Ongoing Investigations: Case #114

I watched some of the various Detective Conan OVAs 1-9 stretched across many years. OVA 10 I haven’t gotten my hands on yet, and the Magic File OVAs I’ll leave for a separate post as they relate to the movies. It’s worth noting that they didn’t start making Conan OVAs until the 2000’s and they continue to make them despite the deadness of the OVA market but hey it’s a huge franchise. For the most part they are silly romps, some not even containing a real case, but not very memorable either way. The better ones are two containing Kaito Kid, perhaps I am just totally bias, OVA 1 which is actually very funny and OVA 4 where Conan and Kid end up on the same train with a precious jewel; OVA 3 guest stars Heiji who teams with Conan to find a missing kid; and finally OVA 9, which was probably my favorite despite not having a case, where Conan sees what the future might hold should he never find an antidote. These OVAs are really just supplemental material that aren’t required viewing so they are easy to just grab a few or skip all together.

hisuicon As a long time fan of the Phoenix Wright games I had to check out Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective to see how the spiritual successor stacked up to the original. While it is very clearly a Shu Takumi game it is a very different in terms of mechanics and flow. In Ghost Trick you start the game after just been killed. You are a ghost who cannot remember who you are, how you died, or who killed you plus on top of that have only until sunrise to figure it all out. You do have a few remarkable ghost powers to help you interact with the land of the living. You can jump from various inanimate objects and manipulate them in a Rube Goldberg fashion. So if wanted to alert someone before they were shot you could say jump into a fan, have it turn on, then jump into a piece of memo paper kicked up by the fan, ride it to a bicycle, and then have the bicycle ring its bell. But if that warning was not enough you can jump into the body of the recently dead and rewind time to 4 minuets before they died. So most of the game is you jumping around trying to save people in hopes that one of them will lead you discover who killed you and why. Ghost Trick has the same snappy writing of the Phoenix Wright games while being a solid departure from the courtroom drama. The twists in the game were clever and shocking but were not out of nowhere especially if you were paying attention. Ghost Trick could easy rank as one of Narutaki’s top 10 games of the year just because you team up with a lovable Pomeranian named Missile during the course of the game. The puzzles were decently changeling without every being unfairly difficult. There are some when you just have to try everything until you see a change. Also sometimes you just have to go through a section, see where you utterly mess up, rewind time, and then avoid the trap they set you up for. The only thing that is completely and utterly unchanged from Phoenix Wright is the music which while great could very easily just be mistaken for the soundtrack for Phoenix Wright 5. It is a really fun game that could be a franchise that equals its older brother.

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Ume Note: Kimi ni Todoke tips its hat to Death Note?

Kimi ni Todoke’s 2nd season starts off with a 0 episode devoted to a sorta recap of the 1st season while also giving us a closer look at Kurumi. Kurumi has excellent growth in the short time we meet her, but that doesn’t hinder her mean-spirited, though cleverly hidden, nature. She becomes a character that you really enjoy seeing as she progresses forward. But enough of that seriousness, I laughed quite hard to see what I could only describe as a mini-Death Note homage in this episode!

Ongoing Investigations: Case #083

hisuiconKimi ni Todoke reminds me that although I may associate Production I.G with smart action shows like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Le Chevalier D’Eon they can do all type of shows really well. The series just gives you a warm feeling throughout. It is a fabulous series to pick you up and reassure you of the good things in life. We learn more about everyone as they learn more about each other as well. And we want to learn these things because these are delightfully positive characters.  Everything we said about the first episode remains true throughout. If you liked the first episode you will be just as happy with the last episode. I never felt any of the story dipped in quality which is great. If you need an utterly conclusive ending that says, “This is where we stop” you have to hope the manga gives you that. The anime picks a good place to end where you can imagine where everything is going and be happy but if you got a second season you would not feel it was tacked on. The best series of the fall season and a wonder anime to hook a certain type of new anime fan as well as satisfy an old hand as well.

Kimi ni Todoke was always an especially bright spot in my weekly anime watching, it really has an uplifting feeling that is followed by a satisfied sigh. As the story takes a close look at friendships and love it creates an incomplete, but no less fulfilling, picture about growth. Few people could hope to be as endearing as Sawako, however, no one would ever know that had she not decided to come out of her shell. This is one of the many reasons I listed her as anime woman of the year for 2009, she is afraid but she moves forward and succeeds. I love Kimi’s ability to make you believe (or in my case remind me of what I have always known) that people change everyday, for many different reasons. I found the development of Chizu a surprising extra to the series, as well as how much I enjoyed Kurumi, Yano’s reveal of being somewhat of a mastermind, and how deeply I felt Ryu’s love. Each character added something to the mix never coming off as extraneous side characters in a love story about Sawako and Kazehaya. But that love story is wonderful, subtle, and fits in along side all of the other slow and sweet relationships that develop in Kimi ni Todoke. The shy quality that comes over the otherwise outgoing Kazehaya and the utter freaking out of Sawako are touching and hilarious as is the knowledge that they will end up in the right place someday, one small step at a time. Kimi ni Todoke deserves a spot as of one of the best of 2009/2010.

hisuiconThe next stop on the trip through the iterations of Cutey Honey was Re: Cutey Honey or as I like to call it Re: Super-Obvious-Lesbian-Sub-Text Honey. Re: Cutey Honey was made by Gainax as a companion to the Hideaki Anno movie. Once again Honey Kisaragi must battle Panther Claw after they killed her father. The biggest difference is now instead of Seiji Hayami being her love interest with a good deal of lesbian subtext to her adventures they outright have Natsuko Aki as her love interest. Also Honey is now an office lady instead of a student. Overall the formula is still the same one I mentioned on The Speakeasy and it does it well. The fan service is sort of off the hook in these OAVs. There are naked breasts all over the place and the racy material you expect from a Go Nagai work with a modern Gurren Lagann feel. The action is also rather well done and the fights are exciting and amusing. I’m actually quite surprised this has not been picked up. It’s only three episodes, the animation is quite good, and it delivers on all fronts that U.S. fans usually like.

I went to see the play Enjoy by Toshiki Okada translated from Japanese over the weekend but it struck me as almost more of a conversation rather than a production. The narrative revolves around a bunch of part-time workers at a manga cafe in Shinjuku. There is virtually no set or props to speak of so the crux of everything hinges on the stories they are telling to each other and the audience, often speaking directly to you the viewer. The speech used is worth noting because it really is street level, repeating yourself, stopping and starting, skipping things, filler words, very “real.” There is a bit of a divide in the cast, some are 30 (or just turned so) and the others are between the ages of 22-27, everyone makes frequent mentions of this. Much of the conversations revolve around societal pressures about jobs and relationships, but more to the point is this close look at a phenomenon of college grads who only work part-time and still live at home without being able to move on to the next stage. I found this concept an easy one to see in American culture as well. There is a presence of humor certainly in the quirkiness of many of the characters in the first half, but also a melancholy that gets more pronounced in the second part. In fact, while even some characters recognize their flaws throughout the play, it never really feels like they will move forward because of it. But in this way and others the characters are very tangible, you know these people or are/have been these people, you want to hear their story, sympathize, listen, encourage, advise, and talk to them. Enjoy doesn’t really come off as positive or negative, and is certainly never preachy, it is a play about what goes on, what is, and it succeeds in making you mull over all that you saw.

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