Ongoing Investigations: Case #126

I finished up Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig rather quickly after my mention of starting it last week. Because, yes, it was as stupendous an achievement as I was promised it would be. Almost every episode ties into the main plot so it has a lot of momentum as it unfolds. Since I was watching it quickly, things were able to connect in my head better than it probably would have otherwise. The ending was wonderfully set up and intense and I liked that we didn’t totally know for sure if Kuze was the man we thought he was till that final moment. The scene of Battou digging with that piece of steel that looked like a cross was nice too because while the symbol itself is obvious it made me ponder the idea of the Major being Battou’s cross-to-bear. And the main story ending story ending with the Major doing what she did, very satisfying. I also loved the couple of side stories, especially Saito telling the tale of how he met the Major. And of course the Tachikoma’s rocked it like always! Most people say this is the better season, and I loved it, but the first I still hold as the best.

If anyone remembers we did a little article about the Rough Guide to Anime awhile back so I decided to check out it’s companion piece the Rough Guide to Manga as well. They are clearly in the same line as the format of the books are almost identical. It starts with a brief history of manga, the influence and spread of manga in Asia and America, 50 recommended titles, a look at manga publishers, and books and websites to help you continue your journey, and a glossary. The thing is while both a great introduction to the material, especially for anyone just getting into the hobby, I know I was learning little things I did not know from the manga guide all the time. The history of manhwa and the myths of Osamu Tezuka stood out as particularly interesting.  Apparently the manhwa industry was so strictly regulated in the 60s that men and women could not be depicted in the same panels together. Craziness. The canon section is a fairly good mix. Nothing extremely obscure but that is not the point. A decent mixture of old and new with classics like Lupin III and To Terra along side Peach Girl and Vagabond and of course Akira and Naruto. Paradise Kiss was the only josei tittle but at least they had one although I myself would have wound a way to sneak in Nodame.  But it has Maison Ikkoku so I can’t complain too much. There was no individual manga-ka section but there were some important artists like CLAMP, Leiji Matsumoto, and Rumiko Takahashi mentioned in the canon section. The book it a little outdated especially with the recent shake ups as it still list Dr Master and Aurora Publishing as functioning companies. Still it is a great resource for anyone just getting into manga who needs a guide of where to start digging deeper or where to begin looking in the first place. More experienced fans can give it a look as well as even luminaries like Ed Chavez are occasionally learning something new about the complex world of manga.

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Spring 2011 Anime Guide Part 1: Melpomene and Thalia

 It is time for Hisui and Narutaki to tackle another season of anime and hopefully help separate the gold from the dross with the new shows coming out. This season we decided to focus on the positive so we go into depth about the shows you should watch and just give you a quick heads up on everything else. We will be doing the season preview in 2 parts like we did at the beginning of the year mostly because Narutaki and I enjoyed doing it that way. With the season release dates being all over the place due to all the tragedy in Japan that might be for the best. As always let me lay down a few rules for our season preview guide. First off the bat we don’t review sequels. Most of the time if your opinion of the new season will be pretty close to you opinion of the second. If anything is shocking in its increase or decrease in quality we usually mention it in the ongoing investigations. Second we don’t review anything we are sure is going to be dreadful. While this means we occasionally sell a good show short I think it really prevents burn out. Plus Loli Sister Harem Panic!! Flash is probably not going to be our cup of tea. Then again I really liked Toaru Majutsu no Index II so maybe you should take my opinions with a grain of salt (although I just think some people are just tsundere for that show.)

Another reminder that these impressions are based on first episodes only, will we live to eat our words? There is always that risk. Since we’ve divided everything up into Watch, Hold, and Drop navigation is easy. But I want to say that just because we say a show is watch worthy, doesn’t mean we are watching it, or that a show is hold worthy doesn’t mean we aren’t continuing on. We’ll let you know in part two what we are personally keeping up with this season.

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