Ongoing Investigations: Case #106

I picked up Solanin on a whim really but I had a good feeling about it. I want to call it a coming of age tale, but have to state it’s the coming of age that occurs in your 20’s after you leave college and are thrust into the “real world.” The story follows Meiko who quits her boring job and spends the next couple of months deciding just what she wants out of life. In the middle of all this is her long-term relationship with musician Taneda and her many college friends who are going through all these questions, too. Each character is in a bit of holding pattern; knowing who you are and what you want to do with your life doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone and Solanin shows what a road it can be. I have to say that I recognized these people, the relationships, and their questions about where to go. It also touches on Japanese youth culture and the difficult economy of find a job, making it all the more relevant to American 20-somethings these days, too. The art has a bit of an indie-feel to it giving it even more duality. While I did find the climax to be a little too melodramatic, convenient for the story, it doesn’t take away from the truth found in these pages. The emotions, reactions, and thoughts seen through the characters of Solanin are utterly genuine and honest. Plus, the ending felt quite right without a concrete conclusion but still a step forward. It just might be one of the best things I’ve read all year.

hisuiconIf there is one thing I know too well it is the feeling of doing just well enough that you are not in deadly peril but light years away from happy. The first half of this book should resonate with anyone who has felt trapped in their own life with plenty of ambition but no real plans. The quiet desperation of being lost is powerful and probably familiar to anyone over 20 today. But the book is not all dark emotions and hopelessness. There are moments of happiness and progress with everyone moving at their own pace, some people doing better than others. But everyone is changing if not always growing and it is sort of amazing to watch. Half way through the book there is an event that comes off a bit like a plot point in an otherwise seemingly organic story. This can be noticeable to some people but I don’t think anyone should let it detract the from the powerful effect it has on the story and themes. This is a beautiful story that really needs more people to read it. I think this is a book that will resonate with many older manga fans and can even be given to people who don’t read manga at all. It is a universal story that reaches beyond the medium.

Since The Simpsons S22 is now on Hulu I decided to see what America’s favorite dysfunctional family was up to. I haven’t really watched the show on any regular basis for many years but I know there is a general consensus among fans that its golden period is long past. I have watched the first 5 episodes of the season and find myself unfortunately agreeing with others assessments. It has more lows than highs and for the most part I didn’t find myself laughing out loud. Sometimes the jokes just went on a little too long, the timing was off. Sometimes it was downright depressing like the opening of [episode 4, check] with the sweatshop making Simpson’s merchandise. But sometimes it did hit the funny bone, most memorable thus far was probably the “Tweenlight” segment of the Treehouse of Horrors episode.

hisuiconA Certain Scientific Railgun OVA like the rest of the series is a delightful piece of comfort food with some action, comedy, mystery, and suspense. The episode revolves around Mikoto feeling like someone is watching her with the eventual realization that this is hardly an isolated incident at Academy City. As everyone tries to discover what is being the “Someone’s Watching” phenomenon we get each of the 4 heroines to have a bit of time in the spotlight.  We also get a bit of action fan service and the standard fan variety service with a trip to the bathhouse. I can’t say anything in the episode struck me as using the OVA format to its fullest. It mostly seemed like a good way to keep Railgun fresh in people’s minds if they ever wanted to do a 2nd season but Index II seems to be doing a good enough job in that respect on its own. That being said it is a great standalone story that should be a treat for anyone who enjoyed the TV series.

I started reading Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men (vols. 1-2) and have been impressed. Kitty Pryde is a major player in this story, kind of makes me wonder if a lot of her popularity stems from here, when she returns as a teacher for the X school. The usual faces are involved otherwise like Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, and Emma. Things get hairy quickly with the reappearance of a presumed dead ally and the creation of a mutant-gene-eliminating drug. There is plenty of moral ambiguity present in the stories so far, especially when getting to the second volume where some well-known technology becomes sentient. The dialogue is great throughout, which is essential for me, though it does get a bit overly philosophical at times in the second installment. I am only sad that I won’t have the chance to pick-up the subsequent volumes anytime soon.

hisuiconI will admit that if enough people talk about something I do get a bit intrigued to see what all the hoopla is about. So I decided to check out My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute. It is pretty much exactly what you expected it to be unless you are incredibly naive or self delusional. While they are not directly going to the incest angle they are playing with it in no uncertain terms. This story should be called My Little Girlfriend-Sue Can’t Be This Cute because Kirino is about as much like a real girl as Hayate is a like a real Butler. Her being into little sister games cries out as pandering. Her being a part-time model is just silly. Her relationship with her brother is only realistic as they want it to be and the rest of the time it is clearly tsundere service. It is not a horrible show. The art is very pleasant and there is some amusing comedy. But make no mistake. This is incest baiting wish-fulfillment fantasy show. Anything it achieves beyond that is secondary.

Surely you can turn The Simpsons into anything!

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