I finished up Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones much more quickly than the first GBA game. I can attribute it to a couple of things, loving the character relationships more and finally getting a handle on how the game is played. Plus, the first was 30 chapters while this was only 20.
But I actually think the game was easier than the first, too. I don’t think I have gotten that much better, and yet I was able to beat many chapters in just one go.
I loved that I was able to build up Eirika as a badass fighter who was not overshadowed in the story by her warrior brother. And of course she marries General Seth in the end.
I was disappointed that some of the relationships I worked on building up to A rank did not result in the characters getting a combined ending.
With our new SWAT Reviews already started this season I decided to make all my Ongoing Investigations about series that just finished up this week. Now the one person who regularly reads this to figure out what to watch from last season will have a better idea of what to do.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet was a solid show. It was nice to see an original science fiction setting with mecha that generally made everyone happy. I think there were a good deal of people who were hoping for more or something grander. But making everyone generally happy as opposed to ecstatic is a fairly admirable and seemingly unobtainable accomlishment. The pacing in the middle could have been stronger. I know that two episodes that were mostly slice of life with fan service scenes in them hardly did anything to win over people who wanted more robot action, world building, or character growth. Well those episodes had a bit of the last two things but Belly Dancing Amy made some people forget that. In their defense it did seem a little gratuitous despite having a strong emotional pay off at the end.
People were expected a Tomino level bloodbath but overall other than a one major death it seems like we don’t loose anyone that important. I guess that shows that the Urobutcher was really only involved with the first and last episodes. Or maybe just maybe writers can do things outside of what the fandom expects them to do. But that is just crazy talk.
I think the most common complaint was “When the fudge did they decide to make the Pirate Queen Lukkage a plot important character?” She went from a one-off villain to important side character really out of nowhere. This is not One Piece and she is not Buggy the Clown. I did not have a major problem with her but she did seem to come back to prominence for no real reason other than her two flotation devices (and I’m not talking about the ones attached to her Lobster Yunboro.)
The question a lot of people seem to be asking is should there be more Gargantia? It has a distinct ending that has no major or dire cliff hangers. But at the same time there are a good deal of elements that could be developed into news shows if they wanted them to be. In a way that is probably the best way to end a series you want to continue. It makes people excited when they hear about a new series but not bitter until that announcement. So I hope to see more of this setting but I am satisfied it that is all there is to this tale.
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.
Like most people, I picked up Saga vol. 2 as soon as it was out.
Last we saw, our band of misfits were blasting off in a tree spaceship when Marko’s parents show up. There is a lot of the family drama in this arc of the story as Alana and Marko have a little reuniting to do with her new parents-in-law. I like how Marko’s parents surprised me in their roles as parents, as grandparents, and in their relationship with each other, too. The family aspect really keeps this series fresh.
But I have to admit to loving everything involving The Will and Lying Cat just a little bit more.
Gwendolyne is a wild card that I love.
I’m picking this up monthly once the next arc starts, I simply can’t wait.
The ending of Hayate the Combat Butler! Cuties should definitively prove how the main manga series is going to end ONCE AND FOR ALL. At this point and without having Hata walk out and say, “Look man. Hayate and Nagi are going to end up together. <Puts on Shades> Just deal with it.” I think their kiss and how it is framed would be the magical bullet by itself. The fact that Nagi’s mother, Nagi’s Father, and Hayate’s Grandmother are all pulling for their relationship from beyond the grave is also fairly compelling evidence as well. You can still prefer your Hina, Athena, Izumi, or whoever pairings. You just have to realize they are unobtainable ships and move on with your lives. Because the sheer amount on denial I have seen is almost impressive. Tables are going to be FLIPPED when this series ends. Mark my words.
With that small editorial out-of-the-way let us discuss Cuties proper. The odd thing about the Hayate anime and manga is that since the first season they have tinkered with the timeline between the two versions. They did quite a bit of moving things around to introduce Hinagiku sooner when they realized she was crazy popular. After that point the anime has always been in its own when it comes to what happens when. Ever since then the anime has sort of jumped around and adapted what ever it wanted even jumping ahead in the story with Heaven Is a Place on Earth and to go as far as introducing Kayura before the manga. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You then adapted the story of the Black Camellia and the fate of Nagi’s Father which I don’t think is going anywhere in the manga but has clearly become canon.
So now Cuties is the most unstuck entry. It mostly adapts random one-off chapters centered around different girls (and Hayate) in the show. Most of these little self-contained stories are not enough for a full episode so they put together 3 or 4 small stories instead of trying to tease a single chapter story into a whole episode (which would have been dreadful). That means that some of the stories have to be heavily modified to either remove plot elements that have never been introduced into the anime like Yozora Housen. At the same time they also have to change situations since some of these stories take place in the manga while Nagi is still living in the apartments but in the anime she is back at the main mansion. Sadly most of the changes are cosmetic so they don’t add a good deal to the series. I was hoping if nothing else some of the changes would add an inventive twist to the original stories.
But the last two episodes are essentially an epilogue to Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. It is a silly story about the Black Camellia and the Tanuki telling Hayate that he has to kiss a girl before midnight or something terrible will happen to Nagi. So of course he runs around and gets into trouble. The most interesting part is that they tell the story out-of-order so it jumps around in whats happening for 2 episodes. Overall I wish they had made this story 1 episode and maybe added in another anthology episode about Wataru and Saki or Yukiji (although that might have been ratings poison.)
Still that ending made it all worthwhile. It smelled like . . . victory.
I picked up the second issue of the all-women team of X-Men. I feel the same about it as the first, I like the action and story but the personalities aren’t coming through as strongly as I’d like.
Rogue still rocked it. And this time Kitty got highlighted in a nice way. I really enjoy her interactions with the students so I was glad it came back to that at the end of the issue.
The rest of Chihayafuru season 2 (episodes 8- 23) is a metric ton of karuta. I know even some of the biggest fans of the series were commenting that it was a LOT of slapping cards to the 100 poets. As I mentioned in my Bamboo Blade Manga of the Month post the balance between the sport and the relationships is a delicate thing in any sport series. Chihayafuru tries its best to keep all things equal. They have Arata help out a team that is down a member participate against the rules that causes a lot of drama and his interaction with Shinobu in general build on both of them. The show does its best to show character growth and depth during matches. At least one character has something going on during the match internally and with their opponent. It is just that there is not a lot of down time for the most part. It is those little breaks in between matches that tend to let things decompress. The thing is that never really happen for any extended period of time in this arc. But that is the common trap of any the final matches in a sports series.
In the end it is FAR more frustrating to go on too long with random side stuff during the climactic matches than too little. I marathoned the last episodes and that helped a little. Other might just see that an endless karuta slog. Your mileage may vary.
As much as a just made fun of all the Hinagiku fans I am totally on a doomed ship with my rooting for Chihaya and Arata. That is as likely as winning the lottery twice in a row. But at least I have the good sense to know that it is just not going to happen. But man oh man the Taichi fans are fierce. They love they kid. I still think he is a jerk and spoiled but I guess he has the whole woobie thing going on.
It is nice to see a josei sports series have such a fierce fan following. Those are two genres that separately have a hard time finding fans let alone combined in a super niche genre. I am amused that despite the vocal following no one has licensed the manga. I’m sure that the popularity of Chihayafuru in Japan combined with its sales poison elements have kept anyone from taking a chance on the series. It does seem like one of the series that would have a tremendous amount of great reviews but horrible sales. Until then fans will just have to hope that there is a third season of the anime.
That was the fate of Nodame Cantabile and the parallels between the two series are not that hard to see.