Ongoing Investigations: Case #228

narutaki_icon_4040 The Legend of Korra from Nickelodeon Studios returns! I had been actively avoiding all the preview clips and such before the actual release of the show. The double-episode premier moved at a very quick pace (which I’m feeling currently neutral about) and we saw the gang head off to the South Pole.

I liked that the show carried over Korra and Tenzin’s rocky student-mentor relationship. There was growth for both of them but that doesn’t mean things are all peace after the first season. The same can be said of Korra’s feelings towards her father. It is very clear that Korra feels like rebelling and that is only compounded, quite understandably, after some secrets are revealed about the past. I have a feeling more and more secrets are going to be dropped this season.

Korra’s uncle is so transparently evil that I hope they surprise us with his story and training of Korra. I would like to find out that he truly does have a positive connection with the spirits but his zealous attitude has taken things too far. I don’t want to see Korra get used but at the same time her impatient attitude has to catch up with her if we’re too see major changes for her.

I’m really curious to see Kya’s story!

Needs more Asami. Needs more Naga.

hisui_icon_4040 While the end of the first season of the The Legend of Korra suffered a bit then it tried with breakneck speed to tie up any and all loose ends before it ended I enjoyed the experience greatly. So I looked forward to see what would happen with the 2 episode hour-long special of the second season entitled Spirits. The first season was an extremely self-contained story, as it was originally supposed to be the only season, so one of the main questions was where they would go from the previous conclusion.

In many way the new season starts with everyone rather settled into the calm after the defeat of Amon. Some people are doing well like Mako and Korra while others are struggling to stay aloft like Asami and Bolin. But none of them are really worried about major world events or dire problems. All their current projects are personal but not necessarily trivial.

Korra is the most lackadaisical of the cast. Having learned the basics of air bending and touching her spiritual side she seems to have adapted an attitude of, “I got this.” Tenzin wishes to continue deeper into the spiritual side of air bending but Korra is all out of cares in her caring pouch. But before Tenzin can take her on a tour of the Air temples for a journey of self discovery and spiritual awakening as a compromise they agree to go to a festival at the South Pole first.

It should be clear from the title of the season that while Korra has gotten a good feel of the physicality of being the Avatar now the she can use all four elements she has only really taken a single step on the path of the world outside the material. When she encounters hostile spirits she can throw a good deal of damage their way but the subtleties unique to dealing with the immaterial is a complete unknown to her.

At the same time she is also dealing with her father and uncle. Her father is a well-meaning guy but is clearly someone who has made several poor decisions in his life. It is interesting in the fact that the bad things that happened to him  were not just misfortunes beyond his control but disastrous decisions that either came from poor judgement or an overprotective nature. Tonraq is clearly not a bad guy but someone who clearly flawed while trying to do the right thing. Her uncle, Unalaq, on the other hand is a well-informed and spiritual man. He clearly understands the world of the unseen and the proper rituals to deal with it. At the same time he seems inflexible in his beliefs. He is definitely the type to burn a village in order to save it without a second thought.

I am slightly tempted to ask my RPG group to watch this season if for nothing else they just started a storyline in-game that is dealing with spirits so it seems extremely relevant.

The episode ends well with a strong hook for the season. It shows the direction ion which a majority of the plot is going to revolve around at least for the time being if not the rest of the season. I’m glad to see a storyline that could be as interesting as the Equalist storyline from last year. There is also a major emphasis on the original progenitor of the Avatar concept as well. I am curious to see how his origin will tie into the larger story.

So far I like how the first season is going.  The last season was almost exclusively set in Republic City. This season seems to be focusing on the North and South Pole with the distinct possibility of doing some globetrotting to the mundane and spirit world as well. We have already seen that the Water Tribes have advanced since we last saw them as well as the Air country has begun to reform if they don’t really have any benders beyond Tenzin’s family. That exploration of the world alone should make this season worth watching.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

sep-manga

narutaki_icon_4040 I read the short manga collection Danza from Natsume Ono. All of the stories deal with different a familial relationships from parents and children all the way to the fraternity of police officers.

The standout story from my mind was Smoke about two brothers stuck together after an earthquake collapses a building they are in. That sounds really dire but the story itself is really about the resentment between the two of them. It strikes a wonderful balance between how each of them see the other.

Natumse Ono’s ageless and simple figures in Danza add such a different dimension to the stories she tells. All the characters emotions come across so easily.

sep-liveaction

hisui_icon_4040 After waiting around for it to play at an anime convention I was attending I finally decided to just watch the  Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney live action movie on my own. I have to admit it is an intriguing mix. Director Takashi Miike combined with the Ace Attorney series. Miike has directed projects like the Yatterman movie and the MPD Psycho TV series so he is hardly unfamiliar with adapting anime and manga. Therefore his work on a video games series with distinct anime influences fits in this overall body of work.

Have you ever watched any of those Gundam compilation movies not including the original trilogy? They have a nasty habit of focusing of key scenes at the cost of a good deal nuance, characterization, and story. On a certain level the Phoenix Wright has the same feel and other times it avoid it skillfully. It is not the utter incomprehensible mess of the Turn A Gundam or Unlimited Blade Works movies that just leave you scratching your head if you have not seen the original but it is also not tightly reworked summary like the Fang of the Sun Dougram or Galaxy Express 999 movies.  It is not the worst adaptation but I think it could have been better. But the real question is why do I think that.

The original Phoenix Wright game had four cases (The DS remake had a sizable fifth case but we will ignore that.) The four stories interlocked to build a complete story. Technically the third case could be removed and other than some characterization and background information nothing would really be lost. But that leaves three vital connected stories.  The movie focuses on the last story which is smart as it is the story that has the most twists and turns plus the final cathartic resolution. But they felt the need to throw all four cases in the movie in one fashion or another. Since Phoenix Wright is much like a visual novel that is a lot of story to condense. That means the first and third cases basically get cameo appearances and the second and fourth case are greatly truncated but fully seen.

We see the end of The First Turnabout as the movies begins. Turnabout Samurai amusingly enough becomes an Miles Edgeworth trail which we also only see the end of. Turnabout Sisters is stripped to its bare essentials with some major modifications. Turnabout Goodbyes is probably the most unadulterated of the four cases and even then it requires some major edits and omissions. One the positive side all the cases at least get lip service. They also hit all the major dramatic twists of the second and fourth cases. On the other hand we only see the last moments of the first and third cases. Also a good deal of the flow and meat of the second and fourth cases just has to be jettisoned to fit in the time constraints. At times it feels more like a highlight reel than the case itself.

Part of me feels they should have just adapted Turnabout Goodbyes into a self-contained story. It would require some major modification of the original story but I think it would be possible. There is a distinct chance that it could go horribly wrong but if done right it would have given the movie a much more streamlined feel. But it is easy for me to say that as a backseat driver. I only have a vague idea of how I would write such a script and I also don’t have to deal with Capcom executives or picky fans each of which could have serious problems with cases being left out or heavily modified. The current version tried to be as faithful to the overall experience of the game as the time allows. Clearly the only way to adapt all four cases without major changes would have been to make it three movies but that seems rather ambitious and somewhat overkill.

Also the characterization is compressed as well. Phoenix Wright comes off the best. You get the full range of his character as both a nervous rookie, a noble blunderer, and a hidden and insightful tiger. A good use of a lot of nonverbal storytelling. The way he plays with his papers or works through problems out in his head with active body language do a lot to give you a feel of the character without anyone saying a word about him. Larry Butz also comes off pretty well. You might not get his bad luck with gorgeous women but you get the fact he is a lovable loser with a bit of a troublesome aura. Miles Edgeworth feels more like a sketch of his original character. You get the peaks and valleys of transformation but sort of everything in the middle that made him more well-rounded it sort of jettisoned. Maya Fey is probably the most changed character. She mostly just comes off as gloomy gus as opposed to the energetic firecracker she is in the games most of the time. They mention that side of her exists but you don’t see it that much.

Also what was up that fur coat they always have her wearing?

I must say that having Takashi Miike at the helm was not all for naught. The huge vid screen system that the courts have done a good job of taking a lot of the game mechanics and translating them to a visual medium in a way that does not scream “THIS WAS A GAME FIRST” while still retaining a lot of the great elements from the game. Also any of the scenes with Kurain channeling really have an off-putting supernatural feel they don’t have in the original game. Also some of the scenes like Red white being poisoned or the criminals breakdowns have a good artistic bent to them.

I will say that I did notice Miike’s comedy is a bit odd. He will do really anime style gags with a weird dry wit that I also remember in the Yatterman movie. It is not like when a lot of other Japanese live action properties do anime style takes but it still feels weird. Just in a different way.

As much as I may have picked part the movie I did enjoy it. It went out of its way to remain faithful to the spirit of the games the best it could in the space allowed. A little more compromise could have helped the movie for new audiences but there was plenty for established fans to like. There were a good number of subtle and blatant tips of the hat to the hardcore. I just wonder how well this would resonate with viewers who are new to the series. If you have played the games the movie mixes things up a little to give you some new experiences but still has most of the major crescendos. People new to Phoenix Wright might not want to rush in so blindly.

sep-manga

narutaki_icon_4040 I finished up the main Alice in the Country of Hearts manga by Quin Rose and Soumei Hoshino.

I liked the setup of the world in the first omnibus but it never gets developed further. It isn’t really surprising that the story instead focuses on the many relationships in the series, but nevertheless I was still disappointed to not explore the world more. My disappointment may also stem from the fact that most of the relationships take a darker turn in omnibuses 2 and 3 which just wasn’t to my liking.

This series has so many spin-offs that I really wanted to find out what it was all about. That and the Alice in Wonderland-theme grabbed my attention. Unfortunately, the series didn’t hang on to my attention.

sep-manga

hisui_icon_4040 The Melty Blood X manga clearly written after the release of Melty Blood Actress Again as it has Riesbyfe Stridberg and Dust of Osiris in it. But instead of adapting the serious plot line of Actress Again this is a silly story from a drama CD set after the game. Ever since the original Melty Blood manga Kirishima Takeru has been just doing silly Melty Blood spinoffs and Hana no Miyako!.  Melty Blood X centers around the Back Alley Alliance with Sacchin being the Lonesome Loser. Oh and there is also a giant pyramid. And Kohaku (and that means trouble).

When Sion get tired of living like a bum on the street she offers to build a home for Satsuki Yumizuka, Riesbyfe, and herself. They soon discover that the construction project has gotten out of hand and a giant pyramid forming in the middle of the city. That soon draws the attention of Akiha, Arcueid, and of course Shiki Tohno. The Back Alley Alliance has to rush to the top of the pyramid to stop this phenomenon before it consumes the city and possibly the world. But wait! Are there other forces seeking to stop them? (spoilers: yes.) Is the morally ambiguous Broomstick Girl Magical Amber a friend or foe? (spoilers: yes.) Can anyone beat Ciel in a curry eating contest? (spoilers: only if they cheat) Will Sacchin die of embarrassment when she is shown to be a complete dork in front of Shiki? (Spoilers: No, but she will wish she could.) All these questions are more will be lightly touched upon in Melty Blood X.

While they are not Neco-Arc it seems the Back Alley Alliance is pretty much solely a fixture of the comedic side of the Tsukihime side of the universe at this point. Any for serious plot lines they had had are being ignored and now they mainly exists as a comedy trio and to inspire yuri doujinshi.

Beyond that the story is mostly like Melty Blood ACT:2 or Rojiura SATSUKI Chapter Heroine Sanctuary in the fact there is a solid story it is mostly there just to tell in jokes and puns. That means all the characters are on full on silly mode. So Akiha is in the full horrible ojousama zone, Sion is a supernerd, and Kohaku is … Kohaku. Well she is more crazy demented mad scientist and less Game of Thrones character slowly getting everyone to murder each other.

Since I have never mentioned his work before I figured I should mention Kirishima Takeru’s art style. It reminds me a bit of Kouta Hirano of Hellsing fame. There is a sharp edge to it in contrast to the far softer style of Takashi Takeuchi or Hirokazu Koyama. Even Koha-Ace is more inline with the standard Type-Moon house style.  It almost has a bit of a beautiful ugliness to it. It gives the manga a slightly different feel that your standard Type-Moon story even in the plot is in line with the standard silly Type-Moon story.

This is really just a story for Type-Moon fans. It is easy to say that about most Type-Moon titles but there are distinctly some that are more accessible than others. You can jump in Fate/Zero without a lot of Saber specific knowledge but if you don’t know the details of Melty Blood and what cam before it then you’re going to feel large sections of the manga just passing you by. I liked it a lot but I am me. That is a poor barometer.

Advertisements

One thought on “Ongoing Investigations: Case #228

  1. reversethieves says:

    Since I don’t feel like editing this in: Yes. Technically Riesbyfe Stridberg was in earlier Melty Blood games but she was never a playable character and mostly an obscure piece of Sion’s back story rather than a full character.

    Also the Riesbyfe in Melty Blood X in clearly the one after the events of Actress Again.

    I only mention this becuase whenever I get this weird, “Eh. I could mention that … would anyone complain if I did not? Wait. They might.” someone invariably brings up the topic.

    – Alain

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.