Ongoing Investigations: Case #233

hisui_icon_4040 The Flowers of Evil was a series that seemed to either be on peoples best anime of 2013 list or something you acknowledged existed but had a strong reason it was absent. Quite a few people just could not watch because they hated the look of the rotoscoping. In their defense it is rotoscoping. It is one of the few animation techniques that I can think of that you either just accept (and maybe even enjoy) or gets under your skin like nothing else. Interestingly enough after reading volumes one through four of the manga my critique would be much different.

The more subtle difference between the anime and the manga is the pacing. The Flowers of Evil anime has an almost glacial movement in the story. It spends so much of its time building up tension that the actual story seems secondary. I expected the manga to have that same ponderous weight to its cadence. But I was surprised by what I read.

The Flowers of Evil manga seems to have two paces. It can be almost breathlessly frenetic but in contrast it can also be meditatively ponderous. When Takao Kasuga is caught up in things the flow of the pages are almost delirious as events seem like they are out of his control. But when he is a master of his own fate the pace slows down. It clearly highlights when Kasuga could escape the spiral he is in but refuses to do so due to either cowardice, fear of being hurt, or plain desire. That anime seems not to care much for that first mode.

It is not to say the anime is doing things incorrectly. It is clearly made decisions to revel in one half of the story and downplay the other. When you adapt a title to another medium you sometimes have to change things to make them work. Other times you can modify things to make them your own. I feel like the anime is somewhere in the middle in this respect. Some of the changes are out of necessity and others are a personal flourish.

I will mention that I read through more of story what was in the three volumes of manga than the time it took to watch three episodes of the same 13 episode anime. While there is not necessarily a better version there is one that is in fact more expedient.

In that respect I feel that anime and the manga of The Flowers of Evil are the beginning of discussion and maybe even some insight into what different people want out of pacing and adaption of manga. It seems like people who would normally despise such a reduced speed in a translation love this series. There is clearly a greater alchemy at work here worth looking into.

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narutaki_icon_4040 As you might gather from the cover of Blade of the Immortal vol. 27, we finally get the return of a familiar face (actually faces!) as we draw ever nearer to the final showdown. The volume focuses more on the greater cast as Rin and Manji recover from their latest clash with Shiira and slowly start their journey again.

We finally get to see Habaki’s daughter show her skills in some competent sword work but much more in her ability to think ahead. A good portion of the book is taken up by her and Ban (one of Habaki’s woefully underdeveloped death row soldiers) fighting in the woods against one of the Itto-ryu’s oldest members. Ban uses a gun which takes the ridiculous nature of the fights in BotI to a different level.

Remember those familiar faces I mentioned? Well, don’t get too excited since they literally make a 8-page appearance. Still it bodes well for things to come.

Magatsu had my favorite moment in the volume though as he lays down some wisdom about the path of revenge:

“It’s like the wheel of fate rolling right over us. All we are required to do is accept being hated our whole lifetimes by the relatives of those we’ve killed. Even thinking about wanting to forgive or wanting to be forgiven is foolish.”

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #155

All good things must come to an end and so I wrapped up Carnival Phantasm season 3. Last week I wrote about Fate/Prototype but it was just an extra added in with the last disc of Carnival Phantasm. Otherwise the last 4 episode stick to the comedic tone of the rest of the series. We start with the best new episode right out of the gate. The Holy Grail Grand Prix is just amazing. The Lion-Go will win your heart with its cuteness, Gilgamesh pops in during the middle to ruin everyone’s day (like he always does), and it is nice to actually see Assassin get to participate in a sketch. A good deal of joke time bombs in this episode. The Akiha story is straight out of Take Moon with Kohaku up to her normal tricks but the Brainwasher Detective skits that end the episode were the star of the show. The third episode is a Final Destination homage all around Lancer and his Kenny like tendencies. The final episode wraps everything up with the conclusion to the dating plan from the first disc and a round-up of all the pieces of the Type-Moon universe. While they were not voice acted they included characters from Fate/Zero, The Garden of Sinners, the Mobile Site, and even Notes. I am sad to finish Carnival Phantasm but maybe one day down the road we will get another season after a few more games come out. Surely Mahou Tsukai no Yoru, Fate/Apocrypha, and maybe even Girls’ Work will warrant revival of the carnival.

Thermae Romae came to an end just after three episodes. But a delightful three episodes they were. In each subsequent adventure Lucias spent more and more time in Japan soaking up the culture. Because he celebrates each new experience in Japan with such enthusiasm, it spills over to the audience (maybe because so many of us non-Japanese fans long to go as well). And each time he returns to Rome things get weirder from smelly bandits to being courted by the emperor to a village of baths. Perhaps a few more episodes wouldn’t get stale but I definitely think they let the series go out while it was still a quirky surprise and that’s a good thing.

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S.W.A.T. Reviews: Winter 2012 Pt. 3

The premise of these reviews is simple: watch the first episode of a series and then immediately sit down to record a review mini-podcast. The reviews are five- to ten-minutes long and entirely off the cuff. As always we only review new shows (so no sequels or continuations) and try to avoid anything that just looks outright awful. These are the next three of the new season:

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Listen – Episode 1 of Inu x Boku SS from David Production with the opening “Nirvana” by MUCC and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Thermae Romae from DLE Inc. with the ending ”Thermae Roman” by Chatmonchy.

Listen – Episode 1 of Deka Kurokawa Suzuki from NTV and is streaming on Crunchyroll.