Wallpaper: Barrage Cast

narutaki I’ve decided to start posting some of the wallpapers I make. They are just for my personal use, but I figure hey why not share! I’ll be sharing them in three standard sizes, but if anyone requests a specific ratio I can probably make it for you without much of a problem.

I really enjoyed the recent series Barrage from Weekly Shonen Jump, apparently I was the only one? Since it ended up being only two volumes, I recommend you check it out! It was a lot of fun.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #197

This might be a slightly controversial analogy but I would say that  The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke is to Zettai Karen Children as Legends of the Dark King is to Fist of the North Star. They are both prequels that show how an overpowered villain came to be the head of his own army before he started clashing with the heroes. But the thing is Zettai Karen Children is hardly Fist of the North Star therefore the mass murder of soldiers by the protagonist of The Unlimited is a bit of a shift in tone from the normally comedic series.

The best way to think about The Unlimited is as if it were one of those silly OVAs from the 90s. It has lots of action and killing but it does not have the gore and tits you would find in an 80s OVA. Hyoubu Kyousuke has always been very much a dark reflection of Koichi Minamoto but his darker activities are usually alluded to in the main series more than seen. Here we see him in his full Magneto mode.

The story of the first episode is pretty simple. Kyousuke purposely gets captured so he can break someone out of a prison for psychics. While on the inside he meets a seemingly powerless psychic (who of course is hiding a super powerful ability) and they team up to stop the evil wardens who are killing prisoners to use their bodies to make super soldiers. Kyousuke defeats everyone almost effortlessly and then nukes the facility with his powers.

He also saves a pre-teen girl because this is still a prequel to Zettai Karen Children. No amount of bloodshed gets a leopard to change its spots.

The real question is if fans of Zettai Karen Children are going to like this series and vice versa. I’m going to say that Zettai Karen Children readers are more likely to be happy with The Unlimited than people who new to the series via the Unlimited are going to get into the main series. While there are some harder themes and action in Zettai Karen Children for the most part it is a goofball comedy. It shares many of the themes of the X-men but not nearly as much action. So I see people being a bit bored with the antics that make up 70% of Zettai Karen Children. One the other hand Kyousuke is popular enough that I see more (but not all) Zettai Karen Children fans wanting to see an action series that is the same universe is more likely. Some fans are going to check out of any series without the Children or the light feeling they bring without a doubt. But I feel like anything with Black Phantom has eased Zettai Karen Children into some darker stories.

Still a fun little series if a bit trashy. I think it is worth a look if you like a popcorn action series.

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Barrage came to an end before its time. I thought it had a lot of fun elements. Also there was a space whale!

But anyway, things were wrapped up with ch. 16. Everything after they defeat the rock bandit takes place in a town that was supposed to be under military rule but has been corrupted and taken over by the aliens. There aren’t a lot of humans left, and those that are either end up underground or as slaves. Astro and Tiamat meet the heavily armed Tiko who is out to take down the aliens one at a time.

I could tell that Astro, Tiamat, and Tiko would have had a good dynamic were the series to go on. I was really pleased that Tiko was had a lot to offer in the end and she plays a role in the major town battle and even gets her revenge.

I thought they were able to get a lot in, reveal the most important mysteries (and surprise me!), and have an enjoyable final confrontation. So even though it was clearly supposed to be longer, it wrapped up in a satisfying way.

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 #177

As I was going to Kinokuniya to pick up my ultra vital max priority #1 ultraviolet volume of Fate/Zero for Gen Urobuchi to sign at Otakon. While I was there I decided to also look at their English manga section as well. I was really hoping they had a copy of Rohan at the Louvre but that sadly was not there. (In fact I have yet to see that at any New York comic shop.) But since I wanted to pick up at least something to read on the subway since I was traveling around a lot that day so I picked up a copy of Drifters. I figured I would see what Kouta Hirano has been up to since Hellsing. I would have also picked up Blood Blockade Battlefront but I don’t have that sort of disposable income.

The story is set in a dark fantasy world with elves and dragons. Two god like entities pluck famous humans from Earth as they are dying and use them to fight their battle to control this high fantasy realm. The theoretically nicer god summons Drifters to save the world and the seemingly evil god summons Ends to destroy it. The Ends all have some magical gimmick that deals with their historical background where as the Drifters just tend to be insanely skilled. The story starts with Shimazu Toyohisa apparently dying during the Battle of Sekigahara and then appearing in this strange fantasy world to fight alongside his fellow Drifters.

It is the distinctly the Kouta Hirano we all know and love. Lots of action and blood but not much gore. Very stylish fighting with an emphasis on sword play but some guns thrown in for good measure. Bad guys vs. not nearly as bad guys (although the Drifters are a bit more on the side of the angels than Alucard.) His art style is generally unchanged with a heavy use of inks and shading as well as a love of crazy eyes.

Shimazu Toyohisa is a reckless swordsman who seems to be a nice guy at heart but never hesitant to indulge in his bloodthirsty nature. We also have rare instance of an almost kindly Oda Nobunaga. I mean that in the sense that he is actually a Drifter and not the demon leading the enemy. For Oda Nobunaga that is practically making him saintly compared to 95% of his usual portrayals in anime. The main party is rounded out by Nasu no Yoichi who I swore was gender swapped for his historical basis. But apparently he is just an amazingly feminine dude. There are some other drifters as well but finding out who pops up is half the fun of the manga.

The Ends are led by the mysterious Black King. He is a cloaked figure whose identity is clearly being kept as a big surprise. He commands historical figures like Anastasia with the ability to summon icy winds and Joan of Arc who can burn others while she burns herself. They all seem a bit more crazy than the Drifters who are hardly on the sane side of the spectrum as it stands. There are also the native fantasy inhabitants like the elves and some other strange organizations who seem independent of the Drifters or the Ends.

Drifters is a fun little action series. A nice mix of fantasy fun with some very liberal interpretation of historical figures. It will be a fun romp much like Hellsing. This seems like the sort of series that would sell like gangbusters in the US if it got an anime adaptation. It has the storyline of a shonen series that American audiences are most comfortable with but with the grit and bloodshed that really hooks them as well. But until that anime comes along the manga is fluffy but easily recommended choice.

Finally got my copy of Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 2! I was really impressed with the first volume, it slows down a little with this installment but is able to hit an upswing as it goes on.

In Part 2, we learn more about what Toph has been up to at her training school and meet her new students. They haven’t really come into their metalbending abilities yet so that becomes the primary focus for a good deal of this volume. Sokka tries to help out this ragtag bunch so it is a mostly comedic arc. I’m curious how Toph’s students will play into the plot further, if at all.

Meanwhile, Aang is goofing off at his fanclub on the a detour from going to see the Earth kingdom king. So again this section has a lot of comedy elements. This part feels very Aang like to get wrapped up with these girls, though we’ve sort of seen this before. Still, they surprised me in the end with an important contribution.

As for Zuko, we see him only a little as he tries to connect and understand his father. It doesn’t go so well as can be expected and sadly we don’t hear another word about his mother. More interesting was probably the small relationship pieces that occur in this volume which have me very curious about some things we’ve been assuming in The Legend of Korra.

Even though Part 2 doesn’t feel as tense as the first, this is the middle section of a trilogy, you still get some insights. Plus, it ends with some real wheels turning.

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