Seven Seas Entertainment seems to like to go after supernatural manga and manga that carters to certain fetishes. Blood Alone hits both of those categories while adding the popular vampire angle to the mix. The story revolves around Kuroe Kurose, a writer with the ability to see and be unaffected by the supernatural, and Misaki Minato, a preteen girl who was made into a vampire. They run a detective agency together while Kuroe peruses a career as a writer on the side. The detective agency takes mostly mundane cases like finding lost relatives and pets but they also help the police and private clients with supernatural cases. The book distinctly has two very different tones. Some chapters are serious business with cases like a body jumping serial killer or vampire assassin. These are very story driven and have a distinctly standard panel layout and usually have some information about the overall story of Kurose’s search for his missing sister. There are also slice of life stories about Kurose and Minato going to the pool or the amusement park. Sometimes Masayuki Takano will throw out the conventional panel layout and have everything flow in an almost dreamlike fashion. This is especially evident in the 6th chapter. Unlike Gunslinger Girl where it was a bit hard for me to tell how much they were playing to a lolicon crowd there is no mistaking what they are doing here. Thankfully there are not panty shots or overly gratuitous sexualization of Misaki but the manga unmistakably knows that it is doing. At first I was wondering how much they were going to tease this relationship. It did not seem that bad until we learn that Misaki and Kuroe sleep in the same bed together every night. The series constantly mentions that NOTHING HAPPENS but the fact that keeps coming up as a joke says volumes in of itself. The fact that Kuroe comes home one drunk night and gives Misaki and hickey was clearly the straw that broke the camel’s back. This series could be worse. Much worse. Anyone who enjoys the story of a young girl trapped in time by a curse and her relationship with an older man will enjoy this series. There is more story to the series that just the fetish aspect. But everyone else should not let their Blood Alone loving friends to trick them into reading this series with that fact. This is a fetish manga and it has a hard time working for anyone who is not into that fetish despite the story built around it.
I have finally started watching Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, I know it’s been a long time coming. The series throws you right back into the thick of things in the opening episode with a hostage situation already well under way. And it has an incredibly happy surprise at the end that had me grinning from ear to ear. But I felt the next three episodes were a bit weaker. Nevertheless “weak” SAC episodes are still very high-caliber overall. It also took me a while, and a conversation with someone else, to really grasp the refugee plotline that dominates the season. In the first 12 episodes we’ve already had two Togusa centric installments which is nice to see. I was also thrilled to actually start learning more about the Major and her past; or that she has this rich past at all! This addition is what has won be over most of all. Or perhaps it was the totally awesome opening. I do wish they would stop mentioning the Laughing Man lest it just make me miss him more. Still the Individual Eleven are interesting and really starting to take form now. I’m sure to finish this series off quickly.
I think I have been enjoying Ano Hana the most out of any show this season. It is like they decided to make an anime version of The Big Chill with all that implies. I know people were worried about the Noitamina block after last season but so far Ano Hana has shown me that those fears were unfounded (I’m not exactly sure how I feel about [C] but that is a conversation for another time). It is a wonderful mix of drama and comedy with a mature approach to the storytelling. I know that the episode with the Pokemon really got to my roommate and completely addicted him to the series. The way it captured the joys and frustrations of socially playing Pokemon while giving you insights into the characters was brilliant. I have heard some people compare this series to Key games and I could not disagree more as the fundamental story structure is so different. Key games start with a normal set up and then slowly have the tragedy and supernatural elements grow over the course of the game. My biggest complaint about this method, other than the use of very manipulative drama techniques, is the fact that the games fetishize tragedy. You are supposed to wallow in how bad things have gotten. In Ano Hana the tragedy has already taken place long ago. What we see is how it effected the characters and more importantly how they learn to move on. The focus is on growth and healing which I find a much more satisfying tale. Both series might end up at the light at the end of the tunnel but the key is which part of the jorney is important to the author. While Ano Hana could fall apart at the end, especially if Menma turns out to be a figment of Jintan’s imagination, I have a good deal of confidence that this story knows how to properly conclude. Hopefully this will get some sort of official English release so more people can see this wonderful series.
I watched the vibrantly animated music video Korekuraide Utau. Fun and thoughtful storytelling guide us through a day for this musician. Being a music video of course sound plays a greater role to great effect with the modern style.
I think most people would agree that Suite Precure has started off as a pretty generic magical girl series. Narutaki was also watching the show on her own and while she was enjoying it was was not particularly impressed. But recently the quality of the episodes has improved. In episode 11 we are introduced to Cure Muse who had only been introduced in the opening but not in the show proper. It seemed like the identity of Curse Muse would be super simple to discover. Hummy and Siren appeared to be mending their friendship and Bassdrum was making a play to be the leader. Siren seemed to be the obvious and only choice for the identity of Curse Muse. But soon you discover that while Hibiki and Kanade are the worst detectives ever (who are not Milky Holmes) it also seems that everyone is wrong about who Cure Muse is. The fact that Cure Muses identity is still unknown is quite unexpected. I did not think they would keep the audience guessing this long. I do like Narutaki’s theory that cure muse is actually Shirabe Ako. She has an interest in music and she might just get aged up by her transformation into a magical girl Fancy Lala style. It would be quite the unexpected twist for the show so I really hope that is the case and it is not something lame like Muse is just a character we have not met yet. Still I am enjoying the show as it proves to me why the Precure franchise has lasted as long as it has.
We’ve started watching Kaleido Star S2 and my goodness what disappointment I feel for the series with these first seven episodes. The new characters are more jerky than ever and so far just aren’t jiving with the cast as they were when we last saw them. Especially May who is younger and less experienced as a rival to Sora. I hope things get better!
Menma Mario and Anaru Luigi: