katmic (Level 10)

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As has been repeatedly mentioned before, originality and complexity isn’t necessary in the production of great manga and anime. One need only spare a moment to consider Gurren laggan, an anime that was as basic and uncomplicated as they come, but which managed to entertain immensely. So much so that most people would consider the series to be one of the greatest anime ever made.

Entertainment; that is all an anime and manga series needs to do to accomplish its goal, entertain. 
Which is what Owari no Seraph purposes to do and partially achieves.

THE PLOT:
One day, a mysterious virus appeared on Earth which killed every infected human over the age of 13. At the same time, vampires emerged from the world's dark recesses and enslaved mankind.

Enter Hyakuya Yuuichirou, a young boy, who along with the rest of the children from his orphanage, are treated as livestock by the vampires.

Even in captivity, Yuuichirou dreams big. He dreams of killing vampires. He dreams of killing them all.
MY REVIEW:

It feels like an age since I last encountered a vampire story, both in anime and manga; and by vampire stories, I am talking about real vampires, that slink away from the sun and drink blood, not the red eyed fantastical/superhuman creatures present in many manga.

That isn’t to say that the typical vampire is scarce or anything in manga; in fact vampires are pretty common in manga, the problem being that the majority of them are shoujo. And even when dealing with shonen, most vampire manga have a tendency to promote the romance and shoujo elements over any action oriented plots or scares.

Considering the relative youth of Owari no Seraph, it is difficult to determine the exact nature of the vampire story it intends to tell, at least at the moment.

+What Worked?
Owari is shonen at its core; and it manages to entertain even with a paper thin plot. The action elements are abundant and the characters interesting enough for their interactions and plots to prove entertaining. 

Hyakuya and group aren’t going to win any ‘character of the year’ awards anytime soon, but the story structure none the less provides enough meat to compel you to care about their growth and future development, though not so much about where they came from.

And the villains? Decently vile. Nefarious and violent, uncompromising and unmerciful against their human prey, basically pretty easy to hate while maintaining that famous pretty boy vampire beauty and glow.

If Bleach is your cup of tea, with its unique weaponry and powerups, then Owari no Seraph will more than quench your thirst, with the demon weapons of the characters providing a wide range of abilities complimenting the fast paced and fairly interesting battles.

The core of the manga lies with its underlying mystery, specifically the origins of the current apocalyptic events, this including the virus that pushed the global population to near extinction and the origins of the supernatural creatures that call themselves vampires, as well as their demonic kin.

Only subtly touched upon are the family dynamics that drive Japan’s counter attack against their demonic enemies and the mysterious, and somewhat sinister intentions, of one of its greatest heroes, Ichinose Guren.

+WHAT (SORT OF) DIDN’T WORK?
I have said it before and I will say it again; you do not need an original concept to create a thrilling and entertaining manga; numerous manga today can get away with re-using clichéd concepts and plots, their successes coming from the author’s ability to weave a fresh story within the cliché, plots that almost present with a new nature despite making use of common tropes.

Unfortunately for Owari no Seraph, it completely fails in this regard; well, not completely. The initial plot, the deadly virus and the emergence of the vampire horde, could be described as being relatively unique.

That being said Owari no Seraph fails in the actual execution of its story. It is one thing to take inspiration from pre-existing manga. The Majority of Owari no Seraph’s story execution pretty much mirrors the thousands of anime and manga that came before, many of the chapters imitating story elements almost panel for panel and page for page.

Simply put, it can get irritating, especially when it seems like the mangaka is injecting almost no effort into separating his story from the masses that have come before, to the extent where I kept skipping whole pages for the ridiculous lack of originality.

Precluding the primary protagonists’ origins, which were a fairly tragic and entertaining read, the rest of the manga’s 20 or so chapters lack unpredictability.

Yuuichirou is the hero of his story.

So naturally he’s bald, brash, boastful and egotistical, quick to ignore authority and almost always getting his way by flouting the rules. The only thing holding this young, clearly inexperienced, genius back are the several adults that simply cannot comprehend his talent.

He wants to be the strongest, so naturally he gains quick possession of the highest class of demon weapons on his very first try, this despite the heavy risks to stronger, more experienced soldiers.

And his rival? Who else but an even smarter genius, one that stands superior to him in every way, but whom Yuuichirou obviously supersedes because of his main character mojo. Naturally their antagonistic behavior, there obvious dislike for each other supposedly conceals a strong bond between the pair, one that will continue to grow through out the series.

And his female companions? You could call them strong, enough to stand at the center of the plot in the beginning, except that with each passing chapter there relevance is slowly but steadily reduced to one of a romantic nature.

Hanoyori Sayuri mirrors Yuuichirou’s boastful nature, is considerably more brash and even angrier, all mannerisms that are obviously hiding some tragic past; she spends a considerable amount of time assaulting Yuu, both physically and verbally. Why, you might ask? Why else? She can’t suppress her growing feelings towards our hero without her antagonistic behavior, incited by the Yuu’s brash and bold actions in battle, this including that one time he risked his life to save her from a fatal blow-not particularly special an act in light of the fact that Yuu did the same thing for his other comrades.

Shinoa Hiragi is Yuu’s superior officer, and she’s always smiling; the same smile that will draw them closer together, specifically after that one moment he learns to see through it to the sad interior, which will apparently prove something about their relationship. 

Already she stands ready to discard all that she is, even now questioning the intentions of people she has known for most of her life, in favor on remaining by the side of the boy she hasn’t known for more than a few weeks.

And what can you expect from a shonen hero, but a dark uncontrollable side, the berserker kind of power that cannot separate friend from foe and with which Yuu is able to immediately overwhelm initially superior enemies.

If you’ve been reading manga long enough, you can probably guess what it takes to save him from this berserker state. 

Hugs.

Yes, an embrace, and our raging hero is immediately reduced to a remorseful warrior. And that isn’t even a spoiler. It’s basic shonen 101.

Owari doesn’t try to stand apart, it takes the typical shonen formula and runs with it, step by step.

VERDICT:
Hyakuka Mikaela, a somewhat important villain the series, has to be the worst thing in Owari no Seraph so far, with his presence doing more harm than good to the story.

With him in play, the series seems set to initiate some sort of irritating Naruto/Sasuke dynamic, with Yuu playing the role of Naruto in this regard and basically sacrificing all to save his friend, Mikaela, from the darkness.

Dragging out that particular plot is bound to force Owari no Seraph down less interesting and even more predictable paths.

None the less one would be hard pressed to argue against the relative quality of the manga, with the lack of an original structure and presence of predictable plots doing little more than making certain that Owari no Seraph will not be making any one’s “ Top 30” manga list.

With lengthy chapters (over 40 pages), great art and some decent demon/human/vampire action, Owari no Seraph is anything but boring. Nothing mind blowing but a passable casual read.

RATING: 6/10
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Whoa, I don’t know if there is a weekly manga quite like Magi. Seriously, reading these chapters reminded me a lot of One piece and Oda’s careful plotting, that seems to encompass a wide array of plot lines and characters.

Except that Magi proceeds at a far more rapid pace and gets so much more done within a single chapter than One Piece; in that regard one might call Magi the perfect One Piece/ Naruto blend.

THE CHAPTERS:
Judar and Hakuryuu launch their assault against Gyokuen and the capital of the empire.

MY THOUGHTS:
It is indeed a superior manga that can create villains whose perspectives are as interesting, if not more so, to follow as the protagonists; normally these last five chapters would have provided the perfect opportunity for me to grumble about how slow the series was progressing and the mangaka’s determination to keep us away from our heroes after months spent in Alma Toran.

Yet the rise of Hakuryuu is proving to be so much more intriguing than I would have expected.

+Hakuryuu
Hakuryuu is kind of like Agent Ward from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. As a hero he was kind of wimpy, boring and way too whiny about the bad hand life had dealt him.

As a villain, he’s so much more confident, powerful and showing an immovable determination to succeed no matter the consequences; it is the fact that he has knowingly chosen his dark path that sets him apart from so many typically misinformed and misguided shonen villains.

Watching as he refused to succumb to the soothing power of Kouen’s phenex, instead shrugging off the hell his brother had thrust upon him in his attempt to protect Gyokuen, and marching into the capital despite the overwhelming odds was, well, very impressive.

And that isn’t even taking into account the level of intelligence he displayed in seemingly debilitating Al-Tharmen and building his force from nothing up to a few hundred men in mere days.

All in all, the only way Hakuryuu can lose his bad ass status is if Alibaba talks him down; which will not happen, not with the level of determination he has displayed.

+JUDAR
I don’t think we have ever seen Judar so bloody happy; he smiles, and not in that disturbing and nefarious manner. The dark magi seems to genuinely have thrown his lot in with Hakuryuu, loyalty and all. And clearly he enjoys the company of the young prince, with the interactions between the two no different from what we have seen between Aladdin and Alibaba.

There can be no end to the power he will have amassed by the time he makes his move against Sinbad, considering the fact that he is receiving direct tutelage from Margomett himself, the most powerful repository of magical knowledge in the realm.

+KOUEN
Chapter 246 further blurred the line between Kouen and Sinbad; it wasn’t as much about Kouen torturing his brother to protect Gyokuen but how far he was willing to go to prevent civil war and the manner in which Hakuryuu present his brother’s actions.

Both Sinbad and Kouen and megalomaniacs determined to mold the world with their ideals, and using whatever means possible to achieve their goals.

To an extent Sinbad comes out ahead, because Kouen is willing to work with Al-Tharmen to bring piece to the world…which is exactly what Hakuryuu ends up doing at the end of his battle with Gyokuen, now that I think about. He chooses to use Al-Tharmen’s power to achieve his revenge, which makes one wonder if Hakuryuu isn’t simply following in his brother’s footsteps.

  Magi is doing a great job of creating a three way conflict between some really impressive anti heroes. To an extent Aladdin and Alibaba are coming off as considerably less interesting characters.

RATING: 7/10, Magi is really raving up the excitement with this upcoming battle with Gyokuen, though I honestly can’t wait to be done with the entire flash back so we can see what Hakuryuu does next.

He’s a bit of a wild card these day.
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Both of these chapters were pretty much set up; they also managed to inject some excitement back into the manga. To be fair the new villains have done nothing to impress me so far.

And the fact that they take up so many panels with their boasting irritates me to not end; which makes what i witnessed an improvement in chapters 345 and 346, seeing as neither Grui nor Gaitan had that many opportunities to irritate me.

THE CHAPTERS:
Regis embarrasses Rael with his show of appreciation. Muzaka confronts Rai about the possibility of interfering in his battles with the werewolves.

MY THOUGHTS:

So the situation is about to evolve into a werewolf on werewolf war; I think this is for the best because we can momentarily shift the focus away from Rai and group, whose fights have, as of recent, developed a predictable pattern.

Not that that makes them any less interest; yet it would be fun to enjoy a clash that doesn’t include any of our favorite heroes, and in which we can get to see a set of wholly new techniques and moves play out.

If Crombell is standing behind Muzaka then we can probably brand him as the villain here, even if Grui and Gaitan are not exactly pleasant individuals. I think we can all expect Muzaka to come out ahead.

While not quite Rai’s equal, it is only natural that a former lord of the werewolves would stand superior to his former subordinates. That being said, considering all their boasting, I am curious to see what Grui and Gaitan can do.

And no matter what Muzaka asks of Rai, the Noblesse is obviously going to protect his friend if Grui and Gaitan come out ahead; which might explain how our heroes might become involved in this internal strife. 

RATING: 6/10, decent enough material; nothing to keep me at the edge of my seat but none the less building the tension for the coming battles quite nicely.
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This latest arc of Nanatsu no Taizai reminds me of the pain arc from Naruto; we had several great battles on an ever growing scale, with the stakes growing higher and higher, until the villain was finally defeated with a last minute move.

And all the pain and destruction, specifically the death suffered throughout the conflict, was more or less reversed, making for a somewhat happy ending.

THE CHAPTER:
The Kingdom celebrates the victory of the Seven Deadly Sins. Ban gets a new outfit and decides to make for the Fairy King’s Forest.
Has anyone ever given any thought to Escanor? As the last of the Seven Deadly Sins, it is odd how little of him we actually hear, not among Deadly Sins fans, and not even in conversation from the six Deadly Sins that have been introduced to the story so far.

So we finally come to the start of a new arc; it looks like Ban is still hung up on Elaine, King’s sister and intends to go to the Fairy King’s Forest to revive her, the same forest that, we learnt, burned down while King was away.

Which means there will be no Ban Vs. Meliodas fight to look forward to, at least not for the foreseeable future. That brings up questions about his goals in this matter, what secrets the goddesses clan imparted upon him and how he intends to use them to resurrect the dead.
The chapter didn’t really provide any major reasons to get excited over Ban’s activities and this new arc. But things will probably pick up as more is revealed about Elaine’s death, her connection to the goddess clan and how Ban’s plans might back fire.

RATING: 6/10, simple enough chapter, nothing to get excited over. A surprising number of characters were pretty somber about the fact that they survived Hendricksend, though it might have more to do with the terrible actions they took in his name.
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I really tried hard to like Nobunagun and it did nothing to justify that hard work; I find anime in this vein a little irritating, those series that think they can pretty much sail through to success while doing very little to stand out.

I cannot tell if Nobunagun didn’t try hard enough or it simply tried too hard.
THE PLOT
Shio Ogura is a Japanese high school student who is visiting Taiwan on a school trip when she is suddenly attacked by monsters. Agents known as "E-Gene Holders" from the government agency DOGOO arrive, wielding weapons infused with the spirits of historical figures. Shio is revealed to be an E-Gene Holder when the soul of Oda Nobunaga awakens after she tries to rescue a friend.
MY REVIEW:

I really, REALLY, wanted to like Nobunagun, mostly because the anime presented itself as something that could be different if I only persevered through the first few episodes. And I am starting to realize how annoying that is, those anime series that simply refuse to put their best foot forward and expect viewers to slog through several episodes of substandard material just to get to the good stuff. 

And I don’t even think that that description categorizes Nobunagun.

+The Good
The first episode was great. Nobunagun tries hard to stand out and, aesthetically it does just that, with its rich saturated colors and slightly strange character designs that, to an extent, reminded me of Soul Eater. 
 
And maybe i expected a similar gem in Nobunagun. There are enough pieces already in their proper place by the third episode to make for a decent anime. The Alien invasion storyline actually provides enough potential for what could have been an interesting season, the clash between invading forces from outer space and history’s greatest names. 
 
The animation was decent enough to warranty some enjoyment, specifically regarding the action spectacle, primarily the use of special alien weapons. 
 
All in all, a lot of potential to produce a unique series with a fairly captivating story, with the primary attraction being the different characters and their interactions.

+The Bad
Take away the visual appeal and the answer would be: everything. Here’s the thing about the word ‘potential’. It doesn’t actually mean anything, not as far as the real world is concerned. 
 
Potential speaks of the possibility or promise of something coming into being; and in entertainment promises do not mean much. 

Nobunagun pretty much wastes any potential it might have boasted in the first episode. 
 
The characters are pretty bland. Shio Ogura is nothing special as far as main characters are concerned and could be the worst of the series’ entire cast, falling behind less important characters that receive considerably less screen time. 
 
The humor falls flat most of the time and the primary plot is mostly wasted; Nobunagun promises a series in which young heroes are summoned to take upon themselves the strength of powerful historical figures with the aim of contending with an alien invasion.
 
A fairly attractive premise. 
 
Except that these historical figures are rarely present and their influence is not only absent but mostly irrelevant; this reduces the series to just another ‘teens with special powers fighting alien invaders’ anime.

+Verdict:
Nabunagun isn’t really worth the bother; chances are, with the right viewer, it could entertain. However do not expect anything noteworthy. Nobunaga the Fool manages to come out slightly ahead in this year’s Nobunaga related anime race.
RATING: 4/10, one can see the effort that went into creating Nobunagun, effort wasted on a pointless plot and bland cast of characters. So much wasted potential, especially regarding the historical elements.
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