Ongoing Investigations: Case #072

Ah, Tachikoma, how I longed to have you for my own for so long. Okay, so he is a little far from having the real deal, but I’ll take what I can get. He is die-cast metal, I was a bit worried there would be a balance issue what with that huge back end, but no problem! The articulation in his legs is good and his feet and hands are fully poseable. As you can see his crouching position is quite nice. However, his arms don’t fair as well. If I try to give him a sort of excited yatta Tachi pose, they don’t really reach high enough and tend to pop off. But overall he is a good size and detailed making him one of the best I’ve seen avaliable. He also comes with software that allows his to say phrases and light-up and move a little. Though the CD is for Japanese PC only (which of course you can get around).

I recently got a copy of Stolen Hearts by Miku Sakamoto from CMX. Shinobu Okuma is a super short girl who accidentally spills milk all over an expensive kimono that the frightening Koguma brought to school with him. He shames her into working at his grandmother’s kimono shop where she slowly sees that he’s a sensitive guy and not the wannabe Yakuza everyone thinks he is. It is a cute story. I was a bit surprised that by the end of the first chapter Shinobu and Koguma are a couple. Part of me wonders if this was supposed to just be a one shot story that was popular enough to get turned into a series. The first chapter could so easily be self-contained. The characters are solid and entertaining. Everything works really well when Shinobu and Koguma are interacting. My main problem is the story tends to lean on shojo tropes too much and whenever it does so it is at its weakest. The story really shines when its characters are doing something a little outside the mold. It’s a fun read but it is not going to win over any new fans to the genre. I did find the teen rating on the back quite curious. This manga is super chaste. Maybe it gets racier down the line but so far the most anyone does is some hand holding. The only fan service is traditional Japanese clothing service.

I finally got around to reading Yotsuba&! after an interesting debate sprang up on Twitter about the innocent or not so nature of the series as a seinen title. So after making my way through five volumes I am here to tell you: If anything in Yotsuba&! strikes you as pervy, YOU are the pervert. The series is quite funny and amusing with that quirky nature that made Azumanga Daioh so enjoyable. The exact humor is what saves if from it’s slice-of-life roots that everyone should be aware I can’t stand. I even made myself a Yotsuba&! wallpaper featuring the noir revenge chapter from book 2!

For some reason I cannot easily explain, I had forgotten to review the last Garden of Sinners movie. It is particularly bizarre because I really liked A Study in Murder Part 2, it was an excellent conclusion to the series that brought everything to a proper crescendo. Chronologically movie number five is the story line conclusion to Garden of Sinners. It ties together all the events and explains why the various support characters did what they did. The final movie is the conclusion of the main characters’ story. It is the climax of Shiki Ryougi and Mikiya Kokuto’s relationship as well. Part 2 ties the events that occurred just before Shiki falls into a coma together and gives us the final bit of insight into both main characters’ motivations. It also finally finishes up the mystery of all the murders from Part 1. The action pieces were as good as any previous part of the series. That one scene in the warehouse was a little over the top in it’s odd sexuality but overall it was emotionally satisfying. This story is the emotional climax of the heart of the film and therefore a good place to end on. As I understand, they will release an additional piece soon that acts as a falling action to everything based on the series epilogue but the exact details are not yet known to me. I still hold out hope that someone will release the novel so I can compare the two.

I received a copy of The World I Create from CMX this week. I wasn’t crazy about the cover (the Japanese one is cute though!), but the interior art looked cute enough though kind of a hybrid style mostly shojo but a little shonen feel mixed in. And once I started reading, the stories proved themselves to be a cute as the art. The World I Create is a collection of sweet relationship tales that all take place at this magic school where the students learn how to create illusions using unique lanterns for a profession called “Projectionist.” All of the stories involve this talent in someway, some it is central to the tale while for others it’s just a piece of the characters lives. As the series goes on you’ll see all the characters are linked (if only a little bit) but each couple has a different story and nature. Everything is done up in a mostly humorous style, and so nothing in emotionally moving, but it’s a cute and chaste set of love growth. The good-natured quality of the series has also made me curious about Ayami Kazama’s other works. As a side note, CMX confirmed on their Twitter account that this is a one book series despite the confusing #1 on the spine.

I have finished the first two chapters of the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni visual novel. I have been taking my time with series mostly because I have already watched the anime and a good deal of the manga. But there is still a lot to get out of the original. Plus it makes it much less of a wait for Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai. The first thing I noticed is since this is a visual novel the story takes its time more. This lets everything build slowly and more delicately. In the first two chapters the paranoia builds at a slower pace than anything else in the franchise. We are grounded longer in Keiichi’s normal life so when things start to go south they are more of a shock. In Watanagashi-hen we get much more insight into Shion and Mion before we learn they are twins. Also the descent into madness is more gradual as well. In Onikakushi-hen, distrust of Mion and Rena happens at a more realistic pace. The biggest difference I have seen is the original Higurashi visual novel is a mystery with horror elements in it. The anime is horror that reveals that there is a mystery underneath. Being that this is a blog called the Reverse Thieves you can tell which sort of story I prefer. With the all-cast review section we see Ryukishi07 pushing the reader to try to figure out the mystery of Hinamizawa and the endlessly repeating summer of June 1983. As always I have to point out that Ryukishi07 is clearly not an artist as his main talent because the character designs leave a lot to be desired. Still the story is strong enough that it carries the weak art. Just image the characters you see in fan art and you will be good to go.

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