Ongoing Investigations: Case #124

I mentioned last week briefly that I started watching Brave Police J-Decker which is kinda like if Tranformers was about police robots. I am up to 20 episodes thus far, almost half-way, and it is wonderful to see that is has a range. There is plenty of silliness to go around with like the fact that Deckerd (the main robot) uses a six-shooter a lot of the time, or the odd neighbors, the strange robots and their mysteries, and the many women who I’m pretty sure are in love with some of our robot heroes. Let’s not forget the names of these sentient hunks of metal like Power Joe (Kung-fu Detective) and Drill Boy (Soccer Detective) or McClane (Combat Detective) who claims to be a pacifist or the combined form Super Build Tiger! And of course the series is continually adding new robots and transformations for toys sake. But it has also had some fairly compelling episodes like the two-part story that introduces Shadowmaru (Ninja Detective) which gets a bit philosophical as we see freedom, what is means to be sentient, and sacrifice. Also you can’t not love the commissioner because he has amazing hair and responds that it “looks cool” when asked why they designed a robot in a certain manner. This show is tons of fun, sometimes engaging, has a fab opening, and is absolutely worth watching.

It came out a little too late for the spring preview but I finally got around to watching the first episode of Moshidora. It is an odd little series when you get right down to it. It is born from the idea of how do you make Peter Drucker’s Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices palatable to an audience of Japanese salarymen. The answer is obviously to center it around a schoolgirl. Minami Kawashima is the high schoolgirl in question who volunteers to take over as the manager of the baseball team in place of her sickly friend, Yuki Miyata, who has been hospitalized. After accidentally picking buying a business management book  she decides to apply the principles within towards her team. The team itself has a mixture of members with various levels of talent but they all seem to have broken spirits and various hangups. Minami herself used to play baseball but some incident in the past soured her on playing. The setup itself is a fairly standard baseball anime story of the new unsure manager has to whip the team that is a diamond in the rough into shape for Koshien. It is slightly amusing to see them cut to slide show styled title card when ever they mention certain business related key words. I am watching just because it is such an unusual blend sports and business anime. I am curious to see them play a game because I feel that is where this series will could prove its worth beyond a mere oddity.

I watched the animated short Paraphernalia by Sabrina Cotugno which is elegant and gracefully in its animation of a girl who gets an unexpected visitor dropped into her cluttered house. The lighting is also worth noting. People seemed divided on the whether the construction lines on the characters faces fazed them any, personally I found them to be a little distracting. Overall a lovely and memorable piece.

Although I have played Devil Survivor beyond that I have not played much of the wildly popular Megami Tensei series. I decided to try out Persona 3 since there was a portable version which is far more conducive to my current play style. This was the first Persona game to throw in dating sim elements which makes the number of games I have played with dating sim elements lately pretty high. You start as student who recently transferred to a new school. You were recruited due to your ability to summon demons like all the other student at the dorm. Apparently there is a secret 13th hour in which only demon summoners can remain awake during. In this time you must fight the monsters that prey on people in this hour between midnight and 12:01. During the day you investigate how the monsters are effecting the area and use those clues to fight them at night. You can also make friends and romance women to create spiritual bonds that will power up your demons. So the day is the dating sim and the special hour is the standard RPG. Other than that it sticks to the standard Megami Tensei formula. Beating monsters lets you capture demons (demons and monsters are two different things) and you can combine them to create more powerful demons giving it a very Pokemon like vibe. Everything in the game has elemental weaknesses so finding an enemies elemental alignment while guarding your own is very important. Also getting a hit with an attack that exploits an elemental weakness lets whoever used that attack go again making elemental strategy doubly important. The big bonus to playing the portable version is they added a new story line where you can also play as a female protagonist in addition to the standard male protagonist. They highly recommend you play her storyline AFTER you play the original story so I have not tested out that addition. It is a fun game that I would have probably otherwise missed had it not been on a portable system as that is how I do almost all my gaming. If nothing else I am curious to play the equally popular Persona 4.

I have been pleasantly surprised by Hanasaku Iroha as I figured things had completely changed after episode 3, but things calmed down for the most part in 4-6. Some of the comedy I feel they are trying too hard with, like the misunderstanding goes all kinds of which way in episode 5. But the bonding between the girls and the slow opening up of the Grandmother is positive. I especially enjoyed seeing the learning about the Grandmother a bit in the last episode though I found it a bit dumb that after the old kimono idea went over so well they just packed them away again it seemed.

Votoms Finder is an odd animal. Most of then Armored Trooper Votoms series is centered around the adventures of Chirico Cuvie. But with Finder instead they decided to tell a different story in the same universe much like they did with Armor Hunter Mellowlink. I think it is a sign that they have all but stripped bare the mine that is the life of Chirico Cuvie. This takes place in a very Battle Angel like world where the privileged elites live in glamorous cities on the mountains and the huddled masses live in the scrap heaps of the valleys below. You have a hard-working goofball named Aki who gets involved in a kidnapping and political struggle between some high-ranking elite politicians.  He winds up helping the kidnappers who double cross him and so he then teams up with the kidnapped girl’s bodyguard to save her and get back at the sleazy politician who set him up. Overall I had fun. The story was not that complicated but is was sufficient for a 40 minute OVA. The mecha battles were good and pretty constant which is always good in an OVA. The real question is who is this for. I know a lot of big Votoms fans are going to be PISSED. In fact this might do better with people who have never seen the original. They keep many of the things that made the original interesting but the changes they make are changes to some vital things that people loved about the original. In the original the suits were disposable and battles came down to the pilots skill not who has the best robot. While this is still true the suits were originally very utilitarian and bulky. The mecha in Finder are so much more flashy with a more Gundam influenced flair on the designs and suits that are much more acrobatic as they jump around. Also they went with the standard teenage protagonist rather than the grizzled military veteran. Aki is much more Judau Ashta than he is Char Aznable if you catch my drift. The politics are also much simpler and cleaner than the gritty worlds of the original.  I think they are hoping to make Votoms a bit more hip for a new generation but I wonder if any of the old fans will be able to accept the changes. It did seem like they might be trying to use this as a backdoor pilot as they make hints to a  greater world throughout the OVA.

I love the addition of Yuina from the rival inn.

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