Ongoing Investigations: Case #111

Since the 7th game of Umineko is so game changing I am going to try to just discuss the essence of the episode without giving away major spoilers especially for people who read the blog but are a few games behind. The two new characters seen in the portrait above are Willard H Wright and Lion Ushiromiya. Lion is a fascinating character that is essentially several huge reveals just by existing. Will is the Battler stand in for this chapter and I thought his big entrance was fairly entertaining and cool. Lion and Will’s interaction is playful although all the butt pinching going on has solidified that they will be shipped forever. When we get into the meat of the story we learn Kinzo’s back story, the identity of Beatrice, Battler’s sin, get some hits as to the solutions to some of the locked room mysteries, and the probable confirmation of one of the mostly hotly debated theories in the series. We also get some powerful scenes that I thought were quite moving. Also unless we are being misled there is some seriously twisted relationships in Umineko and the people involved do not realize are as twisted as they are.  It probably makes me a weenie but I found parts of the end of Requiem of the Golden Witch really hard to read. If you have come to love these characters the last chapter is brutal. Although how authentic how authentic that ending is has yet to be seen.  When the last game comes out I will probably do a total spoiler filled review of the series a whole but until then I just have to wait to see what answers 2011 finally gives us with Twilight of the Golden Witch.

I picked up How to Train Your Dragon in a Black Friday sale but didn’t get around to watching it till the Christmas holidays. The animation of the film really stands out, especially from some of the other Dreamworks properties, it was lush and gorgeous; the dragons were very animated and their designs were quirky; plus the flying scenes were breath-taking. The story is a simple one of trying to fit in to your dragon-killing village of vikings (we’ve all been there, right?) but Hiccup is much happier inventing things which often gets him into trouble. After one of his inventions actually works and takes down a rare dragon, their fates become intertwined when he realizes he can’t bring himself to hurt the creature. This story has a classic feel of acceptance, growing up, and having the bravery to do what is right. While I did find the relationships between Hiccup and the other kids a little too easier resolved, it was enough. I found it a very enjoyable ride! After seeing it, I do imagine it will be an Oscar contender this year. Continue reading

Ongoing Investigations: Case #103

hisuiconSince it seems that no one is interested in licensing Michiko to Hatchin I decided to finally check it out especially after Sean Ryan mentioned it would have made a great addition to the fallen fans guide. It is a road trip movie in which the journey is far more important than the destination. In fact if anything my major complaint about the series is that the destination seems extremely anti-climatic after everything than comes before it. I feel in many ways this was hinted that it was going to be like this but it did not make it any less disappointing. That said they journey before then is filled with some grim parables, touching vignettes, and great action scenes. We see Michiko and Hatchin grow from interacting with each other and fundamentally shift how they look at the world. It is a touching and compelling journey that should be watched for the experiences you get along the way more than the prize at the end. The audience in a way experience exactly what the characters in the show do for better and for worse. But overall I think you will be glad you went on the trip.

There was no down time for Ichigo as Yumeiro Patissiere Professional started just a week or so after the original Yumeiro Patissiere finished its TV run. This is a couple of years in the future as Ichigo returns to Japan from studying abroad in France. We know very little about her time there beyond her learning more skills, but not losing her charming naiveté, and that something happened between her and Kashino. Things at the end of the first season were a little over the top in Henri’s plans but things just get crazier with this new series. Henri now seems to be some sort of eccentric, semi-diabolical pastry chef that pits the students in a competition of opening their own pastry shop in this playland of sweets he has created. After 4 episodes I can firmly say it is still plenty amusing and cute. So far we have seen the dispersion of Team Ichigo with the exception of Kashino, and the return of Lemon plus the new addition of incredible caricature, American Johnny. The competition is also a lot different from what was seen in the original as this goes into business and customers as well as creating that perfect dessert. As this series is slated to be much shorter than the original I’m curious where it will end up.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #095

hisuiconThe Tatami Galaxy was a quirky show all the way through but also an entertaining show all the way through. It might take a few episodes to get used to the sometimes light speed pace of the narrator’s dialog or the Groundhog’s Day time loop but if you can make it past 3 episodes and want a 4th you are probably home free. The thing I found most interesting was that about half way through I knew exactly how the series would end. I predicted how the series would end and it played out pretty much exactly how I thought it would. But I took this as a positive more than a negative. It was clear that the series had themes and messages they were being built-in the series and the reached a climax and resolution that tied everything together in a charming fashion. I think the series appeals to anyone who wonders what their life would be like if they just changed one thing. It shows how it is not the little decisions that you should agonized over having made but grabbing the opportunities in front of you. The Tatami Galaxy is going to be a show that pops up on people’s I can’t believe you have not seen this lists for years to come. It will never be anything close to a mainstream success but it will be remembered by those who enjoy it.  It is a great anime for anyone who wants something with an art house vibe but with an upbeat and comedic attitude.

I caught up to (though I’m still not sure how I fell behind) Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated this week with episodes 5 and 6. The fifth installment is a quirky and fun episode involving the “spookifying” of kids throughout Crystal Cove by a mysterious figure of legend called Que Horrifico. Parents are leaving town left and right and we are once again introduced to the tourist attraction concept of letting the mystery go unsolved. I was glad to see the revival of the gang disguising themselves to catch the culprit. The ending chase sequence is really well stylized and quite scary. The less scary but more plot heavy episode 6 was a real treat. It is prom time and there is a ghost girl on the loose whisking off unwitting teenage boys. At the same time a new girl called Alice arrives in town and instantly develops an attachment to Fred. No surprise to see more relationship stuff in this episode, but Velma’s overbearing girlfriend act is starting to be more grating than amusing. I was glad to see Daphne, who is probably my favorite character at this point, taking the initiative in seeking out more information on Mr. E’s clues. And the random appearance of one of her sisters who is in the military was hilarious. The ghost girl culprit is tied to a past case, and by past I mean original Scooby Doo past, references to which hadn’t really been brought up since the first episode. There is also a mysterious twist at the end and we meet a henchman of Mr. E. This episode really adds a lot of information to the overarching case that Mr. E is leading them to. Episode 6 was really stand out and shows what this show can do.

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