Ongoing Investigations: Case #103

hisuiconSince it seems that no one is interested in licensing Michiko to Hatchin I decided to finally check it out especially after Sean Ryan mentioned it would have made a great addition to the fallen fans guide. It is a road trip movie in which the journey is far more important than the destination. In fact if anything my major complaint about the series is that the destination seems extremely anti-climatic after everything than comes before it. I feel in many ways this was hinted that it was going to be like this but it did not make it any less disappointing. That said they journey before then is filled with some grim parables, touching vignettes, and great action scenes. We see Michiko and Hatchin grow from interacting with each other and fundamentally shift how they look at the world. It is a touching and compelling journey that should be watched for the experiences you get along the way more than the prize at the end. The audience in a way experience exactly what the characters in the show do for better and for worse. But overall I think you will be glad you went on the trip.

There was no down time for Ichigo as Yumeiro Patissiere Professional started just a week or so after the original Yumeiro Patissiere finished its TV run. This is a couple of years in the future as Ichigo returns to Japan from studying abroad in France. We know very little about her time there beyond her learning more skills, but not losing her charming naiveté, and that something happened between her and Kashino. Things at the end of the first season were a little over the top in Henri’s plans but things just get crazier with this new series. Henri now seems to be some sort of eccentric, semi-diabolical pastry chef that pits the students in a competition of opening their own pastry shop in this playland of sweets he has created. After 4 episodes I can firmly say it is still plenty amusing and cute. So far we have seen the dispersion of Team Ichigo with the exception of Kashino, and the return of Lemon plus the new addition of incredible caricature, American Johnny. The competition is also a lot different from what was seen in the original as this goes into business and customers as well as creating that perfect dessert. As this series is slated to be much shorter than the original I’m curious where it will end up.

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Fall Into Me: Fall 2008 Anime Guide

Every season tend to have it’s own flavor and for better or for worse they tend to have a a bunch of show with similar themes and motifs. This is just the way TV works. This fall the in thing is supernatural action. 7(?) of the 17 shows we are doing first impressions of have a supernatural theme to them. I like supernatural themed shows so this is good thing but can be just as bad if not worse than any other genre.

There are always a ton of new shows coming out. Alas there are only so many hours in the day so we have to be selective. We are not reviewing sequels, ongoing shows (yes, of course, we are watching Gundam 00!), or any show we are pretty sure, like 99% sure, we will not like. And be aware we are reviewing these shows after watching just one maybe two episodes, so it is just first impressions.

Tytania

Tytania is the story of the nasty Tytania clan and their attempts to take over the UNIVERSE! It is set in a space fairing future not unlike the Traveller universe which although humanity has high space technology but with all the stylization of European nobility including dress, titles, and antiquated personal weaponry. We are quickly introduced the major players in the Tytania clan and we see although they do not officially rule the empire they do so in all but name. And boy are they boring so far. But there is hope in the form of Fan Hulic and his rebels from Euria. Fan actually seems likable and someone you want to root for. I really hope the story is about his awesome fight against the Tytania bastards like the ending suggests or this is going to be rather lame. I guess they could also make Tyania more sympathetic and interesting but I think I would rather see Fan’s excellent adventures. I recommend this show to anyone who is running out of Legend of the Galactic Heroes to watch and needs their next space opera fix.

Character designs by Haruhiko Mikimoto who did original Macross, woo-hoo! This is very seriously a show about the biggest jerks in the universe and their pompous, pampered lives. Please for the love of all things mighty, take them down FAN (pictured above)! I was really worried that he was just going to be another conquest but looks like he has some hidden cunning. I really wasn’t interested in the show until I realized he had something up his sleeve. My suspicions are the same as Hisui’s in that this show will be about the rebels taking on the empire so to speak. Which you would never know from the opening sequence. Which by the way sounds like it is an anthem for the Tytania clan.

Hokuto no Ken: Raoh Gaiden – Ten no Haoh

So this episode is about the sensitive musician Raoh. He is trying to cross the world and make it a peaceful place through the sound of music. Or it is about Raoh a man, five times the size of any punk he runs into, who can only walk in a straight line. He also has two minions one who he gives a fist pound to in greeting and one who is almost molested which was surprising because it was only almost. The opening sequence reminds us that what we are watching is pure, awesome, raw power while the ending sequence implies that there is some touching story behind it all. I think we know why we are all here watching this and it has nothing to do with depth. Also since this is just the beginning of Raoh’s journey he has not yet donned the fantastic armor.

Most people might not realize that Raoh from Hokuto no Ken is actually much like Narutaki. They are both the King of Fists and they both live life without regret. Clearly since Narutaki is a real human being it was Roah that was based on him. So does Raoh Gaiden live up to the greatness that is Narutaki’s life? The answer is clearly YES!For those not in the know this is a side story to the original Fist of the North Star series with the big bad guy as the star. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the strong prey on the weak and the ultimate weapon is martial arts. Roah plans to save the world from its sorry state by conquering it. He and his two lieutenants make their first step towards world domination by taking over some poor saps fortress. For some reason, to minimize the damage to the fortress I suppose they go in disguised as a performing troop. This leads to unintentional hilarity. Roah then proceeds to school this guy and name himself King of Fists. Is the animation super awesome? No. It’s serviceable and a little out dated. Is the plot super deep? Hells no. Why are you going to watch this? Roah at one point is confronted by the random encounter enemies of any post-apocalyptic world, the biker punks. He confronts their leader and punches a whole the size of a cow in him…and the building in the distance, too. If that sells you than welcome aboard this crazy train.

Ga-Rei ZERO

This show really started out very typically with decent action. Dark pasts with some messed up supernatural elements running around the city. But the girl does fight these zombie like things using her motorcycle. Awesome! But I felt the mission didn’t have any suspense. It was all over and wrapped up in the blink on an eye so it didn’t have that edge of the seat spirit. Then they throw you for a loop, like really do. As you sit there with your mouth hanging open you will wonder what just happened. Then fade to black….WHAT? Now I have to see what happens!

Motorcycle-fu is quite a site to behold. Sure the main guy uses, your now standard, double pistol gun-fu but, girls wielding the combat motorcycle skill is still woefully underused. Other than that it starts out with the standard NPC troops getting hosed by monsters so our young team of protagonists have to come in a show them how it’s done. Tooru wants to get revenge on the main baddie who killed someone precious to him, and our combat motorcycle girl is obviously interested in him. You have got the big guy with a scar and tech nerd to round it out. They take on two monsters in rather standard form and then just before the end as every review will surely mention they throw something quite unexpected at you. This is based on a manga but so far it seems to be based in the same world but with a different set of characters.

Kuroshitsuji

Ciel Phantomhive is the twelve-year-old head of his family’s toy company. Since his parents have passed away in a as yet unexplained fashion he is in the care of his demonic butler, Sebastian Michaelis. There are also four other servants in his household but they can barely take care of themselves let alone their young master. This series reminded me of Count Cain and it’s continuation God Child. It has that same creepy Victorian setting with an undercurrent of supernatural always in the background. The main problem is Count Cain has a handy formula that Kuroshitsuji has yet to learn. Each story in Count Cain would start with humorous hijinks and slowly as the story actually started would lose the comedy and turn grim until its usually dramatic or grizzly conclusion. When the next story began they would restart the formula so the comedy would refresh the pallet from the darkness that came before it. The director either needs to stick closer to Count Cain formula or learn to switch back and forth between tones a little cleaner.

This series is an odd duck. I am rather a fan of the combination of morbid and comedy. When done right it is hysterical. This series jumped between the two readily. The humor was very funny but sometimes the transitioning between the horror and light-hearted moments was just off. It starts off very dark and creepy and then booms you with hilarity, which is good, but it didn’t totally work for me because the horror seemed like it wanted to be taken seriously. That was a little hard to do when Sebastian is pulling table clothes off like a magician and the hired help being a most clumsy group of people. I think if it could even out the movement between the genres it could be good.

ToraDora!

This show seems like it has a lot of potential. Ryuji is a very funny, quirky and likable protagonist (and he is kinda cute despite his Yakuza eyes!). The poor boy can’t get from one end of town to the other without people cowering in fear and his obsession with cleaning things is great. As for Taiga, I think she could be a full realized character not just a fetish. She is a delinquent that is for sure, brash and hot-tempered. However, I actually imagine her trying to be quiet, sweet, and nice around the guy she likes rather than her normal self. There is a story behind her attitude and that story and development of her is what could make or break this show. The odd friendship that pops up between these two was nicely done. And while I know they will eventually be something more than friends, I wouldn’t mind watching their hilarious interactions without it.

When Ryuji and the petite “Palmtop Tiger” Taiga find that they have crushes on eachother’s best friends a rather unusual friendship forms between them. Ryuji may seem scary but he is actually a domestic genius and has a fondness of making mix tapes for girls he can never ask out. Taiga is a slovenly, delinquent that hides an inner bashful young maiden. They have an amusing dynamic that will be easily and quickly by labeled as tsundere by the Internet but I feel is more complex than that. Tiaga is voiced by Rie Kugimiya who also voiced Shana from Shakugan no Shana. Your enjoyment of both shows hinges on your liking the main female character. If you enjoy Tiaga like Narutaki and I did then your will be able to follow this show and determine if you ultimately like it. I did enjoy that in the second episode someone clearly expresses their feelings for some one. There is at least no pussyfooting on that front. I have a feeling that ToraDora! could fall into a repetitive cycle of Tiaga being nasty to Ryuji and having it kill the comedic value of their relationship but hopefully it will remain fresh.

Hyakko

Imagine if the first episode of the The Irresponsible Captain Tylor was only Yuriko Star and Makoto Yamamoto. Since they are both the straight man characters it would be sort of boring and only illicit some chuckles at best. It takes Justy Ueki Tylor and the rest of the crew playing off them to truly make them funny. This is the problem with the first half of Hyakko. Ayumi and straitlaced Tatsuki are lost on the humongous campus. They wander about the campus until they finally run into Torako jumping from a second story window followed by her friend Suzume. Things take a turn for the more interesting when the quartet is finally formed because Torako starts to get them into amusing little predicaments as they try to find their homeroom. When they finally arrive we see several other classmates who are sure to be regular characters but so far they have barely been introduced. The show really only works when they are all together. If they can keep up the high energy comedy I think this might be the funniest comedy of the season but they can’t break up the dynamic they they have running.

Thank goodness this show is not the first half of the episode, boring. It really started to pick up speed once all four girls came together and were running around the campus. All of them are distinctly different personality types ranging from shy and quiet to loud and belligerent. And quite frankly if I never learned another about them I wouldn’t be upset. The leader that will surely continue to get them all in explicable situations is Torako who in the first episode jumps out a window, throws a brick threw one, and punches a teacher in the gut. I know that she will surely garner a huge fan-base that will know no limits. All of these characters play off each other so in this case the sum is greater than all its parts. It is still slice of life but bordering on complete hijinx comedy which is the only kind I like.

Skip Beat

Kyoko Mogami kills herself working two full time jobs, living in a apartment much beyond her means, and doing the housework for two people for one reason. It lets her be with her beloved childhood friend and pop idol Sho Fuwa. One day she discovers that he is just using her because he knows that she has a crush on him. You expect her to break down crying. Instead she starts manically laughing and vows to get her revenge. So she makes herself over from Plain Jane to Cool Gal and starts on her road to a grand pay back. The first episode is masterfully set up. We get a likable and sympathetic Kyoko who shifts gears from quiet and meek to her occasional amusing dramatic reaction shots. We get a good insight into why she would fall for Sho and his charming attitude. We also get an equal insight into why he is such an utter buttmonkey that we want her to get him back. I am eagerly waiting to see how Kyoko puts her plan into motion.

Okay, I was very curious about this anime because the Skip Beat manga is pretty good. Well, it would be if it was unnecessarily long (and continues on as we speak). That is where the anime can come in. It can potential have the revenge and the romance at a good, even pace with a wrapped up ending. The first episode did the manga justice as far as I’m concerned. It wasn’t the mostly hilarious adventures of a hard working but slightly insane Kyoko punctuated nicely with moments of drama. It really does a great job a lulling you into thinking this is just standard shojo romance and then WHAM!

Hakushaku to Yousei

This was a series I knew nothing about but was really looking forward to. I love the era and setting (Victorian England) with the added fantasy elements. I think the first episode title says it all, “A Refined Villain.” Indeed that is what the Edgar is. He is ridiculously handsome, much too charming and cunning, sparkles and flowers surround him on occasion, and when he punches someone…well let’s just say it is very dramatic. AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE.I am happy to say that there is a plot surrounding all of this and it isn’t out of the blue for Edgar to be trying to seduce our pretty heroine, Lydia. But yes it is over the top, girly, fantasy, romance fun!

Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor. That means she can see and talk to them unlike most people and help people deal with them. She even has a magical fairy cat named Nico that acts as her companion. While traveling to England from Scotland she find a young man who has just escaped from being tied up asking to help him. Edgar eventually tells her he wants the legendary fairy sword. It is his proof of linage and he needs Lydia’s help to get it. Edgar and Lydia are now being chased by people who want the sword as well. I am curious how much of a bastard Edgar really is. They imply that he murders a man in cold blood. We also see Nico reading an article about how Edgar is wanted for larceny and murder. This is mostly off screen and the paper could be wrong so theoretically he could be a decent villain or he could be stone cold evil. I guess wondering is part of the fun.

Michiko to Hatchin

Michiko and Hatchin starts with Michiko breaking out of a supposedly inescapable prison and then raising some hell in the surrounding town. Then we switch to Hatchin who has been adopted by a horribly nasty priest and is equally nasty family. But eventually Michiko and Hatchin’s lives intersect and it ends with them starting a road trip with the police in pursuit. I really liked Michiko and Hatchin but I’m not going to watch another episode fan-subbed because this show is so clearly going to get licensed; it is not a matter of if but when and by who. With Manglobe Inc. working on it it has that same off beat style of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.  So far as I can tell it takes place in an unnamed Hispanic country which is not your normal anime setting. It has a great sense to style and cool so far. Unless this show takes a nose dive later on I am just going to sit back and wait for the DVDs.

I don’t think it is surprising that this series has style. From the animation to the characters designs to the music. And the opening animation was quite cool. A nice blend of action and comedy and two lead characters that couldn’t be more different. The story is unconventional and I think that looks attractive in general but it also made me incredibly curious. I in no way have any idea where this show is going. Michiko is a very unpredictable woman if the first episode is any idication. Perhaps, just like Hatchin, I am just along for this crazy ride.

Shikabane Hime Aka

Ouri is an orphan at a Buddhist orphanage who is finally moving out on his own. It turns out that the head of the orphanage secretly uses a corpse princess named Makina to fight other nastier forms of undead. While the series is not bad I can’t say that it hooked me either. The premise is interesting and has potential but is executed in a extremely average fashion. There are a lot of unanswered questions. How do people become undead? Why is she working with Buddhist monks to fight monsters? What role will Ouri play in all of this? Who is this talking cat that keeps showing up whenever Ouri is near? The fact that she fights with duel machine guns sounds cooler than it actually is in execution. Maikina fighting style seems to be charge straight at whatever she is fighting with guns-a-blazin’. Since she is undead she seems not to even try to dodge with leads to rather straight forward fight scenes. Maybe when Ouri gets involved this will change. This is a series I will let the rest of the Internet finish and then determine if it’s worth my money.

I just have to say I am in awe of GAINAX’s recent non-fan-service. All the opportunities were there but they ignored them! The show had an overall even tone mixing comedy and action. Though in just this first episode no one, or should I say our main characters, have not come together yet. They have met but we really don’t know what their involvement with each other is going to be. I think that bears a lot on what kind of a show this is and whether or not it will be worth watching. I felt the action scene at the end was sloppy and not very gripping.

Linebarrels of Iron

I think I did not hate Linebarrels of Iron unlike most reviewers mostly because of lowered expectations. Not that it is a good show. It’s rather bland but I did not hate it. I think the main reason people hate on this show so much is its main character, Hayase Kouichi. He goes from wimpy chump who is resentful of his friends who protect him to power-crazed jerk seinen douche-bag all in one episode. Hayase is running an errand. On the way back a giant mecha and a naked girl land on him. He then befriends said naked girl and uses the mecha to fight the evil mecha than come for her and her mecha. The problem is that he goes crazy with power and become a right jerk when he is is behind the controls of his new toy.  While I feel that such a repressed person might very understandably go a little dark when he is finally given power that does not make him likebale. The plot is totally standard and the protagonist is very hard to like which is going to lead most people to skip this show. Oh mad points to anyone who combines the last line of this episode with Kenshiro.

Mouryou no Hako

I…I…uhm…nope…I got nothing. The animation was very nice. Good music choices. It was really creepy! But since the show is supposed to revolve around four investigators and they didn’t really appear much in the episode, it is a little hard for me to judge this one. I would need a second of third episode to full grip it. But maybe it is a good sign that I am atleast interested enough to see the next episode.

Kohaku will watch this show if for nothing else CLAMP does the character designs. That fact aside this is a creepy show. We start with a young man going to visit relatives by train who then wakes up to a strange man showing him a living girl’s head in a box of flowers. And then we get into the weird stuff. It is sort of a hard show to determine if I should recommend it or not. The first episode is set in the 1950 as we see two girls developing a strange friendship that quickly develops into a bizarre codependent relationship. Kanako Yuzukithe more intellectual of the two girls begins to talk about how they are reincarnations of each other and when they die they will become the other one. Yoriko Kusumoto the more passive girl cuts her self off from her mother as she seemingly become more and more draw into her partners madness. Then as both girls plan to take a trip in the middle of the night tragedy strikes. The first episode draws you in with unsettling but beautiful animation and intriguing plots but it turns out that the first episode barley even introduces most of our main characters or the main murder mystery. I am 99% these two girls story in related to the main mystery but how it is related has yet to even been hinted at. I can’t say if I like this show or not but I know I want to see more if for nothing else to try and figure out what is going on.

Kurozuka

Does your anime need sex and gritty samurai violence but you don’t want to watch Ninja Scroll again? Well, step right up Kurozuka. Kuro is on the run in a Monk’s garb while being pursued by assassins sent by his brother. After nearly dying in a fight due to a fever he and his retainer seek shelter in the house a beautiful woman named Kuromitsu. While Kuro is waiting he finds him self increasingly attracted to Kuromitsu. Soon more assassins come and break the peace. Kurozuka is a good action show that has the potential to have some deeper themes and ideas of the plot goes in the right direction. Even if it never decides to take the higher ground of philosophy the cool action sell the show enough already.

I did just recently watch Ninja Scroll actually and I’ll admit that I was really excited about the prospect of something like that stepping out this season. Kurozuka did just that in its first episode. The fights were nicely choreographed, bloody, and took up most of the episode. It was also nice to see them not cutting away or resorting to extreme amounts of flashes during the fights. And when those dudes forearms got sliced off, NICE! Hopefully that will continue. The world is a bit mysterious, definitely a supernatural slant and it almost seemed post-apocalyptic. It was an intriguing first episode and probably one of my favorites overall. Also seems a likely license by Manga Entertainment.

To Aru Majutsu no Index

Kamijo is a student in Academy City which seems to be a city of schools. Apparently people regularly run around with psychic powers in Academy City to the point where there is a ranking system. Toma’s psychic power is that he can cancel out other people’s powers with his right hand. After earning himself a self proclaimed rival he goes home to find a strange girl lying on his balcony. Her name is Index and she is from the church being chased by mages who want the magic spell books locked in her brain Johnny Mnemonic style. Although Toma thinks Index is crazy he takes a liking to her and invites her back any time if she is in trouble. This of course means that their destinies are quickly intertwined. I think Narutaki was spot on in calling that people will cosplay the daylights out of To Aru Majutsu no Index if they cosplay the heck out of anything coming out of this season. I liked the little twist on the standard formula of a guy saving a girl from punks in the beginning. I also thought Index was cute even if she has a mega-lame name. Toma seems likable enough and I enjoyed his rival. Apparently so did Japan because she got her own spin off light novel series and manga. If this show shows up in Yen Plus don’t be surprised.

This show was able to surprise me and make me in laugh in just a few minutes. Kamijo seems to be a capable and fun protagonist which makes him a pleasure to watch. His interactions with everyone are fun to watch. His power could be really interesting since it is more of a defensive technique though he uses it aggressively! Oh, I call every girl in the opening to falling in love with him. Index, who gets props for worst name, is funny and energetic though a bit ditzy. Their first meeting is really funny, in fact Kamijo isn’t incredibly serious most of the time. I found it to be a good time and probably the best straight shonen action show out of the bunch.

All in all I liked this season. Nothing really stood out for me as my next favorite show but nothing was horrible as well. If I had to pick a favorite of the season…Michiko and Hatchin although Tora Dora, Kurozuka, and To Aru Majutsu no Index were all very good. I think Linebarrels of Iron was the weakest show that I watched. Oh, Narutaki and I wanted to watch Tentai Senshi Sunred, Bihada Ichizoku, and the J-drama Bloody Monday but due to both of our Internet connections going out this weekend we could not review those three. I am sure we will try to review them in Ongoing Investigations when we get the chance.

Top 5 Recent Shojo Manga I’d Like to See Animated
5. Monkey High
4. Yamamoto Zenjirou to Moushimasu
3. Chocolate Cosmos
2. Penguin Revolution
1. Nosatsu Junkie