We received a copy of Twin Spica 2 at the last Vertical Vednesday, or should I say I zealously grabbed for it because I was just that eager to read more of the story. A minor amount of time has passed between the conclusion of the first volume and the events starting in the second. As Asumi has overcome her first big challenge (actually being accepted to the space academy) her excitement is palpable but she doesn’t become complacent realizing there are tougher roads ahead. Her spirit and energy is quite infectious, as a reader I always believe in her and admire her hard-work. Asumi has taken up residence in a small out of the way dorm with few other tenants. Of course the many personalities we met during her first test are back as students in the school and once again we are confronted with the slow build of friendship between them, especially that of Marika and Kei with Asumi. The first book has some emotionally gripping moments that pulled you into the story almost immediately, this time around they keep you emotionally focused as more history is revealed. I was also surprised to see such direct villain in the series, it was almost cliche, but I want to see how it further develops before making a call and the motive behind him is highly intriguing. Twin Spica is a must-read, if you were foolishly not reading it already.
Asumi is settling in after being accepted to the Tokyo Space Academy. She is excelling both physically and mentally while getting closer to all the students she met during the entrance exam. We have our first clear villain of the story although so far he has been utterly nasty in a completely realistic fashion. His grudge manifests itself in petty but powerful bits of acidic behavior. So far this has mostly been set up for the school life and the dynamics of the relationships the characters will have at school. While the confrontation between Sano and Asumi is the climax of the book, there are many story seeds planted in the volume that will surely pop up throughout the series. After the main story are two bonus stories set during Asumi’s childhood. The first story gives us a more insight into Yuko Suzunari and Mr. Lion. The second story further shows how much the Lion incident has effected the lives of Asumi and her father. I will admit that I openly teared up on the subway when I finished the last story. It was rather powerful and moving if a bit more on the fantastical. But all the flash back stories tend to lean toward the fantastical whenever Mr. Lion is prominent. I do find it worth noting that Asumi’s hard work does not make her the best but it does make her stand out if only slightly. This combination makes both Asumi and Twin Spica stand out in my mind. A solid follow up to the spectacular first book that will leave you anticipating the release of the third.
I finally attended the Garo Manga Exhibit on its very last day. In this compact show, and incidentally all from one man’s private collection, you see the growth of what could be described as indie manga or at the very least fringe and experimental many times. The pieces shown highlight the first decade of the publication, which went extinct in 2002, and contains a wide range of stories, art, and themes everything from political commentary (which was a staple at the beginning) to out there humor shows how very much Garo was about anything and everything. There were many names that I didn’t realize contributed to this magazine including Sanpei Shirato (also co-founder of the magazine) and his famous Legend of Kamui pretty much kept it afloat in its early days, plus well known manga-ka Shigeru Mizuki and Tatsumi Yoshihiro among other graced the pages at one time or another. It was a nice piece of history to experience and I learned much, perhaps there will be exhibits of later decades in the future.
I am still not sure what my overall opinion is on Evangelion 2.22. Evangelion 1.0 was sort of a remake of the first 6 episodes on the TV series with some hints that things were different. While 2.0 has many parallels with the original TV series it keeps you on your toes on what it changes so you can’t easily predict what is going to happen next. We continue with the trend of Shinji still being Shinji on many levels but consistently stepping up when he needs to step up. I think that the change that will determine most people’s reaction to 2.0 I liked Mari overall but we hardly get enough of her for me to get a definitive thumbs up or thumbs down. The cynical part of me wants to wonder if people are right and she is nothing more than a new girl added to sell a new line of figures for Gainax. On the other hand I could theorize that Mari is supposed to be the id, Asuka is the super ego, and Rei is the ego but that might be thinking too much about it. The fight scenes are quick but frequent and very well done. I really want to rewatch this with Narutaki to see his reaction while and solidify my own feelings. As of now I can’t say what I liked more but I can say that I can’t wait to see Evangelion 3.0 so it has succeeded beautifully in that regard.
I read the perfectly timed Prince of Persia graphic novel from First Second Books. The story is told in dual timelines about Prince Guiv’s journey after he is ousted from the castle and then 241 years later encompassing a prophecy Guiv made. This is pretty unclear until more than halfway through, it may be intentional but at the same time it made for a good amount of confusion. The short length combined with the multiple narratives doesn’t allow you to connect with anyone and the urgency of circumstances happens too quickly for true tension to grip you. The art is the best part and it brings all the life of the story along with it. Prince of Persia is unfortunately a rather muddled story that never quite finds itself.
Out of morbid curiosity I decided to check out California Crisis. It is nowhere near as bad as AWO made it seem but that does not make it good either. It is best summed up with the classic line, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Noera and Marcia are two strangers whose lives become intertwined when they find a mysterious ball from outer space that wishes to go be brought to Death Valley. But the US military and the KGB want the ball as well. The plot is mostly paper thin and used to propel the two main characters from scene to scene in California. Noera is hysterical because he is never seen without an alcoholic beverage in his hands and that includes whenever he is driving. Marcia is there to be eye candy and to propel the plot forward when the apathetic Noera can’t muster the will to do anything. Some choice scenes include the duo smashing through a diner window, the kung fu cat, and the least effective Apache helicopters ever. In fact all the chase scene are so corny that they make ever car chase where someone smashes through a fruit cart look classy. But the best scene has Noera pulling over to the side of the road so some characters can pull along side him and talk about secret information in public so he can overhear them. The ending sort of just ends with nothing being answered and the audience left shrugging their shoulders. The art style is rather unique and I see how they were trying to give the show a very 80’s American feel but it just looked hideous to me. If you are still curious you are better off just listening to the Method to Madness review instead of subjecting yourself to the actual show.
Because Twin Spica deserves as much love as possible.