Ongoing Investigations: Case #220

narutaki_icon_4040 I finished up  Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones much more quickly than the first GBA game. I can attribute it to a couple of things, loving the character relationships more and finally getting a handle on how the game is played. Plus, the first was 30 chapters while this was only 20.

But I actually think the game was easier than the first, too. I don’t think I have gotten that much better, and yet I was able to beat many chapters in just one go.

I loved that I was able to build up Eirika as a badass fighter who was not overshadowed in the story by her warrior brother. And of course she marries General Seth in the end.

I was disappointed that some of the relationships I worked on building up to A rank did not result in the characters getting a combined ending.

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hisui_icon_4040 With our new SWAT Reviews already started this season I decided to make all my Ongoing Investigations about series that just finished up this week. Now the one person who regularly reads this to figure out what to watch from last season will have a better idea of what to do.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet was a solid show. It was nice to see an original science fiction setting with mecha that generally made everyone happy. I think there were a good deal of people who were hoping for more or something grander. But making everyone generally happy as opposed to ecstatic is a fairly admirable and seemingly unobtainable accomlishment. The pacing in the middle could have been stronger. I know that two episodes that were mostly slice of life with fan service scenes in them hardly did anything to win over people who wanted more robot action, world building, or character growth. Well those episodes had a bit of the last two things but Belly Dancing Amy made some people forget that. In their defense it did seem a little gratuitous despite having a strong emotional pay off at the end.

People were expected a Tomino level bloodbath but overall other than a one major death it seems like we don’t loose anyone that important. I guess that shows that the Urobutcher was really only involved with the first and last episodes. Or maybe just maybe writers can do things outside of what the fandom expects them to do. But that is just crazy talk.

I think the most common complaint was “When the fudge did they decide to make the Pirate Queen Lukkage a plot important character?” She went from a one-off villain to important side character really out of nowhere. This is not One Piece and she is not Buggy the Clown.  I did not have a major problem with her but she did seem to come back to prominence for no real reason other than her two flotation devices (and I’m not talking about the ones attached to her Lobster Yunboro.)

The question a lot of people seem to be asking is should there be more Gargantia? It has a distinct ending that has no major or dire cliff hangers. But at the same time there are a good deal of elements that could be developed into news shows if they wanted them to be. In a way that is probably the best way to end a series you want to continue. It makes people excited when they hear about a new series but not bitter until that announcement. So I hope to see more of this setting but I am satisfied it that is all there is to this tale.

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 #204

Message to Adolf (Pt. 1) is one of those titles I’ve been wanting to read for years, having only heard of it by reputation from early English releases. This another one of those thick Osamu Tezuka titles that look really impressive on the shelf.

It takes place pre- and during WWII as many lives converge in Germany and Japan because of a secret about Hitler that could bring down the Nazis. Reporter Toge’s brother is murdered by the Nazis in Germany but not before sending his former teacher in Japan some important papers. This is the catalyst for Toge’s journey from being tortured by the SS to being blacklisted to a deadly showdown on a small Japanese island. Simultaneously  two young German boys named Adolf growing up in Japan become friends despite their parents objections. They both learn the secret of Hitler but vow to stay silent. One is sent back to Germany to join the Hitler Youth while the other stays in Japan with his Jewish community. Those we haven’t seen a lot of these two yet, this are certainly being set-up for tragedy.

It has quite a thriller vibe to it, at points I was feeling an Alfred Hitcock influence, too. It also gets progressively depressing with it ending in a very dark place. After reading this I had to then go watch a movie mocking Nazis instead.

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I see that Blast of Tempest is really divided into 2 distinct parts now that I am 19 episodes into the series. The first part is the rescue Hakaze arc and that is a somewhat pyrrhic victory as they get Hakaze off the island she is stranded on but they majorly change the world in the process. The second arc is the Mage of Exodus story where they deal with the fall out from the first part.

Overall the first part is half buddy adventure film mixed with a bit of a thriller. Mahiro and Yoshino are on the run while people die around them in their search to learn who killed one girl, kidnapped another, and also are orchestrating a sinister series of events all over the world. I know that Narutaki and I really enjoyed the battle of wits at the end between Yoshino and Samon which really capped off things nicely. Samon’s slow degradation as his plans crumble like he was in Death Note but Samon was Matsuda while Yoshino was L.

After that incident the whole show changes when the Tree Of Genesis gains the upper hand and basically becomes an autonomous force of martial law. And so the series gets much calmer as there is not the same rush to stop the end of the world and save Hakaze. It is a much more measured look into what led up to the existence of these godlike trees, who is the true chosen Mage of Exodus, and who killed Aika, a mystery that seems to be at the center of all of this.

The change in tone is pretty bold. I wonder how many people dropped the series just because the shift was so radical. The tempo really slows down and the biggest concern is about people showing up on time for meeting more than who will live and who will die. It does not help that the newly introduced Megumu is a loser even though he is the lesser Mage of Exodus. Although Megumu’s coolest moment will probably being the only person to figure out on his own that Yoshino was dating Aika.

My only question is when are they going to show us the Tree of Lamentations or Deuteronomy.

But in all actuality I am really just waiting to see in we are right and Junichirou is the true chosen Mage of Exodus. I just don’t trust that guy.

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 #158

I went to see Studio Ghibli’s latest, The Secret World of Arrietty, in theaters this week. It follows a family of very tiny people known as The Borrowers because they take just what they need from the humans’ houses they live in. Borrowers move to a new location if they are seen by humans because it becomes too dangerous. Arrietty has just turned fourteen and will be doing her first “borrowing” with her father that very night. At the same time, a new human boy has come to live at the house. It is a fairly simple story of friendship and fantasy and therefore charming from beginning to end. There is a timeless quality to the country (thanks in no small part to Ghibli’s art style) and with the exception of one appearance of a cell phone it gives no hint of the broader world. The exploration of the house from the view of Borrowers is well-crafted and alive making the ordinary noteworthy. This is especially true for green Arrietty who has never ventured into its walls before but possesses all the youthful courage and curiosity you might imagine. The final resolution is possibly the most adventurous of all and made me sad that I could not see where it will lead. In a quite positive way, it breaks the spell of it being a small world and opens it up to thousands of possibilities. My only complaint is the English voice acting was not very good, there were a lot of times the voices sounded completely disconnected and disembodied. The only exception was Arrietty thank goodness. So I look forward to picking this up on DVD and hope the Japanese does it a bit more justice.

I might just stop watching Bodacious Space Pirates not because it is a bad show but because everyone loves it so much I think it is beginning to make me hate the show. When I originally watched the first episode I thought it was serviceable if a bit forgettable. But more and more I just heard people praising the show like it was the second coming of Fullmetal Alchemist. Narutaki and I joked that we must have accidentally watched Totally Tubular Space Pirates which must have been the inferior knock off show. It seems like the one show that is able to get the jaded old school fans and the young moe fans to sit down at the table and agree to enjoy something together. This keeps me watching the anime while trying to discover what I am missing that everyone else is in love with. But the more I watch the more flaws I see with the show. I feel more and more these are flaws I would normally forgive if it were watching this in a vacuum but are unmistakable when I examine the show so minutely. Plus being a Space Pirate seems to be more like a glorified Sea World stage show than the brave adventures of Captain Harlock. Maybe if I come back to this show a year from now I can give it a fair shake. Right now I feel like those people who picked apart Summer Wars until it was devoid of any fun because it got all the hype that it did and I don’t want to be that guy.

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