Rurouni Kenshin Reread: Part 1

In preparation for the upcoming Hokkaido Arc, I am going to reread the entirety of the Rurouni Kenshin manga! This should be a lot of fun! :D It’s actually been a long time since I read the entire manga – and there are obviously portions that I tend to reread more often than others, which skews my general perception of the series. Reading everything in order, without skipping ahead, is just a different experience.

In this first post, I’ll discuss the first 14 chapters, which roughly corresponds to the first two volumes of the original release, everything up to and including the Jinne story.

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Blade of the Immortal Reread: Volume 12+13

This is going to be the last Blade of the Immortal reread post for a bit. I will probably tackle the next arc eventually, but right now I’m just not in the mood for something so dark! But it’s never too late to make helpful changes, which is why this post doesn’t strictly cover one volume of Blade of the Immortal, but more or less one and a half. This covers the entire finale and ending of the Kaga arc! Spoilers follow. (Also spoilers for the entire manga’s ending!!)

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Blade of the Immortal Reread: Volume 11

Yes, it has been a while since my last Blade of the Immortal post. I have been in a general motivation slump! D: This isn’t the fault of Blade of the Immortal, though. I am actually really, really fond of this part of the manga. I mean, this volume has it all: action! romance! bromance! and a beautiful cover artwork of Perfect Human Being Taito Magatsu.

This volume includes chapters 60 to 67, but I will referene future events, so beware of spoilers for the entire series!

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Things to do while we wait for Rurouni Kenshin: Hokkaido Arc

My previous post about the upcoming Rurouni Kenshin sequel, the Hokkaido arc, is currently one of the most popular posts on this blog! I have to admit that this isn’t saying much, since I often blog about random, niche stuff that no one ever reads. Hyperbole. But it does make me happy that people really do care about Rurouni Kenshin, and google for information on the new manga, because Kenshin will always hold a special place in my heart! ♥

Now, the latest news is that the start of the Hokkaido arc got delayed, from “spring” to “summer”. Honestly … I don’t mind. A part of me still can’t believe it’s even happening, so I exist in this blissful state of vague anticipation. This gives me some more time to prepare, both mentally and … linguistically. Because I’ve decided to experience this story via the Japanese tankobon release. My Japanese is not exactly up to the task right now, but I am tired of being dependent on Western releasesAnd I couldn’t wish for a better kick in the ass to get me motivated and determined!

The tricky thing about waiting for the tankobon release is that I’ll have to avoid spoilers when the serialization starts. That’s one reason why I don’t mind it hasn’t started yet. Still means it’s safe to google.

Anyway, what do we do while we wait for the Rurouni Kenshin Hokkaido Arc?

I want to do a reread of the manga. I should not even think about that! Because I still have not finished the Blade of the Immortal reread that I began ages, ages ago. But I am planning to take an (official) break from this anyway after the Kaga arc, to figure out a new approach for the next arc. I don’t want to keep doing “one volume per post”, because that can be tedious when there’s a cliffhanger … and I don’t think I can make it through the next arc in small portions. XD So if I do a Rurouni Kenshin reread, I’d rather divide by story arcs or something like this. I’m open for suggestions!

I alo have a couple of ideas for Rurouni Kenshin essays that I want to write. For example, how the manga portrays masculinity, which is a topic that came up a few months ago in the comments, and it’s been on my mind ever since.

Really, when all is said and done, I just want to chat about Kenshin. :D

Comparing Osamu Tezuka’s Nanairo Inko to Black Jack (because why not)

I actually haven’t read all of Nanairo Inko, but I’ve read a decent chunk of it, and while I don’t feel like I can (or should) give a final verdict on the series, I don’t think I’ll dramatically revise my opinion based on future chapters, or based on the ending? The chapters are stand-alone and there isn’t much in terms of overarching plot threads.

Nanairo Inko is about an amateur actor / master thief whose real identity is unknown – even his actual face, because he mostly appears in disguise, and even his usual get-up is more like an absurd costume than real clothing! Anyway … despite being an extremely skilled actor, the protagonist only works as a last-minute replacement, getting called upon whenever an actor has fallen ill, gotten arrested or otherwise can’t make it, and the play is about to be cancelled. His payment? That you kinda, sorta, look the other way should some of the audience members’ valuables disappear!

Every chapter of Nanairo Inko is named after a famous theatre play, which is either the focus of the episode or shares some themes or other parallels with it. I really like this idea! But … I don’t think I liked the execution in all cases? The connections were sometimes a bit weak?

There are actually a number of similarities between Nanairo Inko and Black Jack, and this is what I want to talk about. Of course, any manga can only lose when you compare it to Black Jack, which is the best manga ever. But let’s do it anyway!

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Wow, I finally finished reading Hikaru no Go …

I recently – finally – finished reading Hikaru no Go. I can’t explain why I stopped, many years ago, around volume 10. It … just happened? I wasn’t bored with it, I didn’t lose interest … I just never got around to reading the rest, and then time passed. A lot of time, come to think of it. Over a decade, and I dare not do the exact math.

Maybe I also didn’t return to HikaGo at that time because the manga ended in Japan and there was this vibe of disappointment about it. The general consensus seemed to be that Hikaru no Go ended suddenly, unexpectedly and long before its time, without a properly satisfying ending. But to be honest … HikaGo had a perfect ending – and then it continued for five (?) more volumes. It did not end too soon, it ended too late. It missed the perfect moment for the most impactful ending.

Hikaru no Go is amazingly well-written. I cannot even pinpoint exactly what makes it so good. All I know is that in theory, Hikaru no Go really shouldn’t be this amazing. After all, it is just a manga about a bunch of boys who are obsessed with a board game! HikaGo brilliantly proves that you can apply the sports manga formula to anything, even to an old, unglamourous board game, and it becomes exciting.

I’ve noticed that there are people in manga fandom today who aren’t familiar with Hikaru no Go at all. For example, I seem to remember that the guys on ChannelAwesome’s Weekly Manga Recap sounded like they had never heard about it, made fun of its premise and clearly had no idea that it wasn’t some random, forgotten niche thing, but one of the big hits of its time! (Not that this surprises me, the podcast seemed uninteresting anyway.)

But yeah, Hikaru no Go was big. :D It started a Go boom. Not just in Japan, or in other countries that already cared about Go, but even, like, in Europe. My parents heard about it on the radio! All my friends suddenly had Go boards! I had a Go board! (I’m … not good at Go.) These are such fond memories, man.

Now for the spoilery thoughts on how Hikaru no Go ended, and how it should have ended.

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Nami yo kiitekure #2 by Hiroaki Samura

The first two volumes of this manga are apparently out in English now, titled Wave, listen to me!, a literal translation of the Japanese title. I, however, am reading the manga in French, and its French title is “Born to be on air”. Yes, that’s French.

In my previous post about the first volume, I must have mentioned that there’s something amusing about Hiroaki Samura, with his track record of bloodily violent revenge/crime epics and an occasionally obvious interest in guro, doing a slice-of-life romance. Although he’s done it before. And even in his radically different genre, Samura doesn’t dramatically change his storytelling or drawing style. The pace is slow, the plot structure hard to pin down and the artwork realistic and lovingly detailed. But the most interesting thing is Samura’s dark, slightly bizarre humour that plays with his reputation. Spoiler warning.

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