Jun 30, 2008

Summary: Arakure (Wild Ones), Vol 4, chp 17

This chapter is another filler chapter that took me FOREVER to get through because most of the dialog was very casual speech. I'll try to keep this brief since this chapter really doesn't move the story along. I have some comments to make at the end. So here it goes:

Leaving off from the last chapter, Azuma is at school sitting and his desk. He's resting his chin on his hand and he looks extremely salty. His classmates detect the strong negative vibes that are emanating from him and that wonder what his beef is. It seems that Azuma is in a bad mood because he's tired of hearing from everyone how handsome, smart and athletic Igarashi is. Azuma feels that he should be thought of highly too because he, too, is handsome, smart, and athletic -- but sorely lacking in humility. Azuma's egotistical outburst irritates his class mates. Blushing as though thinking about a royal prince, his classmates tell Azuma that he should give up because nobody can rival Igarashi. Azuma is crushed and his classmates turn away and start talking about the upcoming athletic meet. In walks Sachie which brightens Azuma's day only to have it turn gray because she just wants him to relay a message to Igarashi for her.

Later, in the boys locker room, Azuma, Igarashi, and so other guys are changing into their PE clothes. Azuma wonders what evil lurks behind Igarashi's smile. Meanwhile Igarashi is annoyed that Azuma is staring at him. Out loud Azuma says, "Actually, I wonder if he's hiding something. He really could be yakuza." This catches Igarashi off guard. He comes in close to Azuma and with a charming upward gaze says to him, "If you don't want to cause trouble to Sachie-sama, I, myself would stop taking. So ... don't cause trouble. " I guess Azuma hadn't realized he spoke out loud and says to Igarashi that it was a slip of the tongue, to which Igarashi, with that falsely sweet smiles that he delivers threats with says, "I see, well then don't let your tongue slip." The class bell rings and Azuma is left once again salty with the thought that Igarashi is perfect.

Later in the day, Azuma is back in class. He is furious and thinking about how he wants to win. Then he overhears some boys talking about Igarashi. Apparently Igarashi has enemies and they plan to interfere with him at the athletic meet. Later on the class is deciding what events to enter at the athletic meet. The class wonders what Igarashi will do. They agree that he can participate in anything other than volleyball. Azuma, upon hearing this, assumes that it means Igarashi is bad at volleyball, so he hatches a plan in his mind to be Igarashi's savior to elevate his own status and, therefore, volunteers Igarashi and himself to participate in the volleyball competition. Later back at home, Sachie brings up the fact that Igarashi, as a 1st year student, single handedly beat the third years at last year's volleyball competition. The other yakuza wistfully recall the memory and the bets they mode in association with last year's sport competitions. Azuma is mad that Igarashi is ringer. Sachie breaks the tense moment by promising to buy them meat with all the money she collected from the class if they win. Sachie smiles broadly and says that she thinks the two of them together will be invincible. Happily, Azuma grab Sachie's hands and says, "Sa-chan, I'll do my best." The sight of Azuma holding Sachie's hands upsets and saddens Igarashi. I guess he's sad that he isn't free to act the same way towards Sachie.

The day of the meet comes and Azuma acts like he doesn't know anything about volleyball. Igarashi makes up for him though. Later, the 3rd year boys are planning to sabotage Igarashi in the final match. At the water fountain, Azuma is openly criticizing Igarashi which draws the attention of the 3rd-years. They go about enticing Azuma to be a part of their scheme. Later, Igarashi is cooling off at the water fountain when Azuma approaches and asks him to follow him somewhere. Azuma has only pretended to go along with the 3rd years' plans and instead wants to side with Igarashi, but he doesn't know how to approach Igarashi yet because he knows that Igarashi would not accept "The Big Handshake." Azuma figures that siding with Igarashi would be better for his popularity than going against him, besides, he doesn't want to hurt Igarashi. And off they go ... Azuma leads Igarashi to the bushes that the 3rd-years are lying in ambush. Azuma brags that he fooled the 3rd-years and tells them that he's in league with Igarashi. Igarashi has no choice but to go along with Azuma. Azuma continues with a sick grin of his face saying that he betrayed them because he hates them and that while he understands their beef with Igarashi, he doesn't feel that there's any pride in winning through sabotage. Igarashi follows up with the threatening sweet grin by reminded the third years that they should be studying for entrance exams. The third years seem to be cowering away and Igarashi and Azuma go on their way. However a few of them are hell-bent on taking revenge for last year's 3rd year students and attack Igarashi with a wood post (by the way, this a great way to kill somebody, so I found this scene quite disturbing -- people don't get up after being hit with one of these.) "Shit!" Azuma says as he realizes what's just happened. (Though, I'm not sure whether he's worried for Igarashi or worried that Igarashi will lose it and go ape-sh*t-crazy on the boys who just assaulted him. Next page --) It appears that he's actually concerned for Igarashi's safety. Igarashi, looking fairly bruised and battered, picks himself off the ground, licks away the blood from a cut inside his mouth and, while taking hold of the wood from his assailants grip, informs him that the final round of the volleyball competition is starting soon and that they should leave for the meeting area. Igarashi continues by informing his assailant that he thinks the 3rd years are on the edge of being unsportsman-like and that it's best that they decide this dispute at the competition, as he breaks the wood post in half.

Back at the competition, Sachie is arriving to watch volleyball from having watched the basketball game. Igarashi and Azuma, now united, decide to kick some a** on the volleyball court. They, of course, win. Later, Azuma walks in on Igarashi who is bandaging himself up in the nurse's office. Azuma confirms his suspicion Igarashi was hurt and suggests that he let a doctor tend to him. Igarashi acts like nothing is wrong, which causes Azuma to grab and lift up Igarashi's shirt, revealing a bandage on Igarashi's ribs (yet again). Outside, Sachie is happy and calls up through the window to congratulate the two on their victory. Azuma yells back "Thanks, Sa-chan." Igarashi, irritated, remarks about whether it's okay for Azuma to call Sachie that. Azuma then realizes that he's not the only one who wanted to show off and is envious. He decides to take a little dig at Igarashi by saying, "It bothers you that call her 'Sa-chan.'"

And finally, they are back in class and there's a notification on the blackboard about how the 3rd years were disqualified from games involving balls and that their penalty is to clean the school grounds (or something like -- I really struggled with this one). The 3-yrs complain and Igarashi with that threatening grin asks them if they would rather do something else, to which they all eagerly agree that they will clean the school yard. The ending narration reads something like, "Who knows whether the Class President's kindness will allow them to pass their entrance exams or not."
My thoughts on this chapter:

It seems that after the last couple of chapters, the author is trying to tone down Igarashi's temper and violent tendencies. I'm not sure whether I bought it. My feeling is that if someone were to start beating me with a wood post, I would think that this person is trying to kill me, so my instinct would be obtain a weapon and fight back with the intent of injuring the person enough to stop them from hurting me. I wonder are we supposed to believe that Igarashi did not return the assault because they are on school grounds and he has an image to maintain. I imagine breaking the post in front of the boys was threat enough to stop them from doing anything further. Perhaps Igarashi believes in order to not trouble Sachie that he has to maintain his princely image at school. Sigh ... still I think a proper beat-down was in order, though.
Ugh, now that that's done, I can get around to the next chapter of "Kisu mo yori Hayaku". I already skimmed it so I can tell you that the chapter is very sweet. Anyhow, it should only take me a sitting or two to translate it. As for "Arakure," a new story arc begins with the next chapter. This arc begins at Christmas with a gift and ends with Sachie caring for Igarashi when he gets sick. There are, also, flashbacks to Igarashi's childhood. This looks like a very nice story arc and I look forward to finally being able to read it in detail.

Jun 17, 2008

100% Perfect Girl Manwha -- how low will it go?

The manhwa series "100% Perfect" girl started out as a sweet Cinderella story about an ordinary girl from Korea and generic "European" prince falling in love. That sweetness lasted for about 2 volumes and since then the story has been getting weirder and weirder in a very misanthropic way. At first this was going to be a semi-feminist rant about the way the character "Jay" is treated, but then I realized all of the characters in this manhwa are distasteful. Also, I'm pretty sure the author, "Wann," has writer's block and doesn't know what to do with the story. I'm afraid with the way things have been going -- Jay's been kidnapped 3 times and she is constantly mentally abused -- that Wann has painted himself/herself into a corner because Jay has been through situations that cannot be recovered from. If this were somewhat realistic she would have probably killed herself by now because the human mind is not built to withstand as much trauma as she's been through. She certainly can't be with Jarte because he betrayed her in the deepest manner, plus, he's just as sexually depraved as the villains in this tale. Based on other series by Wann that I've read, I wondered if it was cultural because this pattern, in milder forms, was present in other stories. Consequently, I tried to keep an open mind, but I've come to the conclusion that Wann has never been in love and that he/she simply does not like people. With this lack of experience and attitude, it's impossible to write a love story and have it ring true.

So here's what urks me about "100% Perfect Girl" and Wann in general: what the heck is with the extremely possessive feelings that all of the main male characters feel towards Jay and why it is that these men only know how to express themselves in an aggressive and violent manner towards Jay. For a story that is supposed to be a love story, there is no love in it. Most of the scenes that involve sexual activity are pretty close to what is considered "rape" in the US. Rape is never and act of love, so in reading this manwha it's very hard for me to like any of the male characters. They all come off as thuggish and cowardly -- very anti-male. And then there's poor Jay who can only be kind, get kidnapped, be nearly raped and wait for her prince to come rescue her followed by the prince, himself, attempting to force his way on her. So I wonder what Wann will do with our "hero" , "Jarte," who has once again rescued Jay, who is naked and crying on a bed after waking up with that arm's dealing guy trying to have his way with her. Will Wann let the healing begin with a hug and "let's take you to sanitarium?" Or better yet, an I'm sorry, now I will send you back home and support you for the rest of you life as penance for ruining your life? Or will Jarte try to take advantage of Jay while she's naked and mentally fragile.

I quit buying this manwha in book form during the Capelletti incident because it didn't square with my values and I don't want to encourage the US publisher of this series to continue publishing and distributing this misanthropic sh*t. I will admit to hypocrisy, though, since I still pay a quarter per chapter to read it online. I don't read this series for fun, though. I read it because I'm curious as to how low this tawdry tale will go.