» July, 2009

Kyo Kain MAOH! Volume 1

Reviews - by - July 27, 2009 - 09:00 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

In a world where people are harmed, murdered, mugged and probably pillaged on a daily basis it’s one of the modern moral dilemmas what to do. Is it safe to stop and try and help the poor soul, just to end up going to prison or being sued because of the criminals “human rights” or does walking on by sound like the best option. Either way it’s highly unlikely that anything really, really bad would happen.

Unlike poor Shibuya, the protagonist in Kyo Kain MAOH! He was casually riding his bike one day when he saw someone being mugged, someone he knew, and felt morally obliged to go and help him. Unfortunately the other person did a runner and left Shibuya to face the wrath of the two muggers/bullies who were attacking him. After only offering them a pitiful 2,000 yen they decided that a good, old-fashioned “bog-washing” was in order.

Much to Shibuya’s surprise he found himself not just in the pan of a woman’s toilet, but being sucked into this chasm and after a flashback, suddenly in some new world. After a lot of confusion, and assumptions that the poor lad had fallen into a cosplaying European theme park he quickly learnt that he was not just average Shibuya. Shibuya was actually royalty from another dimension. If that’s not enough for him to comprehend, he was also a demon and was now faced with the difficult challenge of killing all humans and burning their land to a crisp in this new and strange world.

However it would appear that not all in Shibuya’s new kingdom agree with killing all of the humans, regardless of how scared some of the children may be of them. Shibuya himself has trouble coming to terms with this statement as well; after all, it is genocide. Yet the manga is not serious enough for the moral issue of genocide and just glosses over the issue for the most part.

It’s clear that this manga is meant to be humorous and it takes itself very lightly as the protagonist falling into their new kingdom via a toilet is certainly a way of keeping the atmosphere of the manga light. Although it does have an element of internal conflict, magic, training and various other themes that are expected in a fantasy manga.

Fortunately all of the characters in Kyo Kain MAOH! are very distinct, with a character design that is brilliant. Although following all industry conventions each of the characters are easily distinguished, especially as they are well drawn and attempt to go for the semi-realistic route that a lot of manga has been doing recently. Additionally the characters often find themselves in situations that they have never known before, especially the lead character. This could easily be mishandled making the characters spew over used clichés and other painful expressions; luckily, these do not occur at any point.

DVD Releases This Week

News - by - July 27, 2009 - 09:00 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

blue-dragonThere’s only two shows being released this week. One of which is based off of a videogame, and the other is a complete collection of an already released series. Both of these shows are fairly new to the world, unlike a few weeks ago when Panda! Go, Panda! was released.

The two shows released this week are:

Blue Dragon Volumes 3 and 4 – £11.98 – Amazon UK
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Complete Collection – £35.98 – Amazon UK

As usual I’ve linked to the cheapeset price currently available.

Samurai 7 Box Set

Features - by - July 24, 2009 - 09:00 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

Spaceships and Samurai – do they mix?

Samurai 7 Box Set

Reviews - by - July 24, 2009 - 09:00 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

The anime industry is no different from any other in the world; it exists solely to make money. So when an executive in random anime company decides it’s time the legendary Seven Samurai needs retelling, the company gets to it. To quote the unused World War II propaganda: “Keep Calm, Carry On”. This is exactly what has happened with Samurai 7, the retelling of this already overused story has a slight twist as it’s set in an alternate future.

Many years after the Great War the young priestess, Kirara, is sent from her village to hire a samurai to protect their homes from the constant onslaught of attack that they suffer from cyborg bandits displaced after the long war. Kirara heads to the city with her sister Komachi to try and find someone to help them. Relying on the special amulet in Kirara’s possession they manage to stumble upon three samurai within minutes of arriving in the city.

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Before long the Imperial Envoy is found dead with a bloody katana by his body and in an effort to find the murderer the magistrate’s decide to arrest every samurai in the town so the new heroes decide to escape the town and head back to Kirara’s village. The samurai’s make their way back to the village and find themselves up against a huge onslaught of cyborg bandits and they have to get to work immediately to try and save the village from destruction.

Throughout Samurai 7 there is an inordinate amount of sword fighting. Naturally with the show being about futuristic samurai types it’s to be expected to a degree, but the sheer number and length of these sequences leaves the viewer feeling a little dazed and frankly bored. There’s only so many times metal on metal can sound interesting, not to mention the fact that characters drawing close and then flying backwards from the sheer “force” of it can only be thrilling so many times. These extended action scenes appear throughout the entire show, and although some volumes have only a little sword fighting action, they are normally replaced with equally bizarre sci-fi affects.

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Throughout there are cyborgs appearing in the towns, in the village and pretty much everywhere. They seem to contribute fairly little to the actual premise of the show and although it’s clear that they are meant to be the villains, they appear far too frequently and just look entirely out of place with the rest of the cast. Although suspension of disbelief is required in most anime, there’s only so far the viewer is able to go and unfortunately Samurai 7, with seemingly little logic to its expansive characters, goes beyond this.

We then face the weird spaceships that have been modelled on Edo architecture, which in a comedy anime would make perfect sense. Imagine seeing a flying Edo Castle in Lucky Star, or in The Legend of the Mystical Ninja – which makes perfect sense. In this seemingly serious anime it feels out of place and a little contrived.

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That’s not it though; the English voice cast is awful. The character lack any form of conveying emotions and almost sound like robots themselves. In comparison the Japanese cast has managed to put on the performance of their lives with emotion ebbing through every spoken and unspoken word.  So if Samurai 7 is to be watched, it requires watching in Japanese not the English dub.

The animation itself is good, the character designs are distinct and all of the characters are clearly modelled individually. The colours are brilliant and the costumes all look and feel in place. Even the out of place cyborgs and flying castles look brilliant, at no point can fault be placed on the character designs and execution as it’s first class.

Gunparade March Clips

News - by - July 23, 2009 - 20:30 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

mvmentertainmentBased on the incredibly popular Playstation game, and from the director of Revoluationary Girl Utena, Gunparade March is coming to DVD across the UK this August. To celebrate this fact, MVM Entertainment have released a number of clips from the series for you all to enjoy, which you can see below:

Claymore Volume 1 and 2

Reviews - by - July 23, 2009 - 09:00 Europe/London - 1 Comment

Wizards, magic, demons, anti-demons and just general magery is a fad that died off after the final release of The Lord of the Rings a few years ago – especially in the anime world. In recent times there’s been a larger focus on fabulous titles such as Lucky Star, Haruhi, Host Club, Naturo, Welcome to the NHK, Death Note and really anything that doesn’t involve magic directly. This was slowly turned around recently and another show bucking this tread is Claymore.

The world is being devastated by a demonic beast that is able to carefully disguise itself as a human, so well that the humans around this demon are unable to detect them. The only reason these beasts; called Yoma prey on humans is due to their taste for the delicate flavours of human flesh. However, all is not lost, there’s a sect in humanity called Claymore who alone can sense Yoma and their altered physiology allows them to survive from wounds that would otherwise kill other humans.

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The Claymore’s are feared almost as much as the Yoma’s by the general population, as they tend to bring disaster with them everywhere they go. When they go to fight a Yoma they transform and become similar to those of which they hunt. The more they fight, the more they become those creatures.

Following a young Claymore, Clare is one such warrior who is accepting missions to kill Yoma and defend everyone, who in turn despise her for her work. However, after she rescues a young Raki her life begins to change for the better. Raki attempts to learn as much as he can about the Claymore as possible, which for a normal “human” is very rare.

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Along with this Clare is entasked to find and protect various villages, kill friends and meet up with the best Claymore to ever exist. Yet during these trying times it becomes apparent that the Claymore Organisation has anything but their best interests in heart with a human is killed involving an incident with Clare. Unfortunately Clare is the worst Claymore on the continent and can do very little about this; however a startling revelation shocks the entire Claymore people when they find a Claymore gone bad, but not just gone bad but something a little more than that as well.

Claymore could easily have turned into the cookie-cutter anime standard, where the women all have huge breasts, they all talk cutesy and there’s some bad humour on the side to keep everything jovial. Fortunately Claymore has managed to use its substantial backstory and create a show that’s different in many ways. Aside from the first, which is the nearly all female cast, of course there are many shows out there with female casts, but rarely are they so dominant, powerful and confident.

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Claymore has a rich storyline, with it’s own mythology and philosophy. This is normally the cue for people to stop caring and just wish the show would get on with it. Fortunately Claymore manages to explain it’s extensive storyline throughout the plot with the characters having to deal with the turmoil of being ranked against other’s who are like them, but knowing that at some point they will turn into what they kill. Along with being despised by everyone they meet. It also deals with corruption as the very organisation that looks after the Claymore are hiding information not only from the general public, but from their own members which is discovered in a unique and strange way towards the end of the double disc set.

Throughout this fast paced show information is delivered in an easy to understand and enjoyable way. This in turn makes the viewer connect with the show on a comfortable level; it’s no art-house anime – even if it looks like one. This connection is one of the primary reasons to enjoy Claymore, as the show is walking a fine line between being interesting and being over-indulgent and data-dumpish.

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Fortunately the casting is spot on between all of the characters and the English dub is enjoyable, although the Japanese cast have a slight edge over the English characters. There is emotion expressed from the entire cast and there is subtlety too, which is rare these days. The subtitles are done well as always.

The animation itself is good, the colouring looks a little washed out from time to time, but for the most part this benefits the show adding a touch of edginess to it. The character designs are good, but not brilliant. Unfortunately some of the characters do look a little samey and this is a huge shame as this show is worth of much more.

Claymore Volume 1 and 2

Features - by - July 23, 2009 - 09:00 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

Amazing demonic action.

Fate Stay Night

Features - by - July 22, 2009 - 17:15 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

Manga action from this acclaimed series.

Fate Stay Night

Reviews - by - July 22, 2009 - 17:14 Europe/London - 1 Comment

The Holy Grail in history is something that many searched for and no one has ever found. Wars were fought for the supposedly holy land of Jerusalem and thousands of people have died in wars for the holy land and the many artefacts that have been left over from Jesus Christ’s time on the world.

However, in Fate Stay Night the Holy Grail War is something entirely different, it’s a time when seven Masters summon seven Servants to fight for the right to obtain the Holy Grail so that their wishes can be granted.

Our main protagonist, Shirou Emiya, is the sole survivor of a great fire, the incident that managed to kill his entire family and leave Shirou as an orphaned boy. He was lucky enough to be saved that fateful night by his adopted father, Kiritsugu Emiya. Since that day Shirou has done everything in his power to become a Hero of Justice and has tried to live every day the best he could. This budding engineer and high school student had no idea that his father was already a Hero of Justice. However, unlike his adopted dad, he had none of the skill or the power that led to Kiritsugu becoming a Hero of Justice and a Magus. A Magus is a powerful Master who is able to summon a Servant to fight in the Holy Grail Wars so that they are able to have their wishes fulfilled by the Holy Grail.

One day on his way home from school Shirou stumbles across two men who are fighting in the street, unsure as what to do, fear takes hold of him and Shirou tries to run away from these two battling men. Unfortunately as he turns to run he is fatally struck down by one of the combatants and much to his own surprise rather than simply dieing he manages to live and is approached by Saber, an armour clad woman, who tells him that he is now a Master and has been chosen to participate in the Holy Grail War. He has no interest in participating in this War, but he discovers that it was his wish to become a Hero of Justice that caused the Wars to start again. Upon this realisation he decides to take full responsibility and actively participates in the War.

There’s an indepth storyline in Fate Stay Night and this expensive story is explained bit by bit throughout the first volume of the manga. Where characters that are introduced in the opening pages that have a much more critical role in later stages in the manga. With a large number of characters it can become a little confusing as to who is who, and the dialogue can confuse the reader a little as it doesn’t appear that there’s much direction to which character is speaking in the early pages.

Throughout the story there are flashbacks to Shirou’s childhood, when Kiritsugu is adopting him and when he passes away. These flashbacks, which are vital to the plot, seem to be littered around the manga and do not appear to have a direct trail in this volume. This isn’t helped by the rapid character development and the occasional data dump to actually explain what’s going on.

Fortunately though these data dumps actually enlighten the reader and bring a strong sense of clarity to the book, which is to be expected with an indepth storyline such as this.

Manga Delay Various Titles

News - by - July 22, 2009 - 15:11 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

manga-logoManga Entertainment have recently announced a few changes to their scheduling for the coming month, some of these titles were announced last week and some were announced today. The full list is:

  • Negima Series 2 Part 1 – 17th August
  • Shigurui: Death Frenzy Complete Series DVD and Blu-Ray – 17th August
  • Darker Than Black: Volumes 1 & 2 – 31st August
  • Claymore: Chapters 3 & 4 – 31st August
  • Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor Collection – 21st September

No official reason is given to why they have been delayed, aside from Negima which is manufacturing issues. I doubt that this is the last we’ve seen of the reshuffled release dates list.

Soul Eater Promo Video

News - by - July 22, 2009 - 15:05 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

soul-eaterAlthough not strictly relating to the UK, Funimation recently went live with their latest Soul Eater promotional trailer that features Soul’s English voice and a lot of clips from various episodes throughout the series.

For those who don’t want to be spoiled at all, don’t click on the link as there is a lot of spoilers really on the trailer. You can see the trailer here.

Blue Dragon Volume 1 and 2

Features - by - July 22, 2009 - 11:09 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

Videogame to anime…

Blue Dragon Volume 1 and 2

Reviews - by - July 22, 2009 - 10:51 Europe/London - 3 Comments

Videogames becoming films is an increasingly popular phenomenon that was once shied away from by all major film makers after the disaster that the majority of the early adaptations, such as the Mario Brother’s film. However, it’s become apparent that with the success of Tomb Raider and the Resident Evil films that this trend is reversing, so with that in mind many companies are starting about moving impossibly popular videogames into the anime genre.

Blue Dragon is one such anime, based off of the incredibly popular Blue Dragon videogame on the Xbox 360. So for many of the fans of the videogame this anime is a must, just like Final Fantasy VII Advent of Children was for the Final Fantasy fans of the world. Yet there are many who have never played Blue Dragon and with shows being born from videogames, there’s a strong possibility that it will be nothing more than a loose storyline strung around shallow characters.

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Fortunately Blue Dragon was placed into a very capable studio – Studio Peirrot of Naruto and Bleach fame. In a similar style the protagonist Shu lives in the peaceful village of Talta with his friends and dreams of becoming a Knight Master and having many adventures. During one of his many games with his friends in an attempt to battle his boredom is wanders into some travellers and accuses someone who’s significantly more powerful than him of being weak. Within minutes of this occurring Shu’s peaceful little village is being attacked by the army of Lord Nene.

Shu then goes to find these powerful travellers to help defeat this army who are simply indifferent towards him – after all, it’s not their battle. Disgusted with them Shu attempts to battle the army himself and unleashes an incredible power that he has no control of (think Ash Ketchup trying to control Charizard in early Pokémon episodes). Those travellers see that he has the incredible power and recruit him and his friends to go across the world to find a secret power to help defeat the evil King.

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Shu’s group of friends then continue throughout the show with new characters being brought in and dropped off at various points and he has to do a lot of training to hone his skills to control his new power. There is clearly a good backstory to this anime and the storyline itself has been thought out pretty well. Unfortunately the execution of this anime is a little lacklustre. The characters themselves are all clichéd and very run of the mill, even the more interesting ones are just slight variants on the rest of the cast.

This is mostly due to the demographic that Blue Dragon is being aimed at; after all, it was made by those who make Naruto. Squarely targeting the young teenage male market makes it a little stale for those who have long since grown out of people powering up and lots of training scenes. This is mostly due to the videogame itself, as a RPG there’s going to be an inordinate amount of levelling grinding to perform before the characters are actually able to defeat half of the enemies and this needs to be reflected in the anime itself.

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Aside from the demographic being aimed at the younger and of the market, Blue Dragon itself has been created well. The animation style is good and feels like a mix between Pokémon and Bleach or Naruto that gives it a familiar yet different feel. The colouring has been done well and the characters are all distinct with their own personalities, which do shine through.

The voice acting has been done well as well, after listening to both the Japanese and English dub there’s little to choose from so it’s just down to personal preference as it is becoming standard in many modern animes.

Manga Shows on i-Tunes

News - by - July 21, 2009 - 09:15 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

manga-logoRecently Manga Entertainment started putting various anime series onto the well known music and video store i-Tunes. It’s clear that Manga Entertainment are taking the correct steps and are positioning themselves well for the next battle, the online battle for dominance in the UK markets.

Anime UK News have stated that there are only ten series currently available for download and they are:

  • Afro Samurai £9.45
  • Astro Boy £15.99
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex £23.99 (each series)
  • Gurren Lagann £42.99
  • Noein £22.99
  • Rave Master £26.99 (each series)
  • Robotech: The new generation £10.99
  • Tactics £13:99
  • Tokko £18.99
  • Virus Buster Serge £7.99

Yet, 10 is a huge improvement from none as it was just only a year ago.

Source: Anime UK News

Ocean Waves Timing Confirmed

News - by - July 8, 2009 - 21:36 Europe/London - 2 Comments

ocean-wavesThis year the Japanese Art Festival will be screening the premier of Ocean Waves, one of the last Studio Ghibli films to make it to the shores of the UK. They have today announced via their Twitter page that the film will be screening at 1300 on Saturday 11th July.

They have also announced their full timetable which will is below:

Saturday 11th July
TIME EVENT LOCATION
11:00 -11:30 Taiko QCH
11:30-12:30 Manga Workshop: Manga Colouring Techniques PK13
12:00 -12:20 Aikido QCH
12:20 -12:40 Judo QCH
12:40 -13:00 Iaido QCH
12:45-13:45 Manga Workshop: Drawing Facial Expressions PK13
13:00 -14:15 UK PREMIERE: Ocean Waves screening PK35
13:00 -13:15 Shamisen QCH
13:30 -14:00 Taiko QCH
14:00 -14:20 Yoshinkan Akido QCH
14:00-15:00 Manga Workshop: Drawing Fashion/Clothing PK13
14:20-14:40 Kendo QCH
15:15-16:15 Manga Workshop: Drawing Chibi Characters PK13
15:00-16:00 Cosplay Show QCH
16:00 16:15 Kimono Fashion Show QCH
16:15-16:30 Prize Giving QCH
16:30-17:00 Cosplay Interview QCH
16:30-17:30 Manga Workshop: Drawing Facial Expressions PK13
17:00-17:30 Kimono Demonstration QCH
17:30-18:00 Geisha Lecture QCH
Sunday 12th July
TIME EVENT LOCATION
10:00 -10:30 Aikido & Kashima Shinryu Kenjutsu QCH
10:30 -11:00 Tenshin Ryu Iai Jutsu QCH
10:30-11:30 Manga Workshop: Manga Colouring Techniques PK13
10:30-11:15 Akemi Solloway Talk STUDIO THEATRE
11:00 12:30 Ikebana demonstration
11:00 -12:00 Atsuko’s Japanese Cooking
11:45 -12:45 Manga Workshop: Drawing Facial Expressions PK13
12:00- 13:00 Paul Gravett Talk STUDIO THEATRE
12:00 -12:30 Tea Ceremony ROOM 2
13:00 -13:30 Tea Ceremony ROOM 2
13:00 -14:00 Manga Workshop: Drawing Fashion/Clothing PK13
13:00- 14:00 Atsuko’s Japanese Cooking
13:00 -13:15 Shamisen QCH
13:30 – 14:00 Tenshin Ryu Iai Jutsu QCH
13:30 – 14:30 Helen McCarthy Talk STUDIO THEATRE
15:00 – 16:00 Akemi Solloway Talk STUDIO THEATRE
14:10 – 14:40 Calligraphy ROOM 1
15:00 – 15:30 Calligraphy ROOM 1
15:30 – 16:30 Sumi-E ROOM 2
15:00 -16:00 Atsuko’s Japanese Cooking
14:15 -15:15 Manga Workshop: Drawing Chibi Characters PK13
14:30 -16:00 Game Show
15:30 -16:30 Manga Workshop: Manga Colouring Techniques PK13
16:15 -16:30 Koto QCH
14:45 -16:00 Ocean Waves Screening PK35
16:30 -17:00 Music from Japan
16:00 -17:00 Japanese Food Lecture STUDIO THEATRE

* Please note that events are subject to change or cancellation with no notice.

Location Guide
ABR ROOM LOCATION
QCH Queen Charlotte Hall Ground Floor
PK35 Screening Room First Floor
Studio Theatre Ground Floor
ROOM 1 Room 1 Ground Floor
ROOM 2 Room 2 Ground Floor

This is subject to change, so make sure that you keep an eye out on the Japanese Art Festival’s website here.

Source: Twitter