Ongoing Investigations: Case #109

After a full year Katanagatari comes to a close and it has been an interesting journey. Nisio Isin is still very obviously Nisio Isin no matter what he does. That means playing the with genre, winking at the audience, bizarre and sometimes immensely annoying characters, and metric tons of dialog. With 12 swords and 12 owners we have gotten a good deal variation in how the episodes felt. Some of the owners and swords were far more interesting than others but that is expected with having to create 12 pairs of antagonists and weapons. Also some of the later swords only count as swords because the author says so. I am going to assume that the episode that completely threw out the formula completely and had Nanami as the main charter was a highlight for most people.  The ending has parts that will either be very shocking or super obvious depending on who you are. It starts with a  speech that exemplifies the fact that characters do not stop talking no matter what happens. The final episode also has the prerequisite Boss Rush that seemed inevitable from the beginning. In the end everyone who had a plan involving the swords had an immensely elaborate Rube Goldberg styled plan that could have been simply solved without the swords in reflection. In fact there is some extremely sketchy logic that will probably annoy the daylights out of anyone not drawn in by the story. I enjoyed the story and like the Monogatari Series it proves he can write something I don’t utterly despise like the Zaregoto Series. But his style is still a hard pill to shallow and I can easily see why people would avoid his work like the plague.

I read Natsume’s Book of Friends vol. 1 which I was very excited about since I loved what I saw of the anime. This is the story of Natsume who can see yokai and who has felt isolation because of it. When he moves in with yet another set of relatives he starts to learn more about his long gone Grandmother who had the same power and used it to dominate the spirits. Things get hectic as spirit after spirit comes after Natsume to get back their “name, ” which his Grandmother had collected into a book. So far the stories have all been ones I watched on screen. Each has a little humor, a little nostalgia, and most times a very quiet and melancholy feel. Natsume is a really gentle soul and its wonderful to watch him listen to the stories of the yokai while also learning about his Grandmother. The artist’s lines are quite loose which adds the whimsy I am so found of to the stories. Though I have to say I enjoyed the anime just a bit more, the soft color palette and light music really added to the stories. Nevertheless, I want more Natsume and hope to find stories that weren’t animated in its pages.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #030

I randomly downloaded the first two episodes of the BL OVA Kirepapa. Since the OVAs were released almost 11 months apart, I am unsure if there is more planned in the series. So the title basically translates to Beautiful Dad, but let me assure you I went to great pains to make sure there was not incest. So far so good. The story centers around Chisato who is an aspiring author and his son, Riju, who is he very protective of (like a Dad who is super protective of his lovely daughter). Chisato is convinced that everyone, including his son’s best friend Shunsuke, are trying to get close to him. But actually Shunsuke is in love with Chisato, and Chisato can’t keep his eyes off Shunsuke. Now let the games begin. The show is, in a word, hilarious. The comedy is over the top and the serious moments are sooo overly dramatic that it is entertainingly funny. The animation quality is passable but the show is littered with a ton of bishonen. When I say a ton, I mean that every character that appears in the show is a bishie, including the grandfather, Shunsuke’s dad, and Chisato’s boss. It was truly enjoyable and I recommend it to BL fans in need of a laugh.

I finally got the Genshiken Fan Book I had pre-ordered a while back. I found it entertaining overall but some parts of the book puzzled me. The book was obviously written before the end of the manga because several important scenes are never mentioned in the appropriate sections. It starts with your standard premise of the manga and character profiles, and relationship guides. There is also Madarame’s otaku commandments which is basically the best of Madarame’s hard core otaku moments. It then has a guide to Kujibiki Unbalanced with a complete script to the first OAV which I felt was completely unnecessary and just pads out the book. There is a totally original Fanzine from the original Genshiken members that acts as an amusing piece of nostalgia for any older fans. We then have an interview with the (in)famous Ken Akamatsu about doujinshi. I am always surprised that Ken Akamatsu while not stunningly good looking is not that unpleasant to look at. There is then some original fan-fiction stories written by professional authors which were some of the better original content. There is then a guide to being an otaku with a little conversation about gal games between Sasahara and Madarame. The book ends with Shimoku Kio showing what shows he was actually talking about when he wrote up the Genshiken club members profiles as omake in the manga. It finally let me know what shows I was right about and what shows I had no clue about. I was amused that he picked everyone’s birthday and blood type based on what Gundam it would make them in the Gundam fortune-telling book. The book has the odd habit of explaining anything that might be unfamiliar as if the reader was not any type of otaku which is slightly odd. You would assume most people picking this book up were already in deep. Over all I enjoyed the book as a look back on Genshiken and what a great series it was.

Since Natsume Yuujinchou has been officially put up on Crunchyroll I have been catching up with the first season. I watched episodes 5-13 and cannot praise this show enough. It has a slow pace that builds a kind of kinship between you and Natsume. Each piece is a beautiful little story with many a melancholy end. Also good to see some human conflict coming up with the appearance of exorcists as well as others who can see youkai. I really like his interactions with Tanuma their friendship is really nice and was fun to watch in episode 13. I am still looking forward to learning more about Madara since he has sort of taken a backseat in many of these episodes. Wonderful show worth checking out by all!

To steal blatantly from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Captain Harlock is about men who are real men, women who are real women, and small blue haired girls from cruel orphanages who are real small blue haired girls from cruel orphanages. Everyone else is a lazy bastard or corrupt. Harlock definitely has moments of epic space opera goodness but it also has scenes of Gatchaman level camp and some odd comedy. It is at its best when it deals with Harlock being a manly man with his own theme song doing manly things and whenever we deal with the main plot of the alien invasion. I always assumed that the whole series was serious business so I was not expecting Harlock looking after a little girl and the wacky antics of his crew. Also I did not realize there would be such a large divide between the character designs of people like Tadashi Daiba, Kei Yuki and the rest of the crew. Also any time a scientist gets killed in the series they make it almost as dramatic as someone important dying in Blade of the Immortal.

Read Here is Greenwood books four and five. It continues to be hilarious fun dorm life. I really enjoy when the characters talk to the manga-ka or she appears in the chapters. For example, at the beginning of the fourth book Shun and Hasukawa are pondering what Shinobu and Mitsuru were like as first years. There is then this hilarious exchange as the manga-ka laughs maniacally and tells them don’t they realize they just wrote themselves out of the story. Other such occurrences are frequent throughout the series. 

I decided to look at the first two episodes of Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger even though I never finished the first season. The only reason I never finished was I bought the series for my ex-roommate and he took it with him when he moved. Which reminds me I should pick up that series for myself. Since I had a good idea of who all the characters were from I had almost no problems settling in. They have a quick rather unobtrusive recap in the first episode to get anyone with a passing understand back up to speed. We have the standard Ippo has a HUGE penis jokes, Ippo’s slow moving relationship with his would-be girlfriend, and of course the real draw awesome boxing action. The boxing is a middle-ground between being ultra realistic and super move silliness. People have techniques and named moves proving Ippo is firmly shonen fighting but they are mostly grounded in reality with some pseudo-science to back up the rest. The series starts with the spotlight on Ippo’s rival fighting the Australian champ and his mysterious Blood Cross technique. Man oh man does this series lend itself to yaoi doujinshi. They even lampshade the homoerotic tension in the series between Ippo and Ichiro in a playful manner that is a trademark of the series.

Since I have been watching so much Natsume Yuujinchou, this is the pic of the week:

Ongoing Investigations: Case #005

So I have been on some 80’s OVA rampage and let me tell you, I see why they don’t make tons and tons of OVAs anymore. Most of them are rather unremarkable. I guess Del Power X was atleast mildly entertaining with its comedy and giant robots. And the robots use wrestling moves, haha. Dream Dimension Hunter Fandora, had no idea what it was trying to be. Was it space bounty hunting? Fantasy? Magical girl? Not really sure. Same goes for Campus Special Investigator Hikaruon. It started out fine but then our investigator changes into a sentai hero for no apparent reason. He was kicking ass as regular ole Hikaru, but the story was pretty lame anyway.

Blue Flames is certainly memorable because it was just that awful. It was insane! They must of thought about what kind of guy would be the biggest douche bag, now let’s make an OVA about him! The amount of stuff he does within 40 minutes is mind boggling. In the beginning, I thought he was a prostitute, but no. Anyway, he seduces this one girl which I really don’t know how since he is so cold. Oh, that’s right as the story goes on we find out he is totally amazing in bed (and allegedly good-looking), enough to make women attempt suicide, beg to be his slave, and buy him cars. At some point he also tells his family screw you and leaves for Tokyo for no apparent reason. One woman tries to kill him, but he disarms her and then has sex with her instead. Everything is then alright. At the end of this mess he is seducing another girl, he slept with about 6 or 7 in total, and you know he is planning to blackmail her rich parents. Not sure how that is an ending. We also come to find out that all of this is somehow going to take him to the top. The top of what exactly? Man with most STDs? ANN I demand you remove the words romance from the tags for this show.

Walkin’ Butterfly is a joesi title I picked up form Aurora Publishing. I am always interested in new josei titles because it’s one of the most unexplored genres in America. Michiko is an extremely tall girl that does not know what do to with her life. Because she is so tall she has never fit in and never really dated. She drifts from job to job and can’t find her place in the world. A mistake occurs when she delivers a pizza to a fashion shoot she winds up getting humiliated by Mihara the show’s designer. After some soul searching she decides to use her height to try to become a model and get revenge on Mihara. I’m not sold on the series yet but I am interested to read more. I was a little caught of guard by the drug use and full frontal nudity. It was not bad or exploitative but I was certainly not expecting it even if it was josei.

Natsume Yuujinchou may turn out to be my favorite new show from our summer list. I watched episodes two and three. It is simple, poignant, and has just enough of an emotional hook. Natsume is also starting to wield some power using the book of friends which adds another layer to the story. I honestly don’t know where this story will lead and that excites me.

I watched Garden of Sinners 3: Remaining Sense of Pain. It was as beautiful as the other two movies. Fujino Asagami, the main subject of their investigation in the movie is definitely an odd character. Her actions are somewhat understandable at points but they do let her off very lightly despite her actions. On a side note, I am also curious if we will ever learn why Mikiya Kokuto is so devoted to Shiki or do they just chalk it up to blind love. He has very good reason to want nothing to do with her but he seems to believe in her no matter what.

Takane no Jitensha was a short TV special. A boy wants his own bike so he and his mother make a deal. If he is in the top 100 at school after the next tests, she will get him the bike. As the story unfolds we find out about a mischievous spirit at the local temple. Takane somewhat jokingly says he will exchange his sister for a higher test score. Quite family friendly with a lesson being learned at the end. A cute story with stints of good animation. Though I wish the spirits were given a little more development.

The World Ends With You is why I watched so little else all this week. It’s a fun little game and an entirely new setting for a Square-Enix game. The main character Neku Sakuraba has found himself with the dreaded plot condition convenience of amnesia in the middle of Shibuya. It seems he has been entered in a deadly game for an unknown prize. Players must find a partner, defeat monsters called noise, and complete certain tasks every day within time limits or be erased from existence. The battle system is fun and fast but the learning curve is quite steep. You will be getting bad ranks on battles for quite awhile. The only other major problem is once you get used to one partner they take her way and add in another partner who plays slightly differently and has no equipment. So basically you have to readjust yourself to your new partner. It’s not insurmountable but it can be a pain. I also have a nasty feeling they are going to do it to me one more time. Hopefully the third partner will not have such a high learning curve.

That’s it for this week! Catch a new ongoing investigation every Friday!