This week I’ve mostly been watching…

Shub-Niggurath brand goat meat

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san. How can you not like an anime series which features Nyarlathotep, out off Lovecraft’s Chtulhu mythos, reinvented as an energetic alien girl with a thing for the male lead and who advertises herself as “the creeping chaos always smiling beside you”? Especially when it features gags like the one above.

Concrete Revolutio was made for me

Concreto Revolutio

Really, everything from the zip-a-tone patterns in the background to Jirō’s jacket gives me pleasure. Every new episode brings new wonders; this is a series I watch for the world building rather than the plot. As i said before, this really is Astro City: the anime, mixing and matching half a century of anime tropes and archetypes and creating its own pastiche universe out of it, the sum greater than the parts. This is one of the few series in which a magic girl can stop a robot detective from blowing up a World War II vintage female android by transforming the rocket he’s firing into a flower…

Concreto Revolutio: flower power

Three episodes in the structure of the show has become much clearer. Though there are hints of an overarching plot, so far this has been more of a “monster of the week” type show, with a problem and resolution in the same episode. So the first episode showcased the magical girl, the next one had a shapeshifting ghost, while this one not only has two WWII androids, but also a robot detective with the memories of a murdered police inspector. I like this, I like that the series doesn’t feel the need to hurry with its plot but takes the time to flesh out its world. Luckily it has the time to do so, as this is a two cour series, meaning it will run for half a year and twentyfour episodes.

Concreto Revolutio: the superhuman mod squad

Concrete Revolutio is basically a superhero show, but because it makes uses of Japanese genre tropes rather than the more familiar American, it feels slightly odd. The characters don’t neatly fit into superhero niches. It reminds me of some of the attempts to force classic British comics heroes into the superhero mold. I’m not quite sure what to expect and I like that feeling.

History is hokum

scenes from the Emu War as drawn by Korwin Briggs

The Emu War, Headless Folk of the French Revolution, Norse God Family Tree, how Voltaire broke the lottery, Mummy Brown and other Historical Colors and the Management Secrets of Genghis Khan are just some of the Veritable Hokum dregded up from history and served in comic form by Korwin Briggs. I discovered this by accident, following an ant’s trail of links after somebody had stolen that Mummy brown comic for their own site. Glad I did, because Korwin’s artwork is charming and he has a knack for finding interesting historical tidbits.

About that Star Wars boycott

Chuck Wendig misses the point when he talks about the efficiency of the too few white people in this movie Star Wars boycott:

Okay, first, let’s talk about the efficacy of such a hashtag, which is to say, it will have literally no effect at all. You’re throwing pebbles at mountains, bro. Boycotting Star Wars is like boycotting the sun. It will do nothing. The sun will keep on shining. Its heat will remain radiant and globally present. It will remain at the center of this space and we will continue to orbit it in an elliptical manner. Your efforts will have no meaningful result except to reveal yourself as a cruddy dingleberry dangling from fandom’s ass-hairs.

Showing that you’re an arsehole is of course the whole reason for this boycott in the first place, whether it really is a 4chan troll or not. In the cesspool of American rightwing politics being obnoxious, hateful and dumb are positive qualities and there’s an ongoing competition to lower the bar. Boycotting the new Star Wars movie because it now contains some actual people of colour fits in perfectly. If you want a career as a rightwing pundit or politician, you have to earn your pay churning out this sort of low grade idiocy to show you’re willing, without anybody but the dumbest part of the base expecting anything to come from it. In fact, that would even be counterproductive as the whole lifecycle of rightwing politics depends on recycling the same old issues in different mutations to keep the base hyped up and unhappy. Actually achieving something interferes with that.

Actually, I am a… (Jitsu wa Watashi wa)

welcome to the world of idiots - from Jitsu wa Watashi wa

Kuromine Asahi is a normal high school student with one big problem: he can neither lie nor keep a secret, something that amuses his friends greatly, though it does put a crimp in his social life, as those who do need to keep a secret avoid him. Worse, his complete inability to hide his feelings let him to be rejected by his crush “last summer” before he even had a chance to talk to her. But now he’s turning a new leaf, sure that he is able to hide his attraction to Shiragami Youko, a mysterious “cool beauty” he’s been admiring from afar, a girl distant from the rest of the class, always alone. His friends of course find out about his new crush in less than half a dozen of pages and challenge him to confess to her — better to confess and be rejected, than be shotdown before you even get the chance. With their encouragement he rushes over to talk to her, only to find out that she’s a vampire.

Kuromine meets vampire - from Jitsu wa Watashi wa

That in a nutshell is the central conceit in Jitsu wa Watashi wa (Actually, I am a…), with poor Kuromine now having a much greater secret to protect than any he has failed to keep so far. If anybody else finds out Shiragami’s secret, or that he knows her secret, her father will force her to quit high school. Meanwhile his discovery completely derailed his plans of confessing to her. His challenge now is to keep her secret and try and get closer to her, but things get complicated quickly, as they should in a harem comedy. And of course the first thing a harem comedy needs is some more love rivals, the first of which is Aizawa Nagisa, his class rep, not to mention the girl who shot him down before he could confess to her last summer. She has a secret too.

the class rep is a tiny alien - from Jitsu wa Watashi wa

Aizawa’s a tiny alien steering a human size replica of herself (and for some reason she’s very good at coordinating her own outfits with her outer body’s) who has infiltrated Kuromine’s high school to observe Earth culture. As so often the case in this kind of story, it’s only now that Kuromine hs become friends with Shiragami that Aizawa becomes interested in him and starts wondering if she was too hasty to reject them. Cue a bunch of hilarious incidents in which mutual misunderstandings ultimately lead to Kuromine/Shiragami and Aizawa learning each other’s secrets. But that’s only the start. Before long there’s not only the obligatory childhood friend & tormentor of Kuromine, but other strange creatures showing up at the school as well, including Shiragami’s childhood friend, the wolfman. And that brings me to what I like the most about this series, its sense of humour. Because how would you test that the scary looking dude that interrupted your date with Shiragami is indeed that childhood friend? Like so:

how to test somebody is a wolfman: play fetch - from Jitsu wa Watashi wa

This is a comic that thrives on stupidity, both of plot and characters; not for nought it’s “welcome to the world of idiots” as shown above. Kuromine might have been introduced as the idiot who can’t keep secrets or tell lies, but it soon turns out he really is the straight man in a menagerie of idiots. Before long you wonder how Shiragami was ever able to keep her secret on your own, or how the class rep ever got around without his help, not to mention Shiragami’s father, not the brightest tool in the shed either, showing up to sports’ day as a giant bat holding a video camera… The author, Masuda Eiji, has a knack for writing comedy coming from the characters themselves as for developing over the top, contrived situations, often set in motion by the demon principal and principal troll. There’s a lot of slapstick comedy, but perhaps the best part is the way Masuda draws reactions. His faces are elongated, elastic and great at showing exaggerated emotions:

Masufa Eiji does great faces - from Jitsu wa Watashi wa

Aren’t those great faces? That fixed grin on the maid in the background, the surprise on the three walking past her, the series is full of moments like that, where you have to just laugh out loud at the absurdity of it all. but there’s more to this series than just comedy, though it never remains serious for long. Unlike some harem series, Jitsu wa Watashi wa is clear about the fact that Kuromine loves Shiragami, that she ultimately loves him back and does actually make progress in their relationship, even though both are less than honest or brave in their emotions at the start. And it manages to do so without devaluing the other two love interests, the class rep and childhood friend, whose love may go unreciprocated but is still real, without throwing more girls at the main character, with more people showing up to add to the hilarity, but not to the harem and without making the girls each other enemies. Shiragami and Aizawa especially are friends and remain friends despite being love rivals. That’s what makes this series so much fun to read.

the usual bunch of idiots- from Jitsu wa Watashi wa

Sadly though it’s not yet legally available in English, though a first volume is slated to be published in 2016. if you’re not bothered overly much by legal niceties, scanlations are available. You may want to switch on the in comic comments as well, because this is a series that benefits from reader snark…