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Ongoing Investigations: Case #170

May 18, 2012

After getting lost in the mail the first time, I finally got my copy of Young Miss Holmes (casebook 1-2). I was already aware of this series in Japanese and had looked at a few volumes previously so I was looking forward to actually reading it. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t really get good until the last case in the volume but perhaps that will lead into a better continuation book.

Christie is the niece of Sherlock Holmes a man she admires and therefore is constantly trying to impress with her own stunning intellect. She inserts herself into cases where ever she can leading to some annoyance on the part of her uncle. But Christie is quite capable as are her maids so it isn’t annoying having her rush into danger. Christie notices details and observes people in classic Holmes fashion.

The only problem is, Sherlock Holmes himself is already in the first three mysteries. Christie comes off as rather frivolous to the plot since Holmes also figures everything out. This leads to lots of over explanations about what occurred in the crime. In fact, in the third (and worst) story Holmes gives his assessment of what has happened but Christie is somewhere else completely so we hear it again as she tells it to another person.

Speaking of the third story which is about a vampire, the entire thing felt out of place. In a Holmes mystery, you expect a supernatural phenomenon to be disproved as the culprit in a case and it is. However, vampires are shown to truly exist in the world. Also they give terrible advice. But worst is the final solution to the the conflict of telling the family the truth about what had occurred in their home. The entire thing was just dumb and happened to be the longest story of the bunch.

Despite all that, the last case in the book is good! Holmes is away so it falls to Christie completely. This one involves a cypher, a secret past, and a murder. It has a good twist and allows Christie to shine as an individual.

The main problem with Young Miss Holmes (originally titled Christie High Tension) is it that is comes off more like odd self insert fan fiction that anything else. Each of the five stories in the book are classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries. They don’t even change the names so you know exactly which ones they are. The set up for the cases is even exactly the same. So if you have read the Red-Headed League you know the story in advance. The only real question is how does Christie get involved and what does she do in the background.

So in many ways it just comes off that there is the random niece of Sherlock Holmes that pops up in cases but then does not do THAT much because you know it has to be Sherlock who solves the case. It is like the whole time in the background there was a little girl who was ALMOST as smart as Sherlock Holmes but you just never heard about it. And in the end it never really mattered. So at least in the Adventure of the Dancing Men it might be just a copy and paste of the original story with Christie in the place of Holmes at least Christie gets to shine in that story. In all the other stories she comes off as vestigial.

Which is a shame because she is a delightful character. She has an adorable spunk that makes her very charming balanced with a good amount of competence and panache. The main problem is that she is right next to Sherlock Holmes who is pretty much the pinnacle of the genre. The brightest candle does not seem as impressive next to the full force of the sun. I know that Narutaki wanted to like her so much. I mean she rides an awesome dog as her faithful companion. That is Narutaki catnip.

Her servants are also quite charming. Nora is always delightful whenever she is around. Her relaxed whip-smart sass is just dangerous as her actual whip.  The extremely religious Ann-Marie is the prim and proper maid who also duel wields pistols as an interesting dichotomy to her character. Miss Dunbar becomes her governess during the course of the first book. She quickly realizes that there is nothing can can teach Christie as she is already operating on an intellectual higher than most adults. Her main mission is to teach her student to be socially functional without trying to repress the unique qualities that make Christie exceptional.

The person who is not a delightful character is Mina Tepes who appears in a cameo in the third story. Thankfully she is not the super sexualized character she is in her own manga. I don’t think it would have been fun to read this book after Narutaki had puked all over it had they used the canonical Mina Tepes. But this really makes her a bizarre character to use in a cameo. She is distinctly written as a Young Miss Holmes character so she has none of the appeal to a Dance in the Vampire Bund reader but as an actual vampire she distinctly takes away from normal setting of the story. She distracts the reader far more than anything she might add to the story.

I think Young Miss Holmes would work far better if Christie were solving her own mysteries instead of being in background of classic mysteries. The connection to Holmes is great but she need to get out of her uncle’s shadow to be her own character. It would let her and her companions stand out more and really come into their own. There is a strong framework there. They just have to have the confidence to let it stand on its own.

The Earl and the Fairy vol. 1 basically covers what I’d seen of the anime. Fairy Doctor, Lydia, is an anomaly in the world as people have stopped believing in the wee folk. But her services are an asset when she gets whisked off by beguiling criminal Edgar who claims to be the Earl of the fairy realm in need of help. Oh, he is handsome and charming but incredibly hard to read even when he talks of his past you aren’t sure if you can really trust him. In true romantic fashion, Lydia can’t help but get caught up in his quest.

I enjoyed it a lot. Edgar is pretty irresistible but more than that I’m quite curious about the fairy realm, so far we’ve mostly just heard about it and seen tiny glimpses of fairies. The journey to getting his earldom has captured me.

I don’t have much disposable income but whenever I get a little free cash I make sure that I catch up on volumes of Hayate the Combat Butler. A coupon to Forbidden Planet finally let me catch up with the US release when purchased volumes 18 and 19. I know that Hayate could be doing better in the US so I always see it as my duty to help it out whenever I can.

Getting book 18 means I have to deal with more Athena but thankfully her story ends quickly in this book giving us a bit of a reprieve from her for a while. I think I am learning to tolerate her much more but that might be partially due to her now being connected to Ayako Kawasumi. The story with Hayate and Maria phony date is great if for nothing else we get more Maria and Linn Regiostar. They are both characters who do not get enough time in the spotlight. But as always Maria is an extremely refreshing character. I cannot read a chapter with her and not feel better. This book also marks the point where Hata really starts to promote Chiharu Harukaze from a very minor secondary character to a member of the main cast. She is a great character when Hata starts to delve into her and she makes a great person for Nagi to interact with as simultaneously an equal and someone who is a bit more mature. There is a reason picked her as woman of the year in 2011.

Book 19 is just as fun. The two Nagi stories are classic goofball comedies where Nagi and Hayate’s relationship is always at its strongest. The story of Nagi waking up early is delightfully tender and plays to all of her strengths. The story about breaking out of the “boredom stage” is in contrast wonderfully high energy. This also marks when Hata REALLY starts pushing Wataru and Saki as a couple with their trip to Las Vegas. He had been pushing it since the beginning but it really comes to the forefront here. Then again I have a feeling this was always been the plan. All the way back in the early books he stated that if he ever made a spin-off series it would just be about Wataru and Saki.

The best part of the official releases is the fact that you get the little inside flap stories. It is the only place you get to see Orumuzuto Nadja. The part where Maria asks if Hayate has any boyfriends is amazing. In fact both books are sort of amazing. I never regret buying a Hayate book. They always make my day a little brighter.

We finally completed the Broken Blade movie series with the final film Bastions of Sorrow (movie 6). It is a much better follow up than movie 5 but it doesn’t hold up all that well as an ending.

The bulk of time is taken up by a major battle so we get very little in the way of conversations or character development. That being said, the battle is quite well done.

Though it is strange that Rygart doesn’t feel as much a part of it, there was some disconnect. Still his fight with Borcuse is cool but I was disappointed in the final outcome because it seemed a bit of dumb luck.

It feels wrong that Zess is pretty much completely absent from the final films, too.

I realized early on that they weren’t going to complete the story with these movies but at the same time I felt a bit like, “Then why make SIX of them!” That is quite a lot. They ended at a definitive point in the war but nothing is resolved between characters.

The Broken Blade movies are an odd little project. If this were the 80s this clearly would have been an OVA but today it is a series of movies that they then sell on disk which essentially just makes them OVA’s with a theatrical release. I say this because while the movies have a definitive ending point it feels more like the end of act one of a play more than then end of a story. I know that these are mostly supposed to be a treat for the fans of the manga in Japan but us dirty Americans don’t get the manga anymore. Maybe JManga can pick this title up. Would mecha manga to better with a digital distribution? I’m guessing that is not the case but it might be worth looking into.

This is one big siege battle. In the end if you are going to go out on anything in a mecha series this is not a bad choice. We get the final showdown between Rygart and Borcuse. I’m glad they did not keep Borcuse around too long. Borcuse was a bit too much of a mustachioed villain to keep around past this point. The rubber-band shuriken that Rygart fights with in this movie is somewhere between completely goofy and totally awesome. In that regard it would be very much at home in G-Gundam more than Broken Blade.

As a side note I really like Narvi but she distinctly suffers from the classic “vaginas make you low tier” syndrome you see in far too many mecha anime. She is supposed to be such a great pilot but whenever we see her she is stinking it up on the battlefield. She is not Cleo but overall that is still a pretty backhanded compliment. In contrast while Captain Sakura could not take out Borcuse at least you felt like she was a captain for a reason. She was taking down grunt soldiers like a pro.

I know that Zess comes back later in the manga but that is because I did a little research on my own. As it stand with the movies Zess is this huge part of the first half of the movie series and then he seemingly disappears due to his injuries. It is clear that he is still connected to several very important plot threads but as it stands it feels like they forgot about him. In the manga is much clearer that he is merely on the back burner and that he will be back in the thick of things again. But the movies make it seem more like sloppy writing.

Overall I had a good time with the Broken Blade movies but I feel they could have been so much better. They initial promise is so strong but the final movies have great fight scenes but lack any of the character punch that the first three movies had.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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