Sins For Father Knox: Umineko vs. Zaregoto

hisuiconI was recently having a discussion with Otaku USA’s Caleb Dunaway about why I thoroughly love 07th Expansion’s  When They Cry series, but utterly hate the Zaregoto series. They are both deconstructive looks at the mystery genre that play with tropes and expectations of the genre, but I could not put my finger on what made me love one series and dislike the other, despite being similar in their approach. But then I read this post by Eternal on his new perspective on the series after playing the 5th and 6th games, and it struck me that it was the attitude towards the mystery genre in each series that made my feelings so decisive.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #011

It’s not like I thought it wasn’t going to be, but it should be said. Ghost in the Shell SAC is so freaking good. It is engaging, smart, and quite complex. It is not something that I can actually try to figure out along side the characters. I just sit back and enjoy the ride. I am totally fascinated by it all! The Laughing Man intrigues me so! You can be sure I’ll make a wallpaper by next week’s end. Though disc 4 had no “complex” episodes and then disc 5 had three more, eight in a row of no Laughing Man case was starting to drive me a little nuts. But we are back on track and with only 5 episodes to go I’m getting anxious!

I also read NISIOISIN’s Zaregoto in an attempt to see what had perplexed Narutaki so. My summation of the book is best left to “Weird Al” Yankovic, Everything you know is wrong! Because that is the total summation of the ending of this book. Ii-chan solves the case and the survivors leave the island. Then in the epilogue we learn that everything that was answered was absolutely incorrect. It’s not Ii-chan who figures it out though. Some psycho detective pops up and gives us all the true answers in a clearly deus ex machina manner. I’m not sure if I like this book or not. It was definitely odd plus the storytelling and the characters are very, very strange. I think it supposed to be vaguely unsettling and disorienting. I can’t quite but my finger on whether it made the story uniquely enjoyable or just strange for the sake of being strange.

Watched Saint Seiya episodes 7-18, finished the first arc and have gotten just a couple of episodes into the next one. Here is what I have learned so far: no one dies, for any reason, unless they really want them to; they are fond of saying “Hell” or “I’ll send you to Hell!”; they love to punch people in the heart, like through the skin and into the heart (though people still don’t always die of this); they are not unaware of their female fan-base as proven by the Shun in the shower scene; and finally huge bad guys can still be scared away the police. Oh and I love it. This isn’t my first viewing of Saint Seiya, but I have never really sat down and watched consistently.

After reading Black Lagoon volume one I have to say I enjoy the anime slightly more than the manga but that is of no disservice to the manga. The manga is quite excellent. But seeing the awesomeness that is the Black Lagoon manga in it’s full color kinetic glory when it is animated is way better. I don’t mind buying them both but if asked to choose I would pick the anime hands down.

Mixed Vegetables was exactly what I needed to get me back on a romantic shojo comedy kick. It was refreshing to see our heroine both funny and capable and not head-over-heels in love with anyone…yet. Within one volume Hanayu realizes how much Hayato likes her and starts dating him. Everyone in the class is cheering them on, no mean girl’s threatening our heroine here, in very Love*Com style. And we see her going through a bit of guilt over not liking him as much as he likes her. It is rare to get to the relationship part so quickly and I am really excited about it. Fun, fast-paced, funny, sweet, and endearing. Can’t wait to pick up the next book!

I just got Fate/Tiger Colosseum Upper and it’s nothing special but it’s gosh darn fun. The game play is essentially Power Stone with Fate/Stay Night skins with some Tsukihime characters thrown in for good measure. No more and no less. Even thought I don’t speak or read any Japanese I still think that the game is very funny. They seem to have a good grasp of the Fate/Stay Night characters and play with them appropriately. Even the opening is a playful parody of other Fate game openings and scenes. The story mode makes my few words of Japanese step up to the plate as I try, somewhat successfully, to discern what is going on. This game made me realize why I like Type Moon in general. They’re willingness to totally cater and show they care about the fans in side projects. I feel if I was a creator, I would do the same for my fans. Plus any game with BER-SER-CAR and Saber in a suit is always full of awesome.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #008

So I finally got around to watching Lucky Star. It is the God emperor of slice of life shows for otaku. It’s like a super sugary snack for the the otaku pallet. It has almost no substance and negligible nutritional value but my goodness does it taste sweet. I enjoy it but I have two major criticisms. The first is that Lucky Star tends to drag at points. It’s never boring (to me at least) but it’s never fast paced and the speed of it’s motion can vary from scene to scene. The other critique is that where as SS Astro might pander to the audience at points. . . Lucky Star is pure pander. To it’s credit it never pretends to be anything but 100% crystallized pander. It’s made for otaku and you better want otaku friendly comedy or it’s going to be hell. In fact I could easily see why people would despise this show let alone not enjoy it. Oh and I can hardly tell when the director of Lucky Star changed. Some people make it out like the first 4 episodes are one show and the rest feel like another show. I noticed subtle differences but I wouldn’t have if the whole affair not been so publicized. I don’t think the episode 4 divide will ever win over haters or turn away fans of the first 4 episodes. They are basically two different brands of tofu. Some people will have a noticeable preference but not many.

Just finished reading New Avengers TP 7, it was in my queue of stuff to buy from Amazon and I finally placed that order. Bendis doesn’t disappoint in this lead up to the Secret Invasion (an arc I have yet to read since I wait for TP). I enjoy the witty dialogue along with the looming suspicions of our heroes (and our readers) about who is a Skrull and just how far they have infiltrated. As expected Tony Stark is weighing heavily on everyone’s minds though I am inclined to believe the worst in him. Civil War created some strange bedfellows but I have to say I haven’t enjoyed superhero comics this much in ages.

Your and My Secret 2 continues the trend of being a guilty pleasure. Good enough that I look forward to the next one but horrible enough that I don’t run around saying how much I love it. Nanako and Senbongi are monsters, the jokes can be downright lewd and crude, and the situation is absurd. But it comes together in a way to make it fun as long as you are not too uptight. We all know characters can be horrible human beings and still funny. In fact, sometimes it is better that way.

Birdy the Mighty continues to go along as its average pace though we do start to see the beginnings of a bond between Tsutomu and Birdy, which was what I have been waiting for. It still seems to be just riding the bar as far as goodness goes but it is entertaining if nothing else. Just came up that Birdy is getting a second season so others must be watching as well!

I keep getting this slightly retro anime feel from Birdy the Mighty which I totally dig. It’s certainly not old school but it has the I-was-a-fun-90s-OAV-only-on-TV-in-2008 thing going on. I like the characters but the plots are not super original however they are fun. The animation seems a little weak at times but it’s nothing too distracting. I have heard that episode 7 has really great animation compared to the first 6 but I did not notice that much of a difference. Episode 7 was much darker than others by far though. Birdy is just a fun show that you sit back, turn off your brain, and just enjoy. Japan seems to like it enough that they are giving it a second season but I wonder if it will catch on in the U.S. It seems 90s enough that new U.S. anime fans might not like it but it also seems too modern for old schoolers to automatically back it. Then again many it has just the right blend to draw fans from both demographics. Does anyone who reads this blog know what American fans generally think of Decode? BTW having the villain be named Shyamalan is genius. Take that M. Night.

Zaregoto, I really wanted to like you. I loved NISIOISIN’s Another Note. I like quirky or eccentric detectives just fine. But for me this book suffers from too many eccentric people that mostly make no sense. Ii-chan and Kungisa’s dynamic doesn’t work as well as it could (like in Gosick). It could be the stilted dialogue and internal thoughts of Ii-chan. The mystery itself was pretty good, is also has some classic misdirection and genre tropes such as a locked room mystery and a mansion on a deserted island. The dialogue was all over the place being incredibly philosophical and vague in some places and then being overly simple a-la Blue’s Clues in others. It really suffers from needing a better editor. I may pick up the next book just to see if the writing cleans up.

I feel that Blade of the Immortal episode 3 is the litmus test of if you can handle Blade of the Immortal. Sabato Kuroi is the person they are trying to kill in this episode and he is one freaky dude. I think he is freaky enough to turn some people right off the series. However, he very clearly sets the tone for the rest of the show. People are messed up in Blade of the Immortal so you better get used to it. Also, Sabato Kuroi is a Black Sabbath reference I did not catch that but I guess that is because I am not that metal.

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