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Ongoing Investigations: Case #202

February 15, 2013

narutaki I checked out the new WSJ USA title World Trigger. In it our world has come in contact with another dimension which spills out monsters (known as “neighbors”) who begin wreaking havoc. But an organization named Border suddenly appears with the technology to fight them claiming they’ve been training for this for years. The world settles into a routine of monster attacks but with relative normal life surrounding it.

Osamu, a high school student who is picked on, lives in the city which Border headquarters resides in. He befriends the new and odd transfer student Yuma. As you might imagine Yuma has something to do with Border. He has a rather carefree attitude and doesn’t shy away from the bullies at school.

Yuma reminded me a bit of Allen from D.Gray Man with his look, his power manifestation, and his pet. Osamu did surprise me a bit at then end which gave the story a boost.

I found the first chapter a bit unremarkable otherwise. The fight nor the monsters nor the powers have distinguished themselves yet. But it certainly seems worthy of following to see where it leads for at least a little while.

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The first 2 chapters of 87 Clockers reinforces the idea that you can make a manga about anything if you are clever enough. This time Tomoko Ninomiya’s is tackling the topic of overclocking PCs. Which after writing Nodame Cantabile it is a bit of an unexpected change in subject manner. That is not to say that Ninomiya has completely forgotten about classic music because the main character is a violinist. I have to wonder if the protagonist is a violinist because Ninomiya is just that much of a musical aficionado or because she wanted to create a link for her fans to a rather obscure subject with a hook that ties into her blockbuster title. Not that the answer would make or break my enjoyment of the series. I’m just glad to see Ninomiya writing a new manga. It is just an interesting question.

87 Clocker centers around Kanade Ichinose who is an amazingly passive guy. He is currently studying the violin and is good enough to get by with great grades but nothing in his life has sparked his interest. He goes out of his way to avoid conflict so he has never really lost but at the same time he has never done any better than marginally better than acceptable. But when he meets a strange girl named Hana standing barefoot outside in the cold he unexpectedly finds himself seduced both by her beauty and drawn into her world of overclocking.

You don’t get much geekier than a manga about modify computer hardware to make it go faster in a competitive setting without making a manga about abacus tournaments or Star Trek trivia contests. So far the first two chapters mostly introduce the idea of the manga and don’t get too much into technical talk. But I can feel the pages wanting to explode out like a particularly wordy chapter of Initial D. When Kanade and Hana go to Akihabara the hardware talk starts to get serious but so far it is not a tech manual packed into a single page but more just color for the story of the characters. How long that continues is something to be seen.

The main thrust of the story seems to be Kanade’s growth from a herbivore male to someone with passion and ambition. The fact that he is perusing Hana romantically at all is a sign that there is still something left in side him that can change. Presumably getting into the world of overclocking will show him his inner strength. At first he is totally gung-ho about Hana when he thinks she is this wilting flower that needs to be saved. Then he is nearly heartbroken when he thinks she is dating her roommate.  But then Hana says that Mike is not her boyfriend Kanade is reinvigorated. Part of me wants it to be revealed that her roommate, is her fiancée or husband. I think a forbidden romance would be wonderful. Just not enough scandalous romances in manga.

Hana is a strange character. At first she seems like Mike’s clueless assistant. Sort of the girlfriend who participates in her boyfriends hobby but is hardly an expert. But the second chapter reveals that Hana is just as knowledgeable as Mike. I really hope that Hana grows as a competent female character. One of the best parts about Nodame Cantabile was that Nodame was a genius. She was always very odd but her talent was undeniable. Hana has the ability to be just a great. I hope her potential as a character is more than just a love interest.

The only problem with 87 Clockers is that is pretty much licensing poison. If the infinitely more assessable Nodame Cantabile was bomb in English I can’t see this burning up the charts. Maybe someone like JManga would give it a shot but I would not hold my breath.

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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narutaki I started watching Brave Express Might Gaine (eps. 1-10) which is part of the Brave or Yuusha franchise. I mostly wanted to watch it because the robots are heavily train-based.

Our pilot is kind of a Bruce Wayne-type, except much younger. He is a wealthy kid running a corporate train empire but on the side he is defending the city with his giant robot fleet. He is also physically capable outside of his robot, too. I found it cool that Might is already a hero and already a robot pilot before the series even starts.

Sadly, that is pretty much the only thing the show has going for it so far. The villains are really lame with one exception so far, Joe Rival (totally his name). Gaine our main robot doesn’t have much screentime or personality. The new robots are thrown in without ceremony or any build up. Might’s love interest Sally is perpetually in need of rescuing. And the fights are mostly so-so.

Since it is 40+ episodes long, I’ll give it a little longer to really hook me.

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Episodes 2 to 6 of The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke have made me realize some things about the show that were not apparent at first. The simplest revelation is that the show is not a prequel. Since Kyousuke is ageless you can’t use his appearance to determine when the series take place. As it turns out The Unlimited is clearly after the first time skip because Kaoru is a teenager but Kyousuke has not had his near fatal confrontation with Gilliam. This means that certain characters have a good chance of being shuffled off-screen either due to dying or “being put on a bus“. It would be very odd that we have not seen Andy Hinomiya or Yugiri in the manga considering how much they seem full-fledged member of P.A.N.D.R.A.. The show could be clever and keeping them out of the manga until after the anime finishes to make any perilous situations still seem dangerous. If you see Andy in the manga then you know he is going to be OK in the anime. But I have a feeling it is more likely they will just write those two out of the action by the end of the anime.

The other big revelation that came to me was that Andy Hinomiya is essentially the original draft of Minamoto that was tweaked to create this story. In the original pilot manga for Zettai Karen Children it seems that Minamoto was an esper and his power negation was his psychic ability. With a little fiddling the prototype Minamoto becomes the main character of the spin-off series. It is possible that Andy’s power negation is just a good power to give someone as opposed to an homage to the pilot I will go with my theory until proven wrong.

I did also notice that it is painfully obvious that Kyousuke is not doing well due to his advanced age and crazy power usage. At the same time Fujiko Tsubomi seems to be having the same problems exact in the current manga arc. It makes me wonder how much the anime and manga are going to play off each other with this link. They could do some interesting storytelling with the parallel stories despite taking place at different times.

I am curious overall how much of any of this series will be relevant. Hayate is also a Sunday series and it’s recent anime did a to add to the manga despite generally being a standalone story. The Unlimited has the potential to do the same thing. It does not have to radically CHANGE EVERYTHING in the manga but it could be more than a throw away show.

By the way, do any of our readers have any strong feelings on this approach? Do you think anime original series should have any impact on a running manga? Or is that just asking for trouble?

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 I read the graphic novel Relish by Lucy Knisley which is all about the joy of food. It is a memoir following her foodie family and life complete with recipes!

This artwork is bright which really enhances the food, if made me want to pick up cookies and fruits right out of the interior. The style is simplistic and done with care in such a way as to make it more intimate. The layout works in this way too making it feel like you’re peering inside her snippets of memories.

Each chapter has a sort of theme usually stringing together a few memories. I especially enjoyed her championing of the chocolate-chip cookie (which her mother deems too boring) which is my favorite cookie to bake as well. And I have to give her props for being a foodie who understands the appeal of and every now and then partakes in junk food.

A really fun and yummy book!

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Straight Title Robot Anime is certainly something I watched. With the unusual title and the fact that it was streaming on Crunchyroll I had to check out the first episode if nothing else. It is a comedy series set in a world where humanity is dead and the remaining robots fight a never-ending war now that their masters are gone.

Well theoretically that is what it is about. In actuality it seems to mostly involve three cute girl robots who go around trying to figure out what the humans used to call “humor” is in hopes that laughter can stop the endless fighting. So a maid robot, a librarian robot, and an industrial robot are essentially looking for the peaceful version of The Funniest Joke in the World from Monty Python. As so they try their hands at such things as sketch comedy, prop comedy, and what could only be called lube comedy.

Breaking down jokes into the mechanics of comedy while still being funny can be very tricky. It is extremely easy to remove all the humor from a situation with any amount of analysis. Straight Title Robot Anime thereby becomes an amalgam of anti-humor and meta-humor. The jokes are all about the robot trying to decipher what is funny.

The thing is in theory this has the potential to be hysterical. But I never really found anything extremely funny. But this is not really a laugh out loud show. It is a very acquired taste that is going to appeal to people who like CG-robots doing dry humor. Does that have an audience? I’m not sure but I am very curious to see who loves this show and who does not.

I myself was more perplexed than anything else.

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