Ongoing Investigations: Case #055

Another Kara no Kyokai movie and other review. Movie number 6 is Oblivion Recorder which focuses on Mikiya’s sister Azaka Kokuto as she looks into students with missing memories with some help from Shiki. Apparently fairies under a mages control are stealing people’s memories. It is a flawed work without a doubt but I really enjoyed as I have all the other Garden of Sinner’s movies. This is really a movie all about Azaka co-staring Shiki. Azaka does most of the investigation and gets all the keys scenes. If there was any doubt that Azuka was the prototype for Akiha from Tsukihime they were dispelled by this movie. The animation stays fluid and while the action scenes with Azuka are very well done, Shiki’s action scene was quite brief and somewhat underwhelming. Satsuki Kurogiri hovers on the line between important and unimportant and his fate is ultimately left very vague. As I understand he has a much more expanded role in the original book which makes much more sense. In fact a post on Anime Diet goes into great detail on how the book and the movie are vastly different. I hope that Del Rey continues with their plan to translate the books so I can compare the two myself. Oh, the little omake scene at the beginning is all build up to one horrible pun. Of course I loved it.

I picked up a copy of My Japanese Coach for DS, I had been weighing whether or not to do this for quite a while because quite frankly I am just terrible at language. However, my fluctuating desire to know Japanese got the better of me. The program is broken into six stages of which I just completed the first one so it seemed like a good time to discuss how it is going. You are first given a multiple choice test to see what you might already know. Just from what I know from anime and the such I was able to skip 4 or 5 lessons. The game then does a quadruple duty of helping you learn vocabulary, sentence structure, verb conjugation, and kana through lessons taught by Haruka-sensei and games designed to help your memorization and writing skills. As you learn more, lessons unlock and new games appear. I haven’t gotten all of the games yet, but it is easy to see that some are much better structured than others. For example, Spelltastic would be much better suited (and helpful) to spelling in kana rather than romaji. The lessons themselves are set-up fairly well and for the most part don’t overwhelm you. Teachings that are long such as learning kana letters and verb conjugation are split up into many lessons with other things in between. This really helped me to learn what little was shown to me before heaping on more. It is also worth mentioning that after lesson 30, no more romaji is used in the lessons. By the end of the first 30 lessons I know all of my kana; I have started making sentences; my vocabulary is way up and I can catch more when watching anime; and most importantly, it seems to be sticking with me. I say that is progress indeed!

Since I am trying to support the online initiative of manga, I read the first book of Children of the Sea on the Ikki website. I am extremely curious how much the online distribution has helped sales of the paperbacks. The story starts with Ruka an angry young girl whose temper get her thrown off the handball team soon after she encounters a strange boy named Umi. Umi and his friend Sora live at the auqarium where his father works. She discovers that were raised in the sea by dugongs and therefore must constantly keep their skin moist and stay out of the direct sunlight. Umi and Sora also seem related to a increasingly odd number of mysterious events in the world’s oceans including the disappearance of certain sea animals and the very odd behavioral patterns of other sea life. The story itself seems very slow paced but deliberate. Every chapter is careful to build on the philosophy, mystery, and artistry of the previous one but does not seem to be in any rush to do so. People wishing to slowly sip this story will be rewarded but anyone looking for something exciting will be bored to tears. The art for the characters is solid but extremely simple compared to the luscious and detailed backgrounds and drawings of marine life. It seems that Children of the Sea, much like all the other manga on the Ikki website, are doomed to be loved by critics but never touched by normal readers. This experiment of letting people read chapters online I doubt will ever make any of them mainstream manga successes but maybe it will let them find their niche audiences.

Finished up Kekkaishi 18 which is somewhat of a transitional book but it is easy to see that trouble is brewing. Some of the Night Troops are assigned to Yoshi and Tokine’s school to keep an eye on things. Sen starts to get a more prominent role starting here and I can’t really say I care that much. I kind of hope he gets squashed like a bug but know that Yoshimori will win him over and Sen will just end up feeling like a heel in the end. The current crisis at the Karasumori site on the other hand is pretty nice and has all four of our Kekkaishi teaming up to take it on. Yoshimori is once again learning to harness extra power while teaming up with others. This new technique of combining kekkai is pretty sweet and the visuals of it are cool. Though we are left in a precarious situation to lead in to book 19.

I was apprehensive about starting to read Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya mostly because Illyasviel is one the easiest characters in the Fate/Stay Night to make into an extremely creepy spin off manga. And lo and behold while being a fun and funny it turns out Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya is also sort of creepy as well. I’m not sure it’s creepy enough to stop me from giving up but it comes awfully close. The story centers around Illya is a normal school girl until a magical baton breaks into her home and forcibly recruits as a magical girl to capture escaped magic cards of great power. I think we have seen a similar plot before but I can’t remember where. Illya quickly gains a rival who later becomes a friend and a pair of bickering mentors. The only real point of contention I have is do we REALLY need Illya service shots. The answer is clearly no but it seems to make no difference. I would easily recommend the series if it were not for the scantily clad Illya and the naked Illya which quickly move this into the creepy category. Overall, it is a fun little reimaging of Fate/Stay Night. I always like to see the alternate universe takes on characters and see how other people reinvent them.

Read one of CMX’s recent titles, A Tale of an Unknown Country volume 1. This is also by Natsuna Kawasae who did The Lapis Lazuli Crown which I didn’t find very memorable, not bad per se but has a feeling of just going through the motions. Unfortunately, I have the same opinion of A Tale of an Unknown Country thus far. Rosemarie is a down-to-earth princess who is promised to Reynol the prince of a kingdom where technology rules. In order to see what he is really like she schemes her way into his palace as a maid where she finds him to be distant at first but very kind and gentle. When Rosemarie blurts out that the princess would surely fall in love with him, Reynol reveals he knew who she was all the time and wishes to marry her. Thus begins a light-hearted love story where each subsequent chapter throws some trial (usually in the form of a rival or someone trying to keep them apart) at our couple and we see them overcome it. Once again there is nothing inherently wrong with this formula but the story is rather bland. None of the cast is very engaging and all the incidents lack any real heart so there doesn’t feel like a true connection between anyone. On the other hand, the side story Voice Magic is cute and funny with the overzealous Torii who blurts out that he is in love with Arisawa when he meets her for the first time. The rest of the story revolves around his attempts to get to know her and her gradual thawing to his charming manner. Once again it seems Kawasae’s one shots fair better than her ongoing tales.

Now that I think about it Azaka Kokuto and Farnese from Berserk have quite a few significant but superficial traits in common. But that is neither here nor there so this is the pic of the week:

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