Ongoing Investigations: Case #181

As a fan of Kenjiro Hata I am always interested in the older works. In fact I did a whole article about the evolution of this style two years ago. I got the Japanese release of Heroes of the Sea Lifesavers when it was reissued due to Hata’s popularity with Hayate. But sadly when I searched for any translations of Heroes of the Sea Lifesavers there were none to be found. But there was a short one shot also included in the book called God’s Rocket Punch. It as clearly a pre-Hayate work as you can tell that Hata’s style is still very crude. But unlike the longer part of the book this has a fan translation.

Tasuke discovers that he grandfather used the last years of his life to trade a goddess for a most unusual wish that by happenstance is passed down to him. Now Tasuke and his friend Kazuya are conscripted by the goddess to fight for justice now that he has a mecha styled rocket punching right hand. Needless to say this does not go well.

Wow. Even more than Heroes of the Sea Lifesavers you can tell that God’s Rocket Punch comes off of Hata working for Koji Kumeta. As I mentioned before when Kenjiro Hata started on his own you can heavily see the work of his mentor in all his art. Kazuya feels like an early prototype for Wataru especially with his snarky personality. But character design wise he looks more like Koji Kumeta’s fan art of Wataru. But the shading, page layout, and reaction shots, and overall art are still highly influenced by Hata’s old mentor. It would not be until a few books into Hayate that he would find his own style.

But even more than that Hata’s comedic beats are still much more Koji Kumeta stylized. Kazuya’s personality makes him a very at home in Katte ni Kaizo. While the idiot trio can be rambunctious they don’t have that same sort of mildly psychotic air that Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei characters have. Also a bit of the deadpan delivery and slightly absurdest moments are half way between still being an assistant and having their own voice.

I think this was clearly a pilot that just never got enough steam to get off the ground. It ends with a clear lead into the next part of the plot. It is a nifty little idea but sadly one never got a chance to shine. Such is the fate of a manga artists first chapters. If nothing else Orumuzuto Nadja continues to make appearances in the omake for the Hayate manga.

I would like to read Thunder Goddess Sofia and the early draft of Hayate where Hinagiku and Yukiji are the main characters. But I have seen hide nor hair of either. Oh well. I guess I will just have to wait for someone to translate Heroes of the Sea Lifesavers until then.

Olympos is a one book manga from Yen Press following Ganymede’s captivity in Zeus’s miniature garden. While this gives the prince immortality, he can’t leave, and so his days are spent whiling away the time as amusement for the Gods (mostly Apollo).

A lot of  questions about “life” are brought up in these pages. The Gods immortality has made them callous as well as bored and relating to humans is a foreign concept well put in this story. There are also some interesting looks at how humanity took the idea of Gods and ran with it.

As for an overarching plot, the book fumbles around a lot. It starts with a chapter featuring an early 20th century guy being asked to rescue Ganymede, but that is quickly over. Then there is a lot involving a plot to take down Zeus by other Gods but comes to naught. In between those things is an in-depth look at Apollo’s first interaction with humans which is probably the best done of any. But while it makes why Apollo treats Ganymede the way he does more clear, it doesn’t feel like it comes to anything in the end.

I gotta admit, even after being a manga reader for a long time, I thought that Apollo and Ganymede were females in this story at first. The art has a light touch making it flowy and delicate. The color pages are a real treat, too.

While I thought the art was beautiful in Olympos, the story just wanders along for a while then ends without much resolution making it a rather uneventful read.

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.

Continue reading

Ongoing Investigations: Case #127

Taking another item from our Seven Seas review pile I am so glad to be able to recommend one of their books without the qualifier “as long as you into this rather bizarre fetish.”  A Certain Scientific Railgun is a fun spin-off from the main A Certain Magical Index universe. Unsurprisingly Mikoto Misaka turned out to be one of the most popular characters from A Certain Magical Index but what was a little shocking is she got spun off into her own series. The Railgun series revolves around her involvement with the student run police organization called Judgement in the city-wide psychic school known as Academy City. Although she is not officially a member of Judgement Mikoto often gets involved with cases due to her roommate Shirai Kuroko. The first major story arc involves a mad bomber who is targeting members of Judgement but that soon leads to a much bigger mystery of a strange item called the Level Upper. Supposedly the Level Upper can exponentially increase your psychic power but it may have sinister side effects as well.  For better or for worse the Railgun series focuses entirely on the science side of the Index universe. Considering how certain people tend to dislike parts of the magical side this might be a strong selling point for the series. The stories are light and fun with Mikoto infusing any story she is in with her energetic and strong-willed self that made her popular enough to get a spin-off in the first place. Saten Ruiko and Kazari Uiharu are good supporting cast who are colorful enough to be distinct without being too loud even if they occasionally come off as the most interesting refuges from all girls slice of life manga. Shirai Kuroko’s over the top crush on Mikoto Misaka is silly enough to either make you chuckle or groan whenever she is on the page depending on if you enjoy her shtick or not. The series wears is yuri undertones on its sleeve. They are strong enough that they are mistakable but not enough to turn anyone away from the story. If you have watched the anime the stories are pretty similar but the manga is all killer and no filler. We there are some breathers most of the time we jump from plot point to plot point pretty quickly. You can tell that the anime threw in quite a good deal of filler material or extra complications to the story. You still get to know the girls of Railgun but they remove most of the slice of life manga feeling that the anime added. So if you liked the anime but wish they just got on with it then this is the version for you. The art is pleasant and captures the characters and action well. Overall it is a welcome addition to Index universe. It just makes me wish that someone would license the light novels but considering the light novel market in the US I realize that is tantamount to asking a company to go out of business. Such misfortune.

Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society was the obvious next title to watch once I finished 2nd Gig. I didn’t realize it would take place two years after the ending of the second season with the Major (mostly) MIA from Section 9. A conspiracy involving missing children, dying elderly, refugee suicides, and a hacker called The Puppeteer combine with the Major right in the thick of things to once again take us on an intense ride to an unexpected end. Both Battou and Togusa are stepped up a little in this movie, which is only a good thing. The scenes in the hospital with Togusa’s daughter are great. And I gave a big thumbs up to the last moments of the film with Battou and the Major looking out the window together. After finishing this I more than ever want a Stand Alone Complex 3rd Gig.

Continue reading

Nina dies in a fire and other wishful thoughts about Code Geass.

In part two of our guest appearance on the Ani-Gamers podcast we talk about Code Geass seasons 1 and 2. With Evan we explore our thoughts and theories on many topics including the series ending, the flow of the story, our reaction to bizarre parts of fandom, and why Nunnally was the best character ever. It’s only one podcast so while we discuss what really stood out for us, we barely scratch the surface of the series as a whole. We are warning everyone now that you might as well assume we spoil everything including details about the conclusion and who lives and dies. Also we discuss the greatest and most guarded secret only known to a handful in the Code Geass community: What Kallen Stadtfeld’s face looks like.

Ani-Gamers Podcast #030 – Code Geass (a.k.a. Pepperoni Hotdogs in the Pizza Crust?!)