katmic (Level 10)

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it’s funny, as far as finales go, this was as cliché as they come, even for fairy tail. And i would have written off this chapter as having little to not particularly entertainment value, except that i stopped to think about it and realized, i am happy that this arc is finally over. I do not think Hiro has done an arc of fairy tail as long as this one before, at least not one that i can remember. Whatever this chapter’s faults, it will be good to finally move on to something else.

THE PLOT:>

Very little actually happened. last week we saw natsu smash the eclipse gate. This week, we see the consequences. All the dragons disappear. Atlas promises to remember natsu, which might say something about those Natsu look alike images in the history of Fiore that Zirconis revealed. Zirconis was christened the dragon of jade by Hisui. Future Lucy returned from the dead and back to her time line where all of her friends were alive.

Rogue disappeared but not before warning natsu about Frosch’s death in one year’s time and the shadows that are dogging present rogue’s heels.

End

MY REVIEW:>

I really do not understand what Hiro was thinking with this chapter. As far as arcs go, this one came to an end a little too fast, or rather a little too suddenly. Sure this arc had run on for a little too long, but Hiro chose to close it a little too suddenly. Plus it all seemed a little too easy.I have never been a fan of plots that have quick one move fixes to them. I liked the lesson that marvis mentioned, which was learnt on that day. All the dragon slayers had faced dragons and they had all failed to even beat a single one of them. That says a lot about where these kids are at.

Now we know that humanity stands no chance what so ever against Achnologia, which raises the stakes, because none of the dragons that took part in the war were in possession of even half of the black dragon’s power.

None the less Hiro wrapped this up a little too neatly, even for fairy tail. The description of filler is material in manga or anime that might posses some entertainment value during its run but which, at the end of it all has no particular impact on the story. So an anime might introduce a new story with a new intriguing set of characters, which might prove to be even more entertaining that the story in the manga, yet when that filler ends, it will be wrapped up in such a way that those events will seize to matter and nothing that happened within those fillers will impact the show in any way. It is like they never existed.

This is what this arc and a lot of other fairy tail arcs are starting to feel like, filler material. When a story introduces a major event that seemingly affects a large section of the world it takes place in, the purpose is to create a change, to bring about an evolution of both the characters and the plot. something usually changes and the world in which a story of a given manga takes place undergoes a transformation.

I feel like fairy tail underwent a great event with the tournament and the war and by the end of it, everything went back to normal. Basically despite the major phenomenon that occurred, Hiro could have executed massive amounts of character development, he could have used the arc as platform to change the very face of fairy tail. But he didn’t. He came so close that you could almost taste it, then he hit rewind like he always does and we went back to normal fairy tail; which is why fairy tail 300 chapters later is no different from fairy tail as we saw it in chapter 1. This series is failing to evolve.

That irritates me. I ready fairy tail because time and time again it displays the potential to go down in history as a great manga with a great story. And each time Hiro comes so close but then refuses to take the last step. My conclusion is that Hiro is incapable of executing change in his story. it feels like Hiro named his manga fairy tail and he is intent on making every ending and every situation morph into a fairy tale type happily ever after. That is not great story telling.

I am not particularly happy with future Lucy’s revival either. fairy tail can take great strides into dark places but it always retreats immediately after. I bet ultear will come back to life as well.

On a more cheerful note, i am happy that this arc is over. It wasn’t until i finished this chapter and realized that the arc was over that it dawned on me that i was happy that we were finally moving into new territory. Maybe i am just hopeful about the next adventure, that Hiro can do better. I am intrigued by the whole rogue situation. So clearly it wasn’t future rogue that sent those shadows to his past self during the tournament. Maybe it is a zeref thing. I am happy with the mystery and intrigue being created, especially with frosch, though i refuse to believe that Rogue dominated ten thousand dragons with his magic and attempted to take over the world all because his cat died (but this is fairy tail, that is more than logical reasoning for the series).

That is unimpressive as far as reasons to do evil are concerned. I will hope that Hiro creates a more convicting plot with regards to rogue’s actions.

I am willing to admit that i am excited by next week. From what i read, next week, Hiro is giving us, not one, not two, but three whole chapters in one single offering. And then the week after next week, Hiro will again avail to us not one not two but three whole chapters in a single offering; basically two 126 page servings with color in less than half the normal time.

It is an impressive feat. I have complained before that i sometimes feel like i have not gotten enough fairy tail in a single week. Now it seems like i will be getting three whole chapters at one go. As far as giving back to the fans, this is impressive. Now of course i am skeptical about what will actually be in those chapters.

This is fairy tail, so i suspect we will see the characters taking stock of their losses, moving through the damaged cities, most likely recounting everything that happened in the arc as if we didn’t already know, basically doing nothing particularly entertaining, besides giving what are supposed to be heart warming fairy tail type speeches for three whole chapters.

Then the week after next, we will see fairy tail go back home and have some sort of celebratory festival or feast, again for three whole chapters, probably with a lot of cheering and crying and fairy tail type speeches.

I know this is what will happen but i really hope it doesn’t. I really hope Hiro provides us with some interesting content in those 126 pages; from what i have heard, Hiro has been working on these six chapters since January. It is unlikely that he is actually going to draw three chapters next week and three chapters after. That is an extreme amount of work. With that much time to work, i hope for some quality material.

RATING:> 2/5; i really didn’t expect this arc to end so suddenly, but at least we can move on to another arc.

Highlights: the end of the chapter.

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This is both an interesting and disturbing question to ask, in trying to consider which of these two anime/manga characters is the greater evil. Murderous intent and nature isn’t something to be intrigued by, at least in real life human beings. Not many people would be interested in asking which of the two, Hitler and Bin Laden, is the greater evil. But when it comes to anime and manga there is a place for being intrigued by and even admiring the evil acts of fictional characters, because this is one of anime and manga’s most significant traits; its ability to make any subject, no matter how benign or dark, interesting and exciting.

Maybe its because we know that what we are watching is not real (and even if it was, it would be happening in Japan, far far away) or because anime character are designed to execute each and every act, no matter how gruesome with a great sense of flare and showmanship. The point is their is a place for appreciating just how well an fictional characters carries out his fictional actions, even if those actions are down right evil and loathsome.

With evil in anime and manga, very few acts that can trump murder, the act of taking the life of another, sometimes in the most gruesome manner and on large scales. And when it comes to anime ad manga and murder, few other characters can dare to hold a candle to Johan from Monster and Light Yagami from Death note.

It isn’t merely the fact that these two characters kill; many characters in the medium have done that and on several times greater scales that these two could dream of. It is how they kill, why they kill, basically who the characters are that determines the level of intensity involved in their murderous acts.

Sure we can be certain that Madara from Naruto has killed several hundred characters during his long life in the world, and who knows how many worlds Frieza from DBZ has laid to waste, yet their is something about watching Light, sitting in his room, writing in a little note book by candle light and laying to waste the lives of several dozens that is exhilarating. Something about such a scene transcends anything we see Lelouch do during his rampage against Britannia. I can’t explain it.

Point is, no other anime characters (that i can think of right now) personify the very essence of death wrapped in a cool handsome package the way these two. And it got me thinking, when paired up against each other, which of these would stand out as the greater evil, not only to the other but the world at large? Which of these two characters would usurp the other’s claim to the title of supposedly misunderstood evil; which would you rather move across continents to avoid living next door to?

When i considered this question, i approached it from three perspectives; their characters, comparison with the other, especially in a hostile environment and threat level to the greater world.

So, here is my argument.

Light Yagami- I have always had mixed feelings about light. I am not even sure if he is the protagonist or the antagonist. What i do know is that of the two, he stands out as the more evil. Light Yagami is basically the perfect person, handsome, intelligent, kind, charismatic, a perfect student and citizen, basically everything every one with a brain would want to be. Yet when he

fortuitously comes into contact with the death note, a tool of the shiningami, with which one can kill by simply writing the name of the person on its pages as well as specifying in great detail when and how they will died, his true colors emerge.

Deciding to play god, Light starts by ending the lives of all those that have chosen to stand their ground against justice, which in this case includes vast majority of prisoners, in the hundreds of thousands if i am not mistaken, eventually earning the attention of a team of FBI agents intent on catching and stopping his murderous antics. Soon murdering criminals is no longer enough, and Light begins a campaign of purging all those that seek to find and destroy him, the most important of which is L, a genius socially inept detective intent in revealing the identity of the serial killer.

L is no ordinary foe for Light, not only because he can match Light brain cell for brain cell but because no one knows what L’s real name is, which means, even with the most powerful weapon in the world, light can’t kill him. Thus begins their game of cat and mouse, with L trying to peel back Light’s true face while Light attempts to break through L’s barriers to reveal his true name, taking care to lay to waste any number of law enforcement agents stupid enough to set their sights on him.

Here is one of the most egregious differences between these two characters. If you have watched or read Monster, then you might be surprised by me saying that Light is actually the most evil of the two. In fact if there was such a thing as an evil meter, Light would rank miles ahead of Johan. And i say that despite of what Johan does in Monster because i wouldn’t call Johan evil.

All those terms many use to describe Light, young, misunderstood, corrupted by power, i would apply to Johan. Light is a very basic Psychopath. I would disagree with anyone that tries to suggest that the death note is primarily responsible for what Light becomes. The way i have always seen it is that the death note is just one of several things that could have set Light off. Even if that shiningami hadn’t suddenly tossed that book through the portal and Light had never found it, i believe that something else later on in life would have made him snap. Somewhere down the line i believe something would have happened,

maybe that obnoxious neighbor would have run Light’s cat down, at which point he would have gone on to feed both him and his family their own eye balls. Or maybe a manager at work would have been especially rude to him and Light would have lashed out, beginning his reign as a psychotic killer.

The fact is, if the death note hadn’t come into his life, Light would have still killed, only that he would have been reduced to a mere serial killer of no particularly extraordinary existence. After all many a serial killer have been known to possess abnormally high IQs. And death note clearly showed just how much of a genius Light was, his ability to think several steps ahead, manipulate events and people to his advantage with the express purpose of determining one or two tiny facts with which he could go on to destroy a person’s life.

None the less, despite his genius, this is where Light and Johan part ways. Despite his genius, Light was only ever extraordinary because of the death note. In other words it is unlikely that Light was the smartest person on the planet. I am certain there were several other individuals in possession of intelligence on par with Light’s own. But Light stood out only because of the death note. Without it, he would have never done any of the things he did, or achieve as much as he did on the scale that he did. Oh sure, he was smart and he would have ran rings around the FBI for a while, but in the end his most offensive capability was the death note, and without it, he would have been reduced to a somewhat impressive serial killer later on in life, who would have met his end in ordinary circumstances, probably by the hand of some random police officer putting a bullet into his head..

2.Johan- this is why i rate Johan so much higher than Light. I am not even sure if i could call Johan a genius. Oh sure he was smart, intelligent, but Light was a genius on the level of which i am not sure Johan compares. Yet Johan stands above Light for one reason, he is a master manipulator the likes of which i do not think even Light would understand. Johan is the primary antagonist of the Monster anime and manga. As a child he and his sister enter Doctor Tenma’s life as victims of a gruesome murder than claimed the lives of their foster parents. Johan had taken a bullet to the head while his sister had survived with nothing more than mental scarring.

It is Tenma’s decision to ignore his orders and choose to use his genius surgical skills to save the life of the child Johan over the chairman of the board of the hospital that begins the entire monster escapade. Johan, as it is quickly determined is no ordinary boy. He was bred to be something more, something that, once it is discovered who he is, begins to attract several figures, important in the history of Europe as well as its future in an attempt to drink from the well that is his potential. Tenma on the other hand is horrified by what he learns he has unleashed into the world, not only after learning from Johan’s sister that it was she who shot him in the forehead (on his request i might add), but that there was a reason the twins had gone through so many foster parents in so many years; none of them survived the first few months of their adopted children’s new lives.

The fact that Johan can manipulate so many people so easily sets him apart from Light. Johan himself is an enigma, to me at least in that through out the entire story we never actually realize what it is he wants and why he plays so many games with Tenma, besides the fact that the Japanese doctor saved him when he had chosen to die. There are times in the manga where it seems like all his actions are random. At the end of it all, certain truths are revealed that lead me to believe that Johan is crazy, psychotic even, but i wouldn’t really call him evil. Without giving too many spoilers away for anyone that hasn’t encountered Monster, Johan is revealed as a young man on a quest, he is searching for something that has eluded him ever since he was ripped away from his home along with his sister.

But what Johan lacks in sanity-and it is worthy pointing out that i really do think that Johan is crazy, where as Light is a perfectly sane psychopath- he makes up for in mental agility. To understand just how bad Johan is , you have to simply realize that he is indeed the monster of the story. And while that term is figurative, for there are no supernatural elements in the manga, one has to wonder, why would all those people choose to call such a handsome, kind soft spoken young man a monster.

People, scholars, soldiers, lay men, basically a very diverse crowd of people have been known to meet Johan, sometimes for mere minutes at a time and while many have proclaimed their wonder and amazement at his words and spirit, they also almost always referred to a darkness, always talking about how they felt like they had just encountered and stared into an abyss. Now if this doesn’t tell you of just how dark this character is, nothing will. The fact that bright minds would refer to this ‘revolutionary’ as a monster, even while praising him, expressing a fear like nothing they have ever felt, the kind that touched them right down to their soul, this is a powerful display of just why Johan is clearly a more dangerous adversary than Light.

No one ever referred to Light as darkness and if they inferred it, it was because he could murder them with a note book. Johan did nothing more than speak.

Through out the story, Johan kills, a lot of people in fact, some times creating one massacre after another. Yet if you were to put both light and Johan in front of a judge, Light would rot in jail for all eternity while Johan would escape with a slap on the wrist. And that is because Johan himself has not actually killed that many people. Besides his murderous escapades as a kid, by his word alone Johan will seal the fates of thousands but without having actually done the killing, or even actually giving the order.

This is the manifestation of Johan’s masterful manipulation skills. He will sit down and have a conversation with a kindly nun one sunny afternoon. And in two weeks time, that same nun will be lurking in the shadows slitting throats. Johan seems to have a way of reaching into the darkest places of the human soul and revealing what lies within. Many a man in the story held Johan as a leader, a great revolutionary in the making. Heck there were many among them who were ready to announce him and were indeed making preparations to reveal him as Hitler's replacement, and through out the story these same people were reeking havoc and mayhem against all those that stood in their and Johan’s way, which in this case included Dr. Tenma and all those who stood by him.

Now here is the thing, if that doesn’t sound impressive, that a young man of 18 or so had high ranking authoritative figures ready to follow him to the very end and spill blood in the gallons for his sake, then consider the fact that at least two thirds of these people had never met Johan or even spoken to him. The story displays countless men and women, many of great intelligence, ready to commit violent acts on behalf of someone they had never met.

Now maybe some of these characters, old soldiers from the second world war with forgotten dreams, can be forgiven for their rashness. But there were others, ordinary men and women who killed and maimed in Johan’s name, for the sake of protecting him, a man, again, they had never met. This was Johan spreading his influence through a domino effect, not personally touching each and every soul he wished to use for his own good, but touching just that right one individual in a 100 and watching him infect a town. In other words, Light’s weapon is a powerful note book with the power to kill any whose name is written in it. Johan’s weapon is his word, and the ideology he spreads.

The funny thing is there was a time it seemed like Johan didn’t even know half of the people he was having do things for him. He would walk into a town, recruit and make a disciple in a day or so, a young man or woman that, after a day or two with Johan, was ready to lay their life down for him. Then he would do what he needed to do and leave, letting the consequences of his actions continue to echo on through out the society in the vicinity.

It’s even funnier to realize that Tenma spends most of the story trying to find and locate Johan; and those that are intent on killing Tenma on Johan’s behalf are also looking for Johan. It would be funny if it wasn’t so disturbing.

MY POINT- So here is the bottom line; of the two, Light is clearly evil while Johan is merely crazy, lost in the reveries of his past and after all these years unable to decipher the truth from the lie in his mind. Johan stands above Light in raw intelligence. He is the kind of enemy that light would fear, someone who both exists and doesn’t exist, which is another funny thing about Monster; a number of people see and speak to Johan, yet for the most part, no one can prove that he even exists.

Johan is the enemy that can reach out and kill Light without light even knowing of Johan’s existence. A good example of the difference between these two is that FBI agent that Light kills. He executes a brilliant performance to get the agent to reveal his true identity so as to finally end his existence using the death note. Now, while that was impressive, you could say that the difference between Johan and Light is that light had to involve his being into the play, if i am to call it that, to get a result. Even when dealing with L, he had to put himself right in the heart of the situation. This is the opposite of how Johan works, only making an appearance when he has to but mostly working from the shadows. Well, that is a wrong term to use. Johan works in the light, right were anyone and everyone should be able to see him, they simply can’t.

If it was Johan charged with getting the agent’s identity, rather than plan a ruse that finally gets the agent to drop his badge, Johan would get the man to tell him his name on purpose and rather than kill him, have him spy on L on his behalf.

As far as the world goes, Light seems like the more tolerable evil. I can see him troubling a town or two, maybe irritating a small country somewhere with his death note before someone eventually puts a bullet in his head, or nukes the country if the death note proves to be that potent a weapon. It is Johan that would prove to be the most destructive force if a character like his was ever to come to life; Johan is a threat that the world would have to contend with.

His weapon is one of the most potent of all, words and ideologies, two elements that can spread like wild fire to every corner of the world. Just consider the Monster story. People were ready to place Johan at the head of their nation; that is a worth while consideration when you realize that not at any one point in time did Johan ever ask or crave for power. Yet if he had wanted it, he could have had it and if he wished to, he would have given it to anyone.

That is the sort of man a world should fear, the sort of person someone like Hitler was made of, the kind of man that can change the fates of nations and continents with little to no effort. If Johan in Monster had actually strived for something, because for the most part he was apathetic to anything that wasn’t related to his past; but if he actually had an objective, had strived to accomplish something, gain power, burn Europe to the ground and so on, Monster would have been a completely different story.

Both men are handsome, kindly, soft spoken, gentle even, yet hide a cruel streak, psychopathic tendencies, murderous intent and an abnormal intellect. Johan would however be the greater evil.

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It’s ridiculous how long i have been reading this manga. At 60 something chapters, i expected to wrap it it up in the first week i acquired it. Yet for some reasons i encountered certain problems that eventually slowed my progress, despite this manga’s addictive flow of events. None the less, after finally wrapping up all 60 chapters, i can safely say that i have never encountered a manga like this before.

THE PLOT:>

Rygart is an ‘un-sorcerer’. In a world where human beings are born with the ability to use magic through the manipulation and control of quartz, Rygart arrow stands out as a human being incapable of using magic, which has largely made him both unique, as a human that is basically disabled in a world of magic, as well as an outcast that is looked down upon for his lack of magic. This not only limits his actions in terms of what services he can or cannot access, hence making his life more difficult and dependant upon older more fossil fuel based technologies, but it restricts him from using Golems, giant mecha that, like all technology in this world, are operated by the armies of the land using magic.

None the less, despite his disability, Rygart’s kind pacifist tendencies endear him to Hodr and Sigyn, his best friends as well as king and queen of the kingdom of Krishna, along with their best friend Zess, younger brother to the secretary of war of the Athens common wealth.

Having left the kingdom and his three friends to embark on a journey of adventure, Rygart returns to Krishna years later to find a wholly different world. The kingdom of Krishna is at war with Athens, and not only has Athens declared war on Krishna in apparent self defense, but their former best friend Zess is leading the charge against Hodr and Sigyn.

Rygart, pro peace and opposed to non diplomatic forms of resolution finds himself caught in the middle of a crisis the likes of which is bound to change the political landscape of the continent, standing between a king and queen determined to protect their people from conquest whilst fighting back Athens's conditions of unconditional surrender and annexation. Zess, on the other side is hellbent on fighting what seems to be a plot to destabilize his home land of Athens through Krishna’s recent treating with Athens’s great enemy, the empire of Orlando.

Neither is willing to set a step back and the deeper Rygart analyzes the situation for a peaceful situation the cloudier the events get. Despite Zess’ assertions that his homeland seeks for a peaceful surrender of power by Krishna followed by very amicable and fair talks, he is shocked by the underlying conditions of the surrender, revolving around the complete purge of the upper echelons of government, including Zess’ own friends Hodr and Sigyn.

Yet the reputation that Krishna and its king and queen hold in Athens is one of barbaric slaughter, cannibalism and inhumanly torturous acts against any and all foreign persons found to trespass in their land. Nothing is as it seems and as both forces ride into the surrounding waste land, clashing in mighty battles between golems, Rygart stand alone, seeking the most peaceful resolution that, no matter the eventual fates of both kingdoms, will see all three of his friends escape the oncoming war alive.

Rygart’s solution lies in the Difringe (or Delphine, i am not sure), a recently discovered Golem so ancient that their are no records of its existence to be found and so unique in build that it cannot be operated by magic, instead powering on and off in a seemingly random manner, during which its power is like nothing that has been achieved by magic.

It’s in Rygart’s un-magical hands that this powerful machine is placed by the discovering Krishna team led by queen Sigyn, and it is in his hands that Rygart must decide which part to play in the war. No longer can he turn his back on events, as he initially attempts to, and hope that his three best friends will eventually work things out. Political forces are moving way above any of their heads, motions that will not settle until blood is spilled and one of two empires is destroyed. It is in Rygart’s hands that the fate of three kingdoms lie, and no matter what decision he eventually takes, it will eventually dawn onto him the truth that he has been avoiding for so long, that he must choose a side; and which ever side he chooses, he will have to raise his sword against the other and strike to kill…

MY REVIEW:>

I have come across a number of mecha series in my anime watching life time but never in a manga form. This break blade manga was something completely new to me. You could say that it was that element, along with the title break blade which immediately captured my attention, that attracted me to the manga. I have never read mecha series before and i was curious as to how it would translate on paper. And i must say i wasn’t disappointed. I will admit that i expected the worst, i simply couldn't see how someone could create convincing and entertaining mecha related situations in manga. Fortunately for me, Yunosuke Yoshinaga proved as skillful a Mangaka as was required to create and draw a unique mecha story in manga.

The Story; break blade strikes me as a fusion of sci-fi and medieval fantasy, specifically with the way it is set. The world has an ancient medieval feeling to it, with the way people dress and the buildings are constructed, yet the signs of advanced technology least of which is the golem technology are ostensible without being meretricious as in ruining the magical feel that can be found in each situation. It is an interesting setting to place the story in and it compounds on the intrigue created by the manga in simply creating an air of mystery, as each new chapter is a chance on further investigate the new world and work out just how the political, social and economic structures work and in which part of the world the story is set.

The names and physical structures of the characters scream Europe but some of the names of cities, kingdoms, even the names given to the golems scream Asian mysticism and culture. That aside the story is captivating one. We are placed in between a rock and a hard place which is the perspective that Rygart is facing. As a simpleton who was brought up on a farm with his similarly magically incapable brother, Regartz, Ryagrt’s father rejected and repudiated all forms of quarts and magic on the farm despite his magical abilities in an attempt to not make his sons feel left out, going on to work them as hard as possible in order to transform them into strong youth capable of compensating for their lack of magic through physical ability, despite the difficulty it placed on him as a magical user.

Rygart’s obstinacy is revealed by the fact that he would choose to attend Assam military academy despite his disability, where he meets Sigyn, Hodr and Zess, comrades with whom he would wile his school years away in complete dalliance. Despite his seeming determination to shrug his disability aside though, Rygart eventually reveals his insecurity over his lack with his eventual rejection of Sigyn’s love because of what he saw as the hostile and unfortunate ridicule she would receive as wife to an ‘un-sorcerer’ eventually choosing to leave the academy to travel and see the world.

Rygart is clearly a fish out of water with regards to the current situation in the land. He is incapable of internalizing the political strife buffering the three nations and is even more confused by what seems to be an escalation of blood shed in between Athens and Krishna. What drives break blade are the decisions he makes with regards to the war. He clearly has a stake in all three parties and would at any one point in time raise his golem to fight by the side of and destroy the enemies of either of his three friends, except that in this case it is these three friends that are at each other’s throats.

He clearly cannot choose between them and will seek to save all of them despite the cost. But he cannot deny that a solution without bloodshed, or at the very least violence is impossible. Break blade more or less focuses around Rygarts attempt to overcome his opposition to violence and determine to carry out his duties as Krishna’s heavy knight as mercilessly and one mindedly as possible, quickly learning from his mistakes that the fairy tales of old, where chivalry ruled the day and showing mercy to the enemy, even opposing the death of his enemy and choosing to settle for their defeat, are unsustainable when both sides are so fired up against each other.

That also plays a major part of the story, and is in fact the major draw, that both sides feel justified in their actions and are doing nothing more than maintaining justice. Clearly someone on one of the sides is lying, but it is understanding that even those that seek to kill Hodr and Sigyn are doing so to eliminate what they see as an evil entity hell-bent on destroying their own nation that makes Rygart’s decisions so hard. There are basically no heroes or villains, merely soldiers protecting their home country, and it is this knowledge, and barrier, that he must overcome in battle, for no matter how innocent the motives in play are, Rygart, through out the story, quickly realizes that an indecisive heart to strike at the enemy, not merely to maim but to kill, will instead result in the death of his own side, soldiers dedicated to following him and depending on his sword to protect them.

It is an interesting conflict, sort of reminding me of that movie Troy, where you know that someone must die and yet, each side seems to make a compelling argument in trying to destroy the other. You can thus sympathize with Rygart and his predicament. Someone has to die but the question is who, because either way, it will be his hand that does it. That is the only means of achieving peace in his heart, because if any of his friends killed the other, he would seek out revenge against the perpetrator, no matter how legitimate their reason for killing the other. He must be the one to end the life. And that fact makes for compelling reading.

Rating: 5/5, this story is more drama than action, with all sorts of political scheming and backstabbing, with the middle men, the common people, the soldiers, left as the only innocent party, allowed to believe that each of them, on either side, are fighting for the right reason. it is basically slaughter on a large scale, among the innocent, for the sake of the few, the kind of situation that incites righteous anger in you against those responsible.

THE characters: the characters in break blade are designed to provide a view into every facet of the conflict, with characters on each side both opposing and supporting the war and its outcome. This story is specifically one of war and its consequences and break blade does a good job of presenting as many ideals and view points as possible, though most act as patriotic members of their nations who would do anything to see their mother land succeed despite any and all suspicious events and ideas in play.

Rygart, Hodr, Sigyn and Zess stand out as the primary players, having a strong history with each other and around which the entire conflict seems to center. Each of them reveals a willingness to do whatever it takes to uphold their beliefs, yet on the several occasions each proves unwilling to go the extra mile to harm the other. It makes for compelling drama, especially Rygart’s relationship with Zess as the only members of the group that actually go out on the field of battle, as as well as Rygartz relationship with Hodr and Sigyn, in light of Sigyn’s feelings for Rygart and the amount of time she spends with him after he returns.

There are times when the characters blur into each other though, specifically the extra cast such as Narvi, Cleo, Nile, Erekt, Loquis and the rest. There are times where i cannot tell whether we are still in Athens or the story has shifted to Krishna. The problem is partially to do with the art. There are times the characters start to look alike, especially when out of uniform, and even the use of their names doesn’t help until later on when you have an idea of which soldier belongs to which side.

This is worsened during the action scenes during which you literally cannot tell who is who, which can sometimes suck because you then do not know if you should cheer because a character has been defeated spectacularly, or growl because the side your support has lost what would have been an awesome victory against impossible odds. Which is why it took me forever to finish this manga; stopping for several seconds at a time to try and figure out who was who meant that i only read one or two chapters in a seating.

None the less the stories are intriguing, each designed to provide a new view on the war. Yunosuke places emphasis on characters, specifically the soldiers and civilians on both sides, showing that each side is human and that the mourning of the fallen on one side is just as sad as it is on the other side; no matte whether you consider them the villain, Yunosuke does a good job of making you realize that as soldiers they are innocent and are basically fighting on the fallacious whims of the higher ups who hold little to no interest in the goings on of war and those that die to accomplish their selfish Endeavour. indeed it makes it difficult to cheer for Rygart even as he faces off against soldiers that are just as misguided as he is, which only makes it more difficult to oppose the feelings of those that choose to seek revenge on the other side, fully knowing that even though Rygart was doing his job in killing one lieutenant here or a corporal their, he was far from right, and the other side is just as justified to seek revenge against him for what is essentially an innocent life taken.

The fun comes in seeing just how far Rygart’s innocent soul will be warped by the death he is forced to inflict. He will protect Sigyn and Hodr no matter the circumstances but how far is he willing to go for his friends. Basically the question set here is if friendship and love automatically make one’s choice to fight a just one.

I especially enjoyed Girge and his psychopathic tendencies. His antics with the anti violence Rygart were fun to watch.

Rating: 4/5

The action: I would like to say superb. Indeed the golems look good rushing across the field and unleashing their unique set of weapons; i do not think i can logically complain about how awesome these machines look smashing into each other. But their is an unfortunate problem, probably rising from the fact that this is the first Mecha based manga i have ever read. On several occasions i have problems following what is happening in an action scenes. There are times i can’t tell if a golem just dodged a bullet or fired one, or whether a mecha is jumping or it has been struck back.

The golems look awesome but really, when they begin engaging with each other, i usually have to wait until a pilot leaves his golem before i can figure out who was driving which mecha and who lost. It can be irritating, reading a two chapter battle without a single idea of whose golem just lost their arm. There were moments were i spent an entire chapter cheering for the pure dominance of golem against another, until the bloody corpse of the the losing golem fell out, revealing to me that it was actually the character i was supporting that was at the receiving end of the beating.

Sufficing to say it was shocking to realize on several occasions that the person i thought was winning was actually dead.Maybe that added a certain air of unpredictability, but i didn’t enjoy some of the fights as much, not until a golem lost a piece of its body, maybe an arm, and then i would know who was who based on that lost arm.

The battles are indeed awesome, especially when the golems get acrobatic and reveal their special skills, yet it gets annoying if i do not know what’s happening. Indeed it wasn’t until General Borcurus from Athens and his blades came onto the field that i began to understand the situation, but only because this particular squad of fighters rode golems with dramatic cloaks thrown over them. Thisis another reason why i took forever wrapping this manga up. I was reading at snail pace, having to stop to study a panel long enough to figure out what had just happened

Rating: 3/5, it would have helped if i knew what was happening, especially when entire battalions are clashing; none the less the battles were drawn exquisitely.

The Art: this was one of the more surprising elements of the manga. i didn’t think it possible for a manga to assign 30 something pages of a chapter to giant mecha and still look good. Yet this manga did and it couldn’t have been easy, drawing so many golems, especially in battle scenes. Yunosuke does a good job of creating scenes that are both full in terms of designing a rich less nebulous background like most less complicated to draw manga tend to do whilst also inserting as much detail in the primary objects, especially the fighting golems.

I don’t want to say it is some of the best art i have seen in manga (though it is) because i am probably biased by the fact that i had such low expectations of a mecha manga series. I didn’t think it was possible to draw so many mechs in a manga story while still managing to apply so much detail.

Rating: 5/5, despite Yunosuke’s failings, the fact that it is near impossible (for me at least) to tell the golems apart without a special weapon or color in the play or the pilots driving them in battle, i am in awe of how much detail he manages to inject into each golem on a page.

OVERALL RATING: 4.5/5;the series has one or two of those shortcomings i mentioned above. None the less it is a masterfully drawn series and impressively written story, one i would recommend for everyone.

Highlights: Borcurus’s appearance on the field with his grey cloaked guards, the blades. Girge’s scenes with Rygart were both amusing and entertaining, especially in contrasting the soldier’s bloodthirsty nature with Rygart’s peace loving existence. Watching Rygart continuously charge into the enemy and smash them apart with his superiorly armored yet less maneuverable golem was always entertaining to read and superbly drawn.

Break blade/ Broken blade as it is also called is an ongoing 11 volume manga in the action and mecha genre created written and drawn by Yunosuke Yoshinaga and published by the magazine Shonen blood. The manga has been adapted into six fifty minute movies licensed by Sentai film works, namely: The time of awakening (2010), The split path (2010), Scars from an assassin’s blade (2010), The land of Disaster (1020), Death’s Horizon (2011) and Bastions of Sorrow (2011).

Because the manga is still ongoing, though the anime movies closely follow the events of the manga, the sixth movie had to create is own ending to wrap the plot up.

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This was one of those fairy tail chapters that is somewhat hard to rate because technically, Hiro, just like last week, managed to create content that avoided the sort of pitfalls most shonen manga are known to fall into by applying some logic to his execution of events, yet the level of predictability and over all ‘fairy tail-ishness’ of the entire chapter left a lot to be desired, in the end producing a weekly chapter that was nothing more than meh.

In other words, not bad, yet not actually good enough to be excited.

THE PLOT:>

Following Ultear’s sacrifice last week, the fairy tail team are able to use their brief one minute preview of the future to turn the tide of battle and begin their counter attack, with many avoiding previously fatal attacks and making headway against the enemy.

Natsu and Rogue are still going at it, with Natsu, despite acquiring new flames, making little headway against the shadowy attacks. In between taking punishment, Natsu tries to reason with rogue,but the future man is hell bent on saving the world by making it his. Natsu attempts to reach him via Frosch, his cat and the damage he could be causing to him as well as his present self. Future rogue however expects his past self and future self to eventually fade into each other with time. Frosch does not move him, as future rogue explains that he is not longer the man that plays with kitties. Besides, in his time line Frosch had died, and would die one year from then. His presence makes waves no within Rogue.

So Natsu continues to push against his much more superior enemy. At that point Atlas Flame unleashes a powerful flaming attack against Mother glare, which engulfs the entire dragon in a powerful wave of explosions.

Natsu being a fire dragon slayer, uses these explosions to his advantage, amplifying them and focusing them against both Rogue and the dragon and sending both flying to the earth.

Elsewhere, Wendy with Laxus’ assistance is fighting Zirconis. However Lucy has discovered a secret in the diary she discovered from her future self. Apparently destroying the eclipse gate is key to defeating the dragons. Based on future Lucy's theory, destroying the gate would affect the flow of events in time as they had happened so far and make it so that Rogue and his dragons never came through time, hence leading them to disappear.

However no amount of power delivered by Lucy is even able to dent the gate. It is then that the giant fireball that is Natsu, rogue and mother glare fall from the sky and slam into the gate, smashing it into pieces…

MY REVIEW:>

I didn’t bother reviewing last week’s chapter because i was somewhat annoyed by the result. Even though Ultear’s action followed a logical pattern, without breaking any of the rules of magic Hiro had set up (as i expected him to), and the whole one minute thing was an interesting addition to the plot, i was still irritated by how predictable the result was, that no matter how devastating the battle has been, fairy tail will come out unscathed.

This chapter followed a similar route. Rogue vs.. Natsu was more logical than i expected it to be, no nakama power ups and the like. Natsu was clearly on the losing end of the battle and it was the power of Atlas flame’s attack that brought the future mage down. IN a way you can give this to Natsu’s ingenuity, in realizing that he could use the explosion to his advantage. None the less, the predictability of it irritated me, that i knew that Rogue would lose and it happened so soon…it is hard to criticize the end of this fight. In fact it is the one thing i liked about this chapter. It was an unexpected end, yet…something was simply lacking. I wasn’t nearly as blown away or impressed as i hoped to be.

Maybe the battle should have ran a little longer. I for one will be pissed off if all those dragons disappear along with rogue. I do not think Hiro handled them well; he didn’t highlight each battle as much as he should have. Something has been missing from this war ever since the beginning. We didn’t see enough fairy tail vs. dragons fights, merely snapshots.

Anyway, my quarrel with this chapter comes in the form of Lucy. three things stood out as far as Hiro’s misshapen story telling is concerned:

1. What the hell did Lucy mean by her future diary. Last time i checked it was Levy who had the diary and was chronicling everything that had happened during the dragon festival, not Lucy; at least not according to the visions of the future we were shown.

2. I am sure Lucy had a diary but where in the story was it hinted upon that there was anything worth reading, at least as far as the dragons are concerned, that Lucy wrote down in her diary. We know that future Lucy woke up four days after the dragon incident and immediately leaped back into time four days in the past. So she pretty much missed most of what happened, so she couldn’t have known anything of use, not unless Hiro had told us somewhere that she took an extra day after waking to sit down and analyze everything which she then chronicled. The future Lucy we know leaped back in time immediately after waking, which means she couldn’t have written anything down and even if she could have, she didn’t know anything. Really, Hiro.

3. Exactly how does any of that mumble jumble she said about destroying the gate make sense. From what i understood, the idea was to destroy the gate so that it wouldn’t have existed in the future where rogue came from which meant that Rogue would disappear and nothing that he had done would have ever happened, including the dragons. How does that work, all that will have changed in History is that rogue came through and then the gate was destroyed, stranding him in the past. There is no way destroying the gate AFTER ROGUE HAD ALREADY COME THROUGH changes the time line.

I know the science of time travel is complicated and all that but that part isn’t. If they went back to the past and destroyed the gate days before future rogue came through, then that would make sense in cancelling everything rogue had done in the present because he wouldn’t have come through in the first place, but…really…i do not get what Hiro is playing at but none of what was said makes any sense.

I also think that if Lucy is right then the dragon problem was solved a little too easily. There can’t always be a magic weakness which, once used, solves everything. That’s what made the dragon incursion so exciting in the beginning; because i couldn’t see how they were going to solve the problem of 7 giant lizards with such a weak force. It wasn’t the conundrum i thought it should have been and which would have made this arc all the more epic.

Anyway, i await next week’s chapter with baited breath; despite all my complaints, i am still fighting to hold onto my faith in Hiro, even if its barely none existent, to surprise me (even though i doubt he can, with the predictable paths that he has been taking)

Rating: 2/5, really, this chapter was lackluster; almost good would be a better description in that Hiro executed a lot of the events skillfully, basically doing the same old thing but in a fresh way. yet he simply didn’t go the extra mile, something prevented this chapter and the last from achieving greatness and instead stranded them in slightly below average territory. I just wasn’t entertained and i am starting to worry about the future of fairy tail. Instead of looking forward to next week’s chapter i am worried and anxious about how bad it will be. On the plus side, if it turns out to be good, i will be that much more blown away.

Highlights: That natsu attack against rogue was kind of impressive, and the fight itself atop the dragon was pretty dynamic and interesting to watch.

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This is another one of those series that i only found my way back to after running out of what i would term as ‘good’ anime. By ‘good’ anime i am referring to the kind of anime that provides instant gratification, whereas Umineko falls into the category of anime such as Chaos head that i discarded after an episode of pure weirdness but swore to return to due to some quality and hence potential for awesomeness that i gleaned.
Of course Umineko is a little different from Chaos head because i was actually really into the mystery aspect in the first five episodes, until things went wrong and became a little too complex. I gave into impatience and as with alot anime i have been watching as of late, dropped it, swore to return to it and finally did. Umineko stands out because even shiki didn’t stand out to me the way this series did. I damped shiki after one episode. I thoroughly enjoyed this anime till the sixth episode.
so it was technically inevitable that i would return to it and i thoroughly expected to enjoy it once i finally got the courage to sit down and do what i usually prefer not to do, put serious brain power into what i am watching and try to solve the mystery.
Umineko did better than most anime that i shrugged off. I at least made it to episode 15 before giving in. This should have been a great mystery thriller, but things became strange after a while. I heard the visual novel it is based on was superb and this anime pales in comparison to the source material. I will never know.
THE PLOT:>
It has become a long standing tradition for the immensely wealthy Ushiromiya family to congregate at Rokkenjima island for a private family conference during which those that bear the name Ushiromiya discuss the social and economic status of the family and all business that relates to it.
On this particular conference, the family is congregating to deal with a weighty matter, the family’ head’s ill health and the touchy subject of inheritance, a topic that is bound to incite disquiet among the direct and indirect family.
However Kinzo Ushiromiya, the family head, is, unbeknownst to the family, struggling under a number of hefty matters, none of which includes the family’s wealth and its inheritance question.
Kinzo, having learnt from his dear friend and long time physician of his impending demise, seeks to reunite with his true love, the golden witch, Beatrice, before departing from this world.
Well versed in the matters of black magic, Kinzo sets about executing a ceremony that will revive the soul that he longs to reunite with before death. Not long after, the island is struck by a powerful storm that strands the family on the island for the weekend, both physically and in terms of access to communication.
What began as a commercially driven weekend to determine the sole heir of the family’s wealth is punctuated by the call of magic; the witch Beatrice has awakened, her soul cries out to the lost paradise from which she was cast and to which she wishes to return. Only the sacrifice of the unbelieving will quench her thirst, and nothing, not family, not friends, will stop Kinzo from seeing her beloved’s will done and finding her warm embrace one last time before he bids the world good bye.
What ensures is a furious contention of wills, between the supernatural and the natural, between belief and disbelief, the victor of which will claim their life.
MY REVIEW:>

Here is what first drew me to this anime, the intellectual manner in which the plot was unveiled. The murders were gruesome, ridiculously so, yet not shown in any detail that would put this in the PG16 area. So fairly tame with regards to violence. But that aside, the murders were gruesome, but strangely impossible. The mystery was set up so that whoever committed the murders had to have used supernatural means i.e. magic.
Maria, the irritating kid had seen Beatrice, she kept singing the witch’s lullaby. The family doctor had revealed his fears to the family with regards to Kinzo’s mental state and his indulgence in what he said was magic. Clearly there was no way he believed in some golden witch who would take him to some golden paradise. A ridiculous assumption as far as the doctor’s scientific sensibilities were concerned.
But we know the murders couldn’t have been committed by a human being, not with the locked door scenario created and the number of bodies involved. It had to have been Beatrice. Yet no one believes that such a person exist and thus choose to ignore her challenge and the monetary rewards she offers. But the family doctor admits that there was indeed a girl named Beatrice that Kinzo had an affair with, years ago, a real life flesh girl, not a witch.
So a person named Beatrice existed, so Kinzo could be confused. More importantly there is mention somewhere of a money lender named Beatrice with whom Kinzo did business. There might be some truth to the challenge and the reward of gold mentioned. But if there was indeed a young girl named Beatrice that Kinzo slept with, that sets up the possibility for another heir coming to claim the inheritance, an heir whose mother Kinzo loved dearly above their own mother(s) and whom he would quickly relinquish the inheritance to, choosing to mask his decisions behind farcical magical claims.
Then their is the challenge set by Beatrice. On Kinzo’s death, the hundreds of bars of gold she had lent to Kinzo to allow him to finance his business 20 years ago were to return to her along with the entire fortune he had amassed with her money. But if someone solved the mystery of the epitaph on her, Beatrice’s, portrait which hangs in the living room and finds the gold, they can keep it and the whole inheritance, which sets the question of who holds authority over the wealth, kinzo or this money lender who might or might not be Beatrice, or some unknown heir and so on.
And the existence of a portrait of Beatrice proves her existence, otherwise who is the young beautiful blonde woman in the picture and why did Kinzo choose to call her Beatrice if that was not her?
This is the madness that is the mystery that is set at the start of the series and i do not think i explained it right. In the center of it all is Battler, one of Kinzo’s red haired grand children, a pragmatist
with a sharp wit and strong will. It is his determination that starts and ends the story. HE will not believe in magic, even when it is sitting right in front of him. As far as he is concerned, even if Beatrice walked up to him, never mind the fact that no one is sure about who has seen or not seen her, there is a way to explain the magic element out of the picture. And that is where we the viewers sit, in between the magic and non magic believers, each making their case about an occurrence to convince the other that it was indeed magic or some man made event.
So the game under which the series unfold boils down to a battle of wits; Battler stands as the indomitable champion of intellect and even if he were to believe the existence of a a golden witch, he understands that it is the belief in magic and it’s existence among each of the 16 or so members of the family that fuels her power and slowly allows her to resurrect and act more freely within the physical world. He stands with his intellect as his only weapon, to break the mysteries set before him, while the storm rages on, intent on protecting his remaining family members from a culprit that might exist as a magical entity or an unknown 17th party on the island, or an angry heir, a servant with a grudge, a figment of his grand father’s imagination or a member of his own family, hiding and inconspicuously making a move for the gold.
There are so many ways in which this could have turned out to be a brilliant series. Sufficing to say, it shouldn’t be hard to see how and why i made it through the first five episodes, with a mystery that simply keeps on giving; every time you think you have figured it out, a new piece of information is discovered, warping your predetermined answers; the idea of magic and whether or not it exists is more often than not left up to you, based on the information displayed and the proof given. Every word said might hold a new clue if you pay enough attention. For instance, everyone at the start is so quick to ignore Maria, till they realize that she has been protecting her self from the rain using an Umbrella, a fact they had initially ignored until they realize that none of them, not even the 4-5 servants gave it to her, this making her claims of having received it from Beatrice that much more believable; especially when she hadn’t left her mother’s side since they arrived.
To reveal to you why this show fails would require revealing some spoilers. I believe that someone out there will be blown away by this story. I of course wasn’t. There was a point where everything seemed to repeat. Battler’s assertions began to sound rather silly when several events in each episode involving Beatrice
Up to now, i am not completely sure who/what these girls are
Up to now, i am not completely sure who/what these girls are
occurred (again i will not spoil them). There was a point in time where Battler sounded more stupid than intellectual, and the villain of the story was, at one point, trying way too hard to be liked and sympathized with.
The characters were admittedly interesting. No one was always what they seemed at the start, and watching each family member unfold and break as time wet on was…intriguing. For instance, Maria’s mother, she plays the part of soft, honest and piteous single parent; but the truth about her and her actions and attitude with regards to Maria are shocking in later episodes.
The darker seemingly greedy characters had the more interesting plots to follow. None of them really instigated the sorts of emotions you felt towards them at the start that allowed you to judge them so quickly. Sure it was always all about the money, about whose husband or wife was a direct blood relative and whose child deserved the bigger trust fund and all that, but there was always a deeper story beneath.
That much i enjoyed about the series. You know little to nothing about the characters when the story starts, and it is through tragedy that you come to learn who they are.
Animation: Okay, the story didn’t exactly require the most complex animation sequences. So 4/5;
The story: Judged on potential, i say 5/5; but judged on execution then 2/5, they messed the structure up.
The Music: I rarely mention music because it is rarely worth mentioning; in this case i loved the haunting and somewhat exaggerated musical scores, even though they were always placed in the wrong scenes and would evoke the completely wrong emotion, so 2/5.
Characters: the best thing about the story. the series had more than a dozen characters to play with, and each managed to have a modecum of distinction, in that they were meant to play the part of very complex characters in a puzzle; they turned out to be would-be complex characters that just didn’t go far enough. I would describe it like this, they were trying too hard to be complex that they were instead too simple, kind of like an actor trying too hard to be dramatic that they end up evoking the opposite emotion. None the less 3/5.Admittedly, i liked Beatrice’s character, as well as that other blue haired witch
Overall- 2/5;
Verdict: I would actually recommend this series, if you are looking to indulge in something different, that might challenge you mentally (though only at the start). The story had great potential, it was executed terribly, and it seemed to mix things up along the way. And at one point the mystery simply didn’t matter any more. There was a repetitiveness to it, but i think someone out there might actually enjoy it. It depends on your tastes. Sometime when an anime requires you to look at it closely, you end up looking too closely to ignore the faults. Someone else might be entertained by Battler and Beatrice’s crazy games of who is the smartest person in the room, which is what this series felt like after a while.
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