Friday, February 21, 2014

Things No One Cares About: Futatabi

Every time Kentaro Miura shows up here I end up making fun of the man's work. To be honest I feel bad for doing it because I really love Berserk. It is to me a modern classic in the making and I refuse to believe he just got lucky. I know he didn't do the stories for Japan and King of Wolves but the art wasn't that stellar either. He had some success as an ammeter manga-ka and it's clear he knows what he's doing. You know what maybe he just sort of got dragged into the Buroson team-ups to build his reputation. He's defiantly not a bad writer so maybe if he has full control like he does for Berserk maybe things will turn out for the best. Enough speculating on the past,lets move on to Futatabi.

Futatabi was Miura's first public release that wasn't a doujinshi. Released in 1985,it was a hit and won him a best new authors award .This would be four years before the first ill fated team-up with Buroson and Berserk Prototype .After this he would end up in a rut with the falling out of his next manga Noa but for now he had a great victory. So has this little one shot stood the test of time or is it another work that makes Berserk look like even more of a miracle. Well enough speculating...for real this time.

The plot is a rather simple animal, though I 'm not sure if can be sterilized by alcohol . The twists outside of one clever one are pretty easy to guess. It follows a auto mechanic named Rick in a futuristic/totalitarian city and his chance meeting with a mysterious girl named Venus. The plot heavily relies on a series of twists that actually sets up a very interesting premise(which I'm not spoiling). The problem is that once it sets up said premise,it doesn't do much with it. Instead opting to go with a weak theme of hope. So weak that it has to be explained in a short paragraph that also reveals where the story takes place. There is also a revelation near the end that answers question that no one was asking and raises some new ones. The ending itself is lacking with that ridiculous paragraph that just seems to scream “I ran out of ink and I'm on a deadline.” It is a real gut punch as the story had manged to draw me in and just having it end abruptly with that is silly.

Rick and Venus are by no means bad characters,their interactions do reveal more about the world in which they live in. However,Rick is your stock good guy and Venus is the mysterious girl. There are no real slants to their characters that make them stand out from anyone else That being said,they still do play off each other very well. The conversations they have between themselves and with other characters really do build up this world that I actually want to see more off but you know one shot.

The art is pretty great and actually does help the above mentioned clever twist. It does seems to draw from other sci-fi anime and manga without really anything to set it apart. However it still looks very nice for an early Miura work and shows that yes this man has a sense of perspective. Something he seemed to forget in King of Wolves. It is also nice to see him draw something besides barren wastelands so I actually have sights to see.

Weirdly enough reading this reminded me of Sweet Rein of all things. Mind you,Not so much for the art or anything but the squandered premise. Both had so much potential to be something great but instead went in an okay albeit less intrenching direction. This is a book worth checking out but like Sweet Rein you'll probably forget about it in a weeks time.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Things No One Cares About:King of Wolves

Last year I looked at the team-up train wreak that was Japan and realized I wasted like five dollars and a few hours on writing more unsubtle than mine. While looking up some info for it I did come across it's big brother King of Wolves. I decided to read that and then didn't so that's why I'm just now talking about it. Relevancy is clearly not my strong suit,anyway lets get on with King of Wolves.

As mentioned above this is the big brother of the red-headed step child that is Japan. Published in 1989, a year after Buroson's Fist of the North Star had completed it's run and a year before Miura's Berserk would begin it's own . It is paced better with a stronger story but  lacks the fangs that Japan had. Not to say it was really that bad either it's just insubstantial.As before Buroson is on story duty while Miura is doing the art Anyway, I like talking about plots so lets do that.

The story follows Iba and his girlfriend Kyoko as they both get pulled into a never explained portal of sorts that takes them back to the thirteenth century Mongol Empire. Her entrance to this realm happens a year later and is used as a way to introduce everything. It follows their efforts to one return home and two keep history flowing as it should. History having a very loose definition here,in that Genghis Khan was apparently a Japanese hero that fled his homeland to start anew in mainland Asia. The book tries to use actual dates to explain it away and I can not tell if it's being serious or not. The plot is driven by a string of wholly uninteresting fights that Iba wins using his kendo techniques and his odd sword that he just seems to have. It does make sense that no one would really be used to his style of fighting so they do lose easily. It doesn't make them any less boring though.

The time line that Iba and Kyoko try to protect seems pretty lax about events. As long as Genghis lives to his recorded death it doesn't seem to matter who has his name. Because I'm pretty sure that Iba's fighting style and sword may cause some things to change but nope it's fine. The whole idea of it is more Stein's Gate and less Sound of Thunder.

Speaking of lax the tone and message are not sure of themselves. The aforementioned origins of Genghis Khan are ridiculous but again I do not know if it is be serious or not. There is a almost bro like relationship between Iba,Genghis and his general but it still plays Genghis as a bit loony and blood thirsty. His desire to have a pure Japaneses baby comes the hell out of no where and pushes him into cartoon villain territory with his attempt to steal it from Iba and Kyoko. It is hard to discern if this is some tragic love story or a zany gorefest.

The characters themselves they are all bland and uninteresting. Iba has no personality outside of we must preserve history. I guess him and Kyoko bond over there lack of personality because they have the chemistry of wet paper bags. Kyoko stops doing anything remotely interesting once she reunites with Iba. Her only real contribution to the plot is having a baby,because that's all we ladies are good for I guess. Everyone else is just a jerk,that wants to murder and /or rule the land. Yes I realize that the period of time was fairly violent but just because it was doesn't mean everyone was a blood thirsty lunatic.

Lets give Buronson a break and start talking about the art,it is okay. I don't know if Miura just really like drawing Casca or what but Kyoko is basically her without her likability. The Mongol empire was apparently a precursor to the bad future of Japan everything is barren taking place primarily in deserts and on plateaus. I realize that those places would be kind of sparse but you could still make them look interesting. However if barren was the intention then they did hit it right on the nose. Genghis's right hand man is a giant in his first appearance then normal the rest of the time,go go action perceptive. I don't mean to bash Miura but this wasn't his first dog and pony show,he should know better.

When I first read this manga I was pretty okay with it I figured it's better than Japan but now that I've had time to think about it,it is almost worse than Japan. It has a better structure and is not as ham-handed as Japan but that's all it really has going for it. Japan had some train wreak qualities that made it somewhat memorable but this is the Seinen equivalent of shojo fluff. Nothing really wrong with it but completely forgettable.

Till next time Stay Positive

Monday, February 3, 2014

Metroid Wrap-up

So Metroid time comes to an end because the last three things really didn't warrant a whole post. Just to be quick about it,what little I read of the strategy guide was moronic.The Metroid Prime comic that ran in Nintendo Power(God rest it's soul) was only slightly better than Episode of Aether in that it was short and didn't have time to become a snowball of awful. The Shounen Ou! are really odd but still pretty dang funny for the fact that everyone including Samus is an idiot.

Samus and Joey was by far the best thing I have read, I know I gushed about it in the review but seriously go read it.It's a really fun adventure story that actually treats Samus with respect. I'm really sad no one has translated the third volume. Speaking of translations, I'd like to thank the Metroid Database for hosting all of the manga that was featured this time. Without them I'd have been stuck reading the prequel Metroid manga and that was that. So if I've manged to convince you to read anything these past few weeks then go to them. Okay enough plugging on to another topic.

On the other end of the spectrum there is Episode of Aether and the more I think about it the more I find  to hate about it.Metroid Prime 2 is one of my favorite games in the series and to see it just butchered like this kills me inside. The entire first chapter concerns a big lipped alligator fight and the rest of it has to focus on those god-awful marines.There were so many cool things going on in Echos that the decision to cut most of the game is just baffling. I thought the Majora's Mask manga was bad for skipping around but it has nothing on this book. There was so much potential in this book and I still like that it plays with the public perception of Samus. If they had just stuck to that then maybe...nope it would still probably suck. So lets just leave it at that.

Again thanks to Metroid Database and my occasional editors who try to make my ramblings readable.I'll see all five of you back here soon for something completely different. Till Next Time: Stay Positive.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Things No One Cares About:Metroid(Manga)

We've finally reach the end of the road metaphorically speaking,arriving at the end manga wise and the beginning time line wise. It's been a long road with some nice paved roads with a small interlude on a dirt road filled with oil slicks and whatnot. Reading this manga a few week back is what inspired me to write again for better or worse. In some respects I do owe it that,on the other hand it's not that good so I do not owe it that much.

The Metroid manga was released as a tie-in of sorts to promote the remake of the original Metroid,Zero Mission. As mentioned previously it does take quite a few cues from Nintendo Power's(god rest its' soul) Super Metroid comics. Expanding heavily on Samus' back story as well as Mother Brain and the Galactic Federation to some extent. It is considered the canon back story that most games are supposed to be drawing from even if it contains/causes contradictions for some of the games. I'd say more but it involves Other M and I'm not opening that can of worms.

The plot as mentioned is a more detailed account of Old Bird's story from the Super Metroid comics giving us more insight on the Chozo's culture and how Zebes became a pirate stronghold. They give Samus and Old Bird more of a connection with him being her rescuer after Ridley's attack on Samus's colony. They also introduce the character of Grey Voice,who despite having a much important role in the second half,gets downplayed in the section concerning Samus' childhood. So once he does pull a big damn hero moment it lose some of it's impact. Mother Brain is introduced as the control computer of Zebes and gets a generic AI gone rouge personality. The story bring up some more ties to Metroid Fusion with the Chozo's discovery of the X-parasite. The Chozo decide to not tell the Federation about The X because they'd just screw it up. I'd give them more crap about that but knowing the Federation's track record it's probably for the better.

The Galactic Federation is in it's infancy here with the Space Pirate problem being a major issue that they spend about a chapter or so debating. It is sort of like the Phantom Menace senate scenes except much shorter They've redesigned Chairman Keaton in to a more of a wise old man and Hardy into a buddy cop police chief. The characters aren't that bad just one note which extends to most of the Federation characters. Adam Malkovich also makes his manga appearance here and again I am not going into Other M. He doesn't do much and it's baffling why Samus ends up trusting him so much. They get like two minor scenes together and she and him are great partners after that.

Samus herself has some fairly interesting growth here going from hotheaded young person to a strong responsible adult. The Chozo saddle her with heavy responsibility and the weight of that plus being slightly outcast develops her lone wolf personality. She struggles to deal with her past and ends up confronting it and finally accepting her destiny. This is also where they bring up Samus' PTSD with Ridely...and she overcomes it. It's a really great scene that is handled well and is a big turning point for Samus. That's all I'm going to say about it,moving on.

The plot itself is not really that bad overall it suffers from poor characters and everyone is just boring outside of Samus and Gray Voice. The story itself is presented well enough and flows really well till the end where it decided to tack on some weird direct prologue to the original game. It brings up a plot hole regarding the acquisition of Samus missiles and bombs. The whole section is rushed and feels out of place.

The art for the book is great and a bit meh at the same time. The alien races all look like something George Lucas would turn down for being to silly and are really generic. The Chozo look awesome even if their own version of the power suit is a tad ridiculous. The pirates and Ridley are on par with the penguins from Samus and Joey is terms of terrifying designs. On the other end of the spectrum young Samus is one of the cutest things I have seen in my life.

In the end this really is not that bad a manga just okay. It is lacking anything to make it stand out or be enjoyable like Samus and Joey.As far as canon goes we could get worse, they could have made the Echos manga canon. It is not worth checking out unless you really need a Metroid fix or want to see a bird man kick some serious ass.