Keith Anyan, The Tin Man of To Terra…

SPOILERS FOR TO TERRA…

I watched They Were 11 very early in my fandom, loved it and still do considerably, but it was To Terra… that solidified my interest in classic 70’s manga and the magnificent Showa 24. This is thanks to both the epic spanning story, a cast that stays with you long after the final page, and the beautiful artwork seen throughout. To Terra… is able to combine the strengths from shojo, Keiko Takemiya’s usual realm, and from shonen which To Terra was positioned as but it has so much to offer you can’t pin down To Terra… easily.

To Terra… like many of the classics of science-fiction is not only a wonderful story that explores a possible future but is also complex sociopolitical examination of the present. The characters contained within examine ideas like eugenics, class struggle, environmentalism, discrimination, and safety vs. freedom. But unlike many of the characters with in the novel, it’s hard to place Keith Anyan into a neat box that says what role he plays. Solider Blue is the old mentor who passes down both his legacy and his unfulfilled dreams. Jomy is a reluctant leader that must awkwardly learn to fulfill his destiny. But Keith, he is at times a hero and at others an anti-hero; someone who defies and questions the system and yet is its greatest champion.

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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.

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Narutaki & Hisui VS. 2007

This is pretty self-explanatory, we are looking at what we loved or hated from 2007. There was a lot going on, even with the decline in licenses in the U.S. there were still some great shows released! And Japan hasn’t been letting us down either. Not that is any surprise.

The Harold and Maude Award or Favorite Classic Manga Release:
To Terra
It is so rare to get older, 70’s titles. But I feel it is even rarer to find old shojo titles,
hopefully this will be changing in the next few years. It was nice find a serious, sci-fi story that had a solid story and characters. While looking at real world issues, it doesn’t losing any of its charm coming from the fantastical elements.

Ode To Kirihito
“Ode to Kirihito is moving, tender and engrossing. Also very, very odd.”
Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman and Anansi Boys
If Neil Gaiman likes it, it has to be good. At 832 pages for $25 you definitely get your money’s worth with this classic Tezuka work. One of Tezuka’s more mature works, it follows the story of a doctor who contracts a disease that makes him more bestial than human. It then becomes his quest to restore his humanity and at the same time is a examination of what makes someone human.

Burn this Book or Worst Thing I Read:
Rurouni Kenshin: Voyage to the Moon
I think I was a bit spoiled because the first translated light novel I read was Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow, and it was well done. This one was either translated horribly or just not good to begin with, unfortunately I will never know. The characters seem odd in prose form; the movements were very stilted and awkward; the fight scenes were boring and matter-of-fact. There seemed to be zero that reminded me of the greatness of the manga series.

Pretty Face
“Rando struggles to be a good “big sister” to Rina as fate conspires to put him in one disastrous situation after another. When pants start coming off, and half-naked women start crawling all over him for the thinnest of reasons, Rando must use all his karate wiles to avoid being exposed as a complete weirdo. Meanwhile, will the mad Dr. Manabe succeed in his plan to remove the last remnants of Rando’s manhood…or will Rando remove Dr. Manabe’s brains with his fist? It’s 7.5 inches of manga heaven!”
-Ad copy for Pretty Face Book 2

I admit I have not read this per-say but all the ad copy for it makes it seem so very bad. It’s like the most messed up shonen romance show premise I have heard in a while. Even Boku to Kanojo no XXX and Midori Days seem sort of cute compared to Pretty Face. Maybe it’s really good but everything about it makes me not want to give it a chance.

Hot, Wet Nobu or Best News of the Year:
Death Note Movies
Death Note movies have been licensed and the third movie (all about L) is coming out in Japan! They may even get a big screen release here in the states. Really loved these two films and am anxious to watch them again and own them for myself! Also can’t wait for the new movie, surely only made because they realized too late that everyone really loved L in the series and not Light. Yay for L fan service!

ImaginAsia getting into Anime
ImaginAsia really seems to understand how to pick up and distribute older and/or niche series and actually make a profit. If anime companies are going to continue to license older series and distribute them on DVD, they just might have to do it how ImaginAsia has been doing it.

DearS Season 2 or Worst News of the Year:
Geneon closes down
Bye, bye Geneon. I for one am very sad to see you go. Especially in mid-release of some good shows! They did a quality job and picked up some beautiful, but not super marketable shows.

Okiku Furikabutte made into anime
I guess it would be too easy for me to pick Geneon’s death as well; so I’m going with Okiku Furikabutte being made into an anime. What I have seen of this show makes it seem like moe for girls. It is nothing but shota yaoi doujinshi fodder and a side order of actual baseball manga. The main character is a useless crybaby and everything seems to be designed to be eaten up by horrible Fujoshi.

Just Shut You Mouth Already or Things I Wish People Would Stop Talking About:
Nymphet Controversy
Kodomo no Jikan! It is a horrible thing but seriously what else is there to say about it that hasn’t been said yet? Could there be a week gone by where this topic isn’t broach yet again.

Why fan-subbers are saints and heroes
I know that part of the industry’s problems come from their inability and refusal to adapt to the fact that the internet changes everything; but that does not make every fan-subbing group a bunch of faultless white hats and untouchable heroes. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Fan-subbers can be cool and do a service to the American anime community but that does not forgive the bad groups that don’t follow the rules of proper fan-sub etiquette. It also does not mean that fan-subs are only good and that they don’t sometimes hurt American fans on certain levels.

Peanutbutter and Relish Sandwich or Show I Unexpectedly Liked:
Hayate the Combat Butler
Hayate no Gotoku! It just sounded kind of “eh.” But after a friend of mine described the first episode to me, I was laughing out loud, and I had to see it for myself. It’s so wacky and ridiculous that it infectiously makes you laugh. So, while it isn’t some earth scattering series that will change your life, you can bet you will have a lot of fun watching it.

Kekkaishi
I expected Kekkaishi to be a generic shonen fighting show. But I think it takes the tried and true shonen formula, then tweaks it enough to make it something that stands out from the pack. Kekkaishi’s focus on the romance while not making it overbearing is refreshing. Also every episode seems to add to the world and plot without seeming like a stall for time. Then the fact that the female character is not just a damsel in distress or eye candy. Added to them not pulling punches and killing characters. All this and more makes it a very unusual and refreshing show. Too bad no one cares.

Can You Stop Playing That Please or Favorite Opening:
“Sha la la -Ayakashi NIGHT” by Saeka Uura
This is a tough one. I really love the song in the Gundam 00opening (it is L’arc-en-Ciel afterall) and also loved the catchy tunes from Lovely Complex. But overall awesome? Guess that would have to the Kekkaishi opening. It was one of the first things that got me curious about the show, so it was good enough to draw me in. The song is really fun and since I have sought out the artist to hear more of her stuff.

“Brand New World” by D-51 (One Piece opening 6)
The opening to kick off the Ennis Lobby section of the Water 7 Arc is an upbeat and fun opening for One Piece. I think the opening really gets you pumped while really encompassing the spirit and flavor of the series. I’m just warning you that the opening is sort of filled with spoilers so if you have not finished Water 7 you might want to hold off on watching the opening.

Wowza! or Hottest Character:
The Men of Saiunkoku
The majority of the male cast from Saiunkoku. Unless they are an old guy, there isn’t a bad face to be seen in the court! And even the old guys were good looking when they were younger. Not only is this series full of historical type drama and romance it also boasts lots of eye candy!

Revy from Black Lagoon
Damn! Revy would probably kill you as soon as you look at her, but who cares? She is HOT. She is a very competent mercenary and the way she handles herself just makes me think that she is a goddess drenched in a gown of blood. She is also built like a brickhouse and that never hurts. In a time of moe, she is the antithesis of helpless and under-aged; she is a breath of fresh air. Or more like a breath of smoky spent shells and cigarettes.

All Those Sacrificed Goats Were Worth Something or Best License Announcement:
NANA TV
NANA TV series. PERIOD. Awesome story, awesome characters, awesome music. My only really complaint about the series is it doesn’t finish the story since it is an ongoing manga. But it was a delight seeing my favorite characters moving and to hear the music. Any music series is obviously made better by having an anime counterpart.

Honey and Clover
Even though I have mixed feelings about the ending of Honey and Clover, it is an excellent josei manga and a well done anime. We get so little josei in the U.S. that any of it is welcome. Very well done josei is even better. I really want this show to have a vocal fan-base because the more diversity there is in the U.S. market the better it is for fans in general. Hagu is love.

The Micky Rooney of Manga or Best Short Manga:
Penguin Revolution
I actually wish more series were in the 5 to 7 book range. I am always anxious for a storyteller to tell their story, in a complete fashion, but then to move on to the next great story! I want to say Penguin Revolution, but it hasn’t finished in the U.S. yet and I haven’t read the last 3 books (out of its 7). But I really like the story thus far, combining hilarious capers with a bit of mysticism and romance. Her other series Land of the Blindfolded, also released in the U.S., was along these lines but the mysticism was more prominent.

Wanted!
Wanted!
is a collection of short stories by Eiichiro Oda. These were written before he started One Piece. There are 5 different stories including the second version of Romance Dawn that was the prototype for One Piece. It’s an interesting look into how his style and storytelling has developed. You can also see that Oda takes certain aspects and characters from his earlier works that later incorporates them into One Piece.

Sometimes Shipping From Japan is Worth It or Favorite Piece of Merchandise:
Bandai’s Athrun Zala 1/8 figure
My brand-new Athrun Zala 1/8 figure. It is all mine! MINE! The loveliness of his face made only better by his perfect pose. Okay, maybe I’m bias.

Max Factories’ Fate/Zero 1/8 Saber
It’s Saber. She is wearing a Suit. She has an awesome sword. If you don’t like that then I’m not sure we can be friends.

Here is My Room Key or Favorite Convention Guest:
Tomokazu Seki
Tomokazu Seki who was at Otakon was so great! He did so many voices and gladly did special parts from the series for the audience. He was super kind and gracious. I almost injured myself getting his autograph and after I go it he even said something that I requested! He was all around an awesome dude who also happens to always be voicing characters I love.

Katsushi Ota
If nothing else, it’s a sure sign that we are one step closer to getting Kinoko Nasu as a guest at a U.S. anime convention. He seemed a likable guy and to be an interesting, well articulated guest. The fact that he gave me two book of DDD just because I was was a big fan was really gracious. And that he took my picture and promised to pass it on to Nasu made my day. I really hope Faust does well here in the U.S.

Mr. John Holmes Award or Best Packaging:
Beck Box Set
It would have to be BECK. The box for the DVDs looks like a mini-amp! It has some weight to it and the top of the amp opens to put the DVDs in. I just love it. It also came with stickers and all the DVDs come with guitar picks. How fun and appropriate. I don’t buy boxes much anymore unless they have some unique feature and this definitely has that.

Saiunkoku’s box set case
It’s a classy little box for a very classy show. It is shaped like a jewelry box and it has a ornate red ribbon on the front. I like how it folds open and has the fan-like disk sleeves. It also just looks very nice on a self or a desk. I’m not sure I would buy a box like this for every series I pick up, but it seems very right for this series. It’s a shame that Saiunkoku is in limbo right now. If anyone else picks up the series, I would probably still put them in this box.

Spewing Milk Out of my Nose or Funniest Manga:
Nosatsu Junkie
Nosatsu Junkie is definitely a shojo romance but it is surpassed by its hilarity. Between the dual personalities of Umi, our male lead, and the serial killer expression that our main character makes whenever she tries to smile and look cute, it is a laugh a minute.

Nodame Cantabile
Nodame is such a fun character that she could be in any manga and just make it funnier. Combine her with Chiaki and it makes comedy gold. They play off each other very well. The best part of Nodame is the characters are real enough that you feel that they could be actual people you could meet. I guess in part that comes from Nodame actually being based on a real person. I’m sure that Narutaki will agree with this assessment almost as if it seemed that parts of Nodame were based on parts of his life.

I know there haven’t been many articles this month. But with the end of the semester, holidays, and whatnot it just wasn’t possible. Next year will be a whole other story! Look forward to it.