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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Ongoing Investigations: Case #186

So there have been a lot of talk about CBS’s Elementary ever since it was announced. There have even been some harsh warnings from BBC’s Sherlock staff on the concept of the show. Personally, I was looking forward to, at the very least, Lucy Liu as Watson. Finally, last night we were able to see for ourselves just how this NYC-based Holmes would fare.

This version of Sherlock is after all of his adventures across the pond and rehab; they were really able to sell me on this premise. He is still that aloof, detached observer but he can stop, pause, and realize people have feelings. That doesn’t restrict him once he is on a roll as things start clicking in his brain but he is also able to apologize.

Waston holds her own happily. At first she is understandably dragged along into Sherlock’s crazy but finds herself curious and capable of investigation. Her training as a doctor and a companion for recovering addicts allows her lots of insights. In fact, Sherlock and her go toe to toe rather well when analyzing each other.

One thing I’m curious to see is how well they can create a platonic friendship between these two. With the exception of their first meeting, I thought the first episode did an excellent job of it. But I also think this will be one of the harder aspects to keep up, it seems very difficult for television series to not add sexual tension between two good-looking people. But I earnestly hope they can do so here.

The first mystery is a murder, my (everyone’s?) favorite kind! It had good twists if slightly predictable ones at first. However the final conclusion was fantastic and Sherlock’s roundabout way of getting to the point made my jaw drop. I won’t take issue with the criminal admitting guilt to Sherlock privately out of confidence (a staple of the genre) as long as it doesn’t happen every time.

Random note, I was really impressed with that subway scene. That could not have been easy to film!

Natsuyuki Rendezvous was an interesting series in the fact that I think I saw just as many people proudly claim that they stopped watching the series as I saw enjoying the ending. Which is really a shame because it was a fine show that had a very refreshingly mature look at relationships, love, and selfishness and their interconnected nature. If anything I think a lot of the disconnect had to do with people Natsuyuki Rendezvous to be a different show. A show that it never wanted to be nor should have been.

First of all I am a little perplexed by people who were caught off guard by Atsushi being so prevalent in the series. I think Narutaki put it best when she said, “I can’t understand how anyone would hear the premise that the protagonists romantic interest is being haunted by her ex-husband that only he can see and NOT see how the ghost is going to be a prominent character.” In my opinion it is like being perplexed why they talk about the robots so much in Gundam. I don’t think Rokka and Ryosuke are ever ignored in the series. They just share the title of main character with Atsushi.

Second of all I am greatly perplexed by people who don’t seem to understand that selfishness and love are not mutually exclusive. On a certain level some of us wish to believe that absolute pure love means that you will always put the needs of those you love before your own. While this can be a noble sentiment reality shows us that first off the bat there are few people who are that are so buddha-like that they can shed their selfishness for another. You will be surprised how selfless you can be when you are in love but a selfish core remains within all of us.

I am also a little bit concerned by exactly how selfless they want Atsushi to be. It is not as if Rokka was cursing him on his deathbed. His attachment (no matter how selfish at times) to a woman he still loves and still loves him is perfectly understandable. Much like Kyoko Otonashi part of Rokka’s appeal is her devoted nature. It is only natural for Atsushi to somewhat greedily wish to have his own life back. It is not like a large portion of Atsushi does not wish to just see Rokka happy and free. But Atsushi is still human with all the frailties of such.

If you ask my opinion weighing in at only 11 episodes I don’t see any reason not to watch Natsuyuki Rendezvous unless you just dislike romantic dramas. It is a nice slightly supernatural love story for adults. It is a series that proves that letting go is an easy concept to embrace but a far harder concept to execute.

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