Ongoing Investigations: Case #175

I think I have always had a bit of a heretic opinion when it comes to the Space Battleship Yamato. I realize the enormous impact the series has had on the industry. It changed the game for anime on a variety of levels. It certainly helped cement the idea that anime was not just for kids in Japan. I just don’t think it is as timeless as the old school fans. But that aside I feel that if you have any interest in the history of anime it is an important show to at least be familiar with for how much of it inspires what comes after it. So with that in mind I decided to watch the first episode of the new Space Battleship Yamato 2199 OVA.

Space Battleship Yamato is now almost 38 years old. Anime has come along way since the first voyage to Iscandar. I was curious to see how much they could modernize the story while still keeping the magic that made the original so popular. It is far too easy to make something bland when you reinvent it for contemporary audience. There are a pile of 90s OVA rermakes that will attest to that fact. Space Battleship Yamato 2199 changes certain things for the better, one or two for the worse, but most of them are lateral moves that have a very “Your mileage may vary” feel to them.

The most notable are the animation changes. Being a show made in 2012 all the ships are CG. It is never brilliant but it is usually serviceable. But gone are the hand-drawn feel of the original. The other major shift is in the character design. The more realistic the character design in the original they less they changed. Captain Okita is pretty much untouched from this original design while Kodai and Yuki have the distinct sheen of modern character design but are still instantly recognizable as their originals.  But some characters like the very cartoonish Dr. Sado get a complete makeover. Sado looks more like Heaven Canceller than his original design. They also seem to have added a bunch of new character who look much more like modern anime characters than updated Leiji Matsumoto characters. Shockingly enough there might be more female characters than just Yuki now.

The beats of the plots so far are largely unchanged. It is all in the details that the difference lies. I found it a good move that they upgraded Yuki from being a bridge bunny nurse to a more Misa Hayase styled military professional. Also Kodai is still impulsive but a great deal less whiny. When he confronts Okita about the death of his brother it comes off as much more natural. At the end you know he still takes issue with how his brother died but he comes off much more as a military man than a bratty child. He is still running off with experimental fighter craft during an emergency but even then he seems a bit more properly restrained.

I will say that one scene near the beginning where that one young engineer dies calling out for his mom is tremendously ham-fisted. It just comes off like amateur hour drama. And it is not like the series can’t pull off cheesy but strong. The part where Mamoru’s crew sacrifices themselves while singing comes off more like a WWII movie tribute than cheap emotional ploy.

I am curious what the die-hard Yamato fan think of the first new episode. Since I am not super attached to the first series I think I can be a bit more objective about the changes. Where they go with the show from here? I think it has some distinct potential to be a strong re-imagining. The real question is how much the fan base approves of the modernization? Do they still think it contains the heart and soul of the original?

I watched the live action movie adapation of Kimi ni Todoke and it renewed my love for the series.

I haven’t read the manga yet, but the movie covers roughly the first season of the anime with some minor changes. We see the girl that everyone is scared of slowly make friends and open up. We see Kazehaya fall in love with her and Sawako learning what love is. You also get more of a solid conclusion between Kazehaya and Sawako happily. It is a simple story that is very satisfying.

I really liked the casting for everyone especially Sawako and Kazehaya. Haruma Miura is not only a good fit for how cute Kazehaya is, but his expressiveness really added a lot to understanding how Kazehaya felt. He also has a killer smile which is essential! Mikako Tabe also lights up when she smiles so they really fit together.

I cried the last 15-minutes and while I don’t measure all films based on this, it proves how very much it got into my heart. It was really lovely.

At the end of the first season I have to say that I am a little disappointed  that Thundercats 2011 appear not to be getting a second season. It is not the strongest American cartoon I am watching now but it is still pretty darn good. It is undoubtedly better than the original but that is hardly high praise. Overall it keeps up a decent level of quality. I did notice that the budget drops a bit after the half way point to where key scenes are still nice but other scenes can really dip in quality. But they have some luscious scenes for the 2 part finale where they go all out.

An odd criticism I have is that in the first few episodes Thundercats seems incredibly isolationist and cut off from the rest of the world. They hardly run into any real organized civilization until episode eight. It is like the Thundercats just holed themselves off in this forgotten corner of the globe. Then they regularly seems to interact with various civilizations with everything from small villages to large towns. But everyone they meet seems to have a strong opinions on their fallen kingdom as if they were a major player in global politics.  It is just an odd disconnect.

Thankfully while WilyKit and WilyKat are always the weakest link in the chain of the cast they are actually tolerable now. They occasionally contribute to the group in appreciable ways and you don’t wish someone would just throw them into a sack with rocks for a trip to the river. In fact episodes that focus on them are tolerable. They are not the best episodes but tolerable. Lion-O still oscillates between jerk and likeable character but at least as the show goes on he stays in jerk mode for shorter periods of time.

Both the half way mark and the season finale were fairly strong as good places to stop. They both ended with some fluid battles and some nice gamer changers. They are prefect ways of not ending on a cliff hanger but still making you want to watch more. The twist at the end of the season was fairly well done. If anything it might be the biggest reason the possible cancellation is a real bummer. The finale of the season showed some good promise for things to come.

I won’t go as far as to say that it is as good as the Legend of Korra which I think has the potential to be a classic. But I think it is a show that is fun to watch that you would not look back on and be embarrassed that you enjoyed it. It still clings a bit too much to its roots but it mostly does a good job of realizing what was best about the original and building on that. That is the greatest strength on the reboot.

Continuing with my enlightenment on digital manga, I bought Kine In! from eManga. Once again I was enticed by more est em manga!

The main story in this collection is about brother and sister Ken and Mari with their mutual friend Joe. They have been friends since childhood and all have a love for film. Things get complicated when Mari finds herself having romantic feelings for Joe who is nursing love for Ken, and Ken isn’t quite sure about any of it. They all work on a short film and are able to come together and work through things. The integration of their making of this film gives the story something special.

There are three other simple one-shots. I liked the one about a man going to Japan after his estranged father passed away there best. The the way grief can becoming a bond is shown well.

Each story has at least BL hints but nothing graphic in the least so it is a good title to try out some BL if you are curious. Est em’s character pieces are always lovely.

The Sekien No Inganock web novels are a peculiar animal. They are 2 sets of 4 short stories. The first set  takes place before the game starts and the second set takes place afterwards. The main focus of the stories is on Ati but they hit on almost all the major secondary cast. Considering the fact that Ati could be seen as the third leg of the trinity that were the main characters it was the least they could do for her after having her exit stage left in the penultimate chapter.

The stories set after the game to a decent job of showing you what happened to Inganock after the game and touching on the lives of  the minor characters. Most on the smaller but memorable players like the kids Gii always took care of and the aristocratic couple from the second tier get a shout out. But most of it is Ati settling into her new life and her quest to uncover her missing memories. They also focus briefly on Ruaha and Kerkan but more to just confirm they still exist. The story gives some degree of closure to Ati’s character even if much like the rest of the series it brings up more questions than it answers.

I will say that if you were looking for two things it refuses to give you much. If you need to know what happened to Kia and Gii you are totally out of luck. Kia shows up to an extent but how real she is mostly left up to the reader. Also any explanation of the greater mechanics of Inganock or the 41 is completely left untouched. Anything that was deliberately ambiguous remains so even at the end of web novels. I feel it was mostly an apology for throwing Ati on a bus just before the climax and a chance do some minor clean up as well.

As a side note one of the characters from the next Liar Soft game, Shikkoku no Sharnoth, appears pretty heavily in the second set of stories. I am not sure how much of what he does in the web novel sets up the next game as I have not played it but it is an interesting way of bridging the two games.

Overall I feel the web novels will only reinforce your opinion of the game. If you enjoyed the style of the game this will be nice bit of sorbet after your meal. But if you needed answers or resolution the extra bit of material will only seem like yet another tease.

Picked up the first volume of Dengeki Daisy. I must say I’m rather ashamed I’m only picking this up now since it is exactly the kind of shojo I enjoy.

Teru’s brother has passed away but before he does he gives her a cellphone that connects her to “Daisy,” who promises to watch out for her. Teru definitely needs protection because she is wildly impulsive and just can’t help but get herself wrapped up in other people’s problems! She is also the “leader” of her band of misfits class. As trouble follows her, one day she breaks and window and ends up having to work for the ex-delinquent janitor Tasuku who is more than what he seems.

You will be shocked to know that Tasuku is Daisy. Actually, what is shocking is how Teru refuses to figure this out. I do rather enjoy that Tasuku has clearly fallen for Teru and talks about it with others but feels it isn’t right of him to act on it.

But there is more to this story as Daisy is a hacker, and Teru’s brother’s death was a mysterious one. There are also people after something Teru’s brother left behind.

So we’ve got this sort of silly present day plot intersecting with a darker past secret in just ridiculous enough fashion. Can’t wait to pick up more!

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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