I eagerly finished the last volume (book 7) of Penguin Revolution. The final scenario in this book is a little over the top, but not out of tune with the rest of the story. Most of the revelations came in the couple of volumes before this so we get a lot of forward motion here. Both Ryo and Aya push themselves to out do the other on the stage and of course their internal battle over Yukari continues. Ryo realizes he has a romantic rival when he finally recognizes his own feelings. I would have liked the ending to be more concrete but it was still a happy one. Highly recommended as is anything by Sakura Tsukaba! I can’t say enough about her ability to meld romance and comedy with a little supernatural. I hope CMX releases whatever she decides to do next, would also love to see a collection of her one shots!
My theme this week is OVAs. I guess I will cheat by starting with the Haruhi ONAs. There are two Haruhi ONA series, Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and Nyoron Churuya-san. I generally find the Haruhi-chan shorts amusing. The episodes remind me of the type of humor you would see in a comedy doujishi. Nothing in the series has had me on the floor laughing but so far all the episodes have brought a smile to my face. I find it interesting that they made Yuki a total visual novel otaku in this series. While it is funny, it makes me wonder if there is any basis for this in the novels. Speaking of Yuki the mini Ryoko Asakura that is staying at her apartment brings up the odd Japanese fascination with making miniature version of characters for omake. A great trivia question would be who was the first character to be portrayed in this fashion. Nyoron Churuya-san on the other hand is just bizarre. It is best summed up as Everyone Hates Churuya-san. It is the story of a cheese-loving, super-deformed Tsuruya going around and being ignored or abused by everyone in these extremely non-sequitur sequences. It has very dry humor which I usually like, but not this time. Their ideal release would be as DVD extras on a boxset of the second series of Haruhi.
I read the 3-story graphic novel collection The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim. The theme for each story revolves around perceived realities. These “realities” for all of our protagonists provide some sort of pleasure or escape but ultimately propel them forward in their actual lives by the end. Each piece has a different art style seemingly just to keep things fresh and interesting (one has an indie comic feel, one looks like a children’s comic book, and one is very whimsical). All of them use some type of humor to move the point along. The first piece is called Duncan’s Kingdom which is a sort of tongue-in-cheek fantasy world. Duncan is a knight who is about to get everything he wants but is plagued by a nagging memory. This one was charming from the beginning and Duncan’s zealous nature makes for some good laughs. The second story, and the title of the book, is about the greedy Gran’pa Greenbax (who is a frog by the way) and his constant scheming to becoming more wealthy. His latest venture revolves around a “smile” that can be seen in the sky. This story took too long to get its legs and flounders in its bizarre world for the most part. I definitely feel this was the least successful piece. Last is Urgent Request where we follow lonely sales assistant Janet after she replys to one of those spam e-mails trying to con people out of money. Janet comes off as typical at first and you wonder if she is just plain stupid. However, as we see her more she becomes while maybe not relatable atleast likable and funny. I liked that by the end all our characters know the truth of their situations, can admit they went about things wrong, and then resolve to change.
In the grand tradition of OVAs the Hayate no Gotoku! OVA is a beach episode. So they give all the Hinagiku fans a topless Hinagiku scene. Still overall it was not the Hinagiku show costarring other characters no one cares about like I had feared. It mostly involves a bitter flat chested ghost taking over Nagi’s body and trying to wreak havoc. It was hardly the funniest Hayate episode but I enjoyed it none the less. So far I do not like J.C. Staff version of Hayate as much as SynergySP’s version but the goodness of the original manga still shines through. I was slightly worried about the show becoming Hayate No Gotoku: Zero no Tsukaima edition but that does not seem to be the case. Other than that it is mostly an excuse to throw all the characters from the manga into one episode including some characters that never appeared in the TV series. Fun for fans of the series but nothing to win over first time viewers.
Mixed Vegetables’s third book is much more in tune with its first. It is like the second book took a little detour. This volume mostly centers around Ashitaba getting up the never to tell her dad she wants to be a sushi chef after Hyuga’s dad offers to train her at his shop. It was great meeting Hyuga’s dad who is funny and laid back. Also the other apprentice in the shop and Hyuga’s mom are great additions. Since the feelings between these two sort of ran off course previously a lot of movement is felt in this book. There are a couple of revelations that while good, were a little less than fresh unlike the first book in the series. Still, I am enjoying it and hope to continue on this journey with these two aspiring chefs.
I got around to watching the first of the Higurashi no Naku Koroni Rei OVAs. The first installment is just one heck of a bizarre comedy episode. I liked it but it was distinctly made for fans of the first two seasons because it had spoilers and in-jokes galore. It centers around magical swimming trunks. Keiichi Maebara gets said trunks that supposedly make you irresistible to women if worn for three hours. Keiichi is unaware that due to an error the trunks will actually make him into an unrelenting narcissist. So the girls all have to band together to remove his pants at the pool. He is joined by other men who also want the magical powers of the swim trunks. Yes the plot is absurdly stupid as it sounds. But it is silly fun. The super obvious jokes about Rumiko Chie being a nod to Ciel from Tsukihime made me laugh at loud. Plus anything that gets Mion Sonozaki in a tasteful bathing suit is all right by me.
I was a guest on another podcast but this time it was me alone unlike when I was on the Ani-Gamers podcast. This time I was a guest on the 3rd episode of the Anime 3000 Panel. It was an all manga episode with Sean and JD Banks from Anime3000.com and Deb Aoki from About.com. We talked about Rin-Ne, the difference in popularity of manga in the U.S. and Japan, and the effect of American comics being giving a manga twist. We then ended the episode with manga recommendations. I once again wound up talking about Future Diary which is funny because it keeps coming up in conversation. Stu Levy should be paying me. It was really fun and everyone on the panel was intelligent and well spoken. I hope to be on again soon.
This is the pic of the week because people should remember HAYATE is the main character of HAYATE no Gotoku: