Ongoing Investigations: Case #239

hisui_icon_4040  A long time ago, we used to be canceled.

It was a fairly well publicized story. On May 22, 2007 the last episode of the Veronica Mars series was played on TV. While there were many dangling plot lines it seemed that the ending of season third would be all they officially wrote about the series. In 2013 a Kickstarter was launched to fund a movie that could finally give some closure to the series. It was wildly successful and the movie caused quite the hubbub. Kate and I loved the movie. You can hear our gushing praise on the Speakeasy. The movie did rather well on tying up all the loose ends from the TV series while showing that Veronica continues on to be her bad self. But the momentum of the Kickstarter seems unstoppable. The first major item from that continued energy is a Veronica Mars novel.

If you went into Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line with a healthy amount of trepidation no one could blame you. Fiction based on TV series can be wildly variable. If you have ever read things like Star Trek or Star Wars novels you will know that reading those books can be like playing Russian Roulette. Since writing novels like this is a work for hire affair you will get all stripes of writers looking for a pay check. Sometimes you get some amazing synergy when a good writer totally gets a series and has a great story for the characters to dig into. Most of the time you get some mediocre work. Maybe the author writes the characters a bit too much like their own characters as opposed to their established portrayal. Other times the characters are on point but the plotting is weak. Sometimes you just get shlock that makes you wonder why you did not just read something from fanfiction.com. Your never sure what you’re going to get.

Thankfully this first novel feels like a good Veronica Mars story. Not the best Veronica Mars story. But it feels like a good episode of the TV series. I think that is exactly what you want for a book like this. A radical examination of the character or an experimental work seems a bit too bold out of the gate. Unless you plan for this to be the only novel something that impactful would make everything after it feel limp. You want something that assures the audience that these novels will be enjoyable and exciting but not that they are GOING TO CHANGE EVERYTHING FOREVER.

At the same time the story feels like more than just a throw away story. Veronica and her father move forward after their somewhat strained relationship in the movie, Mac moves into a more predominant role, and there are one or to other changes that are spoilers I won’t go into. Enough happens that it feels like a real TV episode. If everything is static the novel feels like a filler arc from a shonen show. Too many changes and it feels like silly fan fiction.

Also all these changes are canon. So this won’t be pushed aside by a new movie or series.

The actually case moves quickly. I read the story in two days without even trying that hard to read it. But at the same time it does not feel rushed which is possible the greater crime for a novel to commit. The fast pace does help some of the later twists feel stronger. I read the novel in two days and I was hardly trying very hard. So I did not meditate too hard on the mystery and was more absorbed in it. It let me notice some of the clues so the solutions did not come out of nowhere but did not let me dwell on them too long so I figured out everything before it happened. If the story had moved a bit slower I probably would have meditated on it more.

Apparently the book already has a sequel lined up called Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss & Tell. Jennifer Graham and Rob Thomas are still writing this one so at least the writing will be consistent which means I can look forward to it with a minimum of trepidation. For such genre fiction that is a fairly strong endorsement.

narutaki_icon_4040 Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham was way too good for being a novel based on a media property.

The voice is what is most important in a venture like this. If the voice doesn’t come-off like Veronica then it is just a mystery novel. But Veronica sounds spot on in the way she verbalizes both in dialogue and internal thoughts. Kristen Bell made the character what she is, but from this book you can tell how well written the character has been and how well the writers understand her.

Biggest and best part of the book has to do with Veronica really sinking her teeth into being a for-realz P.I. Not that she doesn’t bust out some of her old tricks, but she is now an adult and professional and it changes the dynamics a a bit.

There is a lot of personal progress made in this book which left me very surprised mostly because if they make another movie I don’t know how they will reconcile it with the book(s?). But I won’t fret over that, instead I’ll look forward to the next story!

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

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Riot Control Reviews: Winter 2014 Pt. 1

Sometimes Kate just refuses to watch a show so Alain has decided to take on some of these less desirables in a new segment we’re calling Riot Control. Like the S.W.A.T. Reviews, Al will watch the first episode of a series and then immediately sit down to record a review mini-podcast. The reviews are five- to ten-minutes long and entirely off the cuff.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #195

I figured I might as well get this over with while Narutaki was on vacation so she did not have to revisit this unnecessarily unless she wanted to. Let us discuss the ending of Eureka Seven: AO (episodes 21-24). I suppose we could talk about the series as a whole at another date but I just want to get this little amount off my chest. You might wonder why I put up a picture of Dewey Novak for this review considering he does not ever appear in this sequel. Trust me. He is critical.

My main complaint about the ending is simple. But it is a fatal flaw that trumps all the other many minor flaws. According to Eureka Seven: AO it seems that Dewey Novak was right. He might have been a pedophilic mass murder who would not only commit patricide but also tried to destroy the world but as it turns out he was right. Mankind cannot live with the Scub Coral and the Coralians. One race must die so one race may live. So AO flushes the entire lesson of people learning to coexist utterly down the drain. Since I though that the original show and its themes were amazing this was a less than preferable twist in the sequel. I’m not saying that is no merit to the idea of a former villain actually be proven to have a legitimate (and actually correct) reason for his insane plan. I’m just saying in this case it was done super poorly.

Then there is the fact that Elena Peoples’ story line was amazingly anticlimactic, Naru Arata’s plot line seems totally forgotten by the end, and Truth was just all over the place as a villain. Everyone switched sides at one point or another and not always for good reasons. And in the end it all did not really matter as the Quartz Gun erases about 99% of everything that happened in the series. In the end I was mostly just glad the series was over.

It is really a shame. I had decently high expectations for this series. The first episode was promising and intriguing. But sadly my initial ideas of where the series was going were far better than anything that played out on-screen. This series certainly does not ruin the original series for me. That is still aces in my book. But I would never recommend anyone watch this after the original.

sep-manga

The finale has arrived, Kekkaishi’s last volume (35) hit stores as 2012 was coming to an end as well.

The finale volume is mostly falling action, which was rather refreshing, as the final pieces of the puzzle are revealed. I don’t think it is spoilers to say things mostly work out with the fate of the Shadow Organization falling to a new head. Karasumori’s existence is put to rest though still with some surprises in the mix and one very beautiful moment that brought a tear to my eye. And the rivalry between the clans Sumimura and Yukimura is dissolved.

I was pleased with the roles Yoshimori and Tokine played in the ending of this grand story. But they weren’t the only ones to have a big piece in the finale, and that’s what I liked best about the entire series. This was an ensemble cast and story which played out as such up until the very end; characters were not thrown by the wayside to build up Yoshimori’s importance. With such a great cast, I wouldn’t mind side stories about any number of them.

I’ve been so pleased to follow this wonderful shonen fighting manga for quite a while, anticipating each new installment. I’ll continue to sing its praises and recommend it even if it won’t be constantly reminding me of its presence every couple of months. I really hope VIZ picks up Yellow Tanabe’s new work in the near future.

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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