Ongoing Investigations: Case #190

I’m pretty excited that we are finally getting Initial D 5th Stage! As always the opening set the right tone. I liked the manga-styled beginning complete with sound effects that transformed into the CG cars we are now accustomed to.

Eps. 1-2 throw you right in so don’t expect much of a refresher course. We are given brief glimpses of Project D’s next rivals in Kanagawa which they say is the final part in a grand plan, Ryosuke appears to be going in a little blind but he seems to be keeping things under his hat as usual. The AE86 has been getting an upgrade plus Takumi seems determined to learn to steer with one hand. On other fronts, Takumi’s new love interest appears only to rip into him thanks to a misunderstanding.

The imposters of Takumi and Keisuke swaggering around was a fun and light way to start the season. Of course I was very excited as Keisuke’s first appearance is him calling those dudes out! Though it makes for little actual racing in the first episode.

But the uphill battle in the second installment started off nicely with Keisuke taking on another EVO. His opponent is on edge, just waiting for Keisuke to do something crazy, but as time winds by you can see how tightly wound the guy waiting is. Too bad we have to wait a few weeks to find out how this plays out.

I enjoyed it ending with Ryosuke saying a “street specialist” has to be a little bit reckless. Keisuke is nothing if not reckless.

I recently talked about Cross Manage and I mentioned it very much feels like a Shonen Sunday manga in Jump. Not to be outdone Nanatsu no Taizai, the new Sunday manga feels very much like it taken out of Jump. It does make one wonder what is exactly going on there. Are both magazines playing with courting their rivals’ demographic? Is it just Sunday reacting to Jump? Or is it mere coincidence?

Nanatsu no Taizai takes place in a medieval setting. Seven overpowered warriors called the Seven Deadly Sins knights tried to overthrow the kingdom but were stopped by the Holy Knights. The Sins were reportedly killed but rumors are abound that they are still alive. Recently the Holy Knight themselves have overthrown the King are putting the Kingdom under their thumb. The King’s only daughter goes out to find the Seven Deadly Sins in hopes that they can free her father. A seemingly humble bar owner that saves her and turns out to be one of the Sins. Together can they find the remaining Seven Deadly Sins and tear down this new corrupt regime?

Overall it is fairly standard but enjoyable stuff. It is just standard but enjoyable stuff you would expect to see in Jump. Elizabeth, the princess is cute and determined but not very capable. Sunday usually prides itself on its strong heroines but she seems mostly like a tag along Jump girl. There is a bit more of the ecchi humor you expect to see in Jump. Not that Sunday is above ecchi humor but it is not the type of humor the magazine usually uses. Also so far the plot have a very Jump structure. There is just something about their journey to collect the other knights that feels very Jump in its execution. Both magazines use the battle manga formula but in distinctly different fashions.

The other thing worth noting is all the fighters start off INSANELY overpowered. Meliodas is shattering the earth with broken swords and playing cross county catch with lances thrown like ICBM missiles. There seems to be no shonen power creep. Everyone starts out as a god. If they have places to go from here they might start making Jojo’s blush. It would be neat if the characters were mostly already at their peak and most of the battles were about wits more than learning new techniques also like Jojo’s.

I am very curious to see how this recent break from form does for both magazines. Do either magazines have robust enough readership to support something outside their normal wheelhouse or will these titles be dropped as quickly as they came?

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #133

In my Tsukihime round-up I finally got around to the Tsukihime PLUS+DISC. Mostly a few little stories added to promote previous releases of Tsukihime and Kagetsu Tohya. The Alliance of Illusionary Eyes is the main meat of the content of the disc and is mostly from the point of view of Akira Seo and her first meeting with Tohno Shiki. Her appearances in Kagetsu Tohya make much more sense after reading this. The other three stories are much sillier but sometimes enlightening. Geccha 1 and 2 are little behind the scenes looks at unanswered questions, plot holes, and unused material in a Type-Moon told in a comedic manner. I wonder how many people ship Arcueid and Ciel as they fight like pair that would surely be hooked up in yaoi fanfiction. Sad Birthday Girl fans can see unused Satsuki’s path material. There is also the utterly weird Kinoko’s Masterpiece Experimental Theater. This is mostly weird to be weird. There is no hidden material here. Just uncle Nrvnqsr Chaos. There is nothing vital here other the Alliance but there is a lot to enjoy. Plus I can attest that you can read all of this in just one lunch break if you put your mind to it.

I was so pleased to find Trigun: Badlands Rumble showing at Otakon this year. The movie plays out like an extended TV episode. This is one last hurrah for the fans really so as such it isn’t the place to start for the unfamiliar. Badlands Rumble features Vash’s legendary good-nature as he tries to protect Amelia who is looking for revenge against notorious bandit Gasback who is rumored to be heading for Macca City. Meryl and Milly are dispatched to keep an eye on things since their insurance company has insured a statue in the city for $$5,000,000,00. Wolfwood gets in on the action too, but I won’t say exactly how. I must say it was wonderful to hear the cheers and claps when Wolfwood appeared for the first time. Everything comes together in a spectacular action-packed end. Beyond new animation, there is nothing to say this wasn’t just a part of the show. I saw it dubbed and it didn’t quite have enough force behind it so I’ll be curious to watch it again on DVD. Trigun: Badlands Rumble is good fun with characters that you love.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #115

I am not exactly sure what I was expecting with Amnesia Labyrinth 1 but I know it was not this. The story was by Nagaru Tanigawa who wrote the Haruhi Suzumiya books. Narutaki and I were interested because it was being sold like it was a creepy murder mystery. And the book does not lie about that. The fact of the matter is that it probably underplays how utterly messed up this book is. If you go in expecting the happy-go-lucky antics of Haruhi Suzumiya you will be in for a shock. The story has two faces. There is the mostly lighthearted investigation of Souji Kushiki and Sasai Yukako trying to discover who has been killing the most gifted students at school. While there is a dark undercurrent in this half of the story it is mostly upbeat. But the second half of the story resolves around  Souji Kushiki and his family and that is always hyper sexual in the most disturbing way possible. All three of his sisters are clearly engaged in some form of sexual relationship with him. It is really odd in the fact that I am not sure how much these scene are played for the purposes of titillation and how much they are just supposed to be flat-out creepy. They are always seriously creepy. Whenever one of his sisters is flirting with him (or in one cases sleeping with him) there is a distinct feeling that everything going on is very unnatural and sick. But at the same time there is also an air of eroticism in these scenes. I don’t know if it is going for both at the same time or if I am selling short the nudity and sex for just being there for the sake of nudity and sex. But you have to be aware that this is present in the series before going in. There is an intriguing possibly supernatural mystery going on but some people are going to be turned away but the omnipresent twisted sexuality of the manga. The art is oddly variable. At times backgrounds are detailed and complex and other times they are utterly non-existent. Also for some reason the art remind me of a really professional done doujinshi in the character designs and page layout. Overall I can’t place my feelings on this manga. All I do know is that this is not Haruhi.

I had heard of Amnesia Labyrinth probably for the same reason as anyone else has, it is written by the Haruhi author. I also knew it was a mystery series so of course I was curious about it. The book starts with the death of a third top-of-the-class student who we learn later was a friend of Yukako who runs the The Intelligence Committee (which has exactly one member). Souji has just transferred back to the school and also is readjusting to home life and eventually gets swept up in Yukako’s desire to find the culprit. That sounds all well and good, but everything about this series is creepy and it makes you suspicious of everything and everyone involved; I know you wouldn’t think it from that top picture but it is true, in a certain way it is playing with your expectations. Though I won’t say the series doesn’t start out with a not-quite-right vibe, it only becomes more pronounced as the volume continues. Despite things like the clear harem aspects of the series, an enticing mystery is woven in the first volume that made me want to know the answers but kind of afraid to find out. Why did Souji leave previously? What’s with this crazy incest family? Who is that guy who looks like Souji? Why is Yukako so attached to Souji? Does Harumi have multiple personalities? Some of these are actual questions and some of these are my speculations, but I like a mystery that is this meaty. I won’t lie though, the sexual situations in this title made me very uncomfortable, but at least for the moment I’m giving Amnesia Labyrinth the benefit of the doubt because I think we are supposed to be uncomfortable. So turn those pages quickly! I really had to mull over my feelings on this book, but I came to the conclusion that at least for the moment I want to continue. Continue reading