It’s another Shonen Jump edition of my Mini Musings. Expect to see a lot of these, as I read a lot of Viz. I’ll try to mix it up a little with some other pubs and some Shojo. But a look at my shelves will show more SJ than Robofish. Reviews after the cut.

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Beet The Vandel Buster Vol. 12
By Riku Sanjo & Koji Inada
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

While fighting the Vandel Sir Baron, another Vandel arrives to challenge Sir Baron for the right to fight Beet. Sir Baron’s secret is revealed during the fight that he has a second Vandel brain for support that is as savage as Sir Baron is civil. Beet bearly survives the battle, but Sir Baron comes to end it while Beet is recovering, and must face Kissu to get to him.

While all the Vandels are after Beet, this volume is really about Kissu. Sir Baron is a Vandel from his past, and when he faces him again at first, he runs away. Ashamed of his cowardice and of himself, he withdraws from his friends and Milfa. During this time, you never see his eyes, only the shadow of his hair over them. It was a little disturbing not to be able to see his eyes, but it really got across the depths that Kissu had fallen to. As he slowly is brought back by a village girl’s story of her gaining her own courage, his eyes are revealed again, with the determination to fight. The character development of Kissu was great. We learn another of power of the axe saiga that Beet carries, and get a formal introduction to the Winged Knight. A few more hints are dropped about his identity, and the question of who and what vandels are is posed. It’s ashame we may never know the answers though, as the magazine that Beet was serialized in, Monthly Shonen Jump, was canceled and the artist Inada became ill, leaving it’s future unknown. I hope it finds a way to continue, as I really enjoy the characters and story.

bleach-volume-21.jpgBleach Volume 21
By Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action, Supernatural
Rating: ★★★★★

This volume ties up the loose ends in the Soul Society arc, and Ichigo, Orihime, Chad and Uryu return to the real world just in time to return to school. But there’s a new threat from the Hollow who call themselves Arrancars, and they’ve come for Ichigo and his friends. Ichigo is also contacted by a boy who calles himself a Vizard, and that his is just like Ichigo; a soul reaper with a hollow’s mask.

After some quiet time to reflect after the end of the Soul Society Arc, this volume takes off again, throwing some curve balls along the way. We learn that Ichigo isn’t the only person with a Hollow inside of him, and that his ability has a name. We meet Uryu’s father, who has an offer for his son that he may not be able to refuse. The biggest surprise of all though involves Ichigo’s father. I don’t want to spoil it, but it really surprised me when I read it! This volume moved at a good pace, and didn’t really slow down even though we are thrown a lot of information that will become relevant later. This volume gets a high score just for Ichigo’s father’s revelation!

knights-of-the-zodiac-volume-21.jpgSaint Seiya: Knights Of The Zodiac Vol. 21

By Masami Kurumada
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action, Fighting, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

The race is still on, as the 108 stars try to make it through the 12 temples of the Gold Knights to reach Athena and take her head. They are stopped at the Temple of the Maiden, Virgo. Shaka, the Gold Knight who is believed to be the reincarnation of the Buddha faces off against three of the Gold Knights killed in the Sanctuary Arc, Saga, Camus and Shura. Each side will stop at nothing to stop the other, even unto death.

Throughout this batter between Gold Knights, we are constantly hit with a feeling that there is something else going on, underneath the surface. Shaka feels it, and Saga, Camus and Shura almost reveal it. It is something that the three dead Gold Knights feel so strongly about that they are willing to use a forbidden technique, the Athena Proclamation, to combine their powers and defeat Shaka. They throw away their honor and knighthood for it. Are they really just lackeys of Hades then, or do they hide a deeper purpose? It’s this moral ambiguity with the villains that I really like about Saint Seiya. With the previous two story arcs, the main villains are shown to be inherently good people who just strayed from the straight and narrow (admittedly really far from there). The gold knights we are seeing this this story are in the same vein. It makes the villains more interesting and not just cut-outs.

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