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The second volume of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Volume 2 completes what is better known as the first season of the Magi anime. These next 13 episodes wrap up the Balbadd arc and bring the story to the end of the second dungeon for Aladdin and Alibaba. In that sense, it completes a story. In another sense, given Magi's ongoing manga, the first season of the anime is only just the beginning.
Watching the series through the second time, it gave me time to focus on some of the little things that I either didn't notice or didn't pay much attention to the first time around. The visuals are better; the animation got a bump compared to the TV airing as, presumably, the production team went back and made minor fixes. The famed Morgiana dance scene looks better than ever on home video.
Unmistakably, the first and second volumes of Magi go hand in hand. And now that we have the whole season, we can talk about the bigger picture: the way Magi the anime is trying to tell its story.
Time travel is infinitely more interesting once you leave the trappings of the TARDIS or any one of those familiar (some would say hackneyed) science fiction mainstays behind. Steins;Gate, the visual novel that inspired a 24-episode anime series, film, and several other spinoffs, has woven a masterful tale that explores the trope in a manner not unlike the popular deconstruction of magical girl series, Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
We're all familiar with the philosophy that altering even the smallest detail from a past event could alter the future drastically, but how much damage could a text message do? Could it destroy the hopes and dreams of everyone you love? How far could you go to make things right again?
When I saw the trailer, Smuggler gave me mixed impressions. As a live action adaptation of a manga by Shohei Manabe, I approached this title cautiously; I've seen more than enough manga and anime adaptations to know that many of them, even ones with lavish production, tend to rely too much on star power and lack the unique vision, writing, and flair to stand on their own. Luckily this wasn't the case with Smuggler, as it delivers a complete film that succeeds at capturing what makes the pulp action genre so fun.
'80s anime had a fondness for cribbing from classic sci-fi. You can see the influences of authors like Issac Asimov and Philip K. Dick and movies like Terminator and Alien in multiple shows from the era. Hell, the influence of Blade Runner alone can be seen in tons of series and OVAs of the era. Taking these ideas and mixing them up in the unrestrained minds of creators from that time and you can get some great stuff.
Space Adventure Cobra is interesting in that it takes a shard of an idea from a classic and then spins it out into its own epic. The familiar idea ends up going to places that you might not expect. Besides, even if you do expect it, you'll probably find yourself having a pretty good time.
I really love the original NES Strider. Yes, it's glitchy, unpolished, and generally a confusing oddity. I understand all of that. But for every strange design decision that didn't work, there are flashes of greatness. The almost-Metroid style sense of adventure, the power-ups, the nonsensical story; I find the original Strider to be a fascinating experiment and product of its time.
One can imagine then that the announcement of a new exploration-focused Strider game got me more than a bit excited. I had zero confidence in Double Helix Games to create a good follow-up to the long dormant series, but the participation of Capcom's Osaka Studio kept me hopeful.
While Strider 2014 isn't quite the legendary game that some of its predecessors were, I think Double Helix is off to a good start.
When the anime adaptation of Deadman Wonderland began airing on Toonami, I was intrigued -- not because I thought I'd ever be able to catch it when it came on, or that I'd remember to hit the record button on my DVR, but because I thought it might be genuinely grotesque. When I finally had the chance to catch it on Blu-ray for Japanator, I was thrilled. The series delivered, mostly -- except for the part where it came to a screeching halt in what felt like the first half of a series with no second half in sight. Just as the events of the series came to a head, it was over as quickly as it had begun. What next? I did what every Berserk fan knows to do: I started reading the manga.
Sometimes you come across a series that looks amazing and impresses you with its style from the first moments. Those series are few and far between but when you find them, they tend to stick with you. Sometimes though, you get into the middle of one of these shows and find that they are all flash with no meat; style over substance, as it were. Sadly, K is one of those series.
While high-school student Shiro is running an errand for his classmates one day, he's forced to go on the run when multiple people show up on the scene intent on taking his life. Apparently there's a video of him out there murdering a "king" in cold blood. Shiro's sure that he didn't do it and convinces one of the people after his life, Kuroh, to spare him long enough to prove his innocence.
Diablo 3 was disappointing. That might be an odd way to start a review on a game from Nippon Ichi Software, but while I and many others await the Reaper of Souls expansion to complete the many Diablo 3 renovations, the urge to dive into a good dungeon crawler is only rising. I had no idea what The Witch and the Hundred Knight was a week ago, but after hearing that it might just satiate my hunger for hoarding loot, I had to get in on that.
What awaited was an interesting take on a tried and tested genre, with many new mechanics that seek to innovate. However, for every positive this game has on offer, there's an unfortunate negative.
Tiger & Bunny turned out to be a surprise hit for Sunrise. It had well-animated action scenes, an interesting story across both seasons and a set of main characters that had some great arcs. Not only that, but the show ended up being a hit across genders lines. In general, guys loved the super hero action and ladies loved the rather attractive heroes -- I mean, the Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Barnaby Brooks Jr. slash paring is one of the most popular ones I've seen.[Editor's Note: which certainly is not to say that plenty of ladies didn't also enjoy this show for the action as well!] It’s the kind of cross-over hit that only happens once every couple of years.
This being a Sunrise property, there was bound to be some sort of compilation film. The first movie, titled Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning, spent most of its time re-telling the opening few episodes of the show, ending with a new adventure involving a thief that can change his location at will. A year and a half later, we finally get the second film, Tiger & Bunny: The Rising. Instead of a ton of recaps, we get an entirely new film with a new hero and a new antagonist.
How do these new elements fit into the established world?
In 2010, Funimation simulcasted a fantasy series called Blessing of the Campanella and then, once concluded, it quietly went away. For months no one brought it up again until 2013 when Right Stuf revealed at a summer convention that they had licensed the series and planned on releasing it. Fast forward a few months and now you can find the series on store shelves, but is it worth the trip to pick it up?
Taking place in the city of Ert'Aria, the story follows an adventuring clan named Oasis who are much beloved by the populace and take on odd jobs or quests for people. One night, the clan is watching a meteor shower when one particular burst of energy hits a nearby tower. When one of the members, Leicester, investigates he finds a young girl named Minette who declares him to be her father.
Being an otaku isn't easy. But when you've fallen in love with someone who's king of the otaku? Well, that means you've got a long way to go to up your nerd game.
That's the struggle Rompers faces in Moyoco Anno's autobiographical manga, detailing the adventures she has in living with and marrying Hideaki Anno -- one of Japan's biggest otaku. They struggle with everything from the music in the car to decorating their house. Will Rompers survive the struggles of being a true otaku?
If you're a fan of any of Moyoco Anno's other works (Sakuran, Hataraki Man, Sugar Sugar Rune), then Insufficient Direction will provide a peek behind the curtain and see what her private life is like.
Released by Sentai Filmworks, Maria Holic is a Shaft series from way back in 2008. The series takes place at the all girls Ame no Kisaki academy where Kanoko has just transferred in hopes of finding her one true love. Yes, she is a lesbian. A very perverted one at that, but we'll get to that later.
Upon entering the school grounds, Kanako meets a variety of other students including a beautiful new first-year named Maria. At first the two get along great and Kanako believes that she may have found her true love right away... until she finds out Maria's big secret: she is actually a guy crossdressing as a female and Maria will do anything to make sure that this secret doesn't get out, including moving into the same dorm room as Kanako to keep a close eye on her.
As long as Kosuke Fujishima's most celebrated manga has been running, it wasn't actually around during Benjamin Franklin's time. We can discern this because if it had been, his famous quotation would have stated that the only certainties in life were "death, taxes and Oh My Goddess!" That's how inevitable each new volume feels.
The series has been slogging along for something like 25 years, and though there have been some plot twists here and there, the fundamentals seem set in stone: Keichi and Belldandy love each other, but Bell's two meddling sisters make trouble for them. Keichi and Belldandy love each other, but their relationship will never advance beyond the hand-holding, kindergarten level for some reason; presumably because Fujishima is a pretty classy fellow and has no interest in sullying his premiere series with dirty Goddess/human sex. Keichi and Belldandy love each other, but the plot will never really progress, and so on and so forth.
Or at least, that's what we thought. The last few volumes of OMG! have turned what we thought we knew about this series on its head, and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it yet.
When I dream of becoming God, these fantasies usually don't involve a white-haired pretty boy with fox ears who follows me around and does my bidding; clearly, I've been doing it wrong. Now that Kamisama Kiss has taught me the error of my ways, my visions of deity will probably contain more sexy fox men and less sending other drivers to burn in eternal hellfire when they forget to use their blinkers. It's probably healthier this way.
Have your own delusions of Godhood been too full of wrath and too light on supernatural boyfriends lately? Then you too could probably use some Kamisama Kiss in your life.
Magi is an interesting fantasy work in that familiar, if comfortable context of shounen manga adaptations. The story takes on a One Thousand and One Nights motif, as protagonists Alibaba, Aladdin and Morgiana find their way out of poverty and slavery in a world disturbed by magic and conspiracy. This TV anime adaptation is now on its fourth cour, second season, currently airing in Winter 2014.
To me, the unusual setting is already a big selling point. Much can be said about ninjas or samurais, but what about plain, old fashion fantasy but inspired by mixes of far-East and near-East motifs and concepts, as themes cross between typical character development and international politics and nation-building? Magi is not something you find everyday.
However, strengths aside, Magi is a very long series. So really, the question is, will this series be worth the capital investment both in time and money?
I've got some major love for One Piece. On top of keeping up with it on a weekly basis for about eight years, I've spent a good amount of money on merch. Figures, manga, art: I've sunk a lot of hours into getting all that stuff into my room. The only thing that I haven't really been satisfied with are the One Piece games. In general, they've been sub-par experiences that seem quickly pushed out to make a quick buck on the backs of fans.
The only one I've enjoyed at all was Unlimited Adventure for the Wii. It was a straightforward action game with a stand-alone story that was fun for a while. Unfortunately, it eventually outstayed its welcome with boring level design and little else to do besides run around, switch characters, get lost and punch things.
With some hesitation, I was looking forward to the release of Romance Dawn, an RPG for the 3DS. Hey, I love One Piece and I love RPGs. That's sure to be a great combination, right? Uh, well, let's just say that it leaves a lot to be desired. Hit the jump to find out why.
When Fate/Zero Set 2 starts off, we're thrown right in the middle of a major battle. Caster has created a huge monster and it's up to Saber, Lancer, Rider and Archer to defeat it before it can cause major damage to the general populace. After he is dispatched, it's back to the Grail War and tons of talking, plotting, planning and backstabbing.
To make it clear, I enjoyed the second half of Fate/Zero but there are flaws within it which the audience should be aware of before picking it up. Just how big are the flaws? Join me after the jump to find out.
I'll be honest with you. Before playing Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc for the first time, I had to dust off my PS Vita, charge it up for a few hours and install a stack of updates. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I've gone through these motions in order to play a game on this handheld, as the software library just hasn't been that appealing to me. To give you some perspective, the last game I played was Persona 4: The Golden. According to my Backloggery page, I finished it on April 5th, 2013.
Of course, this is just how I've fared, and I'm sure there are loads of games out there that many others have had a good time with. Saying that, there are a fair few titles coming out soon that have my interest, including Mind Zero, Project Diva F 2nd and of course, Danganronpa.
But would this odd-looking bear and his devilish personality ultimately win me over, or would my Vita find itself banished back to a dark corner to patiently await the next game? You're just going to have to read on and find out.
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 the strongest, Fairy Tail has been at the bottom of the rankings for the last several years due to all of the strongest members being shifted through time in prior volumes. In order to restore their reputation, the time-displaced members gather together and challenge the world, though things are quite a bit different from when they last were around.
After barely squeaking by the first portion of the competition, the members of Fairy Tail have not been performing well in the one-on-one fights. Lucy and Mystogan both lost their matches, leaving both Fairy Tail teams dead last. They’re going to have to make some points quick or they risk falling too far behind to catch up. However, if there’s one thing you can bet on, it’s that Fairy Tail will find some way to come out on top.
Don't worry, you're not suffering from a case of deja-vu! In a trend that is becoming increasingly common, we have a Game of the Year equivalent for Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, rolling up the DLC and re-releasing it to those of us that passed it up the first time around. Or the fans that are happy to double-dip, I suppose.
Unlike most other games, Full Burst actually comes with some new content that wasn't made available as DLC, so there's incentive for owners of the original game to check this out. You can either upgrade your current copy for a small fee, or go all-out and purchase a physical copy at a lower price than your typical game. Not bad.
But I've already talked about Ninja Storm 3, so this review is going to focus on what Full Burst brings to the table. Hit the jump to check out what I made of it, but let's just say that the $9.99 upgrade is pretty reasonable indeed.
The first volume in the Hello Kitty (reviewed) series published by Perfect Square was all about travel, and it didn't disappoint; we went all over the world and beyond. This second volume promised to have our mouths watering, and once again, it didn't disappoint; I think I have cavities.
Jacob Chabot and Jorge Monlongo return and are accompanied by Ian McGinty and Stephanie Buscema for a whole new set of adventures featuring Japan's favorite feline (move aside, Maru). All of the stories are food-related, though that isn't a stretch in Hello Kitty's cake-filled world under regular circumstances.
Nisekoi turned out to be one of those happy discoveries you sometimes stumble upon when you aren't looking for anything particular, read a silly synopsis, and think, "Why not?" I wasn't too sure what to expect from this coming in, except that it was probably a romantic comedy.
And it is.
It's a romantic comedy that's apparently published in Shonen Jump, and the first volume which comprises the first seven chapters had heaps of fighting in it -- between the lead male character and a girl he has to pretend to date in order to appease the rival gangs they belong to.
Let's have a quick look at the copy before I move on with my thoughts:
It’s hate at first sight—or rather a knee to the head at first sight —when Raku Ichijo meets Chitoge Kirisaki! Unfortunately, Raku’s gangster father arranges a false love match between Raku and their rival gang leader’s daughter, who just so happens to be Chitoge! Raku’s searching for his childhood sweetheart from ten years ago, however, with a pendant around his neck as a memento...but he can't even remember the girl’s name or face!
Oreshura, or Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru, is an elaborate reimagining of a simple idea. Short for "My girlfriend and my childhood friend argue a lot," the shortened name makes marketing and looking up the show on search engines easy, but more importantly it curtly sums up a really messy premise. Let's not beat around the bush: It's a harem anime. If that alone turns you away, I won't think any less of you.
But being the postmodern animals that we are, saying an anime is a harem is like saying air smells like something that you can breathe; it doesn't convey or express the quality (if it's smoky, fresh, or stale) or if you would like more or less of it. More importantly, have you had an Oreshura experience before? How do you compare this harem anime with the countless before it? How does this light novel story with a childhood friend and his girlfriend shed light upon the adolescent condition? Is it worth your time, for those of you who care to discern the dancing angels on the animated pin?
Falcom's Ys series is the unspoken hero of the action RPG genre.
Starring red-haired adventurer Adol, the Ys games are sprawling quests that test your reflexes as they throw you into large worlds with monsters that desire only to smash you to pieces. They're not complicated games, but Falcom has damn near mastered the craft of action RPG creation.
Ys: Memories of Celceta is an interesting beast in that it's the first time Falcom has directly tried their hand at making Ys IV. You see back in the day, Falcom outsourced the fourth game to two separate developers, Hudson Soft and Tonkin House. Both were great games (The Dawn of Ys and Mask of the Sun) in their own right, but for many years, fans hoped for Falcom to go back and tell their version of Adol's journey in the forest of Celceta.
Does Memories of Celceta hold up to the legacy left behind by Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys and Ys IV: Mask of the Sun?
When you think Shoji Kawamori, his work on Macross immediately comes to mind. It's been one of the most influential properties in Japan since it's debut. However, another major show that Kawamori worked on is Aquarion. You might know it as the show where the mecha pilots had some rather...interesting...reactions whenever the robots would combine. I haven't seen it, but from what I heard it was a ratings success in Japan despite some problems with its story and pacing.
Years later, Kawamori came back to his hit franchise and made a pseudo-sequel, called Aquarion Evol. Considering my love of Kawamori's work on Macross and my passion for all things robotic, I decided to give Evol a whirl. The big questions were, will I be able to follow what's going on? Does Evol require extensive knowledge of the previous show in order to understand the nuances of the characters and story? In short, no. However, prior knowledge definitely wouldn't hurt.
Even though I’m the guy at Japanator that watches toku shows, my experience with superhero stories in general is below average. While I’ve kept up with many of the cartoons and films that are based off of DC and Marvel’s characters, I never got around to reading the original comic books that many people grew up with.
Based on my limited experience with the genre, I find the heroes' inner struggles to be one of the most interesting things about their adventures. Since Zetman focuses on two heroes, whose backstories and moral values differ from one another, the premise of this show is right up my alley-- the question was whether or not it could deliver on its promise.
Battling evildoers is a serious occupation, so let's find out if Zetman's main characters have what it takes to become true champions of justice.
I knew basically nothing going into Vividred Operation. I wasn't watching much anime during the Winter 2013 season anyway, and Vividred kind of got blurred together with all those other shows in that broad category of "cute girls with [insert gimmick]." I had seen some figure designs floating around, so I had a vague idea that the series featured young ladies who are prone to wearing short-shorts, but that was about it.
Since I had zero expectations, I wasn't disappointed; however, I have to wonder how the show would have come across if I'd been anticipating anything in particular. If I was expecting a magical girl show, which Vividred basically is, I would have been let down; If I'd been expecting a sci-fi show, I would be annoyed that the show doesn't really deliver on any of the interesting ideas it presents at the beginning. I guess if I'd wanted a moe fetish-fest I would have been reasonably satisfied, because seriously, this show loves butts. This show loves butts like Attack on Titan likes killing people off-- no, I think it loves butts even more than that. There is simply no describing how much this show loves 14-year-old girls' butts.
It's pretty widely known on Japanator that I'm the go-to gal when it comes to creepfests and ghoulish delights. I seek out chills and thrills wherever I can find them, so I was excited to take Apparitions: Ghosts of Old Edo for a test drive. It's not often I'm able to soak up a good horror novel (they're tougher to judge than manga because, well, all that reading) so when the opportunity arises, you know I have to dig right in. Miyuke Miyabe's novel was tame for the most part considering the media I regularly consume, but the collection of authentic Japanese ghost stories was one that kept me glued to the pages.
When I first started watching Good Luck Girl, I had just finished up the sex comedy B Gata H Kei (Yamada's First Time), which was surprisingly hilarious given its lack of actual sex. I'm a big supporter of anime comedies, especially when they actually make me laugh -- because let's be honest, they usually aren't very funny.
Good Luck Girl had me cracking a smile as soon as the Poverty God herself made an appearance. The combination of an excellent English script, hilarious localization, and some ingenious sight gags had me giggling all the way through. I'm glad I took a chance with it, because I came out pleasantly surprised, and with a new favorite ending sequence. Seriously, I really can't get enough of it.