katmic (Level 10)

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I didn’t think it was possible to get any more excited about Nanatsu no Taizai; until this chapter came out.

At this exact point in time, I couldn’t tell you were this manga is going; it would be impossible to guess. Nothing in chapter 113 went the direction I was expecting.

Am not even sure what to make of that final panel; I mean, you have to commend the foreshadowing the mangaka has masterfully done since the beginning of Nanatsu no Taizai.

+THE CHAPTER:

Meliodas moves to take control of his subordinates. The Ten Commandments discover the ruins of Meliodas’ past.

+MY THOUGHTS:

Holy cra…What does it all mean? And it isn’t just Meliodas. All those posters do not quite look like the seven deadly sins themselves.

Which can only mean one of two things, at least as far as I can see:

-Demons: The seven deadly sins are demons; yes, Gowther said something about how every member of the Sins is something else not quite human, meaning fairy (king), giant (Diane) and the rest.

But maybe there is a demonic connection. What if the sins have some sort of demonic split personality or some other situation similar to what happened to the primary protagonist of Samurai Deeper Kyo.

Better yet, Meliodas said something about a king; maybe they are the different aspects of this demon king, the seven deadly sins of an underworld ruler, separated from their host; it cannot be a coincidence that the sins do not look quite like what everyone else remembers.

-Imposters: we know the sins were banished for committing some sort of treasonous act, that even Merlin was moved to act against them. And the initial assumption was that she betrayed them somehow by siding with Hendricksen; unless there is truth in the accusations of treason, only it wasn't the Sins who were responsible; which would explain Merlin’s reasons to act against…

No, none of those explanations make sense if you think about them hard enough. But if it was that easy to figure out where Nanatsu no Taiza was going, it wouldn’t be the great manga it is today.

And I don’t think the mangaka has ever inserted so much mystery and intrigue before; it actually reminds me of Fairy Tail in some sense.

Hiro has a talent for set up; but I think Nanatsu’s payoff will be something worth writing home about.

There was a point in time, a few years back, when Witch Hunter could do no wrong; where the manhwa’s story arcs seemed to only escalate with each new month, each time seemingly approaching a boiling point but always promising more; more action, more mystery, more character development.

Except that the Manhwa hasn’t been that great for a while; not terrible but not great. Why? Because Witch Hunter’s writer pretty much admitted that he makes things up as he goes. It was only rational that things would eventually fall apart and the payoffs and revelations would fail to meet expectations.

The only way Nanatsu No Taizai can exceed its current greatness is if the mangaka actually has a plan in mind.

RATING: 10/10. I have to admit, I actually forget about the Gowther stuff; and that first half of the manga actually had me hooked, especially with the way events turned out (completely the opposite of what I expected). Until we switched to the demons and I completely forgot about him.

Yet, after re-reading the chapter, it is difficult to not marvel at the character of Gowther: what the hell is up with this guy? I cannot begin to comprehend him.

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The first Shoujo I ever knowingly watched or read (and I have encountered a lot of shoujo anime that were advertised as something totally different) was ‘A Silent Voice’.

It was a manga (there might be an anime adaptation, am not quite certain) and it was brilliant. That was just a few months back. And in that regard, calling Soredomo Sekai Wa Utsukushii the second best Shoujo I have ever read wouldn’t mean much, seeing as I haven’t exactly watched or read many Shoujo.

Edit:
Scratch that, ‘A Silent Voice’ was technically Slice of Life, which is something completely different, making the manga only the second best slice of life anime/manga I have ever encountered, the first being ‘Bunny Drop’.

+THE PLOT:
Nike, the fourth princess of the Rain Dukedom and one who holds the power to call forth the rain, travels to the Sun Kingdom to marry Sun King Livius for her country, despite her own reluctance.

She soon discovers that the King, who conquered the world in only three years after his ascendance to the throne, is still a child! Furthermore, for trivial reasons, he has demanded that Nike call forth the rain...?!

+MY REVIEW:

Okay, now I can’t tell if Soredomo Sekai is Shoujo or Slice of Life.

Wikipedia lists the anime as Supernatural/Romance, but I have watched numerous anime that could be listed under that category and they were nothing like Soredomo Sekai.

If it is Shoujo, then it would be my third, the second being Kokoro Connect…

Which is actually Slice of Life, Right?

I give up on trying to make sense of this.

Shoujo, Slice of Life, Romance whatever, Soredomo Sekai Wa Utsukushii (roughly translating as ‘The World is Still Beautiful’) is an anime worth respecting for stringing together what not only attempts to warm the heart but actually entertains. And in that regard I would throw it into the same category as Bunny Drop.

The anime avoids the trappings that tend to irritate me about so many Shoujo and Slice of life titles: the cyclical, often repetitive conversations, cliché and often overly dramatic characters, silly stakes that are over exaggerated for the sake drama, pointless conflicts driven by very convenient miscommunication…

The list is quite long. Any anime whose plot is driven by the fact that, for some unexplained reason, two people couldn’t seat down long enough to exchange one or two critical pieces of information irks me.

Soredomo Sekai is focused; right off the Bat, you understand who character ‘A’ is, why he or she was introduced to the story and the role they will play in relation to a character ‘B’ whose role in the story is also clearly defined.

The result is a tightly written story, where every episode attempts to somewhat achieve a modicum of character development, even while pushing the story forward.

The lack of filler material helps (and by filler material I mean those Beach/camp/birthday party episodes whose relevance I simply cannot compute).

No one could call this anime perfect; yet it is refreshing to watch 12 episodes of a series that understands its destination and strives to reach it from the beginning, without any unnecessary detours.

And if there are any particular elements that deserve special attention for transforming Soredomo Sekai into a truly praise worthy series, it would have to be the two primary protagonists:

-Nike
My initial definition of a great female character was an individual of significant power, and one who played a significant role in the progression of a given anime, an example here being Erza from Fairy Tail.

After reconsidering this issue though, I came to relate the title of ‘great female character’ with relevance rather than power; and the perfect pictures of this argument would be Lucy from Fairy Tail and Elizabeth from Seven Deadly Sins.

The fact that I almost detest Lucy in comparison to my more favorable opinion of Elizabeth comes down to the fact that Lucy is so much stronger than Elizabeth, and yet could be referred to as being largely irrelevant to her manga’s story.

It is one thing for Elizabeth to continuously play the damsel in distress role; she has no discernable offensive abilities; not so with someone like Lucy whose relevance to the story is often shelved in favor of providing Natsu with an object to run after and save.

Nike is great as a female character; not particularly powerful in any noteworthy sense or even clever, yet playing an essential role to the show’s progression with each and every appearance.

Nike often shines best when juxtaposed against Livius, the primary male protagonist, and yet she could easily carry her own show. Her exploits, often driven by her curiosity, are that amusing to follow.

More importantly, at no point in time is she reduced to the object of Livius protection, a wimpy figure that he must defend and continuously save from unending dangers. Her role in solving her own predicaments is clear and difficult to ignore.

Simply put, she’s relevant, energetic and humorous, this despite the fact that she spends a considerable portion of the series singing this one song that quickly begun to irritate me.

-Livius
Livius is essentially Ciel from Black Butler; a young man that, following the difficulties and tragedies of his younger days, steels his soul and transforms into a ruthless yet highly resourceful individual, boasting an intelligent mind capable of contending with and overwhelming much older foes.

In essence, Ciel and Livius, both smarter than their elders and unmoved by cries of mercy, mirror each other perfectly; the difference, however, lies in the fact that Livius is a child.

That isn’t to say that Black Butler's Ciel is particularly aged in comparison with Livius; yet he is constructed to present an image far different from his years, a child with the wisdom and will of an ancient man.

Not so with Livius; and it was refreshing to watch the character periodically break his visage of all knowing king to reveal the child beneath, barely in his teens, unable to cope with the vast world outside his cruel walls.

Livius’ character stands on far more stable ground than Ciel, though; from the very first episode, his superiority is never in doubt. And neither is the fact that, even with a never ending horde of enemies, covert and overt, at his door, Livius would always triumph.

Given time, his reign over the entire world would have lasted until his old age; in that regard, Nike isn’t the rain witch whose role it is to save him and his kingdom from certain doom.

Rather Nike strives to show Livius the gentler side of life, and to open the doorway to a rule that doesn’t rely on fear and force to impose order, within which mercy and grace can do more to wound an enemy than any sword.

In that regard the primary attraction of the anime is the transformation the series allows its audience to witness in its male protagonist, specifically the manner in which Nike shows the little boy that a light touch can avail victory every bit as effectively as a heavy hand.

It’s all basically heartwarming stuff; and the fact that it never forces you to sympathize with its heroes is commendable. Too many shows spend way too much time beating audiences over the head with how sad their characters lives are. It can get annoying.

Soredomo Sekai uses a lighter and vastly superior approach to deliver the tragedies of its characters, enough for you to empathize with Livius, but without losing patience.

-It would be unfair to credit the success of this anime solely to Livius and Nike; true, the majority of Soredomo Sekai’s supporting cast has a tendency to disappear into the background, only ever proving worth watching in the presence of either Nike or Livius.

Yet a few stood out, like Niel and (especially) Nike’s sisters and parents. It wouldn’t be an over exaggeration to say that Soredomo Sekai had so much more to offer than its 12 episodes. Though, maybe its short run was for the best. The longer most series run, the greater the chances that they will spiral out of control onto a path that is less than attractive.

+Verdict
The one negative aspect of Soredomo Sekai, at least in my eyes, has to be the relationship that eventually bloomed between Livius and Nike; specifically their age differences.

It could argued that Nike is hardly old enough for their relationship to be referred to as creepy. And it is true that their age difference is no more than a few years but…

The exact age gap between them isn’t exactly the point; large or small, the one fact you cannot get away from is that Livius is a child, no more than 12 or 13, this in comparison to Nike who has to be approaching 17 or even 18.

The entire situation is…well, odd. But this is Japan we are talking about, so, maybe it makes sense in that particular part of the world.

Soredomo Sekai isn’t the sort of anime you take seriously, and that isn’t a bad thing. It’s the sort of series that not only passes a few pleasant hours but which shall most likely make you smile.

The show’s entire run is almost perfectly consistent, with a steady pace, noticeable character development, decent thrills…

Until the end. I don’t think I have ever encountered a season finale in anime as clichéd and dumb as the 12th episode of Soredomo Sekai.

And It wasn’t just boring; that final scene, no, those final 60 seconds were, to an extent, horrible. And while it doesn’t quite ruin the series for me, it is difficult to believe how terribly the anime’s finale was handled.

And that whole horse thing…cheesy doesn’t even begin to cover it.

+RATING: 7/10. Soredomo Sekai Wa Utsukushii is actually based on an ongoing Japanese manga by Dai Shiina; beginning publication in 2012, the manga only has seven volumes published. I have no intention of actually reading the manga but I wouldn’t mind a second season.

Soredomo Sekai Wa Utsukushi isn’t Hajime no Ippo; Hajime no Ippo changed my outlook on sports anime and convinced me to give the genre a decent chance. I would be lying if I said Soredomo Sekai changed my mind on shoujo/slice of life anime.

If I wasn’t in a place where I preferred to go into anime blind, simply watching a series without looking at any images, trailers or first reading the synopsis/story premise, it is doubtful I would have taken a chance on Soredomo Sekai. That doesn’t make it any less impressive, though.
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I am somewhat ambivalent on chapter 28 of Boku No Hero ; this chapter felt both fast paced and slow at the same time, which equals to more bad than good.

+THE CHAPTER:
Team Midoriya stands at the center of the second stage of the tournament; surrounded by enemies, Midoriya struggles to counter an increasingly determined threat.

+MY THOUGHTS:
There are parts of this chapter that seemed like they were about to explode; it was unpredictable enough, and yet chapter 28 felt a little slow, mostly because it kept skipping about, from Midoriya’s battles to everyone else.

-The Good.
As much love as Class 1-A might be getting, it was interesting to note how lacking they were in terms of strategy, especially when it was revealed that their overwhelming lead in the first stage was little more than a tactic deployed by their comrades from the other classes to determine the extent of their abilities.

It is a trap that seems to be paying off, with Class 1-A essentially falling to the superiority of enemies that have more or less figured out their limits and weaknesses.

All that this has done is to open the way for a heated conflict with our hero; while initially facing a group of fairly talented but somewhat amateur students, the  chapter ends with Midoriya standing up to a wholly superior horde of enemies, many of them strategic in their approach and far more dangerous than any Class 1-A hero.

Which, I guess, should make for an impressive Melee next week; to an extent Midoriya still holds most of the cards. Consider the fact that he did everything in his power to survive on nothing but his wits during stage 1.

That means his quirk remains hidden from all but Class 1-A’s bumbling students; more importantly, Midoriya’s team is pretty diverse, considering Hatsumi’s unpredictability and Tokoyomi’s Gaara-like defense.

All in all, only Todoroki poses any real threat to him now.

+The Bad.
The chapter told us how underwhelming Class 1-A’s performance was so far in stage 2; it however didn’t show us anything. In fact, considering how much of the chapter was spent on Midoriya’s defense against the various assaults, it is surprising how very little happened.

We could have been shown a little more of these new heroes from the other classes actually dominating; maybe the mangaka was going for a surprise revelation by suddenly showing us the contents of the ratings table, but it wasn’t much of a shock, considering how much time was spent on Midoriya’s defense.

Simply put, the rest of Class 1-A’s performance didn’t really receive enough attention for their defeat to matter that much; and at chapter 28 I think the only victory or loss anyone cares about is Midoriya’s.

So, yeah, a bit of a waste.

RATING: 5/10, the chapter wasn’t boring per say, but it wasn’t particularly exciting either.

-HERO OF THE WEEK: Mineta. His abilities proved useful for only one moment ( a single panel) during the entire chapter, but considering how relatively irrelevant Mineta’s quirk is, that moment of usefulness was very unexpected. Mineta is that little guy you find in many manga who has no business taking part in major events. Seeing him actually prove himself useful is worth celebrating.

Team Midoriya is a  close second; their abilities compliment one another almost too perfectly. It is difficult to ignore the strategist in Midoriya.

-LOSER OF THE WEEK: Bakugou. He lost his head band a little too easily for all his boasting.
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Urgh, these Magi chapters were on their way to greatness; but that art, especially the fighting bits, things got a little too messy for my liking.

Never the less, Shinobu Ohtaka couldn’t have handled Alibaba and Hakuryuu’s confrontation any better.

+THE CHAPTERS:
Alibaba reaches out to his old friend, Hakuryuu, in an attempt to craft a peaceful accord; negotiations breakdown relatively quickly.
+MY THOUGHTS

I had no intention of touching Magi until the manga had accrued at least five chapters (I failed to consider the long break Magi took); I wasn’t particularly keen on reading the events surrounding Alibaba and Hakuryuu’s meeting.

I specifically expected Shinobu to drag this particular situation out as she had done before, with some of her characters often spending several panels speaking cyclically and basically saying the same thing over and over again.

Which isn’t what happened. You can accuse Magi of many things. But you can never accuse it of being slow paced.

+The Good.
The transitions in chapter 252 were perfectly done, specifically Alibaba and Hakuryuu’s initial meeting, Alibaba’s attempts at rekindling old bonds, the re-ignition of camaraderie that seemed to occur, only for dark Hakuryuu to emerge once more.

I don’t think any of us actually expected Hakuryuu to change sides; there is nothing Alibaba had to offer which Hakuryuu hadn’t already considered and outright rejected.

Indeed, Hakuryuu himself stated that, had they met a few weeks prior, he would have been more than willing to take Alibaba’s hand; except Alibaba wasn’t there when Hakuryuu needed him most.

And while he listened to Aladdin’s story of Alma Toran, Hakuryuu allowed Judar to sway him to the dark side; and if there was one element that primarily shined through Hakuryuu’s words, it was the fact that there could be no going back, not with Hakuryuu’s current resolve.

Shinobu cannot be commended enough for simply getting to the point of her story and throwing Hakuryuu and Alibaba against one another. 

I don’t think the outcome is particularly unpredictable though; Aladdin stands a decent chance against Judar, considering what we all know he is capable of (this not taking into account his connection to Solomon’s Wisdom).

Alibaba, on the other hand, isn’t coming out of this fight in one piece; we haven’t seen anything to suggest that Alibaba has anything close to the power Hakuryuu has displayed thus far.

+The Bad.
Alibaba has never been the most impressive of heroes in Magi, and these two chapters did nothing to improve his image; there are idealistic characters in shonen manga that often strive to change the world into an image they believe meets the criteria of justice and righteousness.

And am not sure if that is the personality Shinobu was trying to craft in him, but Alibaba came off as irritatingly uncertain and indecisive.

Which only made it that much more difficult to support his position; at the present, Alibaba is simply too weak willed as a hero, and no matter what Aladdin might say, it is difficult to buy the idea that he might be the Magi universe’ only hope.

RATING: 6/10. These two Magi chapters were thrilling primarily because it was impossible to predict the turn events were likely to take with each new page. However the art didn’t help things and some of the battle oriented panels were simply too messy to make any sense.
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Wow, that escalated quickly. We’ve had a few surprising changes in the plot during Nanatsu no Taizai's one hundred chapter run, yet chapter 112 produced what might be the first true twist in the manga, at least character wise.

+THE CHAPTER:
Gowther’s search for love throws him into conflict with Diane.
+MY THOUGHTS:

Yeah, No, I really didn’t see that coming.

This entire chapter was a thrilling read. Why? Well, because I expected this ruse to run on for a little longer.

Most of us probably suspected that Gowther was messing with Guila’s memories, but I didn’t think anyone would find out so quickly. 

More importantly, I didn’t think Gowther would reveal the truth so easily and casually.

No, even more importantly, I didn’t think Gowther would actually do this, twist Guila and Zeal’s memories for his own somewhat warped purposes.

I was expecting one of those major shonen manga moments where Gowther would reveal his master plan to unravel Dreyfus’ treachery, or maybe mention something about being mind controlled.

I don’t know; but Gowther went full blown psycho faster than I was computing these events; then he was facing a furious Diane who, having only recently recovered her memories of King, couldn’t stomach the idea of Gowther twisting the memories of others against their will, no matter how desperate and miserable they might have been, instantly turning her rage against her comrade.

And you might wonder if Diane can actually go all out against a fellow Sin. But I don’t think that is even a valid question.

If this was King we were talking about, Meliodas, Elizabeth, Hawk, Ban even, we might see some internal conflict rising within her during this battle.

Yet I don’t think we have seen anything to suggest that Diane and Gowther where particularly close; heck, none of them knew what he looked like beneath his armor. Which sort of throws out the question of how far Diane is willing to go.

And am thinking she’s going to have to let loose; to an extent, I am almost scared for her life. Remember, we don’t really know what the hell Gowther is, or what he’s made of. And considering the damage he’s sustained and survived, and the psychotic nature of his personality, Gowther might be laying the foundations for his death in the next few chapters.

He doesn’t even need to kill Diane; he just has to put her out of commission in some way, maybe break a leg or two before immediately fleeing, because King would murder him.


RATING: 9/10. A week or two ago, this manga was buzzing with excitement about the newly awakened demons. And now Gowther’s stolen the show.
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