Ongoing Investigations: Case #047

At first it seemed like Cross Game was more of the same from Mitsuru Adachi. Its initial similarities to Touch are quite easy to notice. They are both about boys who start with little interest in baseball and have a change of heart after the death of a loved one. After reading seeing a good deal of Cross Game they are very different shows. Tatsuya and Minami from Touch have a very different dynamic than Ko and Aoba on top of being very different characters overall. Cross Game shows that Adachi has not lost any magic as a manga-ka who blends dramatic romance with sports manga action. His characters are fun and play off each other well and he knows how to stage a scene for dramatic impact. So far we have not really seen anyone play a full game of baseball. Adachi is setting up the characters so that we care about Ko and his team winning before they play their first game. I like how Ko has become the secondary teams secret weapon. It leads to a good mixture of comedy and suspense as they try to keep his amazing pitching skill a secret. So far Cross Game is still on track as a good show to keep your eye on especially if you like shonen romance.

Vertical had mentioned the Shinjuku Shark books a couple of times at conventions and piqued my interest. After all, a detective story is what we have an affinity for around here! So the self-titled first book finally got a look see by both of us. The Shinjuku Shark strikes fear in all that know him and in many that don’t. He is somewhat of a rogue cop who the brass can’t stand. He has no partner to speak of as he prowls the streets of Shinjuku with little fear of the Yakuza and other gang types. While Samejima (The Shark) certainly has a hard-boiled feel, he is humanized through his relationships and by him actually having moments of fear when going up against the villains in these stories. Also after learning a little of his past in the force as well as the reason he has been permanently relegated to the Shinjuku streets he quickly becomes a character you want to follow. Some other notable people are Yabu the weapons expert on staff and Samejima’s boss Momoi who is nicknamed The Cadaver because of his stellar personality. Both of these guys help Samejima out once and a while, so you know not everyone is against him. They make a great team and certainly made me want to see them appear more. One of the things that struck me was some of the coincidences in this book. We aren’t looking at a small pool of suspects, we are talking about an entire city, but it is relatively obvious who is behind things about half way through. Also the final intended victim was rather convenient. However, if I accept these things the story has some well-paced and suspenseful moments.

I was interested in reading Shinjuku Shark due to a very unusual source, Super Gals! In the show the Odaiba Shark is a show that the main character’s whole family watches. The author, Arimasa Osawa, seems to be a huge fan of both American and Japanese detective literature, movies, and television. Due to a variety of indicators it is obvious that Osawa has ingested a great deal of detective media and then used that knowledge to create his own brand of detective fiction. There is even an sinisterly obsessive detective fan who appears throughout the book as a creepy reminder of how easy it is to get too wrapped up in something. The beginning of the book introduces who the Shark is, how he earned his infamous reputation and how he deals with people on the force and on the street of Shinjuku. Then one third into the story we learn about a serial killer who is killing police officers. For a book that bills itself as a detective novel, not much detective work goes on. The books strength lies more in the characters and the neighborhood they live and work in. If you like the Shark and want to know more about him then you will enjoy the book. The case is the framework to learn more about the protagonist. If you don’t connect to the Shark I have a feeling the book will come off as flat. Oh was I the only person who kept picturing the Shark’s girlfriend as a live action adaption of Priss from Bubblegum Crisis? On a side note of interest, Arimasa Osawa also did story of the 15 volume manga Koryu no Mimi.

I found myself more pulled into The Poison Ape from the get go. This may just be because I have a better feel for how things will play. Also I really enjoyed the passages by a hostess named Nami. Having a double story going on really enhanced the read. Though this basically took away any mystery about who the Poison Ape was. However, at the same time it actually made him a sympathetic villain. Also, Samejima teams up a bit with another detective and they kick up the bad-assness a notch. My qualm with these novels lies with the lack of actual mystery and only minor amounts of detective work. As the reader you either know who it is practically from the get go (as in The Poison Ape) or you know at the half way mark (as in Shinjuku Shark). This makes them much more like crime dramas where you wonder how The Shark will catch his prey. However, much to their credit they stay away from making it a procedural police novel. They are well-written and thrilling at moments, but I wish it was more of a mystery. 

Eden of the East also holds up as being one of the best series of the season so far. Saki and Akira’s relationship has stayed fresh and interesting. The dialog is very snappy and a maintains a good balance between comedy and drama. The episodes have been dealing with some weighty subjects in Japanese society but doing it in an entertaining fashion. I think everybody feels a little sad for Satoshi Osugi but everybody also knows that he does not have a chance. There have been one or two very trippy scenes. I assume they will be explained is some fashion but they are usually very visually striking so I forgive them despite being a bit odd. I did not think we were going to spend as much time with the Johnny Hunter as we have so far. I am a little confused how they are going to wrap it up. Unless they get rid of a bunch of Selecao very soon I can’t see how this is going to come to an end. There is suppose to be a theatrical movie but even then I am not sure they have enough time to wrap it all up.

Read D.Gray Man 13 and there was barely a breath to be taken! It was basically full-throttle the entire time. We ended the last volume with Lavi in an unknown state thanks to Road. Now it was battlin’ time! We also see a bit of Lavi’s inner workings. Once that is hashed out things start crumbling around them and then a bigger, badder, unknown enemy shows up! It is just one thing after another! THEN, a major player shows up who is totally bad-ass. A great installment! Also some of the extras include many characters favorite foods and a weird bit involving General Cross.

Yawara! winner, Michelle:

Even as an elderly woman, I would never project my interests forcefully onto my grandchild in a tortuously repetitive manner in order to live vicariously through them, no sir. This is only because I would never have children in the first place. But if I did for whatever reason have a grandchild, I would force them to share my persistent love for drawing stupid cartoons. Of course, this wouldn’t require any rigorous training like, say, judo. But it would still require quite a deal of practice, I assume! Perhaps the normal authority figure would be against their ward doodling all over their schoolwork, but I would push for it! I would allow them to go outside or have a social life, but I would rather they spend copious amounts of time practicing art and preparing for the various deadlines they will have to meet if they happen to get a job in the arts. And by ‘happen to,’ I really mean ‘certainly will.’ (They will be enslaved to the artist’s desk by a ball and chain if need be!) And I will prepare them for worst-case scenarios! So, in case there is a worldwide shortage of general art supplies, I will teach them how to use common objects in nature to create things. That stone? That leaf? That slug? Surely there must be some obscure use for them! I will teach them how to draw in the dark in case we go into a nuclear winter! That may make no sense, but by golly, I’ll be old and senile by then, so what will I care? I will make them do intense training exercises with their hands and fingers so that they have the ultimate strength to create whatever is my whim for them to! Of course, not enough to break them. That would be bad. In case something does happen to their precious hands, I will certainly pay ridiculous amounts of money to solve the problem. And boy, they’ll be sick of me, but they should know that it’s done out of love. Or perhaps just obsession. And how frustrating it shall be if they run off with some dorky man. :V

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