Monday, May 13, 2019

Escape from the Grace Field house arc review

"You mean, in exchange for spying on us, they won't get shipped out and are allowed to live?"
- Emma thinking about what types of motives the spy has (The Promised Neverland).

The Promised Neverland (2019) is the animated version of one of the newest best-sellers on the Weekly Shounen Jump magazine. The manga has been written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu and it has sold millions of copies between 2016, which is when the manga first started, and 2019. I’ve been a big fan of the series for a long time now, ever since the first arc finished in the manga as the amount of atmosphere, storyboarding and character writing the authors did in the first 37 chapters (length of the first arc is 37 chapters) was phenomenal. 
Normally series don't start out strong because the authors either are novice or they create a story that is supposed to get better and better (rarely they do). In my opinion, as far as series in the shounen demographic go, the first arc of this series stands at the top along with series like Death Note in how amazing the first arc of the series is.

This blog post will be talking about the first arc of the series which has now been animated by A1-Pictures into a 13-episode TV series that adapts the Escape from Grace Field house arc. The story continues beyond the Escape from Grace Field arc and a second season has been confirmed for 2020, but that's a story for that year.

ma, code number 63194, is a bright and cheery young girl who loves her family. In the Grace Field house where she lives, Emma’s large family consists of Isabella, whom she and everyone else in the house calls 'mama,' along with Emma's dozens of brothers and sisters whom Emma plays with all the time. Grace Field house is said to be an orphanage in which every singleday there are IQ tests being done by the children. The children doing those IQ tests is the first ominous thing in the manga that tells the reader that this series isn't as rainbow and sunshine as it's made out to be. 

One day, Conny, one of the younger sisters of Emma, assumedly get adopted and leave the house, but Emma notices that even though Conny was supposed to take it with her, Conny’s stuffed toy rabbit is still in the Grace Field house when the girl has already left through the front gate that leads out from the Grace Field house’s large gardeny-foresty area. No child that has lived in the house has ever left through the gate because of warnings and creepy stories the children are told by mama Isabella.

As Emma and her brother Norman decide to go to Conny to give her the stuffed rabbit back, they come across something very dangerous and creepy. Conny’s cold corpse is found in a truck with a rose penetrating through her heart, and as Emma and Norman hear voices they decide to go under the truck to spy on the ones that have potentially killed their sister Conny - only for them to see that there are large, crazy looking creatures next to Conny that drop her corpse into a large bottle of liquid. Those creatures can speak human language and are seen to be talking with mama Isabella by Norman and Emma. Those creatures are literal demons. 

This is when Emma and Norman get the realization that they don’t in fact live the type of happy family life with a great mother that they originally thought they did – no, the children of the Grace Field house are actually food to the demons, they are cattle who now must escape from this prison, they must escape from the clutches of the demons and mama Isabella before it is time for more imminent deaths of the children that get regularly "adopted."

Basically: once a child reaches a certain age (related to their IQ but still at oldest they are 12 years old) they get picked by the demons, killed by putting a rose through the children's hearts and then the entire dead body gets bottled and taken away only to be sold to the the rich demons, due to the delicious brains that humans have.

The Promised Neverland series has three easily recognizable and memorable main characters with Emma, the loud-mouthed and caring protagonist, Ray the cool-guy-looking silent book-worm, and Norman, the mastermind of the series - even though Emma, Ray and Norman are all peak-level students, Norman is a god tier even among those three when it comes to outsmarting your opponents. The series still manages to have certain equal mind battles between all three of them when it comes to emotional level. This is also the first time in Grace Field history that three extremely smart children exist at the same time.

The story also has couple of semi-memorable side characters in Don and Gilda. The three main characters are the smartest characters in the Grace Field house, as I already mentioned, they are always scoring top scores from tests, but Ray and Norman especially are fantastic to watch or read about with their mind games, which I won’t be talking about in detail because of their very spoilerish nature as they are very important parts of the plot of the first arc. All I can say is that Norman and Ray make the series for me, which is why I believe that after the first arc of the series has really fallen off a lot, honestly. But aside from the character writing, there are many cool-looking and -feeling parts in the first arc as well, the presentation of how messed up the world is to the characters being psychologically challenged is beautiful to look at and think about more deeply.

The Promised Neverland is a shounen series with a gripping and dark atmosphere that plays on the psychological aspects of the characters. 
The artist of the series, Posuka Demizu, also really shined and will be remembered for what she pulled off in the first arc of The Promised Neverland. The artwork of TPN doesn't stick to a certain mold, so it's very different from most series. Even though it's not similar to Hunter x Hunter, it can be likened to it because Yoshihiro Togashi, the author of HxH, also has art that doesn't look the same all the time, both of these artists can really hit the bullseye with character expressions that look really deformed but great. 

There are crazy pages, spreads, paneling styles, and so on in TPN. The art at worst can seem kind of mediocre and at its best it can feel like something you have never seen before. There is a panel where Norman is walking through a hall of the Grace Field house with a glass of water in his hand. As two children run past him playing games, the walls of the hallway Norman is walking through feel as if they are becoming deformed and the face of Norman is seen reflecting on the water on the glass he's carrying. There are quite a few pages of fantastic stand-out art like that in the series, and mostly all the color spread-pages of the series are like that.

Yeah, all in all there is a lot of good to say about the first arc, the Escape from Grace Field house arc, of the series, but as most things do, the series in my mind really should have ended there at the end of chapter 37. The manga did not have any that relevant plot lines left that would have excused the continuation of the story at this point. The series is 100 chapters past the first arc and not even a fragment as well written or presented as it. The characters are also shadows of their former selves. Look at Don and Gilda or the main characters; they all feel underutilized, irrelevant and just... waste of space. The series should have focused on fleshing out other characters and introducing them over time rather than dump dozens of characters in the group that the readers have no emotional attachment to. There is another arc in the series that is also an escape arc, but it lacks all the qualities, the psychological aspects and so on that the first arc did. I am usually the kind of person that appreciates when an author can change the way they write things, monotonous writing can be pretty boring after all, but the next escape arc is a downright downgrade of the Escape from the Grace Field house arc, it would have been better if it was entirely different arc from an escape arc, I guess. Didn't like that arc at all. Also the series has been skipping arcs and events that it should have shown us by now as the Promised Neverland manga is right now in its final arc.

The series started out strong with the authors clearly having planned many plot lines throughout the first arc which kept the series fresh and interesting to both the authors and the readers, but as soon as the first arc ended with that amazing ending, the series was not the same ever again.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Zero's Tea Time

"Well, a child's curiosity and a detective's spirit of inquiry... do have much in common, after all."
- Amuro Tooru (Detective Conan, vol 76, chapter 799, p. 14)

In 2018 Detective Conan got its 22nd mainline movie, Zero the Enforcer, which I’ve talked about before. It is a movie that goes more in-depth about the dark side of the justice system and it focuses on Amuro Tooru, one of the smartest characters in the series who is a triple face character that the reader first meets as a waiter whom then becomes a so-called apprentice of the great sleeping Mouri Kogoro,  and I can say that the 22nd film has ended up at the top three or so of my favourite movies from the franchise.

What really makes the movie stand out in the real world however, is that it broke all box office records the series has accomplished so far – raking over 100 million dollars during its run.

This massive popularity the movie gained gave birth to something else, an idea of a collaboration that soon bore fruit. That collaboration was the birth of a new manga which was created between Aoyama Gosho (overseeing the new series) and another lesser-known manga artist named Takahiro Arai (the artist for the drawings), and their manga was dubbed as Zero’s Tea Time (ゼロの日常 Zero no Nichijō).

Now, Zero’s Tea Time basically tells the story of Amuro Tooru outside of the scenes you see in Conan. You get to know how Amuro spends his days and interacts with other people, things and places – even ones from the movies. Some of the events actually require in-depth knowledge of the DC verse and what has gone down in the story so far to pick up on all the places in time where the story of Zero’s Tea Time takes place. The story itself is mostly episodic, but the story's jumps between the events that we are familiar are what makes the story seem very different from practically any other work out there when you get to the nitty and gritty of it all – the story itself is very light-hearted and simplistic as a lot of it is Amuro Tooru simply making food and eating with other characters, however, it’s where all the events are placed in the mainline story that give it more depth. A new reader would probably feel as if they are missing something about Amuro's character every time they read a chapter (to be fair though, the chapters in ZTT are much shorter/lower in condensed content than Gosho Aoyama's DC chapters).

So for people that are not too familiar with Detective Conan I can see that Zero’s Tea Time would seem a lot different than for someone like me who is a huge Conan and Amuro fan, so I can understand all the nuances that make Zero’s Tea Time stand out. For example I can enjoy seeing a chapter showing us Amuro at a shooting range with his underling Kazami (see M22 for Kazami) and I also like how we get to know why and how Amuro is basically a peak human in strength and speed (obviously he’s weaker than Makoto who will also appear in Movie 23); well obviously because he has a special training regimen, but it’s nice to see him train hard on-panel. 

But even without all that, the Conan(series)-styled artwork done by Takahiro Arai really manages to complement the script supervised by Gosho. From what I've seen, most spinoff series in general are not that good-looking (not just character models are off), so I’m actually pretty surprised how this looks like. Arai is very good at paneling - the manga's pages are not just made up of square boxes, but a lot more than that. There is clear creativity at work here that for sure goes underappreciated by many. For example I REALLY like how Arai is capable of making the feel of a flow of time in single panels come to life, ie. in chapter 2 as Amuro is cooking you can feel the time pass in the panel itself as it shows multiple events, or in chapter 5 where Amuro is jumping rope, doing push-ups with one hand and doing lifts, all taking place in one panel and the layout of how he gets closer (character model gets bigger) to the screen during the page. In chapter 15 there is also a remarkably done page where Kazami and Amuro eat curry together. The feel of a flow of time can be felt in the double-spread page with "Scotch" and Amuro as children fishing on the right and the present version of Amuro fishin on the left of the spread as the sun is shown in the horizon beyond the sea, as Amuro spends his time with his eyes closed. That fishing spread done by Arai might not be filled with content but it sure is breathtakingly marvelous in atmosphere, one of the best in the entire franchise.

Aside from that, the color pages look really nice as well; there is some clear creativity in them. I especially like the double-spread page done for chapter 8 or chapter 13 (love this) as well as the panels where Arai imitates Gosho’s art in his own way to pull out different types of expressions for Amuro. The page where he saves his yet-to-be-named dog from getting hit by a car in chapter 9 is a normal page that looks really good all things considered – by that I mean the paneling, layout, art, creativity (making the character model go out of the panels as well as use of SFX effects and blank panel for the conclusive panel of the page) are all very well handled.

The story itself is, as I said, very simple in its core, but there are nice surprises in it for a hardcore Conan fan. I can appreciate the famous lawyer Kisaki Eri’s (Mouri Ran’s mother) secretary Kuriyama Midori appearing at Cafe Poirot where Amuro and Azusa (Poirot main worker who many ship as the perfect girlfriend to Amuro. Though, for Amuro’s girlfriend see M22!) work during daytime and talk about how the sandwiches – made by Amuro – are a being talked about in the legal circles. These kind of things bring Cafe Poirot to life as it’s a clear hot spot for the Beika District residents such as Mouri Detective Agency that live just upstairs, or the Kisaki law offices, and for many more residents.

Reading the series week-to-week however wouldn't be ideal as the pacing is slow, and by that I mean that even though it’s episodic, not much happens in an individual chapter, but collecting all of the little things together, it becomes a very enjoyable read for a long-time fan as there are many moments I can simply stop to appreciate such as Vermouth having sleep problems added on top of everything I've mentioned so far.

The most important aspect of the manga however is to see what drives Amuro forward and how he goes on with his days, how he balances things out in his busy schedules, and how he handles normal life hardships.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Window to Truth - The Dutch Shoe Mystery (1931)

“The girl was kind in a special way; when you spoke to her, she seemed to stop thinking of whatever she had been thinking and listened to you altogether.” 
― Ellery Queen (The Player on the Other Side)

This post is going to be a spoiler filled overview as well as my thoughts on the Dutch Shoe Mystery (1931) by Ellery Queen (the writer name of Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee). This is the third story featuring the main character Ellery Queen solving mysteries. In general the story belongs to the original and highly praised Ellery Queen's Nationality series and it's a classic detective fiction case with a setting fitting for even more modern suspense stories.
The story of the Dutch Shoe Mystery deals with the case of Abigail Doorn which happened in the 1920's. A diabetic millionaire dies in a modern hospital that has been designed full of sound proof rooms, soundless doors, sterilized environment, electrical creations such as X-rays, as well as automatic lamps which are automatically lit when people enter a room. These hints go to showcase for example when a room is being used, and the writers make the entire thing feel enjoyable to read, so these things don't feel like information dumps in the story at all.

Backstory on our main character

Ellery Queen, the character, is known as a writer, an unofficial detective, and the son of Richard Queen, a highly ranked inspector. Ellery is a man who has been raised on crimes and who has learned the art of solving them, and he's a man who find excitement from solving gruesome crimes, but even then, he's no superman: he feels sick to his stomach from seeing cuts on living, breathing and warm flesh. However, when the corpse gets cold, that's when Ellery Queen's emotions completely shift elsewhere and his eyes start to gaze towards finding the truth. That is the king of person that the main character of the Ellery Queen stories is, and I truly believe that he's a great one much like Christie's Hercule Poirot. 

The Dutch Shoe Mystery focuses a lot on diabetes at first: we learn about the intricacies of sugar count in blood for diabetics and how doctors lessen the amounts of sugar temporarily for a surgery, and how even the slightest surgeries done on a toe can kill a diabetic. There's even a mention of how the doctors would rather avoid anesthesia on a diabetic for a surgery. There's a part in the story in which Abigail Doorn, who is a diabetic, happens to be found in a coma in the hospital and due to the natural  coma, the doctors avoided putting her into a medically induced coma for the surgery (of course in the surgery room there is always going to be a person ready to add anesthesia if the patient were to wake up from their naturally induced coma).
Just to mention I felt that this is one of those books that kind of stick with me for no explainable reason, and I can definitely appreciate the enjoyable, cold-water-to-the-face -like, really fresh-feeling writing style of Ellery Queen from 90 years ago.

(Notes: I felt that there was an iffy part in the story about information dump at first as the story explains that due to Abigail Doorn having high blood sugar, her levels were 180. It was stated to have dropped down to 135 at the beginning, and they stated that the surgery can only be done when the sugar levels in 100cm^3 of blood are between 110 to 120. Luckily it's not necessary to remember these facts for the story.)

The story itself has three parts. Introduction, investigation and resolution. The case can be figured out by the reader in the parts before the resolution, as Ellery Queen (the writer) is known for originating the Challenge to the Reader -type of writing in which the writers challenge the reader to solve the case before finishing the book. The books contain a challenge usually about 2/3 of the way in, before the resolution part starts.

First part - welcome to the Dutch hospital
It's a chilly monday morning of January. The story begins as our main character Ellery Queen arrives at a Dutch hospital in New York to personally ask a question or two from Dr. Minchen, a friend of Ellery who happens to be a surgeon and the leading medical superintendent of the Dutch hospital. Ellery asks Minchen about "whether or not you it is possible to fake the time of death," and due to Minchen bringing up the effects of speeding up the time of the death of  diabetics, Ellery manages to crack a certain case right at the start of the story, but will that question be used as a foreshadowing for this case as well? maybe.

The beginning of the story alone has a very important purpose in the story of the Dutch Shoe Mystery as one would guess, although I didn't even think much about it until starting to write it now though. Every word for the story seems to be carefully thought out for the purpose of it being a mystery novel - you can immediately tell that the novel is made purely for mystery solvers, leaving out all the unnecessary fluff that would enhance the storytelling itself but stretch out the novel in a way for the kind of target audience that the author does not write for. In that sense Ellery Queen (the writers) know exactly who they are writing for, which is commendable, as in the real world you just can not please everyone.
Now the structure for the case itself can seem to be simplistic side on the hindsight but once you start actually thinking about all the plot lines that lead up to the end, instead of just thinking about the main string of event which is Abigail Doorn's death and the time of the crime when the killer, so called "Mr. Janney," was in the room, the story becomes more complicated.

The basics of the case are simple and to the point. On the steps of the 3rd floor of the hospital, the creator of the entire hospital building as well as a millionaire, Abigail Doorn, fell into a sudden diabetes coma. Her muscles gave up at the steps and due to the impact from her fall, her gallbladder had gotten severely injured. The injury on the gallbladder is what the surgery of the story is about; and it has to be done immediately. Ms. Doorn was confirmed dead at 11:05, after 15 minutes of trying to save her life since the situation being noticed at 10:50, as Ellery Queen looked at his watch mechanically and said one word: Murder. According to Janney ms. Doorn was strangled with a wire and the rigor mortis had already kicked in when she was taken into the surgery room.

More of the basics:
Doctor Janney was called to the 3rd floor's stairs all of a sudden during his day's first patient check-up, at 8:04. Dr. Janney found Abigail Doorn at the stairs then.
Doorn was taken to one of the third floor's patient rooms, stripped naked and put to bed - as even the slightest surgeries can kill a diabetic, it was a must that they lower her blood sugar levels with insuline shots before the surgery, and the surgery had to be done ASAP. An artificial coma via anesthesia makes the surgery on a diabetic all the more complicated, hence why the natural coma she fell in was a positive turn of events.
Dr. Janney went to surgery room A when they got Doorn's sugar levels to stabilize. In SR A, Janney had another patient to perform surgery on quickly, as that was going on, Doorn was already taken to the first floor surgery room's preparation room.
As Janney was performing surgery in room A, Dr. Leslie took care of Abigail Doorn. However due to the state of the body, the rigor mortis, Janney could tell that Doorn would have been alive at 10:20.
Surgeon Leslie was with Doorn up to the point when she was taken to the preparation room. Leslie investigated Doorn and could confirm that she was alive and her heart was pumping. Doorn was taken to the preparation room at 10:20, pushed to the third floor's elevators that goes straight down into the preparation room of the surgery room. The elevator is used only for taking patients in and out for and from surgeries.
Along with Leslie came ms. Price, Dr. Janney's secretary, and ms. Clayton, a nurse.
Dr. Leslie went to the surgery room to prepare for the surgery as ms. Price was left with Abigail Doorn. Ms. Clayton left for other works she had to do, so she's almost certainly not necessary to the case.
Because the murder method was strangling, the question for ms. Price is: Who came to the preparation room when Dr. Leslie and ms. Clayton had left?
"No one. Well, no one, except Dr. Janney..."

As Dr. Janney had just finished a surgery on the third floor, and had spoken with Ellery Queen himself around at 10:30 after the surgery on the 3rd floor, as Janney was moving with the doorkeeper Cobb.
Ms. Price "saw" Janney - or his eyes atleast, behind a doctor's mask, completely dressed in white (as with all the workers at the hospital, white from top to bottom), at 10:30. The same time Janney had met Ellery Queen at the hallway.

-A mysterious person, mr. Swanson is mentioned early in the story, he wants to meet dr. Janney.
-Dr. Minchen, Ellery's friend, has a book he's been writing about allergies from birth, which he doesn't want to share to Ellery due to his co-author, Janney, not wanting to share the information to anyone, well, anyone except his secretary ms. Price.

So the mystery of the culprit is: Ms. Price saw Dr. Janney - or believed she did, because Price had known Janney for many years; a small man who limps with one of his legs. "Janney" who had arrived at 10:30(+), was he real or an imitator? Was the culprit trying to frame Dr. Janney?
The culprit could only have killed Abigail Doorn in the preparation room, around 10:30?!

It's nice to see how every small detail that was presented matters, how a mention of a business card or a cheque can bring forth multiple actions from Ellery Queen, as well as the hints when there are multiple doors to the preparation room, how these characters in the other rooms saw the things; all very similar this time around, though, could have been done more cleverly, bring different kinds of testimonies from different people who saw or heard things from different rooms. The anesthesia room, the hallway, the elevator in the preparation room and the surgery room, all around the preparation room where the murder supposedly took place and where many people supposedly saw the murderer, Dr. "Janney" go to and leave from. They even saw what was supposedly the moment of the crime and tried to communicate with him!

Questions that arised to me personally:
- Janney never said who called him to the 3rd room's stairs all of a sudden.
- How did the wire appear on him, how come it was never noticed?
- The sugar balance should have been stabilised. Is the time of the death accurate, or does the temporary balancing of blood sugar not affect how fast rigor mortis begins for diabetics? It was confirmed that the blood sugar levels was "down from 180 to 135." The surgery can only be done when it's 110-120.

In chapter 17 we get to hear how things have not  progressed an inch. It's the evening, Papa Queen has caught a flu and the night begins to turn to day as chapter 18 opens up with testimonies from everyone on what happened in and after the hospital incident. That chapter is used to transition the story to its next part as New York and many other areas have begun to fall into utter chaos. The scale of this story gets massive. Abigail Doorn's murder affects everyone from famous people and politicians to the Wall Street shares. The police does all they can - that the mayor and the police chief have to admit - however, the newspapers make up their own stories and the masses NEED answers right away.

The second part - another case happens

Right now Dr. Janney is the person that was supposedly being imitated during the time of the crime as well as the person most suspicious for being the culprit due to him keeping secrets that the police think might be important in solving the case: the mysterious mr. Swanson.
 As the world is in uproar, Mr. "Swanson" makes his move and appears at the district attorney's office. He claims to be Dr. Janney's stepson, Thomas who took her mother's maiden name years ago due to a failed surgery while he was working in the Dutch Hospital years ago. On monday morning, the time of the crime, Thomas borrowed a cheque of $50 from his father and was hiding ever since due to avoiding journalists digging up his past as a failed doctor. He had lost his doctors license but was making his way back up in other career's. 
Inspector Queen makes a call to the hospital for Janney to confirm mr. Swanson's statement which will confirm Janney's alibi at the time of the crime, when they were at the office, as well as Swanson's true identity, however. . . Ellery answers the phone.
10:35. "It's been about half an hour since Dr. Janney was murdered!"
And so the plot deepens.

The second case of the book is certainly interesting, but the story is rather quickly heading towards its conclusion.
Dr. Janney was found dead by Ellery Queen and Dr. Minchen at 10:35.
At the time of his death he was writing about allergies since birth, co-author of it being Dr. Minchen.
The time of death according to Minchen and Ellery is between 10:00 and 10:05 am.
In his room there is one door and one large window opposite of it. Janney was sitting on his table, Ellery remarks that it's weird how the table was not positioned in front of the window. He also notices that, after being told by Minchen, about a few weeks ago the floor of the hospital's offices had been renewed.
Dr. Janney was hit from the back with a blunt object that is nowhere to be seen; the killer must have taken it with them, and after falling unconscious,  he was strangled to death with a similar electrical wire as what was found on Abigail Doorn's throat. Stuck so deep on his throat that it was barely visible.
Now, the mysterious part is that the culprit managed to do this while the hospital was filled with police.

Police superintendent and the police sergeant had already been in hot water before this - the newspapers claim that they, especially Queen, are not fit for the job as they haven't figured out a thing, and now, under the police's watch a murder has happened! The noose is tightening on inspector Queen's neck as, if he doesn't figure out the case by the end of the day, he and his superior will be shelved from their duties for good.

This particular book is no prime example of great plotting but let's go over a list of how well Queen managed to tango with these plotlines in this one particular book just to make a point, shall we? 

There are 37 listed characters are some more such as nurses and detectives and many other people like that in the story. I will not go over the list of all of these characters but the ones that everything culminates to in a list from Least (still very important) to Most.

 The second part mostly focuses a bit on the second, Janney's, case and the Queen household and them not being able to figure anything out about the crimes - Ellery claims that instead of perfect crimes they were impossible crimes! We can also read about Ellery going through the crime scenes again and figuring out information we had no known yet, things that had been changed. He found an unexplained item which is an important clue he could figure out how to find it after figuring out the case.

And that's when we get the 
Which Ellery Queen stories are known and praised for. The second part of the story ends up with this claim: All the clues have been laid. You can figure the case out. You don't need "that" and "this" (the information of both the Item and Intel which Ellery did not share with the reader but did with a few case characters) to solve the case, as Ellery himself figured the case out before knowing them as well!
 Now, crack the case!

Dr. John Minchen - Ellery's friend. Has a revolutionizing (from medical standpoint) writing project with Dr. Janney.
Hendrik Doorn - "Someone will probably kill me if I speak." A person who's been living under Abigail's wing since she became rich. Her brother. An extremely overweight man with addiction to gambling and women. Has no money despite getting it from both Abigail and ____.  
Abigail Doorn - The victim, in her 70's. Very rich, created two testaments but only one thing changed: Kneisel's project is out.
Sarah Fuller - Despite her high position in the servant's of Doorn household for many years, she hates Abigail and Abigail hates her, never to kick her out. Sarah's a religious person to the core and claims to have foretold Abigail's death in a sense.
Dr. Florence Pennini - Has hate towards Dr. Janney due to losing her high position in the delivery ward.
Dr. Dunning A man who met ms. Fuller for half an hour after the murder. Neither want to tell what the meeting was about.

Lucille Price - A nurse and Janney's secretary. Janney atleast shares the project with Minchen with ms. Price.
Hulda Doorn - Daughter of Abigail. 18's, mysteriously young.
Philip Morehouse - Victim's family lawyer. There are very short chapters about him and Hulda since the very beginning. The chapters don't go to explain anything they are just... Weird to read because you know they foreshadow something. Morehouse claims to have had a testamented order that when Abigail were to die, important papers should be gotten rid of. Philip destroyed them before showing them to the police. 
Moritz Kneisel - A labrat who is 2 years late in creating something "much better than steel" along with Dr. Janney who got Abigail to pay for the project in turn that it would be finished in 6 months.
Michael Cudahy - "Big Mike" a crime gang leader boss of small-time guys: Joe Gecko, Snapper and Little Willie. Mentioned about killing Abigail Doorn.
Dr. Francis Janney - Alot of the plotlines in the story seem to culminate up to him. He's the victim's favourite. Through the victim, Abigail, he got the position of dr. Pennini in the labour ward. Through the victim he got the money for Kneisel's project. He won't allow others to learn of the identity of the mysterious man he met before the crime; "mr. Swanson." He shares a writing project with dr. Minchen and won't allow others to know what they are all about.  

This part can be skipped; it does not have to do with the case characters. It just goes over the cast of main and overarching characters: Ellery Queen (I'd like to call him a daddy's boy version of Hercule Poirot), Richard Queen the police sergeant, Pete Harper a trusted journalist whom has helped the police on multiple cases, Richie the lieutenant, Detectives Flitter, Piggott, Johnson and Hesse, sergeant detective Thomas Velie who is mentioned many times, he works on most of the clues by bossing other police around to figure out impossible to figure out things such as where the electrical wire used to strangle Abigail Doorn was bought from, who is the real owner of the killer's doctor's clothes that were abandoned - as the shoes are both worn as badly, Ellery figured they can't have been the real Janney's clothes, etc. As well as the police doctor Samuel Prouty as well as Henry Sampson and Timothy Cronin the district and assistant district attorney's.   

The third part - the culprit

This is the part which contains all the answers to this rather mind boggling case but even I, with my keen eye for detail, have yet to unravel the truths of this case. By the time of reaching the last two dozen or so pages which contain the final part of the story, I must admit this: I know nothing, what I did guess is the information-twist that Dr. Minchen gave about Hulda Doorn, but that was revealed at the end of the second chapter. Jesus... Just how far ahead can this author be. There are a ridiculous amount of unsolved mysteries that my mind can't focus on solving the main ones.

Okay, now that the novelty of being outwitted by the writer has worn off, let's talk reality.

The murder cases #1 and #2 are both genius in their simplicity - I always had a feeling that a certain "door" was obviously used for something but never brain stormed it through that what it could be - the obvious answer. I realized that I was being confused by the numerous mysteries focusing on each individual character, instead of the crimes themselves.

Not to be seen.
Not to be heard.

In other words visualization. That is what I was lacking when reading this story as, well, I was simply reading the pages. To solve the case in ridiculously simple ways you have to be able to visualize the text, what does the moment of the crime actually show you? 
Had I visualized either of the cases it would have been a wrap, however, the identity of the killer, is something I subconsciously blocked out - the opportunities for this person were obvious. It makes too much sense for this person to be the culprit! So I thought. 

Had this been done in comic book format akin to Detective Conan, there would be no excuses for not figuring out the culprit - it`s the side plots of the numerous characters which lead you astray from being able to point the finger at that person, it's them which make you question your objective thinking.

Now let's go over the few problems I have with the story
the motive for the first murder, Abigail Doorn's, is all fine and dandy, however how could they have known that the surgery for her broken intestine would have to be done after falling the stairs? That makes no sense, there's no proof that she would have gotten injured like that. It seems like a case of plot induced stupidity.
Second problem. The second murder, case of Dr. Thomas Janneys - the motive makes no sense, it was brushed aside but come on now. The culprit/s have no reason to kill off this particular man due to his personality and connections with them. What's worse - had they not done that, they would have gotten away. The second case helped Ellery pinpoint who the killer was. Although looking at it, had I visualized Abigail's murder, I would have figured it out then and there - though, then again, I would have questioned the amount of killers when the police brought that up and my thoughts would get mixed.
Also I did not really like how most of the characters were brushed aside. The clues for the first case are questionable as the culprit could have faked Ellery to think that way about the shoes. That could have been set-up - but I do understand that going through his line of thoughts will still lead up towards the culprits. It's just a way of giving more proof than just obvious theories on who the culprit could be.
The second case is pretty simple but due to not figuring out the first one, my thoughts & the story were not really focused on that. It was in the back-seat to the first murder.

Rather than just tension there's some comedy in the story as well when it comes to the more overarching characters of the Perry Mason stories; the police, the district attorney and especially the police doctor. Doing things like constantly kicking the hospital doors and making a lot of noise, spitting a piece of cigar on the hospital floor and going to check up a corpse as well as everyone eating sandwiches, in what I believe to be the preparation room. were presented in a pretty funny way, that along with just some dialogue here and there for some mysterious reason gave me a chuckle. They just seemed kind of stupid or misplaced I guess, considering the tense moments. Many of the random remarks for almost no reason gave me a good chuckle.

So as a detective story it was solid. I had barely any idea what was going on while reading despite its, by now, simplistic nature which was presented as something far more grand and complex than what it really was. In a comic book this case would be extremely easy so solve, but as a novel story, it was good.

I have another Ellery Queen book that I've bought and will read soon enough - it's the one that was created right after this one, and it's twice as long as The Dutch Shoe Mystery. 
But maybe I want to experience some Carr first before moving onto that one.
Oh how mysterious. At the corner of a table I also just happened to find another Ellery Queen book I've had for years - but only now I've realized it was a Queen book in the first place! Think it's time for a quick reread and blog post. Or not so quick if I can't remember anything about it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Parasyte -the maxim- review

“We've eased each other's boredom for quite a while... It's been quite fun.” 

- Ryuk (Death Note)

First post of 2019 will belong to a rewatch of this Madhouse series. Even though I have to attend uni and everyone else has to work hard in order to move forward in life at the same harsh pace like always, let's try to make this year more fruitful than the ones that came before it, eh?

寄生獣 セイの格率, Kiseijū Sei no Kakuritsu (2014), also known as Parasyte -the MAXIM- is a 24-episode long animated sci-fi thriller produced by the infamous Madhouse, known for their fantastic, high-quality anime adaptations of series such as Death Note, HunterxHunter, Hajime no Ippo, Akagi, etc. Parasyte is originally comic book created by Hitoshi Iwaaki and it ran as serialized work from 1989 to 1995. Because of this over two decade gap between the adaptation and the original work, the animated version is heavy on modernization; computers, cars, phones, types of clothing and so on have been made more digestible for the current generation's audience, however, Madhouse did a fantastic job at modernizing the series as it does not affect the series's writing quality negatively at all.

Truth be told, while this is not the type of series I would normally be writing about, as this blog is about gathering information about how detective fiction series handle different writing styles and of course I try to be both objectively and subjectively critical at series here so I have to focus on the type of genre that I am able to critisize, which is detective fiction, I still decided to post at least something about Parasyte -the maxim- as I did a rewatch on it.

Shinichi Izumi, 16, is a high school student with arachnophobia and glasses. One day as he lays in his bed, he gets attacked by what he assumes to be a snake which then moves into Shinichi's right arm, and, after a struggle, it suddenly disappears from inside the arm. Later, as he is living his daily school life, our main character realizes that his arm is not moving the way he wants it to - almost as if it has a will of its own. When the arm all of a sudden transforms into a mutant that has eyes and can split apart, the watcher of the show can then realize that Shinichi's right arm has been taken over by a what could be called an extraterrestial being that takes a form of its own while stuck to Shinichi as if it was a symbiote, a fused parasite. This parasite gets named and is then to be known as Migi, which translates into 'right arm.'

It is instantly noticeable from the very first few seconds of the first episode that the world is being invaded by these heartless, emotionless beings that arrive to try to take over the world both violently and psychologically. Migi tells Shinichi that he was about to take him over completely, but because he could not get into the brain because of Shinichi not allowing his entrance from the right arm, Migi had to take over the right arm only. What makes these supposed body invaders interesting is that, according to Migi, they specialize in cannibalism. The parasites that take over a dog only eat dogs, and just like so, parasites that take over humans only eat humans. Invading humans is their main goal because a parasite that ate a dog mentioned that he 'failed,' just like how Migi 'failed' because it only ate Shinichi's right arm.

The main story of Parasyte the Maxim deals with Shinichi and Migi collaborating in order to fight off other parasites that get much stronger and smarter by the minute. Cruel murders happen around the globe which is caused by the invaders and the humanity is starting to make their move against them with weapons. In the backgrounds the parasite kind that have taken over humans try to invade into politics, schools, etc. so that they can try and take over the world in a way that no one could ever guess.

Kiseijuu: Parasyte -the maxim- is a fascinating series. It is thriller and slightly action-oriented with a slice of romance. The romance aspects of the series could be much better but the writing style does tell the watcher and the reader that it's been done ~30 years ago, so the slight cringiness and the rare cliches that can be spotted while following the series through, might throw some people off a bit and stop their immersion on the series, however, Parasyte stands through the test of time extremely well all-in-all. Boosted with a neat soundtrack and consistent animation and artwork, Kiseijuu ends up being a gripping and entertaining tale that does not feel like it's a braindead series filled with repetitive and copy-pasted tropes used to garner specific audiences, which is sadly a thing that a ridicilous amount of anime these days tend to do.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Top five Hunter x Hunter chapters of 2018 x Hunter (1998) is a stand-out from other action-adventure manga series in that it gives the readers variety arc after arc, concepts and styles of writing change. The current arc, the Kakin Succession War that leads up to the Dark Continent arc, deals with Kurapika as a main characters going up against multi-layered conflicts (ridicilously so), over hundred characters and complex decisions that move the story forward. It can be likened to a game of 4D chess that dozens of different sides are playing at the same time, without it feeling cheap as the plot does progress constantly. I don't think any other manga has actually done it quite like Togashi has, as the layered manner of the Succession War arc reminds me of something like Ace Attorney 6: Spirit of Justice, except times ten.

Mafia groups, Phantom Troupe, fourteen princes, their mothers, the King of Kakin, bodyguards, the Hunter Association, Kurapika... 

It is a testament to Togashi's great writing skills that he manages to not make this all feel overwhelming to a person that actually pays attention week after week.

Recently I've come to hear about many people complaining about the writing style of the series without actually seeing any real worthwhile complaints towards the series. I feel that the toxicity requires me to say something good in order to balance out the fandom's baseless hype and the haters' baseless toxic comments. Ah, HxH has also sadly been fated never to end because the author, Yoshihiro Togashi (known also for his Yu Yu Hakusho series) only creating one volume a year, and there has been a year recently when he did not create a single chapter. However 2018 is a great treat to the series's fans as Togashi actually created 20 chapters, so to volumes, this year! Just to celebrate I've went and re-read it all (though I remembered it all very well without having to do that), and next year we will (most likely) get our 400th Hunter x Hunter chapter. It is a great time to be HxH fan for sure, even if the heavily praised Hunter x Hunter 2011 anime series by Madhouse is not running anymore.
I've already posted my thoughts on Narutoforums's Hunter x Hunter section but I feel the need to post it in my blog as well.

Let's get to it: As we are now at the end of 2018 it is time to praise the greatest of manga chapters (tbh even in general this is my top FIVE) of 2018. Simply put a great year filled with tension and emotions from Yoshihiro Togashi and his Hunter x Hunter.

I want to also hear about what chapters and in which series were your favourites, please post in the comment section.


5th place. HxH chapter 377 "Scheme"
Nah bro. Just like with showing Ging all of a sudden, Togashi was throwing a massive plot twist on page 8 of this chapter like nothing (mangaka normally would use them as chapter cliffhangers) with Illumi on the ship as he joined the Spiders most likely to protect Kalluto from the killer clown, and he is fully ready to throw hands with Hisoka until one drops. Chapter begins by building up to the "Without You" moment and ends with the mob planning to take out the Spiders. "Now, Bring me Hisoka's head...!!!"

4th place. HxH chapter 387 "Return"
This chapter connects to chapters 383 and 385, taking place during the Banquet, revealing a cleverly kneaded hidden layer of the story that could not be understood until we finally see the entire event that lead up to the resurrection of Tserriednich through his own eyes as Tserriednich gains a new and overpowered ability with which he aims to conquer the World with.

3rd place. HxH chapter 371 "Mission"
"She shall live on shining brighter than in her life, Hui!"
Year kicks off with the Phantom Troupe, Kurapika's side about the phone call and a crazy plot twist at the end after prince Momoze's murder gets related to the true aim behind the Jar ceremony and the Succession War, and most importantly, it was truly a chapter with some real atmosphere to it. Amazing, I could really feel this chapter.

2nd place. HxH chapter 382 "Awakening"
"Farewell... Father...!"
Halkenburg's face-off with King Nasubi has been built up and it all finally explodes in chapter 382. This one deals with tension, Halkenburg arrives to kill the King, fails, attempts to kill himself, fails, and only to come out as an absolute Monster that is the most feared on the ship right this very moment. When 2019 comes? Halkenburg might sink them all.

1st place. HxH chapter 383 "Escape"
As Melody starts to play her flute, Kaccho and Fugetsu make their way to escape from the bloody Succession War with the help of Keeni... And I coulda swore I saw the Hands from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. It all ends with a fantastic showcase of what the main man YOSHIHIRO TOGASHI can pull off with his godly writing skills.


Monday, December 17, 2018

Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018) review

Release date for the English dub
"Do the impossible, see the invisible
Row! Row! Fight the power!
Touch the untouchable, break the unbreakable
Row! Row! Fight the power!"

- Libera me from Hell (Gurren Lagann)

While this is not the type of series I'd usually write a review about, as this blog is mainly for down-to-earth mystery series, I've been a huge fan of the shounen action/adventure Dragon Ball series most of my life along with couple other shounen series such as Bleach and Rave Master that I used to follow over a decade ago along with these detective fiction series such as the Poirot TV series. I just happened to decide for christmas and the new year to watch the Broly film subbed and then English dubbed again in January of 2019. Note also that the original Dragon Ball manga was created by Akira Toriyama, known for his beautiful artwork for the fantastic Dragon Quest game series.

Even though I don't have much to say about Super as a series (I heavily prefer the original DB and Z parts of the series and Super is sort of like GT to me), I did watch Super weekly for some of the entertaining fights such as Goku vs Kefla and Vegeta vs GoD Toppo, even the Goku Black arc, as well as the great discussions I've had with other Dragon Ball fans around the world on sites such as Narutoforums and YouTube, and when Dragon Ball Super: Broly was announced and claimed to include the infamous Legendary Super Saiyan in the canon storyline of the series, I've been really pumped up to learn more about it. Actually I had a feeling it was about Broly before it was revealed, and I'm a huge fan of the original Broly movies due to their manly, brutal action. The movie was spoiled by five different trailers that I've heard of many hated, however, DB is not a story-heavy series so I don't mind them; the trailers spoiling almost every plot point in the film did not make me not want to watch it in the slightest. So, in this post I will also be pointing out reasons for why you should watch the movie.

Broly introduced to the canon of Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018) starts with a half an hour flashback, which is something really special to the Dragon Ball series because as I already mentioned; it's not a story-heavy series. It's always been about the action and the character development that comes with it. The flashback deals with the events of Frieza taking over his father's, King Cold's, army and taking over as the dictator of the Saiyan race that are known for their ability to conquer planets from a very young age by turning into Oozaru's, great apes of great power. In the flashback we get introduced mainly to Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball Minus version of the original flashback that causes Goku to be sent to Earth from planet Vegeta.
The flashback introduces the watcher to Bardock and Gine who are Goku's parents. As Bardock smells death in the air from Frieza's spaceship suspiciously hanging around planet Vegeta despite Frieza's army not telling the Saiyan race anything about why, Gine and Bardock decide to send Goku to a planet with low power level where even their young son could stay alive. That is Earth. It's a neat moment also due to Bardock claiming that he wants to save his weak son because he's been a brutal monster up until that point. So he shows that in his last moments even the original saiyan's can have morals and show heart.
Around the same time, another Saiyan, Paragus, is notified by King Vegeta, father of Vegeta, that Paragus's son, Broly, is to be sent to a faraway planet with powerful monsters on it. King Vegeta with jealousy in his eyes tells Paragus that he should be happy that Broly wasn't getting executed by him despite the young boy being a 'monster' that in the future can become a threat to the Saiyan race. Paragus understands that King Vegeta is actually jealous that the young Broly has more potential than young Vegeta, as King Vegeta's son has to be the strongest of the Saiyan race. Paragus goes after the capsule that was to be sent to the deadly planet, but as he reaches the planet, his spaceship breaks down and him and Broly are left to stay there for many years, decades, to come until Frieza's army finds and recruits them during the present timeline of this Broly film.
The flashback plotlines happen at the same time as Frieza is planning to eradicate planet Vegeta and the ball of death that he uses to destroy the planet is shown once more in this movie along with a quick showcase of Bardock's last stand against Frieza. These three major plotlines are interesting as Dragon Ball doesn't normally do multiple storylines at the same time, and in the first 30 minutes of the film they are pulled off neatly. The flashback is what connects the four most important characters of this movie, Goku, Vegeta, Freeza and Broly, and make the fights feel more personal than they've felt since the Dragon Ball Z era.

The first time God form Vegeta is shown animated
As Frieza was resurrected by Whis, the Angel of Universe seven, at the end of the Tournament of Power arc of the Super TV series, Vegeta has become aware of the threat he poses to the Seventh Universe of the Dragon Ball multiverse (remember also that Frieza during ToP claimed that he will aim to rule above the childish but all-powerful Omni-kings of the multiverse, the Zen-Oh's). That is Vegeta's motivation to get stronger by training with Goku who wants to get stronger in order to be able to fairly challenge the other fighters in the other eleven universes. Up until the end of Super it was hinted that there is a person stronger than the Gods of Destruction in one of the Universes, then that person gets revealed the fans of the series might believe that we've seen the peak power that a mortal can have, and that it would peak somewhere between the strength of a God of Destruction and the almighty power of an Angel (like Whis or his sister). So that would mean that no one could challenge the ones above Angel level of power, such as the Grand Priest and the two Zen-Oh's. 
 Dragon Ball Super: Broly opens up new doors for what can realistically reach the levels of these higher and transcended power wielding characters by further pushing the concept of 'potential' that was brought up in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F.' As Frieza is able to quickly become a God Ki user in the matter of training for a few months and then being able to fight Goku and Vegeta in their Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan forms (short ver: SSJ Blue), Broly is also able to bring out power that rivals even the Gods of Destruction by quickly learning as he fights against strong opponents. Broly in the movie starts as a fairly powerful child, and later as his father and him get saved Broly is a very powerful young man, but not one that would be able to challenge the Z fighters at this point in the story. However, as the story quickly develops, Broly becomes a monster to be feared and as Broly keeps humiliating Frieza, Goku and Vegeta have to resort to their ultimate trump card in order to take him out.

Broly is frankly a breath of fresh air for the Dragon Ball series. The amount of effort to the artwork and animation that were put into the movie by Toei Animation's top dogs in the animation game really make the movie shine and feel lively - it is beautiful to look at. The movie is also more character focused than Battle of Gods and Revival of F, making great use of some of the lesser character such as Frieza's army's new characters and the flashback cast; there is a sense of synergy between characters and events. I feel that Frieza was written in a more menacing way than what he ever was in Super, it is a great step back to what he was like in Z.
The soundtrack is pretty decent, for example the moment in the flashback where Frieza destroys planet Vegeta has a great OST that I need a full version for, and especially the ending theme song of the movie, Blizzard by Daichi Miura, is fantastic, I've been listening to it nonstop for a while now. 

A man with anger issues
However, that does not mean that the movie doesn't have negatives to it. Mostly the biggest and most obvious one comes to mind: the fact that the fights go at a ridicilous pace, something many can easily see as a negative aspect of the film. We go through probably about a dozen different fights.

As an example of the far, far too quick pacing for the form versus form showcase battles in this movie, take a look at this:

Base Broly vs Base Vegeta
Base Broly vs SSJ Vegeta
Base Broly and rage Broly vs SSJG Vegeta
Rage Broly vs Base Goku
Rage Broly vs SSJ Goku
Rage Broly vs SSJG Goku
Rage Broly vs SSJB Goku
SSJ Broly vs Goku/Vegeta SSJB
SSJ Broly vs Frieza
SSJ Broly vs Whis
SSJ Broly vs SSJ Gogeta
SSJ FP Broly vs SSJB Gogeta

All of that happened within 30 minutes of the film, so nowhere near the amount of time Broly was shown battling individual opponents by brutally beating them up in the original films. This movie definitely was packed and required to be longer, but still would not be as good if it was split into two films due to the content itself not requiring that, just the fights in weaker forms should have been longer.
The Legends Were True
If this movie had been a full three-hour length film, it would not have any notable negatives to it. However, that's not something that the creators can decide as the movies have to have certain lengths to them. I'd say that if the movie ever gets animated the same way Battle of Gods and Revival of F did, definitely those are probably going to be watched for the writing of the characters while the movie can be watched for the animation and quick summary of the Broly arc.

All in all, Dragon Ball Super: Broly ended up being the most entertaining Dragon Ball movie in decades that is written in a different way from the original Broly trilogy, effectively giving the old fans of the franchise something new, and what we got, was great.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy

"We even saw a whole new side to Luke and the professor. Truly, Raymond, it's a pity you weren't there to witness it."
- Desmond Sycamore [Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy]

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (2013) by Level-5 promises the series' fans a grand finale to end the journey of Hershel Layton with. Azran Legacy is the final game of the second trilogy of this popular puzzle-mystery and adventure point-and-click game series. Katrielle Layton is of course now a thing but this game basically wraps the series up in more ways than one, even the theme songs for this game can bring some nostalgia to the player, such as when visiting London and hearing the London theme once more.

Up until this point the told legends of the great Azran civilization which existed a million years ago have been spread throughout the Professor Layton series, specifically through the archaeological findings our professor makes at the end of the Last Specter, the Miracle Mask and even the Eternal Diva, which is a Layton movie that I should make a post about some day. All of the great findings Layton, Luke and Emmy have made have been created by the Azran, so the civilization's existence holds a very important part in the Layton universe, so much so that even the addition of an archaeologist who never appears in the story, Donald Rutledge, and his 'Ancient Histories' books which explain Rutledge's findings of the Azran in the game series, are an impressive addition to fleshing out the world of Professor Layton, as it shows that there're other impressive people who have accomplished much when it comes to being an archaeologist. 'Ancient Histories' depicts the ancient story of Azran more than anything else in the world according to our main character.
Now, since Azran Legacy is by far the longest game in the series, in more ways than one, so I have to consider writing this blog post in a more fitting way as well by splitting parts of this review up. Talking about fleshing the world out, the newspaper-related sidequests in this game give a nice sense of time progression and worldbuilding to the series as well. The sidequests really fit the theme of building a lively world that this game was going for.

As the name says, the game reveals the story of the Azran, and it's actually unlike any other Layton game ever created. The story kicks into high gear right off the bat as the antagonist organisation Targent makes their move toward getting their hands on the Azran's secrets, and the emissary of Azran is found. Targent take control of every piece of Azran area that have been found by Layton in the last two games and even the Layton movie 'the Eternal Diva.' The game from the very beginning to the very end feels like an ending chapter of the other Layton games; it's packed with content and action, which is the game's greatest strength and also its greatest weakness, as the pacing can be at times far too quick for its own good - especially at the end, as the game does not wrap up the best way it could when you consider how much potential there is for it to reach even further heights.

Azran Legacy thrives on its constant use of worldbuilding.
 Layton, Luke and Emmy meet up with many other archaeologists in this game, the curly-haired professor Desmond Sycamore being one of them. Desmond ends up becoming a main cast character in this game surprisingly as he helps Layton and co. travel around the world with his airship and trusty butler Raymond. Some of Desmond's back-and-forth with Layton that deal with different archaeological matters is nice to watch at times, as despite Layton being an archaeologist, he's never really had what you could call a 'rival' - although Desmond is no rival either, he's closest to it that Layton's had in his working career. Sycamore, Layton, Luke, Emmy and a new character named Aurora - a million-year-old girl from the Azran era, are the main characters of this story which takes the cast around the world in search for the five Azran eggs, or otherwise known as Aurora stones, which help Aurora to remember her past during Azran era. Once the five Aura stones have been collected together, the legends say the possesser of those stones can use them as a key to unlock what they call the Azran Legacy, a legendary thing that could bloom the humanity enter into a new era that has not been seen since the age of the Azran.

And as I mentioned earlier, the game's antagonist is a group familiar from the previous game called Targent, a somewhat violent and extremely powerful military organization run by an archaeologist known as Bronev. Targent are after Aurora and the Azran eggs as Layton and co. travel the world from a desert area to the icy Froenborg to the jungle where an unmapped village lie, and so on. 

The Azran Legacy had the ingredients to be like an early 2000's Disney film, as the vibe I got from the story of Azran was very similar to Atlantis: The Lost Empire, so it was building up to be an enjoyable story with neat presentation and ok characters, but man, the creators took these elements and created something special that was consistent and packed with great writing from the beginning to the end.
While Miracle Mask had the flashback part, where it split the story between Layton's past and present, be a new and fresh addition to the franchise that was completely different from the earlier games but still the rest of the game was pretty on and off, the Azran Legacy on the other hand is completely different from any other Layton game in its story structure.

Layton and Sycamore debating about ancient texts.
One of the best things about this game is that you have to constantly pay attention to the dialogue, there is rarely any fluff in the dialogue compared to the other Layton games. If you press the button  two times at a quick succession, you might have missed important plot points already. The amount of characters that the game deals with also has a part to play with that as the main cast in this game consists of five characters aside from the usual three, and each of the characters reveal something new about their backstory or play a heavy part in this game's storyline, especially Layton himself as this game's characters have heavy ties to him, that at the end reveal some pretty heavy plot twists about Layton. That ending part with the multiple revelations should have been dragged out three times longer, as it lacked feeling that was in, say, The Unwound Future. That isn't to say that this game does not offer powerful emotions, it certainly does, there's just a lot to go on as the pacing of the game is so fast when you count the amount of ideas it tackles.  

So - Azran Legacy's story is the direct build-up from the previous games of the trilogy and the movie. The game is more 'grand' in scale than any other Layton project so far as well. The archeological finds of Professor Hershel Layton's; the "Golden Garden" of the Last Specter, the "City of Harmony" of the Eternal Diva and finally the "Infinite Vault" of the Miracle Mask, are at the beginning of this game revealed to all belong to the Azran civilization from over a million years ago.

All in all, the Azran Legacy is closest to a 'great' Layton game that there has been. I personally like the Unwound Future the most, but when it comes to a well-written story and characters, this one is the best due to how well it can handle them all at the same time. If only the game`s pacing was not as quick, it could have been my favourite Layton game. The characters are written really well in Azran Legacy. Layton's intelligence doesn't shine as amazingly as in the past three games, but he's still getting some time to shine such as in chapter three.
The player gets to know Aurora and professor Sycamore alot in this game as they travel with Layton, Luke and Emmy. Layton and Luke get to meet their parents in this game again as they appear here and there, which is neat.
The story of the game plays out much different from any other Layton game. It's action packed, both character and story driven more than the earlier games as well. Aurora is an interesting element in the series from the standpoint that she's almost like a fantasy creature, an element of ultimate archeological find in a Layton game, a series where these huge things are usually revealed at the end of the story. Azran Legacy is a story that was built up from the huge events of the earlier story, and that makes it also feel much more grand, and make no mistake, the story really is "grand." Its scale is world-wide as Layton and co. get to adventure with Aurora, an Azran citizen from million years ago, as they go against Targent.

The soundtrack of the game is great however there are simply not enough tracks for how grand the game is. 

The Prologue

Icy town of Froenborg
The game starts with Luke reading a letter where it reads that a certain person claims to have found a real "living mummy." Professor Hershel Layton along with his assistants Emmy Altava and Luke Triton board a luxurious air balloon-ship known as Bostonius.

Raymond, the butler of a man named professor Desmond Sycamore, an archaeologist himself much like our main character, arrives inside to check professor Layton's identity for sure - with a puzzle, of course, before they leave off. The puzzle is simple: "find out the destination of where they're headed." Layton cracks it no problem and they head towards the snowy town of Froenborg through the air.

Emmy narrates that it would be a grand journey that would take them all across the world as well as the last adventure she would share with professor Layton.

Chapter 1: Frozen in Time

The group heads towards professor Sycamore to confirm the find of the living mummy. A girl named Prima tells them that suspicious looking soldiers have been gathering around the town of Froenborg recently. The suspicious men can be seen talking about "capturing the target." Prof. Sycamore is said to be investigating a cave north of Froenborg so the group decides to go get him from there before the shady characters get there. As the fate has it, the cave entrance is blocked by an unbreakable ice wall and the group has to figure out a way in.
Inside the cave Sycamore can be seen and the living mummy is inside there as well. Both Layton and Sycamore claim that this would be the greatest archeological find ever: A young girl inside an ice possibly older than a million years old sleeping inside some sort of cryogenic sleep; she's somehow alive...! As the ice is broken and the girl wakes up from her slumber, a man and a group of armed people arrive to take her. Layton and co. go on the aircraft and start a fast paced battle through the skies that lasts quite a while. It's unlike anything seen in professor Layton games so far. As you manage to catch up to the enemy ship containing the mystery girl, Layton and Luke decide to board it. As they get to the girl once more - the big boss appears. His name is Leon Bronev, an archaeologist. The chapter ends as Layton, Luke and the mystery girl jump out of the ship on a rope and fly to the ground at rather high impact, the girl drops from Layton's hands a little before they do.

Chapter 2: The Mysterious Girl
Fighting against Targent while flying in the air by Bostonius.

Professor Sycamore and Emmy land on their flying ship and arrive to where Luke and Layton landed. Sycamore explains that the forest is called Lake Kodh, named Siren Lake by the locals due to it supposedly holding malevolent spirits.
Town of Kodh. Professor Sycamore believes that the mysterious girl led the group to the town in order to lead them towards an Azran relic that she is looking for. The town is known for its heavy number of accidents - aircraft malfunctions, which could be caused by the Azran relic hidden somewhere in the town.
As the soldiers arrive at the town and Layton's group spy on them in secret, professor Sycamore explains that the soldier men of the villains belong to a group named Targent, bent on unlocking the power of Azran, so they have to find the girl before Targent does. A local fisherman claims that a girl is walking on water and with a puzzle you can get to her in the same way by walking across ice cubes. In the middle of the lake the girl opens up a waterfall in the middle of the lake and it shows the ruins of Azran.

The girl calls herself Aurora, an emissary of the Azran. Her mission is to pass on the Azran Legacy to 'pure people,' but after saying that her demeanor changes and she can't remember anything about what she had said. After solving a puzzle in the Azran Chamber, Layton and Sycamore decide that they are to find the five keys that exist around the world - Aurora calls them the Aura Stones capable of storing the power of Azran. After getting to the ship sneakily with Aurora, as professor Sycamore had fixed the engine of the aircraft by then, the group head onwards to try and get the Azran keys/Aura Stones. Time to continue the journey around the world - starting with London, the place where Hershel now lives and works at the university of Gressenheller.

Chapter 3: A Day Out in London 

A few days later. In the HQ of Scotland Yard's (the famous police force of London) archives. We see inspector Grosky (from the earlier two games) talk with Carmichael, his superior, about Targent. We learn that they are a paramilityary organization that is active in all parts of the world, with moles everywhere from politicians to the police force. Even though their criminal activities are open to the police, their motives are not. To catch Targent, Chief Carmichael asks inspector Grosky to unearth the mole of Targent inside Scotland Yard.
As Grosky does his thing in S.Y., we head onto Layton's residence. Emmy, Layton and professor Sycamore talk about five places around the world where they can find the Azran stones as Luke and Aurora talk about shopping places around London, for necessary items such as tea will be required on the adventure when the group tries to get their hands on the Azran stones.

Outside, Layton and Emmy spot Dean Delmona, Layton's boss, as well as inspector Grosky who is hurrying around, apparently on a case. As Grosky can't solve many cases without Layton's help, Emmy pushes Layton to go and help the inspector.

One cool part in this chapter is that we can meet Brenda Triton, Luke's mother, in London as well. After solving a puzzle from her, Luke notices that Aurora has disappeared, gone towards the museum.

At the museum, inspector Grosky runs at Layton, but instead of trying to ask for help, he just runs away. This act of top-secret confidentiality makes Layton question the situation. Aurora can be easily found as well near the museum. Aurora wants to go in the building, but there's a "special closure." The guarding policeman tells Layton and Aurora that there has been a robbery as the police investigation is going on.

As the group can't enter the museum at this point in time, Emmy decides that it would be better to go to a fashion shop and get Aurora new clothes as people keep pointing out her 'rags,' so she stands out a bit.

After getting Aurora normal school girl's clothes (no skirt though), the group decides that it would be time to go back to Bostonius where professor Sycamore is waiting, though after Layton sees Grosky, they decide to go after him.

Grosky is in a sticky situation as the antagonist criminal organization Targent had sent hitmen after his life. Emmy saves Grosky from getting his head shot by one of the hitmen, but even after that, the inspector is not willing to share the information about his top-secret case.

London Aerodome is where the flying ship Bostonius is located at. Layton and co. go to Sycamore and explain Grosky's situation to him. This adds a neat sidestory to the plot, where you can't just linearly go to get the Azran stones.
Sycamore tells Layton that uniformed men, likely Targent's, have been showing up around all Azran sites around the world, and Layton tells him that the police are after Targent. It's an information swapping moment.

Wild wild west town in the desert
Grosky again, while outside, runs away. But there is also a new character, Amelie, Grosky's sister who is going on a honeymoon trip around the world with her husband. And by the way, her husband happens to be inspector Chelmey from the first games..! In Scotland Yard, Layton meets up with Detective Bloom, a higher ranking officer who tells Layton that the office of Scotland Yard is in a bad shape. Layton gets a permission to enter the archives from Bloom.

Because Targent is after Azran artifacts, Layton asks Luke and Emmy to find clues about any thefts of that nature in the archives.

The museum appears to have been attacked by thieves five times in the past year. Professor Sycamore asks the group to just go and see what's up in the museum themselves. At the closed-up museum, Clark Triton can be seen. Luke's father tells Layton and Luke that he's investigating certain things so he has authority to let them also go in the museum. Clark is investigating the stolen-but-now-found ancient remains of a stone tablet. Layton confirms that nearly all the pieces of the ancient remains are fake.

At this point there's an active puzzle, known from the past two games as well. This time it's very different feeling though as it has three archaeologists talking about the archaeological thefts, the culprits, and the mole of Scotland Yard. Layton, Clark and Sycamore come to a certain conclusion that the person who was capable of retrieving the stolen artefacts must be a high-ranking office.

At the Scotland Yard's HQ, the person who could steal the artefact, the person who had the authority to manipulate the police work... That person could obviously only be inspector Bloom. Layton and Bloom get into a short but impressive battle of wots that Layton easily wins by cornering Bloom to 'not do a certain type of reaction' to what Layton asks of Bloom.

It's been a very long and diverse chapter up to the end. Now that the 'Scotland Yard mole case' is over, Layton and co. can finally start their "lenghty and tiring journey" around the world. But before that journey, Lucille and Roland, Layton's parents whom we met in the last game (Miracle Mask), appear to say bye to him. Moments like that are very neat in stories where we flesh out the cast. Professor Sycamore tells that he had called Layton's parents; actually he knows of them and owes a debt to them.

Chapter 4: The Hunt for the Eggs

~This chapter is extremely long in the game due to how much you can adventure around the world.

The Jungle
The adventure on the Bostonius begins with choices. The player can choose where to go in the World. There are eight whole places from the icy Froenborg and London all the way to a Jungle or a Desert.

In this chapter you can deal with the problems in all of the places around the world. Some of the side quests have to do with a newspaper's mentions of odd sightings and events that are going on around the world, and Layton's squad can go to see what's up.

The Jungle
arc begins here. In the jungle there's a village named Phong Gi, made up of mushroom shaped buildings, the population also has mushroom shaped hair. The area around is something you expect to see in a Tarzan movie with a hollow tree forming a bridge and so on, it's just beautiful. The village has a festival contest where they try to make the village chief laugh, but with bad success rate. The chief happens to be carrying one of the Azran eggs as well. I just love how exotic everything is in this 'arc.'
As Layton with a duck face, Luke with a red reindeer's nose and Desmond Sycamore with a bland joke could not make the chief of the village, Morel, crack a smile, the group decides to go get intel from the village on what could help them make a man laugh. Button, the Chief's granddaughter gives some intel and the squad head over to the forest, then the Chief's apartment to ask his wife Lepidella why the chief has gone from being a laughter into never smiling. As Layton figures out from Lepidella's words what the root problem is, they still need to figure out how to deal with the Chief, so Layton needs certain things, such as glue from a snail or a crystal from a cave behind a waterfall, to build an item. Glasses for the chief, that is.
The Jungle arc ends up with Aurora telling that the Azran themselves created an Oasis in a desert, the Oasis being the jungle. Layton confirms how impressive it is that the Azran could affect life itself.

The Island arc, otherwise known as a tropical sun-kissed island, starts off with Sycamore, Layton, Aurora, Luke and Emmy arriving at the island with a beautiful beach.
This takes place in London actually
After learning that there is an aura stone somewhere in the town that's on the island, the group decides to check the place out, only to find... Thousands upon thousands of egg-like things. These are named popoños, and they're a tourist attraction on the island that are hot on the sale. The town with gondola's is known as San Grio. It has a river floating through it.
Layton's squad learns that the one true popoño, meaning the Azran egg, gets passed around the people in the town of San Grio. No one just knows where it is or who got it, there's a harmony code-type of thing that Layton has to learn in order to understand who got the egg. Girls pass the egg to boys, and so on. After tracking the egg down for a while, as it had gone from one person to another, the group heads to the marketplace and an active puzzle starts where you have to figure out how the egg gets passed on, the patterns between who passes the egg onto what kind of person has to be figured out.
After figuring out the true owner of the popoño, the player can truly understand what the person named Bud meant when he talked about circle of harmony.
And that concludes the Island arc.

After the Azran stone is found, we learn that Sycamore's assistant Raymond seems to be keeping a close eye on them and Aurora gains new memories which she had lost.

The Desert arc
brings Layton and co. into the red desert. As Aurora only senses a faint presence of the Azran egg, Layton explains that they have a long journey ahead of them and that they should go to the nearby Torrido town to gain intel on Azran ruins that might exist nearby.

Contrary to the places before, the wild wild west-styled Torrido town is hostile towards outsiders, however they also have a bigger problem; a massive 'mighty wolf' called Old Red tends to attack the town every now and then and keep the citizen panicking. The wolf started coming down to Torrido about three weeks prior and it happens to be carrying an egg with it.
The sheriff of the town gives the squad a fair warning but they won't back down, so the group decides to head to an old abaned mine nearby which is the den of Old Red. As they find the beast, Luke tries to talk to it. Old Red tells Luke that because he doesn't have much longer to live, he's been going to Torrido because he wanted to meet a girl who once saved him. That girl also gave the Azran stone to Old Red, so he won't be parting with it until he can give it back to the girl.
Layton and co. find a girl named Scarlett who wears a red scarf as Old Red told them that the girl who saved him wore one, however, Scarlett was not the one. As leads begin to die out, Scarlett tells them that they should meet up with her grandmother who knows everyone in Torrido. After seeing an old photograph, Layton deduces that the old lady, Ruby, is the girl who had saved Old Red.
After meeting Ruby, Old Red gived her the Azran stone, and Ruby gives it to Layton.

The Desert arc ends with Layton and co. arriving at the ship once again. Aurora regains more memories from the stone, partially only, though, as the Desert used to be a wasteland even in the times of Azran.

Next up, the Hillside arc which references the famous love story Romeo and Juliet. The place is 'a rustic idyll known for its strong winds.'
Newspaper article talking about Froenborg
The farming village of Hoogland with its windmills exists in the windy area surrounded by mountains. Hoogland has a wedding going on and Emmy plans on taking a photo or two of the bride, however a small tornado attacks the town. After the storm passes, the group heads towards the ceremonial stage which is a chapel uphill.
Romilda is the bride who is heading inside a chapel door, but the wedding is not what Layton expected. Romilda walked inside the building as "Dragonlord's bride." Becoming the Dragonlord's bride means to sacrifice oneself and blow through the wind as a soul, in order to calm the storms around the area, and as Sycamore best puts it, "that is no chapel, that's a prison." And as Aurora senses; inside the prison, an Aura stone exists.
To get inside the prison chapel and save Romilda, the group needs to ask around town for more information as always.

Romilda was about to be engaged to a man named Julien, however, due to the superstition about fear towards the Dragonlord, Romilda chose that it would be better to sacrifice herself by becoming the bride to the Dragonlord.
The town has a superstition that the bride of the Dragonlord who gets locked in the chapel turns into wind because always after the chapel door gets opened later on, only the wedding dress can be found inside.
Beatrix, one of the women in town, tells them that she's been bringing change of clothes to women that have been locked in the chapel for generations; so that the women can escape the town unseen through the tunnels. Layton and co. ask Julien for help in order to get Romilda out of the chapel, because she truly believes that she's calming down the wrath of the Dragonlord by dying in the chapel.
As the group along with Julien makes their way through the tunnels to Romilda, they spot her at a dragon statue.. Created by the Azran. Romilda reveals that her ultimate plan is to die in the chapel and leave the body for everyone to see; to show that the Dragonlord does not care about the brides' life and no one ever actually turned into wind.
Layton decides that it's for the best that they put an end to the Dragonlord's 'wrath,' and to do that, they have to solve the Azran puzzle in the chapel. After solving the puzzle, the mechanical Dragon opens its mouth and showcases an Azran egg, which Aurora takes.

As peace and harmony has returned to Hoogland, the group returns to Bostonius. Aurora tells Layton that she had remembered more of her Azran past, not much, but little things about the ancient civilization also utilizing special aircrafts.

The walled city arc deals with a legend of a Phoenix. The Walled City of Mosinnia is filled with quiet streets and deserted houses. Layton's group runs into a young man named Umid who tells them that every 'grown-up' in the city has fallen into a coma, Umid's mother included, and it's been that way for a whole week.
Umid tells them about the legend of the phoenix that could cure any illness, so he wishes to find the phoenix in order to save his mother.
Tropical Island

The group gains a lead about a Phoenix's nest that exists outside of the city, and they decide to go and check it out. On a hill that exists in a creepy forest Layton and co. finds a large hawk named Adler. Luke translates its words to get lead towards finding the even larger Phoenix.
One of the other city kids' grandmother takes care of a temple in north. Although she's sleeping like the other adults, she mutters hints towards the truth: "wake the phoenix, solve the mural."
After solving a mural in the temple the group decides to go to the city centre to the clock tower where a wall has opened to reveal Azran writing which Aurora translates. Afterwards they head to the forest towards a 'gate' to figure out the identity of the legendary Phoenix.
After solving the puzzle on the gate, an Azran door opens up to flood the city's river with water. The Phoenix is the form of the river inside the city itself, and one of the hills inside the city opens up a road beneath into an Azran library.
Layton creates a remedy to wake up the adults, and the story ends with the temple Keeper lady awards the group with an Azran egg that they could not pinpoint anywhere.

Aurora remembers that there was a legend of a firebird during Azran era as well and the arc closes up.

Now, after finding all of the five Azran stones, the player can gather them all together at the same time for Aurora to try and remember everything, however, there are also puzzles left to do around the world, and the World Times' mysteries.
What are these W.T.'s mysteries, you ask? In Azran Legacy there is a journalist who also travels around the world to do articles about the mysterious events that take place in every area. The player can read these articles and try to go and figure out what exactly is going on. These news-related sidequests really help to deepen the worldbuilding of the Layton world, I really like that they exist. Azran Legacy as a Layton game is definitely more story- than puzzle-heavy, which is surprising.
I will put a few examples of World Times's sidestories that you can learn more about:

In the town of Froenborg there's a problem with a snowman that can be quickly figured out spoiler; it's just a publicity stunt.
In Kodh there are rumours about a monster, there's a Loch Ness monster kind of deal going on, spoiler; it's just a giant eel that looks bigger on a photo.

And many, many more that you can solve during chapter 4, after you have gathered all of the Azran eggs.

The fourth chapter closes up when the player is ready to gather them all together to Aurora.

The five stones are gathered but it is revealed that that one of them has been swapped with a fake somehow. Layton assumes it's Targent's doing, and the reason why they left the four others is because they are guiding Layton somewhere.

Chapter 5: Into the Nest
Layton's parents.

Layton and co. decide to return to the Azran dome which they found below Lake Kodh where Aurora's power of sensing the stone's is at its greatest. Aurora senses that the stolen Aura stone is in Targent's HQ, so Layton and co. should prepare to head there by finishing off the remaining puzzles around the world before they go.

The Nest, the base of Targent which our main characters infiltrated, is a city-like area with a small military base. In the city, Targent is after an injured man, an Azran researcher named mr. Mackintosh, and trying to prevent him from leaving the area. Layton, Sycamore, Luke and Emmy decide to help the man, but he ends up disappearing from their sight. The group infiltrates the base even deeper in search for Mackintosh until they eventually meet after couple of puzzles. Mackintosh tells them that he was planning on hijacking the main ship and pleads that the Targent should return to being what it used to be, and then he falls down. The group carries the man into Bostoniu unseen where Sycamore's butler Raymond heals him.

The squad decides to head back into the Nest, to meet the Targent's leader Bronev who apparently has twisted Targent to become a violent organization from something completely different. Bronev resides in a skyscraper named the Obsidian Tower. Inside the building there's an Azran stone that mentions the five Aura stones which makes Layton question why Bronev is luring them to the headquarters by only stealing one stone from them.
Layton and co. take the elevator upwards. On the way professor Sycamore says something interesting about how Targent has given more than enough reason for him to resent them.
On the upper floor there's another Azran stone mentioning about a "last legacy," which seems to be the ultimate goal of Bronev.
The journey in this building is very calm for being a villainous place. Layton solves another puzzle or two and reaches the top floor. From this point on, when you enter Bronev's room, the player cannot do any adventures until they complete the main story.

When meeting Bronev, he decides to offer Layton a place in Targent. Layton cleverly declines. Bronev offers a coin game, whoever wins, gets the Azran egg, which Layton agrees to do. After winning the coin game, Bronev decides to threaten Layton by hurting his parents, but as Layton still declines, Bronev gives him the final Aura stone back. Aurora begins to summon the power of Azran through the five eggs at the Targent HQ. As the eggs have been powered up, they transform into five different shapes in order to form an Azran master key. As Aurora remembers her memories, she runs to the edge of the skyscraper thinking of taking her own life. Aurora gives the key to professor Sycamore for safekeeping, but the man starts to laugh like a maniac and reveals that he was Descole, an antagonist from the earlier two games, all along. Quite a shocking truth because Layton and the squad has been traveling with Sycamore the whole game, getting to know him..! As Descole tries to get back to the Bostonius, professor Layton creates a flying pad that he uses to get to Descole.

At the end of chapter 5, there's a swordfight with Descole where he reveals that the Azran Legacy is all he has left. His butler Raymond pilots a small flying...machine and picks Descole up while leaving the Bostonius for Layton. Layton's group deduces that they must be heading towards the icy town of Froenborg with the Azran Key, so that is also Layton's destination.

Chapter 6: The Azran Sanctuary

Everyone in the icy town of Froenborg is evacuation due to an avalanche alert created by the Azran sanctuary awakening. Inside the cave of Froenborg, Descole stands. As he's about to solve the final Azran puzzle, Bronev appears with gunmen and steals the key from Descole. Aurora tells Bronev and his Targent men that he should not do anything as Azran Legacy has the power to destroy the world. An Azran defense mechanism starts to activate - the same mechanism as in Hoogland, the one that steals weapons from the enemies. As Luke steals the key and throws it to Layton, something surprising happens... As Emmy starts to threaten Layton by hurting Luke, saying that she's been working for Targent since the very beginning, for all this time she's been 'Professor Layton's assistant,' she's been watching over Layton's every move.

As Bronev leaves for the final puzzle along with the Azran key, Luke, Emmy and Aurora, Layton and Descole are left behind. They set their differences aside for now, in order to stop Bronev.
Luke is easy to find, as he reveals that Emmy left him behind on purpose due to her good intentions despite being part of Targent. She reveals that Bronev is her non blood-related uncle who has been taking care of her ever since she was little, although now Bronev seems to have been taken over by madness, the want to discover the 'great' Azran Legacy.

Puzzle after puzzle gets solved to get deeper into the sanctuary, Descole protects Luke from a trap. As Descole rests injured in Layton's arms, he reveals couple of massive plot twists. Descole and Hershel Layton are brothers. Their father was an archaeologist obsessed with Azran, and they were taken by Targent. Descole reveals that his enemy was the Azran, and Targent, for ruining their lives. Their mother died years ago, and their father... Is the antagonist Leon Bronev. The biggest twist of all is that Hershel Layton is not Layton's name, it's Descole's...

Finale: The Azran Legacy

The story of Professor Layton closes up with a grand finale. Emmy, Bronev and Aurora stand at a puzzle. As Emmy is about to go and risk her life doing it, Layton tells her to stop and decides to solve the life-threatening puzzle himself.

Bronev believes that the Azran Legacy will bring a bloom to human civilization, while Layton says that it will bring destruction instead. The Azran Legacy requires Bronev to pierce through Aurora's heart, and so he does, because he's spent years

The Azran Sanctuary is revealed to be a flying vehicle which summons machinery that will destroy the humanity. Aurora walks out and tells that 'humanity will suffer the same fate as the Azran.'

Aurora reveals that the Azran used to thrive due to being masters of technology, however in time the Azran began to view themselves as gods and created artificial beings that would do the tasks that normal humans would do. These golems were fully sentient beings, and so the golems wanted to be freed from the hands of the Azran. The golems, Azran's own creations were the ones that destroyed the great Azran civilization. And the golems are the ones that were revived through Bronev's actions, to destroy the world.
The chrysm inside the middle of the sanctuary lets out a light on five pedestials. Aurora tells that to stop the lights, people have to step on the pedestials at the same time- however there's a catch - the lights will kill whoever goes into them. Luke, Descole, Layton, Bronev and Emmy decide to risk their lives. As they do, the light of the chrysm takes their lives but Aurora decides to use the Azran hourglass in the middle of the Sanctuary to turn back time for them.

The story ends with Aurora's purpose as Azran emissary being finished and her disappearing along with the flying Azran Sanctuary. Descole escapes toward other adventures along with his butler, Bronev gets handcuffed and taken away by inspector Grosky and Emmy leaves as she stops being Layton's assistant, leaving that role for Luke.

The end of the finale loops back to the first game in the franchise, the Curious Village, as Luke and Layton travel on the Laytonmobile to solve the mystery of the curious village.

Professor Layton    / END

Emmy starting off her own journey.

Despite the far too quick pacing for wrapping up the plotlines at the end, Azran Legacy ended up being the magnum opus of the Professor Layton game series due to the handling of multiple characters at the same time, the ability to layer the story more than ever before along with some really great worldbuilding. I was feeling this game a lot due to the substance it had, more than the emotional moments. I can see why as a 'Layton game,' many would choose the Unwound Future as the peak of the series, however, this was so different in the structure of the storyline that it's remarkable. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, it was like every chapter from the very beginning to the end was a final chapter from the earlier Layton games, and that, along with the heavy build-up towards Azran from the earlier games&the Eternal Diva movie and the amazing style of worldbuilding through adventuring and learning of other characters such as Ancient Histories created by a famous professor known as Donald Rutledge (whom we never actually meet), were what made this game so grand.

First trilogy

Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Second trilogy

Professor Layton and the Last Specter
Professor Layton and the  Miracle Mask
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy 

Other games 

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire's conspiracy