Ongoing Investigations: Case #214

narutaki I started reading the new Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin comic The Private Eye (issues 1-2). The distribution of this comic is worth talking about. It is released digitally as a download of either PDF, CBR or CBZ. And it is a pay-what-you-want pricing model.

I love that the art takes into account that screens are vertical and not horizontal like a book. So when you look at a page at maximum size it literally fills the entire screen.

The setting of Private Eye caught my attention, it is a post-internet future but not a post-apocalyptic dealie. Technology has advanced in different areas while the internet has died out after “the cloud” spewed out every bit of everyone’s information into the world for all to see 60 years prior. The aesthetic is futuristic such as changing your appearance with the push of a button but mixed with things like rotary phones. The world is such that identity can be very malleable.

P.I. is hired to dig into his client’s past to see if he can unearth all the dirt she tried to bury, but before he can even start she gets murdered. Her sister, a former client, ropes him into finding her killer. A simple mystery setup with all the peripherals make it engaging.

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I’m going to pretend that we have a huge dedicated audience that constantly asks us to do things because they love us so much. (As opposed to a small audience that only occasionally asks us to do things as horrible jokes.)  I’m then going to pretend that this fictitious vocal fan base asks for my Ongoing Investigations entries to have a consistent theme to all the items I talk about. And since I’m making this up whole cloth they have also asked for a week were I talk about nothing but non pornographic Type-Moon doujinshi.

Since everyone asked for it (no one) here it is.

If anyone has been around in Type-Moon fandom long enough they know there is one simple phrase that can spark such fierce arguments that it has reached divine meme status. That phrase is “Shiki Can Kill Servants.” The comic that has inspired this phrase more than anything else is the ongoing doujinshi series T-Moon Complex X. I finally sat down and read the current seven books that have been released as it seemed like something I should do.

T-Moon Complex X is the classic Japanese Vs. formula. You take two series and mix them together, have the heroes meet and clash, then introduce a big bad guy they both fight so they have to put aside their differences. In that respect it follows the formula to the tee. Team Shiki clashes with Team Shiro but they have to stop their bickering when they discover that a certain dead apostle has tapped into to a resurrected Holy Grail.

And that also means it goes into full on fan fiction mode. Who would win in a fight between Shiki and Shiro? What if crazy powerful magic circuited Ciel were a Master? Could Saber defeat Nrvnqsr Chaos? What sort of food would kid Gilgamesh buy everyone for dinner? Would Bazett instantly fall in love with Shiki if they ever met?

I did notice that team Fate/Stay Night sort of gets the short end of the stick as opposed to the powerhouses that are Team Tsukihime. Shiki kills Berserker like Hercules was a jobber in professional wrestling. And most of the important villains are Tsukihime characters who slap around Fate characters for the most part. Hell a bunch of Fate/Zero characters mostly show up so they can die a few pages later. But so is the preference of the author. At least everyone get a little chance to shine on both sides.

The major question with this series is do you consider an evening of browsing fanfiction.net a fun diversion or a prison sentence for a minor vandalism charge. Because this is what it reads like. It is a good piece of fan fiction but it reads like fan fiction none the less. It is sort of wish-fulfillment with a plot to hold it all together. If you can handle that then it is all fun.

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 #182

The newest series running in Shonen Jump Alpha, and brand new in Japan as well, is Takama-ga-hara. The series poses the idea “If mythology was actually history, then modern man is descended from the Gods.” And since it is a Shonen Jump manga you can expect they use their God-like powers for fighting. People don’t seem to be aware of this fact about being descended from Gods yet, but nevertheless there are the infamous Yamada brothers known for their pursuit of strength!

Except Yamato. He doesn’t want to train and be strong like the other four Yamada brothers, he wants to be a manga artist instead. Too bad the rest of the world wants to challenge him to fights since he is a Yamada.

Takama-ga-hara had me cracking up within the first few pages! The brothers have great interactions and their brawn VS. brain rivalry created hilarious moments. Also characters’ reactions to Yamato’s presumably terrible manga are priceless.

We haven’t really jumped into the God part of the story within the first chapter. The opponent is just a really big, strong delinquent guy who wants to make a name for himself. Although, we do see that Yamato’s right arm holds incredible strength that is dying to be unleashed.

The art isn’t very polished or detailed (minus speed lines), but it has solid layout and great comedic delivery. And as long as it keeps me laughing like this first chapter, I’m on board for more.

I would like to update by recommendation for Yamada and the Seven Witches as Manga of the Month with this Ongoing Investigation. I originally said the series was a body swap comedy but I was waiting for the other shoe to drop when the full meaning of the title was revealed. Now that Miki Yoshikawa has revealed more of what is going on I must reassess my statement about the series. It is actually a magical kiss power series where one of the powers is body swapping.

I have to say I am always impressed by the way that Miki Yoshikawa creates series that have an always evolving plot especially in chapters 16 to 26. So much comedy tends to move in the same circles for a majority of the story. I don’t mind that formula too much. As long as the comedy makes me laugh I am content. But with a series like this I have to admire the ability to keep the themes and tone consistent but have a feeling of progression and accomplishment when so much comedy manga is about preventing that. Bravo.

Now that we know that the seven witches are seven different people at school how have kiss powers the plot is beginning to true take form. The series is more about finding the remaining witches and learning how his phenomenon came to be in the first place. Since Ryu is like a Final Fantasy Tactics mime I am curious to see how he will use his new-found powers as much as what the other witch’s powers are in the first place. Fun.

I will also note that as Narutaki mentioned to me it is so unusual for a shonen series to have so much kissing. Any and all kisses are usually huge deals in the genre. But here any and all genders of characters are kissing like most people just say hello. It is just a bit remarkable in that sense.

Urara Shiraishi impresses me as being sufficiently different from Hana Adachi but also a great character in her own way. You can easily accuse Ryu Yamada of just being the Daichi Shinagawa clone of the series but Urara really comes of as unique. She is clearly book smart but also the clearest thinker in the series. Her main problems are big physically weak and very poor at grasping social cues. But she has a social awkwardness very different from Hana. My only regret is that she is a very closed off character so at times Miki Yoshikawa keeps her in the background least the overexpose her feelings and thoughts.

Once again if you don’t mind scans or can read Japanese you should be at least trying out Miki Yoshikawa. She is just that good.

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 #138

 After finishing up Burn Notice S4, I jumped to the webcomic before we start the fifth season. Burn Notice: A New Day bridges the two seasons but does not answer the ultimate question about Michael’s facial hair! The 12-parts play out like a typical episode of the series but in this case they are also working with the CIA. They’ve got everyone’s voices down pretty well, too. The real downside is the artwork which isn’t great a lot of the time touting some weird facial expressions and wonky eyes. A fun read, worthwhile, and a second part is planned for the end of the month as the show takes a break until November.

NOOO! I am caught up with the current release of translated Jojo’s by blazing through volumes 7  though 20. But since Steel Ball Run is 24 volumes I am so close to the ending I can taste it but so far away it makes me want to weep. I mean they are in the middle of fighting the evil super powered and seemingly invincible president of the United States. The president killed dinosaur Dio Brando. Who can stop him now? While the story has moved a bit more in the direction of Stand fighting the race is always a tense highlight when they get to a checkpoints. I will say for being the star of the first chapter of the arc Sandman certainly has a smaller role than I expected when he whips out his stand. He sort of goes down like a punk. This arc has been every bit as crazy as I had hoped it would be and twice as awesome. I am surprised it lived up to my expectations as they were fairly high but I was not in the least disappointed. My only regret is now I must wait for more.

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