Posts Tagged ‘Kekkaishi’

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #195

December 28, 2012

I figured I might as well get this over with while Narutaki was on vacation so she did not have to revisit this unnecessarily unless she wanted to. Let us discuss the ending of Eureka Seven: AO (episodes 21-24). I suppose we could talk about the series as a whole at another date but I just want to get this little amount off my chest. You might wonder why I put up a picture of Dewey Novak for this review considering he does not ever appear in this sequel. Trust me. He is critical.

My main complaint about the ending is simple. But it is a fatal flaw that trumps all the other many minor flaws. According to Eureka Seven: AO it seems that Dewey Novak was right. He might have been a pedophilic mass murder who would not only commit patricide but also tried to destroy the world but as it turns out he was right. Mankind cannot live with the Scub Coral and the Coralians. One race must die so one race may live. So AO flushes the entire lesson of people learning to coexist utterly down the drain. Since I though that the original show and its themes were amazing this was a less than preferable twist in the sequel. I’m not saying that is no merit to the idea of a former villain actually be proven to have a legitimate (and actually correct) reason for his insane plan. I’m just saying in this case it was done super poorly.

Then there is the fact that Elena Peoples’ story line was amazingly anticlimactic, Naru Arata’s plot line seems totally forgotten by the end, and Truth was just all over the place as a villain. Everyone switched sides at one point or another and not always for good reasons. And in the end it all did not really matter as the Quartz Gun erases about 99% of everything that happened in the series. In the end I was mostly just glad the series was over.

It is really a shame. I had decently high expectations for this series. The first episode was promising and intriguing. But sadly my initial ideas of where the series was going were far better than anything that played out on-screen. This series certainly does not ruin the original series for me. That is still aces in my book. But I would never recommend anyone watch this after the original.

sep-manga

The finale has arrived, Kekkaishi’s last volume (35) hit stores as 2012 was coming to an end as well.

The finale volume is mostly falling action, which was rather refreshing, as the final pieces of the puzzle are revealed. I don’t think it is spoilers to say things mostly work out with the fate of the Shadow Organization falling to a new head. Karasumori’s existence is put to rest though still with some surprises in the mix and one very beautiful moment that brought a tear to my eye. And the rivalry between the clans Sumimura and Yukimura is dissolved.

I was pleased with the roles Yoshimori and Tokine played in the ending of this grand story. But they weren’t the only ones to have a big piece in the finale, and that’s what I liked best about the entire series. This was an ensemble cast and story which played out as such up until the very end; characters were not thrown by the wayside to build up Yoshimori’s importance. With such a great cast, I wouldn’t mind side stories about any number of them.

I’ve been so pleased to follow this wonderful shonen fighting manga for quite a while, anticipating each new installment. I’ll continue to sing its praises and recommend it even if it won’t be constantly reminding me of its presence every couple of months. I really hope VIZ picks up Yellow Tanabe’s new work in the near future.

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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Ongoing Investigations: Case #192

November 30, 2012

http://i201.photobucket.com/albums/aa288/reversethieves/show%20images/Laughter.jpg

narutaki As I creep closer to the end of Kekkaishi, I’m comforted by Yellow Tanabe having another work out that I can jump into. Laughter in the End of the World (chs.1-2) is another great excuse for her to draw monsters.

I’m already impressed that out lead (he has no name yet) is different from Yoshimori of Kekkaishi, his attitude is more subdued yet confident and he is at a point further along in his life path. He carries a distinct mark on his cheek which people believe makes him a demon, but none of that is at all clear yet. Instead we know he hunts demons and that is what he is up to in these first two chapters.

We also get a flashback through a priest who lived through The Afternoon of Darkness which lead to the appearance of the White Demon and all demons thereafter. The White Demon was seriously freaky and gave me the chills, I can tell the horror bend of this series will be a bit stronger.

The first fight only begins in the last couple of pages of the second chapter so we’ll have to wait to see how that plays out. I admit I’m really curious about it and our leads powers.

Good start, looking forward to more!

We here at the Reverse Thieves have been pretty big advocates of Kekkaishi since we learned about the series back at Otakon 2007.  So when it was announced that Yellow Tanabe started her newest series we were both pretty excited. The series is called Laughter in The End of The World and while it is clearly very different from Kekkaishi you can see seeds of the series in her previous work. But if you are expecting a lighthearted romantic adventure this might not be for you.

Twenty five years ago an almost incomprehensible creature, called the White Demon (who is not Amuro Ray), devoured 70% of the world’s population and was only stopped after a 7 day long battle with the greatest holy magicians. Since then certain people have been marked with “the mouth of the demon.” Those people become immortals shunned for their connection to the monster. The main character is one of these cursed immortals, who along with his sister, specializes in killing his own kind.

While parts of Kekkaishi were mainly fairly straight shonen action the series did dip into the macabre with storylines like Heisuke Matsudo and Byaku. While Laughter in The End of The World is still distinctly in the shonen mold it seems to be tapping into the darker slightly more seinen parts of the pool. In a way that might position it to be a possible hit outside of Japan. Series that feel older but are rooted in the shonen mold have a better chance of gaining an audience in English. In fact if it were not running in Shonen Sunday I would assume it would have a distinct chance of becoming popular or at least gaining a strong following.

The story distinctly has a Book of Revelation feeling to it all. The White Demon seems to be based somewhat on the beast from the sea and the church in this world has distinctly Christian feel. But at the same time the world seems to have a very gray morality. The first immortal that the unnamed protagonist is hunting seems to have murdered several people. But it seems to come after repeated attempts of the villagers to kill him in various gruesome manners. So there are serious sins on both sides of the equation.

The main character himself is still a bit of an enigma much like the world itself. He comes off sort of cocky with a bit of a dry humor to him. But he seems to have the experience to back up that attitude. The real test will be when he throws down with his fellow immortal. Yoshimori has such an unusual fighting style so I hope to see something similar here.

I’m glad to Yellow Tanabe staring off on the right foot. I think Laughter in The End of The World has a good deal of potential so I look forward to the story fulfilling it.

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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Ongoing Investigations: Case #185

September 21, 2012

Although readers love number scores in turn reviewers can grow to hate them mostly because they lack any amount of nuance. It is far more important why you gave something a 7 out of 10 than the mere fact that you did. But with some reviews a number score would be utterly meaningless. What is appealing and unappealing, what works and what goes astray, and what attracts and repels people are so subtle that only a full review can give you a good appreciation of the product. Forest really is a visual novel that personifies that fact. It is a game that I would say could easily be a 9 out of 10 for one of my friends but a 4 out of 10 for another and for the same reasons.

The thing is love it or hate it you have to give it to Forest for really trying to push the boundaries of the types of stories you can tell with the medium. When I first looked at the game I had to wonder how much of the complex narrative was a pretentious attempt at playing like the big boys of art and how much was legitimate higher story telling. In the end it is all fairly well executed attempts at creating a layered story with a good deal of symbolism and threaded stories tied together with a dash of gorgeous surrealism. The story takes the western children’s stories and creates a fantasy realm inside Shinjuku that tests a group of very broken people.

The clearest example of the style of story telling comes with the story selection. In each chapter there are usually 3 or four stories you need to read to progress. They are presented as leaves of a tree with dates on them. The leaves come in three different colors. The gray dead leaves are set entirely in the real world. There is never anything magical going on and they contain the most conventional pieces of storytelling. Then there are green leaves that talk about the world of the Forest. Here things are a mixture of the mundane and mystical. What is real, what is imaginary, and what is magical can be tricky to discern as all three realms can interact seamlessly. There are also red leaves that deal with the Game of the Forest. Everything here is totally metaphorical. There are no traces of the real world and everything is shrouded in symbolism and mystery.

You might be asking yourself at this point why did I make such a big fuss at the beginning if this game is so complex and layered. The thing is as many things as there are to enjoy about the game there are to hate about it. Heck most of them are the same things. All that layered story telling can be just as off-putting as it is fascinating. Thankfully near the end there are some major revelations are thrown on the table in a rather concrete manner so it is not all guess-work and symbolism. But that does not really happen until three-quarters of the way through. Until then you are left to swim through some very tough reading with the mere promise that things will be explained later on. This is not James Joyce’s Ulysses but it is hardly something you can read while doing something else at the same time. If you called it pretentious I would disagree with you but I would not say that you wrong either.

Also there is a lot of sex. And most of it is rather unnerving. It is never gory or bizarre. It is just that it all involves very emotionally damaged people having sex with the oddly uncomfortable sensation that comes with it. Sometimes the scenes are there to give a greater insight into the characters and story and sometimes they are there for mostly fetishistic reasons.  This is far more than just a “put it in”  game but with the amount of sex involved you would not be a fault to assume that at first.

In the end it all comes down to how much you wish to climb that mountain. There is a definite reward at the end but it is hardly an easy climb to the top. If you are a hardcore story driven visual novel fans this is worth checking out just to how you complex a story you can tell if that is your goal. No one will ever praise or accuse Tokimeki Memorial of being art house but you could legitimately but that label on Forest. But for anyone else there are far better titles to start with. Sometimes you don’t need to scale Everest for some entertainment.

ParaNorman was one of the animated films I was looking forward to most this year and it didn’t disappoint. If anything, it exceeded everything in its trailer.

It is the story of Norman an 11-year-old boy in the town of Blithe Hollow a place obsessed with its 300-year-old witch execution. Norman has the power to see ghosts so it is no surprise that when the witch’s curse threatens the town, he is the only one capable of stopping it.

The animation and graphic stylings are a knock-out in this movie. From the deep shadows to the bright highlights, ParaNorman paints it macabre world in a fun way. The little details really make it feel thoughtful, like Norman’s room or the threads on the clothing. And be sure to watch through to the end of the credits to see a little time lapse video of an artist creating the Norman puppet.

ParaNorman’s humor and the topics it explores give it a lot of punch. There are bright moments of slap-stick and morbid chuckles throughout. The Puritan zombies being terrified of modern American culture was a fantastic jab. Norman’s problems of being bullied and his alienation from those around him are depicted with sensitivity and heartbreak that felt like it could only come from those who have been there. Similarly, bullied Neil who befriends Norman feels like so much like someone you know.

It is a really special movie, my favorite animated of the year so far, and I can’t wait to watch it again!

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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Ongoing Investigations: Case #177

July 6, 2012

As I was going to Kinokuniya to pick up my ultra vital max priority #1 ultraviolet volume of Fate/Zero for Gen Urobuchi to sign at Otakon. While I was there I decided to also look at their English manga section as well. I was really hoping they had a copy of Rohan at the Louvre but that sadly was not there. (In fact I have yet to see that at any New York comic shop.) But since I wanted to pick up at least something to read on the subway since I was traveling around a lot that day so I picked up a copy of Drifters. I figured I would see what Kouta Hirano has been up to since Hellsing. I would have also picked up Blood Blockade Battlefront but I don’t have that sort of disposable income.

The story is set in a dark fantasy world with elves and dragons. Two god like entities pluck famous humans from Earth as they are dying and use them to fight their battle to control this high fantasy realm. The theoretically nicer god summons Drifters to save the world and the seemingly evil god summons Ends to destroy it. The Ends all have some magical gimmick that deals with their historical background where as the Drifters just tend to be insanely skilled. The story starts with Shimazu Toyohisa apparently dying during the Battle of Sekigahara and then appearing in this strange fantasy world to fight alongside his fellow Drifters.

It is the distinctly the Kouta Hirano we all know and love. Lots of action and blood but not much gore. Very stylish fighting with an emphasis on sword play but some guns thrown in for good measure. Bad guys vs. not nearly as bad guys (although the Drifters are a bit more on the side of the angels than Alucard.) His art style is generally unchanged with a heavy use of inks and shading as well as a love of crazy eyes.

Shimazu Toyohisa is a reckless swordsman who seems to be a nice guy at heart but never hesitant to indulge in his bloodthirsty nature. We also have rare instance of an almost kindly Oda Nobunaga. I mean that in the sense that he is actually a Drifter and not the demon leading the enemy. For Oda Nobunaga that is practically making him saintly compared to 95% of his usual portrayals in anime. The main party is rounded out by Nasu no Yoichi who I swore was gender swapped for his historical basis. But apparently he is just an amazingly feminine dude. There are some other drifters as well but finding out who pops up is half the fun of the manga.

The Ends are led by the mysterious Black King. He is a cloaked figure whose identity is clearly being kept as a big surprise. He commands historical figures like Anastasia with the ability to summon icy winds and Joan of Arc who can burn others while she burns herself. They all seem a bit more crazy than the Drifters who are hardly on the sane side of the spectrum as it stands. There are also the native fantasy inhabitants like the elves and some other strange organizations who seem independent of the Drifters or the Ends.

Drifters is a fun little action series. A nice mix of fantasy fun with some very liberal interpretation of historical figures. It will be a fun romp much like Hellsing. This seems like the sort of series that would sell like gangbusters in the US if it got an anime adaptation. It has the storyline of a shonen series that American audiences are most comfortable with but with the grit and bloodshed that really hooks them as well. But until that anime comes along the manga is fluffy but easily recommended choice.

Finally got my copy of Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 2! I was really impressed with the first volume, it slows down a little with this installment but is able to hit an upswing as it goes on.

In Part 2, we learn more about what Toph has been up to at her training school and meet her new students. They haven’t really come into their metalbending abilities yet so that becomes the primary focus for a good deal of this volume. Sokka tries to help out this ragtag bunch so it is a mostly comedic arc. I’m curious how Toph’s students will play into the plot further, if at all.

Meanwhile, Aang is goofing off at his fanclub on the a detour from going to see the Earth kingdom king. So again this section has a lot of comedy elements. This part feels very Aang like to get wrapped up with these girls, though we’ve sort of seen this before. Still, they surprised me in the end with an important contribution.

As for Zuko, we see him only a little as he tries to connect and understand his father. It doesn’t go so well as can be expected and sadly we don’t hear another word about his mother. More interesting was probably the small relationship pieces that occur in this volume which have me very curious about some things we’ve been assuming in The Legend of Korra.

Even though Part 2 doesn’t feel as tense as the first, this is the middle section of a trilogy, you still get some insights. Plus, it ends with some real wheels turning.

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