I had the pleasure of reading the wonderful U.S. release of Heart of Thomas. It is an over-sized hardcover, it is quite a heafty book.
But I have to say the cover is less than appealing, I think it is the muddy colors. The story though, the story is magnificent and great and you will forget all about that cover. Interior art is crisp and there are a few limited color pages within as well. Hagio Moto’s artwork is stellar with moments were it is incredibly 70s (like the eye glints) but with an overall timeless quality to it. Good page layout rounds out this classic release.
Set at a boys boarding school in Germany, the story starts in grim fashion with the suicide of a young man named Thomas. The next day a letter is delivered to the boy he was in love with, Juli, and just a few more days later a new student who bears a striking resemblance to Thomas appears. All of these things bear down on Juli who is harboring a secret and just can’t seem to move past it or Thomas’s death.
The complexities of the relationships in the series making it outstanding . Juli’s relationship with his past, Oskar’s relationship with his father, Erik’s with his mother. And then all the friendships and love that surround it all, everyone is dealing with a lot of emotions.
All the boys at the school have their demons to grapple with. And despite the ominous tone of the first half or so of the manga, characters are able to grow and move through these things leading a positive if not a happily ever after ending. I really thought it was going to all end in tragedy and I don’t think I would have enjoyed that.
I feel really grateful that I was finally able to experience this seminal manga.
I can’t say I am ever exactly sure what to expect from Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic. I am still fairly in the middle of the road on the show even after watch episodes 8 through 11 but I do have to say it keeps itself from being complete formula shonen action. But for all the surprising little differences it has this last batch had one thing I could not have ever expected to be touched upon in a shonen fighting anime. Magi decided to touch upon the economics of large-scale debt, monetary politics, and shady investment baking. It’s not exactly Spice and Wolf levels but it sort of threw me off guard that it was a plot element at all.
My roommate and I agree that the greatest obstacle any of the characters in this series need to overcome is not trapped dungeons, vile monsters, or enemy sorcerers. It is the fact that they tend to make some very odd principled decisions and then stick with them no matter what evidence is thrown at them until the last conceivable second. Morgiana spends forever getting over her slave mentality and it is a refreshing end to the aggravation when she finally through off those mental shackles. I wanted to like her right off the bat with her cool fighting style and shapely curves but they make it really hard.
So you figure it is the standard shonen prejudice against women. But Alibaba is just as bad with his fanatical devotion to his old friend Kassim who is repeatedly shown not to be acting in his best interest. I know they were childhood friends and that Alibaba has distinct guilt issues but man oh man. He seems determined to believe this guy has a white knight until the bitterest of bitter ends. Normally I don’t mind such things but it seems more out of an almost silly naivete more than some insight into his former friend’s true character.
I think I might have dropped Magi but my roommate will throw it on in the living room which then makes it simpler to watch than to ignore. Still the series keep wandering into this realm where I want to like it more. It has a unique setting, some interesting plot elements, and Morgiana being a wonderful mixture of sexy and competent. It just never reaches that vital stage where I love it. It just keeps dropping out one step before it can deliver the goods.
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 read the one-shot manga Shinobigoto by Nari Kusakawa. It is about a girl who is the reincarnation of one half of a lovers’ suicide. The girl was rescued and went on to marry another, while the boy died and hasn’t been able to move on. She meets his ghost and she starts to remember the past and her heart.
As you might imagine it is a rather sad little story with a melancholy ending.
Someone finally got around to translating Colorful Hayate no Gotoku! and I could not be happier. These are full color 4-koma strips with random Hayate characters. It seems to be a little dumping ground for jokes and stories that are not strong enough to be whole chapters but work excellently as little asides. It is great to see silly dropped story lines like Fumi’s strange trip to India (plus it helped keep Fumi out of the main storyline). Also the more Isumi the better. But these comics made me realize two things.
One there is not enough Linn Regiostar in the manga as a whole. Akiba’s “Lord British” has an amazing if horrible charm that is not used nearly enough in the series. I would read a whole arc just about the jerky otaku ghost priest being a jerk.
The second is the greatest tragedy in Hayate is not the main character being sold by his parents to the yakuza or Athena’s back story. The saddest part of the manga is that Nagi’s mother is dead before the manga begins. She is always amazing in flashbacks. Her “unique” interpretation of the Three Little Pigs was the best part of Colorful hands down. Also it explains much about Nagi’s storytelling style as well.
Also I would buy a poster that was just Nagi with the french bread beam saber. It is amazingly adorable.
The plan was to finish up Fullmetal Alchemist (eps. 31-51)before the new episode of The Speakeasy comes out, and when you hear it you’ll understand why, so that is just what I did!
I was really impressed that the series began setting up its final confrontation 10+ episodes before the end. Though really once I watched it all, it was clear they’d been setting it up since the first story as well.
The actual ending was lovely and surprising and lovely again. I couldn’t have guessed even half of it, but it all played out so well. I was certainly left with a melancholy feeling but also a bit of hope.
Fullmetal Alchemist is one of those shows that deserves every bit of the praise its gotten. It really earned its reputation and I will not soon forget this show.
And last but certainly not least was the fact that I was able to get my hands on a copy of Type Moon Ace 8. There had been some scans running around of small selections but I was finally able to see the real deal. Unsurprisingly with the release of Fate/Stay Night for the Vita the front article was a big old lover letter to Fate/Stay Night. I was a little surprised hardly anything but a passing mention was given to Fate/Hollow Ataraxia but such is the fate of poor Bazett.
There was a huge article on Fate/Extra CCC with some sexy pictures. This might truly be the seinen to the original’s shonen. I am always amused that in the game Gilgamesh is now just the Gilgamesh class. That is just how he rolls.
There were also some juicy articles on the Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya anime, the Einzbern Consultation Room, and Fate/Prototype art book. But the crowning bit of frustration was all the information from the recently released Fate/Apocrypha light novel. A little surprised they did not have any picture of daisy-dukes Mordred. She seems like someone who would be a big selling point for the series. There were also the new Tsukihime designs which I posted a previous APB, the bizarre Miyako Arima manga, and some Mahou Tsukai no Yoru information as well.
I am also very curious about what I see of Fire Girl. It looks interesting enough but I wish I knew more about it. What I do know is that Ameno is both a golem and a thief (and a cutie) so I am willing to wait to learn what the series is about. But it is by Meteo Hoshizora so I might eventually learn to regret saying that after I go down a strange psychosexual rabbit hole to the insanity of enlightenment. Oh and there were a bunch of comics and more Type-Moon Mobile Site girls material. I swear it seems like they constantly add new girls but all you ever really see are Chikagi Katsuragi and Hibiki Hibino.
I have to say that Type Moon Ace is an amazingly devious tool that tricks you into thinking you are learning about the Type-Moon Universe when it is secretly just reading a very well made sales catalog. Still knowing that I loved every page. Because that is how Type-Moon fandom works.
Well played once again Takashi Takeuchi.