Sexy Voice and Robo, The Girl and the Otaku from U.N.C.L.E.

I actually watched the live action series of Sexy Voice and Robo, and enjoyed it immensely, thanks to it staring Matsuyama Kenichi (of L fame). I’m not sure exactly at what point I found out it was based on a manga, it must have been from Hisui. In any case, this Manga Moveable Feast deal seemed like a good as time as any finally get around to reading this work involving an amateur sleuth, a role that I have an immense fondness for, and a robot otaku.

I picked up the Sexy Voice and Robo manga a few years ago after reading several positive reviews and finding its independent comic vibe quite intriguing (plus the comic store had it 40% off). I liked it so much I threw it on my 2008 year in review but until now it went without a full discussion. When The Manga Curmudgeon proposed this project we both decided to throw in our two cents on a great franchise we had not given our full attention to on the blog.

Nico Hayashi has two amazing abilities, one is immediately obvious and the other is a little more subtle. She has the ability to change her voice with tremendous range. This ability has led to her uncanny insight into how people think and consequently which lets her read people like a book. One day an old gentlemen notices Nico’s talents and hires her to be a troubleshooter for various odd assignments. During her first mission she cons the otaku Iichiro Sudo into helping her. She soon forms an odd friendship with “Robo” as she calls him and involves him in various other assignments. All the stories in Sexy Voice and Robo involve Nico getting involved with someone and their problems. Almost all the cases revolve around one or more self-involved people with selfish problems. Although she is being paid by the old man for most of her mission it is obvious that she loves solving mysteries and figuring out how people work.

The style of both its story artwork are captivating in Sexy Voice and Robo. Take the visuals which will hit you immediately, it has got a more raw and energetic feeling than much of the manga released in English. The uncontrolled line work, the less precise flow, and the boldness of the strokes and shadows really enhance the read. It’s a comic by all means but it has a fine art quality to it at points. And at other points it made me think about American indie comics. I don’t know how much they have influenced Kuroda, but it comes off as a great hybrid style. The story then takes all that energy from the art and adds humor and a charming bittersweetness to top it off. This story simply stated is about a few happenstances meetings which lead into a whirlwind of human stories that are all little off kilter but moving.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #001

I have been eating up Daughter of Twenty Faces every week. I anxiously await the next episode and I love that feeling. I was really happy to hear DoTF was given a 26 episode run after initially having only 13. Being a lover of detective fiction, it is not hard to imagine me glomming onto this show. However, the show is also really good! Albeit over the top but I think that is what is so exciting, it wraps all things detective into it but still manages to surprise you. Episodes nine and ten start to establish some of the stuff we see in the opening and ending. I have a bit of theory and am curious if it is true. Detective stories constantly have red herrings so it’ll be interesting to see this play out.

Finally watched the last episode of Tower of Druaga. I have to say, this series turned out to be pretty good. Finally some decent fantasy anime. I was glad we didn’t get some huge information dump in this last episode, just the end of an arc. I am definitely looking forward to the next season. And it was a good experiment by Gonzo, the whole coming out at the same time as the Japanese. I was really happy with the results.

Watched the finale of Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend). This live action comedy/drama is loosely based on the Yuu Watase work of the same name. With all the changes that were made to the story I was surprised, pleasantly, how close the ending came to the original as far as feelings. I was unhappy with a few of the middle episodes, but I liked the approach they took of showing Night becoming human (and Riko realizing it) slowly where in the manga I never really thought of him as anything but. Overall, it’s a cute series for women.

I watched the American live action Fist of the North Star movie. It is mostly a retelling of the first part of Hokuto no Ken, Kenshiro’s fight with Shin. It is definitely a silly movie but it really seems that it wants to reproduce what makes Hokuto no Ken such a popular franchise world wide. Lots of the story details are correct but it seems to miss the spirit overall. It does not help that when ever Kenshiro does his signature moves they come off more silly than fearsome. It’s oddly enough a fun movie if you just want a cheesy martial arts film but a blasphemy if you want the definitive live action Hokuto no Ken.

Also watched the last four episodes of Sexy Voice and Robo another live action comedy/drama. It is also loosely based on an unfinished seinen manga. I originally picked this up because Kenichi Matsuyama plays Robo, you may know him as L. Sexy Voice and Robo investigate weird occurrences but they always end up helping people. It was a lot of fun but also always had a little moral or something in it. It has a hopeful vibe and Niko (Sexy Voice) our 14-year-old protagonist can sometimes be profound.

I watched all of Karin recently. I was in the mood for a light romantic comedy and Karin fit the bill. It’s definitely a shonen romance series, but I can see why it has found a fan following among girls in the U.S. If you add in vampires to anything you have to go out of your way to turn off girls. It can be done but you have to try pretty hard. I am looking at you Rosario + Vampire. I liked Karin and Kenta and the rest of the side cast was amusing. Karin being a blood making vampire is certainly inventive as well. I like how vampires work in the Karin universe. The fact that vampires in Karin drain emotions along with blood is a novel approach to the vampire mythos while still being conducive for comedy. The only thing I have to bringing up is that the vampire hunter’s costumes in this series have to be the goofiest thing on Gackt Camui’s green earth. I know this is a comedy but seriously.

Read the first book of Goong, a very popular manhwa. A prince has to marry a commoner who his grandfather made a promise to. Neither of them are too happy with the idea. Can’t say I’m all that impressed as of yet but it has left me curious enough to pick up atleast the next volume. It has potential. Though no one really captured my attention. The art is only great on occasion, though I know it is long running so that can change. I have been on a shojo romance hiatus for a while so maybe I just wasn’t ready for another foray yet.

I just read book ten of Eden: It’s an Endless World! and Hiroki Endo is more than willing to kill off characters. Every time I think that a character can’t be killed, Hiroki Endo proves me wrong and murders them in epic fashion. Hiroki Endo is also a genius because he will often put a character in several near fatal situations and have them pull though before ultimately killing them. This means you never know if a character is just in a tight situation or they going to meet their maker. All too often you are not worried about characters because you have a good idea of who is going to live and who is going to die. Eden makes sure every book is tense because you have no guarantees anyone lives. I highly recommend everyone try this series because it’s not doing that well but it should be. It’s a gritty cyberpunk series with a good mix of action, sex, and gnostic symbolisms. It should be flying off the shelves.

Picked up Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced 2 and have barely put it down. I loved the original so I am glad to have more with a bit of an updated system, new races, and some new jobs. The laws don’t have the crazy consequences of the first and also as long as you play within the law your clan gets different bonuses. Oh and for anyone that thought the first game was too easy, this one has a difficulty setting. Haven’t gotten into the plot much yet, got sucked into the Ivalice world and am now looking for a mage to help me figure out how to get home. Not sure if I love the main character yet ( I love you Marche!) but I don’t by any means dislike him. And Adelle is nowhere near as cool as Ritz. I am hoping these characters grow on me.

That’s it for this week’s investigation. Look for new ongoing investigations every Friday!