Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: Geobreeders, vol. 04

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

Geobreeders, vol. 4, by Akihiro Itou - Grade: A
(Published July 15, 1998, first printing.) The first half of the book is essentially a battle pitting Taba and Yuka against two of the were-cats that remain on the plane. The military ground forces have brought out jammers and Patriot missiles with the intent of shooting the jetliner down. Takami's grenades are useless against the armor siding of the jammer truck, and the soldiers in the area are shooting to kill. Fortunately, Takano can maneuver in the smoke thrown up by the grenades and she rescues Takami so the two of them escape.

Initially, one of the were-cats on the plane invades the first Patriot missile and makes it explode harmlessly. Then 10 more missiles are launched and the majority of the were-cats decide to bail, leaving Taki and a friend behind, while their hostage laughs madly at them. The remaining Patriots also blow up, damaging the plane a little bit. Then jets come in with Stinger missiles.

(Takano to the rescue.)

Taba and Yuka are in K-3, trying to get close enough under the jet to get a cell phone signal through to Yu. With no escape path visible to them, Taki decides to return to Ayagame City for an emergency landing on the streets. When his back is turned on her, the hostage pulls out a compact laptop and some protection seals and uses one to blow Taki out of the plane, and another to slow Taki's friend down.

Yu eventually wakes up and takes over control of the plane enough to cause both wings to be smashed off by nearby buildings. The plane careens towards the harbor at the end of the street, with K-3 immediately beneath it. Yuka attempts to grab on to Yu to pull her into the van, but instead manages to accidentally yank herself and Taba up into the plane with Yu. The plane shoots into the harbor and stops standing straight up and down.

Eiko approaches in her helicopter and attempts to lower a bag with seals into the plane, but they're missing a laptop. Yu finds her carry-on bag and madly searches it for cigarettes and a lighter, then stumbles across the laptop that the hostage had hidden in it, running Kagura ver. 5.0 protect software. Taki's friend is deleted and the group comes out mostly unscathed. However, as Yuka climbs out of the harbor and up into the plane, the hostage greets her with "Long time, no see, Yuka".

The scene cuts to the women all taking a soak in the public baths, complaining about how horribly their vacations turned out. They lost the new laptop, used up lots of seals and weapons, and completely trashed K-3. Maki sings an Akagi song, badly, and Yuka discovers the photos of Maki and Ryuu in Maki's clothes basket. Later, Maki is looking at the photos and discovers one of Takami dressed up in cosplay advertising her doujinshii. Outside, Yuka is tearing up the one of Kagura ver. 03, with younger images of Ryuu and what looks like the hostage from the plane (Yuma) and Yuka.

(Maki gets to see Takami as a doujinshii otaku.)

Another scene cut, this time back to the Kagura offices. Eiko continues complaining about the horrid vacation, while Maki and Yuka are shooting each other with plastic BB guns. Eiko confiscates the guns, asking where they came from. Maki replies that they're from someone she knows at Marui. Then two guys (Bokubu and Toyonaga) tell Yuka to not rip the "Hop Up" logo tags off of one of the rifles. Eiko asks who they are, and Maki says "the advertising department at Marui". They continue playing, shooting each other, until Takami asks them to teach Maya how to cook. Only Eiko has any actual skill, so she's forced to take Maya out shopping for ingredients. Initially, she asks "do you want to try Japanese, Chinese or western?" Maya answers "Italian", so Eiko says "ok, how about pasta?" and Taba and Yuka both yell "NO!".

(The Marui advertising department giving Maki a friendly warning.)

At the store, Eiko is going for the gourmet section when Maya spots someone through the windows and runs out to meet them. Turns out it's Socks, but her memories seem to have been erased. Maya runs to the temple where she first met Taba, with Socks in hot pursuit. Taki has a premonition, and he leaves the other were-cats against Kuro-Neko's orders, marking him as a outcast. Taba notices that Eiko has come back alone and he takes Yu along to see if he can find Maya (thinking that Maya may otherwise link back up with Kuro-Neko). And, Captain Yashima is out with Narusawa and the squad leader talking to Irie.

(How to stop a Sidewinder with just a computer monitor.)

Irie tells Yashima that the were-cats had a specific target on the jetliner, and the next target is also associated with Shin-Nihon Avionics, and to remain uninvolved this time, too. Naruzawa is driving her two superiors back to base when she gets lost. Taba realizes that he's in a neighborhood that he had grown up in, and he directs Yu to go down a specific street.

(Although they are partly electric in nature, were-cats can survive being dumped in water. They still don't like it, though.)

Everyone's paths converge as Maya tries to escape from Socks. Taba rescues Maya, and Yu and Yashima try to rescue Taba. Naruzawa gets tangled up in the car's seatbelt and is useless. Socks comes close to killing Taba, but Maya's protective urges kick in and she fights back. Suddenly, Taki streaks in and delivers the trade-marked were-cat slice to the neck, killing Socks. Taki looks fondly at Maya before disappearing. The other were-cats saw everything from one of the roofs and they report back to Kuro-Neko. Maya passes out from exhaustion, and Taba holds her, remembering both Socks' earlier words ("protect Maya") and the temple he now finds himself at. He knows now that he was the one that had left Maya in the box in front of the temple in the rain 11 years ago. Somehow, Maya had turned into a "bake-neko" after that.

Some time passes, and it's now winter. The group is out walking in the snow, with Taba talking about his memories of Maya to Yuka and Takami, while the other three discuss the ridiculous nature of their last battle on the jetliner. Yuka thinks it would make a good movie and even has written down theme lyrics. Maki says that at least three other idiots have had similar ideas for stupid airplane-based action flicks, listing off "Con Air", "Airforce One" and "Turbulence".

(Maya protecting Taba against Socks.)

In his secret hideout, Kuro Neko is watching Vash the Stampede from "Trigun" on TV when Vashuka walks in. She asks if he wants her to chase after Taki, and he tells her he wants her to go to Russia. Meanwhile the latest assault is starting in some processing plant. Kuro-Neko shows Vashuka some surveillance photos he grabbed off the CIA's Keyhole 14 satellite. The soldiers doing the fighting are getting trashed, while Yashima, his colleague, and Irie listen in on the radio chatter. Yashima's radio suddenly loses signal and he states that it's a side-effect of the ongoing data war, since the were-cats ARE data. He also tells his friend to take Narusawa off his hands for more training; if she sticks by Yashima, she's going to get someone killed.


Meanwhile, Takami is happy with the current calm in the office, while Eiko wants work to come in to help pay for the repairs on K-3. Taba is exhausted from editing the company's promotional videos all night. Then Yuka happily hangs up the phone and announces that they have a new client - Ayagane Labs.

Miscellaneous Notes:
Just a few cultural references this time.

Kagura refers to K-3 as "Shuuchou-chan", or "business trip-chan".

The book Yuma is reading on the plane is finally revealed enough to identify it as "闇から生まれた女" ("The Woman Born from Darkness", which is the Japanese title for F. Paul Wilson's "Sibs").

The cap Yu wears while flying the jetliner says "Petty Booka". Her bag is from Vamos, possibly a reference to the 1987 Pixies song, a cover of the Jimi Hendrix original.

One big leap that the Hounds made for the protect seals is to give up serial cables and use IR links.

On page 123, when Maki is singing badly, she suddenly announces "JASRAC出9805258-801" to the reader.

The current assault that starts up at the end of the volume is led by a were-cat named Manx.

Summary: If you liked "Con Air" you'll love Geobreeders. Action oozing out of the seams, great artwork, and lots of fan-service shots this time. Highly recommended.

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