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shonen Jump

Review: One Piece Film Gold

Jan 21 // Christian Chiok
One Piece Film Gold Studio: Toei Animation Licensed by: FUNimation Release Date: July 23rd, 2016 (Japan), January 10, 2017 (North America) Naturally, like most Anime movies based on a long running series, like Naruto and Dragon Ball (for the exception of the latest ones), they are non-canon. It’s been a while since we have seen all nine members present in a story that's implied to take place after the Dressrosa arc since Gold mentions the Straw Hats defeating Doflamingo for him, not to mention, if you keep up with the manga, the crew is once again separated, so it makes it difficult to fit it in a canon setting. The movie starts with the introduction of the movie’s antagonist — Gild Tesoro, the owner of the massive ship with a large entertainment city built on it, and known for having 20% of the world's money in it. This place is known as Gran Tesoro — the setting of the entire movie. Just from this opening sequences, you can witness the quality of the animation, these being Gild Tesoro and his partner Carina dancing and singing while the Straw Hats are fighting off a pirate crew of disposable while introducing each of the crew members, their personalities, unique abilities, and bounties. [embed]35497:6027:0[/embed] Personally, while the Vegas-like setting certainly made the movie quite interesting, story-wise, this was probably the weakest out of the three. I really enjoyed the back story between Nami and Carina — back when they were working together as thieves. As for the rest of the Straw Hats, they didn’t get much development, but they were still the great characters we’ve grown to care and love. While not really a bad antagonist, Gild Tesoro wasn’t too interesting in my opinion albeit he isn’t too generic either. During the movie, it is shown that he went through a rough childhood of poverty. The premise of the movie is that Gild Tesoro tricks people into getting into debt, and because they victims can’t afford to pay back their debt, they become his slaves for an eternity. With the help of his underling, Baccarat, who can steal the luck of anyone by simply touching them, making them extremely unlucky, she was able to trick the Straw Hats into a debt – initiating the main conflict of the movie.   The comedy in the movie was just as you would expect from One Piece — Luffy being the goofy captain and messing up things, Sanji always falling beautiful women, even if they are in the opposing side and thus falling for their trap, Usopp and Chopper alongside Luffy and their shenanigans and much more that had the entire theater laughing throughout the movie. Being disconnected from One Piece’s English Dub for over ten years, since I watched most of the movies with the original Japanese voices and most recent One Piece games only offer Japanese voices, being presented with the English dub once again was refreshing. The cast outdid themselves and hearing the talented Vic Mignogna portray Luffy's older brother Sabo was great. Keith Silverstein’s portrayal of Gild Tesoro was great as well — being able to sound as smooth and confident as the character is supposed to be. Overall, I am glad that I got to experience One Piece Film Gold in theaters. While the movie is certainly the weakest out of the latest three, Film Gold delivered with its great fight scenes, animation, soundtrack, and character interaction. While it’s not something that might captivate newcomers of the series, it’s certainly a ride that all One Piece fans will enjoy. 
One Piece Film Gold photo
Welcome to Grand Tesoro!
If there’s something we can all agree on, it’s that the recent One Piece movies has been epicuticular — Strong World, Film Z and now Film Gold. It’s no wonder that these films have been great since Eii...

Review: Naruto Gaiden: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring

Jan 16 // Christian Chiok
Although meant as a prologue for the movie, and just a side story, this Gaiden wasn’t really enjoyable for many reasons. To address the elephant in the room, I feel like Cho-cho’s role felt rather forced and added no substance to story. While I understand that she was added for comedic relief, sometimes it was just executed at the wrong times and it just felt rather annoying more than anything. Another big issue was the main antagonist of this Gaiden—Shin Uchiha, who easily is one of the most forgettable villains in the series with a lackluster motive, probably a lot worse than Obito Uchiha.  His goal is to erase peace as he thinks it’s detrimental to human evolution.  The only memorable things about the character are some of his attacks, like his Kamui-like jutsu and his Weapon Manipulation Technique, which I thought it was cool.   I always thought that Kishimoto was great when it came to delivering fights, especially near the end of the series, as well as other fights such as Sasuke vs. Itachi.  Aside from seeing Shin’s Weapon Manipulation Technique, Sakura in action, and some Naruto and Sasuke Teamwork, just like the antagonist, this fight was hardly enjoyable as well. However, this Gaiden does have its highlights that made reading this tolerable, such as seeing Orochimaru, and the jokes that revolve his new body, the early interactions between Boruto and Naruto, the new generation and of course, Sarada reuniting with Sasuke and learning the truth about her family. Like I stated, in my Boruto: Naruto The Movie review, I really like that Sarada wants to follow the path of Hokage, as opposed to Boruto who wants to be more like Sasuke. While I wasn’t expecting too much out of this Gaiden, it was still overall disappointing. I felt like I was reading it for the sake of reading it every time a new chapter came up. I really thought that reading the entire Gaiden in one sitting would make it more enjoyable, but I was wrong.  I was really hoping to see something feature the new generation but maybe next time.
Naruto Gaiden Review photo
A Story of Father and Daugther
It’s been a few months since I published my review for Boruto: Naruto The Movie, so make sure to check that out as well.  It is important to note that Naruto Gaiden: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring is the...

Jump Festa Cosplay photo
Naruto, One Piece, and more besides
Jump Festa, Shueisha's yearly celebration of all things Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and whatever else it publishes, happened last week, and our pal Lindo Korchi was on hand to observe the proceedings. You can ch...

Cosplay Excellence at Jump Festa 2016, Part 1

Dec 24 // Josh Tolentino
/ul/34618-cosplay-excellence-at-jump-festa-2015-part-1/Jump Festa 2016 Cosplay Photos Part 1 (12)-noscale.jpg
Jump Festa Cosplay photo
Snaps and shots from the show floor
Jump Festa, Shueisha's yearly celebration of all things Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and whatever else it publishes, happened last week, and our pal Lindo Korchi was on hand to observe the proceedings. You can check out hi...

Long Lines and Good Times: A Visit to Jump Festa 2016

Dec 23 // Josh Tolentino
Long Lines and Good Times: A Visit to Jump Festa 2016 As my alarm clock goes off at 6:00 am, I'm abruptly taken away from the dream I was in; attending one of the biggest anime expositions in Japan: Jump Festa. “Today's the first day of Jump Festa! I need to grab the train to Chiba now or I'll be late!” I exclaimed. And so, my journey began. But before I continue, I'll briefly go over what Jump Festa is. Since 1999, Shueisha, the creators of the famous Jump magazines, sponsored the event Jump Festa to focus solely on anime, manga, games, merchandise, and alike. In addition, many manga artists also attend the event and have panels along with Q&A sessions. It's difficult to find data revealing the number of attendees for each year of Jump Festa, however, the latest one reported by Mantan-web revealed attendance figures of 145,000 for 2014 – 11,000 more than in 2013 and a bigger attendance size than AnimeJapan. Assuming the trend continued this year, this year's event could have up to 167,000 fans through the doors. Jump Festa having an admission price of just $0.00 (yes, free), definitely adds to those rapid growth prospects. Now that the introduction is out of the way, we can now move on to Jump Festa 2016. As I sprint out the kitchen with a piece of toast in my mouth (I'm in Japan; I had to!), I catch the JR Yamanote Line at Ueno Station to Tokyo Station, then transfer to the JR Keiyo Line to Kaihin-Makuhari Station. After a two-hour journey (which includes the delays I had on the train), I finally arrive at Makuhari Messe, the venue where Jump Festa has been held for over a decade. [embed]34622:5287:0[/embed] “You've got to be kidding me.” I thought as I looked at the excessive lines (yes, that's plural!) leading to the entrance. A little over an hour later, and somehow being able to guide myself towards the front, I was finally in – but then, there were more lines, and it didn't look like an exhibition hall at all. That's when I realized I actually entered the Jump Festa sale zone, where they sell original goods and limited edition items. The area was huge and attendees were separated by groups. Each group was set for a specific anime or manga series, which included the limited edition goods. However, those groups also had lines. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a glimpse of them due to the overwhelming amount of people. Interestingly enough, none of the items were on display, instead, attendees were given a piece of paper which noted what was offered (photos of the items weren't on the page; some booths in the exhibition hall displayed photos towards the front or back of the line, though). I attempted to tell staff that I simply wanted to see what they offered, and snap a few photos, but they weren't keen on such. Plus, how would I be able to shoot photos? Unless they were going to bring me to where they actually had the inventory. That wasn't going to happen. Nonetheless, I ventured to find the exhibition hall. Thankfully, I saw Naruto Uzumaki & Sakura Haruno roaming the convention; they were kind enough to lead me to the exhibit hall, where we parted off with a “Dattebayo!” Due to the overwhelming volume of people who lined up for special events, panels, and screenings, I wasn't able to attend any of them. However, it wasn't a problem. My favorite part about any convention is the exhibit hall, I believe it's the heart of it all and either makes or breaks the experience. Most of my time was spent in the exhibit hall, booths, and cosplay corners. Attending an anime convention that's 100% Japanese, 0% English is quite the challenge. But it's the challenge that makes the overall experience an adventure. Jump Festa held an atmosphere that no other convention in America, at least, the ones I've been to, have been able to achieve. As you walk pass the Jump gallery and witness the artworks of recognizable manga artists, such as Tite Kubo, Kazue Kato, and Shun Saek, it becomes surreal. As you look around, you hear the Japanese language flowing in every direction, every piece of content written in hiragana and kanji; you realize that the amazing cosplay you've always thought were semi-fake on Facebook are actually legit as you witness great cosplayers roam the halls. At some point, it finally hits you that you're at the heart of all the original stories, artworks, manga and anime that has captivated you from an early age – that's a special experience and not one that can easily be replicated. Wandering around, I found myself in a new area and was thrilled. “Is that Kakashi-sensei? No way, is that Super Saiyan 4 Goku?! I must've entered the anime zone!” I thought, in excitement. To be frank, it was the dedicated cosplay area. While it's true that I've been to quite a few conventions and am used to cosplay, I'm not exactly accustomed to seeing a lot of high-quality ones, nonetheless gathered in one area. The cosplayers did not only resemble the characters but captured their personality as well. For those who didn't exactly resemble said character, it was just as good because the detail put into their cosplay was clearly shown. The highlight my time there - and my personal favorite cosplay -moment was witnessing a senior in a wheelchair. I noticed that he had some sort of outfit and questioned if he was cosplaying. As I approached him, it was clear that he was cosplaying Akainu of One Piece. It was a special thing to see. Even though he's a senior and must use a wheelchair to get around, he didn't allow his circumstances to limit him from having fun, enjoying life, and preparing his cosplay outfit as the days led to Jump Festa. “Sumimasen. Shashin desu ka?” (Excuse me. May I take a photo?) I asked. The young man who was helping the senior looked surprised, as if no one had asked to take a photo. The senior smiled and nodded his head. As he slowly got up from his wheelchair, he adjusted his cosplay jacket and looked straight into the camera, full of character. After the shot, he was all smiles. He definitely has my respect; it's my favorite shot of the entire event because there's a story behind it. As I walked away, it became clear that it wasn't always about taking photos of the “best cosplayers”, but creating memories of the event and showing all the cosplayers who participated that they're appreciated, just as the senior. It can make all the difference. Just a few of those "unrecognized" cosplayers are in the gallery below. One of the main focus points for Jump Festa was the 20th anniversary of Yu-Gi-Oh! along with the movie, Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions. But it wasn't just a promotion, it was actually fun. Booths were set up for attendees to have their photo taken and be placed on a Yu-Gi-Oh! card with either Yugi or Kaiba (free of charge). Some areas were dedicated to one-on-one dueling while others pit two teams of five against each other using huge cards as props (similar to the giant chess set). Attendees were also able to get their picture taken, sign their names, and have it displayed in the theatrical version of the movie's ending credits. Large showcases of cards were up for display, along with a Blue-Eyes White Dragon card cosplay. Another cool setup was the special play area for attendees, which included a mini trampoline, a slide, and small ball pool. Many of the booths interacted with the attendees and provided activities, such as Bandai Namco, Square Enix, and PlayStation that let attendees play demo versions of upcoming games, including One Piece: Burning Blood, Dragon Quest Builders, and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Toho animation held an informative booth, explaining the artwork and how they process the animation. Bandai also held a small musical performance. And, of course, a dedicated area was made for all things Street Fighter. However, I must admit, I was surprised by the lack of non-Japanese fans at Jump Festa. The majority were Japanese, with hardly any westerners in sight. Given that Jump Festa is also a free event, I was baffled. Perhaps it's because Jump Festa isn't really promoted overseas, or at least not to the English-speaking audience. Last year when I was in Japan around the same time, I didn't even hear about Jump Festa. I only discovered it because I was actively searching for anime conventions in Japan for the winter season. I appreciated the fact that throughout the event, the same atmosphere, energy, and hype was still felt, all the way to its final hours. As the event came to a close, I smiled, filled with joy, and looked through the photos I took to recapture the moments. As I took the JR back to Ueno Station, I saw dozens of people on the train with Jump bags. Even though we all didn't know each other, it was our common interest in Jump that brought us together to have a great experience, and that was special. Despite the long lines and lack of English, Jump Festa was an incredible event. They really delivered; the exhibition hall and cosplay area was definitely the heart of the event and were great. The atmosphere, energy, appreciation, and the vibe of being in the home country of Japanese pop culture is a unique experience that cannot be experienced elsewhere. If you ever have the chance to make it to Jump Festa, I'd definitely recommend it. If not, see if you can make it to AnimeJapan, which is held annually in March at Tokyo Big Sight. I'm sure it'll be great as well. What are your thoughts on Jump Festa? Did you attend this year's show, or would you like to see it come to your country? Let us know in the comments, along with your own thoughts on Shonen Jump. For my part, even after the event I found myself learning new things: A number of cosplayers there fans of Tokyo Ghoul, and now I've just got to check out what they were jazzed up enough to dress up for! P.S.: Finally, if there are any Japanator readers in the Tokyo area who's interested in some Jump Festa merchandise, let us know, as well. I came upon quite a bit of swag that I'd love to give away, including manga, stickers, cards, buttons, and other promotional items. Here's a photo of it all:   [embed]34622:5287:0[/embed]
Jump Festa 2015 photo
An event for the best of Shonen Jump
Editor's Note: If you're in Japan and a manga fan, Christmas comes early each year, as Jump Festa, Shueisha's celebration of all things Shonen JUMP, takes place shortly before the big day, promoting manga, anime, video g...

Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episode 5

Nov 05 // Josh Tolentino
The first test of the week, of course, is Saitama and Genos' application to join the Hero Association, the NGO that regulates hero activity in the world of One Punch Man. And what an application it is!  It's easy to get distracted by the visuals and the awesome punching, but another thing that I find great about One Punch Man is its particular take on otherwise western-style superheroes, in part because the whole premise of a "Hero Association" (and even that name!) is so very Japanese. I mean, of course they would rearrange the whole concept of superhero adventures into something managed by a thoroughly bureaucratic process! Having recently taken the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, I could see the shades of it permeating the wholet testing montage (minus the athletic stuff). Sure, we've seen similar twists in the likes of Tiger & Bunny and even Zetman, but it's One Punch Man's interpretation that strikes me as particularly resonant with Japanese culture. I can only imagine how much more resonant it might be with the people who do live over there.  Naturally, once it's over, Genos gets himself catapulted to S-rank hero, while Saitama's poor written testing is rewarded with a C-rank. Between the orientation seminar led by one Snakebite Snek, an A-class jerkface, we see the world of the Hero Association is just as consumed with office politics, factionalization, and hazing the new guys. That's emphasized further with some new material, an impromptu meeting with none other than Amai Mask, celebrity, top-rank A-class hero, and apparently a kingmaker of sorts in the Association, one who's got his eye on Genos. For Saitama, on the other hand,  seeing what used to be a hobby turned into a day job might not be the best thing. It's an interesting thing to point out, as anyone who's ever tried to make a living off  a thing they used to do for fun has experienced. It's not all world-building and highly Japanese superheroics, though. This episode contains my favorite battle of the whole series: A sparring match between Saitama and Genos, with Genos going all out to try and push his "master" and reveal some secret to his power. There's some really great stuff in this fight. Of course, much of it thanks to the manga and Yuusuke Murata's lavish artwork, but there really is something to see it in motion. Madhouse even adds a few embellishments that help push things even further over the top. It's good that we're finally getting more hints of the real substance of One Punch Man's world, in addition to the visual splendor and hilarity of seeing Saitama win at (almost) everything. It took a bit of time, but this episode taps most deeply into the things that have made the manga such a hit with so many people. [Check out One Punch Man on Daisuki and Crunchyroll!]
One Punch Man photo
Passing the test
Things start to pick up in the animated chronicle of the man who Belive In Justice and Hold A Determination To Fist*, as the theme of this week's episode is "testing", whether against bureaucracy, your teacher, or yourself. Let's get some udon when we're done! *Symphogear is the 2nd best punching anime this year *Sorry, Symphogear reference

One Punch Man photo
One Punch Man

Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episode 3

Get Fit with Saitama
Oct 19
// Josh Tolentino
One Punch Man? More like One Punch Per Week Man, am I right? The Fall season's prettiest show continues into its third week, as Saitama and Genos head out to confront their first real enemy, the House of Evolution. Will this be the week that Saitama needs more than a single blow to fell his foes? Spoiler Alert: Nope!

Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episode 2

Oct 15 // Josh Tolentino
Earlier on I mentioned that the main problem I could forsee with this adaptation of One Punch Man would be that Madhouse would be unable to sustain production at the level needed to deliver the kind of visual, well...punch needed to do the source justice. As much as I do like One Punch Man, its joys are more presentational than narrative in nature. Yusuke Murata's excellent grasp of space and eye for detail make ONE's simple (but effective) story stand out.  We enlightened souls of the 21st century tend to privilege "the writing" above any other yardstick in pop media, but presentation matters, especially in visual media like anime and manga. That's why it's important to read things like Kevin Cirugeda's excellent article on appreciating good animation, even if you yourself don't plan to become a "sakuga otaku" yourself.  The short-wordcount version of what I just said is that as of this week, One Punch Man still looks 'effin gorgeous, with particular flair in today's fight scenes. This is a good thing because looks matter, and One Punch Man as a manga is great partly because it looks so good. This is where I'm also reminded that a very faithful adaptation of a manga isn't always a good thing, particularly in shows where detailed plotting is not the primary draw. Long story short? One Punch Man's pace is p-l-o-d-d-i-n-g. The stretching of time isn't as obvious or blatant as the kind of padding out that goes on in the likes of the Naruto anime or anything like that, but it's clear that Madhouse are being fairly deliberate in their choices of how much content to cover in each episode. The result is, for folks that look for more substantial narratives, feels stretched a bit thin. One unfortunate side effect of this necessity is that the ways in which One Punch Man evolves past its original schtick aren't as obvious here. People can read manga faster than they can watch a TV show, and the advantage is that the initial, simple jokes are over with quickly. Even if Saitama's struggle to find a worthy fight is gone over again and again, it passes by without a chance to grow truly irritating. That's not quite the case here, and some more impatient viewers are more than likely already going "Look, I get it, he's invincible and can't lose, alright? Let's move on." Thankfully, the second episode does move on, by introducing none other than Genos, the blond cyborg who is pretty damn awesome. In many ways, he'd be the kind of character to anchor his own damn show if Saitama weren't the star. He's the archetypal badass anime/manga protagonist, and the show has a lot of fun with his overly elaborate (and repetitious) backstory, his shtick in the episode recalling shades of Yuki Nagato's famous "I'm an alien" monologue from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.  It would be one thing if Genos were merely a gag character, a one-off encounter solely meant to poke fun at the tropes of fight manga. But such things are for lesser series. In fact, thanks to a great fight against animal-hybrid villains from "The House of Evolution", Genos looks to be a continuing presence in One Punch Man, and to good effect. At the risk of spoiling anime-only viewers, it's on his robotic shoulders - as well as the shoulders of other characters coming later - that much of One Punch Man's enduring qualities rests on. They provide what Saitama alone cannot, and it's in that style of fully utilizing the potential of the genre even as it mocks it mercilessly - that the source has garnered as much appeal as it has. [Get mosquitos to bug out on Daisuki!]
One Punch Man photo
Convenient Signage in the Aftermath
Welcome to the latest recap of One Punch Man, the only anime series that probably doesn't need a recap, for so obvious is the plot, am I right? As it turns out, not quite. A fair bit goes on in today's installment, and while deviations from the source are few, newer viewers may find the latest developments engaging.  

First Impressions: One Punch Man episode 1

Oct 04 // Josh Tolentino
Just in case the title isn't explanatory enough for you, One Punch Man follows the exploits of Saitama, a hero who's trained so hard he's gone bald, and as a result, he's become too powerful; any fight he gets into is ended as soon as he takes a swing, his enemy left as nothing more than a stain on his gloves. To prove the point, this first episode lines up a parade of epic villain knockoffs for Saitama to knock off, from a blue Piccolo to an off-brand Colossal Titan. Fans familiar with the manga will see the first chapter recreated almost to the panel, which given how well-regarded the art is, is generally a good thing. I might be understating things here, because the show looks really, really good. Some might not be too fond of some of the more loose-looking characters in a couple of scenes, with Gainax-esque deformation most apparent during the not-Titan fight, but it's clear that MADHOUSE has spent a lot of time and care making both the static frames and the movement as splendid-looking as possible.  Another thing I may be understating is the quality of the storytelling in general. Though the premise is as simple as they come, and the central conceit/problem of a "guy that's too powerful" is about as old as Superman himself, the story excels in evoking the emotions behind it all. The episode (and the source it's based on) really manages to capture Saitama's boredom at being invincible, and you actually feel sorry for him when the one thing he wants in the world - a worthy challenge - comes to him only in dreams.  The anime also finds time to elaborate on it slightly, with some original scenes and effective visual gags. One that stuck with me, in particular, was seeing Saitama fumbling with change in line at the grocery while a monster stepped nearby, taking off the roof and turning darkness into daylight. It's an effective way of showing the scale of the monster while taking advantage of the animated medium. If there's a true point of concern here, it's that the show may not be able to keep this kind of work up for the whole run. But that's a worry for next week. [Watch One Punch Man on and!]    
One Punch Man photo
Done In One...Punch
One Punch Man is easily the most anticipated anime series of this Fall, and for good reason. ONE and Yusuke Murata's manga is a heavy hitter in the pages of Shonen Jump, and its lead character, Saitama, is the heaviest h...

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 ...
J-Stars Victory VS+ photo
J-Stars Victory VS+

Shonen Jump J-Stars Victory VS+ answers all the big questions

Everyone comes out to party
Dec 22
// Josh Tolentino
The biggest question of them all being "When the hell is Bandai Namco releasing Jump Stars Victory VS?" in English. The answer to that is "Next summer, on the PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and all under the somehow even more nonsensica...

Annotated Manga: Bleach chapters 607-609

Dec 14 // Josh Tolentino
But let's talk about that "visual language" thing I mentioned first. Kubo's always loved high contrast. It's not a matter of so-called "laziness" that Bleach has become known for being a series that "hates" having to draw backgrounds and scenery, but that to its creator, a blank white or black expanse is the most beautiful background one can imagine. The lastest engagement, between Quincy god-king Ywach and Royal Guard Captain Ichibei Hyousube, has expressed Kubo's love of contrast in a fashion about as close to its logical extreme as ever. Considering that the true "logical extreme" of Kubo's art style would probably be a giant poster of a yin-yang, that's pretty close. All the components of a Bleach-style battle (at least, the ones not involving Ichigo) are on display here, and with three full chapters devoted to the throwdown between the two highest-ranked combatants in the series to date, the general structure of Kubo-format combat is much more clear here than usual. And the takeaway? Bleach hates even matches. It's always a see-saw with these guys, and for the last sixty-odd pages, the weight has been on the side of the mad monk. At every turn Ichibei's been laying the smack down on his Quincy counterpart, and looking crazier and crazier doing it. The scale of the attacks are immense, all giant hands and feet, with monk and buddhist motifs to suit the burly fellow's stature. For the most part, Ywach is completely unable to counter, sitting there and taking it, with a dash of trash talk. It's almost enough to believe that Ywach's being pushed, here, but that other component of a Bleach fight - fact that any early victory is a virtual guarantee of defeat - rears its head quickly enough, as Ichibei deploys his sword-brush, Ichimonji, and its Bankai (or "Shinuchi" as its original name was), Shirafude. Even here, the theme is black-on-white. The Soul Reaper, who wears a white cloak over black kimono, unveils a weapon that splashes ink like he was accenting a Street Fighter trailer, with the power to blot out the name - and thus the qualities - of anything it touches. On the other side is the Quincy, whose letter is "A" for "Almighty" (with a chuuni-style double reading for "Omniscient"), wearing his black cloak over a white western-style coat , who puts his power in his name. It's all very much on-the-nose, and in classic Bleach fashion, the most powerful of the "good guys" (the ones that are destined to lose, at any rate) are ones that look most "evil". Ichibei looks more and more monstrous in his hubris, and even his power set implies a sort of corruption. Ichimonji's ability to "blacken" things and Ichibei's control over the color "black" speaks to idiomatic expressions about pollution, of converting untruth into truth, and (literally) overwriting that which is "true" (Ywach's power and identity) with falsehood ("renaming" Ywach into a mere "Ant").  Of course, that's what a dude with power over names does, but messing around with meaning like that pretty much puts the bad guy back on top of the coolness pedestal. In Bleach's world, real winners don't have to mess around with the parameters of the match. And as if on cue, Ywach quits messing around, revealing the meaning of his "A", and, in Aizen-esque fashion, claiming that he's foreseen all of this. The echoes of his fight with Yamamoto are almost palpable this time around, but even if the fight was ultimately unproductive, Ywach made a good show of looking like he'd been put on the ropes. Now we'll see the stuff the Quincy leader's made of, and hopefully set the stage for the true heroes to start doing what they do (which is win for realsies).
Bleach photo
Doesn't matter if you're black or white
Longtime readers of Bleach will note that this "final" arc of the series - scare quotes here because you can never trust a Jump manga to end on time - has featured a number of breaks from author Tite Kubo's established p...

Assassination Classroom photo
Assassination Classroom

Assassination Classroom takes attendance on Viz Manga

Can you kill Koro-sensei?
Dec 04
// Josh Tolentino
Whenever I take informal polls as to which manga I should start covering in the wake of Naruto's closure, one of the most common recommendations I get - besides One Piece, of course - is Yusei Matsui's Assassination Classroom...

Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 604

Nov 11 // Josh Tolentino
The results aren't pretty, especially if you like seeing your characters without holes blasted through their torsos.  Nimaiya Ohetsu, who did oh so very well last time around, is stuck at the mercy of the newly revived elite four, who partake of Ywach's redistribution to come back to life. They even have proper angel wings now, with feathers and all, so you know stuff's about to hit the fan. And in this story arc's new tradition of overexplaining powers, we gain insight into the capabilities of Lille Barro, "The X-Axis", whose power is best explained as "OMG IT'S LAZER RAILGUN". Really, it is. He doesn't shoot bullets, but simply pierces everything on a line between him and his target with his...I guess it really is a gun-arm. Which leaves Ywach to take on the big monk dude Ichibei Hyousube, who's come up with the true name of everything in Soul Society. We'll have to wait until next round to see how unnecessarily complex his abilities are. Meanwhile, the most potentially intriguing plot point sits back down below, where the more characterful Quincies aren't about to take the bogarting of their powers lying down. Unless this is another red herring that'll see these folks facedown in the dirt after an unseen defeat (again), we may see them pick a different side when the final fight comes around.  
Bleach photo
Wings n' things
When last we checked in with Bleach, Quincy big boss and mutton chop aficionado Ywach had pulled a real jerk move by regifting a whole buttload of power from his Sternritter on the ground. The intended destination of this "take from the poor, give to the rich" approach to group dynamics was clear enough, and in this chapter, we deal with the repercussions. 

Annotated Manga: Naruto chapters 699-700

Nov 06 // Josh Tolentino
Speaking of things being what they are, it looks like those leaks were right on the money. NaruHina is canon, as is SakuSasu, ShikaTema, and a number of other pairings that seemed to come pretty much out of nowhere, like Sai and Ino, Choji and Karui, Tenten and Lee, and Kiba and...someone I can't identify. If she wasn't a named character, that would make sense, though. Kiba always seemed to be an eternal bachelor-type. They've all got their own kids, too. All with names as ridiculous as "Naruto". You've Bolt, Himawari, Shikadai, Chouchou, Inojin. The kicker, though, is the Uchiha/Haruno daughter...Salad (or "Sarada", if you prefer). The names call to mind the children of the Harry Potter series. "Albus Severus Potter", anyone? Endings are hard to do, especially ones for series running as long as Naruto has. It just doesn't happen all that often on this scale. Heck, you could even argue that it isn't happening, since there's at least one more hurrah for this setting next spring. And of course, there's the anime, which will be with us well into 2015 even without filler, and the movie, which is looking more and more like a "post-manga" story that sets things on the way to this future point. And I can't wait to see what Cyberconnect2 have planned for the next Ultimate Ninja Storm game. The story may be done, but the Naruto brand is far from over. All the same, endings are tough to do. And in my book, this one does alright. In part, it does alright because it doesn't really do all that much new. Not that it really needed to. What we (or perhaps just I) want when it comes to these kinds of shows is a snapshot of the future. We see a peaceful world, clearly one with its own problems, but nothing that the heroes we spent so many years cheering on can't handle. We see the good guys get theirs, and the bad guys are most all in the ground. It's a little pat that after all Sasuke's done, he gets off with little more than a warning from Kakashi (who's taken up the Sixth Hokage's mantle), but his - and more importantly, his best friend's - efforts have changed the world enough that that kind of redemption is possible, when it wasn't possible for Indra, Madara, Obito, or Itachi. This end didn't come without its bumps. As I've said repeatedly, it's been long overdue, the levels of escalation growing ever more absurd as the story stretched and stretched to grant its villains a karmic out. That's not necessarily "terrible writing" as some critics assert. Some work I've been reading of late (and partially highlighted here) suggests that the "story grammar" used by traditional Japanese fiction lends itself well to seeking thematically resonant endings more than pursuing set goals and "resolution" as we like to define it. I know, that sounds like a cop-out this late in the game, but in retrospect, I'd say the notion fits quite well to the pattern of the last few months, as Naruto and Sasuke's personal fight spiraled further and further up into a stratosphere of cyclic history, epic manipulations, and the repeating refrain of brothers at war.  But that doesn't really matter now, because Naruto's the Seventh Hokage. He's meeting with Darui, Kurotsuchi, Gaara, and Chojuuro, who've all taken up the fancy Kage hat in the intervening years. The Hidden Leaf is a bustling, modern city, complete with fake MacBooks and what might be a ninja smartphone. The future is here, and that's a good enough place to see the present off. 
Naruto Finale photo
It's been a long road (to ninja)
....and that's that. 

Naruto Part 3? photo
Naruto Part 3?

Naruto may return in 2015

The next generation?
Nov 05
// Josh Tolentino
Let's take a big pinch of salt with this rumor, but it looks like early scans of the next issue of Shonen Jump have leaked, and with them the possibility that we've not yet seen the last of Naruto. A big splash page supp...

Annotated Manga: Bleach 603

Oct 29 // Josh Tolentino
Instead, it seems to be more capturing the feelings of Liltotto, as Ywach extends a less-than-helping hand to the Sternritter left behind in Soul Society, only to drain them all and use their power to revive the elite four. I suppose you could make the argument that from Ywach's perspective, all Quincy power extends from him, which makes it his to take back as he sees fit. Either way, it's kind of a dick move, considering that the Sternritter are still fighting. Well, not anymore, I guess. Besides this scene, which seems to remove Liltotto, Bazz-B, Nanana, the newly-named Accutrone (the Colonel Sanders-lookin' dude who shot Kyouraku in the eye) from the field, we also get a quick update on the other Sternritter. Candice, Meninas, and Pepe are all out as well, and most likely dead. On the Soul Reaper side, all we see is Renji, looking little worse for the wear. If the big fight is now all up at the Royal Palace, one can only wonder if Kubo will see fit to bring the remaining (and still popular) Captains and Vice-Captains up to tussle at some point.  
AM: Bleach photo
What, indeed
This week seems to be one for short recaps, but where one recap this week was short because very little needed to be said that wasn't conveyed in a single panel, this week's installment of Bleach left me desperately wishing that the chapter title, "What The Hell" were a more apt descriptor of what actually went on in the pages.

The End of Naruto photo
The End of Naruto

The 700 Club: Naruto manga ending on November 5th, 2014

Good night, sweet (ninja) prince
Oct 06
// Josh Tolentino
I guess Masashi Kishimoto really wasn't kidding when he claimed that his baby and brainchild Naruto would be seeing its end sometime this year. That time is in six weeks or so, as the final chapter of the decade-and-a-ha...

Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 587

Jul 07 // Josh Tolentino
Let's make no bones about it: Bleach has been deadly serious for most of the last few months of stories. That "seriousness" is "deadly" in the sense that all these people saying Big Important Things mostly murder the sense of fun and remind us that a fight manga's strong point usually doesn't lie in writing and dialog.   Thankfully, though, Uryuu's departure from the scene has given Ichigo an opportunity to mope about his best friend turning coat (Really? They've barely spoken in a decade of chapters!), but thankfully Chad and Orihime are back to give him moral support, almost as if that's all they've really been good for most of the time. Naturally, he snaps out of it and does that hero thing where he declares that he'll do a thing, and then the rest of the story from here on in is about how no one can stop him from doing said thing. Speaking of funny stuff, how about Orihime's outfit? That has to be a joke, right? I mean, Kubo makes a point of using Bleach as a platform for his fashion-design ambitions! Seriously, at least the women from Dragon's Crown have an excuse, in that they're a bald-faced sendup of classic fantasy pulp art. Sigh. But hey, I'm talking about Bleach's sense of humor, which implies I was referring to some deliberately funny moments. And to be fair, there are a couple, mostly in Renji and Rukia's interaction with the Bazz-B of the Burner Fingers. Indeed, given that Bazz had a thing for Renji's hilarious eyebrows, they'd have been best buds had Renji had been nice enough to put compliment before insult. Oh well, at least we get to see a Burner Finger 4 in action, and that's cool, too.
AM: Bleach photo
Lifting more than just busts
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Not a whole lot happens in any single chapter of Bleach. Oftentimes a given 16-20 page installment is little more than the next few steps in a fight, which can, at times, prove a ch...

Annotated Manga: Naruto chapter 682

Jun 29 // Josh Tolentino
But enough anticipation of videogames, let's look into how the boss fight's going. After those freaky silent tears from last chapter, Naruto reveals his trump card, the Reverse Harem jutsu: I'll give him 2 points for clever timing and (somewhat) progressive attitudes, but dock 1 point for assuming that all ladies just want to stare at hot dude abs (and for illustrating Sakura as falling for the trick). Really, it's almost as bad as a few weeks ago, when it was revealed that the Mizukage's fondest dream was to get married to some random dude (and it wasn't even Chojuro!). Grousing aside, though, the gag illustrates an important point, one spelled out by Naruto himself: If even Kaguya can be taken by surprise thanks to silly bullcrap like that, it just goes to show that there's more to the world than the supposed grand plan Black Zetsu's been advancing. To mangle some Billy Shakespeare: "There are more things in Heaven, Earth, and Ninja History, Kaguya, than is dreamt of in your dumb, contrived master plan." Also, it shows that Naruto, the manga, still retains that sense of humor, even with the world at stake, and reminds us that as bitter as some of the last few twists have tasted, there's still much to enjoy about this comic. But still, let's continue on the road to wrapping things up, because if Naruto doesn't end (either the whole series or this part of the larger arc) in the next year or so, the Fourth Ninja World War will have officially gone on longer than both actual World Wars. Really, it will.  And that's not an achievement one wants to one's name.
AM: Naruto photo
Momma goes both hot and cold
If there's been one advantage to having Kaguya be a truly "God"-type enemy for Naruto and Sasuke to throw down with, it's anticipating how effin' awesome everything is going to look when it all appears in an installment ...

Annotated Manga: Bleach chapters 584-585

Jun 20 // Josh Tolentino
I find it somewhat strange to continue seeing the quartet of Bambi's groupies still in the fight, long after they had the misfortune of being on the mound when Ichigo finally stepped up to the plate. Really, at any other time in Bleach's history, or even in most other fight show fiction, characters of their caliber would've been wiped out, fodder to demonstrate the sheer puissance of whoever needed showing off at the time. Not even their own treacherous comrades can get rid of them! Bazz-B, the guy supposedly even stronger than the late, great General Yamamoto, went so far as to put a burner finger through the four girls in an attempt to Bogart the fight, but that wasn't enough to keep them from trying to snatch the glory of being first to get chopped up by the lead character.  And what a chopping session it would've been, since Bazz and the girls were joined by local DJ Nanana Najakoop, a floating dude named Pepe, and the gun-wielding evil Colonel Sanders fellow credited with taking Captain Kyoraku's eye.  But of course, it wasn't to be, as Bleach has never had much interest in the kinds of group fights that make up the likes of Naruto and others. Kubo's in it for the duel, and much as his brainchild's made a point of bucking tradition in this final arc, hot one-on-one action is the soul of this comic. Which, of course, brings us to the hilarious new plot twist designed to put Ichigo on the path to the final boss while setting up pretty much everyone for a duel of their own. What plot twist, you ask? Well, if nothing else, it's a twist that answers a couple of nagging questions, but these questions aren't the sort of thing one clarifies at a time like this. I mean, did we really need to know what the King's Key is? Actually, yes, we did, given that it was the thing Aizen was planning to nab for himself all those years ago. Turns out the key was..Ichigo. Or rather, the fancy duds he was wearing when he arrived on the scene. It seems the King's Key only responds to Reapers in the Soul King's Royal Guard. It's a smart plan, considering that the Royal Guard almost never leaves the King's side, but it's also kind of a boondoggle. Y'see, we make a big fuss over Ichigo's new threads and Kubo's continuing ambition to use his series as a platform for his fashion industry ambitions. It just so happens, though, that Ywach and his Quincies were doing roughly the same thing. Why? Because in a factoid that really should've been telegraphed better, clothes tailored by the Royal Guard contain their essense, and getting him to come down here was all part of the master plan. After all, the passage of Ichigo would blow open all manner of doors to the  Palance, and keeping them unlocked for an hour and a half. So now we've got the stakes, the venue, and the opponent (Ywach himself, with Haschwald and Uryuu folllowing. I think we'v got ourselves a final boss fight, folks.
Bleach photo
The gang's all here
I've got to hand it to the Sternritter: Though we've barely known any of them for more than a panel or two, they do make quite the powerful impression. That said, it's high time we spent these last portions of Bleach in the company of badasses we're more familiar with, yes?

Viz Media photo
Viz Media

Rejoice: Viz reveals their plans for Anime Expo '14

Sailor Moon fans are in for some good news
Jun 18
// Salvador G Rodiles
It was a glorious day when Viz Media announced that they licensed Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal. Now Viz’s planning an event for Anime Expo 2014 that’ll please Sailor Moon, Gargantia's fans. During the ...

Annotated Manga: Naruto chapters 678-679

Jun 08 // Josh Tolentino
Oh, Masashi Kishimoto, how many twists is enough? We let you replace Obito with the real Madara because it made sense to redeem the villain. Heel-face turns are a big part of Naruto's message, after all. We accepted the thing with the Ten-Tails and the God Tree since it was world-building texture, and didn't make a huge difference either way (at the time). We tolerated it when you went into the whole thing about Naruto and Sasuke being reincarnated versions of the Sage of Six Paths' kids because...well, while it made the whole theme of cyclical violence and breaking a karmic loop a bit too much on-the-nose, it still worked. We even shrugged through the bits with Madara manipulating the whole of Obito's reason for fighting because we know you really wanted to redeem that proto-Naruto of yours, and it's not like we could do anything about it. But Kaguya? Really? C'mon, SON! I'm not about to say you've crossed a line or anything, but this getting ridiculous. Final boss fights are compelling when the heroes (and by extension, the readers) can make a personal connection with the battle and the things at stake. That connection can come from different places. It could come from an intimate bond between the two people fighting (like the Hero and Jowy at the very end of Suikoden II), from the desire for justice or retribution for some personal affront (Sephiroth and Cloud in Final Fantasy VII), or even a more nebulous, ideological dispute (Persona 3 and 4). But this new thing, with Kaguya ganking poor Madara (didn't think I'd ever say that about the guy) and revealing grand plan to turn everyone hooked into the Infinite Tsukuyomi into White Zetsu minions? That's some Ultimecia/Yu Yevon-level bullsh*t right there. Not cool. Then again, it's not like Madara's grand plan was all that interesting either, considering that the Infinite Tsukuyomi is yet another one of those "everyone lives out their fondest wishes" virtual worlds, rather than what Madara claimed to bring about, which was supposedly a collective consciousness where everyone could understand each other, and so on.  Heck, even the Bizarro World posited by the beta version of Infinite Tsukuyomi in Naruto: Road to Ninja was more compelling, since it effectively answered a bunch of "what-if" questions in a reasonably interesting fashion. Ah, well. This is hardly the first fight show to suffer from a lack of interesting antagonists. Let's just hope the fight to come can make up for it, yes?  
AM: Naruto photo
The B*tch is Back
And now we move into the endgame. Wait. Didn't I just say that? I did! Well, this is getting us off to a good start, isn't it?

Annotated Manga: Bleach chapters 582-583

Jun 08 // Josh Tolentino
To be fair, it's not like Bambi's groupies were especially uninteresting opponents. Kubo's always had a knack for making compelling female side characters - an irony given his seeming inability to grant his most important lady leads a level of agency appropriate to their heroine status. Let's not overdo it, though: Candace, Liltotto, Meninas, and Giselle are one-note cliches, but the thing with fight series like this is that it's better to be a fun, memorably executed archetype than a wasted opportunity, and the stories of Rukia and Orihime are practically defined by neglect at this point. But enough griping about characters that aren't even present this week (which is yet more evidence of the problem, by the way), let's talk about Ichigo being cool. Yeah, he's pretty damn cool, though his new duds are quite underwhelming. They're exactly the same as his old duds, except with a bandolier to hold his new swords, a funny thing considering that he was rarely drawn without his hand on Zangetsu anyway. I have to say I liked his previous duds, which looked exactly the same as his old dudes (and these new duds), except with those Fullbringer-esque strappy bits undergirding the standard Soul Reaper uniform. Of course, this is Bleach we're talking about, and Ichigo, to boot, so the uniform's nothin'. The true measure of our man will have to come around whenever he decides to show off his Bankai. That moment may be a while yet in coming, though, for despite a good showing from Bambi's groupies, Ichigo's clearly far out of their league, knocking them around barefisted even after Candace popped her Vollstandig power-up mode. Then again, the only thing that seemed to get stronger after she hit it was the stink of her dialog. I mean, really? Bragging about how you can "sextuple-wield" lightning bolts followed by no visible evidence of six lightning bolts? You done goofed, Kubo. That was a bad line, even for you. But what am I even doing, whining about a bad line or two and over-praising a cute group of mooks, when the most important event in Bleach history has just occurred?! Yes, the most IMPORTANT event. ICHIGO KUROSAKI DEMONSTRATED A NEW ATTACK Anyone who's kept up with Bleach will know how momentous that is, considering that in the decade-plus of Bleach's existence, its hero has only ever, ever known a single attack. The Getsuga Tenshou has been the bread and butter of Ichigo's fighting style since before it even had a name, and the funny bit is that it isn't even an original creation! Isshin, Ichigo's father, used it regularly! And despite all of Ichigo's many changes to power set - learning Zangetsu's name, gaining a Bankai, becoming Visored, losing his powers, dredging up a Fullbringer secret stash, rejoining the Soul Reapers, and everything, he's only ever used the trusty old Getsuga. But now he's got a new thing, courtesy of his dual-wielding. And it's....a cross-shaped Getsuga. Uh...yeah. OK, it's not much, but it's something, and finally, finally, we got something new, right? And besides, if we're considering a double Rasengan from Naruto as a valid variation, we've got to consider this one, too. Man, now I really can't wait to see what Ichigo'll have to offer in Bankai mode! *Yes, he used something called "Mugetsu" to beat Aizen, but I don't count that as a "new attack" since it was effectively a suicide move, and the internet is telling me that it was more an extension of the "Final Getsuga Tensho" anyway. So there.
AM: Bleach photo
Return of the Mack
The Mack is back, and by "Mack" we mean, "The Strawberry", because Bleach is once again graced by the presence of its lead character. It makes for quite the entrance, as Kenpachi, the one guy in this series nobody e...

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...

Annotated Manga: Bleach chapters 579-581

May 22 // Josh Tolentino
If there's anything I've liked about this latest Bleach arc, it's that Kubo Tite seems fully aware that this is his baby's last hurrah. And like a 2nd-term President, he's been taking that "lame duck" period as an opportunity to do quite a bit of experimentation, fulfilling both the expectations of his audience and turning some of Bleach's most common cliches on their heads. Also, Glemy turned out to be an actual brain-in-a-jar. And I'd have thought only that Espada guy with the unpronounceable name would be the one! Plus, he's been throwing in some long-awaited promises, most recently seeing Kenpachi's bankai. And what a bankai it was. Have you ever wanted to see someone kicking a meteor's ass? That just happened. Have you ever wanted to see what would happen when a guy tries to imagine himself in Kenpachi's shoes? Lemme tell you, it wasn't pretty. Perhaps most importantly, have you ever wanted to see someone beating Kenpachi? Because that actually happened. And they did it on-panel to boot, rather than via that shock-frame showing that one Sternritter that mimics people copying Ywach.  To add insult to injury, everyone's favorite Hulk-equivalent was beaten not by Worf-ing against the final boss or a Kaiju-sized monstrosity like Yammy, but by Bambietta Basterbine's groupies. Yes, that gaggle of four girls that make Harribel's entourage look like a bunch of blushing bridesmaids. To think, the strongest guy in the 13 squads taken down by Quincies V, G, P T, and Z. With "V" being the late Glemy, the four other letters are claimed by Lilotto Lamperd, Meninas McAllen, Candice Catnip, and Giselle Gewelle, in that order. Unlike most groupie characters, though, these four seem capable of pulling their weight (compared, at least, to the Espada's Fraccion or your average vice-captain Soul Reaper). That said, their powers vary in creativity, with Meninas' "Power" and Candice's "Thunder" being exactly as implied. Lilotto's face-distorting cannibalism (aptly called "Gluttony") is appropriately unsettling, though I have to say Giselle's "Zombie" power, which mind-controls anyone she bleeds on, is a bit too similar to As Nodt's spit-based fear ability. Either way, seeing this quartet floor the man before he even got a chance to remove his eyepatch is a supreme indignity! Then again, that opens the floor for a check-in with some of the other good guys, with Shinji, Omaeda, an unconscious Soifon, and Momo (who you may know as Aizen and Hitsugaya's girlfriend) facing off against Bazz-B, the Burner Finger Boy. But none of that matters, really. Why? Because Ichigo's back, that's why. C'mon dual-wielding! Show these fake-Nazi punks what for!
Annotated Manga: Bleach photo
Face-melting fury
Welcome to the next evolution of our Shonen Showdown fight show recap! In case you haven't noticed, we at Japanator have sunsetted the Annotated Anime Roundup, and honored every show we cover with its own, solo post. Our reca...

Manga photo

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...
Hunter x Hunter photo
Hunter x Hunter

Hunter x Hunter manga to resume

Apr 22
// Chris Walden
You know, I had a feeling we'd be getting this announcement soon, seeing as the Hunter x Hunter anime is creeping closer and closer to the final complete arc from the manga. If you're not clued up on what's been going on for ...

First Impressions: Haikyu!!

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

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.  
Shonen Showdown 3/9 photo
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 ...

Video Games photo
Video Games

J-Stars Victory VS gets one final 13 minute promo

All the Shonen heart
Mar 09
// Elliot Gay
I love me a good crossover multiplayer game, and Bandai Namco's upcoming J-Stars Victory Vs. looks to fill that hole in my life quite nicely. Featuring over 50 characters from Shonen Jump characters spanning the magazine's 4...
J-Stars Victory Vs. photo
J-Stars Victory Vs.

Five new characters join the J-Stars Victory Vs. roster

Three playable and two in support
Feb 17
// Chris Walden
Getting sick of all the J-Stars news? I certainly hope not, because here's the next serving! According to a leaked scan of this month's V-Jump, there are five more combatants joining the already sizeable cast; three as fully ...

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...

NS:UNS Revolution photo
NS:UNS Revolution

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution features old Kages

Including Papa Gaara and Papa A
Jan 21
// Chris Walden
You know, the current Naruto arc is an absolute gold mine for CyberConnect2, as it's allowing them access to so many new and interesting characters. They've already boasted that the roster in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja ...
J-Stars Victory Vs. photo
J-Stars Victory Vs.

Hisoka joins J-Stars as support, plus new screenshots

Straight into my veins, please.
Jan 16
// Chris Walden
Well that didn't take very long! After yesterday's news of four new characters, we have a leak revealing the two bonus villains that were teased via silhouettes. Of course, like many people figured, it's Toguro from Yu Yu Hak...
More J-Stars Characters photo
More J-Stars Characters

Four new villains announced for J-Stars Victory Vs.

With another two 'kind of' announced.
Jan 15
// Chris Walden
The roster for J-Stars Victory Vs. just can't stop growing, with the next issue of Weekly Shueisha Jump revealing that another four villains will be joining the fight. We have Madara Uchiha from Naruto, Akainu from One Piece,...

A Look @ Nisekoi, vol. 1

Jan 13 // Kristina Pino
Nisekoi, vol. 1Creator: Naoshi KomiTranslated by: Camellia NiehPublisher: VIZ MediaMSRP: US$9.99 (print) US$5.99 (digital) [BUY]Released: Jan 7th, 2014 Nisekoi doesn't bring anything new or special to the table in terms of its themes or plot. We've seen it all before: passive main guy, love triangle (and of course, its between the guy, a childhood friend, and a new girl who is loud and violent but secretly vulnerable), gang rivalry, promises to people the main character can't remember, and sudden, random acts of tenderness/kindness/etc to fuel the love triangle fire. It's all there. But what really makes this series sparkle-- especially if you hang tight beyond the first chapter or two-- is the creator's excellent pacing and easy, but unrestrained sense of humor. Nisekoi is a case where the author doesn't try anything too fancy, complicated, or confusing, but manages what is there exceedingly well. This book had me laughing out loud with all the cracks between Raku and Chitoge; his outbursts and nicknaming her "gorilla girl" pretty much get me every time. The story goes a bit beyond the usual tropes by making the characters shameless in their mannerisms: they quarrel openly like small children, and over-act their fake relationship whenever anyone is watching. The creator's artwork and aforementioned pacing really help too, because everything feels animated, like it's really playing out in front of you. And the icing on the cake is the characters aren't vapid or see-through. This book takes its time introducing you to everyone and fleshing these kids out before jumping into the first crisis. Volume 1 does a great job of introducing the three key characters, setting the scene for potential disaster, and tossing in the first dramatic problem of the series: the childhood friend overheard something she shouldn't have, and dramatic irony kicks in. Between that and the fantastic writing of the other two characters -- their banter and insults to each other are hilarious -- all of which is from the point of view in the main guy, I'm sold. Nisekoi is just plain fun, and if you're wont to read some funny romance every now and again, I recommend you give it a try, too. Right now, VIZ Media has released this series up through its second volume in print and sixth volume digitally, so you aren't restricted to just the first few chapters if you were to pick it up right now. If you have the VIZ Media app, you can also sample the first chapter for free before making a purchase-- although I can't emphasize enough that it's only fair to stick around until at least chapter three or four before judging the series.
Nisekoi photo
The fine line between love and hate is laced with violence
Nisekoi turned out to be one of those happy discoveries you sometimes stumble upon when you aren't looking for anything particular, read a silly synopsis, and think, "Why not?" I wasn't too sure what to expect from this comin...

All You Need Is Kill photo
All You Need Is Kill

Simulpub of All You Need is Kill on the way

Manga will release simultaneously in US as well.
Dec 27
// Ben Huber
You might've heard that the Japanese light novel All You Need is Kill is getting a Hollywood movie adaption starring Tom Cruise. Yes, it's a little weird that it's happening at all. Granted, the movie's titled is being change...
Rurouni Kenshin photo
Rurouni Kenshin

First look at live action Rurouni Kenshin's Shishio

I can get behind this
Dec 16
// Elliot Gay
More live action Rurouni Kenshin news has rolled in, this time revealing Tatsuya Fujiwara's version of the fan favorite villain, Makoto Shishio. Much to my personal surprise, the production team clearly didn't stray too far f...
Rurouni Kenshin photo
Rurouni Kenshin

New Rurouni Kenshin visual shows off live action Misao

Tao Tsuchiya is up to bat
Dec 11
// Elliot Gay
We finally have our first image of the live action version of Misao Makimachi from the upcoming pair of Rurouni Kenshin films. As with the rest of the cast, young Tao Tsuchiya looks more than appropriate for the fan favorite ...

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