Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category


Fate/Hollow Ataraxia: Fuyuki City Cooking Simulator (Now with Bonus Holy Grail War)

January 9, 2015

hisui_icon_4040 It seemed like Fate/Hollow Ataraxia was in an eternal limbo where is was fairly close to being translated but at the same time became a running joke that it would never be finished in some sort of Zeno’s Paradox. It seemed the closer it was to be done the longer it took between updates. The original game came out on  October, 28th 2005. In the mean time on April 12, 2012, 6 years and 5 months later, Mahou Tsukai no Yoru was released. It quickly became an odd race to see which of the two would come out first. In the beginning it seemed like Witch on the Holy Night would easily cross the finish line before its predecessor. But then Mahou Tsukai no Yoru crashed into the same wall that Fate/Hollow Ataraxia had hit and both of them were in limbo. Then the cold war was finally broken.

If you have even seen a stalled fan work you will quickly realize that threats, pleas, well wishes, and indifference either do nothing or actually actively block progress. Threats and insults just usually make the people behind the project wonder why they started such an undertaking for an ungrateful audience. Pleas often just become regarded as passive aggressive threats rather quickly. Well wishes often start off as encouraging but often become a weight around the teams neck as time goes on. Indifference is usually the greatest killer of stalled projects as they give permission to whoever is working on the project to finally let it go.

There are usually only three things that revitalize such a project. The first is new blood. A new addition to the team can sometimes stir things up. The only problem is new people can easily throw off a team dynamic permanently killing the project and often such projects are not quick to take on new people anyway. The second is new inspiration. Sometimes the people involved will just get a second wind and finish off a project.The problem with that is that while there are 1001 events that can trigger such a renaissance the muse is fickle and such events are extremely rare and unpredictable. It turns out the most common thing that spurns these projects to be finished, in my humble opinion, is wounded pride. I have seen dozens of projects that seem like they will never move forward that spring to life when someone else looks like they might beat the original team. An official license or a rival group has completed thousands of projects that an ocean of cheers and jeers have not budged.

Fate/Hollow Ataraxia is no exception to the rule. It seemed that someone leaked a working copy with Google Translations as place holders in the unfinished parts. A few month later the full real translation was complete. Forget about love or hate. It seems that spite is one of the most powerful forces of the planet.

But with that sordid affair in the past we are mostly here to answer the real questions. How is Fate/Hollow Ataraxia as a follow-up to Fate/Stay Night? How do CarenBazett, and Avenger stack up to the original cast? Is there enough Saber?

The answer to the last question is always no.

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Manga of the Month: Master Keaton

January 1, 2015

Master Keaton (MASTERキートン)
by Naoki UrasawaHokusei Katsushika, and Takashi Nagasaki

hisui_icon_4040 Master Keaton definitely has an interesting history in the United States. I’m sure there were fans of Naoki Urasawa before 2003 but Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl never had anywhere near the success of its sister anime Ranma ½ in the English-speaking fandom and all the fans of Pineapple Army could probably fit in one room. So when the Master Keaton anime was released by Geneon on June 10, 2003 it hardly had any name cache. The series was a critical darling but a financial flop. Despite that the anime garnered itself a small but devoted following. Then jump ahead to February 21, 2006 when the Monster manga is released. That was the title that made Naoki Urasawa a name in otaku circles. 20th Century Boys and Pluto only solidified his reputation. So that small fandom for Master Keaton finally had hope that maybe the manga that spawned the series they loved might be released in English. But that was not meant to be.

Apparently the title was tied up in a legal battle between Naoki Urasawa and Hokusei Katsushika’s estate. The battle was fierce enough that not only could the title not be licensed in the US but they could not even reprint the series in Japan. So it seemed like a series that would always just be out of reach. Then in March of 2012 Naoki Urasawa started Master Keaton Remaster, a sequel to the original series, as sort of capstone to the end of the legal battle that had engulfed Master Keaton. It seemed that there was hope again and on Viz licensed Master Keaton. So after that long journey December 16, 2014 marked the day fans could finally buy Master Keaton. I have talked about the series several times on the blog but now I can official endorse it as a series that you can just order on-line and buy.

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Secret Santa Project Review: New Getter Robo – Getter Robo is Nobody’s Friend

December 24, 2014

hisui_icon_4040It is another solo year for me with as the only participant from the blog in the Secret Santa pool. I have to say when people are just picking for me the choices are far better. When it is both of us we get Gunslinger GirlTexhnolyze, and Dead Leaves. (The scars from Texhnolyze will never heal. I’m fairly certain we both still wake up in the middle of the night crying because of that show.) When it is just me I get to leisurely pick from several shows that actually seem fun. I will admit while I love reviewing shows with Kate I think I was a little relieved that she bowed out again. Otherwise we might have ended up watching something like Yosuga no Sora or Kaiba. Also it lets me speculate who my Secret Santa is as much as anyone else who participates in the project.

I actually got four choices this year. The first three were BarakamonNagi no Asukara, and New Getter Robo. They also gave me the super challenge of the Touch but did mention that it broke the rules of the Secret Santa Project but figured they would throw it out there anyway. I actually picked my show fairly quickly this year.

I had actually watched Barakamon. The problem is I liked the show so much I marathoned it in two days and then forgot to note that on My Anime List. It was utterly my fault for leaving it off the list. But it was clearly a good choice considering my reaction to the show.

I watched the first episode of Nagi no Asukara but had mixed feeling on it as P.A. Works has a very distinct formula it uses on some (but not all) of its anime that can be very hit or miss. It was something I considered but figured it could be my backup show if I needed one.

I passed on Touch for two reasons. The first is that I actually read all of the Touch manga. There was no reason for the person picking shows to look into that but it does mean I actually know the story already. The second is that while I might not be the busiest human being on Earth even I would have a hard time watching 101 episodes in the time allotted. (Also Fate/Hollow Ataraxia does not play itself.) I was slightly curious how the anime differs from the manga but not enough to plunge into a crazy marathon.

I picked New Getter Robo for several reasons. The first is the reason I picked Aquarion Evol last year. We have not had that many mecha reviews on the site so I wanted to correct that to some degree with this pick. The second was the show had a fairly strong reputation so it seemed like something worth talking about just to see how my opinion stacks up with the prevailing attitudes. And the third was just to beef up my knowledge of Go Nagai. For a legendary manga creator I have not experienced a good deal of his signature creations so this seemed like a great chance to expand my anime database.

I’m going to try my best to watch all four shows before the end of the project. I’m a little too lazy to write that up so I will probably do that as a mini podcast. I will definitely review all the shows I watched by the 25th on a podcast. The question is how many of the four will I get to. If I add Touch to the list I will probably just watch the three compliation movies. It is not the full 101 episode experience but it is something I can do in the time I have.

But enough discussion of decision-making processes and internal politics. Lets talk about robots!

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Manga of the Month: Birdmen

December 8, 2014

Birdmen (BIRDMEN -バードメン-)
by Yellow Tanabe

narutaki_icon_4040 After the initial chapter of Birdmen, I found myself scratching my head. Nothing was clear in chapter one (which is a prologue), I didn’t know what the story was going to be about at all. But there is a hook: a repeated rumor about a mysterious man with wings. Then, we get a glimpse of him at the end of chapter two (also the prologue) just as a bus containing all our main characters goes careening off a cliff. Then, chapter three returns to seemingly normal life, but something is just off as glimpses of memory and powers begin.

The way Yellow Tanabe constructs the beginning of Birdmen creates the tension and unease you might expect from a horror story, which it somewhat is, but Birdmen is more like Ms. Tanabe’s version of superheroes.

Two sets of friends, Karasuma and Kamoda, Tsubame and Sagisawa, who have only just met find themselves on the verge of death as their bus crashes. The Birdman saves them which endows them with the same powers as he. Just as the group starts to realize their abilities, a portal in the sky drops a monster into their town.

Yellow Tanabe takes these elements and combines them with a good sense of humor, popping up only at the appropriate times. There is even a classic superhero moment as Karasuma realizes he doesn’t need his glasses anymore after gaining his powers.

The entire first volume is an origin story which sets up everything that is to come. We have a five person team, each with a distinctive personality but so far it hasn’t felt like the well trodden path you might expect. Karasuma attitude feels downright out-of-place as he feels the world just doesn’t measure up and has no appreciation for his intellect. Kamoda’s shaved head and mean face make him an odd bestie for reserved and sheeple-hating Karasuma. None of the cast are particularly keen on their powers. So far everything feels right without feeling over done.

Birdmen has a winning combination of superheroes, humor, and horror. The more I read, the more I want to read.

~ kate


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