Ongoing Investigations: Case #236

narutaki_icon_4040 The story in the Mushishi Special of a girl who can’t go into the sun and the eclipse which takes a toll on her family and her town, and her selfish wish for the sun to never to return, fit perfectly in the world of Mushishi.

I rather enjoyed the beginning sequence of little stories and tidbits about the upcoming eclipse being talked about by various people. Various people that don’t include Ginko, though he is mentioned but not by name. There was a feeling of anticipation for him to show up on the screen. It has been so long since last we met our wanderer that I felt my heart swell as he stepped into view.

The Mushishi Special does the trick of making one very excited for the upcoming new ongoing anime. This double episode filled me with good feelings but, as Al pointed out to me, made me forget the melancholy that generally underlies much of the series.

hisui_icon_4040 The Mushishi Special is sort of herald for the new Mushishi anime. The original anime covered lots of the manga but at the same time it also left a decent amount uncovered. But Mushishi is really episodic. There is not really a beginning, a middle, or an end. There are no real story arcs or many connecting threads. It is mostly just Ginko going around Japan and helping people with their spirit problems while researching said spirits at the same time. There are some reoccurring characters but no one who need more than a breif introduction.  So it is a story that can always be restarted with minimal fuss and ended with little sense of abruptness.

The special starts during a Solar Eclipse. The Mushishi are on high alert as the spirts are extremely active during a large natural event like an eclipse. In fact some of them can only act on such a day. In one town a huge Mushi uses the darkness to block out the sun in the area permanently.  While Ginko tries to free the town from endless darkness there are two girls in town who might have a solution but little desire to tell anyone about it.

I was a little shocked that overall this was not that melancholy a story. It really felt like it could easily go down the road to a sad or bittersweet ending. Mushishi as a whole like to go that way. But surprisingly everyone gets what they want it this episode. It is certainly not the way the originally wanted it but in the end they might have actually gotten more of what they needed than what they wanted. (And not at some horrible price.) I sort of figured they would go for the gut punch with this one. Color me surprised.

Overall it was more Mushishi. It was slow but pretty. Thoughtful but not overly ponderous.  Subdued but not comatose or completely morose. It is not an episode that would win anyone over who was not already predisposed to the series but a nice treat to its established fan base. I am sure they are just itching for the new season on the way.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #233

hisui_icon_4040 The Flowers of Evil was a series that seemed to either be on peoples best anime of 2013 list or something you acknowledged existed but had a strong reason it was absent. Quite a few people just could not watch because they hated the look of the rotoscoping. In their defense it is rotoscoping. It is one of the few animation techniques that I can think of that you either just accept (and maybe even enjoy) or gets under your skin like nothing else. Interestingly enough after reading volumes one through four of the manga my critique would be much different.

The more subtle difference between the anime and the manga is the pacing. The Flowers of Evil anime has an almost glacial movement in the story. It spends so much of its time building up tension that the actual story seems secondary. I expected the manga to have that same ponderous weight to its cadence. But I was surprised by what I read.

The Flowers of Evil manga seems to have two paces. It can be almost breathlessly frenetic but in contrast it can also be meditatively ponderous. When Takao Kasuga is caught up in things the flow of the pages are almost delirious as events seem like they are out of his control. But when he is a master of his own fate the pace slows down. It clearly highlights when Kasuga could escape the spiral he is in but refuses to do so due to either cowardice, fear of being hurt, or plain desire. That anime seems not to care much for that first mode.

It is not to say the anime is doing things incorrectly. It is clearly made decisions to revel in one half of the story and downplay the other. When you adapt a title to another medium you sometimes have to change things to make them work. Other times you can modify things to make them your own. I feel like the anime is somewhere in the middle in this respect. Some of the changes are out of necessity and others are a personal flourish.

I will mention that I read through more of story what was in the three volumes of manga than the time it took to watch three episodes of the same 13 episode anime. While there is not necessarily a better version there is one that is in fact more expedient.

In that respect I feel that anime and the manga of The Flowers of Evil are the beginning of discussion and maybe even some insight into what different people want out of pacing and adaption of manga. It seems like people who would normally despise such a reduced speed in a translation love this series. There is clearly a greater alchemy at work here worth looking into.

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narutaki_icon_4040 As you might gather from the cover of Blade of the Immortal vol. 27, we finally get the return of a familiar face (actually faces!) as we draw ever nearer to the final showdown. The volume focuses more on the greater cast as Rin and Manji recover from their latest clash with Shiira and slowly start their journey again.

We finally get to see Habaki’s daughter show her skills in some competent sword work but much more in her ability to think ahead. A good portion of the book is taken up by her and Ban (one of Habaki’s woefully underdeveloped death row soldiers) fighting in the woods against one of the Itto-ryu’s oldest members. Ban uses a gun which takes the ridiculous nature of the fights in BotI to a different level.

Remember those familiar faces I mentioned? Well, don’t get too excited since they literally make a 8-page appearance. Still it bodes well for things to come.

Magatsu had my favorite moment in the volume though as he lays down some wisdom about the path of revenge:

“It’s like the wheel of fate rolling right over us. All we are required to do is accept being hated our whole lifetimes by the relatives of those we’ve killed. Even thinking about wanting to forgive or wanting to be forgiven is foolish.”

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

Continue reading