recap

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 707

Aug 30 // Anthony Redgrave
So we continue the One Piece tradition of fight scenes incorporating devil fruit powers while the characters make faces at each other and occasionally spouting exposition in the hopes of provoking a reaction. The show has finally started to colour in Doflamingo's string attacks making them really stand out. It makes them easier to see, but it doesn't fit the lethal nature of his power. I actually liked it when they only showed the light glimmering off the string as it looked like cheese wire or garotte wire. It's thin, mostly invisible, and incredibly deadly. The multicolour string thing he has now looks too cheesy to take seriously.  Since this is a return to the Dressrosa battlefield, One Piece decides to re-introduce all the main players and who they are fighting in the second half of the episode. This feels like padding as nothing new is shown and for long time viewers this is a waste of time. While the Doflamingo-Law fight and Luffy-Fakemingo-Bellamy fight have some good animation and choreography especially from the former, all the auxiliary fights are too brief to mention. They all do one attack and then a reaction face. It's really hard to tell if anyone is winning or losing a fight since this exchange of blows is not shown to affect anyone in the long run. The next episode it could the same person getting hit or the opponent getting hit, the fight doesn't appear to have progressed.  The second half of the episode is not worth watching unless you completely forgot about names of the Doflamingo family executives and would like a refresher. This arc is failing to do simultaneous fights in an engaging way because I don't care enough about the other fights occurring, or should I say I don't care enough about the other fighters fighting. An arc that did multi-fights correctly was Enies Lobby. Each Straw Hat took on a different CP9 agent and each fight was spread across a few episodes so there was some padding like in this arc. The conflict against CP9 was engaging because I knew the stakes were high to save Robin and I cared about each Straw Hat, even Franky who was a dick to them for most of Water 7. And it was entertaining since every character was unique and they were not afraid of expressing their personalities even in a life or death brawl. I don't feel the same way about the gladiators here since they were portrayed as enemies initially and their redemption was too quick for me to fully understand their character. If the Straw Hats were fighting an executive alongside a gladiator, it would me feel more sympathetic since I'm more familiar with the Straw Hats and I won't be adverse to rooting for them. But right now I don't care if they win or lose just as long as they do it quick so we can spend more time with the main story.  At least in this episode we get a better understanding of what the D. family is. Even though I despise the long drawn out nature of this arc, there is a lot of interesting One Piece lore being explained. [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Back to Dressrosa...
After a couple of awesome flashback episodes, this week returns us to current day Dressrosa where exciting battles are going on, While the animation and fight scenes are fantastic, the same plodding pace makes a return reminding us all why we hate this arc. 

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 14

Aug 30 // Anthony Redgrave
  The bibliophilic Nagato Yuki hasn't been struck off the show as of yet as she converses with her lazier self about the events that had occurred after she was hit by the car. It's nice to see these two characters interact as the contrasting personalities with the same appearance re-enforces that they are two different people using the same body. I wish there were more scenes like this. We learn that despite this interaction occurring, Nagato will not remember it when she finally wakes up thus causing it to be semi-pointless. She does reveal the confession she had made to Kyon, and the old Nagato takes it very well surprisingly. (I guess hearing it from yourself is a form of self-discovery). On the opposite side, Kyon has not forgotten the confession and continues to have mixed feelings about his relationship with Nagato. Normally Kyon has warm interactions with Nagato but in this episode he plays off every interaction quickly and cooly. He doesn't want to spend time with Nagato at all and gets by with as little interaction as possible. The awkwardness of the situation is understandable as it's a classic "I know that she knows but she doesn't know that I know, but she told me she knows" that punctuate many soapy dramas on the television box. The situation isn't lingered upon too much as Haruhi makes her triumphant return and proclaims from now on the club will be celebrating Tanabata. The show doesn't explain what this celebration is so it's up to the audience to do Japanese culture homework via tangential learning. From the episode, I gathered it's a celebration originated from two gods that were lovers and people celebrate it by writing wishes on bamboo. It's an excuse to the get the club back to their fun having ways and for Haruhi to feature as a big part in the second half. Koizumi and Asakura start to exchange Oxbridge pleasantries over their wish writing choices. Both of these characters display polite, courteous behaviours and just from this one interaction I started to think they'd make a cute couple. (Oh god, have I really started to ship characters in this anime!?) Haruhi, having discovered the awkward feelings Kyon has Nagato confronts him about them. Strange seeing that she wasn't present for the last 4 episodes so she should be in the dark/ confused about a lot of the details. The lighting and colours in this portion of the show are dark and kind of menacing. Haruhi's fringe casts a dark shadow over her eyes making her look like a killer or an eroge protagonist. However, the dialogue doesn't match this mood as Haruhi states bluntly that Kyon shouldn't worry too much about it. There is an internal aspect to Haruhi's dialogue as she starts to remember when a young Kyon had helped her write a message to potential aliens 4 years ago on the school grounds. I'm quite confused. Wasn't Kyon a lot older when he helped her out or was that only canon in the Haruhi series. Also why would young Kyon use the name John Smith? He didn't time travel like older Kyon so there is no need to hide his identity. I think Haruhi knows Kyon was the John Smith from the past and has started developing feelings for the guy thus bringing the show back to; who will Kyon end up with. But if this was true about identity confirmation then why didn't Haruhi have a stronger reaction to meeting Kyon again back in episode 3? Was she hiding these feelings really well or were they a recent occurrence that she had just remembered? There's too many questions that need answering you just made it more confusing Haruhi! [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
Awkward morning after...
And we're officially back to normal high school life with Nagato Yuki-chan. This episode returns to the literature club hanging out and having jokes at Kyon's expense with a dose of Haruhi to liven things up. Watchers may be ...

Strong Style: Two Title match Terror!

Aug 29 // Soul Tsukino
  IWGP Tag title: Bullet Club (Anderson/Gallows) vs. CHAOS (Okada/YOSHI-HASHI) We haven't seen a lot from Yoshi on this show so this will be a nice change. CHAOS has Gedo with them in the corner while Bullet Club has no one. Things kick off with the Club attacking and going after Okada but fail as Okada gets the better of both of them. YOSHI tags in and gets Anderson over with a head scissors and then a neck breaker. YOSHI goes for an attack, but Gallows trips him and gets him outside the ring. Things break down with everyone outside the ring before Gallows gets YOSHI in the ring for a headlock. Dropkick by Yoshi to the sitting Gallows before tagging Okada. Okada is a house on fire as he takes out both men. Okada gets Gallows up for a slam.  Okada goes up the rope, but Anderson trips him up leading to Gallows launching him off the rope to the mat. Anderson comes in and mocks Okada by making the rainmaker pose. Anderson gets him up for a powerbomb, but Okada gets out and hits the falling neckbreaker. Okada then wows me and the live crowd with a LONG range flying elbow. Anderson tries for the Gun Stun but doesn't get it. YOSHI tags in and gets a basement kick on the ropes leading to Okada to kick Anderson on the rebound in a nice bit of double team. Anderson regains control as the Club double up and splat YOSHI in the corner with a double splash. Gallows nearly gets the pin twice, but can't get it. Okaka saves. YOSHI gets a slingshot clothesline and a blockbuster as things are breaking down  YOSHI nearly gets the pin on Gallows, but the big guy kicks out. YOSHI hits the Swanton, but Yujiro Takahashi interferes and ditches the ref. Gallows and Anderson get the legends killer and the pinfall to retain their titles. The outcome may not have been a surprise, but it was still a good tag match. Backstage words from Okada and Gedo saying they will win with YOSHI when they fight the champs again. Some words from Nakamura feeling frustrated that Fale had beaten him, and he only got to the finals of the G1 (ONLY?!?). He talks about Fale improving as a wrestler and being a very big guy with explosive power from the Tongan's time in rugby.   IWGP Intercontinental Title: Bad Luck Fale vs. Shinsuke Nakamura This is a big rematch for the title from a match shown last season. Nakamura beat Fale to win the new Japan Cup and then beat the big guy again during the G1. Fale has the Young Bucks with him, that's never good. They stare each other down during the introduction. Bell rings and we get this puppy going. Fale shoves Shinsuke around, but Nakamura gets some knees to the gut and getting a front face lock. Fale just lifts him into the corner, but backs away. Shinsuke gets Fale to the ropes and does that weird belly face rub thing (and I'm surprised Fale doesn't just clobber him right there). He gets Fale down in a leg lock, but Fale gets a headlock. Fale gets a tight looking headlock before being shot in the ropes, but it goes nowhere. Fale goes in the ropes again and bulldozes Nakamura down. Mauro makes quick mention here of his old broadcast partner in Stampede Wrestling, "Bad News" Allen Coage. Tough guy right there. Nakamura gets back in it with some knees and a dropkick to the big guy. Nakamura smiles to the crowd and gets in the good vibrations kick. Fale, however, dodges the big kick and gets Nakamura outside the ring. Into the guardrail for Nakamura before Fale sends him to the post. Nakamura just barely gets back in the ring but ends up right in the hands of Fale. Fale goes for the pin but only gets two. He then gets Nakamura into an abdominal stretch and stretches Shinsuke out. Fale then STANDS on Nakamura's back and tries for another pin. Back from a break, Nakamura rebounds with some punches, but a face rake and he is back down. BIG slam by Fale and goes for the splash, missing. Nakamura moves again for a corner splash and kicks Fale in the face a few times. Nakamura drives his knee in Fale but doesn't get a pin. Nakamura gets a knee to Fale's face and a face lock, but Fale muscles out of it with a throw and then a splash followed by the old avalanche in the corner and a Samoan drop. Nakamura gets a spin kick and then the backstabber but then tries to get Fale up in a back suplex, not a good idea with a bad back. Fale gets the suplex and then goes for the over the shoulder backbreaker before just dumping Nakamura to the mat. Fale goes for the Bar Luck Fall, but stalls for some reason and Nakamura escapes. Fale gets on him for a Boston crab the looks more like a walls of Jericho hold since Fale is so tall. Nakamura gets the advantage with a rear choke and the Booma ye kick to the back but doesn't get the pin. Nakamura goes for the Booma ye but gets speared for his trouble (more like run over by a truck). Fale tries to grab onto Nakamura but Shinsuke goes for an armlock, one punch ends that quick. Fale goes for the Grenade, but Shinsuke gets out and lands some flying kicks and a Booma Ye from the ropes, but only two. Shinsuke knees him in the head and goes for the finish, but Fale grabs him in a side suplex. Back from break as Fale is climbing the ropes?!? He goes for the 747 splash and finds the pool empty. Nakamura gets in some elbows, but Fale is fighting back. Duel now wth forearms. Nakamura is getting freaky, but Fale gets the torture rack into a high backbreaker. Fale hits the Grenade, but Nakamura kicks out! He goes for the Bad Luck Fall, but Shinsuke slips out, gets Fale down and hits the Booma Ye. He goes for it again by Fale dodges but walks right into it again, and then gets hit AGAIN. Fale is out as Nakamura gets the pin and wins back the title! Nakamura is presented the title before giving us some words. He asks the crowd what he should do next. YEAOH! Some words backstage from the champ and still asking what he should do with the belt, he says that the belt is more than just a belt but represents a fighter's will. Studio words from the champ as he says that Fale was at his heaviest and that as the match went on, he knew Fale was running out of gas. He talks about he only uses the belt as a toy, but that it brings interesting wrestlers with it and he likes that. The show closes with a few words from Mauro as we head out for the week. I gotta admit, the main event didn't seem to do much for me. It was alright for being a big guy vs. smaller guy match, but really Fale was just way to slow and plodding to make the match as exciting as the action on this show has been. The crowd seemed kind of dead during the whole thing and didn't respond to very much of anything either. I wonder if they felt the same way that Nakamura was probably going to win the belt back, making Fale's title reign largely to make him look like more of a contender during the G1 Climax tournament. Never the less, I thought the tag match was good. Sure the ending was a little predictable but the wrestling was straight on and both teams worked well together. The heavyweight division of the tag teams seems to get overshadowed by the Jr. tag team division, but those guys can put on some good matches as well. In all, not a terrible show, but probably not the highlight of action from this season either. Next week we go back to the Sumo Hall for two weeks of exciting action! We haven't seen a lot from Yoshi on this show so this will be a nice change. CHAOS has Gedo with them in the corner while Bullet Club has no one. Things kick off with the Club attacking and going after Okada but fail as Okada gets the better of both of them. YOSHI tags in and gets Anderson over with a head scissors and then a neck breaker. YOSHI goes for an attack, but Gallows trips him and gets him outside the ring. Things break down with everyone outside the ring before Gallows gets YOSHI in the ring for a headlock. Dropkick by Yoshi to the sitting Gallows before tagging Okada. Okada is a house on fire as he takes out both men. Okada gets Gallows up for a slam.  Okada goes up the rope, but Anderson trips him up leading to Gallows launching him off the rope to the mat. Anderson comes in and mocks Okada by making the rainmaker pose. Anderson gets him up for a powerbomb, but Okada gets out and hits the falling neckbreaker. Okada then wows me and the live crowd with a LONG range flying elbow. Anderson tries for the Gun Stun but doesn't get it. YOSHI tags in and gets a basement kick on the ropes leading to Okada to kick Anderson on the rebound in a nice bit of double team. Anderson regains control as the Club double up and splat YOSHI in the corner with a double splash. Gallows nearly gets the pin twice, but can't get it. Okaka saves. YOSHI gets a slingshot clothesline and a blockbuster as things are breaking down  YOSHI nearly gets the pin on Gallows, but the big guy kicks out. YOSHI hits the Swanton, but Yujiro Takahashi interferes and ditches the ref. Gallows and Anderson get the legends killer and the pinfall to retain their titles. The outcome may not have been a surprise, but it was still a good tag match.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
IWGP IC and Tag Titles on the line
NJPW on AXS TV finishes out our look of the Destruction of Kobe event from September 21, 2014. Tonight we have two big title matches with the IWCP Tag titles and the IWGP Intercontinental title up from grabs. Both matches tonight also featured Bullet Club vs. CHAOS fights so they both should be good. So let's go back one more time to the Kobe World Hall!

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 706

Aug 27 // Anthony Redgrave
Corazon, for some reason, is still alive and trying with all his might to make sure Law survives this ordeal. As Law awakes he is greeted by Corazon's creepy smile that will bring about more nightmares than comfort in dire situations. Vergo, apparently confident that Doflamingo's birdcage would ensnare the two targets decides to fight with his fellow Marines against the Barrel pirates. As the Doflamingo family slowly approaches, Corazon runs decoy after hiding Law under his mute spell so he doesn't give away his position. From here it is awesome after awesome after awesome material. The show wraps up everything it has to say about Corazon in this episode allowing the audience to finally understand Law's affection for the Doflamingo sibling. But the show also spends some time with Doflamingo in an excellent mid-episode focus. Doflamingo had just gunned down the captain of the Barrel pirates and then stares pensively his flintlock. We are treated to a flashback to his first familial murder using the same weapon. We know the Corazon's fate at Doflamingo's hands but we also know Doflamingo's passion for family. Killing Corazon would mean exterminating the last of his bloodline and this contemplation mid-way through the episode shows the conflict of ideals that's running through his mind. This slow sobering section amidst the frantic chase is a big part of Doflamingo's character, building him up to kill his own brother. We get a few of these explorative moments with Doflamingo and it makes us somewhat sympathetic to some of his actions thus not being a villain for the sake of evil. The Doflamingo family finally catch up to Corazon and soften him up for the boss to deliver the final execution. However considering that Corazon has already survived multiple gunshot wounds, a Haki beat down from Vergo, and a kicking from the rest of the family, would Doflamingo's bullets really put him down for good? Maybe they're imbued with Haki... Corazon's fate is linked to death but there's a twist in the favour for Law. It's a convenient save for the little survivor and it doesn't feel forced like how heroes are saved by death traps thanks to good timing just because One Piece's nature. Tragic incidents occur to the good guys every other day so any fortunate circumstances get a free pass from me. I'd like to think of it as One Piece karma. Eagle-eyed One Piece bookworms would know that this flashback story is also connected to the past another supernovas making the One Piece world more dynamic and connected. This is one of the rare episodes of the show that make the show worth watching after 700+ episodes. Without the knowledge or experience from all those other episodes, it wouldn't have the same hard hitting effect. It's hard to explain it anyone that hasn't seen it but you'll talk endlessly about it to those who have. It's an episode that makes One Piece such a well crafted show. It can perfectly mix action, drama, comedy, and tragedy in 10 minutes without feeling disjointed and contains themes that are telegraphed from the framing and the way characters act.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Here comes the water works
I don't think I've seen such a good episode of One Piece in recent memory. It's not just good, it's great! It's better than the whole Rebecca storyline, Dressrosa stuff, and anything that was done  after the time-skip. It ultimately delivers on why Corazon is such a big part to the Dressrosa story and the origins of Doflamingo-Law connection/ feud. 


Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! episodes 15-18

Aug 27 // Nick Valdez
Episode 15 Although I've conceded the fact that MY won't have the kind of big emotional breaks I'd see in a more nuanced romantic story, that doesn't mean there's a lack of tension. It's kind of nice to watch something that's so low stakes, every molehill seems like a mountain. The latest stake is the introduction of a new love rival, Saijou, a classmate of Takeo's who's really bad at athletics. When she gets swept up in a relay, she asks Takeo to help train her. In classic Takeo fashion, he's super cool and supportive (and eventually wins the relay with no problems) and Saijou falls for him. All the while Yamato (thanks to input from her friends) catches on to Saijou and is constantly worrying over Takeo. But good ole' simpleminded Takeo sees Saijou as nothing more than another classmate. As Saijou calls him out after school in order to confess, she chickens out and asks Takeo to be her teacher instead.  Episode 16 Since this is as close to a conflict as I'd expect between the two of them, it has to be mined for as much as it can. Thankfully, the whole thing only lasts two episodes as a lesser anime would've stretched it out to at least three. That's sort of the show's best quality and biggest flaw. There's just nothing getting in the way of Takeo and Yamato's burgeoning relationship, so there really isn't any room for outside development. While that leads to some great decisions like having them form a relationship in the first episode, it's a greater effect of the Shoujo genre's flaw. In this episode Saijou is still trying to make advances on Takeo after she tells him she likes him just as a "person," and as pure hearted as Takeo is, he takes it literally and completely ignores her advances. Yamato is worried, but Takeo tells her not to worry because he's not popular with girls (instead of saying he really loves Yamato). When Saijou confesses again (during a particularly well crafted shot), Takeo turns her down and realizes why Yamato was so worried. After a pleasant scene, the two reconcile.  Best part of this episode? Sunakawa comforting Saijou. He always seems so cool and collected (and a great flip on a traditional Shoujo protagonist), but he's in touch with people's emotions. He seems asexual himself, but that doesn't mean he's checked out. It's pretty neat.  Episode 17 Even though I just went into this whole thing about the story not allowing for outside character developments, here comes "My Christmas." As Takeo and Yamato's friends Kurihara and Nanako confess their feelings to their respective friends, the two decide to cheer their friends on and take a back seat in this episode (even if it's their first Christmas as a couple). Since Kurihara is not used to talking with women, he ends up pushing Nanako away with constant jokes. Basically, he's trying the kindergarten tactic of picking on the girl you like in order to get attention (this doesn't work, gentlemen) and it's failing hard. After Nanako is finally fed up and Takeo gives a rousing speech, Kurihara climbs a giant Christmas tree in order to grab its top star (that's said to instantly make two people a couple, or something like that). Then the two reconcile and it's all back to normal.   I didn't quite like this episode. I may complain that the show doesn't explore others well enough, but if the other character's lives aren't engaging, I don't really care.  Episode 18 I'm a little sad it took so many episodes to get to this point, but it's finally happened. Takeo and Yamato kiss! It's also my favorite episode up to this point. It's Takeo's birthday (and also New Year's Day), so Yamato makes it her goal to make it Takeo's best yet. After hearing from Sunakawa that Takeo doesn't want to kiss until Spring (and calling back to one of the best gags of the series, Takeo stealing a kiss from Sunakawa), Yamato decides to push forward and kiss Takeo sometime on his birthday. This episode's full of romantic and well crafted scenes, and has a particularly deft hand with the lighting. It's all so well done, Madhouse just knocks it out of the park here. Story wise, not much happens other than Yamato and Takeo furthering their relationship a bit, but it's just so damn cute. It reminds me of why I fell in love with this in the first place. It's a return to the awkwardness, and I can't help but revel in it.  Truth be told, it just brings up a lot of memories for me. I'm 6'4, so I've always towered over girls I've dated and I've had to take the position above a few times. Just seeing it here warms me up inside.  I hope MY Love Story!! runs for more than 24 episodes, or announces a second season soon, because I don't want this to end yet. 
Annotated Love Story!! photo
Takeo x Yamato forever
I'm a sucker for romantic comedies. But it's been such a long time since I've been drawn to a romantic anime since they've all pretty much become the same thing. It's either an inappropriate relationship, an appropriate but b...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episodes 17-19

Aug 27 // Salvador GRodiles
You gotta hand it to Gold Storm's staff for having multiple events from previous episodes that seemed unrelated come together. When done right, these twists fill the audience with a shocking feeling as their mind wraps around the events that have occurred. In this case, the show's recent big twist was obvious from the beginning; however, what made this scene shine was the motive behind the specific action. Originally, I felt that the team was going to make Zinga and Amiri similar to Barago/Kiba the Dark Knight from the original series since their motive involves freeing a threatening force for their own gain. Aside from their method of becoming evil, the other thing that improved the main villains' character was that their path was triggered by a tragic event. I mean, losing a kid is no easy task to endure— especially when he’s murdered by the very people they tried to save. At the same time, it added a new layer to Gald and Haruna’s backstory, since the intersection between the two groups predicaments increased the show's drama levels. Speaking of surprising elements, did anyone expect to see Ryuga’s old Garo Armor design return as an actual suit? Something tells me that this moment was an excuse to give the viewers a taste of what the main hero’s costume would’ve been like if Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t rely on CG for its Knights and creatures. As a person who enjoyed the franchise's third series, it was a nice service to those who wished to see his old form again. On top of that, the aerial battle between him and Zinga was a perfect way to make it stand out even more. Judging by the armor’s design, there’s a good chance that Ryuga’s current suit was what the team wanted the Golden Knight to become after he purified it. Likely due to Garo Season 3’s low budget, the staff decided to reuse Kouga’s version of the costume. I guess this proves that the guy’s current form wasn’t the result of his gear going through an evolution before Gold Storm’s events. Either way, it’s fascinating to see how these details can tell a story through the use of its visuals. Even though Zinga ‘kicked’ the bucket earlier than expected, his latest move almost keeps us guessing on how he’ll inhabit Ladan. Since Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t wrap up Ryuga and Rian’s relationship, it’s obvious that the guys desperation attack was meant to intensify this moment. One of the great parts about this was Miki Nanri being able to switch between two roles. All in all, she did a good job in expressing the guy’s maniacal way of speaking, which contributed to the dramatic campiness on screen. On top of that, the washed up effect in Rian’s mind served as a neat aesthetic for the scene. At this point in the story, it’s hard to believe that Gold Storm is close to its final countdown. One moment, it was spring and now we’re at the end of the summer season. I guess this is due to time flying fast. Based on the way how things have gone, we might see the appearance of Ladan’s ruler soon. Once the pieces become complete, the real battle shall become a climatic treat that’ll surpass Garo Season 3’s final battle. Hell, it might be a fitting end to Ryuga and Rian’s relationship. For now, we’ll just have to hope that she ends up on the rare list of characters that can be saved. However, a tragic ending wouldn’t be too bad— as long as the right ingredients are put into place. Then again, Ryuga worked hard for his status so a good closing to his journey wouldn’t be too bad right now. You gotta hand it to a show when it pieces together multiple events that seemed like they had nothing to do with each other. When done right, these twists fill the audience with a shocking feeling as their mind wraps around the events that have occurred. In Gold Storm’s case, the big twist was rather obvious from the beginning; however, what made this scene shine was the motive behind the specific action. Originally, I felt that the team was going to make Zinga and Amiri similar to Barago/Kiba the Dark Knight from the original series, since their motive involved freeing a threatening force for their own gain. Aside from their method of becoming evil, the other thing that sets the evil duo apart is that their path was triggered by a tragic event. I mean, losing a kid is no easy task to endure— especially when he’s murdered by the people you tried to save. This event was an example of the show’s staff to flesh out the main villains before the program comes to a close. At the same time, it spiced up Gald and Haruna’s story; thus making the drama even juicier. Speaking of surprising elements, did anyone expect to see Ryuga’s old Garo Armor design return as an actual suit? Something tells me that this moment was an excuse to give the viewers a taste of what the main hero’s costume would’ve been like if Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t rely on CG for its Knights and creatures. All in all, it was a nice service to those who wished to see his old form again. On top of that, the aerial battle between him and Zinga was a perfect way to make it stand out even more. Judging by the armor’s design, there’s a good chance that Ryuga’s current suit was what the team wanted the Golden Knight to become after he purified it. Likely due to Garo Season 3’s low budget, the staff had to resort to reusing Kouga’s version of the costume. I guess this proves that the guy’s current form wasn’t the result of his gear going through an evolution before Gold Storm’s events. Either way, it’s fascinating to see how these details can tell a story through the use of its visuals. Even though Zinga ‘kicked’ the bucket earlier than expected, his latest move almost keeps us guessing on how he’ll become Ladan’s ruler later on. Since Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t wrap up Ryuga and Rian’s relationship, it’s obvious that the guys desperation attack was meant to intensify this moment. One of the great parts about this was Rian’s actress being able to switch between two roles. All in all, she did a good job in expressing the guy’s maniacal way of speaking, which contributed to the dramatic campiness on screen. On top of that, the washed up effect in Rian’s mind served as a neat aesthetic for the scene. At this point in the story, it’s hard to believe that Gold Storm is close to its final countdown. One moment, it was spring and now we’re at the end of the summer season. I guess this is due to time flying fast. Based on the way how things have gone, we might see the appearance of Ladan’s ruler soon. Once the pieces become complete, the real battle shall become a climatic treat that’ll surpass Garo Season 3’s final battle. Hell, it might be a fitting end to Ryuga and Rian’s relationship. For now, we’ll just have to hope that she ends up on the rare list of characters that can be saved. However, a tragic ending wouldn’t be too bad— as long as the right ingredients are put into place. Then again, Ryuga worked hard for his status so a good send off wouldn’t be too bad right now.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
I am GARO!
Once again, Garo: Gold Storm Soar is treading into climatic territories that make us think that we’re in for a final clash. Obviously, these moments are only meant to set the stage for the true finale, but the climatic ...

Annotated Anime: Himouto! Umaru Chan episode 7

Aug 26 // Anthony Redgrave
Like all the other episodes, this one is again broken up into different story bits mixing up the lazy Umaru with the delicate perfect school girl form. I found that once you're tired of her chibi form the bishonen face will appear and everything is alright. Dammit! Have I fallen into Umaru's moe trap like her brother does every episode? Was this the studio's plans all along? Conspiracy theories aside, this title continues to entertain because it is always changing. It brings more of the characters together instead of introducing more to the cast and doesn't use the same slightly varied gags. The first segment is typical Umaru exploiting Taihei for her own gain. In this case, playing the guilt card so hard that it forces Taihei to search through garbage for missing auxiliary pieces of a Miku Migu figurine. I really dislike when Umaru throws these temper tantrums. It takes me back to when I used to watch Rugrats and Angelica would become a force of nature with her fits. To me it's not cute or adorable, it's embarrassing considering we see the thankless jobs Taihei does all the time for Umaru. She does get her comeuppance and in doing so wraps up the story in a warmer fashion than if she was directly punished. It's a nice ending that highlights the strong bond Taihei and Umaru have for each other. Then Ebina, Taihei, and Umaru go out for Ramen together. The ramen in this series looks really good. It might be because I'm writing this while cooking dinner, but Ebina's mini ramen looks awesome! I'd totally eat that. Also, Ebina continues to be the Mikuru of this series by struggling to break the chopsticks in half in an adorable fashion.  Taihei gets a segment this episode and it explores his tireless life as a Salaryman with his working bud Bomber. The gag at the mixer is amazing. Nothing really technical and it's actually quite predictable but the timing and facial expression changes on Bomber is fantastic. To cut things short, Bomber has a misunderstanding, meets chibi Umaru, gets creepy, and concludes with a revelation for the audience making the whole world of Himouto! Umaru-chan smaller. This is probably the worst segment of this episode, but it has some tough competition. Umaru in her video game alter-ego UMR takes a trip with her rival friend Sylphynford to an old Japanese sweet shop. A simple premise but it's my favourite segment so far in the whole of the show. It has warm bright colours, cultural references to the sweets of Japan, and a nice character revelation. It reminds me of my favourite K-On episode where Ritsu takes Mugi around town and they end up at an old Japanese sweet shop. Nothing groundbreaking, just two friends shooting the shit and hanging out. It also helps that they are moe schoolgirls being adorable. Finally, Taihei rounds off this episode by following a cat down a road leading to somewhere familiar. And again it's a nice set-up that provides some character depth to Taihei and his strong family ties. Matching these themes with the warm glow of the setting sun after work helps push the nostalgic imagery.  A gag slice of life show about a wunderkind leading a double life as a lazy slob should be enough to carry it through a season with jokes alone. But Himouto! Umaru-chan goes for something more making it similar to the old Keroro Gunso anime. They were both at their core wacky jokey cartoons, but they sometimes slowed the pace down to explore themes of family and familial love that made you feel warm and fuzzy inside.  [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] 
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
Mini Ramen!
I love when anime directly references stuff in real life and Himouto! Umaru-chan is one of the better titles to do it. They don't go for the subtle nod or the direct reference with the name bleeped out. Nope, this show goes a...

Annotated Anime: Bikini Warriors episodes 4-8

Aug 26 // Anthony Redgrave
We're back to the 4 minutes of fan service poorly veiled as an RPG spoof show and these next few episodes are more accustomed to my taste. I mentioned last time that I did enjoy the shameless fan service of the show, but the unfairness that lead to the protagonists being left in undesirable situations was a turn-off. Fortunately, this was been replaced by tentacle monster tom foolery which would be worse if they are not swiftly saved mere minutes later.  On the story side, they continue with the RPG tropes with the first two episodes focussing on how poor the party is. If they were playing an RPG properly then money would never be an issue and monsters would be one shotted due to tireless min-maxing, but that's just me. A mayor refuses passage to a dungeon for the party until they run errands for him. Everyone apart from the Warrior thinks it's beneath them so it's up to the red head to do all the bizarre tasks from dog watching to fighting a tentacle monster. It reproduces the bullshit stuff you have to do in RPGs or any other games for that matter to get something that was not worth getting. At least the ending has justice being served. In the following episode, the party is too poor to afford a new staff for the Wizard so they go on a massive sale of all their items. From the treasures they earned at low level to the piles and piles of potions and elixirs stored for a rainy day. RPG fans would get a kick out this episode as I'm sure we have all been there trying to scrounge the last bits of gold to afford the next weapon upgrade. The girls even resort to selling their used Bikinis to the men of the town and the Wizard's prove to be the most popular. I would make a comment regarding the extremely youthful appearance of the Wizard compared to the rest of the party and Japan's fascination of youthful purity as a sexual desire but it's shown that these consumers would rather wear the rags. I'm guessing the Wizard has the smallest cup size so it fits them better? Then comes an episode that is entirely censored Austin Powers style. I have nothing else to say about that. Episode 7 is about how the party first meets with the Dark Elf. In the tavern or the hero recruitment center, they encounter the dark buxom warrior proclaiming she was the real deal. Apart from their talents in magic, martial arts, and knowledge accumulated throughout the decades, they're also excellent braggers, not batting an eyelash whenever they something wrong. Even when the Wizard and Paladin are getting licked over like a fudgesicle, she refuses to see the downsides of her pitiful spells. Even though I'm not drawn to the Dark Elf (I'm a Wizard man) I really liked her confidence. She's a bullshitter and her arrogance carries this episode through to the end. It ends on a cartoony cliff hanger that doesn't get resolved because cartoons (unless you're Space Dandy) Lastly, we are introduced to two new characters; the Hunter and the Valkyrie. Both ladies are interested in joining the party of bikini warriors, but there is only space for one. The Hunter and Valkyrie are very different people. The Hunter is accustomed to roughing in the wild and is versatile in making monsters into "edible" food. To her credit, the food doesn't knock our heroes out after consumption making it more edible than mystery food X from Persona 4. The Valkyrie is a strong fighter that was hand picked by God. Because of this strong accolade she butts heads with the party since they don't ride horses. It culminates intoa "fight" between the Valkyrie and the Hunter to deem which one is better, but it's honestly too embarrassing to recount and ends in potential lesbianism. Although I liked the look of the Valkyrie, I thought the Hunter would be a better fit in the group. She has a wilder personality compared to the current group and the Valkyrie's arrogance and superiority traits can already be seen in the Dark Elf. Bikini Warriors is what it is and I don't think it'll be any more than that. As a side note, I like how the Paladin is hinted at as more sexually forward than the rest of the party by the way she drops hints of wanting to sell her body. Nothing ever comes of it, but I think it's funny that a Paladin (often a warrior for a holy or religious sect) is the most inclined to do indecent activities.  fudgesicle
Bikini Warriors photo
I don't know what else to expect
Boobs, crotch shot, potions, bra, string bikini, hero's journey, slime monster, tentacles, grinding, objectification, RPG trope, and nudity.  If you disagree with three or more of the above words then Bikini Warriors is sadly not for you. If you agree with all of the words above then Bikini Warriors was made for you.

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 13

Aug 23 // Anthony Redgrave
It's the end of exam season and the primary literature club members decide to take their president out for the day to celebrate. Asakura passionately suggests a theme park while Kyon asks Nagato where she'd like to go. They end up going to a used book fair to satisfy the bibliophilic Nagato much to Asakura's insistence on the theme park. Don't worry Asakura I'll take you to a theme park. How's about the new Banksy one Dismayworld? We may have to queue for a while to see the cynically satirical construction of the modern world, but I'm sure it'll be worth the inflated ticket price. In the mind of Nagato she is still struggling with her identity. A re-occurring dream of her spectating past events causes Nagato to think that her old self is coming back. Even Kyon and Asakura think that Nagato is reacting a lot more like her old self rather than the tightlipped monotone alien from the Haruhi series. But this isn't a good thing, at least for Nagato. Having become accustomed to the smiles and pleasures of having friends, the new Nagato is afraid of disappearing only to be replaced by the old Nagato. Which explains the dreams. New Nagato has always been there, inside old Nagato, watching but not touching. I think there are also more personas of Nagato too judging by they change clothes in a bolt of static during the dream sequences.  The second half of the episode focuses on new Nagato's last day in this world. After the next night, the old Nagato will reappear and everything should be back to normal. So she spends the day with Asakura and finishes in front of the library with the book she checked out last episode. As the sun sets she recollects about her new found feelings for Kyon and the fact she couldn't express them before she disappeared. Then he calls. The rest of the episode rolls on like a classic romance film scene. Kyon hastily rushes to Nagato's location as the phone call conversation is played over the top. If there are any anime fans out there who have ever been really frustrated at the fact no-one ever confesses their feelings in anime despite their similarities and mutual feelings then this last part of the episode is extremely cathartic to watch.  This wasn't the best story arc of the series. A lot of the time it was slow, didn't have the comedy or charm of the earlier episodes, and was akin to the mysterious elements of Haruhi that nearly put me to sleep by the amount of explanation needed to understand them. The new Nagato was a nice call back to the previous series whether it's canon or not. I like to think it is and the Nagato from Haruhi's series had a little adventure into the Yuki-chan universe. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
Return of Nagato Yuki
I was listening to a podcast where they were discussing our media's obsession with trilogies. Every new IP has to be a trilogy or at least series that builds on the existing product. However nowadays it's more like trilogies ...

Strong Style: New Japan brings a double header of pain!

Aug 22 // Soul Tsukino
Tanahashi opens the show for us this week. Togi Makabe vs.Hirooki Goto I like this match, Makabe may be bigger, but Goto isn't going to back down. Makabe is still sporting a broken jaw from the tournament, but he will fight through it. As they make their entrances Josh and Mauro make reference to Neil Degrasse Tyson, kid you not. These guys have a history and breaking each other's faces going into this match. Sounds like this match is going to hurt. They exchange hard elbow hits to the face. A few shoulder blocks go nowhere. Finally, Goto gets a hard clothesline right to the throat before rolling to the outside. We have a jump cut as both men are back in the ring. Goto goes for a hard kick, but Makabe catches his leg and drills Goto with a clothesline. Makabe scoops up Goto and lands a powerslam before smashing another clothesline to Goto and then sends him to the other corner and hits another clothesline. Makabe hits a northern lights suplex before trying for a back suplex only to hit Goto with ANOTHER clothesline. Outside the ring and hitting the barrier again. They get back in the ring where they exchange counters to counters that finally ends with Goto dropping Makabe onto his knee, hitting Makabe right on the back of the neck. Back from a break with Goto with the advantage, but with a bloody nose. Makabe goes to the corner, but Goto eats a boot. Makabe gets hit with a clothesline, they get up and both try for a clothesline, but Goto gets hit so hard he gets knocked for a loop. Makabe lands the Death Valley Driver and goes to the top, but caught by Goto. He knocks Goto down, but Makabe ends up in a fireman's carry leading to another knee to the neck. Makabe kicks out of a pin attempt as both guys are hurting. Goto hits the reverse version of the knee to the neck but can't put Makabe away. Suplex try as Goto can't lift him up. Makabe gets in some hits, but Goto hits the headbutt. Makabe hits some strikes to Goto's face and hits a suplex but can't get the pin. A clothesline to Goto and he gets set on the top, going to the spider suplex, but Goto blocks it. Makabe reverses things into a german suplex off the top and then hitting his King Kong kneedrop and getting the pin. Damn, MY jaw hurts after watching this match. Makabe gives us some words about how Goto deserved the beating he got for going after his jaw. We get some words from Tanahashi about still having a grudge against Shibata and facing off against him twice before since he returned to New Japan. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Katsuyori Shibata This will be awesome. These two had a stellar match a number as weeks back as part of the G1 Climax, now they don't have to worry about any points or anything other than each other. We've covered the story before, with Shibata being part of the "new 3 musketeers" with Nakamura and Tanahashi, but then leaving to go fight in MMA. He came back with bitter feelings against him from those that thought he should have stayed but has been whooping ass since then. Time to fight! The crowd is behind Tanahashi. Hiroshi goes for the leg, but Shibata gets the headlock and then goes for an armbar. They get to the ropes and Tanahashi SLAPS Shibata.  Yeah, they don't like each other. Hiroshi goes for a dropkick, but Shibata blocks and then goes for the penalty kick but Hiroshi ducks. Hiroshi gets some elbow strikes in the corner, but Shibata gets some in return. They are just trading forearm strikes with evil intentions. Tanahashi goes to the second rope, but Shibata gets the dropkick sending him out. Mafia kick right to Tanahashi's face. Shibata hits the barrier but comes out fighting, but meets an elbow to the face. This is just a fight now outside the ring and both guys make it in the ring at the count of 19. Back in the ring they resume striking the crap out of each other. Finally, Tanahashi goes down. Shibata gets a quick figure four leg lock and they are screaming at each other in the position. Tanahashi tries to strike out of it, but Shibata doesn't care. Tanahashi gets to the ropes and breaks the hold. Shibata works over Hiroshi with some kicks, but Tanahashi hits a flying forearm and a low dropkick. Hiroshi hits a second rope somersault senton. He gets Shibata in the corner and Hiroshi just starts slugging Shibata with forearms in the corner, but Shibata hits the mafia kick to the face! Shibata gets in more kicks and cracks his knuckles just glaring at Tanahashi (A scary sight) before blasting him with strikes in the corner. Shibata hits the cross ring dropkick and knocks the bats from Tanahashi's belfry. Back from break as Tanahashi grabs his leg and Shibata lands some nasty shots to the chest before Tanahashi rips Shibata's leg with a dragon screw leg whip. Shibata briefly goes for the anklelock but float to a chin lock, back standing up Shibata goes for a kick, but Hiroshi blocks it and just slaps Shibata in the face. Tanahashi catches Shibata's leg in the ropes and rips on it again. Hiroshi goes for something and gets hit with a suplex, only for Shibata to roll through it and land a second suplex before hitting the penalty kick. Shibata's leg is hurt and he can't go for the cover. He goes for the GTS, but Tanahashi hits a sling blade and then hits another one before going for his High Fly Flow, only to land on Shibata's knees. Shibata goes for the sleeper, but Tanahashi rolls through it and goes for a roll up, only to get caught in the sleeper. Shibata goes for the penalty kick again but whiffs it. Tanahashi gets the cloverleaf leg lock in, but Shibata gets to the ropes. Tanahashi gets a dropkick to the face, but both guys are spent. Back from break with both guys struggling to get up. They just trade forearms and SCREAM at each other to fight on. More elbows before Hiroshi slaps Shibata AGAIN and sends the fighter to the mat. Shibata replies with a SPINNING BACK FIST. Shibata goes for the GTS, but Tanahashi lands the leg whip again. Tanahashi lands a nasty dropkick to the face of Shibata and heads up to the top before hitting the cross body and then lands the High Fly Flow and wins! Good Gotch this was a battle! It finished third in the match of the year voting, and I wonder what people had to do to top this fight. Tanahashi looms over his fallen opponent, but Shibata gets back up, they go face to face ,and after some conversation, shake hands in respect. Both men they just went through hell but what they made was a work of art. We get backstage words from Tanahashi talking about his 10 years in the sport, and wondering that Shibata must have had a tough 10 years to produce that kind of match. He then reveals that Shibata told him "Thanks for saving New Japan Pro Wrestling" and Tanahashi feels that Shibata finally feels fulfilled in pro wrestling and that he is enjoying it now. Studio words from Tanahashi talking about how wrestlers don't like to include fans in the wrestlers disputes but that the fans made the match special and that Shibata's message was special to him. He talks about how they have respect and greet each other backstage as we close the show. This was an amazing show. Even with just two matches both delivered and the commentary, while getting a little odd in the beginning debating about Pluto, was spot on when the action started. Great week of action from this show and we've got more to come! Togi makebe vs. Hirooki Goto
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Two fights full of venom.
Welcome back as Strong Style once again is in Kobe this week for New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we take a look at the second part of the Destruction of Kobe event from September 21, 2014. Tonight we have qa doub...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 12

Aug 20 // Anthony Redgrave
So Nagato and Kyon are in the library. Since this new Nagato is a bibliophile she floats through the aisles of books before resting on one that catches her fancy. While our smart mouthed Kyon clashes with a bespectacled librarian despite other patrons calling out for their mothers or giggling over books and not getting reprimanded. As closing time approaches Nagato is still reading at the same spot Kyon had left her, she is determined to continue to the last second of opening. We learn that the new Nagato, along with a greater affinity for books is a lot more determined and forward with other people. This brings about a nice scene where Nagato does her best pout to try and convince Kyon to return her book that ultimately results in a library card being used.  This interaction between Kyon and Nagato is very similar to what happened in Haruhi except in that series it was Kyon narrating over animation of himself struggling to convince Nagato to move from the library. The show is great at re-creating and re-doing past scenes from the Haruhi series to represent the alternative universe idea of Nagato Yuki-chan. After revealing the existing library card in Nagato's possession, there is a flashback to how Nagato met Kyon which was in the same library. In classic romantic novel fashion, Kyon sweeps Nagato off her feet by stealing her book and checking it out at the desk along with setting her up with a library card. What a hunk! Also, Kyon's sister makes a long awaited appearance. Now I'm just hoping we get to see Shamisen in this series.  As the second half of the episode starts we get more hints at the August fireworks festival earlier in the series cause my speculation glands to start secreting. It also follows Checkov-san's Firework Festival; if there is an introduction of a summer festival in a romantic anime series there needs to be a major flag event between the two leads. This half also gets really meta as Nagato starts to flashback to key scenes from the show; the Christmas party, star gazing, and giving chocolates during Valentines, but she isn't viewing it from Nagato's perspective. Instead she is an observer, watching Nagato as she does all these tasks despite our new Nagato being in control of past Nagato's body. There is a piano motif that plays through these scenes that screams to be Gymnopedie no. 1 by Erik Satie. This track was a major thematic track for the movie The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya that sort of serves as a prequel to this series.  I seriously love Gymnopedie; it's slow, warm, mysterious and embodies Nagato's cold exterior in front of her inner human emotion. An appearance in this show will be welcomed with open arms by me and will also help tie the film and this together in terms of musical theme. The piano score that replaces it is serviceable to as to convey the confusion Nagato is feeling when watching these flashbacks but isn't memorable despite following the similar crescendos and decrescendos of Gymnopedie.  [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Nagato Yuki photo
I am thou, Thou art I
Hey Haruhi fans, remember when Kyon bunked off looking for paranormal stuff and spent his afternoon in the library with Nagato instead, only to get scolded by Haruhi? Would you like to watch it again with a different art styl...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 705

Aug 20 // Anthony Redgrave
By the grace of Oda, Corazon somehow fought off Barrel's men that had him pinned down by gun point and was able to deliver the Opi Opi fruit to Law. Law, apparently still in shock to see his feathery friend fails to notice the vast number of bullet wounds leaking vital fluid all over the snow. Even at a young age Law is skeptical about the fruit's abilities and only until Corazon force feeds him the devil fruit does he finally ingest the heart shaped power up. This scene's tone is all over the place. First we get a rousing speech by Corazon shouting about being happy about the successful heist and Law's upcoming cure, to a funny scene with Law struggling to fit the entire fruit down his gullet, and finally Corazon lying facedown in the snow slowly bleeding to death.  The gut punch comes when Law attempts to use his newfound power only for nothing to happen. I always assumed after eating the devil fruit, the users will have some way of controlling it or at least turning it on. Sabo ate the flare flare fruit and was tossing fireballs willy nilly in a matter of seconds since he was in a gladiator match and later toe to toe against an admiral. Corazon passes Law some valuable information for Marine eyes only regarding Dressrosa and tells him to run for the Marine ship that was hiding on the West Coast. Unfortunately, the first Marine Law meets up with is the double agent Vergo. Vergo smacks the shit out of Corazon but even Law. Yep, this haki imbued body of pure muscle doesn't waste any time hitting a kid on his death bed and a clown with the power of muteness. The episode ends with Doflamingo arriving with the family and casting bird cage on the island basically preventing anyone from escaping. This makes Vergo stupidly confident as he leaves the clown and the child to die slowly instead of tying them up and leaving them for the family to find.  As of now Corazon has shown more D. family qualities than Law. He is upbeat, wacky, resourceful, and very passionate about helping his friends. He is also stated that he will die with a smile, a very familiar D. trait as shown by Saul and even the famous Gol D. Roger.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] By the grace of Oda, Corazon somehow fought off Barrel's men that had him pinned down by gun point and was able to deliver the Opi Opi fruit to Law. Law, apparently still in shock to see his feathery friend fails to notice the vast number of bullet wounds leaking vital fluid all over the snow. Even at a young age Law is skeptical about the fruit's abilities and only until Corazon force feeds him the devil fruit does he finally ingest the heart shaped power up. This scene's tone is all over the place. First we get a rousing speech by Corazon shouting about being happy about the successful heist and Law's upcoming cure, to a funny scene with Law struggling to fit the entire fruit down his gullet, and finally Corazon lying facedown in the snow slowly bleeding to death.  The gut punch comes when Law attempts to use his newfound power only for nothing to happen. I always assumed after eating the devil fruit, the users will have some way of controlling it or at least turning it on. Sabo ate the flare flare fruit and was tossing fireballs willy nilly in a matter of seconds since he was in a gladiator match and later toe to toe against an admiral. Corazon passes Law some valuable information for Marine eyes only regarding Dressrosa and tells him to run for the Marine ship that was hiding on the West Coast. Unfortunately, the first Marine Law meets up with is the double agent Vergo. Vergo smacks the shit out of Corazon but even Law. Yep this haki imbued body of pure muscle and haki doesn't waste any time in hitting a kid on his death bed and a clown with the power of muteness. The episode ends with Doflamingo arriving with the family and casting bird cage on the island basically preventing anyone from escaping including Law and Corazon if they could get passed Vergo. As of now Corazon has shown more D. family qualities than Law. He is up beat, wacky, resourceful, and very passionate about helping his friends. He is also stated that he will die with a smile, a very familiar D. trait as shown by Saul and even the famous Gol D. Roger.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Bad Luck Favours the Bad Guys
Has anyone else noticed that Swallow Island not only looks like a Swallow from a boat if it is looking at it from the right angle but also looks like a Swallow from birds eye view too? It's funny how coincidences just work in...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Ultraman X episodes 4-5

Aug 18 // Salvador GRodiles
Right when I felt that Ultraman X was going to only have one huge battle at the end of every episode, the people at Tsuburaya threw a curve ball at me. In fact, this surprise was the right element that it needed to push the story forward. As fun as it is to see Daichi transform into the Giant Warrior each week, the supporting cast still deserves their time to shine. This is where episode 4’s conflict came in since it covered the usual trope where a group of characters must learn to work together. Sure, this element has been done to death in many shows, but the great part about this aspect is the reward that comes from seeing everyone settles their differences. At the same time, it helped establish Asuna, Wataru, and Hayato’s roles as XiO’s combat unit. Because of this outcome, the Musketty’s Forms became more useful in the segment; thus acting as a good way to promote the machine as a toy. Once again, the show resorts to bringing back previous monsters and adversaries from the Ultra franchise. Honestly, I’m going to assume that this will continue to be a recurring thing in this show. Then again, since Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend is the only other title in the franchise that I’m familiar with, seeing these old creatures for the first time has been a nice treat. Koichi Sakamoto's movie also had some classic baddies, which shows that this trend has been around for a good while. At least the human-sized aliens are changing the playing field right now. Unlike the show’s giant monsters, these extraterrestrials are more like the types of villains that inhabit the realm of tokusatsu, such as the generals or the Monsters-of-the-Week. They all have their own agendas and they manage to give the human characters the chance to actually shine. I mean, I didn’t expect to see XiO’s members go toe to toe with one of these villains. In the end, if these guys add more action to the series, then Ultraman X has what it take its entertaining quality to a higher level. Speaking of which, I didn’t expect for Ultraman X to repeat the same format in the next episode. At first, it felt that the staff was running out of ideas this early in the series, but one can never judge an episode by its basic format. Just like the previous segment, episode 5 gave us a better look at Rui’s character. Sure, she’s your usual enthusiastic character that goes nuts over random things, but it’s the way how she expresses her love for her research, comrades, and giant creatures that make her very lovable. In fact, her encounter with Alien Nackle Bandello expressed her sentiments well; thus giving the viewers another good reason for them to care about her. Other than this development, Ultraman Zero’s cameo was a great way to spice up the action. Since his debut in Ultra Galaxy Legends was during the film’s major battle, it was nice to actually see him partake in the show’s story. Mind you, I haven’t seen the other films that he’s been in, so my knowledge of his character is limited right now. But hey, his flaming skills and his various moves that revolve around his head gear were a great addition to Ultraman X's arsenal of ridiculous characters. Another greatest treat was seeing X switch between his Gomora and Eleking Armor when he battled Black King. All in all, this segment was a nice relief since it gives us the chance to get acquainted with his new powers. That and it’s a good way to sell the Cyber Monster cards to people. Again, his transformations gave off a nice Heisei Kamen Rider vibe, which is still one of the show's good aspects. Most importantly, you can’t go wrong with the main hero having an X-shaped body slam and a powerful energy chop attack. Of course, the idea of having giant heroes using wrestling-like moves on huge creatures is entertaining to watch. Now that we’ve flown through five episodes of Ultraman X, it's safe to say is that Tsuburaya hit us with some great surprises. The show’s team is changing up the format between episodes and they did a good job in making us more interested in XiO’s main members. Then again, this sort of style might’ve been present in previous Ultra shows so it might be something that isn’t too new. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop the current installment from losing its shine. As long as they keep up the good work, I think that I might start to become more invested in the franchise. In other words, I'm now officially a fan of the Giants of Light. [You can take a selfie with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya's YouTube channel] Right when I felt that Ultraman X was going to only have one huge battle at the end of every episode, the people at Tsuburaya threw a curve ball that defeats my speculation of the series’ format. In the end, this sort of thing was the element that it needs to push the story forward. As nice as it is to see Daichi transform into the Giant Warrior each week, the supporting cast still need their time to shine. This is where episode 4’s conflict comes in since it covered the usual trope where a group of characters have to work together. Sure, this element has been done to death in many shows, but great part about this aspect is the reward that comes from seeing everyone settles their differences. At the same time, it helped establish Asuna, Wataru, and Hayato’s roles as XiO’s combat unit. Hell, they even made the Musketty’s Forms even more useful which shows progress and helps promote the machine as a toy. Once again, the show resorts to bringing back previous monsters and adversaries from the Ultra franchise. Honestly, I’m going to assume that this will continue to be a recurring thing in this show. Then again, since Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend is the only other title in the franchise that I’m familiar with, these creatures have been a nice treat. At least they’re now bringing in the human-sized aliens, who manage to change the show’s playing field. Unlike the show’s giant monsters, these extraterrestrials are more in tune with the types of villains that inhabit the realm of tokusatsu. They all have their own agendas and they manage to give the human characters the chance to actually shine. I mean, I didn’t expect to see XiO’s members go toe to toe with one of these villains. In the end, if these guys add more action to the series, then I’m absolutely okay with that. Speaking of which, I didn’t expect for Ultraman X to repeat the same format in the next episode. At first, it felt that the staff was running out of ideas this early in the series, but one can never judge an episode by its basic format. Just like the previous segment, episode 5 gave us a better look at Rui’s character. Sure, she’s your usual enthusiastic character that goes nuts over random things, but it’s the way how she expresses her love for her research, comrades, and giant creatures that makes her very lovable. Honestly, her encounter with Alien Nackle Bandello expressed her sentiments well; thus giving the viewers another good reason for them to care about her. Other than this development, Ultraman Zero’s cameo was a great way to spice up the action. Since his debut in Ultra Galaxy Legends was during the film’s major battle, it was nice to actually see him partake in the show’s story. Mind you, I haven’t seen the other films that he’s been in so my knowledge of his character is limited right now. But hey, his flaming skills and his various moves that revolve around his head gear were a great to see again. Perhaps the greatest treat was seeing X switch between his Gomora and Eleking Armor when he battled Black King. All in all, this segment was a nice relief since it gives us the chance to get acquainted with his new powers. That and it’s a good way to sell the Cyber Monster cards to people. Again, his powers give off a nice Heisei Kamen Rider vibe which is still a good thing. Most importantly, you can’t go wrong with the main hero having an X-shaped body slam and a powerful energy chop attack. Also, the idea of having giant heroes using wrestling-like moves on huge creatures is entertaining to watch. Now that we’ve flown through five episodes of Ultraman X, all I can say is that Tsuburaya has left me surprised. The show’s team is changing up the format between episodes and they did a good job in making us more interested in XiO’s main members. Then again, this sort of style might’ve been present in previous Ultra shows so it might be something that isn’t too new. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop the current installment from losing its shine. As long as they keep up the good work, I think that I might start to become more invested in the franchise; therefore resulting in me adding another thing to my list of tokusatsu offerings that I enjoy.
Ultraman X photo
A joyous bond of Ultra proportions
We’re five episodes into Ultraman X, and the show has finally unleashed its good playing cards. Not only did we get to fall in love with the rest of XiO’s crew, the show gave us a cameo appearance in the form...

First Impressions: Himouto! Umaru-chan

Aug 15 // Anthony Redgrave
The show focuses on the perfect beautiful student Umaru Doma. She is incredible at athletics, academics, popular, sweet, cute and basically the ideal school girl. However, she has a secret that only manifests itself when she comes home. In reality, she is an ultra slacker otaku with borderline hikikomori tendencies if it weren't for the weekly Jumpu and arcades that need visiting on weekends. This is a literal transformation as she goes from moe student to chibi Crayon Shin Chan straight after crossing the threshold of the door. Only her older brother and guardian knows of this secret, but some characters have come dangerously close to discovering it. As a premise, it's quite an interesting one. A lot of anime have otaku characters and they wear their nerdy hobby on their sleeve thus being shunned as outcasts or played for laughs. In the case of Umaru, she has to constantly hide her passions due to her already preconceived image as a sweet feminine student darling. It's also great to see her transform from her selfish home self to her cute outdoor self whenever she wants to get something out of her brother. Most of the time she is in her indoor mode, eating snacks and drinking lots and lots of cola. I'm not an expert, but the amount of cola she drinks a day is evidence of addiction. I'm surprised she doesn't get any shakes or withdrawal symptoms when she's at school.  Since Umaru is based in a high school, the supporting cast is mainly other high school girls that Umaru interacts with. First is the ditzy one Nana Ebina who is basically Mikuru from Haruhi right down to the big chest, next is the hyper competitive Sylphynford Tachibana who is like Tsubasa from Haruhi without the fang, and finally Kirie Motoba the misunderstood girl who doesn't share the likeness with any Haruhi character. Most of the time these side characters are played for laughs due to their extreme personality quirks. If anyone has seen the anime Working!! it's exactly like that. Whenever the set up to a joke is being played out you can accurately predict how each character will react making some jokes to be too predictable and overplayed. This was also the downfall of Working!! as the second season had no new material. Himouto! Umaru-chan is balancing this fine line after seven episodes and it's keeping my attention due to the consistent parody of video games.  I think the bottom line is Himouto! Umaru-chan is if Lucky Star was put in a blender with Working!!. The show works well as a comedy and the art style is very appealing to look at. The only downsides apart from the longevity of the same jokes being used over and over again is that Umaru may not be very likeable in her indoor form. She's lazy, bossy, selfish, and spoilt and watching her cry about wanting more cola or money for a game makes me think back to the cries of toddlers in supermarkets when they reach the sweets aisle. On the plus side they're bringing more characters into the fold so they're no longer one note characters. I'm especially liking Kirie opening up to the Doma family and integrating with Umaru's other friends.  [Cover from Person of Leisure at Pixiv][Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]  [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
The Otaku Jekyll and Hyde
Himouto! Umaru-chan is an anime series I never intended on starting this summer but seeing that I'm now writing an extremely late First Impressions it certainly did catch my fancy after the first few episodes. Himouto! Umaru-chan

Strong Style: Season 3 Beatdown with NJPW

Aug 15 // Soul Tsukino
We kick off the new season with a hello from Taguchi. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Takashi Iizuka & Minoru Suzuki Been a while since we covered a tag team match on here. If this match sounds familiar, that's because this is a rematch from a match that was shown last season. This is not going to be a pretty match, literally and figuratively. This match, like the one before it, started with Iizuka turning on Yano and CHAOS to join the Suzuki Army. Iizuka comes out from the top deck of the World Hall while Suzuki walks out like he's going to get the mail on a Saturday morning. Yano and Sakuraba come out and Suzuki and Sakuraba face off immediately. They start things off with some shoot style kicking and grappling. Sakuraba gets a triangle and tries for the armbar. They get into a heel hook before they separate.  Suzuki smacks Sakuraba in the face before Yano is tagged in. However, the shoot fighters are still smacking each other before Yano actually goes after Suzuki. Iizuka comes in and the brawling starts. Iizuka goes for a straight choke and Iizuka goes off on the ref. Yano gets hit was an atomic drop as Suzuki and Sakuraba just start going at it outside the ring because they can. Back in the ring with a cut as Suzuki and Sakuraba going at it. Suzuki goes for an armlock, but he gets to the ropes. Yano gets tagged in, but Suzuki tags Iizuka and then just attacks Sakuraba anyway. Iizuka chokes out Yano with a tag rope and then dumps the ref on his ass. Yano grabs Iizuka by the beard and the ref pulls Yano's hand off and to Iizuka's displeasure. Suzuki gets on the apron and puts and armbar or Yano, but Sakuraba breaks it up. Iizuka goes for his gauntlet, but Yano hits low and his finishers, the yakka Kiri and gets roll up for the win. Meanwhile the shooters and not stopping. This was a fun match. The idea that Suzuki and Sakuraba didn't give two shits about the wrestlers and just wanted to kill each other made for an interesting dynamic, but really sold the feuds between these guys. Words from Sakuraba about wanting to fight Suzuki while Suzuki just GLARES at the camera. That is a look I NEVER want to see in real life. Tetsuya Naito & Kota Ibushi vs. A.J. Styles & Tama Tonga One of these things is not like the other. Styles and Tonga are representing The Bullet Club. Styles is the IWGP heavyweight Champion and tonga is the son of legit tough guy wrestler Haku, known for nearly gouging a guys eye out and biting off a dude's nose in a bar near Baltimore. We start the match with Ibushi and Styles. Ibushi starts with some boxing, but Styles goes for a single leg. The lock up proper and clean break out of the corner Wristlock by Styles that Ibushi reverses. That clean stuff goes  out the window as both guys just start forearming each other. "That all you got?" yells Styles, and Ibushi blasts him for it. As he goes for the ropes Tonga gives him the low bridge sending him outside the ring. The Bullet Club boys try for the attack, but Naito comes flying outside the ring and wipes out Tonga. Naito and Ibushi gets some double team kicks in on Styles that lays him out. We skip ahead as Tama comes in and tries to get a full nelson on Kota, who turns it into a German Suplex and kicks the crap out of the big guy. Tama gets a flapjack, but Naito comes in and hits a clothesline on Tonga. Ibushi goes for a superplex, but Styles pulls him off the ropes. Naito gets rid of Styles and Tama comes flying onto Ibushi. Tonga goes for an underarm suplex on Ibushi, but Ibushi nails a roundhouse kick and gets the phoenix splash and the pin!   IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title Match – Champion Kushida vs. Ryusuke Taguchi Main event time as Kushida of Tthe Time Splitters takes on "The Funky Weapon". The build up here was that Kushida called Taguchi "sleazy" in magazines and didn't take him serious since he can be such a goofball. We get some studio words from Takeuchi about Kushida insulting him and how it got him going for this match. He then mentions he forgot to get Kushida an end of year gift. Taguchi gives a Rick Rude hip wiggle on his entrance before Kushida comes out with an entrance video showing him as a kid, mock wrestling in a basement. Kushida is also one-half of the Jr. tag champs here. Mauro mentions Taguchi's look, being a lot like Eddie Guerrero, nothing that Taguchi idolized Latino heat. Taguchi extends a hand and then pulls it back. Kushida gets the low kick to the leg. Kushida gets some good grappling and gets Taguchi down. They exchange headlocks and armbars before Kushida goes for the hoverboard lock but doesn't get it.  We get some fast paced action before Taguchi gets a Dodan (Double arm chicken wing into a face plant) on Kushida. Kushida goes out of the ring and Taguchi goes after him. Kushida injures his knee as Taguchi goes right after the injury. Back in the ring Taguchi goes for the kill but Kushida fights him off. Taguchi gets the figure four and nearly gets to the ropes, but Taguchi rolls it right back in the middle of the ring. Kushida gets to the rope to finally break the hold. Kushida comes back with a kick to the face and then hits a Pele kick to Taguchi. Kushida gets on the apron and goes for something but lands right on his knee,  He tries for the Tajiri handspring elbow but crumbles from the pain. Kushida lands a dropkick to Taguchi's arm before getting the Hoverboard Lock and then goes for the armlock, but Taguchi gets to the ropes. Kushida gets some kicks and hits the Handspring Elbow. He goes for the overboard lock again, but Taguchi gets out of it and then hits the kick to the head. Taguchi goes for the Dodan but Kushida rolls through it, Taguchi counters into an ankle lock and then both men trade several pinfall attempts in an incredible sequence. Taguchi tries for the Dodan again, but Kushida gets a front choke. Taguchi reverses it into the Three amigos suplex, but Kushida counters into and arm lock, Taguchi gets the ankle but is met with an enziguri. Holy crap the match is going a million miles an hour, but it's all awesome mat wrestling and not the flying stuff you usually get from the Jr.s.  Back from break, Kushida kicks the arm and then to the head, before trying for a pin. Kushida is slow in getting to the top for a moonsault, but Taguchi gets his legs up.  Damn these guys are spent. Exchange of forearms ends with several Kushida kicks to Taguchi's arm. Taguchi goes for the knee as Kushida runs right into a high kick to the face but doesn't care and shows us fighting spirit! He gets a flying head scissors and goes for the flying Hoverlock. Taguchi gets out of it and rolls right into getting an ankle lock,  before slamming the knee onto the mat. Taguchi gets the Dodan but goes right back into the ankle lock before KUSHIDA TAPS! Taguchi is the new champion! Taguchi extends a hand and gets met with a slap, but shakes his hand anyway before Taka Michinoku, El Desperado, and Taichi run into the ring and attacks both guys. Alex Shelly comes out but only gets beats down.  The Suzuki Army Jr.s have some smack talk in the back. Taguchi coins the term "Oh my and Garfunkel" that sounds hilarious when he says it in English. He vows revenge for the guys who ruined his moment and talks about the tough match. Studio words from Taguchi. He talks about being more serious for this fight since Kushida called him sleazy and said he wasn't a serious wrestler. He then openly debates whether he needs the belt anymore and if he should bother to defend it. This show was great! After all the coverage of the G1 Climax, it was nice to shake things up a bit with some tag actions and the Juniors going out there and having an incredible showing. Best Wrestling show right now. We kick off the new season with a hello from Taguchi
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Oh my and Garfunkel
This week we start the third season of NJPW on AXS TV picking up events taking place right after the G1 Climax 24 concluded. During the rest of the season we will be leading up through the WrestleKingdom 9 event from early 20...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 704

Aug 13 // Anthony Redgrave
Just as Law and Corazon start bond the amber lead poisoning that has been slowly killing Law begins to get serious. He collapses unresponsive to Corazon's cries just after Doflamingo's call via Den Den Mushi. Turns out Doflamingo has found a cure for Law's disease in the form the Opi Opi fruit which he would like Corazon to eat. The fruit is being held by the pirate Diez Barrels hoping to sell it to the Marines for a tidy some but before the exchange the Doflamingo family plan to steal it for themselves. Corazon being a Marine spy and brother to Doflamingo plans to double-cross them both and steal the fruit to cure Law. Turns out it cannot be used to its full potential if the user doesn't have any medical knowledge. We also get full confirmation here that if a person eats two devil fruit that they die as Corazon reasons he cannot eat it despite the intention to heal Law with its powers. But this could be complete superstition passed on from pirate to pirate as we saw earlier Blackbeard get the Yami and Gura fruit powers albeit behind a curtain. People in One Piece do mention giants, floating islands, Government super weapons, and Ohara being myths and they're all real.  The episode is a desperate struggle for Corazon to retrieve the fruit from Diez Barrel's crew before Law dies. With high stakes and slim chances this episode kept me on the edge of my seat. Corazon's power isn't amazing as demonstrated in an interlude of Corazon showing off his power to Law. It's small moments like these that make One Piece still one of the most charming shonen shows on-air. Corazon isn't a goal driven psychopath or an all serious mentor, he's a guy that wants to save Law but also make him happy.  The episode's finale is Corazon utilizing his devil fruit power to steal the Opi Opi fruit from right under Diez's nose. This is quite possibly the only time the Calm Calm fruit would be the most useful fruit ever apart from the Clear Clear fruit. Just as he enters the home stretch, forced clumsiness befouls the clowned hero as he stumbles into enemy hands. What happens next will require a lot of suspension of disbelief if he survives. I found it incredibly hard to fathom when Brownbeard got blasted in the face from point blank range by the Yeti Cool Brothers in the Punk Hazard arc and still survived, but this is like 10 times that.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Corazon the Clown
Corazon reminds me of that weird uncle everyone has. The one that comes around for the holidays, always gives you awesome presents, tells great stories, but is also just plain weird. You were scared of him when you were younger cause he was all up in your face but now you've grown to accept him as an eccentric individual. That's Corazon. 

Annotated Anime: GANGSTA episodes 6

Aug 11 // Anthony Redgrave
Again this episode is split up between the present where Nicolas and Doug were successfully stabilised by Nina after Worick had dragged their asses to the surgery and the past with Young Master Worick and Nic trying to co-exist with the increasing anti-twilight hostility. The flashback sequences are the show stealers in each episode as they convey much more emotion than the action driven present. GANGSTA carefully peppers these flashbacks without giving away the full story and mixes them into the story of the present to help explain the Handyman's relationship with one another. The show makes the point that despite the difference in their social standing they still share the same miseries and hardships.  Worick having enough time to collects his thoughts talks to Nic about the big bad behind the massacre and the motive behind Monroe's hit. Before Worick leaves for the office to find out what happened to their new secretary he states that he doesn't want to abuse the 3 laws to control Nic again. This shows that Worick is Nic's master and if an order is given by Worick, Nic cannot disobey. I'm guessing in the finale we'll see what happens if a Twilight does disobey a master. Dog tags aren't robots as far as I know so there isn't a self-destruct and they don't seem honourable to commit suicide. The only group have any control over the Twilights as a whole is the Guild run by Gina so I'm guessing she'll be responsible for any rogues.  Back at the office my prediction at the end of last annotated anime was correct, it was the kind Dr. Theo looking to check up on Alex. Turns out she was under the effects of withdrawal symptoms of a drug that pimps used to control their prostitutes. Think of it as the GANGSTA version of heroin or cocaine with the disposition of schizophrenia causing Alex to hallucinate about her former pimp Barry. Personally I would've liked to see a supernatural element with a ghost Barry haunting Alex. Whenever he was on screen the lighting and colors had all the elements of a supernatural horror so it would've lent itself well to that genre. Worick gets a lot of great parts in this episode as he fixes Alex with some good ol' shonen violence (or a headbutt) ironically hurting himself more than her. My favourite part is how nonchalantly he plays off Alex coming onto him and immediately starts to bitch about what a shitty day he has had.  [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation] [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation]
GANGSTA photo
Gangsters have feelings too
GANGSTA continues to entertain week on week and this week is no different. I was going to write about how it still continues the trend of being slightly too vague to follow coherently until I gave up midway through my fi...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 11

Aug 10 // Anthony Redgrave
The episode opens with a recap of last episode narrated by Nagato (H) in a similar manner as Endless Eight, lots of reused footage with different framing. We learn that Nagato (H) is aware she has hi-jacked Nagato (D)'s body but is having problems with the memory side of things. Fortunately, she is still in tune with Nagato (D)'s feelings and can act accordingly when interacting with Kyon and Asakura. Mother bird Asakura takes this news very well considering her friend has a completely new personality and chooses to treat the new Nagato in the same way as Nagato (D) until Nagato (D) resurfaces. With the blessings from the hospital, Nagato (H) is discharged to continue treatment at home and attempts to live the life of the previous Nagato (D). See what I mean by confusing. The first quarter of the episode has the same muted tone as last episode to match Nagato's new personality. The next half is more in line with the fluffy slice of life comedy expected from the show complete with comedic facial reactions and friendly smiles to counter hardships. However, the elephant in the room prevents the show from recapturing the spirit of a high school rom-com. Nagato is no longer Nagato so the beats and timing of each gag take a pause to see whether Nagato (H) would react the same as Nagato (D). In this way, the show does a grand job in exemplifying the disappearance part and how it affects the characters on the show. I think introducing Nagato (H) was a good choice. A lot of the romantic elements in anime tend not to lead anywhere and constant hinting/ near misses puts me in the frustrating situation of wishing the show would shit or get off the pot. Another 9 episodes of will they/won't they would get old unless it was backed up with some solid comedy, so introducing a familiar face helped mix things up. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] The episode opens with a recap of last episode narrated by Nagato (H) in a similar vein as Endless Eight, lots of partially reused footage with different framing. We learn that Nagato (H) is aware that she has hi-jacked Nagato (D)'s body but is having problems with the memory side of things. Fortunately, she is still in tune with Nagato (D)'s feelings and can act accordingly when interacting with Kyon and Asakura. Mother bird Asakura takes the news very well considering her friend has a completely new personality and opts to treat Nagato (H) in the same way as Nagato (D) until Nagato (D) resurfaces. With the blessings from the hospital, Nagato (H) is discharged to continue treatment at home and attempts to live the life of the previous Nagato (D). The first quarter of the episode follows the same muted tone as last episode to convey the tone of uneasiness of Asakura and Kyon to Nagato's new personality now that they have deduced it is no longer Nagato (D). The next half is more in line with the fluffy slice of life comedy expected from the show with facial reactions to dramatic situations and friend's supporting each other emotionally. However, the elephant in the room prevents the show from recapturing the spirit and feel of the whimsical nature of a high school romcom. Nagato is no longer Nagato so the beats and timing of each gag take a pause to see whether Nagato (H) would react the same as Nagato (D). In this way, the show does a grand job in exemplifying the disappearance part and how it affects the characters on the show. I think introducing Nagato (H) was a good choice for the show. A lot of the romantic elements in anime tend not to lead anywhere and constant hinting/ near misses puts me in a frustrating situation wishing the show would shit or get off the pot. Another 9 episodes of will they/won't they would get old unless it was backed up with some solid comedy so introducing a familiar face helped mix things up.
Nagato Yuki photo
The real disappearance
I never thought I'd miss the new dopey Nagato Yuki but I really do. It's going to get confusing talking about the two Nagato's so I'll label them as such; the new Nagato to this series will be Nagato (H) as she...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episodes 13-16

Aug 10 // Salvador GRodiles
You know that a show is going to get better when the first thing that it does is to have a fishing segment. I don’t know what it is about these moments, but every time that I see a character attempt to catch a large fish or adversary, I can’t help but to be mesmerized by the dynamic shots between the person and its target. That being said, Gold Storm’s staff hit the right notes in shooting Rian’s brief match against the Horror that was residing in the lake. Not only that, it served as a nice set  up to Raiga’s fight against the creature’s true form. In other words, it was another fine episode for the series. Interestingly, this might be the first time that the Gold Storm TV series featured nudity. Honestly, this came as a surprise since the franchise usually would show four or more episodes that would show a naked woman. My guess is that they’re trying to focus more on the major characters, villains, and monsters since Garo: Makai no Hana kind of followed this format— before the final battle against Eiris. Then again, the show’s finale could cancel my random observation so it might be too soon for me to make this assumption. In all seriousness, this pattern has no effect on the program’s quality in any way. If there was one thing that hindered the series, it’s that we were hit with a recap episode. I understand that many studios have issues with meeting their deadlines, but they should do their best to make it fun. At least the team tried to make it interesting since they chose to have Gold Storm's main ladies talk about the events that have happened so far. In the end, it wasn’t too bad, as there were some parts that moved the story forward. However, I still think that more people need to look at Akibaranger as a reference on how to do an entertaining clip-show segment. Obviously, Gold Storm’s recent strong moments were the episodes about the team storming through Zinga and Amily’s stronghold. Every scene in this segment was fantastic since the coordination between the main cast was at its finest. This was reflected in the gang’s synchronized attack to penetrate the base’s defenses, which worked well in showing how everyone has evolved so far. In terms of character development, this moment shined through nicely. At the same time, the show is telling us that it’s ready to unlock its shackles. Also, you can’t go wrong with a Watchdog showing off her special abilities. To an extent, it was a nice callback to the original series, except that the main hero's superior is supporting the good guys. Due to the show’s recent progress, Garo: Gold Storm Soar is still on a roll. The developing relationship between the characters continues to reward the viewers for investing in the series since their teamwork resulted in tons of solid moments during the counterattack against the show’s main villains. Despite the recap episode’s slight hindrance on the series, the latter segments made up for it because of heroes’ coordinated strike. While it’s a bit of a bummer that Rian was turned into a damsel in distress, I guess that it was a plot element used to develop Ryuga’s bond with the Gunslinging Makai Priest. Either way, the program’s great potential came through and all that’s left is to see it through the end. Seeing that JAM Project’s new song rocked our souls, it’s only going to get even more real. I know I kept saying this a lot in the past, but it’s just the way how I feel at the moment. You know a show is going to get good when the first thing that it does is to have a fishing sequence. I don’t know what it is about these moments, but every time that I see a character attempt to catch a large fish or adversary, I can’t help but to be mesmerized by the dynamic shots between the person and its target. To anyone who enjoys these segments like I do, Gold Storm’s staff hit the right notes in shooting Rian’s brief match against the Horror that was residing in the lake. Not only that, it served as a nice set  up to Raiga’s fight against the creature’s true form. In other words, it was another fine episode for the series. Interestingly, this might be the first time that Gold Storm featured nudity. Honestly, this came as a surprise since the franchise usually would show four or more episodes that would show a naked woman. My guess is that they’re trying to focus more on the major characters, villains, and monsters since Garo: Makai no Hana kind of followed this format— before the final battle against Eiris. Then again, the show’s finale could cancel my random observation so anything is possible. In all seriousness, this pattern doesn’t affect the program’s quality in any way. If there was one thing that hindered the series, it’s that we were hit with a recap episode. I understand that most studios have issues with deadline somethings, hence why these types of segments are made. At the same time, how hard is it to make these moments fun? At least the team tried to make it interesting since they chose to have Gold Storm main ladies talk about the events that have happened so far. In the end it wasn’t too bad, as there were some parts that moved the story forward. Obviously, Gold Storm’s recent strong moments were the episodes about the team storming through Zinga and Amily’s stronghold. Every scene in this segment was fantastic since the coordination between the main cast was at its finest. This was reflected in the gang’s synchronized attack to penetrate through the base’s defenses, which worked well in showing how everyone has evolved so far. In terms of character development, this moment shined through nicely. At the same time, the show is telling us that it’s ready to unlock its shackles. Also, you can’t go wrong with a Watchdog outclassing the heroes in every way. To an extent, it was a nice callback to the original series, except that the special guardian is on the good side. Due to the show’s recent progress, Garo: Gold Storm Soar is still on a roll. The developing relationship between the characters continues to reward the viewers for investing in the series since their teamwork resulted in tons of solid moments during the counterattack against the show’s main villains. Despite the recap episode’s slight hindrance on the series, the latter segments made up for it because of heroes’ coordinated strike. While it’s a bit of a bummer that Rian was turned into a damsel, I guess that it was a plot element used to develop Ryuga’s bond with the Gun-slinging Makai Priest. Either way, the program’s great potential came through and all that’s left is to see it through the end. Seeing that JAM Project’s new song rocked the scene, it’s only going to get even more real. I know I kept saying this a lot in the past, but it’s just the way how I feel right now. 
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
The cute ones are always very dangerous
It looks like we’ve hit a major point in Gold Storm’s plot. Wait a second… Isn’t this show supposed to run for 25 episodes?! I guess they’re planning something huge if the staff is pulling out t...

New Japan Pro Wrestling leaves WWE in the dust with this finale

Aug 08 // Soul Tsukino
For the first hour, we start things off with  Hiroshi Tanahashi greeting us. We are at the Seibu Dome on August 10, 2014. The arena is packed with 18,000 wrestling fans anxious for some action! Tomoaki Honma vs. Tetsuya Naito NJPW's lovable loser and nude sleeping aficionado is taking on last year's G1 Climax winner. Mauro gives us the astonishing fact that the last time these two met,  Honma won the match between the two. Barnett is astounded by this fact. Lock up to start. Naito misses a dropkick, but Honma misses a headbutt. Honma misses another headbutt and Naito hits the dropkick. Naito getting some boos, mocking Honma. Josh makes some less than kosher statements about clotheslining Steven Hawkings. Seriously. Honma gets back the advantage and actually lands the headbutt. Clip to Honma hitting a brainbuster and nearly getting the win. He goes for his diving headbutt and misses. Another jump as both men trading forearms before Naito gets a SLAP and hits the Mil Mascaras flying head chop. Naito gets the german suplex, but Honma gets up and wraps Naito and nearly gets the pin. Enziguri to Honma followed by a german suplex only gets two on Honma. Naito lands the death drop before the Stardust press and gets the pin! Clipped a bit, but you got to see the story play out that although Honma was the bigger guy, Naito was the favorite, even heeling it up a bit at times. Karl Anderson vs. Tomohiro Ishii We get some hard hitting Bullet Club vs CHAOS action here. Ishii has a lot of tape on his left shoulder entering this match. Anderson gets an early advantage and going after the injured shoulder. Anderson looks to have broken Ishii's nose and is gushing blood. Jump ahead as is working over Ishii. Another cut as Ishii blocks a stun gun before landing a headbutt and a clothesline. Ishii lands a suplex and nearly gets the win, but Takahashi pulls the ref out and attacks Ishii in the ring. Out comes Yoshi Hashi to even the sides and clears Takahashi out of the ring. Anderson lands a Bernard Bomb but only gets a two count. He tries for the stun gun, but is blocked, and goes for the headbutt that doesn't work as Anderson falls back and Ishii is not even phased. Karl Anderson reverses a clothesline into the stun gun and gets the win! Well, that was short. Clipped a lot but with four matches in one hour it's to be expected. Ishii has had a rough tourney it seems and looks to be needing some rest. Hirooki Goto vs. Katusyori Shibata As has been mentioned before, these two were high school classmates and do know each other. They also are both known to hit like a mule so this won't be a patty-cake match by any means. Josh makes a fairly accurate comparison of Shibata with Akira Maeda. Makes a lot of sense there. They GLARE each other and then lockup to start. To the ropes where Shibata hits a chop on the ropes. Shibata ASKS Goto to hit him harder and Goto responds. Trading stiff forearms. Mauro makes an interesting observation about there not being any AC in the building. Shibata shakes off some strikes and these guys are just stiffing the hell out of each other. Shibata hits the running kick. Goto hits the running clothesline where Shibata no sells and hits a forearm. Jump ahead to trading back drop suplexes. Trading more forearms and it's a wonder either guys hasn't snapped his arms doing this. Goto hits a right smack knocking Shibata down, only to be hit with a spinning back fist that puts Goto down.  Goto hits the udashoten slam and only gets 1. Shibata hits the sleeper, but Shibata gets out. Shibata hits the GTS and the penalty kick to end the match and gets the pin. Shibata then shows respect by help Goto to the back. Shibata collapses and Goto picks him up. We get some words from Shibata and he is in some pain. He makes it quick about making the summer better for him before he leaves the press room. Short and clipped but damn was that match stiff. Guess with friends like that, who needs enemies. Tanahashi talks about being motivated even if this was the runner's up match. He thinks Styles is his kind of wrestler for an opponent and  how Styles fits in with Japanese wrestling. Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. A.J. Styles Yup, the IWGP Champion and the ace of the company are playing second fiddle tonight as both guys came up short in the points to end up in this position. Styles comes out with Gallows and Fale. That doesn't bode well. Josh mentions these guys are very similar, Mauro points out these guys met twice before and split the matches. So a rubber match of sorts. Armbar by Tanahashi to start. H grabs and headlock and holds on Styles gets an arm drag and both men exchange arm drags before they hit a stalemate. Styles gets a  knee into Tanahashi but Hiroshi gets the counter. Styles leaves the ring and jumps right back in for a pose. Tanahashi catches a kick but AJ gets Hiroshi running and Styles gets a HIGH dropkick. Styles hits a backbreaker and hits a knee drop. Styles is jawing with the crowd and Hiroshi gets in a few hits, but Styles keeps the advantage. Tanahashi ends up crotching the ropes and Styles gives him a rough ride. Styles gets an odd looking chin lock on Tanahashi. Tanahashi reverses a whip and runs right into an elbow. Styles does a flip into position for a death drop but Tanahashi reverses it only to be countered. Styles goes for the dive but gets knocked off the ropes. Outside the ring, both men get the barricade and Hiroshi leaps over the barrier and hits Styles with a body splash! Both are slow to get up as the scramble to get back into the ring. Both men roll in on the count of 18 and trade forearms. Styles comes off the ropes and is nailed with an open strike. Tanahashi counters the whip and hits the Slingblade clothesline. Tanahashi hits the dragon suplex but only gets two. Hiroshi goes to the top, but Styles catches him and tries to go for the Styles Clash out of the corner, but Tanahashi gets out. Styles goes for the Styles Clash again but doesn't get it. Styles hits the sweet diving elbow but only gets two. Tanahashi hits a jawbreaker and then gets Hiroshi in the corner where Styles opens up on Hiroshi, but Tanahashi counters with a dragon suplex. Styles gets Tanahashi up to set up a superplex but gets knocks off, He jumps back up but goes to the top rope and lands the super top rope rana.  Styles keeps trying for the Styles Clash, but Hiroshi counters it before Styles just drops Tanahashi on his head that is just sick to see. Styles goes for the frog splash and misses. Hiroshi goes for his version of the frog splash only to have Styles gets his knees up. Trading elbows now brings them up to their feet before Stles hits the pele kick and hts a verticle DDT. He goes for the Styles Clash and Tanahashi gets the victory roll and scores the pin! The Bullet Club jumps in the ring and give Tanahashi the beat down before Styles hits the Styles Clash. Out comes JEFF JARRETT?!? He and Scott D'amore give Styles and the Bullet club grief. Jarrett gets his guitar but it has the Bullet Club logo and smashes Tanahashi with it. Really? Jarrett sucks up to the Bullet Club to promote his Global Force Wrestling that largely lit the world on flop. Tanahashi gives us some backstage words about being disappointed with Styles for what happened after the match and asks for a rematch. Studio words from Tanahashi talking about how Styles rose to the challenge. End of Episode 1! We start off episode two of tonight's double header with Okada greeting us. Only one match for this one. Okada gives us some words about being pleased to fight Nakamura since they are stablemates. G1 Climax 24 Finals: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazuchika Okada 2011 champion vs 2012 champion. Josh Barnett gives the match to Nakamura since he thinks Okada is too beat up from fighting Minoru Suzuki. Let's see if that holds true. We get both full entrances as  this set up in front of 18,000 people is pretty damn cool. Barnett points out that Nakamura gets his influence from Freddie Mercury, winning bonus points from me. We see the full ring introductions as well, glad they gave this one the full hour. We start off tentative as Shinsuke threatens a few kicks as they get a knuckle lock but Nakamura gets the armbar. Okada gets the reverse. Nakamura gets the flip and gets a headlock on Okada which Shinsuke reveres with a head scossrs and the crowd applauds. Back to the ropes and Okada breaks clean and gets a Rainmaker pose. Shinsuke gets a trip and starts working the legs, Nakamura gets a front face lock and backs Okada to the ropes where Nakamura goes for his weird belly rub thing, where Okada gets a headlock and gets Nakamura outside the ring. Okada cranks Nakamura on the guardrail and tosses Shinsuke back into the ring landing, a senton over the ropes. Okada goes for the one-foot pin, but the ref ain't even going to try for it. He goes for the traditional pin and only gets one. Okada gets a strait jacket headlock, but Okada has to break when Nakamura gets to the ropes. Back from break with Okada on the advantage. Nakamura whipped into the buckle and dodges a clothesline. Both men exchange hits with Shinsuke hitting an enziguri and goes for Ggood Vibrations. He goes for the kick but Okada dodges, however, Nakamura nails a flying kick. Okada placed on the top and gets nailed with a knee to the gut sending him to the floor. Nakamura hits a running knee on both the front and back of Okada's head. Ouch! Okada gets in the ring and Nakamura toys with him a bit before kicking him again. Okada dodges a charge, gets Nakamura sitting on the top rope and dropkicks Shinsuke to the floor. Okada hits the mafia kick that sends Nakamura over the barricade. Okada hits the draping DDT on the floor. Back in the ring, Okada gets the slam and hits the flying elbow with a Rainmaker pose! Goes for the Rainmaker clothesline but Nakamura counters with the backstabber. Back from break as both men are down.   Trading some forearms leads to Okada landing the flapjack but Nakamura gets a choke on the mat. Nakamura shifts for the armbraker, but Okada refuses to let it happen, so Nakamura goes for the leg vice, only to go back and hits the arm breaker, where Okada gets to the ropes. Nakamura hits a few knees before a choke and then a reverse suplex. Fans go apeshit as Nakamura goes for the Bomma ya only to end up getting hit with a verticle neckbreaker. Okada gets the dropkick and sends Nakamura across the ring. He goes for the pin but only gets two. Okada goes for the suplex but gets blocked, Nakamura goes for a few kicks, but Okada nails a dropkick to Nakamura and then gets a SICK tombstone. Okada goes for the Rainmaker, but Nakamura reverses it into an arm breaker!  Okada gets gets to his feet and steps on Naqkamura's face. Nakamura hits the Booma ya out of nowhere! We come out of break  as the crowd is cheering for both men to get to their feet. Trading more elbows now. Okada hits a perfect uppercut on Nakamura before hitting another dropkick on Nakamura but can't get the pin. He tries to whip Nakamura into the ropes, but Shinsuke collapses. He tries again but Nakamura hits another Booma ya  and then hits his third! He tries for a fourth and gets nailed with a dropkick right to the mush! Okada hits a german but Shinsuke kicks out.  He goes for the Rainmaker, but Nakamura counters with a knee. He goes for the Booma ya again but gets caught. Okada goes for the backslide but only gets two but he hits Nakamura for the Rainmaker and hits THREE RAINMAKERS and scores the WIN! So Okada wins the tournament in a hell of a final. The entrance video wall fills with fireworks videos as Red Shoes raises Okada's hand and then Okada falls to the canvas. Nakamura is helped to the back and in obvious pain. Back from cCommercial with backstage words from Nakamura. He calls Okada "extremely pure" and is disappointed he lost. In the ring, Okada gets the trophy presentation  including the match winner trophy as tall as he is. Gedo sounds off a bit and actually asks the crowd to pay respect to Nakamura before going into his usual spiel on Okada to the cheers of the crowd. Gedo talks about getting the belt back around Okada's waist and to main event in the Tokyo Dome. Okada gets te mic now and says that A.J. Styles in next. Okada flubs a line talking about 2005 instead of 2015 and slaps himself before saying that he will make the January 2015 event (Wrestlekingdom 9) the best ever. Okada gives us some words in the back and says he wants to fight Nakamura more times. Him and Gedo toast over some drinks. Studio words from Okada saying Nakamura surprised him many times  and that beating Nakamura meant more to him than the tournament since Nakamura was a mentor to him. He feels more fulfilled winning this one than in 2012 and that he was pleased with the Nakamura match. We end the show with Mauro and Josh giving us reflections of the tournament. This was the way to end the season! This was a solid two hours of great action. The first hour was chopped up a lot, but what was presented was still entertaining. Shibata and Goto was stiff as a 2X4 hardwood board and the two big matches were great! So ends season 2 of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS, but no break here as we jump right into season 3 next week! See you then with more hard hitting action from New Japan Pro Wrestling!  /ul/34131-/Match 1-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The G1 Climax 24 Finals!
It's season two finale time! Tonight New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV presents a double shot of Puroresu with the finals of the G1 Climax 24 tournament. No more worrying about points or records or any of that. This is about ...

Annotated Anime: GANGSTA episode 5

Aug 06 // Anthony Redgrave
I asked for action in the last annotated anime of this show and action I received. Nic goes toe to toe against the young dog tag Doug and although the enemy may not have Nic's brute force he can definitely out manoeuvre our deaf protagonist. The animation isn't the best during these sequences as the level of detail is toned down as seen in the screenshots making the characters reveal their amiibo derpy faces. Even though Monroe is being targeted by Doug he remains unfazed and chooses to make bets on which Dog Tag will come out on top considering they are the same rank. We gain a better understanding of how Twilights fit in the town of Ergastulum. Dog Tags are feared for their brutality and subsequently barred various outlets like restaurants creating a class divide. But the show hasn't really emphasised the negative sides of being a Twilight. Nic has been respected for most of the show and his only weaknesses seem to be susceptibility to downers. Apart from that he is a cold-hearted killing machine dispatching gangsters easily. The negatives of taking too many uppers have not been shown and have been working well for the deaf swordsman as it mutes the pain caused by Doug. This episode introduces a guild made up of Dog Tags under the leadership of Ginger. They seem to be a big deal as they easily put a stop to Doug and Nic's fight and even disarm Worick without any struggle. I like how they introduced these girls as a threat and indicate the Dog Tag/ Human relationship will be unstable without guild intervention.  Dog Tags start to become allegorical in this episode as each of them is bound to three laws if they are to stay in the town. If you've seen I, Robot it's basically that. I wish they were more original when it came to thinking up rules for a master-servant relationship, but it's difficult to argue with one of the best all-encompassing sets of laws to represent this dynamic.  Throughout this long day, Alex has been laying about at Handyman HQ having hallucinations about her former pimp Barry who was killed in the first episode. It's actually pretty interesting to see a former prostitute go through these panic attacks as most anime heroines live the life of Riley once they have been rescued. In the final stretch there are some great horror moments leading to a cliff hanger ending.  My guess, it's the doctor.  [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation] [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation]
GANGSTA photo
I, GANGSTA
Did a quick google search for 'GANGSTA' before writing this piece and it turns out that the first two results are for the manga and not the thuggish lifestyle of urban America. Japanese animation and manga industry is cu...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 703

Aug 06 // Anthony Redgrave
Along with the greatest shit eating grin in the whole of One Piece, Corazon sits down with Law and talks vaguely about the D. legacy and how his brother is probably the evilest thing ever conceived. Law isn't having any of it and threatens to tell Doflamingo of Corazon's selective muteness. Coinciding with the muteness theme, Corazon possesses the devil fruit power of muteness too. Devil Fruits come in two varieties; they are either vague enough to mean the user can do anything related to its broad definition of the power or they are too specific so they are extremely useful in one instance. In this case he uses it to talk to Law without anyone else hearing them including a curious Baby 5 and Buffalo. As Donquixote pirates prepare to leave the town Corazon kidnaps Law determined to find a cure for his Amber Lead poisoning much to Law's chagrin. This episode also sets up the beginning of Vergo's infiltration of the Marines. Vergo was the previous Corazon in the family before the present one took over meaning Corazon is a rank not a name. It's strange that the Marine's wouldn't recognise Doflamingo's previous right-hand man and would allow him to transfer to G-5. I guess Vergo is ridiculously good at avoiding the camera like Sanji. But Vergo isn't the only backstabber in this flashback as Corazon holds a Commander rank in the Marines working directly under Sengoku. Again considering Doflamingo has so many connections it's strange that he is unaware of his brother's actions against him.  The rest of the episode follows Corazon has he frantically searches hospital after hospital for someone to cure Law's disease. Of course, everyone has eaten the lie that Amber Lead poisoning is contagious prompting the Marines to hunt down Law and Corazon. We get some insight into Law's personality and why he joined with Donquixote. After Flevance, he was rejected because of his disease but was accepted into the Donquixote family thus prompting a large amount of respect and gratitude to Doflamingo. Corazon however made him relive the days he could not make human contact causing even more pain on Law despite Corazon's primary motivation for finding a cure. This episode also brings to light Corazon's personal interest in Law and it's far more interesting than the family D. stuff I mentioned before.  Another great episode this week. Whenever One Piece is out of Dressrosa the story becomes more interesting, better paced, and generally more entertaining. Thankfully there is more of this in the next episode.   [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Corazon does it for the D.
Today I like to make a shoutout to user Japanator reader Confuseddalek. Corazon really shines in this episode and we get to see why Law thinks so highly of him. Sadly we also get more vague information about what the infamous...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 10

Aug 06 // Anthony Redgrave
Because the hot springs episodes may have been a bit too racey and fast paced for regular Nagato Yuki-chan watchers with the inclusion of Haruhi, episode 10 slows the pace way down. Even though our heroine had escaped the crash relatively unscathed, Asakura goes super protective mother bird mode on her discovering new injuries every minute. Even if the physical injuries are relatively minor, Haruhi watchers will be familiar with the state that Nagato has reverted to which compliments the slower pace of this episode. For a while I thought it was because of shock from the car incident and it would take the collective efforts of the literature club to pull her out of this funk. This episode reminds me of the Digimon Adventures episode Home Away from Home where Tai gets to return back to Tokyo without his friends. It's vastly different from all the episodes before it with a muted tone and feel making it slightly eerie. At the literature club, Kyon tries to make conversation with Nagato but is greeted with the same specific answers as Asakura. This new Nagato does have a penchant of reading french books like The Mystery of the Yellow Room which Kyon has a hard time engaging with. How is Kyon going to get it together with Nagato if he doesn't understand the language of love? I loved the ending of this episode as it has me hungry for more. I was really tempted to watch the next one subbed just so it'll quench my curiosity. If you were thought Nagato Yuki-chan was too lackadaisy slice of life then this episode will revitalise your interest in the series even if it's quite slow. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
Wait, you can add cheese to curry?
Whenever I'm watching too much anime I tend to see anime in my anime. Like characters looking like other characters from other anime series' or storylines that have been covered by older anime. In this case, it's the Toyota A...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Ultraman X episode 3

Aug 03 // Salvador GRodiles
Speaking of goals, this week’s episode was one of the first ones to actually introduce a major conflict in the show’s story. Sure, the idea behind sealing the unsealed Spark Dolls was a big goal for XiO, but there needs to be a bigger element to prevent the course from losing its delicious taste. Thankfully, the mysterious lady that was controlling the nocturnal creature known as Telesdon, a monster that looks like a dinosaur crossed with a giant turd, might become a recurring villain. In all seriousness, the monster shares more similarity with a mole than fecal matter. I mean, the guy burrows underground; therefore making it a ground-based monstrosity. Yes, Telesdon is another recycled creature but at least that gives Tsuburaya the chance to resell more SofuBi figures to people who're unfamiliar with Ultraman's classic creature. Since I’m still new to the franchise, it’s neat to see these old-school suits make a return— even if it’s the result of the series having a low budget. Even though Asuna’s passion for fashion got in the way of the mission at hand, the way how her actions coincided with the important scenes were hilarious. Due to the timing behind her antics, the most annoying segments caused by her were laughable. Honestly, I’m surprised that the lady’s decision to wear high heels while pursuing a dangerous person to be disappointing.  I guess this has to do with the brief moments that we spent with XiO’s members. Let’s just say they continue to show potential. From the looks of it, the whole purpose for her predicament was meant to convey the bond that the organization has. While they could’ve saved this moment after we’ve been acquainted with the crew later on, the staff isn’t running on the same episode count that many long toku shows have so they have to take advantage of their timeframe. For what it was, it gives me hope that the rest of the characters will get a similar treatment to the crew’s action girl. In other words, I’m hoping that we get a Dr. Gourman episode down the road. Speaking of which, the show deserves some props for having Gourman create the Ultlaser, a weapon that pays homage to the original Ultraman. Since I heard that the franchise tends to have lots of scenes where the people shoot at the large creatures, the fact that the gun does the Giant of Light’s hand gestures is a good sign that these segments are capable of being better than before. If anything, this will determine if the studio have found the balance on how to handle the franchise. On the design side of things, the show’s docking vehicles continue to serve their purpose in keeping our giant monster battle appetite in check. Hell, Musketty’s form-changing ability that’s based on the vehicle that it combines with still manages to change up the ante in these segments; thus maintaining its role as the title's appetizer. X’s Eleking Armor has a nice super robot vibe to it. I guess it’s the armored beast head on his shoulder that makes him look like a badass. From his electric gun whip to his shockingly destructive finisher, this week’s battle brought us some neat moments. Even Telesdon got with the program since his burrowing attacks had it do a spinning move that turned the reptilian creature into a drill. To an extent, it was a nice improvement over the last fight. While it seems that Ultraman X’s format might be limited to the hero using a new Monster Armor each week, I’m hoping that they’ll get to have him change Forms on the fly during the later battles. As nice as it was to see them change things up each week, it’s still important for a series to give each power-up more screentime since it can make the toys look cooler. If the show’s opening is anything to go by, the staff is likely saving this feature for the title’s big fights. Seeing that episode 3’s monster had a human sized partner that got away, this is a great sign that Ultraman X is setting up for the show’s first major arc. Considering that the series will likely run for 22 episodes, this gives the team more time to develop the show's story further. Until then, we can count on XiO’s crew to keep us entertained. Not only that, X’s priceless inability to comprehend basic human manners will act as another aspect that’ll tickle our funny bones. [You can catch Ultraman X on Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya's YouTube channel] Speaking of goals, this week’s episode was one of the first ones to actually introduce a major conflict in the show’s story. Sure, the idea behind sealing the unsealed Spark Dolls was a big goal for XiO, but there needs to be a bigger element to prevent the course from losing its delicious taste. This was set up by the fate of the mysterious lady that was controlling the nocturnal creature known as Teresdon, which happens to look like a dinosaur crossed with a giant turd. In all seriousness, the monster shares more similarity with a mole than fecal matter. I mean, the guy burrows underground; therefore making it a ground-based monstrosity. Yes, Teresdon is another recycled creature but at least that gives Tsuburaya the chance to resell more SofuBi figures to people. Since I’m still new to the franchise, it’s neat to see these old-school suits make a return— even if it’s the result of the series having a low budget. Even though Asuna’s passion for fashion got in the way of the mission at hand, the way how her actions coincided with the important scenes were hilarious. Due to the timing behind her antics, the most annoying segments caused by her were laughable. Honestly, I’m surprised that the lady’s decision to wear high heels while pursuing a dangerous person to be disappointing.  I guess this has to do with the brief moments that we spent with XiO’s members. Let’s just say they continue to show potential. From the looks of it, the whole purpose for her predicament was meant to convey the bond that the organization has. Yes, they could’ve saved this moment after we’ve been acquainted with the crew later on, but the staff isn’t running on the same episode count that many year-long toku shows have. For what it was, it gives me hope that the rest of the characters will get a similar treatment to the crew’s action girl. In other words, I’m hoping that we get a Dr. Gourman episode down the road. Speaking of which, the show deserves some props for the Ultlaser, a weapon that pays homage to the original Ultraman. Since I heard from Bueno and his group that the franchise tends to have segments where the people shoot at the large creatures, the fact that the gun does the Giant of Light’s hand gestures is a good sign that these segments have become even flashier than before. Hell, this might be a sign that we’re getting more elements to up the ante in the series. If anything, this will determine if the studio have found their direction on how to handle the franchise. On the design side of things, the show’s docking vehicles continue to serve their purpose in keeping our giant monster battle appetite in check. Hell, Musketty’s form-changing ability that’s based on the vehicle that it combines with helps change up the ante in these segments. X’s Eleking Armor has a nice Super Robot vibe to it. I guess it’s the armored beast head on his shoulder that makes him cool. From his electric gun whip to his shockingly destructive finisher, this week’s battle brought us some neat moments. Even Teresdon got with the program since his burrowing attacks had it do a spinning move that turned the reptilian creature into a drill. To an extent, it was a nice improvement over the last fight. While it seems that Ultraman X’s format might be limited to the hero using a new Monster Armor each week, I’m hoping that they’ll get to have him change Forms on the fly during the later battles. As nice as it is to see them change things up each week, it’s still important for a series to give each power-up the time to shine since it can play a good role in making the toys look cooler in action. If the show’s opening is anything to go by, the staff is likely saving this feature for the title’s major battles. Seeing that episode 3’s monster had a human sized partner that got away, this is a great sign that Ultraman X is setting up for the show’s first major arc. Considering that the series will likely run for 22 episodes, there’s plenty of elements that the team can mess around in the next few weeks. Until then, we can count on XiO’s crew to keep us entertained. Not only that, X’s priceless inability to comprehend human mannerism will act as another aspect that’ll zap our funny bones with laughter.
Ultraman X photo
This guy is no Elekid
Another day, another city to be ruined by a giant monster. Yup, that’s Ultraman X’s format for ya. I guess that those pesky creatures just want to walk the Earth after being freed from their toy-like states. Not t...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episodes 6-9

Aug 03 // Anthony Redgrave
Those expecting lots of T&A in this trilogy will be sorely disappointed. We spend more time looking at the bare chests of Kyon and Koizumi than the girls. These episodes feature more Haruhi and Koizumi as they drag the North High Literature club around the tourist sites. Haruhi brings the selfish bold headed charm into Nagato's meek world and it comes as a nice change of tone from the lovey dovey storyline. Laughs can be found in each episode from visual gags to Kyon being treated like shit throughout the trip. I especially liked the boy's interaction with one another as Koizumi is played off as an extreme version of himself from Haruhi which means some uncomfortable situations for Kyon.  Despite Haruhi energizing the show, the first episode has the pace of Aunt Jane's Japan Holiday slide show. They spend too much time going to different sites, messing around in the gift shop, praying at the shrine, and even on who sat next to whom instead of pushing the story along. The show had slowed down and I don't think it can handle more characters than Nagato, Asakura, and Kyon at once. There are fewer character interaction and more time on what they're doing which proved to be charming but meaningless. Asakura gets some character development in this trilogy as we finally understand her fear of getting Nagato with Kyon. However, these set of episodes contain almost no drama. Whenever it gets to be an interesting moment it is immediately diffused in place for a joke thus losing all tension.  Ultimately I think these episodes can be skipped. Viewers that pay attention to this show will already know why Asakura is worried about Nagato's relationship and if they don't then a synopsis search online will clear it up. They are nice distractions but don't provide any information that we have not seen before. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
The Hot Spring Trilogy
We've now hit the middle of the season so it's time for some fan service-y filler episodes. In Haruhi they went to Koizumi's beach house to solve a murder, in Nagato Yuki-chan they're heading to Tsuruya's Hot Springs under th...

Annotated Anime: GANGSTA episodes 3-4

Aug 03 // Anthony Redgrave
We know already that Nic is a deaf mixed race killing machine and is feared in the town because of his dog tag. But we don't know that much about Worick apart from his faux pirate appearance. Episode 3 introduces Worick's other job as a Gigolo. Yep, good looks can't be wasted in Ergastulum as his past had caused him to enter the sex trade from an early age. Unlike Alex, Worick isn't strong armed into continuing this profession which makes for an interesting comparison between the two. The Handymen don't only deal death and sex but also drugs, Twilight drugs to be exact. This drug is a critical part of the story as Alex and Nic make their rounds through the city emphasizing the necessity and reach the drug has on the town.  The next episode explores how Nic met Worick. We find that Worick was educated as a young man and Nic was assigned as his bodyguard. Like all great duos they didn't initially get along due to Worick feeling sour for receiving a disabled bodyguard but they do warm to each other. Or should I say, Worick cools off about Nic's disability. I find with GANGSTA's story telling a little hard to follow at times. This might be intentional as it's gradually feeding information to the viewer as showing its whole hand would ruin the big reveals but it's hard to grasp the lore when there are multiple names used interchangeably i.e. dog tags, Twilight, Twilight drugs. That's when I have to resort to wiki to set things straight but potentially ruin major plot points. The episode ends with Nic engaging with another dog tag of the same rank. I'm really hoping the next episode opens with some action. GANGSTA has shown it's got an interesting world and it would be a cherry on top of a blood filled sundae if it has some great fight sequences.  I wonder if they're gonna meet a dog tag that Nic doesn't have to slice and dice? [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation] Ergastulum
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That's Nic's Girl
I tend not to look too deeply into a new anime series' before I watch them. If I'm a late comer then I'll do a quick wiki search to get a feel for the show before diving in but apart from that I came into GANGSTA like a sprin...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 702

Aug 02 // Anthony Redgrave
The Doflamingo family were world nobles living in Mariejois, but the patriarch decided to leave to give his family a more humble life. It could be he was under the impression of "the grass is greener on the other side" but when you live in Mariejois also known as the Holy Land of One Piece I don't think you can get any greener grass. Sadly the Doflamingo family are not seasoned veterans of the property market as they move into a village that absolutely hate the World Nobles. It's not like the family did anything wrong or were misunderstood by the villagers leading to a tragic backlash. The people living around them loathe the world nobles for their history of slavery and treatment towards the outside world. Like a tumbling snowball, things go from bad to worst as the Doflamingo family are forced into hiding and are hunted on a daily basis by the residents of the North Blue. This is where another episode would've helped viewers empathize with Doflamingo as we can already see he and Corazon had had a rough childhood, but it was all crammed into the first half of this episode. Literally the patriarch of the Doflamingo family introduces himself to the villagers at the market and is immediately attacked. No provocation, no misunderstanding, just pure hatred.  Back in the present Corazon covers for Law despite the latter's attack on the former and much to Law's surprise he is accepted into the Doflamingo family. The proceeding montage of Law bonding with the other family members is nice as we finally see some happy moments amongst an enemy crew. It's nice to see that these villains aren't one-dimensional killing machines, but they value each other's presence and companionship. The way the episode is presented helps me understand Doflamingo more as a person. He maintains the ruthlessness of a World Noble but values his family that he had lost to commoners thus having no remorse for slavery and absolutely hating anyone thinking they are above him. This makes it even more intriguing why he ended up killing his brother and father.  The episode concludes with Law stating his real name and adding himself to the list of D. members. Corazon also speaks and sparks the beginning of how Law became indebted to Doflamingo's brother. Corazon's voice is badass and didn't think it would fit a goofy violent guy dressed as a clown. It's sad knowing that we won't hear that voice for much longer as I think he will meet his demise in the next two episodes.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Yep this one's pretty good
Doflamingo remains one of my favourite One Piece villains. Despite the shit I had to put up with in Dressrosa it is all worth it to see the good episodes. Doflamingo has one of the more interesting backstories of all the characters in One Piece and I love how you can see how it had directly affected his personality and actions. 

First Impressions: Bikini Warriors

Aug 02 // Anthony Redgrave
The answer is "Yes, but not at 30 minutes apiece". The archaic simulacra of fearsome adventurers wearing nothing more than a napkin worth of armor is played for humour purposes rather than an epic adventure. Standing at 4 minutes each the first episode sets the tone by having our heroes, only being defined by their class or in the case of the dark elf her race wiping on a dungeon due to their impractical outfits. One shopping trip later they are back dungeoneering with better gear but still in their revealing unmentionables and succeeding this time due to the "higher stats" of the armour. And that's it. Each of the three episodes explores a fantasy RPG trope from ungrateful kings to adventurer's rights to plunder any home. These are one note gags so it's good that they had the courtesy of limiting each episode to 4 minutes instead of padding it out a 30-minute episode with fan service. That is not to say Bikini Warriors is light on the cheesecake. I think I spent most of the first episode staring at the Warriors crotch area and not because I'm a red blooded male. It's because they re-use the same shot of her getting knocked back with the camera fixated on the genital region about 4 times. Every episode ends with the leads being humiliated in some way, sometimes it's karmically just and others it's maliciously cruel. If it were a more adult show there would be a lot more un-consensual things that occur after the credits.  I'm all for a cheeky tease and a wink from la belle du jour, but some of the endings of Bikini Warriors leave a sour taste in my mouth. I know it's an acquired fetish but when it's just to get the girls out of their already revealing outfits and into nothing without it feeling fair or consensual makes me feel uncomfortable.  The leads are varied and have some nice character designs and differing personalities. The pink haired warrior is cursed with the wet blanket personality and uninspired character design channeling the spirit of Tyris Flare from the Sega Genesis Golden Axe series. The Wizard is the child of the group but has been gifted with a sizable rack like the rest of the cast. I would think a flat chest would suit her character better, but I guess you won't get the same effect in a bikini. Rounding out the party is the ditzy Paladin and an older sister Dark Elf.  If it weren't for the short run time I wouldn't have given Bikini Warriors a watch in the first place. It's a condensed fan service heavy show that doesn't require a huge commitment to follow each episode and it'll be interesting where they will take the show once they start running out of fantasy tropes. 
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They're Warriors In Bikinis
I think we are all aware of the ridiculous concept of armour for females in a fantasy setting. As males level up they get to wear more extravagant armour while the ladies are rewarded with higher statistical armour but is represented as beach wear rather than fighting gear. It's a silly trope that is still used to this day. But can there be an interesting anime based off it? 

Annotated Anime: GATE episodes 4-5

Aug 01 // Josh Tolentino
When last we left Itami and his scouting platoon, they'd just blown the crap out of a giant dragon with a rocket launcher and timely help from Chuka the naked elf and Rory Mercury, the goth-loli demigoddess that's taken a liking to the "Warriors in Green". As the squad returns to the newly-built SDF base built on Arnus Hill (and an attractive and defensible star shape, to boot), Itami inadvertently takes a centrally important role once again, thanks to his decision to take in native refugees. The brass are still figuring out what to do about the "Special Region", and those with a mind for geopolitics are contemplating the implications of Japan's access to new, virtually untouched real estate. Will the soldiers Glorious Nippon have to gird their loins, not just to fight the locals, but against people from their own world?  That's the question looming over episode 4, and where GATE tips its political hand just a bit. Maybe this sort of logic - added to the portrayal of non-Japanese Earthlings as craven opportunists - prompted folks to declare it a work of right-wing nutjobbery. And while that characterization is doubtless crude, I'm inclined to think the offense is coming mainly from Americans unused to seeing America portrayed as being real "sinister", at least not alongside the Chinese. Crude characterization is what it is, but so far GATE's distrust of foreign powers is hardly unusual and fits (albeit awkwardly) in the premise of a more "realistic" contemplation of cross-dimensional relations. Foreign policy critiques aside, the incident makes Itami look more appealing as a protagonist. I've always had a soft spot for those sorts of Tylor-esque, Is-He-An-Idiot-Or-A-Genius types, and Itami fits the bill to a tee. He might just be far more cunning than anyone (at least, anyone from his side of the gate) is willing to give him credit for, and that's how he'll be the one to end up changing both worlds before this is all over. The episodes also catch up with the refugees, all amazed by baths, food, Daikon radishes, MOPP suits, earth movers, and the practice of saying "itadakimasu" before meals. Chuka the elf seems to be acting as if her father is still alive (you never can tell with elf magic), and is also quite out of sorts about how to repay the soldiers for their aid. Thankfully, some dragon scales turn up, lest the girls have to resort to taking up The Oldest Profession. The show also takes some time to catch up with the hilariously named Pina Co Lada, princess of the Empire that sent the soldiers through the Gate the first time. She's on her way to find out more about the Warriors in Green, and has been caught up defending the city of Italica from bandits that just so happen to have once been members of the Empire's allied armies. Y'know, the ones the Emperor sent to get killed by the JSDF so as not to pose a threat to the depleted Imperial forces. Incidentally, Italica happens to be where Itami and co. show up to sell their scales. Come to think of it, the more interesting story in GATE right now is less about how the people of our world deal with the discovery of the Special Region, but how the people of the Special Region deal with the disruption caused by their interactions with our world. It may have been the Empire that first sent its troops to rampage through Ginza, but by and large the world most changed by that war isn't ours. Over on the other side, most of the furor lies in political maneuvering and question as to finding out just what the JSDF is doing on the other side of the Gate.  Compare that to the impact of the JSDF's incursion on the Empire. The Empire lost most of its army, as well as nearly every noble leader. The Emperor sent his own allies to slaughter under the JSDF's guns, to put their armies in the same dire straits as his. Villages like Coda and towns like Italica were left leaderless, barely able to defend themselves against bandits. It's an interesting dynamic to see in anime, and perspectives from this angle of the less-powerful are all too uncommon, even if the current storyline, which has Pina cooperating with Itami's squad to break the siege of Italica seems like it's just going to be used as fodder to demonstrate the soldiers' moral superiority once again. Where GATE has been stumbling seems to come from the same place as those ridiculous kill counts from the earlier episodes. The need to demonstrate the dramatic difference in power between the modern-day soldiers and their quasi-medieval opponents has ironically undermined the show's own premise somewhat. It's the same with GATE's ostensible dedication to some form of realism. And I'm not just talking about its 2ch-level grasp of geopolitics, either. For example, why are the press back on Earth so in-the-dark as to what's happening on the other side, when Itami is apparently able to update his favorite light novels via broadband internet? Can't someone just email the soldiers or send a TV signal through as well?  Further, how could anyone say the JSDF's made "peaceful first contact" with the natives when the first thing they did upon crossing the threshold is slaughter a whole generation? If the Special Region is anywhere close to the real-world's population levels around the medieval age, losing 100,000 able-bodied men, not to mention most of the Empire's ruling class, would have far more dire consequences. Chances are the people of Coda should've run screaming as soon as they heard of the Warriors in Green coming, Fire Dragon be damned.  That all sounds like nitpicking, and it definitely is, but in fairness, it's GATE that first asked us to do it with its very premise. We can hardly be blamed for complaining when a story that claims to be realistic doesn't match up to what we know from our own lives.  This isn't to say that it's all for naught. GATE is a fun and engaging watch so far, but a little more verisimilitude would be welcome. [Catch GATE on Crunchyroll!]        
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Eh, It's A Living
I like GATE so far. Far from earlier rumors seemingly trumpeting it as "Japan's Tea Party: The Anime", the show has been a thoughtful and interesting take on a topic close to my nerdy heart. And with some of the action r...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 10

Aug 01 // Soul Tsukino
But First! Since this is the final night of the round robin part I'll break it down for you a little clearer. And I will admit up front I was wrong. I believed this would lead to a four-man final with the first AND second place from each block move onto the finals (as with a lot of New Japan's tournaments), but that is not the case. The top men from each block will meet for the final match with the two second place guys wrestling in a 3rd place match. Yes, I am baka for getting wrong the rules of a tournament held last year. Anyway, this is how we break it down: Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (14 points): A win tonight would eliminate Fale and Shibata. Holds the Tie breaker over Tanahashi (if both he and Tanahashi won).  Hiroshi Tanahashi (14 points): A win and a Nakamura loss would put him in the final. Katsuyori Shibata (12 points): A win and both Tanahashi and Nakamura loss would have him win the Tiebreaker over both as well as Fale. Bad Luck Fale (12 points) A win and a Tanahashi and Shibata loss would have him win the tie breaker. Block B: Kazuchika Okada (14 points): A win and he goes in no matter what since he'd win the tie with Styles AJ Styles (14 points): A win and Okada loss puts him in the final There, with that settled we are greeted with Okada to begin this episode. Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura VS. Bad Luck Fale: If Fale wins than he is in the tie for at least the second place spot. Anything else and he's out. Also a revenge match for Nakamura as Fale beat him to win the Intercontinental title. Mauro and Josh bringing us the call tonight with a stuffed episode.  We start with a stare down. Fale goes for the avalanche and misses. We jump to Nakamura has the advantage, but Fale counters and hits the Grenade early. Fale goes to the top rope, but Nakamura jumps up with a kick and gives him a brainbuster off the ropes! Nakamura goes for a running kick and Fale spears him and goes for the Bad Luck Fall. Nakamura escapes and gets the big guy down with a sleeper. Nakamura hits a top rope Booma ya on the back of Fale's head before hitting a booma ya on the mat but only gets 2. Another booma ya and Fale is out for the 3.  Well, that was quick. I guess with 4 matches it had to be. Tanahashi gets to go to the finals.   Block B: A.J. Styles vs. Togi Makabe: Pretty much a formality as Togi is way out of the lead and A.J. Style is so far ahead no matter what, he's going to the finals. Styles made a hell of a comeback as he didn't start out very well in this with some big losses. A.J. bails as soon as the bell rings. Styles gets in and Togi gets an armlock before Styles bails again. Styles goes for some shoulder blocks and gets nowhere before he tries for a leapfrog and gets slammed for it. Makabe hits Styles in the corner but Styles counters and gets Togi out of the ring. Whip to the barricade and Styles jumps right over it and then hits Makabe. Cut ahead as Makabe hits a powerbomb on Styles. Styles seated on top and Makabe hits a german suplex right on Styles's NECK. Makabe climbs the top rope but decided against it before slamming Styles again. He goes up top again but misses. Cut ahead as Styles regains the advantage and put Makabe on top. Makabe gets a headbutt and Styles counters with a Pele kick. Styles hits the Styles Clash for the win. Again, cut down quite a bit, but not bad. Styles did his part to move on, let's see what happens. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Davey Boy Smith Jr.: This match pretty much means nothing now since Nakamura won.  Smith comes out with Taka Michinoku representing the Suzuki Army. Barnett brings up that Hiroshi may be underestimating Smith. Clip to chopping between the two. Hiroshi gets a few low dropkicks to get Smith down. Tanahashi with a leg whip sending the big guy down. Smith chucks Hiroshi over the top, but he skins the cat back in and drags Smith out. Hiroshi hits sliding kick before going over the rope to hit a plancha on Smith. "Gravity is a bitch."- Josh Barnett. Smith breaks the count and keeps on the attack before he hits the powerslam on the floor. Clip ahead as Smith gets Hiroshi down for 2. Smith hits a tiger suplex and NEARLY gets the three. Smith goes the bulldog roll, but Hiroshi gets the sunset flip and nearly gets it. Tanahashi gets a victory roll and another 2 count. Smith hits the bulldog bomb and GETS THE PIN? Wow. Did NOT expect that! Tanahashi is broken up in the back on the floor yelling in frustration. Kinda sucks knowing he got beat in a match that wouldn't have helped even if he did win. We get some words from Okada about this big match for him. He talks about the long tournament and losing to Karl Anderson and Naito, knowing he had to win tonight.   Block B: Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki: Same deal for Okada as it was for Styles. Okada will go to the finals and Suzuki has nothing to lose. That's... scary when you say it out loud. Suzuki comes out with Taka and glares at one of the photogs at ringside so scary I nearly pissed my pants. Okada comes out with Gedo as always. Back from the break as we get the bell. The crowd is hot for this one. Tentative knuckle lock up at first. Okada tries to mess with Suzuki on the ropes and Suzuki gets a quick armbar and then a knee to Okada and goes for the armbar on the ropes and KICKS Okada to the floor. That's what you get for trying to be funny with Suzuki. Armlock over the barricade as Suzuki is just being MEAN. Suzuki stares down Gedo but goes for another armbar on Okada. Kicks on the arm by Suzuki but Okada mans up and tells him to kick his arm. I should mention that Suzuki is stone-faced during all this. Suzuki ties up Okada in a knot before being broken from the ropes. Okada counters a charge with a kick and then hits a DDT, Okada gets a boot on Suzuki and finally gets the advantage. Suzuki suckers Okada in and punches him in the gut, but Okada gets Suzuki out into the crowd and gets a Randy Orton hanging DDT on the floor! Back in the ring with Okada going to the top and lands the flying elbow. Rainmaker pose cut short as Suzuki kicks the devil out of Okada. Kick right to Okada's injured arm. Armbar broken on the ropes again. Exchange of forearms leads to Suzuki getting the armlock again. At this point, I'm waiting for Suzuki to rip Okada's arm off and beat him with it. It's sound strategy, though. Take out his biggest weapon in the rainmaker. Also, Suzuki gets to hurt somebody. LONG armlock but Okada is not giving up! Crowd gets behind Okada now as he finally gets a foot on the ropes. Suzuki gets some strikes on the arm, but Okada gets the leg lock for his Red Ink submission finisher. Suzuki quickly gets to the ropes, but Okada gets his Heavy Rain slam (an F-5) Okada tries to whip Suzuki in but his collapses. He then turns around and hits a SWEET dropkick flattening Okada. Devilish bastard. Suzuki gets a rear naked choke as the crowd chants for Okada. Suzuki tries for the Gotch piledriver Okada sits out. He gets and knee and goes for the piledriver again but Okada gets the reverse into a falling neckbreaker. Both men are on their knees smacking each other with forearms. Back up for more forearms Suzuki ASKS to be hit and LAUGHS at Okada. I'm pretty sure the police in Japan have a special numbered code for when Suzuki is happy. Okada hits a pinpoint dropkick right on the back of Suzuki's neck. Okada tries for the tombstone, but Suzuki says no. Suzuki counters out of another suplex with an armbar but Okada counters with a Gotch version of the Tombstone. Suzuki gets up and gets out of the rainmaker with a straight punch to the face. Okada finally gets the rainmaker and scores the win! DAMN! Okada earned that one. He goes to the finals and will meet Nakamura for the tornament. Suzuki gives a scary rambling promo to the press. in the ring Okada talks about his next match again Nakamura. A few words from Gedo to finish it off. We get some words from Nakamura about the finals. Okada gives us some studio words about how tough the match was and looking forward to fighting Nakamura in the finals. The first 3 matches were clipped badly but were still enjoyable, but man that main event was a good one. Suzuki is just a wonder to watch and Okada made a really good opponent for him. Another entertaining show! Next week we get the 2 episodes as we look at the final show of the tournament in the season 2 finale of NJPW on AXS. I can't wait! Before we conclude tonight, I'd like to make mention the passing of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper earlier tonight. Piper was THE villain of the WWF back in the mid-1980's. There wouldn't have been a Wrestlemania without him. I first saw Piper as a kid when he made his WWE comeback at Wrestlemania 5 but have since been able to see his whole body of work. His interviews are classic and hope that however the means that fans still get to enjoy his work. Been a fan of his style since I was a kid during all his runs with WWF/E and WCW. He was a man who was clear about his past and his issues, even to his own detriment, but he was someone who genuinely did not want to see the rest of the business make the same mistakes he did. He was and still is a treat to watch. Thanks, Roddy. I'll be damned if I didn't think of you showing up to the pearly gates and say these words: [embed]34105:4962:0[/embed]     See you next week for the season finale.   But First! Since we've skipped ahead let's look at the point totals in each block heading into tonight's action! Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (14), Hiroshi Tanahashi (14), Katsuyori Shibata (12),  Bad Luck Fale (12), Satoshi Kojima (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points),Tomohiro Ishii (8), Davey Boy Smith Jr (8) Yuji Nagata (8) Doc Gallows (6), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B: Kazuchika Okada (14 points), AJ Styles (14), Tetsuya Naito (10), Minoru Suzuki (10), Hirooki Goto (8), Toru Yano (8), Togi Makabe (8), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (8), Karl Anderson (8), Lance Archer (6), Yujiro Takahashi (6). Block B looks pretty locked up while Block A is stillvery competitive! August 8th, 2014
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On the doorstep of the finals!
Konnichi wa and welcome to Strong Style! The G1 Climax 24 tournament is almost over and the action is heating up. This week we skip ahead to day 11 of the tournament and the last day before the finals. Ton...


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