Ongoing Investigations: Case #042

I eagerly finished the last volume (book 7) of Penguin Revolution. The final scenario in this book is a little over the top, but not out of tune with the rest of the story. Most of the revelations came in the couple of volumes before this so we get a lot of forward motion here. Both Ryo and Aya push themselves to out do the other on the stage and of course their internal battle over Yukari continues. Ryo realizes he has a romantic rival when he finally recognizes his own feelings. I would have liked the ending to be more concrete but it was still a happy one. Highly recommended as is anything by Sakura Tsukaba! I can’t say enough about her ability to meld romance and comedy with a little supernatural. I hope CMX releases whatever she decides to do next, would also love to see a collection of her one shots!

My theme this week is OVAs. I guess I will cheat by starting with the Haruhi ONAs. There are two Haruhi ONA series, Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and Nyoron Churuya-san. I generally find the Haruhi-chan shorts amusing. The episodes remind me of the type of humor you would see in a comedy doujishi. Nothing in the series has had me on the floor laughing but so far all the episodes have brought a smile to my face. I find it interesting that they made Yuki a total visual novel otaku in this series. While it is funny, it makes me wonder if there is any basis for this in the novels. Speaking of Yuki the mini Ryoko Asakura that is staying at her apartment brings up the odd Japanese fascination with making miniature version of characters for omake. A great trivia question would be who was the first character to be portrayed in this fashion. Nyoron Churuya-san on the other hand is just bizarre. It is best summed up as Everyone Hates Churuya-san. It is  the story of a cheese-loving, super-deformed Tsuruya going around and being ignored or abused by everyone in these extremely non-sequitur sequences. It has very dry humor which I usually like, but not this time. Their ideal release would be as DVD extras on a boxset of the second series of Haruhi.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #035

I think I will just talk about video games this week. We’ll start with Street Fighter IV. I had an interest in the game but since I don’t own an PS3 or 360 I had no real plans to buy it. Then everyone and there mom was talking about it. When I was on lunch break I even heard the manga cows in a bookstore talking about it. So I broke down and bought the game to play on my brother’s Xbox. Playing Street Fighter IV reinforced a valuable lesson. I am not very good at fighting games. I have enough knowledge to be above a button masher but not anywhere near enough skill or practice to be any sort of capable player. This is a well executed game with high level of technical finesse. It is also amazing that you cannot play arcade mode with the online challenge function on because you will get a request to fight every few seconds. I am not sure how long this amount of community will last but this is a good game to play if you like the idea of playing a fighting game online. I think Narutaki got a big kick of of it when he played it as well. Oh and for everyone who says easiest is to easy I stick my tongue at you.

I have started watching Zettai Shonen, I am four episodes in so far. It is an odd little show about a strange town in the country. Ayumu goes there to stay with his dad who he is clearly estranged from. In the midst of exploring the surrounding land and neighbors, weird things start happening and cloudy memories keep coming up. The towns folk are an odd lot that you just don’t know about them. They include a few kids around Ayumu’s age, a younger girl who seems to know a lot about what is going on, a news reporter, and a cat. The mystery of this town doesn’t seem to revolve around something horribly tragic and I am hoping it stays that way, but one never knows.

I am pretty much at the end of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings which has been quite enjoyable. I amusingly enough have yet to play Final Fantasy XII itself. I would have gotten more out of the game had I played the original but was still worth playing. When characters from the old game pop into the story it would have been cooler had I already know who they are. Vaan, Panelo, and friends are still going around being sky pirates. They find an air ship that takes them to a series of magically sealed floating islands. Using their newly gained ability to summons creatures, they go about stopping evil pirates and the evil powers that control the island. I was interested in seeing Square do a real-time strategy game. It is a rather simplistic, enjoyable RTS game but you cannot go in expecting the next Warcraft. The end game extra material seems significantly harder than anything that came before but that is Square Enix side material for you. If nothing else the game has piqued my interest in playing Final Fantasy XII just to see more of Panelo. She is super cute.

I watched more Raoh Gaiden, up through episode five. My favorite episode so far has been the one I named Raoh: Horse Whisperer. His first meeting with Kokuoh is epic. Since Kokuoh’s army of horses takes out a good number of Raoh’s minions, Raoh decides to meet this beast. As they stand face to face a tiger attacks which Raoh promptly rips in two and tells it to not interrupt a conversation between kings (which actually just consists of staring at each other). Also Kokuoh’s size varies in every scene after this. He ranges from being the same height at Raoh to being about 30 feet tall. This show is so entertaining I can’t stop watching. And for some unknown reason the fan-subbers have skipped the sixth installment, perhaps it was too powerful for them.

I also played My World, My Way. Princess Elise falls in love with a handsome adventurer but he correctly dismisses her as a spoiler brat. So she decides to become an adventurer to win his approval. The king assigns a poor guy to run around and set up monsters for you to beat and tasks to accomplish that are challenging while not being deadly. You also have the ability to change things about the game by being so selfish that the world changes just to shut you up. The idea is cute and the story can be funny at times, but it very quickly becomes the same thing again and again. You go to a town; they ask you to collect x number of items; and defeat y number of monsters. When you finish the missions you get the key to the next town and have to fight a boss on the way out. They sometimes throw a dungeon into the mix but it’s not that much different from wandering around the world map. You eventually get a little mimic slime to fight along side you. This mixes things up a little but does not radically change the game play. It feels much more like a 20 dollar game than a 30 dollar game.

I read the second volume of Mixed Vegetables. I was a little disappointed in the direction they decided to take it though I felt it righted itself a bit as the book went on. The relationship between our two main characters has really changed.

I must end with Panelo, so this is the pic of the week:

Ongoing Investigations: Case #011

It’s not like I thought it wasn’t going to be, but it should be said. Ghost in the Shell SAC is so freaking good. It is engaging, smart, and quite complex. It is not something that I can actually try to figure out along side the characters. I just sit back and enjoy the ride. I am totally fascinated by it all! The Laughing Man intrigues me so! You can be sure I’ll make a wallpaper by next week’s end. Though disc 4 had no “complex” episodes and then disc 5 had three more, eight in a row of no Laughing Man case was starting to drive me a little nuts. But we are back on track and with only 5 episodes to go I’m getting anxious!

I also read NISIOISIN’s Zaregoto in an attempt to see what had perplexed Narutaki so. My summation of the book is best left to “Weird Al” Yankovic, Everything you know is wrong! Because that is the total summation of the ending of this book. Ii-chan solves the case and the survivors leave the island. Then in the epilogue we learn that everything that was answered was absolutely incorrect. It’s not Ii-chan who figures it out though. Some psycho detective pops up and gives us all the true answers in a clearly deus ex machina manner. I’m not sure if I like this book or not. It was definitely odd plus the storytelling and the characters are very, very strange. I think it supposed to be vaguely unsettling and disorienting. I can’t quite but my finger on whether it made the story uniquely enjoyable or just strange for the sake of being strange.

Watched Saint Seiya episodes 7-18, finished the first arc and have gotten just a couple of episodes into the next one. Here is what I have learned so far: no one dies, for any reason, unless they really want them to; they are fond of saying “Hell” or “I’ll send you to Hell!”; they love to punch people in the heart, like through the skin and into the heart (though people still don’t always die of this); they are not unaware of their female fan-base as proven by the Shun in the shower scene; and finally huge bad guys can still be scared away the police. Oh and I love it. This isn’t my first viewing of Saint Seiya, but I have never really sat down and watched consistently.

After reading Black Lagoon volume one I have to say I enjoy the anime slightly more than the manga but that is of no disservice to the manga. The manga is quite excellent. But seeing the awesomeness that is the Black Lagoon manga in it’s full color kinetic glory when it is animated is way better. I don’t mind buying them both but if asked to choose I would pick the anime hands down.

Mixed Vegetables was exactly what I needed to get me back on a romantic shojo comedy kick. It was refreshing to see our heroine both funny and capable and not head-over-heels in love with anyone…yet. Within one volume Hanayu realizes how much Hayato likes her and starts dating him. Everyone in the class is cheering them on, no mean girl’s threatening our heroine here, in very Love*Com style. And we see her going through a bit of guilt over not liking him as much as he likes her. It is rare to get to the relationship part so quickly and I am really excited about it. Fun, fast-paced, funny, sweet, and endearing. Can’t wait to pick up the next book!

I just got Fate/Tiger Colosseum Upper and it’s nothing special but it’s gosh darn fun. The game play is essentially Power Stone with Fate/Stay Night skins with some Tsukihime characters thrown in for good measure. No more and no less. Even thought I don’t speak or read any Japanese I still think that the game is very funny. They seem to have a good grasp of the Fate/Stay Night characters and play with them appropriately. Even the opening is a playful parody of other Fate game openings and scenes. The story mode makes my few words of Japanese step up to the plate as I try, somewhat successfully, to discern what is going on. This game made me realize why I like Type Moon in general. They’re willingness to totally cater and show they care about the fans in side projects. I feel if I was a creator, I would do the same for my fans. Plus any game with BER-SER-CAR and Saber in a suit is always full of awesome.