Ongoing Investigations: Case #188

The first book of Vertical’s Limit is intense and I only expect it to get more so as the series continues. If you are one of those people who think shojo is all high school romance, pick up LIMIT to change your mind.

Limit is about the have and the have-nots in high school, the cliques and the outcasts. Envy, bullying, peer pressure, violence, humiliation, and revenge swirl around the girls of this school. The social hierarchy of high school is on full display as our lead character is an underling of the most popular mean girl. She is a follower because it gives her a sense of security.

That sense of security is one I never had as a reader, the series has an ominous atmosphere from the very beginning. And just as you suspect, things change in an instant during a school trip. Characters’ true nature come out in a crisis. It was also great to learn about some of the past that got people to this point, humanizing those who need it most.

The struggles to survive in high school become survival on a more base level in Limit.

Random, I really liked the design of this book. The size and typography make it feels very Japanese.

I know that Natutaki and I were both interested in Cloud Atlas but not enough to randomly spend money on seeing it in theaters. But when I won free tickets to see an early screening all reservations went out the window. I have to say that was a fortuitous little blessing. The movie itself was quite spectacular.

It is a fairly epic interweaving of six interconnected stories that take place over a span of more than a millennium. We see the redemption, corruption, and transmigration of several souls over the ages in a complex tapestry of life and love. It starts in the 1850 and ends in a distant post apocalyptic world. The same actors play different parts in each era as we see how these souls fare through the ages. Sometimes heroes will fight the good fight through the years, other times villains will commit unspeakable atrocities, and some people will wrestle with demons to various levels of success in every age. But both little and great decisions will always echoes through the ages.

I will warn people. The movie does not have the most inviting start. It rapidly switches between the six stories fairly rapidly to introduce each time period and show you that the stories will consistently be going back and forth. The story then calms down a bit as if it was just reminded it was three hours long so it could take its time it saying what it needs to. The movie then slows down and takes its time establishing what is going on in each era and becomes infinitely more comprehensible. Most of the stories are serious life and death struggles with serious bits of drama and suspense. The one story about the book publisher in the present is mostly comedy but it is a nice relaxing tale that helps the story from being too brooding.

I have to say the movie does a good job of adapting a fairly complex book in probably the most effective manner it can. While I am sure the original book has more complexity and depth of themes I think the movie does a good job giving you a good sense of what was in the original while treating you to a visual feast in the meantime. You just have to appreciate the vast amount of time and effort went into basically filming 6 short movies with vastly different feels and settings and to then to tie them all together with the same principle cast. Simply amazing.

I feel much like with my review of Forest I think the word pretensions is going to be thrown around a lot. But unlike the extremely indirect Forest I don’t think you have to put in that much effort to put most of the pieces together. There is a good deal of metaphor and intricacy beneath the surface of the narrative but the basic themes and plot is simple if you pay attention. But if you are actively watching I think there is a good deal to be gained from the story. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers but overall I think the story is optimistic. Some stories end in triumph, others in heartbreaking tragedy, yet some are Pyrrhic victories. None of the main characters make it to the end of their tales without losing something important along the way. But the overall message is one of the triumph of the human spirit. And that alone made the movie very fulfilling.

Oh and the movie teaches us one other thing. If you are a racist bastard then you will get your just deserts.

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.

 I’m still on the fence about CW’s new show Arrow after eps. 1 and 2.

Billionaire playboy Oliver Queen has just made it home after years of being stranded on an island where he had been learning to survive and brooding over what his father told him before he died. Now he is back to make things right and fight the corruption in Starling City. A lot has happened in his five years away so people’s lives and of course secrets are slowing unfolding.

I like Stephen Amell as Oliver which is the most important thing. It is everyone around him that I’m not totally sold on. After only a week back from the dead everyone seems to be really annoyed that Oliver has not opened up and/or is not getting his life back on track. If they wanted to push that particular drama so early then at least imply a decent amount of time has passed between the first and second installment. Too many people seem to be over the fact that he has returned.

Green Arrow running around the city has been mostly fun. Though some of his arrows push my limits, like the one in the first episode that no one notices and is hacking into the bank account. I’m wondering how long it will be before more people know what Oliver is up to, his best friend already does though Oliver thinks he didn’t see anything.

They’ve started to hint about what he experience on the island which is something I’m most curious about since Oliver didn’t seem like any sort of genius before he left.

I’ll give it another couple of episodes before making a decision.

If you were wondering why Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions was not in the S.W.A.T. Reviews you are clearly unaware that Narutaki is hardly a fan of Kyoto Animation. It is not that Narutaki won’t watch Kyoto Animation shows. She just avoids them whenever she can. So my roommate and I decided to take it upon ourselves to check the first four episodes of the show out as to round out the blogs coverage of the season. Interestingly enough we rather enjoyed the show.

Chunibyo is a phenomenon where middle school students (or at least it is most common with middle school students) put on airs to pretend they are something they are not in hopes of looking cool.  Or at least I am fairly sure that is what it means. There is always a bit of misunderstanding whenever people start throwing around these new Japanese slang terms. In terms of this show it is about people who act like they are anime characters in real life. So they talk like they have mystical powers and fight evil organizations but they are just as foolish as anyone else would like if they did that in real life.

In junior high school Yuta ran around calling himself the Dark Flame Master and in turn became a total social outcast. So he reinvents himself at a new school where no one knows him. But Rikka, a girl in his same apartment building, is an even bigger chunibyo than he used to be. Yuta soon finds himself in Rikka’s orbit when she discovers his secret past as the Dark Flame Master. Can Yuta maintain any sort of normal life with his new companion living in a world of delusion?

In a way I feel this is somewhat reaction to Haruhi Suzumiya. Both series have a main character who used to be dreamer who gave up those childish fantasies for a regular life. But unlike Kyon who gets drawn into a world where his childhood dreams are real Yuta just gets to see how incredibly silly his already rather embarrassing antics were. It is almost making fun of anyone who thought to themselves, “Man I would love it if Haruhi was real.” THIS is how you life would end up if you knew someone like Haruhi in real life.

The show is mildly embarrassing if you ever found yourself a little too much into any fantasy series. No one I know personally is anywhere even close to this bad (thank goodness) but there is a relatable core at the center of it. It has a nice mixture of merciless mocking and kindness to the cast that gives the show a certain appeal. I have never met anyone is full on chunibyo in my anime fandom I have met one or two in table top role-playing games. I am fairly certain that the more cynical members of fandom just assume everyone who is not them is just running around like Rikka all the time.

We also watched the Lite episodes from the web. They are five-minute episodes with full openings and closing. They are the sort of thing that are prefect DVD extras. I was rather surprised they took the effort to put a full OP and ED on such short little productions.

The show itself is surprisingly fun and gorgeously animated. I was surprised how much I liked it. I am a little worried they will run the jokes into the ground but now it is lots of fun.

Episodes 2 and 3 of Code:Breaker were pretty snooze worthy. We did learn that Sakura is a “rare breed” which as far as I can tell means she can negate their magic.

Rei does not come off as mysterious badass, he feels more like a super creepy dude. I’m pretty sure that was not the intention.

Code:Breaker finally gets to the stuff I want to see by episode 4: big dumb gimmick villains. Sadly they only appear at the end so I’m waiting to see the fight in the next installment.

I had heard a good deal of hype around Batman: Arkham City so when I had the chance to play for a bit at my youngest brother’s house I took it. It does a good job of capturing that Batman spirit in a game. I will say the premise of a whole section of Gotham being turned into a prison is a bit silly BUT I also recognize it is a game based on comic. I will merely point out that bit of silliness and then move on with it in no way effecting how much I enjoy the game.

I have not really played much of the game proper. I mostly got captured as Bruce Wayne, got my Batman costume, freed Catwoman, and then blew up the top of a church. Other than that I have been exploring the parts of Arkham City that are open to me. There are a bunch of little side missions you can do. I am not a big fan of the “run to this spot on the map before time runs out missions” that GTA seems to love. They always strike me about one level of aggravation below escort missions. Thankfully they seem quarantined to just the Victor Zsasz side missions. Other than that there are as bunch of take out x number of cameras in this area and find y number of Riddler trophies in this area. You always find nine out of ten fairly easily and it is always that last one that is a major pain to find even with a walk through.

The combat is fairly fluid. You usually have to fight large gangs of thugs and Batman does it quite well. I only squared off with Two Face as a named villain so I have not fought many boss battles. I know one of the major complaints about Arkham Asylum was the bosses were mostly just a slight twist on your normal battles with large gangs of thugs as opposed to real boss battles. So far that has not changed. The coolest thing is the number of gadgets you have. You really get the feeling you have Batman’s utility belt. The fact  that you get new gadgets as you go on gives it all a very Metroid feel.

I’m also going to be a grumpy old man and complain I like the Batman: the Animated Series version of Harley Quinn over the Batman: Arkham City version. The original was both iconic and sexy while still being classy. This redesign seems to be all the things people complain about when they think about the crass male gaze in American comics and video games. I’m not totally opposed to a costume redesign. I just feel they went for the low hanging fruit with this.

Overall I thought it was fairly fun. I look forward to seeing if my initial positive impression stays strong.

One thought on “Ongoing Investigations: Case #188

  1. Shinmaru says:

    The Zsasz-type missions get a LOT easier if you unlock the grapnel boost tool and get decent at using it (which isn’t tough — I sucked at first but got the hang of it quickly enough). But, yes, they are definitely annoying. Zsasz’s sidequest is probably my least favorite in Arkham City.

    Still, that game is a lot of fun. I dig the pseudo-open world aspect of it, and it juggles the villains really well and has a surprisingly solid story.

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