katmic (Level 10)

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In reading a number of Seinin titles these past few months, i have found myself somewhat surprised by the stark difference between seinen and shonen stories; i will not say that Seinin is a necessarily superior genre to shonen as many Otaku have been known to conclude.

Rather i am finding that Seinin titles offer a level of excitement in their plots that are mostly absent in Shonen titles, probably because of how dark some-most- of the series can get.

Ubel Blatt is as good as Seinin action fantasy manga can get, a series only rivalled by Vinland saga in telling a considerably violent yet deeply moving, well paced, well constructed story regarding the ravages of war and vengeance.

THE PLOT:>

When Wischtech threatened to invade the fiefs of Szaalanden, the Emperor dispatched fourteen youths. Of these, three perished during the journey and four turned against the empire and joined Wischtech in its campaign of conquest and destruction.

Seven Heroes halted the invasion to herald a time of prosperity, while the four Lances of Betrayal were supposedly defeated.

Two decades later, the Lances of Betrayal have reappeared and formed a bandit militia near the frontier fief Gormbark. With Wischtech emerging from its slumber and war threatening to engulf the empire, the seven heroes are called upon to return, unite and destroy their ancient enemy once more.

A man with black swords and a scar over his left eye slays an entire troop of the enemy militia and becomes as much an object of fear as of hope, his own past, motivations, and purpose remaining a mystery .

MY REVIEW:>

Ubel Blatt is a German term and stands for ‘Evil Blade’ a curious pair of words, most likely referring to the several hidden black blades within the right hand of the hero of this tale, but probably synonymous with the dark nature of the

tale, which tries to pin down the true nature of those that supposedly fight for justice in this manga, and how accurate it is to impute to them the term ‘hero’ in the face of the consequences of their actions.

Really Ubel Blatt, set in some parallel medieval German styled world, infused with elements of magic and fantasy achieves its success through the two perspectives from which it approaches its story.

On the one hand is the philosophical questions it sets about asking; the story of Ubel Blatt takes place in a tranquil empire, one that has known peace for decades; sure greed stands at the base of the structures of power, but the people know safety.

Corruption dogs every hierarchical system, but all are fed and all enjoy the considerably benefits of the world the emperor so casually controls. Yet even if the success of every civilized nation is measured by the peace, tranquillity and satisfaction enjoyed by its citizens, how justifiable is that peace if the core of its structure was built on lies, if the cost of a good meal and amicable environment was the blood of those that so heroically gave their lives for the scorn of the world.

Yet if one agrees, as most people would, that the continued peace of a populace supersedes any other concerns, how justifiable is it to pursue truth and justice, if the results of that truth would lead to untold destruction for many innocent lives.

That is where Ubel Blatt begins its journey in chronicling this amazing story, the hero of the story perpetrating what even he recognizes will lead to considerably harm to the general populace, yet continues to push forward anyway, choosing to prioritize revenge over the needs of those innocents around him.

While the manga makes considerable effort in trying to create a somewhat complex situation, contrasting the dark deeds of evil men with all the good they have accomplished decades later, it has a way of pushing these questions to the back, the hero, Koinzel largely disinterested in the idea of negative consequences resulting from his seemingly righteous quest.

Yet Ubel Blatt manages to create sympathy in this character, not portraying to the readers some bull headed fool that cannot see past his own rage. Indeed Koinzel understands what is at stake if he accomplishes his goal, and indeed he chooses to ignore these misgivings. But Ubel Blatt makes it easy to understand his perspective of things, making the situation that much more complex, in trying to determine which party in this conflict stand at the side of justice.

-Imagine the story of a boy, a master swordsman, placed at the head of a 14 man party, to lead this brave group of well trained men into battle against a dark enemy of the empire that wishes to destroy all life with unnatural technology.

Imagine a boy that must watch seven of his comrades fall to fear and despair halfway through the journey; this boy then choosing to respect the fallibility of his comrades, instead choosing to advance with six unwavering comrades, contending with a destructive enemy as the last line of defence for the empire, and defeating this enemy but losing three friends in the process.

Imagine this boy returns to his seven cowardly friends, only to find that, upon being pressed by guilt and the shame they would face once the truth was revealed, they had plotted evil, massacring this young boy and his three friends.

Then imagine that this boy is revived 20 years later, within the body of a moon elf, to learn that not only had his three fallen comrades-along with himself- been branded traitors, but that those seven that had betrayed him where now heroes, lords, ruling the lands of the empire, basically worshiped by billions.

It is only justifiable that this boy would rage, would swear to tear these seven idols off their thrones and murder them. So what if, in assaulting these heroes, he would be bringing chaos and catastrophe? So what if these seven had done great good in the past 20 years, bringing a peace that would fall with their demise?

What would it matter to this boy to protect a peace held together by the blood of his friends, for a people so ready to degrade the heroic names of his comrades?

-Ubel Blatt is a deep story, despite its action packed nature. Its dark, bloody and vengeful as it chronicles one man’s struggles to make sense of the new world he has been reborn into, at a time when an ancient technologically advanced enemy he once gave his all to defeat has re-emerged.

The manga is surprisingly character oriented; i say surprisingly because the one criticism i would aim its way is the scarce use it makes of its secondary characters, those strays that attach themselves to Ascherit, look beyond this title of ‘king killer’ the most hated man in the world, and appreciate the hero within.

As interesting as some of the back stories get, the story does little to infuse new characters into the intricacies of the primary plot. Sure they are assigned objectives and purposes to accomplish in the story, yet always feel somewhat distant, that precluding Ato.

I have to say that she is the one character that has surprised me most; initially quite irritating, doing little more than ranting on about her hate for Ascherit, then becoming a love sick puppy that followed him everywhere, i applaud the master/apprentice relationship that they created between these two, Ascherit finally drawing out the blade master in him, lost decades ago, and taking upon himself a student. And of course Ato’s character changes positively as she becomes this intriguing monster of a swordswoman, simply grateful to be accepted by Ascherit.

But i digress, yes Ubel Blatt doesn’t fully utilize its secondary characters; yet that doesn’t take away from the masterful way it matures its primary characters, specifically Koinzel and his seven sworn enemies.

-Taking a cursory look at Koinzel it is highly likely that all you are going to see is this dark avenger, determined to achieve his vengeance no matter the cost. And the series seems to suggest just as much initially. Yet as the story progresses, it is surprising the amount of growth Koinzel undergoes, especially in his personality, this being a character that appeared in the manga already moulded to execute his task.

The story does a brilliant job of showing his softer side; yes he is vengeful and yes he cuts his opponents up into little bloody pieces with little remorse. His hate for his seven sworn enemies is ostensible, yet so is his adoration.

He might have tasted betrayal of the worst kind at their hands, but as the story progresses, we are treated to a number of flash backs that detail Koinzel’s life as a gifted kid and the friendship he shared with all his comrades.

Indeed one of the most touching scenes in the manga is when Koinzel has his blade pointed at the head of an enemy he has been chasing down for the past few chapters (I won’t say who, spoilers) and yet he hesitates. This is a man that has, over ten or so chapters, descended into madness, committing atrocities on a massive scale, that man that so gleefully brought his blade down against Koinzel.

And yet as the man mumbles to himself, lost in insanity, not pleading but speaking cheerfully, chatting to Koinzel of the old days, mind having broken finally and stranded him in the past, all Koinzel can think of is that one conversation they shared on the hill, when the man shared his inner demons, his fears, the promise that he had Koinzel make to protect him in battle because he wasn’t all that powerful; basically Koinzel breaks down.

And over the course of several chapters it becomes abundantly clear that not killing his betrayers, walking away, would actually be the easier choice for Koinzel, the one he would have taken if not for the burden of the souls of his dead friends.

Really, it added a sense of tragedy to the series, that continues through out the manga, exploring the mental struggles our hero has to contend with. Which is why this manga fascinates me so, that the chaos the innocent civilians of the empire would face if he executes his vengeance doesn’t faze Koinzel, where it would other heroes and anti heroes. Yet the memories of his former friends is enough to pause his blade.

-Not that the series is all about brooding and questioning; Ubel Blatt is action packed, immensely, the action scenes accentuated Atoroji Shiono’s amazing art.

Sure the character designs are considerably generic, yet the background scenes are quite detailed, the action scenes fluid, violent, eye catching and strangely intriguing.

-Though no where else does the manga shine as it does during its war, which the series has a considerable number of. It isn’t just the scale…well actually it is the scale, because the manga has a way of actually bringing the ‘'massiveness’ of everything to the page.

I hate reading manga that chronicles epic wars and battles but has to tell you so, in other words it doesn’t translate the story efficiently to its panels. Ubel Blatt is brilliant in presenting the chaos of battle and war, of magic, of raging armies on horse backs and dragons, of super powered yet somewhat antiquated ships taking to the air; and the way the scenes allow the war to move, allowing readers to take in the entire picture of what is happening rather than simply honing in on the main characters; the current of battle and destruction just comes to life in its pages…Ubel Blatt is simply brilliant.

Yet that doesn’t make the series any less brilliant in the area of duels, that bout between Koinzel (i hate that name) and Ikfes proving to be one of the best i have seen in manga.

-You will literally find yourself at the edge of your seat as you read this manga, because Ubel Blatt is fast paced and fast moving, dragging you along epic chases and hard hitting sword duels, allowing you to feel each sword stroke and death cry. It is a manga worth the respect its receiving from the French, Ubel Blatt being one of the best selling manga is France.

-I should point out that this is a Seinin, which means it is quite graphic, be it with the violence, the gore, nudity and sex scenes.

-The series can get quite dark and has unsurprisingly few light moments; it can be quite tragic and quite moving, specifically with the drama between the many characters, though the focus lies primarily with Koinzel, the mystery of his rebirth, black swords and moon elf body.

RATING: 10/10, Ubel Blatt is one of the very best manga i have read this year; and it kind of sucks that it’s that good, because it is monthly, which i dislike, having released barely 5 or 6 chapters this year for whatever reason.

The idea of waiting for this story to progress irks me. But i will wait. If you like Seinin, specifically medieval styled stories, then this is the manga for you. Ubel Blatt, which has a lot of German themes with regards to name and designs, exists within the mould of series like Berserk and Vinland Saga.

HIGHLIGHTS: Ascheritt Vs. Ikfres, The war of the heroes arc, Balestar, Glenn…

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I want to say that this arc has made a pretty interesting come back, but Noblesse has never truly been off its game, always delivering fast paced chapters, beautifully drawn chapters week in and week out.
However these two chapters were impressive even by Noblesse’ high standards, infusing action with subtle amounts of drama.

THE PLOT:>

Frankenstein and the ninth argue about Frank’s sins, who denies ever having committed atrocities on the level of the Union, instead using his own body to execute his experiments, the purpose of which was to save guard humanity rather than gift them with power as the Union had done.
Frankenstein hands dark spear over to the ninth and it consumes him. The kertia clan leader’s battle continues, both combatants making little headway, until an unnatural phenomenon turns all attention towards the mountains.
Roctis and Rai do battle; Frankenstein arrives but Rai rejects his help, instead assigning him the task of protecting the children. Roctis observes how much weaker Rai is, offering him a way out, to leave his daughter alone and live his life out in peace.
Rai transforms and kills Roctis, allowing him a few last words of remorse.

MY REVIEW:>
Wow, as far as crazy power levels and awesome supernatural displays go Rai never ceases to amaze me, that storm of blood tornados descending from a dark sky proving to be one of the most amazing displays we have seen Rai perform.
Both chapters were largely action oriented, taking steps to bring to a close all on going battles and bringing to the attention of the Union the presence and existence of the Noblesse and the crazy sort of power they are facing.
Truth be told i actually thought Rai might not survive the fight against Roctis; and the final scenes reveal to us just how greatly weakened his body has become. While Roctis is probably the most powerful noble among the enemy forces left that could
have challenged Frankenstein, it doesn’t look like Rai’s forces are in any better shape, there own nobles largely defeated and Rai, their Deux Ex Machina, clearly unable to exert himself on the same level as before.
I was somewhat surprised by how Frankenstein ended his battle with the ninth elder, allowing the spear to consume him-i actually entertained the idea that he might be intending to hand the powerful soul weapon over; he managed to somewhat redeem himself for his past sins, at least in my eyes, as i always viewed the old Frankenstein as nothing more than a monster sacrificing millions in the name of acquiring power.
In these chapters he pretty much explained his position, the sacrifices he made to safeguard mankind and the reasons that forced him to betray man kind.
All in all interesting material, pretty dramatic, especially Roctis’s send off, dramatic and sad, the remorse he displayed for betraying his master, yet unwilling to allow his daughter to face death for the heinous crimes she has continued to commit.

RATING: 5/5, couldn’t have been anything less for these two perfect chapters. I can’t be the only one that think Ignes is undeserving of the sacrifices her father has made for her. Blindness suits her. Rai has never seemed sadder or more tragic than he did in these chapters, like a parent forced to kill those children he was assigned to guide and protect for sins they felt forced to commit.
It’s worth noting that he doesn’t punish them for the betrayal they committed against him-and indeed seems to have forgiven them-but for atrocities committed against humanity.

HIGHLIGHTS: Rai’s transformation, Frankenstein. The art in these chapters was amazing.
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I wanted to babble on about what a year this has been but truth be told i would be lying if i said i remembered most of what happened in these 12 months, with regards to anime and manga that is.

It took me a while to realise that at the beginning of this year the otaku realm was raving about how big of a hit psycho pass would be; now i barely remember its existence in light of the many series that have emerged as the months have progressed.

Anyway, i thought it would be a novel idea to sit down and critically analyze the year 2013 in anime and manga, but not through that most general of lenses that is ‘best anime and/manga’, instead delineating the best of manga and anime this year into some of its finer points; and because no anime or manga would be worth the hype or loath it attracts without that most important of elements that is the villain, I thought I would kick this little 2013 anime and manga ‘best of’ series off by looking at the best villains anime and manga has produced this year.

So here goes:

1. Uchiha god Madara (Naruto)

Madara Uchiha has somehow managed to reign as total bad ass, not only in the Naruto anime but the manga as well, his initial appearance in the anime, his utter decimation of the shinobi alliance only surpassed by the madness he has unleashed in the manga, his conflict with the kages and consistent ability to bring absolute destruction upon the Naruto world

2. Don Quixotte Doflamingo (One Piece)

it is disturbing to see just how far Doflamingo has come in One piece this year, this initially unimportant warlord some how breaking into the upper echelons of the pirate world as a true threat. No doubt one piece's run this year wouldn't have been the ride it has turned out to be if not for the revelations made regarding Doflamingo.

3. Shogo Makishima (Psycho Pass)

Looking back on it Psycho pass was basically the Kogami/Makishima story, and why wouldn’t it be, these two proving to be some of the most brilliant minds in the series. The reason the show reached its great heights was because of how well the Makishima/Kogami dynamic played out; and the reason this relationship played out so well was because of how devious and down right psychopathic Makishima could be, basically a virus in the perfect system of the Psycho pass world.

4. Juha bach (Bleach)

Juha bach is nothing less than the man credited for bringing soul society to its knees and murdering the man that had led it through the last millennium; and this year he cemented his determination to bring this ancient enemy of his people to its knees by launching an all out assault against the remnants of soul society. Truth be told though, i am crediting Juha bach for the actions he executed last year, as he has been largely unimportant to bleach in 2013. Normally he should have featured at the very bottom of the list, but you do not kill yamamoto Genryusai everyday.

5. Rachel (Tower of God)

There is something about the innocent nature of this character that makes her so damn unlikable; playing the desperate damsel in the early portions of the series, Rachel stands above all the villainous entities we have seen emerge on the scene in Tower of God this year, the woman that took Baam’s heart, ripped it out of his chest, crushed it, pushed the bits back in and did it again, inflicting immense amounts of hurt to her greatest proponent.

I don’t know if i can call Rachel devious; i don’t know if that word fully encompasses how manic she has proven herself to be in the manhwa this year. On the plus side though, she gave us the awesome Viole.

6. Orochimaru (Naruto)

Orochimaru is...well, Orochimaru, the original Naruto devil, his reemergence onto the scene at the beginning of this year not only shaking the structure of events in the Naruto world, but portending great things to come. As a source of great turmoil for Naruto Uzumaki one can only ponder at what his next move will be, following his efforts in resolving the Madara incident.

7. 9arts dragon (The Beaker: New Waves)

Maybe i am jumping the gun here, and maybe Nine arts hasn't yet struck villain status; and truth be told i hope this hero of the first Breaker series never turns to the dark side; but things aren't looking too good for him, especially with all the violence that has been been committed in his name. Whatever the case nine arts is the ultimate good guy turned evil character this year, and i expect events to take an explosive turn in 2014 now that he has chosen to finally come to the fro and take Seoul.

8. Hisoka (HunterXHunter)

Hisoka has been a part of the HunterXHunter world from the beginning; yet despite his early appearance, Hisoka has managed to hold his own against more recent villains more powerful villains as a truly despicable member of the HXH world; or maybe despicable isn’t quite the world to describe him. Creepy maybe…yes, creepy, disturbing, sometimes gross, but in a good way, the sort of manner villains are expected to present.

9. Chrollo Lucifer/Phantom troupe (HunterXHunter)

I don’t know if it is really possible to separate the awesomeness of the phantom troupe from Chrollo’s epicness, a villain that in truth is yet to make his mark on the HXH world, at least in my opinion, but whose presence on screen has the ability to shake the foundation of our heroes. One might go so far as to say that the phantom troupe arc was the pinnacle of the HXH anime.

10. Reiner (Attack on Titan)

The ability to infiltrate and yet remain inconspicuous to your enemy is god-sent, and Reiner did just that! Imagine walking, working, trusting the evil you so much wish to eradicate yet you’re just so blind to it.

Reiner is…well, one of SNK’s many tragedies.

Worthy mention:

-Shiro (Deadman Wonderland)- This manga didn't only have one of the more epic finales i have seen this year, it created quite a monster in shiro while also laying her bare, allowing us to explore the inner workings of her twisted mind.

Really, what allowed Shiro to shine as such a great villain this year was how tortured she seemed even as she unleashed hell against Ganta.

-Priscilla (Claymore)- Priscilla from Claymore was epic this year, especially with the revelation regarding her secrets, the nature of her power as the abyssal one with the power to create her own matter, basically making her a new kind of beast, that and the revelation about her one true weakness.

-Zephr (One Piece Film Z)- my thoughts on Film Z are somewhat skewed by how the series chose to end things, specifically the rather cliché battle between Luffy and Z at the end; none the less i liked Z as a somewhat tragic villain, wronged far too many times and taking the law into his own hands to a bring justice to the world; and his end somewhat helped cement the character in my eyes.

-Bils (Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the gods)- i liked Battle of the gods and truth be told that was largely because of Bils, a character that, though irritating initially, began to endear himself to me as the sort of villain the series hasn’t produced since the dragon ball era. More importantly they managed to avoid the clichéd ending that Film Z had with regards to the final battle between hero and villain.

And that’s it from me and this year’s list of best villains; what was your 2013 like in anime and manga? Which villains most rocked your world?

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Aah, i wish Magi would pick up the pace; set up chapters like this, as good as they might be, leave me drastically unsatisfied. I understand the necessity of setting the stage for the showdown that is inevitably going to occur, but i have been waiting to see Kouen for several chapters now.

207 was largely tame, doing little more than shedding light on the true face of Balbad, once rebellious and violent yet proud and willful, now broken, the Kou empire further degrading the state of the kingdom through its legalization of slavery. And as with every society we have encountered in the manga so far, operating under a strict caste system, cruelty has began to creep into the hearts of the people, those less than fortunate forced to bow and bend both physically and emotionally; while those wielding greater power tread upon them, proud in the strength they hold and status of their households.

IN a way this couldn’t have turned out better for Alibaba, who displayed considerable displeasure at the thought of Balbad marching forward into prosperity without the guidance of his hand. Now he can approach his future with a goal in mind; Balbad is clearly in need of him, and now he gets to play the great hero. Though i don’t see his people standing up to back his call.

After all even Hassan seemed resigned to his new post. Really whatever we might have figured before there is no denying it now, the fact that the Kou empire is indeed the villain of the story and must be stopped at all costs. The question now is what is going to happen between Alibaba and Kouen, the two finally meeting at the end.

It does irk me a bit, the amount of time spent on this portion of the arc, seeing as this was supposed to be a short detour, Alibaba stopping off to lead Kouen to the meeting place. That is what i assumed would be the primary focus of this arc, Sinbad and Kouen’s meeting. But it seems like the Balbad portion of the story still has some life left in it.

Maybe this is for the best, as Magi is largely unpredictable at this point in time. It depends on whether all these detours will pay off satisfactorily, which this series always does.

RATING: 3/5

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ANIME

1. Black Butler- i won’t lie, season 2 of this show is utter crap….okay maybe not crap, but it is proving to be quite a disappointment, more confusing than enlightening, doing little more than rehashing the structure of the first season. Here i was excited about how the series would continue after the somewhat tragic death of its lead character

RATING: 1/5, with everything i have seen in the 7 episodes i have watched, this series’ first season was its peak. It should have quite their and then. And how the heck is everyone that died in the last season suddenly back to the life?

2. Arata Kangatari- A waste of an anime as far as i am concerned, which is surprising considering how interesting the concept initially seemed, following the story of Arata, a miserable high school kid that takes the place of his double in a parallel universe. Unfortunately for him, despite taking the role of a sho, one empowered to access the power of a god sealed within an ancient weapon, the world that this modern day Arata enters is one of hostility, the Shinsho, the 13 disciples of some powerful princess, having murdered their master and pinned it on the original

Arata hours before he fled into modern day Japan.

More a story of survival than anything, Arata having to contend with the title of most hated man in a world he doesn’t know, hunted by all that live, Kangatari is a wildly disappointing series, its lead character ridiculously annoying and constantly whining, the support cast largely unoriginal, and some of the dullest fights i have seen all year.

This one mean looking Shinsho named Arachi does stand out a bit, but only in his role as a rampaging Shinsho, proving to be considerably nonsensical in his determination to seek revenge, one of those ‘i hate myself so much i must blame everyone else for my problems’ characters that anime has been prone to creating this year.

RATING: 0/5, not worth watching; this show literally has no saving elements. I was done with it once Kadokawi entered the mix, and i should have quit their and then because the finale was atrocious.

3. Asura Cryin- i have no idea why i am still watching this anime. Actually i am not, not any more, which is somewhat odd since i decided to quit at episode 8, the exact time when the Asura cryin was finally introduced, the purpose for which this show was named; it is because of how dull this how has proven, its characters too whiny for my taste, that i didn’t bother sticking around long enough to figure out what’s so special about the mech.

RATING: 1/5, again this show has some irritatingly whiny characters, especially the lead and his female ghost of a stalker, really all the females in this show irritate me, all of them so cliché it’s like i am watching every single anime i have ever come across all rolled into one.

4. Blazeblue- wow, i have no idea why so much of this year’s anime has proven to be such a disappointment. Here is where i should spend a few lines giving a brief description this show, specifically what it’s about; except i can’t. Seven episodes in i have absolutely no idea what the hell i am even watching. You have some guy with a giant sword running around, fighting anyone and everyone, almost always losing before a powerful rabbit eared lady appears to transport him to a handy doctor.

You then have all these other ambiguous characters with increasingly ambiguous powers and weapons, constantly spouting a whole load of nonsense about the past, present and future, ALWAYS MAKING ABSOLUTELY NOT EFFORT TO EXPLAIN ANY OF IT. Seriously, seven episodes in, i have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on.

RATING: –2/5, yes this anime is that infuriating, its characters all that pointless. And how is it that the main character Ragna is so feared, yet he always gets his ass kicked.

5. Senyuu- Unbelievable, this five minute episode anime is the only descent thing i have watched all week. Basically a demon lord defeated ages ago emerges to unleash his demon horde against humanity. The hero that defeated him centuries back is now dead, so it falls to his descendant to rise up and stop the demon lord. Only there are about 10,000 individuals in possession of the blood of this great hero.

All 10,000 are unleashed upon the world, with the tag hero, to fight against the Demon lord and prove themselves the one and true savior. Surely one of them is bound to succeed.

Yes, this is a comedy and a descent one, despite being so short.

RATING: 3/5.

HIGHLIGHTS: I am not particularly a fun of shoujo; which is why i surprised myself when i turned to Shinrei Tantei Yakumo for entertainment, an anime i dropped after two episodes a long while back; that is how bad the anime i watched this week has been.

MANGA

Finally, some sanity. If there is one thing that can be said about manga, its that there is always something explosive to read somewhere, and you don’t even have to look that hard.

1.Claymore- CLAYMORE IS AWESOME, and i don’t know if i have said that enough times. I only wish it would make the leap from monthly to weekly; the story would benefit greatly. I am always surprised by how much the series gets done in each chapter. The ten chapters i read this week continued the struggle between Priscilla, the ghosts and the ancient male awakened beings, these battles growing increasingly erratic with each flipped page.

And Priscilla…wow, this character is nothing short of a monster, specifically with the revelation about her true power. I always wondered how Priscilla could take so much damage, so much of her body literally torn away until only mere scraps remained, only for her to emerge stronger and victorious. These chapters finally explained it, that Priscilla didn’t regenerate as other Abyssal ones did. Rather she could create matter, and basically recreated her body each time it was destroyed, which makes that last scene, with all the ghosts, remnants of the last generation, gathered to fight her, all the more perilous.

Saying that the next chapters are going to be epic is nothing short of an understatement. We have received so much from Claymore this year, watching as awakened beings, claymores and Abyssal ones, young and old, rose and fell in quick succession. Even the destroyer finally fell this year. Now only Priscilla still stands; and with the results of this battle it seems we will finally wrap this arc up, that started with Miria storming the organization. Soon we should be heading off the island. And i for one cannot wait to see the dragons.

RATING: 5/5, nothing short of brilliant. And Clarice; i appreciated the way her death was handled; always known for her status as a failed experiment, never truly merging with her yoma, the new number 47 finally found purpose, going down protecting Rabona and bringing Miata back to Sanity. It was sad, the crude nature of her death; she literally blew away, like dust. It’s been a while since we saw Clare as infuriated as she was when she arrived on the scene as Priscilla struck Raki down.

2. Ubel Blatt- Wow, that is all i can say with this manga; just wow. That is how good it has become and as i approach the finishing line, i dread reaching chapter 117, because something tells me Ubel Blatt is monthly, probably longer, and it might be a while before i come across another chapter. Not since Vinland saga have i come across a manga as thrilling as this, yet displaying such a dark and brutal tone; Ubel blatt is a riot to read, the crazy nature of its battles, its surprisingly good art (gets better with time) its absolutely warped villains and heroes.

Watching Koinzel marching down the warpath, determined to achieve his revenge despite the knowledge that it would plunge the world into darkness, the way the war of heroes has turned once great warriors into conniving villains, all the for sake of a throne allows Ubel Blatt to shine in a way few others series do. I don’t know when i stopped reading this manga for the sake of passing the time; probably when Elseria was walking through the streets of the city, trying to find hope in the possibility that her soldier’s might pull off a miracle and beat back the reinforcements of Balestar’s invading forces hours after doing the impossible and defeating the first wave; then Balestar’s new ship descended from the heavens, armed with a weapon so powerful it was laying the city to waste.

Then mere moments later the clouds parted to reveal a battalion of soldiers riding dragons, approaching the city, hell bent on wiping it off the face of the map for what the mad Balestar saw as insubordination. And all Elseria and her soldiers could do was look at the sky as there doom approached. Even Koinzel seemed somewhat outmatched.

RATING: 5/5, anyone reading this manga cannot tell they saw that big revelation at the end of Balestar’s invasion coming, because i didn’t. Also Ato was just a badass during the invasion, no longer the little runt we met several chapters back following Koinzell like a lost puppy ( i really don’t like that name, Koinzell).

3. The God of High school- I finally got back into reading this manhwa, which proved to be quite interesting following the chaos of the last arc and Jin Mori’s activation as the monkey king. This week i caught up on Jin’s story, Jin mori’s grandfather, his initial encounter with his grandson and the grand battles his team fought in the north.

I don’t know how comfortable i am with the revelation about Jin mori’s identity; it kind of makes all the coming battles a little uninteresting. We are basically dealing with a god, there is no chance of him losing; and it makes things a little bit unfair for his support cast. I like stories that allow all characters involved to undergo equal growth, or at least as equal as can be; not dragon ball Z type situations where Goku keeps climbing to the stars while the likes of Krillin vegetate in the background.

RATING: 4/5, i learned what we have all always known,that Jin Tae is an awesome monster of a Taekwondo master. And now we know he cut his own arm off.

4 Tower of God- Another manhwa i had taken a break from, but which i managed to slip back into with little hassle, the story continuing to progress along the tournament theme, Viole struggling to balance keeping the Fug happy while trying to keep his friends safe from his new friends’ rather manic manner of doing things, all the while still trying to hide the fact that he is indeed alive.

While i like Tower of God it can get a bit convoluted, specifically the structure of its tournaments, and the rather strange rules that govern them.

RATING: 4/5, i really cannot wait for Viole/Baam and Rachel to meet. Someone needs to bury that girl.

5. Noblesse- Little happened in Noblesse this week, though that didn’t make it any less entertaining. Frankenstein and Elder 9 are going at it. And the werewolves have entered the action. Frankenstein has a way of making every scene he appears in that much more interesting to follow.

RATING: 4/5

6. Magi: The Labyrinth of magic- it took a while but we are finally in Balbadd, and i for one cannot wait for Kouen to enter the picture. I am curious to learn of the Kou emperor’s intentions. I say Kou emperor but it is his mother who’s in charge last time i checked; we are yet to find out what happened in the empire after father was defeated. Did the queen mother, also a magi from Solomon’s era retreat with Al Tharmen, or is she still lurking around, using the empire and its power to meet the needs of her master.

Whatever she is up to, i suspect hakuryuu will be striking soon, and with a vengeance, seeing as he now has possession of all the dark rukh unleashed during the battle.

RATING: 4/5

7.Beelzebub- I initially thought we had come to the end of this arc, Oga finally finding Iris, Beel’s mom explaining the cause of her actions against the underworld, the spat she had with her husband, the actions the demon king took in response to his wife’s departure-sending their son to destroy the world- and Iris’ actions in using the Solomon Company to prevent her husband’s intentions.

Thinking about it though, just because the reaper was defeated doesn’t mean the company will let Iris go; only she can control the deadly sins, which makes her vital to their plans. The question is where Oga is going to go next, having given Beel back to Iris in those heartwarming last few pages. A delinquent without a demon is just a thug these days in Ishiyama, which counts him out of the upcoming chaos, the battles for the fate of the underworld.

RATING: 4/5, decent chapter; i loved seeing baby Beel’s rage when his mother was struck down. When are we going to explore the Fuji storyline? They have spent too much time talking about him. I want to see him now.

I am still considerably skeptical about fairy tail, so much so that i cannot bring myself to fall into the trap of getting excited about this week’s set up chapter. Maybe it is too early to despair though; i mean Erza rarely disappoints, and with MiraJane in the mix, Hiro is going to have to try really hard to disappoint me.

HIGHLIGHTS: All of you Raki haters cannot tell me you didn’t stand up to cheer when this runt actually stood his ground against Priscilla, a monster than many an awakened being had fled from. And Clare’s expression upon arriving was priceless. If Raki dies Clare is done for, because i don’t think anyone will stop her from awakening and losing herself in her lust for revenge.

That Ubel Blatt revelation about Glen shocked me; i can’t even begin to figure out how he pulled that off. Then again from what we have seen so far, he is the only level headed hero left around. The battle between Koinzel and his unknowing successor was awesome, especially when the young lad finally successfully unleashed the black wing against Koinzell, who couldn’t help but be proud, like he was fulfilling his promise to an old friend. The tale about the lances of betrayal has to be the saddest thing i have read in manga this year.

Anyway my week in manga was pretty exciting, not so much with regards to anime. What was yours like?

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