Ongoing Investigations: Case #119

The last episode Gundam Unicorn left us with not so much a cliff hanger as a short pause before the crescendo that is the battle that opens up The Ghost of Laplace. While we get some conversation and character moments this episode is mostly a series of battles. Thankfully these battles are story relevant as opposed to lovely but time-wasting mecha porn filler. The battles are as engaging as they have been in the past although we don’t get much action out of Full Frontal. He mainly seems to be doing the Char the Manipulator not Char the Action Rival shtick this episode. We learn quite a bit about Marida Cruz and how she ties into previous Gundam material. We also get some mandatory Newtype nudity and trippyness as is a UC Gundam tradition. I did realize at the end of the episode that my Snarky Reductionist Theater title for the show would be Mobile Suit Gundam: National Treasure. It seems the main plot shall be Banagher Links pretending to be a calm version of Nicolas Cage as he goes around the historical sites of the Gundam universe solving puzzles that will unlock Laplace’s Box as he is chased by agents of various secret societies.  The end of this episode will seem VERY familiar to anyone who has seen a good deal of Universal Century Gundam but it continues the tradition of getting the audience excited for the next episode of Unicorn which is important in an OVA series like this.

I watched the short animation Out of Sight from Taiwan by recommendation from Twitter. It features a little girl whose bag is stolen, her dog then chases down the thief leaving the girl on her own searching the city for him. This is a brilliant piece of work incorporating all five senses in order bring the world to life. The design is stand-out while the little girl wanders the city as it comes in and out of focus. Beautiful, sweet, excellent.
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Ongoing Investigations: Case #037

I quickly dug into the rest Fairy Musketeers. It was all in all a solid if unremarkable magical girl show. Which is not to say it was not entertaining because it was very well done and boatloads of fun but it won’t win over anyone who did not all already like magical girl shows. The characters are enjoyable, cute, and cool when they need to be. Akazukin interestingly enough reminds me a lot of Narutaki other than the fact that Narutaki only wishes he had a magical wolf companion and was the greatest dual sword fighter in the world. Highlights of the show include the evil sorcerer/playboy named Dude; Ringo saving everyone by being a wuss; a music duel worthy of Macross 7; an episode about religion; and as always Val bringing the manliness to counterbalance all the girl power cute. I was a little disappointed my theory about Cendrillon’s motivations was incorrect. It has a solid ending that does not prevent a sequel but does not beg for one. It leaves you with a warm and pleasant feeling which is all you can ask for sometimes and possibly just what you need.

Read the third book of Switch. I was of course delighted by Hal and Kai having to infiltrate a high school drug ring. It was a decent arc but seemed a bit predictable and the ending didn’t surprise me much. There was also not enough Hal in it which always takes it down a notch for me. The new arc dealing with a new section of the team that deals in information manipulation starts off really well. Looking forward to that continuing story in the next book.

After hearing a good deal of positive reviews I went back and watched Xam’d: Lost Memories from where I had stopped the last time. I was intrigued with the show but Narutaki’s interest waned so it was a matter of me getting back into the grove on my own. That this show came from Bones and its director was a man heavily involved with Eureka Seven is unmistakable. I enjoyed the tighter storytelling in the shorter Xam’d. There was less filler but there was almost no time to catch your breath. They moved quickly from important plot development to important plot development. Eureka Seven’s filler was usually enjoyable and helped you again insight into the characters so there are benefits to taking your time as well. I really enjoyed all the female characters which is a plus. Nakiami is pretty bad-arse while still being human. Haru Nishimura was my favorite character but she was the queen of making some rather foolish decisions. I will also reluctantly admit to being way to intune with Furuichi feelings and conflicts. Another good ending that leaves time to have a sufficient amount of conclusion without dragging it out. I am a little worried that all these good endings to series is setting me up for some big disappointment in the future. Another series I highly recommend especially if you liked Eureka Seven.  They have to get it out there some way that is not just the PlayStation Network because while I loved Xam’d I’m not buying a PS3 to own it.

Read Naughty But Nice by Naduki Koujima. In a strange turn of events, the cover art is unappealing while the interior work is pretty nice. This book actually contains two BL stories, Naughty But Nice (which is only the first half, it continues in a book called Spicy But Sweet) and Bouquet of Love. The first one is mediocre at best going along without any real rhyme or reason. Even though I like teacher x student I just couldn’t get into it. It moves at too clipped a pace throwing us Wakasa’s past ungracefully. Though surprisingly they didn’t jump into bed. The second one was quite a bit better. Kazuki is very cute, he works at a flower shop, and when he helps a man who is allergic to flowers a bond forms. It has a little bit of contrived drama, but otherwise is a sweet story. However, since it is the shorter of the two it doesn’t seem worth picking up. You can read a preview here.

I read the first book of Queen of Ragtonia by Chika Shiomi. It is a standard fantasy adventure but enjoyable. Falna is looking for a magical sword that can slay the evil necromancer that has taken over the kingdom and killed her family. This is a hard task because the necromancer has stolen her ability to walk and one of her eyes. Cardus is a huge sword-wielding warrior who also lost an eye fighting a demon at the beginning of the book. When they fight together they can defeat even the most powerful demons and save lost souls. The book is fun but the pacing is really odd. I can’t put my finger on it exactly but it seems to oscillate between being fast and slow. Cardus reminds me of Gourry in both of them are big powerful swordsmen that are sort of goofy and slow but kindly and brave. Falna is a character that wants to be a strong female character but is hampered by her physical handicaps and her inner weaknesses. So far she has mostly strives to be stronger which is good enough for me. Chika Shiomi has tried to show the motivations behind all the characters including the demons (though we haven’t seen the necromancer yet). It does not always work but it kept the monsters from being evil for evil’s sake. Apparently Queen of Ragtonia was originally a doujinshi that has been turned into a professional work. In the afterward the author shows some panels from the original compared to the panels in the new version. You can read a preview here.

I picked up the Black Jack Illustrations Museum, pocket-sized, from Book Off! It is filled with pictures of, you guessed it, everyone’s favorite surgeon. A few of the pictures involve other characters like Pinoko but 85% are just the man himself. The book is 320 pages long with 78 color pages, which includes some writings. The rest are all black and white images and the end has some writing as well. It’s a really nice piece and quite affordable.

This weeks pic is the Haru who leapt through time:

The Haru who lept through time

Ongoing Investigations: Case #029

I have stayed up to date with Toradora! and I think it has been worth it so far. It has been continuing to mix comedy and drama while keeping the story entertaining. I think all the characters have grown on me and continue to impress me. The most impressive thing about Toradora! is how I have warmed up to Ami. At first I felt that she was the loud, bitchy girl who you are supposed to feel sympathy for after one bit of drama ala Sheryl from Macross Frontier. They have avoided this trap by slowly letting us see her complexity. By not trying to change our perception of her like a light switch it makes her a richer and more sympathetic character. I do not love her with the passion that others do but I actually now enjoy seeing her in the story. Minori has also revealed herself to be beyond that of a silly airhead especially when at Ami’s villa and during the school festival.

Finally picked up a copy of All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, the first hardcover collection. It is great to see Jim Lee doing Batman again, he is just incredibly, insanely talented period. And he has only gotten better as time has gone on. There are some really intense pieces which Scott Williams really enhances in this series including one where Batman is holding up little Dick Grayson, here is a scan. I wasn’t aware this series was starting with a Robin origin story, not that I am complaining, on the contrary it was a pleasant surprise. True to Frank Miller form he writes Batman as a borderline psycho which always keeps you guessing. And it certainly does boast an all-star cast, as the title implies, with appearances from the Joker, Bat-girl, and Cat-woman in just these first few issues. Oh, and Batman and Robin making fun of the Green Lantern, hilarious. Looking forward to more!

I am not quite certain why I keep reading Ken Akamatsu stuff. For some reason his books entertain me even if I can’t really say they are good. I just read Negima 19 and 20. Since the school festival arc is over it means they need a training arc before they move on. Ah, the staples of shonen fighting mixed with the staples of shonen romance. And I enjoy this why? Oh and because we did not have enough tsundere girls in the series we had to add Anya, Negi’s childhood friend. I did like her crazy boobie conspiracy theories though. I am always a little scared about how well researched the magic and Latin is in Negima. It’s like finding out that porn you just watched had a team of historical consultants.

Continuing reading of Switch, just finished the second book. It keeps itself moving between intense cop drama and humor pretty well. We wrapped up the story involving the famous model with some serious business. Kai and Hal are a good pair. Then we have a short bust with the help of the department’s analyst, Kuzui, she has a most hilarious crush on Kai. We end on another longer story, which continues into the next volume, involving a high school gang. I have to admit to enjoying seeing Hal and Kai having to infiltrate a high school to get a drug bust. Oh so 21 Jump Street! Though Hal is only posing as a teacher.

I watched the first 4 episodes of Turn A Gundam again. I had started watching a long time ago but then some computer trouble wiped out what I had downloaded so I stopped there vowing to watch it after I finished the original Gundam. Since we are currently watching First Gundam for the blog I decided to restart Turn A. It’s an unusual Gundam series even though it is directed Yoshiyuki Tomino. The initial steam-punk technology of Earth is strange and there are no colonies, only men from the Moon. Loran’s role as a double agent is definitely unique because he has best wishes for both sides. Sochie Heim is a likable character but so far she is getting kicked pretty hard by life and I don’t expect that to change. I will also say it’s amusing to see quite a bit of nudity of both sexes so far. I guess they really wanted to sell you on this 20th anniversary Gundam series.

I was so happy to see the Tower of Druaga second season start up. While I didn’t think the first series was the most incredible story ever written, I really enjoyed it and it left you on quite a cliffhanger! So getting back into it was fun. A little time has passed since the end and we start out with some interesting new mysteries. Fatina remains my favorite character and her interactions with Jil are nicely thoughtout. As with the first season, the opening is unrelated but very well done and a joy to watch. I really appreciate when the staff thinks about the placement of the text in an opening, as opposed to just slapping it over their beautiful animation.

And now my pic of the week (or Hisui reveals herself to be a Turn A Gundam shipper):