Ongoing Investigations: Case #093

hisuiconChi’s Sweet Home may be the greatest possibility of being a mainstream success with an older audience that manga will ever have. Everything about it is extremely friendly to the casual reader. It is flipped and in color which gives it a distinctly high end American newspaper comic feel. It is cute and delightfully innocent. The book is superbly designed. Everything is crisp and clean and the whole book is as well designed as the Japanese version if not better. So rightfully you will see tons of praise for this series on the Internet and it deserves all the praise it gets. That being said I ultimately found the series utterly boring. The whole books is kitten moe. The book utterly relies on you finding Chi adorable. But the problem with Chi is the problem you see with any moe show. People who love K-ON! love it with their heart and soul and everyone else wonders what the heck that crazy person is babbling on about. Now moe for humans quickly gets into weird and uncomfortable sexual issues for some people which thankfully are nonexistent in Chi. But the underlying problem still remains. If you collect cute pictures of kittens, post in Caturday threads, and/or are just in love with felines in general this book will be catnip to you. To me it was like one of those extremely profitable newspaper comics that I read and then just shrug my shoulders. I understand why it is so successful but I just seem immune to it’s charm.

As far as I know Kekkaishi 22 is my last pre-ordered volume, I must remedy that! In this installment we see the consequences of Tokine’s actions at the end of volume 21 plus the mysteries surrounding the scared sites just keep getting thicker. We also meet a character that I kept seeing in fan-art who is a member of the Shadow Organization’s special unit. As per previous suspicions and hints, someone in the Organization is behind the murders going on but we are still no closer to finding out who. There’s a decent dose of humor in this book despite the very serious circumstances of Tokine’s predicament. And this time around Yoshimori atleast asks first to be reckless before leaving, a step in the right direction maybe. We end mid-stream as Yoshi finally connects with Tokine and a major battle is slated to ensue. A good, solid volume.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #091

hisuiconNo matter how much Akiyuki Shinbo shows might feel like Akiyuki Shinbo shows you cannot mask the quirky trademark humor of Hikaru Nakamura in Arakawa Under the Bridge. I did notice after a while my enjoyment of segments really depended on which characters were in them. Scenes with Nino, Hoshi, Sister, Stella are usually excellent where as Maria and P-ko usually fall flat. Everyone else is hit and miss. I did notice in reflection Nino does not show up nearly as much as you think she would especially in the second half of the anime. I know some people found Kou annoying but I thought it was an excellent straight man to the rest of the cast. Episodes 10,11, and 12 have a story that has a decent conclusion with Kou having to confront his father over the development of the land under the bridge. There is a big confrontation with nothing really changed. But that is usually how you best deal with an ongoing comedy series like Arakawa. Also after episode 13 they announced a second season so they had to maintain the status quo. Overall I enjoyed every episode and always looked forward to watching the latest episode. Arakawa Under the Bridge is not as spectacular as Saint Young Men from what I have seen but always made me feel good after watching an episode. I hope the 2nd season can continue that feeling.

I had mixed feelings going into Arakawa Under the Bridge, while I thoroughly enjoy the humor of Hikaru Nakamura (also the manga-ka of Saint Young Men), Shinbo makes me wary. However, I found myself laughing heartily for most episodes and feeling an overall satisfaction with the show. The wacky premise of a colony of misfits living in a community under a bridge combined with the neurotic Kou joining their circle almost makes you feel at ease in the bizarre. Eventhough much of the humor relies on unexpectedness, the series has the ability to keep taking bigger leaps which allows for fresh moments to appear despite knowing characters’ schtick. Though some of the humor begins to fall flat at moments that rely too heavily on Kou being surprised. The first half is better than the second mostly because some of the resued jokes start to lose their luster and the later half deigns to tell us a semi-serious story which isn’t very compelling. The attempt to insert a plot to cap off the show was valiant but could have been better served by just bringing Kou and Nino closer together without all the rest. In fact, many episodes have just a moment of poignant brilliance (“We want to know who you are not what you have.”) which struck a better balance. The strange humor of Arakawa is certainly worth checking out even if it does ebb and flow at the end.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #088

I rewatched the beginning of the Raoh Gaiden TV series and then finished it off. It stays pretty much insane and hilarious all the way through as we learn the story of Raoh before the beginning of Fist of the North Star’s main plot. We follow him through his first upheaval and declaration as king as he builds an army, meets Kokuoh-go, imprisons Toki, and bests many foes. Though it doesn’t have as much fighting as you might imagine since Raoh pretty much wins every time within 5 seconds. The exception to this is the last fight between Raoh and Souther but clearly that can’t end with either one’s death! There are new characters for Raoh’s story including some love interests, yes for real, not that Raoh every engages in such romantic actions. This becomes doubly funny with the ending animation seemingly implying this series has a really romantic slant. Reina as one of the ladies is hard to swallow as never being talked about in earlier works considering she is both Raoh’s childhood friend and a general in his army. The series is about Raoh so of course it is entertaining and of course I enjoyed every minute, but I don’t think it will appeal to anyone who doesn’t already have this feeling in their heart!

hisuiconI decided watch one of the cornerstones of shojo history by taking on the 115 episode beast that is Candy Candy. After 25 episodes it is obvious why this is such an influential and celebrated work. Candy Candy is the story of the spirited tomboy Candice White who starts life as an orphan with nothing but her good nature to her name. She tries to keep in contact with her best friend Anne and find the Prince of the Hill who won her heart. She is thrown into adversity after adversity including the various machinations of the family that adopts her. Whenever it seems like the plot is going to drop into a predicable formula they will shake things up by doing something like sending Candy to Mexico. I have to say the end of this arc is quite surprising. If this is any sign of things to come I will say Candy Candy is anything but predictable. I feel a little bad for Archibald and Stear because they are really cool gentlemen who are obviously in love with Candy but everyone including them know they are always just going to be in the friend zone. I am very curious to see what the next 25 episodes have to offer.

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