Archive for January, 2013

Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman” — ‘A Lavish Banquet for Guys in Trouble’

Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman is a fantasy tale set in late 19th Century Japan. When the black ships returned to Japan in the 19th Century, the 200 year old rule of the Shogun was overturned, and with it came mass social instability and rampant crime. Fortunately the people one town have a Robin Hood-like protector, Roman, who is actually “Mister Helper” by day. Aiding Roman is his sister Koharu (dressed as a ninja) and their cute dog Sakura (disguised with a kerchief over his head). There’s also a full cast of characters supporting him, whereas others are hunting him and some whose motives are still unknown.

This is Roman on the left, in disguise, and his sister Koharu beside him. In the middle is Suzuki Magoichi,  the new investigator with a hidden mission and a master of gun-fu. To the right of him is the mysterious geisha Lady Okuma with a hidden agenda herself, and on the far right is probably the villian’s comedy relief henchman.

Bakumatsu-Gijinden-Roman

A Lavish Banquet for Guys in Trouble’

The episode opens with master thief Ishikawa Gojuemon gloating over the success of his most recent robbery at the behest of Lady Okuma. What he stole wasn’t revealed, but his reward was a night with her, which didn’t exactly turn out all that well: he winds up drugged and paralyzed, laying on the matting, and they the geisha leans over him, catching his gaze as her eyes turn into hypnotic kaleidoscope patterns. In the next scene, the poor thief is wandering the streets of the city in a daze, until he is noticed by the police, upon which starts to wake up but the image of her eyes is too strong and he dives into the river to his death.

And what was stolen? It was a map of the country, the most complete map ever made, describing every natural landmark and waterway, an essential source of information for any invading army, and just it so happens there is a Western military force already established in a hidden fortress nearby, where the mysterious geisha has just delivered it. Roman and company have to invade the fortress and retrieve the map to save Japan from invasion. Magoichi is also involved, as his mysterious superior orders the death of the fortress commander. From then on, the map switches hands several times until the fortress commander rides away with it, proving in the process that he, too, is a master of gun-fu.

Commentary: If the characters, especially Roman, and the overall theme of the series appears to resemble Lupin III, it is because both were the visual creations of Monkey Punch. Whether Roman is supposed to be an ancestor of Lupin is doubtful, given the time frame, as Lupin III grandfather, the original Lupin, was French.

This Week in Comics — 2013/01/23

The Avengers” #4

I know that the Avengers TV series occasionally had episodes with mind control themes, but the comic, on the other hand, is really going overboard with them.

In the first three issues, the continued story line had a group of senior British ministers and ranking military officers all believing they were the survivors of a nuclear war and Britain was now under the control of the Hellfire Club. What gave the plot away was the fact that they all remembered having the same breakfast, a result of a hurried brainwashing effort during the set up of the plot. That wasn’t the only brainwashing that occurred: the whole purpose of the effort was to further brainwash the officials and return them to Britain. Thanks to the efforts of Steed and Mrs. Peel, they were thwarted, although not before we get to see Mrs. Peel in her leather and spiked collar from the television episode. Plus a demonstration of how Steed and Mrs. Peel arranged their own system of breaking mind control with each other.

But apparently that wasn’t all the brainwashing the Hellfire Club was up to. In issue #4, the plot continues, this time at a very fancy masque ball with the theme of black and white. One guest arrives wearing black, accompanied by two figures dressed in painted in white. Said figures were performers of an art form called butoh-fu, a Japanese form of dance epitomized by a Zen-like formless and gracefulness. The dancers were said to place themselves in a hypnotic state for their performance, a dead giveaway that hypnotic hijinks are upcoming.

Investigating a murder separates Steed and Mrs. Peel from the rest of the guests at a most propitious time. When they return to the dance floor, its almost empty except the man in black and the orchestra. It turns out that the dancers in white have the guests in a trance, blankly dancing away into the night, following the dancers like mute Pied Pipers, only to be rescued by Steed.

How perceptive. Their every move, every position, was an acted spatial engram directly affecting the neural pathways of anyone who witnessed it.”

In other words, mind control through sight and movement. As for the man in black, he’s conducing the orchestra, themselves entranced by the music they’re playing.

Its a downward spiral. Every note they play further ensures they must play the notes that follow. Aural hypnosis.”

Mrs. Peel, however, has some musical talents of her own, breaking their trance with a well-blown tuba blast. Then she confronts the conductor, whom she discovers was the person who performed the brainwashing in the previous issues, and he is still wielding some hypnotic tricks up his sleeve (or under his shirt, in this case, a set of speakers, not to mention spirals on the backs of his white gloves.)

The high sound is your nervous system. The low sound your circulation. I’ve learned to manipulate that high sound, and thus the nervous system and thus the brain.”

Fortunately Mrs. Peel is able to resist long enough to put a bullet through the speakers and through him, as well.

In the end, the question remains of what was the overall goal of the kidnapping attempt and therefore the question of whether or not it was successful is still unanswered. But the last scene shows a satellite overlooking Britain bearing the arms of the Hellfire Club. More mind control via satellite? Maybe next month will say.

Mondaijitachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru Sou Desu yo?”

Mondaijitachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru Sou Desu yo?” is a new animé series based on a series of light novels about three teenagers (two girls and one guy) with extraordinary abilities who are summoned to a world to compete in a series of games. In reality, they were summoned to aid a struggling organization that was almost wiped out by a much stronger enemy through those games. Because of the hopeless situation and the opportunity it affords for the three to compete and to make friends, they all agree to join the beleaguered organization.

Of particular interest is one of the teenagers, Asuka Kudō, who is seen in the first episode (of two at the moment) ordering a subordinate around. There was a distinct special effect at that moment which led me to expect she possessed some form of verbal control, not explicitly limited to people, as she also appears to order birds as well. That was why I was interested in seeing the second episode. There, she blatantly orders an opponent not only to sit down and shut up, but then to reveal the truth of how his organization was able to defeat numerous other organizations (through hostages) and that he killed the hostages as soon as they were taken. For that, she and the other girl challenged him: that is probably the story of the next episode.

By the way, the other girl not only talks to animals but duplicates their abilities and the guy is not only incredibly strong but there may be something even more mysterious about him and his abilities. Add a whimsical character in the form of the Black Rabbit, the explanatory character and mysterious allies and enemies and this may quickly become one of my favorites. We’ll see.

Enchantée!’ — “Eerie Cuties”

One of the more fun web comics I follow is “Eerie Cuties” about a trio of sexy supernatural teenaged girlfriends and their equally supernatural friends. (Ace, below, is actually a werewolf.) All the tropes of typical cartoon teenagers combined with all the tropes of typical cartoon supernatural events. I this case, its dating.

But what do you do when you’re dressing for a date and one of the other ‘cuties’ is making moves on your guy? Especially since apparently this is not the first time (or the second, or the third … ) that this has happened?

ec20130114a Why, you get spellcasting Mother to do something about it.

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Apparently this is not the first time this has happened, given the almost casual way she casts her spell, and most likely with the same person.

This Week in Comics — 2013/01/09

I have not been reading most of the new DC 52 universe, especially the Superman titles, but I at least try to keep up in case something shows up that I should be aware of.

Well, that paid off this week.

Action Comics #16: “The Second Death of Superman”

I’m not exactly sure what is happening here: chaotic is hardly a description for what is going on, but at some level it appears someone has broken time so that things are happening out of time and across time, culminating with the return the creature who killed Superman in a famous storyline several years ago and the return of the Crisis of Infinite Worlds. Oh, and the founding three adult members of the Legion of Super-Heroes just showed up, traveling from a future where they were outlawed.

If that last part sounds familiar, it should: the Legion had been outlawed in the past, through the machinations of the super-hypnotist Universo. In fact, even the future time has broken, and the Legion themselves unknowingly help Universo attain power before they are outlawed and they have to return to the present to prevent the changes in the future.

Universo: After all, a hypnotic disguise is child’s play, no more than a mere modicum of skill, even in front of a mass audience. However, hypnotically inducing a powerful telepath to think she scanned your mind … now that requires subtlety.

As this sequence is not in the regular Legion title, I must assume that these events are part of the chaotic timeline and not set in the current continuity.

Mars Attacks Popeye

IDW is publishing a number of comics based on “Mars Attacks”, the early trading card set and the later interest and movie surrounding it. Among the one-shot comics include crossovers with Judge Dredd, Ghostbusters and Popeye.

In “Mars Attacks Popeye”, the invading horde of Martians are met by the Sea Hag, who hypnotizes them all to do her bidding, which, being the destruction of the town of Sweethaven and Popeye, is quite to their liking. However, even the scientific might of the Martian invaders is no match for the spinach-powered fists of Popeye and his father Poopdeck Pappy.

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