Ongoing Investigations: Case #176

I was lucky that I only recently finished up the original Avatar: The Last Airbender, it had me very excited for the new series Legend of Korra. The entire season was impressive because it was strong on story and character from the first episode onwards. I was completely invested and it just kept getting better and better. Overall I was really happy with the season.

The best part of the show was the amazing, strong and central female characters. Korra is very unlike Aang in her headstrong and aggressive behavior so watching her struggle for an understanding of airbending as well as the spiritual journey was rewarding. She doesn’t fully graps what it is be the Avatar and what it means to people yet. Korra runs into smart and powerful Lin soon after arriving in Republic City. Lin’s transition into ally is excellently earned. Then there’s Asami who, in a complete surprise to me, became my favorite character. From her driving skills to her martial arts to using the equalists weapons against them, Asami is so cool! Asami’s relationship with her father as well as her friendship with Korra and romance with Mako give her great complexity in trying to balance it all. To top it all off, none of leading women are white.

The season finale blew my mind, then blew it again, and then when I thought I knew what the next season would be about it blew it again!

Though there is something I found most weird about the ending to this first season, it didn’t leave me with any questions. Everything was wrapped up so tightly that I’m not really left wondering or wanting. It is an odd place to leave an audience knowing there is going to be another season. Still I’m looking forward to it, I just thought they could have left us with a few mysteries. Or at least the start of another plot thread as a teaser.

The Legend of Korra has some pretty big shoes to fill. Avatar: The Last Airbender was a series that generally received universal praise. Avatar had its crazy shippers, overly enthusiastic fan base, and some controversial plot points but was generally well-regarded as a solid piece of kid’s entertainment. In many ways The Legend of Korra continues the legacy for better or for worse. Also like Avatar the ending distinctly got people talking.

My major criticism of the ending is that you could almost feel the hand brake being thrown. I don’t want to go into spoilers but certain things seem to get resolved at the end both in the romantic department and with the narrative near the end that seem like they would have best been served being solved in the second season. I know that Korra was originally only planned to be one season but it seemed like they wrote a plot line that was supposed to continue into the second season and they decided that was a bad idea at the last second. It does make the first season a very complete package but you are left wondering if that was for the best.

I also liked my theories on what was up with Amon but I almost always like my theories more. Overall Amon’s identity was fairly good and was thematically interesting. Of all the things people have been complaining about Amon’s identity is probably the weakest point of attack. A reveal like that is never going to make everyone happy. It comes down to the fact that too many people equate “not what I though it was going to be” with “not a good choice.”

When all is said in done I have a good time with this season of Korra. While I wish they had kept more threads dangling for the next season I’m not going to let that damage my enjoyment of this season. I think it is some of the smartest kid television today and I look forward to the next season. I look forward to seeing how they build on what they created.

Want to hear us talk more about Korra? It’ll be in the next Speakeasy Podcast!

I bought the first volume of Oresama Teacher. Who knew VIZ was releasing so many shojo titles with delinquents in them? Well, I’m happy nevertheless.

The story follows Mafuyu who has been set off to a new school after getting in trouble with the police while leading a gang. Her attempts at turning over a new leaf are wrought with difficulties. She gets in a fight right away when she sees a bunch of guys going after someone in an alley. The guy, Takaomi, she saves ends up not only being her teacher but also a memory from the past long forgotten. She also ends up making friends with a guy named Hayasaka in her class who can’t pass up a fight.

This manga had me laughing out loud. It has great over-the-top reaction shots and crazy situations usually involving a bunch of delinquents. The interactions and conversations between Mafuyu and Hayasaka are especially hilarious because he always interprets everything she does as being a brilliant delinquent mastermind when she really isn’t doing any such thing. Their friendship really sold me.

The romance is wacky though fairly predictable but at least they keep it funny.

The second season of the Avenger’s: Earths Mightiest Heroes was not as tight as the first season but I still found it very enjoyable. In the first season you had several seemingly unrelated plot threads that slowly revealed themselves as actually the pieces of a grander conspiracy. This current season seemed to have a much more arc based story telling. It was always enjoyable but it does not have the same punch at the end. That said there was still a lot to enjoy this season.

Right off the bat the addition of Ms. Marvel was very welcome. It was good to get another female member of the Avengers and one who is much more on the level of the other members. It did seem to come at the cost of some of the other characters. Hank Pym spends most of the season not on the team which was a shame because his more pacifist stance was an interesting contrast to everyone else. But more surprisingly was the distinct lack of the Hulk. I guess with Ms. Marvel around they needed to have a bruiser take a back seat. I just did not think they would pick him to be the one to downplay.

There were some great cameos this season. The writers for The Amazing Spider-Man could take a few lessons on how to write for the wall-crawler. He really shone in the New Avengers episode. In fact I think that was one of my favorite in the season. It got in all the fan favorite Avengers characters on one team that are not in the standard set up. I also liked the Beta Ray Bill episode if for nothing else how unexpected the cameo was. But besides that it was also a strong episode.

Season 2 was sort of season of bombs from the first season going off. A lot of things that were planted in season one came back in season two as part of a much more deadly harvest. In that respect it really rewards anyone who watched the first season. I was a little perplexed that the seasons one big consistent new plot line around Surtur never really goes anywhere. For a reoccurring villain who was obviously building up a greater plan his machinations come to naught. I suppose they were saving that reveal for the third season.

But if the rumors are true this was the final season for the Earths Mightiest Heroes iteration of the Avenger’s cartoon. The announcement of the cancellation of this series in favor of a new Avengers cartoon more in line with the movie might just be an elaborate prank by a very crazy individual. But they do end the series on a pretty solid place to end. So if this is the final episode of Earths Mightiest Heroes I can’t say I am too upset. These were two very good seasons. But if we are actually getting more I am curious to see how they develop the Surtur plot line. Either way I had a good time this season.

I watched the first two episodes of the Ouran High School Host Club live action TV series.

So far it is a very close match to the original story. Haruhi is a poor student at a rich school who ends up working for the Host Club after breaking an expensive vase. All the guys in the club have a gimmick that brings in the girls and they realize Haruhi’s commoner powers would be an asset. Of course, Tamaki doesn’t realize Haruhi is a girl until much later. And while all the guys are each strange in their own way, Haruhi is very straightforward and down to earth. Let the craziness begin!

It is rather surreal seeing certain comedy scenes pulled directly from the manga and then done in live action. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. For example, they use a really creepy technique to make Honey’s actor shrink really small when he glomps Haruhi. On the other hand, Nekozawa’s shadowy aura is quite hilarious as are the many sparkles and dream sequences. Overall, it hits more than it misses.

The live action series is definitely more aimed at people who like pretty guys than anything else. I was completely won over when they did the scene where Tamaki looks for Haruhi’s wallet in the fountain. So I’ll be watching more.

After reading all of that Hirohiko Araki manga in the 106 volumes of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure I needed a bit of the hair of the dog that bit me. So with that in mind I tried to read Gorgeous Irene to ease out of my Jojo’s hangover. But when I say “try to read Gorgeous Irene” I mean that while I read chapters from the tankobon called Gorgeous Irene I never actually read any Gorgeous Irene.

Gorgeous Irene was one of Hirohiko Araki’s early works and only got 2 chapters. So when they decided to put it into a graphic novel form they also took several of his earlier one shots and used them to fill out the rest of the book. But all I could find was translated version of those other three stories and not the chapters of Gorgeous Irene that give the book its name.

It is interesting to note that Araki art style for the other three stories looks almost NOTHING like this work in Gorgeous Irene which much more like the art that he would go on to do in Baoh and Jojo’s. His art almost makes me think of older Shonen Sunday than anything else. His more complicated line work and more “realistic” character design would not really be present until his later works.

Cool Shock BT is the story that would probably most appeal to Narutaki. It has BT who is a handsome and snarky blonde genius who uses his training with stage magic to be a detective. He also has a nebbishy sidekick that is mostly there to do narration and make BT look cool. It starts with a decent mystery that is obviously supposed to draw in the slightly older girl to the story.

Meet Virginia is an odd little science fiction story. It is sort of like Speed on space ship. It has a somewhat predictable dark comedic twist at the end. Armed Poker is set in the old West and involves 2 cheating cheaters playing a high stakes game of poker. It too has a bit of a O. Henry comedic twist. Unlike Cool Shock BT that seemed like a pilot for a series these two stories are clearly self-contained one-shots.

It is interesting to see Hirohiko Araki’s early work. You see pieces of the manga-ka he would eventually become but I did not realize his early work was so very different. Some of the comedic timing and character framing shots that would make up his signature style are present but for the most part his early works are just simpler. Both in the art and narrative. I am now very curious to read the chapters of Gorgeous Irene proper. They seem to be the vital missing link between this early style and what he became famous for.

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.

2 thoughts on “Ongoing Investigations: Case #176

  1. las artes says:

    Season 2 in general has done a far better job than season 1 did with getting a palpable sense of tension across. The only time I felt those emotions in season 1 was during “Failsafe” and a few other episodes. Season 1 really felt like a well crafted cartoon with a slight edge. Season 2 feels adult.

  2. Nina says:

    I agree, the way season one ended for The Legend of Korra gives no impression for what could happen in the second season. But it’s impressive all the same. I really enjoyed watching this series, especially after falling in love with The Last Airbender (not the movie)!
    I love you review of Oresama Teacher! I think it’s hilariously funny and cute, can’t wait for the next volumes to come out! :)

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