Ongoing Investigations: Case #206

narutaki I read Akira Toriyama’s one-shot Kintoki. Toki believes he is the last of his clan the Kine known for their fighting prowess. One day while collecting money in town, a girl from Venus helps him, later when she gets in trouble with a local lord Toki rescues her.

It is pretty straight-forward. The battle panels look great which is no surprise. The character designs are just so-so, though I did like the girl’s weird suit. There are dinosaurs and Toki uses a bow so that’s fun to me!

But it doesn’t really feel like a one-shot; it doesn’t come a satisfying conclusion. It feels like the setup for a larger story which a lot of times one-shots are! But I don’t think that was really the goal here.

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is entering the final part of part two of the series otherwise known as Battle Tendency. Since this part is fairly well regarded they have definitely slowed down the breakneck pace they had with Phantom Blood but by the same token they have not drawn out anything out as well. So everything has been moving along quite nicely.

Joseph Joestar is a very different protagonist than his grandfather. He is cocky, brash, street smart, and just more fun that his predecessor. Plus who cannot love when he predicts the next line his opponent is going to say. It always comes off as slick when he does it. Hirohiko Araki does it enough to make it Joseph‘s signature trait but makes sure that the gimmick does not wear out its welcome.

The main villains of Battle Tendency are the Pillar Men and they take already on the nose names like Robert Edward O Speedwagon and brings them to the next level. I mean when you have a vampires named ACDC and Wham you are not playing your cards to close to your chest with your references. But in a way that makes it all the better. While they are still vampires they come off as very different than Dio which is good for the story overall.

Lisa Lisa is probably one of the strongest female characters in the series. It is a shame that not many of the female character in the series really reach her heights until part 6. It is amusing to see how many characters in other series she went on to inspire including Rose from Street Fighter and Iku Nagae. Caesar Anthonio Zeppeli keeps up the tradition of Zeppeli family members who befriend the protagonist and then die horribly. Rudol von Stroheim is probably the only Nazi you will ever root for (but still feel dirty about it.)

The animation is cheap but I have long since accepted that. That is just part of the show’s makeup at this point and no amount of popularity is probably going to change that. I’m mostly just happy the series is being animated in the first place.

I really want to know if they are going to continue onto part 3. They might stop here or as hinted by the trading card game we might get a new version of Stardust Crusaders. I have my fingers crossed. I mean we all want to see D’Arby! again.

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 #201

Narutaki, my roommate, and I ventured to downtown Brooklyn to see the unboxing of a new table top roleplaying game magazine called Gygax Magazine (named after Gary Gygax who was one of the co-founders of Dungeons and Dragons). We trekked on down to the Brooklyn Strategist to see the event. I had never been to the store before so it was nice to see another gaming store in the area.

If nothing else Narutaki learned that not all stereotypes are baseless slander. The Brooklyn Strategist was hardly a huge shop so when the place was packed with people you had to get pretty close to most of the attendees. So we got very clear proof that the archetypical unwashed slightly balding guy was out in full force. Not everyone was like that but the gamer smell was strong. I want to go back to that store when it is not as crowed to get a better impression of what the place is like normally.

But during the event we were able to pick up the first issue of the Gygax Magazine which is a pen and paper roleplaying game magazine. While the name would imply a wholly Dungeons and Dragons themed magazine it is a general pen and paper roleplaying game magazine with a D&D slant. Some of the content was purposely generic swamp town write-up to the very specific like modified Pathfinder feats.

I really liked the Cosmology of Role-Playing Games article. It tried to create a galactic map of American pen and paper roleplaying games from 1974 until today. It states up front that it is clearly incomplete. Any complete guide would be a monumental undertaking but overall it seems fairly comprehensive and at least touches up some of the smaller independent titles. I think they could have broken down the groupings a little better as opposed to sort of throwing very disparate games of the same wave in with each other. But at the same time creating very distinct blood lines might have overcomplicated an already pretty monumental article. So I liked what I saw. I just wanted more. That said I think anyone other than hardcore tabletop players will find one or two titles on the list they would probably want to look into on name alone. Stars Without Number and Gumshoe seemed interesting to me.

Random thought: A modified Traveler could be used to run an awesome Legend of the Galactic Heroes game.

Leomund’s Secure Shelter is pretty much the rules lawyer section of the magazine. I will also say that the Keeping Magic Magical is pretty much my philosophy to a tee. The Banshee section was quite good at laying out different ways of playing a classic monster that would work in almost any fantasy setting.

I would have liked a few more sci-fi, horror, historical, or other style of RPG articles but it is the first issue. They did have a Godlike article which is a historical superheroes so it was hardly all fantasy all the time.

As always What’s New with Phil & Dixie is a classic strip and always enjoyable.

I liked the magazine a lot and I hope they can continue creating compelling content in the future.

As I have just started playing Dungeons & Dragons, this new quarterly Gygax Magazine promising insights into the game and others got me curious. It is also available digitally which might be how I’d read it in the future.

The first issue is a mix of history delving, anecdotes, and ways to add new experiences to your current games.

Some of the shorter articles felt as though they had a lot more to say but get cut off before they could. I understand space restrictions of course, but in the future it might be better to structure the article to be short as opposed to just cutting it off at its limit.

It was fun reading about other DM experiences in “Still Playing After All These Years” as well as the piece about the storytelling of Gary Gyax from his son’s perspective “The Gygax Family Storyteller.”

I found the piece about running a campaign for your toddler rather fascinating! Before reading it I didn’t imagine it really possible for that age group but it sounds pretty fun from the writer’s experience.

The comics in the back are a fun extra. I really loved the one from Girl Genius creators What’s New with Phil & Dixie.

I liked this magazine even though I’m a newbie player.

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 #183

And so ends Kamen Rider Fourze or as I like to think of it Kamer Rider Diamond Is Not Crash. Having never seen a full Kamer Rider series this certainly was a treat. The last 21 episodes (28-48) put a nice cap on everything. The series ended things pretty much how would expect them to end with a few nice little twists to make it all feel unique.

Without giving away too many spoilers I will say the best part of the writing in the series is the way they pull off reveals. They make a good use of what amounts to 2 stage method of pulling back the curtain. They set up certain mysteries fairly early on and tease you with the answers. Then when they finally give you the solution I found nine times out of ten I had figured out the answers from the clues they left. But then they usually followed it up with a secondary reveal just after that which is nowhere as easy to predict. It is a strong one-two punch that helps nicely in giving impact to the story.

I will note after a certain point they really began to focus much less on the Rider Club than in the first half. They never disappeared but their overall screen time dropped from where in was in the first half of the series. For all the trouble they have over keeping Miu and Shun in the club they don’t do a good deal after they graduate. How many times was the Powerdizer really that important?

Still it was a fun show that really never took itself too seriously. It could hunker down when it needed to but it never lost sight of how silly its overall premise could be. It remained earnest while still being fun. It also helped the somewhat hokey production vales go down a bit smoother.  In many ways I think this could be the HeartCatch PreCure! of Kamen Rider for me. While I may enjoy other Kamen Rider series this one will take a truly spectacular show to beat.

Seriously Dark Horse, I hate you for putting Blade of the Immortal on a once a year release schedule. Blade of the Immortal vol. 25 is, as always, a beautiful piece of violence. There are some really exquisite page sequences in this volume. Samura amazes me with his artful blood spatters.

It has been a while since we’ve seen Shira in action; he had mostly been slinking around once he appeared again. The confrontation between him and Manji is sooooo what we’ve been waiting for for a long time. It certain had some surprises, though it isn’t over yet, but I was glad to see paths crossing again that I didn’t expect at this point. I kind of forgot that most of the characters don’t know Shira is still alive since we the audience have known for a number of volumes at this point.

We are finally privy to some insights on Manji’s immortality and vulnerability that we could only speculate on before. Although I don’t trust the information fully yet since it is only the doctor’s theory; this might be Shira’s big mistake.

At the end of this installment are some pretty hilarious joke comics parodying characters and situations in the series. I especially laughed when Rin needed bait to fish with so she cut off Manji’s arm.

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