Archive for the ‘Mecha’ Category


Secret Santa Project Review: Aquarion EVOL aka Vandread: The Third Stage

December 24, 2013

hisui_icon_4040 You could also call this Shinkon Gattai Godannar!!! Third Season if you like. The common thread is these are all mecha shows about the battle of the sexes. But I am actually talking about Aquarion EVOL, the rather unexpected sequel to Genesis of Aquarion, by famed mecha director Shoji Kawamori. It is also my pick for my solo Secret Santa review this year.

First off the bat because of several complications Kate did not participate in the actual draft of  Secret Santa this year. I think it has to do in part with the fact that each year we participate it we have to watch horrible shows that sap our very will to live. That was no small factor in her decision. But apparently once she was out of the equation I got nothing but great titles to watch.

I had to choose from Aquarion EVOL, Darker Than Black, and The Legend of Black Heaven. I actually had to choose which cool show I wanted to review not what poison I wanted to kill me. I mostly went with Aquarion EVOL because we have not had enough mehca anime reviews on the blog in a while. That is as good a criteria for a choice as any. I wonder if this good selection this year will tempt Kate back next year.

On the other hand maybe it would be better if I just do it alone if it breaks the holiday curse.

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Ramba Ral: The Man, The Myth, The Mustache

November 11, 2013

(This post contains spoilers for
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin)

narutaki_icon_4040 Truly anytime would be good to talk about Captain Ramba Ral, but we felt particularly compelled recently. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin collected vol. 3 retells his story in glorious detail. Gundam Build Fighters features Ral in parody as a Gunpla enthusiast and mentor. And to top it all off it is “Movember,” certainly Ral’s moustache is worth celebrating during this time!

hisui_icon_4040This is no Zaku Boy! No Zaku!

Without a doubt that is Ramba Ral’s most famous catch phrase. But if that meme was all there was to him he would not be the iconic character he is today. While there is always a Char clone in almost every Gundam TV series after the original Ramba Ral has lesser but still rather pervasive legacy. We see characters like Andrew Waltfeld, Suberoa Zinnerman, and Sergei Smirnov in the franchise trying to capture some of that lightening in a bottle that was the original. A likeable enemy commander who forms a bond with the protagonist which makes their later confrontation all the more painful and dramatic. Characters who echo like this through the ages always come from primally powerful personalities that stay with audiences when they go on to make their own projectors.

Ramba Ral is one of those characters who ingrains himself onto your psyche.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #225

August 30, 2013


hisui_icon_4040 I recently got my hands on the Tsukihime Plus Period art book so I might as well discuss it on the blog. Not exactly sure we I have forgotten to talk about it here but the more important thing is that I correct that error. It helps fill in the gap in my collection as it is one of the more important Tsukihime art books. (For SOME unknown reason I mostly seem to have Fate/Stay Night art books.) Also the only other Tsukihime art book I have is Colorful Moon which is much more a fan book than something official like Plus Period.

Tsukihime came out in December 2000 and Plus Period was released in October of 2004. You can easily see that Takashi Takeuchi‘s art style has changed over the course of those four years just by this book alone. Since this has art from everything from Kara no Kyoukai to Melty Blood Re-ACT you can see his art improve by leaps and bounds. Early Arc and the Melty Blood Arc are not two entirely different characters but at the same time she is not the same character when viewed side by side. The book is valuable just for that look into Type-Moon in of itself. Also the path leading up to the current designs in the Tsukihime remake seems much less jarring when you see the shift between the original game, to Melty Blood, and now to the new look.

Like the later Complete Material books for the Fate franchise there is a good mixture of design art, promotional art, interviews, and new material. But I think there is also a lot more that shows that Type-Moon was a bit more in the doujinshi mindset than their more serious and corporate mode today. (Not that that have totally lost that spirit but they are much more professional now a days.)  There are a lot more silly comics, amateur works, and just rough but vibrant pieces. The whole section on Kara no Kyoukai while having a distinct and important connection to Tsukihime also has a much more amateur feeling. The whole Curry de Marche story might still happen today but it would have a different polish to it. It feels very raw in this art book.

There is still a good deal of valuable information as well. It has material from Tsukihime, Kagetsu Tohya, and Melty Blood all in the same place. We see off handily mentioned but never seen before characters like Riesbyfe and Kiri Nanaya. The Talk story also gives interesting insights into what a Tsukihime 2 might have contained (or should I say might contain in the future.) As always there is a wealth of information in the interviews that feels so close but so far away. I would love a translated version of those interviews. We have nice snippets of them but something in an official book would be more real to me.

There are a few rough sketches with Takeuchi trying to draw the main cast with a far more “realistic” style which was interesting. There is also a weird page or two where everyone is drawn like super creepy ball joint dolls (aka ball joint dolls). If anyone knows my hardline stance on ball joint dolls they will know my feelings about those pages (No me gusta.)

Random doujinshi idea inspired by the book: Akari Fujisaki from Hikaru no Go accidentally becomes the head of the Back Alley Alliance and no one notices it is not Satsuki Yumizuka.

If nothing else the book really makes me want to go back and play Tsukihime again. It also makes me chomp at the bit for Mahoutsukai no Yoru. Thankfully that is much closer to completion than the last time I checked. The world needs more of the vibrant Aoko Aozaki.


narutaki_icon_4040 Curses Foiled Again is the sequel to the delightful Foiled by Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallero. And from the looks of the ending, there may be more books in the future.

Aliera’s new-found powers as the Defender of the Faerie are one’s she’d rather forget as the real world continually gets weirder as more and more of the fairy realm becomes apparent. Trying to ignore things of course only makes things worse culminating when Caroline, Aliera’s cousin, gets kidnapped.

Some of the greatest moments of the book are when Aliera and Avery are imprisoned in the Troll realm. The lead up is just hilarious and speaks to New Yorkers decidedly ignoring weird things going on around them. The artwork hits full gear in these scenes especially our would-be heroes escape. The lighting and paneling during their subsequent path through the caverns add such atmosphere to the moments.

I felt this book didn’t push the character development too much which left me feeling a little unemotional to things happening. Still, it was a fun installment and like I said there seems to be more planned. I’d be interested to see more of Caroline in possible future volumes.

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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Melissa Tanaka Talks About Translating Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin

August 5, 2013

As fans of the Gundam series, that Vertical has taken a chance in releasing Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin has tickled us pink. With the second book on the shelves, we figured we would do another article on the series to remind people it is out there.

We could have tried to interview Ed Chavez (as he is fairly eager to promote the title), but the Gundamn and Cockpit podcasts had already done that. Instead of going over similar ground in a new interview, we thought of someone with a different perspective: translator for the series Melissa Tanaka.

Translation is one of those jobs that you don’t often think about when it comes to manga unless something goes horribly wrong. Because of that fact though, we all know translation is vitally important to how the series is received by readers. The translator acts as a sort of tour guide for a series. A poor translator can’t completely diminish an outstanding work but a great translator can let non-native speakers take in a work as if they were able to read the original version.

Thankfully for Gundam fans, Melissa Tanaka has done just that for Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin.

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