Togusa: A Regular Guy in A Cyber World

Having just finished the second season of Stand Alone Complex as well as the Solid State Society movie, I’ve been thinking about and discussing the dynamics of the Section 9 team at length. When you start considering it, Togusa comes off as quite an anomaly as he actively resists the over-cyberization of the current world of Ghost in the Shell. A series that looks at the relationship between technology and humanity and how close those lines have blurred has Togusa to lead us back.

In the modern age anyone who does not regularly carry around at least one piece of electronics on their person at all times  is quite the oddity. In the Ghost in the Shell universe this has been taken one step beyond with cybernetic technology making it so the average citizen has electronics integrated into their body. In this world it is not uncommon for people to replace parts of their bodies with cybernetics not only for medical necessity but also for augmenting their natural ability. The members of the secret counter terrorism group Section 9 are some of the most heavily modified people around with even the hacker Ishikawa having replaced pieces of himself with machinery. This makes Togusa so unusual as he is the one member of the organization that is considered a “natural” with only the minor about of cyberization you would see of a normal person off the street. So why is this completely mundane police officer part of an elite cyborg unit? What does he bring to the story of Ghost in the Shell?  I can’t see Section 9 having to be an equal opportunity employer.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #012

We started watching D.N.Angel with the misguided belief that we would review it for the blog. Well, that ain’t happening. I also read all of the manga that has been released in English, this was a much better experience. The manga is fun, cool, sweet, and even a bit heartbreaking. The anime was a weird mix of fan-service and super-filler. There were good episodes and good moments, but there was too much space between these instances. They don’t explain much and some things just plain don’t make sense. They also seem to throw out the whole phantom thieving at one point. Uh? And yeah I’m still pretty bitter that Dark is in love with Riku in the manga but not in the anime. Read the manga and don’t watch the anime!

I liked the Riku and Daisuke solo dynamic but I feel that adding Dark into the mix makes it interesting to read. Since the manga was not completed they decided to simplify the story in order to adapt it. The problem with that was two fold. First they simplified it too much so you were left with large amounts of filler, wasted space, and uninteresting new additions. I’m looking right at you Mio Hio. Ironically several of their attempts to simplify things made several points more complicated or just plain confusing. Secondly we are cruising along the story pacing highway speed limit at 30 MPH and then the anime original ending cranks up the speed to 110 mph. The last two episodes feel rushed and somewhat unexplained at crucial points. It’s not a bad anime but it’s clearly an anime that is inferior to the manga it was based on.

Ghost in the Shell SAC first season finished! Really amazing show, jumped up into being one of the best things I have watched lately. It had a great climatic ending with some serious emotions emerging. I have heard that it is debated whether or not Batou has feelings for the Major, not sure how this could be debated unless you are blind. Whether the Major actually reciprocates is a different story. Seriously though, the sexual tension in the room (you know the scene I’m talking about) was so intense I thought it was going to crack the windows! As for the Laughing Man, I was pleased though I would love to see him again. And as promised I have a Laughing Man wallpaper.

I want to meet the cool dude or lady who fully got Ghost in the Shell SAC the first time through. I wish to shake the hands with such a genius. I got most of it but I am still fuzzy on several of the details of side cases. I thought everything involved with the Laughing Man was awesome. He is such an awesome character. It was well written and well executed. They could have thrown in some more complex episode in between Stand Alone episodes in the middle but that is a minor flaw. The Stand Alone episodes were often as good as the main plot. Good filler, will the wonders ever end? Oh, I would go as far as to say blind and deaf to miss Batou’s feelings.

Read Kekkaishi volumes 13 and 14. The latter ends the first arc of the series and wraps it up quite nicely while leaving a few lingering villains to show up later on. We also get a glimpse of the tremendous power that is housed in Yoshimori. This is also where the anime ends so I am now reading totally new material. I love that the first thing Yoshimori does when he gets home after this whole ordeal is to bake a cake. I am glad to see this aspect of his personality in tact. The rest of book 13 and most of 14 is mostly short adventures but the end of the book looks to be the start of something.

I read Parasyte book 4. Even though it has a high school student as the protagonist it clearly straddles the line between shonen and seinen that makes it hard to categorize some of the titles in Afternoon. It seem like a shonen manga with it’s high school love story. On the other hand it can be placed in the seinen category just by the number of gory deaths of several important characters and countless unnamed ones. I was a little saddened by the death of the major character in this book but I can’t say it was not interesting.

So when you go to the Live-Evil fan-sub group’s website, the top banner changes and I kept seeing this cute picture but it didn’t say what it was. Finally decided to go through a process of elimination to figure it out, turns out it was a show called Ask Dr. Rin. Watched the first couple of episodes so far. It is essentially a magical girl show with Feng-Shui. Meirin has incredible fortune-telling powers using Feng-Shui, she has a secret identity of Dr. Rin who is becoming famous thanks to her website. Her fortune-telling seems to be dead on for everyone but herself. But when the guy she likes is in trouble her power manifest themselves into a dragon like spirit and she is able to save him. Looks like a major baddie caused this and his motives are yet to be revealed. Cute and fun show that promises nothing more than that.

I watched the Dirty Pair OAVs this week and they are just so much fun! I really like that the science fiction elements are there each and every time to make the story cool. Science is not there to be explained or deus ex machina. It’s just there to enhance the story. I like my hard sci-fi anime like Planetes but some times you need to kick back with two hot girls with big guns and watch them kill God in one episode and upper cut children in the next. Kei and Yuri have a fun dynamic that makes them like sexy versions of the stereotypical buddy action movie characters.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #011

It’s not like I thought it wasn’t going to be, but it should be said. Ghost in the Shell SAC is so freaking good. It is engaging, smart, and quite complex. It is not something that I can actually try to figure out along side the characters. I just sit back and enjoy the ride. I am totally fascinated by it all! The Laughing Man intrigues me so! You can be sure I’ll make a wallpaper by next week’s end. Though disc 4 had no “complex” episodes and then disc 5 had three more, eight in a row of no Laughing Man case was starting to drive me a little nuts. But we are back on track and with only 5 episodes to go I’m getting anxious!

I also read NISIOISIN’s Zaregoto in an attempt to see what had perplexed Narutaki so. My summation of the book is best left to “Weird Al” Yankovic, Everything you know is wrong! Because that is the total summation of the ending of this book. Ii-chan solves the case and the survivors leave the island. Then in the epilogue we learn that everything that was answered was absolutely incorrect. It’s not Ii-chan who figures it out though. Some psycho detective pops up and gives us all the true answers in a clearly deus ex machina manner. I’m not sure if I like this book or not. It was definitely odd plus the storytelling and the characters are very, very strange. I think it supposed to be vaguely unsettling and disorienting. I can’t quite but my finger on whether it made the story uniquely enjoyable or just strange for the sake of being strange.

Watched Saint Seiya episodes 7-18, finished the first arc and have gotten just a couple of episodes into the next one. Here is what I have learned so far: no one dies, for any reason, unless they really want them to; they are fond of saying “Hell” or “I’ll send you to Hell!”; they love to punch people in the heart, like through the skin and into the heart (though people still don’t always die of this); they are not unaware of their female fan-base as proven by the Shun in the shower scene; and finally huge bad guys can still be scared away the police. Oh and I love it. This isn’t my first viewing of Saint Seiya, but I have never really sat down and watched consistently.

After reading Black Lagoon volume one I have to say I enjoy the anime slightly more than the manga but that is of no disservice to the manga. The manga is quite excellent. But seeing the awesomeness that is the Black Lagoon manga in it’s full color kinetic glory when it is animated is way better. I don’t mind buying them both but if asked to choose I would pick the anime hands down.

Mixed Vegetables was exactly what I needed to get me back on a romantic shojo comedy kick. It was refreshing to see our heroine both funny and capable and not head-over-heels in love with anyone…yet. Within one volume Hanayu realizes how much Hayato likes her and starts dating him. Everyone in the class is cheering them on, no mean girl’s threatening our heroine here, in very Love*Com style. And we see her going through a bit of guilt over not liking him as much as he likes her. It is rare to get to the relationship part so quickly and I am really excited about it. Fun, fast-paced, funny, sweet, and endearing. Can’t wait to pick up the next book!

I just got Fate/Tiger Colosseum Upper and it’s nothing special but it’s gosh darn fun. The game play is essentially Power Stone with Fate/Stay Night skins with some Tsukihime characters thrown in for good measure. No more and no less. Even thought I don’t speak or read any Japanese I still think that the game is very funny. They seem to have a good grasp of the Fate/Stay Night characters and play with them appropriately. Even the opening is a playful parody of other Fate game openings and scenes. The story mode makes my few words of Japanese step up to the plate as I try, somewhat successfully, to discern what is going on. This game made me realize why I like Type Moon in general. They’re willingness to totally cater and show they care about the fans in side projects. I feel if I was a creator, I would do the same for my fans. Plus any game with BER-SER-CAR and Saber in a suit is always full of awesome.