Review: Blood + and Bleach

August 14, 2007

Blood +episodes 18-20 (DUBBED)

20 episodes in and we finally find out Saya is a chiropteran, the creature she has been assigned to kill. Other than this “shocking” news, these episodes play out much like the rest of the series. Saya is confronted by a chiropteran, she loses blood, her buddy/stalker is stabbed in the chest, she lies unconscious in the snow, and somehow in the next episode they both survive with no wounds whatsoever. But it appears that they’ll finally introduce a storyline involving the “chevaliers” which have been name dropped a few times before.

The only thing Blood + has going for it right now is the current theme song “Season’s Call” performed by Hyde, the vocalist for L’arc~en~ciel. The show is extremely repetitive with it’s stand-alone style episodes. This is what every episode of Blood + is about, Saya disappears to fight a chiropteran while her adopted brother Kai and Riku search all over for her. For now I’ll let the DVR record more episodes for the chevalier arc but once school starts I’ll probably forget all about this series.


Bleachepisodes 42-44 (DUBBED)

After volume 17 of the manga I was underwhelmed and stopped reading this series. However since Shonen Jump plans to serialize the manga post-Soul Society arc I decided I should try to catch up and what a great point to restart watching this series. These three episodes focus on one of my favorite characters, Uryu Ishida the quincy. Uryu encounters the captain of 12th squad, Mayuri Kurotshuchi, a Joker looking character, after being recognized as an intruder. What ensues is your typical shonen style fight. Uryu tries to protect his honor as a quincy for his deceased grandfather and Mayuri’s slave while being brutally beaten by the enemy. Of course Uryu taps into latent power and overcomes said bad guy who just barely escapes by turning himself into a liquid.



Review: Trinity Blood

August 12, 2007

Over the course of the summer, dozens of anime episodes have been accumulating on my DVR.  In the hopes of going through them all before fall semester starts,  I will be posting mini-reviews of each series.  They do not pertain to the series as a whole but to the said episode numbers.  Follow up reviews may or may not occur.

Trinity Bloodepisodes 9-11 (dubbed)

Overcount I. The Belfry of Downfall & Overcount II. Lucifer’s Choice. In an unexpected turn of events, Trinity Blood airs episodes that actually advances the plot. In the previous episode Father Abel and Sister Noelle investigate rumors in Barcelona. Noelle tells Abel that she’s always loved him, Abel tells Noelle he has feelings for her. How sweet, romance in the Vatican! And then Noelle dies from invisible sound waves emitted from a cathedral bell. Abel spends this two part episode wondering around with a vacant look on his face. In the meantime, Lady Caterina finds the secret plans that Noelle uncovered in the cathedral at Barcelona for the destructive sound wave device. Having checked all the cathedral bells in Rome, there is only one left, the bell Caterina’s uncle, the Archbishop brought into the Vatican himself. Punished for even questioning the allegiances of her uncle, Caterina is sent into confinement where her uncle reveals his plan to destroy Rome as revenge for not being elected for papacy 5 years ago. Luckily our heroes stop the Archbishop before any more of Rome is destroyed no thanks to Abel who just stands there refusing to kill the enemy for he has sworn never to kill again. Spare me the Rurouni Kenshin philosophy and grow some balls you vampire scum.

From the Empire. Now we return to our regular scheduled stand alone episodes, and here I thought we were making progress. Abel teams up with another agent of the empire, Astharoshe, to hunt down another vampire mass murderer. Astharoshe hates Terrans, what we call humans or muggles, and is still under the impression Abel belongs to that category. To skip a lot of crap, they defeat the vampire who was trying to assassinate his Holyness and Astharoshe discovers she has feelings for Abel. How sweet, romance in the Vatican! Is anyone noticing a pattern here? I’ll continue to watch the show because I want to see how terrible the ending is like everyone says.


Review: Shonen Jump September 2007

August 4, 2007

On the cover: Naruto strikes a pose for the third month in a row. Remember when I used to complain when Yu-Gi-Oh! was on the cover every other month? I wouldn’t mind so much if they used a secondary character from the series such as Sasuke or even Sakura (*gasp* a girl!). On the back cover, SJ finally gave in and placed an ad for Ball Park Hot Dogs. The previous 56 issues always used the same cover on the back as the front but with altered text in places.

Naruto: 5 chapters!  After denying the title of 5th Hokage, Jiraiya sets out to find the 3rd “great ninja of Konoha legend” (Tsunade if you’re keeping up with the anime on Cartoon Network).  Jiraiya asks if Naruto could accompany him on his travels.  Meanwhile in town, the infamous Uchiha Itachi returns.  Kakashi and fellow ninja academy instructors hold Itachi and his companion at bay but Kakashi is badly wounded from Itachi’s nightmare realm technique.  Kakashi realizes that Itachi has not come back for his brother Sasuke but the 9 tailed fox in Naruto.  Having seen the anime episodes for this a couple months ago, nothing here surprised me.  I was disappointed in the nightmare realm technique which only lasted for a full two pages.  In the anime the technique took up at least five minutes where Kakashi was brutally stabbed by numerous Itachi clones while nailed on a cross in a black and white world.                                  3/5

Bobobo-bo bo-bobo:  Every time I turn the page to see the latest chapter of Bobobo “wiggin out every month” I want to stab my eyes out.  I couldn’t even tell you what this series is about, it makes no sense whatsoever.  However, I will now try to explain this month’s adventure.  Bobobo and company are hanging over a vat of lava, or something, tied to ropes battling other people tied to ropes.  The author tries to imput a “joke” into just about every panel but none of it works at all.  Most embarrassing is Bobobo’s latest ally, Emoboy, a boy with a paperbag for a head who threatens to cut the rope holding him from certain death literally every other page.  The only thing keeping him from killing himself is the word “cookies” to which Emoboy enthusiastically runs to Bobobo.     0/5

Yu Yu Hakusho:  Yusuke and company have just been informed by Genkai about the  latest gateway between the human world and the demon plane.  In time, the gateway will expand large enough so that S Class demons can invade which will lead the Earth to certain doom.  Employing the help of a physic (who has received his special power from the gateway along with many other humans), Yusuke and company finally find the man behind this mess, one who is even more powerful than Toguro.  They have three more weeks until the demon gateway reaches full capacity, Genkai advises them to take that time to train themselves for this greater evil.              4/5

Hikaru no Go:  Always a favorite of mine, Hikaru is battling in the last couple of matches for the Pro test.  Competing against a close friend and fellow insei, Waya, Hikaru gives his all under pressure.  This is the 3rd time Waya is competing in the Pro test and is determined to make it his last.  With Hikaru’s stones surrounded, Waya believes that his time has finally come.  At times HnG is difficult to understand through the Go terminology but ultimately is the most fast paced and readable series in the magazine.              4/5

One Piece: Drum Island! Nami is cured by the old-bat doctor but these three chapters focus mainly on the doc’s helper, Tony Tony Chopper. Chopper is a blue nosed reindeer who has eaten of the devil fruit and can now walk and talk like a normal human being. However, Chopper was never accepted in society by his reindeer peers or the humans. There was only one man who he trusted but even he had to leave Chopper. These events left a hole in his heart which even the witch doctor can’t cure. However, once Luffy finds out about the Chopper’s medical skills he immediately asks him to join his pirate crew. Can Chopper put his trust in another human? 3/5

Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium World: I’m surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed this part of the series so far. Yugi and company travel into the pharaoh’s memories of Egypt to discover his “other self’s” true name. Only when he knows this name can he pass safely to the afterlife. Having found it a couple of issues ago, Yugi can now let him rest in peace but first he needs to battle his other self in a duel! Most importantly Yugi must beat his other self, Atem, it’s his last mission as the person who has put the millennium puzzle together. 4/5

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Worthless series added last winter to fill in the gap for the other Yu-Gi-Oh! series which will wrap up in the November issue. For all I know, the GX series is an exact adaptation of the anime on TV. In this issue the headmaster of Obelisk Blue makes Jaden battle close friend Syrus. If Jaden loses, he loses his beloved deck of cards. If Syrus loses, he is expelled from the academy. In this chapter we receive pictures of at least two dozen cards from the game. This is not a manga, this is an advertisement with no heart. 0/5

Closing thoughts: Being the 3rd month of SJ Evolution, I’ve never been so disappointed in this magazine. A year ago I would’ve never thought that there would be not just 1 but 2 manga in the magazine that I absolutely hate. The full chapter previews that were present in the magazine for years for their straight to graphic novel line-up have all disappeared. They love to advertise them and even place pictures of them on the cover but the most we ever get are a one page write up of Kurohime in the back of the magazine which I could’ve easily found on wikipedia. At this point, I’m only reading to keep up with Hikaru no Go, Yu Yu Hakusho and the end of Millennium World. Hopefully with the inclusion of Bleach later this year, the magazine will be re energized, let not the death of Shaman King be in vein!

Disney’s Kilala Princess volume 1

June 20, 2007

Title: Kilala Princess volume 1

Art: Nao Kodaka

Story: Rika Tanaka

Publisher: Tokyopop 

Growing up, I remember my mother bought a pair of “Disney Princesses” dresses for my sister from the Disney Store to wear on Sundays and/or other “special” occasions.  There’s still a picture of her as “Snow White” hanging in the living room.  While I was browsing the shelfs at the local library a week ago I came across this graphic novel, Kilala Princess, a story much like Kingdom Hearts where random anime looking characters go on an adventure and bump into several Disney characters along the way.

Kilala, just like my sister (who vehemently rejected this comic when I handed it to her), grew up watching and admiring all the Disney Princesses.  Her cute and adorable best friend Erica is in the running to win the school’s prized Princess Contest whose winner gets to wear the beloved tiara on display.  Yes, Kilala wants the tiara but she is not jealous, she only worries that her best friend will not have the time for her anymore.  What follows is a very romantic looking glare between the two but hold up! this is a Disney comic! can’t have any lesbian characters!

Kilala returns home only to find a mythical looking boy lying on her front lawn.  He wakes up in her bed only to find her wearing the mystical looking tiara he brought with him! The boy, Rei, and his friend Valdou has come to find the 7th princess, the true owner of the tiara who can save their world from destruction!  Kilala just knows that they’re talking about Erica and so they run to her school to the Princess Contest in the auditorium.  Just as Kilala expected, her best friend won but they can’t find her.  She hears a scream and runs to the back of the school only to find men in black dragging Erica into a car.  Apparently, Kilala isn’t the only one to suspect Erica a princess!

They follow the car into the forest where they encounter a gate that Kilala has seen before.  She places the tiara on her head and it opens for her.  What’s the first thing that she sees? The 1st Disney Princess, Snow White! Although Kilala and company have been transformed into dwarves, she is thrilled to meet her idol.  Not wanting to waste anytime, Rei and Kilala remember their mission and decide the “magic mirror” in the Snow White castle will tell them where to find Erica.  Will the mirror tell them where the fairest of all was taken or will they too be captured?

Unlike the movies that inspired this story, Kilala Princess is no masterpiece.  However it does have that Disney charm not to mention Disney characters themselves.  It succeeds where other Disney manga like Kingdom Hearts fails.  The shoujo style characters give an emotional depth to the characters that you wouldn’t expect.  Considering the title of this series, I think it’s safe to say that Kilala is the true 7th Princess our journeyers are searching for but you never know.  Maybe just like my sister, Kilala is pretending to be the princesses that she admires.  In either cases, Kilala isn’t in this to find the princess of the magical kingdom, she just wants to see her friend safe and at home.

Rating: 3/5

Read a preview here.

Train Man (novel)

June 1, 2007

Title: Train Man

Author: Hitori Nakano

Publisher: Del Rey

Sorry. I may end up betraying you guys. Little did he know that soon after he’d post these words on a famous message board, his life and the lives of fellow geeks would soon change forever. Train Man’s story is deceptively simple, geek meets girl, falls in love, and then back to the internet to ask for “advice.” Train Man’s story is told in it’s online format, similar to how it would look if you pulled out a random message board thread out of a google search.

One day, the man soon to be named Train noticed an old drunk harassing a group of women on you guessed it…a train. Culling up all his energy, the young man confronted said drunk. Soon after, Train and the ladies file police reports and claim Train a hero. Thinking nothing of this event other than wasting the lovely girls time at the station, he went home. Soon after he receives a package in the mail from one of the girls. In it is a set of two tea cups. After reporting the day’s events on the message board he soon finds out these cups, the Hermes brand, are very expensive. Not knowing what to do he asks his netizens what exactly does this mean. Is “Hermes” interested in him? Surely she wouldn’t waste so much money on him if not! After gathering words of wisdom from the board, he finally decides to break his years of silence and call a girl.  Train returns later to inform the board that he has indeed arranged a meeting with “Lady Miss Hermes.”

Originally planning only to thank Hermes for the cups, Train develops feelings for her and consults the board on everything from how to wear his hair and what clothes are fashionable.  Train receives a next date by asking to be her “dinner buddy” to try out new and different restaurants in downtown Tokyo after her other friend moved on.  Soon enough, Hermes and Train email each other constantly and Train is beginning to wonder if she has feelings for him as well.  Amidst all this drama, the geeks on the forum encourage Train on although they know that he may be leaving their ranks soon.  They have seen Train transform from a reluctant recluse who’s afraid to leave his computer to a strong young man with a Hermes by his side.

Train Man is based off a real story that has spawned a movie, several manga, and a TV series.  Outside of the TV series, this novel is the last of the property to hit America.  The message board that Train posts on is called 2 channel, where users can post anonymously. These anonymous posts often drag the story down since we can’t attribute the “advice” to anyone.  This in effect only allows Train and Hermes any spotlight.  This novel is an abridgment of the original threads as can be seen by the headlines of the posts left intact.  This has made the story rather one sided as we only see the ones helping and encouraging Train.  There are some disbelievers but all the posts are positive.  There are mentions of “bombings” but we generally have no idea what these people are referring to other than “When’s Train entering the thread?  I have a feeling he’s going to drop a bomb on us!”  I have a tough time believing that someone can just enter a forum and be loved by everyone.

Del Rey opted to use the British translation for this release which will leave many Americans confused.  The famous word otaku is left as the British word “anorak,” a term used for a _____ geek (Star Wars anorak, anime anorak, etc.).  Another thing that amused me is that although this is based off real events, Del Rey for some reason included the “Train Man is a work of fiction” disclaimer at the beginning of the novel. The content for the most part is readable however there is still some slang I still don’t understand after googling (wtf benwah?)

Although not as exciting as watching these events play out in real time on your computer, Train Man offers a lot to everyone.  It’s the classic story of the geek who is able to get the girl through hard work and dedication.  The format although hard to understand for internet illiterates, is a welcome change for the rest of us.  This is truly a breeze to read.  I also marvel at all the smilies and symbol figures that these people have come up with (most can’t be typed by a QWERTY keyboard) ranging from cat faces to bomb shelters to various other cartoon characters.  Train Man is truly a story for the internet-generation.

Rating: 4/5