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A Look @ Fairy Tail Volume 33 & 34

Feb 05 // Pedro Cortes
Fairy Tail Volume 33 & 34Creator: Hiro MashimaTranslated by: William FlanaganPublisher: Kodansha ComicsMSRP: $10.99 Physical / $7.99 DigitalReleased: 12/3/2013 (Vol. 33) & 1/7/2014 (Vol. 34) At this point in this large, multi-part arc, Fairy Tail is desperately behind in the Grand Magical Games. In order to stand a chance at reclaiming their place as the strongest guild, they’ll need some points and fast. That means more one-on-one fights. Now, typically this is where my eyes would start rolling. In most shonen franchises, the tournament setup is used when the creator is either stalling for time or is out of ideas. It’s a good excuse to have your characters stick around in one place and have flashy fights. This time around, the tournament conceit actually makes sense in the story and doesn’t feel out-of-place. After all of the heavy hitters disappearing for seven years, it would make sense that Fairy Tail’s reputation would take a hit and they would do anything to bring the guild back to its former glory. Thus taking us to the slate of fights across these two volumes. We’ve got a good combination of gag-based battles and serious, story-altering tussles. The Elfman/Bacchus fight manages to combine both to great effect. For one, it legitimizes Elfman, who I feel has gotten short shrift thought the entire story. Two, it forces Quatro Cerberus to change their name to Quatro Puppy. Childish, yes, but psychologically devastating. For other good, serious battles, the Kagura/Yukino and Laxus/Alexi fights need to be mentioned. The Kagura/Yukino fight adds fuel to the Saber Tooth/Fairy Tail conflict when Yukino gets the boot for losing and the Laxus/Alexi fight is just impressive, as Laxus takes on the entirety of Raven Tail and comes out on top. Speaking of Saber Tooth/Fairy Tail conflict, the biggest highlight for me across both of these volumes is Natsu’s solo-attack on a guild. It’s a mark of the fire wizard’s physical fortitude that he stood toe-to-toe with the Saber Tooth headmaster and his belief in camaraderie. One of Fairy Tail’s strengths is the bonds of friendship and family that the members of Natsu’s guild form with each other and that chapter encapsulates it. The final pages of volume 34 take things a step further, when Minerva beats Lucy within an inch of her life. With things getting more personal, it’ll be interesting to see how those conflicts become more heated as the Games get further along. My only gripe with these volumes has to be the mysterious references to Eclipse. Knowing what happens later, the way things are depicted is a bit misleading and leads to some confusion later on. Fairy Tail is at its weakest whenever Mashima relies on big doomsday devices and the later arc swerve is the result of either sloppy storytelling or poor planning. Like a lot of things in fiction, problems could have been prevented if things were presented in a succinct fashion. Oh well. Everything else in these volumes should please long-time readers.
Fairy Tail photo
Fights everywhere you turn
Before we take a look at the latest volumes of Fairy Tail, let’s take a look at where we’re at in the story. The members of Fairy Tail are in the midst of the Grand Magic Games. Held to determine which guild is th...


Rejoice! Vanillaware's Dragon's Crown gets a new trailer!

That's right, the game is still coming.
Feb 18
// Elliot Gay
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Crunchyroll to stream Pandora Hearts, more to follow

Jump into Wonderland with NIS America-licensed Pandora Hearts
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// Kristina Pino
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Final Impressions: Lupin the Third

Jul 07 // Chris Walden
Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine serves as a prequel to the existing series, showing us how the gang met each other, and what they were all doing beforehand. This includes Lupin, the world's most wanted thief, meeting with the cat-burglar Fujiko and marksman Jigen for the first time, so it was great to finally see the circumstances. With the introduction of Goemon some way into the series, I was slightly worried that it would break canon, but they manage to give reasons behind Lupin and Jigen never meeting him. Very cool stuff.  However, unlike the existing anime, Lupin relinquishes his role as the main character to allow us to learn about Fujiko and her pretty complicated past. Each and every encounter featuring Fujiko is important, with repercussions being seen throughout the rest of the series. There are obvious changes like Lupin and Jigen showing up more often, but then there's the point where the first episode becomes incredibly important, when before it only seemed to exist to show the chance meeting of Lupin and Fujiko. The story of Fujiko Mine is exceedingly well-crafted, and I'm sure both fans and first-timers will be happy with it.  The characters are what make the Lupin franchise what it is, and I'd even risk saying that it is this series that best represents them. I admit, I've only got the original series and the film to base this on, but this is the first time I've seen Lupin as a competent, devious thief, Jigen as a fearsome gunman and Goemon as a badass samurai. Sure, that's exactly what they were meant to be, but this is the only time I've genuinely felt like that is actually true. Perhaps it's the art style helping out in a way, but whatever is doing it, it shouldn't stop. With all this praise, there can't possibly be any bad points! Not quite. There are two main qualms I have with the show, which I feel leave an unfortunate mark on what could have been a near-perfect series. The first is how it seemingly lost its way around the middle, as while it was giving us important information with regards to the climax, it almost seemed to disregard the need to be gripping itself. I mean, it was okay, but it was a bore in comparison to the episodes either side of it. The other is how they dealt with Oscar. In my opinion, he was one of the most interesting characters in the entire show, and killing him off towards the end worked tremendously well. Why is he suddenly alive in the last episode, and why have you ended the series without explaining it? Sure, it could be resolved in a sequel, but it most certainly shouldn't have to be. We know he isn't around for any of the other Lupin series, so why bother? He played no role that only he could fulfil in the final episode, so I really don't understand the reason for it. It really is a shame.  Now, I couldn't possibly write about this show without talking about the art, could I? Simply put, it looks absolutely fantastic. The amount of effort that has quite clearly been poured into making this look so visually pleasing is quite apparent, and the new style really lends itself well to the Lupin the Third universe. There were a few issues with the shadows on the 3D models, but really, it's a minor problem at best. There was so much hype about the Redline guy being involved on this project, and it's apparent why! It's noticeably his work, but there are plenty of differences to keep the two projects from looking like cookie cutter efforts.  Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is one of the most memorable action anime from recent years, and one which I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone, regardless of whether you have dabbled with Lupin the Third before. The story, when it is in full force, is fantastic. The art goes above and beyond what you might have ever expected. It may have been let down by a few episodes in the middle of the series, but overall, this show is definitely worth your time. 

An anime that has Takeshi Koike involved, the guy responsible for the characters and animation in both Dead Leaves and Redline? You mean to say that we're going to mix Lupin the Third with ounces of style? Yeah, so this ...

Final Impressions: Jormungand

Jun 30 // Chris Walden
The premise is relatively simple; Koko is an arms dealer and she's hired a bunch of ex-military folk to help her do her job. There is also Jonah, a child soldier who joined the group after a run-in with Koko's brother, who also happens to be an arms dealer. It's about as simplistic as plots can get, but don't let that fool you! There are plenty of stories behind each of the characters, plus everyone has their own charms to add to the mix. It shows that they are a bunch of mismatched people, but on the other hand, they also seem to work perfectly together.  There have yet to be any 'arcs' of sorts, but rather stories that span one or two episodes. Valmer was the source of what you could argue was an overarching story, though it really only had two episodes dedicated to it. Some anime work better this way though, we obviously don't need to have Bleach-esque run-ins with a show like this. My opinion? It works pretty darn well. There's enough to keep you salivating for the next episode, and not too much to bore you in the build-up.   That's not to say that this show is perfect, either. The last two episodes of this show in particular were slightly disappointing to me for one main reason, and that's is how they skirted death. The rest of the series deals with death as you'd imagine an arms dealer would deal with it, and while it was sometimes gruesome, it was just another part of the show. When two of Koko's men are shown to be dead/dying at the climax of the penultimate episode, I was literally floored. Seeing the military folk caught off-guard, seeing Koko panic in the dark... it was fantastic. To have this essentially reversed without consequence at the start of the next episode was more than a disappointment. It happened again with regards to Valmer in the final episode, and put a damper on what could have been a great first season conclusion. Still, that's the source material for you, as the animation itself has been top notch all the way through. Most of the character designs are very typical of gun-centric shows, though they all seem to have very unique facial expressions. Koko has probably the most obvious of them with her strange-shaped mouth, but they all seem to have odd quirks with their smiles and glares. A good kind of odd, I might add! The music and sound was also very well done, but perhaps that's the Toaru Majutsu no Index/Shakugan no Shana side of me detecting Mami Kawada. No glaring errors either, so I think it's safe to say that White Fox put their all into animating this. If you were wondering, they also animated Katanagatari and Steins;Gate, so you can just about smell the quality already! I mentioned the Black Lagoon similarities before, so I should probably address them! Koko and her group of military personnel definitely give off the same vibes I get from seeing Rock, Dutch, Revy and Benny go about their business, but besides this, they are pretty different shows. There's obviously 'arms dealers' versus 'mercenaries' if you just want to state the differences, but the overall tones and themes are what make these shows significantly different from each other. Of course, if you like one, try the other, but know that there will be plenty more to see.  So, the final verdict! Personally, Jormungand was my favourite show this season. It may not be a deep enough anime to make all of you agree, but it deserves considerable mention for keeping itself fresh and exciting. Sure, it was a little rough in places, but man was it entertaining! I'll be jumping on the second season when that airs, so I suggest you watch this in the meantime! 

Well, there we have it. Jormungand, the show billed for two seasons before it had even started airing, has recently showed us its twelfth and final episode. While it's certainly considered to have a sizable manga&nb...


Jormungand looks more than a little bit like Black Lagoon

Mar 22
// Josh Tolentino
That's definitely not a bad thing if you're looking for more Black Lagoon-ish stuff. The lady looks like a young Balalaika, but I've yet to see this show's version of Rock and Revy. The kid with the assault rifle's still a bi...

Is Black Lagoon's manga returning from hiatus?

Mar 08
// Bob Muir
Black Lagoon has been on hiatus for a while now. The manga has been running since 2002, but only nine volumes have been collected, with the last one released in 2009. That might change soon, as mangaka Rei Hiroe recently post...

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