Ongoing Investigations: Case #171May 25, 2012
Rurouni Kenshin has been getting a strong revival recently. The manga ended in 1999, and other than the slightly infamous Reflection OVA, the series was fairly dormant until last year. Then a PSP fighting game and the Kyoto Arc movies heralded a Renaissance for the series ushering in the upcoming live action film. Even more surprisingly than any of that is the newly re-imagined manga of the original series. Seeing that the Kenshin name still has a good deal of cache with western fans Shonen Jump Alpha announced that Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration (aka Rurouni Kenshin -Cinema-ban-) would be the one of the titles they used to replace the recently finished Bakuman manga.
Like any good reboot Restoration is immediately familiar yet feels new at the same time. Clearly Nobuhiro Watsuki has changed and improved his art style since he last worked on Kenshin. But at the same time it ins unmistakably Kenshin.If you have ever seen the character redesigns for the covers of the Rurouni Kenshin Kanzenban reprints then you have a good idea of what to expect.
The first story combines the original introduction of Kenshin, Karou, and Yahiko with elements of the first Aoshi story. Like the art the story feels familiar but it is still its own beast. It starts during Bakumatsu with flashes of some iconic battles between Kenshin, Jin-e, and Saito. It then moves forward to the relative calm of the Meiji era and Kenshin once again gets mixed up with Kaoru trying keep her dojo from unsavory scoundrels. It is a quick little story that unites the main trio and shows off Kenshin’s skills. The chapter end with some cameos of villains from throughout the original series including Sanosuke, Saito, and Inui Banjin. A good introduction to the cold-hearted assassin of the revolution who becomes a pacifist who carries a revered blade sword so he can defend the weak without killing. But at the same time it reminds you that there is still a bit of the beast still in Kenshin.
It is an interesting trip back to the story of Himura Kenshin. I think it has the distinct ability to draw in new fans while reminding older fans what they liked about the original. I am curious if they are going to make Kaoru anything more that a damsel in distress most of the time. This would be a good chance for her to live up to the initial promise she had in the original series.
I myself am mostly just sitting back and waiting for Misao to be reintroduced.
I wasn’t really all the interested in the online magazine Shonen Jump Alpha. I had nothing against it, I just wasn’t keeping up to date with any of their offerings. But then they announced Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration and I folded. So here I am, reading a comic
weekly monthly which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I’m pretty excited!
From first glance I was happy with what I saw. The art is top-notch, very sharp and crisp. The action is swift and bold.
We start with bloody battles featuring Kenshin as Battosai and then jump forward to the period after the war. This set-up works, you don’t know too much about Kenshin and his abilities but you know enough to be aware of his badass status. He makes it pretty freakin’ clear to a lot of people that he is indeed Battosai from the first chapter. It feels more aggressive, instead of trying to live out a humble life, Kenshin is ready to jump in the fray for a purpose. He hasn’t lost the rejection of unnecessary violence, but he also isn’t hiding from who he was. At least, that’s how it seemed in this chapter.
I wasn’t really kidding when not too long ago I joked that if they were redoing Kenshin they should have forgotten about Karou. Blessedly, she is already not nearly as annoying. I believe this can continue!
I feel like Gundam Unicorn 5 is beginning to show a bit of a dip in animation quality. The first few episodes have been gorgeous. You can tell that almost every scene was A Team animation through out. In episode 5 anything with the camera focused on the foreground is still amazing but when you get long shots you start to notice the B Team being brought in. It happened enough that even someone like me who does not normally notice such details of animation was keenly aware of it happening. I wonder how much that has to do with them having to stretch their budget now that Bandai announced an additional 7th episode that is rumored to be over an hour-long.
Unsurprisingly most of this episode has to do with the Black Unicorn, its pilot, and how Banagher deals with them both. There is also a good deal more Audrey Burne in this episode which I always appreciate. Nice bit of double-dealing in the episode as everyone tries to move things forward for their faction with the upcoming prisoner transfer of people who are technically not prisoners.
Riddhe’s job is technically ace pilot for the Federation he seems to be much more a professional cock blocker. And he tries his best to do his job in this episode. But by the end of it he seems to be going towards being cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. I guess that is what happens when you get both the political and romantic “Lets just be friends” speech.
I do find it slightly odd the Bright constantly talks to a picture of Amuro. They were close and even had a bit of a father son relationship but they never seemed THAT close. When Bright gives Banagher the pep talk about those who pilot Gundams that snaps him funk it makes sense. That is the sort of leader Bright is. But I never saw him being that sentimental about Amuro. Maybe I am just thinking of Bright as too much of a hard ass.
Thankfully the centerpiece around Banagher trying to talk down Marida Cruz is better done than the Tomino crazy town speeches he had with Loni Garvey in the last episode. Banagher and Marida have a far more established relationship, Banagher has a bit more heft to his arguments, Marida has been legitimately brainwashed, and she is not killing civilians while they have their conversation. The whole scene with Loni last episode was clearly to set this up but there was clearly some Tomino logic going on in episode 4 that is thankfully not present here.
There are two cameos in this episode. One that everyone talked about that I am sure that Narutaki could care less about. The other was one that surprised me a little. Sadly we probably won’t be getting anymore Sayla Mass so I will make due with what we get.
While the budget has dropped the story is still compelling. I still had a great time with this episode. I hope that the money they saved here is going to be poured into that last episode. Maybe they only spent a little money on this episode because Full Frontal only shows up at the end. Speaking of which even in death General Revil never catches a break.
I finally finished up watching The Earl and the Fairy anime since I was waiting for more of the manga.
Sadly, it ends up being sloppy. They try to cram in so much story in that it feels rushed and disjointed. I assumed that we would be following Edgar and Lydia attempting to get Edgar his earldom for the duration of the story. But that actually resolves itself rather quickly. Most of the series is them dealing with various fairy business and plots. This isn’t inherently bad, but like I said Edgar’s journey to becoming the Earl is too rushed. It doesn’t feel earned.
Some of the other stories are good like the moonstone ring and the final story with Banshee is also strong but everything just needed more time to develop. The idea of the Prince who is after Edgar also remains rather amorphous throughout the series.
Edgar and Lydia’s relationship seems to get nowhere by series end, too. It has a lot of one step forward two steps back moments. Lydia flat-out refusing to believe Edgar is in love with her even a little is a frustration. I’d much rather watch Lydia deal with her own changing feelings.
I really liked the setting, the characters, and the lore but it just doesn’t come together. Now I’m worried how the manga will fare.
When I caught up with Hayate I also got the new Excel Saga 23. It is as quirky a manga as it has ever been. There is a lot more collusion between the Municipal Force Daitenzin and Excel. In fact most of the book is both forces of working together while keeping their superiors in the dark. Of course this being Excel Saga things all go horribly wrong at the worst possible time. In reflection I can’t think of too many other series in which the manga is so utterly different from the anime in anything other than the core premise and charaters.
I think it is nearly impossible not to notice that Excel Saga has gotten much sexier as the series has gone on. It is not devolved to constant panty shots and shower scenes but there a quite a bit more “choice” camera angles and serendipitous costumes then there were at the beginning of the manga. But I am fine with that because it got Elgala out of the bargain. For some reason I find her incredibly alluring. But that the same time she also plays of Excel rather well. You need someone who is just as crazy as Excel but in a different manner to bounce off her at times. I am a but sad this means we don’t see Hyatt as often which is a shame.
With only 4 more volumes to go I am a little surprised Viz has not canceled Excel Saga but I am glad they have had the commitment to the series to finish it. I look forward to owning volume 27 whenever they release it.
I read the romance one-shot collection Sono Kuchibiru, Itadakimasu. Each story features an unlikely couple coming together. Each are sweet and cute sweeping you up in their simple stories.
My favorite was unsurprisingly the second tale about a girl who accidentally invites a delinquent boy to spend the school festival with her. She got the e-mail address of the class president wrong.
They end up working at a class cafe together and she gets to know him so when the truth inevitably comes out she realizes it was a happy accident.
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.