It's getting reeeeal close to the end of the year, and we're thinking it's probably a good idea to get all our pending reviews written before the calendar changes, but we're also suffering from intense weekend-itis, which is exacerbated by an extreme case of the i-dun-wannas. We did get all our deadlines met, but in an ideal world we'll also finish Sailor Moon volume 5. But since we refuse to do any more work work today, and we certainly refuse to work tomorrow (Saturday), we'll have one day left in the year to do it, and I think we'll need more than that.
But this isn't supposed to be about our work schedule, it's supposed to be about Fire Force! And oh my gosh, you guys, we just saw the trailer for the anime last night, and it looks soooooo cool! I mean, if we watch it too many more times, there are a few parts where I'm like, "I dunno..." and that might increase, and the voice of Shinra may take a while to convince us he's perfect for the part, but we've seen the trailer like six times now and we're still pretty excited. I mean, I might be able to find faults with the animation, but they're not enough to make for an unenjoyable anime. Mostly it's the Infernal animation that seems a little stilted, but Infernals are basically zombies, so they're supposed move kind of jerkily, I would imagine.
But this isn't supposed to be about the anime, it's supposed to be about volume...something...fifteen! Volume 15 of the manga! And I knew that I would be writing this review today, so last night I stopped to try to remember what all I would be writing about, and I was like, "..." But if you've been reading our reviews, you know that's not entirely uncommon.
Basically what happens is there's a scene where Shinra's all upset because the government won't let them tell the whole world what they found out at the Oasis, and Viktor's like, "Well, duh. What did you expect? Time to call in the strays!" And then basically the whole series shifts over and it's like, what happened to all the main characters in this thing? Because! Joker goes over to Benimaru and says hey, you wanna knock some heads at the Holy Sol Temple, and Benimaru's all, "Cool," and that's what the whole volume is about! It's like, "Oh, did you think this series was about a kid named Shinra Kusakabe?" We're pretty sure Joker's his dad, though, so you know, it's all in the family, anyway.
The best, and I don't know if it had anything to do with the plot, was when they were standing on the building looking at the Temple's HQ, and Benimaru explained that he was basically there to make sure Joker didn't try to pull anything funny, and Joker was like, "Don't push me!" ...I'm still not sure the meaning of that is immediately apparent, even in the manga, but maybe that just means I don't have a high opinion of reading comprehension in general? I assure you it has nothing to do with a lack of faith in other people and everything to do with the fact that, after all our work work work, I'm not sure I'm comprehending things properly. Like, do we have to add "don't push me off?" I don't think so, but it still sounds off (ironically) without it. But it sounds worse with it, so. Anyway, I still thought it was a funny joke, my odd perceptions of phrasing aside.
And really, that's pretty much what the whole volume is, is Joker and Benimaru beating up priests. ...Okay, it's actually not. There's a ton of backstory. But before I get into that, I want to say how much fun it is to have Benimaru around. I'm totally with Joker on this. The priests are all, "Ha ha! We're the strongest fighters in the whole Empire!" and Benimaru's like, "Cool story, bro. *kaboom*" And the priests all go flying. Joker's little song about the whole thing was surprisingly easy to deal with, for which we are very grateful. The best was when the one priest was like, "I'm not gonna fight that guy, are you crazy?" so he uses a poison dart, only it doesn't work, and the whole explanation for it is, "I dunno. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work." This is good storytelling, you guys. If something in the story doesn't make sense, just point it out as a joke and all is forgiven.
So backstory. I should maybe point out that this is a book we took to the Disneyland Office, so when it suddenly took an extremely dark turn, the contrast was that much more apparent. It maybe didn't help that we were sitting in a somewhat out-of-the-way area with some picnic tables, and a couple came along to take a break and plan their next move. Normally, people overhearing any sort of dialogue isn't an issue, because it's all in Japanese, and people won't be scandalized if they can't understand it. However, this couple was Japanese. ...But they weren't really paying attention to us, so we're pretty sure it was all fine.
The deal with Joker. Okay, we have to point this out, because the linguistics of it have us going, "But on the one hand...and on the other hand..." In the Japanese text, Joker refers to himself using the Engish words "dark hero." If you look this up on Wikipedia and go to the English article, or if you look it up in Japanese on the English Google, it will give you the term anti-hero. That was the term that came to mind when he first said it at the end of the last volume, so we wanted to use it anyway, and the Google and Wikipedia searches only confirmed that it wasn't a terrible idea. We like the obvious contrast to Shinra's hero schtick (especially if he does turn out to be Shinra's dad). On the other hand, as we learn more about his story, we discover that he has been convinced that the light has shunned him, and he will forever live in darkness. Hence "dark hero." So now we're torn about it, but we're kind of sticklers for properly terminology...I think? Sometimes? Because sometimes we're like, "No, you learn the grammar rules so you know how to break them." But anyway, we're just more attached to anti-hero, despite the poetry of dark hero. So we stuck with anti-hero, and I guess we'll see if our editor noticed anything enough to change it.
And true to his whole dark hero schtick, Joker's past is very dark. He was raised as one of the Holy Sol Temple's secret police or whatever they are, and for some reason the guy in charge was super obsessed with him in a very negative way. I mean, it's possible that he gave other members of the squad similar attention and we never learned about it, because Joker was the only one who had an adolla link that made him think hey, maybe I should ditch this gig. It seems like the squad leader was one of those guys who was gay, but a super stickler for the rules so he tried to suppress it in unhealthy ways and it manifested itself in his bullying of Joker, or Five-Two, as he was previously called. Of course, all of that is just implied, but there's one scene where it's strongly implied that he did things to Five-Two that are not appropriate to discuss at Disneyland (it's a family park, people, and it was nonconsensual, if what we think happened is what happened).
Anyway, as previously mentioned, Five-Two, together with Leonard Burns, had an adolla link that made Five-Two think yeah, I'm done with this, and so he defected and after being hounded relentlessly by the death squad, he went back into the shadows and became the dark anti-hero we all know and love today. The end.
There's a pretty dramatic fight scene when Joker is reunited with his old leader, and Joker wins of course, and then! Burns shows up to fight him! And Benimaru's all, "Hey, I want in on this action," and Burns is all, "Juuuust kidding. Let's talk." And that's where we learn that the Holy Sol Temple was actually founded by Jonah, disguised to look like Raffles I! Dun dun DUN! First of all, again, nobody's really surprised. Second of all, when Konro takes this information to Company 8, they're all, "You mean the Holy Sol Temple was founded by someone who isn't even human!?" And we're like, "Duh, hopefully if you're worshipping a non-human, sentient being, they came along and gave you a reason to..." I mean, think about it. The whole point of Christianity is that Jesus is the Son of God. And since He founded Christianity, if He's a mere mortal, that would make Christianity a fraud. ...But I guess Japan is officially a Buddhist nation, and Buddha started out as human, so maybe that's where that sentiment came from. Still, with all the Catholic elements in this series...
Anyway, now Shinra and company finally get to be in the series again, so that's nice. I do like Joker and Benimaru, though. But Vulcan is so cute and so considerate of Lisa. Awww, he's adorable. ...And that was partly me stalling while I tried to remember what happened next, and oh my goodness, now I do! They reveal that Haijima has been trying to deliberately develop fire powers in people, which is one of those things that's like, oh yeah, I guess they would be doing that. And we get to see the kid that Rekka turned into a pyrokinetic, and the first time they show him he is creepy as all heck, but the second time, he's adorable as all heck! Oh my goodness, so cute! And we learn his name is Nataku Son, which is a combination of characters from Saiyuki. Sort of. I think Nataku's origin story is from the Hoshin Engi legend, but he's in Kazuya Minekura's Saiyuki, and I think he's friends with Goku in other versions, as well? I don't know. We looked it up, but we forgot. And there's a Nataku in CLAMP's X series, who is also an artificial human being, so there's definitely something to that. Maybe one of these days we'll look it up and it will stick. The point is, he's a super cutie.
But the important thing is that Haijima has decided that Viktor Licht has outlived his usefulness, so they tell him to bring Shinra back, and when he does, they're going to off him. I'm pretty sure they're not going to succeed, but since they're going to try to pass it off as him going Infernal, I'm wondering if he'll get some fire powers himself, or if they're just going to set him on fire the normal way...or try to.
And now I remember the best part! Oh my gosh, this was amazing. Viktor calls everyone together for a Very Serious Meeting, and he's like, "I don't know how to tell you this...but I'm a spy for Haijima!" and they're all like, "Noooo, really?" except for Iris, who was genuinely surprised, and that was super cute, too. He explains that Haijima kind of went berserk after they let Shinra go and then found out he had an adolla burst, and now they're doing experiments on kids that are leading to irrecoverable injuries and stuff. Of course this is just the thing to motivate Shinra to walk straight into a trap, so I'm not sure how much we can trust it. I mean, Viktor did seem kind of surprised that nobody was surprised about him being a spy, but that could have been an act, too. He's supposed to be a super genius, after all. On the other hand, just because you're good at science doesn't mean you're good at reading the room.
Anyway. That's pretty much where we left off. Since the story didn't spend a whole lot of time with Shinra, it almost felt like a side story that didn't really have any bearing on the plot, but actually it was pretty much getting at the heart of everything. And of course, even with the answers we got, there are even more new questions! So what's going to happen next? I don't know, but I'm super excited to see more of Nataku!
Aww, what a great series. I hope people are enjoying it!
Now the exciting thing is that this week's new releases include just one book, but! it's Sailor Moon Eternal Edition 4! Tadah! Our review is sure to have all kinds of rambling about the Japanese language and stuff! You won't want to miss it! So tune in next week!
Today I'm thankful for making almost good progress on work today, getting to post a review, the series that's taking up most of our life being one that we really really like, our meeting being canceled so we had that much more time to catch up on work, and our editor emailing to let us know it's not a big deal if we're late. Eh heh...heh...