Ongoing Investigations: Case #224

narutaki_icon_4040 Hey everyone, did you know that the Axe Cop cartoon is now on? I have been looking forward to this ever since it was teased. With eps. 1-2 you get a great sampling of what you’re in for if for some inexplicable reason you have never read the comic.

The opening of the show gives you a very quick rundown of how Axe Cop became Axe Cop, a perfectly necessary thing to do. What elevates it is the kid narrating, who may very well be writer Ethan Nicolle, giving just the right amount of gravitas to the premise. So already each and every episode starts off on the right foot.

Axe Cop’s voice is perfect and the delivery of the absurd dialogue is spot on. The animators capture the world of Axe Cop quite well and they have a good idea for funny background details.

The stories so far are an amalgam of what has been in the comic but put together in different ways to create semi-new insane tales with different interactions and jokes. Flute Cop’s role comes off as the most changed as he is a straight man to the wackiness often times. I hope that he turns into Dinosaur Soldier in an upcoming episode.

This show is a perfect fit for Fox’s animation block.

hisui_icon_4040 If there is one thing you cannot accuse Axe Cop of it is a slavish devotion to the conventional narrative structures we all know. I mean there is some semblance of your standard plot. It is not Ulysses or Gravity’s Rainbow here. (Somewhere a literature major threw up inside their mouth when I put Axe Cop in the same paragraph as those two books. But they are a literature major … so no one cares.) It is just a show that hops from plot point to plot point with an extremely stream of consciousness sense of progression.

That actually makes sense since Axe Cop in the creation of the adult Ethan Nicolle, who does the art, and his young son who is the writer. Is it theoretically about a cop who has an axe that fights crime. It is actually about the strange adventures of testosterone laden Gary Stu who goes around being a man’s man in a way that would make Brock Samson and Golgo 13 look like the forgotten members of the Golden Girls. That means he kills zombies, ninjas, dinosaurs, and the King of all Bad Guys with extreme violence and kid logic.

And that is the selling point of the series. When Bat Warthog Man’s friends are all eaten by the King of All Bad Guys it is up to Axe Cop to assemble a team so he can blow a horn inside the huge villains head. This lets dinosaurs can eat the villain’s brain. Mr T, a dinosaur rental store, scatological humor, and giant chicken bodied generalissimos get involved along the way. And that is the first episode. The second episode has super intelligent poop as a villain. Also we learn that Axe Cop is too cool to defecate like normal people.

I think the real question comes down to  how does this compare to the original comic. The original comic just feels tighter. Things just HAPPEN. But since it is all centered around one page stories so it just feels odd organic despite its almost absurdest nature. With 11 minutes to fill they try to keep that same vibe while centering everything around an actual plot structure. In a way that loses a bit of the original’s charm. Not enough to kill the momentum but enough to make one a clear winner.

Also at 11 minute half episodes this still works but if they take these plots and try to make them half an hour episodes they are just going to meander most of the time. Maybe two 11 minute half episodes in each episode would work but full episodes would stretch the premise too thin. Also something makes me roll my eyes at the thought of Axe Cop episodes trying to have B plots.

Also despite what Naruatki says the real reasons she likes this so much is because they often involve dinosaurs in the comic. It really makes you think how badly Terra Nova had to botch things up for her not to like that series.

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_icon_4040 I was happy to read the first chapter of Yellow Tanabe’s new series Birdmen. The first chapter only hints at things to come in the background which was a surprising approach. Instead of jumping into the mysterious elements of the series, the first installment focuses on the odd personalities and friendship of our two leading guys.

Eishi is angry at the world and resentful of those around him. He very much sees others as “sheeple” who can’t see through media manipulation and the like. This sort of stereotypical nerd attitude of believing one is smarter than everyone was one I haven’t seen that often in manga. But as much as he feigns disinterest he is still thinking about how people perceive him which felt authentic.

His best friend Mikisada actually doesn’t seem to care too much what others think. His menacing appearance ensures that he is simultaneously left alone and bothered on a daily basis. I don’t quite know what to make of him yet but I enjoyed his attitude and voice.

I could definitely see a brains and brawny relationship between these two which I hope is what the story is going for.

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hisui_icon_4040 So going from the total fantasy humor plots of Axe Cop to the ultra mundane comedy of Turning Girls. I checked out this series because whenever a new episode came out my Twitter feed was just filled with people talking about the show. Since it is a five-minute ONA streaming on You Tube it was no real skin off my back to watch the episodes.

Turning Girls is from Anime Bancho. Most people know them as the guys who make Inferno Cop which we have talked about in the past. These little animations are totally done on the cheap with a minimal budget so they really have to rely on the writing to do anything. But unlike Inferno Cop that goes for the crazy jokes this series relies on the humor of awkwardness. (Also Axe Cop & Inferno Cop is really just an East/West team up waiting to happen.)

These are little stories about four women in their late 20s who are each really sad in their own special ways. Nana is super cute but utterly dopey, Chiwa is the bespectacled fujoshi office lady, Kia is a visual kei fan who (usually) keeps it on the down low, and then there is Kaeru. She is a wannabe idol … with a frog theme. She is a microcosm of pathetic and awkward in a way different from to but equal to Tomoko Kuroki from WataMote.

All the episodes focus on one girl and why she is really sort of a schadenfreude magnet at this turning point in her life. But in a super lighthearted manner. The first episode is an introduction to the group as Kaeru crashes a group date and stinks up the place with her hyper-saccharine idol girl shtick as she continually tries to grab the center of attention that just makes everyone ditch her like a person trying to sell timeshares.

The episode around Chiwa that has her shipping everything and anything in her office might actually hit closer to home for most people than anything else in the series. Also her imagining the love affair between the hot and cold coffee was sort of amazing. Kia is usually the most normal one until they you see her in full on psycho cosplay. Then the true horror of the hardcore visual kei fan in unveiled. Nana is mostly an object lesson in passive aggressive resentment and the casual cruelty of the oblivious.  And Kaeru is Kaeru. The sheer embarrassment caused by her live streaming in her room at her parent’s house is almost transcendent.

Turning Girls is worth watching if for nothing else you can see the whole series in one sitting and not even break a sweat. It is just so happy in how in pokes fun at modern tropes about young ladies. It easily could have come off as acidic and bitter. But there is something so very earnest about its pointed social commentary that just makes it fun.

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narutaki_icon_4040 Our group of four burned through Kirby’s Return to Dreamland in epic multiplayer mode.

I took up the mantle of Meta Knight!

Playing with four people sort of leaves strategy at the curb. Overall, the game becomes an insane brawl at lightning speed and is generally quite easy to conquer. But the ease of the game is fine because it is a ton of fun.

As with Super Mario Bros. Wii, there were some problems of people bumping into each other or accidentally dropping others into pits. The game at least allowed for characters to be transported, instead of being killed, if Kirby moved quickly through a level and you suddenly found yourself off screen.

While the game generally creates a good multiplayer experience, everyone else is really a backup to Kirby since he is the only one who can swallow items and change his abilities. Theoretically, everyone could play as Kirby I suppose, but it would be insanely confusing despite color distinctions.

This is actually the first Kirby game I’ve ever played, and it was a fast-paced blast!

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hisui_icon_4040 I got a few really cool presents this year for my birthday. One of them was Saber in a race car. But it being Saber in a race car it will get its own post. Because I am horribly indulgent that way. An equally cool but less Saber related gift was the Master Keaton Zoology art book.

Despite Naoki Urasawa having a strong amount of critical praise a mixture of factors have prevented Master Keaton from ever getting licensed in English and will probably keep it this way for any time in the foreseeable future.  But I have always enjoyed the series so getting little treasures like this are always nice. This book is a collection of original stories involving Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, some case, and an animal. You have everything from cats and chameleons to jellyfish and sharks. Since Taichi’s father is a zoologist this theme does not come out of nowhere although Taihei only shows up in less than half of the thirteen stories. Each chapter ends with a little essay on the animal in the story as well.

All the manga pages are in full color which in itself is a nice treat. But since the book is selling the animals involved as much as Keaton it makes sense to go all out like that when presenting a wide variety of living creatures both common and exotic.

I would really love to get a translation of the stories in here. Since the title is so unlikely to be picked up I don’t really feel bad asking for this to be scanned. In fact if someone is willing to do the grunt translation I am will to put up the scans.

Just to let people know.

Wink.

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