Ongoing Investigations: Case #043

I finished the Contraband arc of Liar Game. It ended pretty strongly with a equal mixture of  success and failure for our main characters. I really liked that it was neither a total victory nor a total loss. Nao and Shinichi are definitely in a tight spot going into the next round but they did much of what they needed to do. Liar Game stays a smart series that challengers the reader but does not pull its plot twists out of thin air. How the game works and how the characters pull off their schemes are set up before the reveals are given. A clever person could probably figure out the answers in advance. Norihiko Yokoya has obviously been set up as a reoccurring villain which is the first in the series. Nao is still oscillating between being girl-who-needs-to-be-saved and Shinichi’s partner but at least her character is growing. I am hoping by the end she will have her own unique perception and tactics. I am a little surprised that Fukunaga is staying on as an important side character.

Picked up Key to the Kingdom a while back but just started reading it. So far books one and two have impressed me, it is a wonderfully put together shojo fantasy. We start with Asta, the youngest prince, who has no desire to rule nor to hold a sword. So when the country’s rule lies in the hands of whoever can find the “key to the kingdom” it seems he will be free of such troubles. However, fate has other things in store as Badd, a retainer, drags him into looking for clues to its whereabouts. When a Dragon Man appears on their path it becomes clear that everything is not as it seems. A diverse cast emerges along the road as Asta resists but gets caught up in the complexity of the country’s history. There are many things going in this story including action, politics, mystery, and love. I was surprised that the series is only six years old because the art certainly has a late-80’s or mid-90’s feel to it. A great start to the series, highly recommended!

I bought the hard cover of the Haruhi light novel so I figured I would throw in my 2 cents on the book. Reading though it left me with one major feeling: Wow! Kyoto Animation did a really good job at perfectly adapting the novel. If you have watched the TV series you have read the first book. Unfortunately this means there is not much to gain by reading the novel. It was fun and I enjoyed it but if you are looking forward to some deeper insight into the franchise you’re out of luck. I was hoping to get more out of Kyon‘s monologues but they too were perfectly adapted. I certainly see why they jumbled up the episode order for the original TV broadcast. It gave the fans of the original novels a new take on what would have been otherwise a straightforward adaption. So if you like collecting every piece of the Haruhi franchise, it is a well done book, but if you are looking for a new piece, it adds nothing that you have not already seen. I am personally curious how well it does among non-anime fans as a piece of teen literature from Little Brown Books.

Started watching Glass Mask (2005 version) since it is on Crunchyroll. I’ve seen three episodes so far and I gotta say, for the life of me I don’t understand why so many people are the biggest jerks in the world to this girl! Sure Maya is kinda weird and always wandering off into her own little world, but she is generally a hard-working, nice person. As she starts to move towards her goal with a passion for acting, she encounters many obstacles. However she catches the eye of an eccentric retired actress who sees her potential. The animation is very good and the style is the hybrid 70’s and new that we have seen lately (To Terra uses it for example). I am definitely going to continue on and I recommend diving right in to everyone else.

Out of curiosity I decided to check out the Hayate The Combat Butler Character Cover Album. I am really glad I did because it was pretty awesome. All the song choices are little in jokes to fans of the manga so they are utterly appropriate. A exemplary pair of examples are the first and third songs on the album. When Nagi (Rie Kugimiya) is having a karaoke battle with Nishizawa (Mikako Takahashi) she sings a Megumi Hayashibara song. So of course the first song is Nagi singing the Megumi Hayashibara single, Niji iro no Sneaker. The third song is Hinagiku (Shizuka Itou) singing Cruel Angel Thesis just like she did at the school festival in the manga. Special props have to go to Wataru (Marina Inoue) and Saki’s (Saki Nakajima) version of STEP. STEP is the opening to Mashin Hero Wataru, I thought that was clever. I liked all the songs although I wish I was high enough level otaku to catch all the references. Maria’s (Rie Tanaka) song was by far my favorite song on the album. Kanashimi yo Konnichiwa is one of my favorite anime opening songs. Having Rie Tanaka sing it just sends it to the realm of the gods. I am not sure that everyone else will get that same synergy that I did from the song. Tama and Klaus did not get character songs. How odd.

Read the first of the two book series The Lapis Lazuli Crown. The story revolves around Miel whose family is known for their magical abilities and which she isn’t very apt at. She is, for some reason, very strong though and is rather a klutz about it. One day after one of her accidents of strength, she meets Radi. Radi is a laid back and quirky guy who takes a shine to her and encourages her to pursue her magical abilities. Oh, it is mentioned that Radi looks kind of like the prince of the kingdom. I know you will all be shocked to learn that, of course, he is the prince. Thus begins their somewhat silly love story. Miel is strong-willed but kind of an idiot, however in the last chapter she is able to stand on her own giving hope that she will not need to be constantly rescued. The artwork was very cute and the manga-ka worked for Arina Tanemura so the potential seems there. I liked that Radi is upfront about his feelings for Miel (though she constantly seems to think he is lying, which got annoying) and Miel has made it clear she wants to get to the palace with her magic for Radi. However, the flow of the story doesn’t feel right. It tries to cram too many things and characters into such a short series. Why insert school into the story starting in the third chapter? The bonus story is about a girl and a phantom thief. This story was a little better with its flow. Unfortunately, this work comes off as just okay. Though with only one other book in the mix, it might be worth seeing if Natsuna Kawase can change my mind.

Because sometimes I throw Narutaki a bone as long as our tastes agree, this is the pic of the week:

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