Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Geobreeders, vol. 11

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Geobreeders, vol. 11, by Akihiro Itou - Grade: A-

Taba is in a mid-zone state where he sees someone that looks like Kotoi's partner walking around quoting W.H.Auden's "Marginalia", followed by a quote from Matthew Arnold and one from a Japanese writer. All references are to death, dying and "if you're going to die, die well." Taba sees a shadowy form and yells "granmma!" just as he wakes up.

He's in a research hospital, with Takami just coming into the room holding an apple. She's been waiting days for him to come out of his coma, and when he finally does it's when she'd gone out to a convenience store to get him something to eat. She cracks and starts sobbing. Outside, Maki, Yu and Eiko are setting up protect seals around the hospital and chasing off were-cats as Yu sleeps a little too close to one of the emergency exit doors (thus getting hit in the face when Maki bursts through it after a were-cat). They then descend on Taba's room, making a mess of the windows and demonstrating that Taba is healthy enough now to survive their presence (Maki eats the apple meant for Taba, and Yu tries to crawl into his bed to sleep). They go through a bunch of available video tapes for him to watch, including a Gene Hackman film, something with Keifer Sutherland, and "Kingdom" (all horror or action films set in hospitals). Then it's time for them to go to work and it's just Takami and Taba in the room again. As she's repairing the window, Taba asks her why she joined Kagura. She answers that she was untalented at her other jobs and replied to an ad on the internet. Then she remembers Maya, tells Taba to not quit the company because he's the only thing keeping her there, and runs out just before Narusawa walks in.

At the Zinguzi plant, the were-cat army is preparing to attack to get at the DAX system. Hound is coming in on approach to stop them, and Irie and Kotoi are in a large truck - M4 - going through the set-up process to bring it online. Kotoi is doing all of the keyboard work as Irie eats all of their food (even after 3 days, Kotoi's ribs still hurt too much for her to want to eat anything). In the Hound's chopper, Suzuki asks where Narusawa is, and Yoda answers that they can't find her anywhere and she's not answering her cell phone. At the Zinguzi plant, some employees come running up to wake up their boss. He's not happy at being disturbed because he's gone without sleep since the fire at Shin-Nihon Avionics, trying to get his various engineering projects done quickly (he's actually the engineering rep, and the chief engineer in the R&D group, but no one refers to him by name. It's always just "chief".) Then suddenly there's an explosion at one of the research lab towers, and the were-cats come rolling in in a newer version of the PROWLER - the BTR. Hound works at trying to evacuate as many of the civilians as possible, while the were-cats rush the plant and try to kill everyone systematically, one building at a time.

(M4 is a rolling containment trap designed specifically for "Arnold".)

Hound engages the were-cats in battle, but are unable to take out the assault vehicle. They contact Kagura to commission Maki to man an anti-tank gun, but otherwise Yuka and Eiko are just told to stay back and provide clean-up activities. Yuka and Eiko are happy to wait, with Eiko doing her nails and Yuka eating all of their food. Yu sleeps inside their new van. Inside the plant, most of the remaining civilians have been escorted out, with the exception of chief, and a handful of his lab staff that had gotten stranded. One has a broken leg, and a couple of others are just sitting around and crying in fear. Chief rallies them by saying that they're engineers, they've got the weapons they've developed to use specifically against the were-cats, and they've got nothing better to do. Chief frantically works at tweaking the three guns they have, and the others gather up all of the available batteries. They regroup in another lab as the were-cats chase after them.

In the anti-KN were-cat planning center, one of the leaders calls over a mustached comrade, (we're now told that this is "S"), to look at the computer screen. Seems that someone has been flooding the internet with messages to them regarding something called a "maya". The assassin comments that Maya is what the humans call #107. On the screen is "I want to do a hostage swap, Maya for the prisoners we've captured, signed Kagura". They call the Kagura offices then try to transfer over the phone, but it's protected. Takami and S haggle over the details of the swap, with the plan to meet in 5 minutes at a specific bridge halfway between them. Takami's trying to stall because she's discovered that every single one of the disks they have with were-cat "files" are empty. She wants to know what's happened to all of the work they've been doing. Having no time to spare, she grabs a blank DVD and races to the meeting place. The were-cats are watching her on street-corner-based surveillance cameras, and one of the leaders, plus the assassin, go out to do the swap. Maya is on the bridge, connected to a PC with a serial cable inserted in her neck running software to suppress her were-cat abilities. The assassin gets behind Takami and determines that the disk is empty. She keeps looking at her watch, which eventually starts beeping. The assassin, holding her up by one arm, wants to know if she's that desperate to watch a favorite TV program. Then the timer on the laptop set up down at the tracks hits zero and automatically activates the protect seals she's placed on the bridge supports. She grabs the fence as the bridge collapses, and skates to avoid the bullets fired by the assassin. By accident the other laptop gets shot up and Maya gets freed.

Taba and Narusawa spend the afternoon talking. First about Narusawa's joining Hound (just kind of happened after she'd finished military training), why they both remain in situations of danger (haven't gotten around to going off to do something else) and the nature of good and bad. The floor nurse comes in to the room to tell Taba to go to sleep because there's going to be enough tests the next day to make him feel like he's going to die. Narusawa is hiding under the covers of another bed so they can keep talking. On the nature of good and bad, Taba asks if it's really ok to let one person die in order to protect the peace of 99 others? How about when dealing with a devil, who sacrifices 99 people to save 100 others? Or, if you have 99 people in danger should you save the 100th? Usually, it's ok if the one in danger is pretty, at least in works of fiction. But, what if it's in real life? Are there such devils and what should be done with them? Are there really "good" and "bad" sides? He remembers meeting Kuro-Neko and the offer to set up a bridge between the were-cats and Kagura. From the were-cats' viewpoint, aren't they the bad guys? In the end he can't come up with an answer.

Irie, the devil Taba is talking about, waits in M4, which is basically a rolling seal room, with 4 protect seals inside the trailer in back. The M4 systems all come up on line. In Zinguzi, the R&D staff have made their stand, but the room isn't going to hold long. They go out to a truck, lay a trap for their pursuers, and drive over to the lab tower that contains one of the remaining weapons at their disposal. On another floor in the building, one of the were-cats gets to a room where there's a strange sound, then a phone in the room explodes. The were-cat sees a male figure appear next to the phone and recognizes it as "Arnold", one of the were-cats that had been captured by Kagura before. Arnold looks at him and says "who are you? Who's the enemy? Ah, you're the enemy". Arnold changes into a giant were-cat with a bat-like face and proceeds to slaughter every were-cat it encounters. At one point, Arnold is shown sitting in a pool of were-cat blood, happily lapping it up. Yes, Arnold is a were-cat cannibal.

(Arnold, at left.)

Back at the bridge, Maya wakes up and Takami yells at her to call her cell phone. This causes a grenade wrapped to the phone to explode at the top of a utility pole, knocking out power to the neighborhood. S and the other were-cats at their control center lose the surveillance video feeds. The assassin follows after the two girls, and the other leader goes back to the control center. There's lots of running around, with the assassin slowly destroying Takami's remaining seals and laptops. Maya gets into a panic and Takami tells her to cheer up, she'll get them out of this. Maya tells her to not do anything suicidal because otherwise she won't be able to meet Taba again. Takami pauses (when she was racing out of the hospital, she'd seen Narusawa laughing through the window in Taba's room, and she'd been crushed at realizing that she's not the only woman Taba talks to). Takami recovers and agrees with Maya's attitude. The assassin asks if they're done talking to each other, and they get ready - Takami taking out her butterfly knives, and Maya changing to cat form to run behind the guy.

Maki and one Hound officer are in a building looking down on the Zinguzi grounds, waiting for the BTR to clear the corner to get a clear shot at it with Maki's anti-tank gun. The BTR is slowly working its way to the corner. Kotoi has M4 fully ramped up and is about to activate its attack systems. Arnold is happily lapping up were-cat blood. And, in the main development tower, chief and his engineers have reached the hanger that houses the mostly repaired body of Barracuda 1. B1 is missing its tail and stabilizer rotor, but what they're really after is the laser rifle that chief had been working on before. Chief had kind of accidentally on purpose lost the paperwork for B1, and is the only one (human that is) that knew that B1 and the laser were still in the company. They prep B1 to make their final stand. Unfortunately, when chief throws the switch to bring the power up, several things happen all at once. First, M4 crashes and Kotoi is unable to enter the passwords to recover any of its systems. Second, the were-cats in the BTR stop just short of the corner, blocking Maki's shot and acting like they know there's a trap. Third, Arnold perks up and starts looking for new prey. Fourth, Yuka eats Maki's lunch and Eiko says that if Yuka eats her tuna sandwich she'll kill the Kagura president. The BTR goes into reverse and some of the Hounds drive up behind it in a truck to prevent its escape. Yashima orders DAX to activate. For the next 15 seconds, ALL of the were-cats are paralyzed, including Arnold. The Hound with Maki orders her to go over to the next room and she ends up having to drag the heavy weapon along with her. The DAX battery dies. The were-cats recover, and Maki starts shooting. Fortunately, the BTR is disabled. Maki and her Hound partner celebrate.

As the were-cats in the office building stand up, one of them notices a light on in the development tower, where the Barracuda is known to be housed. They all decide to descend on the tower. The ones in the BTR try to fire an RPG at the Hounds, and Yashima shoots the rocket, causing it to explode first. There's a strange squealing and the were-cats inside the BTR start screaming. Yashima orders his men to stop shooting. A few seconds later, Arnold leaves the BTR, a cat body in its mouth. The scene in the plant goes quiet so Yuka and Eiko decide it's time for them to get to work. Yuka activates her laptop, which is now running ver. 5.2 containment software. Eiko asks what she's been doing to it. As Arnold stands up, Yashima tells his men to not move. And, over at M4, Irie and Kotoi decide to go get M5, with Irie saying "we have to" and Kotoi going "you have to" at the same time. Irie tells Kotoi to drive and she tells him "no". Arnold leaps away and Yashima gets on the radio, saying "Irie, I know you're there, answer me. Irie!" M4 is currently shown driving off.

Arnold lands in front of the Kagura truck. Eiko pulls out her brass knuckles, but Yuka tells her it's pointless and to slowly move away from the vehicle. Eiko asks why her boss seems to know something about this monster. Yuka answers that this is not part of their work and to just try to escape. Eiko says "fine, but are you forgetting something?" Yuka replies "ahh! our brand new van!!!" Eiko's response is "NO!, I mean, yes, there is that too, but..." Arnold crawls inside the van, over Yu's sleeping body in front, and stares raptly at the Kagura logo on the laptop as it pops up the screensaver. Finally, back over at the development lab, the remaining were-cats are launching a 3-pronged attack, with some of them coming down through the ceiling, others through a side door, and the rest operating a huge forklift to force up the main loading dock door. Chief starts shooting the Barracuda's main gun while some of the others use their remaining TAC weapons on the enemy. It's just that there are simply too many of the enemy to deal with.


When the Hound choppers first fly to the plant, Yuka yells "Good luck! Don't come over this way!"

One of the supervisors in the Zinguzi R&D group is more panicked about losing his golf clubs to the were-cats than anything else.

When the R&D team rushes over to the development tower in the truck, chief yells out "goodbye you bastard(s)!", and his team can't tell if he's referring to the were-cats, or to their Zinguzi company manager. They decide that it's probably a lot of both.

In the previous volume, one of the were-cats groups had been wiped out by an unknown opponent. This may be foreshadowing to prepare for the appearance of Arnold now.

Yuka seems to know too much about what happened during the time of Kagura Company version 03, which apparently had been the ones that had captured Arnold the first time. This seems to reinforce the idea that Rika and Yuka are in fact the same person, and that Rika's "death" and "burial" were faked. But, I haven't noticed anything in Yuka's report to Descartes in volume 14 to support the argument that Yuma and Yuka are working opposite sides of the battle against the were-cats in multiple iterations of the company. Especially since Yuka doesn't really seem to have liked running into her sister at the end of the airplane hijacking arc. But, the possibility of it looks very, very strong. That means that Yuka is the one in the photo with Ryuu and Yuma, and that Yuka changed her name from Rika after being carted off by the were-cats in the police car. And that she changed her personality from a bloodthirsty killer willing to attack her own team mates with Irie's help to someone that has actually bonded to Taba and the others. (End speculation.)

(Splice up of the inside front and back covers.)

Summary: Anti-Kuro Neko were-cats have chased Kuro-Neko out of town and have set their sights on eliminating DAX and the TAC weapons from Zinguzi. But, it looks like something is wrong in the were-cat containment system and there's more going on behind the scenes than we've been told. Where did all of Kagura's deleted were-cats go? Will Maya survive the attack from the were-cat assassin? Will Narusawa beat Takami to Taba's heart? Will rhetorical questions ever go out of style? Highly recommended.


Saptra Studio said...

that's your speculation before read volume 14?
I also think the same when I saw the photo, but then I came with conclusion that Yuka and Rika is a different person x)

anyway, nice post again
*havent blog for a while and I see your review already this far* lol

TSOTE said...

Well, to be honest, I read the first few volumes of Geobreeders back years ago when they were first translated into English in the U.S., and the images of the insane Rika attacking were-cats were intended to bolster the idea that Rika was Yuka. Then I read volumes 13 to 16 all at one time (which is when I decided to do these summaries) and I got confused and went back to reread books 1-11. Yuka tells Descartes that Rika was killed on the island, and Chieko says that she only had 2 daughters. From here, it's just guessing, but either Yuka is Rika and Rika didn't actually die, or Rika did die and Yuka is a clone or body-double. Because Yuma mistreats Yuka badly in volumes 15 and 16, I have to assume that Rika gets recycled in each new version of Kagura Co., and changes her personality each time because of it.

Saptra Studio said...

I re-read my vol 13 and 14 of geobreeders where Chieko appears and I'm couldn't found when Chieko said she only have 2 daughters.
Did I miss it?

At book 13 Chieko says, "that child born here", when Taba and others met her.
Chieko never touch that island before she and Mori break there to search for her husband, so obviously Rika and Yuma born in main island and this indicate the child Chieko talking about is Yuka.

Also before she say that, there's a panel with 3 photos, one of them picture Chieko holding a baby. So I guess that 3 photos is Yuma, Rika and Yuka. Just my guess though.

At book 14, Yuma said that if Chieko continue with Kagura co., Rika wouldn't be dead though Yuka may never born at all. I guess Chieko already pregnant with Yuka that time and Yuka is one of Chieko reason to retreat from Kagura.

This also explaining why Yuma seems hate Yuka, since Rika died because Chieko choose Yuka to be saved and left Yuma and Rika in battlefield.

I want to believe that Rika and Yuka are two different person. since Yuka really care with her company and friends, completely different with Rika who easily killed her own friwnds and still laugh on top of that.

Yuka gain my respect when she worried about her friends safety and her snap in the last volume really touched me, so I don't want her to be the same person with horrible Rika who eliminate previous Kagura.

TSOTE said...

Well, see, that's the problem. Chieko only talks about Yuma and Rika, while she does thank the group for taking care of her "Yuka". In Japanese, things like "daughter", "big sister" and "uncle" can be used as terms of endearment without actually meaning a real family connection. The language is intentionally vague. As for the photo, I thought so also, but looking at it again it wasn't clear who exactly was in it or when it was taken. If the baby was Yuka, then Rika and Yuma shouldn't be in the shot. If it was Yuka, then where was she prior to joining Kagura ver. 4?

To me, there's no good answer. If there were three sisters, then exactly when was Yuka conceived, who exactly is the father, and where was she for the first 15-20 years? Why doesn't Chieko mention giving birth to Yuka soon after going to the island? etc. etc.

Another difficulty is the comment Yuka makes about remembering a TV show that had aired in 1979. The bombing of the island was in Sept., 1976. If she was born a few months later that would make her 2 or 2.5 years old when the TV program aired and I can't see someone having clear memories when they were that young. But Rika would be at the right age then.

Saptra Studio said...

Well yeah, to many mystery in Geobreeders world.

I have few guessed that Chieko may pregnant before Hiroyuki Kagura went missing. The time when he gone and Mori search over him is not that long, so maybe when Chieko first took step in that island she already have Yuka for 2-3 months inside.

And it seems that she later join with Yuma because Rika's death and she need someone to replace Rika's place.

I guess since Yuka separated so long from her sister, when siblings separated too long they often show their good side so their siblings will be proud of them, so she tried her best to follow Yuma orders and meet her sister expectations.

I even guessed that because Yuka feel guilty that because of her, that their mother withdraw from battlefield and causing Rika's death in the end. This also may explain why she copy Rika hairstyle.

I have no valid fact for that though. Especially about that old TV show, too many confusing plot.

I hope that Itou will continue Geobreeders again with a conclusion this time. Too many story left to be developed though that also sign for a good story, but I can't help wanting to see the end.
Though with current Itou conditions, it may be hard for him after all ... sigh ... doujinshi may be a good stress relief.

TSOTE said...

I agree that Chieko could have been pregnant at the time of the island attack. I just wish Itou had said that outright. I just don't like the fact that Rika and Yuka look so similar, even if they are sisters. Identical sisters born a couple of years apart is not a common event.

I hope that Itou can gt back to writing again, too. Good luck to him.