katmic (Level 10)

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Buddy Complex had me worried at the start, mostly because it reminded me of Valrave the Liberator and I have nothing good to say about that show.

Thankfully Buddy Complex managed to rise above that particular image; though ‘rise above’ is too strong a statement to use with regards to this anime. Buddy Complex is commendable for being an entertaining mecha anime, nothing more, nothing less.

THE PLOT:

On the first day back after summer break, high-school student Aoba is attacked by a giant robot that appears out of the sky. As he's pursued through the city, his classmate Hina appears in a robot of her own. She rescues him, and tells him cryptically that "Dio is waiting for you", before she disappears. This begins Aoba's new life as the pilot of the Free Treaty Alliance against the Great Zogilia Republic.

MY REVIEW:

I am not the biggest mecha fan; not that I don’t enjoy watching giant robots doing combat on screen. But it can get pretty repetitive. Once you have seen one giant mech battle, you have technically seen them all.

Which is why I couldn’t see the Buddy Complex appeal when I first considered watching it. And I still don’t. Buddy Complex stands upon the base of pure entertainment value alone, in which the characters are inherently likeable and fun to watch but nothing more.

Aoba is an innocent boy that finds himself cast into a war seventy years in the future between two warring parties; he finds, to many a surprised persons, that he possesses the ability to utilize the newly invented coupling system better than any other pilot ever trained, allowing him to connect minds with a second pilot, combining strengths and knowledge to bring forth a new power.

Basically Pacific Rim within a world war context. And maybe that is all Buddy complex has to offer, a fun ride in which we get to follow Aoba’s exploits.

Stranded on a alien earth, he has to come to terms with his fate, the nonexistence of all he knew and the hostility of a seemingly evil foe. Along the way, he makes connections, with Dio, his coupling partner, and the various members of the Alliance he encounters.

If that sounds mildly entertaining, that is because it actually is; and that is the problem. Buddy complex never advances beyond this rather typical premise. The World war is a pretty bland affair, the political complications and conflicts that constitute the various battles proving to be quite boring.

Buddy complex plays out as a typically good vs. evil scenario, in which the Zogilia empire seems intent on ruling earth and an alliance of nations rises to stop them. I say ‘seems’ because very little effort is injected into explaining the purpose and reasons driving the different sides.

Zogilia is a fashioned in darkness, typically donning and armored in darker tones; its cast ever frowning or exuding a sense of negativity, that as opposed to the light surrounding the Alliance.

Certainly some effort is placed into actually fleshing the Zogilia force. Well, I say ‘fleshed out’, but all the anime does is allow us to meet these young men and women, does almost nothing to actually elucidate upon their role in the war, perspectives and reasoning.

+I don’t want to call Buddy Complex cliché, because it isn’t. It is a story that fails to be what it wants. And I believe it knows what it wants, unlike so many other failures, taking into account the way the plot develops.

The attempt to create a sense of personal conflict, to show that both warring parties are indeed human beings with personalities and goals and beliefs that they fight for just about fell flat. Zogilia wasn’t interesting enough, its soldiers just random faces that the author felt the need to name for purposes of depth.

Maybe if we knew a little more about this war than the shallow briefing we were provided near the start, but the anime more or less ignores the war as a whole. And truth be told Buddy Complex would be perfectly fine without all this complex and layered stuff; probably even better. It is the fact that it tried and failed to achieve its intended level of depth that the anime falters and loses a few points.

Buddy complex is the Dio and Aoba story. Their various conflicts were a source of entertainment, as was the coupling system and related elements. Though the conflicts between Cygnus and the higher ups over the coupling system seemed so silly and utterly forced.

Little reason was given for the Alliance choosing to ignore and even debase a weapon as powerful as the coupling system beyond a cheap attempt at creating conflict.

Same thing goes for the way the battles were staged, somewhat ridiculously and forced.

Every time Aoba needed to learn one thing or Dio wanted to prove another or a new mech or attack was in play, it was silly how a Zogilia attack would occur almost immediately after.

I couldn’t overlook the convenience; it was like the author intended to craft an engaging set of battles but couldn’t quite figure out how to lead into them. Considering all the talk about stealth and cloaking technology and secrecy, it felt like Zogilia could find the Alliance forces and ships anytime it felt like it.

+VERDICT:

I found it fascinating that the power ups behind Buddy Complex were essentially an interesting variation of the power of friendship common in most shonen series, in which the relationship between two individuals and its strength determined the levels of power achieved.

Now admittedly we have seen these settings before, where synchronization of some sort requires a specified level of compatibility on a mental or emotional level.

That being said most such scenarios occur between man and machine and are rarely a matter of two human beings combining metal prowess.

I can summarize Buddy Complex as such:

The Good:

The character interactions were pretty good and engaging.

Aoba was a decent hero, not too dumb as to ignore the obvious, never too unrealistically emotional, not so suddenly capable as to render better trained characters useless.

Certain characters received a healthy level of exposition and development, Dio most of all.

The Mecha battles were entertaining and never repetitive.

The Bad:

There were way too many coincidences, and that doesn’t even include the worm hole’s sudden appearance.

The antagonists were all forgettable, just random individuals with names we didn’t even need to know. All but Hina and her loyal pet.

Little effort is injected into explaining the war and the motives behind each party. I don’t need my antagonists to be deep and layered; I simply would have liked to know a little more of what Zogilia wanted.

All in all, an entertaining 13 episodes from Sunrise, worth the watch but nothing so impressive as to be mind blowing or even memorable. IN other words, if you choose not to watch Buddy Complex, you wouldn’t be missing much.

RATING: 6/10, not the best of mecha but not the worst. It would have worked better if not for the subtle attempt to inject depth, and the endless coincidental attacks.

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Wow, it feels like Magi gets heavier and heavier with each new week. And these two chapters continue the trend in telling what is ultimately a very depressing and very tragic story.

THE CHAPTERS:

Solomon consumes Illah and seeks to bring about a Utopia. However destiny rears its ugly head again as new conflict breaks out as a result of Solomon’s actions.

MY THOUGHTS:

There is a huge chasm between fighting for freedom and what the idiots in Magi do in these two chapters.

There is a popular saying about how absolute power corrupts; however someone needs to coin a saying about the ills of excess freedom.

The primary purpose behind the actions of Solomon and crew during this flash back has been to bring peace to the world, intertwined with allowing all the different species access to all the freedoms they desire.

What we have seen over the past few weeks is the systematically disastrous consequences of granting absolute freedom to a people that are probably not ready for it.

I am certain there is a lesson in there about human will and how it reacts after decades and centuries of subjugation. However it is difficult to feel any pity for the destruction that will face the populations of Alma Toran, most of whom more than deserve the destruction that will befall them in the next few weeks.

The entire Alma Toran arc has been about Solomon tiptoeing around the sensitivity of a collection of species undeserving of his aid or sympathy. And it is that fact that makes the events of these chapters so tragic, watching as everything Solomon worked for go up in flames, as the entirety of Alma Toran turns against the very individual suffering and perishing in sacrifice for his people’s freedom.

These two chapters didn’t as much create a conundrum with regards to the rights and wrongs of the situation, as they did damn Alma Toran as being completely unworthy of Solomon’s saving hand.

That raises questions about present day Magi; as chaotic as the times might seem to be, I don’t know if Aladdin really has anything to worry about . Not even the Kou empire is that depraved.

Or rather their actions seem to be guided by some twisted moral compass, this as opposed to those who would eventually become Al tharmen, who, for all intent and purpose, lose their sanity.

Call it falling into depravity or losing one’s way, their wasn’t the slightest light of sanity in any of the characters that took to rebellion in chapter 233.

Magi is presenting quite the dark and depressing situation. And I don’t know if I like it.

RATING: 8/10, Magi has done some pretty stellar work these last two weeks, even though the pacing is still a little off for my tastes. We are finally coming to the end of the flashback and these last two chapters provided quite a number of surprises with regards the roles of Solomon’s crew in Al Tharmen’s creation.

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Lots of drama in these two chapters of Noblesse. It has actually been a while since I was this excited about the Manhwa, even taking into account the previous two chapters. That is not to say that Noblesse has gotten boring in the past few weeks.

As I have mentioned before, the Manhwa merely fluctuates between levels of excitement, but never quite striking boredom. Maybe it’s the flash back. Because as much as we know about the Noblesse story so far, there is still so much left to uncover, especially following Muzaka’s emergence in the last arc.

THE CHAPTERS:

Muzaka’s world continues to grow more complicated, the werewolf finding his patience worn by the barbarism of his kind. As his respect and admiration for his new friend continues to grow, Muzaka has no one else to turn to but Cadis.

MY THOUGHTS:

SO much talking in these two chapters, so much tension. And let’s not forget the dramatic entrances. I don't know how much of chapters 331 and 332 were assigned to silent stares and one sided conversations but I loved every bit of it.

This isn’t quite Noblesse at its best; the manhwa excels greatly in the action arena. Yet Noblesse has the ability to do so much with so little.

The majority of these two chapters were devoted to Muzaka moving back and forth between his pack and Rai’s residence, doing lots of talking and growling and threatening, never quite finding the answer to his problem.

And there was more than enough thrilling moments to keep me glued to my screen throughout, probably because of all the tensions that were raised regarding Muzaka’s dilemma.

It is interesting considering the unique situation he finds himself in; as I saw it the argument came down to one simple fact. The werewolves want to slaughter and rule over humanity. Muzaka has no rational reason to stop them.

And to an extent Mudaka’s reasoning was quite sound. So the nobles have a strict policy against interfering in human affairs? So What? The werewolves live under a freer code, doing as they please, with no leash to hold them back from any of their desires. And the fact that they had left mankind alone for so long came down to simple interest. They didn’t want to snack on man before. Now they want to.

With these varying philosophies in play, there is no way the wolves and nobles can avoid conflict. The nobles don’t just hold humanity in high regard. They live to protect them. And with Mudaka and crew’s belligerent attitude towards their lesser cousins, Muzaka’s friendship with Rai seems ready to splinter even before it begins.

+Watching Muzaka and Rai’s friendship flourish is still proving amusing to no end, especially the constant surprise revealed in Rai’s expressions over the wonders of the world. The more we learn about Rai, the more tragic his character feels, especially in taking into account the reason he separates himself from his kin, which I presume has to do with the actions he believes he will have to take whenever the nobles run amok.

RATING: 9/10, these chapters were both amusing and entertaining, especially the tension surging through the wolf pack.

HIGHLIGHTS: Muzaka and Rai

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And here I was, thinking that Nanatsu no Taizai was proving too slow for me to read on a weekly basis. The only word I can use to describe these two chapters is ballistic. That is how good they were, discarding the niceties of the last few weeks and getting to the nitty gritty of the story.

THE CHAPTERS:

Ban’s arrival on the battle field seems to spell doom for Meliodas and his attempts to rescue Elizabeth. Hendricksen’s plans are waylaid by a worthy foe.

MY THOUGHTS:

Simple fact: I found these chapters exhilarating and it was quite a surprise, mostly because of how fast events progressed. The interactions between Ban and Meliodas were the most interesting, as subordinate attempted to kill master with the aim of reviving his great love.

And Meliodas was surprisingly cool with the entire setting, going so far as to offer Ban the opportunity to revive Elaine using his life once the entire fiasco with Hendricksen ended.

The chapters managed to keep the clash between the two sins entirely unpredictable, so much so that I was curious as to whether Ban would take Meliodas’ offer to take his life.

And when he did in the next chapter, I couldn’t help by smirk at the sudden dark turn of events. So much character development took place in these two chapters, the revelation regarding Meliodas demon side (though I highly doubt that it is that simple), Ban’s perspective on Meliodas and the hierarchy between them within the context of the seven deadly sins.

Hendricksen’s business almost took a back seat, if not for the events of that last panel, with father and son contending with Hendricksen’s demon might.

I love the turn the manga has taken in just two chapters, spiking the tension and making for an interesting story to come in the future.

It is worth mentioning that the art got a little untidy in several places, not quite confusing but not exactly pleasing to look at. The quality of the story does allow me to overlook the art, but only barely. Deadly sins is starting to remind me of Magi in that sense.

RATING: 8/10, that’s two points taken away for the lacking art. Elizabeth is still useless. I loved that one panel that has Ban asking what it is with princesses and getting kidnapped.

I cannot wait for the anime.

HIGHLIGHS: BAN AND MELIODAS. GRIAMORE.

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No fair, the heroes always get the best transformations. First Ichigo and his Bankai, then Naruto and his Biju cloak, now Teresa and that awesome abyssal form.

I have to take a minute and think…

Battle chapters do not get better than this. Chapter 153 felt like it was moving right in front of my eyes, the visuals drawn to accurately represented the dynamic battle that was ensuing on the pages.

I have to say it. THIS WAS AAAAASOMEEEEEEE!

THE PLOT:

Teresa. Priscilla. Fight.

MY THOUGHTS:

I don’t always hate battle oriented chapters. But unless I am reading more than one chapter at a go, they can get tiresome (precluding battle oriented series like Breaker), mostly because very little actually happens in terms of story progression.

Unless you are talking about Claymore. All I can say is WOW. I enjoyed this chapter so much more than any other battle oriented chapter in 2014. This is what I have been waiting for, the final clash between titans.

And it doesn’t get any better than this. I was actually slightly underwhelmed by Teresa’s initial clash with Priscilla, which felt a lot like every other claymore/awakened being battle we had seen so far.

Chapter 153 elevated the stakes however, availing to us the Priscilla/Teresa battle we have all been waiting to see for more than a hundred chapters.

Priscilla was even more of a monster this time round, spewing appendages and limbs from all over her body, further morphing her physical form until very little of her former self was left.

Teresa proved why she was number 1, reacting to every one of Priscilla’s attacks with seamless precision, her every sword stroke purposed to bring about immediate and rather accurate destruction.

This is how you initiate a fight between godlike claymore. This has to be the best fight in the series so far. Every time you thought it was done, someone pulled a new trick out of their bag.

These 25 pages of claymore felt more like 50. Norihiro Yagi, this is how you do a dream fight.

And that final panel…am I really expected to wait a WHOLE FOUR WEEKS for the next chapter?

Oh, Claymore, why do this to me? I want more, RIGHT NOW.

REVIEW: 10/10, +10 bonus points. I love chapters that leave me exhilarated and that is what Claymore did for me this week, and I am not a very excitable individual.

HIGHLIGHTS: EVERYTHING.

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