Ongoing Investigations: Case #113

I jumped into the Incredible Change-Bots series with a copy of book two. From what I can tell the first book ends the series but was popular enough that they made a sequel. Since this is a comedy it was no too hard to find a silly reason for new silly events to occur with the Change-Bots. The story itself is unabashedly a Transformers: Generation 1 parody down to having Autobot and Decepticon analogs with its own version of Optimus Prime and Megatron as well as most of the other well know Transformers. It takes the overall silliness of the original Transformers cartoon and pushes it to its logical comedic extreme. The humor often very dry even if the jokes themselves are rather goofy. There is humor beyond being a transformers parody but the Transformers parody is a framework that is omnipresent an inescapable.  I think overall the series would work a bit better as a page a week web comic so that the joke does not wear out its welcome. As it stands I found myself losing interest about half way through the book. It was never bad but it just could not sustain my interest. The art is rather of crude but it adds a whimsy to the story that an extremely detailed art style would have prevented. I can clearly see the appeal that a book but I never really got into it. Then again I never liked Adventure Time so maybe I just have a broken sense of humor.

Incredible Change-Bots Two doesn’t have such a complex story that you can’t pick it without having read the first; you probably could have guessed that from the title. What I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t just a funny robot series, it is a Transformers parody without trying to hide it in the least. This is most apparent in its opening recap of their history from the war on “Electronocybercircuitron” between the “Awesomebots” and the “Fantasticons” to their landing on earth and continued rivalry. Sadly, those first six pages are the best part of the entire book. They are funny enough to make you giggle as any parody should but the rest isn’t nearly as amusing. This may stem from it not pulling as obviously from Transformers as the opening sequence did; I wonder if the first book is different in that respect. Or perhaps it is just my personal taste about how long a joke can go on. I have rarely seen a parody that didn’t wear out its welcome in about 60-seconds. I agree with Hisui that I could see this as a weekly one-page comic worth tuning-in for because once again its major downfall was length. I really enjoyed the art-style which can be kind of elaborate on the splash pages but most of the time feels like high-level crayon drawings; it added nicely to what humor was there. P.S. I don’t know why Hisui doesn’t like Adventure Time!

Sadly unlike last week I cannot say that Arakawa Under the Bridge × Bridge ended anywhere as well as the other three shows I mentioned last week. The season itself was fun but anyone who had grown tired of the series would not find themselves any more entertained as they keep the formula fairly close to what they did in the first season. Season two of Arakawa Under the Bridge seemed to be building towards a big moment for Nino instead of Kou this time. We had hints of Nino past being much grander than her just being a crazy girl who thinks she comes from Venus. We also had the involvement of the Village Chief having an oddly serious involvement with Nino’s past. Nino says she has a rocket ship and was going to take everyone to Venus. But after several episodes of buildup the series seems to utterly drop that story line and goes into a fighting tournament plot line in hopes that you would forget the important storyline. It is such a disappointment because they totally avoid confronting Nino’s past. It was like someone took 11 episodes to tell a joke and then uses the 12th episode to tell a new joke and thus utterly avoiding telling you the original punchline. I am not sure if it is because they ran out of manga involving the trip to Venus or if it is an attempt to get a third season but it was a highly frustrating ending to an otherwise amusing season.

I picked up a copy of Twin Spica vol. 4 along with a few other titles the other day. I always look forward to reading this muted but powerful series. In these chapters we see our recruits starting to do real space training like gravity jumps and learning to move in their spacesuits. There is also tension rising between people who don’t want to see another rocket launch and the enthusiasm of the students. This also introduces us to a new character and a new talking point for Asumi who always feels the emotions of others around her very keenly. Overall, this book is more practical than the volumes previous but there is still some emotional hook for each chapter.

Mazinkaiser SKL is a 27 minuet long heavy metal music video with mecha. It is the story of Ken and Ryo in the Mazinkaiser SKL running around on Machine Island were they have to stop the bad guys or the island will explode killing off all human life on the planet. So they wade through countless enemy mecha with a combination of sword and gun play. There are two armies of Fist of the North Star style evil thugs and an army of useless women because this is Go Nagai world. They also get reinforcements that are killed off expect Tsubasa Yuki in the first scene in the episode. She is also uselss because she is a woman. Overall Mazinkaiser SKL is just testosterone fun with the Mazinkaiser SKL running around kicking everyone’s ass and doing it with style. Is is not a story with depth or deep characterization. It is mostly manly man service for the sake of being manly man service. So far the Mazinkaiser SKL skulls team has not even broken a sweat against their enemies and they already took out one army. The only real big twist might be that the army of women is actually the only real threat but that would just be a different brand on misogyny.  No one will go into this and not already know how much or how little they are going to enjoy it. Everyone who wants Go Nagai style tomfoolery will get a wonderfully compact version of what they need.

I finally got around to finishing Senko no Night Raid. The series centers around many historical events during the 1930s like the Japanese occupation of Shanghai and the Manchurian Incident which are observed and sometimes effected by our cast of super-powered spies. This part of Japanese history can be quite controversial but truly I know very little about it despite my pursuit of history in school. This series does give you details, and the fan-subs often had notes, but it was still a little hard to follow for me. For the most part I enjoyed the interaction between characters especially the friendship of Aoi and Kazura. And even the final mission was an interesting one but it was the stuff in between that was lackluster. Unfortunately, Night Raid loses itself in the middle like all the other Anime no Chikara shows (So Ra No Wo To and Occult Academy). It never fully delivers on the promises made in the first episode and constantly makes you feel like they could have done so much more.

I may have not liked how it ended but I did like the second season of Arakawa Under the Bridge overall:

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