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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alma Toran’s war comes to a boiling head as lives are sacrificed, rage is vented and Djinn are finally born.
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.
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.
Gejutel goes crazy in Frankenstein’s kitchen. It is up to Takeo and crew to save the day.
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.
The term hiatus usually refers to a temporary break in an anime or manga’s run (though in Hunter X Hunter’s case, that is more of a semi permanent break).
Hiatuses are an appropriate element in anime, even encouraged as an acceptable substitute for filler. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Not so with manga; few elements are as irritating about manga as hiatuses; and the reason is less about the anticipation that results and more to do with the story continuation issues that arise.
When I finally sat down to read Zetman a month or two ago, following its resumption after a more than three year hiatus, the first thing I took note of was the fact that I had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on.
And it took a few chapters and several guesses to find my place within the story and even that is an assumption on part. Chances are I only think I know what is happening.
It is probably for this reason that I can find some excitement over Otogi Matsuri’s return; it hasn’t even been more than a year since I caught up to its 66 chapters, and that was less than two months after it went on its break.
No, not excited; I am ecstatic about Otogi Matsuri’s return; and if you have read the manga then it should be clear the reason for the surprise. Dark offering, as it translates, couldn’t be more typical as far as shonen is considered.
If you wish to encounter true shonen in its raw essence, then look no further than Otogi Matsuri, a story that doesn’t even try to do anything really that new or different, but which more than exceeds at doing the same old thing better than most.
Yousuke is your average high school student, living peacefully in the town of Miyakono, until he accidentally breaks a shrine belonging to the Guardian of the South, the phoenix. He then unwillingly sacrifices his future, in return gaining the bow of the Suzaku. Now, to regain his life energy and protect the innocent people of Miyakono, he must battle against monsters called the Kenzoku using his new found power.
If I were to use visual relations, I would compare Noblesse to a hand glider descending over verdant lands; most other manga and Manhwa are content to simply show us the glider, mostly from above but sometimes sneaking a shot from below.
Noblesse places you in the driver’s seat, allows you to almost feel the sensation of traversing through the air, the world blurring about you, the wind whipping your face silly.
Otogi Matsuri is keen to bring to your senses the impact of a devastating collision, its art that clean and striking in portraying what is a rather chaotic and disturbing world.
As mentioned above, Dark Offering doesn’t try to do anything overtly different; you have a fairly typical ancient betrayal turning into an ancient grudge morphing into an ancient evil that was then sealed away by four guardians.
Powerful guardians taking familiar forms such as Byakko, Suzaku, Seiryu and the like; and as would be expected, a fault in the seal, a threat regarding the Rukujou clan’s return and their bereaved, vengeful and somewhat justified rage makes for a union of four heroes who will sacrifice greatly to the four guardians to wield their power, standing to fight the approaching evil.
Okay, the element of sacrifice makes for surprisingly riveting reading, at least with regards to the depths of drama it sometimes infuses. But again far from riveting stuff.
Where Dark Offering manages to stand apart though is the way in which it actually tales its typical shonen story.
And this somewhat harks back to Gamaran; the manga wasn’t always the riveting samurai epic I perceive it to be today; and even after coming to an end, i wouldn’t place Gamaran within the same ranking as greats such as Samurai X.
Yet Gamaran managed to reach such incredible heights of entertainment because of its thrilling approach to the story.
MINOR SPOLIERS AHEAD: Considering its weak beginning i was surprised to find myself hooked to Gamaran within the first 15 chapters. The manga made efforts to create the setting for the core of its clashes in crafting the tournament that would choose the next great leader of the demon’s haunt.
And my expectations weren’t particularly out of this world; of course Gama would descend to the city as champion warrior to a leader in the making; of course he would briefly encounter many powerful foes. The final battles would approach steadily, Gama cutting his way through various unique enemies to achieve easy victory.
Admittedly the manga did a great job in stoking my expectations shortly after that. The opponents were more than strong. They were intimidating. And this wouldn’t be an all out brawl between the best of the best.
Rather the tournament intended to pit entire schools against one another; that allowed a sense of strategy to enter the equation as different schools began planning about who would fight who, when and how in a battle that would constitute multiple rounds, and in which victory would come to those schools that maintained the strength of their greatest fighters until the final round.
Immediately things were falling into a strange place because Gama’s school had long since lost its student save for one; Gama couldn’t possibly challenge entire schools in combat over a period of several rounds. And while my initial assumptions created images of our Hero obliterating entire schools per afternoon to get to their leaders, the manga had already proven mere chapters earlier that Gama was barely of equal skill to some of the lower ranked members of various schools.
This wasn’t a fair fight by any means; and certainly I was expecting Gama’s supernatural power up to come in future arcs, when we would learn of his demon half and whatnot. None the less I was on the edge of my seat with regards to the events to come.
Then we met the first school that would contend with out young hero, watched them plan their strategy, walk out the door to prepare for their oncoming challenge only to meet Gama, on their front porch, waiting, already on the offense.
This wasn’t a kid boasting of so much confidence as to walk into enemy territory on his own; Gama understood his own short comings and executed a rather flawed plan that, in catching his opponents by total surprise, would allow him to cut his enemy’s three top students down in a single move, immediately leveling the playing field and allowing him a chance to catch a win before the first round went underway and gravely turned the tide against him.
It was in those few pages that I went ‘Whooooooooooa’; that surprise, the understanding that Gamaran not only presented very grounded situations but avoided easy solutions to them. It was always refreshing knowing that Gama had a killer move in his pocket, one that could finish a difficult fight immediately, but which he couldn’t unleash due to a wounded ankle, bleeding stomach or whatever was impairing his physical abilities, forcing him to utilize less than effective skills and basic cunning to overcome.
This as opposed to all those Bleach conflicts that see the hero unleash an all powerful strike after two hours of health crippling punishment.
That is what this manga brings to table; if it must take you down a familiar road with familiar attractions, then it is going to blast through at 300MPH, making certain that you still get a kick out of it.
That is Otogi Matsuri in a nutshell; it doesn’t surprise as much as thrill. The story is slow at the start and doesn’t pick up until the supernatural elements begin to bleed into the public domain. I personally didn’t really get into it until 30 chapters in, during the so called Madara arc.
And thinking about, that was just about a giant rampaging snake; basically Anakonda but with intelligence. Yet it managed to ramp up the chaos to a point where excitement had to be my only reaction.
Otogi Matsuri fails miserably in the character section; take its cast out of the explosive nature of the Otogi Matsuri story and they aren’t really worth the attention.
Yousuke couldn’t be more cliché as far as shonen heroes are concerned; standing at the head of his crew, ready to sacrifice himself even while irritating voices moan about his selflessness.
And let’s not even bother with his school life, which is not only very reminiscent of Ichigo and Bleach but receives way too much unnecessary attention considering how irrelevant it is to the story.
Of course Yousuke is going to have to make awkward excuses to escape his friend's company to fight monsters. Of course he will have to protect his classmates from assaults occurring either as a coincidence or because of his presence even while keeping his friends oblivious of his role in the matter.
Of course their eventual discovery of his true identity will create more problems regarding his role than it actually solves; the romantic elements are a forced and badly executed element. Really, this is the reason I am not a great fan of high school settings for anime and manga stories. The plots, characters, everything is always the same; way too predictable for my tastes.
And then there is Irori, not quite your typical female heroine considering how young the master guardian wielder is. I am glad they avoided the cliché child prodigy angle, instead choosing to follow a more dramatic path with regards to Irori’s mastery over her powers.
Kenji is…a pretty intriguing character, the flaws of his past, the demons and decisions that chase him shaping the curses that make his heroic duties little more than a life threatening activity.
Thinking about it, Dark Offering’s cast is pretty decent; I mean, Enzo, the oldest of the bunch and their history teacher, has to be my favorite, especially this conniving ways, his determination to achieve victory no matter the cost, the enormous guilt he carries and the sacrifices he keeps making to keep his secrets hidden.
Okay, I am starting to think my negative perception of these characters largely comes down to Yousuke, who’s unfortunately very meh as far as main protagonists are concerned; but even Yousuke is fun to watch once the action begins.
The limitations of his Suzaku bow, restricting him to three arrows per hour means every battle, and I mean every battle, with him has to be strategic in nature. And it is a restrictions that persists throughout the various power ups, forcing this strategic approach to battle to persist through out even the most dangerous conflicts.
Okay, I have to admit; Otogi Matsuri has done more with its cast in a few 60 chapters that I was giving it credit for.
If you seen one gorgeously drawn manga or manhwa, you have seen them all. That is what I used to think. Yet even today, I encounter new series whose aesthetic offerings still manage to impress me.
Otogi Matsuri is no different; it isn’t interesting because it avails the crispiest, cleanest and sharpest images in manga, even though the panels are pretty crisp. Rather Otogi Matsuri allows its unique narration to manifest through its art.
While it took the Madara arc to truly sell Otogi Matsuri to me, my curiosity was immediately piqued following the first demonic appearance in the first chapter. And truth be told I expected gross, grotesque and twisted designs.
Yet there was something even more ridiculously disturbing about watching a giant spider with the giant head of a vicious cat scuttling down the hill side.
Every thrilling chase, explosive battle and heart rending scream somehow resonates through each panel of the manga.
It is manga like Otogi Matsuri that deserve monthly releases; their work reflects the care and time injected into providing the perfect images.
No, this isn’t the greatest action, supernatural or shonen series in the world. It most likely wouldn’t make it into my top ten. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t that good.
It doesn’t do anything new, true; but it doesn’t do anything old either. Rather it does the old and familiar in a manner more explosive than most. In a way one need not bother investing in truly unique stories when mangaka like this have the guts to take something old and make it worth the read.
RATING: 8/10, the fact that Otogi Matsuri has resumed its run, and with a whopping four chapters for my consumption, has made my week.