Ongoing Investigations: Case #010

I did not do much except play video games this week. Played through Professor Layton and the Curious Village. It was a distinctly enjoyable puzzle game. I had figured out most of the mystery about half way through the game so obviously it was not that difficult. The animated sequences were well done and Layton and Luke are fun characters if not particularly deep. You mostly come to professor Layton for the puzzles but you stay for the amusing characters. This game seems right up Narutaki’s alley with detectives and classic puzzles. I hope they continue to localize these games.

Watched the first four episodes of Toward the Terra. I loved the manga now I get to love the anime! It has this nice combination of old school and modern, the art is this nice meld of the two. The opening song is really great! It is done by UVERworld who I have been sort of neutral about, but this song made me have a little more hope for the upcoming Gundam 00 opening which I have heard only a snippet of. So far the show has been beautiful animated and the story spot on. Soldier Blue you’re the best! There is a nice bonus of an interview with Keiko Takemiya in which she speaks in depth. Makes me want her to be a guest at a convention.

Got around playing Final Fantasy A2. I think I am enjoying it more than Narutaki but mostly because I never played Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced so I don’t know what I’m missing story-wise. I’m mostly here for the real-time strategy which is extremely well done and I am blissfully ignoring the rather generic plot. I am totally playing just to level up jobs and see new missions. I am slightly annoyed that I sometime break the laws when my characters are charmed or confused. It’s a slight gripe but very annoying after following a pain in the butt rule for several rounds of combat just to have the rule broken at the end by a single status effect.

Picked up the first volume of Nightmare Inspector. Hiruko goes into your nightmares to help you dispel them, his payment is the eating of the nightmare. So far every story has had a little twist and isn’t as straight forward as it seems. It is a nice series of vignettes but that isn’t really my favorite thing without an over arching plot to jump at once and a while. However, the last story in the volume is continued in the next and in the preview they mention possibly learning about Hiruko’s past so I am atleast curious. Also had a funny litte extra at the end about the cane he carries.

I tried some Mugen no Frontier: Super Robot Wars OG Saga. It’s simple enough that I can play without knowing any Japanese. It’s a turn-based RPG with some action elements to break up the monotony. I was enjoying this game up until I got up to one boss in this playing card themed dungeon. I can’t get pass this little witch and I don’t feel like grinding enough to blast past her with sheer brute force. I wonder if I am missing something because I can’t read Japanese or if the game just kicked the difficulty level up quite a bit rather unexpectedly.

Started watching Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. I know everyone will be shocked, but I’ve never watched this show all the way through. I have seen an episode here and there but what can I say? I just take my own sweet time getting to shows. I liked what I’ve seen so far, the cop drama kind of feel it is great but with cooler weapons. The Laughing Man comes into the story right at the end of the first DVD and I sort of knew what that was. It certainly keeps the world elements of the original but we get a closer focus on character relationships and a fleshing out of personalities. Really don’t like the opening, but the song itself is really a wonderful, haunting melody. Motoko’s normal outfit cracks me up a bit, I know it is fan service but it just seems so out of place. I think they could have used her full body suit outfit which she wears in the second or third episode instead. Oh and I love the Tachicomas. Forever.

Having watched the Laughing Man arc quite a while ago it was fun to go back and see some of it again. I always liked the third episode with the Jeri androids that were malfunctioning. For some reason I feel that who ever wrote that episode totally wrote it for themselves and anyone else that happened to be a big film buff. Knowing enough about what a horrible pervert Masamune Shirow is I have to wonder if he insisted that Motoko’s outfit be horribly fan servicey outfit or is it just an accepted part of the franchise. Oh and I have always been tempted to buy on of those really nice Tachicoma statues but I have never been able to convince myself to splurge on one. Yet.

Was lucky enough to attend the New York Comic-Con ConFab. It was like a focus group type deal and they bought us lunch, plus we get a free weekend pass for the convention in 2009. They have some great ideas coming up, stuff that I feel no other con has done before. That makes it really exciting. They also had tons of questions for us, a lot about lines and tickets and then general what was bad. They were really enthusiastic about our ideas and it felt like someone was really listening. Looking forward to the coming convention.

I started playing some Touch Detective 2 ½ and it seems just a quirky as the last one. I really miss the point and click puzzle games back in their heyday on PC. I am glad to see someone picking up the torch again. I like the bizarrely dry humor and the unique character designs. It is clearly not a game that will win over new fans. It’s essentially more of the same without even an attempt to innovate or add new features. I don’t mind though because I just wanted more Mackenzie.



Ongoing Investigations: Case #001

I have been eating up Daughter of Twenty Faces every week. I anxiously await the next episode and I love that feeling. I was really happy to hear DoTF was given a 26 episode run after initially having only 13. Being a lover of detective fiction, it is not hard to imagine me glomming onto this show. However, the show is also really good! Albeit over the top but I think that is what is so exciting, it wraps all things detective into it but still manages to surprise you. Episodes nine and ten start to establish some of the stuff we see in the opening and ending. I have a bit of theory and am curious if it is true. Detective stories constantly have red herrings so it’ll be interesting to see this play out.

Finally watched the last episode of Tower of Druaga. I have to say, this series turned out to be pretty good. Finally some decent fantasy anime. I was glad we didn’t get some huge information dump in this last episode, just the end of an arc. I am definitely looking forward to the next season. And it was a good experiment by Gonzo, the whole coming out at the same time as the Japanese. I was really happy with the results.

Watched the finale of Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend). This live action comedy/drama is loosely based on the Yuu Watase work of the same name. With all the changes that were made to the story I was surprised, pleasantly, how close the ending came to the original as far as feelings. I was unhappy with a few of the middle episodes, but I liked the approach they took of showing Night becoming human (and Riko realizing it) slowly where in the manga I never really thought of him as anything but. Overall, it’s a cute series for women.

I watched the American live action Fist of the North Star movie. It is mostly a retelling of the first part of Hokuto no Ken, Kenshiro’s fight with Shin. It is definitely a silly movie but it really seems that it wants to reproduce what makes Hokuto no Ken such a popular franchise world wide. Lots of the story details are correct but it seems to miss the spirit overall. It does not help that when ever Kenshiro does his signature moves they come off more silly than fearsome. It’s oddly enough a fun movie if you just want a cheesy martial arts film but a blasphemy if you want the definitive live action Hokuto no Ken.

Also watched the last four episodes of Sexy Voice and Robo another live action comedy/drama. It is also loosely based on an unfinished seinen manga. I originally picked this up because Kenichi Matsuyama plays Robo, you may know him as L. Sexy Voice and Robo investigate weird occurrences but they always end up helping people. It was a lot of fun but also always had a little moral or something in it. It has a hopeful vibe and Niko (Sexy Voice) our 14-year-old protagonist can sometimes be profound.

I watched all of Karin recently. I was in the mood for a light romantic comedy and Karin fit the bill. It’s definitely a shonen romance series, but I can see why it has found a fan following among girls in the U.S. If you add in vampires to anything you have to go out of your way to turn off girls. It can be done but you have to try pretty hard. I am looking at you Rosario + Vampire. I liked Karin and Kenta and the rest of the side cast was amusing. Karin being a blood making vampire is certainly inventive as well. I like how vampires work in the Karin universe. The fact that vampires in Karin drain emotions along with blood is a novel approach to the vampire mythos while still being conducive for comedy. The only thing I have to bringing up is that the vampire hunter’s costumes in this series have to be the goofiest thing on Gackt Camui’s green earth. I know this is a comedy but seriously.

Read the first book of Goong, a very popular manhwa. A prince has to marry a commoner who his grandfather made a promise to. Neither of them are too happy with the idea. Can’t say I’m all that impressed as of yet but it has left me curious enough to pick up atleast the next volume. It has potential. Though no one really captured my attention. The art is only great on occasion, though I know it is long running so that can change. I have been on a shojo romance hiatus for a while so maybe I just wasn’t ready for another foray yet.

I just read book ten of Eden: It’s an Endless World! and Hiroki Endo is more than willing to kill off characters. Every time I think that a character can’t be killed, Hiroki Endo proves me wrong and murders them in epic fashion. Hiroki Endo is also a genius because he will often put a character in several near fatal situations and have them pull though before ultimately killing them. This means you never know if a character is just in a tight situation or they going to meet their maker. All too often you are not worried about characters because you have a good idea of who is going to live and who is going to die. Eden makes sure every book is tense because you have no guarantees anyone lives. I highly recommend everyone try this series because it’s not doing that well but it should be. It’s a gritty cyberpunk series with a good mix of action, sex, and gnostic symbolisms. It should be flying off the shelves.

Picked up Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced 2 and have barely put it down. I loved the original so I am glad to have more with a bit of an updated system, new races, and some new jobs. The laws don’t have the crazy consequences of the first and also as long as you play within the law your clan gets different bonuses. Oh and for anyone that thought the first game was too easy, this one has a difficulty setting. Haven’t gotten into the plot much yet, got sucked into the Ivalice world and am now looking for a mage to help me figure out how to get home. Not sure if I love the main character yet ( I love you Marche!) but I don’t by any means dislike him. And Adelle is nowhere near as cool as Ritz. I am hoping these characters grow on me.

That’s it for this week’s investigation. Look for new ongoing investigations every Friday!