Archive for the 'nijuu mensou no musume' Category

The Daughter of Twenty Faces: DEATH. RAY. LASER. BEAMS.

Okay, so, as I watched episodes 17 and 18 of The Daughter of Twenty Faces while making a futile attempt to reverse the laws of thermodynamics and reduce entropy by cleaning my desk off (discovering what I can only describe as “dust Godzillas” in the process), I discovered, to my extreme pleasure, that they have, finally, unveiled a giant monster death laser that reminds me of Okamoto Tarou’s Taiyou no Tou (or, possibly, it is that the Taiyou no Tou reminds me of a giant monster death laser, which probably wasn’t Tarou’s intent, but that never stopped me) (ps: fans of Shinbo will take much pleasure in noticing that Shinbo loves Okamoto Tarou to death, as he references him all the time, which amuses me, considering the name of this blog). The series, which is still pretty good (even if it is a very up-and-down kind of good), was just aching to have some kind of giant death laser by which to blow things up spectacularly.

Honestly, I don’t care how totally unrealistic and/or plot device-y giant monster death lasers such as this one and countless others scattered across science fiction in general are, I think they are totally awesome. Anime seems to do such things with a special sense of verve. There’s the epic battle between Gettysburg Fortress and Iserlohn Fortress in Legend of Galactic Heroes, which is best described to those who haven’t seen Legend of Galactic Heroes as a massive pitched battle between two Death Stars, one of which is about 100 zillion times more powerful than the other. I am not kidding.

There’s also things like the Tower of Babel in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, which amuses me greatly, in part because it’s a giant monster death laser in the middle of 19th Century Europe (a really weird 19th Century Europe, but 19th Century nonetheless), but mostly because it was the friggin’ Tower of Babel. Tower. Of. Babel. I’m not sure where in the Bible it mentions that the Tower of Babel was actually a highly technological GMDL, but there you have it. And I also especially liked Eureka Seven’s Oratorio system, which was a GMDL in space and blasted holes right through the Scab Coral itself.

And, on a much smaller scale, I’ve always been fond of Gunbuster, partially because one of its weapons is the Homing Laser, which takes the concept of GMDLs onto an entirely different plane. I also like it because they turned Jupiter into a giant bomb, but that’s still not quite as cool as Homing Laser.

What does all this have to do with Daughter of Twenty Faces? Absolutely nothing. As stated above, the series continues to be highly enjoyable, even if nearly every episode is enjoyable in strange ways unique to that episode. I’d almost say that they (being the manga author) aren’t really sure what they’re doing with the series and are just throwing things into it and hoping that it works, and while some miss horribly (I still find the powered armor suit kind of jarring and out-of-setting), others work well and make the series a highly enjoyable, if nigh-on nonsensical, watch. Of course, the series is supposed to be nigh-on nonsensical, so I’m not too terribly bothered when super-fast super-strong children show up and beat the tobacco juice out of Ken (is he actually going to do anything important, or is he just going to stand around saying “look at me, I’m wearing an eyepatch and a black leather jacket. Am I not the definition of cool?”, which, honestly, is perfectly fine with me, because God knows we need more eyepatch fanservice), and then two of them have a fight with each other, which was also awesome, and I think I can just type “awesome” here for a few more paragraphs and it would probably be a perfectly accurate summary of 17-18.

Also I’m pretty sure Twenty Faces is dead now. For reals. Like, crushed by rocks. Then again, if falling into the ocean from cruising altitude doesn’t kill him…

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The Daughter of Twenty Faces: Brooms + Chiko = Death

Not just any broom. A miko’s broom. Take that, unnamed antagonists!

Fresh off episode 15 of this extremely hard-to-define (for me, anyway) series, I am struck by the notion that this is an episode format that series like Daughter of Twenty Faces need to have a bit more of. Not that what we’ve had is bad, of course, but this episode–which, from the start, looks rather much like a silly lighthearted “here’s a tension breaker in the middle of all that drama that just unfolded” episode, of which the best part was most likely to be the discussion of Charlie’s Angels The Detective Girls (which was suitably amusing and also in line with the glamour-and-fantasy-obsessed Keito’s character), but, instead, we got an amusing lighthearted episode (with suggestive yuri scenes of tickling), with deadly broom-wielding action, and then a tad bit of character development of the rather useless Detective Akine. He’s fat, he’s useless, and for most of the series he’s been the hapless pawn of Chiko’s aunt in her various machinations to try and con her way into the fortune Chiko is heir to. For the past several episodes, though, they’ve been giving him a bit of character past, and by the end of the episode, he’s managed to show some spine and stands up to Chiko’s aunt in defense of Chiko, and actually shows himself worthy of the “Detective” in front of his name.

I was amused and highly entertained the whole episode (who wouldn’t be, at this point?), but by the end, simple and silly as the sequence of events was, the entire episode essentially turns the whole character of Akine upside down. That’s essential in a story like this, because it keeps the viewers on their toes, and keeps the lines of intrigue and shifting alliances alive. One might call it a sudden, and rather arbitrary, shift of character; to me, however, that seems to be keeping in line with the old-time crime/mystery stories Daughter of Twenty Faces traces its literary history back to. It may not be as “well-executed” as some of the crazy twists Back In The Day (the early 20th Century), but it’s also not a prime twist (or even a twist at all, just a deepening of character), and it seems fairly logical as far as I can tell.

Or maybe I’m just too easily entertained/impressed. But Twenty Faces has always seemed to be to be more of a fun-to-watch series over trying to be more intellectual fare (like a certain other series involving a famous literary thief and numbers–which reminds me, I need to watch The Castle of Cagliostro sometime), and it’s moments like this that remind me why I like the series in the first place. It’s not the most impressive work BONES has ever done (and, really, they’re going to have to really work it to the bone to top Eureka Seven for me, although Xam’d might make it there, maybe), but it’s far from their worst effort, and it certainly has a certain charm. Maybe it’s the fact that the director, Tomizawa Nobuo, spent quite a bit of time working on various projects involving Lupin III, and picked up a few things about how to tell and direct stories about thieves and old-school capers and such.

I have no idea where the series will possibly go (and I kind of wonder if the original manga author knew himself anyway, but that’s part of the appeal), or if it will succeed when it gets there, but it’s still a crazy ride.

With tickling. Seriously. We need more of that. With Tome joining in. Nothing says female bonding like tickling.

The Daughter of Twenty Faces: U.N. Owen Was Her?!

I could not resist this title once it popped in my head. It’s just entirely too appropriate.

Remember all the waffling I was doing over 7 and 8, going “ehhh, this powered armor superhuman thing is…” that pretty much made those posts pretty dumb?

After seeing 10, I no longer care about that kind of thing, Now not only do we have powered suits, we have zombies. Kind of. Maybe it’s more of a spectral/phanatasm thing. Whatever. Given the set-up episodes, I had expected Daughter of Twenty Faces to be a campy, somewhat cheesy, yet still fairly realistic 1930s crime fiction romp, and 7 and 8 kind of threw that for a loop. Now I know the truth: Daughter of Twenty Faces is a campy, somewhat cheesy, and completely unrealistic 1930s crime fiction plus pulp fiction (was there a difference? I can’t tell) romp. And, now that that’s settled, I can get back to enjoying the series properly.

It is now rather obvious that Twenty Faces himself was heavily involved in some really horrible project for the war (which I presume to be WWI, but I honestly can’t tell what time period this is supposed to be set in, so it might be WWII, or it might be some made-up war due to alternate-universe), and, for some reason, the remnants of the project(s) are now chasing after Chiko, trying to get at important information that she presumably doesn’t have (unless they want the location of his treasure trove, which I do think she knows). Ms. Zombie/Phantasm Lady revealed that appanrently she (and presumably other people) have conspired to kill Twenty Faces and his gang of friendly, jovial hoodlums to get access to this information, whatever it may be. Whether it be to destroy it for the good of all humanity (unlikely) or to create an army of unstoppable bioboosted zombie/phantasm warriors (more likely), we’re as unclear as Chiko on this matter. As otou-san commented last…however long ago it was, most of what’s going on in the series now is Chiko finding more out about Twenty Faces as she searches for him.

This leads to several possible endings: Twenty Faces pulls a Willy Wonka and informs Chiko that he was merely testing her, and then all the antagonists from earlier in the series come out of the corner and start applauding and cheering or something utterly bizarre like that. Second is that, as Chiko learns more and more about Twenty Faces’ past, she turns gradually more bitter towards him, so that when she finally does find him, she kills him (and then we possibly have the first ending anyway). I can’t think of other ways this could go, because it’s entirely possible for Twenty Faces to be actually dead, believe it or not. It’s still far too early to tell (and it may wind up that we can’t really tell what’s going to happen anyway, even if we tried really hard).

In other news, observe:

Like a certain other really awesome male this season (if only for entirely different reasons), Ken’s triumphant return is marked (or marred, depending on how you look at it) by his aggressive fashion statement. While I don’t really like this fashion statement (or any other fashion statement, other than the “I am really boring and don’t give much thought to what I put on in the morning so I just wear whatever” statement, which suits me just fine), I must say, Ken is wearing it fairly well there. Perhaps the eyepatch has something to do with it. I do know that I am relieved that we get eyepatch action this season–after being gypped out of it in Gundam 00 because Mizuishima Seiji wanted to play a cruel practical joke on the viewer, I was bemoaning it and was almost ready to start trying to figure out the complicated web that is Matsumoto Leiji’s body of work and open up an entirely new can of worms just to sate my need for manly eyepatches, but, thankfully, Ken has come through (as the OP hinted that he would).

Also (because I love digging up information on Edogawa Ranpo on Wikipedia) the “Detective Girls” of the ED sequence (who are, of course, Chiko, Tame, and Haruka) isn’t something that was made up by the mangaka/the anime writers to cash in on the cute girl thing–well, okay, not entirely. Kogoro Akechi the brilliant detective and antithesis to Twenty Faces (and many other notorious thieves), in addition to naming Chiko a detective (knowing what little I know about Akechi, he’s tailing Chiko the entire time and will show up in the final episode to arrest everyone and generally be really brilliant and smart and stuff), is based on Sherlock Holmes (obviously), and, like Holmes and his Baker Street Irregulars, Akechi had his “Boy Detectives”. So, yeah. It’s not a cashing-in on cute girls at all! It’s a powerful reminder that women are just as competent as men when it comes to the dangerous and deadly business of detecting! Grrl power! Vote ERA! Affirmative action! Woo!

Conclusion: Welcome back to not-unsure-about-at-all land, Chiko. Well, assuming that you don’t somehow wind up on Barsoom punching Tharks around. Well, okay, that’d be awesome, too, but that’s an entirely different genre of pulp.

The Daughter of Twenty Faces: The Legacy of Twenty Faces

Alas, poor Chiko, hearing the devestating truth about Twenty Faces’ actions.

Actually, this was a fairly good episode, all things considered–the worry about the crazy biomechanical steampunk armored powered suit thing wasn’t overdone too terribly bad, as I had feared, and it seems like, for the most part, that will no longer be a factor in the rest of the series, unless the other rogue superpowered doctor gets her own powered suit–but that will be unlikely, as it seems the suit was mostly intended to keep the wearer alive, or something.

From the very first of the episode after the OP, I got extremely faint vibes from the situation the researchers placed themselves in with (and now for something completely different) the rather little-known book A Bridge of Years by Robert Charles Wilson. I am basing this comparison solely on the fact that A Bridge of Years features an antagonistic character who a) wears a powered suit of armor b) is warped by drugs into being a ruthless killing machine despite the fact that they’d really rather not be ruthless killing machines and c) the process of being turned into a ruthless killing machine is actively eating away at their life and slowly killing them. There’s no other reason to cite this occurence of themes, as in both stories this character plays a relatively minor role (I think in A Bridge of Years you didn’t even see this character until at least halfway through the story, and the protagonist never met him until the climax; but, then, he really wasn’t a major part of the story despite getting featured on the cover of the copy I read, so…), but it’s amsuing to note the similarities, and also it serves as an excuse for me to state that everyone should go read a couple of Robert Charles Wilson’s recent books, because…

Okay, well, I’ll shut up now.

Back to the topic I’m actually supposed to talk about. I’m fairly certain that this business with Twenty Faces being a noble warrior out to undo the mistakes of his past is entirely made up for the purposes of the manga and isn’t necessarily a reflection of the original stories by Ranpo, as I highly doubt that Ranpo would have been interested in actively pursuing that route with his stories, which were less about making war philosophy and more about making the reader turn the pages as fast as they could. This is, of course, the case with any original work that bases itself in a pre-existing universe, or uses pre-existing characters to enhance a story/widen the audience/make everyone recall the good old days. I’m not going to be in any position to judge whether Ranpo is tossing and turning in his grave at the moment, but we do know that his family/body of representatives approved the use of Twenty Faces in both the original manga and this adaptation–but the trustees of Agatha Christie did the same for Great Detectives Poriot and Marple, and I’m pretty certain that Christie would have been somewhat upset to see Hercule Poriot solving the dangerous and deadly mystery of a missing pearl necklace, even if it was supposed to be a kids’ series. To which I say: Detective Conan is a kids’ series, and that has lots of grisly murders and decapitations and whatnot. So there! Nothing stopping you from adapting Murder on the Orient Express into an anime (or, if you want to catch the Touhou crowd, adapting And Then There Were None).

However you slice it, the 2000s are not exactly the 1930s anymore, and our pulp tends to be a bit less..visceral…than pulp from those days, and Daughter of Twenty Faces is quite clearly pulp in nature (more so than most other anime, I think. And there’s nothing wrong with pulp, or melodrama, or whatever you want to call it, because it’s awesome), so it’s clearly being true to its source material in that sense. And so, in that sense, it’s understandable to give Twenty Faces a better motive to go around stealing things that isn’t “because stealing things is cool and I am awesome and I can outwit you coppers”, even if it’s a fairly standard plot device used in anime. They did hint at Twenty Faces’ past a bit in the early episodes, but it’s still rather shocking to hear him involved in research for a biological superweapoin. His response to this poses a parallel with Tetsujin 28-go, which I am also currently watching in my own slow manner–like Professor Kaneda, Twenty Faces has seen what kinds of horrors weapons research can bring, but, unlike Kaneda, decided to change things…by stealing lots of things. I think there was some kind of logic to that that I’ve since forgotten, but it’s not like it matters much anyway. Given the way this episode turned out, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the rest of the episodes are a sequence of revelations about certain elements of Twenty Faces’ past. I hate to invoke Monster as a comparison here, but my guess is Daughter of Twenty Faces will progress like Monster, exscept not because it isn’t Monster because Urasawa Naoki had nothing to do with it and I really want to watch Yawara! sometime so I can figure out if there’s some kind of massive conspiracy in the judo world that Yawara has to fight against using her judo powers.

I’m still giving points to this series simply because it’s trying something relatively different (in a kind of standard way) and getting away with it relatively well, even if part of the reason it’s getting away with it is Hirano Aya, but such is life.

The Daughter of Twenty Faces: Soupy Symbolism

That is perhaps the most unappetizing soup I’ve ever laid eyes on. For one, it’s yellow, for two, it’s got those round yellow things floating in it, and for three, it’s laced with poison.

What better way to symbolize the dreary dullness of Chiko’s life at “home sweet home”, where her “loving” and “adoring” (of her rare piece of jewelry) aunt dotes upon her? I mean, soup is seriously all this woman can cook. And it looks like the most bland, tasteless soup I’ve ever seen. Hence why I think something’s up with the soup, more than the poison it contains. When Chiko was “kidnapped” by the “monstrous” Twenty Faces, she ate rather heartily (and often prepared the food herself) but, at home, all she ever got to eat was soup and bread. It’s a totally minor point in the overall scheme of things, but the food at both extremes of Chiko’s life–the bland soup at “home”, and the sometimes rather complicated meals with Twenty Faces’ gang–seems to reflect her surroundings. At home, for instance, she lives a dull, dreary life because her aunt serves it to her; however, with the gang of thieves, she quite enjoys life, and has a more varied diet to go along with it.

I probably just made that entire paragraph up (since that’s what analysis is), so here’s something only tangentially related to soup: the direction the first time she’s given the soup in this episode. It struck me as particularly good (or bad, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, and I really don’t know in this instance) with the various camera angles of Chiko’s motionless face, the sinister whispering in the ear, and (this is my favorite part) the violin in the background track rising to a crecendo as Chiko spoons up some soup and swallows it.

The rest of the episode seemed to be setup for the rest of the series, as Akechi gives Chiko his bet: find Twenty Faces before he does. It’s also now quite obvious who the mysterious “detective girls” of the ED are: they are Chiko, Tome, and Haruka. How that third one ends up in all this mess, given her actions in this episode, is a mystery still, but I’m sure she’ll have a change of heart, however reluctant or forced it may be.

And does anyone know what the hell was up with that powered suit-guy-thing? I’m not entirely sure why they’re breaking time-period with such an anachronism, but I’m willing to go with it if they handle it well. I’m not quite sure what “well” means at this point, but I’ll willing to make the best of it. At this point it’s fairly ludicrous (even by the standards set by the series previously, whcih scored pretty high on the “ludicrous” scale, although this is a different kind of ludicrous) and a bit of a suspension-of-disbelief jolt, but we’ll see how that pans out.

Daughter of Twenty Faces: Welcome Aboard the Flying Pussyfoot! (what?)

I’m pretty sure the filename for this episode was labeled “Daughter of Twenty Faces – 06” but it seems like some prankster has swapped an episode of Baccano! for this episode.

At any rate, the overwheming promise the series showed from the start, what with the quaint episodes of “aww, look at Chiko grow up to be a master thief!” seeming fairly far removed from, well, episode six. I’d noticed a ton of hits for “Daughter of Twenty Faces sometime around when episode six hit the usual places, which probably means that I should have squeezed in time to watch it earlier than I am. Of course, now that I’ve watched it, I’m wondering just why I didn’t watch it the intstant it finished downloading (although, since I only managed to get HD working on my ancient computer two days ago, I was able to see this episode in full HD glory, so that was one benefit). And, having seen it, there is now no reason not to watch this series, as everything has been totally upheaved.

In a way, it was expected: the series was moving entirely too fast in terms of developing Chiko from “innocent girl who really likes mystery stories” into “hard-boiled thief” (that alone took a whopping three episodes), and now we’ve got lots of things going wrong all at once: namely, the death of just about every character in the series, ever. I’m pretty sure Ken is alive, though, unless Japan wants to deny me again with men with eyepatches (Lockon ;___;). It’s also not entirely clear whether or not Twenty Faces himself is alive, although being wrapped by flames is certainly an indication that one may be dead. But, this is anime, so there’s always that slight chance that he’s alive. It doesn’t matter, as the actual plot is about to kick in; namely, Chiko searching the world, either to exact revenge upon a world gone awry, or to find any information that will lead her to Twenty Faces. Or something else entierly. We find out next episode, I presume.

Also, you have to hand it to Chiko. Despite spending most of the episode attacked by Angie (with an axe, no less), she is still incapable of sacrificing her humanity when she’s blown away. Twenty Faces spend most of his screentime in this episode either a) dying or b) talking about how horrible the war was and how inhuman people can be and his Plan to Save the World (by Installing Himself in Charge of It), and, of course, his need to have someone to succeed him, which Chiko overhears. She is apparently pretty dense, as she immediately thinks “man I wish I were his successor”, as if she weren’t already. At any rate, by reaching for Angie as she flies off the train towards a certain death, Chiko demonstrates that she understands that just because someone is trying to kill you doesn’t necessarily mean you have to reciprocate, or deny them humanity. Chiko even had a great chance to grab Angie’s axe when it landed right in front of her face, and yet she didn’t: the entire battle was Angie on the offensive and Chiko merely evading her attacks (although I think she got a couple kicks in here and there, but they were defensive kicks). It’s an odd kind of humanity to have, one that restrains you from killing someone who is obviously trying to kill you, and even feeling regret when they die while you’re trying to save them.

What implications this will have for later episode and the rest of the series remains to be seen. Daughter of Twenty Faces was already on my A-list after the first 5 episodes; episode 6 merely cements that it’s going to stay there.

And I still want my Detective Girls. The ED will be hilariously out of place until they show up and start detecting. And they better wear that hat Sherlock Holmes wears, and they better wear it all the time.

The Daughter of Twenty Faces: I Forgot A Title So Here’s One!

I now officially love this series to pieces.

My ILL forThe Black Lizard & Beast in the Shadows came in yesterday, and I’ve already finishedThe Black Lizard, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that The Daughter of Twenty Faces does a remarkably good job of capturing the mood and sensibility of Edogawa Ranpo and adatpts it to fit the smaller timeframe in which to develop a story. The Black Lizard was, essentially, Death Note (or what I assume Death Note is judging from what people have said about it, having not read it myself yet) without any supernatural elements. The entire 174-page story revolved around The Black Lizard trying to kidnap the daughter of a jeweller, and her tangle with the private detective, Kogorou Akechi, as they both try to simultaneously outwit the other. Nearly every other chapter has a “KEIKAKU DORI” moment for either the thief or the detective, with the ending being an explosion of ridiculous plot twists that you don’t expect. Granted, this book doesn’t seem to have a Twenty Faces story in it, but Ranpo’s style is clearly at a high point with this story.

The Daughter of Twenty Faces takes Ranpo’s style, updates it, and slaps a more conventional plot structure on it. Or does it? Episode 5 didn’t end up quite the way I’d expected it to end, as there’s clearly some kind of massive levels of double-crossing going on (note that last shot right before the credits kick in) and Chiko didn’t seem too terribly distraught by stealing from her newfound “friend”, which, after reading actual Ranpo, makes me wonder if there’s some kind of ridiculous levels of “Oh, I knew that all along and acted accordingly!” going on. At any rate, this series is rising fast to the top of an already impressive season, doubly so because I totally didn’t expect it and it came whipping out of left field to smack me in the face. This has happened three times this season so far (kure-nai, Itazura na Kiss, and The Daughter of Twenty Faces), not to mention all the series that I was looking forward to that turned out well. I don’t have time to watch it all, and I’m trying to run through Onii-sama e…, start Nadia – The Secret of Blue Water, and…okay, backlog rant over. Thank God it’s summer, is all I can say.

On the actual topic of the series at hand, we’ve blazed through two years of Chiko’s life now, and she’s progressing quite nicely as a result. I’m still waiting for Twenty Faces to somehow vanish. I have the feeling that Tiger will be involved in this, as Tiger and his whole sub-plot seems to be badly out of place at the moment, but if they’re setting him up to kidnap/kill Twenty Faces (not the latter, please) to spur the plot on even more, then I guess he’s okay, although, really, a kaitou series needs a good dectective antagonist. Although we seem to have those too, although they haven’t shown up yet: the mysterious Detective Girls we see in the strangely out-of-place Hirano Aya ending in various fanservice-y scenes. Although I’m quite glad that, instead of sticking them in anachronistical bikinis in the ocean scene, they’re wearing those totally silly awesome old-fashioned bathing suits. You know, the ones that aren’t sexy in the slightest.

The actual ending is the only thing that “bothers” me about the series, since it’s farily obvious that they’re simply trying to capture the Hirano Aya fanboys with their choice for her as Chiko and throwing a song by her as the ED. Which I can’t really blame them for, as there’s no better way to make an odd series, as Twenty Faces certainly is, go down better with a somewhat recalctriant and fickle audience as the otaku in Japan are than by sugar-coating it with a freshly risen idol whom everyone loves to pieces. It doesn’t really bother me, as I like Hirano Aya just fine, and it’s nice to see her getting roles in series that aren’t strictly otaku-geared, even if they’re somehow trying to make it otaku-geared by including her. But this is all merely speculation, as none of us really knows what’s going on behind the scenes at anime production studios. At any rate, any potential boost that this criminally underrated/underappreciated series can get is Fine By Me. Chiko needs more love than she’s getting at the moment.

Just not so much love as making a doujin. That would just be wrong.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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