katmic (Level 10)

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I will commend Copellion here for almost pulling a fast one on me; it was at the end there, as the series came to a close that i found myself wondering at the thoughts sauntering through my head, that this anime might have been a pretty good series to invest my time into.

Which isn’t the case, unfortunately; probably worth a lazy afternoon with absolutely nothing to do, but nothing to really engage you in any entertaining manner; though that doesn’t take into account the fact that Copellion is artistically beautiful.

THE PLOT:>

In 2016, the meltdown of a nuclear power plant creates a big catastrophe in Tokyo. 20 years later, the city has become a ghost town due to the high levels of radiation. From that area a distress signal is received. The Self Defence forces dispatch three girls from the special unit Coppelion to search for survivors. But why aren't they wearing any protection against radiation?

MY REVIEW:>

With a series that proffered me mild enjoyment, this is where i would normally talk about the potential possessed but wasted; but i don’t know if that is the case with Copellion, because in speaking of potential, am pretty certain the only thing i would be referring to is the animation, which also fails along the way.

I have heard Copellion referred to as an anime of contradictions and that is something i can believe, when you consider all its parts:

1. The Concept- first of all, what’s with the high school girls? Someone in Japan is clearly lagging behind in the times, because i feel that this is one of those tropes that should have been left back in the early 2000s.

Sure i was intrigued when the series first kicked off, expecting some dark and tragic story with the way the series initiated; and is that what i got? Unfortunately yes, a boat load of it, an seemingly endless parade of miserable characters wallowing in despair, whose only purpose in the series was to create an unnecessarily gloomy atmosphere over our main characters.

Basically, there was way too much wailing and whining, initially necessary and eventually excessively overdone, the series clearly determined to attract cheap pity and sympathy for some really pathetic characters.

And what was with Copellion? Who the hell are they and what do they do? I know, it seems obvious especially in the premise described above, or the first episode; until you progress further, only to realize how ambiguous the entire concept is.

It’s almost irritating to watch, when you consider how irrational the entire idea is, that a government would genetically engineer kids, put them through high school and send them into a danger zone, instead of crafting strong, emotionally stable soldiers with the wits to operate professionally.

This reminds me of all those mech shows that leave me wondering why, following an alien invasion, the creation of giant mechs to compound on the destruction levels would be the first solution the world would turn to.

Rating: 3/10

2. Characters- Really can’t say i liked any of the main characters; first the whole school girl thing just seemed odd and irrational to me, and why the hell were they wearing school uniforms during field work?

More importantly could there have been a more mismatched and handicapped team ever assembled to provide emergency services and contend with the warped minds of villains?

The first episode quickly starts by building upon Ibara’s character, natural born leader, head strong, willful, physically capable, determined; then as the series progresses she seems to contradict every single one of her traits, firstly a little too generic in terms of skills, always, and i mean always breaking down, and so pacifistic and idealistic in her determination to do no harm as to be ABSOLUTELY STUPID.

She quickly becomes irritating and again its something i commend the series about, that in those last few episodes i seemed to forget that.

Aoi made no sense as part of team Ibara, COMPLETELY USELESS; and i mean that literally, in that she spent every episode screaming, crying, running from danger, getting kidnapped…you really cannot understand how someone so incapable made it to her station.

Admittedly she stood out as one of my favorite because she, at least, proved consistent, from beginning to end, and her antiques were pretty funny after a while, especially during the last few episodes, as she came face to face with her former bullies.

Taeko was, well, Taeko. And the villains, well, let’s just say that no matter how vile any of them presented their agendas to be, i haven’t seen bad guys this lacking in passion and determination in a while, basically present only to make grand speeches to dumb and naive Ibara.

I want to latch onto someone, anyone that made this series worth the time spent making it; but the entire cast was simply unlikeable.

Rating: 1/10, 1 star for Aoi

3. The Plot- but can you really blame the characters for their lackluster nature with a plot as bad and pointless as what Copellion gave us? Because the simple fact is this; Copellion had absolutely no idea what it was doing, its characters randomly wandering from one accidental meeting to another, new interactions launching new missions with little to no purpose.

Precluding the finale, there was a definite aimlessness to the series, which reminds me of the utter incompetence of Copellion, the organization in this series.

Rating: 3/10, seriously this really could have been something great, but…

4. Art- If there is one element in this whole series that made it worth watching, it was the art. No, that is the only reason i actually stuck around till the end, because no matter its failings, Copellion is absolutely beautiful to look at, a master piece at that.

And not the entire creation, but rather the backgrounds, the landscapes and buildings in their desolation; there was a realism i couldn’t help but appreciate, the colors vivid without being unrealistic.

Copellion is an anime worth viewing if only to marvel at its artistic presentations.

Rating: 10/10

5. Animation- Now one has to wonder what happened with the animation; not bad, by the way, but somewhat…blotchy, inconsistent; only made worse when contrasted with the aesthetic beauty of the background elements in each episode.

It kind of infuriated me to tell you the truth, almost confused me, trying to figure out what was wrong with a scene that should have been breath taking to look at.

Rating: 4/10

6. Music- Not even worth mentioning, largely inconsequential to the series as a whole. And i can’t say i was impressed with some of the voice actors, especially Ibara.

VERDICT:

I could rant on for a few more pages about why this anime simply missed its mark, but what would be the point? Because Copellion isn’t trash or anything, it’s simply…unfocused, almost unplanned, with little to no objective. If anything there is more effort injected into spreading an environmental awareness message than in telling a good story.

There is something to be said about the tragic elements at the end, which seemed less forced than usual.

RATING: 5/10, Okay i wasn’t actually bored during the series’ run, simply uninspired to keep watching by any of the elements in the anime.

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So here we are 2014, not just another new year, but the final 12 months of Naruto, or so Kishimoto says; this wouldn’t the first time a manga ran a year or two beyond its expiry date.

The end of Naruto leaves me with a disturbed feeling; all series come to an end, and Naruto can only ran on for so long before entering Dragon Ball Z territory, yet i cannot deny that its exit will leave a massive hole in my Anime and Manga world.

Yes, i have been following Naruto for that long, since the very beginning of my life as an Otaku; this will be nothing less than the end of an era in the otaku realm. Besides merely re-confirming what we already knew, several elements struck me about Kishimoto’s 2014 interview, particularly two in fact, which i thought i would make a comment about.

--First, Kishimoto- he comes off as a rather interesting character, more humble than i presumed; i don’t think i have ever given Kishimoto the person much thought, but i always imagined the life of a mangaka as no different from that of a Hollywood super star.

Part of me expected to see his and those names of more famous mangaka littering architecture of major cities where i to ever visit Japan, thousands whispering his name as he made his regular rounds to the store.

Sections of this interview however present Kishimoto’s life as a relatively simple one, quiet; which makes sense i guess, because as a mangaka, you are likely to spend more time drawing than partying.

But then again Kishimoto did admit to spending 36 hours of his week drawing, little more than 3 days, which allows him four days of downtime; subtract one or two days for idea generation and story structuring, and you still have a few days of down time each week.

Two days that probably find Kishimoto holed away in his house, if he is indeed so isolated as to, as he says, not realise just how popular his manga is; its an interesting admission, because on the one hand it shows that Kishimoto should take a leaf out of Kubo’s book and do a little travelling, engage with his fans in the different manga and comic conventions out there; something he clearly does not do, not often anyway.

But maybe it’s a matter of a humble outlook on life; or, more than that, simple dedication to his craft, drawing his manga not for the fame or money but for the satisfaction of creating something of considerable brilliance; it makes sense he would struggle with the itch to draw even on his off days.

And that probably goes to the advice he gave about dedication and success in the manga business; because unless you’re ready to give 200% to your art, success is likely to remain ever elusive. Here’s to hoping that, for his honey moon, Kishimoto chooses a location close by, because that is one individual i would be interested in meeting.

Because even after all those interviews, i still cannot envision him as a person; despite having seen numerous pictures, as i am reading his voice in his numerous interviews, it is always that character, Ando from heroes, that jumps to my head. Strange. Anyway.

--Secondly Naruto- something in this interview struck me, the comment Kishimoto made about his editors, that got me wondering if we as fans are always a little too quick to jump down the throats of Mangaka for shoddy manga chapters.

Because we know (or so Bakuman tells me) that the editor, especially of a powerful brand like Shonen Jump, will wield some power with regards to the content produced by the mangaka on a weekly or monthly basis.

I mean, would it be too irrational to consider the possibility that editors do contribute to bad chapters and plot lines as well as good ones? One needs to ask just how much power the editor has in commanding his charge to kill off a character, save another, turn a two chapter shinobi battle into a ten chapter brawl between super powered beings.

It’s an interesting consideration in a field as competitive as manga-and as a Fairy tail fan with a lot of complaints to launch at Hiro, i have to wonder how much control Mashima-sensei has over who lives and dies.

I have to wonder what Kishimoto might have been referring to when he made that remark about remembering to reference upon ideas at an earlier stage before expanding upon them in the future. Can’t say i have come across any concepts in the series whose introductions i found to be unsatisfactory in terms of pacing and explanations.

I really can’t say that i care about seeing Kakashi’s face and would prefer it remained a mystery.

-With March approaching fast, the year is still fairly young; which means there are many more months of Naruto still to come, more months for me to locate a worthy replacement for his juggernaut of a series.

As Naruto fans all we can do is cross out fingers and hope that Kishimoto gives us one heck of a finale, worthy of the legacy of Naruto; i was struck by Kishimoto’s words about the end that he would finish the series conclusively; clearly he has no intention of leaving Shonen Jump or anyone else with room to expand the series into Dragon Ball GT style chaos.

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Why does it feel like an age since i last laid eyes on Koinzel. The problem now is that the series is taking a break; which really doesn’t help monthly issues, having to wait that much longer for the story to progress in this new generation of Glenn’s reign.

THE CHAPTER: War is coming to the kingdom. As Rosen and group attempt to execute their duties in light of the recent changes with regards to their revived lord, the Order of the Seven Lances seems set on a path of collision with the Order of Gungnir.

MY THOUGHTS:

I will admit it, i always liked Glenn; sure it’s easy to look at him as the most despicable of all the heroes, being the very individual that first raised the issue of betrayal against Ascheritt and group.

Yet no one can deny the efforts he has injected into using his present power to atone for his past sins, if only for the benefit of a few within his territory of the Kingdom.

So would it really be that much of a stretch to assume that this new Glenn bears more than evil within his heart? Who knows , that all he executes lies along a path designed to bring about a brighter future.

I know, it is sort of a stretch, when you consider the fact that he actually came back to life, which places him squarely in the corner of Wistchtech. Best case scenario Glenn is nothing more than a puppet, a physical body under the control of his new masters.

Worse case scenario, this isn’t even Glenn but a facsimile; one thing’s for sure, Wischtech has its name written intimately within Glenn’s works and i can’t even begin to anticipate war over the issue.

Koinzel, ever since his resurrection, has proven himself too effective a tool of dissention and destruction, personally responsible for sparking off the war of heroes, and with it the Kingdom is now a shadow of its former self, its military capabilities fractured, its warlords vying for greater power against one another, and its emperor only further broken by his son’s death.

It’s difficult to deny the simple facts; Glenn has this battle in the bag; and with all those heroes that oppose him now dead, the rest riding under his flag, we really should expect King Glenn to rise to his new position soon enough.

I can’t say it saddens me; we have spent much too long speaking of this mysterious enemy in possession of dark magic; if Glenn really is in Wischtech’s pocket, we should then be heading into a full on collision with these dark masters, and i for one cannot wait to place a face upon the reputation.

-Ubel Blatt only disappoints in the prospect that i have to wait for what seems like an eon to finally launch this story headlong into its chaotic future; poor Rosen, having spent so long trying to deny the dark past of his masters; no, choosing to turn a blind eye in his determination to ensure false peace, he can only watch as the empire he strove to bind together begins to crumble.

-And with the rise of the Order of Gungnir there goes any possibilities of a revolt, a revolution; really if Ubel Blatt has executed one mission perfectly within the past several chapters, it’s been to shatter all hope for the world as we know it.

With the annihilation of most of the heroes, i guess all that’s left to bring this story either to a climax or a new stage is the clash between Koinzel and Glenn.

RATING: 5/5, as always Ubel Blatt is beautifully drawn.

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You know, for a moment there i thought Claymore had began to lose its shine; chapter 146 didn’t really…inspire the first time i read it last month. Here i was thinking that maybe the series had seen better days, then Boom; Chapter 147 came smashing into my world, dissolving all such false assumptions that this awesome series could really ever lose hold of its position as one of the very best manga series out there.

THE CHAPTERS: The battle with Priscilla rages on. Clare resolves her internal struggles.

MY THOUGHTS:

Fighting, that’s what we’ve been doing for the past several chapters, and what a battle. And here i thought that, with the initial scenes of the conflict, this final Priscilla showdown would fall flat on its face.

Not so and as we have seen in the last few months, no other battle in the series has been anywhere near as dynamic as this one.

Priscilla is a monster, both figuratively and literally, and now she has a sword to play with; one has to appreciate the route the author followed in approaching this battle. Because at no point did any single claymore or group of Claymore ever stand a chance against Priscilla in fair combat.

So instead the mangaka thought it best to throw Priscilla through a series of rumbles, bringing to Miria’s side a myriad of diverse allies, both Claymore and awakened being, male and female, new and old, each throwing their hat into the ring and bringing their fists, claws, swords, teeth against the monstrous Priscilla.

And what could be a better testament to Priscilla’s superiority than her utter domination of what could be the best team of warriors ever gathered, further augmented by a pack of wild and immensely powerful creatures.

-If you didn’t read chapter 146 it might have been that much easier to dismiss its progress for its predictable elements. I mean, were we really expected to believe that one such as Priscilla could go down so easily?

Well, yes. That was the genius of 146, the realism in the tension it created, basically placing its core characters on the line, each time pulling them away from the fire just as you thought they were done for, just when Priscilla seemed completely dominant; then having the team initiate a counter attack so courageous and effective as to bring Priscilla to death’s very door.

…Oh how i wish i was watching all this in anime, because even in black and white my stomach churned as giants blades flashed against my favourite characters, as Priscilla bared her fangs only to have her form destroyed by the flash sword, each time dragging me to the edge with her as she teetered on the edge of destruction.

-And if chapter 146 was anxiety inducing, chapter 147 basically struck like a wrecking ball, dispensing with all pointless tension and allowing us a further glimpse of why Priscilla is the undisputed queen of the Claymore universe.

…if you haven’t read this manga or this chapter then i simply cannot bring myself to spoil it; but for a 28 page chapter, 147 felt so, well, long, like i had been reading it for ages, drawing out the battle, displaying each stroke of the sword, each speed burst, each earth shattering strike with precision and dynamism.

I don’t know how i could have ever been bored with this conflict, thought that this battle was actually taking too long. With every single soldier bringing their all against the might of Priscilla these two chapters, especially when read together, will keep you at the very edge of your seat.

-And that ending, wow; i mean what are the chances. Do we really dare believe that’s its over? And why? How? PRISCILLA IS A BEAST. When you consider the nature of her ability, that she can so casually create her own mater; it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to call her immortal, invincible even.

-Is it possible to deny the basic facts? There is no way Clare, Miria and the rest of them are making it out of this alive; which is a shame because Clare was finally emerging from her shell, finally capable of understanding why she could no longer access her former strength, that her cowardice against Priscilla was due to her fear of leaving her friends behind, or really losing any of them to Priscilla.

Claymore is simply killing it right now.

RATING: 9/10- and yes, i thought i would change to a 10 rating star system. A 5 star system doesn’t really allow me to express my verdict on chapters. I didn’t realise until chapter 147 that it was Yuma that stuck Priscilla’s chest with her sword. Pretty impressive for the weakest Claymore among the ghosts, that she actual struck a blow against the mighty Priscilla.

HIGHLIGHTS: Tabitha.

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Thinking about it now, am starting to wonder about the point of a making top 20: i mean, who really needs to know the 20 best manga of 2013, because technically anything below the top ten is second tier, less than stellar, unimportant material.

I guess there were that many manga series that stood out last year that i didn’t want to have to leave any of them out.

Anyway, this is where the drums roll as i introduce my top 10 manga of 2013:

10. BEELZEBUB

Who would have thought that a few years after its creation, Beelzebub would evolve into such a dramatic and action packed story; this series about a juvenile high school kid that must act as surrogate father to the child of the lord of the underworld, has come a long way from its comedic routes.

And while still funny as heck, the series delivered some heart stopping, skin tingling moments in 2013 as the plot took some pretty dark turns, the stakes shooting through the roof as new foes rose to challenge the status quo of Ishiyama.

I don’t know if i have said it, but if there are two manga you need to sit down and get to reading NOW, if you’re not already, its Noblesse and Beelzebub.

Quality wise there is no denying this manga’s place on this list. And yes, it was miles ahead of Bleach in 2013. Okay, maybe not miles.

9. SOUL EATER

Soul eater has been an excruciatingly annoying obsession of mine. The anime being one of the first i ever watched seriously, i spent a few years watching this manga move from hiatus to hiatus, punctuating the silence with one or two chapter releases.

I don’t know the circumstances behind its creation but Soul Eater has been crawling for a while now; not that that actually affected the story quality in any way, because Soul eater went out with the sort of bang in 2013 that the anime couldn’t even come close to capturing.

Bringing to a close the story of the Kishin and his battle with the world, displaying moments of development in all of its primary characters, allowing the series to take another step of growth, Soul eater was a breath taking series with a pretty breath taking finale, definitely worth the recognition.

8. MAGI: THE LABYRINTH OF MAGIC

Magi is my second favourite new manga of 2013, and by new i do not mean it only began its publication in 2013, but rather i only began reading it within those 12 months; and all i can say is wow, this manga is one heck of a roller-coaster.

What makes this series so special, specifically those arc that run in 2013, Aun madaura, Magnoshtadt, the Medium, is how deep the stories are, quite surprising for a shonen series of its type, seemingly simplistic and basically battle oriented, yet infused with so many moving stories perpetrated by so many moving characters, some heroes, most villains.

There really isn’t anything like Magi out there at the moment, except for maybe Nanatsu no Taizai. Magi was absolutely phenomenal in 2013.

7. THE BREAKER: NEW WAVES

The first time i began working on these lists, a friend of mine and i disagreed on exactly where Breaker belonged, specifically in comparison to The god of High school, which my friend believed deserved this position best, while Breaker should have been assigned to a notable mention.

I disagreed of course; sure there is something to be said about how action packed The God of High school has been in the last 12 months; yet i don’t see how it can compete with the story that drivers The breaker.

Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that, rather than the Breaker, it’s Shion, its primary character, who was on fire in 2013, a character that, after 80 chapters of series one and more than a hundred chapters of series 2, finally came out of his shell and, as anime characters are fond of saying, showed us the results of his training.

The Breaker has been a thrilling ride and the fights weren’t just unpredictable in there execution; so many matches, most uneven, seemed to come out of nowhere, and that sort of blindsiding allowed each chapter to skate along the edge, entire arcs almost continuously suspended in no man’s land with regards to how they would be or if they would even be resolved.

Not only the island arc, the events that brought the school burning to the ground, the death of an elder, the unleashing of the black arts; but the presence of Goomoonryong and the mystery of his schemes allowed this Manhwa to stand a few steps above The God of High school.

There was something gratifying about watching Shion finally gain the sort of respect we’ve been waiting for him to acquire.

6. UBEL BLATT

Ubel Blatt felt like it exploded into my world this year. It’s a story of a brutal nature that i have rarely come across, not even in the likes of Claymore. And even when it seems to be cycling in a clichéd rut, its disturbing to realize just how unique the plots progress, how dark and violent the stakes can get, how deviant the characters can become in the face of very dire circumstances.

The Balestar war still ranks as one of the best arcs i read/finished in 2013, mostly because of how vibrant the aspect of conflict were, the shocking revelations that followed and the unpredictable situation within which the story now exists, with the reputation of the authorities of the land shattered, the power of the heroes broken by infighting and the held breath that is Lord Glenn and what is expected to be a vicious assault.

If only this manga was weekly instead of monthly, it would easily take number 1.

5. CLAYMORE

Its true, Claymore hasn’t really been hitting all the right notes lately, and with the latest chapters the battles are starting to feel like they are dragging on, which is quite rare for this manga.

So how does such a manga rank so highly? Well, its Claymore, and the first half of Claymore’s 2013 was nothing short of CHAOTIC, the good kind; it isn’t just the revelations made about the source of Claymore and Yoma that saved the latter half of Claymore in 2013, but the events that followed the awakening of the former number 1’s, the RIDICULOUS BATTLES that ensued and Raki’s necessary involvement in the conflict.

And who could forget the Priscilla/Clare/Destroyer situation and the exciting events that led to its resolution, the introduction of male era Claymore, the revelation of Priscilla’s true power…good days, bad days, it doesn’t matter, Claymore is always Claymore, simply awesome beyond words.

4. NOBLESSE.

What have i said about Noblesse in these past three or four months that needs repeating? If any review i have written in the past finally convinced you to read Noblesse, then you should have a basic idea why this Manhwa should be in the top 5 of any 2013 manga list worth its while.

And the premise seems so simple: a vampire awakens from an 800 year convalescing sleep, to a new world, meets Frankenstein, the servant that so feverishly searched for his whereabouts after his disappearance, after which he instead poured his efforts into building a school in his master’s memory, the same school his master chooses to enrol into while he tries to get his bearings.

Little genius there, loads of genius in the execution. Any year where Raizel finally steps up to the plate to show us just what makes him the Noblesse is worth the hype i heap over this manhwa.

Noblesse should have been number 1 for 2013, if not for the presence of my Top 3 manga of 2013, which are listed below.

3. DEADMAN WONDERLAND

How long has it been, since Ganta first woke to find his entire classroom slaughtered by the red man, since he was tried and found guilty of murder, since he was marooned on the cruel prison island, Deadman wonderland, since we first began to explore this vicious theme park?

Well, its been quite a ride, one that i think couldn’t have been wrapped up any better. It was quite the sad finale, if you think about it, seeing these fast friends, old friends, Shiro and Ganta, finally tear their chains and enter into a brawl, understanding just how cruel the sweet white haired Shiro had been to Ganta, how dreadfully the world had treated her, and how she had in turn aimed her wrath towards her only friend, Ganta.

The art only accentuated that final clash, which, despite the spectacular blood manipulation occurring, was more talk that fighting, during which Shiro laid her soul bear and Ganta absorbed her rage.

Poignant stuff.

2. VINLAND SAGA

VIKINGS ROCK…need i say more: and if i do, where the hell have you been where they don’t have Vinland Saga?

Considering how irritating the little runt was when Thorfinn first set out on the high seas to find and murder his father’s killer, then joined him in an effort to achieve this fruitless goal, its heartening seeing just how far he’s come, transforming into a more rounded character; then a little depressing realizing that this new found warmth and peaceful persona is going to get him and all he knows and now loves killed.

One might point to 2013 as the year of Canut’s rampage, though maybe rampage isn’t quite the word considering how calm the new king is. Still, its a shame how low he’s fallen. But i guess it matters that all he does is in the name of justice.

Am really hoping Thorfinn’s new friend survives 2014. With the way events left off everything seems to be balancing on a knife edge in Vinland Saga.

1. SHINGEKI NO KYOJIN A.K.A ATTACK ON TITAN

Really, SNK? On another top ten manga list? Again?

Yes, again, because, whether you like it or not, Attack on Titan is that damn popular, and almost deserving of the hype its received from the Otaku world. And yes, there is more to its success in 2013 and position as number one than those massive revelations about the large and armoured titans.

Then again what do you expect from a story following humanity as it employs Spiderman type abilities to battle a horde of mindlessly violent giant naked human beings with some of the oddest running poses i have ever seen anywhere.

SHINGEKI NO KYOJIN IS MANGA AND MANHWA KING OF 2013.

And that’s my list of the top 10 best manga of the year 2013. Comment below and agree with me.

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