Winter Wrap Up

The purpose of the post is two-fold. The first is that while we do a season preview every quarter we only randomly mention what we think of how the shows we finish in Ongoing Investigations. This is my attempt to give my concluding thoughts on the shows that wrapped up in the winter. Often it is your final thoughts that are most important. The second reason for this post is to use a song title from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and get a bunch of completely undeserved hits. I will try to avoid major spoilers but I will also warn you that talking about the end of any show might just give you more information than you are looking for.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #028

Crusher Joe randomly came up while looking for something else and I had the itch to watch it. I remembering seeing it for the first time at my introduction to anime cons, Big Apple Anime Fest. Though I don’t remember ever seeing the OVAs until now. And it is still highly entertaining. I especially love the disco scene in the movie. Between the woman who’s breast keeps randomly popping out of her shirt, the all out brawl, and Joe’s fantasmo fringe boots, what’s not to love? The show is great fun, it is by the guy who wrote Dirty Pair, so it is very much in that vein.

Akikan! seems about as inhumane as waterboarding if used on unwilling or unsuspecting audiences. Okay that is an exaggeration but it is still a putrid, pile of fecal matter molded poorly into an anime. We were originally not going to watch the show because it looked like a rather bland magical girlfriend show. Oh, and it is about a can of melon soda that comes to life and has to be given CO2 energy by way of making out was not helping. Then again Kannagi is about a wooden sculpture that comes to life and that was an entertaining show. The main problem is that Akikan! takes every cliche thing a harem anime has ever had and executes it in the worst possible manner. The main character, Kakeru Daichi, is alternatively a creepy sadist or wimpy loser. Melon is just a rampaging moron in the Akane Tendo vein but far, far worse. There are some other stock side characters such as the far less important male friend, the ignored pretty female childhood friend, the crazy lesbian, and others I am sure I have forgotten. The creepy predatory gay government official shows up for a few seconds mostly to be very creepy and then disappears without contributing anything to the plot. Also for a show designed to appeal to guys we see way too much naked Kakeru. I actually enjoyed this anime in small part for a reason completely unrelated to the show itself. It was actually fun to watch Narutaki’s facial reactions to the utter garbage on the screen. This is the new low water mark that other anime have to beat to disappoint me. Sorry Wild Cardz.

Started watching Fairy Musketeers thanks to Crunchyroll. So far have gotten through episode 4. It is a very cute, children’s magical girl show. All the characters are named after fairy tale characters, our heroine being Red Riding Hood. Her along with some others, including her wolf Val, are protecting the key which is in a little boy named Sota. It stays true to magical girl form with cute outfits, weekly monsters, and wacky hijinks. I also really love the evil minion Hansel who works for the Queen Cinderella (who is the villainess of the entire series). It doesn’t seem to offer anything new but it does its genre nicely. If it were dubbed I would recommend it for children!

Fairy Musketeers is for two major groups. The first is children. The second is older people who want a comfort food magical girl show with absolutely no otaku pandering. That means no panty shots and no innuendo. I assume that its simple nature will turn  hardcore fans away but so be it. It’s not for them. I do find it interesting that even the major villains are fairy tale heroes. Normally you would have fairy tale villains as the villains not other fairy tale heroes. I wonder if there is some story reason for this or is it just the way things are. Red Riding Hood is your standard genki girl but I was thrown off by the Snow White character design. I assumed she was going to be a shy bookish peacemaker girl. She turns out to be bookish but she actively fights with and speaks her mind to Red Riding Hood.

So I picked up a couple of trades of Grant Morrison since he is one of the guests of honor at New York Comic-Con. Batman and Son was an okay work, but I found the dialogue clunky and stiff. I also realized I only like Andy Kubert’s artwork about half the time, and that half is when he is drawing Batman. When he is drawing normal people they are constantly looking sinister even when I don’t think that is the intention. The story itself is interesting and the ending is crazy atleast but I think I prefer a more traditional Batman, what can I say. Also read Batman: Arkham Asylum with art by Dave McKean this work was really gripping and different but once again not my cup of tea. The dialogue is awkward, this really drives me crazy. The artwork is out of this world and even more so when you think that it was made pre-computer age. This work I understand its significance in the comic book world even if it wasn’t for me.

I went back to playing Mugen no Frontier: Super Robot Wars OG Saga. It may be all in Japanese but the general plot and gameplay is simple enough for me to not have to worry. I am sure I am missing some of the subtler details of gameplay but such is life. It has a technowestern feel. The main character is dressed in a full cowboy getup  but has an android partner and a transforming laser gun. The are also other Capcom characters including the main characters from Namco X Capcom and KOS-MOS from Xenosaga. The more I play the more I realize that the basic foundation of all Super Robot Wars games is fan-service. In the standard games it is robot porn. It’s hot cross show robot on robot action. In the gaiden game it is your more standard arse and boob service. I don’t mind such things but it’s worth mentioning that is is there. It is a fun little menu based RPG with some amount of action elements during attacks and defense so keep you interested.

Since I have been reading a lot of Batman lately, this is the pic of the week:

Ongoing Investigations: Case #010

I did not do much except play video games this week. Played through Professor Layton and the Curious Village. It was a distinctly enjoyable puzzle game. I had figured out most of the mystery about half way through the game so obviously it was not that difficult. The animated sequences were well done and Layton and Luke are fun characters if not particularly deep. You mostly come to professor Layton for the puzzles but you stay for the amusing characters. This game seems right up Narutaki’s alley with detectives and classic puzzles. I hope they continue to localize these games.

Watched the first four episodes of Toward the Terra. I loved the manga now I get to love the anime! It has this nice combination of old school and modern, the art is this nice meld of the two. The opening song is really great! It is done by UVERworld who I have been sort of neutral about, but this song made me have a little more hope for the upcoming Gundam 00 opening which I have heard only a snippet of. So far the show has been beautiful animated and the story spot on. Soldier Blue you’re the best! There is a nice bonus of an interview with Keiko Takemiya in which she speaks in depth. Makes me want her to be a guest at a convention.

Got around playing Final Fantasy A2. I think I am enjoying it more than Narutaki but mostly because I never played Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced so I don’t know what I’m missing story-wise. I’m mostly here for the real-time strategy which is extremely well done and I am blissfully ignoring the rather generic plot. I am totally playing just to level up jobs and see new missions. I am slightly annoyed that I sometime break the laws when my characters are charmed or confused. It’s a slight gripe but very annoying after following a pain in the butt rule for several rounds of combat just to have the rule broken at the end by a single status effect.

Picked up the first volume of Nightmare Inspector. Hiruko goes into your nightmares to help you dispel them, his payment is the eating of the nightmare. So far every story has had a little twist and isn’t as straight forward as it seems. It is a nice series of vignettes but that isn’t really my favorite thing without an over arching plot to jump at once and a while. However, the last story in the volume is continued in the next and in the preview they mention possibly learning about Hiruko’s past so I am atleast curious. Also had a funny litte extra at the end about the cane he carries.

I tried some Mugen no Frontier: Super Robot Wars OG Saga. It’s simple enough that I can play without knowing any Japanese. It’s a turn-based RPG with some action elements to break up the monotony. I was enjoying this game up until I got up to one boss in this playing card themed dungeon. I can’t get pass this little witch and I don’t feel like grinding enough to blast past her with sheer brute force. I wonder if I am missing something because I can’t read Japanese or if the game just kicked the difficulty level up quite a bit rather unexpectedly.

Started watching Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. I know everyone will be shocked, but I’ve never watched this show all the way through. I have seen an episode here and there but what can I say? I just take my own sweet time getting to shows. I liked what I’ve seen so far, the cop drama kind of feel it is great but with cooler weapons. The Laughing Man comes into the story right at the end of the first DVD and I sort of knew what that was. It certainly keeps the world elements of the original but we get a closer focus on character relationships and a fleshing out of personalities. Really don’t like the opening, but the song itself is really a wonderful, haunting melody. Motoko’s normal outfit cracks me up a bit, I know it is fan service but it just seems so out of place. I think they could have used her full body suit outfit which she wears in the second or third episode instead. Oh and I love the Tachicomas. Forever.

Having watched the Laughing Man arc quite a while ago it was fun to go back and see some of it again. I always liked the third episode with the Jeri androids that were malfunctioning. For some reason I feel that who ever wrote that episode totally wrote it for themselves and anyone else that happened to be a big film buff. Knowing enough about what a horrible pervert Masamune Shirow is I have to wonder if he insisted that Motoko’s outfit be horribly fan servicey outfit or is it just an accepted part of the franchise. Oh and I have always been tempted to buy on of those really nice Tachicoma statues but I have never been able to convince myself to splurge on one. Yet.

Was lucky enough to attend the New York Comic-Con ConFab. It was like a focus group type deal and they bought us lunch, plus we get a free weekend pass for the convention in 2009. They have some great ideas coming up, stuff that I feel no other con has done before. That makes it really exciting. They also had tons of questions for us, a lot about lines and tickets and then general what was bad. They were really enthusiastic about our ideas and it felt like someone was really listening. Looking forward to the coming convention.

I started playing some Touch Detective 2 ½ and it seems just a quirky as the last one. I really miss the point and click puzzle games back in their heyday on PC. I am glad to see someone picking up the torch again. I like the bizarrely dry humor and the unique character designs. It is clearly not a game that will win over new fans. It’s essentially more of the same without even an attempt to innovate or add new features. I don’t mind though because I just wanted more Mackenzie.