Ongoing Investigations: Case #086

Detective Conan: Countdown to Heaven (movie 5) is the first to involve the Black Organization. I always enjoy their appearances and they add a level of danger so it’s a nice addition to this very tense film. This is also the first film that actually requires you to see some previous amount of Conan to fully grasp it, it ties into the first film. And actually if you haven’t seen the first movie I think it takes away some of speculation on who is the culprit. This time around a new hi-rise and hotel is about to open, but before it does one of the contributors is murdered in the new hotel section. Subsequent people involved with the new building lose their lives as well and it all culminates at the opening party where chaos ensues as the power goes out which is only the beginning. How the Black Organization fits in Conan is determined to figure out. I really liked this movie, but I almost always find when the Black Organization is involved things are more complicated and the outcome is more unknown. The killer was hard to determine plus the little details to the case were well put together. As always the ending sequence is pretty much amazing, though even more tense because of the kids’ involvement. I would rank this one high for the movies!

hisuiconHaving gone back and done things in the proper order we were finally able to watch the fifth Detective Conan movie. While this seems to be a “normal” Detective Conan murder mystery going on, the shadowy Black Organization also seems to have a hand in the proceedings. In a way this is like two separate Conan stories in one movie. There is the very standard but solid murder mystery like you expect and then a high tension Black Organization episode as well. Conan and the viewers know that the plots are somehow connected but how they are connected is just as much a mystery as everything else. But everything comes together in the end quite nicely with both stories being good and crisscrossing without tripping over each other. As with most Conan movies the action sequences at the end are nicely done and benefit from the theatrical budget. Since the movies have been mostly filler it’s easy to make them disposable but I feel this movie gave you the impression of having some weight to it while not disturbing the main storyline. You could watch Countdown to Heaven without seeing The Timebombed Skyscraper but you have to watch this one after the first movie because it gives away the solution to the first film.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #016

Narutaki and I both lost our Internet connections so oddly enough it has led me to watch MORE anime than usual. Without the World Wide Web there to distract me it has left me some time to catch up with my unwatched anime.

I picked up the first Girl Who Runs Through Time manga released by CMX. I’ll just take a moment and mention how much I like CMX’s manga line as they consistently pick up over looked but good series many of which are short. After seeing The Girl Who Leapt Through Time I have been anxious for this manga to come out. While the movie clearly pays homage to its predecessor, they are still different entities. It was quite good with a fun and spunky heroine. Our two romantic rivals and the all knowing friend to round it all out. Though I am not sure how it can be resolved in just one more volume. This also reaffirms my hope that someone will pick up the original novel.

I can now understand why AWO says that GaoGaiGar gets better and better as the series goes on. The next to the last battle in the series is so epic and satisfying. The last battle is a little more of an emotional climax than any world shattering climax but it is still fun. I am still pretty sure that no one is going to like this show that is not in it to win it from the beginning. The final episodes are definitely better but I don’t think they would ever win over anyone. Still it is manly robot anime with fiery courage and bravery saving the day. I am going to take a little break before I throw myself into GaoGaiGar Final and/or Grand Glorious Gathering.  I might also go out and pick up Betterman before that for the minor connection. Because I am a nerd like that.

THANK GOODNESS GUNDAM 00 IS BACK! I am truly enjoying every minute. It is great to see all the storylines converging. It was great seeing Sumergai back in action! And with the return of my beloved Allelujah, well I’m happy! The next episode looks to be just what I wish for, too. I have been itching to watch the first season over again. I’m really looking forward to the DVD release. P.S. Black Haro is clearly the big villain, not sure why no one else sees it.

Shakugan no Shana ends pretty well. I was a little surprised that the final fights are mostly inconclusive and short. I suppose it was better that they worked on an emotional climax rather than a physical one but I wanted some more melee. I was also a little disappointed that we never see this supposed sword vs. spear fight between Shana and Sydonay as promised in the second opening. I suspect they don’t want to kill off the Bal Masque either because they realized it was popular enough to get a second season and/or they wanted to stick closer to the original light novels. It’s another series that while I could watch more of I am in no rush to download it when I am trying to catch up on watching what I have legitimacy purchased. Plus the second Shakugan no Shana has a decent chance of getting licensed especially if the box set sells well enough for Funimation.

Watched some more Code Geass and am happy to report the last couple of episodes on the first disc were not a fluke. The show is indeed good. I also found it great to be enjoying a fluff episode like 6 where the cat steals Zero’s helmet. It gave the series a nice uplifting episode but also reestablished the friendship between Lelouch and Suzaku. This disc made me really liked Shirley as she wanted to befriend Suzaku despite everyone else. I am also really loving Shirley and Kallen’s friendship. Still waiting for C.C. to really show some of her powers although she does prove usefull in this disc. Oh and apparently me and Kohaku are the only people on the internet that really like Suzaku.

I saw Genius Party with Kohaku and Scott from Anime Almanac. It is seven short animated shorts by different artists. Like most anthologies you are going to like certain stories more than other. The first eponymous titled Genius Party is a quirky little short about the creation and spreading of ideas. It has very striking visuals which is a necessity since there is no dialog. It has little stone coconut heads who create and transmit little heart shaped ideas and the scarecrow bird that preys on them. The second short is Shanghai Dragon which is a fun little story about a snot nosed kid who has to save the earth from alien invaders with a magical pen. The best part for me about this short was the two cyborgs that defend the boy and his female friend until he can come into his role as savior of the earth. Their seinen manly heroics against impossible odds were stylish and cool. Deathtic 4 was a odd little piece that was all 3D CG reminiscent of Gregory Horror Show or Reboot. I was entertained with the story of a team of self-proclaimed super hero zombies that try to get a frog back to the world of the living. It had a amusing little nod to the Fantastic 4 and filled with kids humor (aka fart jokes) in a macabre world. Doorbell is the story of a student who finds that another version of him has started taking over his life. Whenever he gets somewhere and his duplicate has arrived before him the people there seem to take the duplicate as him and can no longer see him. So a race starts between the two to see who can claim this existence. An odd little story with a seinen feel to the character designs. If I ever watch Genius party again on DVD I am sure to skip Limitcycle each and every time. Limitcycle is a rambling soliloquy about mans’ relationship to God. It basically has no plot and often times bewildering cyberpunk visuals that incorporate alchemical diagrams and seemingly random numbers. It was the most self indulgent piece I have seen in a long time. I don’t mind a little navel gazing but this meanders in such a unabashedly personal manner that it is incomprehensible to anyone but the author. Happy Machine is clearly by the man who directed Kaiba. Everything from the character designs to the relentlessly disturbing feeling under the pastel coloring. It is the second short in the anthology to be almost completely without dialog. It is the story of a baby who lives in a child rearing machine until is starts to break down and he is forced to survive in a hostile alien world. I say without hesitation that Baby Blue would have been Narutaki’s favorite story had he gone to see Genius Party. A warm little story of an almost love. A boy invites a childhood friend of his to skip school and go on a little adventure with him to the beach. They have a fun little bittersweet adventure as they spend the day together.

I have been reading a lot of one-shot and one book shojo manga of late. It’s actually quite a challenge to make the reader engage with the characters and at the same time tell a complete story. So I’ll just mention a few that did the job. A manga-ka who is quickly becoming a favorite is Tsukuba Sakura and luckily just about everything she has done has either been licensed or scanlated. I read two shorts by her but the one that stuck out was Shiro no Keiyaku. It is about a pure white crow who is ostracized by his flock. One day after being injured he falls to earth and is fixed up by a girl; he immediately falls in love with her. The story takes him to a devil to make him human and spend his time with her. It has the fairytale aspect down pat complete with happy ending. Sakura does a great job of combining a dash of fantasy with a sweet love story. Another fairytale one was Otogibanashi no Fude in which our lead male is the keeper of a sacred tree. He stumbles upon the secret of the tree which is a beautiful water goddess kept inside of it for hundreds of years. He is the only one able to summon her and as he continues to spend time with her he inevitably falls in love. This story has more of a bittersweet under score to it but still makes you smile in the end and be hopeful. This story also made me immensely interested in reading more by this author, Akizuki Sorata. I also re-read 7th Period is a Secret which deals with that ever popular taboo, teacher x student. Shun has transformed herself but she doesn’t truly feel at easy with her friends. Her young teacher Jun sees right through her and she finds him understanding her better than anyone. So beings a romance! Even though our guy is supposed to be older, it exudes the first love sweetness for both of them. It also doesn’t have any real tragic ending, in fact we are lead to believe they will stay together. I just picked up another series by Chiba Kozue and I am reading more short stories as I write this so I’ll be talking about them a lot in the coming weeks.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #014

I picked a DVD of the first 11 episodes of the Cyborg 009 TV series from 2001. It is fun and certainly exudes the action combined with gag comedy dynamic popular in the 60’s and 70’s. It makes me long to see the myriad of other animated iterations it has had. It also had an ad card in it for the TokyoPop release of the manga. Which is seriously out of print. 70’s is probably my favorite era for character designs so it makes me sad how little it is appreciated.

I finally started the second GaoGaiGar box set. It start off with the finale of the Four Healy Kings arc. Of course this means the Four Kings finally enact their dastardly final plan and actually take to the battlefield in person as is giant robot tradition. In fact, I would go as far as to say this is giant robot law. They send Go Nagai to your studio to Rocket Punch your staff in the face if you do not adhere to this sacred law. It’s good classic fun and I can’t wait to see what they pull out after this. I am sure it will involve guts and courage on the behalf of the Gutsy Geoid Guard. Also on a side note my roommate has a bizarre crush on Pizza. Which is very odd but what can you do but accept it and move on.

Watched Chocolate Underground up to 12. They have been starting to skip parts of the story, and it takes a little time to get oriented to it. I still like the satirical nature of the story and its portrayal of authority as stupid. Certainly keeps the feel of a young adult novel. But as we near the end, it is getting too rushed.

I’m not sure what my favorite anime podcast is, but I can easily tell you that my least favorite anime podcast is the Weeaboobies. I saw a link to their site off of Destroy All Podcasts DX. Since I enjoy DX I figured if they took the time to post the Weeaboobies podcast it was hopefully tolerable. I was slightly wary with the name Weeaboobies but I had hopes that they were an interesting all girl podcast despite their 4chan-like name. This was not the case. They are an extremely annoying all girl podcast. After their review of The Story of Saiunkoku I knew they were this blog’s eternal enemy. They are free to dislike The Story of Saiunkoku as long as they defend their opinion in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. The review of Saiunkoku seriously made me wonder if we watched the same anime based on the amount they misinterpreted the show or blatantly got facts about it wrong. The rest of the podcast was not nearly as annoying but it was still grating on my soul. I just have a feeling that an all girl podcast will catch on and the Weeaboobies will be Internet celebrities and special guests at cons or on other good podcasts. That is the day the Internet dies a little bit more (than it already has done dozens times before).

I normally stay away from talking about things I don’t like because I don’t want to draw attention to it. But I think in order to understand how bad this Weeaboobies podcast is one must listen though I did not make it to the end. I don’t expect intense research necessarily for all reviews but I dont think I’m asking too much to get the amount of episodes correct. I find it doubly necessary that the reviewer have actually watched the show to give me an opinion on. Shurei goes to the castle to encourage the king to take his responsibilites more seriously. She did not go to be a slut and get pregnant. Funnily enough Shurei and Ryuuki share maybe a handful of kisses in the entire first season. Shurei also wanted to be a court official from the moment we meet her, it did not happen all of a sudden after episode 9. It seemed like they set out to not like the show anyway so I’m not sure why they bothered watching it.

Time Hollow is a fun but very short puzzle adventure game. I beat it with casual playing over the course of a single week (which did include a round trip bus ride from New York to Providence). I feel it almost plays and feels like a visual novel more than an adventure game but there are distinct puzzles that separate it. They Americanized all the character names in the port so I know that will turn off some purists but it was not unforgivable. It’s mostly a fun time manipulation adventure with a psychotic serial killer thrown into the mix. It was a good game for someone who does not want mind-wracking or super obscure puzzles. I never was stuck for too long at any point but I also feel that it will turn off anyone look for a real challenge. They also sprinkle a good deal of short little animated sequences by AIC throughout the story.

Watched my friend play some Y’s Book I from TurboGrafx16. Do you know how you kill monsters in that game? By running into them . . .a lot. It was very amusing. Though the production values for art and music are pretty high for an old title like this. Which makes me wonder if they just ran out of money to make the guy look like he was swinging a sword while running over those creatures. Has anyone watched the anime of this franchise? I know there at least 3 OVA series of it.