Ongoing Investigations: Case #054

This week your lovely writers were on the Ani-Gamers podcast! Okay, so we did the podcast a while ago but it is just now up. We discuss Otakon 2009, I know our con report was just not enough for you readers so you should listen to this, too! There is also an appearance by the ever elusive Kohaku and travel buddies Ogiue Maniax and VamptVo (obviously since he runs the podcast). Don’t forget to listen till the very last second for a special treat!

Tanpenshu 1 and 2 are a collection of short stories by Hiroki Endo. Endo also writes Eden: It’s an Endless World! which I very much enjoy so I was curious to see his some of his other projects. All the stories in Tanpenshu have the same component parts that make Eden. On the other hand they are all their own stories with their own feel so it’s not like your reading endless variations on one story. We have everything from modern day stories about yakuza, to sci-fi sex stories, to an autobiographical story. All the tales, even when they are comedies, tend to have an adult feeling mixed with a deep melancholy. When he decides to make his story dark they can be as dark as pitch. Because You’re Definitely a Cute Girl is is clear example of that. Platform was my favorite with a very twisted but powerful story. Hang mostly seemed to be very awkward sex scenes with a sci-fi twist. Maybe I am just dense and did not get why it was trying to say but it just seemed gratuitous to me. No matter what all of his stories will stay with you after you read them. The art has a distinctly seinen feel that often can be quite detailed and breathtaking. These are a great buy if you are already a fan of Hiroki Endo but also a great place to test the waters and see if you like him.

The 21st volume of Blade of the Immortal wonderful for many reasons, not the least of which is that the prison arc is now OVER! But to its credit, it has a pretty crazy finale. Battles that are enclosed are just wilder and have such dynamic movement which is certainly seen here in the underground caverns as well as Manji’s prison cell. With the help of Rin (who is actually helpful!) plus Doa and Isaku, Manji proves once again why he is a force to be reckoned with, even in shackles. And as Rin realizes here the worms don’t just have the ability to keep Manji alive but they keep him spry and slow to fatigue. He is able to fight full out even though he has been locked away for a month because the worms constantly revive him to he state he was in when the worms entered his flesh. The arc ends with the not so surprising reappearance of one character but along with a character we haven’t thought about or seen in a while. Plus it is unclear what the next steps are in the story but atleast Manji and Rin will be taking them together!

Thanks to a Dark Horse sale I caught on MPD Psycho by reading books 4 to 9. I have mixed but overall good feelings about this series. It is a complex manga but sometimes I wonder if it is overly complex for the sake of being overly complex. It is also extremely graphic in all sense of the word but I wonder how much of it is for the sake of the story and how much is for shock value. Also for a while it seemed like everyone and their mom had a bar code in their eye. Also I have to say what Eiji Otsuka and Shou Tajima consider important information is very differently than what I consider important information. They will give huge full page spread reveals to information that we really already knew but have never had stated outright. Then they will mention major plot altering information off handily in a single panel. I’m not sure if it’s I’m really insightful about the major details or if they just don’t have the same sense of proportion that I do. I will say that they made a risky and rather unexpected decision in book 8 that totally caught me off guard. The second it happened I knew how they were going to lessen its impact but I still think it was bold. I can see it going several very interesting places, several very mundane places, or off in a direction I haven’t thought of. In any case, I hope it goes in a direction that I enjoy in the end.

After hearing so much about him, I started watching Akagi. I finished the first seven episodes which is a small arc that centers around a 13-year-old Akagi and his entry into the underground world of Mahjong gambling, or HIS DESCENT INTO DARKNESS! Which ever you prefer. Akagi is a bad dude, even at middle school age, but you just plain have to root for him. His type of Mahjong seems completely irrational to the people around him but really he is just able to read people and the situation so well that he knows what they will do before they even do it! Hell, he doesn’t even know how to play Mahjong when he seeks refuge that fateful night. It is everything it is cracked up to be and more. You really don’t need to know anything about Mahjong to enjoy the show (though now I really want to learn to play). All you need is an appreciation for the over-the-top and a soft-spot for the undefeatable Akagi!

I admit I mostly started reading Onani Master Kurosawa because it seemed like for a day or two everyone on the Internet was recommending it. They were absolutely correct. This is oddly enough a very funny manga with a rather touching and fulling story. It also just happens to be about a character that is clearly a parody of Light Yagami that uses public masturbation as a tool for revenge. This sounds like an utterly tasteless and silly plot and that is exactly how it starts. But as the series goes on the tone changes several times as we actually examine Kakeru Kurosawa, who he is, and how he interacts with people. It becomes a very dark comedy then switches to depressing drama and eventually becomes a strong story of growth, redemption, and acceptance. If that can be believed. Kurosawa actually grows as a human being as does everyone one else in the story. Ise Katsura handles changing gears between the different tones surprisingly well. The art itself can go from detailed to very sketchy but it is a doujinshi so I am a great deal more accepting. At four books it nice and short while still telling a rich story so there is no reason not to check it out.

Because Akagi demands attention this is the pic of the week:

4 thoughts on “Ongoing Investigations: Case #054

  1. Sub says:

    I feel like a lot of the stories in Tanpenshu are a young Endo indulging himself. Hang is just pure Endo: it doesn’t really have anything behind it other than “Endo always does this stuff”. I’m not crazy about Platform: I feel like he’s bludgeoning us with the kinds of sad points about human nature that he’s subtle and gentle with in Eden. Personally, I’m all about the crow story whose name I’m blanking on, High School Girl 2000, and For Those Of Us Who Don’t Believe in God, an old scanlation of which got me into Endo in the first place.

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