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.

Continue reading

Spring 2011 Anime Guide Part 2: Fast and the Furious

Watch:

Tiger and Bunny

The title Tiger and Bunny doesn’t exactly bring to mind power-armored superheroes, but that is just one of the delightful oddities about this series. The reality TV show aspect adds all kinds of entertaining variables including collectible cards, behind the scenes drama, hamming it up actors, and washed-up heroes. And that washed-up hero angle found in Kotetsu is what was both funny and endearing in the first episode. Even though he gets a second chance, it is obviously a rather suspicious deal that plays on the real-life seedy reputation much of the Hollywood machine (or the Japanese equivalent) has. Tiger and Bunny has tounge-in-cheek humor, cool action, a colorful cast, and even a bit of social commentary.

Tiger and Bunny right off the bat remind me of Astro Fighter Sunred in the fact that Tiger and Bunny does for superheros what Sunred does for Tokusatsu shows. It has a dry wit where it both acts as satire and homage to the genre it is looking at. But where as Sunred is mostly slice of life with no real plot and lots of gags Tiger and Bunny has a good deal of action and an overall plot plus its humor is also a bit more subtle and in the background. The humor naturally springs from the fact that there are corporate sponsored super heroes who fight crime with powers and super suits while earning points on reality TV. We clearly have a buddy cop formula with the old-timer who is being left behind is teamed up with the cocky young know it all. It is a fun show that knows how to take a ridiculous premise and ground it in something solid to produce an entertaining show. Kotetsu is sympathetic as a struggling single dad who wants be a proper hero in a world obsessed with appearances and his likable personality really sells the show. It looks like it will be a fun show to watch. I do wonder if the plot is going to get darker as we go on as even the first episode implies that this reality TV show might have a more sinister agenda.

Continue reading