The Speakeasy #080: Voltron, Kubo and the Two Strings, Otakon, Akito the Exiled

Ongoing Investigations: Voltron Legendary Defender by Dreamworks, Kubo and the Two Strings by Laika, and Code Geass: Akito the Exiled by Sunrise.

Food for Thought: What is the most important thing for Otakon to get right its first year in D.C.?

Topics: Otakon 2016

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And now your helpful bartenders at The Speakeasy present your drink:

Last Goodbye

  • 1 oz cognac
  • 3/4 oz cherry brandy
  • 1/4 oz triple sec
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1 tsp grenadine syrup
Pour into an old-fashioned glass half-filled with broken ice, and serve.

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 #189

It was time to return to the Code Geass universe with the first Akito the Exiled OVA. It is a side story set during the original series that takes place on the mostly neglected European front. While the European Union was mentioned several times in the series there were no significant scenes that ever really take place there. So it is a good setting as a good deal can go on in that area and not have it contradict the original series.

The only real consequence is that the cast is limited in what it can accomplish. The overall defeat of the EU is an inevitability. So the cast cannot become super heroes who single handily turn the tide of the war or kill the Emperor. But at the same time the can accomplish smaller goals so it is not like there is nothing they do in this time period.

The first thing most people will notice is that no matter where Japanese people go in the Code Geass universe it is a hard knock life. The Japanese hoping to escape a terrible life in Area 11 find that being refugees in other countries is little better. The crazy European commander of a Japanese unit starts sending his subordinates suits their self destruct codes as he sees them as subhuman mongrels whose only value is to die completing their missions. So the not so subtle themes of prejudice are echoed here as well.

The single survivor of the unit, named Akito, is helped by another commander named Leila Malkal. It seems Akito has some sort of Geass power but other than using in ambiguously in combat a few times it seems the writers are keeping what exactly his ability is under their hats. I also get the feeling they imply Leila has a Geass power but they only tease its existence more than show it.

Other than that most of the episode is just showing the setting as the European Union that was barely fleshed out in the original series. We mostly learn that they are a different sort of corrupt government as opposed to a noble force that fights against the wicked Britannian empire. The leadership of the AU is mainly made up of haughty nobles who live in luxury while a good deal of the citizenry lives in poverty. Leila seems to be a rare expectation although she seems less concerned about reforming the system and more about just being a decent human being to the people she meets.

I was a little surprised that for a Code Geass series there was almost no fan service. The original series all but left you voice mails every episode reminding you about how stacked Kallen and C.C. were. So other than a pair of bunny girl waitresses (who barely appear on-screen) there is almost nothing else close to fan service in the series. I wonder if that makes this an easier sell to certain people.

The next episode preview seems to indicate that some major players from the original series are going to stop by next episode. It seems that C.C. has some tie to Leila which backs up my theory that she has a Geass power.

This is an easy recommendation to anyone who enjoyed the original series. It is fairly short but fills in the universe without trying to carve out too ambitious of a niche in the greater story. Hopefully they will keep the scope ambitious but not to the level in which they forget how small their canvas is.

I was looking forward to the Code Geass: Akito the Exiled OVA and the first episode didn’t disappoint me. Though admittedly a lot of the surprises were in the next episode preview, I thought this episode set up things well and got me invested in the characters.

I really warmed to our lead Leila right away. She seems like a soldier and able to take care of herself. She has her head on right without being conventional, her unit is ending up being a unique team. The hints at her past got more interesting as the episode went on.

Akito is not a cold fish which was a pleasant surprise. I liked that they didn’t reveal what exactly his Geass does yet. He uses it in battle at the start but he doesn’t use it in a later battle so it remains a mystery. The movement of his robot at the beginning is crazy! Very animal like in its agility, it was actually a little unnerving.

I enjoyed everyone meeting in this installment and happily there was no romantic agenda being pushed. They do introduce a lot of characters and a lot of characters with Geass powers but hopefully they’ll be able to balance all of them.

It doesn’t seem like a story that is going to end in happiness though I’m guessing it won’t be all bad. Still I expect Akito to die by the end.

The only real problem for me was the characters’ hair and clothing designs, bleh. Also some of the characters had tiny heads! Oh wait, and there was also super creeper fiance brother. So some minor missteps.

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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