Ongoing Investigations: Case #225

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hisui_icon_4040 I recently got my hands on the Tsukihime Plus Period art book so I might as well discuss it on the blog. Not exactly sure we I have forgotten to talk about it here but the more important thing is that I correct that error. It helps fill in the gap in my collection as it is one of the more important Tsukihime art books. (For SOME unknown reason I mostly seem to have Fate/Stay Night art books.) Also the only other Tsukihime art book I have is Colorful Moon which is much more a fan book than something official like Plus Period.

Tsukihime came out in December 2000 and Plus Period was released in October of 2004. You can easily see that Takashi Takeuchi‘s art style has changed over the course of those four years just by this book alone. Since this has art from everything from Kara no Kyoukai to Melty Blood Re-ACT you can see his art improve by leaps and bounds. Early Arc and the Melty Blood Arc are not two entirely different characters but at the same time she is not the same character when viewed side by side. The book is valuable just for that look into Type-Moon in of itself. Also the path leading up to the current designs in the Tsukihime remake seems much less jarring when you see the shift between the original game, to Melty Blood, and now to the new look.

Like the later Complete Material books for the Fate franchise there is a good mixture of design art, promotional art, interviews, and new material. But I think there is also a lot more that shows that Type-Moon was a bit more in the doujinshi mindset than their more serious and corporate mode today. (Not that that have totally lost that spirit but they are much more professional now a days.)  There are a lot more silly comics, amateur works, and just rough but vibrant pieces. The whole section on Kara no Kyoukai while having a distinct and important connection to Tsukihime also has a much more amateur feeling. The whole Curry de Marche story might still happen today but it would have a different polish to it. It feels very raw in this art book.

There is still a good deal of valuable information as well. It has material from Tsukihime, Kagetsu Tohya, and Melty Blood all in the same place. We see off handily mentioned but never seen before characters like Riesbyfe and Kiri Nanaya. The Talk story also gives interesting insights into what a Tsukihime 2 might have contained (or should I say might contain in the future.) As always there is a wealth of information in the interviews that feels so close but so far away. I would love a translated version of those interviews. We have nice snippets of them but something in an official book would be more real to me.

There are a few rough sketches with Takeuchi trying to draw the main cast with a far more “realistic” style which was interesting. There is also a weird page or two where everyone is drawn like super creepy ball joint dolls (aka ball joint dolls). If anyone knows my hardline stance on ball joint dolls they will know my feelings about those pages (No me gusta.)

Random doujinshi idea inspired by the book: Akari Fujisaki from Hikaru no Go accidentally becomes the head of the Back Alley Alliance and no one notices it is not Satsuki Yumizuka.

If nothing else the book really makes me want to go back and play Tsukihime again. It also makes me chomp at the bit for Mahoutsukai no Yoru. Thankfully that is much closer to completion than the last time I checked. The world needs more of the vibrant Aoko Aozaki.

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narutaki_icon_4040 Curses Foiled Again is the sequel to the delightful Foiled by Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallero. And from the looks of the ending, there may be more books in the future.

Aliera’s new-found powers as the Defender of the Faerie are one’s she’d rather forget as the real world continually gets weirder as more and more of the fairy realm becomes apparent. Trying to ignore things of course only makes things worse culminating when Caroline, Aliera’s cousin, gets kidnapped.

Some of the greatest moments of the book are when Aliera and Avery are imprisoned in the Troll realm. The lead up is just hilarious and speaks to New Yorkers decidedly ignoring weird things going on around them. The artwork hits full gear in these scenes especially our would-be heroes escape. The lighting and paneling during their subsequent path through the caverns add such atmosphere to the moments.

I felt this book didn’t push the character development too much which left me feeling a little unemotional to things happening. Still, it was a fun installment and like I said there seems to be more planned. I’d be interested to see more of Caroline in possible future volumes.

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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hisui_icon_4040 My old college friend Eric Ma recently took a refreshing vacation to Korea. While he was there he randomly stumbled upon an official Bandai Gunpla convention. Being a friend of the blog he put his scheduled vacation plans on hold to stop in for a few hours and pick me up some items. (He is a mecha fan so this is not the TOTAL sacrifice it might seem at first.)

He brought me back the main catalog for the event as well as a Gunpla themed fan. Apparently fans were nigh ubiquitous as a advertising tool in Seoul. I will say it is fun to fan myself with a gunpla fan in these dog days of summer. My next mission is to use it to cover my mouth when I do an ojousama laugh.

The books itself is not really worth a whole article. But it is perfect for a spot in the Ongoing Investigations just for its insights into gunpla in general.

First of all the book begins with some basic intro to Gunpla. All of that uses some variation of the RX-78-2 Gundam as the example. It still goes to show that no matter what else has come out since then the original Gundam is still the most iconic.

Then they have the AGE stuff. And then they move on quickly. If that does not sum up Bandai and the fans reaction to AGE I don’t know what does. It is a shame that series landed on its face after have a decent amount of promise. Then they have some real spreads for Unicorn and SEED. They throw in some plugs for the anime as well.

The bulk of the book past that point is UC UC UC. Any other Gundam series despite have new kits coming out is almost always tacked on at the end as a “Oh and these also exist.” It is clear that 00 and Wing still exist in the minds of Bandai but mostly as an after thought. G, Turn A, and X don’t even get a casual nod. And we won’t even pretend like they remember Victory. (Yes. Victory is technically UC but only semantically.)

Oh and there are several pages devoted just to the BB Senshi Sangokuden kits. I did not realize super deformed Gundams in the Three Kingdoms was so popular but I was not surprised. I just thought it was worth noting.

Past that point where is a time line of Gundam as a whole, ads for kit accessories, and a plug for Gundam.info and Gundam manga and books.  Also apparently there is a chain of Gundam stores in Korea called The Gundam base which each of the 5 stores having a side designation. Oh and one main store just called “The Gundam Zone.”

You can read all about Eric’s trip to Korea at his site, Super Amazing Number One.

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narutaki_icon_4040 I played my first iOS game, courtesy of a friend’s iPad. It should come as no surprise that said first game was Disney related, Where’s My Mickey? It is a cute little game where Mickey is trying to make lemonade for the many patrons of a boardwalk near the beach, but he has run out of water. Thus you are tasked with getting some using either digging or rain clouds or various other things depending on the level.

The mechanics are super simple. You are only moving the water around which can have an affect on things. For example, you can dig a whole under the water which will cause it to go into a hose which squirts it out and into a cloud which you can squeeze and it rains out. In later levels there are things like moving independently objects or wind to consider, too.

It is basically an obstacle-course type game in which you have to get the water from one part of the screen to the other. As the levels continue, the get increasing more complicated in how many steps ahead you have to think. The game never gets particularly hard however; the most I had to go restart at level was twice.

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hisui_icon_4040 There has been a recent flurry of translated Hana no Miyako! chapters and so I am obligated and enthusiastic as Type Moon fan #1 to talk about these new chapters.

Now that the the balance of power has been disturbed with Miyako giving Shiki the golden badge she won. Most of the high ranking members of the student council know what went down or at least suspect that Shiki is not the one who took down Mitsuzuri. So while the single outside witness Ami Kuzuki tries to provoke Miyako into showing her true power other people like Maria Sokaris are begging to suspect what went down as well.

This leads Miyako to reluctantly joining the oddball Akido Club just to avoid a fight with Kuzuki. But eventually Maria starts to harass Shiki into either revealing who actually beat Mitsuzuri or at least luring out who did. At the end of the 7th chapter it looks like Miyako is finally going to show people what she can do, but a bit of a fake out would not surprise me. Miyako has done a good job so far of pretending to be weak.

Also did I mention it seems like Miyako is secretly some sort of yankii or yakuza queen? That is awesome.

We also see that apparently Maria Sokaris is this world’s Sion complete with monofilament wire, the ability to split her mental processes, and a skill at making predictive forecasts in fights.  If Ami Kuzuki has a counterpart in the regular Type-Moon universe I have yet to recognize it. I can’t think of anyone with an eye-patch in the regular cast of the Nasuverse. She sort of has a Lancer personality but nothing in her fighting style clearly says Cú Chulainn.

Although only mentioned indirectly there is an Camelot Academy with an Arturia. So that means the Hana no Miyako! version of Saber will eventually appear. I am slightly excited for that. She can also join the huge list of Saber variants I have started.

So with maybe the first real fight on its way and Saber somewhere on the horizon I hope the pace of translation of this manga stays at a this steady rate.

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narutaki_icon_4040 Although Elysium slipped my mind for quite a long while, I saw a movie poster for it so luckily was ready to pounce once it was out. The draw here was it being from the District 9 director.

The setup it fairly classic, the upper clean world and the polluted lower world. The Earth is a mess of disease, poverty, and over-population with a collapse of the government social net; it has been cut off from Elysium’s technology which can cure people in a matter of moments. The business men of Elysium use Earth’s population as an ever compliant and disposable workforce.

Elysium is a place Max has dreamed of since he was a child. Max, now a working adult and ex-con, has lost such a dream in the daily trudge of living on Earth. But after an accident at work, he is re-energized to get to the unattainable perfection of Elysium by any means necessary. Max’s childish dream turns into a desperate mission.

I liked the reflection on social structures and corporations, honestly it didn’t feel that far from what is possible given the current climate of things. This is the type of thing I knew Neill Blomkamp could do well. The harsh realities of Earth life are depicted with certainty, with a look into the future.

In the case of Max’s narrative however, it felt like all of the characters existed in terms of Max’s mission/life. Almost no one was independently interesting, and, with the exception of Frey, no one felt like they had motivation beyond helping/hindering Max.

The ending was almost fairytale like which surprised me. I think it probably should have hit a little lower with the feeling that change was possible but not really achieved yet.

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