Ongoing Investigations: Case #196

narutaki I have started watching Fullmetal Alchemist (eps. 1-14), the first series by Bones. I had actually seen about 20 or so episodes a couple of years back, but I’m starting again from the beginning. It is a show from a period of anime where I was a little out of the circle so it has been on the “to watch” list for a while.

I was really impressed that the first scene is so dark and intense and gets right down to business to show the heart of the series. It has an ominous feeling from the get-go. In general, I’m was appreciative of the weighty questions the show brings into the story from the outset dealing with morality, ethics, politics, and religion. It has its silly moments here and there, but it doesn’t shy away from all of these topics which makes me even more impressed that the series was as popular as it was.

I also really like that there is a bit of an investigation bent to the series, at least here in the beginning. The mysteries of Al and Ed’s father as well as that of the Philosopher’s Stone and the military plus many others keep me speculating every time we get another tidbit of information.

I’m nearing where I stopped before, which really had nothing to do with the show being bad, so I’ll be curious to see if they series changes a lot past that point.

P.S. Mustang is the best.

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As the season is wrapping up it is a great time to talk about some series that just finished.

My Little Monster just ended its 13 episode run. It was definitely a cute little shojo series with a distinctly energetic vibe. It was always a refreshing treat every week. Sadly you could tell it was also a series based on an ongoing series.

The funny thing is that the first episode left me this distinct impression that the last episode was going to be the conclusion of some majorly important story arc filled with tears and confrontations. If you were waiting the whole series for that you were going to be very disappointed.  The penultimate episode takes place around new years and has a very transitional feeling. Nothing is definitively resolved. Unrequited loves mainly remain unreciprocated and strange relationships  are still quite unusual and somewhat poorly defined. But there is a feeling that things are changing and that the status quo will not remain that way for long.

That also means if you were hoping for an anime original ending you were just out of luck. The last episode even felt more like an extra episode OVA than a finale. There is a little bit of a personal  revelation from Shizuku but realistically that awareness could have happened at any point in the last 3 episodes without missing a beat.

I may be in the minority but with the fact that manga is much more prevalent in English I am far more accepting of a “go read the manga now” ending to an anime. So really I just saw My Little Monster as a great way to introduce me to a quirky shojo series that will hopefully make a great read if it is ever licensed.

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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narutaki I read the two-volume manga Film Girl. This is the story of ex-child-model Mei and superstar model Shirou who became a model because he was her fan. They meet by accident and from then on Shirou tries to pull her back into the world of cameras and fashion.

The art is elegant and the splash page fashion shots are fantastic.

Shirou is an eccentric weirdo who keeps his personality under wraps for his public image, but Mei encourages him to be himself and embrace his true personality. I really enjoyed how each supports the other in this series.

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I have to say I was a little surprised that Jormungand wrapped up this season. I sort of assumed that this would be one of those series of indefinite length where every story was its own little self-contained arc. So when the bomb drops about how everything has been building up to the Jormungand system I will say I was a little surprised.

The second season of  Jormungand seemed a bit more talky than the first season. There was always a bit of lots of talking heads before we can get to the killing but it seemed a bit more prevalent in this season. But when Koko’s grand almost Bond villain like scheme starts to unfold the story really picks up.

I will say the series does pick an interesting place to end. I many ways it might have been the smart place to stop. The world a few days after the end of Jormungand very well might have been a radically different place. Such a radical change would have utterly transformed the manga so ending on such a crescendo of possibilities does have an interesting poetry to it. The question is how much does the viewer wish to imagine how those possibilities play out and how much do they need to see them.

Jormungand was a fun little action show that wraps itself up in a way I would have never guessed it ending from the first episode. It is not a Koji Kumeta ending but that might have been TOO radically different. Definitely a good way to fill you need for more Black Lagoon as that can sometimes be a hard itch to scratch.

Random fact: I did my senior seminar paper on quantum computers so this story was a little more interesting to me then it might have been to most people.

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I had a chance to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey over the holidays, like I’m sure many others did as well. This is an adventure, more than an epic and that is what I always liked about the book The Hobbit, too.

The movie starts by cutting back and forth between old Bilbo starting to write the tale and his young unaware self. I found this bit confusing and seemed to only be done to throw in a cameo of Frodo which had the odd result of making it seem as though Bilbo wrote down this story in about 30 minutes. Once we are fully in the past, the parade of unexpected guests descends on Bilbo in quick succession. The setup felt awkward, but I suppose it was rather awkward for Bilbo, and doesn’t come together well until they leave The Shire.

And when they leave The Shire things get really good, really fast. Bilbo is a reluctant adventurer but he gets into the spirit of things before the end. I especially liked the moment when he over hears biting remarks about himself and instead of turning away as he might have done earlier, he steps forward to claim his place in the party.

The added material stretches the story, but I still think it could have been two movies rather than three. I’m curious to see all that will be added in the next installment.

While I felt the film started out muddled and slow, I was completely swept up in the adventure by the end.

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For better or for worse K is the sort of show that tried to have a little something for everyone. It tried to appeal to guys and gals equally which almost always means that one half of your audience feels like the other half is getting a bit too catered to. But such are humans. I personally had a fun time with the series and that is what counts.

It was hardly a perfect series. I think my roommate, Narutaki, and I all agreed they spent a little too much time not telling the audience any of the major details. The full extent of Neko’s powers in the middle was good but they needed a few more reveals like that one to make things flow better. They never pulled an elemental totally out of nowhere in the end but a few more linking pieces would have made us all a bit happier.

I will say for a series that had a fairly low body count they do have some fairly major deaths at the end of the series. It is nice to see a series that is not afraid to pull the trigger at the end. I don’t need every show to be like that but I will give a respectful nod to those series that will do that well. Since K is getting a second series I am curious to see who they focus on. Will they pick from the good deal of remaining characters or will they shift to a new protagonist? I assume they will look at the other unrevealed Kings as surely they have plans of their own.

K was hardly be best series of the year but it was an entertaining romp. It was nice to see an original setting with some cool powers in an interesting setting. I hope the next season can keep up the momentum while exploring the world a bit more.

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