Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Geobreeders, vol. 03

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

Geobreeders, vol. 3, by Akihiro Itou - Grade: A
The volume starts out with a shot of the daily task assignments board, which shows everyone being out on vacation. However, in the next panel, Yuka is scowling fiercely at the computer as it counts down the number of were-cat capture disks being copied over to the basement server. For some reason, this process is so resource intensive that the air conditioner needs to be turned off, which makes conditions miserable in the office during the summer. The next task is then for Takami to teach Maya how to cook spaghetti for Taba. Yuka jealously tags along into the kitchen to make her legendary toast.

Maki serenades herself on entering the room, then, while surrounded by weapons, complains that Taba is equating her with the terrorist character from "Reservoir Dogs". Outside of the building, Eiko is checking out the neighboring roofs, noting the cameras aimed at the office. Because Kuro-Neko has Maya inserted inside the company, the only other ones that would want to spy on them would be either the police or Hound.

In the kitchen, Maya's pot is boiling over, and Yuka's toast is on fire. As the smoke billows to the ceiling, Yuka calls out "Laforge to Bridge, we have a warp core breach!" At the same time, Maki tries to take a taxi to the airport, but ends up with the driver whose car they'd trashed last time and she gets kicked back out on the street. In the offices, Maya presents Taba with a huge plate of pasta, and he praises her as a "good girl".

Unfortunately, Yuka immediately follows this with her legendary toast, which sets off the fire sprinklers and destroys everything. When Eiko comes back inside, she has to avoid the puddles on the floor, and she asks what everyone is eating: Takami - cake from Lenoir; Yuka - soba from Lawson's convenience store; Taba - UFO soba from the grocery store; Maya - canned cat food. For their vacations, Maki, Takami and Eiko fly out from the city, leaving Yuka, Taba and Maya to sleep in the basement of the office building.

(Can: "Healthy Cat".)

What follows now is a series of short "in the life of" sketches. Takami returns to her home town near Nara, trying to avoid meeting her former friends. Another old friend, Takano discovers her at the station and they retreat to a coffee shop to catch up on old times. Takami says that she works for Ayagane Security Company, but her description of the violent work she does makes it sound like she's posted in southern Bosnia. Eventually, it turns out that Takano has been employed to set her up, and Takami is delivered into the hands of the one she was trying to avoid - the two women want her to help add the screen tones to their doujinshii boys-love manga.

Eiko and her cousin, Yuuki, had been driving out in the countryside to meet up with the rest of the family to watch fireworks, but their car ran off the road and they got lost trying to hike back. Yuuki keeps calling her "Ei-chan" and she keeps telling him to stop it. Eventually the boy flags down a passing car, but it contains several punks that try to hit on Eiko and kick Yuuki out of the car. The two of them try to escape and Eiko demands to know why the boy had chosen such unpleasant people to ride with; he answers that the car had an onboard GPS. So they run back and beat up two of the punks, while the third tries to drive off. Turns out, though, that Irie had picked the same town to hang out in to also watch the fireworks, and he gets into a fight with his manager, an old man that hates Irie's smart-ass behavior. After the old man leaves the hotel, he's looking over Irie's dossier, and complaining that there's no real information on him. That's when the third punk slams his car into the Hound limousine, and gets beaten up by the manager and his driver. Fortunately, the fireworks starts and Eiko and Yuuki can watch it from their position in the hills. Eiko tells the boy to stop calling her "Ei-chan" again. (Note that Eiko tells the punks that she works for Ayagane Security Company).

(Yu at home.)

Yu returns to her family home, where her 5 sisters and one older brother torment her as she sleeps (drawing pictures on her face and dressing her up in weird clothes). Two of her sisters borrow her car, then are so stunned at seeing her outside, looking silly, buying cigarettes that they smash her car into a wall. Yu falls back asleep in her room again and the process repeats itself.

Maki starts out by recreating a scene from her favorite Keiichirou Akagi movie series, "Fearless Laughing Man" (不敵に笑う男) while meeting up with Toyomura, an old former employer and yakuza boss that wants her to escort him during a sale of diamonds to a Chinese gangster named "Chan" of the Rinboshi Gang (Bell Star). She says she can't because she's an office lady at Ayagane Security company, but she's interrupted by her old lover, "Luger Ryuu", who says that she works for Kagura Co. Ryuu and Maki meet up at a bar, where they try to impress each other with photos of themselves as a couple with bullet holes in them (Ryuu got a bullseye at 20 meters in 0.5 seconds; while Maki put 9 rounds into Ryuu's image in 3 seconds at 5 meters). They're disturbed by a couple of Chan's men that try to get the drop on Maki. Ryuu goes outside, where it's obvious that he's been hired by Chan to hijack the diamond shipment, and is now offered a contract to take out Maki, which he turns down. As she's cleaning her pistol later in her room, while wearing a "Plan your escape" shirt, Maki curls up with her photo of Ryuu.

Yuka, Maya and Taba are still in the office. Seems that Maya has been happily making the same spaghetti recipe for them for the past 2 weeks. While Yuka complains that the lack of variety is going to kill her, Taba states that he's seen her eating curry at the train station occasionally on her own. She mentions a TV series she used to watch- "We're Angels" - back when it was on in 1979, and Taba replies that he's never heard her mention her age. She answers that she's forgotten it and runs away to answer the phone. When Maya brings out an extra big plate of pasta, Taba says "it's really good", to which Yuka says "well, yeah, after making the same thing 35 times, you're going to improve". Maya is happy. But, the phone keeps ringing regarding small incidents around the city, and Yuka decides to page the others to bring them home just in case (the pagers read "Defcon 2"). But, Takami isn't allowed to leave until they finish 5 more pages of manga; Yu sleeps through the alarm; Yuuki steals Eiko's pager and goes out to the pool; and Maki is preparing for the sale of the diamonds that night, so the pages go unanswered.

(Maki and Ryuu: Happier Times.)

The sale is about to go down, and Ryuu tells Maki to hand over her guns because Toyomura doesn't trust her. Actually, it's to disarm her so that when Ryuu betrays Toyomura, Maki is sent over to Chan with the diamonds alone and unarmed. Chan says he's been waiting 3 years for this and orders his men to open fire on her. Unfortunately for him, a pack of were-cats show up and kill all the thugs standing to the side holding machine guns. The lead were-cat yells out that Ryuu was lucky in escaping them yesterday, but he's the last remaining Kagura Co. employee and he can't escape any more. In the ensuing massive gun battle, both Chan and Toyomura try to ditch out, and run their cars into each other while accusing the other of abandoning their men. Ryuu returns Maki's gun, then tells her to escape - he'll meet her at the airport. She'll be waiting because now she has a mountain of questions to ask him. However, Ryuu gets trapped behind some fuel drums and they explode during the fighting, apparently killing him. Maki goes to the airport. While she's waiting, Yuka calls and tells her to return to the office right away; Eiko's on her way back, too. Maki replies that she can't - she's quitting Kagura to run away with Ryuu, then hangs up. Ryuu shows up at the airport, to Maki's relief, and implies that he's the one that had led the were-cats to the drop point. He can't talk much, but he does say that he had worked at Kagura before and is the last one left from that time. Also, he's returning all of their photos to her. Then another woman runs up, calling out "Ryuuji". Maki is stunned. Ryuu says that he's quitting the business to start a new life. This makes Maki the #1 gunfighter, and he apologizes that they couldn't settle the dispute properly. Ryuu and the other woman enter the plane, carrying Toyomura's diamonds and Chan's money. Maki calls Yuka back, and denies that her voice sounds funny now.

(Maki's life is one long Akagi movie.)

In the office, Taba is watching the ending of "Casablanca" and going through an airline flight passenger list when Yuka runs into the room. In looking for the next big incident, they've discovered a flight that is occupied primarily by were-cats. The exceptions being Yu Himehagi, and one other woman. Taba calls Yu's family's home in Nagasaki, and the older brother confirms that she got on the flight because her car had been totaled by her sisters. Taba then reaches Eiko's mobile phone - she's in her car with her cousin, leaving Gomagouri, in Aichi Prefecture, but the signal cuts out. Later, Yuuki calls the office with some instructions written by Eiko, but no one knows what the references to speed and broadband mean. On the plane, the were-cats take out the pilot and co-pilot, then the leader focuses on trying to scare the unnamed female passenger. But, she simply puts her novel away and waits patiently.

The point of this exercise was to capture her, a top-level member of Hound, and deliver her to Kuro-Neko. In the back of the plane, Yu sleeps soundly. Outside, Maki shows up in a helicopter, yelling "A scorned woman knows no fear" and puts several high caliber rounds through the plane. To avoid the plane breaking up, the were-cats reduce speed and altitude. Eiko arrives with three Hound planes in an attempt to use the protect seals on the were-cats, but they avoid the trap by dropping even lower.

Nearby, Takano is peddling her bike with Takami on the back, and they encounter armed ground forces trying to set up a roadblock up ahead of them. The forces open fire, and the girls escape through the woods only to come out in front of more armored trucks. Takami gets through to Yuka, and realizes that what Eiko's notes were talking about was a jamming signal to be used to force the airplane to crash land and prevent the were-cats from taking over the military electronics again (such as had happened with the battleship and PROWLER) . The trucks she'd seen were anti-aircraft equipment. She sets out on her own on rollerblades and attempts to use her grenades to stop the jammers, but it doesn't seem to be effective against the truck's plating.

Near the airport control tower, Kuro-Neko is looking grim, and Maya is standing quietly behind him.

Miscellaneous Notes:
A lot more cultural references now.

Page 8: Taba is wearing a shirt that says "Mariachi" (most likely for Robert Rodriguez's 1992 "El Mariachi" movie).

On page 11, Maki enters the room playing a guitar, serenading herself. Taba comments on her being like Gary Oldman, or more likely Michael Madsen in "Reservoir Dogs". The panel shows Madsen carrying a razor blade in front of a tied-up police officer, over the words "K-Billy's Super Sounds". Maki dislikes being called a terrorist.

Page 14: Yu is wearing a "Riding Bean" cap.

Page 62: One of Yu's sisters comments that when Yu sleeps, even Mr. T couldn't wake her up.
Page 66: One of Yu's sisters is wearing a Dolce and Gabbana "G&B" shirt.
Page 73: Yu buys Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Page 103: Yuka mentions an old Japanese TV drama series called "俺たちは天使だ" ("We're Angels"), which ran in 1979. There's a remake that came out in 2009.

Page 167: The two airplanes are from AJA and NAL (parodies of ANA and JAL airlines). On page 198, the logos are for AJA and YAL.

Page 192: The Kagura building garage door has a manufacturer plate saying "Sanma Shutters".

People on the hijacked flight:
Junichi Ikeda
Haruyoshi Ishiwatari
Tatsuo Uno
Eizou Ono
Noritomo Kayama
Shigeyoshi Suzuki
Eiko Saitou
Kenichi Hatase

Yu's family
Kou - Brother
You - Sister
Kei - Sister
Yui - Sister
Aya - Sister
Moe - Sister

Summary: Lots of silly hijinks, lost love and girls in yukata. The stuff blows up some more. Excellent artwork and great action scenes. Very highly recommended.


Saptra Studio said...

I really loled when Takami friend ask if ayagane city is located in Bosnia.

one thing that catch my interest at geobreeders first is how akihiro made fierce action scene so clean.
I mean I have read many action manga with full of speed lines and effect, but no one that made the characters stay clean and able to separate from background until I read geobreeders. great artwork, really!

pardon me, but if you can I hope you keep the review coming sir, I really love those article of yours :D

ps : I know my English sucks, hope you can bear with it ^^

TSOTE said...

The reason I chose to scan the images I did for this entry is because I consider them great representations of Itou's abilities as an artist, both for capturing the sensation of high-speed motion, but also character expression.

I've got the remaining reviews written up, and I'm planning to post them one a week. The only issue is that I haven't been able to get scans from volumes 6-11 yet. I'm hoping to get the remaining volumes finished in time to maintain my schedule. Glad you like them.