Friday, April 15, 2011

Review: Geobreeders, vol. 02

Reposted from Nihongo Hunter to make indexing easier.

(All rights reserved by their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Geobreeders, vol. 2, by Akihiro Itou - Grade: A
Irie takes a moment to talk to Taba. Initially, he starts out saying that Kagura and Hound are basically in the same business - protecting the public welfare by hunting were-cats. Where the two groups diverge is in that Hound is made up of professionals, and Kagura is just a bunch of beginners. Irie adds that he is impressed with Taba's skills and that he's extending an invitation to join them any time.

There's a little bit of a flashback as Maya remembers visiting a shrine recently where a female were-cat was tending to a group of kittens. The woman (later identified as "Socks") hands one to her and she answers with "arigato". Socks comments that this is the first time she's heard the girl say anything.


Back in the present, Kagura gets a call to take on a job to capture a were-cat at the construction site for Shin-Nihon (New Japan) Avionics. There are 4 bodies present, but the were-cats keep blowing out the cameras, making getting a full count difficult. Eiko catches one, and the one guy that Taba faces asks why Kagura keeps interfering with them. After he's caught, the group finds themselves completely surrounded by cats. The one in the fisherman's cap says that they got what they came for so they'll leave now, then they all vanish.

(Fisherman's cap, and friends.)

Later, Takami tells Eiko that Taba's been asking about the protection software they're using. Turns out that the software's always just "been there" for them. There's also the question of why the were-cats are copied over to data disks rather than simply being deleted. After each target is captured, it's put on a disk and put into storage, and no one actually knows why (in fact, Yuka kind of ducks the question, pulling pranks on the other two to distract them from the issue).

(The reason acetylene torches are not commonly used as weapons in the field.)

Taba and Maya are out walking around, and Taba notices that the girl is very popular with the other cats. He announces that he's going to call her "Maya". He's seen the name written somewhere in relation to a cat, but he doesn't remember when or where. In a secluded hideout, some of the were-cats are discussing the current situation.

(Maki enjoys making an entrance.)

One of them, the one in a fisherman's cap that has been carrying out Kuro-Neko's orders, is concerned about the fact that Kagura has taken out two of their members right in front of their eyes now that Taba has joined them. KN doesn't respond. Then, back at Taba's apartment, Taba's getting frustrated at not making progress against the protect seals. He threatens to put Maya in a tub of water if she doesn't tell him everything she knows.

And, at Kagura, Eiko is trying to break into the system herself. She notices that the OS is up to version 4, and it's obvious that the software predates her time with the company. Suddenly the lights go out, and Yu and Eiko accidentally attack each other. Later, Eiko confronts Yuka regarding the software, but her boss refuses to answer. Eiko leaves and Yuka gives away the biggest spoiler of all - they are not the first group to make up Kagura, and they probably won't be the last.

The fisherman cap were-cat tries to make a move against Taba, blowing up his apartment. After a brief fight, fisherman's cap finds himself out on the sidewalk just as Kuro-Neko strolls up. KN kills fisherman's cap for this show of disobedience. Maya tries to apologize to Taba, but his ears are ringing from the explosion and he can't hear anything. Taba then tries to get into the company's offices to stay the night, since his apartment is now a smoldering mess, but Yu and Eiko are still unconscious after KO'ing themselves. The next day, Taba asks his friend, Shiroi to put them up for a couple of nights.

(Fisherman's cap, after Kuro-Neko is done with him.)

A little later, Kagura gets a job to bring in one were-cat out near the city harbor. This task gets enmeshed with Kuro-Neko's plan to steal some software from Shin-Nihon Avionics, and the Hounds that are trying to ambush KN. Irie authorizes the use of a battleship in the assault, but KN realizes that the tactics being used by the Hounds are much more militaristic in nature and have to be the work of Captain Yashima.


Also along the way, a female member of Hound sees Taba stranded on the were-cat's boat and tries to get the attack halted until the civilian is rescued, but since the "civilian" works for Kagura, the attack remains on schedule. Kagura's target (Kt) interferes with Hound's objective, allowing some of the Kuro-Neko minions to scatter. Kt makes his way to the battleship, and makes the first known demonstration of the ability to take over a targeting computer. Kt uses one of the battleship's assault guns to destroy a number of buildings and vehicles along the docks, before being stopped by Yashima. Kt then tries to escape by entering a ballistic missile and shooting himself to freedom, but that doesn't succeed either. Eventually, Kt gets captured by Taba but confiscated by Hound.

(Kt versus Taba.)

At the end of the first sea battle, Kagura's van (K-1), boat (K-2) and two jet skis (K-5 and K-6) are totaled. The group tries to hitchhike back to the office but no one will stop for them. Instead, they hijack a taxi. A few minutes later, Socks, who had been part of the earlier attack on Shin-Nihon Avionics, infiltrates PROWLER and continues the fight against Hound. Kuro-Neko orders Socks to use PROWLER (Programmable Robot Observer With Logical Enemy Response) to distract Hound to let the other were-cats escape, and to try to get the AI armored tank back to KN's camp. Because Hound had used up most of their ammo earlier, and Yashima is still on the battleship, the Hound group captain is ordered to team up with Kagura to take out PROWLER.


Yashima asks Narusawa (the female Hound that had spotted Taba earlier) for the specs on the AI tank. Turns out that it's an American design specifically intended to be shielded from electronic attacks by were-cats, and had been delivered to Shin-Nihon Avionics for some reason. It's virtually indestructible, and both Kagura and Hound struggle to stop it. Hound does offer to help Kagura as needed, which starts out with the group going to a costume store to buy street clothes to wear over their swimsuits.

(We're not cosplayers. We're professionals.)

(Note: I don't think it's stated outright, but apparently the reason Kuro-Neko had attacked the one building in volume one was to weaken security around PROWLER to make it easier to capture when the building was being repaired.)

(When Yu drives, cars fly like bricks don't. Like a rock.)

Eventually, Yu's flying escape from a parking lot tower, with the tank in pursuit, results in the tank being demobilized, and Yashima's arrival by helicopter, with a pair of TOWs in hand sees PROWLER destroyed and Socks captured. Socks yells out "Report everything, that the mission was completed, to "him"", then makes a stab at killing Yashima. The barrage of bullets from Hound brings her to a halt at Taba's feet, and Socks says "take care of that child" to him before being deleted.

(Socks, at the end.)

Maya is watching on silently from a nearby roof, and it's suggested that she's the one that's reporting back to Kuro-Neko for Socks. Eiko asks if it's all over now, and Yuka says "don't be stupid, whatever it is is just starting". Afterwards, the Kagura women are taking another bath at the public "sento", feeling exhausted. Yuka stuns them all with the decision to have the company take a vacation. And outside of the public baths, Taba tells Maya that they're going back home.


Two final notes:
During the big battle at the end, Taba asks Eiko to help him find an apartment, but because of her associations with Kagura, she's been blacklisted by all of the real estate agencies.

(Yashima's as-yet unnamed assistant.)

After the final battle, the remaining were-cat leaders are wondering why their plans were foiled and they were unable to claim PROWLER. They think that someone had leaked word of their plans to Hound, and the main suspect is Kuro-Neko himself, although they don't know why this would be.

Miscellaneous Notes:
On page 66, Taba is wearing a shirt that reads "TUFF", which may refer to the 1961 song, or to the 1985 band.

On page 67, Taba's friend, Shiroi, has a poster for Flag's "Yello" album on his back wall.

On page 99, a billboard at the top of one building says "OBEY" (possibly a reference to the 1988 Rowdy Roddy Piper movie "They Live", although the "obey giant" graffiti campaign dates back to roughly 1989, too. However, "obey giant" usually included Andre the Giant's face, and not just the word "obey" by itself in capital letters.)

Summary: Stuff goes "boom" in a big way, as Hound and Kagura are forced to work together to stop the were-cats. Some attention is paid to the protect system software that Kagura uses, to find out where it came from and what it's designed for, but Yuka seems intent on preventing the others from learning any of the details. Plus, Maya gets a name. Highly recommended, especially if you love action scenes with stuff going "boom" (or, if you just like seeing Maki in a waitress dress).


Bunny said...

Yes, earlier Geobreeders is fun. Massive collateral damage, costumes, Takami-chan, etc.

Recently though, it's turning dark, like the author is sick of it and trying to kill it and everyone off.

TSOTE said...

Well, I'm pretty sure it is ended. Only Taba was left standing.

Saptra Studio said...

I can't agree. since first volume Akihiro Ito already insert a hint that this manga have a hard and dark plot. not just usual comedy happy manga out there.

slowly but surely he put a pieces of it while still trying to divert readers attention with usual comedy and action.
this is the greatest manga I ever read.

TSOTE said...

Saptra, thanks for the comment again.
While it's true that Itou had dark foreshadowing in the manga as early as volume 1, he kept things pretty lighthearted all the way up to volume 12. The adventures and the action were over the top, and even when the characters did get hurt it was generally played for laughs. I'm sorry to see the series end without at least a little more background on Vashuka, and I dislike seeing Irie walking away scot-clean. The ending, while it took a good 2-3 years to complete, did still feel a little rushed, with a few loose ends left dangling.

Saptra Studio said...

yeah though the end is great, but its calling for more explanation. I can't satisfied with only 16 volumes

and it will be a waste if his concept about phantom cats and everything in geobreeders ended in that volume.

but well, akihiro is old school mangaka. though it have quality but sadly the recent market mostly prefer cute moe girls with simple story. it may be a reason why he ended geobreeders too fast, its a business after all.

TSOTE said...

I'd be guessing right now if I tried to say why the series ended the way it did. However, the volumes have been coming out 1 a year, and the trip to the were-cat island could be said to have been the start of the end of the series, because that's when Yuma marks the gang for death for knowing too much. And that was in around volume 12. So, Itou pretty much set out 4 years in advance to end the story. The loose ends that were left unexplained may never have been something that he wanted to address. He might just have gotten tired of working all the time, especially since he did fall ill apparently.

What I want is to track down copies of Wilderness, to see if that series also ended at the same time. The problem is that none of his books have really been carried by the big name stores, so I'm going to have to try visiting the used stores.

James said...

I recalled reading new chapters somewhere. The story continued with about 3 year time skip and we're seeing the new Kagura at work. I don't remember where it is now, it's almost impossible to find even raw manga online.

TSOTE said...

James, if you can track it down again, let me know. The original Geobreeders ran in Young King Ours magazine, and in looking through their back issue catalog, there's nothing under either "Geobreeders" or "Itou" all the way back to Jan. 2010. If there is a sequel, it doesn't seem to be in the original YKO magazine, at least not under the Geobreeders name.

James said...

I just dug through my computer and found the raw manga that I downloaded before. After the end of Vol. 16 (File 164), which apparently ended Part II (when did part I ended? :P), File 165 continued on Young King Ours too.

However, I saw ads for the upcoming Geobreeder Vol. 15 in the margin of File 165, so I don't know how old this is. And I only have from 165 till File. 167, and there was no addition ones that I could find.

*possible spoiler warning, read at your own risk!
My Japanese is very limited, I can only read some Kanji, it started from an normal looking office and a male salaryman named Hata (but in Kanji, it's Taba backward...). In 167 he produced a P226 from his desk and faced off with some Cats until the new generation Kagura (called Kagura Security Service this time) bust in, armed with NERV guns fitted with seal That was where the raw that I had ended...hell of a cliffhanger...

James said...

Just looked through the pages again, on File 167, the margin read September issue, so it might be the last issue before Ito-sensei had to take a break for health reson.

TSOTE said...

James, thanks for the updates. If you can send me the raws I can try translating them further for you (just don't send a .raw file - .zip is better for me if possible). riemann96 @ yahoo (dot) com.

The volumes usually got published once a year, although I think closer to 18 months went by from when the last chapter of vol. 16 came out until vol. 16 itself was published in Dec., 2010. Vol. 15 came out May, 2009. Since Young King Ours doesn't list Geobreeders in their back issues up to Jan. 2010, the chapter you have probably came out Sept., 2009. At best, there's probably only enough material for half of a book, and it probably just represents an epilogue rather than a sequel. If it is going to be published, it'll probably be as a collection of other works, ala "Take the B Studio", and we may not see it before at least next Dec.

TSOTE said...

Just as a follow-up on another thread - Wilderness had been running in Sunday GX in parallel with Geobreeders. The last volume was #7, which came out in 2009 and was right in the middle of another action sequence. There's probably enough material for #8 right now so I don't know what the holdup on that is. I really do wish one of the publishers, or Itou himself, would let us know what's going on with him now.