Ongoing Investigations: Case #190

I’m pretty excited that we are finally getting Initial D 5th Stage! As always the opening set the right tone. I liked the manga-styled beginning complete with sound effects that transformed into the CG cars we are now accustomed to.

Eps. 1-2 throw you right in so don’t expect much of a refresher course. We are given brief glimpses of Project D’s next rivals in Kanagawa which they say is the final part in a grand plan, Ryosuke appears to be going in a little blind but he seems to be keeping things under his hat as usual. The AE86 has been getting an upgrade plus Takumi seems determined to learn to steer with one hand. On other fronts, Takumi’s new love interest appears only to rip into him thanks to a misunderstanding.

The imposters of Takumi and Keisuke swaggering around was a fun and light way to start the season. Of course I was very excited as Keisuke’s first appearance is him calling those dudes out! Though it makes for little actual racing in the first episode.

But the uphill battle in the second installment started off nicely with Keisuke taking on another EVO. His opponent is on edge, just waiting for Keisuke to do something crazy, but as time winds by you can see how tightly wound the guy waiting is. Too bad we have to wait a few weeks to find out how this plays out.

I enjoyed it ending with Ryosuke saying a “street specialist” has to be a little bit reckless. Keisuke is nothing if not reckless.

I recently talked about Cross Manage and I mentioned it very much feels like a Shonen Sunday manga in Jump. Not to be outdone Nanatsu no Taizai, the new Sunday manga feels very much like it taken out of Jump. It does make one wonder what is exactly going on there. Are both magazines playing with courting their rivals’ demographic? Is it just Sunday reacting to Jump? Or is it mere coincidence?

Nanatsu no Taizai takes place in a medieval setting. Seven overpowered warriors called the Seven Deadly Sins knights tried to overthrow the kingdom but were stopped by the Holy Knights. The Sins were reportedly killed but rumors are abound that they are still alive. Recently the Holy Knight themselves have overthrown the King are putting the Kingdom under their thumb. The King’s only daughter goes out to find the Seven Deadly Sins in hopes that they can free her father. A seemingly humble bar owner that saves her and turns out to be one of the Sins. Together can they find the remaining Seven Deadly Sins and tear down this new corrupt regime?

Overall it is fairly standard but enjoyable stuff. It is just standard but enjoyable stuff you would expect to see in Jump. Elizabeth, the princess is cute and determined but not very capable. Sunday usually prides itself on its strong heroines but she seems mostly like a tag along Jump girl. There is a bit more of the ecchi humor you expect to see in Jump. Not that Sunday is above ecchi humor but it is not the type of humor the magazine usually uses. Also so far the plot have a very Jump structure. There is just something about their journey to collect the other knights that feels very Jump in its execution. Both magazines use the battle manga formula but in distinctly different fashions.

The other thing worth noting is all the fighters start off INSANELY overpowered. Meliodas is shattering the earth with broken swords and playing cross county catch with lances thrown like ICBM missiles. There seems to be no shonen power creep. Everyone starts out as a god. If they have places to go from here they might start making Jojo’s blush. It would be neat if the characters were mostly already at their peak and most of the battles were about wits more than learning new techniques also like Jojo’s.

I am very curious to see how this recent break from form does for both magazines. Do either magazines have robust enough readership to support something outside their normal wheelhouse or will these titles be dropped as quickly as they came?

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 starting playing Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective during a black out in our neighborhood after Sandy and I’ve been playing every chance I could since.

Right away, you are dead, and you can’t remembered what has happened. But there is a talking lamp that clues you in to your ghostly powers. Ray (the lamp) informs you that you have until dawn to figure everything out.

Then things start to get complicated. Over the course of the night you end up changing the fates of many interconnected people while you search for your own answers. In the process you end up with an even greater mystery on your hands involving old cases, police detectives, kidnappings, spies, assassinations, death row inmates, and a dog.

I loved the mysteries as the answers kept surprising me. At one point my jaw dropped during a reveal! It was fun trying to untangle all the information. Though it gets more outlandish as it goes along, I felt satisfied in how it played out. I also appreciate a story that ties itself back to the beginning.

The game mechanics are pretty straight-forward and simple and that is exactly what makes it so fun and difficult to put down. You can move to different inanimate objects and manipulate them, you can travel through the phone lines, and you can turn back time to four minutes before someone’s death (provided you find the corpse).

I freakin’ loved this game! Go play it now.

P.S. Best dog ever.

I expected Hayate the Combat Butler: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You to be a simple little side story that was more of a historical footnote than anything else.  While there are the normal amount of silly episodes I am surprised that they decided to tackle such an ENORMOUS plot thread outside of the manga. Unless they pull something they basically says that everything in this arc was a lie or not cannon they are throwing around some serious information. Then again this is the series that introduced Akane Himegami and Kayura Tsurugino in the anime before they formally appeared in the manga.

Can’t Take My Eyes Off You finally introduces Nagi’s dad, Shin Hayek. Her dad being a phantom thief who was sort of forced into marriage by Yukariko seems a very Hata thing to do. If this is cannon it is an interesting development as it does explain a good deal about Nagi’s relationship with the rest of her family. It is hard to tell how much this is going to factor into the main story considering it is in a weird place that can’t really exist in the main timeline considering that Nagi has both the Sanzenin Mansion and the Violet Mansion.

Outside of the original story with the Black Camellia most of the episodes seem to be loose adaptation of small one or two chapter stories from the main manga. There is a good deal of original material like the gang running around Akihabara but they also have Hayate and Hinagiku going to the movies like in the manga. It does let them adapt some of the smaller stories in a way that lets it have a bit of new life with Ruri Tsugumi’s story being integrated into everything.

I will say that while episode 7 was a fun episode it was cheaply animated. I noticed a good deal of animation shortcuts and off model shots throughout the episode. That is a shame since the first episode was so nicely animated. Apparently they blew their budget on the first few episodes because this last episode was noticeable mediocre.  I have to wonder if that was a fluke or are they just going go on a budget model to save up money for the end.

Well as I Hayate fan I am in it to win it so I will see how much of this story will inform the manga or how much it will be a silly spin-off.

I finally watched the bulk of HeartCatch PreCure! over the last week.

HeartCatch stars quiet Tsubomi and boisterous Erika who become fast friends as they find themselves transformed into the legendary PreCure to defend the Heart Tree and the Earth from withering into a desert.

What really makes HeartCatch stand out is the building of this world. There have been PreCure in the past and they’ve had triumphs and failures that now affect the current characters. The people of the world are also aware of the threat of the Deserterians as well as the heroic PreCure. And even school life is not just a setup for the PreCure! to save people and solve their problems; these characters matter and are seen again.

Tsubomi and Erika compliment each other as do the friends they make along the way. Each character has an effect on the others. Our main cast goes through tangible changes as the series goes on which makes it feel quite compelling.

The villains also have stories that I was invested in with the exception of final boss Dune. The big villain has really no motivation beyond being filled with hatred, even a simple backstory would have made him much more compelling. But the second tier baddies are so great to watch that it doesn’t really change my high opinion of the show.

I can easily say HeartCatch is the best PreCure series I’ve had the pleasure of viewing.

If you are worried the brony menace you might not have to worry much longer (although I’m not sure why you would be worried). If there was any sign that Lauren Faust’s departure from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has effected the show it was the season 3 premiere episode. It was not a bad episode but it really does not have the magic that the previous episodes have had. They usually go all out with the season premieres but this one just felt OK.

Just like the last two seasons the first two-part episode is usually a fantasy adventure as opposed to a slice of life story.  This time the gang has to save the Kingdom of the Crystal Ponies that had disappeared after a 1,000 years when their evil kingdom cursed their land when he was defeated by Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. The already neurotic Twilight Sparkle is in hyper drive because her mission is also a test from Celestia so she not has the fate of a Kingdom on her shoulders but her relationship with her mentor as well.

There were a good deal of funny moments. Pinky the spy and everyone trying to fool the Crystal Ponies into not realizing anything is wrong during the festival was great. At the same time there was just not that same spark that made the first two seasons so special. It was a serviceable cartoon but was missing the magic that made the series such a phenomenon. I can’t place my finger on exactly what was missing. But the flow just seemed slightly off. It seemed like the story just meandered to its conclusion when it usually pops so neatly from scene to scene.

I’m not going to write the whole season off. Everyone has an off day especially after two amazing seasons. But I think I have greatly tempered my expectations after realizing that the show is not infallible.

One thought on “Ongoing Investigations: Case #190

  1. gordanham says:

    Ouuuuuu!!! Totally calling you out! The Seven Deadly Sins isn’t a Shonen Sunday manga! It’s a Shonen Magazine manga!

    Notable thing is though, the author’s previous series was a Shonen Sunday manga.
    I have no idea why he swithced publishers though. I wonder if it was a similar case to why the creator of Zatch Bell left. After Shonen Sunday lost a bunch of his original art he migrated to Kodansha as well. Both of their pages have been removed from Shonen Sunday’s site, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a sour parting as well.

    I totally think it is time for Hisui to take the otaku test though. Jk, but seriously, I have never heard of it before the latest podcast. It sounds interesting though. Both you guys should take one live on the podcast. Still though, idk what this “otaku test” actually is….

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