Ongoing Investigations: Case #079

hisuiconIt can be easy to dismiss Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn with “another year another Gundam project” but I am thrilled to see a full return to the Universal Century. Unicorn is so UC you can hardly tell it’s not directed by Tomino. Banagher Links is a student on the colony of Industrial Seven.  He is quickly drawn into a brewing conflict when he helps the mysterious girl Audrey Burne who is trying to prevent a war between Neo-Zeon and the Federation over a mysterious object know as the Laplace Box. At the end of the episode most of Banagher’s friends at school have been killed by the fighting that had broken out, he has found his father just before he died, Audrey and his remaining friends have been picked up by the Londo Bell soldiers, and Banagher himself is piloting the Gundam Unicorn. The animation is luscious and everything is what could only be OVA quality. The fights be they hand to hand or mecha are fluid and expertly choreographed. My only real complaint is other than being totally into Audrey I did not get much of an impression about Banagher. We know that Micott is the inheritor of the Frau Bow legacy of being in love with the main guy who totally ignores her and Takuya is a geek. Suberoa and Marida Cruz of Zeon distinctly make an impression as people to watch. It will be a hard 6 months to wait for the next episode but it will be worth it.

YAYAYAANEWUNIVERSALCENTURYGUNDAMYAYAYA! Okay, now that I got that out of my system, I can happily say that all the hype (that I myself was contributing to) surrounding this OVA release is 100% justified. Gundam Unicorn has all the trappings of the original storyline directed by Tomino, it knows its source material well. Audrey caught me happily by surprise with her determination and courage. Banagher acts in typical UC teenager style and does things seemingly for no reason and falls in love at the drop of a hat, but atleast I didn’t want to punch him! They set up a lot of players for the coming story and rattle off a few tempting names before a spectacular finale. I am completely in love with the modern but 70’s characters designs that are the trend for series with old roots, their simplicity actually makes the series looks even more slick. And that’s pretty amazing because the production quality is on overload with this. I am also enjoying the robot designs with this animation as well, Marida’s Kshatriya makes quite a splash in this first installment. Everything about Gundam Unicorn’s debut episode was exciting and better than I could have imagined, here’s to the rest being as impressive!

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #049

Quest for the Missing Girl is a mature manga. Not in the sense that it has cursing, violence, or graphic sex; Missing Girl deals with topics such as missed chances in life, settling down and moving on, relationships between parents and children, and compensation dating. Even compensation dating which could easily be used for a gratuitous sex scene is discussed as a subject of serious weight and importance but is never shown. The story begins when the mountaineer Takeshi Shiga is informed that Megumi, the daughter of one of his old friends, has gone missing. Shiga soon finds himself playing the part of detective in Shibuya, which is just as unfamiliar to him as the mountains would be to most other people. As the story goes on we learn about what lead up to Megumi’s disappearance and how it relates to the lives and decisions of all the other characters involved. Except for the climax there is not much action. In fact, the climax is mostly Shiga VS inanimate object. The draw to this book is as a fascinating character study and tightly plotted one book story. It’s never going to have a huge fan base in the manga community. The story is excellent but it won’t pop for younger manga fans. It is not mature due to excess. It is mature because it’s a well told story which deals with matters that only those with life experience will care about.

I was really glad I had a chance to read Quest for the Missing Girl which is nominated for an Eisner this year. The plot of Megumi missing actually brings to the surface many underlying mysteries in the lives of the characters. The strained relationships also make for thoughtful scenes. This really gives the book a hefty amount of weight that is woven in and out of this not so complicated missing person’s case. All culminating in a daring rescue attempt that is very “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do”-esque. There is something very passionate about Shiga who literally comes down from the mountains to find this girl. He isn’t a super over the top seinen hero but Shiga is definitely a manly dude who does some manly things. Jiro’s artwork is far from simple but it isn’t very stylized which compliments the story perfectly. So while on the whole it doesn’t come off as gritty it still seems gaunt at times especially with his way of shading. This book begs to be picked up and read in one swift sitting. Quest for the Missing Girl was my first encounter with manga-ka Jiro Taniguchi and it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. So much so that I ordered up a few more of his books immediately.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #036

I read books six and seven of Here is Greenwood. Always enjoyable series with just enough realism in the friendships to make the guys seems like people you know. Six is almost exclusively crazy antics while seven finally introduces us to a love interest for Hasukawa. Seven also has a chapter much like Here is Devilwood called Here is Edo. As you may have guessed, it stars everyone in a samurai drama. As always the author’s little comments throughout add as much comedy to the scenes as anything else. Looking forward to finishing this series up soon.  

So I went solo to two anime events around New York recently. Neither of them were enough for a whole report but they were interesting enough to talk about. I went to Spring Fest at Polytechnic. It was a small one day convention. I went to show some love for Subatomic Brainfreeze’s Most Dangerous Anime panel. It was mostly Dave playing Crystal Triangle and  showing some choice scenes from the train wreck that is Gundress. I had only heard of the horror that is Crystal Triangle from AWO but I finally got to see how awesomely horrible it actually was. The audience had a good time MST3King a movie that rightfully deserves it. The theatrical release of Gundress is famous for being released incomplete. It was amusing to see the slapdash job they did to get what was generally a horrible piece of cinema on the screen for the release date. I really liked their little tea room and enjoyed their “mystery flavor” blended tea. There was also a good deal of gaming going on but I would rather be humiliated at playing multi-player games at home rather than humiliated in front of an audience. I was interested in staying for the What The Hell, Game Industry? panel but I had to go to meet someone to see Watchmen. It was basically a large scale meeting of friends from the university than a full-fledged convention. While it was not worth traveling for any great distance, I would recommend it to anyone in the NYC area. Plus it’s a nice, free way to meet other anime fans.

Read book five of Monkey High! It continues to be a wonderful shojo romance that that doesn’t linger on random misunderstandings. I like the pace of the books keeping the moments quick. They have added the idea of a love triangle. However, since Haruna does not seem to be torn between the guys, rather another guy just happens to really like her, it isn’t actually a love triangle. Thank goodness. Monkey High! has done a good job of creating a sweet story about the relationship, not the chase. Looking forward to the last few volumes of this series.

The next day found me going to Anime Day at Kinokuniya. I have to say Kinokuniya events get really nice turn-outs. While this means it is another good place to meet people, it also means that most of the events are standing room only. I came in half way through so I missed out on getting a Soul Eater Key chain. While this breaks my heart I somehow found a way to trooper on. I noticed from Scott’s twitter that those two girls who cosplay Ranka and Sheryl were on the cosplay panel. I finally arrived at two and I mostly only popped in on all of the panels they were presenting. The mixture of having nowhere to sit and having cool things to look at in Kinokuniya  distracted me from the events themselves. After browsing around for a bit, Scott, his friend, and I went to lunch where I discussed why bringing poor Hayate Ayasaki and Nagi Sanzenin into Internet arguments stands against all that is good and holy.

Been keeping up with Rideback this season. After watching episode nine, I still stand behind it being the show to watch from the winter. I have really liked how the pace built over the episodes, slowly moving from school centered to politically centered. It was done in such away as to not jar you. As secrets, plots, and characters are revealed the depth of the world involved is becoming clear. The animation continues to impress as well as the coolness of ridebacks. Instilling in us that we all need one right now.

While at Kinokuniya I made some purchases that were worth mentioning. It seems my prayers to the gods of anime merchandise were obviously heard because they released an all Saber art book. It is pretty good. Not enough fighting Saber to make me happy but enough variety to make me want it in an instant. Of course we have to have a maid exploitation (or maidploitation as I like to call it) picture of Saber and the raciest shot we get was Saber in a tight school bathing suit. I always appreciate the lack of utterly depraved Saber pictures because I would like to show people the art books I own without deep shame. My favorite pictures are Saber on a motorcycle and Saber dressed as Rin. I also got a book of Kido Senshi Gundam-san manga. I will admit I partially got number 4 just because it has Sayla Mass on the cover but I don’t feel anyone can fault me for that. I am very amused by a Gundam comedy series using the Universal Century characters. I noted it was only characters from the original series. Does anyone know if there are plans to do the same thing with charters from Zeta or the UC Gundam OAVs? My favorite section had to be the misadventures of sexy but angry White Base nurse Sayla. Some one has to get to translating this series because it looks priceless. It has smoking Zaku’s and baby Garma. What more do you want. Oh and naked Char. See something for everyone. I also saw an awesome Gundam Heroines book at Book Off. It seemed to be all the Gundam series up to Gundam X. I had already spent enough at Kinokuniya that I decided to hope it was still there the next time I would swing by there. Does anyone own the book? Is it worth picking up?

Rideback is the only show I am keeping up with this season, so this is the pic of the week: