Ongoing Investigations: Case #151

I am making my way through Twilight of the Golden Witch, the final chapter of Umineko no Naku Koro ni. As I am still not done I will save my final review for the chapter and the series as a whole for a later date but I do think there is one major fact about the game worth mentioning. When this game was first released the reaction was divisive to say the least. Going mostly on spoilers it seems that there was a very vocal community of people who felt that Ryukishi07 shot the pooch with the ending. I may or not be related but it has taken quite awhile for the English patch of the game to come out. Purposefully or not this might be for the best. It has given people (including myself) sometime to distance themselves from that initial reaction and judge the ending on its own merits outside of the initial hype for the ending and then the backlash when the ending was finally revealed. So far I am enjoying it with some time to divorce myself from the initial reactions. A prime example is the Professor Layton style puzzle section is nowhere near as horrible as it first sounded. It has some of the most powerful scenes if you get the puzzles right. It gives a little insight into how everyone in the family was still a human despite the many horrible things they had done. That is thematically important given how I think they are building up this ending. It does not shy away from the terrible things they have done but if you think anyone there is a complete monster than it makes the ending somewhat disingenuous. I look forward to reading the ending and weighing on the series as a whole now. I think I would have been far more brutal if I did not have some time away from the series. This really shows the benefit of some time away from the gut reaction of a community.

After talking about Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 1000% in my year in review, I decided I’d better watch some more! I watched up through episode 7 which is a good half way point before everyone goes to idol summer camp (oh yes!) and decides on their partners for their final exams. Each episode has focused on one of the guys who through Haruka’s positive attitude helps each feel more confident/find his voice/etc. Of course she isn’t able to melt the frozen heart of Tokiya upon first try but we do learn quite a bit about him and a few secrets are revealed. He gets a lot more attention for the obvious reason that he is the “true path” more than likely in the original game. It continues to be a far-fetched fantasy that knows it. Also the headmaster may appear infrequent but remains entertaining as Norio Wakamoto lends his voice to the bizarre antics. I’m hoping that perhaps they will focus on Haruka’s roommate in an episode but that may be unlikely in a show like this.

I enough people praising Chihayafuru has gotten me to go back and try to catch up with this series. It seems like one of those shows that has a small but vocal fanbase. I watched the first 8 episodes in which we finally get back to the present and watch Chihaya build a karuta team at her school. I have to wonder how much of the extremely Japanese nature of Karuta is responsible for this show’s reputation. It is so steeped in a Japanese game that all but the most dedicated anime fan will avoid the show but everyone else will eat it up. It also has to be well done to earn that fanbase but if it is competent it will get a highly devoted following. Plus since it is about such an obscure sport it can use many sports show story tropes without raising so many flags that it is using such techniques. But overall the show lives and dies on Chihaya’s manic energy. The show only shines if you are drawn into her vibrant personality but fortunately for the show she is a hard character to hate.

Twin Spica vol. 10 has a very sobering effect on a story that is full of youthful exuberance despite its melancholy reflections. As the kids reach another summer break and return to Yuigahama, we as well as them are starting to wonder, to question, who will really see this dream of space through to the very end. The realization that only a few can actually make it into the space program has long hung over the entire series, but this is more the internal conflict, doubts, and truths that all of them must face.

After a long hiatus Liar Game recently started up again. It seems to me that the current arc (chs. 139-144) that is starting up seems like filler to me. No new elements added. Mostly just a new game to show how Nao has grown but also needs to keep growing. It is early enough that I might be wrong but I do have to wonder if the series has just gotten popular enough that Shinobu Kaitani need to pad out what was initially planned to be a shorter series. I don’t really mind. As long as the game are exciting and logical then I will stay along for the ride. The break was also helpful because you do not want these games to be made up on the fly. The only way this series works is with a good deal of plotting out of the games in advance. This all does make me wonder one thing. Is the fact that VIZ never licensed Liar Game’s a great folly or a brilliant move. Was not releasing it just after Death  Note ended foolish because everyone would have picked this up when they were hungry for more Death Note? Did they let that audience slip away? Or would everyone have just unfairly compared it to Death Note never letting it gain its own legs. At this point Death Note will probably always come up whenever Liar Game is discussed but at least enough time has passed that it is a casual talking point and not the focus of all discussions about the manga. At this point what is done is done but it is an interesting thought experiment.

I watched the first four episodes of High Score which is based on an energetic shojo 4-koma. It centers around a bunch of strange individuals, many in relationships, at a high school. The main characters are two cruel narcissists who are also in love with each other which causes endless hilarity. They are surrounded by bizarre friends, enemies, and total nonsense. The jokes and incidents fly by in the 3-minute length which I realize may be the way to get to me enjoy 4-koma anime.

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