Ongoing Investigations: Case #171

Rurouni Kenshin has been getting a strong revival recently. The manga ended in 1999, and other than the slightly infamous Reflection OVA, the series was fairly dormant until last year. Then a PSP fighting game and the Kyoto Arc movies heralded a Renaissance for the series ushering in the upcoming live action film. Even more surprisingly than any of that is the newly re-imagined manga of the original series. Seeing that the Kenshin name still has a good deal of cache with western fans Shonen Jump Alpha announced that Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration (aka Rurouni Kenshin -Cinema-ban-) would be the one of the titles they used to replace the recently finished Bakuman manga.

Like any good reboot Restoration is immediately familiar yet feels new at the same time. Clearly Nobuhiro Watsuki has changed and improved his art style since he last worked on Kenshin. But at the same time it ins unmistakably Kenshin.If you have ever seen the character redesigns for the covers of the Rurouni Kenshin Kanzenban reprints then you have a good idea of what to expect.

The first story combines the original introduction of Kenshin, Karou, and Yahiko with elements of the first Aoshi story. Like the art the story feels familiar but it is still its own beast. It starts during Bakumatsu with flashes of some iconic battles between KenshinJin-e, and Saito. It then moves forward to the relative calm of the Meiji era and Kenshin once again gets mixed up with Kaoru trying keep her dojo from unsavory scoundrels. It is a quick little story that unites the main trio and shows off Kenshin’s skills. The chapter end with some cameos of villains from throughout the original series including Sanosuke, Saito, and Inui Banjin. A good introduction to the cold-hearted assassin of the revolution who becomes a pacifist who carries a revered blade sword so he can defend the weak without killing. But at the same time it reminds you that there is still a bit of the beast still in Kenshin.

It is an interesting trip back to the story of Himura Kenshin. I think it has the distinct ability to draw in new fans while reminding older fans what they liked about the original. I am curious if they are going to make Kaoru anything more that a damsel in distress most of the time. This would be a good chance for her to live up to the initial promise she had in the original series.

I myself am mostly just sitting back and waiting for Misao to be reintroduced.

I wasn’t really all the interested in the online magazine Shonen Jump Alpha. I had nothing against it, I just wasn’t keeping up to date with any of their offerings. But then they announced Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration and I folded. So here I am, reading a comic weekly monthly which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I’m pretty excited!

From first glance I was happy with what I saw. The art is top-notch, very sharp and crisp. The action is swift and bold.

We start with bloody battles featuring Kenshin as Battosai and then jump forward to the period after the war. This set-up works, you don’t know too much about Kenshin and his abilities but you know enough to be aware of his badass status. He makes it pretty freakin’ clear to a lot of people that he is indeed Battosai from the first chapter. It feels more aggressive, instead of trying to live out a humble life, Kenshin is ready to jump in the fray for a purpose. He hasn’t lost the rejection of unnecessary violence, but he also isn’t hiding from who he was. At least, that’s how it seemed in this chapter.

I wasn’t really kidding when not too long ago I joked that if they were redoing Kenshin they should have forgotten about Karou. Blessedly, she is already not nearly as annoying. I believe this can continue!

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You’re Never Alone in Being Alone

Warning! Spoilers for Battle Athletes Victory, Excel Saga, Turn A Gundam, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and Hayate the Combat Butler.

Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers but this post is for all the single people who feel a bit left out. The media often tells you that if you are not in relationship than you are a failure. But for everyone who is alone today here are some characters who feel your pain. These are all good characters that for one reason or anther can’t be with the one they love. None of them are bad people so there are not horrible villains from predestined love triangles. They are all just victims of the whims of fate. I just hope the 5 characters help you remember that there are people out there fictional and non-fictional just like you.

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Anime & Manga of the Month: September

Anime of the Month
They Were 11 by Kitty Film

This a short (running just 91 minutes), perfect little self-contained space opera. While it was made in the 80’s it is adapted from a manga made in the 70’s and the character designs reflect that. Ten cadets are sent off on their final test of survival, which happens to be on an abandoned space ship, but when they board the ship there are 11 people in the group. Since the test is randomized no one has a clue as to who is the odd man out. Suspicion, sabotage, and mystery ensue as the cadets form factions and cope with a decomposing ship, rising temperatures, and a fatal disease that is spreading among the crew. They can end the test with a push of a button but then they all fail. All manner of species and personalities clash in this small group, which makes it a pleasure to watch it play out and almost impossible to figure out who the 11th man is.

Manga of the Month
Excel Saga by Koushi Rikudou

While Excel Saga the anime had it’s time in the sun, most people ignore the excellent manga it was based on which is a shame because while I love the anime, I love the manga even more. Where as the anime was a high energy gag a second parody of anime, the manga is a little more subtle with social satire mixed in with its parody of anime tropes. Also I really think Elgala is cute and she’s only in the manga.

Excel, Hyatt, and eventually Elgala are soldiers and agents for ACROSS, an organization bent on world domination. Ilpalazzo, the leader of ACROSS, has determined that he must first take over F city before he can take over the rest of the world. And so Excel spends most of her time going on bizarre missions in hopes of taking over the city and then the world. Ilpalazzo’s old nemesis, Dr. Kabapu, has organized the Department of City Security with his own agents to stop the plans of ACROSS. Technically both organizations are hunting each other but most of the time they are so incompetent that they spend more time fixing their own mistakes, dilemmas, and financial problems than fighting one another.

I must make note that the Viz translation is done my the famous Carl Gustav Horn so they are expertly translated and researched with amazing translation notes at the end. I think learn a little sometime every time I read a new book of Excel Saga. Sometimes the translation notes are as amusing as the comic itself. And that is high praise indeed.