Ongoing Investigations: Case #212

I finished the second volume of Vertical’s beautiful release of Message to Adolf. I didn’t expect it to span well past the years of World War II.

Most of this volume involves characters caught up in a tense back and forth of who will end up with the information on Hitler’s birth and more importantly how will it become public knowledge.

Adolf Kaufman’s descent into full Aryan-superiority is, as one might imagine, unsettling and surprisingly heartbreaking at times. I guess for a good portion of the story I was expecting him to maintain his heart despite the horrible things he did. But he only further breaks down as he makes his way to Japan as an adult reuniting with his remarried mother and childhood friend Adolf. It really feels like true madness as Adolf tries to reclaim the documents because Adolf is not full-Aryan, neither is Hitler, and neither is the girl Adolf is in love with!

I really enjoy stories where minor characters pop-up again and again in important capacities that you weren’t expecting. It makes it feel cohesive and Message to Adolf has that.

And the ending? Fatefully tragic.

sep-anime

The A Certain Magical Index series is one of those strange series were people make a big deal about how much they can’t stand the series but continually watch it season after season. To a lesser degree this also happens with the spin off A Certain Scientific Railgun series (it might be the yuri undercurrent that cause it to be slightly better received) . But as a legitimate fan of the series who genuinely enjoys it I was looking forward to the first two episodes of A Certain Scientific Railgun S.

I did go into this arc with a certain expectation. I had heard that this was being called A Certain Scientific Railgun S with the S being a reference to the Sister Noise arc. Apparently it is an arc that tells the original Sisters Arc from A Certain Magical Index from Misaka Mikoto’s perspective. While that seemed like an interesting idea I was a little worried it might feel a bit recycled. But so far it mostly seems like all new material. We are getting a much better idea of how Misaka got involved with the whole Level 6 Shift experiment and we have new characters like Nunotaba Shinobu who never appeared in the original story.  So far it does not just seem to be the Accelerator fight from a different point of view.

The new series begins with a one off story that proves that Edasaki Banri and Haruue Erii have not disappeared off the face of the earth once their arc has ended (to the point where like Saten Ruiko they have started to make cameo appearances in the main Index series). It is mostly an episode to bridge the last arc of Railgun with the new series and show that life goes on for everyone. The big highlight of the first episode is action scene at the end with a teleporting Kuroko and a hotblooded Railgun vs. a helicopter. It is a nice little set piece that reminds you that Railgun is mostly about psychic powers even though it has cute girls doing cute things moments.

The second story starts setting up the sisters arc in quite a unexpected way. It seems that people have been finding cash cards all over Academy City. After a bit of treasure hunting Misaka find the source of the cards and witnesses a rather theatrical fight. But this seemingly unrelated story turn to be about the Level 6 Shift experiment in the last few seconds.

I am interested to see how this all blends together. The problem with stories like this is that gaiden tales have to walk a find line between being interesting and making us wonder why we never knew about any of this in the first place. It is clear from the opening that the rest of the Railgun gang, some characters from ITEM, and Shokuhou Misaki are clearly involved in the story. While there was always a little more hinted at going on with Misaka during the Sister Arc this seems like more than some minor scenes. Thankfully they are not just showing us the same story with some minor additions but it could lead to some odd  plot holes if they are not careful.

Then again “everyone” hates trash like A Certain Magical Index so who really cares outside of the Japanese audience? I mean other than me who looks forward to the next episode.

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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Anime 101

There was a formspring question a while back about what anime you would show a class, we liked it so we expanded it into a little post. Imagine you are a professor. You have students who have anime studies as a major. What titles should they be familiar with in their first year that introduces them to the major? Lists like this are never really complete especially when working in some sort of restriction like our 10 TV series and 5 movies but there is only so much time in a semester. It also becomes more difficult as the years go by and more and more shows are produced. But you can still attempt a good foundation. It is important to note that not all of these titles are necessarily the best representations of their genre. Titles were often picked because it helped show the full range of what anime has to offer more than being the pinnacle. The shows here are meant to show what anime can produce in order to help the student decide where they want to focus their studies. So here’s what we thought of, what would be on your list?

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Narutaki & Hisui VS. 2009

Narutaki & Hisui VS. 2009 is in part an award show, in part an exercise in humor and snark, in part a challenge, and in part a love letter to everything great this year. We picked several categories and each of us picked titles, characters, and people who we felt best summed up our feelings on the year. Take a peek into what we thought on the anime and manga of 2009 and the people who bring it to us. Feel free to suggest new categories and challenge our picks.

Would also love to hear other people’s picks for some of these categories as well! By the way, some of this stuff happens to have come out in years gone by but we first watched/read/whatnot this year so that’s why they’re here, I’ll hear no guff about it! I really enjoy this part of the year, all the posts seem to be more fun and this one is no exception.

Best Anime of 2009 or Show that Infuriates You to No End When Someone on MAL says “If you like this show you will love Dance in the Vampire Bund.”

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
The noitaminA is your go to animation slot when you are looking for something that is simultaneously different, mature, well produced, and smart. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is no exception to this rule. An exceptional look at ordinary people involved in an extraordinary but still extremely feasible situation. It is a superb mixture of intense character study and survival drama. I know some people feel the end is weak but I thought it did well in capping off this  powerful and thought provoking show.

Eden of the East
It is a little bit mystery, a little bit drama, and a little bit suspense wrapped around an intriguing concept. It’s a wonderful series to watch unfold and since Takizawa doesn’t remember what has happened there is a wonderful element of discovery that comes. Takizawa himself is a refreshing and mysterious guy but you always get the feeling, or I did, that he was a good guy even when things looked dubious. Also he loved dogs, can’t be bad. The game was able to engross and impress me from episode one and continued to do so throughout its broadcast.

Anime Man of the Year or You Must be Swift
as a Coursing River

Battler Ushiromiya
Have you ever wished Phoenix Wright could be the star of his own supernatural murder mystery anime? Well if so then someone heard your prayers. In Umineko no Naku Koro ni we have Battler Ushiromiya who is a clear homage to Phoenix Wright with dramatic finger pointing, manly crying, and split between having to do detective work and acting like a lawyer. He may have his flaws but no matter what he keeps marching forward despite numerous set backs and tragedies. Plus he is just plain cool whenever he is on the counterattack. His casual charm and iron clad will set the tone for the anime as much as they do the games it was based on.

Guin
After thinking this over way too much, I finally decided on Guin for a few reasons. First being that after more than 100 books about his quest on the bestseller list, Guin finally got an anime. Adding to that is that Guin may arguably be the most manly character animated in 2009. If you watch just the first episode, this will become obvious. I also read about Guin in novel formthe first time this year myself. And finally, and sadly, Guin’s creator Kaoru Kurimoto passed away in 2009, a woman who was still writing about her most popular creation.

Anime Woman of the Year or I am Woman Hear Me Roar

Canaan
Canaan is a competent kick arse girl with a gun. That is usually all that you need to sell me on a character. The fact that Canaan has her rather slick synesthesia ability which I thought was a very original superpower. She has a stoic and cool feel to her but it she still cares for the people she wishes to protect and gives her all to do so. I also think that her competence on the battlefield but her awkwardness in personal relationships gives her a good mixture of strength and weakness that make her a serious version of Sousuke Sagara. I also think makes her an interesting character to me.

Sawako
Picking a woman of the year became a lot easier the more I watched Kimi ni Todoke. Sawako has a special strength of character that uplifts you, just as she does to the many characters around her. She is humorous and endearing and you never doubt that she will succeed and grow in each new scenario she encounters. Sawako’s positive attitude, even after endearing so much isolation is a true testament to the human spirit and the ability to change.

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