Ongoing Investigations: Case #211

I did not realize until recently that Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn episode 6 came out. The bloom has really fallen of that rose. When the first few volumes of Gundam Unicorn came out everyone was talking about it for a few days leading up to its release. It was an event. Now I see more talk about the latest episode of Oreimo. I guess the gap between episodes has really killed the enthusiasm. I think episode four did not help the matter.

Two Worlds, Two Tomorrows continues the feeling that this is the most accurate Tomino style fan fiction you will ever get without it actually be written by the Bald Wizard himself. It starts with a big battle as part of an unusual alliance, then moves into people switching sides and betraying each other, main characters go around making philosophical speeches sometimes to an audience and other times to people at gunpoint, and it ends with a race to the final location of Laplace’s Box with a familiar interrupting cow appearing at the end. At the same time all the old people in power plan to do whatever it takes to keep the status quo, all the radicals are going to do whatever it takes to realize their mad dreams, and everyone else is stuck in the middle trying to find something that does not get everyone killed. Classic Tomino.

This is a solid penultimate episode. It begins to lay down all the elements that will be resolved in the final episode. They still have not revealed what exactly Laplace’s Box is or the actual identity of Full Frontal. Those are the two big mysteries everyone watching wants to know. My other question is how much Newtype Voodoo magic is going to win the day and how much will piloting be the deciding factor. If this is a true Tomino tribute then some mystical magical psychoframe sorcery is going to be on display.

I’m really just waiting for someone to kill Angelo already. He is clearly the Jerid Messa of Unicorn so he could at least have the common curtsey to die early on in the next episode so we can get to the real fights. Marida Cruz is the only member of Team Banagher that I am seriously concerned about. Will they kill the last of the Elpeo Ple clones or will they let this one-off the hook? (Unless you consider Gundam Evolve 10 canon.)

By the way here is an article of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere if you want a better understanding of what the writers were making allusions to in this episode.

Audrey Burne is still the best character. She does not pilot a mobile suit or beat people down with her fists. She just has an immense presence which is a striking as those of the other main characters. When she talks people listen. But she is not someone who just barks orders at people. She takes in what everyone is saying and often can be silent. But when she is needed to step into a conversation she has a royal presence that is undeniable. If anything makes her a non-Tomino character it is she is such a clearheaded woman even when everyone else is losing their minds. If you are going to break the Tomino mold that is the best way to do it. With one of the strongest women in the UC timeline.

Oh well. It is going to be awhile until we get the final volume of Unicorn even if it is released without a single delay. So it will be a year before we can get Somewhere Over the Rainbow and see the end of the series. I wonder if the release of the last episode will bring back some of that initial enthusiasm or if the lag between episodes has just proven to be too great in this era where you get episodes near instantly.


 I picked up the first volume of sci-fi mecha manga Knights of Sidonia. The aliens they are fighting have quite a horror, grotesque bent to them. The entire setting has a weird, off-kilter feeling; a pretty strange place where the food supply only allows for people to eat once a week. Everyone looks human but they all act very oddly.

The main character is purposely socially awkward for sure, and boy is he. The rest of the cast aren’t awkward per se but are written in an awkward manner. It felt so stilted that it was difficult to connect with any of the cast; they feel so artificial but that may be the point the more I mull it over.

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.

Continue reading

Ongoing Investigations: Case #171

Rurouni Kenshin has been getting a strong revival recently. The manga ended in 1999, and other than the slightly infamous Reflection OVA, the series was fairly dormant until last year. Then a PSP fighting game and the Kyoto Arc movies heralded a Renaissance for the series ushering in the upcoming live action film. Even more surprisingly than any of that is the newly re-imagined manga of the original series. Seeing that the Kenshin name still has a good deal of cache with western fans Shonen Jump Alpha announced that Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration (aka Rurouni Kenshin -Cinema-ban-) would be the one of the titles they used to replace the recently finished Bakuman manga.

Like any good reboot Restoration is immediately familiar yet feels new at the same time. Clearly Nobuhiro Watsuki has changed and improved his art style since he last worked on Kenshin. But at the same time it ins unmistakably Kenshin.If you have ever seen the character redesigns for the covers of the Rurouni Kenshin Kanzenban reprints then you have a good idea of what to expect.

The first story combines the original introduction of Kenshin, Karou, and Yahiko with elements of the first Aoshi story. Like the art the story feels familiar but it is still its own beast. It starts during Bakumatsu with flashes of some iconic battles between KenshinJin-e, and Saito. It then moves forward to the relative calm of the Meiji era and Kenshin once again gets mixed up with Kaoru trying keep her dojo from unsavory scoundrels. It is a quick little story that unites the main trio and shows off Kenshin’s skills. The chapter end with some cameos of villains from throughout the original series including Sanosuke, Saito, and Inui Banjin. A good introduction to the cold-hearted assassin of the revolution who becomes a pacifist who carries a revered blade sword so he can defend the weak without killing. But at the same time it reminds you that there is still a bit of the beast still in Kenshin.

It is an interesting trip back to the story of Himura Kenshin. I think it has the distinct ability to draw in new fans while reminding older fans what they liked about the original. I am curious if they are going to make Kaoru anything more that a damsel in distress most of the time. This would be a good chance for her to live up to the initial promise she had in the original series.

I myself am mostly just sitting back and waiting for Misao to be reintroduced.

I wasn’t really all the interested in the online magazine Shonen Jump Alpha. I had nothing against it, I just wasn’t keeping up to date with any of their offerings. But then they announced Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration and I folded. So here I am, reading a comic weekly monthly which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I’m pretty excited!

From first glance I was happy with what I saw. The art is top-notch, very sharp and crisp. The action is swift and bold.

We start with bloody battles featuring Kenshin as Battosai and then jump forward to the period after the war. This set-up works, you don’t know too much about Kenshin and his abilities but you know enough to be aware of his badass status. He makes it pretty freakin’ clear to a lot of people that he is indeed Battosai from the first chapter. It feels more aggressive, instead of trying to live out a humble life, Kenshin is ready to jump in the fray for a purpose. He hasn’t lost the rejection of unnecessary violence, but he also isn’t hiding from who he was. At least, that’s how it seemed in this chapter.

I wasn’t really kidding when not too long ago I joked that if they were redoing Kenshin they should have forgotten about Karou. Blessedly, she is already not nearly as annoying. I believe this can continue!

Continue reading

Ongoing Investigations: Case #144

Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors issue 1 starts with a brief and amusing history of how the school came to be through the bumblings of a not so great villain who was defeated by a totally way better villain who used the name “Gladstone’s” ironically. The rest of the issue introduces us to many of the current students the likes of which cocky Kid Nefarious, awkward Mummy Girl, trouble makers the Skull Brothers, and a bunch of other students and teachers. And it hints that the villains and heroes dynamic isn’t exactly what it seems. While this spend most of its time settling up the story, it still has good looks at characters personalities and stays humorous and fun all the way through knowing just how much to make fun of itself.

There are somethings that you read and you instantly know your opinion on. I hated this or I loved this. You just have a gut reaction that dictates your opinion. Other times you get a more middle of the road reaction and then with a little digestion you can give a thumbs up or down. But then you have a book like Breathe Deeply by Doton Yamaaki. Even after a day of contemplation I can’t tell you if I thought it was good or not. I clearly see the books strengths but I just as clearly see the books weaknesses. They are both equally obvious to me and neither really makes forget about the other. So the best review I can give this book it to put both sides of the coin on the table and let anyone reading decide for themselves which half they consider more important. The main thing is that the book seems to think that subtlety is for losers when it comes to story telling. So when it is doing well its success is as bright as the sun and when it is annoying it is like nails on a chalk board through a sound system and your right next to the speaker that is on MAX. The story is a tale of two boys who fall in love with the same girl who is dying from a heart condition. One is a cold genius the other is a hot-headed punk. When she passes away after declining a transplant for ethical reasons both boys fall into a deep and angry depression in their own way. But they both attempt to find a method of creating an artificial heart that would not require a donor to prevent a similar tragedy. Both men are haunted by the loss of the woman they love but at the same time are irrevocably bound to each other by their loss. There is a lot to like about this book. You have older working adult characters. We have some major flash backs to their childhood but the bulk of the story is about their present day medical research and politics therein. There is also some serious looks at the ethics of research, transplants, organ donors, and medical politics. There are also some solid character study and romantic moments. The problem in Breathe Deeply never attempts to do anything in subdued tones. It throws the medical issues at you with the force of a rail gun round.  It is obvious what the authors stance on the issue of organ donors is except for 1 scene at the end that sort of tempers his view. Also everything is soap opera levels of the theatrics. Everyone has dark secrets that they spring on the rest of cast at the worst possible moment, drunk dads are always drinking and abusive, anytime anyone learns a weakness of another character they immediately intact a fiendish blackmail scene, and every conversation is some sort of game be it political or emotional. There is even beating and interrogation by a group of doctors using sodium thiopental. The problem with that is that Breathe Deeply wants you to take it very seriously. When Team Medical Dragon does the same thing I am OK with it because it mostly want to be a crazy medical drama with action and boobs. If you think about some medical issues as well than all the better. Breath Deeply wants you to take its love story and its ethical concerns with a somber gravity. But it is hard to do so with the theatrics surrounding them. The art is very seinen and the characters are fairly realistic looking which reinforces the feeling the series wishes to give off. I can’t really tell you if you will like this book or not. I am still not sure what my feelings are. But it is only one book long and is not like a good deal of the shonen and shojo in the English market today. Take what I have said and see if it sound interesting to you. There is a lot to enjoy and just as much to turn you off.

Continue reading