Ongoing Investigations: Case #140

I am not a huge reader of webcomics, but I’m hooked on Hark! A Vagrant which never ceases to give me a good chuckle. So it comes as little surprise that the writer of such a hilarious and witty comic is those same things in person. This was the book launch party and you could tell she was very happy about it. And even with technical difficulties, she just rolled with it. Once she started telling her little history a lot was learned and laughed about. She comes from a very small town where her classes through primary school were 22 people large.  She was the only artist and she always felt that comics and drawing were things she did but not jobs she could have. It was rather inspiring to hear how in college in life and then after further after graduation, with no formal training, others encouraged her to do it. She did say she feels it is much harder now to really get a webcomic going, when she jumped in it was just a fairly new idea. Showing off many of her comics over the years it was fun to track her progress and ideas. She also showed which comics went over really well for her like the Tycho Brahe one that pretty much went viral. It was also evident how much more freer her style has become, by her own admission because she wants to continue to evolve and can’t image drawing the same things in the same ways forever. This was a great talk with a wonderful turn out.

I found out about Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant from Otaku USA’s own master of moe Caleb Dunaway. He of course loved it because it is a slightly off kilter mostly historical based comedy web comic. Narutaki and I being fans of history in general were drawn to the comic as well. So when Kate Beaton was giving a talk in New York we had to go. The Housing Works bookstore was a cozy little shop that is run by volunteers where all proceeds from the café go to providing support services for homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. You quickly realized that the bookstore was not huge when the events started with about a hundred people in attendance. Fortunately we can early enough that we had seats but the place was packed. When the event started she tried to do a reading of some of her strips but technical problems with the projector nipped that in the bud. I put up a little video of that if you were curious. When that was not working out she went into how she got into web comics and the processes that she uses to make her comics and how it has changed over the years. She then did some Q&A which she eventually just had to cut off so everyone could get a signature. I think the most interesting thing was that growing up in Canada she knew almost nothing of American superhero comics. But when she got involved with the web comics community she picked up an interest just by osmosis due to going to various conventions and talking to other artists. A was also impressed with the amount of research she does. I always knew she had to do research for the comic but the amount she does seems insane. Overall she was quite friendly, intelligent, and witty. Also by the end of the night she was a bit tipsy but she was extremely cordial and gave everyone a personalized sketch with their copy of her book. We got Elliot Page a sketch of Sir Issac Newton, Clarissa from AWO a sketch of one of the Strong Female Characters, and Caleb a sketch of Queen Elizabeth. Also if you see an Einstein comic in the future we are going to take full credit for that.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #124

I mentioned last week briefly that I started watching Brave Police J-Decker which is kinda like if Tranformers was about police robots. I am up to 20 episodes thus far, almost half-way, and it is wonderful to see that is has a range. There is plenty of silliness to go around with like the fact that Deckerd (the main robot) uses a six-shooter a lot of the time, or the odd neighbors, the strange robots and their mysteries, and the many women who I’m pretty sure are in love with some of our robot heroes. Let’s not forget the names of these sentient hunks of metal like Power Joe (Kung-fu Detective) and Drill Boy (Soccer Detective) or McClane (Combat Detective) who claims to be a pacifist or the combined form Super Build Tiger! And of course the series is continually adding new robots and transformations for toys sake. But it has also had some fairly compelling episodes like the two-part story that introduces Shadowmaru (Ninja Detective) which gets a bit philosophical as we see freedom, what is means to be sentient, and sacrifice. Also you can’t not love the commissioner because he has amazing hair and responds that it “looks cool” when asked why they designed a robot in a certain manner. This show is tons of fun, sometimes engaging, has a fab opening, and is absolutely worth watching.

It came out a little too late for the spring preview but I finally got around to watching the first episode of Moshidora. It is an odd little series when you get right down to it. It is born from the idea of how do you make Peter Drucker’s Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices palatable to an audience of Japanese salarymen. The answer is obviously to center it around a schoolgirl. Minami Kawashima is the high schoolgirl in question who volunteers to take over as the manager of the baseball team in place of her sickly friend, Yuki Miyata, who has been hospitalized. After accidentally picking buying a business management book  she decides to apply the principles within towards her team. The team itself has a mixture of members with various levels of talent but they all seem to have broken spirits and various hangups. Minami herself used to play baseball but some incident in the past soured her on playing. The setup itself is a fairly standard baseball anime story of the new unsure manager has to whip the team that is a diamond in the rough into shape for Koshien. It is slightly amusing to see them cut to slide show styled title card when ever they mention certain business related key words. I am watching just because it is such an unusual blend sports and business anime. I am curious to see them play a game because I feel that is where this series will could prove its worth beyond a mere oddity.

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Spring 2011 Anime Guide Part 1: Melpomene and Thalia

 It is time for Hisui and Narutaki to tackle another season of anime and hopefully help separate the gold from the dross with the new shows coming out. This season we decided to focus on the positive so we go into depth about the shows you should watch and just give you a quick heads up on everything else. We will be doing the season preview in 2 parts like we did at the beginning of the year mostly because Narutaki and I enjoyed doing it that way. With the season release dates being all over the place due to all the tragedy in Japan that might be for the best. As always let me lay down a few rules for our season preview guide. First off the bat we don’t review sequels. Most of the time if your opinion of the new season will be pretty close to you opinion of the second. If anything is shocking in its increase or decrease in quality we usually mention it in the ongoing investigations. Second we don’t review anything we are sure is going to be dreadful. While this means we occasionally sell a good show short I think it really prevents burn out. Plus Loli Sister Harem Panic!! Flash is probably not going to be our cup of tea. Then again I really liked Toaru Majutsu no Index II so maybe you should take my opinions with a grain of salt (although I just think some people are just tsundere for that show.)

Another reminder that these impressions are based on first episodes only, will we live to eat our words? There is always that risk. Since we’ve divided everything up into Watch, Hold, and Drop navigation is easy. But I want to say that just because we say a show is watch worthy, doesn’t mean we are watching it, or that a show is hold worthy doesn’t mean we aren’t continuing on. We’ll let you know in part two what we are personally keeping up with this season.

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