Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: Geobreeders vol. 8

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Geobreeders, vol. 08, by Akihiro Itou - Grade: A
The volume starts out with a Hounds group standing outside of a warzone at a factory of some kind, complaining that they're not allowed to get involved. Their new Zinguzi weapons are charged and ready, so they reluctantly wait. Inside, the two were-cat factions - Kuro-Neko and anti-KN - are fighting it out. One small party of three escorts Kuru-Neko to a phone, then shoot the phone up after he leaves through it. When one of the escorts starts giving orders for the next stage of the action, his partners turn on him and slice his neck. He dies and the remaining escorts join the anti-KN group. Kuro-Neko shows up in the sewers below the city, with his escape path cut off by a different armed group of rebel were-cats that he has to fight his way through. Later, he meets Maya on a bridge and tells her he has to run out of the city for a while, and he doesn't know when he'll be back. Maya decides to not leave with him, so he disappears by himself.

The scene switches to a snow-covered park, where the park sign has been covered over with a piece of paper reading "Kagura Company". Since the SEALs trashed their office and most of their vehicles, and they've run out of money, they have to rough it. At Zinguzi Heavy Industries, Yashima, Yoda and Narusawa are being given a tour of the new weapons being developed for Hound. The flagship is a sniper laser rifle being given to Narusawa.

For all practical purposes, it's the same thing as the light-activated target shooting toys made for children, and in fact the target is one such gunfighter toy the rep bought from a toy store. But, to were-cats, it's a software virus delivery system that can prove deadly. Zinguzi had been working on a Gundam-like robot target, but the rep had cut himself on it and they gave up on it.

(Replacement hi-tech target. Batteries not included.)

What follows now is a side-story with Maki returning to her roots. A dirty cop contacts her, saying that there's a job if she wants it, and the prize for her is information about Luger Ryuu. Maki returns to the park and asks Yu to sneak away with her as her driver. Yu's price is a carton of Lucky Strike Ultra Lights. The next day, they stop at the gun shop, taking all of the guy's big guns and his Subaru. Maki's parting cry is "Escape Kagura!" Eiko is right on her trail saying "fat chance". Eiko wants revenge for Maki's betrayal of the company (or at least a cut of the profit from the job), so she has Taba drive their last remaining pickup truck, with Yuka sleeping unawares in back with Takami, and Maya riding on the roof of the cab. As the days pass, Eiko is looking more and more violent because her eyebrows are growing back out. She also starts demonstrating a serious pyromaniac streak, threatening to burn down everything with one of Yu's abandoned lighters.

("You want to know about Luger Ryuu? Got a job for you then.")

One of the ongoing gags is that all of the gunfighters that descend on one particular town have nicknames. Maki is "Red Shooting Star". She encounters one guy at a gyudon restaurant that calls himself "Tokarev Masa". He asks who Maki's partner is and after some thought the answer is "Yu Himehagi, the Driver". Through the story, Yu tries coming up with different names, including "Vamos Yu", then gives up and just settles on "They call me 'Yu'". The job is to be on standby for a gang boss named Serizawa when he goes to swap diamonds for cash with Chan (last seen in volume 3, and now sporting a big scar over his left eye). Of course it's a trap, with Masa being asked to deliver Maki to Chan for revenge, but Maki doesn't know that. One of the other running gags is that when Maki meets Masa, he and Yu stick her with the food bills.

As they approach the meeting site for the job, various minor characters try to make names for themselves by assassinating "Shooting Star", so she pulls out one of the anti-tank guns and destroys them all - in the process damaging Taba's truck as he takes the same freeway a few blocks farther back. They meet with their employer - Highlight group's Serizawa and are told to wait in town until the deal with Chan goes down in a few days. They can do anything they like during that time as long as they keep their receipts for reimbursement. Masa warns Maki that there's actually something of a threat to worry about - a second shooting star. There's another woman, Youko Fukami, who drives a tricked out Buggatti (it has voice-activated machine guns, smoke grenade launchers, etc.) and calls herself "Blue Shooting Star" (there's also a "Black Shooting Star" but "Blue" finishes him off really easily in the next volume). "Blue" shows up in the next scene and quickly destroys the riffraff that tries to ambush her. ("Blue" also figures heavily in the File.XX - Breakthrough OAV.)

("I'm Serazawa. Just mention my name, and keep the receipts.")

One more running gag is that Maya keeps on sneaking in and out of Serizawa's house, spying and reporting back to Eiko. Now that Rando knows about the money and diamonds, she wants Kagura to get as much of a piece of the action as possible. They stay at a love hotel for one night. When Yuka wakes up, she's confused as to where she is, then starts watching the in-house TV programming as the others sleep. She raptly takes in the porno movie that she finds, then panics at seeing Maya trying to sleep in Taba's lap. She grabs Maya's tail to pull her off, and the were-cat goes feral. The next morning, the rest of the group wonders where the hole in the wall came from (Yuka used a protect seal to fend off Maya's attack) and they check out before management can learn about it.

(Young Love. When Maki met Ryuu.)

Maki and Yu relax in a hotel room, with Maki relating how she first encountered Ryuu. She was a high school girl, and as she was going home one afternoon, found this guy in an alley with a gun in one hand and the other arm shot up. She used her bandanna to wrap up the wound, and the guy told her to stay away from him because he's dangerous. He then steps out, carrying a propane tank, to take out the police chasing him. Of course, Maki was attracted to the danger, and Ryuu taught her how to fight. They turned into a regular Bonnie and Clyde, but when Yu asks if they'd slept together then, Maki goes angrily quiet. The story is then interrupted as more thugs sneak into their bathing pool and there's much fighting and the throwing around of nicknames. As Yu and Maki drive off afterwards, Maki calls up Toyonaga of the Marui toy gun company and tells her shooting partner that there's a chance for the gang to get into a real gun battle.

("I'm Blue Shooting Star. You killed my father. Prepare to die.")

Toyonaga shows up at a gyudon restaurant and the two trade information before the guy disappears to round up his gang. Masa is at the same counter, and he tells Maki that someone has shot Serizawa, so the Highlight gang is under new leadership, and that their receipts are now just worthless paper. Outside the window, more thugs spot Maki, and there's another gun battle as the dirty cop watches on. It's implied that the cop is the one alerting the thugs to Maki's location. This time, Yu rams Masa's car in the parking lot, involving him in the shoot out as Maki's "partner" (Masa considers this "dirty pool" and we now get to see him in action. Masa has two pistols in his trench coat and many many spare clips in holders.) On a bridge, the dirty cop notices Blue Shooting Star watching from another roof, and Blue sees a Spanish-looking girl on the next roof over.

The cop had been talking to a mysterious man named Ootsu, who had supplied him with information on Masa. Eventually, the cop is ordered to go to the top of a mountain in the sulfurous hot springs area near town, where Ootsu had sent two gunmen to "terminate" his contract. The cop disappears from the story at this point. Because Maki had had to leave the hotel suddenly, she's low on clothes. She and Yu stop at a dress shop and try on different outfits. Unfortunately, when she's just in her bra and panties, the Spanish girl arrives and pulls a gun on her. The curtains open on two of the other dressing rooms and we learn that the Spanish girl is actually one of a set of identical triplets - one of them calls herself "Silver Nambu". Silver asks who the other person is, and Yu says "Yu. Just call me 'Yu'". They get to the Highlight mansion where they see Serizawa. Actually, it's Serizawa's older brother, Ootsu, who has taken over the gang. The plan is still on track but he's moved up the date of the exchange for the next day. He doesn't need Maki any more so he has her and Yu "call me sleeping tobacco Yu" Himehagi locked up in the basement.

("Tokarev Masa. Pleased to make your acquaintance.")

The volume wraps up with Maki looking happy in the basement. Because she knows that her name's been taken off the hit list she can finally get a good sleep and not worry about what happens tomorrow. And Eiko is sitting outside of the mansion, jealously flicking her lighter while the others try to keep her from burning it down. Elsewhere, Chan tells Blue to stay on standby - he's been waiting three years for his revenge against Black Shooting Star and he's built up a huge amount of interest on the debt. Afterward, he'll deal with Maki.


One of the story arcs, and one of the songs that Maki sings throughout, is "150 Tons of Dynamite" (ダイナマイトが150屯). There's no real information on this one in English, but it was covered by Keiji Haino on his "Live" album.

(Eiko the pyromaniac, and her spooky eyebrows.)

p. 13: Some of Kagura's money was spent on NYahoo auctions.

p. 16: Zinguzi's logo is "ZiN".

p. 28: Yuka sings the Japanese version of "Row, row your boat" and then asks why no one is joining in.

p. 86: After hearing about Blue Shooting Star's exploits, Maki asks if "Toei" or "Warners" then appeared in the credits on the screen.

("Word". Silver Nambu.)

p. 109: In the love hotel, Maya tries to eat one of the condom packets.

p. 173: Yu and Maki shop for clothes in Goodday House.

p. 179: Yu calls Masa "Gyudon Masa".

Yu's attempts to give herself a name:

p. 44: I'm a driver, so they call me... Himehagi Yu.
p. 71: I'm the driver, so they call me!... They don't call me!
p. 110: They call me "Vamos Yu"!
p. 179: I'm Sleeping Tobacco Yu. That's a lie.
p. 176:
Yu: "I'm Yu Himehagi".
Maki: "Is that enough?"
Yu: "Look, we don't have Vamos, anything with a steering wheel, not even the Subaru. So I don't have a nickname."
Maki: "She's Yu Himehagi."
Yu: "I'm Yu Himehagi."

Summary: Hong Kong-style action as Maki and Yu go on a road trip. Highly recommended.

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