life anyway.

In the manga, Koenma appears during the fire and explains to Yusuke that he’ll have to agree to a deal for Koenma to use his power to save Keiko. Yusuke doesn’t let him explain what it is as he’s far too impatient to wait for Keiko to be safe. Koenma uses his power and opens a pathway in the flames. Later, Botan explains that, in order for Koenma to make a miracle, like saving Keiko, he needed to use human virtue. Since Yusuke was the other half of the deal, he used the virtue that Yusuke had been saving up in his body to use his power.

However, unlike in the anime where this meant he sacrificed his chance to come back to life, in the manga, this simply means that it will take longer for Yusuke to build up more virtue and return to life. And he really doesn’t care, so this doesn’t seem like nearly the same kind of massive sacrifice as Yusuke made in the anime, which is disappointing.

Granted, the anime also doesn’t make a lot of sense because it’s revealed later that, despite the egg being destroyed in the fire, his spirit egg hatched further down the line and became Puu. Still, you lose a lot of the emotional impact when you replace ‘You can never be resurrected’ with ‘it’ll take a bit longer to be resurrected.’

The manga also goes a bit further in the story. Kuwabara shows up and takes Keiko and Yusuke’s body to his house to help cover up Yusuke’s secret. His sister, Shizuru, loans Keiko some clothes to replace her burned ones, and she cuts Keiko’s hair since it was singed. We also learn Shizuru wants to be a beautician, which is something I don’t believe was ever conveyed in the anime.

Shizuru, having even stronger spiritual powers than Kuwabara, can actually see Yusuke’s spirit around Keiko. She comments that he seems to be a good guy and asks if she likes him. She says yes and Yusuke looks a little embarrassed.

Meanwhile, Sayaka also bids her farewell. She accepts that Yusuke and Keiko are a great pair. She doesn’t like the idea of relying on anyone else’s boyfriend, so she decides to pass on and find her own boyfriend in the afterlife. She even suggests Koenma is kinda cute and might seek him out next. She tells Yusuke to have two kids with Keiko, a boy and a girl, before finally departing.

There’s also a small part where Koenma shows back up after Sayaka leaves. He tells Yusuke that, since he had to save Keiko’s life and interfere in real world matters, he took a body part from her. Yusuke freaks out and rushes to Keiko and Koenma giggles and points out that he took her hair (since she just got a haircut.)

You’ll notice that another scene is missing from the manga, and that’s the scene after the fire is put out. Keiko stands by with Yusuke’s body in a wheelchair, believing he saved her from the fire. Atsuko, in a kind of annoying ‘I’m not really taking this seriously’ tone goes on about how sorry she is that she wasn’t there, but she’s thankful Yusuke is alive and will do better for him from now on.

I do kinda wish the manga had some scene with Atsuko, because this is literally all her fault. Like I said in my review of the anime episode, I almost feel like it was originally planned to have Atsuko accidentally set the fire due to her negligence but they decided against it to not make Atsuko too unlikable. Instead, she left the windows unlocked and covered her son in dust and garbage, giving the arsonist easy access and allowing the fire to spread easily.

This was definitely a sweet story in both versions, but I can’t help but prefer the anime’s retelling a little more. Yusuke knowingly and willingly sacrificing his one shot at being brought back to life is just better than him needing to be a ghost for a while longer. He didn’t know what he was agreeing to in the first place, and he didn’t care at all when he found out the cost.

Yusuke, in the anime, after everything was said and done, had a bit of a blowup. He yelled out to his mom, Keiko and Kuwabara to stop talking to what was now an actual dead body. He yelled at his mom to stop apologizing because he’ll never be around to say it’s okay, and he accepted that he was dead for good. He even started crying a little before telling Botan to just take him heaven or hell or wherever he was supposed to go now.

This blowup doesn’t mean he regrets saving Keiko, of course he doesn’t, but it’s very genuine to also show that the cost deeply affected him. A sacrifice isn’t really much of a sacrifice if the loss doesn’t hurt you.

Chapters 15-16: Target! A Victory/Victory Depends on Guts

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As he’s floating around town, Yusuke spots an old classmate of his, Suekichi, being bullied by a group of thugs. Back when they were kids, Suekichi was always being bullied and Yusuke would save him from the bullies….for a fee, of course. He was so spineless and weak that the other kids had nicknamed him Suekichi the idiot.

Yusuke couldn’t stand watching Suekichi be ruthlessly beaten into the ground anymore, so once he was knocked unconscious Yusuke jumped into his body, ignoring the warnings of Botan. Yusukichi easily flattened all of the thugs in one fell swoop, but Yusuke became locked in Suekichi’s body.

Meanwhile, Koenma appears before Botan and explains that a decision was made on Yusuke’s revival. They will allow Yusuke to be brought back to life even without him regaining the virtue he lost earlier. They explored Yusuke’s heart and found that he wasn’t evil, but he wasn’t entirely noble either. He very much acts without thinking, but many of his acts lead him to noble deeds….and some not so noble.

They’ve concluded that he’s a ‘bubblehead’ who can’t be accurately judged in his spirit form, so they’re taking the opportunity to see what he’ll do in a regular body..

Once Suekichi’s consciousness was reawakened, he freaked out at the invasion of Yusuke’s spirit, but Yusuke explained that he wished to help him. Suekichi is an aspiring boxer and he’s loved the sport of boxing since he was a kid. However, he’s never won a single match, which is really all he wants to do. Being bullied his whole life, he has a nasty habit of closing his eyes when the opponent is about to strike, so he always loses.

He does have a wealth of knowledge on boxing and great technique, but when it comes to applying it, he’s a total mess. However, he was chosen to partake in a competition as a representative of their school’s boxing society. He was one of only two candidates with the other being a thug named Itou who lost the position due to skipping too many practices. Itou’s cohorts were the ones beating on him in the start of the story, trying to get him to relinquish his spot. Itou himself starts wailing on him to get him to give up, but once again Yusuke takes over and beats the snot out of him.

Yusuke keeps trying to get Suekichi to believe in himself and have fighting spirit, but no matter the situation, he always folds.

One day, they bump into Tachikawa, who is meant to be his opponent in the match. He’s a dirty fighter who is known for purposely breaking bones and blinding his opponents in order to win. Yusuke took over his body and stood up to him for Suekichi, but when the time came for the match and he tried to get Suekichi to rise to the occasion, Suekichi simply couldn’t do it.

Yusuke finally got fed up and punched Suekichi (and by extension himself) in the face. With one final…let’s call it a pep talk Yusuke-style, Suekichi bites the bullet and heads out, which allows Yusuke to leave his body.

During the match, he does quite well. He doesn’t close his eyes and he has a newfound confidence. Even after he takes a hit, he’s able to power through because Yusuke’s punch was a lot worse. Tachikawa then aims to elbow him in the eyes to blind him, but Suekichi blocks with his head gear and socks Tachikawa in the face, laying him out and winning him the match. He cheers to Yusuke, even though he’s gone from his body, and Yusuke looks on with a smile.

I gotta say, if this was the main crux they were using for Yusuke earning his right to be revived….what a shitty story to do that with. It’s not a terrible story, it’s just largely uninteresting and not worth being so important. And haven’t we already had a story when Yusuke helps some bullied kid be brave? Nothing is riding on this competition besides some vow he made to himself several years ago, the outcome is entirely predictable, Suekichi is not an engaging character at all, and Yusuke was able to help him by beating up a dozen people and punching Suekichi in the face? Are you kidding me? THAT’S the act that instantly shows the higher ups in Spirit World that Yusuke’s worth bringing back to life?

Why couldn’t they have just made it so him sacrificing his ‘life’ for Keiko was the big act that convinced them? Why did he need to something in a human body to show this? Didn’t he also do good deeds the few times he possessed people? Hell, just look to the brief period he was brought back to life and how he saved Keiko from that gang, even risking losing his chance at coming back to life if she spoke to him. It’s so backwards. This should have been one of the first ‘Yusuke proves he’s an alright guy’ stories not the final one.

Chapter 17: The Golden Awakening

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I love how the action lines are also inside Yusuke’s mouth.

Ah, we’ve finally reached Yusuke’s awakening, and it’s pretty much exactly as it was in the anime. The only real change I saw was that, at least in the English dub, Yusuke claims Atsuko had good insurance and that’s how they got such a good apartment after the fire. In the manga, a text box explains that Atsuko got money from pimps to pay for it…..I don’t know if they’re insinuating that Atsuko’s a prostitute or she just knows pimps who would give her money, but….there’s that.

Speaking of Atsuko, another thing that stayed the same was Atsuko going out and getting plastered, leaving Yusuke’s body all alone AGAIN. I know I’ve already complained about that when talking about the anime, but REALLY. She nearly loses her son AGAIN to a house fire because she was out getting shitfaced, and she decides it’s a good idea to yet again leave her son alone while she goes to get shitfaced. Bloody hell….

As a few final notes, the anime did add a scene where Yusuke tries to corral Kuwabara while he’s at the arcade, but his efforts fail, and the anime’s shot of Keiko kissing Yusuke was just plain better in the manga. The actual kiss is covered, but the angle is a lot better than the weird sideways kiss she gives him in the anime.

….Oh and also, the previous two chapters were even more pointless if he was just going to be revived immediately after.

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And that was volume two! Quite the long road to Yusuke getting revived, but we’re finally getting him into Spirit Detective mode.

As for this volume’s journey to getting him there….Eh. The filler was okay, but I didn’t feel particularly impacted to the point where I was like ‘Whoa, I’m sad they never adapted this to the anime.’ The arc with Suekichi only gets increasingly frustrating the more I think about it. It’s boring padding that definitely didn’t deserve to be the defining moment for proving Yusuke’s worth as a person.

The manga just seems to have a problem with making stories that otherwise don’t really need Yusuke and Botan around. It doesn’t feel like Yu Yu Hakusho – it feels like an anthology. A Yu Yu Hakusho anthology-esque section could very well work if they focused more on giving Yusuke and Botan more stuff to do instead of reacting to what’s going on around them.

The arc with Yusuke’s temporary resurrection was okay, and the ending with Keiko was a little sweet, but I still find the conditions of this temporary arrangement to be bunk. It really just felt like a forced plot device to ensure Keiko and Yusuke don’t have some sort of reunion before he actually revives.

When it came to storylines that were adapted into the anime for this volume, everything seems in order, barring that one moment at the end of Prerequisites for a Loved One where the anime just did it objectively better all around. The manga did Sayaka’s role a lot better, but in comparison to the ending changes, it’s not much consolation.

Hm…..I feel like it’s a bit of a close call, but, ultimately, I’d give this round to the anime. If the anime had omitted more memorable stories and moments, I’d definitely give it to the manga, but they just made too many missteps here.

Winner: Anime


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Yu-Gi-Oh! (Manga) Chapters 22-23 (AniManga Clash! Season Zero Placeholder)

This is another story I’m sorry didn’t make it into Season Zero. It’s weird because this a two parter, so it easily could’ve been adapted into the show without needing to write anything new, but I guess they just didn’t like the story enough.

Hanasaki, the timid kid from chapter three, makes a reappearance. He is a huge fan of the American comic book hero, Zombire – which is literally a fusion of a zombie and a vampire. His father makes sure to get him some cool Zombire merch, like masks, model kits etc. every time he returns from a business trip from America.

His father feels bad for not being around much, especially considering Hanasaki has rather poor health and has spent a lot of time in the hospital. Hanasaki doesn’t have a lot of friends or self-confidence, so his father is happy whenever he can put a smile on his face by getting him Zombire stuff. He’s especially happy that Hanasaki has found some new friends in Yugi and the gang.

(Can I just point out how crazy rude it is to unbox something you find in someone’s room? Let alone if it’s a model kit and choosing to assemble it right there just because you assume the person doesn’t have the time to do it. Even if he didn’t just want to collect it and preserve the box, he still would have wanted to have the fun of putting it together himself. For god’s sake, Jonouchi. Get a clue.)

However, his father’s a bit of an idiot. A well-meaning idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.

To help boost Hanasaki’s confidence, he pretends to be a stranger getting attacked by some goons in the middle of the night. Hanasaki rushes out in his new Zombire costume that his father just bought him and ‘defeats’ the goons with ease.

This plan works wonderfully as Hanasaki pretty much believes he can do anything now. However, I really, really, really need to point out how misguided this plan is.

It’s great that his dad wants to boost his confidence. It’s great that he wants to give him a chance to be a hero like Zombire. But making your scrawny, physically weak, child who has a history of health problems believe he can easily beat up thugs twice his size, especially when he has a hero complex, is not the smartest thing in the world. He may gain confidence, but he may also gain overconfidence and a desire to continue challenging huge people who would wipe their asses with his mangled remains.

What’s even worse is that, 1) These jerks aren’t people Hanasaki’s dad knows well or is friends with – they’re just random thugs he found on the street and 2) when Hanasaki’s dad pays them off, they ask for Hanasaki’s full name and WHERE HE GOES TO SCHOOL so they can supposedly do this again…..And he just gives them that information. There’s a difference between being misguided and being an idiot. I know the 90s were a different time in regards to child safety, but this is too much even for then.

Predictably, the goons arrive at their school and they threaten Yugi, knowing he’s a friend of Hanasaki, so Hanasaki can come in to save him. They run off, and Hanasaki is once again emboldened by his heroism. However, the real reason they did that was so they’d know Hanasaki’s face too, since he was masked the first time they saw him….doesn’t really make a difference because knowing his face doesn’t mean you know where he lives, but either way, they find out where he lives, throw a rock through his window claiming they’ve kidnapped Yugi and to come face them if he ever wants to see him again.

Hanasaki dons his Zombire costume and heads out to save his friend.

Meanwhile, Yugi is getting into Zombire model kits thanks to Hanasaki, but he’s run out of spray paint and can’t color his newest creation. Since all the shops are closed, he runs to Hanasaki’s house to borrow some paint. However, all he finds is his father in a panic, holding the note the goons left for Hanasaki. They call him up and tell him they’ve got Hanasaki and are holding him hostage for 500,000 yen, which is about 4500 USD. If he doesn’t pay, they’ll hurt Hanasaki. And even though they haven’t given his father enough time to do anything, they’re still beating up Hanasaki and even spraying spray paint into his eyes. Yikes…

Yugi, who soon becomes Yami, rushes off to save him, vehement in saving the friend who was only trying to protect him in the first place. Hanasaki’s father is close behind and retrieves Hanasaki while Yugi takes care of the goons.

Before we head on to the Shadow Game portion, let me point out one final bit of idiocy in Hanasaki’s dad. He tells Hanasaki that they should just…go home. *lip smack* First of all, you’re just gonna leave poor Yugi alone with three thugs who have knives? Real nice. Why aren’t you helping him or calling the cops? Yugi’s a kid too. What are you thinking? Second, your child has been beaten and had spray paint shot directly into his eyes. Maybe take him to a hospital first? You’re a terrible parent.

Shadow Game

It’s honestly not much of a game. The thugs chase Yami around as he draws lines on the ground with spray paint. Eventually, they realize he was drawing a maze around them and a discarded cigarette is set to ignite it. As the lines burst into flames, the thugs run away into the water of the dam.

That’s it. That’s all. They don’t even actually go through the maze, they just run away.

Hanasaki refuses to go home, sheds his Zombire mask and heads off to help Yugi fight the goons. He doesn’t get to actually do anything, but the fact that he rushed in either way proved to himself and his father that he doesn’t need some silly costume or some fake super strength to be a hero – he had it in him all along.

This is a pretty sweet couple of chapters. I really liked Hanasaki when we first met him in chapter three, so I’m glad we got more time with him and got to explore his character more. I really wish he was made into more of a regular character, to be honest. He’s very likable, brave and sweet. I think he’d make a great addition to the group – especially in this series loaded with jerks around every corner. The ending explaining that he had the heart of a hero and plenty of courage all along was predictable, but not as much as you’d might think. I was more worried they’d do worse damage to him than they did, just because so many people in this manga are ridiculously evil.

This plot is interesting, even if the choices made by the father are just stupid sometimes. It’s also weird that he decides to do this confidence boost plot thing right as he learns Hanasaki has a group of friends. Isn’t his confidence the highest it’s ever been right now?

Though I do have to say….isn’t he a tad old to be believing he’s randomly acquiring super powers? He’s meant to be the same age as Yugi and the others, which is at least 16, right? Yet he’s leaning into the make-believe so much it’s almost delusional.

The Shadow Game is boring too, but that’s not really the point. The point is, Hanasaki has found a strength within himself that has nothing to do with Zombire, and he has a big heart that allows him to fight for his friends no matter what, even if the enemy outnumbers him and are twice his size. That’s just as good, if not better, as any comic book hero.


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.Hack//COMPLETE_FRANCHISE | .Hack//XXXX (Manga) Review

Plot: In a different re-telling of the events of the original Dot Hack games, Kite is a newbie player in the massive MMORPG, The World. He’s being shown the ropes by his friend, a highly skilled veteran player under the name Orca of the Azure Sea. While playing, Kite and Orca come across an insanely powerful monster that cannot be damaged by any attacks. In an effort to save his friend, Orca ends up getting killed by the beast and somehow his physical body falls comatose at the exact same moment.

Kite, determined to save his friend, is given a special bracelet with the power to defeat the monster that hurt Orca, known in the real world as Yasuhiko. With his online friends and an odd boy with similar powers named Cubia, Kite sets out on a mission to find out what The World really is and how to save Yasuhiko.

Breakdown: Anyone who has played the games will notice that, indeed, this seems like a faithful retelling of the games’ story. However, you’ll note one very important part near the end. Cubia is not a monster. He’s an NPC who befriends Kite and helps him defeat the eight phases with a power similar to that of Kite’s bracelet. He’s given characterization, a personality, a true backstory as both a shadow of the power of the bracelet and maybe some kind of failed being similar to Aura.

Other than this, though, the story is entirely the same as the games, which means that the quality of the manga in comparison to the game (which I find to be great) hinders on how well this change worked. Ultimately, I think it worked pretty well. Having Cubia be an actual character who both tricks Kite and yet seems to actually care for him is an interesting change to the story that helps shake things up a bit more than just essentially being a monster that is anti-Kite’s bracelet.

Cubia’s personality is similar to, yet not copying, Aura’s origins, personality and being. While Cubia is merely data, he’s somehow able to develop feelings and perhaps have some concept of a soul. Despite the fact that he ultimately does become the monster that needs defeating, his evolution as a character is nice to read, and his friendship with Kite was especially well-done.

Cubia has a power to help him defeat the phases, meaning Kite’s not as alone as he feels in this mission, even barring the help of Blackrose and the others. Cubia was a very nice person, seemingly, and they connected on several levels. It was a great decision to have Kite still defend him even while knowing what he truly was. Kite’s level of caring and respect for those he has befriended, no matter if they’re data or not, shone through here.

That coupled with the game’s story makes for a really good manga, but I do have to say that people who have played the games are still going to know every thing that happens through the whole manga, including pretty much everything about Cubia even if he is an NPC here. They make the big final battle really awesome in manga form and it’s just a great read the whole way through, even if it is fairly short.

I will say that they go through the Phases a bit too fast for my liking. Cubia himself defeats some without our knowing. It makes the journey seem very quick and rather simple, making Kite’s later push against his friends for fear of their lives seem a bit drastic and sudden.

Recommended Audience: There’s virtual violence and one shot of Balmung getting attacked that was pretty damn graphic for a MMORPG. Plus slight non-ish nudity by Aura. 10+


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Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru (Manga) Volume 9 Review

Plot: Who are Iku and Yori’s real parents? Is it possible that they’re still twins?

Can they create groinal friction without judgment? Can I find it within myself to care about these horrible, horrible characters?

Breakdown: The first chapter shows Yano taking Iku to an amusement park to distract her from Yori seemingly making eyes at Mori. Meanwhile, Mori, for some reason, heavily flirts with Yori even though she knows they’re half-siblings – guess incest runs in the family…..That was more of a joke than I intended.

She brings him to her house to see some photo albums of her father as a younger man and to basically confirm that her father and Yori’s mother had an affair. Her father comes home and confirms her suspicions, knowing Yori would notice quite soon after meeting Mori.

The next chapter has Yugo denying that he’s Yori’s father, acting like he was joking about him being his real father. He tells him the story about his and Saki’s relationship. He was a bad boy, she was a very strict kinda manipulative person who would purposely push his buttons. He was annoyed with her at first, but quickly fell in love and started doing bad things on purpose to get her to scold him.

However, in spite of his feelings, she was already engaged with Shunpei since before they even met. He admitted his feelings toward her, but she refused him on those grounds, despite seemingly loving him back. He states they were never together so it’s impossible for him to be Yori’s father.

Yuugo admits that he’d love to be Yori’s father and he is affectionate toward Yori because he’s Saki’s image…..even though….you’d think it’d be more understandable to be affectionate towards Iku. I mean, Yori’s been noted as looking exactly like Yuugo, not Saki. Iku’s more Saki’s image.

Anyway, he’s lying. He takes a hair from Yori before he leaves and intends on using it for a DNA test. Turns out, Yuugo and Saki did bump uglies once….On her friggin’ wedding day. She’s even in her wedding dress when they do it. That’s fucked up.

The next chapter starts with Yano and Iku coming home from the amusement park. Yano stops the car when he sees Yori and Mori together and freaks out at Yori telling him Iku’s been worried sick. He begs him not to hurt her again. Yes, Yano, yell that out as loudly as you can.

Mori explains the situation, and Iku is shocked.

Iku: “But then Yori….wouldn’t be my brother?”

Mori: “Exactly.”

No, not exactly. Half-siblings are still siblings. Their situation would only be slightly less squicky.

Yano kidnaps Yori to talk more about what happened. Yori explains that, even though Yuugo stated he wasn’t and couldn’t possibly be his father, there’s still the odd issue of Iku’s paternity booklet with the missing sections about her parents. He’s struggling because, even though he’d love to find out she’s not his sister, telling Iku that her mom and dad aren’t her biological parents would crush her.

Wow, an understandable and heartbreaking revelation and normal mode of thinking. Good job, Yori!

They bring the information to Yano’s personal family doctor for analysis and she says that with both the mother and the father information left blank, she was likely abandoned and the Yuki family adopted her.

Yori: “Is this a dream come true?” Wow, a single page to go from ‘Good job, Yori!’ to ‘Go to hell, Yori!’

Giving him some credit, even though he also says he now feels like he might be the luckiest man in the world, he’s still conflicted because the news will hurt Iku. Yano tells him to not feel guilty because now he can freely tell Iku he loves her in front of everyone without judgment.

Uhm, Yano, first and foremost, please don’t tell him to not have even a semblance of healthy character development.

Second, no. No, he can’t.

Even when you’re not blood related, it’s still a social taboo to date your siblings. Even though he can be a little more free about it, they’ll still likely get whispers and snickers and even harassment. I also can’t imagine their parents would be cool about it. Their mom seems to be aware that they’re not fully blood related (maybe their dad too?) and she is having panic attacks left and right whenever she believes the two might be romantically involved.

The chapter ends with him dreaming about the happy life they might have a chance at having – being able to hug, kiss and tell her he loves her, but most importantly, make her happy.

The start of the next chapter has Yuugo confronting Saki explaining via a DNA test, he has proven that Yori is his son. Saki doesn’t seem surprised, and Yuugo demands to know why she never told him if she knew. She begs him to not say anything because it would destroy her family.

Yuugo relays to her that Yori visited him, investigating whether Yuugo was his father or not and seemed disappointed when he told him he wasn’t. Saki is shaken, but seemingly not for this revelation. She’s moreso putting two and two together and believes he was disappointed because he wanted to not be fully blood related to Iku so they could be romantically involved.

Flashing back to more proof that Iku’s a dumbass, we’re shown Yori teasing Iku for not even getting up to a 20 on any of her quizzes in any of her subjects. How the hell did this girl even reach this level in school? How is she not flunking? Yori can only do so much. What does she do all day? She’s has no skills or hobbies, yet apparently studying never crosses her mind. Even people pretending to pay attention can eek out scores twice as good as hers.

Don’t tell me it’s all the fooling around with Yori because she was getting these grades long before she hooked up with Yori and when he was at the other school.

This is meant to depict another one of many instances where Saki has been suspicious about their feelings for each other.

Back in the present, Saki says she won’t give into Yuugo’s blackmail, though we never learn how he blackmailed her. I get what he’s holding over her, but what is he asking for?

But speaking of blackmail, Saki straight out asks Yori when he gets home if he loves Iku. Yori coolly, and without missing a beat, blackmails her, stating he knows everything about her and Yuugo and Iku’s adoption. If she so much as breathes a word to Shunpei or Iku about it, he’ll tell them everything and destroy their family.

He goes even further explaining just how much he loves Iku and blames Saki for his deep feelings of guilt all of these years when he could’ve been free to love her like he wanted if she just spoke the truth.

Later, he shows that he’s flaunting his newfound freedom in front of his mother, knowing he has her in a vice. He takes a barely dressed Iku into their room to get freaky under the guise of ‘studying’ and Saki collapses on the stairs in emotional agony, knowing she can’t do anything about it.

I know Saki’s definitely guilty of a lot of things, but Yori is a stone-cold pile of shit.

The next chapter starts with Yori and Iku about to get it on in their bedroom while their mother sits in the stairwell, debating what to do. As Yori’s about to get down and dirty, their mother bursts into the room to stop them, no longer caring what Yori does because she feels her duty to protect her children from a mistake is more important than the happy lie she’s created in their family.

She tells Iku that, despite the odd paternity booklet, she is 100% Iku’s mother and Shunpei is her father. She is also Yori’s mother, but as Shunpei walks in the room to see what all the fuss is about, she admits that Yuugo is Yori’s father.

The last chapter of the volume shows Saki on her wedding day. Yuugo tried to convince her to run away with him and elope, and she was actually extremely happy to hear him say that. However, she was too dedicated to Shunpei. She couldn’t break his heart.

For the first time and the last time, they decided to have sex. She slept with Yuugo on her wedding day, and Shunpei on her wedding night. Having sex with two men in a 24 hour period and getting two of her eggs from the same cycle fertilized by each of the men resulted in the previously discussed heteropaternal superfecundation – the creation of twins born of two fathers.

She tells Shunpei, who should really be wondering what the hell half-naked Yori and all-naked Iku are doing in bed, that she’ll accept a divorce if he wants one, but he refuses. He actually knew about Yori’s parentage all along, but he didn’t say anything and continued to keep up her lie because she chose to stay by his side all this time. He knew this whole situation caused her great pain, but she kept through it to be by his side.

So, before I continue, some side notes tell us that Yori’s next dialogue is knowingly horrible and he feels guilty about it before he even says it. Keep that in mind.

Shunpei tells Yori that it doesn’t matter if they’re not blood related, he will always be his precious son. Yori says, and I’m directly quoting here.

Yori: “I’m sorry, Dad. I am not happy at all. I like mom and dad, but I have thought about how good it would be if dad wasn’t my dad and how great it would be if mom wasn’t my birth mother. Just now, mom said all of this is my responsibility. Therefore, can you give me Iku?”

Yup. Garbage person. He basically told his parents to their faces that he enjoyed the idea of them not being his real parents and started a negotiation to be ‘given’ Iku, like she’s restitution.

And don’t give me anything about this being less bad because he realizes it’s a shitty thing to do.

To quote Todd from Bojack Horseman – “You can’t keep doing this! You can’t keep doing shitty things and then feel bad about yourself like that makes it okay. YOU NEED TO BE BETTER!”

But we’re not done.

Yori: “I don’t need dad or mom. That’s why….I’m taking Iku! Because I only need Iku!”

The volume ends with kidnapping. Swell.

———————————-

This volume is horrible. Yuugo’s being a dick. Mori’s being a creepy bitch. Yori’s being a dick. Saki’s a terrible person who got off too easily. Shunpei’s a bit of a doormat. Iku….Iku is literally not doing anything. She’s responded to everything in this volume with the same look of blank surprise. She seemed slightly upset when Mori told her Yori might not be her brother, but that was about it.

Yori uses his manipulative garbage person ways to more freely boink his sister and then uses them again to get Iku, acting like he’s entitled to her and Iku just goes with it. Iku you are one step away from being a prop, but that’d be a compliment because props actually have functions.

Some people have this weird view on love that it’s romantic to seem like you care about literally no one else but the person you love, but that view always struck me as toxic and horribly unhealthy. Love should make you a better person, not further drive you into dickery. You shouldn’t feel like you can be a heartless monster to people, especially your parents, just because you love someone and want to be with them.

There’s not much else to say about this volume. Everyone is terrible. Everything is terrible.

Next volume is our finale! Can they clean up this mess of glorious proportions and somehow make me not want to throw my computer out a window?

Stay tuned.


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