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Ongoing Investigations: Case #204

March 1, 2013

Message to Adolf (Pt. 1) is one of those titles I’ve been wanting to read for years, having only heard of it by reputation from early English releases. This another one of those thick Osamu Tezuka titles that look really impressive on the shelf.

It takes place pre- and during WWII as many lives converge in Germany and Japan because of a secret about Hitler that could bring down the Nazis. Reporter Toge’s brother is murdered by the Nazis in Germany but not before sending his former teacher in Japan some important papers. This is the catalyst for Toge’s journey from being tortured by the SS to being blacklisted to a deadly showdown on a small Japanese island. Simultaneously  two young German boys named Adolf growing up in Japan become friends despite their parents objections. They both learn the secret of Hitler but vow to stay silent. One is sent back to Germany to join the Hitler Youth while the other stays in Japan with his Jewish community. Those we haven’t seen a lot of these two yet, this are certainly being set-up for tragedy.

It has quite a thriller vibe to it, at points I was feeling an Alfred Hitcock influence, too. It also gets progressively depressing with it ending in a very dark place. After reading this I had to then go watch a movie mocking Nazis instead.

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I see that Blast of Tempest is really divided into 2 distinct parts now that I am 19 episodes into the series. The first part is the rescue Hakaze arc and that is a somewhat pyrrhic victory as they get Hakaze off the island she is stranded on but they majorly change the world in the process. The second arc is the Mage of Exodus story where they deal with the fall out from the first part.

Overall the first part is half buddy adventure film mixed with a bit of a thriller. Mahiro and Yoshino are on the run while people die around them in their search to learn who killed one girl, kidnapped another, and also are orchestrating a sinister series of events all over the world. I know that Narutaki and I really enjoyed the battle of wits at the end between Yoshino and Samon which really capped off things nicely. Samon’s slow degradation as his plans crumble like he was in Death Note but Samon was Matsuda while Yoshino was L.

After that incident the whole show changes when the Tree Of Genesis gains the upper hand and basically becomes an autonomous force of martial law. And so the series gets much calmer as there is not the same rush to stop the end of the world and save Hakaze. It is a much more measured look into what led up to the existence of these godlike trees, who is the true chosen Mage of Exodus, and who killed Aika, a mystery that seems to be at the center of all of this.

The change in tone is pretty bold. I wonder how many people dropped the series just because the shift was so radical. The tempo really slows down and the biggest concern is about people showing up on time for meeting more than who will live and who will die. It does not help that the newly introduced Megumu is a loser even though he is the lesser Mage of Exodus. Although Megumu’s coolest moment will probably being the only person to figure out on his own that Yoshino was dating Aika.

My only question is when are they going to show us the Tree of Lamentations or Deuteronomy.

But in all actuality I am really just waiting to see in we are right and Junichirou is the true chosen Mage of Exodus. I just don’t trust that guy.

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 As we watch more Future Boy Conan, I become more and more worried about this boy! Every episode seems to end in great peril. After episode 8 Conan has finally, after much yelling from me at the television, reunites with Lana. They are on a desert island which is full of stranded tanks and skeletons marking it as a pre-war environment that is desolate.

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Seven episodes into the second season of Chihayafuru proves that the series has changed quite a bit but at the same time is generally the same. The karuta club definitely has new members who add their own little elements but at the same time the main core relationships of the main five characters and Arata are basically unchanged. Sumire and Akihiro more bounce off of and reenforce the existing relations rather than change them.

And speaking of that when I first saw Sumire alarm bells were going off in my head. She the romantic rival character who appears out of nowhere to complicate the existing romantic relationships. As an experienced shojo manga reader Narutaki could just do a series of articles about how these characters are almost always pointless and shrill. They never add a real tension because everyone knows they are not going to end up with the original main characters but they also tend to be rather annoying.

Thankfully they keep Sumire’s super obnoxious behavior isolated to the first few episodes she is introduced. While she does not do a complete 180 they tone her down a lot so she goes from an unnecessarily nasty and obnoxious monster to slightly annoying but plot enhancing member of the cast. That was an important save because the artificial rival character can really just make the series feel like it is spinning its wheels for no good reason.

Also after our shipping podcast I have to mention that I totally ship Chihaya and Arata. I like to picture their long distance relationship as if they are the Orihime and Hikoboshi of karuta. But I know they are just going to pawn off Arata on Shinobu. I still think Taichi is a jerk from what he pulled when they were kids. But maybe I am just a person to hold a grudge even if it is for someone else. I won’t be upset when they inevitably pair up Taichi and Chihaya but that is mostly just a matter of preference. Also it is very clear the manga-ka favors Taichi by leaps and bounds.

I was glad to see a bit of Chihaya’s mom in episode 7. She seemed a bit of a nonperson until now so it is good to see her get some development and some involvement in Chihaya’s hobby.

The most important thing is they are keeping the karuta interesting. So far the matches have been fairly exciting and the new members add to how matches can go with different team dynamics. As long as they can keep that up I will be very happy.

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 I don’t really know how Firefly can get more funny than (ep. 6) Our Mrs. Reynolds or more touching than (ep. 8) Out of Gas. But that isn’t going to stop me from continuing happily on!

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Watching the first seven episodes of Encouragement of Climb it makes me realize one simple thing: I wonder how many slice of life shows I find painfully boring would be helped if they were in bite sized chunks like this. Over all there is no grand storyline to Encouragement of Climb. The characters are not that complex. The plots are very simple. But it works in the end. It never wears out its welcome. It pops in like a slice of life ninja, delivers a shuriken of smiles to your face, and then disappears before you get sleepy with drawn out “cuteness.”

But at the same time it is a little more than that. While the main cast is all female Hinata is at least vibrant in an actually energetic way and not a completely sedate moe show form of active. Also there is some degree of character development every episode. It is not grand character arcs that will shatter modern literature but there is movement in their lives. Aoi get a little more outgoing every episode and a little more into mountain climbing whereas Hinata gets a little better at respecting people’s boundaries. They also challenge more difficult climbs every time although they are still fairly sedate in the trips so far.  They are hardly Jiro Taniguchi charterers but they are nowhere near where they started as well.

I’m not saying these little 5 minute shows would make every slice of series that I don’t like enjoyable. But it just might improve some of the better stories that just drag out their premise when animated.

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