Ongoing Investigations: Case #169

In a most unexpected turn of events the Master Keaton manga returns to the pages of Big Comic Original in the form of Master Keaton Remaster. I guess at least some of the rights issues around the original manga have been cleared up because I know for awhile the original manga series was quite expensive due to it being out of print. But now Taichi Hiraga-Keaton is back! He is still an amusing mixture of a loveable loser and an amazingly competent superman all in one package.  The series starts not long after the end of the original manga. Keaton is notably more entrenched in his academic career after his recent archeological discovery. But just when he thought he was out of the insurance game for good it draws him back in for what he is told will be one last job.

Of course this being Master Keaton we know that will not be the case. Soon he is investigating ruins, redeeming the honor of a man in a coma, and fighting slaver traders. All for one insurance case. It has all the mature elements that you expect from this manga. The story has a well researched history, a steamy underworld, and characters that show their complexity even if we only know them for a chapter or two. There is rape and sex slave traffic but there is nothing graphic or salacious. It just happens to be a story with the disgusting parts of the sex trade as a piece of it. All the bite of an adult story with none of the guilt.

One of the most interesting parts of any Master Keaton story is the fact that Taichi usually comes is for the climax of a story. He is presented with a case, does a good deal of research to find out what is going on, arrives at the critical moment during the ongoing story to help someone out, and then leaves before the falling action is over. This could be amazingly frustrating if done poorly but Naoki Urasawa does this in a way that merely makes you feel like the stories are and organic part of the world. Taichi does his part, and then leaves, and that is all we see. But we get enough of the story from Taichi’s perspective that it always feels satisfying.

I’m am really glad to see the manga running again. Master Keaton is some of the best bite sized seinen you can find. Hopefully they will work in his daughter soon as she is always a refreshing character. Maybe this renaissance of the series will help get both parts licensed for English. That would be masterful.

I watched the first two episodes of Motorcity, a new Disney DX animated series. It showed a lot of promise and sported some cool animation.

The story revolves around a futuristic Detroit with two levels to the city; the old, underground, and free area known as Motocity; and the modern, controlled, upper Deluxe.

Mike leads a group of car fanatic rebels known as the Burners who are trying to bring down the leader of Deluxe. Mike is pretty interesting as he isn’t a kid, but a 17-year-old who was once being groomed by Deluxe’s leader. Now having defected, he is putting all his skills and some sweet modded cars to use.

Also of interest is Jules a resident of Deluxe who is actually helping them secretly. And she just happens to be the daughter of Deluxe’s dictator. But even the rest of the Burners and Mike don’t know that about her.

Both episodes revolved around some sort of threat being sent down to Motorcity. There was lots of cool machinery and robots and whathaveyou to keep things interesting.

These were great episodes and I can’t wait to continue. Definitely something I’m going to attempt to keep up with. The episodes are streaming on Disney DX’s website so far.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #156

When I watched the first episode of Sound of the Sky a while back, I thought it seemed interesting enough to continue a few more episodes in. I don’t know what happened, but re-watching the first episode I couldn’t believe my former self. It was slow and meandering. Perhaps I was mesmerized by the music, which is worth being mesmerized over, but not worth sitting through the rest of the show for. The setting is also interesting, taking place in a post-apocalyptic future with divides and wars, but the town in which everyone is stationed is relatively peaceful. Normally, that would all change when our main character arrives . . . but no, it is still basically peaceful. So it ends up being a show about this somewhat rag-tag team of girls in the military hanging out, meeting townspeople, and occasionally learning music. The main girl is predictably naive and in the last episode I watched pushed that to the limit by overlooking the fact that the military kills people as do guns and tanks. There are traces of underlying story, especially with the extended cast that has been working for a while, but nothing gripping. I am sure this show is doing exactly what it means to do, but that still doesn’t mean I want to watch it.

Sound of the Sky is sort of like dating a shallow supermodel. You meet her and she looks gorgeous and sounds wonderful. Everything about her superficially is impeccable. But after a few deep conversations you realize there is not as much going on inside as you might have first hoped. There is quite a bit to like about this anime. The production values cannot be questioned. The animation is often amazingly fluid, the backgrounds are often breathtaking, and the sound design is outstanding. If you want lesson on how to make an anime that draws you in with the power of animation this is a good example. The problem is the story itself swallowed a bottle of Valium. To say that the show is just post-apocalyptic K-On! is selling it a bit short but it is also sums up all the major problems with the series. It just seems like the slice of life tale of 5 girls not really doing much of anything in a small town while they fix a tank and play instruments. The formula could be good. There is nothing inherently wrong with slowly building this world and getting us involved with the characters before turning on the main plot. The problem is that it is like telling someone to watch 10 episodes of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou to get to the three exciting episodes at the end. The post-apocalyptic setting is unusual and well realized. The cast lives a very provincial lifestyle despite the fact that they are surrounded by the remains of a once great civilization. But the stories they tell are rather sleepy despite the promise of grander tales that could be told in this setting. I am not sure if anyone who is not a fan of slice of life shows could casually make that commitment for the reward at the end. The characters are fine. They are a bit stock and Kureha Suminoya can be grating but they did not annoy me as much as the K-On! cast. There is also a pretty distinct yuri vibe going on. Nothing overt but it is omnipresent and rather unmistakable. I will probably continue to watch just to see the last few episodes. Apparently they start to live up to the promise of the prophecy in the beginning. I will power through the middle episodes to see if the pay off at the end is worth it just in case our readers were curious.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #145

Carnival Phantasm Season 2 has an all Saber related episode. Therefore Carnival Phantasm Season 2 is rated A++ with a side order of extra credit. But with all my horrible blatant prejudice aside Carnival Phantasm continues to be a series of in jokes piled on top of each other. There is some good material that does not rely on the mythology but there are few people who would be able to sit through what would otherwise be rather incomprehensible episodes otherwise. This set of episodes really favors the Fate side of things. Episode five is mostly Berserker running around wreaking havoc.  Episode six is sort of dodgy since it mostly revolves around the fact that Shinji often beats and rapes Sakura while Rider does her best to protect her in a faux soap opera. It is really is a dark type of humor that could easily turn people off. Episode seven is the only split episode with the first half being about Arcueid making okonomiyaki and the second half being about Caster’s love life. I wonder if this skit is enough to make people actually like Caster. Unlike Sakura she has never really been hated but mostly just ignored.  The eighth is all about Saber so I naturally enjoyed it immensely. They thankfully end the Phantasmoon story for the most part in episode 6. It was never that long but they were stretching what was originally a one page gag pretty far as it were.  I assume we will get one more Phantasmoon skit in season 3 but I think the break will go do it a world of good. Lancer continue to be the Kenny of the series dying in every episode. I have more to say but maybe I will save it for its own post. Other than that: ALTER! ALTER! ALTER!

 In volumes 27-28 of Kekkaishi we finally get confirmation, at least in part, of what Karasumori’s deal is. 27 is mostly battling the witches spell which threatens not just the sacred site but the surrounding city. But big surprises occur when Yoshimori is able to harness the mind-emptying technique that we’ve been so curious about. Along with this comes the reveal of his new familiar which leans towards creepy. Since all of this involves the head of the Organization and every major player I can only assume we have entered the final arc of the series. I still feel as though Yoshimori’s family has secrets lurking in its depths but we’ll have to wait and see.

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