Ongoing Investigations: Case #003

Gurren Lagaan is a tongue-in-cheek love letter to manly giant robot shows. It’s always about being a MAN! The whole world and its evil, beast-men robots may be against you but you fight on with manly pride and manly courage! You shout your attacks at the top of your lungs and fight for what you need to protect with guts and grit! Kamina is your standard balls to the wall, fiery robot pilot. He is mostly there to be cool, gain a huge fan following, and motivate the spineless but spark of potential Simon. Simon is easily compared to Shinji especially since they are both from Gainax shows, but I think it is way too easy to ignore Simon as his own character that way. Simon has potential to grow whereas Shinji was always meant to break down. Yoko is pretty kick-ass or at least as kick-ass as your going to get being a woman in a manly giant robot show. So far they have not given her a useless Aphrodite A style robot. Episode 4 definitely earned it’s infamous reputation. If this is the cleaned up version I would hate/love to see the original episode.

On a side note: Bravo Bandai. I really approve of Bandai’s plan of releasing nine episode sets sub only with minimum extras and then releasing deluxe sets with dub and additional extras later on.  I love getting nine episodes for 20 dollars at Best Buy. If you release Hayate or Gundam 00 like this Bandai you have my money. I will slap you with the twenty like I was Mask the Money.

Gurren Lagaan is one of those shows that I knew would probably be good, but just never got around to seeing. Now I have and now I know what the fuss is all about, finished the first five episodes. This show is so good and hilarious! GAINAX you shock me! It has been much too long since I enjoyed one of their new shows. Everything about it is over the top, from the way the robots look to Kamina’s hilarious names for the different attacks (Combustion of Manly Souls Cannonball Attack!). And Kamina’s dealings with Yoko are a laugh a minute! But on a more serious note I really enjoy the sibling closeness and protectiveness between Simon and Kamina, it feels right. Looking forward to watching more!

I normally don’t like slice of life, but I am always looking for the next Azumanga Daioh. So I tried out Hidamari Sketch. I thought the premise had potential, it is about four girls who are going to art school. Upon viewing, can’t say I found anything special about this show. It was rather boring, not very funny, and the animation is really weird. These types of shows live and die on whether or not you connect with one or more of the characters because there is no plot to speak of. I didn’t and so I found nothing to warrant continuing on.

Liar Game just pissed me off. Nao finally has the chance to grow as a character and do something without Kazuo and she utterly fails as life so Kazuo has to come bail her out. I thought since the revival round was all losers from other rounds she would finally have opponents that were weak enough that she could handle them on her own. She could finally stand on her own two feet and win a round without her guardian angel. But as far as I can tell her purpose is to be useless and a liability. I know sometimes it is asking too much Japan but could we turn the misogyny down to a manageable 6 or 7 as opposed to the 11 where you normally have it.

Picked up Dragon Eye volume 5 as soon as I could. This book is mostly transitional, we just came off an intense battle and a lot of plot from the last couple of books. We are moving toward a tournament, but the end of the book boasts an awesome confrontation in the coming chapters. My only qualm about it is Issa is currently injured so I’m not sure how the fight will play out or if even if it will get a good momentum before it is over. In any case, I am certainly looking forward to it.

Banana Fish is like baby’s first BL. It has all the homosexual tension of your favorite BL work but none of the graphic nature of anything but the tamest works. I can definitely see why this did so well in Japan. It has a good mixture of action, political intrigue, and melodrama. It’s BL romance mixed with a seinen thriller. I do have two criticisms though. The first is that the author certainly researched New York City but never lived here. I am sure the average Japanese person did not notice anything but I know people like to complain about it here in the States. It was amusing but nothing that made me not want to read anymore. Also Ash Lynx is a huge Mary Sue at times. He is super beautiful, genius IQ smart, and good at EVERYTHING that counts. Ash got a score of 171 when I put him into the Universal Mary Sue Litmus test.

Continuing to play Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced 2 and atleast a real plot has now appeared. We moved on from the “The book wants you to fill it up and then you can go home” plot. Still not bonded with my main character though. But I’m willing to still keep going besides more characters will be appearing as well. The game play continues to be awesome and I can’t stop playing! I get very obsessive about mastering new abilities and getting new jobs! I do have to complain that it is endlessly annoying to have people want to join your clan but they have not learned any abilities or skills. They are level 27 but know nothing? Interesting.

That’s it for this week’s investigations! Look for a new case file every Friday!

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Anime and Manga of the Month: June

Manga of the Month
Dragon Eye by Kairi Fujiyama

Leila is a brand new recruit to VIUS, a large organization of people combating the mysterious D-Virus. Both the organization and the virus itself, which turns the infected into blood thirsty, destructive “Dracules,” we know little about. Through a series of events, some quite amusing, she ends up in the hands of Issa, Captain of Squad Zero. Issa is seemingly lackadaisical, which is probably why the squad only includes himself and now Leila. But he is probably brilliant and you soon learn that his past is filled with holes. The glimpses of his former life bring a lot of much needed tension to the story. This becomes of serious importance as the Dracules begin to move as an organized group rather than a bunch of unthinking monsters. His relationships with some characters are strained while others truly believe in him, as it becomes more clear that some know a bit more about him than others. The cast changes somewhat from story to story as Squad Zero is always borrowing help, this peppers the story with some fun team-ups. The art is well done and the weaponry and equipment is cool which adds to the well done fights. Dragon Eye is a shonen adventure series, but it uses its formula well and creates characters you wish to see through to the end.

Anime of the Month
Black Lagoon by Madhouse Studios

Normally we showcase less known series in the Anime and Manga of the Month but I decided to throw up a better know. title that is in an odd predicament. Geneon went under and so far no one has saved the license. The dub for both seasons is done because they played them both on Canadian Tech TV. I really want someone to pick up the second season there in the states. I think it’s a guaranteed seller with legs.

Black Lagoon is about being awesome and having Revy, the duel pistol wielding awesome goddess incarnate. Black Lagoon is essentially an animated action movie. The story revolves around Rokuro Okajima who gets kidnapped by the pirates of the Lagoon Company but ends up as part of the crew. The Lagoon Company crew is as follows. Rock whose role is to be the fish out of water who has some invaluable negation skill from his days as a salary man. Revy is the muscle. Dutch being the muscular African-American seems like he would be the tough of the group but he is the companies leader and tactician. Benny rounds out the group as the hacker.

The intensity of the series is always turned up to 11. Even in the quieter moments the show have an underlying ferocity. There is also a tendency to throw out realism in favor of style. Revy duel wields pistols not because it’s practical but because it looks awesome. PT boats take on helicopters with mini-guns. People fight with chainsaws, flamethrowers, or throwing knives on chains because it looks freaking awesome. Also the characters are almost always a mixture of fascinating and frightening. Roanapur is an amoral city in which only the crafty and strong make it through the day. Black Lagoon is a fun, gritty, action anime. Viz is going to start publishing the manga soon and I really hope someone will step up to the plate and re-license this series.