katmic (Level 10)

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Episode 3 of Nanatsu no Taizai portends some pretty great stuff for the series; I mean, just look at that animation. While not quite perfect, I can see the series maintaining Hunter X Hunter level consistency, not only in storytelling but artistic quality.

In which case we just might have stumbled upon the perfect replacement for HXH. Diana is exactly the way I expected her to be, down to her uncharacteristically small voice. And Gilthunder is pretty intimidating for a foe.

Knowing what I know now in the manga makes his actions earlier on in the series so much more interesting to watch, especially taking into account what he had to go through to fight Meliodas.

Speaking of Meliodas, his actions in Episode 3 more or less mimicked his solution to Hendricksen in this week’s chapter, which was basically taking the beating of his life in order to achieve some clever goal. The sins are coming together so much faster than I remember. 

It shouldn’t be too long before my favorite sins, King and Ban, finally emerge.

THE CHAPTER:
The end is here; Meliodas makes a final near fatal move to stop his god-like foe.

MY THOUGHTS:

That was anti-climatic; not Meliodas and Hendy. Elizabeth, it’s been a while (three or four chapters) since she last featured in any substantial manner; which normally wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen for a character.

Except I was pretty hyped about her actually doing something to bring Hendricksen down; so, basically, she transforms, acquires some fancy eye tattoos and now she’s content to just sit back and watch Meliodas take all that punishment?

I am not complaining per say, I am still happy that Elizabeth is going to start playing an important role in events; however I wish they had built upon the momentum of her awakening.

-The Nanatsu No Taizai Story
If Deadly Sins wasn’t a mere 99 chapters old I would have already began talking about the end by now. The story began with a kingdom in peril, the seven deadly sins scattered and hunted for a crime they didn’t commit, and the figures responsible for forcing them into this defensive position planning to execute some nefarious plot even as they enjoyed the adorations of the people.

At the present the Seven Deadly Sins have more or less united (save for Merlin). The Kingdom has or will recognize their role as heroes in protecting them from Hendricksen. The rot within the Holy knights order has been all but extinguished, especially with Dreyfus’ demise.

And we now find ourselves facing the root of all evil in the kingdom; Hendricksen, the one who either started it all or chose to continue in perpetrating an evil plot.

Upon his defeat, which should be soon, Deadly Sins will have wrapped up a large chunk of its story; and that makes one wonder: What’s next?

-The Future
With the deadly sins story all but explored, it might be time to take a step back and delve deeper into the lives of each sin. We have met the fairies, or at least learnt enough about them to have met their kind. We now understand how King ended up on Meliodas’ team.

The focus should then logically turn to the giantess Diana; where did she come from? What happened to her people, and what circumstances brought her to Meliodas?

And then there is Ban’s crazy immortality and whatever secrets Merlin is keeping about the day she helped Hendricksen and Dreyfus frame the Sins. We haven’t even began to scratch the surface of the mystery that is Gowther. Who is he? Better yet what is he? And can he even die?

We learnt a while back that, before coming to the kingdom, Meliodas served under another king and protected a different land. Then things went very wrong. That is a story I can’t wait to delve into.

  Nanatsu no Taizai is far from over. I don’t think we have even began to explore the world of this manga. At the very least, Deadly Sins should last another 100 chapters.

RATING: 6/10, awesome fight.
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These 25 pages flew by so fast, and it wasn’t because I found the material to be all that engaging. In fact it was the opposite. Chapter 342 didn’t strive to do anything new. And if this is the author’s attempt at taking things easy and showing a gradual development in character and abilities, he or she needs to stop.

THE CHAPTER:
Everyone wants to get stronger. Rai reminisces about Muzaka’s last words.

MY THOUGHTS:
Oh who am I kidding, this chapter wasn’t slow. It was boring. No, it was slow and boring, not really worth waiting for over 7 days. The problems that appeared two chapters ago seemed to re-emerge worse than ever this week.

+The Good
There was nothing great or even marginally entertaining about chapter 342. Even the art couldn’t sell me this stale and repetitive material. This being the first manga series and chapter I read in a given week, if Noblesse is portending what is to be expected of upcoming chapters in the next few days I might as well prepare myself for some disappointment.

Okay, fine, M21 looked pretty decent in his new form; you can never fault Noblesse for its art.

+The Bad
Everything. This chapter took 4 pages worth of material and dragged it out over 25 pages; it got quickly irritating watching many of the characters in this chapter basically go round and round in their arguments, repeating themselves over and over again without saying much.

Maybe it is simply the lack of elegance of Manhwa that shined through Noblesse, that tendency by most Manhwa to basically butcher the structure of their dialogue; because Regis’ conversation with Gejutel lasted way too long, and neither noble was actually saying anything new.

And then there was all that panel time wasted on internal dialogue and conversations and wishes about getting stronger. I know this is shonen, but I get irritated when series such as this repeat themes and ideas we have encountered several times before.

Seriously, this chapter didn’t do anything.

RATING: 3/10, I didn’t think it possible, that I would encounter a Noblesse chapter so devoid of excitement and intrigue that it would bore me; Noblesse chapter 342 actually bored me.
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Is there really anything to Noblesse beyond its gorgeous art?

Yes, there is a lot more to Noblesse than the impressive looking panels, chief amongst which are the great characters. But here’s the thing; if the art was all Noblesse had to offer, I would probably still read it.

Chapter 341 was just, wow. I don’t know what the heck the authors have going for them that no one else does, but Manhwa shouldn’t look this good. With the way the action scenes played out in the latest chapter of Noblesse I might as well have been watching the anime, one page at a time.

THE CHAPTERS:
Lunark and Keitan face off against the newcomers as both teams gear up to undertake their mission to capture Muzaka. RK4 continues its grueling training, that much more determined to protect their master from his own power.

MY THOUGHTS:
I love shonen manga, especially action oriented shonen manga, and Noblesse is like an overdose of shonen battle manga. The action sequences just get better with each new chapter and arc. Thinking on it, if Noblesse ever gets animated it just might end up losing this quality of art.
+The Good
Noblesse is great when its goofy, especially when it is smattering these funny elements in between the serious moments. Truth be told that is one area where the series can get campy, whenever the story gets too serious and rather clumsily attempts to display the suffering of its characters, especially for one another that results.

The last two chapters, these two chapters and the next few chapters are most likely going stick with the training; and I don’t mind, shonen gets good when allowing us to see just what our heroes must go through to get stronger.

IN Noblesse’ case its mind crushing pain as Takeo and group expose themselves to the dark spear and its soul and body consuming abilities, even as M21 confronts Karius in a fight to the death.

Where the scenes in the lab with Frankenstein managed to remain light, allowing our heroes’ personalities to shine through their anguish, M-21’s material took a more serious tone, specifically regarding M-21’s willingness to suffer for the sake of his comrades.
Again, typical shonen tropes that I none the less love reading within the Noblesse context.
+The Great
Okay I can’t emphasize enough just how great chapter 341 looked; the Noblesse secret lies, not in its crisp clean lines and backgrounds, but the way it infuses atmosphere into its scenes through subtle yet dramatic elements.

It makes for a more animated result, and Noblesse felt like it was running on all cylinders with that last chapter, especially the way it represented fluidity and motion.
+What mattered?
Well, nothing. And that is my problem. Chapter 340 was a whole load of unnecessary and very circular conversations; with characters wasting several panels saying absolutely nothing. This was most ostensible with the werewolves, with several their boisterous words and egotistical replies.

If not for Takeo’s funny scenes chapter 340 would have been a total waste; and actually it was, because the chapter felt long and yet nothing whatsoever happened, or at least not anything of note.

Chapter 341 was an action fest, so that’s something. The panels tried to remain relevant to the training theme, so much so that none of the 24 pages felt wasted, which is good. As far as story progression is concerned, M-21 has finally transformed, which means we might be done with this training business very soon.

And he looks a lot like Muzaka.

RATING: 6/10, I could have done without chapter 340; even as a means of introducing new villains, that was a lot of wasted words.
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So, that’s it then, Clamore is done. Having waited for more than a week, putting off reading this manga for as long as possible, I don’t know if the finale was quite what I expected. 

And I doubt an extra two or three chapters would have changed the outcome by much. Whatever the case, this is the end of an era, what with so many series coming to an end so close to one another.

THE CHAPTER:
With Priscilla defeated, Teresa and Clare share their final words. With the organization now fallen, the remnants of the silver eyed warriors raise their claymore to cleanse the land of Yoma once and for all, in hopes of finding some piece after.

MY THOUGHTS:
But is it really? The end of an Era? Considering the number of cancellation news we have received in the last two months, most of which has been almost immediately rebuffed by rumors of sequels and continuations for popular titles like Tokyo Ghoul and Kuroko’s Basket, can we really truly presume this to be the end of Claymore?

Because it wouldn’t surprise me to hear of a continuation to the series in the works a month or two from now, even though the final page of the chapter clearly suggested that fans of Claymore should start looking forward to the mangaka’s next work.

After a decade or so of Claymore, I can understand the fatigue that comes with drawing the same manga day in, day out for so long, and whatever need might arise to seek out something new. But then again this is claymore. 155 chapters in early a decade is a drop in the ocean compared to most other shonen manga series.

And even if he chose to pour another 155 chapters out for us fans, we could hardly accuse the mangaka of stretching the story.
-THE END.
Satisfying? Not quite. This is how stories in manga end, with friends, family and even enemies exchanging final words of goodbye. I certainly wouldn’t compare Claymore chapter 155 to Beelzebub’s weird final chapter (although considering the series, it was sort of appropriate).

None the less chapter 155 wasn’t the most exciting or entertaining chapter of the series and frankly I expected more. I guess every manga finale aims to produce some sort of heart warming conclusion, which chapter 155 more or less tried to provide.

But…whether it was simply rushed, whether Priscilla’s end wasn’t given the consideration it deserved, whether the series could have taken the time to show us the impact the death of Priscilla and the organization has had on the island, chapter 155 will not go down in history as a noteworthy finale, not in comparison to rivals like Deadman Wonderland.
-MUST IT END?
After the events of this chapter, my answer isn’t quite a resounding ‘NO’. Certainly there is so much story that Claymore could explore with just as much thrill and excitement; however the presence of entertaining plots doesn’t mean Claymore must explore them.

The young claymore in the final panels made a point I hadn’t quite given much thought; they told the man with the dark glasses that the war with the dragons wasn’t their fight, and they had no obligations to fight and die for people and lands they didn’t know.

In which case, yes, it must end; an all out battle against the so called dragons wouldn’t be Claymore in the sense that we know it, but something else all together. As such, maybe it would be asking too much to expect the mangaka to delve into a brand new story.

Because that is exactly what would happen if we ventured across the water; it would be the equivalent of Claymore making a brand new start.

Not that I would complain; but this is more than a fair place for the series to end.

-THE FUTURE.
It would be fun exploring the claymore world in a short prologue, a few chapters to just lay out the future as it might progress, the status of the various characters and whatnot.

Two or three chapters is all it would take to satisfactorily conclude the series. And I am still holding out hope for an anime adaptation.

RATING: 6/10, as far as manga finales go, I am really not going to remember this one.
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  The one thing you have to say about kills in Ubel Blatt is that they are never simple; it’s rarely enough to lose a limb or take a strike to the chest. No, the task isn’t complete until one has been lopped into several bloody pieces.

Manga and comics are sort of like novels, in that it takes skill to represent fights, small or large; just like most novel authors simply cannot master the art of writing fights (most of which progress much too slowly when imagined using the words put on paper or simply result in a mass of confusion), it takes a truly skilled mangaka to make battle on paper as close to entertaining as would be experienced in animated format.

In that regard Etorouji Shiono is a master at drawing fights.

THE CHAPTER:
Dessida and Ascherit clash, while Ato considers crossing blades with Gunnido to get to her master’s side.

MY THOUGHTS:
It is telling that Ubel Blatt chapters almost always sneak up on me; that means I do not look so intensely forward to them as to keep a close eye on Manga sites for their appearance.

Action wise, this battle oriented chapter rocked. Story wise, well, I wasn’t bored, merely not as engaged. And that had less to do with the focus on action as it did with who was actually doing the fighting. In other words I didn’t really care for these Order of Gungnir members.

That doesn’t make this chapter a complete waste though.
-What actually Mattered?
Gurye and Koinzel; any follower of the series knew that these two would eventually meet, and that makes this chapter sort of momentous. The last two chapters hinted as much.

Just as important was the story behind the present and coming conflicts, which this chapter chose to elaborate upon; Ubel Blatt is often rarely about good and evil in its purest sense, instead choosing to emphasize the loyalties involved within each plot, typically devoid of any ties to morality. One need only look at the seven lances, that they knew of the evils of the heroes they served and still chose to maintain their allegiance because of their personal ties with their lords.

Similarly Dessida in this chapter is quick to speak of her loyalty to Glenn, showing a clear disinterest in Ascherit’s cause and whether or not it merits any consideration; she doesn’t care about who Glenn is and how righteous his goals might be, not in the face of what he did for her and the loyalty she believes she owes him.

Corruption, murder, chaos and careless disinterest in the justice of things; the Ubel Blatt story seems to hinge heavily upon these concepts in cementing the difficulty of Ascherit’s objective; even in defeating and, well, murdering the heroes of the kingdom, what does he actually expect to accomplish outside attracting the ire of their admirers?

That more or less sets the young hybrid apart; Koinzel is no hero because he doesn’t actually expect or even intend to bring about a positive change, beyond simply exacting his revenge and moving on. That makes you wonder just what he intends to do after achieving his goals. Disappear into the myth, never to be heard of again?

That would be a waste of his talents.
-What sort of Mattered?
Okay it was kind of awesome watching Ascherit cross swords with Dessida, primarily because it looked so good; each sword stroke was easy to follow, some strikes coming close enough to causing harm that they actually added tension to each panel with regards to the outcome.

That being said it was never in question that Ascherit would win this; powerful as Dessida’s body might be, that typical Ascherit expression we have come to know, lazy eyed with a hint of boredom, told all, that eventually the black blades would be loosed and Dessida would lose several body parts within the flash of a moment.

The presence of Gurye only acted to accentuate the story and elevate the stakes of the drama playing out with regards to master and teacher finally coming face to face. Not that the certainty of the outcome didn’t leave some room for doubt with regards to some hidden surprises on Dessida’s part.
-What almost mattered?
Ato. I like Ato and have enjoyed watching her grow from a truly irritating and whiny individual to Ascherit’s right hand man. I have always taken a keen interest in watching master and student relationships that actually grow, with the student finally throwing off the training wheels to stand on her own two feet.

That being said, it will suck if Ato’s conflict with Gunnido is interrupted by Gurye’s actions. Then again this is Ascherit we are talking about; he’s just as likely to walk away and leave her be, if only to allow her the opportunity to prove herself.

-Overall
This Ubel Batt chapter was long; even for 29 pages, I was surprised by how much material their was; I kept scrolling and there was always more, which I cannot complain about.

But even with the quality of chapter 127, I am not exactly screaming in anticipation for chapter 128; that doesn’t say anything about this chapter but rather arises from the fact that this chapter was sort of set up, even with the fight.

On a weekly basis, this would have been a great chapter; on a monthly schedule, these should have been two chapters.

RATING: 6.5/10

HIGHLIGHTS: Ascherit and Gurye meeting.
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