Seraph of the End Episode #08 Anime Review

Seraph of the End Episode #08 Anime Review One step forward, three steps back

What They Say:
After the world was infected by a mysterious virus, a pair of orphans named Mikael and Yuichiro find themselves being enslaved by vampires. One day they try to escape alongside the other orphans and all end up being slaughtered by vampires leaving only Yuichiro to escape. Upon reaching the outside world, he joins a group dedicated to defeating the vampires and swears to one day have his revenge.

The Review:
Content (warning as some portions of this review may contain spoilers):

*ssssiiiiiiiggghhhhh….* I guess I spoke too soon. Last week’s episode offered a chance at a much needed reprimand to Yu’s character through the introduction of Mitsuba who’s entirely against his usual antics. It was something the show really needed but as I said before, how well it would actually work depended on how the show chose to make them understand each others point of view. Unfortunately in typical fashion, the show chose the option that best validates Yu, and does so in the laziest way possible.

The gang continues their operation to rescue the captured citizens from vampires and Yu rushes in head first to take one of them out. Mitsuba reprimands him for being reckless but he claims he “really wasn’t” since he waited for the order to attack technically (the first of many “technicalities” with this episode’s writing) and she’s impressed by his fighting abilities when he saves her from a surprise attack. It’s already pretty clear where this is headed and it’s pretty much confirmed when Mitsuba gets caught by one of the vampires and relives the trauma she faced when she watched her comrade die before, as she orders the others to leave her behind. Yu of course decides not to listen and saves her anyway. To really hammer in the cliches here, Yu even gives a ridiculous speech on human nature concerning their desire to protect family and while it’s clear we’re supposed to take it seriously, it just comes off as extremely silly. It doesn’t help that the animation takes a step down and the fight looks mostly average with the end of the vampire raid happening off-screen.

After the raid goes down, Mitsuba decides to ask Shinoa why Yu acts the way he does and Shinoa decides to tell her about Yu’s past. What we’re supposed to buy from this is that she’s starting to see things from Yu’s standpoint and understands his behavior even if she doesn’t fully agree with it. In truth however, it’s obvious that she now has a crush on him and that’s allowing her to start handwaving his usual behavior (even the words “you didn’t do anything wrong” are actually uttered after this, although at least in context it’s justifiable, albeit groaning). The former’s not terribly surprising given the kind of show it is and it’s also not surprising it would lead to the latter but given that the show really needed someone to make Yu’s character back down a little, it’s a bit of a shame(the saving grace of all this is that Shinoa at least has the decency to point out the obvious love comedy tropes).

Sadly that’s not quite the end of this week’s Yu validation as after a few good gags at his expensive concerning his mad (horrible) driving skills, the group heads to Shinjuku. Before they can quite get there though, they’re stopped at the entrance by a vampire noble named Crowley, and things seemingly take a turn for the worse when two more vampires show up. Thankfully for them, the vampires were only there to retrieve the noble as they have business else where and the gang is spared for now. Yu’s none too pleased about being underestimated and wants to get stronger to defeat them but Shinoa tells him that it’s no good if he gets stronger on his own since they have to function as a group and it’s why teamwork is essential.

This would actually be a pretty good reprimand for his usual behavior except that Shinoa almost immediately takes it back by thanking him for considering the notion to retreat at some point since it shows he’s making a step in the right direction despite it not clicking well with his earlier behavior. It’s like the show wants you to believe Yu is developing as a character without going through any of the actual motions of character development. Obviously it isn’t something that’s really detrimental to the kind of show this is but I wish it would try a little harder.

In Summary:

After dishing out a surprisingly good episode the last time, this one almost completely takes back all the good will that gave it by going back to square one with Yu’s character problems. I guess at least on the bright side we at least have some action to distract from that but given this didn’t quite deliver well on that front either, it’s kind of frustrating. Hopefully there’s a little improvement in at least the latter of those two things for the next time because I have the feeling the former’s going to stick for a long, long time.

Grade: B-

Streamed By: Funimation, Hulu

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Headshots From ‘Berserk’ Feature Shown Off

Headshots From ‘Berserk’ Feature Shown Off Berserk Golden Age Arc I: Egg of the Supreme Ruler has a bit of time until its January debut where it will cover supposedly the first ten volumes of the manga, but that’s not stopping the flow of information. Three headshots made it out today from Studio 4°C that shows off the main characters of Guts, Griffith and Casca. They’re the base modeling designs to show how they look and can be adjusted to the particular scene, so they’re not hugely detailed at this point and we have seen some other shots that looked a bit more intense from the few promotional materials released. Naoyuki Onda’s designs for the principal characters is solid though and these give us a good idea of how similar they are to both the previous anime incarnation and the source material manga. Click the images below for larger shots.

Headshots From ‘Berserk’ Feature Shown Off
Headshots From ‘Berserk’ Feature Shown Off

[Source: Crunchyroll ]

Japanese ‘Tomorrowland’ Trailer Adds New Footage

Japanese ‘Tomorrowland’ Trailer Adds New Footage The trailer for Tomorrowland that debuted earlier this week certainly perked up interest compared to the teaser trailer we had several months ago, and now we’re getting a look at a bit more footage from elsewhere in the world. The Japanese trailer has a lot of really interesting aspects to it and it also clears up what the story, or at least its foundations, are all about.

Set for release on May 22nd, 2015, the film is directed by Brad Bird based on the screenplay by him and Damon Lindelof. It stars George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Tim McGray and Kathryn Hahn.

Plot concept: Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.

Tomorrowland – Japanese trailer by charles-madison

The US Trailer:

Grindhouse: Drive In, Bleed Out #5 Review

Grindhouse: Drive In, Bleed Out #5 Review Grindhouse never cops out when the heat’s all about.

Creative Staff:
Story and Letters: Alex de Campi
Art: Mulele Jarvis
Colorist: Marissa Louise

What They Say:
It had to happen! Grindhouse goes blaxploitation! When the US has trouble overseas, it sends the Bureau of Organized Terrorism Intervention’s top agent: Lady Danger. But when the Bulletproof Bae falls afoul of a Thai drug lord with ties to the CIA, of course the established US security agencies will help the upstart, mostly black BOOTI defend itself, right? Right?!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
“When Americans are in danger abroad—the president no longer sends an army. He sends one black girl.”

That black girl is Lady Danger, a bulletproof super-agent of BOOTI (the Bureau of Organized Terrorism Intervention), a top-secret US counterterrorism agency. In this case the terrorist is an ex Chinese Special Forces General turned warlord named Fong Ah-Chan, who has set up his own little opium kingdom in Thailand. In the months since his arrival, children in nearby villages began dying of mysterious diseases. The Red Cross sent a group of doctors to investigate, but they were captured by Fong. BOOTI sends Lady Danger to free them.

If you’ve read previous issues, then you’ll know that Grindhouse typically skips over exposition in favor of action, throwing readers into the story and daring them to keep up. Lady Danger takes this to a whole new level. In two pages, we meet Lady Danger’s civilian identity, see her get the call from BOOTI (I love writing that), and fly to Thailand. In four pages we see her meet Fong Ah-Chan (sitting for no discernable reason on a flatbed truck stacked with stereo speakers, bikini girls, and enough automatic weapons to field a small army). From there the story explodes into Blaxploitation, kung-fu awesomeness.

And that’s just the “A” story. Two other storylines run through this issue. In the “B” story, we learn that Lady Danger’s other name is Rachelle, and she works at a convenience store, selling overpriced cigarettes to surly old ladies. One of her regular customers is Kevin, a shy, nice young man carrying the mother of all torches for Rachelle. Unfortunately, Kevin lacks the confidence to do anything about it. It doesn’t help that his friend, Paco, gives him terrible relationship advice.

The “C” story picks up about halfway through and it centers on the conflict between BOOTI commander Angela and the head of the CIA, Dick. The director believes that BOOTI underutilizes its main resource—Lady Danger—and hamstrings itself with its “no kill” policy. He offers to fold BOOTI into the CIA and when that doesn’t work, indirectly threatens its funding.

These three storylines come together at the end, but I won’t say how in order to keep from spoiling some plot twists. What I will say is that Grindhouse is quickly becoming a bastion of anti-decompression. In some ways it makes me think of the recent “Ozploitation” movie, Mad Max: Fury Road. That movie almost literally hit the ground running and trusted the audience to pick up on backstory and theme via dialogue, set design, costumes, and character action. It wove those elements into the story, allowing it to keep its incredible pace.

While “Lady Danger: Agent of BOOTI,” doesn’t quite possess the same pace as Fury Road, it doesn’t let up or slow down. In some ways this serves as the story’s (and the series’) strength and weakness. Readers unfamiliar with Grindhouse cinema or those who just don’t pay attention may feel like the story is too frenetic and that it misses key plot and character elements. The elements are present, but readers need to know how to look for them. This is a title that trusts its audience and never holds its hand.

It certainly helps that Mulele Jarvis is very good. Jarvis employs a rather elastic, cartoon-y style that I tend to prefer in comics, and uses it to good effect here in both the excellent fight scenes and in the smaller character moments. I love the body language of the character Cece when she takes over for Rachelle at the register, and General Fong Ah-Chan looks suitably gross and skeevy.

The question now becomes how well does this stack up to the Blaxploitation genre? I’m sure that it will surprise no one to learn that I’m a pretty big fan of the genre (despite the fact that I’m a white boy from southeastern Kentucky). I love Dolemite, Superfly, The Hammer, Black Caesar, and, of course, Cleopatra Jones and Coffy. I love their style, their swagger (or swag, as my students tell me it’s now called), and their messages of empowerment, so for me, “Lady Danger” hits all the right marks. It’s big and fun and it plays to all the standard tropes without becoming cliché.

Before going into the summary, I wanted to mention that one of my favorite little throwaway parts of Grindhouse is back in this issue: the fake movie posters. It could be that the digital copies I’ve been receiving just haven’t included them, but whatever the case, there are two here and they are pretty great. The first is “The Dangerous Mission of Svetlana Snow” and the flavor text reads, “She’s cold as a Russian winter…and hot as a nuclear meltdown!” and “From the frozen, irradiated wastes of Chernobyl to the mean streets of Hollywood, USA!” The second poster is for the “Dead in the Ground” (from the director of Sexcastle). The flavor text for that reads, “They put her in danger so she put them DEAD IN THE GROUND.”

I know the fake movie posters are just a little part of the comic, but it’s one that I consistently love, so I’m glad to see them back.

In Summary:
As the tagline for the next issue says, “Terrorists, watch your terror-ass!” so without further ado, let’s get to the Grindhouse totals: No dead bodies. Two beasts. No breasts (but a bevy of machine-gun toting bikini ladies). Cash register fu. Bullet proof fu. Shaolin Shock Troops fu. Big-weird-spiked-bells-used-as-weapons-fu. Heads roll. Toupees roll. Dentures roll. Gratuitous hassling by “the Man.” Professor Josh gives this an:

Grade: A

Age Rating: N/A
Released By: Dark Horse
Release Date: May 27th, 2015
MSRP: $3.99

‘Atelier Escha & Logy’ Anime Debuts New Promo Video

‘Atelier Escha & Logy’ Anime Debuts New Promo Video Ahead of the April 10th debut of the series, a new promotional video has landed for the anime adaptation of the PS3 game Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky . With the series being based off of the game itself, the anime adaptation is bringing on the voice cast from it so there’s plenty of easy continuity for fans of the game. Studio Gokumi is handling the animation for this project with Yoshiaki Iwasaki directing. Iwasaki’s recent projects included Miss Monochrome and Okami-san and Her Seven Companions. He’ll be working off of a series composition while Keiya Nakano will be handling the character designs and doing animation direction. Check out the full breakdown below as well as the latest key visual that came from the site.

Cast
Rie Murakawa as Escha Malier
Kaito Ishikawa as Logix “Logy” Ficsario
Asami Seto as Wilbell Voll-Erslied
Mariya Ise as Nio Altugle
Ami Koshimizu as Linca
Kana Ueda as Marion Quin
Hibiku Yamamura in Chrone
Kana Akutsu as Flameu
Mariko Honda as Lucile
Kenji Akabane as Awin Sidelet
Chiharu Kitaoka as Threia Hazelgrimm
Yasunori Matsutani as Reyfer Luckberry
Tomo Muranaka as Micie Sun Mussemburg
Chihiro Uno as Quartra
Daisuke Matsubara as Sol Grumman
Kento Fujinuma as Corland
Tsuyoshi Koyama as Duke
Mitsuaki Madono as Harry

Staff
Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki
Series Composition: Tatsuhiko Urahata
Scripts: Tatsuhiko Urata, Tatsuya Takahashi
Character Design/Animation Director: Keiya Nakano
Monster Design: Etsunobu Iwanaga
Art Director: Chikako Shibata
Color Key: Tamae Matsuoka
Director of Photography: Yasuhiro Akamatsu
Editing: Masahiro Goto
Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa
Animation Production: Studio Gokumi

Plot concept: This world has gone through many Dusks, and is slowly nearing its end. Within this world, in the western reaches of the “Land of Dusk,” there was a nation that prospered thanks to its use of alchemy.

There, in order to survive the eventual arrival of the “Dusk End,” the people devoted their efforts to rediscover and recreate lost alchemic technologies. Rediscovered technology from the past era was gathered in the alchemy research city known as “Central,” where research was conducted on how to halt the advance of the twilight.

One of the heroes is a young man who researched alchemy in Central, the other a girl living in a small town on the frontier. This girl’s name is Escha. In the process of using her knowledge of ancient alchemy to help others, she was assigned to the Development Department. The young man’s name is Logy. Having learned the newest alchemic techniques in Central, he requested a transfer to this understaffed town to make use of his abilities, and meets Escha when he is assigned to the Development Department as well. The two make a promise to use their alchemy together, and bring success to the Development Department.

Digital Manga Publishing Expands to iBooks For iOS Devices

Digital Manga Publishing Expands to iBooks For iOS Devices Digital Manga Publishing is continuing their varied approach to hitting a lot of digital publishing ventures in order to get their works out there, at least the ones that don’t push the limits of what non-manga fans can handle, and now the publisher is getting volumes out onto Apple’s iBookstore. The publisher has just had twenty-five volumes of their titles listed in the Comics & Graphic Novels category, specifically in the recent “manga” section created by Apple.

Digital Manga’s titles are optimized, fixed-layout ebooks for the iBookstore, which are also designed to allow you to jump to the other side of the book to start your reading in the right-to-left eastern reading format common for reading most manga—combined with iBooks’ superb reading interface, this gives customers a richer experience to reading manga on the Apple iPad, iPhone and the iPod Touch. Download the iBooks app, (http://www.macworld.com/appguide/app.html?id=460630&expand=false ) available for free in the App Store.

“We like to accommodate to Apple’s high standards, so we handpicked the best selection from our back list to launch our titles on iBooks.” – Fred Lui- VP Publishing and Digital Content

Digital Manga titles will include selections from their DMP, Juné, and DMG imprint and are priced between $2.99 – $12.99. For a direct link to all Digital Manga books available on iBooks (through iTunes) click here .

The first following 25 titles are now available, with more in the next weeks and months to come:

  1. Vampire Hunter D vol.1-6
  2. Itazura Na Kiss Vol. 1-2
  3. Let’s Draw Manga – Fantasy
  4. Let’s Draw Manga – Using Color
  5. Erementar Gerade Vol.1-12
  6. Backlight
  7. Hush A Bye Baby
  8. Late Advent vol.1
  9. Vampire Hunter D vol.1
  10. Let’s Draw Manga – Fantasy
  11. Itazura Na Kiss Vol. 1
  12. Backlight
  13. Erementar Gerade Vol.1

For a web browser listing of available manga, including Digital Manga titles, go to the following link which will take you to the manga section under the Comics & Graphic Novel category in iBooks: Books> Comics & Graphic Novels> Manga : http://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/books-manga/id10016?mt=11

For a listing of available manga directly in iBooks (from iTunes), including Digital Manga titles go to:
http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewRoom?fcId=442229175&genreIdString=10016&mediaTypeString=E-Books

Or to view more of Digital Manga’s titles on iBooks, you can also search keywords: Digital Manga

Tokyo Ravens Episode #11 Anime Review

Tokyo Ravens Episode #11 Anime Review

Tokyo Ravens Episode 11

Sometimes you just have to be silly.

What They Say:
In order to keep Suzuka from telling everyone that Natsume is a girl, Harutora and Natsume are forced to do everything Suzuka wants, and Kon ends up in a predicament.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The show moved things forward nicely with the current arc and it spent a good bit of time in the previous episode with Suzuka. Her arrival is one that is certainly a punishment for her and a learning curve she has to deal with in order to get back into her elders good graces, but it’s going to be a net positive for her in the end. The time spent with Harutora makes that pretty clear as we see how they connect and the way he’s able to draw her out a bit with his own experiences, making some shared pain a moment where he can illustrate how he used it to move forward. She was going to be stuck in a bad place for a bit anyway considering her punishment, but getting to know him has made it easier for her to start enjoying her time at the prep academy.

Because of this, Suzuka has thrown herself wholly into enjoying her time there and that means really using Harutora to her advantage. He’s pretty much her whipping boy at this point and she even takes it further by throwing Natsume into the mix and using her as well for all sorts of chores and errands. Her entitled nature is definitely out in full force and that just makes her comically awful since she’s just so smug about it. There’s some definite cute bits throughout the first half as this plays out, but it also gets a bit serious as well since she drags Harutora and Touji with her for one room inspection that has her unsealing a sealed closet. What we get from all of this is that Suzuka is definitely not someone to hang around with just yet as she has a long way to go before being of the right mindset to be with everyone.

The second half largely revolves around Kon, who has gotten himself into a small pickle because of what Suzuka had done in the closte and thta has him freaking out and being all over the place while trying to hide from everyone. Which naturally, combined with Suzuka, allows things to just start spiraling comically out of control from there on. While the reason why things are going on is given, it really doesn’t matter. It’s all about the silly action here, especially when Kon crashes into Suzuka and the two are basically on the run together and panicking. They’re so alike that it’s definitely fun to watch as it progresses simply because they have nobody else to lean on. And the further into trouble they get, the more amusing.

In Summary:
Tokyo Ravens has certainly been an uneven series in a lot of ways and as we near the halfway point here, there hasn’t been a lot of things going on in general. We’ve gotten bits about the Twelve Generals, we’ve got Suuzka now a part of the school and a few other little character bits, including the piece with Touji overall. But the show still doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere at the moment. Which isn’t bad since it’s a fun and light watch overall, but it also feels like it could be doing so much more and become a lot more engaging, which is my hope for the second half of the series.

Grade: B

Streamed By: FUNimation

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Apple TV via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.