katmic (Level 10)

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So this is finally it? The End?

I would really like to know what brought about this decision; Is the mangaka simply tired? Was Claymore simply not selling as many copies as it needed to to maintain publication?

Or as this all there ever was to the claymore story? Not that it matters, not one of those answers would satisfy me. And that is something I can appreciate about the so Called Holy Shonen Trinity.

That Kubo, Oda and Kishimoto aren’t likely to bring their stories to an end without exploring ever plot, subplot, mystery and myth introduced within the series long run.

Naruto seems to have spent the majority of the war arc doing just this, Edo Tensei acting as the tool through which Kishimoto could reveal all there was to his shinobi world.

One does wonder if Kubo actually had any of the intricacies of his plot planned out; or if some of Bleach’s mysteries won’t simply remain mysteries. One piece on the other will need its ten years to properly put to bed all its plots and mysteries.

One could say that One piece now is where Naruto was at the beginning of Shipudden; Naruto Shipudden has largely been the revelation story, in which Kishimoto took every mystery and inference and subplot hinted at in Part 1 and finally explored them all.

One piece seems to have began its exploration arc, in which all the legends and stories of the one piece arc introduced pre-time skip are ripped open.

THE CHAPTER:

Teresa unleashes her awakened form against a seemingly immortal Priscilla; within the throes of their battle, Priscilla comes to life, her wishes, intentions and deepest desires finally revealed.

MY THOUGHTS:

SO, Teresa is kind of awesome in this chapter, even more than usual.

I cannot help but think back to Naruto and Bleach, reading this, the latest chapter of Claymore; the most recent episodes of Naruto basically came right round, returning to the status quo as it was in the first series, with Team 7 united.

Watching Teresa and Priscilla go at it, I was transported back to the earliest episodes of Claymore, in which Teresa and Priscilla faced off, with Teresa more or less dominating until the very end, when a show of mercy proved fatal.

If Claymore must end, then I guess there can be no better end at the moment, finally bringing to a close a fight that began so many chapters back, with the question of which of these two juggernauts stood supreme and superior finally answered.

Not much happened with Chapter 154 but that is hardly a complaint, claymore providing a hard hitting and visceral battle that showcased Priscilla and Teresa at their strongest, even while subtly telling the Priscilla story and the true reason that forced her to hunt down Clare and the essence of Teresa within her, the only hope Priscilla could see in finally ending her miserable life.

The rumor is this is the end, but I am hoping for a second part to this series like most fans, one that moves off the island to the war on the mainland. With the majority of island related plots finally solved-the organization destroyed, the majority of the most dangerous awakened beings eliminated, Priscilla at her end- there is nothing left to tie our heroes to their homes.

I want more claymore, simple as that; but it seems we will not be getting any more. Maybe there is a series out their that could take Claymore’s place once it finally ends, however I am yet to find it.

RATING: 9/10

Everything we see in this chapter seems to suggest that the winged thing is Clare’s awakened form, with Teresa suggesting that her awakened state was something entirely different- which makes you wonder how the hell she would know what she looks like awakened.

This battle has been raging for quite a number of chapters, now that I think about, ever since the destroyer appeared on the scene. And not once did it get dull-if it did, I am failing to recall.

I guess other shonen battle oriented series should take a leaf out of Claymore’s book of long running fights.

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It is possible that I am one of few people that actually care about what is written in the speech bubbles of a manga; to most people a great manga or manhwa is determined by its art, characters and the story.

And to an extent that is true; however with regards to the story, I am as interested in the words of the story as I am with the progress that occurs over each chapter.

Manhwa has a tendency to fail in this regard, so certain that the pictures will tell the story that it puts little effort into refining the words written within the pages and the speech bubbles.

Which I think is a shame because most such manga miss the opportunity to accentuate their plots; I cannot help but appreciate Ubel Blatt and the likes of Vinland Saga, titles that place as much emphasis upon the words that are written as they do on the imagery, this better conveying the emotion behind each scene.

THE CHAPTERS:

Lord Glenn’s war machine begins to grind as the order of Gugnir is dispatched to make loyal subjects and followers of the confused masses of the empire, reeling from the blood letting of Lord Lebellont’s war.

Ascherit’s will is set to complete his task, to bring the legend of the heroes to a bloody end, Lord Glenn his latest target. Only he might not have to go at it alone anymore.

MY THOUGHTS:

I feels like it has been a while since I last read Ubel Blatt, to the point where I almost forgot what the hell had been happening in the manga since chapter chapter 123.

Once more, I point out this irritation that Monthly series simply cannot escape, especially when they exceed their four week quota in availing chapter releases. Seriously though, I don’t think monthly manga and manhwa should even be allowed to take breaks. Because waiting for four weeks to read the next manga, only to be informed of a whole other four week break, that is just criminal.

These four chapters of Ubel Blat were released within mere days to a week of each other. And I am somewhat grateful because some of the individual chapters were a little slow and wouldn’t have been the most interesting reads.

+I want to say that these chapters began pushing the Glenn plot towards something resembling progress but that would be a lie. It’s been quite a few chapters since Lord lebellont finally bit the dust and Koinzel disappeared with a pursuing party in toe, even as his crew parted.

And considering the pace at which Lord Glenn was progressing within those early chapters, challenging the other heroes and making his claim on the kingdom, it feels like we spent a little too much time underground with the remnants of Lebellont’s followers.

Granted this perception might come down to the manga’s monthly release schedule; chances are it hasn’t been that long since Lord Glenn first emerged; however counting the months that have past since then, it feels like a damn long time.

Ascherit (I prefer Ascherit over Koinzel-its kind of a dumb name) shows his stuff once more against his former master’s raging student. The order of Gugnir, Glenn’s primary force of attack moves to secure the loyalty of various key elements, a job previously executed by Glenn himself.

And they seem intent upon spreading Wischtech’s will across the empire; indeed it would be accurate to say that the invasion has began, so much more subtly than the magical force’s initial brutal assault several decades back.

Now shrouded behind the name of Glenn, the empire’s most beloved hero, the world as Ascherit knows it seems doomed; and the pessimism is more than justified, specifically taking into account the fickleness of a population that was so quick to raise up a selection of villains as their leaders for the sake of temporary peace.

I don’t know if Ubel Blatt is fulfilling its potential these days; there is a clear attempt to further expand the mythology of the series, develop the cast and interweave their stories together.

These chapters allowed the lines to be further drawn between Glenn and those people that will oppose him, led by Ascherit. Ascherit’s fights were pretty awesome, well illustrated and choreographed to display skill rather than power.

But I am not feeling the excitement and the rush the Ubel Blatt story used to generate in me. And again it is most likely the monthly releases.

Yet this should be the foremost consideration of all monthly manga, telling a story befitting of four whole weeks of waiting, more than four weeks with Ubel Blatt, which these chapters failed to do.

RATING: 6/10, the series just came out of a massive war arc. We don’t necessary need another so soon. But the plot could benefit from accelerated pacing. I want to see more of Glenn’s madness and the infighting between the rest of the heroes continue to intensify.

It’s amusing how Ato seems to have adopted Ascherit’s dead eyed stare.

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I thought Diabolik Lovers was the dumbest thing I had ever watched. But thinking on it, it’s merely odd, but an oddness like I haven’t witnessed in my recent anime watching manga reading history.

Considering the nature of the content I encountered within this 12 episode anime, more stunning than the strange finale are the reviews, which are all over the place, some praising Diabolik lovers to death while others curse it to the very depths of hell.

But seriously, what the hell was this? I can’t decide if it was so bad it became compelling or if it was because it attempted to be so compelling that it was bad.

THE PLOT:

Komori Yui is a positive-thinking girl who nevertheless is troubled by seeing spirits and experiencing poltergeist phenomena. In her second year in high school, she transfers to a new school—a night school for entertainers and celebrities—due to her father's work. There are rumors that vampires exist among the student body, and Yui ends up living with the six sadistic Sakamaki brothers.

MY REVIEW:

Diabolik lovers was adapted from a fairly well known visual novel, and I am starting to notice a trend here; adapting visual novels is either the hardest thing in the world, or the same team of writers keeps messing up, because rarely do projects such as this achieve their purpose, most very messy and convoluted and very much pointless.

Which makes sense, seeing as the material they are being adapted from tends to meander through different paths of plot and story, with the outcome of different personalities and characters determined by the readers, to the point where selecting a singular path to follow and locating a definitive characterization becomes rather difficult.

That being said, a lot of female reviewers I came across slammed Diabolik lovers. I say slammed but maybe that doesn’t quite convey the seething Roth that I found was directed towards this anime. And I thought that was interested, more or less driving me to figure out what all the fuss was about.

+The Concept

Diabolic lovers is a reverse harem; think typical harem with a primary male protagonist suddenly inundated by hordes of largely badass female characters fighting for his attention.

In this case, it’s a girl and she finds herself under siege from adoring-or rather villainous- male characters. What I found interesting was the fact that Diabolik Lovers is categorized in the supernatural genre.

And that isn’t a total lie, with innocent Yui finding herself surrounded by six hungry vampires that cannot get enough of her blood. I personally expected something within the range of Saw, with this little girl fighting throughout 12 episodes to survive her bloodthirsty pursuers.

What ensued wasn’t quite as intriguing, with Yui basically passing from one brother to the other through out each episode as they went about torturing her mentally and physically before finally relieving her of entire pints of her blood.

Then would come the peace, as she recuperated for a few hours, before finding herself back in the vampires den, being thrown out of windows and into walls, experiencing all manner of torment and pain, all the while fighting to locate an exit from the nightmare of a mansion.

All seemingly fairly interesting stuff in a world of action oriented anime that is all basically the same stuff with different faces; but that doesn’t take into account the oddity that is Yui, a female character like I haven’t seen anywhere.

If anything I just described sounds like material for unique horror, it isn’t; not when Yui spends a considerable portion of each episode trying and failing and TRYING AGAIN to reach across the divide between her and her tormentors in some sort of effort to create a connection.

If that sounds like some cunning strategy to escape her doomed fate; it isn’t. This girl genuinely wants to know and sympathize with her captors, and she doesn’t quite trying to forgive, connect with and show a modicum of kindness of the Sakamaki brothers, disregarding how terribly each encounter ends.

And maybe that is how I made it to the end; I just couldn’t get enough of Yui and her crazy brain; the way she would lend a pitying shoulder to her weeping captors in one scene, mere minutes after having her arms nearly twisted out of their sockets by the same individual, was not only astonishing, it was disturbing.

This wasn’t horror; this was a disturbing game of hide and seek, but with lots of physical torment. If anything the quiet scenes between her and the likes of Kotano and Ayato only made it that much more difficult to take her screams of horror seriously in the episodes that followed, even with the clear signs of danger.

+The Characters-

No, just No. I do not know what the hell I was watching throughout all 12 episodes, but none of it made any sense. The master/tormentor/victim dynamic made absolutely no sense, even though that managed to work for the story’s character development arcs. Was I supposed to hate these characters or empathize with them? Despise them or sympathize with them?

Because considering how detestable they were, attempts to make them likeable just fell flat.

There is considerable effort placed into crafting the Sakamaki brothers, each of which is developed as some sad and tragic child forced into the skin of a monster, the consequence of past rivalries between their three mothers.

Primary differences arose most in the way the brothers approached Yui, and which form of torture they chose in displaying their love/hate for her, almost always fighting to see who could elicit the greatest anguish from Yui.

None of these people were by any means great works of art, and included typical archetypes, with a brooding eldest brother, a wimpy but cruel youngest sibling, the cool, calm quiet second eldest that showed the most amount of cruelty but whom Yui was most drawn to…

But the anime does distinguish its characters into clear personalities, and that is actually worth commending, even if Yui comes off as the WORST FEMALE CHARACTER IN ANIME AND MANGA EVER.

+Why you Should Watch this?

Why should I watch Diabolic lovers, you ask? A better question is, why the hell would you not watch this anime?. If you are one Otaku that spends your hours of entertainment watching epic protagonist facing off against dark antagonists, and simply wish to escape that endless circle of heroics and villainy, then Diabolik Lovers is a must watch.

There have been rumors of a second season; and I hope there is no truth to them because I don’t see the point. And I wouldn’t even watch it even if they made one.

That being said, Magical Warfare was a pointless anime, totally useless in its utilization of typical tropes, basically an amalgamation of every anime I have ever seen, bad and good. It might have as well never exited because it brought absolutely nothing of note to the table.

Diabolik Lovers might not be my favorite anime; in fact I would be lying if I sais I actually liked it; however it was something…different; it actually tried to separate itself from the masses.

As such it is worth watching, if only as that odd 12 episode experience that you didn’t truly understand.

Thinking on it, Diabolik Lovers reminds me of true blood, but not as bad.

RATING: 4/10, an interesting experience indeed. Diabolik lovers would actually benefit from a reboot. Because, looking at the primary story arc, whoever wrote this script had absolutely no idea what they were doing or even wanted to do.

Focused story telling with a true purpose at the end, something less silly than the finale we got-which felt like it was shoehorned into the story- and Diabolik Lovers might have made for better viewing.

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When the Tobi reveal was made in Naruto, what most interested me were the events that had driven the innocent kid that was Obito towards the dark path he eventually came to embrace.

And while the various reasons put forth proved intriguing to follow and slowly make sense of, when all the chips were down, all those excuses, reasons and events more or less boiled away in the face of the cause of Obito’s true downfall.

He’s crazy; simple as that, and the various scenes in which he explains himself more than support this fact.

I mention Obito and Naruto because his life and situation somewhat echoes within the warring Chaos of Alma Toran.

THE CHAPTER:

Alma Toran’s war comes to a boiling head as lives are sacrificed, rage is vented and Djinn are finally born.

MY THOUGHTS:

You could accuse Magi of making Arba’s transformation a little too sudden, turning her towards the dark side in no more than three or four chapters; yet once you accept the approach Magi is taking with this flashback, basically narrating rather than showing the story and all its intricacies, comfortable with availing a brief overview of events even while exploring one or two elements in detail, Arba’s transformation isn’t nearly as sudden.

Yet even taking into consideration the passing of time as has been shown in a few chapters, is it really rational for one such as Arba, Solomon’s most devoted servant, to turn so violently against him?

Well, Yes. She’s crazy. Seriously, just look at that face, that expression. Arba and her kin have crossed into the realm of insanity, simple as that.

What we are seeing here in Magi is a pretty extreme case of religious fanaticism; after all the current conflict began with Illah’s revelation below David’s castle. Was it the immensity of Illah’s being that most intensely affected Arba?

Or maybe it was the idea of Illah in her head, that he or it could be so grossly divested of all its glory and might. Whatever the case, it is difficult to argue against a case of insanity when one’s answer to having their god dragged from the heavens is blotting the entire world out of existence.

Alma Toran has come to its tragic end; one has to credit the mangaka for her approach to this story, basically setting up one of the greatest evils in Sheba, impressively redeeming her into a hero worthy of praise and sacrificing her life rather tragically to the last person you would have figured would become Gyokuen.

A tragedy indeed and one that is going to keep repeating itself if the events of Magi are anything to go by; it seems somewhat irrelevant now to give the Kou empire the benefit of doubt as a potentially benevolent force that might simply be striving to bring peace to the world using its own misguided means.

Not when Gyokuen, aka Crazy Arba is standing as empress, and certainly not when her blood runs through Kouen’s veins.

Suddenly the potential of Alma Toran’s tragedy repeating itself is starting to look more and more plausible with each new chapter. Al Tharmen’s particular dislike for Aladdin makes even more sense, their disgust for the so called arrogant king’s spawn and the wisdom he holds.

With so many pieces finally falling into place, one has to wonder how the events of Magi are going to play out from now on; the entire Kou family seems doomed to sink into Gyokuen’s madness.

Aladdin must possess a spark of Illah’s will within him though, considering Solomon’s position as the vessel for Illah’s rukh in the past; one wonders how it will affect his own will and whether he will descend down David’s path who, now that I think about it, didn’t differ so greatly in mannerisms from Solomon after he took Illah’s power into himself.

RATING: 8/10, these sort of sizzling chapters are why I love Magi; the manga seems to have found its stride, and permanently this time. If we are not out of flashbacks by next chapter, then it has to be the week after; after all the Arba/Solomon fight seems to have come to a sudden and conclusive end.

HIGHLIGHTS: Wahid; his story has to be the most tragic in the flashback, especially the actions he was determined to take at the very end for Falan and Tess.

If you are not reading Magi, then catch up with the anime and get to reading this amazing series.

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Noblesse is at its funniest when its not trying to be funny, which it achieves with almost every chapter.

I don’t know how funny these chapters where, considering how aware the humor seemed of itself.

THE CHAPTER:

Gejutel goes crazy in Frankenstein’s kitchen. It is up to Takeo and crew to save the day.

MY THOUGHTS:

40% of my enjoyment of the average Noblesse chapter emanates from the artistic representations of the story. Another 20% I assign to the characters and the rest goes to the actual plot.

It all comes together pretty nicely, taking into account the fact that the best manga and manhwa stories are crafted by various elements, including art and character plots.

As such these two chapters generated about 60% worth of interest from me. You cannot go wrong with Noblesse and its many dramatic posses.

Thinking on it, this sort of stuff tends to irritate me in Bleach and only because Kubo tends to waste entire panels on the fancy posses and artistic displays of his characters and their weapons, new and old, during crucial, mostly action packed moments, basically stalling rather than pushing the story.

Noblesse can inject artistically awesome moments, panels dedicated to highlighting the dramatic forms of various characters even while allowing the story to progress.

More importantly, Noblesse art tends to pop, its panels feeling almost lifelike, probably because, unlike Kubo and his anti background habits, Noblesse provides fuller environments.

If it looks like some of this Noblesse review is wasted on Bleach talk, well, nothing really happened these past two weeks. Normally I wouldn’t think much of it, and would simply sit back and enjoy watching RK4 panic over Frankenstein’s wrecked kitchen, except these chapters literally came out of nowhere.

Two weeks ago we were in flashbacks, following Muzaka and Rai’s story; suddenly we revert to the present, the flow of the previous month’s story suddenly broken.

What the hell is going on? I expect chapter such as these to emerge in between major arcs and events, of which the flashback were indeed major; except they aren’t even over.

RATING: 5/10, it is always a fun experience, reading 30 or so pages of Rai, his servant and noble guests living their everyday lives. And even with the lackluster comedy attempts, these chapters weren’t exactly a snooze.

However…I have no idea why we are even reading this.

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