Ongoing Investigations: Case #044

On free comic book day I picked up the Viz sample of Ultimo along with a few other things. Even with just half a chapter I can honestly say don’t bother with this series. The writing is really lame and also exceedingly annoying as it likes to tell you what is happening. Dear Hiroyuki Takei, this is a manga. That means there are pictures to tell me what is going on! You do not need to also write what is happening in little boxes all over the place. Also Ultimo is a boy? I swear I see boobs on this character design. This sample made me say “Who cares!” Which is a shame because I only read a bit of Shaman King, but I found it enjoyable enough.

I finally got my hands on Emma volume 8. The story proper of Emma has ended in book 7. The next three books are all side stories of various characters. Since Emma is one of those stories with delightful secondary characters this is a more than welcome prospect. The side stories jump around in time so we will get a little story about Kelly Stowner and her husband years before the original story and then jump ahead to look at how life has been treating characters like Eleanor and Tasha. The stories are just as charming as the main story so I was generally very pleased. I really liked The Times which we get a peek at various characters as we see how they are all connected by something as random and ubiquitous as the newspaper.  I will admit that they don’t really add anything to the main story but that is largely unimportant. One of the strengths of Emma was its wonderful depiction of Victorian England. As long as the stories remain as well written and heartwarming I look froward to the next two books as well.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #036

I read books six and seven of Here is Greenwood. Always enjoyable series with just enough realism in the friendships to make the guys seems like people you know. Six is almost exclusively crazy antics while seven finally introduces us to a love interest for Hasukawa. Seven also has a chapter much like Here is Devilwood called Here is Edo. As you may have guessed, it stars everyone in a samurai drama. As always the author’s little comments throughout add as much comedy to the scenes as anything else. Looking forward to finishing this series up soon.  

So I went solo to two anime events around New York recently. Neither of them were enough for a whole report but they were interesting enough to talk about. I went to Spring Fest at Polytechnic. It was a small one day convention. I went to show some love for Subatomic Brainfreeze’s Most Dangerous Anime panel. It was mostly Dave playing Crystal Triangle and  showing some choice scenes from the train wreck that is Gundress. I had only heard of the horror that is Crystal Triangle from AWO but I finally got to see how awesomely horrible it actually was. The audience had a good time MST3King a movie that rightfully deserves it. The theatrical release of Gundress is famous for being released incomplete. It was amusing to see the slapdash job they did to get what was generally a horrible piece of cinema on the screen for the release date. I really liked their little tea room and enjoyed their “mystery flavor” blended tea. There was also a good deal of gaming going on but I would rather be humiliated at playing multi-player games at home rather than humiliated in front of an audience. I was interested in staying for the What The Hell, Game Industry? panel but I had to go to meet someone to see Watchmen. It was basically a large scale meeting of friends from the university than a full-fledged convention. While it was not worth traveling for any great distance, I would recommend it to anyone in the NYC area. Plus it’s a nice, free way to meet other anime fans.

Read book five of Monkey High! It continues to be a wonderful shojo romance that that doesn’t linger on random misunderstandings. I like the pace of the books keeping the moments quick. They have added the idea of a love triangle. However, since Haruna does not seem to be torn between the guys, rather another guy just happens to really like her, it isn’t actually a love triangle. Thank goodness. Monkey High! has done a good job of creating a sweet story about the relationship, not the chase. Looking forward to the last few volumes of this series.

The next day found me going to Anime Day at Kinokuniya. I have to say Kinokuniya events get really nice turn-outs. While this means it is another good place to meet people, it also means that most of the events are standing room only. I came in half way through so I missed out on getting a Soul Eater Key chain. While this breaks my heart I somehow found a way to trooper on. I noticed from Scott’s twitter that those two girls who cosplay Ranka and Sheryl were on the cosplay panel. I finally arrived at two and I mostly only popped in on all of the panels they were presenting. The mixture of having nowhere to sit and having cool things to look at in Kinokuniya  distracted me from the events themselves. After browsing around for a bit, Scott, his friend, and I went to lunch where I discussed why bringing poor Hayate Ayasaki and Nagi Sanzenin into Internet arguments stands against all that is good and holy.

Been keeping up with Rideback this season. After watching episode nine, I still stand behind it being the show to watch from the winter. I have really liked how the pace built over the episodes, slowly moving from school centered to politically centered. It was done in such away as to not jar you. As secrets, plots, and characters are revealed the depth of the world involved is becoming clear. The animation continues to impress as well as the coolness of ridebacks. Instilling in us that we all need one right now.

While at Kinokuniya I made some purchases that were worth mentioning. It seems my prayers to the gods of anime merchandise were obviously heard because they released an all Saber art book. It is pretty good. Not enough fighting Saber to make me happy but enough variety to make me want it in an instant. Of course we have to have a maid exploitation (or maidploitation as I like to call it) picture of Saber and the raciest shot we get was Saber in a tight school bathing suit. I always appreciate the lack of utterly depraved Saber pictures because I would like to show people the art books I own without deep shame. My favorite pictures are Saber on a motorcycle and Saber dressed as Rin. I also got a book of Kido Senshi Gundam-san manga. I will admit I partially got number 4 just because it has Sayla Mass on the cover but I don’t feel anyone can fault me for that. I am very amused by a Gundam comedy series using the Universal Century characters. I noted it was only characters from the original series. Does anyone know if there are plans to do the same thing with charters from Zeta or the UC Gundam OAVs? My favorite section had to be the misadventures of sexy but angry White Base nurse Sayla. Some one has to get to translating this series because it looks priceless. It has smoking Zaku’s and baby Garma. What more do you want. Oh and naked Char. See something for everyone. I also saw an awesome Gundam Heroines book at Book Off. It seemed to be all the Gundam series up to Gundam X. I had already spent enough at Kinokuniya that I decided to hope it was still there the next time I would swing by there. Does anyone own the book? Is it worth picking up?

Rideback is the only show I am keeping up with this season, so this is the pic of the week:


Ongoing Investigations: Case #030

I randomly downloaded the first two episodes of the BL OVA Kirepapa. Since the OVAs were released almost 11 months apart, I am unsure if there is more planned in the series. So the title basically translates to Beautiful Dad, but let me assure you I went to great pains to make sure there was not incest. So far so good. The story centers around Chisato who is an aspiring author and his son, Riju, who is he very protective of (like a Dad who is super protective of his lovely daughter). Chisato is convinced that everyone, including his son’s best friend Shunsuke, are trying to get close to him. But actually Shunsuke is in love with Chisato, and Chisato can’t keep his eyes off Shunsuke. Now let the games begin. The show is, in a word, hilarious. The comedy is over the top and the serious moments are sooo overly dramatic that it is entertainingly funny. The animation quality is passable but the show is littered with a ton of bishonen. When I say a ton, I mean that every character that appears in the show is a bishie, including the grandfather, Shunsuke’s dad, and Chisato’s boss. It was truly enjoyable and I recommend it to BL fans in need of a laugh.

I finally got the Genshiken Fan Book I had pre-ordered a while back. I found it entertaining overall but some parts of the book puzzled me. The book was obviously written before the end of the manga because several important scenes are never mentioned in the appropriate sections. It starts with your standard premise of the manga and character profiles, and relationship guides. There is also Madarame’s otaku commandments which is basically the best of Madarame’s hard core otaku moments. It then has a guide to Kujibiki Unbalanced with a complete script to the first OAV which I felt was completely unnecessary and just pads out the book. There is a totally original Fanzine from the original Genshiken members that acts as an amusing piece of nostalgia for any older fans. We then have an interview with the (in)famous Ken Akamatsu about doujinshi. I am always surprised that Ken Akamatsu while not stunningly good looking is not that unpleasant to look at. There is then some original fan-fiction stories written by professional authors which were some of the better original content. There is then a guide to being an otaku with a little conversation about gal games between Sasahara and Madarame. The book ends with Shimoku Kio showing what shows he was actually talking about when he wrote up the Genshiken club members profiles as omake in the manga. It finally let me know what shows I was right about and what shows I had no clue about. I was amused that he picked everyone’s birthday and blood type based on what Gundam it would make them in the Gundam fortune-telling book. The book has the odd habit of explaining anything that might be unfamiliar as if the reader was not any type of otaku which is slightly odd. You would assume most people picking this book up were already in deep. Over all I enjoyed the book as a look back on Genshiken and what a great series it was.

Since Natsume Yuujinchou has been officially put up on Crunchyroll I have been catching up with the first season. I watched episodes 5-13 and cannot praise this show enough. It has a slow pace that builds a kind of kinship between you and Natsume. Each piece is a beautiful little story with many a melancholy end. Also good to see some human conflict coming up with the appearance of exorcists as well as others who can see youkai. I really like his interactions with Tanuma their friendship is really nice and was fun to watch in episode 13. I am still looking forward to learning more about Madara since he has sort of taken a backseat in many of these episodes. Wonderful show worth checking out by all!

To steal blatantly from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Captain Harlock is about men who are real men, women who are real women, and small blue haired girls from cruel orphanages who are real small blue haired girls from cruel orphanages. Everyone else is a lazy bastard or corrupt. Harlock definitely has moments of epic space opera goodness but it also has scenes of Gatchaman level camp and some odd comedy. It is at its best when it deals with Harlock being a manly man with his own theme song doing manly things and whenever we deal with the main plot of the alien invasion. I always assumed that the whole series was serious business so I was not expecting Harlock looking after a little girl and the wacky antics of his crew. Also I did not realize there would be such a large divide between the character designs of people like Tadashi Daiba, Kei Yuki and the rest of the crew. Also any time a scientist gets killed in the series they make it almost as dramatic as someone important dying in Blade of the Immortal.

Read Here is Greenwood books four and five. It continues to be hilarious fun dorm life. I really enjoy when the characters talk to the manga-ka or she appears in the chapters. For example, at the beginning of the fourth book Shun and Hasukawa are pondering what Shinobu and Mitsuru were like as first years. There is then this hilarious exchange as the manga-ka laughs maniacally and tells them don’t they realize they just wrote themselves out of the story. Other such occurrences are frequent throughout the series. 

I decided to look at the first two episodes of Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger even though I never finished the first season. The only reason I never finished was I bought the series for my ex-roommate and he took it with him when he moved. Which reminds me I should pick up that series for myself. Since I had a good idea of who all the characters were from I had almost no problems settling in. They have a quick rather unobtrusive recap in the first episode to get anyone with a passing understand back up to speed. We have the standard Ippo has a HUGE penis jokes, Ippo’s slow moving relationship with his would-be girlfriend, and of course the real draw awesome boxing action. The boxing is a middle-ground between being ultra realistic and super move silliness. People have techniques and named moves proving Ippo is firmly shonen fighting but they are mostly grounded in reality with some pseudo-science to back up the rest. The series starts with the spotlight on Ippo’s rival fighting the Australian champ and his mysterious Blood Cross technique. Man oh man does this series lend itself to yaoi doujinshi. They even lampshade the homoerotic tension in the series between Ippo and Ichiro in a playful manner that is a trademark of the series.

Since I have been watching so much Natsume Yuujinchou, this is the pic of the week: