Posts Tagged ‘Blade of the Immortal’

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #233

January 7, 2014

hisui_icon_4040 The Flowers of Evil was a series that seemed to either be on peoples best anime of 2013 list or something you acknowledged existed but had a strong reason it was absent. Quite a few people just could not watch because they hated the look of the rotoscoping. In their defense it is rotoscoping. It is one of the few animation techniques that I can think of that you either just accept (and maybe even enjoy) or gets under your skin like nothing else. Interestingly enough after reading volumes one through four of the manga my critique would be much different.

The more subtle difference between the anime and the manga is the pacing. The Flowers of Evil anime has an almost glacial movement in the story. It spends so much of its time building up tension that the actual story seems secondary. I expected the manga to have that same ponderous weight to its cadence. But I was surprised by what I read.

The Flowers of Evil manga seems to have two paces. It can be almost breathlessly frenetic but in contrast it can also be meditatively ponderous. When Takao Kasuga is caught up in things the flow of the pages are almost delirious as events seem like they are out of his control. But when he is a master of his own fate the pace slows down. It clearly highlights when Kasuga could escape the spiral he is in but refuses to do so due to either cowardice, fear of being hurt, or plain desire. That anime seems not to care much for that first mode.

It is not to say the anime is doing things incorrectly. It is clearly made decisions to revel in one half of the story and downplay the other. When you adapt a title to another medium you sometimes have to change things to make them work. Other times you can modify things to make them your own. I feel like the anime is somewhere in the middle in this respect. Some of the changes are out of necessity and others are a personal flourish.

I will mention that I read through more of story what was in the three volumes of manga than the time it took to watch three episodes of the same 13 episode anime. While there is not necessarily a better version there is one that is in fact more expedient.

In that respect I feel that anime and the manga of The Flowers of Evil are the beginning of discussion and maybe even some insight into what different people want out of pacing and adaption of manga. It seems like people who would normally despise such a reduced speed in a translation love this series. There is clearly a greater alchemy at work here worth looking into.

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narutaki_icon_4040 As you might gather from the cover of Blade of the Immortal vol. 27, we finally get the return of a familiar face (actually faces!) as we draw ever nearer to the final showdown. The volume focuses more on the greater cast as Rin and Manji recover from their latest clash with Shiira and slowly start their journey again.

We finally get to see Habaki’s daughter show her skills in some competent sword work but much more in her ability to think ahead. A good portion of the book is taken up by her and Ban (one of Habaki’s woefully underdeveloped death row soldiers) fighting in the woods against one of the Itto-ryu’s oldest members. Ban uses a gun which takes the ridiculous nature of the fights in BotI to a different level.

Remember those familiar faces I mentioned? Well, don’t get too excited since they literally make a 8-page appearance. Still it bodes well for things to come.

Magatsu had my favorite moment in the volume though as he lays down some wisdom about the path of revenge:

“It’s like the wheel of fate rolling right over us. All we are required to do is accept being hated our whole lifetimes by the relatives of those we’ve killed. Even thinking about wanting to forgive or wanting to be forgiven is foolish.”

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #212

April 26, 2013

I finished the second volume of Vertical’s beautiful release of Message to Adolf. I didn’t expect it to span well past the years of World War II.

Most of this volume involves characters caught up in a tense back and forth of who will end up with the information on Hitler’s birth and more importantly how will it become public knowledge.

Adolf Kaufman’s descent into full Aryan-superiority is, as one might imagine, unsettling and surprisingly heartbreaking at times. I guess for a good portion of the story I was expecting him to maintain his heart despite the horrible things he did. But he only further breaks down as he makes his way to Japan as an adult reuniting with his remarried mother and childhood friend Adolf. It really feels like true madness as Adolf tries to reclaim the documents because Adolf is not full-Aryan, neither is Hitler, and neither is the girl Adolf is in love with!

I really enjoy stories where minor characters pop-up again and again in important capacities that you weren’t expecting. It makes it feel cohesive and Message to Adolf has that.

And the ending? Fatefully tragic.

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The A Certain Magical Index series is one of those strange series were people make a big deal about how much they can’t stand the series but continually watch it season after season. To a lesser degree this also happens with the spin off A Certain Scientific Railgun series (it might be the yuri undercurrent that cause it to be slightly better received) . But as a legitimate fan of the series who genuinely enjoys it I was looking forward to the first two episodes of A Certain Scientific Railgun S.

I did go into this arc with a certain expectation. I had heard that this was being called A Certain Scientific Railgun S with the S being a reference to the Sister Noise arc. Apparently it is an arc that tells the original Sisters Arc from A Certain Magical Index from Misaka Mikoto’s perspective. While that seemed like an interesting idea I was a little worried it might feel a bit recycled. But so far it mostly seems like all new material. We are getting a much better idea of how Misaka got involved with the whole Level 6 Shift experiment and we have new characters like Nunotaba Shinobu who never appeared in the original story.  So far it does not just seem to be the Accelerator fight from a different point of view.

The new series begins with a one off story that proves that Edasaki Banri and Haruue Erii have not disappeared off the face of the earth once their arc has ended (to the point where like Saten Ruiko they have started to make cameo appearances in the main Index series). It is mostly an episode to bridge the last arc of Railgun with the new series and show that life goes on for everyone. The big highlight of the first episode is action scene at the end with a teleporting Kuroko and a hotblooded Railgun vs. a helicopter. It is a nice little set piece that reminds you that Railgun is mostly about psychic powers even though it has cute girls doing cute things moments.

The second story starts setting up the sisters arc in quite a unexpected way. It seems that people have been finding cash cards all over Academy City. After a bit of treasure hunting Misaka find the source of the cards and witnesses a rather theatrical fight. But this seemingly unrelated story turn to be about the Level 6 Shift experiment in the last few seconds.

I am interested to see how this all blends together. The problem with stories like this is that gaiden tales have to walk a find line between being interesting and making us wonder why we never knew about any of this in the first place. It is clear from the opening that the rest of the Railgun gang, some characters from ITEM, and Shokuhou Misaki are clearly involved in the story. While there was always a little more hinted at going on with Misaka during the Sister Arc this seems like more than some minor scenes. Thankfully they are not just showing us the same story with some minor additions but it could lead to some odd  plot holes if they are not careful.

Then again “everyone” hates trash like A Certain Magical Index so who really cares outside of the Japanese audience? I mean other than me who looks forward to the next episode.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #183

August 31, 2012

And so ends Kamen Rider Fourze or as I like to think of it Kamer Rider Diamond Is Not Crash. Having never seen a full Kamer Rider series this certainly was a treat. The last 21 episodes (28-48) put a nice cap on everything. The series ended things pretty much how would expect them to end with a few nice little twists to make it all feel unique.

Without giving away too many spoilers I will say the best part of the writing in the series is the way they pull off reveals. They make a good use of what amounts to 2 stage method of pulling back the curtain. They set up certain mysteries fairly early on and tease you with the answers. Then when they finally give you the solution I found nine times out of ten I had figured out the answers from the clues they left. But then they usually followed it up with a secondary reveal just after that which is nowhere as easy to predict. It is a strong one-two punch that helps nicely in giving impact to the story.

I will note after a certain point they really began to focus much less on the Rider Club than in the first half. They never disappeared but their overall screen time dropped from where in was in the first half of the series. For all the trouble they have over keeping Miu and Shun in the club they don’t do a good deal after they graduate. How many times was the Powerdizer really that important?

Still it was a fun show that really never took itself too seriously. It could hunker down when it needed to but it never lost sight of how silly its overall premise could be. It remained earnest while still being fun. It also helped the somewhat hokey production vales go down a bit smoother.  In many ways I think this could be the HeartCatch PreCure! of Kamen Rider for me. While I may enjoy other Kamen Rider series this one will take a truly spectacular show to beat.

Seriously Dark Horse, I hate you for putting Blade of the Immortal on a once a year release schedule. Blade of the Immortal vol. 25 is, as always, a beautiful piece of violence. There are some really exquisite page sequences in this volume. Samura amazes me with his artful blood spatters.

It has been a while since we’ve seen Shira in action; he had mostly been slinking around once he appeared again. The confrontation between him and Manji is sooooo what we’ve been waiting for for a long time. It certain had some surprises, though it isn’t over yet, but I was glad to see paths crossing again that I didn’t expect at this point. I kind of forgot that most of the characters don’t know Shira is still alive since we the audience have known for a number of volumes at this point.

We are finally privy to some insights on Manji’s immortality and vulnerability that we could only speculate on before. Although I don’t trust the information fully yet since it is only the doctor’s theory; this might be Shira’s big mistake.

At the end of this installment are some pretty hilarious joke comics parodying characters and situations in the series. I especially laughed when Rin needed bait to fish with so she cut off Manji’s arm.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #160

March 9, 2012

After writing about the Zelda franchise recently, I had to get playing the DS release Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks because, hello, you get to drive a train. In this adventure, you are trying to restore the train tracks that connect the realms as well as stop the resurrection of an evil lord who has stolen Zelda’s body. With sword, er stylus, in hand I set out on this small but mighty adventure. I was actually surprised by how long the game was and how much was packed into that little cartridge. Zelda’s ghost is your guide, but she is also your partner in fights for certain areas which is a nice addition to the gameplay. Your path is very straightforward since you can only travel by train so the map has but a few outposts to discover, sadly. Despite loving trains, at times traveling was tedious and long since the only way to open portals was, for the most part, done with side errands that I didn’t engage in. Still I had a blast with the train driving and the first part of the final battle in which you must take on a giant evil train was quite fun. There is a noticeably low count of enemies in this game, but bosses still gave me quite a challenge throughout. My favorite was in the fire temple, it was just enjoyable to play! But I cannot emphasize enough to Nintendo: please quit it with the stylus heavy games already or at least make it optional especially for things like walking. The accuracy is just not there and it takes some of the portability out. Also flute playing gave me nothing but frustration throughout the game because no one really teaches you how to do it correctly. One thing that stood out to me as the game went on was even though there was much hand-holding, you got so used to it that when it didn’t explain something it was damn hard to figure out. This happened multiple times to me, I’m okay with not haing hints but I’d like consistency about it otherwise it is just confusing. Overall, it was an enjoyable game experience, and I spent the better part of a weekend playing it nonstop, so it hooked me quite well. I love the Wind Waker-esque world so it is great to continue to see additions to it.

With my roommate playing so much Mass Effect 3 that he actually took a week off from work I too have been sucked into to the hype. And since I have a iOS device I decided to try out Mass Effect: Infiltrator. Having sampled a bunch of iOS games the first thing I noticed is that anything other than simple puzzle games and time wasters have an annoying learning curve where you spend time learning the touch screen control scheme and wrangling it into something you can play. As much as writers like to claim that phones will kill the portable gaming machine market the fact that any full portable console has intuitive control scheme make the far more suited for full-fledged games. Infiltrator is a side story about a Cerberus operative who goes rouge. The story is fairly minimal. If you are expecting the complex moral decisions from the main game you will be sadly disappointed. They give you paragon/renegade choices but they are super simple and seem to have little effect on the plot. The combat is a system where upgrades are essential to succed. You have to grind the low-level missions to get the upgrades you need to the later story. The first thing you should to is buy the sniper rifle and the beam rifle. Then upgrade all you weapons and the pull ability. Everything else is supplemental. You need the extra weapons for get the style bonuses from switching weapons to get real money. If you just rely on the assault rifle and the shotgun you will have a very hard time getting gold on any level past the first few.Once I got the hang of the game it was fun but it is really small especially for the price. I am looking froward to seeing how this compares to the Mass Effect 3: Datapad app considering that is free.

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