Going Too Far? Not A Chance!

Get on your gi and tie up that obi, because this week is chockabock full of more shonen manga than your fists could ever hope to keep up with. Whether you’re out for the spirit battles of Kekkaishi, made popular by its run on the late-night Adult Swim block, or or the sci-fi craziness of Ultimo, Stan Lee’s foray into the manga scene, there is plenty of new, action-packed, ridiculous fun for you to get your hands dirty with.

I mean, how could you find much more insanity than that of Excel Saga. Maybe some of you young, whippersnapper otaku won’t remember the silliness that infected the world of 90’s anime by way of Excel Saga, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jump on the bandwagon (some ten years later).¬†Granted, a lot of the jokes and spoofs are contingent upon knowledge of the popular anime and manga of the day, but that doesn’t meant that there isn’t a lot of stuff that still rings true now, and it still doesn’t make it any less over the top and vaguely offensive. Even the basic premise of the series is a funny take on a familiar anime trope: Lord Il Palazzo is out to take over the world, starting with the city of Fukuoka, but he’s got a rather slow start; his super secret organization, Across, only has one member, and it’s none other than Excel, the clumsy, overzealous and besotted girl who’ll do anything for Il Palazzo because she loves him. But between a partner who’s got pretty much every disease known to mankind, a revolving door of bizarre side characters, and then constantly trying to brutally murder an innocent alien cat called Menchi, you can pretty much rest assured that Il Palazzo’s plan has a long way to go before it comes to fruition!

Another classic action-packed title that’s got a new volume this week is none other than the beloved Case Closed! Young detective Jimmy Kudo (as he’s known in the English translation) was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got transformed into a little kid after some mobsters poisoned him with a mysterious substance! So now he’s living with his girlfriend, Rachel, and her police detective father, neither of which realize that ingenious little ‘Conan’ is actually someone they know quite well! The episodic whodunit can be a little formulaic, but there’s something really engaging about it nonetheless. Maybe there’s just a certain satisfaction in knowing that Conan will outwit everybody and their mom by the end of the day, or maybe it’s the lingering anticipation that Rachel will realize who Conan really is THIS time…. Anyway, Case Closed is a great book to pick up at any time, and it’s got enjoyment value for both young and old alike for sure.

The last book I’m going to flail about is another ridiculous manga you might have heard of on the down-low and rolled your eyes about, but that’s just because you didn’t know any better. That would be Yakitate Japan and it’s about how bread is awesome. Yes, BREAD. (Yes, there is a manga for everything.) Follow Azuma on his quest to create a national bread that can stand against the French baguette or the Italian loaf and put Japan on the map of the baking world. Yakitate smoothly blends educational information about the art of breadmaking and Japanese food culture with tons of ridiculous gags and an almost Iron Chef-like attitude. It’s also fun to see another manga that makes a lot of in-the-loop references to other, classic anime and manga, which is also a running element to be found here. This last volume wraps up the popular series with an epic bake-off between Azuma’s Team Pantasia and a long-time rival in the heart of Mount Fuji. SO MUCH BAKING IN FACT, THAT THE VERY ENVIRONMENT WILL SUFFER. So bake! Bake like you’ve never baked before, Azuma!!

So what’s the conclusion here? Simple: there’s more to shonen than just ninjas,and spirit guns, that’s for damn sure! There doesn’t have to be five billion chapters of genki dama charging and screaming to make a title fit the mold so long as the main character has enough heart and a dream.

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