Secret Santa 2010 Project Reveal

And now the part you have all been waiting for. The Secret Santas are revealed, the ancient conspiracy is foiled, and the destined couple finally consummate their relationship. This is the master list of all the participants, what they reviewed, and who gave them their recommendations. I know that several people are not going to finish on time because of various mishaps during the holiday season. So I will do my best to update this list at least once a day as reviews come in. Hopefully everyone watched something a bit unexpected and maybe learned something new about the range and scope of anime. Other than that Happy Holidays and I wish you and yours the best of luck in the upcoming year.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #011

It’s not like I thought it wasn’t going to be, but it should be said. Ghost in the Shell SAC is so freaking good. It is engaging, smart, and quite complex. It is not something that I can actually try to figure out along side the characters. I just sit back and enjoy the ride. I am totally fascinated by it all! The Laughing Man intrigues me so! You can be sure I’ll make a wallpaper by next week’s end. Though disc 4 had no “complex” episodes and then disc 5 had three more, eight in a row of no Laughing Man case was starting to drive me a little nuts. But we are back on track and with only 5 episodes to go I’m getting anxious!

I also read NISIOISIN’s Zaregoto in an attempt to see what had perplexed Narutaki so. My summation of the book is best left to “Weird Al” Yankovic, Everything you know is wrong! Because that is the total summation of the ending of this book. Ii-chan solves the case and the survivors leave the island. Then in the epilogue we learn that everything that was answered was absolutely incorrect. It’s not Ii-chan who figures it out though. Some psycho detective pops up and gives us all the true answers in a clearly deus ex machina manner. I’m not sure if I like this book or not. It was definitely odd plus the storytelling and the characters are very, very strange. I think it supposed to be vaguely unsettling and disorienting. I can’t quite but my finger on whether it made the story uniquely enjoyable or just strange for the sake of being strange.

Watched Saint Seiya episodes 7-18, finished the first arc and have gotten just a couple of episodes into the next one. Here is what I have learned so far: no one dies, for any reason, unless they really want them to; they are fond of saying “Hell” or “I’ll send you to Hell!”; they love to punch people in the heart, like through the skin and into the heart (though people still don’t always die of this); they are not unaware of their female fan-base as proven by the Shun in the shower scene; and finally huge bad guys can still be scared away the police. Oh and I love it. This isn’t my first viewing of Saint Seiya, but I have never really sat down and watched consistently.

After reading Black Lagoon volume one I have to say I enjoy the anime slightly more than the manga but that is of no disservice to the manga. The manga is quite excellent. But seeing the awesomeness that is the Black Lagoon manga in it’s full color kinetic glory when it is animated is way better. I don’t mind buying them both but if asked to choose I would pick the anime hands down.

Mixed Vegetables was exactly what I needed to get me back on a romantic shojo comedy kick. It was refreshing to see our heroine both funny and capable and not head-over-heels in love with anyone…yet. Within one volume Hanayu realizes how much Hayato likes her and starts dating him. Everyone in the class is cheering them on, no mean girl’s threatening our heroine here, in very Love*Com style. And we see her going through a bit of guilt over not liking him as much as he likes her. It is rare to get to the relationship part so quickly and I am really excited about it. Fun, fast-paced, funny, sweet, and endearing. Can’t wait to pick up the next book!

I just got Fate/Tiger Colosseum Upper and it’s nothing special but it’s gosh darn fun. The game play is essentially Power Stone with Fate/Stay Night skins with some Tsukihime characters thrown in for good measure. No more and no less. Even thought I don’t speak or read any Japanese I still think that the game is very funny. They seem to have a good grasp of the Fate/Stay Night characters and play with them appropriately. Even the opening is a playful parody of other Fate game openings and scenes. The story mode makes my few words of Japanese step up to the plate as I try, somewhat successfully, to discern what is going on. This game made me realize why I like Type Moon in general. They’re willingness to totally cater and show they care about the fans in side projects. I feel if I was a creator, I would do the same for my fans. Plus any game with BER-SER-CAR and Saber in a suit is always full of awesome.

Anime and Manga of the Month: June

Manga of the Month
Dragon Eye by Kairi Fujiyama

Leila is a brand new recruit to VIUS, a large organization of people combating the mysterious D-Virus. Both the organization and the virus itself, which turns the infected into blood thirsty, destructive “Dracules,” we know little about. Through a series of events, some quite amusing, she ends up in the hands of Issa, Captain of Squad Zero. Issa is seemingly lackadaisical, which is probably why the squad only includes himself and now Leila. But he is probably brilliant and you soon learn that his past is filled with holes. The glimpses of his former life bring a lot of much needed tension to the story. This becomes of serious importance as the Dracules begin to move as an organized group rather than a bunch of unthinking monsters. His relationships with some characters are strained while others truly believe in him, as it becomes more clear that some know a bit more about him than others. The cast changes somewhat from story to story as Squad Zero is always borrowing help, this peppers the story with some fun team-ups. The art is well done and the weaponry and equipment is cool which adds to the well done fights. Dragon Eye is a shonen adventure series, but it uses its formula well and creates characters you wish to see through to the end.

Anime of the Month
Black Lagoon by Madhouse Studios

Normally we showcase less known series in the Anime and Manga of the Month but I decided to throw up a better know. title that is in an odd predicament. Geneon went under and so far no one has saved the license. The dub for both seasons is done because they played them both on Canadian Tech TV. I really want someone to pick up the second season there in the states. I think it’s a guaranteed seller with legs.

Black Lagoon is about being awesome and having Revy, the duel pistol wielding awesome goddess incarnate. Black Lagoon is essentially an animated action movie. The story revolves around Rokuro Okajima who gets kidnapped by the pirates of the Lagoon Company but ends up as part of the crew. The Lagoon Company crew is as follows. Rock whose role is to be the fish out of water who has some invaluable negation skill from his days as a salary man. Revy is the muscle. Dutch being the muscular African-American seems like he would be the tough of the group but he is the companies leader and tactician. Benny rounds out the group as the hacker.

The intensity of the series is always turned up to 11. Even in the quieter moments the show have an underlying ferocity. There is also a tendency to throw out realism in favor of style. Revy duel wields pistols not because it’s practical but because it looks awesome. PT boats take on helicopters with mini-guns. People fight with chainsaws, flamethrowers, or throwing knives on chains because it looks freaking awesome. Also the characters are almost always a mixture of fascinating and frightening. Roanapur is an amoral city in which only the crafty and strong make it through the day. Black Lagoon is a fun, gritty, action anime. Viz is going to start publishing the manga soon and I really hope someone will step up to the plate and re-license this series.