Ongoing Investigations: Case #154

We received a copy of Nozomi’s re-release of Gasaraki. The story follows a war between the Americans backed by the Japanese and the fictional nation of Belgistan. Both sides have bi-pedal robots with main pilots possessing odd connections and powers. It is worth noting that I have tried to watch Gasaraki before, many moons ago and didn’t make it very far. I wanted to give it another chance but this time around I was only able to get one episode further. Despite people’s assertions that this show is a realistic depiction of mecha, I just can’t find it anything but slow and uninteresting. Also my thoughts on what is realistic must be different because this show has Noh dancing magic. . . . In any case, a good portions of episodes revolve around people talking, typing, or staring at screens. Talking heads and computer screens can be made interesting (just ask Evangelion) but Gasaraki fails to put passion or facial expressions into its scenes. This also makes the dub doubly painful since at least the Japanese put some inflection in their voices. The battles are compelling in moments but they are too short or interrupted by looking at screens. The show didn’t capture me in any way.

If I have nothing else kindly to say about Gasaraki I will say that it tried to do certain things that most mecha shows don’t often attempt. Ryousuke Takahashi tried for a more realistic version of modern mecha combat and politics while mixing in some magical elements to spice things up. The fact that there are only two types of mecha in the whole show and the commentary on the Gulf War make the show stand out. The only problem is the show is so amazingly and mind numbingly boring. It takes the tedious parts of part of war and magical conspiracy and focuses on the most mundane aspects of each to the to the point where only the most hardcore fans of realism will find the show interesting. Ryousuke Takahashi showed that you can do a more realistic mecha show like Armored Trooper Votoms and make it compelling. But this swings so far toward the nitty-gritty details as so suck away any enjoyment. They even focus on the boring aspects of the shadowy magical conspiracy behind the mecha action in excruciating detail. When the plans of the magical cabal feel like a run down of someone’s tax audit you know something has gone horribly wrong. I will say that this show has a reputation for a completely magical ending that comes out of nowhere but as far as I can tell the freeky deeky occult aspect of the show is apparent from the first episode. I admit that the few actions scenes are the only parts of the anime that are easy to stay awake so that makes them the most memorable pieces but there is unmistakable and unnerving mystical element present in the show from the beginning. Like Narutaki I watched this show years ago and I wondered if I could come back to the show as a more mature fan and gain a greater appreciation for a show I had disliked in my early fandom. But this show still deserves the infamous reputation it gained with me and other fans so many years ago.

Against my saner judgement I started the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. This sprawling fantasy has the well-known features of epic fantasy, a wide and far reaching story, multiple character perspectives, a complex world setting, and much more. But in the first volume the quick pacing really stood out to me and I found out the earlier books in the series have a complete story in one volume. So in this story we’re following a few groups of people as the Empire attempts to bring the city of Darujhistan under its control. The Gods of this world also play in the lives of humans which reminded me of Greek mythology in certain ways which I enjoyed. While the character feel familiar at first, they expand in ways that surprised me, and I would say the same of the story.

I will admit that I have been keeping up with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The reason this come up is because Narutaki asked about the show now that it is fairly far into its second season. She was curious now that it had gained such a visible older male fan base and Lauren Faust had left the show how had the series changed. I think the show has changed. Not obviously. Thankfully the show is still primarily a funny little show for girls that is there to teach them the value of friendship, the power of being yourself, and beauty of having big dreams. But the writers are obviously throwing out more and more obvious nudges and winks to their older fans. The simplest example  is merely that they had John de Lancie playing a character that was unmistakably like Q in the first 2 part episode of the new season. It is not as if the show has become completely for the bronies but there has been a shift toward actively catering to them as opposed to inadvertently appealing to them.  Also since Lauren Faust has left it has lost a certain je ne sais quoi. I can’t say exactly what it is but there is a reason the woman has the reputation she does. She adds a certain magic to anything she works on. It is still an enjoyable show with an earnest vibe to it despite the subtle shifts in the storytelling.

Read Demon Knights issues 2-3 which continues perfectly in the vein of the first. There is a lot of action in these episodes building and building to big and crazier deeds. What I’ve liked so far has been a lot of females taking lead roles in what’s going on both on the hero and villain sides.

I was able to get my hands on the first chapter of the Eureka Seven Ao manga. I decided I would read it to give myself a sneak peek at highly anticipated TV series. Overall it reinforces my opinion that I am looking forward to the TV series with a natural bit of healthy cynicism. Nothing about the first chapter stands out to guarantee this will be amazing but everything points to them nicely building on the first series with the potential to be just as good as the original. A few quick comments. There seems to be the modern nations we know today like the US and Japan despite the fact that it is very clearly set in the world after the ending of the Eureka Seven TV series. I don’t need a super detailed explanation of the revival of the modern nation states but I hope they give some reasonable explanation of how this came about. The second it so far it seems that the main boy, Ao is the only pilot and Naru is just going to be mystical side kick girl. I really enjoyed that Renton and Eureka with both pilots of equal measure in the TV series with Eurkea having more military experience. I hope they don’t sideline Naru to a complete support character as the more equitable protagonist dynamics of the first show was a distinctly appealing part of the show’s composition. Speaking of Eureka they try so hard to pretend that Eurkea is not Ao’s mother and that it could be anyone at all. His mom is so clearly the turquoise haired Coralian. In fact I would be amazed and maybe a little pleased if this is all a red herring but I highly doubt that is the case. There seems to be giant monster one of which Ao fights at the end of the chapter in a robot that looks much like the Nirvash. Also the new mecha seems to be more based around conventional surfing on the water than the air but there are flying cars so who knows how much Trapar waves and lifting is still around. Still there is a good deal of potential in the series so I am curious how many of my first impression are correct. This show has just as much potential to grow as it does to fail at this point so I and eager to see where it goes. April should be fun.

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5 thoughts on “Ongoing Investigations: Case #154

  1. VF5SS says:

    My favorite thing about Gasaraki was this one time at Anime Boston where at the mecha panel some guy was giving a heartfelt plea about how people need to like Gasaraki because of this one image of the robot with all of its weapons laid out in front of it.

    Nothing about what the show covers or who the main characters are, just LOOK AT ALL THESE WEAPONS IT HAS

    XD

  2. wendeego says:

    The Malazan Book of the Fallen is kind of like what A Song of Ice and Fire would be like if it had giant undead shapeshifting dragon wizards. And underwater millipedes. Not to mention magical swords that trap their victims in alternate hell dimensions, or giant floating castle sieges, or, or…

    It definitely isn’t for everybody, but if you enjoyed Gardens of the Moon then JUST WAIT until Deadhouse Gates. That’s when the series stops being an interesting experiment and truly comes into its own.

    Actually, if you’re having trouble keeping everything straight in your head, TOR.com’s been doing a Malazan Reread right over here:

    http://www.tor.com/features/series/malazan-reread-of-the-fallen

    Might be worth looking into.

    • reversethieves says:

      It definitely has a dark fantasy slant, which isn’t for everyone, in fact I didn’t even know it was for me, but I actually felt it was pretty accessible as far as epic fantasy goes.

      I don’t own any of the other books in the series yet, but I’m definitely on the look out to pick them up soon.

      I follow Tor on my RSS so I was seeing the re-reads and it was actually one of the things that spurned me to finally read it since I’ve had the first volume sitting around a while.

      -Narutaki

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