Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fairy Tail

From the brilliance of Hiro Mashima, who made Groove Adventure Rave [known in the states as Rave Master, which does sound cooler][Review to be done in the next couple of weeks, I'm only halfway through it], we have Fairy Tail [No, thats not a mispelling]- the story about a guild of mage users.

Title: Fairy Tail
Mangaka: Hiro Mashima
Length: As of my posting, 98 chapters in 11 volumes.
Rating: 8/10

Summary: Welcome to a world, populated by mages. A person, even if he can practice magic, is only recognized as a mage if he joins a mage guild, all of which are governed by the Mages Council.

One of the strongest of these guilds is Fairy Tail - a guild that is known to cause mass destruction during their assignments. They have several powerful mages, of which our protagonist, Dragonil Natsu, is one.

Natsu is a mage who uses the dragon slayer magic. He was taught by a dragon, who raised him from when he was young. His magic is that of fire - by consuming it, he can regain strength and heal wounds. He can make it appear in any part of his body, using a mixture of hand to hand combat and magic to fight, which gave him the nickname Salamander. However, the dragon that taught him, disappeared one day, on the seventh day of the seventh month in the year XX77, without a trace.

There are more dragon slayers, of which we've only seen one so far. They all can do the same as Natsu, but each is with a different element. Their dragons all disappeared also.

Natsu takes on assignments with his team, who is consisted of Heartphillia Lucy, a stellar spirit magic user, Fullbuster Gray, an ice user who is also a nimpho-maniac, Scarlet Erza, an Ex-Quipping fighter, and Happy, a talking and flying blue cat.

Hints at a general plot have started to appear, but as for now the arcs are mostly dependant of each other.

Analysis: Its a fun manga to read. The fights are good, even if at first they are all really short. The magic is the most interesting part of the entire deal however - the mangaka comes up with new ways for them to be used alot of times. Its really interesting.

Its also a funny manga. Theres a wide range of characters, and the scenes where they're inside the guild [Which is basically a gigantic bar with a bulletin board], are always a blast to read.

I only have two complaints so far - the first is that each of the plots has to do with the background of one character. Always. Without fail. There have only been 34 exception, each of them spanning a very short amount of chapters. While it is good to explore the characters past, considering that there are only 98 chapters out, I feel like more should be done with the full plot of the manga by now, instead of just the character's pasts. Granted, in some arcs, it plays a minor role [such as the one explaining Lucy's past], but it still annoying. However, the awesomeo fights in those arcs more than make up for it.

The second is the magic. Although I said that I like the magic the best out of anything, I feel like its too loosely defined. Throughout the entire thing they talk about magic power and such, but we're not taught what it is. The closest explination for any of the magics has been about the stellar spirits, but theres still alot of holes there.


Dragonil Natsu: Nicknamed the salamander, he fights with fire. He can create it from any part of the body, and can eat it to replenish himself. He's a very fun loving person, who will do almost anything to get a laugh. He's also a very carefree person, with a quick temper. His dragon was Igneel, from whom he inherited the nickname Salamander from. He's constantly on the lookout for clues as to where Igneel disappeared to. His fatal weakness is a very strong case of motion sickness - if he's on a moving vehicle, he gets very sick and can't do anything.

Heartphillia Lucy: Natsu's first teammate. She's a person who joined Fairy Tail at the beginning of the manga series - and as such, she's the only one sane in the entire guild. Over time she gets used to it. She uses Stellar Spirits, whom once you find the keys for, you create a contract with. Afterwards, you can summon them using the key.

Quick Note about her Stellar Spirits - they all have distinctive personalities, which can make them hard to control sometimes. However, one of them makes a cameo appearance from Groove Adventure Rave. A cookie to whoever figures it out.

Fullbuster Gray: Natsu's rival, at the start. Whenever they meet, they always have an argument, and can only be shut up by two people - Lucy, and Erza [who had to beat them up in order to do so]. He's a nympho-maniac, who doesn't realize when he's undressing. Its a result of his training to learn how to use ice alchemy. He joins the team later on after being forced by Erza, and now does it full time.

Scarlet Erza: One of the strongest in Fairy Tail, she is an Ex-Quipper - a form of magic that can equip and dequip armor and weapons very quickly. She always wears armor, can switches quite often to suit the needs - whether its flame resistant armor when battleing Natsu, or a fancy dress when going to the casino [Didn't know that that was classified as armor ... But oh well]. She's one of the only mages that fights fully physically, hardly ustilizing magic in her attacks. She's a very tempermental girl, and has a rather large temper. As a result she is respected, at first through fear, then through power.

Happy: Natsu's ever-present companion, he's a talking blue cat. That can grow wings.

Need I say more?

Makarov: He's the master of Fairy Tail, and one of the 10 Great Holy Mages. He uses his magic to expand parts of his body to fight - whether making his arm super long to stop someone from moving, or growing to the size of a giant for general all purpose smashing.

There are more characters, but I needn't name them now.

Its a good manga to read, and releases are frequent. The reason I gave it an 8 is because, like I said, I would like to see more of a general plot, instead of just exploring character backgrounds.

A quick look at Fairy Tail headquarters - This is a calm day.

Natsu using one of his main attacks, a punch surrouned by flame.

Erza Ex-Quipping one of her armors, the Knight

Gray freezing an enemy in one display of Ice Prowess. He can do alot more, I assure you.

I could have gotten better images but I was really lazy ... Sorry

Now, I have alot of work over the next couple of weeks until school starts, so I probably won't have alot of time to do anything anime/manga related. If I do though, I'll post a review soon after. Remember, please read comments, and subscribe to the RSS feed.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne

Title: Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
Author: Tanemura Arina
Length: 30 Chapters compiled in 7 Volumes
Rating: 5/10

Summary: The Phantom Theif [Kaitou], Jeanne, has been stealing art for a month or two. However, not all is as it seems - Jeanne is really Maron, a highschooler, who is the reincarnation of Joan of Arc. She has been selected by Kami-sama [God] to seal the demons in the world. These demons have been placed by Maou in artwork. The person who owns the artwork is possessed, and turns into a cold version of himself. When Maron transforms into Jeanne with the help of her angel, Fin, she can checkmate a spirit and seal it away into a chess piece, stealing the art's deceptive beauty.

However, it all changes when Kaitou Sinbad, appears on the scene, along with the new cute neighbor that moved in, Chiaki. When they are discovered to be the right hand of Maou himself, while Maron falls in love with Chiaki, what will happen?

Analysis: The drawing is typical for a shojo manga. Its also kind of weird seeing the fights, which are kinda just splayed in there.

This manga is more of one for romance and nostalgia-like content. At first, the plot is a bit fuzzy - you really have to read the first volume and a half in order to understand whats going on. Before that, you're just like 'what is going on here?'

Other than that, its got the magic shojo touch of being able to work your emotions into liking the romance plot. This is a manga more about feelings than anything else.

It started to get a bit boring halfway through, but don't give up on it. Theres a major plot twist that is actually pretty cool, that just about changes the entire plot, and the ending is pretty decent.

I didn't write alot for this manga, because quite frankly, there isn't that much to write about. Its not that good a manga. The reason it gets a 5 is because of the plot twist and because of the hooking ness of the romance plot [which has been uverused SO many times but is still addictive ...]. Asides from that, its a quick read - I managed to get through it all, with some breaks, in a couple of hours. It was a good boredome reliever, if for a short time

Hopefully to post again with something a bit better ...

Congradulations Michael Phelps

Congradulations, Michael Phelps!

In case you all didn't know, he got 8 gold medals in one olympics, as well as has gotten the most career Olympic golds. He's the best Olympian in the world right now.

And its bloody amazing.

Additionally, to the right I added a RSS feeds thing. It makes it easier to keep track of when I've updated the blog. There are many things that you can use to read them - it lists a few.

I'm reading a new manga now, I'll write the review when I finish it (probably later tonight)


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Angel Densetsu

Sorry for the wait - I had alot on my plate this week.

Angel Densetsu
Mangaka: Norihiro Yagi
Length: 84 Chapters compiled in 15 Volumes
Genre: Action, Comedy, Slice of Life
Rating: 9/10

At the end of this dreamless, hopeless, inhospitable century,
There was a boy who possessed a serenly honest and simple heart.
But his outward appearance ...
From his tiny black irises ...
To his year-round ghost-pale skin and black marks under his eyes, which made him look like a patient in for heroin overdose ...
His eyebrows were nearly non-existant, and he had to use liberal application of hair gel to keep his vicious bed-head under control...
And so he looked like this

[I had another picture here, but I decided to remove it, as its a great picture that you should only see after reading the context.]
Yes, as you can see, the picture is very scary.
That is the premise of this manga. The main character, Kitano Seiichiro, has the nicest heart that you could ever imagine. He always suspects the best in people, and doesn't know the meaning of evil. Because of this view of the world, he misunderstands everything - as do people about him.
Because of his demonic looks, people always assume that he is the devil, an evil in the mortal world. This causes alot of halarious misunderstandings, with people attacking him or running away to defeat/get away from the evil. Some people actually take this to extremes and think that he actually is the devil.
To explain [slight spoilers for the first chapter]
He joins his new school, Hekiku High. He's late in going to the principals office, as it is his first time in the city. Upon seeing him, the principal makes it his life goal to get the demon spawn expelled from his school. After going to class, everyone misunderstands what he says [which is along the lines of I'm a very nice guy], taking it as a sign of his utter strength that he can say something like that. After school, he goes to pick up trash around the school. He sees some litter behind an alleyway, and after picking up a tree trunk that had broken off [and therefor littering] goes to investigate it. In the alley there is the school guardian, Kuroda, whose taking a smoke with his friends [which is illegal in japan]. Upon seeing Seichiiro, they panic, then 'toughen up' for a fight, as they believe that he's there to obliterate them. Seichiiro looses his balance because he's carrying such a large log, and runs forwards and almost brains Kuroda. They surrender, and Seichiiro becomes the new guardian.
[End of slight spoilers]

That is just one small example that pales to the rest of the manga. Throughout it, he makes friends - some because of respect for the new guardian, some for realizing that he isn't such a bad guy afterall. People from the 'shadowy seven', an ultimate group of guidance counselors, try to 'take care' of him. He runs into romantic problems, as well as people from around the city thinking of him as a demon. Add into this an innate fighting sense, and the problems escalate even further.

Next, the artwork.
Alot of people might get turned off of it at first, because the first chapter's artwork isn't the best. That is for two reasons. One, the first chapter was intended as a one-shot, and quite a large amount of time passed between that and the second chapter. Second, in order to achieve the dramatic effects as noted above, the mangaka uses a minimalistic art style for this manga. He uses the bare minimal lines in order to make the drawings, and then really lays them on for more dramatic images, such as when focused on Seichiiro. [One of the highlights of the manga is whenever if focuses on his face like that, and he says something that a normal, peace loving person would. The way that you read it, [and the way that the people in the manga see it], because of the face, you imagine him saying it an 'evil' voice, which causes you to 'know' that he means the complete opposite. The great thing about it though, is that he DOESN'T mean the opposite, he truly means what he says.]
Sometimes, the artwork gives you shudders.
Another great part is how he uses contrast to achieve great effects.

Need I say more?

Cast of Characters [Its a brief summary without giving too much away]:

Kitano Seichiiro - The protagonist of the series. Has a face like the devil, but in reality is the kindest boy in the world. Has an innate fighting sense that furthers the 'he's the devil'! [Read the manga to see what I mean] Often 'Yells', in which he says something, but people can't understand it.

Koiso Ryoko - Heir to the Koiso Kobujutsu Dojo. She is the first one to realize who Seichiiro truly is, and a romance eventually develops.

Kuroda - The former guardian of the school, he's a real wuss. He constantly tries to beat Seichiiro for the affections of Ryoko.

Ikuno - Daughter of one of the shadowy seven, she becomes friends with Seichiiro. She has almost no feelings, and says everything in a very blunt way. She doesn't have much common sense or anything like it. Her body occasionally 'slips' up to help people in need, without her realizing it.

Takehisa - Seiichiro's first friend, he's a thug who was 'beaten' by Seichiiro. He fiercly protects Seiichiro, and is very loyal. Throughout the series, he eventually realizes that Seichiiro is a good person, but doesn't want to admit it.

Analysis: One of the best manga's I've read. The mangaka really uses the style of drawing to really bring out the events in the story, as well as create stunning effects that will leave you with chills down your back. The plot is good, and its funny. My only bug about it is that for about the first half of the manga, Kuroda is the one that causes most of the 'grief'. He's a real pain.
As the manga moves on, it deviates from short one-or-two shots and goes into arcs that can last a volume or more. There are great fighting scenes. A great part in the many stories are the fact that so much can escelate from a minor misunderstanding and such.

One thing that this manga teaches you is really, not to judge people based on appearances. Everyone assumes that Seichiiro is a really bad guy, and therefor take any action he does to the worst extreme, while if someone else did it, they would see it as a nice thing.

Another thing that it teaches you is how blatantly STUPID people are, by further expanding on the first point. People tend to over analyze everything based on what they see, when in fact the truth is nothing close to that. You'll see alot of it in the manga.

A great part in the manga is that you see it from both sides. While you laugh at what someone is doing, you shake you head at the stupidity of what someone else is doing. You know everything that is going on, therefor you see the stupidity of the other people.

So, as I've said many times in this review, this is a great manga. Its one of my personal favorites, and I hope that it becomes yours too.

Hopefully, my next post won't take so much time. Until then

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Angelic Layer

Hey there.
There is an Angelic Layer Manga and Anime. However, because its been a while since I've read the manga and I just finished the anime, I'm only going to talk about the anime.

Title: Angelic Layer
Genre: Action, Comedy, Shojo-ish
Rating: 6/10

Plot Summary: Suzuhara Misaki moves to Tokyo city in order to attend school and for a hope that she will see her mother, who left 7 years previous to work in Tokyo. After exiting the station, she sees on a big screen two people fighting. However, these are not people - rather they are Angels, which are dolls controlled by a Deus. These dolls are custom made, and they fight in Angelic Layer, which is the name of the sport. She is told all this by the scientist Icchan, who walked up to her and started telling her this stuff. Ignoring the possibibility that he might be a lolicon [AKA, pedophile][He isn't], she followed him into the Anglelic Layer store, where he went and showed her what to buy to create her own angel. After creating her own Angel, who she called Hikaru [which means Light], and making friends, Kotaro and Tamayo, she enters tournaments and goes on to become the Kiseki no Rookie [Miracle Rookie].

Analysis [Contains Spoilers][Highlight to View]: Its a decent enough anime. Its done by CLAMP, which makes some good anime/manga, but I do have some problems with it. Early on in the series, Kotaro developes a crush on Misaki, which is teased upon by Tamayo. However, later on in the series, Tamayo admits that she's had a crush on Kotaro for a long time. If thats the case, why did she even push him onto Misaki to start with? The other thing I can't get around is the fact that she is the Kiseki no Rookie. She starts playing, and then she never looses. She only lost once, and that was too Kotaro's little genius sister, Hatoko. She beat every opponent after that, continuously gaining in strength, without really appearing to. Additionally, the Champion, Shuko, who is her mom, lost to her. When she hadn't lost to 77 or so other players. Finally, there is the matter with her mom. Her mom, quite frankly, is a wuss. A gigantic one. She's afraid to see Misaki, because she's afraid of what Misaki will think of her. She doesn't want Misaki to see her in a wheelchair. However, by postponing it, isn't she just making it worse?

End of Spoilers

Analysis [No Spoilers]: Some of the fights are cool. I think that the plot is a bit iffy, but its a 26 episode show expanded from a 25 or so chapter manga. There really isn't much you can do with it. I think that the comedic moments are great, but sometimes it just pushes it. Some of the fights are good, some are bad. It seems like in order to make a new plot point in the fight, they introduce something, that they can miraculously explain away in all of the previous fights. While sometimes, it works, but other times ... I just can't buy it. Theres only so much you can ignore.
Additionally, when you 'launch' angels onto the layer, you say an opening shpeal. Which is kinda lame. And I really dont see how Hikaru can fall like the way that she does in that.

There isn't really much to the anime except for the tournament. The first 4 or so episodes deal with her starting, and then there is the tournament. The rest of the plot then deals with the tournament. The unimportant matches get an entire episode, and some of the 'big' matches, you never see the character again. If you do, its very very minor.

This is a cute anime, and ok for a laugh. Some of the fights are good, while others are meh. Watch it if you want.

First Image - Icchan talking to Misaki when she buys the Angel Egg.
Second Image - Athena, Angel to the Champion, launching her ultimate attack.

First Image - Hikaru on the Layer, with Misaki sitting in the controlling egg behind her.
Second Image - Hikaru kicking Mao, an opposing angel, during the same fight.

There are better images that I could get, but I have the episodes in .ogm format, which makes them hard to look through.


Friday, August 8, 2008

What is Manga?

Manga. The, to the general public, less known 'form' of anime.

That is actually a misconception. Manga is usually the basis for most anime out there. Many anime series are developed using the plotline and characters from the manga, usually with some edits involded. These edits sometimes add new characters, change the plot, or make it so that the entire plot can fit within a nice 26-52 range of episodes.

Manga is the japaneese form of graphic novels. There is also Manwha, which is the korean form, but that is not concernable right now. Manga is created in a right to left format, instead of a left to right format, and each page is split into panels [I wonder why I said that part ... it seems obvious.]

Manga has much more forms of art than anime does, mostly because most anime is done by companies, whereas each manga is written by a different person, each of them called Mangakas. There are some cases where a manga is drawn by a group of people, where each of them does a certain part of the drawing process, such as one person does characters, another does backgrounds, and such like that.

Occasionally, two people write a manga. One of them is the plot 'director', while the other one draws. This happens quite often in fact - two popular mangas, Death Note and Hikaru no Go, were both drawn by Takeshi Obata, though written by different people.

A flashback page from Death Note. Many flashback pages are colored in black instead of the usual white to show that they are indeed flashbacks. Notice how the use of contrast between the light and dark are used to give the characters a more evil look than they would normally have.

A scene from Hanazaki Kimitachi [For You in Full Bloom], a shojo manga. Notice how the style of the manga is different than the ones before and after. This form is typical for most shojo mangas. Notice the large kanji behind the girl in ithe last panel. This is common in most mangas, and are called sfx [special effects], and are used to show sound or emotion and the like.

A two page scene from Flame of Recca. This shwos a more free-form panel distribution, with panels just floating in the page. In the right, it is up to the reader to distinguish the 'panels' for him/her self.

A page from Ai Kora [Love College]. Note how in the first panel, there are lines. These lines are called action lines and are used to focus in on one thing in the panel. Additionally, notice how in the last two panels, the guy suddenly 'chibifies', and motions are greately exagerated. These are used as a form of comedy.

An action scene from the manga Psyren. Note how the Action Lines, are used to show motion in fights, as well as focus on one thing as shown above.

The title page for Full Metal Alchemist. Most manga chapters start with something like this.

The previous pages are some good examples of the styles and artwork associated with manga.

Manga can be divided up into the same way that Anime is - shonen, shojo, romance, action, etcetera. Many people enjoy only a certain type, but often times the types are intertwined - you will find action mangas with some romance themes in them. The same is true for anime.

There are many more mangas than animes.

Manga is usually distributed in magazines, that only contain one 'chapter' of a manga. These chapters, if the series is good enough, will be published in volumes, or tanboken as they're known in japan. Mangas can run for various amounts of time and chapters, and are published every week, every two weeks, or every month.

I hope this has helped you a bit on what manga is.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

What is Anime?

Anime. We know it, we love it.

But what exactly is it?

Anime is, in its simplest sense, Japaneese cartoons. Its name comes from what it was origionally called, Japanimation, which eventually was just shortened to anime, although how they got the 'mey' sound, I don't know.

Anime is used in many things - TV shows being the most common example. They can also be used in some movies, and if you want to stretch it a bit, computer games.

Anime got its start in the 1920s, when Japaneese people decided to experiment with - guess what - animation. It then quickly grew in the 1930s as a way to make settings and have plots that simply were not possible given technology. It further grew as a simplication of American animation techniques, to make things even cheapter. This has been continueing to this day, with alot of anime being drawn by computers nowadays instead of by hand.

Anime is a way to show things that couldn't be possible in this world, or even just elaborate on this world. Many times, there will be plots where someone gets magical powers, or gigantic robots come and fight. Anime is just a different form of story telling, that can cover wide ranges of subjects. These can include shonen [male stuff], shoujo [female stuff], romance, action, drama, comedy, bits of everyday life [which probably similar to a sitcom], and many more things.

There is a certain 'art' to anime. Every artist in cubism draws slightly differently, yet they are all still considered to be cubists. It is much the same way for anime. There are great similarities in most anime works - however, each has its own unique style. Many times people will watch an anime just for its glorious artwork, and discard another for its horrible one. The artwork can greatly affect the mood of the scene, amplifying the viewer's emotions.

A picture from Angelic Layer, depicting the so called 'chibi'[childish] side to anime. Note how the person in the back isn't well defined line-wise, and lighting falls pretty much uniformly on him.

Two images from Death Note, depicting a more dramatic style of drawing. Note how the light falls across the face, and how there is much more detail in order to give a more evil, dramatic feel to the images.

Asides from those points, most people watch anime because its fun to watch. You can immerse yourself in another world, with a whole other set of characters, and live through them things that you could never do yourself. [Much like little kids who play superhero after watching superman, but most of the time people don't do that. Unless they're at conventions. But conventions break all known rules of life because they're that awesome.]

People from all walks of life watch anime. Most people don't admit it, however, in America, because its considered 'uncool'. Well, I assure you, it isn't. Many people that say it is such havn't actually watched anime, but they've been told its bad so they don't even try it. Alot of people that watch it get hooked, and continue to watch anime and immerse themselves in fantastic worlds of adventure, drama, romance, and all that sort of stuff. [Kind of makes you wish that it was like that every day.]

Anyways, I hope that that has slightly cleraed up what Anime is. Soon I'll post a post saying what manga is, then I'll get to the actual reviews.