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shonen

Rock-Paper-Scissors photo
Rock-Paper-Scissors

What if rock-paper-scissors and shonen anime collide?


The game to end all games
Jan 14
// Salvador G Rodiles
If there's one debate that is serious business, it's the one to decide on which place to get food at. When you have two people set on two different cuisines, it's important to settle the whole thing in a civil matter; otherwi...

Impressions: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Manga Vol. 1

Dec 13 // Christian Chiok
For those unfamiliar with Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure, it all starts with the legacy of Jonathan Joestar, the protagonist of Phantom Blood, the first part of the series. In short, the series consist of his struggles with his adoptive brother Dio Brando, which ends with Dio being defeated, or so we thoughts. A hundred years later, we are introduced to Jotaro Kujo who is the grandson of Joseph Joestar, the protagonist of Part 2: Battle Tendency and grandson of Jonathan Joestar. The volume starts off introducing Jotaro, starting off with his childhood years then transitioning to his present teenager years. During a school fight with four delinquents, he discovered that an “evil spirit” possessed him so when incarcerated, he decided to stay. Then comes Joseph Joestar, who already knew the “evil spirit” that possessed Jotaro when Holy mentioned it to him over the phone. This “evil spirit” is known as Stand, which will be a common thing throughout the series. A stand us a powerful apparition created by one’s energy and because it stand’s next to the user, it’s called a “Stand.” With Holly being part of the Joestar bloodline, just like her father and son, she gained the power of a Stand, but unfortunately because of her gentle and non-violent nature made her lack the mental strength necessary to control the Stand, slowly making her ill with a harmful high fever and putting her life at risk. Knowing that, Jotaro and Joseph decided to make a trip to Egypt to defeat Dio and stop the curse. As soon their trips began, Dio’s lackies already started assaulting them and intervening with their trip to prevent them from finding Dio’s hideout.   From beginning to end, I was definitely satisfied with how Viz Media handled the first volume. If you’re a huge fanatic of Jojo prior the new wave of fans that just discovered the series due to the 2012 anime, you probably already have it, but if you’re part of the latter and never read the manga, then I would recommend you to do so. It’s better to start from Phantom Blood, but since you are already up to date with the series, it should be fine to start your manga collection from Stardust Crusaders and experience the series in its original form. 
Stardust Crusaders photo
A Very Bizarre Adventure
If I have to name my favorite Shonen series, more specifically battle series, then I would have to say Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure.  If you been keeping up with Japanator and read my Top 10 from last year, you’l...

Manga Contest photo
Manga Contest

Do you have what it takes to get published in Weekly Shonen Magazine?


Sounds like a rad opportunity
Oct 18
// Salvador G Rodiles
For a good while, I've always been behind the idea of contests that let people get the chance to get their stories published if they win. Speaking of which, the Comic Website MediBang is teaming up with the folks at Weekly Sh...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Impressions: Yo-kai Watch Manga Vol. 1 and 2


A Spooky Adventure
Dec 24
// Christian Chiok
Ever since the first game released in Japan back in 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS, the Yo-kai Watch franchise has captivated the entire Japanese population. While the manga was published a few months before the game officially re...

Final Impressions: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma

Oct 07 // Nick Valdez
Leading into the finale, the Autumn Election preliminaries were nearly over. Group B finished their turn and Alice Nakiri, Arato Hisako, Takumi Aldini, and Megumi Tadakoro are the first four to advance to the actual competition. When we last left Group A, Ryo Kurokiba made his mark by taking first place with 93 points and the rest of the Polar Star dorm, while good, struggled to reach that height. At episode's end Akira Hayama stepped up to serve his dish,  weird curry souffle looking thing that spewed all sorts of tantalizing scents when punctured (that he called a "fragrance bomb"). And with the finale, we learn why it's so effective. Thanks to a mix of holy basil and yogurt (to balance out its pungent nature) his curry throws the judges for a loop. After some reaction shenanigans, they give his dish 94 points, with two of the judges giving a max score of 20 (it's important to note the spread was 18/20/18/20/18). But right as Akira was celebrating his win, Soma revealed that he too worked on a "fragrance bomb" type of meal.  Learning from his past losses and mistakes (such as losing to his Dad a few episodes back and nearly failing the buffet task with his omelets during the boot camp), Soma slyly combines the two efforts as a way to get back at his past self. Serving curry rice inside of an omelette pocket, he's managed to learn all about spice from the few days he learned about curry from Akira. Like how Akira balanced his spice with yogurt, Soma made a mango chutney in order to give it a bit of sweetness. Unfortunately, the dish wasn't enough to earn the top spot and Soma nets 93 points. But three of the judges rated his dish higher than Akira's, however (so it's 19/18/19/18/19) thus deepening their rivalry. That brings Group A to a close, and seven students are confirmed for the finals. Then the kids all celebrate, though Soma vows to work harder in order to claim victory. There's an eighth student to be revealed later (though the episode doesn't say this), and he's such a huge part of the semifinals, I'm sure they're saving his reveal for the next season. If there is one.  Although I had a lot of fun with the series overall, I'm pretty worried about the future of the show. Community members MSJ and RoboYuji pointed out that my complaint of cutting everything short was unfounded, and I'll admit that I didn't consider that the show would need filler in order to give the manga time to get further ahead. I'd hate to see what a filler arc would like since the official filler here (whatever the heck the "Karaage Wars" was) was pretty garbage. But since the manga has gone far past the Autumn Elections already (and has a more natural endpoint) it feels like we've been shafted since we're cut off before the actual fun of the show starts. But then again, that's just me being greedy. I just like the premise so much, I wanted more of it. I mean, what's the point of having two completely different title sequences if you're going to cut it off now?  There are bigger elements at play here since the show most likely didn't have the biggest audience (and a sequel season rests entirely with secondary sales), it's been rife with budget problems from the get go (as lots of shortcuts were taken with the animation and sound design was particularly spotty early on), but the property's so much fun. It just feels like Food Wars is ending right when it hit its groove.  But given my biggest problem with Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma was there wasn't enough of it, I guess it wasn't so bad after all. 
Final Food Wars  photo
"Happy to serve!"
I first found Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma through manga. Although I fell out of touch with the anime for several years, I've been periodically reading manga through that time. One of my favorites turned out to be Food W...

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 21-23

Sep 29 // Nick Valdez
Episode 21 After waking up from his brief nap teased at the end of last episode, Souma reveals he's been cooking some kind of rice and spice dish, but that's all we really see before the episode cuts to Group B and Tadakoro. As the crowd begins to turn on her due to her nervous demeanor, she pulls out her cout de grace, a difficult monkfish she showfully butchers. She learned how to cut it back home in order to help her family, and seeing them here in support has given her the confidence to nail it. But the brunt of this episode was devoted to the fierce rivalry between Erina Nakiri's aide, Arato, and her creepy stalker introduced two episodes ago, Nao. The judges in Group B have been especially tough as no chef has gotten over 20 points, but Nao and her super smelly laksa and kusaya curry manages to get 84 points (resulting in the header image). But Arato, with her focus in medicinal herbs and spices, manages a healthy curry which cleanses the judges of all previous flavors and basically got the taste of Nao's curry out of their mouths. She scores 92 points as the episode's close draws attention to the Aldini brothers.  It's a shame the show's going to end soon because I'm loving the anime's adaptation of the reactions. They're the best thing from the manga, but seeing them play out on screen adds an entirely new level.  Episode 22 As we join Group A's proceedings, Miyoko Hojo (the character who hates Tadakoro for relying on men and feels she needs to be stronger than all the men in order to succeed in the field) has started things off with a strong Chinese and pineapple infused curry and nets 87 points, Polar Star Dorm resident Yuki nets 86 points for her wild game curry, but then the Aldini brothers take the stage. Both present Italian inspired dishes with the younger Aldini, Isami serving a curry calzone scoring 87 and the older Aldini, Takumi serves a pasta curry and gets 90 points thanks to his putting cheese inside the pasta noodles. then Alica Nakiri blows the judges away (and shows her chops) with her science cooking as her deconstructed curry gets a hefty 95 points. Then, finally, we have the best girl Tadakoro. After everyone hilariously forgot about her, she serves the result of her hard work and love of her town, monkfish dobu-jiru curry.  Tadakoro manages to score 88 points (earning her new rival Hojo's respect) and earns her place in the top eight along with Alice Nakiri, Hisako Arato, and Takumi Aldini. Yay Tadakoro! Episode 23 We're back in Group A as the judges continue giving low scores (with some giving no score at all). But Ryo Kurokiba, Alice's aide with his shifting personality, manages to break that rhythm with a lobster and cognac curry (which he tells the main judge to slurp like a savage, hilariously) and 96 points. But none of the other chefs let that get to them as Polar Star residents Ryoko, Marui, and Ibusaki all net 86 and 88 points respectively with their dishes as Nikumi gets 86 with her meat don (which she's crafted thanks to her early shokugeki with Souma). But as the episode draws to a close, the arguably strongest student (since we really haven't seen his skills yet) Akira heads up to serve his dish and directly challenges Souma with his taste. As Souma begins to eat, he realizes there's a delicious scent pouring out.  Well, that's it. The final episode is up next and this is what I mean about terrible sequel series. Now we're stuck here until Food Wars 2 or something like that comes out. Hopefully it's gotten enough support overseas to warrant a second season. But until then, I totally recommend the manga. It's pretty good. But this show's been pretty entertaining in its own right (and I'll get into that with the final impressions after I see the last episode), and I can't help but love the exaggerated world. I hope there's more. 
Annotated Food Wars! photo
Sexy curry
I hate how some shonen series are handled. If a shonen manga doesn't have the audience or allotted budget of a big Shonen Jump property like One Piece or Gintama, then its anime adaptation is doomed to "seasons." Instead of c...

J-Stars Victory photo
J-Stars Victory

J-Stars Victory Vs+ releases early for EU and Australia


The Testosterone Game
Jun 27
// Anthony Redgrave
Weekly Shonen Jump is one of the biggest manga umbrellas in the industry, collecting some of the biggest franchises like; Dragon Ball, One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, and Gintama. Their ventures from the black and white weeklies ...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 694

May 26 // Anthony Redgrave
From last week's episode, Luffy and the tag alongs are still fighting the giant soldier nutcrackers that seem to be invincible. All the gum gum attacks and blade of beauty slashes can't seem to keep these monstrosities down. And that might be partially because the girl with the Toy Devil Fruit has regained consciousness. There is an excellent scene where she is presented sausages by long nosed henchmen despite her new found fear for 'stick shaped' things. Its funny because One Piece's 'red shirts' are almost always generically drawn characters and never have a defining feature like a long nose but they all seem to have congregated around Sugar in that one moment.    Robin's jump squad are ambushed by Gladius who is able to bring down Robin and Bartolomeo but Rebecca escapes to the Level 4 with Law's key. Unfortunately Law is stuck on Level 3 so we have to wait even longer before Law can stop whining like a bitch and become useful. Finally, things are starting to be set up for some great fights as Robin orders Luffy's group to continue so she and the Straw Hat fanboy take on Gladius and the rest of the nutcrackers. Again not much happens in terms of plot in this episode but there are a lot of set ups for future instalments. I can't wait to see Usopp display his god like sniper ability since its always so damn rare and team up fights are always great to see. Even though it was filler, the team up fight with Sanji and Usopp against the ice skating couple is still a personal favourite.
One Piece photo
Are we still in Dressrosa?
The Dressrosa arc had the potential to be one of my favourite arcs. The main bad guy was the enigmatic Donquixote Doflamingo, it carried on from Punk Hazard so we got to have more Law, and Dressrosa is a great locat...

Annotated Anime: One Piece 693

May 20 // Anthony Redgrave
Luffy, Law, Kyros, and Cavendish head towards the Palace while the rest of the Gladiators fend off Doflamingo's executives and their lackeys Zoro fights off Pica allowing Bartolomeo, Robin, and Rebecca to rendezvous with Luffy's group as they have the key to Law's sea prism cuffs Sabo duels Fujitora to prevent his pursuit of Luffy Usopp does nothing with King Riku and Violet The Sunny Protection Squad and Sanji still haven't been seen since episode 662 Kin'emon finally finds his samurai friend Kanjuro Franky busts into the SMILE factory but still has to deal with Senor Pinkand There was a new intro. Nothing particularly catchy or memorable  This episode picks up with Luffy's group taking out the extremely creepy toy soldiers on the third level. These guys would look menacing since they are giant, move abnormally, and appear from the fog but Luffy and the others defeat them with such ease that there isn't much tension. In fact they have a Legolas/ Gimili style competition to see how many they can take down which Luffy ends up winning much to Cavendish's chagrin. Kin'emon meets up with Usopp and King Riku with his new samurai friend Kanjuro in tow. Kanjuro has the same ability as Sai from Naruto except he is a Samurai not a Ninja (can draw things that then come to life). This guy is great. He's another good source of comic relief that prevents One Piece from taking itself too seriously. Although having a giant calligraphy brush with a Katana handle is really weird.  After outsmarting Senor Pink, Franky gains access to the SMILE factory but is instantly met with opposition in the form of Kyuin, the manager. She is a big masked woman that wields a hoover because even in One Piece they conform to gendered stereotypes. Through some affectionate means Franky subdues Kyuin and turns his attention to Senor Pink. They talk about being Hard Boiled as the tramps swoon. I don't quite get it but I assume its a concept I'll understand once I have grown more than 2 chest hairs. I was really enjoying this arc at first but its beginning to lose traction. The pace has slowed down to the point the plot is barely moving even though they are finally making their way to fighting Doflamingo. I hope they focus on Zoro's fight against Pica soon or explore Law's backstory that was hinted at earlier. 
One Piece photo
Ah~ So Hard Boiled!
Yo ho ho! Ensign Redgrave back on the helm to deliver the SS Japanator through the Grand Line safely and to document the adventures of the Straw Hat Crew. I've been MIA for a while so I'll summarise the missing 9 episodes in bullet points. 

Annotated Anime: One Piece 684

Mar 15 // Anthony Redgrave
It turns out I was semi-correct in Luffy's escape from Pica's raging fist, he blew himself up into a balloon and used the air to propel himself and Law to safety. Finding Zoro and making a horrible joke about being 'hanged' they continue towards the palace. Along the way they encounter our favourite attention seeking pirate Cabbage Cavendish. He has had a change of heart and no longer wants to kill Luffy. Instead he returns Law's white cap and announces he will be the one to kill Doflamingo to obtain the undivided attention of the media. This annoys Luffy to no end as his desire to kick Doflamingo's ass is greater due to owing Rebecca for lunch. The gladiatorial get together doesn't end there as most contestants gather at Luffy's location, all proclaiming they will kill Doflamingo as gratitude for Usopp freeing them when they were toys. Much to Luffy's chargrin, he proceeds towards the palace with his new entourage. As they approach Pica, the group gets the attention of the stone behemoth by mocking his voice. Pica delivers another island shaking blow towards the gladiators but is stopped by the combined power of Chinjao and King Elizabello II.  Not a very plot moving episode this week but at least we got to see some good ol' One Piece humour. That's what I really enjoy about One Piece at the end of the day. It has some amazing lore and can get really serious as the arc starts to climax, but it still knows when to lighten the mood with wacky villains or having the main characters goof off.
One Piece photo
Let's all be friends!
Over the past few weeks, I've been re-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender with a friend. He enjoys the characters, setting, martial arts, and story because Avatar is a really good show. But the last two episodes we've seen; T...

One Piece photo
One Piece

Shonen Showdown: One Piece Episodes 647 - 653


Shark to the head
Jul 16
// Pedro Cortes
As we’re in the thick of a pretty serious arc, the pace for One Piece has slowed to a crawl. Not only that, but there are so many different things going on that it’s taking forever for major plot points to deal wi...
One Piece photo
One Piece

Annotated Anime: One Piece 643-647


Things are getting heated in Dressrosa
Jun 03
// Pedro Cortes
Phew, I've been gone for a while. That means that you guys haven't gotten your proper dose of One Piece in weeks. That's a bloody shame, and I'm here to fix you guys right up. Thing is, in terms of major plot developments, th...

Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 1

May 06 // Karen Mead
Ranma 1/2 DVD Set 1 Publisher: Viz Media Release Date: March 25, 2014 MSRP: $44.82 Ranma Saotome is a talented martial artist with a very peculiar curse; when doused with cold water, he changes sex and becomes a curvy red-haired girl. His father, cursed in a similar manner to become a giant panda, has arranged for him to be married to young Akane Tendo so that he can one day take over the Tendo School of Anything Goes Martial Arts. However, Akane is a tomboy who has no interest in marrying a boy, let alone a boy who turns into a girl, and Ranma just wants to get his curse removed...or so he says. Such is the beginning of one of the most beloved anime rom-coms of all time. Needless to say, many other characters vie for the affections of Ranma and Akane respectively (sometimes simultaneously), and plenty of other characters magically turn into stuff when they get wet, and mayhem ensues. Literally rinse and repeat. I expected to spend a portion of this review talking about whether the animation from a show originally broadcast in 1989 "holds up," in today's parlance. Instead, a curious thing happened; though I knew it couldn't be true, when I began watching it really seemed to me like the visuals in Ranma 1/2 were actually better than current fare. How could that possibly be? The colors are often dull, the character designs simple, and the technology at work was primitive compared to the tools that animators have at their disposal these days. So how is it that I find Ranma 1/2 more visually appealing than 90% of the anime I see today? What I eventually realized was that it wasn't that the animation was particularly fluid, but that everything was consistent and well-storyboarded. Too often in modern anime, the focus is split between action scenes (where the studios sink most of their money) and static talking-head scenes that exist to provide info dumps and save money. In Ranma 1/2, that distinction doesn't seem to exist; even seemingly mundane scenes feature a fair amount of movement. Characters are constantly doing acrobatics, throwing things, jumping out of windows, changing into animals, etc. The overall effect can feel a bit like Looney Tunes at times, but what it means is that the show is full of motion. The world of Ranma Saotome and the Tendo sisters feels vibrant and alive, and that more than makes up for the dated animation techniques and frequent lack of detail. Maybe I'm crazy, but it feels so much more like a finished product than a lot of what we see today; I really wish shows still looked like this. Plus, despite the fact that modern anime has tried to turn cute into a science, I honestly find Akana and Ranma much cuter than most characters these days. The story doesn't fare quite as well from a modern perspective. In fact, if you're a viewer who likes to look at things through the lens of gender politics, you will have an absolute field day with this show. There's no denying that Ranma 1/2 is sexist; one of the first things anyone says to Akane on the show is that if she keeps up being such a tomboy, she'll never find herself a husband. Ranma frequently opines that having to be a girl at times is "humiliating," yet claims his female version is better than Akane since girl-type Ranma has bigger breasts. In fact, Ranma is frequently downright brutal to his future bride; when he's not getting on her case for being unfeminine, he's lording his superior martial arts skills over her. Akane spends much of the series violently angry, and it's for good reason. Some viewers are bound to be turned off by these things, and that's fair. However, personally I don't see it that way; to me, complaining about sexism in Ranma 1/2 is kind of like watching an episode of I Love Lucy from the 1950s and complaining that Ricky orders Lucy around too much. It is sexist, but I think you need to take it in the context of its time and place, and also realize that the show subverts its own apparent sexism at times. After all, if Akane is supposedly so unattractive to boys due to her tomboy ways, why are virtually all the guys on the show head-over-heels in love with her? The show is actually more sexist on the surface than it is deep down where it matters, if that makes any sense. There's a lot of talk that "Boys are like this, girls are like this," but the characters themselves really don't practice what they preach. Furthermore, whatever misgivings some might have about the overall arc of the story, there's no denying that Ranma 1/2 is king when it comes to physical comedy. It's the little touches, like Akane's father diving for cover right before she decks Ranma with a table, that make the jokes work. Granted, the humor does get repetitive fairly quickly -- and there seem to be an awful lot of full buckets of water just hanging around for no reason -- but still, the show has a ton of great visual gags up its sleeve. At its best, the over-the-top martial arts action reaches a level of absurdity that's kind of genius. The martial arts rhythmic gymnastics competition featured in this volume is one such incident, and martial arts-figure skating isn't far behind. And even when the action isn't that riveting, Akane is such a likable character that it's just fun looking in on her daily life. There're also plenty of supporting and minor characters who each bring their own brand of humor, quite successfully. You really can't go wrong with either language track here; despite the occasional awkwardness that plagues all early English anime dubs, I think the English cast for Ranma 1/2 really threw themselves into this in a way that's all too rare. Particular standouts are Myriam Sirois, who makes for a feisty but good-hearted Akane, and Angela Costain, who's delightfully acerbic as Akane's manipulative sister Nabiki Tendo. I'm also rather fond of Sarah Strange as male Ranma, since she seems to have a gift for making Ranma seem nice even when he's saying awful things to Akane that you want to slap him for. This release is light on extras; the only thing on offer here besides trailers is a brief featurette filmed at NYCC 2013, featuring some Ranma cosplayers. It's a nice idea in theory, but the whole thing is maybe two minutes long, so it shouldn't effect anyone's purchasing decision. Personally I think the episodes themselves are worth the purchase, but it would have been nice if there was at least some bonus art or something; I'm hopeful that future volumes might have more to offer. Ranma 1/2 may not be for everyone; it calls back to a lot of sexist stereotypes, it's often juvenile in its humor, and even during the first season, can start to feel repetitive. However, at its best it's a riotous blend of over-the-top, well-choreographed martial arts action with many lovable characters and jokes to spare. If that sounds like something you might enjoy, no one does it better than this. 9.0 – Exceptional. One of the best things its genre has ever produced. Its example will be copied or taken into account by almost anything that follows it.  
Ranma 1/2 photo
Anything Goes in this comedy classic
The wacky ensemble comedy of Ranma 1/2 occupies an interesting niche in Western anime fandom. The show wasn't likely to be someone's "first anime," in the way that contemporaries Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z generally w...

Manga photo
Manga

Here are the 20 most popular manga


Confirmed: Pirates beat assassins
May 02
// Pedro Cortes
Last week on a post about the Attack on Titan manga reaching 30 million volumes sold, I wondered what the numbers were for other popular series. Several days later, Mangazenken posts which are the top 20 manga series based on...
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure photo
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

You can't even handle these JoJo Rubik's Cubes


I know I can't handle them
Apr 26
// Brittany Vincent
I'm no good with Rubik's Cubes, but these JoJo's Bizarre Adventure cubes aren't meant to be played with anyway. Megahouse's "JoJo’s Bizarre Cube Part 1: Phantom Blood” and “JoJo’s Bizarre Cube Part 2: ...

First Impressions: Haikyu!!

Apr 10 // Karen Mead
First, let's get this out of the way "Haikyu!! puts the Jump in Shonen Jump!" There, now you can say you heard it at Jtor first. The premise of this show is that red-haired Hinata loves volleyball, even though he's a bit short. How much does he love volleyball? Imagine how much you love your favorite thing -- be it chocolate fudge cake, walking your golden retriever, or snuggling under a warm blanket with your significant other on a cold night. Well, no matter how much you love that thing, you only love it maybe half as much as Hinata loves spiking volleyballs. Hinata loves spiking volleyballs so much that it arguably crosses the line into mental illness, but hey; to each his own. In fact, Hinata loves volleyball so much that he doesn't let minor details like "My school doesn't even have a boys volleyball team," get in his way. Eventually, a bunch of friends take pity on him (and it is pity) and join together to form a quasi-team, even though they really can't play, and enter a competition -- only to matched up with the tournament favorites in their first match. Serious-business setter Tobio can't believe his school has to play such a sucky team, but he's in for a surprise from Hinata; his reaction to the spunky spiker oscillates between "I hope you die in a fire" and "WHERE have you been all my life!?" and the classic love/hate rivalry is firmly established without a hitch. Of course, this set-up is filled with common sports anime devices: the underdog hero with a huge heart, the snooty rival, the contrast of playing for the love of the game versus playing for glory, etc. But it's not completely rote; for one thing, I appreciated the fact that the old "Just try hard enough and you can win at everything!" trope was trashed pretty much immediately. Plus, Hinata and Tobio's relationship seems to be advancing much faster than usual -- I was expecting it to take 12 episodes before Tobio would even give Hinata the time of day, but one episode in and their rivalry is already well established. The only problem is that I really don't find volleyball that interesting. The show did give me a more favorable impression of it, but my interest level in the sport was at zero, so knocking the score up by +5 didn't really help much. Plus, with the continuing Yowapeda and now Baby Steps, I'm kind of at my maximum level of sports anime consumption -- and Baby Steps, while not as high quality in many respects, has the advantage because tennis is one of the only sports I'm really familiar with. With everything else about the show being really solid, I think the deciding factor for a lot of viewers is going to be whether or not they like volleyball, or if they'd rather watch an anime that covers a different sport; there's certainly enough to choose from these days. Still, if unlike me, you're actually in the market for another athletic anime to round out your viewing schedule, you won't do much better than Haikyu!! It's one of those rare shows that I feel very comfortable recommending, even though I doubt I'll be watching much further.
Haikyu!! photo
Jump like you mean it
If we were ranking these new shows based on animation quality alone, Haikyu!! would be king of the mountain; out of everything I've seen so far this season, only the first episode Captain Earth has better animation...may...

A Look @ Fairy Tail Volume 33 & 34

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

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Jul 30 // Josh Tolentino
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