Ongoing Investigations: Case #080

hisuiconDespite all odds we have gotten Gosick: The Crime with No Name in the U.S. so we decided to give it a look after enjoying the first book. After Victorique solves the case of a stolen plate for Kazuya they both find an ad in the newspaper that summons them to the town where Victorique’s mother was born. They must solve several deaths in town as well as a famous death that occurred many years ago. But this is an odd and isolated town with many secrets. I was slightly disappointed in the mysteries in this book. The author did not tie them together like the mysteries in the first book. The town was very odd but I think I rolled with that fact much more than Narutaki. I enjoyed seeing Kazuya and Victorique again as they are lovely characters but I would have like to see them in a stronger story. Still I had a good time and the story answered some questions while stetting up future stories. I also have the distinct feeling that the odd nun at the beginning of the book is set to be a reoccurring character for better or for worse. After reading this I am really curious to see the Gosick anime that has just been announced. I fear that we will not be getting any other Gosick novels any time soon but until someone picks up the manga the anime will have to do for our mystery fix.

The fact that a second Gosick was released at all in English is in itself something to be grateful for. The story starts off very much like the first as Victorique solves a case in mere moments. Only this time around the thief ends up as a traveling companion for our two detectives. Three more travelers join their caravan as the larger mystery involving Victorique’s mother rears its head in the strange mountain town they are bound for. Some things about this story kept me from fully enjoying it. Not the least of which was that is was painfully obvious who the culprits were in each mystery. Considering that Victorique is supposed to be a Sherlock Holmes like detective, I should almost never be able to deduce who the culprit is. The friendship between Kazuya and Victorique which I found amusing in the first book is stilted and borders on cruel in this second installment. The dialogue is also really clunky, not sure if this is just a rushed translation or not. Gosick 2 didn’t capture me like the first even though it should have because learning anything more about the eccentric Victorique is welcome. I am glad Gosick got another volume released, but I wish I could give it a better review.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #045

It time for more the part of Ongoing Investigations were I show you what toys I bought. First up is new two newest Portraits of Pirates. The set seems to have back in black as the theme. The first is the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates, Brook. He is a skeleton, with an Afro, a top hat, and a suit who plays the violin. If this combination of words does not make you want a figure of him, I am not sure what I can say to sell you on it. He comes with a sword cane, a tea cup, and his tone dial. Also you can also pop open the little compartment in his skull and keep the tone dial in there which I find an amusing attention to detail. In contrast we have Rob Lucci. Another man in a black suit with a top hat but with a completely different tone to the lighthearted Brook. Rob also comes with his pigeon Hattori and his mask. I really think that as the Portrait of Pirates series has gone on they have really come into their own. While Rob is  not as complex as some of the latest entries into the series he is well done and really captures the essence of the character. Brook is complex and customizable for a static pose figure. I am a little surprised that they decided to make Rob instead of the more popular Kaku.

Picked up Spiral’s seventh volume. There are some bigger points that start to uncover themselves here, just hints but it is expected to come slowly. Ayumu taking on brute force verse his logic is great. It also randomly reminded me of the L movie where they sort of imply that violence can beat brains as well. I don’t think I would normally notice that but since I watched that and read this so close to each other it stuck out. I also like that Ayumu is admitting his brother is manipulating everyone like a puppet though he just plain doesn’t want to think so. I also found a couple of moments with Hiyono possibly revealing there is more going on under the surface. Has me curious. Looking forward to more as usual.

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Manga of the Month: March

Maria+Holic by Minari Endo

In an effort to save the ailing TokyoPop I have decided to cover another recently licensed manga that has a charming story and wonderfully delightful characters. Just like Future Diary. OK. I lied. Most everyone is both series is a bunch of horrible human beings. But like Future Diary it turns out Maria+Holic is quite fun.

Kanako Miyamae decides to go to her mother’s former alma mater and all girls Catholic high school. She hopes to find her true love among her fellow students. The first person she runs into on campus is a charming blonde girl named, Mariya Shido and her maid. Kanako instantly falls in love with Mariya only to later find out that Mariya is actually a secret, cross-dressing boy. Mariya attaches himself to Kanako to make sure she does not give away his secret. Kanako learns that the seemly sweet Mariya is a sadistic controlling monster. Will Kanako ever find her destined love? Is it the boy who is torturing her?

This series has something for everyone. Cross-dressing boys, yuri subtext, comedy, drama, and tentacle monsters from the sea. Most of the humor comes from Kanako being a complete and total yuri crazy moron. So you have to enjoy humor at the expense of another because it is almost always at our protagonist’s. The supporting cast is quite amusing with Mariya’s maid who by admission is 100% tsun and 0% dere; the female samurai who does more harm to those she protects than anyone out to get her charges; and the eternally happy girl who can pull anything out of her school bag. I am curious if it will ever focus on the potential relationship between Kanako and Mariya or will it stay pure comedy. But no matter which way it goes, it is a fun series. Please do read this mother up in heaven.

Spiral: Bonds of Reasoning by Kyo Shirodaiya and Eita Mizuno

Ayumu is brilliant in his own right but he constantly struggles with the shadow his brother left. Since his older brother’s disappearance Ayumu and his sister-in-law Madoka are still seeking the truth about the last case he was working on, The Blade Children. When a murder takes place at Ayumu’s school and the words Blade Children are uttered, he he becomes entangled in a world where nothing is simple. Ayumu’s amateur sleuthing is charming and his aloof attitude makes him the right amount of eccentric. Hiyono, the nosey school journalist, sticks herself like glue to Ayumu during his first case eventually becoming his indispensable partner. Her energetic and bubbly nature contrasts Ayumu perfectly. Many mysteries arise during the series, everything from a locked-room murder to riddles and puzzles, each one brings Ayumu closer to understanding The Blade Children. Spiral is an example of one of those rare occasions when the writer is not the artist. This is also the first manga for both creators. In its pages unfolds a good mystery with science fiction elements and a boy detective who, through wit and brains, unravels it.