one piece

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 699

Jun 30 // Anthony Redgrave
Naturally Luffy's animalistic fighting style eliminates their gambit as despite successfully connecting with Doflamingo, doesn't put him down for the count. This episode shows where the majority of the budget for the Dressrosa arc went as the fighting is crisp and lively. Even the characters outside of the fighting look good as they have gracefully avoided the derp hammer. Doflamingo's fighting style is different compared to when he faced Law on the bridge as he chooses to employ a puppet-pincer style against Luffy. It reminds me of Gecko Moria's fighting style except Doflamingo actually participates instead of lazing around.  The fight isn't even close. The Surgeon-Straw Hat duo may have been able to sucker punch Doflamingo, but they are not ready for a face to face confrontation. Doflamingo is head and toes better than the two combined, making Trebol look pretty much useless. In another part of the town, Sabo's fight with Fujitora has already ended. Koala finds him day dreaming and their interaction is very similar to Nami's and Luffy's relationship. The fact that Koala and Nami also have the same hair color doesn't help with the avoid this comparison. The abrupt end to Sabo's bout with Fujitora is quite confusing as I have no idea why they had stopped or at what point they were at. They just stopped.  As the episode concludes Doflamingo takes down Luffy and stops Law from dealing the final blow to Trebol. A noble act for someone that sell's slaves, blackmails royalty, and enslaves whole countries. He then goes on a rant about hating people thinking they are above him and we get glimpses at his twisted superiority complex. Also does anyone else think his younger self looks like Duke Nukem?  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] Koala
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Doflamingo is a psycho!
Donquixote Doflamingo has been one of my favorite villains in One Piece ever since he was introduced as one of the seven warlords of the sea. You only really saw him in-between arcs, but you could tell that he wasn'...

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 698

Jun 23 // Anthony Redgrave
Wow what an episode. When One Piece wants to turn on the action valve, it gushes not drips. I've been waiting a whole year for some more excellent One Piece fights and this episode was just the hor d'oeuvres. But first we had to sit through one of the most bizarre and badly done transition shots I've seen in recent years. After some badass close ups of Robin, Bartolomeo, and Cabbage Cavendish, it then jump cuts to a close up of Doflamingo's glasses, Law and ends with Trebol laughing. The whole thing lasts less than 3 seconds, but it's absolutely jarring to see. It's as if they accidently added in frames of Doflamingo and Law when they were finalising the scene transition. As I mentioned before this episode is about action, action, action! We are treated to literally all the fights occurring at this very moment; Franky vs. Senor Pink, the gladiators vs. Doflamingo family, and even Law and Luffy begin their final battle with the Heavenly Demon. Confusingly they completely forgot about Zoro's fight, unless he got lost on Pica. Since Sanji is AWOL, Zoro's fight is the one I'm looking forward to most so I was disappointed I didn't see him do some badass santoryu.  An alternative title for this episode should have been 'flashbacks, shadows of the past' as they recount many previous events leading up to now. It was especially offsetting seeing the old art style One Piece had back in the Jaya arc. Looking back on old One Piece episodes makes me question whether my rose tinted glasses are a bit too powerful as they look dated. The ending is one of the most satisfying I have seen in One Piece. All the frustrations I have had with the arc has all been soothed in the last 10 minutes of the episode. It also brings up a lot of mysteries that I want answering concerning the past relationship with Law and Doflamingo. My body is ready for the next week's One Piece episode #olde3joke.  hor d'oeuvres bartolomeo
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Action! Action! Action Jackson!
Readers that cross-pollinate to other anime sites like Anime News Network may know that they have started doing One Piece recaps as well. The writer of these, Sam Leach disagrees with me almost every week. When I li...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 697

Jun 15 // Anthony Redgrave
Working backwards, the episode concludes with Law and Luffy finally making it to Doflamingo's now destroyed throne room. The pink Warlord states that he is disappointed at the revelation that the pirates have arrived to kick his ass. After placing a bounty on Law and Luffy's heads, why wouldn't they want to kick his ass? Does Doflamingo think they want to negotiate after he had put them through hell!? This all points towards the Dressrosa arc finally wrapping up, unless Luffy gets horribly injured then we will have to sit through the recovery and journey stages all over again a la Impel Down. On the outside Usopp's commission to Kanjuro is finally complete after a few episodes in the making. While this was happening, bounty hunters scale the wall on Kanjuro's crudely drawn ladder. King Riku, Tank, Hack, or Kin'emon don't do anything to stop them from reaching the top showing that One Piece characters are really really dumb if the camera is not on them. This rule in universal unless you're Sanji. The rest of the episode focusses Usopp struggling to make one of the most pivotal shots in the whole arc. Previously, the show made these feats appear easy for Usopp since he is gifted at sharpshooting. It was like his version of Zoro's swordsmanship or Nami's navigation skills. But this episode takes time to explore his doubts and anxieties if he misses, even going as far as to do a fake out to throw off viewers. It does an excellent job at showing Usopp's psyche when he's under pressure and has a great pay off. The revelation near the end is absolutely priceless.  I won't divulge anymore in fear of spoiling one of the best episodes of One Piece I've seen in a while. It's a return to blending intense butt clenching action with comedic breaks in-between that made me fall in love with One Piece.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Mainly filler but still good
Nope that's not a typo. It's a word I just made up now to describe this episode of One Piece. Friller (adjective) def. To be mainly filler but is still entertaining to watch. May not be limited to the thriller genre. Portmant...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 696

Jun 10 // Anthony Redgrave
All the Law gushing in the preface is reference to the fact that they are able to free Law in this episode, but not before Rebecca gets beat down by Diamante. She is able to stand on her own for a few scenes against the Aerosmith lead singer, but ultimately resorts to the Joestar family's secret technique. There is a moment in this episode where she drops the key to Law's cuffs, causing me to groan at the idea of a whole episode looking for it. Fortunately this is not the case. Even more fortunate for Rebecca, a soldier's promise is never broken as Kyros swoops in to save the day. For a guy with one leg, he is surprisingly spry. Luffy and Law are not far behind as they finally reach Level 4 but not before they are snapped up by a pursuing Headcracker Doll. If you have been watching One Piece as long as I have, you will be well versed in the amount of times a main character suffers a killing blow, only to miraculously escape in the last minute. It's a shonen tradition, and it is shown again as the two pirates are eaten before reaching Rebecca.  But just like a magic trick reveal, the cuffs are unshackled and the pirates are fine. Finally, after piggy backing on Luffy for the past dozen episodes Law is back. And he doesn't waste any time using Room to teleport himself and Luffy into Doflamingo's castle. Law has one of the most versatile devil fruits in One Piece except for Luffy's plot convenience powers.  Before I leave you Japanators for another week I want to mention that this week's episode was riddled with piss poor art. It's something I'm used to overlooking week on week but this time they really did a number on Rebecca. This usually occurs whenever they are running long on an arc and when the next arc starts after the filler, there is a notable improvement. Considering the manga isn't out of Dressrosa yet, we have got a bumpy ride ahead of us. 
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Free Law! Free Law! Free LAW!
When Law came on the scene I did not trust him. I didn't even trust him even when he allied himself with the Straw Hats before the time skip. Gradually through the Punk Hazard Arc he grew on me, but there was still this uneas...

Annotated Anime: One Piece 695

Jun 02 // Anthony Redgrave
The show opens to Rebecca finally reaching level four and letting her Tontatta allies run off into the castle to find their Princess Mansherry. Then five minutes go by with Rebecca staring off into the distance as flower petals dance across the screen. If you extract those frames of animation and package it with some home made doujin scans, you have a Rebecca eroge.  It's not even hyperbole that the show is padding for time when it shows close up views of Rebecca's face with petals providing the only animation in the scene. It gets worse when the quality of the art makes her look like those cheap knock off anime figures you see on flea markets with distorted faces. I don't usually contain a gallery in my annotated anime segments but this has to be seen.  Unfortunately Toei cannot just show Rebecca until the face catch so Aerosmith's Steve Tyler Diamente emerges from the flower field and laughs. Yep one of the Doflamingo executives was so tired of waiting for our heroes that he decided to lie down rather than sit or stand. I guess when the protagonists squabble amongst themselves on who will be committing homicide, things will take longer to proceed. Other than that, this episode provides some more great Bartolomeo fanboy moments and shows that he is currently more useful than Law in this skirmish by producing a staircase for Luffy to Level 4. The episode ends with brief scenes of what the other Straw Hats are doing in case we had forgotten. When Franky got into a breakdancing contest with Senor Pink? I want more of that please next week!
One Piece photo
Rebecca Dating Sim
I'm going to admit it, there are some fine looking anime people in One Piece. Whether you're into fish-human hybrids, abnormally large men, or disproportionate women One Piece will have you covered. I've always been a Vivi gu...

One Piece photo
One Piece

One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 sets sail for Europe August 28th

Ya-yo, ya-yo~ Set Sail for One Piece
May 28
// Anthony Redgrave
Readers of Annotated Anime will be aware of my impatience towards the slow pacing of the One Piece anime series. But I'm feeling more optimistic about the latest in the Pirate Warriors series; One Piece Pirate Warriors 3...

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.
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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. 
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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. 

One Piece photo
One Piece

Relive the Grand Line in One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 English trailer

One Piece. It's the name of the treasure in the Grand Line
Mar 22
// Anthony Redgrave
Yep here is another One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 trailer but this time it isn't showing off new playable characters.  Bandai Namco games have released the Grand Line (Here they come) trailer in English when it was previ...

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.
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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...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 683

Mar 01 // Anthony Redgrave
  The Straw Hats fight against Issho while Law is left on the floor like yesterday's garbage, but the intense marine on pirate action is interrupted by the appearance of our favourite stone golem thing, Pica. Turns out that Pica isn't a weird creature but a person with an uncharacteristically high voice. He's built like a giant but has the voice of a squeaky toy. Very amusing for henchmen and Straw Hats but not for Pica. We get some exposition regarding Doflamingo's backstory and why his crew is named the Doflamingo family instead of pirates. He killed is father and lost his mother so never really had a family. Instead he made one out of his executives and won't allow people to mock them. This is quite touching from a man that makes his earnings from underground slavery, illegal weapon sales, and trafficking.  Elsewhere in Dressrosa, the B team continue to head towards the palace to rendezvous with Luffy and the others. I'm guessing Luffy forgot about this seeing that he jumped off the palace to beat up Doflamingo. They continue round the colosseum and aim for the base of the palace only to be halted by the fact that there isn't a convenient way up the palace wall. Fortunately Robin's powers become useful as she makes a ladder out of her arms. Convenience comes in many forms and Robin's powers are sometimes the definition of that word.  During the ascent Pica makes his big play and becomes a colossus straight out of the Team Ico game. He's big, he's menacing, and from the citizen's comments this isn't the first time they've seen him. However the usually high voice is too much for Luffy and Zoro as the threatening tension is broken by the laughter of the Straw Hat captain. The episode concludes with Luffy and Law getting crushed by the enormous fist of Pica as Zoro is blasted away by the shock wave. My predictions for next time is; Luffy became a balloon so absorbed the impact, he punched the fist to break it, or Law uses room somehow in the nick of time and saves them both. If 683 episodes of One Piece has taught me anything, it's that anything is possible within some degrees of reason. Probably.  
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Rumble in Dressrosa
It seems wherever the Straw Hats go, there will always be chaos. It's pretty rare for them to land on an island, wait peacefully for the log pose to adjust then carry on without getting into an 8 episode fight. I'm ...

Annotated Anime: One Piece 682

Feb 22 // Anthony Redgrave
The Operation SOP members begin to ascend to the surface but Robin notices the Koala and Sabo separate from the rest of the group. The revolutionary army officers still have a job to do and Koala is determined to get to bottom of the arms being smuggled. She finds what she is looking but encounters some pirates wanting to destroy the evidence amidst the chaos. Turns out she is far capable than the likes of Nami as she dispatches them with what looks like Fishman Karate. Apparently humans can learn this once thought Fishman exclusive fighting style.  Zoro and Law, being carried by Luffy finally hit the ground after a reckless leap but land in the middle of Doflamingo's forces. They face all of Franky's previous foes; Dellinger, Senior Pink, and Machvise. After a brief scuffle our heroes continue on their way with Law still in sea-prism cuffs. I've always wondered why Zoro didn't take the initiative to cut them off? I'm sure it's possible considering his power level right now.But their on foot journey doesn't last long as they face the blind admiral Issho. I'm anticipating an epic sword fight against Issho for Zoro's major fight in this arc. But I could be mistaken and they could just run past him due to external circumstances. Finally, Franky continues en route to towards the SMILE factory with a wicked grin at finally being able to destroy something. I often thought that Franky's frame and body type would make him easily identifiable for bounty hunters, but apparently pulling a shirt over your head is the perfect disguise.  Only in One Piece. Only in One Piece. 
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Straw Hats to save the day!
Ahoy there Japanator! Ensign Redgrave reporting for duty. I'll be taking over the SS. Annotated Anime for One Piece so I hope you're ready.  From last we left our heroes, the devious Doflamingo had started the hunger gam...

One Piece Pirate Warriors photo
One Piece Pirate Warriors

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 character vids flame fists and rumble balls

I'm Gonna be King of Pirate Warriors!
Feb 21
// Anthony Redgrave
Infusing One Piece with the hack and slash gameplay of Dynasty Warriors may not be my first choice when making a One Piece game, but it has certainly been successful enough to warrant a third sequel. One Piece: Pirate Warrio...
One-Piece photo

Special One-Piece Chopper film receives new animation

Bring the tissues
Dec 22
// Hiroko Yamamura
The now classic One Piece story arc of when the crew links up with Dr. Tony Tony Chopper will have new animation to celebrate the show's 15th anniversary. The tear-jerking film will on December 31st in Japan, providing a perfect way for anime fans to ring in the new year. One Piece: The Movie: Fuyu ni Saku, Kiseki no Sakura is the perfect treat for all chopper fans.
One Piece photo
One Piece

Watch One Piece's creator doodle, and get advice from Zoro

Oda takes on the internet
Nov 12
// Josh Tolentino
If you've got a property as popular as One Piece floating around, it's a good idea to give it a place to weigh anchor in the unfriendly seas of the internet. I'm sure that's what Eiichiro Oda and company were thinking wh...
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...
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A Daily Dose of Music: AAA

One more piece
Jun 11
// Hiroko Yamamura
There's a few things in anime that you can always count on. Son Goku ages slower than any living being in the universe, people will forever mispronounce Kaneda, and One Piece will bring the heat with their musical offerings....
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...
One Piece photo
One Piece

One Piece crosses 310M volumes sold

Oda celebrates with tonsil surgury
May 29
// Pedro Cortes
BREAKING NEWS: One Piece is pretty damn popular. Well, that might not be so breaking. It's been at the top of the shonen game for years, and now we have some numbers to back that up. With the 74th (!) volume selling four mil...
Merchandise photo

Eva, One Piece watches let you nerd out in style

Style will cost you a pretty penny
May 14
// Pedro Cortes
Two separate companies are releasing watches based off two extremely popular franchises: Neon Genesis Evangelion and One Piece. On the robotic end of the spectrum, GaGa Milano's watch has a leather strap and EVA 01's black, p...
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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...

Shonen Showdown: April 26, 2014

Apr 26 // Josh Tolentino
Anime Chris Walden Hunter x Hunter Episode 126 It's kind of a shame that we don't get to see Netero using his bodhisattva ability against any opponents before the King, because it's really hard to gauge just how strong it is. I mean, I'm pretty sure it'd annihilate most opponents and that the King is an exception, but I think I'd like to have seen one of the chimera ant commanders try to fight him while he was meditating in the middle of nowhere before this fight. That way we'd get a true sense of just how tough the King is. The battle seems very one-sided, with Netero not allowing the King to land a blow, but all of those Gungi games with Komugi seem to be helping him form a strategy while this is happening. Several episodes ago when the King is just starting to learn Gungi, the narrator mentioned that it would be Komugi that great affects the upcoming battle. Obviously she hasn't directly influenced it, at least not yet, but the King has definitely changed because of her. It's hard to say what the battle would have been like without Komugi's involvement, because the King would still have been tough as nails to inflict damage upon, but I find it hard to believe that he'd formulate strategies in the same way, even with ample time to do so. The King calculates the exact moment he is able to strike, taking Netero's leg. This is pretty much the beginning of the end, as now the King is aware that there is a viable strategy, and considering that Netero isn't consciously making biased decisions, it's going to happen again. And it does. The King takes one of Netero's arms, perhaps on the assumption that it would put him out of the fight, what with Netero seemingly having to place his hands together in order to launch an attack. While this is not the case, it does force him to use his strongest attack, the so-called Zero Hand, using a Buddha to creep up behind the King that fires a giant laser out of his face. By the looks of it, this laser seems to be fuelled by some kind of life force, because in the aftermath we see Netero looking like he's aged a good fifty years. Even his wounds have reopened, presumably because he no longer has the strength to force them closed. Now, I think there have been mixed opinions on the conclusion of this fight. Is it cheap that Netero stops his own heart, triggering an explosion due to a bomb that was presumably concealed within his own body? In my opinion, no, it wasn't. In fact, I think it's the perfect way for this fight to have ended. The King calls out his own bloodline and evolutionary abilities at the end of this fight, saying that he was not alone in reaching his position of King, and the strength that comes with it. It's this statement that makes it perfect, as the King, now known by his name of Meruem, disregards the evolution of the human species. Netero was also the product of thousands of years of evolution, both in his appearance and ability, as well as scientific achievement. The fact that we can produce technology such as explosives is proof of how far we've come, and so it is the perfect way for this clash of species to come to an end. Judging by the preview, we're in for a fun episode on Tuesday. Something that still bothers me is Meruem's lack of using a nen ability, and for that reason I believe he's not dead, even if he's not in any shape to fight after this explosion. It's hard to tell how strong this bomb is in comparison to the Buddha beam, after all. [Hunt for this show on Crunchyroll!]   Josh Tolentino Naruto Shippuden episode 360 As Kakashi's story closes in on the actual events of Naruto we're seeing  a more granular examination of his character. Now that he's out of the ANBU, gone is the true "ninja-ness" of the affair, which is disappointing, but inevitable. He's a teacher now, after all. That's not the end of it, though, as we see how Kakashi earned his formidable reputation, feared by all as the kind of Jonin Leader that sends everyone back to the Academy. That's how Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke saw him, and today's episode highlights why. In a way, it also explains why you really don't want to get a teacher that's into self-loathing.  Y'see, if they hate themselves for, say, indirectly leading his two best friends to their deaths, they tend to project onto you in an attempt to keep you from making the same mistakes. Them working out their PTSD means tough times for your unfortunate butt. But Kakashi wasn't always a hard-ass, so the episode takes care to show how his tough love does produce some positive results, though at the same time a favorable contrast to Guy's method is also drawn, showing that everyone's got a style, and the dedication eventually shines through. It's a nice moment, though I'd have liked to see how characters like Asuma and Kurenai trained their squads of Genin to get the full spread. Next week, Kakashi begins preparing for the biggest task of his life: Training the protagonists.   Pedro Cortes One Piece Episode 640 &641   As is normal for the start of a One Piece arc, the Strawhats split up to have their own adventures. It makes for some difficulties in pace management, as trying to juggle all these stories can be a pain. The issues for the next ten episodes or so will be bouncing between the colosseum and the rest of the crew. With Luffy’s block about to start, I expect there’ll be most of an episode spent getting the action completed, followed by cutaways for a few weeks. Most of these episodes is spent introducing the Tontatta, or the “fairies” of Dressrosa, both on Green Bit and the main island proper. You know that they’ll feature heavily in the future, as their grudge with the Don Quixote is pretty hefty.   Sanji also gets some heavy lifting, as he deals with Violet’s betrayal. We’ve always known his soft spot with women, but actually having it pan out is a surprise. It also adds another possible wrinkle into the inner workings of the Don Quixote family. It’s also surprising to see just how deep the Strawhats have fallen into Doflamingo’s trap. With her help, Sanji should be able to start getting the rest of the crew out of trouble. Well, everybody but Law. I think he’s in for some trouble.  Also, I think the Tontatta just said that Robin doesn’t wear underwear. Oh my.   Manga Pedro Cortes One Piece Chapter 744 - 745   These chapters waste no time with the awesome stuff. First and foremost, Sabo grabs the Mera-Mera Fruit and eats it, inheriting Ace’s fire powers. Second, we actually see him out of the Lucy outfit and…well, he looks like you’d expect, just older. Oh, and Koala comes back, which pleases me greatly. I’m hoping we see more out of her. Second, the legend of Usopp continues. The more this guy gets worshiped, the harder I laugh. The freed pirates cheer their savior, as he’s being held up by a giant.  Usopp’s reaction? The wounded sniper just wants to be put down, only the words he barely gets out makes him look even more awesome to the assembled masses. Such is the legend of Usopp.   The real trouble starts when Pika appears and grabs Doflamingo’s body. The separated head starts talking about activating the ‘birdcage.’ No, he’s not talking about showing the citizens of Dressrosa the famous Robin Williams and Nathan Lane flick of the same name, he’s talking about activating a technique that forces the citizens of Dressrosa to kill Doflamingo, kill one of his enemies or face death themselves. To make it even more amusing, Pika pulls the island and factory up into the air, further away from the heroes. I think this firmly establishes the beginning of the third act.  I’m loving this arc so far. Everything since the timeskip has been leading to this confrontation with Doflamingo. He’s surpassed Crocodile in terms of sheer dickery, as his manipulation of the island and the removal of the royal family is beyond even what the sand guy did in Alabasta. On top of that, Doflamingo is a bloody genius, so this should make things even more difficult to settle.  It’s a good time to be One Piece fan, that’s for sure.   Josh Tolentino Naruto chapter 674 Finally. Both heroes are now on the field, and Madara's pressed. Oh sure, he was pressed when Guy was practically killing himself to get a hit in, but now we're actually tasting some desperation in the final boss' actions. Of course, if I was fighting two guys, one with black lightning and the other able to summon up any flavor of Rasengan he likes, I'd be pretty worried, too. Plus, Sasuke's got a Rinnegan, now, and can read Madara's big secret: That there's another Madara flitting around, invisibly blocking and absorbing the worst attacks. It's yet another pluck on the harp of "Duality", since Madara's "Limbo" attack splits himself and his shadow, ensuring practical invulnerability to anyone that doesn't have a Rinnegan. That's done with, now, and the Big Bad is sweating. Enough to actually cut and run in an attempt to complete his Rinnegan set. Of course, doing that involves poking the crap out of Kakashi's Sharingan and teleporting himself into Obito's space to, y'know, dig out that left eye and murder Sakura. If there were a good time for heroic intervention, now would be it.   Bleach chapter 578 Kenpachi is a badass. Is there really anything else left to say? His sword's even bigger, and his power level is so crazy that a dude whose imagination is theoretically unlimited can't even imagine how strong he is. Of course, said dude kind of fails at being imaginative, so that might count as a handicap of sorts, but suffice it to say that Kenpachi is a badass.  In fact, he's so much of a badass that young Glemy literally cannot handle imagining what it's like to be as strong as Kenpachi is. And that's how he dies. He imagines being as strong as Kenpachi, and basically collapses under his own power. It's a twist on how Touma beat Areolus Izzard from A Certain Magical Index, but they work on basically the same principle: To defeat someone whose thoughts can be made into reality, force them to think of themselves being beaten - or force them to think of something they can't beat. Y'know, like asking a robot what love is.  Heh, that would've been a cool way to beat Glemy: Force him to contemplate the nature of love. Or this: [embed]32410:3876:0[/embed]
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Pincer attack!
Welcome to Shonen Showdown, the battlin' anime and manga recap that's graduated from Ninja Academy, and is now cleared to use proper dates in its titles! Check out that fully spelled-out glory! In honor of our new author...

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Namco Bandai

Mangaka design new elements for latest One Piece, Naruto games

Also, have some new outfits
Apr 24
// Pedro Cortes
New screens have popped up showing new designs from both One Piece Unlimited World Red and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution. The shots focus on some of the new elements that have been designed by the original...
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One Piece

I will become the Pirate King

I'm sorry, my nakama
Apr 01
// Chris Walden
To the Straw Hat Pirates, My name is Tony Tony Chopper, but most people call me Chopper. I am the doctor aboard the Thousand Sunny, the vessel we have shared for as long as I can remember. Even though I'm a reindeer who ate t...

Shonen Showdown 3-9-2014

Mar 09 // Josh Tolentino
Anime Chris Walden Hunter x Hunter Episode 119 Hell yeah, super saiyan Killua! You know, the brief period at the beginning of the episode where Killua is laying into Menthorpepark might be the most shonen this show has been thus far. Sudden power up that allows him to move at lightning (sorry) speeds, crazy hair and even a ranged weapon. Even the time limit reeks of shonen shows, albeit this is Meleoron and his breath holding rather than a limit on Killua's power. Anyway, this fight was an insane teaser of what's to come, and the fact that Killua was happy to leave him on his own may give us a hint about how powered up Gon is. Awesome fight over, it's time to spend the episode with Octodad. I mentioned a little while ago that I didn't care at all for this little aside from the main fights, but he did a pretty good job selling his situation. He proves to be far smarter than he seems at first, and I think he's confrontation with Killua is the only reason he ever seemed like any other ant. He completely outwits Clawitzer, if you forget the one fumble when he assumed he couldn't break out of the elevator. Ah well, not even I considered that at the end of the last episode! Our time with Ikalgo also raises another point; we've yet to see a chimera ant besides the Elite 4 kill another chimera ant. Meleoron and that one guy who defected early on certainly haven't, and Ikalgo seems to have only killed humans, and even then this was via a host body. He's never killed anyone himself, and he's put in a situation where he has to kill one of his own kind. It's not that surprising that he would hesitate, because really, Clawitzer is just doing what he's told. It's in their nature to obey commands from higher up. Even though it would be of benefit to the humans he is working with, he can't bring himself to kill one of his own.  We're heading back to Morel and his super-exciting stand-off with the bagworm. Looks like we're going to be getting even more familiar shonen scenes, as Pouf seems to be copying Cell from Dragon Ball Z if that episode preview is anything to go by. Hyperbolic Time Chamber anyone? [Hunt for this show on Crunchyroll!]   Pedro Cortes One Piece Episode 634 & 635   This section of the Dressrosa arc is fairly slow, as it has to introduce a ton of characters. We get some more backstory with the extravagant Cavendish, the introduction of the buxom gladiator Rebecca and the proper reveal of Fujitora, the blind Admiral that we met earlier. The only event of note from episode 634 was Fujitora sending out the Marines toward Green Bit, i.e. the island where Law is supposed to handover Caesar to Doflamingo. Well, you could also include Bellamy’s reintroduction, but that’s spread into 635. Episode 635 fares better narratively, as we see more of what’s going on around the island. Law’s team preps to hit up Green Bit, Zoro chases after (and catches!) his sword, Kinemon searches for his samurai buddy, Sanji’s lovely date, Nami’s team protecting the Sunny and we end back at the colosseum. Again, nothing major, but at least we see what else is going on with the other characters. It seems easier on a page to split people up and have them working on different activities, but it comes across as choppy when you watch it on screen. Oh well. At the very least, we get a solid glimpse at Bartolomeo, who’s easily my favorite new character in this arc. Why? well, you’ll have wait until the tournament gets further on to find out. [You can watch One Piece over at Funimation!]   Josh Tolentino Naruto Shippuden episodes 353 and 354 We've got a hot double-banger of Naruto Shippuden this week, for whatever reason, and it makes for good effect, tying off this mini-arc and cementing the current filler season as one primarily concerned with Kakashi and young Yamato (née Kinoe) , with a side order of Danzo and more about when and how Orochimaru got into the position he was in when the core Naruto plot started - namely founding and leading the Hidden Sound village with his squad of freakshow mutant ninjas. Speaking of freakshows, the Iburi clan and their ability to turn into smoke owe it all to Orochimaru, leading to some well-directed (if clearly budget-conscious) fight scenes between Kakashi and Goto, an Iburi clansman and the anime version of Mortal Kombat's Smoke. Kinoe, now calling himself Tenzo, escapes with Yukimi, who can for whatever reason use her power to completely possess people and control their bodies, and she employs it to eat tons of food for free. A girl after my own heart, that one. But things are not meant to be, and a group of ninja that can turn into smoke would be far too convenient for a number of events in the main plot, so Orochimaru makes a deadly return, and acts so utterly evil that it's a hilarious contrast to the reformed Orochimaru we're seeing in the current manga chapters.  After a rather poignant scene with Kinoe literally attempting to catch blowing smoke with his wood (that doesn't sound right somehow), we end more or less back where we started, except for some new humanity injected into Kinoe's character. If I were in charge, I'd have this development somehow pay off when the actual manga checks in with Yamato, who was, last we checked, embedded in a gigantic tree. Will he be, like Anko, another unmourned casualty of the Fourth Great Ninja War?   Manga Josh Tolentino Naruto chapter 667 Today's turning of the tide is brought to you by Izanami! Izanami! The ultimate rehab program! Izanami! You can't get out of it until you're a better person! Literally! And it works, apparently, because Kabuto's seen the light and is focused mainly on healing Sasuke, while Guy, Kakashi, and Minato struggle to hold off Madara while Obito and Sakura get Naruto fixed up.  Perhaps the great draw here is seeing Guy cut loose with all the powers his unique style can conjure up, though I feel it's kind of weak that Madara seems fully aware of Guy's spectrum of abilities, even up to the point that he's aware of Guy's "Seventh Gate" transformation, which boils his sweat so hot it glows like a blue aura. That's something that fatally undermined Kisame's attempts to defend against guy in their final fight, but I was hoping that the Leaf's Blue Beast could come up with something that Madara wouldn't genuinely expect, even with all the "plot armor" a final boss character is equipped with. Of course, the next chapter seems to tease the opening of the Eighth Gate, which as far as we know, is basically a suicide mode. Will Guy join Neji on the memorial plaque ones everything's said and done?   Bleach chapter 571 More and more it feels like these final arcs of Bleach are about scratching persistent itches and addressing longstanding questions or even granting long-held wishes. I mean, look at it. We've seen Komamura finally kick some ass, Renji finally not job like the jobber king he is, and Rukia gets some of what she's due, with a bankai and everything. Heck, look further back and we even see Kenpachi hear something out of his sword! And now we deal with Yachiru. Forever Kenpachi's shoulder ornament and the obligatory "powerful tiny child" of Bleach's hero lineup, Yachiru's never lifted a finger in combat, yet managed to make Second-in-Command of Soul Society's strongest squad. She's gotta have something, and Sternritter "V", Gwenhael of the Vanishing, is the guy who will proof that theory. Of course, Bleach's obligatory jabbering is in store, and apologies to Kubo if this sounds harsh, but dude, we've seen people that can turn invisible before, in other media. IT'S NOT A NEW THING. Wasting half your chapter explaining this freaky old guy's power like it was the most complicated three-phase process in the world is not an efficient use of the reader's time and attention. Sure, I guess there's a twist in there, that his Third-Stage power makes him invisible to your memories as well, but seriously. At least we make a new friend this chapter. Everyone, meet Yachiru Kusajishi's creepy-adorable Shikai, "Sanpo Kenjuu". Now cut that weird dude up thrice!   Pedro Cortes One Piece Chapter 739 & 740 The real ish hits the fan in the Factory. First, Trevor gets incredibly pissed after being tricked and tosses a massive duck toward the central pillar. Strange, but oddly par for the course in One Piece. Trevor proceeds to blow up the little guys, forcing Usopp and Robin to lead the attack on Sugar. However, we find out that the toy soldier that’s been leading this rebellion is Kyros, the legendary gladiator and interestingly enough, Rebecca’s father.  Now it makes sense why everybody wants the toy soldier to be the one who defeats Doflamingo, as it’ll end up being a national matter as opposed to an international incident involving outside pirates. I imagine this is what could’ve happened back at Alabasta, but Crocodile ended up being too powerful for Vivi to deal with on her own. I expect the same thing to happen here, only Law might end up getting dragged into the final encounter. Elsewhere in Dressrosa, Zoro stays behind to fight Pika, which should be a good fight for him. This’ll be a solid challenge for him, unlike his last two major encounters on Fishman Island and Punk Hazard. Luffy and Violet press on and help Kyros out of a jam Gladius. They pull themselves up a floor and they are assisted by the costumed arrival of Kinemon. The samurai dresses up like Doflamingo, which fools Gladius into stopping his pursuit.  Anyway, Robin nearly gets Sugar to swallow the spicy fruit, but gets turned into a toy via one of her limb extensions. It’s interesting to see that working to her detriment for once. Now the only one left to save everybody (the toy soldier, Franky, Luffy, the entire revolution) is Usopp…who chickens out and runs away. Oh, Usopp, I’m disappointed. I’m hoping we’ll see the return of a certain masked hero to help him out of his cowardice.  
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Your face when
Hey there! It's time again for some sweet Shonen Showdown goodness, so put on your happy faces, everyone! Oh, maybe not that happy. OK, please take off your happy face now.  It's an extra full house this week, with ...

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One Piece

One Piece to stream on Crunchyroll

Catch it this Saturday at 6PM!
Mar 01
// Amber Hunt
Like One Piece? If you answered yes, then boy do I have some dandy news for you! Crunchyroll is now going to be streaming the anime on their website. The really long pirate anime will be on Crunchyroll starting this Saturday ...

Review: One Piece: Romance Dawn

Feb 11 // Pedro Cortes
One Piece: Romance Dawn (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: Three RingsPublisher: Namco BandaiRelease Date: February 11, 2014MSRP: $39.99 (Gamestop Exclusive) Romance Dawn is a role-playing game that covers most of One Piece's main story, from the start of Luffy's adventure through the War of the Best at Marineford, minus Skypeia. That's close to 600 chapters of material crammed into one game. That right there should tell you that you'll be spending a lot of time absorbing dialogue and action. Well, just dialogue really. The vast majority of story in the game is told through portraits silently speaking to each other with tinny music playing in the background. Expect to wait dozens of minutes between action sequences when you're in the midst of story-heavy portions. When you're not watching a static screen shaking with implied action, you'll be running around in various themed maps trying to get to the exit. Impeding your progress are enemies walking around, who will instigate battles upon touch. Much like Chrono Trigger, combat takes place on the map. Unlike most RPGs, each round is turn-based while allowing free-movement. Turns are displayed on the side of the screen, similar to Final Fantasy X's battle structure. Characters are encouraged to stay in one of two concentric circles in order to avoid movement and recovery penalties. Character attack options are based off Action Points, which deplete with every attack you perform. Every attack that connects will increase the amount of Technical Points you have banked, which opens up the options for potentially longer, damage-dealing combos. The idea is that you move one of your three party members into a starting position, knock the enemy toward one of your other party members that's supposed to go next, finish them off and knock them off the sides of the level to increase treasure drop rates and get bonus experience at the end of the fight. The problem starts right away with the enemy evasion rate. From the start of the game, enemies will often dodge multiple attacks in a row. This not only keeps them from getting damaged, but it limits the amount of TP you gain and cuts you off from using your stronger attacks. So you're often stuck using a lot of weaker attacks until you luck out and hit enemies enough times so you can use a special attack that does more than 20 points of damage. Every encounter is artificially extended due to imbalances place on you. There's also the issue with spacing. The movement rings are supposed to prevent you from being able to run around the entire screen during a conflict. That's fine, as it has the potential to force you to strategize how to position each member of the Straw Hats during their turn. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the enemies. Aggressors are free of any sort of penalty and are able to attack you from any point on the field with no repercussions. What's the point of being able to knock enemies away if they can just walk right up to you and smash you in the face? This, once again, makes fights last entirely too long. The fights that last the longest are the boss encounters, which are some of the worst I've had to face in an RPG. In One Piece, each arc eventually devolves into each Straw Hat being forced to battle an enemy on their own. In Romance Dawn, this means that the character has to fight a one-on-one turn-based battle with an enemy that cannot be stunned and can hit you from any point on the field. You, on the other hand, are limited in healing items and abilities. Even if you are joined by another teammate, you are usually still outnumbered and have to desperately hope that you can dodge the bosses attacks. This is exacerbated by your tiny party. There are nine Straw Hats and only three spots in your active party. After the third area, you'll almost always have somebody sitting out on the sidelines. Anybody not currently with you doesn't gain experience, so if you aren't constantly switching out your party members, you might reach a point in the game where you can't continue. I had a fight with Usopp and Chopper that lasted over an hour because I hadn't had much of a chance to level either one of them and only survived because I stockpiled a ton of healing items. Outside of the busted combat and long-winded story progression, you'll occasionally be forced into short quicktime events. It turns into an endless runner, with Luffy hauling ass through whatever locale he's currently in. You'll have to hit Y or A to avoid fighting people in your path and you'll have to hit another button to either jump over branches or punch through walls. Completing levels will punt you out to the world map, where you can select new story segments or generic locations to grind out levels. There's also an item synthesis system, but there's little it does to add to the game besides occasionally upgrade the strength of your equipment. You might get a slight bonus to your stats and be able to deal some extra bonus damage, but it didn't really do much to help me at all. The ability upgrades are what will make you life somewhat easier. Increasing the level of your special attacks will allow you to do more damage and increase your combo chain when maxed out. The problem still remains that if you can't connect with your attacks, you won't be able to use these nifty moves.  Romance Dawn is one of the few 3DS games where 3D is not an option, which is fine by me. Everything runs fairly smooth, so if making any sort of adjustments into three dimensions would have ruined it, it's better for it to stay flat. Besides that, the graphics are nice and bright, though the maps you run through are pretty generic and uninspired. As previously mentioned, the music is pretty awful, lacking any sort of personality. One highlight is that all the original Japanese voices were kept. Instead of dubbing it, the cutscenes are subtitled and the random grunting and battle jabber is in the original language. While it was probably done more as a cost-saving measure, I always love hearing the original voices at work. It made the hours of grinding levels somewhat less annoying. So is there anything of merit in this package? Well, there is about 30 minutes worth of reanimated footage from early in the series. You'll get to see everybody's dynamic crying moment redone and looking quite nice. Characters have their modern designs in older stories, which can be jarring if you're used to the old stuff. The world map looks nice, giving a bird's-eye view of the world of One Piece. The combat is occasionally fun, giving you hope that maybe, just maybe, things will get better. Sadly, those moments are few and far between. You'll spend most of the time wondering how every enemy in the game gained the ability to read your thoughts and dodge your attacks. I spent most of my time with Romance Dawn simultaneously angry and sad. Angry because this game is so thoroughly the antithesis of fun and sad because it sometimes shows glimmers of new ideas. Even One Piece mega-fans will be hard pressed to find anything good in this disaster. 3 -- Poor -- 3s went wrong somewhere along the line. The original idea might have promise, but in practice the game has failed. Threatens to be interesting sometimes, but rarely.
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Short-lived romance
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 stu...

Shonen Showdown 1-25-2014

Jan 25 // Josh Tolentino
Anime Chris Walden Hunter x Hunter Episode 112 & 113 You know, I'd make a terrible hunter. While everything is moving in slow motion and Shoot is crapping himself over the hentai-genre's worst nightmare, everyone was thinking about whether the Dragon Dive attack had killed Knuckle, and if he'd even reappear if that were to happen. Seriously, that didn't even occur to me. I was too busy appreciating just how awesome the Knuckle and Meleoron combo is. Can...can we get a Hunter x Hunter fighting game? Please? Back on topic. Knowing of Knuckle's prior experience and seeing his shock at just how strong Devilman is really puts this fight into perspective. It's going to get very interesting when Meleoron has to take a breath, especially with all those eyes watching. It was also really neat hearing Shoot's internal monologue on Gon, as his mere running up the stairs didn't seem like such a big deal until he explained the situation in detail. Gon's fighting mentality, likely a bloodlust urging him to tear Neferpitou limb from limb, forces Shoot to open his eyes and confront this fight as a new man. Skipping to the next episode, we see this causes him to start zooming around on one of his floating fists, even though he's never done it before and has a busted leg, just to distract Devilman long enough to give Morel his pipe back. I wasn't a massive fan of Shoot before, but his confidence and the completely unnecessary covering of an eye has certainly made me warm to him! Well, if you were still wondering what kind of influence Komugi was going to have on the fight, we now know. It seems like she was struck by one of the Dragon Dive...things, and she's not looking too good. It's hard to tell if she died to that attack or if she's just severely injured, and I think the answer to this will alter this next fight greatly. Just what would happen if Gon's upcoming fight with Pitou comes at the cost of Komugi's life because Pitou can't multi-task? If she's already dead, then I can fully expect the King to be completely unamused, and he'll stop at nothing to destroy Netero and Zeno. What did make me curious was Pitou's sudden tearing up when ordered to heal Komugi. Perhaps a little bit of human emotion cropping up from a past life? Frustration at being told not to fight?  Netero's decision to allow the two chimera ants to start care for Komugi was an honourable one, and quite correctly described as something they had to do to keep their cause. Pitou summoning Dr Blythe managed to freeze the two in place while the King strode past them without hesitating, but why? The show made it seem like Dr Blythe was the reason for this, but was it fear of the ability or of Pitou's sheer strength? It may also be the sheer realisation of what they've got themselves into, because they know that the King is going to be several times as strong as any of the royal guard. It's hard to say, especially when Netero batted Pitou away so effortlessly not so long ago. Ikalgo is pretty much doomed. Just going to put that out there. The wolf-man has pretty much figured out that something is wrong with how he could have got past Killua without being attacked, and considering this guy seems like a pretty tough customer, I don't think he'll be let off without some questioning. In Ikalgo's favour, he does have knowledge of the chimera ants and their names, so he'll certainly seem like the real Flutter, and he also has some combat ability, but enough to fight or get away from the wolf? I'm not so sure.  To round off the two episodes, we have Morel preparing his fight against a very emotional Pouf. Seriously, that butterfly has more than a few screws loose, and his obsession with the King is going to get him killed. I'm not sure that spraying around dust, whatever its properties are, will be enough to take down Morel, but I do think we'll have quite a good fight on our hands. If Pouf has the ability to change abilities, that's got to make for a great match-up, right? Oh yeah, assuming that the show doesn't crawl in slow motion for all of the next episode, we might see enough for Gon to meet with Neferpitou. Exciting! [Hunt for this show on Crunchyroll!]   Pedro Cortes One Piece Episode 628 & 629 Luffy and Law put this awful filler arc to rest by plugging up their ears. Yep, that’s all it took to beat this chump. With that garbage tossed away, we go back into the proper story. The crew discovers that Doflamingo has abdicated his throne on Dressrosa, as well as his position as one of the Warlords. Also, Scratchman Apoo, Basil Hawkins and Eustass Kidd have formed a alliance, similar to the one Law and Luffy put together.  Understandably , the entire world is pretty surprised with the news. While arms dealers, Marine leaders and old faces reel, Law calls Doflamingo and irons out the Caesar trade-off.  However, Doflamingo has something up his sleeve: the Flare-Flare Devil Fruit. What better way to manipulate Luffy than put his late-brother’s Devil Fruit as the prize in a coliseum.  However, none of that is as important as the new opening! After two whole arcs of We Go, we finally get something new with Wake Up. The song is appropriately upbeat and has several quick cameos of characters we’ll be seeing soon enough. My favorite part? The continued support of my theory that Robin just doesn’t like underwear. Seriously, that sarong is damn near indecent!   Josh Tolentino Naruto Shippuden episodes 346 and 347 It's a double-whammy this week as Naruto Shippuden does the unlikely and deliver some genuinely engaging filler content. Yep, good filler! It's exactly the kind of filler you want: Content that fleshes out the world or plot you're invested in while revealing a few new details that enrich your impression of the characters. On the "fleshing out the world and plot" front, we get a few more lingering questions about Obito and Madara's relationship answered, like revelations clarifying just when Madara awakened his Rinnegan, and just what happened when Obito, posing as Madara, contacted Akatsuki for the first time. I've said it several times before, but episodes like this are why anime adaptations of stories you've already read can be valuable: they clue you in to details you might have missed the first time around. But aside from this, perhaps the most surprising developments from this round of filler is in character work, particularly for the original Akatsuki trio of Yahiko, Konan, and Nagato. We've already seen the beginnings of their stories, as told in flashback by Jiraiya, but these episodes (and next week's, from the looks of things) cover Akatsuki's early days as a vigilante group, defending the innocent against marauding ninja - but refusing as much as possible to kill, and negotiating "at any cost" (Yahiko's words).  Sure, we had the idea that Akatsuki was originally peaceful until Yahiko was killed by Hanzo (the Hidden Rain Village's leader), but the new details here reveal a new side to the guy we all thought was just a villain wearing a scuba mask: It turns out that he liked Akatsuki too, and was a dedicated pacifist. The notion that Hanzo was at the end a pacifist runs surprisingly counter to our previous impressions of him, as the legendary ninja that humiliated the Leaf Sannin and gave Mifune his scare and murdered Nagato and Konan's best friend. Of course, the heel conversion turns out to have been caused at least in part by Danzo, who lied about Akatsuki's motives to turn Hanzo against the youths, all for the sake of advancing the Leaf's position. Real dick, that Danzo.   Manga Pedro Cortes One Piece Chapter 734 & 735    The theme from these two chapters is that Doflamingo has no idea what the hell is going on. The cocky bastard pulls off a wondrously arrogant villain monologue that ranks up in the top 3 villain speeches in One Piece’s run. The thing is, he’s so utterly wrong. He mocks Riku about Viola, Rebecca, and the Strawhats’s mad plan to take him out. However, we all know that Luffy isn’t stuck in the colosseum, Franky is kicking ass outside of the Toy Factory, Robin and Usopp are already in the basement and Viola is about to let in Luffy, Zoro and Kinemon into the royal palace. Oh, and then Fujitora comes in and tells Doflamingo that his ultimate goal is to disband the Warlords. There’s no way this can end well for the feathered pirate, but who knows with that guy. Besides Doflamingo being off the mark, Rebecca ends up winning the final block by, what else, being really good at defending. It seems that Cavendish has a murderous alternate personality named Hakuba that flares up whenever he goes to sleep and what would you know, the guy has a narcoleptic fit during the match. However, Hakuba couldn’t penetrate Rebecca’s iron guard. Good thing too, because with her ridiculous armor, she would’ve been cut in half. There isn’t much of a pause, as the next chapter will start the final fight. Personally, I’m guessing that Lucy/Sabo will be coming out on top, if just so that Luffy’s other brother can get the Flare-Flare Fruit.   Josh Tolentino Naruto chapter 662 The good guys have officially hit rock-bottom. The Tailed Beasts have all been sucked into the Gedo statue, Madara is still rampaging, someone dressed up in Tobi's original outfit and spouting Zetsu's curiosity about defecation is menacing the army (which is completely out of chakra), and the only intact undead Kage left is the Third. Oh, and did I mention that both Naruto and Sasuke are on the verge of death? The former is dying just like drained Jinchuriki do (Gaara was an exception and Bee was sucked into the statue alongside the Eight-Tails), and the latter just had a blade shoved through his heart. If there was ever a time for Shukaku and the Nine-Tails' secret instructions to Gaara to kick in, or for Orochimaru to finally join the battle, or Kakashi and Minato and Obito to act, now would be it, because things don't look like they can get any worse. But who cares about all that drivel, look at this thing above! Masashi Kishimoto drew some Naruto-themed fanart of Elysium, the Neil Blomkamp sci-fi movie that was known mainly for the cool robotic exoskeleton Matt Damon wore for much of the film. The above piece is exactly that, plus a ninja bit or two. Cool stuff!   Bleach chapter 565 This week Bleach slathers on another layer of backstory that I'm not entirely convinced was necessary, seeing as it ends up raising more questions than answers. We're treated to what basically amounts to the Quincy creation myth, which asserts that the Quincy King, aka Vandenreich leader Ywach, was once born as a completely disabled, yet lucid baby, possessed of the power to "lend out" bits of his soul to help people heal their ills. The gift caused ancient humans to worship him as a god (hence the "Ywach" name and thinly veiled allusions of Christianity). Also shown is the root of the Sternritter's abilities: They're specially chosen by Ywach himself and drink his blood to get their powers, via a special "Letter" inscribed onto their soul.That includes the latest Sternritter "A", Uryuu Ishida, whom Haschwalth isn't exactly trusting of.  Ywach's weird gift and ability to bestow powers lies at the core of the assertion that he's the "Father" of everyone with Quincy blood, up to and including Ichigo's mother, and possibly Ichigo himself. Of course, no gift given by a dude with such epic mutton chops comes without a catch, and the catch is kind of a doozy. As revealed, when Ywach heals or grants others powers, he gets to take it all back whenever he feels like it, or rather, gains all the power and experience of anyone he's "touched" when they die. Think a leech version of the Highlander central conflict and you've got it. This sort of explains the war, to an extent, as unless Ywach gets his soul bits back (with interest), he regresses to the same sense-deprived state he was born in. Not cool, which is why he's starting a war with Soul Society to gather more power and get all vampiric about things.
Shonen Showdown photo
An unexpected reference
Hello and welcome to the latest installement of Shonen Showdown, your weekly recap of the best in battle anime and manga! We've got the full cast in this week, with sweet double-dose recaps of One Piece, Naruto, and Hunt...

One Piece news photo
One Piece news

Funimation snags rights for One Piece, season 6

No surprises here
Jan 18
// Tim Sheehy
Earlier today, Funimation announced that they've acquired the rights for home video distribution of One Piece, season 6. One Piece, of course, remains super popular with fans and Funimation seems to be doing a fantastic job w...
Music photo

One Piece's fifth opening gets a glorious 8-bit remix

Me-gaane devours the 8-bit Devil Fruit!
Nov 30
// Salvador GRodiles
If you've been in the mood to listen to a different take on some of your favorite shonen anime opening themes, Me-gaane has remixed a series of songs based off of various anime adaptions of Weekly Shonen Jump's man...
One Piece NYT photo
One Piece NYT

Luffy gets full page NY Times ad, Viz retrospective

300M copies sold celebrated through print ads
Nov 21
// Jeff Chuang
In 2013 terms, newspapers as a medium is passé and becoming a tradition of the past. But it's always really neat to see a crazy stunt pulled off when some giant anime or manga character take up a full page of it, ...
One Piece photo
One Piece

One Piece: Romance Dawn gets US release date

Europe is getting it first-- wait, what?
Nov 21
// Karen Mead
I've been looking for a reason to buy a 3DS and I may have finally found one: One Piece: Romance Dawn, the One Piece RPG, is coming to the Americas on February 11. A European release date of November 29 was previously announc...

Review: One Piece Movie 10: Strong World

Nov 14 // Pedro Cortes
One Piece Movie 10: Strong World [BD/DVD]Studio: Toei AnimationLicensed by FUNimationRelease Date: Nov. 19, 2013MSRP: $34.98 [Amazon | RightStuf] Set after the Thriller Bark arc, the Straw Hats are forced to make their way back to East Blue in response to violent attacks and villages disappearing. Right before the turn their sails, Luffy and crew meet Gold Lion Shiki, an old pirate with the ability to affect the gravity of objects. First offering his assistance in moving the Straw Hats toward East Blue, he kidnaps Nami for her superior navigating skills and scatters the group across several floating islands. With Nami in his hands and everybody scattered, Luffy has to get everybody back together to fight Shiki, who has quite a history with some pretty powerful people. Left to the whims of weekly shonen show budgets, One Piece's animation quality usually varies between decent to butt, depending on how deep into an arc they are. Usually, action scenes get the most attention while dialogue-heavy sections look comparatively rough. That’s not a problem here-- Strong World looks great. Characters rarely, if ever, go wildly off-model. The action is more complex than it usually is, featuring extensively animated movement that you usually wouldn’t see. The colors pop, thanks to the power of HD animation. It’s clear that Strong World had a beastly budget and it shows. The story is also better than your normal movie fare. Oda’s involvement means that everything just about makes sense in this movie. One of the few things that sticks out is the existence of Shiki, who really should have come up by now in the series proper. I mean, he is a contemporary of Gol. D Roger, who escaped Marine prison by chopping off his legs and floating away. That’s a story that would’ve at least been mentioned in passing, don't you think? Despite that, Shiki himself fits into Oda’s strange universe just fine. The floating islands remind me of sections of Skypeia, but in a good way. Having different ecosystems on each island keeps the visuals varied and each character on their toes. The Japanese voice cast is excellent, as always. These guys and gals have been delivering solid performances with these characters for years. It's a given that even the worst of the One Piece movies is salvaged by hearing Mayumi Tanaka’s Luffy, Kazuya Nakai’s Zoro, etc. What I was more curious about was the English dub. Having only seen a few episodes in English, I knew that the crew that FUNimation pulled together for One Piece was pretty damn good. In fact, it’s one of the best dubs out there, period. With Strong World, these guys did a fantastic dub that’s on par with the superb Japanese cast. Of particular note is Ian Sinclair as Brook, who absolutely nails the musical skeleton’s vocal patterns, cadence and accent. I couldn’t ask for a better performance for a character I like so much. I hope that they bring him back when the US releases get to Thriller Bark. My only criticism is that there are very few extras in the package. Besides an introduction to Brook filmed with Sinclair and several staff members, you’ve got the US trailer for Strong World and the usual assortment of trailers for other FUNimation products; it's a pretty bare-bones package. Considering that we’re getting Strong World as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for a decent price though, I’m not complaining too much. Fans of One Piece absolutely need to get this movie. While it doesn’t affect canon in any way, it’s a fantastic film that can fit into the universe. It looks great, the fights are awesome, both language tracks feature superlative performances, it’s the One Piece movie that could only be done under the gaze of Oda. Strong World is far and away the best of the One Piece movies and is one of the best films in any shonen franchise. Get this movie.   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.
One Piece photo
Solid Gold
Most long-running shonen franchises have theatrical releases to supplement their ongoing stories. Dragon Ball has 18 flicks between the original and Dragon Ball Z, Naruto has nine movies, Bleach has four and so on. Being...

Crunchyroll photo

Crunchyroll to simulcast One Piece this week

Fall season starts Saturday.
Nov 01
// Tim Sheehy
Fans looking for their One Piece-fix will have to look no further than Crunchyroll, as the streaming service is set to pick up the latest season of the on-going series starting Saturday, November 2nd. Episode #619 -- yea...

Shonen Showdown 10-19-2013

Oct 19 // Josh Tolentino
Anime Chris Walden Hunter x Hunter Episode 100 I feel legitimately bad for Shoot and Knuckle, going through all that trouble to set up an ambush only for Cheetu to veer off course and subsequently get this power-up they desperately didn't want him to get. It's not like they knew, but I'd have at least thought that someone would have had their eyes in the sky. That said, the...cicada? I think he's a cicada. Anyway, he's doing a great job of being super freaking obvious, when we already know that he doesn't need to be there. I guess it's a distraction, to make people think that it's his own eyes that are seeing through cover. Killua has also been outed by the flying surveillance camera, and while he doesn't have too much trouble with the minions, he does encounter a bit of a flea problem. Folks, let us take a step back for a minute and just appreciate how freaking awesome the concept of the flea-shooter is. It's a bit of a shame we didn't get to see the guy alive (or perhaps he was alive, just being controlled?) because maaaan he was cool. It also sounded a lot like Sugita Tomokazu voiced him, so bonus points there. Was great seeing Killua's new "don't give a damn" attitude now that he's free of his brothers' mind control chip or whatever that was, diving straight after the flea and delivering a killing blow. Seriously though, who'd have thought there was a parasite in that guy, let alone an octopus parasite? Something tells me that he'll be sticking around for a while, so maybe Killua will become a host? I'm thinking in the Nail-Picollo sense, as I don't think that guy could control biri biri as he is. Meanwhile in the desert, Gon finally gets to see that he's been stalked by a Kecleon. Not wanting such a sub-par monster that doesn't even have a mega-evolution, he attempts to fight it simply for experience points. However, after a brief exchange it seems Gon was hit with a Swagger and ended up so confused that he immediately believe what the Kecleon was saying. This isn't really new for the plucky kid, but a little suspect if you ask me. Gon should be okay though, he knows a few fighting moves. [Hunt for this show on Crunchyroll!]   Pedro Cortes One Piece Episode 613-616   We got a couple of solid fights in the last few weeks. For one, Tashigi and Monet face off against each other. Tashigi is out of her element for most of the fight, leading Zoro to step in and cut Monet in half, ending the fight. Thing is, he didn't use Haki, so Monet isn't dead. However, his sheer strength and presence terrifies Monet to the point where she can't reconstitute herself. Smoker and Vergo's fight also comes to a conclusion, after a drawn out clash of Hakis. Smoker outsmarts Vergo, grabs Law's heart and sneaks it over to the pirate. One incredible slash later and Vergo is cut in half, along with most of Caesar's lab and mountain.   In terms of story beats, Mocha swallows all the Candy to keep it out of the hands of the rest of the kids. That much poison causes her to collapse and vomit blood, momentarily stopping the rampaging kids and giving Sanji and the G5 Marines enough time to subude them. Chopper grabs a couple of Marines and gets them to haul Mocha off to one of the nearby clinics so he can try and save her. Brownbeard also has some strong scenes, as he confronts Caesar for his actions against his crew. Caesar cuts off Brownbeard's air and injects him with a muscle relaxant, taunting him as he reveals he lead Brownbeard's crew to their deaths. Caesar orders his subordinates to shoot Brownbeard and is about to blow up the gator-legged pirate, when Luffy arrives and starts the final encounter with a Haki fist to the face. Caesar also reveals that the SAD is designed to create artificial Devil Fruits, in order to bolster the ranks of one of the Four Emperors.   With the start of Luffy's fight, the end of this arc is in sight. While some of the fights have been good, I'll be happy to be done. Caesar is such a bastard that watching his stupid face laughing is aggravating. I suppose there's something to say for the cathartic release of Luffy's fists, but man, I REALLY can't stand the guy. I will say that I'm impressed that the standout fight so far this arc doesn't involve a Strawhat. The Smoker/Vergo fight looked great and had some great physicality to it. Seeing to solid Haki users really duke it out was impressive, especially with Vergo's proficiency. The fact that Smoker outsmarted the guy was great. Seeing Law finally put an end to Vergo's ramping dickery was pretty satisfying too. See, THAT'S how you make a jerky villain and not have your viewers annoyed with their presence.   Manga Pedro Cortes One Piece Chapter 722-725    The last month has also been eventful for the manga. Let's do a quick recap: 1. The World Government was created by 19 royal families, whose descendants are the Celestial Dragons 2. The Don Quixote family was one of those families, making Doflamingo a former Celestial Dragon, thus explaining how he's been able to manipulate power so easily. 3. Doflamingo's fruit power involves manipulating string, thus explaining how he can "web swing" his way across the water. 4. Law has some sort of beef with Doflamingo, which is why he's been manipulating everybody for his own ends.   It really reframes everything that Law has done since he was introduced back in Shabaody. If he's been marking Luffy as a potential ally to take down Doflamingo, then we know why he saved him back at Marineford. It's a helluva long tail that Oda has laid down, but the entire second half has involved payoffs from as far back as Arlong Park. I'm loving it.  As for everybody else, one team of Strawhats is preparing to attack the Toy Factory, the other is watching Luffy's back at the Coliseum and the last group is on the Sunny with Caesar. Speaking of Luffy and the Coliseum, our intrepid captain is watching Rebecca make her stand against the rest of Block D. Back in the Coliseum, the fighters who survived the previous battle royals go to treat their wounds, only to get dropped down into a shaft into what I presume is the toy factory. Oh boy, that's going to get crazy whenever the Strawhats get there. It's going to get quite violent when they get out.   Josh Tolentino Naruto chapter 651 And that's it! Obito is beaten! After pulling a gigantic double-helix sword out of his butt, Obito suffers the symbolic and thematically consistent defeat he's had coming for the past several months. Naturally. Seeing Naruto and Sasuke combine their powers and form a recreation of Madara's "armored" Nine-Tails was a definite symbolic treat, but the real kicker is when Naruto calls in his friends, dressing them in his Nine-Tails mode "coat" and having them mold Rasengan balls on each of the Nine-Tails' tails. Yes, dear readers -  Hinata, Choji, Ino, Sai, Shikamaru, Kiba, Tenten, Lee, and Shino all get to support Naruto in his rise to glory, just as they always have, with Sakura standing on the sidelines. That said, it's suspiciously convenient that Naruto has exactly as many friends as is needed to ride his tails. Except he would have had TEN friends if Neji were still alive! Please don't tell me this is the true reason they killed him! Oh god, that would be awful.   Bleach chapter 553 Well, now it's time to turn things around! With Urahara's handy miracle pill in hand, Quincy dominance of the field takes its first blow as Toushiro and Soifon get their second wind - complete with newly-restored bankai. As some of you speculated last week, the pill was indeed a form of minor, temporary hollowfication, demonstrated in dramatic fashion as Toushirou grows his very own dragon-frill ice mask to inaugurate the return of Hyourinmaru. Everyone is Visored, now.  I guess it's a good thing Cang Du decided to keep Bazz-B from icing the kid, eh? Had he not been such a stickler for the rules, our chinaman would probably have been able to keep himself out of the ice cube! Of course, we're still firmly set on Bleach's see-saw of power levels, so it remains to be seen how Toushiro can handle himself against Bazz-B - or whether Cang Du has a few more tricks up his sleeve to swing the fight. The fight I'm not exactly worried about at the moment is between BG9 and Soifon. Sure, she got her lovely nuclear Jakuhou Raikouben back, but the panels shown didn't even hint at a mask or other effect of the pill.  Unfortunately, just like Komamura, Soifon's bankai is best used to prove an enemy's resilience rather than do any real damage, so I doubt BG9 is anywhere near out of the fight just yet.
Shonen Showdown photo
Now starring the new hero!
Hello and welcome to Shonen Showdown, your weekly roundup of the best, brightest, and most badass fight anime and manga around!  With Naruto Shippuden on break today we've got a hot three-to-two ratio of manga-to-anime, with Pedro's recap of One Piece carrying the torch alongside Chris's ready coverage of Hunter x Hunter and my own recaps of Naruto and Bleach! 

J-Stars Victory VS photo
J-Stars Victory VS

J-Stars Victory VS gets more characters and release date

A whole lot of sexy
Oct 16
// Pedro Cortes
As a fan of Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars, any news about the upcoming J-Stars Victory VS makes me salivate. Well, I better get a napkin, because we've got some new info. According to Gematsu, the latest issue of J...
Digital Manga photo
Digital Manga

Read Viz Manga on your Kindle

Go paperless with 160+ series
Oct 01
// Karen Mead
Like reading manga on your Kindle? If your response is "what manga?," I feel your pain, but the e-reader manga drought ends today. Viz Media has just announced that its entire digital manga catalog is now available for Kindle...
TGS 2013 J-Stars photo
TGS 2013 J-Stars

TGS 2013: Offscreen J-Star Victory VS footage

Lots of craziness. Lots of Jump!
Sep 19
// Elliot Gay
I wrote a short preview for J-Stars Victory VS earlier today, and now I have video of the game in action.  This is a complete single player match that I think does a good job of showing what J-Stars is all about. Check ...
TGS 2013 J-Stars photo
It'll be a grand battle!
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that nearly three quarters of Namco Bandai's Tokyo Game Show booth is composed of Shonen Jump games.  Perhaps the biggest of the bunch is J-Stars Victory VS for the PS3 and the Vita. A fou...

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