Ongoing Investigations: Case #141

I got to read Gen Manga volumes 3 & 4 back to back. Reading both volumes in succession makes me realize that the storytelling in Gen is somewhat compressed compared to your normal mainstream manga experience. While the storytelling still has a distinctly manga feel you don’t get the impression that the stories contained within are assuming they are going to run for 20+ books. They seems to be primed to end in a book or two but could run longer. Mainstream manga seems more designed to run for a long time but could be cut short if forced to. The individual chapters still have a more manga styled decompressed flow but chapter to chapter it seems more compressed. But all the compressed vs. decompressed storytelling talk from Ogiue Maniax might be why I am noticing it more. Vs Aliens is still my favorite story in the anthology. It has a very quirky story with some unusual twists every chapter. The only problem is that is quickly coming down to the big reveal of what is actually going on. If the final reveal is lame is going to really hurt the overall story. The boxing story is Wolf is still solid but I am not sure if I really care for the added element of the hyperactive flat chested girl vs the distant chesty girl love story. My feelings on KAMEN are still up in the air as I am interested in the story but not deeply invested. There is a promise of a big fight scene in the next chapter. How well the fight is pulled off I might help me solidify my feelings. I still don’t really like Souls. Volume three ends one arc and volume four starts a new arc. Volume three ended a bit lighter than I assumed it will but this genre has just never been my cup of tea. In volume 4 there is a one shot story called Sorako. This really feels like an American indy comic. It is the story of a small town girl who feels trapped in her small life under the backdrop of looking for her dog that ran away. It is slice of life in a way that really feels like an American comic more than a Japanese style of same formula. Gen is still an interesting experiment in the U.S. It has the feel of a doujinshi anthology but will a more consistent schedule. I am curious how well it will do here.

With great elation, I started the new season of anime by watching Bakuman S2. We start the season with Ashirogi Muto waiting for their editor to come to the studio to go over their contract for serialization. It is an exciting time and they are also invited to the Shonen Jack New Year’s bash. This episode is really about them getting acclimated with their new positions, getting assistants, and meeting some new people as well as getting to know others better. It is mostly a set-up for things to come and I can’t wait for those things!

With the new season here I started watching the first two episodes Squid Girl Season 2. It is pretty much more Squid Girl for better or for worse. I pretty much got right back into the swing of things. It is a simple series so the second you sit down if feels like you never left. That means if you were hungry for more than this will just hit the spot but if you were growing tired for the formula last season you might want to give yourself some distance before jumping back in. Squid Girl is still a lovable goof and terrible at taking over the earth. I was pleased to see that all the supporting cast got a good amount of time during the return. We don’t have any Hinagiku characters hogging the spotlight. The most amusing part so far was probably Squid Girl’s attempt to take over the elementary school but the little bit with Ayumi and the brass knuckles was fairly amusing.

Twin Spica vol. 9 introduces a few characters including a new freshman at the dorm, Asumi’s old friend from Yuigahama, and a reporter who is interested in Marika, plus the reintroduction of Dr. Sano. There are a lot of personal journeys in this volume even for Kei who finally admits to herself that she has feelings for Suzuki. But of course Marika fascinates me most as she starts putting herself out in the world, but things are really looming for her. The reporter has a connection and just when he is ready to give up he finds a clue so I’m not sure how it will playout. We end with the promise of a very intense training exercise coming. I also found Mr. Lion telling Asumi that compromise is the destroyer of dreams rather cynical and sad.

I don’t watch much tokusatsu but any overwhelming number of positive reviews and outright personal recommendations got me to watch the first 5 episodes of  Kamen Rider Fourze. While I have been mislead by such recommendations before I was pleasantly rewarded for my faith this time. With a 40 history the Kamen Rider has at least 23  distinct iterations with some major similarities but that also means a wide variety of differences like any long running series like Gundam or Star Trek. All the Kamen Riders series are about guy who transforms to protect the world from other transforming villains.  It just so happens that is a much goofier and lighthearted iteration of the series while still having plenty of macho action. In many ways it remind me of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part IV: Diamond is Unbreakable. Both have delinquent heroes with pompadours that are really good guys deep down. Both heroes  have special powers and fight people from their school and neighborhood that have similar powers. They also have the same gentler mood as compared to their more serious counterparts. And both series win you over with their bombastic but earnest charm. But the theme this season is  SPACE! to celebrate  the 30th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight into orbit. All of Fourze’s powers and enemies have a space theme and the good guys even have a base on the moon. As a geek the space theme has a unique and powerful pull.  I will admit for a second I was thinking how much this show seemed to borrow from the magical girl formula. Then I remembered. It is the other way around. Fighting magical girls borrow their formula from tokusatsu shows like this. Silly Hisui. It should be noted like most tokusatsu shows while the budget is decent there is a unmistake air of Limburger if you catch my drift. If you can’t handle cheesy acting and special effects than this is not the show for you but it does reenforce the tone of the show to its credit.

Terra Nova is FOX’s new science-fiction series that features . . . DINOSAURS! This understandably had me very excited but that doesn’t mean my expectations were high. The first double episode premiere was kinda lame but entertaining enough. The future is environmentally destroyed and over populated but scientists have come across a wormhole into another time stream. The newest pilgrimage is a family that is hiding a secret daughter and the dad who is an ex-cop, now fugitive but they make it through, just barely. Surprise, surprise the colony is not a utopia. The leader, Taylor, is a military-minded man and you can tell he has some secrets of his own which makes him the most interesting part. There is too much family drama in the show and not enough dinosaurs. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking the death of the teenagers would be a wonderful addition to the story. The mom and dad who are useful and the little girl who makes friends with dinos can stay. This wasn’t going to be a great show, but the second episode was a really bad. They need to make more of the focus the world and less on family blah blah.

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