Thursday, February 26, 2009

Naruto 437- Refrigerator-Stuffing no Jutsu!

OK, so Naruto 437 is out. As I indicated in my last post, I started picking up on spoilers this afternoon, and I've been waiting and seething all night. Completely put me off work, but that's what happens. I'll give you a calm, logical response, but you'll forgive me for indulging in a more visceral response right now. I warn you, I'm going to get pretty profane in this rant. Just so you know.


No. Hinata is Not. Fucking. Dead. We didn't see the body!
Naruto, I'm completely sympathetic with you going six-tails on Pain. You've got a wide-open space. Every single person in the village should know to get the fuck out. Just don't go too crazy because your girl is gonna be alive, goddamnit! You're both gonna be fine, and this manga's gonna have a happy ending that involves lots of little blonde-haired Hyuugas running around...


And Fuck you, Pain, Mr. My-Pain-Is-Worse-Than-Yours. Give me a fucking break. "Oh, God! My parents were killed in front of me! Now I am sad and emo and I've got a completely fucking retarded plan to take over the world!" Give me a goddamn break, kiddo. You sure as fuck didn't have it worse than either Naruto or Gaara. You were trained by Jiraya, and you had friends with you, for what looked like most of your life. One of them is probably sucking on that wrinkled
rasin you call a cock right now, and you're actively manipulating the other one's corpse you Fucking. Piece. Of shit. So don't give me any sort of bullshit about how your Pain is worse. You're a fucking cowardly bastard and I am going to thouroughly enjoy the next chapter, which is going to involve such a curbstomping on the part of the Kyuubi that it's going to functionally dissolve this body. And then once it's gone and you're all alone with your fucking little paper chick, Naruto is going to rip through her like she's made of...well, paper, and then, he is going to torture you. Slowly. And oh. so. painfully. Who knows, maybe he'll go ahead and kill that bitch in front of you, just like you TRIED, yes, I said TRIED to do to him. And it will be sweet. Oh so sweet.

*Ahem, ahem* Sorry for that. Needed to get it off my chest. So, Pain's immobilizing Naruto and trying to mess up his brain with stupid talk about "peace". Shikamaru's dad, a faceless ANBU*, Ino and her dad are off finding Pain, and Shika's stuck there because of his broken leg. Team Gai is heading back and sees Gamabunta (man, if he's dead, too...) so they know something's up. Unfortunately the premier Taijutsu team isn't going to be much use against gravityboy. Pain uses those weird black rods he's got to immobilize Naruto. Ma toad yells at him not to give up, and Pain just kills her. As he's doing this, Hinata, who had been watching and wating, attacks gravityboy all by her lonesome. Naruto tells her to get the fuck out, she's going to die, but she says, basically, "Yeah. I know. I want to do this. Because I love you." And with that, she attacks gravityboy. Who just Shinra Tenseis her into the ground, then apparently stabs her. I say apparently because we didn't see it on the page. Pain lobs a taunt at Naruto about how love leads to pain and some shit and compares it with his parents being killed. Naruto, completely understandably, flips the shit out. And now he's in six-tail mode with some weird skeleton thing around him. Pain comments "my pain is greater than yours"

Analysis-...well, not really much to say here. I am fucking pissed off at Kishimoto for making Hinata go in alone. I loved her character and shipped her with Naruto over Sakura. Hinata had like, zero time in the limelight over the course of the manga. She had the one fight with Neji and what, a few reaction shots? But through a combination of the anime writers really liking her, the incredible determination she showed, and the fact that she was something like the only character in the manga who gave a damn about Naruto before the series started endeared her to, basically, everyone in the US fandom. Plus she's just so damn cute! Also, if you take a look at her on this page here, I think you'll agree, pretty darn hot once the timeskip kicks in. Maybe it's just that I have a thing for long, dark hair. So I have always loved Hinata's character (she's not up there on my Perverse Sexual Lust list (It's really not as wrong as it sounds), but she'll make honorable mention**). I shipped her with Naruto over Sakura not because I dislike Sakura, but because I thought Hinata would fit with Naruto better romantically for one, and for two I really wanted her to get that happy ending. She didn't get much development onscreen, but that's hard to do when you get 50 or so pages dedicated to you in a 437 chapter manga. And we did see how just Naruto's example helped her to change. She wasn't scared. She wasn't nervous. She was standing up strong, protecting the dude she loves. And now she's apparently dead. Fuck. Kishimoto, you are a bad, bad man. Don't kill her. Please.

And to top it all off I've been reading Clannad After Story spoilers to make my cry like a little girl even more.

* Always Nearby Basically Useless

Shippuden Filler to Distract me from work

Got 3 tests next week. Including one in a class I'm really behind in. Not looking forward to it. So I'm taking my mind off it by watching Naruto filler and the like. So, latest Shippuden episode I've seen- first clash between Team Kakashi (Team 8) and the filler villains of the week. Is it just me, or does Naruto reuse the exact same woman for all their female filler villains? There was that one chick in the last Naruto filler arc with the Sand Sibs, that creepy mannish chick in the Sora arc, and now this chick, who at least is fairly easy on the eyes. So we've got a fight, and a minimum of Naruto stuck in a toad's mouth. Seriously, folks, that's just retarded. One fillervillain draws Kakashi away from the fight, leaving Kiba and Hinata all on their lonesome facing down three people, as Shino's left behind doing his own thing. Not particularly good odds, even with Akamaru. They call up a smokescreen (Squirtle's accuracy fell!), which blinds Kiba and takes away his sense of smell. Don't dogs have great ears? But Hinata's still in great fighting form thanks to the Byakugan, and it looks like we're going to get a chance to see our girl kick some ass. Nope, sorry. Her foe just happens to have some sort of gooey layer that lets him ignore her Gentle Fist hits. And he's a creepy-ass motherfucker. Hinata's fairly good at dodging his attacks, but she's got no way to hurt him, so she's slowly getting beat up by blue gumby. Kiba is, needless to say, peeved that his teammate's gonna die without him being able to do anything, but he wises up and manages to use his Gatsuugan move to clear the smoke and bail Hinata out. Not that it helps much, as it's really four on three and most of them haven't even started fighting yet. But then they book it. Three guesses as to why. Shino pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment and, displaying Batman-level planning, would have captured all of them with his bugs if they hadn't picked up on it. Kakashi shows up, and his foe was fast. Methinks that this bruiser calls for Might Guy to deal with. We get a few shots of what I take is going to be the three-tails jinchuuriki (that little kid who's supposed to be all cute but inspires nothing but apathy in me) and now the crystal chick, Guren, is about to attack. End episode. Next, looks like she's trying to take on Team Kakashi all on her lonesome. We got one shot of Hinata smacking her with gentle fist in the preview. Team Yamato shows up. Sounds like a party!

No Negima this week. I am a sad panda.

Edit: I'm reading spoilers for the latest manga chapter. Now I am an angry and violent grizzly bear.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Fullmetal Alchemist Anime Preview!


We've pretty much had it confirmed that there's a new season of Fullmetal Alchemist coming since sometime last year, thanks to several ads in the manga, but this is the first footage I've seen. And we've apparently got an airdate! April 5th! Awesomesauce.

So, obviously, I'm psyched. I think FMA was the first anime that I finished watching (largely because I hadn't realized at this point that not all anime were like Naruto and Bleach and ran for hundreds of episodes). But since I read the manga, I'm even more psyched that this could be an adaptation thereof. Because the manga is one of the best damn things I have ever read. The characters are great, the pacing's awesome...blah blah blah, I said this when I talked about the latest manga chapter a couple weeks ago. So, please, please please let this be a manga adaptation. Pretty please?

I'm also torn because, obviously, I'm gonna download the fansubs and watch this the moment it comes out. While I'll obviously try and watch the dub if it's on TV and buy the DVDs, fact remains I'm gonna watch this ASAP. Which means I'm waching the Japanese audio. Now, normally that'd be cool, but I'm such a huge fanboy of the FMA dub that it'll be really weird. I think I read somewhere that they got the same seiyuu for Ed and Al (both, ironically, females- Paku Romi and Kugimiya Rie), but Vic Mignogna is Ed Elric for me. So it'll be weird. Incedentally, this means more than ever taht I shoudl really go to that Anime con near me (Toracon I think) at the end of April, seeing as Vic Mignona's gonna be there and I'll have to ask him if he's playing Ed.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Naruto, Bleach, Nanoha, and, for a change, Galactica

Alright, Manga reviews for this week.
Spoilers for the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica after all my animu talk.
Naruto 436- exposition. Meh. Pain explains his whole plan- he's going to create the next H-bomb, and then plans to let it be used. It's a theory of punctuated equilibrium. Long periods of peace broken up by the occasional mass destruction. Yeah. I'm an international relations major, so I could tell you ten or so different reasons why this won't work, or methods that one could use to stablize the world in peace without this mass destruction, or even that pure peace is frankly impossible, but I'm just gonna sum it up with this- Pain is a retard, he needs to die. And I don't think, for all his bragging, he's in that good of a situation. Naruto's got his one remaining clone back at the Toad Mountain. Ino, Shikamaru, and their dads, along with Shihio* are gonna find Pain, and unless that stupid walker's secretly a transforming mecha (wouldn't put it past them), he'll get in trouble there. The eight-tailed beast is out on vacation and he needs to be sealed before Naruto. Tsunade managed to save just about everyone in the village. Pain has one capable body left, and he apparently lost his method of ressurecting (the hub got destroyed!) when Naruto took out that one body. Yeah. I'm not too worried, which will probably mean that Kishimoto is going to fuck with us all and have Pain win.

Bleach. Again, pacing problems! Is Kubo going for art here? Because I just don't get it. Nothing Happens. Naruto had great pacing on its Pain-Naruto fight. This? Ishida and Orihime watch. Ulquiorra clashes with Ichigo, and brags how much stronger he is. Ichigo uses Getsuga Tenshou (Moon fang Sky Charge. I fucking love that.), Ulquiorra blocks it and launches a black cero. End chapter. Man, I'm just bored right now. I read it because I want to see where the story goes, but I'm bored. Oh, and the next chapter's going to be titled "The Lust". They've got this whole thing where they're naming chapters after the seven deadly sins. I don't really see how it fits.

Edit: Well, it's Monday night now. Sorry. Weird weekend (mainly composed of me slacking off, but still). But anyways, Nanoha and Galactica.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is a very weird series, for those of you who don't know. It appears to be a magical girl's show at first glance (the frilly costumes, transformation sequences, and 9-year old girl of a protagonist), but then you get into the complex characters and, more importantly, the fact that these little girls shoot blasts of magic energy that would make the Death Star proud (a slight exaggeration. slight.) The characters and cool action (along with the decent setting) sums up why I and many other ostensibly college-age people like the show. I can't be assed to sum it up any more, so just go to The TV Tropes Article on it.

Anyways, after a long delay, I finally started on StrikerS. Watched 2 episodes. First things first- Reinforce Zwei is impossibly cute. Like... heap of kittens cute. Second- Midchildnan military setitng is fairly cool. Tea and Subaru are...well, from what I've been told they're nice, but I don't really have an opinion as of right now. Good strategy in their fight, but the in-depth, emotional speechifying by Subaru when Tea hurt her ankle was a bit much. Killed a lot of time, that did. In a situation like that, you say "get up, lean on me, let's go, no questions asked."

On to Battlestar Galactica. I got into the series in between season 4 and season 4.5. So, I'm savoring the one run of new episodes I've got. So far, the season's been absolutely kickass. My only complaint is not enough space combat, but the action on board Galactica during the two-episode mutiny kicked a ton of ass. And all the relevations we got last episode made so much sense. This episode- interesting stuff. I've got a few complaints. Number 1- I had thought that Tyrol was a bit more loyal to Galactica, and he knows the fleet needs the Basestar's power. It seemed like the only reasoning he'd have to go was so that the producers could set up a 2-2 vote with Ellen as the deciding factor. Number 2- Ellen's a bitch again. I don't really like that. Number 3- Man, I really feel sorry for Boomer. She's been through so much hell, and now she's going to be put through more... Number 4- not enough Helo and Athena. Saying that, here's what I loved about the episode- 1. Saul motherfrakking Tigh. The man has gone from a drunk when the series started to fairly incompetent when the Old Man got shot, absolutely ruthless on New Caprica, to a principled badass who, despite being a Cylon, having knocked up a Cylon, and generally having all the reason in the world to question his humanity, doesn't. He's still loyal to Adama and the fleet, and nothing's going to change that. Simple as that. 2.- The Cylon-human integration. I don't know why, but I like this- it's how I see the series ending- the ragtag fleet doesn't find a new home but, using the Cylon organic tech, integrates the two races together, and they keep flying. They'll need to find a way to synthesize tastier food.

* Alright, man, what is the point of Shihio's character? Shikamaru is far and away my favorite character, and it's nice to see him get fans and all, but, if Kishimoto is setting her up as Shikamaru's romantic interest, I'm going to be irritated. Yes, I ship Shikamaru and Temari. I don't see how people can't. They work together well, there's a ton of sexual tension, and they snark back and forth so wonderfully. Plus there's the setup with his dad and mom's relationship. So yeah, will not be happy if Shihio's just his token love interest. WILL NOT BE HAPPY>

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Negima 242, or "Thousand Bolts vs. Thousand Blades"

I'm listening to "Beautiful Wild Green Beast" off the Naruto soundtrack as I type this. That's the song that gets played whenever Rock Lee starts busting out a can of whoopass. And that's precisely what Negi did this week. I was reminded of nothing so much as Lee busting out the Fourth Gate on Gaara. Rakan's sitting there, bold as brass, and then Negi, just like Lee when he took his weights off, starts moving at another level. It's due to his Magic Ereba and the "Thousand Bolts" spell he's taken in. And he. is. fast. So fast that Rakan can't keep up. There's one panel that shows Negi rocketing around the arena to hit Rakan from all different angles. It's not quite the same as Lee doing it to Gaara in midair, but I get the feeling that one of these punches from Negi would just break Gaara's back right there. So Rakan's holding on, but then Negi goes for the finisher. He gives a few details on the technique- apparently he is almost literally transformed into lightning-, then performs a basic charging punch attack- +2 to attack, -2 to AC!- and sends Rakan flying into the air. He then flash steps right next to him in what TV Tropes so succinctly describes as a Meteor Move and slams him into the center of the arena. Any typical Shonen protagonist would think "I got him, right? I had to have gotten him!", let the opponent get up, etc. Not Negi. He follows up with an incredibly powerful attack that blasts the ever-loving shit out of Rakan. Rakan goes down on one knee, complaining how that hurt...and Negi doesn't stop. He knows this guy's tougher than anything he's ever seen and blasts him point-blank with Tempestas Fulgrenis, which, I think, is his most powerful wind spell. I don't know, I can't read whatever language the various spells are in. And Rakan. Goes. Down. They're waiting on the count.

So that'd just leave Kagetarou, right? Nope. He's fighting Kotarou, who suddenly shifts into his demonic form- this is the first time I think we've really seen it for more than 2 seconds, and wails on Kagetarou, taking him down in an instant, too. I would have loved to see more of that fight, because Kotarou's one of my favorite characters, but I'll take all the awesomeness above. Oh, and they still have time to reveal that Ako's finally figured out that Negi is Nagi. Now, the way I see it, there are a few ways this can go. Best-case scenario- she gets over it, doesn't fall for Negi-kun proper, and we all go home. Worst case is that she angsts considerably. Most likely case is that she just joins the harem, which would put it up to...let's see...Nodoka, Anya, Yue, Ayaka, Makie, Chachamaru, and I guess we can put Ku Fei in there as well. That's...8 total. Wow. That's a lot better than Urashima ever pulled off. At his best he had what, 4? 5 if you count Kitsune, who was just horny? Lucky little bastard. I've seen a theory over on the Wild Mass Guessing page for TV Tropes that Akamatsu's deliberately using all the time-extending devices like Eva's resort not so much for training but to age Negi faster. He catches up to his harem and it's no longer squick, it's your typical harem scenario.

I feel like an unpleaseable fanbase for this, but I can't help but feel like God Mode Negi (Literally, he's called "Thunder God Negi" in this chapter, which is awesome.) is just leaving everyone in the dust. One of the cool things about Negima was how for a good portion of the manga, Kaede, Ku Fei, Setsuna, and a few others were actually a hell of a lot stronger than Negi. Now...not so much. I mean, look at what this boyo's doing! It's unreal! I love it, but...I dunno, the best thing about Negima by far is all the awesome characters, and if it just becomes Negi being awesome, it'll be kinda eh. Ten bucks says that this is a Dangerous Forbidden Technique, and it'll do to Negi what the gates do to Lee. But, take those complaints as the small bit of sour on what is otherwise an epic helping of pure, pure awesome and win.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Giant In the Playground Forum Rant

I'm typing up this rant here instead of actually expressing my opinions over on the site because I'm apparently one flame post warning away from being banned, and I don't want to lose my access to the site where I waste the majority of my time on the internet.

The mods over on the boards there are more draconian than any I've seen on the web, and tend to equate "a bit of harsh language" with "flaming troll post". Two prominent members, EvilElitest and Rutee, who were frequent posters, got banned over the time I've been at the forum (basically since I started college) for the occasional arguments that one gets into when one posts several thousand times. But I digress.

Recently, bceause of both the popularity of the comic and the general size of the forum, the site's been either ridiculously laggy or just plain down. It's a crapshoot as to whether or not I'll be able to get on and check both the games I play in over there and the other regular threads I post in. The administrators and the Giant have said many times that they're aware of the problem and working on it- they've asked people not to refresh so much, purged a bunch of old threads to ease the actual physical content on the server, etc. Nothing's worked. The site still goes down every time there's a new comic, and occasionally just when it feels like it.

Many posters have spoken up, stating that they ....

And for some reason the power just went off while I was typing this. Weird, as the weather can be described as "typical Rochester"- that is, it's a snow shower. Hopefully this'll mean class is cancelled, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

Aaaanyways, many posters have spoken up, stating that they want better reliability on the forums, and they're willing to pay for it. The Giant has categorically refused any and all suggestions from forumgoers that he take donations or place banner ads on the site in order to raise additional revenue. He has accused several people of "entitlement" for wanting to have a smooth-running forum, claiming that the problem will only get worse if he starts accepting donations.

Seriously, man? Seriously? Give me a break here. I'm looking at this from an economic perspective right now. I'm a poor college student. I...

Power's back. Nuts, class is still on.

I have a very limited income. That means I've got to be fairly thrifty and decide carefully what I want to spend my money on. I am perfectly willing to spend $20 in order to be able to have a faster server and avoid the ridiculous downtimes that plague this site. It's a purely economic analysis- this is a product I enjoy a great deal, hence my willingness to spend money on it. That would not grant me any extra priviliges within the community, it would not mean that I think I could say whatever I want and not get banned for it, et cetra. It means that I want more reliable access to the site, and I'm willing to pay for it. The fact that the Giant is completely disregarding this option in favor of doing nothing instead makes me very, very irritated. I'm sure I'm not the only one (I know it for a fact), and I think that there's a large enough number of regular posters who want reliable forum access that they'd be willing to pay the first fee for the new server and continue to pay the fees for running it, purely because they want to have continued access to the forums. I don't think I'll ever pay the $10 it costs to sign up for Something Awful, largely because there's no guarantee I'd get a return on my money. Here, I know I'd get that return. So Giant? Come on, man. I'm not looking for the comic to be updated faster or to pressure you into allowing a bit more freedom with the rules, or anything of that sort. What I am saying is that I will pay for a more reliable forum. Plain and simple. That's not entitlement, regardless of the fac that the site is free now. That's pure capitalism right there. Gah, this bugs me.

Edit: Once again ranting here because I don't want to get hit with the banhammer. There was a thread in the "Board Issues" board dealing with site connectivity in which there was a debate going on that the Giant got involved in. Both sides getting fairly heated. Aaaand then Roland St. Jude, the mod who's handed down both of my flaming warnings and the only real Mod on the site, so far as I can tell (haven't seen Gorbash in months, which is a shame as he used to post on the anime thread quite a bit), goes and locks it. That's counterproductive and it's going to piss a lot of people off. Like me, for instance. But, since I'm out of wiggle room and the dude's already proved himself draconian, here I am. Gaah! It bugs me that they've got this very uppity attitude about the whole thing. We want to give money to get a faster server. I don't want to give charity. I want to participate in a movement that'll get me a better forum.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Wallet is Going to Hate Me...

Dat da duh na nah, duh nah na na nah, da da dat da daa daa da dat da daaaya..

Sorry. Bleach Ending 17 still stuck in my head.

My second post today is my expression of a dilemma I've been having for quite some time. When I was younger, I was a Nintendo fanboy. I certainly didn't bash other systems much, but at heart, I was a Nintendo diehard. I still am, they're my favorite video game company, but the Wii hasn't had many games that I've wanted to play, while there've been a ton coming out for the XBox 360 (lessee, Tales of Vesperia- pure win, I'll talk about this in about 3 weeks when I finally get the sweet game back when I go home for Spring Break, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, Mass Effect, Halo 3, a variety of interesting-looking jRPGs, etc.). Point is, I never had any interest in getting a PS 2. That was the system with a huge load of licensed games that I never cared about. There are plenty of games I certainly would play on the system if I had the chance- Shadow of the Colossus, probably Final Fantasy X, another bunch of RPGs, but nothing made me think I have to get this system. All fine and dandy, right? We're in the next generation, the PS 3's got nothing worthwile coming out on it that's not also coming out on Xbox. Right? Right?


TV Tropes, through its constant references to it, made me mildly interested in Persona 3. Enough so that when I saw a Let's Play of it highly recommended, I decided to take a look.* I got addicted. The commentary and characterization provided by the author is great, and gives a face to what was a silent protagonist, but the game itself stood out as an absolutely fantastic story that really made me want to play it.

Aaaaand, now Persona 4's out and just about every review of it I've seen compares it favorably to Persona 3. The TV Tropes article on it is huge, and everything I've seen about this game suggests that it is absolutely fantastic. Which means that now I need a PS 2. *sob sob* I'm a poor college student! Do I really need to blow $15o on a used PS2 just so I can play Persona 4 (and, eventually, Persona 3)? I...I..think I do. Goddamnit. Thank God it's out for the PS 2 or I might just despair right now.

So, for all of you wondering, just what is the Persona series that has me so enamoured? Well, it's a jRPG series by Atlus, part of the Shin Megami Tensai series. From what I know off the webbernetz (having never played any version myself), the common theme of the game is that they revolve around a "mons" system- that is, collecting a variety of creatures and using them to defeat other, similar enemies usulally through exploiting weaknesses. Yes, this is like Pokemon. But Shin Megami Tensai came first for one, and for two, you're summoning mythical beings from a variety of religions and cultures. To quote that Persona 3 Let's Play: "We're summoning that guy (Jesus) to do battle with death itself. This game couldn't possibly get any more metal". But that alone is not what appeals to me, particularly as that aspect of the game, according to TV Tropes, is murderously hard. Like, throw your controller through the screen and curse at 3-AM hard. I've got the feeling that if I do play these games, I'm going to have to bring them up to my room so that my swearing when I die doesn't wake my parents (yes, I still live with my folks. Poor college student, remember?) But what makes the Persona series (or at least Persona 3 and 4) unique is that this aspect of the game is only half the package. The other half is a life/roleplay sim that puts you through life as a Japanese high school student who's got to build up social links with other people in order to get greater demon-slaying powers. That's the interesting part. What also makes me drool is that the storyline is fantastic, the writing is incredible, and all the characters are incredible, with fantastic voice acting to boot. The games are unique, intelligent, and look to have ridiculously good stories. And that's primarily what I want in an RPG, more so than great gameplay. Which is why I'll be willing to forgive the murderous difficulty for the sake of this game.

Oh, and I think I've already got something of a crush on one of the characters from the game. Yukiko Amagi. Hel-lo. She seems to have a great personality to go with those looks, and several gameplay videos I've seen feature her in a Yutaka. Yum.

*If you don't know what a Let's Play is, I'm with someone over on TV Tropes who said it's the only good thing to come out of Something Awful...If you don't know what that is, I kinda doubt you're reading this blog. Essentially, a Let's Play is where someone goes through a video game and plays it for the entertainment of others, either using screenshots to tell the story (and usually snark, either in- or out-of-character) or videos, where it tends more towards explanation and letting the game stand for itself. I'd love to do a playthrough of Tales of Vesperia as a Let's Play, largely because I think people would get a kick out of me swearing at all the boss battles.

What I like about Bleach

So, a good portion of my manga review on Friday was dedicated to complaining about Bleach. The pacing is very off right now. But as a pure Shonen fighting series, I really don't like Bleach. Sure, a lot of the fights are fun and awesome, but Negima and Naruto both do them better. The two things I really like about Bleach are the characters and...this general feel about it. I'll explain the later one now.

Bleach just sort of exudes this aura of...I don't know, general coolness. I don't want to say "trendiness" or "chique" because I'm about as far from that as you can get while still being a functioning member of society. But most of the characters look realistic. With certain exceptions (lookin' at you, Kenpachi), they look like someone you could feasibly see walking down the street, which is something that doesn't happen with a lot of animated things. A lot of the splash pages in the manga have the cast sitting around in a bunch of different clothing rather than the standard costumes we see most animated characters in. And the opening and ending themes for the anime are generally fantastic. A Few Of My Favorites. (I'll admit, pulling up the links of those, which I have saved on my computer for when I want to listen to them, I listened through most of 'em.) Take particular note of the first opening (A) and the thirteenth ending (Of), both of which have almost no fighting in their animations. Naruto has great music, but it tends towards the more typical Shonen hot-bloodedness- which is fun, but all the tunes in the Bleach EDs and OPs are fresh and modern, and they really don't sound like something that's going to lead into a typical Shonen hack-and-slash fest. I guess what I'm saying is that Bleach has really modern sensibilities, and despite me being a complete and total fantasy geek, I find that stuff very cool.

The second bit is obviously the characters. I don't think I really have to go into great detail as to why I like the characters, but the chance to see them doing awesome things, even if the awesome stuff drags and doesn't make too much sense, keeps me reading. The core cast of Ichigo, Ishida, Orihime, Chad, Rukia and Renji (I'll throw him a bone for his big part in Hueco Mundo) are great together, and there are a ton of secondary characters I love. Basically, Bleach has a great cast.

All this sums to my personal opinion- Bleach would be better as a sort of teen drama. I know this sounds like a horrible idea, and it probably is. But less of the teen, less of the drama, you know? I'd ideally set it at a College. Lord knows that even though they're in High School, those guys sure as hell look 18. You've got Ichigo, Chad, and Ishida all living as roommates. Renji and a couple other secondary shinigami are down the hall. Orihime, Rukia, and Tatsuki (thrown in because I wish we'd see more of her) are roommates. Secondary characters (minus the espada et al) are there in various roles- Mayuri is a creepy-as-hell chemistry teacher, for example. Things go from there. Keep it simple, keep it smart. Just the character interaction can drive the show for the most part. I know it'd never happen, but I'd kinda like to read an AU fanfiction about it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Weekly Manga Review or Sneak Attack, Bitch!

Good releases this week. All three of the weekly releases I read, plus Fullmetal Alchemist.

Negima 241- The fight starts! Negi starts charging a spell, and Rakan tells shadow-boy to go in and stop him. Kotaro swiftly disabuses him of this notion by stopping an attack that, before his powerup, Negi couldn't really take like it was nothing. Glad to see that he's grown, too. Kotaro's one of my favorite characters, and with all the powerups Negi was going through, he was in danger of getting left in the dust. So Rakan fires off a spear? Halberd? Whatever it was, it was roughly equivalent to the detonation of a small nuclear device. Everyone is shocked, largely because he almost killed the entire audience, but Negi comes out completely unscated. Why? Because his artifact lets him copy the artifacts of his partners- meaning in combat, he's got Asuna's sword and Setsuna's daggers. And apparently Asuna's sword (which looks fucking awesome) has her magic-cancelling powers. So, this artifact effectively nulls Rakan's swords (it cuts through them like butter), and they get ready to beat the crap out of each other with their fists.

Ah, Shonen fighting. Fun. Not too much more to say, except that I didn't think Asuna's sword could do that- I thought it was Asuna herself.

Bleach 345- Crazy executioner Arrancar brags to Rukia about his power. He notices that Ulquiorra's going do do his release. We see the release- he's got wings and freaky eyebrows, apparently, and then proceeds to get a hit in on Ichigo. There's a bit of bragging.

Yeah. That's it. Do you see the difference between what I just described and what happened in Negima this week? I suppose to make things even, I should give a brief, 2-sentance character analysis. OK. Renji shouldn't have much of a problem cutting through that executioner. I mean, he's got infinite weak minions spawning. Renji has a huge-ass fucking bone snake to cut through them with. There. Doesn't make too much of a difference, does it? I don't know if Bleach always moved this slowly. I can't help but think that it moved faster, but maybe the fact that I read the whole thing in one huge chunk changed that. Back when this whole arc started with the fight in Karakura town, it was awesome. There were characters we hadn't seen fighting before, and all of them were quick- one or two chapters tightly packed with awesome fights. Problem is, the main fights haven't even started yet in Karakura, and...I don't know, the fight with Ulquiorra has dragged on like nobody's business. Tite Kubo, if you were releasing this in a graphic novel and we got a lot more with each update, I could forgive it, but as of right now, it's not doing it for me.

Naruto- First things first- Naruto uses the fact that he's immobilized to take the chance to gather sage chakra...which turns the Pain sucking up his chakra into a toad- and Grampa toad isn't there to knock him out of it. Unfortunately, Gravity!Pain (I don't like saying God realm) proceeds to beat up Naruto and then pull Gramps toad onto his sword. He doesn't poof, so I figure he's dead. Pain pins Naruto's hands to the floor and then starts talking- he's got a chronic case of Bond Villain Stupidity going on. Meanwhile, Ino, Shikamaru, their dads, and that Shihio chick are conversing about Pain, and Ino's dad thinks he's got the location of Nagato's body or something.

So, hopefully Grandma toad will summon Naruto's last clone and he'll proceed to wail on Pain like money was owed. I've mentioned it in other places, but I really think that Naruto spamming Kage Bunshin would work here. Pain throws a few of them away, but there's always more. Shame I doubt this'll happen, but it'd be fun.

Fullmetal Alchemist 92. The Fullmetal Alchemist manga is storytelling perfection. I mean that. This chapter is composed of Al proceeding to wail on Kimblee and Pride, two of the most bastardish of the enemies the group has to face, and showing just how damn good he really is. Of course, having a Philosopher's Stone helps. It's also the Armstrong Siblings facing off against Sloth, which is pretty awesome, especially when Alex blocked. Every time I see Armstrong doing something cool, I hear his dub announcement- "Alex Louis Armstrong, the Strongarm Alchemist!" The man is such a Large Ham he's awesome, particularly as he's probably one of the most caring individuals in the show, while his sister is literally carved out of ice. That ice is frozen awesome, but it's ice all the same. And it all ends with Al pulling off a plan that results in what you see below. The next image is Khimbly getting his throat crushed. Next month we're looking at more confrontations. Hopefully Hohenheim vs. Father will be here, as that'll be epic.

It's a shame the manga's ending so soon- I had heard 100 chapters, which means there's only 8 left. This manga is amazing. It's less the awesome action and great characters (I'm particularly a fan of the Chimera dudes who defected. They're just semi-normal guys going along with things, and they prove to be hardcore badass dangerous, if I can cop a phrase from Megatokyo. For instance, below?) than it is the plot. The homunculi and father have an intricate, well-crafted plot that's looking closer and closer to fruition, but all the protagonists, particularly Major General Armstrong and Colnel Mustang, react so intelligently that they're able to have a damn good shot at bringing the plan down around their ears. It's far too in-depth for me to explain at 4 AM right now, but suffice to say that everything makes perfect sense and plans are intricately thought out. I love it.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why I dislike the Haruhi dub

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was the series that convinced me that I was a no-hope otaku. I had just gotten into TV Tropes and had begun to rekindle my love of anime that had flagged the past few years, and saw it referenced everywhere. It's one of the wiki's pet series, along with Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (also quite good) and most of Joss Whedon's work. I had gotten such a good overview of the plot and peculiarities of the characters and whatnot, that I started commenting on the series like I was in the know (that happened over at the Giant In The Playground boards- there was a thread on what fictional universes you'd like to restructure, and someone commented "This one. It's getting boring". The person above them had an SOS-dan signature, and I commented that the juxtaposition amused me.) After that, I figured I should just watch the goddamn show. I did- some dude on Youtube had the entirety of it- and I loved it. It was just as funny, had just as many moments of What Do You Mean, It's Not Awesome?!, and characters as awesome as everyone said. I liked the series so much, I felt compelled to go out and buy the DVDs. I'm missing...two or three episodes, I think- the one with that bigass cricket and the two on the island. One DVD boxset (The second) had the first five episodes of broadcast order subbed-only, in addition to episodes 4-6 and the Baseball game in chronological order. That one boxset for $40 or so got me the entirety of the main plot, plus episode 0 and the baseball game episode- about half the series. Not too shabby.

Now, I watched the dub, and objectively, I should have loved it. Every member of the SOS-dan is played by an experienced VA who I have loved in other roles. The translation is faithful, almost to a fault, and each actor seems to know their character very well. But I don't like it. Or, I mean to say, I prefer the Japanese version. I'll break it down character by character.

Kyon- Played by Crispin Freeman in the dub, one of the big names in voice acting. See also- Orange-kun (Jeremiah Gottwald from Code Geass) and Regal from Symphonia, which is where I know him from. TV Tropes tells me that he was Alucard in Hellsing and a bunch of other roles. He's got a great voice, fairly deep, perfect for that big, kinda quiet badass role. My main problem with Mr. Freeman, and with probably anyone who took this role is simple- they're not Tomokazu Sugita, Kyon's Seiyuu*. Kyon's Japanese performance is incredible. There's such a marvelous tone to it that you can hear right from the opening monolouge that Kyon gives in Episode 1. It flows perfectly, and you can hear the different levels of exasperation, fear, and excitement that Kyon gives, which is hard for me to oftentimes do when I listen to the Japanese. Kyon feels both like he'd really talk that way- it's completely natural, and never awkward or inconsistent. So Mr. Freeman has huge shoes to fill, and unfortunately he doesn't manage to make it. His Kyon is good- he captures exasperation (so, so important for Kyon) very well, but he doesn't have that same flow, that same rhytm that Tomokazu managed to pull off. It's just not the same...

Haruhi- Aya Hirano in Japanese, Wendee Lee Dubbed. Wendee Lee is known for Faye of Cowboy Bebop and about a million other things. The most recent thing I recognized her in was a couple of bit parts in Tales of Vesperia. Aya Hirano brings a shitton of energy to Haruhi, which is really necessary to the character. She also legitimately sounds like a teenage girl, whereas Wendee Lee, who's pusing 50, a 50 year old trying to pass off for 16. It's the same problem I have with Jun Fukuyama's Lelouch Lamperouge- s/he doesn't sound like they're 16.

Yuki- Minori Chihara in Japanese, Michelle Ruff in English. Now we get to VA's I fanboy a bit over. Michelle Ruff is Rukia Kuchiki, Yukari Takeba (Persona 3, knowlege gained through Let's Plays), and Rita Mordio (Vesperia) and she's fantastic in all of them. Rita in particular is great. Yuki is your stereotypical "emotionless girl" and both voices reflect that. Yuki's Japanese voice is quiet, simple, and calm. It fits her perfectly. Michelle Ruff sounds like she's trying just a bit too hard to deaded all the emotion, and sounds like they did something artificial that makes Yuki seem more like a computer. It doesn't really work for me.

Mikuru- Yuko Goto in Japanese, Stephanie Sheh in English. I know Stephanie Sheh as Orihime and Hinata Hyuuga. Her voice fits the character perfectly, and sounds almost the same as the Japanese version. High-pitched, breathy, just like Mikuru. And yet it irritates me. That sort of thing doesn't work to my tastes in English.

Koizumi- Daisuke Ono in Japanese, Johnny Young Bosch in English. I really fanboy over Johnny Young Bosch- he's Ichigo Kurosaki, Lelouch, and a bunch of others. He's got a great "timid" voice, and a kickass angry voice. He works fine for Koizumi, but I don't have much to say about Koizumi's Japanese voice, either. So meh.

The dub's not bad. I just don't like it. I love other works of these folk, just...not here.

And on a sidenote here, either I (who was supposed to be listening for the timer) or my roommate (who may have forgotten to set said timer) screwed up and we nearly burned our dorm down. He comes back to his burger cooking and calmly tells me "You forgot to turn the oven off...and now it's on fire". Despite what looked to be a grease fire, he threw water on it, and miraculously it went out. Didn't set off the fire alarm or anything. I don't know. Amusing that I was just sitting here while the oven lit on fire not ten feet away.
* Seiyuu is the Japanese term for voice actor, dontchaknow.[/weeaboo]

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Negima 240

I *think* I mentioned earlier that I'm a complete Negima fanboy. If not, now you know. Chapter 240's out. And I'll say the same thing I said on the Giant In The Playground thread- And here...we...go! Negi and Kotarou vs. Rakan and Shadow-dude. Negi's got a plan, he's got himself an artifact, and we've got ourselves a fucking epic fight. Oh, I haven't drooled this much since Naruto showed up to kick Pain's ass six ways from Sunday. A bit more Kotarou-Natsumi flirting in this chapter. I don't really ship in Negima per se- Nodoka's probably my favorite of Negi's haremettes, but then who doesn't like Nodoka? But those two? Those two are cute. So, epic fight upcoming. Can't wait for next Wednesday.

I downloaded the Naruto and Shippuden OSTs and they're fantastic. Naruto has a really weird thing going where the music recombines classic string tunes and flutes with guitars, and it's really, really good. Look 'em up on Youtube to try and find them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dammit Hulu, how could you screw this up?

Alright, so my last post was full of gushing about Hulu. Well, unfortunately, compounding on my crappy day, the damn site won't run the goddamn Shippuden. I managed to watch one episode with minimal amounts of loading, but after that it completely crapped out on me. I tried reloading it to fiddle with it, and it only made the damn thing worse. I don't know what's wrong- my internet works fine for Youtube and the like, it's only Hulu that's not working (and it's not just Naruto. I tried pulling up an episode of Burn Notice and it's running just as quickly. As in, it's not).

Saying that, I did like the filler episode. Kabuto seems to have accquired a mysterious waif that has some tangental relevance to the three-tailed beast (that's the one that wasn't sealed) and Naruto is acting typically Naruto-ish, which is damn boring, but about half the episode was focused on Team 8! Yays! They got absolutely zero love in the manga compared to what Team 10 got, so it's really nice to see them again. The opening even changed to reflect that they're taking on a prominent role in this arc. Now, I'm a huge Shikamaru fanboy, so any love that Team 10 gets is more than OK by me, but it is good to spread the love around a little.

I like what Shippuden is doing with the filler, even if it comes with a change in pace to the manga storyline that's best described as "glacial". I heard this on the Anime Counterpoint Podcast- that they switched from covering 2-3 manga chapters per episode as they did in Naruto proper, thus causing them to catch up and the massive filler glut to going to 1-1.5. They've halved the pace at which the anime adapts the manga, and it's falling into Dragonball Z-esque padding. Which is odd, because you look at what they've got left to cover- Jiraya's arc (substantial), the Sasuke-fest (far, far more substantial than I'd like), Sasuke's fight with Itachi (boo!), the showdown with the eight-tailed beast (short but awesome), and Pain's attack on Konoha (ho-lee shit!). And they're still really worried about catching up. So the filler right now is covering something that I think sounds really cool- a far more in-depth look at the other tailed beasts. They missed their chance to give a bit more of a focus on the two-tails, but I'm glad they decided to focus on the three-tails, as well as give Team 8 some more screentime. This is the type of filler they need to be doing- stuff that could (and possibly should) have been in the manga proper.

Edit: The site's schiziophrenic as hell. I just managed to watch another episode. Mmm, mindless fillery goodness... on the downside, Sasuke. Boo, Sasuke! And I don't know what the hell kinds of drugs the makers of the last anime ending were on, but I'm damn sure it was something.

Starting Right Out Here...

Hey folks. I'm going to assume that most of the people reading this, if you're reading it at all, are going to be the people I talk with online at Giant In The Playground and TV Tropes. I'm going to keep this out of my Facebook and non-online life, so this is its own monster. If you stumble across this, hey! I'm Rogue 7, a general geek who tends to focus on Anime, Video Games, and tabletop games. I've got so much geek stuff that I tend to talk about that I feel the need to get this down somewhere, even if no one else is reading it. If anything, It'll be interesting to go back and read it.

This blog is gonna focus on anime and manga for the most part. I'll throw up reviews of stuff I like, and maybe gush about the new manga chapters coming out each week (or month in the case of Fullmetal Alchemist), and throw around a few recommendations of stuff I've found online.

So the trigger that I got to starting this blog was functionally two things. The first is that I was listening to the "Anime Counterpoint" podcast by a bunch of the guys behind various Abridged Series- MasakoX, Hbi2k, and KaiserNeko, who all collaborate on DragonBall Z Abridged, which is, by and large, the funniest thing I've seen in a good long while. Check it out. They're doing a general anime talk, which got me thinking. And anyone who knows me knows that I'm always thinking. So I'm putting things down in electronic form. (I'd say on paper, but I haven't really written anything seriously on paper in a damn long while)* But their podcast is really good, they've got a lot of insight into fandom and the industry, and a lot of the time they can be pretty damn funny.

The second is something I really want to advertise. I like Naruto quite a lot. It has some fantastic world building, some great action sequences, and some great characters. It's got problems, lord knows it's got problems- the pacing is bad, there used to be far too much focus on Sasuke (*shakes his fist in anger*), and several issues don't appear to be getting close to being resolved. I'm talking more about the manga here, as that's what I tend to focus on, particularly since Shippuden has dragged on a ridiculously long time. But I'll keep watching, I'll keep reading, and gorramit, I'll keep complaining! But that's getting a bit long-winded, and not really what I want to talk about. I'm sure that most people in the U.S. are familliar with Hulu for TV broadcasting online. It's got a ton of series, both new and old- they've got Firefly up there, which I will most certainly gush about at some point. But they've also got a good deal of Anime, most of it from Viz or Funimation (Funimation recently has really done a fantastic job of getting anime out- they released Nanoha for cripe's sake!), but I just looked and it turns out that they've somehow cut a deal with whoever it is does the Japanese broadcasts, and quite possibly the fansubbers over at Dattebayo** and have both the last filler arc of the original series (my favorite filler arc) and the new Shippuden episodes, one week delayed. It's free, it's legal, and you actually support Kishimoto and the official release. Plus, you don't have to deal with the assholes over at Dattebayo. You can wait one week, can't you? Please do.

I indulge in fansubs and scanslations myself (I can't live without my weekly Negima fix), but I've never had any illusions that it's legal. It's not. I'm not gonna condemn it, but I'm not gonna support it. I try to go out to buy series I watch fansubbed. (That reminds me, I've gotta pick up Nanoha)- Full Metal Panic and Haruhi Suzumiya being the two most recent (I'm a poor college student), but this is a big deal for the Anime industry, particularly since I think Cartoon Network dropped Shippuden- they're going to be back-releasing the episodes on Hulu, 8 per week. Naruto's freakin' huge. There are a ton of dub fans who watched it on Toonami (RIP) who now can't get their ninja fix, who probably went online and found it on Hulu or started getting fansubs. Now they've got a legal option to watch the series, and those who watched the fansubs now also have a legal means to watch without having to wait for the dub/DVDs to catch up. So if you like Naruto, make sure to watch it on Hulu. It's legal, and it's probably going to be better than the fansubs. Now Im'a go watch it. Later!

Ironic point- what I'm talking about here just came up on the Anime Counterpoint podcast I'm listening to. They're talking about fansubs and getting a quick legal version up on some site (this aired back in August '08, and here I am talking about the legal quicksub of Naruto up. Funny.

* I think I'll take this opportunity to mention that online, when I'm talking, I use parentheses a lot. I don't really know why, I certainly try not to do it when I write formally. I just tend to inject a sentence with tangential relevance into whatever I'm talking about, and the quickest way to do that is just stick in some parentheses.
** Those guys do a really good fansub job, but Dear Lord, they're assholes. I say this from just browsing around their site to get to the episodes. They're total assholes, really rude. I'm glad I don't have to use them if I want a Naruto fix.