Ongoing Investigations: Case #229October 7, 2013
And so another season of the larger Index series ends with the conclusion of A Certain Scientific Railgun S. Kate and I were recently discussing the series as a whole and she found it odd that despite how big the whole Index thing is in Japan it never seems to have caught on here in the US. It always just seems like a franchise that happily chugs along in Japan season after season doing very well with almost no real vocal fanbase in the States. Just one of those cases where it clearly shows the difference in tastes between the two fanbases for the same medium.
The first part of this story was interesting as we finally got to see what Misaka Mikoto was doing during the Sisters Arc. It was clear from A Certain Magical Index that Misaka was already neck-deep in trying to stop the Level 6 Shift experiment by the time Touma got involved. Here we get to see how she became aware of the Sisters and tried to stop Accelerator from killing any more of them. Eventually the plot caches up to what was presented in Index and then it is just the original Sisters Arc with some new perspective as it is all from Misaka POV instead of Touma.
After that there is the original Silent Party Arc that builds on a lot of the themes presented in the Sister Noise Arc and at the same time resolves what happened to Nunotaba Shinobu, who was recently introduced. The Chemicaloid Project seems to once again prove that Academy City is just filled with some of the least ethical scientists who ever lived. But I guess that is what happens when you put Aleister Crowley is charge of a city of research.
In the original Sisters Arc Misaka Mikoto comes off as an aloof loner. Someone who knows lots of people, is known by even more, but does not have any real friends other than maybe Kuroko. But as the Railgun series has come into fruition it has given Mikoto a small circle of dedicated friends and well as some rather constant allies. Therefore they had to go out of their way to explain why she would specifically not ask for their help and therefore why we never see anyone like Uiharu or Saten. It does add to Mikoto’s gloomy martyr complex that was present, but nowhere near as prominent, in the Index version of the story.
Thankfully the Silent Party Arc helps balance out her character again so that Uiharu, Saten, and Kuroko can be more than cameos in the show again. It also lets Misaka teach this same lesson to Shinobu. Kongo, Wannai and Maaya also make a pretty prominent appearance. It even had a cameo with Haruue Erii and Edasaki Banri actually be critically important.
But all of that is sort of pat the course for the end of a Railgun season. There was one event that was almost “a unicorn high fiving a dragon in the middle of Times Square” rare: Anti-Skill and Judgment were actually useful. They got stuff done and where not just the useless army guys in a monster movie. It is crazy talk but it was true. Anti-Skill and Judgment members who were not main characters were actually effective. Insanity.
They really made Nunotaba Shinobu much more attractive in the anime. She is a really strange-looking woman in the manga. They go out their way to show her extra freaky fish-eyes in the manga while she just looks a little dead eyed in the anime. I guess they wanted to cute her up for figures.
I did find it a little odd that Shokuhou Misaki was so prominently in a few scenes for the small amount that she did. I know that she eventually becomes very important but for now she seems disproportionately significant. I think it is partially to have her be established so she does not seem to pop up out of nowhere when she does become important. Also she does seem to have become rather popular so they might have just had her show up for her fans to be happy. But I never read the manga so she might have also just shown up his much in the manga as well.
It is also interesting to see how much we get to see Frenda Seivelun in this series. As someone who is almost completely later defined by her death later in the series it was a little nice to see her before she was Fre nda even before the whole Mami Tomoe craze.
I wonder how long until they adapt the Accelerator manga. You know it is coming. So it will just be another turn in the cycle between seasons of Index and Railgun. But I’m glad just to see more of the franchise as a whole.
I read the first two chapters of the new Saint Seiya manga Saintia Sho. It is written by the original manga-ka of Saint Seiya Masami Kurumada with new artist Chimaki Kuroi. This series is going to follow the women Saints who are guarding Athena after a civil war.
Shoko’s older sister Kyoko left five years ago to attend an elite school but hasn’t been in contact since. More recently, Shoko has been having a recurring nightmare involving an apple and a warrior dressed in golden armor. Things come to a head when her dream starts to come true at school and who but her missing sister is the golden saint. It seems like Shoko may be the descendant of an evil entity which will certainly complicated the story.
Shoko is a strong martial artist and smart from what we’ve seen so far.
I liked what I read so far, it is pretty straight forward Saint Seiya in the Prologue. And then the first chapter is all setup so we’ll see where it goes. Even the artwork seems like it is from a past era which is a nice touch.
The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.
Well My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is certainly a thing. If you were somehow to sit down and try to find a way to make the already sketchy reputation of My Little Pony fandom worse you would probably need a team of the worlds best negative PR experts to come up with a worse idea than Equestria Girls without creating a product that was just utterly moronic for Hasbro to make. There is enough people who accuse the fandom of being into furry porn, bestiality, and general sexualization of the characters (and there are distinctly parts of the fandom that prove their point in spades) making a special where all the ponies are human girls seems to verify all the worst theories about the fandom.
Overall Equestria Girls is not actually that horrible. All the worst fears about the movie being this being a pure fetish fuel project is mostly unfounded. It is not that people won’t masturbate to this. At this point the Internet has taught us it is impossible to find ANYTHING that someone won’t find erotic. It is just that Equestria Girls main, secondary, or tertiary goal is not creating fodder for any fetishes. It is going to happen. It is just not a planned part of the mission statement.
If anything the major criticism could be that it is a bit to slavish to the general tropes and formulas present in your standard high school drama surrounding various isolated and competing social clicks. It wants to much to be your standard school drama in the way that the main Friendship is Magic series tends to avoid. According to the Greatest Movie Ever podcast the main reason this was made was in hopes of cashing in on some of that popularity of Monsters High. That greatly helps explain why Hasbro Studios would make something like this in the first place.
Equestria Girls takes places after the ending of season 3 and before the start of season 4. Twilight Sparkle is just coming to grips with being an alicorn, and all the responsibility that comes with that, when a rogue pony named Sunset Shimmer steals her crown and escapes in an alternate world. When Twilight chases after her she finds that she has entered a world where everyone is human and attends High School. Her crown has accidentally become the prize given to the Princess of the Fall Formal at the school. So she, and Spike as a dog, must win the contest before Sunset Shimmer can claim the crown and use it for her nefarious plans.
So the main story is a fish out of water tale about the pony Twilight Sparkle adjusting to a human form while trying to rally the alternate versions of her friends who have had a massive falling out. So Twilight Sparkle comes off a being a bigger dweeb and freak show than she normally does while having someone actively sabotage her at the same time. But the show brightest moments are Twilight learning to do simple things in her new body and the comedic antics that provides. Her trying to open doors with her head or eating like a horse are all played with just enough understatement to be entertaining.
The main plot is rather well-worn outside of that. There are various clicks in the school who don’t get along. The mean girl, Sunset Shimmer, actively works to keep people apart so no one can team up to overthrow her. So Twilight has reunite her friends and by extension teach the various factions in the school to work together. It is fairly boilerplate but it is executed in competent and entertaining manner.
I will mention the one moment where I was like, “Really people? Did we need this scene? Really?” Twilight Sparkle does the moe trip over nothing and some passing guy smiles as he gets a little panty peak. We don’t see her panties but it from the angle the character would clearly see them. Theoretically he could have been just laughing at someone taking a prat fall but we all know how anyone who has watched any anime will interpret that scene. It was distinctly the most uncomfortable scene.
Well other than the part where all the girls dress with little pony tales and ears for a show of school spirit. The less that is said about that scene the better. That is less creepy than just aesthetically offensive.
So is this a good place to start for someone curious about the property? Heck no! It is fairly steeped in the mythology of the show. All the best material come from knowing how Twilight Sparkle and her friends usually are and then seeing that twisted. You could theoretically enjoy the movie without that but the story otherwise is competent but bog standard. It is not bad just not remarkable otherwise.
As for fans of the franchise who might have been scared off by the premise it is remarkably tame. The story introduces Flash Sentry who will probably show up again and the story has some character growth for Twilight but nothing that can be explained with a quick line of two of dialog in the new season. The actual story line will probably only be referenced again in Equestria Girls spin-off episodes (if those ever exist) and not be mentioned in the main storyline. It is probably something that will also come up in comics but comics are usually the place where you do such esoteric things.
So if you watch this it won’t scar you for life but if you skip it you will hardly find yourself ruined for season four as well.
I finished up the Mixed Vegetables manga by Ayumi Komura. This was a series I initially liked but felt the middle volumes really dipped with a forced jealousy story arc and a randomly rushed proposal. Luckily the series rights itself in the final two volumes (6-7) and really satisfies with a great ending.
Hanayu’s push for Hayato to wake up to his true dream is what love is all about. She struggles initially with selfish feelings but realizes she is wrong despite being happy. It was wonderful to see both of them finally going all the way with their goals and realizing that it is okay for that to be their top priorities.
Let us call what I watched Genshiken Second Season, because it seems to be a series with four different names, but it is listed on Crunchyroll like this so that is what I am going to call it. I still think Genshiken: The Next Generation is the most apt title but what do I know? Also if it was Genshiken: The Next Generation then who is Worf and Data? Clearly Ogiue is Jean-Luc Picard but past that point it gets all fuzzy.
As always the main thing about Genshiken Second Season is that it is the Hato Show. That is avoidable. It starts focused on the new girls who make up the next members of the Genshiken but it quickly becomes all about Hato with the rest of the cast really becoming supporting characters. So if you think Hato’s story is a fascinating look into gender, sexuality, and cross dressing than the series will be very rewarding. But otherwise the character is so prominent that you cannot just pretend Hato’s storyline don’t exists. They are the bulk of the show. It is like trying to ignore the space politics in the Legend Of Galactic Heroes.
And so we come down to the simple fact: why was I the only person in the house to finish Genshiken Second Season when everyone else hit the ejector seats like they were Nick “Goose” Bradshaw in Top Gun? (Fortunately they did not die after they stopped watching Genshiken Second Season thereby prompting me to reexamine my lifestyle and go through a third act character transformation.)
One: Sadly the cast is less relatable. There was always someone you could empathize with in the original show. Yajima is the character most people can get behind but sadly she is the least used character in the new series. Two: Everyone seems a bit creepier. I think Risa’s shouta complex for real life boys was sort of the icky straw that broke the camel’s back. But everyone in the show being on board about drawing porn about people they knew was actually the factor that turned the group’s opinion against the show. Three: Too much darn Hato. I just think none of the group took a shine to Hato and therefore the character’s storyline never hooked them.
So this led to Kate, Carl Li, and I trying to figure out why I did not have the same problems with the show that everyone else did (other than Carl who does not count.). I think it all comes down to the fact that I read the manga first. If you read Carl’s posts on the anime (he is the Genshiken expert) it is clear that the flow of the anime is so very different from the manga. So there is a flow from episode to episode that is very different from chapter to chapter. In the manga I get a month long break between chapters. If something is a bit creepy or filled with a Hato overload it is a month before the next bite sized morsel. But with the anime it is like two to four bites all at once with only a week separating them.
I think it overloaded them where as I got the same story in a more spread out fashion. That let me enjoy the good parts more and ignore the flaws easier. Since I knew the story already I could look over the rough parts becuase I knew the good parts were coming. They did not have that foreknowledge. And I think that made all the difference.
I will say the last original episode had a nice bit of symmetry with the current chapter of the manga. Both of them center around a hot springs episode that is more about character confrontation than fan service. They both come at the end of an arc but the fall out of the School Festival storyline takes many chapters to resolve (and still have not been fully resolved even at this point in the manga.) So they made an original episode to put some sort of conclusion of the story that lets them have a second season but does not feel like they just stopped randomly without anything happening.
Having the manga and anime do the same thing at the same time was a nice wink to anyone who was looking at both parts of the series at the same time without forcing you to participate in both parts of the franchise to understand what is going on.
Overall I enjoyed Genshiken Second Season but I see why other people dropped out. Genshiken Second Season is so very different from it’s predecessor. Both series has very different appeals, strengths, and weaknesses. It is super easy to like one but not the other.
Part of me also wants to say it is the fact that they changed Ohno’s voice actress from Ayako Kawasumi to Yukana. That did not REALLY change anything significant but my Saber loyalty force me to bring that up as a possibility.
I had the chance to see Monsters University during a recent plane trip. I enjoyed the first one but wasn’t exactly excited about a sequel. Despite my low enthusiasm, I ended up loving the movie which is no surprise considering all the praise that has been heaped on it.
What truly made this movie a stand out for me was the ending. Everyone’s actions had effects throughout the film but it was driven home by the final outcome that didn’t shy away from having major repercussions for both Mike and Sully. At the same time, it isn’t a downer ending. You take away from it the most important things: doing what is right for you, standing up for yourself, and accepting the consequences of your choice (right or wrong).