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Final Impressions: Thunderbolt Fantasy

Oct 28 // Salvador G Rodiles
While Thunderbolt Fantasy’s scene that involved Yao Tu Li resulted in a moment that ended too quickly, it’s thanks to the team’s surprises that this segment was made into a big thing. We barely knew anything about Shang Bu Huan’s background or the limit of his abilities, so his finishing move ended up being the thing that was big enough to leave us amazed with his latest arsenal that no one knew about. Of course, the thing that made the show’s finale spectacular was the fight between Mie Tian Hai and Gui Niao/Lin Xue Ya. Prior to this finale, the series made it seem that this whole story was going to lead to Huan being the one to face off the Xuan Gui Zong’s leader. Aside from the glorious clash between the two characters, the idea that we learned about Ya’s real motives was made this confrontation even more worthwhile. Not only that, the guy was as mysterious as Huan. In a way, his idea of stealing from powerful egotistical villains to break them goes well with Thunderbolt Fantasy’s possible theme about realities’ harsh truths. The nice part about this element was that it applied to any character in the show, regardless of their alignment. Since the butcher does his best to make sure that everyone gets a taste of the knife, his goal to make his characters suffer suited the whole theme of how things don’t always go the way they planned. Whether it was a certain character getting the last laugh on Ya or getting a glimpse of Huan’s true power, Thunderbolt Fantasy was filled with many surprises that made up for its quick battle between Huan and Yao Tu Li. Honestly, that the battle against Yao Tu Li was handled poorly; it's that wasn’t as fleshed out as the previous fights that appeared throughout the series. Nonetheless, the way how Huan took it down was what made the whole thing amazing. While it seemed like something that came out of the left field, it added to the main hero’s mysterious nature. Seeing that the series is getting a sequel, this element could be something that they could expand upon in this new show. For now, it serves as a way to show us that he likely has more surprises up his sleeve than Ya. On top of that, it was nice that he found a way to give Dan Fei hope after it seemed like her mission was going to end in failure; thus fulfilling the butcher’s requirement of a bittersweet ending, except happier than his usual stuff. Even when Thunderbolt Fantasy started off as a straightforward tale about stopping Hai, the show was filled with many elements that foreshadowed towards things getting out of hand. Most of the cast had mysterious backgrounds and there were many folks who exhibited ulterior motives. Accompanied with the weekly over-the-top puppet on puppet action, every episode featured the right amount of elements to keep the audience entertained. This was also thanks to the crew’s hard work in designing the characters and environments for each scene. Throughout the series, the staff did their best to present a set of large environments for the puppets while using both digital and practical effects to give the setting some life. Overall, the detail that the team put into the stages worked well in pulling us into Thunderbolt Fantasy’s world. The show’s food props gave off a mouthwatering feeling and the weather segments were executed in a way that it seemed like the studio was hit with an actual storm. Of course, it was a treat to see the staff go out of their way to showcase their puppets in high-speed battles that knock the world out of balance each week. Just like the environments, the team’s puppet designs were one of the show’s highlights. The detail placed into the cast’s outfits gives each character an elegant look, as the various colorful fabrics make each person shine. To top it off, the puppets’ sculpts on the puppets made sure that each one exhibited a sense of mystery or ridiculousness. One example was Hai’s design, which had him sport a black robe with fancy gold pieces and jewelry. His exquisite mask and collection of swords worked well in making him look threatening, along with being someone of high power. In Urobuchi’s quest to be involved with different mediums, he’s shown us again that his cutting techniques are qualified for high-octane marionette action shows. His style was able to mix well with Pili’s tendency to blow people away with their puppets. Together, they came up with a fine project that taught the main cast the harsh truths about reality, along with giving a new hope to those who survived the final outcome. While the main story is over, there are still plenty of things that Thunderbolt Fantasy could pull off with its sequel. For now, this series is the start of a beautiful thing that can blossom into something that’s even greater than it already is. In fact, it could keep us tied up for a good while. [Feel Thunderbolt Fantasy's shock at Crunchyroll.]
Thunderbolt Fantasy photo
Now that's what I call electrifying
It’s hard to believe that one of the best shows of the summer was a series that featured puppets involved in cool action sequences. Honestly, Thunderbolt Fantasy’s biggest treat was the way how Urobuchi, Pili Inte...

Thunderbolt Fantasy photo
Thunderbolt Fantasy

Look forward to more of Thunderbolt Fantasy's glorious puppet action in the future


Will it take place in a new setting?
Sep 30
// Salvador G Rodiles
With Thunderbolt Fantasy's 13th/final episode appearing before us, the show hit us with an after-credits text that revealed that its sequel is in production. In light of this announcement, the series' Twitter page told folks ...

Annotated Puppetry: Thunderbolt Fantasy episodes 7-12

Sep 29 // Salvador G Rodiles
It’s these real moments that complete the Butcher’s latest concoction as the main cast’s journey isn’t as straight forward as it seemed to be. The gang’s different backgrounds start to contribute to the show’s conflict and Gui Niao’s true colors start to blossom. While the change in the story didn’t result in any ridiculously shocking tragic moments, the constant air of doubt that entered the atmosphere acts as an alternate form entertainment that still stays true to the guy’s style. The unfortunate outcome from this change was dealing with the fact that we had to part ways with the show’s story about a band of characters that would usually not see each other eye to eye team up to go on a quest to stop a powerful person from releasing a powerful sword from its seal. In a way, it’s almost like Thunderbolt Fantasy was teaching us that all good things must come to an end. There was only so much that we could indulge from Huan tolerating most of the party while they reach Hai’s lair since the cast’s destination was meant to set up for the main turning point in the series. Even though the show started off like it could’ve become a series about a group that became closer during the adventure, the staff was likely aiming for a scenario where things don’t always go as planned. Huan ended up doing more of the work in the journey than Niao intended to and the wandering swordsman’s patience almost jeopardized the entire mission. Just like in real life, there’s always a chance that a well-thought out plan won’t go well. One has to learn to adapt and find a way to move forward while making modifications along the way. Sure, it almost made most of the gang’s roles in the trials a bit useless, but the treat was that it gave the Butcher the ammo that he needed to get the ball rolling. It’s this element that opened up the strings of betrayal that went on during the scenes in Hai’s lair. Characters that seemed like they could be heroes ended up showing a new side to them and Niao’s true identity starts to take things up a notch. All in all, this direction works better in piecing together a finale that’ll exceed many folk’s expectations. Hell, Urobuchi’s usual style of killing off a character before things got real was changed up as it ended up being someone who seemed like they could’ve been around until the main battle against the true final adversary. Of course, the show’s extravagant puppetry continues to be the star, with one of the highlights being the large golem. Compare to most of the fights, it was one of the few moments where we saw the puppeteers use the puppets to fight a large creature. Sure, it may have been a quick segment, but the fact that it seemed like Huan was scaling a stone monstrosity shows that the team's skills in moving the marionettes across the large stone creature were very effective. As a fan of practical effects, it’s still a treat to stare at the detail of the sets and creatures that Pili added to the scene. Since the show is nearing its finale, there’s no stopping this team from blowing everyone away. Speaking of breathtaking action scenes, Pili’s use of effects when they showed off Huan’s true skills resulted in various scenes where my jaw dropped from the way how he can manipulate his qi in battle. In a way, they made him seem like an even more ridiculous version of Twilight Suzuka from Outlaw Star, as we see another badass slaughtering people with a wooden weapon. While his backstory might continue to remain a mystery when the show ends, the idea that we don’t know much about Huan background is what makes him intriguing. Nonetheless, it’s his tendency to go with his instinct that made him a fun lead to follow since he does his best to adjust to situations that he’s been put through against his will— even if they make him upset or to follow someone who he sees as a shady individual. As Thunderbolt Fantasy went from being an adventure story to a tale of betrayal, the show has been quite the ride so far. Considering that the truth behind the Tian Xin Jian’s purpose has been revealed, the series might be setting up for the gang to fight a colossal being, which works well in the staff’s favor to end this show with a bang. No matter what happens, the end result might be a tale that teaches folks about accepting reality and using its harsh truth to grow into a stronger person. Someone is likely going to make one last major sacrifice, but that’ll just mean that the person involved has found his/her resolve. Of course, the high-speed lightning action will only make these moments even better.  [Experience Thunderbolt Fantasy’s changes on Crunchyroll]
Thunderbolt Fantasy photo
A Game of Marionettes
It was only a matter of time until Urobuchi would slice Thunderbolt Fantasy with his special knives. While it took a while for his blade to pierce through the show’s main story, the effect is still worthy of his us...

First Impressions: Thunderbolt Fantasy

Aug 18 // Salvador G Rodiles
If there’s one thing that hinted towards a big change in the story, it’s that the Main Character Shang Bu Huan was placed in an unfortunate situation that made him a part of the group that plans to stop the evil sword collector known as Mie Tian Hai from awakening the Tian Xing Jian, a powerful sacred sword, from its seal. The unfortunate thing about this was that Huan was just a swordsman who just wanted to wander, but he was placed in an unfortunate circumstance where he ended up becoming an enemy of Hai’s evil group, the Xuan Gui Zong. Since Urobuchi loves to make his characters suffer, the idea of the hero having to give up on his routine to fulfill a specific task works well in this favor. Hell, this format tends to lead to some interesting development with the main characters than one where the lead wants to do something good from the get-go, as it shows that an unexpected journey could help someone grow. In Thunderbolt Fantasy’s case, Huan's growth will likely be related to how he handles the ordeals when the group is close to Hai's castle. Even though the majority of the show’s story focused on the main cast formulating their party to stop Hai, the mysterious character known as Gui Niao holds the title of being the possible catalyst in changing the way how people view Pili and Urobuchi’s action-packed puppet show. He was the main reason why Huang is part of the campaign to fight the Xuan Gui Zon, and there are a few characters who have problems with the guy. Depending on how the story goes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes the spot as the show’s final villain. That, or we might have different factions and Niao will lead one of them. For now, his connection to the story is a factor that could elevate the series to a higher level and the suspicious vibe that he gives off contributes to the program’s entertaining aspects— especially with his persistent tendency to make sure that he has the prerequisites to overcome the trials that lead to Hai’s lair. While we’re on the topic of characters that could change groups at any time, the addition of a demon and a man who calls himself the Screaming Phoenix Killer contributes to the show’s idea of a group that’s united by a common motive. The idea that the party has their own toxic environment to deal with makes one wonder how things will change when the first major arc comes to a close. These aspects continue to push the audience towards being suspicious of Gui Niao; thus leaving people with the joy of trying to figure out where the story could go. For a team that could turn on each other, their teamwork somehow works out well, as a few of the show’s characters can give it their all when another comrade instigates them into doing something dangerously. Overall, this concept is what makes Thunderbolt Fantasy’s cast great since they’re all in it for a specific motive. Depending on how the direction the story will go later, I’m hoping that this aspect continues to be a recurring element since the team made these segments fun to listen to. Speaking of worthwhile things, the puppetry in Thunderbolt Fantasy gives off a breathtaking feeling. The actions scenes feel like an over-the-top Hong Kong film and the special effects (such as the magical flying weapons and powerful shockwaves) make every action scene a marvelous spectacle that never disappoints its audience. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this is that the show’s puppeteers are doing these segments in real time; thus resulting in a puppet show with one hell of a performance. Aside from the puppet’s impressive movements, the cast’s designs feature some highly detailed clothes and weapons. The craftsmanship in each puppet makes each of them look like a wonderful work of art. Not only that, the fact that the show’s staff uses weather and environmental damage is a solid feat, as the shots and lighting bring life to Thunderbolt Fantasy’s man-made sets. All in all, the team’s combined hard work with the puppetry, special effects and environments work hand-in-hand in creating a stage that grabs the audience's attention. Also, the idea that a majority of the show’s characters are left handed is a nice treat for lefties everywhere. As a person who never got to witness that many action puppet shows (such as The Thunderbirds) before, Thunderbolt Fantasy’s story and action left me blown away with the effort that went into the sets and action scenes. The violent puppets segments and Urobuchi’s writing serve as the true strings that’ll expose the nature of this series, which has started to unravel with Screaming Phoenix Killer’s actions and motives. With Hai entering the battlefield, it’ll be neat to see how everyone bypasses this trial. From the looks of it, this might be the opportunity that’ll allow for Huan to prove to everyone that he isn’t lying about his backstory. No matter what direction the series will take, Thunderbolt Fantasy will remain as a title that I never imagined as a medium that I needed in my life. [Get blown away by Thunderbolt Fantasy’s puppet action on Crunchyroll.]
Thunderbolt Fantasy photo
Lefties rule!
Ever since Urobuchi was involved with Kamen Rider Gaim, my desire to see him tackle other types of mediums outside of his usual things went up since it would be great to see how his writing style would cut up those stories. S...


Nendoroid photo
Nendoroid

Pre-order your Kill la Kill and Fate/Stay Night Nendoroids


Act out your own episodes with Mako and Ryuko
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// Brad Rice
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Titan Nendoroid

All hail and fear the Nendoroid Colossal Titan


The only thing that's big is its head
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Enjoy your prizes, people!
Sorry for taking too long on revealing the winner. Apparently, there was this major power outage at Japanator HQ, and we had to drive away the cats in the most non violent way possible. It was a long battle, but we were able ...

Moekanji Contest  photo
Four packs, two ways to win.
[Update #2: The contest is now closed. Thanks for entering, the winner will be revealed later on in the day] [Update: We have revealed the two surprize prizes that Hiroko is giving away for option number one.] At the end of M...

Moekanji Cards  photo
Moekanji Cards

Master the ways of kanji with Danny Choo's Moekanji cards


Now you can learn kanji with Mirai and her friends.
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I have yet to master the ways Moonspeak, but I've heard from many people that kanji is very hard to learn. But never fear, Danny Choo and the Good Smile Company are coming to your aid with the power of Moekanji cards! Now yo...
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Norio Wakamoto Championship finally exists


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Finally, my beloved Sakura Wars goes Nendoroid


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Linkin Park streaming from Nicofarre on September 9th


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ClariS sings theme song for... Nendoroids?


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BAMP: Tomopop visits Good Smile Cafe


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Sad face: Goodsmile denies Black Rock Shooter 2 rumors


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