There was no possible way to end any anime season in a higher gear than what Rising did. A few weeks ago, I would easily say that Rising got one of the slowest phases in the 25+ years of Hajime no Ippo stories, from what we got in anime form so far. And this third season commited some of its own share of sins against such a great work of art that is Ippo, but more of that later. Anyway, it ended in such a perfect tone, that all is forgotten, and everyone should remember Kamogawa's life story forever and be inspired.
Japan post World War II. A land of rebuilding from zero and hope for a bright future. Pride, love and friendship. Two men, two boxers, two rivals, one legend. After terrorizing all japanese fighters, Anderson's being overpowered by Nekota. On the other hand, Nekota has a time bomb inside his head, the symptoms of his punch-drunk becoming worse as time passes.
Desperated, Anderson hits Nekota with an illegal move, the rabbit-punch, which hits the opponent on the back of his head. This punch already causes great damage to the brain, and Nekota's head is already crumbling. Heavily injured, Nekota collapses, and Kamogawa swears in front of the crowd that he will defeat Anderson and avenge his best friend.
Kamogawa isn't as fast and as sharp as Nekota, so he can't dodge Anderson's punches and easily get hits in, so his only choice is to end the fight with a few, powerful strikes. His fists must be able to destroy whatever he touches, so he goes through a hellish training to make his fists as hard as iron. But even with the strongest weapon, Kamogawa can't get close to Anderson, and is easily hit with lefts and rights, almost being knocked out several times.
That's when Kamogawa sees his still recovering friend Nekota and Yuki, people who are fighting life itself, and never gave up. With an incentive from his friends, Kamogawa puts to use his greatest weapons: his spirit and his courage. It's possible to hit Anderson's body, but to be able to do so, Kamogawa must trade hits with a man from several weigh classes above himself.
Now, Hajime no Ippo does not have superpowers. It's not about Supersayans destroying planets, world-ending ninjas or stretchy pirates. It's just boxing. But even so, I dare to say that Kamogawa's punches looked like the strongest punches I ever saw in any anime. The image of Anderson's organs being crushed, the long and loud sound of ribs turning to dust like a lightning bolt setting a tree apart, the trembling screen, the screams, the epic context. Yes, I have no doubt, those were the strongest punches to ever grace any screens worldwide.
Hopes and dreams were destroyed by those couple of matches that ended with those two punches. Kamogawa's career as a boxer ended right there, as his fists would never recover from that kind of damage. Nekota would never fight again either. Even Anderson may have even died from a severe case of ribs piercing his insides, but who cares? Those two punches also gave hopes and dreams to everyone who watched Kamogawa reestablish the japanese pride.
Retired from his days as a boxer, Nekota returns to the montains. Kamogawa puts his friendship above his own heart and send off Yuki to live with Nekota, so they can comfort each other through their difficulties. Kamogawa himself decides to devote all his life and love for boxing. And that was the seed that would become another legend of a shy boy who would grow to become a respectable champion. Maybe a world champion, some day, when Kamogawa will finally be able to make a full report to Yuki.
So, Rising started cutting off some big chunks of Ippo vs Shimabukuro. While the fight itself isn't one of the best of the series, Shimabukuro exposed the Dempsey Roll's biggest flaw, and the guy was pretty charismatic in the manga. Ippo vs Sawamura gave us a villain to hate on, and that feeling of justice done right when Ippo delivers a leveled up version of his most deadly move right to Sawamura's face. Takamura's fight was kind of boring, but Kamogawa's past is one of the best arcs of the series and could easily be made in a separated movie.
It's been 25 years since Hajime no Ippo started as a manga. Of course there are highs and lows, but far more highs than lows, what is impressive considering the long run of this work by George Morikawa. Rising could have been done better, but when an anime ends being this awesome, there's no room to complain. You just sit there and pray for another season.
What an adventure! Magi may not be a shonen battle anime, but it sure reserved huge chunks of action and overall badassery for the end of this second season. Well, it's well deserved, because Ren Gyokuen and Al-Thamen were manipulating Mogamett all this time, just so he would make use of the Black Rukh and be the key to bring the end of the world.
Alibaba and Kouen combined their Extreme Magics, but all they did was to crack the Medium's borg. It then assumes a humanoid form and starts to absorb magoi from literally everything it touches with its hands, killing plants, animals and people. Alibaba and Kouen try to attack the Medium, but get their magoi absorbed and Djinn Equips taken out of them by force. That's when Kougyoku snaps and attacks the Medium, succeeding in injuring it. Aladdin then informs everyone that the Medium can only make borgs and absorb magoi with its hands.
Kouen heals Alibaba and himself, and orders Koumei to organize a combined attack against the Medium, which has the Metal Vessel users using their Extreme Magics one after another, and finally dragging their enemy to the ocean, where Kougyoku can strike with her most powerful move. This only makes the Medium even bigger and stronger, because it can absorb magoi from anything, including the ocean.
It's revealed that Gyokuen is a former Magi from Alma Torran, while all Metal Vessel users are defeated. When everything seems lost, Sinbad arrives from the skies and strikes the Medium with a powerful attack. With him are several country leaders from the Seven Seas Alliance, his generals, Yunan and Morgiana. Muu Alexius and the Metal Vessel users from Reim also join the battle. Sheherazade, then, sacrifices her remaining life to restore everyone's magoi, and all Metal Vessel users combine their Extreme Magic in one final attack.
It's a powerful strike, but the Medium is still alive. Gyokuen laughs, saying it took the combined effort of 72 warriors in Alma Torran to defeat the Medium, while now they only have 13 Metal Vessel users. It was looking like Sheherazade's sacrifice was in vain, but the Medium is weakened enough to Mogamett's will to corrupt it, making a small White Rukh shine and disturb their enemy.
Aladdin uses Solomon's Wisdom so he and Yamraiha can reach Mogamett inside the Medium. There, they find the old man trapped inside his own sins, with the remaining Titus' spirit trying to comfort him. Aladdin convinces Mogamett that his deeds resulted in good people trying to live peacefully and protect Magnostadt, so Mogamett finally can rest in peace, destroying the Medium. And Titus revives as Sheherazade's new incarnation.
This second season of Magi was even better than the first one, even if it commited the sin of leaving Morgiana out of most episodes. Above all, it felt like a time-skip done properly. It first showed the characters traveling, doing some training, and learning about how the world, its governants and politics work. It was obviously more focused in Aladdin, but it felt the three main characters not only grew stronger in terms of combat, but also in terms of wisdom and knowledge, meeting new people and making alliances.
It's hard to imagine a battle more epic than the one we just saw, but Gyokuen is still alive and well, with Hakuryuu and Judar plotting something evil, too. There's still tension between countries, and Magnostadt to rebuild. We may not see Magi in anime form for a while, because there's not much of the manga to catch up, but I'm sure there's plenty of stories to be told yet, and since its first anime airing, Magi became one of my favorite series.
I just gave my Final Impressions on Witch Craft Works the other day, and I feel that show shares some similarities with Noragami: both had huge potential, quality animation and interesting characters, but failed to deliver in their endings. I had problems with WCW's attempt at having a plot, and while Noragami also failed at telling an interesting story, it was for different reasons.
This show didn't promise much at the beginning. It was about a regular girl who is exposed to supernatural conditions, almost dies and becomes friend of a inoffensive-looking boy, who in truth is a powerful being. It sounds simple enough, and we could probably make a list of animes that would fit in that description. What this basic summary lacks in creativity, Noragami more than made for by introducing its main characters.
Yato, the urban god who does all sorts of odd jobs, dreaming of becoming famous and worshiped by millions one day. But Noragami's best surprise was Hiyori. She could easily fit in the common role of the "regular girl who assists the male protagonist". Hiyori is that and much more. She has personality and hobbies, she has a strong will and "fights" the problems on her own way, without gaining magical abilities or becoming a female version of a male character. And she never falls in that aways done-to-death "love interest" role, too.
The main problem with Noragami is in which characters the story focuses in its 12 episodes spam. Aside from Hiyori and Yato, other interesting characters are presented, such as the wise Tenjin, the badass Bishamon and the energetic Kofuku. But the arcs shown in this first Noragami run tells us the story of how Yukine is a whiny teenager, and the tired tale of how Rabo is a killer god who wants to bring back Yato's past as an assassin. We already saw this on Rurouni Kenshin, done in a much better way.
It may be the case of the manga doesn't having enough material to cover until there, but a Noragami anime adaptation would be thousands times better if it focused on telling more interesting stories, such as solving Hiyori's ghost condition or Bishamon's grudge against Yato. I can understand the need to focus on Yukine before telling those stories, but Rabo was completely filler. He appeared, didn't do anything note-worthy, and went away. Nora was presented earlier as some kind of skeleton in Yato's closet, but even her was badly used, as in the end, Nora was nothing more than Rabo's sword.
Although I liked the characters enough to want a second season, I'm not sure if the author is capable of using them to create good stories. I was sure that, after the boring Yukine arc was gone, we could get more dept on how Regalias and gods powers work, or how ghosts affect living people's lives, or anything. With Rabo's arc closing this first season so poorly, I fear that Noragami may have endless filler characters popping out of nowhere and adding close to nothing to the show, just like Rabo did.
Insanely awesome. That's how I would describe Witch Craft Works a month ago. Speaking the truth here, I was lost on the majority of the journey through the 12 episodes of this show. It sure had a plot since its beginning, but it felt the humor was above all until the last couple episodes. And I was more than ok with that, a show must play by its strong points after all. There was even a moment when Witch Craft Works was my favorite show airing in its season, including my favorite series ever, Hajime no Ippo. But that was before Ippo decided to finish its third season strongest than ever, and before Witch Craft Works tried to have a plot.
I will not lie, I will be brief describing the end of this show because I understood close to nothing about it. Am I that stupid? I may be, but contrary to movies like Akira or The Matrix, both of which I didn't grasp their meaning fully until at least my third view through them, I didn't care about the real plot behind Witch Craft Works.
So, Takamiya has an immense power inside him, and final boss Weekend wants it for her. I admit attacking the city instead of going against Kazane herself was pretty smart, and Weekend employs some good strategies to deal with powerhouses such as Kagari and her mother. It helps that she is immortal for some reason.
With Ayaka and Kazane defeated, Weekend is close to victory, so it's Takamiya's job to protect the people of the city from being exploded. To accomplish this, he offers his life to White Princess Evermillion, so she can lend him the power to save everyone. Before Takamiya dies, however, Ayaka calls shenanigans and trades her life instead. In the end, everyone is saved, they skip probably the most epic battle of the series and Witch Craft Works would be a better show if it starred only the 5 Tower Witches.
Now, it's not like this is a bad show. At first, I was expecting nothing from Witch Craft Works, and even considered to drop it right after the first episode, because Takamiya gave me the impression of being an Evangelion's Shinji clone, and Kagari's role made me think this would be a regular spineless otaku's dream. Well, I was wrong.
First of all, the humor in Witch Craft Works is top notch. It's crazy, it's random, and it's awesome. It also can be unique and not so visible, like when there's people being funny in the background, or quick remarks made right after a big happening. There's also a lot, A LOT of characters in this show, and few of them get their deserved screentime, but most, if not all of them, display a personality of their own, making you want to know more of characters that you don't even remember their names.
The character designs, the color palette, the music, the animation, everything is great in Witch Craft Works, and the studio deserves serious praises. What brought the show down, in my opinion, was the "serious" plot, like I said before. It's never explained why Takamiya has the powerful entity Evermillion sealed inside him. With her being a trick up the protagonist's sleeve, and Kazane being all powerful, there's never a real "threat".
The whole pacing in which things happen is too confusing,too. In one scene, you see Rinon attacking Kagari and Takamiya, and in the next, Rinon and her friends are Workshop Witches trying to save the city. This, added to the fact that it's nearly impossible to know all the witches' names or level of importance in this show, makes for a hard experience if you try to understand the whole thing. I didn't have a problem with that when all the show told me to do was to sit and laugh with the randomness, but when the story became serious and I had to know what was happening, it just wasn't as entertaining.
It is a shame. Witch Craft Works was doing everything right, from the laugh-out-loud humor to not going the easy way and relying on fanservice, but it lost itself when it tried to throw its strong point, the comedy, out of the window. Now that this ended, give me a show about Tanpopo and the Tower Witches, and I will forget about this ending.
Players trapped in the game world. This premise is older than Tibia. Ok, maybe not that old, but it has been done countless times, and with the biggest recent success in this genre being Sword Art Online, comparisons are inevitable. But be a fan of one or another, it's a given that Log Horizon is completely different from previous entries in the "trapped in a MMORPG" genre. Well, before we get to conclusions, let's see what happened in the end of this first season.
Lenessia became some sort of idol in Akihabara, and part of the Libra Festival is a party including a dinner with the princess. Of course, this being Log Horizon, there's political fares to be made, and noble-evil-clown Marves crashes the party, being an ass to pretty much everyone, but targeting princess Lenessia in special. Comes to her rescue Shiroe and the other leaders of the Round Table Alliance. Of course, Shiroe isn't a knight in white armor, and rescue the princess in the typical fashion that earned him the name of The Villain in Glasses.
Nothing against Lenessia, but to me, Maryelle is the light of Akihabara in this show
Regardless of methods used, Shiroe exposes Marves' lies made only to attack the relations between the Round Table Alliance and Eastal. The second part of the episode shows probably next season's main villain, Nureha, a fox-lady with giant, disproportional breasts that may or may not have crushed her heart. It's told that she dominated the Minami region, to the point of buying the Cathedral where the Adventurers revive, and controlling the Guard system. Nureha tries to recruit Shiroe to Plant Hwayden, the only guild that now exist in Minami, but Shiroe refuses.
Libra festival done and gone, the members of Log Horizon wonder what to do next. Nyanta suggests if they should try to figure a way to go back to their world, but Shiroe says this is their reality now, and they will change this world. Shiroe's final words pretty much sum what Log Horizon is about, but we will get to that.
Cat-like ears and giant breasts: Log Horizon trying to appeal to the common otaku?
First of all, if you know Maoyuu Maou no Yuusha, also known as Archenemy and Hero in english, you know what to expect from Log Horizon. The author, Mamare Touno, really likes to develop his worlds, so Log Horizon is way more about building a new world than crazy action scenes, which in no way is a bad thing.
The greatest point in Log Horizon is how the series set its rules early on, and never play outside of them. Everything has a logical reason to be the way it's showed. Another great point I really enjoyed about this show, is that even if it's about people trapped inside a game, most of characters are and behave like reasonable adults. The plot revolves a lot around establishing a working society in this chaotic world, and forming alliances with the NPCs.
A true gentle-cat
While watching Log Horizon, one thought may come to mind: for people trapped inside a game, they are pretty relaxed about going back to the real world. Well, there's two reasons for that. First, contrary to shows like SAO, it's not given a goal for the players to go back to their world, so no one has any idea of how to do that. Second, it's pretty much established that Elder Tales is now a full working real world, with food tasting properly and machines working like they should, if made with your own hands rather than relying on menus. And third, not everyone know about this, but it seems people were trapped in the game thanks to a new type of magic in the Elder Tales world, not because of "real" world technology, so they have no choice other than discovering more stuff about their new reality.
In an anime industry full of shows made for children and teenagers, Log Horizon is a rational, adult show set in a fantastical world. It doesn't have those epic moments where you are on the edge of your chair cheering for the protagonist, but also doesn't have moments of stupidness. Everything is done is a smart way, the characters are enjoyable, and the few action scenes are incredible, with the episode 4 being completely made of Player vs Player deserving special attention in that matter.
I don't quite know what happens with japanese girlbands, but they tend to not last long, with SHOW-YA reuniting and surpassing their 30th year being an (awesome) exception. ZONE was the first japanese girlband to break my heart when they disbanded, with short-lived acts such as THE PINK PANDA and EU PHORIA going the same route. Stereopony became famous among the otaku crowd after Hitohira no Hanabira was chosen as one of Bleach's endings, and a few years later, they also disbanded.
Well, do you miss Stereopony? Then, rejoice, as drummer Shiho and bassist Nohana are back with their new band, Draft King. This time, they are joined by Erica on vocals, and guitarists hiddy and Mao. Draft King's Youtube channel already has some videos, with Abracadabra being their first PV.
The song gives a good sign of that garage rock at the beginning, but soon becomes something leaning more to a pop rock tune. Good stuff nonetheless, and great news for Stereopony fans all over the world. And now, why not, Draft King fans, too.