Ongoing Investigations: Case #227

hisui_icon_4040 Since Kate is currently on vacation I decided to have a Sunday anime movie marathon in place of our regularly scheduled anime watching. So I went through three very different anime movies. They were mostly titles I had been interested in seeing but sadly did not play at any of the conventions I attended this year. They certainly ran the gambit in terms of quality I will say that for sure. I wanted to love all three of them but some turned out better than others. I will try to avoid spoilers as none of these has officially come out in English therefore I don’t want to blow the lid off nay surprises.

Lets us start firmly in the middle with A Certain Magical Index Movie: Miracle of Endymion. This is one of those shonen series movies that is not One Piece: Strong World. It is not utterly awful like Clockwork Island Adventure either. It just feels a bit workman like. It is a hard movie to hate but it is also not going to be most people’s favorite story arc as well. Something about this film just keeps falling short of being great.

The story starts a few years before the main storyline when an orbital shuttle hits a bit of space debris (clearly they needed to get the DS-12 “Toy Box” in that area of space) and is forced to make a crash landing. It seems like despite all odds (with a bit of mysterious magical intervention) everyone survives the crash. But is that what really happens? That crash leads to the construction of a space elevator called Endymion. When Index and Touma meet a rising star named Meigo Arisa they are attracted by her alluring voice and peppy attitude. They soon find that she is both wanted by powerful factions in the worlds of science and magic. They must find out how she is related to the so-called Miracle of Endymion and the tragedy that is about to unfold in its wake.

I think the thing that makes it feel most like one of those yearly massed produced Shonen Jump movies is the “Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here” feeling on the movie. There is a tendency (especially with the first movie of a long running series) to try to cram in cameo appearances of all the popular characters from a series while introducing a new character who only appears in the movie. It seems like until the last act that Railgun was only in the story to put her in a cute outfit (and possibly because people would storm the Dengeki Bunko and J.C.Staff offices if she were not in the movie.) But her appearance still seems more organic than Accelerator’s almost totally wedged in appearance.

On the other hand Stiyl Magnus on the other hand has gained a bit of an elemental entourage with three disciples named Marie, Mallybath, and Jane. If any characters get brought over from the movie it will probably be these three. Although that might require an odd bit of retconning as they have never appeared in later Index novels. But the Index anime has never been slavishly devoted to making itself a one to one reproduction of the original novels. So these three new witches might appear in upcoming New Testament novels with a bit of a hand wave of where they have been. They are more likely to be inserted in things like the World War III arc if that ever gets animated.

The other introduced characters have a feeling like their appearances might be more limited to this movie alone. Meigo Arisa, Shutaura, and the main villain theoretically could still be around after the movie but I have to wonder if they will ever use them again. Then again I assumed that Erii and Banri would disappear off the face of the earth but they have continued to appear. Only time will tell.

I think by biggest complaint is that Shutaura’s motivations seem a bit … odd when the movie is at its climax. The main villain is your standard evil selfish mastermind as you expect from certain Index villains. If you want something else you in the wrong series. The Index and Railgun worlds are just made of horrible people on both the science and magic sides. Any member of the Kihara family show that in spades. But we are not supposed to be super sympathetic to them. You are supposed to like Shutaura but she seems dedicated to doing to wrong thing until pretty much near the end of the movie. I just wish I had a little more insight into her because she seems to doing things more for plot convenience than legitimate reasons.

That said if nothing else I enjoyed a plot that had a slightly more integrated combination of the magical and technological parts of the universe. It still stays in the realm of the McDLT with the magic side mostly dealing with the magic parts and the technological doing the same. But Touma tends deal with one or the other in most stories despite the fact that the show’s tagline is about the worlds of science and magic colliding.

The again Aleister Crowley always comes off as a magical character to me despite having his feet firmly in both worlds.

I had a good time watching the movie but I have to admit it has a lot of rough edges that could have been better. It is certainly not a movie for people who are not fan of the main series. It is also not a great entry point for anyone into the series as well. If you skip it I don’t you will live with any serious regrets even if your watching the TV series but it won’t hurt to watch the movie either.

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narutaki_icon_4040 The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia: Inhabitants, Lore, Spells, and Ancient Crypt Warnings of the Land of Ooo Circa 19.56 B.G.E. – 501 A.G.E. complied by Hunson Abadeer, Lord of Evil. Seriously, Marceline’s dad knows how to name a book. His pen is defete at communicating his knowledge, research, and disdain about all manner of things in the Adventure Time universe. His voice is superb and hilarious.

Later portions of the book include a fan-zine made by Ice King drawing on anime roots, the instruction manual for BMO, and a travel guide for the many kingdoms by Bubblegum Princess.

The book is also chock-full of choice quotes. Here are a few of my favorites regarding Finn:

“Who’d abandon something as cute and adorable as a human baby in the woods, instead of selling or eating it?”

“His stupidity is matched only by his arrogance in thinking he is a Gift to the Ladies, the most obnoxious human trait in existence.”

“Thus human boys have one and only one good quality–retching at the abomination of love.”

This is an incredibly well put together book merely from both a text and a visual standpoint. Beyond the base text, there are also notes and doodles by Finn, Jake, and Marceline scribbled in the margins, and occasionally over text, throughout the book. There are pages that have been “taped” into the book to add more information and likewise there are “torn” pages from various other sources in other portions of the book. There are tons of tiny details and design elements, it is a book you read once but then continually go back to look at. Major props to the team of Martin Olson, Mahendra Singh, Tony Millionaire, Celeste Moreno, Renee French, Aisleen Romano, Pendleton Ward, and Sean Tejaratchi.

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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Ongoing Investigations: Case #218

narutaki Thanks to Netflix I had a chance to sit down and watch Adventure Time S1. It is not as if I haven’t watched the show, I’ve just seen random episodes here and there, but I wanted to watch it in order from the beginning. Really there is no need to do this if the first season is any indication, but hey I like to do things in order when I can!

Things I took away from this season: LSP is the best princess with the best voice, George Tekai is always down for a laugh, the most over the kids’ heads joke was when they sack the nut castle, and Whywolves are creatures possessed by the spirit of inquiry . . . and bloodlust.

I really wish Netflix would add more seasons but it sounds like that won’t be happening for a long time. I will have to supplement myself with comics.

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After a long break we get the return of The Venture Bros. in season five. I enjoyed season four but it just felt like it was one step below everything that came before it. Season four was good. I usually got several laughs every episode. Some of the stuff around the Revenge Society and S.P.H.I.N.X. was amazing. I did a whole post on Everybody Comes to Hank’s. It just was never as good as it was in the original three seasons. Something about the plots just felt like they were spinning their wheels despite a lot of things going on in each episode. It was fun but lacking that spark that made the earlier episodes more than just quotable pop culture romps.

Other than the recent Halloween special (which was more of a hype man for the new season than anything else) there has not been a regular episode since November 21, 2010. I did hear quite a bit of rumbling on the day that the new episode came out that people were not than enthusiastic about the return and perhaps they should have let the 4th season be the finale. And the last one hour episode would not have been the worst place to end things all things considered. But the Internet loves to be a group of snarky bastards who claim that everything is over or sycophantic fanboys who can’t see anything in front of them so it’s hard to it as any gauge of quality.

Maybe it is merely a case of absence making the heart grow fonder but I have been majorly grooving the first three episodes of the new season. In retrospect the Halloween special seemed like a strong return to form. But it is much harder to make a solid season than lead with a strong beginning and then never live up to that start. So far I don’t see that happening. I mean I might get a flood of comments about how the is the WORST … SEASON … EVER but that would require us to get comments. But so far I have not really heard hide nor hare about opinions of the new season. But I have been on Twitter much less lately so that might have a lot to do with that.

But I think the key to the new season is it feels fresh. As much as I said this season is a return to form in many ways by changing things up a little while still keeping things authentic it feels like some real progress. The main problem with season four is it felt that no matter what happened or what changed the whole things was just movement in place. A mile run in a circle still bring you back to the same place you started. The new season just has a different feeling of momentum. And it feels great.

Oh but really I want to see Dr. Orpheus this season. I love that guy. Something about his Doctor Strange melodrama turned up to c (because sometimes even 11 is just too small a number) just tickles my fancy.

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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Ongoing Investigations: Case #217

Just when I thought I would have no new Type-Moon manga to talk about I found the first 2 chapters of Tsuki no Sango. Tsuki no Sango is an interesting little project that had Saizensen pair together Kinoko Nasu and Maaya Sakamoto for a short story. It started as Sakamoto reading the story while animation was played in the background. It was popular enough that it has been spun off into several different mediums.

But as a Type-Moon fan I enjoy getting all the Nasu I can. Therefore it is a real boon when a story like this is converted into manga form as that is far easier to see translated than something that usually gets overlooked like drama CDs. (It is not like I’m tripping over Starlit Marmalade translations.) This was drawn by Sasaki Shonen who also did the Shingetsutan Tsukihime manga.

Kinoko Nasu is clearly no stranger to using The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter as in inspiration for stories. Tsukihime means Moon Princess although Arcueid is a much looser adaptation of Kaguya-hime. And in that vein Tsuki no Sango in set in the year 3000 where a princess descended from lunar inhabitants lives on an island on the now stagnating Earth. The Prince of Arishima wishes to make this Storyteller Girl his bride but so far she has asked impossible dowries for her hand in marriage from all her suitors. What is the tale of the Storyteller Girl that made her how she is today?

So far the Storyteller Girl is the biggest hook to the story. She seem to be a proper princess on the outside but overall she seems a spunky Arcueid complete with short blonde haircut and energetic bursts of activity mixed with contemplative melancholy. She also has twin maids that remind me of another similar pair.

This is a far more subdued story that we are used to seeing from Nasu. So far at least. There are no magical orders steeped in blood soaked conspiracies. It seems more a mixture of character study and love story like Notes rather than something like Fate/Stay Night. And I am perfectly fine with that. Can’t wait to read more of it.

Also have to find out what the deal with Small Person is. 

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 The Wake is a new mini-series from the Vertigo line. I was originally curious because Scott Snyder was writing, but I remained unsure. Then I saw the art by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth and it totally blew me away. The first issue came out this week.

The story centers around Dr. Archer, a cetologist, who is approached by a government organization looking into some strange phenomenon in the ocean around Alaska. She meets a team already selected who were told various other stories about what they are investigating. The mystery setup is classic. We also get glimpses into the distant future and the ancient past implying this manifestation is long reaching.

The art takes the story to another level. The heavy black lines and stark shadows create the perfect atmosphere for this tense, evil in the deep, mystery. The color choices give it a pulpy feel that I just love.

One thing I’m not crazy about is the cover, it really doesn’t do justice to the interior art and doesn’t pull you in.

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.

Continue reading