Ongoing Investigations: Case #128

Blade of the Immortal 23 finally came into my hands, every time one of these comes out it seems cause for celebration. It takes far too long. This volume is still a transitional book as everyone starts to get in to position, and much traveling occurs for each group, for the final act to commence. This book actually doesn’t feature Manji and Rin all that much, despite their very recent reunion, instead putting the focus on the Itto-Ryu and Habaki’s deathrow Rokki. Since Anotsu and gang are fleeing, they set a number of traps for their pursuers. It is nice to see Magatsu around again, though I had to laugh when Soma attempts to take him on solo, better luck next time lady. There are also some tender and powerful moments between Maki and Anotsu. A good volume, as usual, but mostly a set-up for things to come.

If anyone was ever curious the person who does most of the links on the blog is me. In doing so I often stumble upon little bits of information like the existence of the  SlayersThe Hourglass of Falces manga. A complete 4-chapter story that is unusual in the fact that it has the standard Slayers crew we all know and love plus Luke and Milina from the later novels that were never translated. Lina and company are shipwrecked on a tranquil little island that has an idyllic town of friendly people. Due to the strange currents around the island they cannot causally leave. As they look for a way off the island a busty pirate shows  them there is something more sinister going on behind this utopia. Oh and there is one other major difference between this and the normal Slayers stories people are used to: Massive amounts of T&A. I don’t know much about Milina but Amelia’s breasts are definitely increased to be Naga sized and there are frequent panty shots. So the fan-service is distinctly on display in the manga. The story is a nice little story that is reminiscent of some of the better filler arcs in a regular Slayers TV series. It even manages to tie together the first and second series of Slayers novels. I just wish they toned down the gratuitous fan service.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #049

Quest for the Missing Girl is a mature manga. Not in the sense that it has cursing, violence, or graphic sex; Missing Girl deals with topics such as missed chances in life, settling down and moving on, relationships between parents and children, and compensation dating. Even compensation dating which could easily be used for a gratuitous sex scene is discussed as a subject of serious weight and importance but is never shown. The story begins when the mountaineer Takeshi Shiga is informed that Megumi, the daughter of one of his old friends, has gone missing. Shiga soon finds himself playing the part of detective in Shibuya, which is just as unfamiliar to him as the mountains would be to most other people. As the story goes on we learn about what lead up to Megumi’s disappearance and how it relates to the lives and decisions of all the other characters involved. Except for the climax there is not much action. In fact, the climax is mostly Shiga VS inanimate object. The draw to this book is as a fascinating character study and tightly plotted one book story. It’s never going to have a huge fan base in the manga community. The story is excellent but it won’t pop for younger manga fans. It is not mature due to excess. It is mature because it’s a well told story which deals with matters that only those with life experience will care about.

I was really glad I had a chance to read Quest for the Missing Girl which is nominated for an Eisner this year. The plot of Megumi missing actually brings to the surface many underlying mysteries in the lives of the characters. The strained relationships also make for thoughtful scenes. This really gives the book a hefty amount of weight that is woven in and out of this not so complicated missing person’s case. All culminating in a daring rescue attempt that is very “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do”-esque. There is something very passionate about Shiga who literally comes down from the mountains to find this girl. He isn’t a super over the top seinen hero but Shiga is definitely a manly dude who does some manly things. Jiro’s artwork is far from simple but it isn’t very stylized which compliments the story perfectly. So while on the whole it doesn’t come off as gritty it still seems gaunt at times especially with his way of shading. This book begs to be picked up and read in one swift sitting. Quest for the Missing Girl was my first encounter with manga-ka Jiro Taniguchi and it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. So much so that I ordered up a few more of his books immediately.

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