Code Geass took me a while to get through, partly because Crunchyroll has the first season but not the second, but I finished it. This turned out to be one of those shows that I should’ve watched sooner, because, despite a few problems, it had a lot of things I enjoy – a grand scale, a battle of wits, moral ambiguity, a mix of angst and humour, pizza, and a little sister character, among other things.…
Tadano Nobuaki’s 7 Billion Needles starts off right, with an extremely introverted girl walking by the sea and noticing what at first looks like a shooting star, but which then turns towards her and incinerates her.
She gets better, though, and also gets drafted into helping to hunt down an extraterrestrial menace which threatens all life on Earth.…
Lately, I’ve been wanting to re-read some of my old CLAMP comics, and coincidentally while shopping around this weekend I came across their latest work, Gate 7.
I have mixed feelings so far. The first volume has a lot of talking, but I never felt like it was progressing very much. The protagonist, Chikahito, is a high school student (of course!) who loves history and Kyoto, can cook well, is a bit awkward and loud at times, and – actually, he’s basically Watanuki from xxxHolic, also by CLAMP. It’s only the first volume, but the more I think about it, yeah, it’s the same character. I like Watanuki just fine, but he’s not so great that he merits creating a clone here. Here’s hoping he at least develops along different lines later on.
Not that the other characters are much better, so far. Again, it’s only the first volume, but nobody really stands out yet. As for the story, Chikahito visits (and soon moves to) Kyoto, where he’s dragged into getting involved with a group of people fighting supernatural something-or-others – it’s not really clear yet who or what, exactly – in a power struggle that goes back to the Warring States period. I have enough confidence in CLAMP to trust that this will make more sense later on, and I’m just interested enough to give it another volume, but so far it’s mostly alternated between exposition and action scenes that look neat but where neither protagonist nor audience is sure what’s going on.
Translator William Flanagan, who’s also done most of xxxHolic, seems to have done his usual good work, and there’s also several pages of helpful end notes, which I always appreciate.
As for the art, it’s typical CLAMP fare. Fancy clothes, lanky characters, lots of detail – I love it, though those who don’t care for their style won’t be converted here. My one complaint is that there are a few pages that are clearly intended as colour illustrations, but are printed here in black and white, with mixed success. The frontispiece, for example, still looks good, but the illustration between the prologue and the first chapter just looks flat and dull.
Again, though, I’m still glad to see new work from CLAMP, and look forward to the next volume.…
Fully four years after ADV published volume six of Gunslinger Girl, I finally hold in my hands volumes seven and eight in omnibus, thanks to Seven Seas. The mere fact that this series, one of my top-five all-time favourites, is actually available in a form I can understand makes me giddy. I’d tried to fill in the gap between releases by buying some of the Japanese volumes, but the technical jargon and lack of furigana mostly rendered the books a reminder of my lousy literacy. There’s also the excellent first season of the anime adaptation, on glorious blu-ray, no less, but even that’s soured by the second season, which had a first episode so badly animated that I couldn’t bring myself to watch the rest.
In any case, author Aida Yu didn’t disappoint me. These volumes focus almost entirely on Alessandro and Petrushka, who’d been introduced in volume six, with the older characters appearing only in a handful of scenes, though those scenes do add significantly to their characterisation. This does mark a noticeable shift in narrative structure. Most previous volumes were episodic, with story arcs no more than a few chapters long, and each focusing on a specific fratello.
The relationship between the girls and their handlers has always been the main draw of the series for me, but Sandro and Petrushka may be the most interesting yet, because she is older and more lightly conditioned than the other girls. As a result, she is less predictable – she’s occasionally moody, more conscious of the relationship between her and her handler, and at one point even fights her conditioning to tell him how she feels about him.
So, I’m more enthusiastic about this series than I’ve ever been. Though Gunslinger Girl has always been solid, introducing a character with more room to grow and focusing on her long enough to gradually develop her as a character is probably the best decision Aida’s made for his comic, and I can hardly wait to see the next volume.…