Ongoing Investigations: Case #161

When we went to go see A Letter to Momo our little group went on a side trip to Kinokuniya. These trips are always dangerous. I did not pick up anything but my roommate purchased the Fate/Complete Material volume 5 art book which of course was of no small interest to me.This is a very hefty art book all about Fate/Hollow Ataraxia. As I have never played Fate/Hollow it is always nice to get some more insight into that game. I have to say that I was slightly surprised that Bazett was the character on the cover. While she is one of the most important characters in the game she generally tends to be overlooked in most materials.The first part of the book shows all the designs from the returning characters. I never noticed how many odd little outfits Rin gets in this game. Interestingly enough all the new characters are near the back of the book in their own section. Also apparently that trio of girls who are the stars of Fate/School Life are rather prominent in Fate/Hollow. While they are no main characters that is a still a major upgrade from barely having names to becoming reoccurring minor characters. I wonder how they got that popular. There is also an amazingly wealth of background images and production sketches. Sadly I could not read the accompanying notes but I am sure they are filled with fascinating little details. Overall like the rest of the Complete Material books this is an amazing resource. As a side note they don’t have any materials from the sex scenes. I know that is a selling point for some people and a deal breaker for others. There is a whole page of naked Saber bum but other than that it is all clean as a whistle. It is definitely something I will pick up for myself when I have money again. If nothing else it only makes me want to play Fate/Hollow Ataraxia even more.

The Knight in the Area isn’t the best soccer anime you’ll see, but it does a solid job. I have to say I was surprised about the brother’s fate, I mean it was obvious Kakeru would have to go it alone, but the details of it were unexpected. As Kakeru finds his soccer spirit again, he decides to change schools looking for a player his brother respected. The players at Enoshima are a colorful bunch and I’m really enjoying the way they play off each other. The pacing is almost too fast however which leads to people saying a lot of things rather than showing them or us feeling them. I am pleased that in episodes 9-10 Seven is getting more of story. And she is a force to be reckoned with, quickly showing she has more skill than Kakeru and the boys of the team. It was really gratifying to see her far bypassing our main character. Kakeru is a player who will struggle for each new step and that is just fine.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #096

Tales from Earthsea only just hit U.S. shores for general release this August due to conflicts over the name rights. But that isn’t the only reason you may not have heard of this movie, Goro Miyazaki makes his directorial debut and it is a poor showing to say the least. As the film opens we see dragons battling and are introduced to the concept that the balance of the world is off, it is further revealed much of this is being caused by the dangerous Lord Cob. That is about all the explanation you get for the plot of this movie. It is a world of magic (though it is dying out), castles, royalty, dragons, and wanderers. We meet Arren, Sparrowhawk, Therru, and Tenar in quick succession as troubling happenings seem to plague Arren’s journey with Sparrowhawk. But all of this, from characters to the pacing of the film to the dub, is flat, flat, flat. Arren is unsympathetic because there is never any moments where you really come to understand his point of view and his relationship with Therru develops unevenly at best never really making you believe the eventual bond between them. Most of the history of characters is just thrown out to you through poorly planned exposition, such as when we learn how Therru came to stay with Tenar. Though Tenar and Sparrowhawk fare a little better but only because they have an established, though minorly told, history together. The ending battle scenes and dialogue unfortunately elicited snickers and out loud laughter from not just myself but others in the audience. I think the only scene that had any real magic is when Arren tells Therru his “true name” which was rich, atmospheric, and tender. I really wanted to like this movie, and I want to believe Goro Miyazaki can develop as a director, but it was hard to keep the faith by the end of the film.

hisuicon Sadly Tales from Earthsea was the train wreck that it has been made out to be. Part of me was hoping that people were unfairly trying judge Goro Miyazaki first efforts as a director in comparison to his father’s work. But the reason that this move gets panned so much is it is just riddled with major flaws. The plot is poorly paced, will often make inscrutable twists, and is often just uninteresting. Most of the characters were either banal or annoying. The dialog is clunky so that at points characters will drop a line that seems to come completely out of nowhere. Sparrowhawk and Tenar were fine for the most part but they never came close to being able to prop up the plot. The worst part in my opinion is Arren is an unsympathetic character. When you actively dislike the main character you should have an idea that the show is going nowhere very quickly. The dub did not help the film at all but you can tell that the source was terrible so the dub had little to work with. Tales from Earthsea certainly looked like a Studio Ghibli film but it had none of the heart or artistry of a proper Studio Ghibli film. The only really positive thing I can say is it made me interested in reading the original books just to see what his mess was based on.

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Ongoing Investigations: The Movie presented by the Ani-Gamers Podcast

We made a little guest appearance on the Ani-Gamers podcast this month. It is broken into two parts, the first here is just a little bit about what we’ve all been reading, watching, and/or playing recently. It’s not particularly insightful but we each talk about stuff we haven’t gone into on the blog much like Tetsujin-28 (2004), Candy Candy,  and Sakura Wars 5.The second part where we finally get to let out our thoughts on Code Geass should be up in a week or so, we’ll let you know!

Part One of our latest appearance on Ani-Gamers