Ongoing Investigations: Case #163

Nickelodeon decided to stream the first two episodes of  The Legend of Korra before it airs on TV so I decide to take a look as it was up only for a weekend. The Legend of Korra has a good deal of the same vibe as the original series while at the same time has enough new elements and flourishes to feel unique. How well it will do in capturing the magic of the first series while being able to stand alone has yet to be seen but so far it has been striking a nice balance. The Legend of Korra starts 70 years after the ending of the original series. Most of the main cast is dead but their actions still reverberate in the world. Things definitely have changed as the political structure has clearly been radically altered by Aang’s group and the over all tech level has increased. There are now cars and airships giving the world a very 1920 feel. I am cruious how the fan base will react to this change in the setting. The show makes good use of these changes but I wonder if it is a choice that will alienate any of the original fanbase. The people I asked on twitter seem to approve of the change but they are mostly the more casual (aka sane) fans. Korra herself is much more of a confrontational headstrong Avatar than Aang’s Zen monk persona. Aang felt like a childish Dalai Lama whereas Korra feels like a hot blooded martial artist. Also the whole progression of the show seems different. Aang clearly had to go a defeat the evil Fire Lord by a certain date. The main antagonists are clearly going to be Amon and his Equalists but what exactly their agenda is has yet be be seen. I assume part of the show will be discovering what the deal with the Equalists is. That could lead to some interesting detective work not present in the original. There is also a bending related sport that seem like it will be a major component of the show. I know Pro-Bending and Blitzball are different but it was the first things that popped into my mind when they started playing the game. The production staff is clearly still aware of the opinions of the fan base. They go as far as to make a reference to the whole issue surrounding Zuko’s mother that was so much a point of contention with the fans. So far it seems like a solid show that builds on the original in a variety of strong ways. I look forward to seeing more in April.

Nichibros (The Daily Lives of High School Boys) finished up by starting its episode in reverse order, High School Girls Are Funky had a segment before the true show began but really their best material was the episode before with the rock. The last segment seemed oddly sentimental for the show but then it shows its true colors. True colors being so hilariously random and a little awkward. This was a show that surprised me from the beginning and became a highlight every week. Consistently amusing and rarely let a joke go for too long. Though I still don’t understand why Tadakuni was shoved out as the lead for so long. The show mentioned a S2 in the end credits but it was rather tongue-in-cheek so who knows if that is really in the cards. I sure hope so though!

Fate/Complete Material II is where we start to get into the real meat of this series of art books. The second book mostly focuses on the characters of Fate/Stay Night but has some great extra material as well. The bulk of the book is made up of analysis of  the major players in the game alongside their character portraits and notes from Kinoko Nasu and Takashi Takeuchi. What secrets about Saber are hidden on those pages? There is also a decent sized section of prototype sketches. Some characters like Sakura and Lancer are relatively unchanged from initial concepts other than being cleaned up a bit whereas other characters have undergone heavy revision. Rider was originally a much different character that had short hair and Kiritsugu went through several radically different changes before they settled on his character design. Saber herself is virtually unchanged but her clothing was constantly in flux and Rin originally had much more of a Akiha vibe to her (not that it ever fully went away.) There is also a section that includes some rejected route information and unused scenes. We learn they cut a Sella and Leysritt sex scene from the game which is a crying shame. To round things out  there are more promotional sketches and a write up of all the weapons in the game. This book has so much more original material than the last and if you can read Japanese even more on top of that. A great find for anyone who is a fan of the cast of Fate/Stay Night.

Marvel relaunched their kid-centric site which has among other things some free digital comics. I took a look at Spider-Man / Power Pack issue 1 which features things I enjoy including most notably Spider-Man quips on pretty much every page in which he appears. The Power Pack are four young siblings of varying ages and super abilities. And the first thing they decide to do upon moving to NYC is to go looking for trouble, or at least Jack the younger brother does anyway. It is actually a fun beginning and I enjoyed Spidey’s predicament at the end. The art is also well done. But the best part of the issue is the Mini Marvels bonus of Peter Parker looking for a new job, priceless.

I beat Mass Effect 3. Without going to much into spoilers I felt it was a wonderful conclusion spoiled by a rushed ending that shows the game really need another 2 months of production. The bulk of the game in pretty amazing. They improved the combat while keeping the game accessible to people who don’t player shooters, they made the weapons more customizable without being overwhelming and needlessly complex, and they tweaked a slew of other things to make everything feel more polished. And most importantly they made everything feel very epic and yet based on your many decisions. Major and minor decisions have repercussions in this game. Your conversation with the gag character Conrad Verner is a perfect example. Several choices you made from all three games effect how your conversation with him goes. Everything with how you have treated him over the years to if you completed a seemingly throw away side quest in the first game. He might not even show up if you got him killed. It really rewards you for making hard choices in previous games and builds on those decisions. You meet old friends, face old enemies, and have tearful goodbyes. The core plot is centered around a bit of a Deus ex machina MacGuffin but it has a good sense of weight while bringing everything together in a suitably epic fashion. There are a few missteps but almost everything is amazing. All of that is what I think leads to so much of the disappointment with the ending. It seems like so much of that magic that makes everything else work is thrown out for a slapdash ending. I would go as far as to say 95% of the game is brilliant but too many people will sadly only remember the bad taste they got from that sour ending. It is still worth your time as long as you are prepared for the game to falter as it tries to cross the finish line.

I watched the recently released Saitama Prefecture Tourism anime shorts. Each of the four features a season and different areas of the prefecture. The stories are with different styles and tones; a sentimental romance; a school comedy; a tiny adventure; and a reconnecting family. Nature features most prominently in the first and third which had beautiful flower shots. I like the first best as it had the most solid arc but all of them are familiar feeling. It was great that they released these worldwide and in many languages. At the end they give you tourism info for the places featured in each short.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.


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