Posts Tagged ‘The Story of Saiunkoku’

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #173

June 8, 2012

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has finally started season two! Considering the ending to season one if they did not have a second season I am fairly certain Narutaki might have been prompted to do something drastic to the executive board of Cartoon Network.

After the end of season one of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated it was clear they would have to begin with getting the gang back together. So when a terrifying clown baby starts to wreak havoc in Crystal Cove the new mayor decides to try to resurrect Mystery Incorporated with the help of a mysterious stranger. As always such things never go easy with one member being far harder to win back than the others.

The first episode of the new season hits the ground running. The news season has that same wonderful mix of dry and zany humor that made the first season such a loving tribute to everything that has been wrong and right with the franchise. Scooby saving Private Hippy, Dawn of the Doughnuts, and Shaggy’s speech to the town council all showed they were firing on all cylinders. The ending was even a bit of an unexpected twist of the Scooby-Doo formula.

Crazy hobo Fred stole the show. There is no doubt about that. The only bad thing about crazy hobo Fred is I am not really sure how they could top that in the rest of the season. But if everything is just one or two levels below that then we are looking at a great season. Highly recommended.

Okay, I seriously just had an inkling that somehow the new season of Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated had started. And I was right! Only it is running in on Cartoon Network . . . in the UK. And the U.S. has not announced anything about it.

The beginning where a mysterious stranger in a trench coat and hat tells the new mayor she better get Mystery Inc back sets a great tone for the episode. The subsequent parts of what everyone has been up to since they were separated are a delight. As Hisui said, nothing beats Fred in this episode but then again he was consistently been an amazing piece in the series. Pleasepleaseplease let Fred stay HoboFred for at least a couple more episodes.

I also had some really good laughs with the hot movie star guy who is in town, he is famous for playing a were-turtle! The comedy was going full force in this story all around.

The mystery itself surprised me at the end but wasn’t really the focus or all that interesting during the rest of the episode. And I’m curious if there is going to be a new over-arching plot along with tying up things from the last season.

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Manga of the Month: The Story of Saiunkoku

June 5, 2012

The Story of Saiunkoku (彩雲国物語) by Kairi Yura

Saiunkoku is about a kingdom and a romance, sounds simple enough, but it is anything but. The story while focusing on Shuurei is really about telling us the tale of an entire country’s nobles, peasants, conspiracies, politics, triumphs, woes, romances and even some supernatural forces.

Shuurei is a smart, hard-working, but poor noble princess who is brought to court in the hopes of helping the new emperor. She not only forms a close relationship with Ryuki the emperor, but also many others in his circle. Shuurei at first glance seems to be a too-perfect-nice-girl type but that quickly dissolves as you get into the meat of the story. She is extremely intelligent, on par with her male peers, and shows little intimidation in the many political situations.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #169

May 11, 2012

In a most unexpected turn of events the Master Keaton manga returns to the pages of Big Comic Original in the form of Master Keaton Remaster. I guess at least some of the rights issues around the original manga have been cleared up because I know for awhile the original manga series was quite expensive due to it being out of print. But now Taichi Hiraga-Keaton is back! He is still an amusing mixture of a loveable loser and an amazingly competent superman all in one package.  The series starts not long after the end of the original manga. Keaton is notably more entrenched in his academic career after his recent archeological discovery. But just when he thought he was out of the insurance game for good it draws him back in for what he is told will be one last job.

Of course this being Master Keaton we know that will not be the case. Soon he is investigating ruins, redeeming the honor of a man in a coma, and fighting slaver traders. All for one insurance case. It has all the mature elements that you expect from this manga. The story has a well researched history, a steamy underworld, and characters that show their complexity even if we only know them for a chapter or two. There is rape and sex slave traffic but there is nothing graphic or salacious. It just happens to be a story with the disgusting parts of the sex trade as a piece of it. All the bite of an adult story with none of the guilt.

One of the most interesting parts of any Master Keaton story is the fact that Taichi usually comes is for the climax of a story. He is presented with a case, does a good deal of research to find out what is going on, arrives at the critical moment during the ongoing story to help someone out, and then leaves before the falling action is over. This could be amazingly frustrating if done poorly but Naoki Urasawa does this in a way that merely makes you feel like the stories are and organic part of the world. Taichi does his part, and then leaves, and that is all we see. But we get enough of the story from Taichi’s perspective that it always feels satisfying.

I’m am really glad to see the manga running again. Master Keaton is some of the best bite sized seinen you can find. Hopefully they will work in his daughter soon as she is always a refreshing character. Maybe this renaissance of the series will help get both parts licensed for English. That would be masterful.


I watched the first two episodes of Motorcity, a new Disney DX animated series. It showed a lot of promise and sported some cool animation.

The story revolves around a futuristic Detroit with two levels to the city; the old, underground, and free area known as Motocity; and the modern, controlled, upper Deluxe.

Mike leads a group of car fanatic rebels known as the Burners who are trying to bring down the leader of Deluxe. Mike is pretty interesting as he isn’t a kid, but a 17-year-old who was once being groomed by Deluxe’s leader. Now having defected, he is putting all his skills and some sweet modded cars to use.

Also of interest is Jules a resident of Deluxe who is actually helping them secretly. And she just happens to be the daughter of Deluxe’s dictator. But even the rest of the Burners and Mike don’t know that about her.

Both episodes revolved around some sort of threat being sent down to Motorcity. There was lots of cool machinery and robots and whathaveyou to keep things interesting.

These were great episodes and I can’t wait to continue. Definitely something I’m going to attempt to keep up with. The episodes are streaming on Disney DX’s website so far.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #168

May 4, 2012

I picked up The Story of Saiunkoku vols. 1-7 recently and my goodness has this only renewed my passion for the series. I fell in love with the anime a few years ago, so far this manga has followed it quite closely (both being based on a novel series which I have no way of reading, I don’t know if it follows the books closely as well).

Saiunkoku, put simply, is about a kingdom and a romance, but the series is far from simple.

In these volumes, we meet a large cast of nobles and get caught up in assassination schemes, courtly politics, syndicate wars, and various governmental situations. Shurei is a smart, hard-working, but poor, noble who is brought to court in the hopes of helping the new emperor. She not only forms a close relationship with Ryuki the emperor, but also many others in his circle. Shurei not only helps guide the emperor but begins gaining friends and influence in the politics of this large kingdom.

And that is what is so special about Saiunkoku; the political and societal struggles of Shurei and women in this ancient land. A good portion of the series after the first two volumes is Shurei dreaming and applying herself to become a civil servant which no woman has been allowed to do.

While the series also wears the hat of reverse harem, to its credit all the men are fascinating characters with their own places in the court and politics. And by and large they are not in love with our heroine. The story is pretty clear this is about Shurei and Ryuki. But on that note, it is amazing how little time these two actually get to spend together because of their stations and duties.

The story has a clipped pace never lingering too long on any one thing. At times I found myself really yearning for more time for Shurei and Ryuki to no avail. There are moments with a bit too heavy exposition but they seem to lessen as the volumes go on. All in all, it is a great world with a great cast that you want to know more about.

I will say that they wrapped up the first season of Young Justice quite nicely. I did feel that one or two of the slow building plots were quickly resolved in the last 2 episodes but that is more of a stylistic issue than a major complaint. Over all they did a good job of having everyone one in the main cast having some noticeable character progress while at the same time tying all the episodes together into one cohesive plot. I do find it a bit odd that all the new animated DC series seem to be utterly in love with Vandal Savage. While he is decently old character I myself had never heard of him before recently. But he makes for a good foil to teams as opposed to some villains who are better off as either pawns of a bigger villains or as the nemesis for solo heroes. I also have to applaud them for adding more women to the team with the addition of Zatana and Rocket. At the same time while Zatana gets a decent amount of screen time for a late addition Rocket sort of gets thrown in at the last second. So I thought, “Well she can get more screen time and character development when they come back for season 2.”

Then very surprisingly the next week went straight into season 2. And people HATED it. While I can’t say I was in any way as angry as other people I do feel their pain. The season starts after a 5 year time skip. Most of the Young Justice team is new, half the old team is nowhere to be seen, and most of the team that we see is remarkably different with no explanation.  I recognized all the new team additions but is mostly because I have a solid albeit firmly intermediate comics education. Well I recognized everyone except for Lagoon Boy. But all those underwater guys who are not Aquaman are super-duper high level nerd territory anyway. I am sure the average viewer would at least need some explanation for who the Blue Beetle is. The problem is unlike The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes they don’t do the greatest job of introducing people without exposition.

I get that they are going for the risky payoffs of the in medias res plot revelations but the execution is somewhat off.They did such a good job of building up the first team. If they just skipped ahead but kept the team the same it probably would not have felt so jarring. Both changes combined really throw off the flow of the story. I will continue to watch but I feel that the choice was a major misstep and apparently most of the audience agrees. Hopefully they payoff for the reveals of what happened during the time skip will make this all worth it.

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