Law of Ueki 16

February 23, 2009

Aww.  Can’t say I was very surprised by the ending of this, but I liked it a lot anyway.  I’m so glad it picked back up again these past couple volumes, because this series was a favorite of mine until recently.  The quirky sense of humor was really what did it for me, having it touch the characters and the powers and whatnot just made this series special.

I was a little unclear about the protectorates.  They are infernals that want to keep fighting with the celestials, right?  Or are they actually a race of celestial beasts?  Hmm.

I was pretty pumped by the time the archenemies came out.  I KNEW what Ueki’s was going to be, too.  That didn’t disappoint, and it was just as funny as I hoped it would be.  I thought it was actually there, though.

The talent of blank thing at the end was the perfect way to end the volume, too.

What a nice series.  Thank you, Law of Ueki, for brightening my day for so long.

Law of Ueki 15

February 21, 2009

Wow, this volume was pretty awesome.  I’m kind of surprised, actually, because I have not been enjoying it for the past several volumes.  Things are switched up a lot here, plus I think some of the monotony was broken up by the fact we’re getting down to the end of the series.

The final battles in the current round take place, including the end of Mori’s fight.  Mori’s power is actually pretty awesome, and after seeing her in action… maybe worth the wait?  Her opponent has a high IQ, so his gimmick is that he’s planned everything that could possibly happen in battle.  So… is Mori smarter?

There’s a final battle with Ueki where we learn he lost all his Celestial Powers.  Tenkai has a rather lengthy explanation for this, but rest assured it makes for the shounen battle you would expect.  No surprises there, really.

The awesome part (aside from Mori’s battle) comes when we get some background on the King of All Cosmos or whoever he is and why it is that he decided to have this competition.  The King was apparently decided at random in the past, and the current King changed the method after meeting a cute human girl.  She is… well, exactly who you think she is.  She is funny though, and so is the King, so I really did like this story.

At one point, the King says something along the lines of “It was as certain as a guy in a sitcom falling off a bike.”

I love the humor in this series a lot.  It gets a little bit of its old charm back in this volume, thanks to the King and lines like that.

The volume does end on a potentially sad note, though.  I’ve got the next volume, which is the very last one, and I intend to read it tonight.  Right after I finish writing these, actually.

Law of Ueki 14

January 7, 2009

Shame on me, I fell behind on one of my favorite shounen action series.  Truth be told, I’m getting a bit worn out on it at this point.  It’s been nothing but tournaments for as long as I can remember.  The battles aren’t even thinly disguised, or impromptu.  It’s literally just a final tournament to see who gets to be the next King.  Law of Ueki isn’t quite good enough to pull off a straight tournament, but I still really like its oddball flourishes.

I’m recently missing one of my favorite oddball flourishes for this series, which were the extremely unique fighting environments.  Nothing will ever top the battle that took place where you had to wear a Russian hat and dance in order to breathe while fighting, but I still think highly of the settings.  The fight with Team Marilyn took place in a deserted city that was only spiced up by the occasionally friendly ghost, and the environment at the end of the volume… while it does have hazards that will end the battle, it’s just a grid in an arena.  Boo.

There’s a break in the fighting where Ueki gets to go home and spend time with his adorable family, then hangs out with his Celestial Dad.  Both scenes were pretty good in their way.  They made the types of jokes which are really stupid, but can be really funny if they strike you in the right way.  These jokes did it for me, at least.

Mori’s power is finally, FINALLY revealed in this volume.  I was a little underwhelmed until the very end, when the condition was revealed.  Then I was rather enamored.  The explanation as to how Mori came to her conclusion while looking at Sano’s notes is 100% lost in translation in the worst way.  It is explained copiously by the characters, but not seeing Sano’s note written in a sloppy mix of English and Japanese, plus whatever other weirdness was factored in just made me give up on following the reason.  That’s fine though, it’s not very important in the end.

One of the characters mentions winning against one team and being “in like Flynn.”  I was a bit disturbed by this comment coming from a shounen manga character, but I’ll take my vaguely dirty Errol Flynn references where I can get them.  I also get treated to the line “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, Kill Norton.”  That one works on a couple different levels.

As much as I loved this series early on, I would say it’s pretty well over at this point.  The endgame is being stretched out a little bit, but it also feels like the series burned through all its good ideas.  I’m still kind of hoping for a clever conclusion two volumes from now, though.

Law of Ueki 13

September 26, 2008

Hmm.  It took me a long time to review this one, for some reason.  I think it’s been sitting here for almost two weeks.

Using a very shounen formula, Ueki winds up indesposed for most of the volume, so it’s up to Mori, Sano, and Hideyoshi to take out Team Marilyn, minus Marilyn, who’s of course looking for Ueki.  The team members are weapons experts, of course, but the three good guys wind up being slippery enough that the team resorts to their powers.  Two of the characters reveal their powers pretty quickly, and just as quickly, the three heroes work up an elaborate scheme to thwart them.  Sano and Hideyoshi both have some good character moments, Sano when he basically hits rock bottom and believes there’s really no way for him to win against his opponent, and Hideyoshi when he’s told by Sano to run away and save himself when the others are being attacked.  The round ends, and by the end of the volume, things have gone into overtime with only a few people left standing, Marilyn and Ueki included back in with their teams.

You know what doesn’t happen?  Yeah.  I avoided talking about it.  But there’s one thing I’ve been waiting for these last several volumes.  It STILL doesn’t happen.  It’s not even really mentioned.  But… something will have to happen next volume, I think.  I hope.  The chase is on, and is there really any other way?

I still really like this series despite the fact it’s slipping slightly backwards into mediocre shounen territory… the kind of funny and unique battles are what I like about it, and while we do find out all the other player’s powers, including Marilyn (who of course has the coolest power in the series so far), most of the volume is spent fighting and digging out the inner self.  I think there will be a bit more of the latter before the battle with Team Marilyn is over, but I’m looking forward to the last few rounds since we are now closing in on the end of the race for the crown.

Law of Ueki 12

August 18, 2008

I found this at the bottom of a pile when I was shuffling through older stuff.  It’s a real shame I forgot about this, because it’s still one of my favorites.

I liked this volume more than the last, maybe because it’s sort of a between volume where the tournament isn’t acually happening.  There’s still fighting… I think the first chapter wraps up the match from last volume, Ueki goes one-on-one against an opponent from earlier in the series, and we see the start of the team’s next fight.  I think the fighting is better in small pieces like this, especially since it shines because it’s gimmicky.  The gimmicks only last so long before they turn into boring battle strategies, so shorter is better.

The end of the fight from last volume isn’t too exciting, and at the point it left off, it was really just a matter of Ueki powering through and/or outsmarting the robots.  That’s fine.  The actual end of the fight was awesome since the opponent summoned a copy of Ueki, and that didn’t actually go in the direction every other series would have taken it.

Some of the in-between parts are okay, but at this point, I’m just plain angry they haven’t revealed Mori’s power yet.  It’s really time, I think.  It just has to happen next volume.  If it doesn’t… well, I guess I’ll just complain some more.  The better in-between part is the one about the two King Candidates in prison.  I like how Sano’s King Candidate always gets framed for stuff Mr. K does.  Mr. K has somehow made this person into his patsy, and it’s awesome to read.

The fight between Ueki and the old character is sort of boring, but it mostly serves to give Ueki a way to fight the next team.  I can respect that, and I sort of like the character he was fighting, and they do something kind of funny to one of the officials before they start fighting, so I guess that’s okay.

The next group apparently wiped out their opponents at the beginning of the tournament in less than 5 minutes.  Their opponents were the group Ueki and company already beat, the guy with perfect hair that could dig and that group.  I’m not real sure if I like this group or hate them, but I do know I liked the one-on-one fight Ueki got with the opponent who kept complaining of getting tricked.  I LOVED that guy.  It was probably one of the best fights in awhile, and by awhile I mean this volume and the last, because that’s as far back as I can remember for awesome fights.

So yes, still fun, still going strong, still quirky and cute.  I can see how some would dismiss it as repetitive and somewhat derivitave shounen, but the fact that I like it so much and still think it’s worth reading this far in probably counts for something.  Or at least it does for me.

Law of Ueki 11

May 14, 2008

As much as I love this series (and I love it a lot), I’ll be the first to admit this volume wasn’t very good. It’s started into another tournament-style section with a bunch of different characters fighting. Everyone involved with the end of the tournament has been introduced, and in addition to the different groups of characters fighting (5 people on Ueki’s team plus 5 on an opposing team, a lot of times the characters fight in pairs that switch off throughout), there are also a ton of spectators that are shown, presumably all characters who Ueki will fight before the series ends in five more volumes. First and foremost among my pet peeves is too many characters, and having this drift in that direction is breaking my heart.

On the plus side, there are still some pretty insane things going on. The tournament is held on an island full of “sleeping fruits,” which are gigantic angry fruits with gaping mouths full of sharp teeth, and the characters spend a lot of time dodging these fruits and using them as part of their strategy in battle, which is pretty cool. The object of this leg of the tournament is to find a treasure, and each party is given a map with a piece that is revealed every time an opponent is beaten. The treasure could be on the first piece of the map revealed or the last piece. Plus the powers of the opponents are getting crazier, especially since a lot of these people now have “level 2” abilities. I don’t really want to spoil that surprise though, since that’s one of my favorite parts of the series.

EDIT: Let me not fail to mention the excellent adaptation in this volume. There’s a section near the end of the book where a character has to constantly make puns, and the puns have to match up with the action. The puns don’t have to be good, and in fact the puns are supposed to get progressively worse, but I can only imagine the number of sleepless nights the translator and/or editor sat up thinking of how to make a pun out of a charging rhino and whatever other random things were going on. Also, the text on the back cover was very funny. I don’t normally read that, but I probably should, because it seems like I’m missing out.

So yes, I still like it, but geez. Maybe all these people will be eliminated in another 2-3 volumes and I won’t have to worry about too many characters anymore. That would be great.

Law of Ueki 10

March 5, 2008

Aww, when do we find out about Mori?!  I’m serious, I want to know already.

There is a small bit of the next leg of the contest revealed, which is that the next step can be undertaken as a group of five contestants.  Since Mori, Rinko, Sano, and Ueki are already together, they seek out a fifth member.  This volume is all about the fifth member and recruiting him.  Also, saving a house full of orphans from a Yakuza guy.  You know.

As you can expect, the fifth member is very silly.  His power, while quirky, isn’t quite as funny as some of the others we’ve seen so far (in this volume alone, we have the power to turn rubber balls into acid, the power to turn voice into ice, and the power to turn hair into a drill).  He sort of doesn’t use the power to fight, though.  His skill lies in tricking people, and he does it very well.  When we first meet him, he tricks Mori and Ueki into washing a car because he claims it’s so fun that he won’t let them help him.  He also uses a portrait of a gorilla in his profile in the King Candidate computer system as an intimidation tactic.  He’s just great.

I realize that this series is kind of shallow and really derivative of One Piece, but I just can’t help myself.  I always look forward to the really, really weird powers and the weird ways they get used in battle, and I just like Ueki and Mori a lot.  It’s very positive and upbeat compared to some of the heavier shounen tournament-style series I read, and I enjoy it immensely.  I don’t think a lot of people read this, and I always see sort of negative comments about it being a copy, but I think it really is great for its own reasons.