Thursday, May 5, 2011
Review: Geobreeders, vol. 05
Geobreeders, vol. 5, by Akihiro Itou - Grade: A
(Published Oct. 1, 1999, first printing.) Kind of inexplicably, the story starts up in the middle of a snow-covered field, with the group split up, in Showa Era year 73 (AD 1998). The chapter title is "Tateyama Mission" (Tateyama is a mountain in Toyama Prefecture).
Anyway, Takami and Eiko are stranded in a stalled cable car, Yu and Maki are trudging through the snow trying to find their van (initially, Yu runs up to pull Maki out of a snow drift, complaining that Maki's white suit made it hard to find her), and Yuka and Taba have found a cabin to stake-out and set up a protect seal trap. Takami neglected to bring her knives along with her, so in order to open the trapdoor in the floor of the car, Eiko uses a protect seal - blowing out the entire bottom half of the car and leaving the two to dangle a hundred feet up in the air as some were-cats on snowmobiles drive up to investigate the noise.
Outside of the cabin, two were-cats in arctic gear are planning their assault. The one with the ponytail, Rudo, tells the other, Tabby, that he's been ordered back to where Vashuka is, and that Tabby has full permission to do whatever he wants against Kagura. There's a good 15 were-cats out scouring the woods and field for the Kagura group, and Kagura is running out of seals.
They're also using new portable PCs with software that Yuka and Takami have upgraded to ver. 4.5. However, Eiko wouldn't let them pre-test the new protect program in advance, and they're stuck with field testing it now. There's a running gag that the protect software is freezing up because it's so cold outside. On the other hand, as Yu discovers, if the new system does work, it's very convenient. There is much running and shooting.
In the Kuro-Neko group, one of the were-cats is apologizing for the mess up, but someone else is saying that it's ok. Having their camp discovered is no big deal, and they now have access to another satellite, Galaxy 4, which can help them block out other locations. Rudo returns to some building where he first spots Maya, commenting that she's "Kuro-Neko's eyes". Then he encounters Vashuka, trading barbs with her, first saying that he heard about how the Tokyo Stock Exchange job turned out, and her replying that she heard about how Nakhodka turned out. She adds that that's why she's here.
There's much fighting, and the running around, and the bangs and the booms and everything. Tabby gets deleted and the rest of the were-cats either deleted or subdued. After the smoke clears, most of the Kagura women are in a hot spring spa, soaking. Yuka is drunk, talking to a monkey and thinking that it's an upgraded Taba, ver. 2.0. She yells at it to sound more like Shin'inchirou Miki. Eiko's thinking of calling a company-wide party for cherry blossom viewing. Taba 1.0 is tending to Maki, who's suffering from a major cold. And thus marks the end of the first chapter.
(If the software doesn't work, you get an error message.)
Chapter 2 starts out with a note saying "3 hours before the incident". The group is looking at the new laptops and discussing the current drawback to them - the batteries are only good for two "deletes" and after that have to be changed out. Yu calls to "Taba 1.0" to tell him that dinner is ready. Maya has quadrupled her repertory, but Taba's still the one that ends up eating pasta. They get a call from Maki to come help her and Eiko out. Yuka grabs some of the food and orders Taba to go do the job. (Later, Maya has figured out how to surf the net to find new recipes; Yu asks if she can act as a car navigation system, and the answer is "no".)
("When the pin is removed, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend.")
At the Hound training facility, Narusawa is in with a group of fighters practicing room-to-room combat, with stuffed cat dolls as targets. She's berated for hitting a civilian (a stuffed mouse doll), and for being bad at rappelling. The group leader, Yoda, gets a phone call and orders everyone out for a mission. 2 hours later, Irie and 4 men in black suits get permission to enter Shin-Nihon Avionics.
(If the software does work, it's very easy to use.)
Then, at 8:13 PM, Taba is at Ayagane City Center Park next to the van, with Maki up on a sculpture taking potshots at the communications tower (it looks similar to Tokyo Tower). Eiko's in the tower itself setting up seals. At 8:23 PM, Hound arrives at Ayagane Labs and rushes the buildings, with Yoda ordering troops around and telling some of them to cut all of the cables they find. At 8:50, Irie and thugs start patrolling the hallways, shooting some of the employees that turn out to be were-cat spies.
In the communications tower, Eiko is fighting two were-cats as she works her way to the top, and Taba takes the elevator up to help her. In the Shin-Nihon Avionics building, three female were-cats are trying to crack into the software R&D computers to download the programs they can get at as the Hounds approach. And in Ayagane Labs, Irie remarks that they have permission to shoot humans at a 2% error rate, and the Lab supervisor decides not to ask where the permission came from. The supervisor tries to call the police, but he's last seen with a laser beam pointed at the back of his head. In the park, two beat cops are following up reports of a weird woman shooting a rifle. One of them had been the one that had arrested Maki in the subway in volume 2, and he recognizes her, so she runs away. In one of the secure rooms in the Labs, Irie and group arrive at the home of DAX-1, an anti-were-cat field development computer. DAX-1 is brought up to 35% power, which allows it to suppress the powers of 1 female were-cat before causing a partial blackout of the city. This one female is unable to escape the room, and gets tormented by Irie's men before turning on him. Irie gets revenge by trying to delete her with their special containment pistol but it only deletes her lower half. Irie is satisfied and prepares to leave, telling the DAX-1 leader to delete her completely.
(Narusawa with her back up against the wall.)
Two of the female were-cats that copied down the Lab's software get pinned down and one decides to use their new "code breaker" to help escape, even though it's untested, ordering the other one to the roof. Suddenly, DAX-1 starts ramping up to full power, which causes a city-wide blackout, and making it harder for Eiko and Taba to escape via the elevator in the tower (they try using a new timer feature on the laptop, and later decide that they don't like it). While at Shin-Nihon Avionics, the emergency gates slam down, trapping Narusawa with a were-cat. The city regains power, and DAX-1 cycles down, but the protect field is down and were-cats swoop in to rescue their partner. Irie repeats that they have a 2% human kill rate permission, and his group opens fire on everything that moves.
(Irie is not a nice man.)
Taba gets a call from Maki, and Eiko tells him to relay a message - "go to plan D". Taba asks what "plan D" is, and Maki starts firing rocket grenades at the tower's legs. There follows much fighting and confusion as the tower collapses, the park cops get pelted with plush dolls from a UFO Catcher machine that had been at the top of the tower, and Narusawa has to fend for herself with a pistol and a few remaining rounds.
("Tower fall down, go boom!")
In the end, at 11:03 PM, Eiko's 2 were-cats are deleted, the signal tower is wiped out, the 2 park cops are frustrated, all but one DAC-1 employee are dead, Irie is happy, two of the female were-cats learn how to use cell phones to escape wirelessly, Narusawa survives and is given Yashima's Glock to keep as a reward, and the Kagura offices are covered in paper printouts from various recipe websites. (When the one female were-cat fights Narusawa, she asks why Hound keeps interfering with their plans, since all the were-cats want is to keep on living longer).
The last couple of pages are ads for the first three "File.X Chibi-neko Dakkan" (File.X Rescue the Kitten) OAVs that started coming out in 1998 (In the U.S., they were just called "Geobreeders" and the next 4 were "Geobreeders: Breakthrough").
(Hound target practice.)
The group leader under Yashima is finally given a name - Yoda (依田).
Were-cats can use human-made software to learn how to travel through cell phones.
Irie is a sadistic bastard.
Summary: Lots and lots of action. Narusawa triumphs. Maki blows up communications towers. Maki almost freezes to death in the snow. Highly recommended.