Saturday, December 17, 2016

Army of One, or why Junji Ito hates your sanity (and possibly also Christmas)

Hellstar Remina cover. That's a tongue by the way.

I wanted to write something about a Christmas manga considering this is December and everything.
I considered writing something from a vanilla feel-good manga but then I thought: “Nah, fuck it, everybody is going to write about warm and fuzzy feelings so let’s look at something different.”

And then I remembered Junji Ito’s Army of one, an extra story to his Hellstar Remina manga. First of all, let me tell you that Remina is really not that good in my opinion. Sure, it has many of the things Ito loves to show, but it isn’t as messed up as Uzumaki or Gyo and I think it’s even a little boring.

But Army of One… heh, that’s another thing entirely.

It’s one of Ito’s most fucked up works. No, I’m not kidding, it’s creepy as hell.

And it’s set during Christmas, too. I can picture Ito and his editor talking about the tankoboun release for Remina, I wouldn’t be surprised if it went something like this:

Editor: We’ll publish Remina next December, can you do a bonus story for added value?
Ito: Sure, give me a couple of days to think of something that can hurt people’s brains even more and I’ll work on that.
Editor: You know, that Christmas thing is coming, and it’s always kind of bothered me how here in Japan we made it all about couples and being together and shit.
Ito: *Scratches head* Being together… You know, that kind of gives me an idea.
Editor: Is it fucked up?
Ito: *grins* Oh yeah.
Editor: *Sips coffee* Cool.

Anyway, on with the story!

The story starts when a man finds a dead couple floating down the river. It’s something that would be scary and all by itself, but the bodies are actually stitched together.

Don’t believe me?

Look:

You’re welcome.

After this we meet our loser hikikomori protagonist, Michio, a young adult who has refused to go out of his room for seven years because the girl he liked in High School saw him only as a friend and he was too shy to tell her about his feelings.


He also won the "most likely to be bullied" award in High School

In other words Michio is a little bitch.

One day, Michio’s classmate he liked, Natsuko, shows up to invite him to a bar where he can talk with the gang from High School because they want to include him in the organization of a class reunion. 

This is Natsuko, she likes cool guys.

Once in the bar, and while talking with his old classmates, Michio learns that Natsuko is engaged to Noriyuki, who was the cool guy in class and surprisingly he’s still cool seven years later. This is where Michio decides to show everyone he’s beta as fuck and excuses himself so he can go back to his room to cry and cut himself.

Ok, ok, he doesn’t cut himself. But you almost think he does. When nobody is looking.

As he walks back home, Michio sees more dead people, stitched together of course, and at the same time, the Army of One planes start dropping fliers with the lyrics to one stupid jingle of theirs that they have been occasionally playing on the radio. Obviously, people freak out about the killings and that night, while Michio is doing some research on the internet, the Army of One takes over the radio and starts broadcasting their jingle non-stop.

The Army of One jingle, so annoying it'll drive you nuts!

This jingle ounslaught causes the number of stitch murders to increase a lot.

And by that I mean this shit:

You’re welcome again. 

The result is people starts to freak out even more. Michio tries to convince Natsuko and the guys to postpone the class reunion because it is believed that the Army of One attacks large groups.
Of course nobody fucking listens to Michio because everyone kid of thinks he sucks.

And so, the day of the reunion comes, and Michio goes there to look at things, thinking that he may be able to help. He gets in trouble with the police who are there to stop the Army of One in case they attack, since now everybody thinks it is a terrorist group. Lucky for Michio, Natsuko helps him by telling the cops he’s just shy and he’s also a former classmate.

So Michio and Natsuko enter the hall where the class reunion is to be held, and they find it empty.

Fear the horror of the empty hall!
Well, there were about 500 guests already in there, so I’m sure even the Army of One would have trouble stitching that many corpses together and then displaying them somewhere without anyone noticing, because that would mean that…

Crap.

This many people killed at once sends society down the drain, and nobody wants to leave their houses anymore or gather in crowds, which means things are approaching apocalyptic levels of we’re all fucked.

On the other hand, now that Noriyuki’s out of the way and people no longer want to meet because that would put them in danger, Michio somehow gathers his courage to go and see Natsuko. 

"I know your boyfriend just died, but... wanna hang out?"

Wow, who would have thought mass murder and mass hysteria was all our hikikomori protagonist needed to man up?

So he goes to see Natsuko and sees that the air force is finally getting off their butts and doing something about the Army of One planes.

Michio is convinced his butt is saved so he rushes to Natsuko’s house to tell her all will be ok and that he loves her and…

She's really keeping the family together.

But damn. Even the poor dog.

And now the air force planes are dropping the fliers, too.

So.

What. The fuck. Happened at the end?

Well, there are many theories floating around the internet, but I personally think the song and fliers drive contain some sort of hypnotic command that drives people nuts and forces them to kill and stitch each other together.

But then if you apply logic then it makes no sense. I mean, the song driving people nuts and into killing and stitching others I can buy. But how the hell do you move up to 500 people and display them like it happens here without anyone noticing?

That is the part that makes no sense at all.

And that is what makes this creepier. Because yes, there’s something out there that is forcing people to kill each other and stitch their victims together and even that is unclear because the corpses don’t show any injuries or signs of struggle. So, while the jingle may explain how corpses end up stitched together, it doesn’t explain the killings or who the fuck moves the corpses or who’s really behind the Army of One.

And that’s the scarier part.

Ito’s art is top notch as usual (if you like his style) and I like it he keeps the gore to a minimum, we only get to see corpses but there’s no blood here.

I didn’t like the protagonist that much, but for the story Michio actually works well as a character so that’s a plus. The ending is shocking enough but not that unexpected as the song features prominently during the story so we know it has something to do with the whole thing, but I do like that all it explains is the stitching, nothing else. It does keep the mystery intact and that’s commendable.

Grades:

Art: 10 skulls out of 10. Ito’s at his best here and his style really drives home the horror of the situation.

T&A: 0 skulls out of 10. There’s a few boobs here but you don’t want to see that. I promise you that.

Story: 8 skulls out of 10. I really like it a lot, but the unexplained ending drives me crazy.


And before I forget, Merry Christmas!


Friday, September 2, 2016

Alright...

For the very, very few people who drop by, you're probably wondering... or maybe not... who knows?

Anyway, you may be wondering "where the hell is Skullo?"

The answer is simple:

Law school is kicking my ass.

And I figured my grades would be better if I tried harder, so there's also that.


I may write something here again soon... or not so soon. It depends on how much my butt continues getting kicked by college.

Still, thanks for dropping by and taking a look.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Boku Girl 100. A new arc starts!


Not that many gender benders get 100+ chapters.
Last time I really thought this one was going to end. How could I not? Loki left, Mizuki got that weird hourglass and things had a sense of finality that was difficult to ignore. But now we have chapter 100 and it is the beginning of a new arc that, I must admit, still has the feeling of final arc to it, but not as much as the previous two chapters.

(I’d mention something about no live translations available anywhere but let’s just be patient on that front.)


So... what about this chapter stands out?

Lots of stuff, actually.

And as usual, there be spoilers ahead so proceed at your own risk!

Ok.. ready then?

Let's talk about the chapter!

For starters, Loki’s hourglass is still there and I still don’t know what the hell that thing does.
 
Damned Hourglass, what is your secret?
Also, Mizuki’s girls got bigger while she wasn’t looking, just because. I can’t, of course, show them here to keep this blog’s rating accessible, but you can always look at the raws.
 
You know you noticed the change  ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
What is made clear, I believe, is that because of the hourglass, Mizuki decides to, again, confess to Fujiwara, which we all know is not something Mizuki can do. Because, let’s face it; if there is one thing Mizuki really wants, is Takeru’s thing in her thing, she just hasn’t realized it consciously yet, of course. But deep down she knows that is what she wants and we all know it. As a result, Mizuki's attempts to confess/get closer romantically to Fujiwara (at least that's what it looks like) all sink like the Titanic.
 
I know, but Mizuki hasn't noticed this road is closed.
Finding her efforts to woo Fujiwara failing totally, Mizuki sees another student standing in a secluded place. The student is Imai Mai, also known as Morals-chan since her work as part of the student council is to enforce morals at school.
 
Morals-Chan. She's scarier than a Junji Ito manga.
Imai is your typical school idol who gets good grades, is popular, pretty and elegant. But this being Boku Girl, you know there is a catch. The catch is that she’s a closet lesbian who's crazy in love with Mizuki (and I mean literally crazy). Oh, and she also hates Takeru’s penis and wants to destroy it. The funny part of the whole thing is that Mizuki thinks Morals-chan wants the Takeru all for herself. So when this happens…
 
She's thinking about chopping off his dick.
And on top of that, this happens… (just check Mizuki’s face below, it’s going to get worse).
 
Mizuki doesn't like other girls near her property.
Just look at her face. Look at it. Didn’t I say it’d get worse?
 
Is that a cracking sound I hear?
So what does Mizuki do? Well she walks away, probably thinking it’s for the best. Later, she's walking down the street when a chocolate shop catches her eye, is she thinking about using the chocolate to claim Takeru for herself?
To grab Mizuki's attention, use fluffy animals.
Lol, no. Mizuki’s plan is to use the chocolate to confess to Fujiwara.
 
Not even imaginary Fujiwara cares about Mizuki's love.
She goes in and grabs for a chocolate box, but a mysterious person reaches for the same box at the same time! Who could this person who wants to make those "I love you" special chocolates be?
 
Care to guess who is the other person?
Well, none other than Imai Mai, of course!
 
Surprise! Well, not really.
What now, you ask?

Now, it’s time to speculate!


Going by this chapter, Mizuki is probably going to think Imai wants to make some chocolate for Takeru, while it’s pretty clear Imai wants to make chocolate for Mizuki.

What’s going to be interesting is what happens after this initial misunderstanding.

I imagine Mizuki is going to try to stop Imai somehow with hilarious results.

Also, Takeru will be worrying and building up more stress, but will get some chocolate by the chapter's end.

Fujiwara will be oblivious to the whole thing as usual, or she may go after Takeru again, even if she stated a few chapters back that she was over him.

It would be interesting if Asou or Yamada show up and complicate things further.

I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens next. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

3 videos from Youtube that I enjoy for no particular reason.

He's angry. And also made of rubber.


I wonder if you'll find these videos funny?

Oh well. Let's start with...

 3. Homer and the clown ad.
You remember the episode Homer decides he wants to become a clown? Pretty nice one, huh? Well, to be honest most of the episode is not that good as far as I am concerned. There is, however, a magnificent piece of comedy in there. One that always makes me laugh.

Behold, Homer and the Clown School Ad!


Tell me that's not one of Homer's top ten best scenes in the history of the show. You can't.


2. Super Dinosaurs want to DESTROY!

You may or may not be familiar with Attack of the Supermonsters, I was not until I found this video and decided to find where the clips came from, but trust me that you don't need to watch that thing. Instead watch this video to understand the complexity of that movie's villains.



As you can tell, the budget did not go to the script. 

Anyway, next is the last one, which I am sure you'll find very amusing at the very least.


1.Balakrishna becomes the god of ass-kicking.

Before you click on the next video, and you must click on it, let me tell you that nothing can prepare you for what you are about to witness. Nothing. So just empty your mind and watch the video until around the 13 minutes mark.



What was that, you ask? Well, it was just Balakrishna kicking ass, using the power of all the Indian army from the past and the present thanks to a mystical connection with something or another... I think. And now that you have seen this, your life will never again be the same.

Do you have any weird videos to share? I'm always interested in seeing funny or amusing stuff on Youtube, so feel free to share if you feel like it.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Boku Girl 99. Is Boku Girl ending soon?



Alright, this is going to be spoiler heavy (it would be even more spoilery if I knew Japanese but I don’t) so if you don’t want spoilers then maybe you could consider not scrolling down.

Yeah.

Don’t

Scroll

Down

If

You

Don’t

Want

Spoilers

Ok?

Last warning, Sad Batman is begging you to stop to avoid spoilers.

He's the saddest.
 Oh.

I see you scrolled down anyway.

The reason why I believe Boku Girl may end soon is because of what happened in chapter 98 and 99. Those events really feel like final arc to me.

As you may know, Thor finally showed up, and his mission was to bring Loki back to Asgard.

Oh yeah, spoilers started with the sentence above, I forgot to mention that.

Anyway, it seems Loki can’t win against Thor so she makes a deal with the miniature God of Thunder and that deal apparently involves doing something to force Mizuki choose the person she loves.
 
And we all know Fujiwara (left) can't win this.
We all also know Mizuki has it bad for Takeru, so Fujiwara has a snowball’s chance in hell to win the Mizukibowl.

Loki’s (final?) prank involves an hourglass, and apparently Thor giving Takeru a concussion.
 
With his hammer.
However, it seems this hourglass has a particular, magical and very important function, which we do not yet know, however, it seems to be related to who Mizuki really loves, but I have no idea what happens when the time us up and there is no more sand.
 
Don't worry about Takeru. Thor has Asgardian band-aids!
By the time Takeru and Mizuki go back to school, Loki is nowhere to be found. And if I am not wrong, it seems nobody remembers her (or maybe nobody knows where Loki went), the only ones who apparently still remember Loki are Mizuki, Takeru and perhaps Fujiwara.
 
Loki's hourglass.
That doesn’t mean Loki is out of the picture, she’s back in Asgard looking attentively at the current events, waiting to see what happens with great interest.
 
And she's probably craving choclate and ice cream.
If you think about it, with Loki back in Asgard, and with that mysterious hourglass and the obvious select the person you want to be with scenario, it is quite clear Boku Girl may be ending soon. I just hope it won’t end by chapter 100 because I think it wouldn’t have enough pages to provide a satisfactory ending; I would really hate it if we get a rushed final chapter.

So let’s hope this arc gets at least three or four chapters more to unfold properly and, if it is indeed the last one, well, it was a nice series.