Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #234

February 3, 2014

narutaki_icon_4040 There is only one thing we like almost equally much as detectives: phantom thieves. Bandette (vol. 1) by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover is a delightful adventure set on the streets of Paris featuring (mostly) good Samaritan expert thief Bandette and her band of merry followers.

Bandette’s goals are a light mystery, her attitude is fresh, carefree, and yet she comes off as knowing everything before it happens. She is really quite a wonder, never seeming affected by all the trouble she runs into and never worrying how she will manage. One thing we do know is she has quite the affinity for rare, and first edition, books. Also candy. She has an oh-so-necessary secret lair and seems to have money and means.

Her friends come off as kind of Baker Street Irregulars, essential to getting her out of jams, setting up means of escape, and alerting her of any information they might find.

Colleen Coover’s art is so lively with a range of facial expressions and reactions which give the story such levity even when assassins appear. Her paintings of Paris give it all the mystique and romance that it deserves so much so I’d like to have her just make a travel guide for the city!

The first installment of Bandette does everything right; it is a bright, whitty, fun jaunt while introducing a villainous organization out to get Bandette, presenting a rival thief who begrudgingly helps her, tip-toeing around a possible love interest, and painting Paris as both light and dark. There are many mysteries and adventures ahead, I can’t wait for the next volume!

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hisui_icon_4040 Yankee-kun na Yamada-kun to Megane-chan to Majo is a delightful cross over comic letting the cast of two of Miki Yoshikawa’s most famous works have a bit of a meeting. Since both series are goofball comedies it is clear that their combination would be equially flippant but just as amusing. The plot uses the body swapping powers from Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches but most of the story revolves around the cast of Yankee-kun to Megane-chan.

Due to your standard meeting of characters running in the street while late to school there is the toast being carried in the mouth. But instead of the normal boy-girl collision this leads to Daichi Shinagawa and Ryu Yamada kissing and thereby changing bodies. This means that they are both desperately trying to find the other one to get back to where they belong.

For the most part this is a Yankee-kun to Megane-chan story. They definetly get the lion share’s of the attention in the story. Even Ryu spends most of the chapter in Daichi’s body which makes him practically a character who is half Yamada-kun and half Yankee-kun. Then again Ryu’s series is still ongoing while the Mon Shiro High School has not had a chance to shine in a while.

Also I accept any excuse to see Rinka Himeji again.

The story does highlight the fact that Daichi and Ryu are similar enough that no one at Mon Shiro High School can tell there is someone else in his body. If Adachi and Shiraishi had switched bodies that would not have been the case. You can tell that Miki Yoshikawa really likes a certain type of male delinquent as her main character. But I don’t think Kate would disagree with her choice of protagonist.

It is a fun little story that should be a treat for fans of either series. If you like both series it is even better.

Also is has a whole bunch of guys kissing.

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.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #233

January 7, 2014

hisui_icon_4040 The Flowers of Evil was a series that seemed to either be on peoples best anime of 2013 list or something you acknowledged existed but had a strong reason it was absent. Quite a few people just could not watch because they hated the look of the rotoscoping. In their defense it is rotoscoping. It is one of the few animation techniques that I can think of that you either just accept (and maybe even enjoy) or gets under your skin like nothing else. Interestingly enough after reading volumes one through four of the manga my critique would be much different.

The more subtle difference between the anime and the manga is the pacing. The Flowers of Evil anime has an almost glacial movement in the story. It spends so much of its time building up tension that the actual story seems secondary. I expected the manga to have that same ponderous weight to its cadence. But I was surprised by what I read.

The Flowers of Evil manga seems to have two paces. It can be almost breathlessly frenetic but in contrast it can also be meditatively ponderous. When Takao Kasuga is caught up in things the flow of the pages are almost delirious as events seem like they are out of his control. But when he is a master of his own fate the pace slows down. It clearly highlights when Kasuga could escape the spiral he is in but refuses to do so due to either cowardice, fear of being hurt, or plain desire. That anime seems not to care much for that first mode.

It is not to say the anime is doing things incorrectly. It is clearly made decisions to revel in one half of the story and downplay the other. When you adapt a title to another medium you sometimes have to change things to make them work. Other times you can modify things to make them your own. I feel like the anime is somewhere in the middle in this respect. Some of the changes are out of necessity and others are a personal flourish.

I will mention that I read through more of story what was in the three volumes of manga than the time it took to watch three episodes of the same 13 episode anime. While there is not necessarily a better version there is one that is in fact more expedient.

In that respect I feel that anime and the manga of The Flowers of Evil are the beginning of discussion and maybe even some insight into what different people want out of pacing and adaption of manga. It seems like people who would normally despise such a reduced speed in a translation love this series. There is clearly a greater alchemy at work here worth looking into.

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narutaki_icon_4040 As you might gather from the cover of Blade of the Immortal vol. 27, we finally get the return of a familiar face (actually faces!) as we draw ever nearer to the final showdown. The volume focuses more on the greater cast as Rin and Manji recover from their latest clash with Shiira and slowly start their journey again.

We finally get to see Habaki’s daughter show her skills in some competent sword work but much more in her ability to think ahead. A good portion of the book is taken up by her and Ban (one of Habaki’s woefully underdeveloped death row soldiers) fighting in the woods against one of the Itto-ryu’s oldest members. Ban uses a gun which takes the ridiculous nature of the fights in BotI to a different level.

Remember those familiar faces I mentioned? Well, don’t get too excited since they literally make a 8-page appearance. Still it bodes well for things to come.

Magatsu had my favorite moment in the volume though as he lays down some wisdom about the path of revenge:

“It’s like the wheel of fate rolling right over us. All we are required to do is accept being hated our whole lifetimes by the relatives of those we’ve killed. Even thinking about wanting to forgive or wanting to be forgiven is foolish.”

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.

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One for the Money, Two for the Show

December 31, 2013

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hisui_icon_4040 It always seems like Kate and I go through long stretches where we don’t do any guest spots on other podcasts, then by coincidence we do a whole batch of guests appearances, and then another long dry spell. And I keep that trend alive by being on two Internet series in quick enough succession that I can put both of them in the same post.

My first guest appearance was a follow-up to my November appearance on the OSMcast!. I was on the podcast JUST before the DLC case for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, called Turnabout Reclaimed, was released in English. So we agreed to record this supplemental podcast after we both played through the new case to give a complete overview of the game. This time we were also joined by Mark from The Oriental Cartoon Show podcast who could not make the first podcast.

We don’t make TOO many fish related puns. I promise.

My second appearance was on the Shinjuku Station live video stream with Soul Bro Ryu who most people will recognize as a member of the Gundamn! Podcast. He was doing an introductory lesson on how to do your own video streaming program as well as answering any questions people might have about such a project. Sadly Soul Bro usually starts the video streams at night and therefore me having to wake up at 4am for work prevents me from attending their regularly scheduled shows. (I mean they used to live watch Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure so you know I wanted to attend.) But since I can catch up on some sleep on New Year’s day I decided to stay up at participate a bit before I went to bed.

Now you too can be a Let’s Play superstar!

- Alain

OSMsupplemental! Phoenix Wright:
Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies DLC:
Turnabout Reclaimed 12-30-2013

and

Video Streaming Q&A with @SoulBroRyu!

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #232

December 9, 2013

narutaki_icon_4040 Mao no Kyoushitsu is a one-shot by Miki Yoshikawa done with her usual zany flair. This time she takes us to an elementary school class whose teacher just happens to be Satan.

The class is of course terrified at first, then they come to think it is all an act but is it!? Manami and her friends set out to find the truth, she being the only one who believes he must truly be Satan. I really enjoyed the repoire between all the kids from their over the top reactions to young cynicism. A wonderfully bizarre setup and fun romp that I wouldn’t mind reading more of.

Surely the best part is when The Devil commends Manami for attempting to burn him alive (it was an accident!).

hisui_icon_4040  It was nice to be able to track down a one shot story from Miki Yoshikawa in the form of Mao no Kyoushitsu. All too often we never get to see little stories like this from even well-known authors let alone lesser known artists like the author of Yankee-kun to Megane-chan. It can even be hard for the Japanese audience to read some of these stories let alone us Yanks.

Before I get into anything else I would like to mention that I thank goodness they translated chuunibyou as poser “nutjob-itis.” I feel like we are just getting out of the grips of small segment of people throwing around the term Chuunibyou all the time. So a somewhat silly English version fits with the scene were the kids are trying to figure out Mr. De Mon’s deal all the better. I don’t feel you have to translate every word into English for a good translation but here the adaptation of a complex word here adds a lot to the scene.

Other than that the strongest part of the story here is the characters. Manami is a great protagonist. Her desire for school to be more fun if Mr. De Mon’s story is true is really infectious. At times it makes her an unreliable narrator but that makes the story even more enjoyable.  You are sort of wondering if Mr. De Mon is really a hell spawn the whole time too. Also her reaction faces are great.

Mr. De Mon is equally fun. In a way he is the type of character that Miki Yoshikawa excels in. She knows when to play him for laughs really well but is not afraid to pull back for a little emotional softness when the time is right. The key is to go for the emotional moments at just the right time or they come off as lame. Also too much serous emotion makes the character overly dramatic and weighs down the comedy.

I also really like the delivery of the line, “”He likes pretty girls. Earth shattering.” A wonderful use of deadpan.

And the story ends nicely. You get the feeling there are more stories with Mr. De Mon but that is where the curtain closes. I feel that Miki Yoshikawa is a good enough author to continue the story of The Demon’s Classroom. She is really good at creating new avenues in a story that other authors would just use to tell variations on the same story. But at the same time this is a great place to end the story as a happy short story.

If you never read anything by Miki Yoshikawa this is a great place to get to know her as an artist with a minimum time commitment. It is a story that showcases some of her best features in a single story. If your already a fan I’m sure your hunting down this story as we speak.

Bonus: If are a fan of Miki Yoshikawa you will see an elementary school version of Hana Adachi in the last panel of page five.

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.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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