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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.