Ongoing Investigations: Case #183

And so ends Kamen Rider Fourze or as I like to think of it Kamer Rider Diamond Is Not Crash. Having never seen a full Kamer Rider series this certainly was a treat. The last 21 episodes (28-48) put a nice cap on everything. The series ended things pretty much how would expect them to end with a few nice little twists to make it all feel unique.

Without giving away too many spoilers I will say the best part of the writing in the series is the way they pull off reveals. They make a good use of what amounts to 2 stage method of pulling back the curtain. They set up certain mysteries fairly early on and tease you with the answers. Then when they finally give you the solution I found nine times out of ten I had figured out the answers from the clues they left. But then they usually followed it up with a secondary reveal just after that which is nowhere as easy to predict. It is a strong one-two punch that helps nicely in giving impact to the story.

I will note after a certain point they really began to focus much less on the Rider Club than in the first half. They never disappeared but their overall screen time dropped from where in was in the first half of the series. For all the trouble they have over keeping Miu and Shun in the club they don’t do a good deal after they graduate. How many times was the Powerdizer really that important?

Still it was a fun show that really never took itself too seriously. It could hunker down when it needed to but it never lost sight of how silly its overall premise could be. It remained earnest while still being fun. It also helped the somewhat hokey production vales go down a bit smoother.  In many ways I think this could be the HeartCatch PreCure! of Kamen Rider for me. While I may enjoy other Kamen Rider series this one will take a truly spectacular show to beat.

Seriously Dark Horse, I hate you for putting Blade of the Immortal on a once a year release schedule. Blade of the Immortal vol. 25 is, as always, a beautiful piece of violence. There are some really exquisite page sequences in this volume. Samura amazes me with his artful blood spatters.

It has been a while since we’ve seen Shira in action; he had mostly been slinking around once he appeared again. The confrontation between him and Manji is sooooo what we’ve been waiting for for a long time. It certain had some surprises, though it isn’t over yet, but I was glad to see paths crossing again that I didn’t expect at this point. I kind of forgot that most of the characters don’t know Shira is still alive since we the audience have known for a number of volumes at this point.

We are finally privy to some insights on Manji’s immortality and vulnerability that we could only speculate on before. Although I don’t trust the information fully yet since it is only the doctor’s theory; this might be Shira’s big mistake.

At the end of this installment are some pretty hilarious joke comics parodying characters and situations in the series. I especially laughed when Rin needed bait to fish with so she cut off Manji’s arm.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #181

As a fan of Kenjiro Hata I am always interested in the older works. In fact I did a whole article about the evolution of this style two years ago. I got the Japanese release of Heroes of the Sea Lifesavers when it was reissued due to Hata’s popularity with Hayate. But sadly when I searched for any translations of Heroes of the Sea Lifesavers there were none to be found. But there was a short one shot also included in the book called God’s Rocket Punch. It as clearly a pre-Hayate work as you can tell that Hata’s style is still very crude. But unlike the longer part of the book this has a fan translation.

Tasuke discovers that he grandfather used the last years of his life to trade a goddess for a most unusual wish that by happenstance is passed down to him. Now Tasuke and his friend Kazuya are conscripted by the goddess to fight for justice now that he has a mecha styled rocket punching right hand. Needless to say this does not go well.

Wow. Even more than Heroes of the Sea Lifesavers you can tell that God’s Rocket Punch comes off of Hata working for Koji Kumeta. As I mentioned before when Kenjiro Hata started on his own you can heavily see the work of his mentor in all his art. Kazuya feels like an early prototype for Wataru especially with his snarky personality. But character design wise he looks more like Koji Kumeta’s fan art of Wataru. But the shading, page layout, and reaction shots, and overall art are still highly influenced by Hata’s old mentor. It would not be until a few books into Hayate that he would find his own style.

But even more than that Hata’s comedic beats are still much more Koji Kumeta stylized. Kazuya’s personality makes him a very at home in Katte ni Kaizo. While the idiot trio can be rambunctious they don’t have that same sort of mildly psychotic air that Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei characters have. Also a bit of the deadpan delivery and slightly absurdest moments are half way between still being an assistant and having their own voice.

I think this was clearly a pilot that just never got enough steam to get off the ground. It ends with a clear lead into the next part of the plot. It is a nifty little idea but sadly one never got a chance to shine. Such is the fate of a manga artists first chapters. If nothing else Orumuzuto Nadja continues to make appearances in the omake for the Hayate manga.

I would like to read Thunder Goddess Sofia and the early draft of Hayate where Hinagiku and Yukiji are the main characters. But I have seen hide nor hair of either. Oh well. I guess I will just have to wait for someone to translate Heroes of the Sea Lifesavers until then.

Olympos is a one book manga from Yen Press following Ganymede’s captivity in Zeus’s miniature garden. While this gives the prince immortality, he can’t leave, and so his days are spent whiling away the time as amusement for the Gods (mostly Apollo).

A lot of  questions about “life” are brought up in these pages. The Gods immortality has made them callous as well as bored and relating to humans is a foreign concept well put in this story. There are also some interesting looks at how humanity took the idea of Gods and ran with it.

As for an overarching plot, the book fumbles around a lot. It starts with a chapter featuring an early 20th century guy being asked to rescue Ganymede, but that is quickly over. Then there is a lot involving a plot to take down Zeus by other Gods but comes to naught. In between those things is an in-depth look at Apollo’s first interaction with humans which is probably the best done of any. But while it makes why Apollo treats Ganymede the way he does more clear, it doesn’t feel like it comes to anything in the end.

I gotta admit, even after being a manga reader for a long time, I thought that Apollo and Ganymede were females in this story at first. The art has a light touch making it flowy and delicate. The color pages are a real treat, too.

While I thought the art was beautiful in Olympos, the story just wanders along for a while then ends without much resolution making it a rather uneventful read.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

Continue reading