Ongoing Investigations: Case #229

hisui_icon_4040 And so another season of the larger Index series ends with the conclusion of A Certain Scientific Railgun S. Kate and I were recently discussing the series as a whole and she found it odd that despite how big the whole Index thing is in Japan it never seems to have caught on here in the US. It always just seems like a franchise that happily chugs along in Japan season after season doing very well with almost no real vocal fanbase in the States. Just one of those cases where it clearly shows the difference in tastes between the two fanbases for the same medium.

The first part of this story was interesting as we finally got to see what Misaka Mikoto was doing during the Sisters Arc. It was clear from A Certain Magical Index that Misaka was already neck-deep in trying to stop the Level 6 Shift experiment by the time Touma got involved. Here we get to see how she became aware of the Sisters and tried to stop Accelerator from killing any more of them. Eventually the plot caches up to what was presented in Index and then it is just the original Sisters Arc with some new perspective as it is all from Misaka POV instead of Touma.

After that there is the original Silent Party Arc that builds on a lot of the themes presented in the Sister Noise Arc and at the same time resolves what happened to Nunotaba Shinobu, who was recently introduced. The Chemicaloid Project seems to once again prove that Academy City is just filled with some of the least ethical scientists who ever lived. But I guess that is what happens when you put Aleister Crowley is charge of a city of research.

In the original Sisters Arc Misaka Mikoto comes off as an aloof loner. Someone who knows lots of people, is known by even more, but does not have any real friends other than maybe Kuroko. But as the Railgun series has come into fruition it has given Mikoto a small circle of dedicated friends and well as some rather constant allies. Therefore they had to go out of their way to explain why she would specifically not ask for their help and therefore why we never see anyone like Uiharu or Saten. It does add to Mikoto’s gloomy martyr complex that was present, but nowhere near as prominent, in the Index version of the story.

Thankfully the Silent Party Arc helps balance out her character again so that Uiharu, Saten, and Kuroko can be more than cameos in the show again. It also lets Misaka teach this same lesson to Shinobu. Kongo, Wannai and Maaya also make a pretty prominent appearance. It even had a cameo with Haruue Erii and Edasaki Banri actually be critically important.

But all of that is sort of pat the course for the end of a Railgun season. There was one event that was almost “a unicorn high fiving a dragon in the middle of Times Square” rare: Anti-Skill and Judgment were actually useful. They got stuff done and where not just the useless army guys in a monster movie. It is crazy talk but it was true. Anti-Skill and Judgment members who were not main characters were actually effective. Insanity.

Side note: For as much as Kiyotaka Haimura says that Shutaura Sequenzia looks almost exactly like Fukiyose Seiri I have to say Kongou Mitsuko is far more a dead ringer for her.

They really made Nunotaba Shinobu much more attractive in the anime. She is a really strange-looking woman in the manga. They go out their way to show her extra freaky fish-eyes in the manga while she just looks a little dead eyed in the anime. I guess they wanted to cute her up for figures.

I did find it a little odd that Shokuhou Misaki was so prominently in a few scenes for the small amount that she did. I know that she eventually becomes very important but for now she seems disproportionately significant. I think it is partially to have her be established so she does not seem to pop up out of nowhere when she does become important. Also she does seem to have become rather popular so they might have just had her show up for her fans to be happy. But I never read the manga so she might have also just shown up his much in the manga as well.

It is also interesting to see how much we get to see Frenda Seivelun in this series. As someone who is almost completely later defined by her death later in the series it was a little nice to see her before she was Fre nda even before the whole Mami Tomoe craze.

I wonder how long until they adapt the Accelerator manga. You know it is coming. So it will just be another turn in the cycle between seasons of Index and Railgun. But I’m glad just to see more of the franchise as a whole.

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narutaki_icon_4040 I read the first two chapters of the new Saint Seiya manga Saintia Sho. It is written by the original manga-ka of Saint Seiya Masami Kurumada with new artist Chimaki Kuroi. This series is going to follow the women Saints who are guarding Athena after a civil war.

Shoko’s older sister Kyoko left five years ago to attend an elite school but hasn’t been in contact since. More recently, Shoko has been having a recurring nightmare involving an apple and a warrior dressed in golden armor. Things come to a head when her dream starts to come true at school and who but her missing sister is the golden saint. It seems like Shoko may be the descendant of an evil entity which will certainly complicated the story.

Shoko is a strong martial artist and smart from what we’ve seen so far.

I liked what I read so far, it is pretty straight forward Saint Seiya in the Prologue. And then the first chapter is all setup so we’ll see where it goes. Even the artwork seems like it is from a past era which is a nice touch.

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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Ongoing Investigations: Case #221

hisui_icon_4040 This week’s Ongoing Investigation theme is the first episode of shows that Narutaki would not watch unless you put a gun to her head. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya is mostly not here because it is getting a whole episode review of its own tomorrow.

No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! is here because she found out it was popular on 4chan. Therefore she refuses to watch it out of principle. I can’t really blame her.

I’m Not Popular can be summed up simply. It is a magnum opus of schadenfreude. Tomoko Kuroki is a loser. A sad pathetic loser. A socially awkward plain-looking girl who revels in putting a positive spin on her stunted existence. She mostly winds up digging herself deeper into a world of isolation and delusion while feebly attempting to change her life.

And you are to revel in this fact. Like Charlie Brown running towards the football you know that it will be pulled away at the last second. The thrill is seeing how despite common sense the scene is set up and then the cathartic release of her misery being the end cap that ties it all together.

Clearly the audience is supposed to view Tomoko with empathy on one hand as most of the audience understand on a certain level what it is like to be shy, neurotic, paranoid, bitter, and delusional. Those are all common feelings and situations to anyone who has embraced a geeky lifestyle at some point or another. But on the other hand your mostly supposed to be laughing at Tomoko. So it is not like the Big Bang Theory that claims to be about nerds but clearly has no idea what their actual lives are like. But it is clearly laughing at the misery of someone who can’t change their life while grokking what that feels like.

I’m not going to claim to totally understand the female geek experience. I don’t want to mansplain this. It is just something about the show feels like a geeky guy trying to extrapolate what a girl’s experience would be like using their own memories more than a female author exploring her social pariahdom. Nico Tanigawa is a pen name for two authors so I don’t have any definitive proof of what either of their genders are. But maybe I’m just assuming that the genders are more separate experiences than they actually are.  If anyone is actually a female fan who has experience with this I would actually like to know what they think.

I will say that with that all laid it is obvious why this series is so popular with places like 4chan. It is the exact mixture of self-loathing and perverse self-congratulation that would hit their sweet spot. It simultaneously loves and hates its protagonist in equal measure. But in the end shakes its head at its failure of a lead and laughs at her. If that is what interest you then I suppose you know what you’re watching this season.

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narutaki_icon_4040 I read Mixed Vegetables vol. 4. Now that Hana has actually started on the path to her dream by working in a sushi place, she is finding herself more and more concerned about Hayato’s plans. Unlike Hana, Hayato hasn’t owned up to his parents about his dreams. He doesn’t want to take over the sushi shop and desperately wants to be a pastry chef, but this volume of the manga calls that into question a bit.

I do kind of miss their relationship from the first volume, even if they were just pretending to be into each other, it had a fresh vibe to it. Still, they are slowly falling which is sweet and there doesn’t seem to be any artificially obstacles as yet.

I also enjoyed Hayato and Hana’s mini-adventure of trying to help out one of the sushi chefs who happens to be in love with their teacher. Seeing them team up for this purpose was sweet and funny.

P.S. this volume highlights the hot dads a bit.

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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Modern Shojo: Narutaki’s Most Wanted Part 1

The full title of this post should probably be “Modern Shojo: Most Wanted, That I Want That I Could Think Of At The Moment (Part 1)”, but somehow that didn’t seem catchy. This post was inspired by one over on Shojo Corner called “One Hit Wonders . . . in America” which featured manga-ka who’ve only seen a limited release of their works in the U.S. So I decided to talk about a few off my own wish list.

Aya Nakahara

Nakanara’s popular series Love*Com (Lovely Complex) was lucky enough to be released by VIZ fully. It is one of the best romances in recent memory by showing two people actually becoming friends, having commonalities in their lives, and then falling in love. Of course it had a healthy dose of humor and a unique and relatable lead, Risa.

Nakahara actually has an extensive catalog of titles. She tends to go with pairs of unlikely people whether it be romances or friendships. Some of the titles I’d like to see: Hanada, too perfect girl meets uncouth boy; Nanaco Robin, imagine Kozuki from Love*Com (with a bad attitude) in a cute romance; and Berry Dynamite, idol duo who are friends on stage and enemies off.

At the very least I hope we get the new Love*Com manga that was recently announced.

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