Ongoing Investigations: Case #016

Narutaki and I both lost our Internet connections so oddly enough it has led me to watch MORE anime than usual. Without the World Wide Web there to distract me it has left me some time to catch up with my unwatched anime.

I picked up the first Girl Who Runs Through Time manga released by CMX. I’ll just take a moment and mention how much I like CMX’s manga line as they consistently pick up over looked but good series many of which are short. After seeing The Girl Who Leapt Through Time I have been anxious for this manga to come out. While the movie clearly pays homage to its predecessor, they are still different entities. It was quite good with a fun and spunky heroine. Our two romantic rivals and the all knowing friend to round it all out. Though I am not sure how it can be resolved in just one more volume. This also reaffirms my hope that someone will pick up the original novel.

I can now understand why AWO says that GaoGaiGar gets better and better as the series goes on. The next to the last battle in the series is so epic and satisfying. The last battle is a little more of an emotional climax than any world shattering climax but it is still fun. I am still pretty sure that no one is going to like this show that is not in it to win it from the beginning. The final episodes are definitely better but I don’t think they would ever win over anyone. Still it is manly robot anime with fiery courage and bravery saving the day. I am going to take a little break before I throw myself into GaoGaiGar Final and/or Grand Glorious Gathering.  I might also go out and pick up Betterman before that for the minor connection. Because I am a nerd like that.

THANK GOODNESS GUNDAM 00 IS BACK! I am truly enjoying every minute. It is great to see all the storylines converging. It was great seeing Sumergai back in action! And with the return of my beloved Allelujah, well I’m happy! The next episode looks to be just what I wish for, too. I have been itching to watch the first season over again. I’m really looking forward to the DVD release. P.S. Black Haro is clearly the big villain, not sure why no one else sees it.

Shakugan no Shana ends pretty well. I was a little surprised that the final fights are mostly inconclusive and short. I suppose it was better that they worked on an emotional climax rather than a physical one but I wanted some more melee. I was also a little disappointed that we never see this supposed sword vs. spear fight between Shana and Sydonay as promised in the second opening. I suspect they don’t want to kill off the Bal Masque either because they realized it was popular enough to get a second season and/or they wanted to stick closer to the original light novels. It’s another series that while I could watch more of I am in no rush to download it when I am trying to catch up on watching what I have legitimacy purchased. Plus the second Shakugan no Shana has a decent chance of getting licensed especially if the box set sells well enough for Funimation.

Watched some more Code Geass and am happy to report the last couple of episodes on the first disc were not a fluke. The show is indeed good. I also found it great to be enjoying a fluff episode like 6 where the cat steals Zero’s helmet. It gave the series a nice uplifting episode but also reestablished the friendship between Lelouch and Suzaku. This disc made me really liked Shirley as she wanted to befriend Suzaku despite everyone else. I am also really loving Shirley and Kallen’s friendship. Still waiting for C.C. to really show some of her powers although she does prove usefull in this disc. Oh and apparently me and Kohaku are the only people on the internet that really like Suzaku.

I saw Genius Party with Kohaku and Scott from Anime Almanac. It is seven short animated shorts by different artists. Like most anthologies you are going to like certain stories more than other. The first eponymous titled Genius Party is a quirky little short about the creation and spreading of ideas. It has very striking visuals which is a necessity since there is no dialog. It has little stone coconut heads who create and transmit little heart shaped ideas and the scarecrow bird that preys on them. The second short is Shanghai Dragon which is a fun little story about a snot nosed kid who has to save the earth from alien invaders with a magical pen. The best part for me about this short was the two cyborgs that defend the boy and his female friend until he can come into his role as savior of the earth. Their seinen manly heroics against impossible odds were stylish and cool. Deathtic 4 was a odd little piece that was all 3D CG reminiscent of Gregory Horror Show or Reboot. I was entertained with the story of a team of self-proclaimed super hero zombies that try to get a frog back to the world of the living. It had a amusing little nod to the Fantastic 4 and filled with kids humor (aka fart jokes) in a macabre world. Doorbell is the story of a student who finds that another version of him has started taking over his life. Whenever he gets somewhere and his duplicate has arrived before him the people there seem to take the duplicate as him and can no longer see him. So a race starts between the two to see who can claim this existence. An odd little story with a seinen feel to the character designs. If I ever watch Genius party again on DVD I am sure to skip Limitcycle each and every time. Limitcycle is a rambling soliloquy about mans’ relationship to God. It basically has no plot and often times bewildering cyberpunk visuals that incorporate alchemical diagrams and seemingly random numbers. It was the most self indulgent piece I have seen in a long time. I don’t mind a little navel gazing but this meanders in such a unabashedly personal manner that it is incomprehensible to anyone but the author. Happy Machine is clearly by the man who directed Kaiba. Everything from the character designs to the relentlessly disturbing feeling under the pastel coloring. It is the second short in the anthology to be almost completely without dialog. It is the story of a baby who lives in a child rearing machine until is starts to break down and he is forced to survive in a hostile alien world. I say without hesitation that Baby Blue would have been Narutaki’s favorite story had he gone to see Genius Party. A warm little story of an almost love. A boy invites a childhood friend of his to skip school and go on a little adventure with him to the beach. They have a fun little bittersweet adventure as they spend the day together.

I have been reading a lot of one-shot and one book shojo manga of late. It’s actually quite a challenge to make the reader engage with the characters and at the same time tell a complete story. So I’ll just mention a few that did the job. A manga-ka who is quickly becoming a favorite is Tsukuba Sakura and luckily just about everything she has done has either been licensed or scanlated. I read two shorts by her but the one that stuck out was Shiro no Keiyaku. It is about a pure white crow who is ostracized by his flock. One day after being injured he falls to earth and is fixed up by a girl; he immediately falls in love with her. The story takes him to a devil to make him human and spend his time with her. It has the fairytale aspect down pat complete with happy ending. Sakura does a great job of combining a dash of fantasy with a sweet love story. Another fairytale one was Otogibanashi no Fude in which our lead male is the keeper of a sacred tree. He stumbles upon the secret of the tree which is a beautiful water goddess kept inside of it for hundreds of years. He is the only one able to summon her and as he continues to spend time with her he inevitably falls in love. This story has more of a bittersweet under score to it but still makes you smile in the end and be hopeful. This story also made me immensely interested in reading more by this author, Akizuki Sorata. I also re-read 7th Period is a Secret which deals with that ever popular taboo, teacher x student. Shun has transformed herself but she doesn’t truly feel at easy with her friends. Her young teacher Jun sees right through her and she finds him understanding her better than anyone. So beings a romance! Even though our guy is supposed to be older, it exudes the first love sweetness for both of them. It also doesn’t have any real tragic ending, in fact we are lead to believe they will stay together. I just picked up another series by Chiba Kozue and I am reading more short stories as I write this so I’ll be talking about them a lot in the coming weeks.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #013

I read the first two volumes of Gakuen Alice and much like the anime I love, love, love it! It is really funny but with enough sentimentality and plot to balance it out. It kind of reminds of a not-quite-as-insane-version of Kodacha with superpowers. We have a plucky, not always very bright, heroine who sets out out reform her unruly elementary school class. She of course has a rivalry with the leader of the rebels but finds out he has a tragic life. Throw in a wide cast of side characters, some mystery, and a campus polluted with strange activity and you have yourself a recipe for fun times. Gakuen Alice is certainly a winner! I am also happy that Right Stuf picked up the anime which may just have to go on the next I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen This! panel.

I watched Urusei Yatsura Movie 5: The Final Chapter after I got started on the Anime of the Month. I have to say Urusei Yatsura always bring a smile to my face. Despite the fact that the entire cast besides Ryuunosuke are horrible human beings/aliens you find yourself rooting for them. I love this particular movie a lot. It gave me everything I wanted from the end of Urusei Yatsura. It gives us a full circle ending. It gives us lots of laughs and a little sentimentality. It ties in all the great characters and gives them all a little air time before the finale. I have to mention that I consider the ending of Urusei Yatsura 100% definitive. I’m not sure what people wanted. Did they need a marriage? Ataru and Lum making out with some heavy petting on the side? It’s not that type of manga. The ending is the only thing like a declaration of love we could have ever gotten. And that is good enough for me.

Del Rey’s novel line excited me at first, but I’ve read three so far and have not been impressed. Psychobusters does nothing to change that, in fact, it probably makes it worse since this is by far the worst one yet. The characters have no spark, they are not thought out in the least. The writing is very poor and extremely repetitive. It is hard to explain but it is written like a manga. However, writing a novel and writing a comic are two very different things. I do have the first manga sitting at home somewhere, so I will read that and let you know if indeed the writing lends itself to it.

I watched some more Shakugan no Shana. Ummmmm. Those twins are creepy. Kohaku had warned me to this fact but I feel somethings can only be understood fully when they are seen. Then again the incest twins are creepy enough that you might want to take my word for it. I feel like they want me to feel bad for them, maybe even root for Kazumi Yoshida but I can’t do it. She is just so uninteresting. She is just there to give Shana a romantic rival. I usually like the character who is a good, sweet person but have an unrequited love. For some reason I can’t see why you would want to date Kazumi. Wirhelmina Carmel can come back into the series anytime she wants. She is a character I can get behind. Her similarity to Hisui does not hurt.

Finally read Fruits Basket 20, not sure why I let this one linger on the shelf so long. It was fantastic as usual with the emotions turned up to 11 and I can only guess that the final books are going to stay at that level. I was happy, sad, furious, annoyed, and wistful! Only three left to go and I’m on pins and needles!

I finally finished the Welcome to the NHK manga. It was an enjoyable ride although it was definitely an acquired taste. Welcome to the NHK either clicks with you and you find it hysterical or it just comes off as horrible and mean spirited. I know Narutaki refuses to even try looking into the series and almost certainly with good reason. I find it interesting that the anime, manga, and light novel all start in the same place and then go in different directions and have different climaxes but all end generally the same. The light novels climax was slightly stronger but I enjoyed the manga more overall. Hopefully Funimation will release the last disk of the anime so I can compare it to the rest of the franchise.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #009

I read Yen Plus volume 2 and generally enjoyed it. I was slightly disappointed that Alex is the main character and Sara is just a supporting character in Nightschool but I still hold out hopes for my dreams. Pig Bride is still my favorite work in the anthology especially now that I am 90% sure Doe-Doe is a gang leader. Sarasah is still an enigma to me. The next part of the story was unexpected but I still don’t have a firm grasp on if I like it or not. I will have to see where it’s going before I can make a decision. Bamboo Blade is still very good and makes me want to watch the anime. I still want to love Sumomomo-Momomo but I continue to be creeped out by Momoko’s character design. I like Higurashi but I wish the manga-ka was not so obsessed with reminding us that the female characters have breasts. I already knew that. Has anyone played the original game? Was the game anywhere near as fan-servicey as the manga or is it just Shonen Gangan’s tendency to throw service into its series? Soul Eater and Jack Frost are still not for me and I don’t think they ever will be.

Read One Piece volume 18 and as usual always fun, always funny, sometimes even laugh out loud funny which becomes a problem when riding the train. This book is mostly lead-up to the big showdown. They finally get the land of Alabasta so they don new desert outfits, we see Baroque works together, and we learn a little about Vivi’s childhood. Finally get to see Ace in action which was great! Certainly has the potential to be a favorite of mine, but I’ll wait till he shows up again to make my final judgment call. Smoker makes another appearance and will be in the next one according to the preview. Otherwise not a lot of action in this book.

I’m curious how much Narutaki will enjoy Alabasta. I know that it’s most people’s favorite part of One Piece so far. And since book 19 is next I am curious about Narutaki’s reaction to it. Those in the know know his love of Zoro and general dislike of Sanji. If one is ever going to tolerate Sanji it’s after the events of book 19. I myself have been enjoying the current arc of One Piece although I have to wonder what Eiichiro Oda has against Zoro because he sure has been beating him up recently. We were discussing it and I wonder if he is trying to give the newer crew members some more screen time by taking Zoro out of the picture for awhile.

Happy to find Chocolate Underground 5 and 6 up! Huntley and Smudger have now found the secret store of chocolate so the real story begins. This show remains fun and keeps me wanting to see the next one. Really anxious to finish this short series. And not really sure how it is going to play out or if it will even have an ending. I am wondering this because the involvement of changing the political climate, maybe there will be a rebellion? I am planning to pick up the novel it is based on as soon as possible.

I watched the first disk of Shakugan no Shana. It’s enjoyable but I think Kohaku is crazy when she tells me she thinks Shana is not tsundere. She has reasons for being tsundere but she is very clearly tsundere. Your enjoyment of Shakugan no Shana mainly comes down to how much you like Shana. I suppose you could be a Yuji Sakai fan but most people are not watching the show for him. They are watching to see Shana fight, watch Shana be bad ass, watch Shana be odd, and watch Shana be cute. I have to admit I was amused when she casually takes over the existence of a dead girl in Yuji’s class. This show also made me realize I’m becoming an old fogey who blogs too much. I keep deconstructing characters into archetypes whenever I watch shows now. I am not so jaded as to dismiss shows for using archetypes yet but is it only a matter of time before I am one of the bitter old farts of the Internet. Only time will tell.

Watched Macross Frontier 20. You win this round Sheryl fans.

Oh, you forgot to mention that apparently we were the only two monsters with unfeeling hearts that were not crying at the end of this episode. I think we were both a little disappointed with how they wrote Ranka. I know why they did it this way but it does not mean I have to like it. I hope this is not a trend because it might make me stop being a Ranka fan. I will never be a Sheryl fan but I might have to give up my Ranka love.

I was truly disappointed, I didn’t believe it would ever go down like that. And what is so funny is that it was probably the only thing they could do to make me dislike Ranka. I will give Ranka a couple of episodes to convince me that I shouldn’t turn my back. Everyone has their moments, it is about recovering from them for me.

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