katmic (Level 10)

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That big guy is me, knocked out by this chapter
That big guy is me, knocked out by this chapter

This chapter, fairy tail 322…I have no words…literally.

I have been writing my blog (initially at katmic.blogspot.com and recently on anime vice) for a little over three months, so let me elucidate a bit on the process involved in writing the twenty or so posts that I have written, in order to put this particular blog into context.

I will try to publish a new post every one to three days; as far as the subject is concerned, writing takes about 30 minutes and not more than forty on most days if I can help it. And the reason for that restricted time line is that I rarely ever sit down to write down new material from scratch. Usually I will come up with the subject for my blog at least a week before I actually get down to writing it. For instance, the last blog is posted, relating to epic anime moments, I came up with some time in early February.

However other than not actually having a concrete idea of how exactly I would write, I also kept coming across and wrapping up with some great anime which either spurred me on to do a review or brought into existence an entirely new idea that proved more interesting to me than that first idea.

Anyway, other than a few cases when something will inspire me to sit down and write on the fly, by the time I actually get down to writing a post, I will have already written the post in my head over several days to weeks, so all I am doing is copying and pasting. As such, my writing rarely needs to precede beyond 30 minutes.

Beyond the writing, there is the more irritating process of locating images, downloading them, uploading them to the blog and arranging them in a way that will correlate with the message of the post.

Add to that the 15-20 minutes of editing I do-during which I correct any and all errors, errors here including misspellings and incorrect punctuations along with any points that I may wish to explore further, cut back on or delete all together-and my total blog writing time can come up to about one and half hours.

However that estimation is probably an under exaggeration, Taking into consideration my (sort of) employment, I will mostly write during the the lulls of the day where business is scarce or slow; but even then, any five minute bit of writing that I will do will be continuously and irritatingly interrupted repeatedly for long periods of time, the end result of which is that I may, taking into account minutes to hours spent relaxing (watching anime/TV), take an entire day writing a five page blog (sometimes).

So in a way writing my blog can be exhausting, especially taking into account the point I made in an earlier blog, that I don’t like writing in phases. IN that, even if a blog post is 15-20 pages long, I will sit down and write it in one go, rather than writing it a few pages a day.

However in describing the process of writing my blog, I would refer to it as frustrating rather than difficult. Why, you might wonder? Why bother writing a blog that I don’t have to do and on a self assigned schedule I don’t have to keep? Simply put, it is fun.

Other than the writing practice is get, I enjoy sitting down and writing this blog. These words that you are reading, I am most likely having a lot of fan writing them. There are times I take a sit at the table and spend the next hour typing away at my laptop. And as my parents and siblings walk by, minding there own business, wondering why I am sweating so much, even while I seem so keen on the task occupying my time, they have no idea how exhilarating and excited I am feeling at that moment.

There are times when writing a post will produce the same excitement as watching the anime or reading the manga I am writing about. That might be because I spend more time thinking and talking in my head than actually producing words from my mouth, but the fact is I enjoying writing my blog.

Even the task of formulating and developing my articles over a week’s time isn’t as tedious as it sounds. When I am executing the different vigorous and energy consuming tasks that my (sort of) job entails, be it walking some distance to deliver certain items, or collect certain documents from some office somewhere in town, or doing some manual work around the office or at home or etc.,there are few things that will enable me to alleviate the stress involved with this kind of work (even non physical work but none the less patience degrading and excruciating tasks like recording entire volumes of data into the computer); I can listen to my music, which I will vary from hard to soft rock, to classical, to gospel depending on the need. Or I can listen to my networking or programming notes. Or I can put some time into the other writing related projects I am working on (that I might never complete with my laziness).

But in the several times when all those pass times, when even the radio (I spend a lot of time on BBC) fail to entertain me, I turn to my blog. When I am assigning so much brain power to working out the finer points of an argument I want to make, I will notice neither the blazing sun nor the irritating cold of rain.

Same thing goes for those dull, slower days; even when the idea of opening my laptop and writing a few lines of a post feels torturous to my lethargic brain, once I put a paragraph down, the excitement returns and I will not stop till I finish my task.

Now of course you might be wondering what any of this has to do with fairy tail chapter 322.

Well, to put it bluntly, this chapter was crap, in every sense of the word. I sat down for the longest time, thinking about what I could say about chapter 322, be it negative or positive, but I simply could think of anything to say.

Simply put, reading chapter 322 left me drained as far as all things fairy tail are concerned. It wasn’t merely bad, it was a total and utter disappointment, to the point where talking about it seems tedious and energy consuming.

If I wasn’t a fairy tail fan, if fairy tail wasn’t one of the first three mangas I have ever read, after Evangelion and Veritas, if I hadn’t been an ardent fan of fairy tail for the last three or so years, I would have stopped reading fairy tail right here and right now.

Honestly speaking, i actually considered making this my last fairy tail chapter. But I won’t do that, thought it was that bad. Rather than waste a whole load of time reviewing the material, I will leave it at simply explaining what happened.

Erza beat Minerva, with a random as they come attack from a random as they come weapon, after a ridiculously brief and nonsensical explanation about what the hell the Armor of Nakagami was.

And when I say Erza beat Minerva, I mean it was that brief. One or two panels of Minerva’s fall, after who knows how many chapters of Minerva stomping the craziness out of Erza. Add that to the explanation over the ridiculous amounts of magic required to fuel the armor, magic that Erza simply couldn’t possess after such a grueling battle and this battle isn’t worth mentioning.

I know this is fairy tail, but the whole ‘power of nakama’ thing doesn’t even cut it here. I know this is fiction, but even a fictional universe has fictional logic and fictional rules, that Hiro just broke.

Elsewhere Gray and Juvia beat Lyon and Chelia. That one was so silly, not merely because it only took one half of a page to do, but because I don’t even know what the hell they did.

Sting finally makes his move, then he doesn’t. Lector is alive and well and…fairy won the Daimatou Enbu and I couldn’t be more disappointed.

Natsu made some mention of how things had began to move, along with Arcadios and some other people I don’t really care for; basically it was time for eclipse and…I don’t really care, because thinking about this chapter only infuriates me further.

This is what I don’t get. Hiro gave us 35 pages for chapter 322, basically 10-15 more pages than he normally would; and I don’t really see what happened that couldn’t have happened in 15-20 pages.

And what was with that color page; of all the panels that Hiro could have colored, he chose the Juvia and Gray crap…

I can only conclude as such: Hiro was really really excited to get to what came after the tournament that he neglected the current story; he was tired of doing the Daimatout Enbu; he is secretly a lousy mangaka and an even lousier story teller or he simply hates fairy tail and wants it done with.

I made the decision to write these posts on fairy tail with the aim of converting fairy tail haters into fairy tail fans, by showing them the attractions that fairy tail has to offer.

However I wouldn’t encourage or recommend any non fairy tail fan to read this 35 page waste of space. I had so much hope for this arc and it is all Hiro’s fault. He set things up so well; fact is the last couple of chapters have been on fire, but he simply couldn’t deliver on the hopes he had created for us fans.

Rather than maul over the events of this chapter, I will choose to wait for next week’s chapter. I will hope against all hope that Hiro makes up for this. But the truth is it will take something absolutely explosive, absolutely bombastic, to make up for the mess that was chapter 322. And with all I have seen, I am pretty sure a feat like that is beyond Hiro’s abilities.

As a fan of one piece, naruto and bleach, I have noticed each of these three giants make some disastrous mistakes over the years, Bleach worst of all, and naruto mostly in the last year, during the initial events of the fourth great shinobi war (when you choose to replace fists and jutsus with soothing words, any plot will undeniably lose its fire), but nothing like the way fairy tail will builds itself up, only to knock its own self back down.

Suddenly it makes so much sense why fairy tail isn’t one of and might never become a member of the big three.

AS one reviewer I watch pointed out, there is one good thing about this chapter; we are finally done with the tournament, and now we can move on to the next chapter of fairy tail’s story; again that is me hoping that there is more to Hiro’s story than I am giving him credit for. Then again maybe it wasn’t a good idea to write this review immediately after reading it; maybe if I had given it a day, and then given the chapter a fresh look, my perspective might have changed.

Either way, I give it a 0/5 (okay 0.5/5)

Like I said, I won’t bother talking about this chapter much further, rather the two links I have posted below will better explain it all, I don’t have the strength.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=8Bj6nndd48c&list=UUkkcUZJ-vrt3HomsacbTNLg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB_UJ1_ZQMw

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CARTEGORY: EPICALLY SAD VILLAIN DEATHS:>

I think I will first elucidate on the topic at hand; while I chose to use the word ‘moment’ here, I will refer to both single moments restricted to a single time period, as well as entire events spanning multiple chapters and time periods. Point it, there will be a singular entity that will be the focus of my discussion, but I might need to add context.

Secondly, I considered listing and ranking these moments, but I thought it more logical to assign an individual post to each event, in order to explore the subject more thoroughly. Also I decided against ranking these moments, so think of the ‘1’ as a merely organizational tool, rather than a ranking number.

So, with only three months into the new year, and 2012 still a fresh memory, It is no great surprise that, in speaking of great and epic moments, I would immediately skip to my favorite anime of 2012 (as well as my own personal top 5), Fate/Zero. I once toyed with the idea of reviewing this anime, but as a relatively amateur reviewer, I doubted my ability to do it justice, in terms of thoroughly peeling apart its layers and revealing the heart of the show. So you can call that my cowardice.

Back to the topic. Fate/Zero was such a masterpiece of an anime that a large part of the anime (especially the second part) is just one epic moment after another. However besides breath taking action scenes and superb animation, one scene stood out among all these gems, a moment that allowed us deeper insight into the man we deem to be the hero of Fate/Zero and it’s primary protagonist, Emiya Kiritsugu.

Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald is a member of the magus association, Lord of the house of El-Melloi and a prodigy of the mage craft. Kayneth is you typical snob; he was born of a great name from a great house, and his sensibilities and idiosyncrasies are firmly linked to the old ways and traditions of the most noble names and families of mage craft.

AS such Kayneth is a self aggrandizing, arrogant nobleman that has little to no regard for anything outside the noble families of the magus. So basically he thinks quite highly of himself. His discriminatory mindset with regards to blood and family make him a clear and undisputed villain, especially in regards to his utter disregard for non magus human life.

Where he to acquire the holy grail, their is no doubt in mind as to the sort of chaos he would unleash upon man, in his attempts to create the kind of order in the world that he would hope to see, one in which Him and his kind reign supreme.

It is only a matter of time before Kayneth eventually comes into contention with the Eizenbern family’s Kiritsugu. Kayneth views the magus killer as an aversion to the holy grail war, because of the unconventional and none magical means with which he engages his opponents.

Kiritsugu shows no regard for just and honorable battle and every action taken by him irks Kayneth’s strict sense of tradition. AS fans it is easy to take some joy out of seeing Kiritsugu totally totally humiliate Kayneth with that stunt he pulls early on where, while Kayneth prepares all sorts of defenses and barriers of a magical nature in response to Kiritsugu’s eminent assault on his home, Kiritsugu simply blows up the entire building with explosives, foregoing any mage related tactics.

Personally I thought it was funny, that these experienced mages with so much hubris with regards to their abilities would be so inept in the ways of modern war fair. it is probably the reason I always thought that none of the other masters really stood a chance against Kiritsugu; where they would be preparing to contend with magical fireballs, Kiritsugu was busy preparing missile and bullets.

Anyway, Kayneth seems temporarily and rather satisfactorily eliminated; he is confined to his bed during his recovery,a state in which he would continue throughout the rest of the war, and he even loses his seals and control over lancer.

But he quickly reemerges episodes later, wounded, wheel chair bound but twice as ruthless in his desire to acquire the holy grail. Plotting his return, Kayneth proves his villainous side by murdering the church priest presiding over the war after the old man was kind enough to return his seals to him (probably a ploy to incapacitate the other players), and quickly makes plans to take down his enemy, Kiritsugu.

Kayneth isn’t the vilest of villains. That would be Kariya’s uncle/great grandfather. Sure I didn’t see his killing the priest coming; it wasn’t even really a necessary act on his part (other than proving to us all that Kirei is indeed a psychopath). But really, Kayneth was as bad as they could get without being downright evil.

But as easy as it is to see his vile side, it is even easier to pity this character; and I am rarely a fan of pitiable and sympathetic villains, because usually I just can’t seem to empathize with them and the entire idea will usually come off as a ploy to make the story seem deeper than it really is, usually because it seems like the writers want you to struggle to support the hero over the villain.

IN the case of Fate zero, I thought they pulled kayneth’s character off without looking like they were trying to hard to do just that.

Kayneth’s first pitfall comes in the form of his student Waver. While waver was a magus prodigy, he could never really get Kayneth to truly respect him. In attempt to prove himself, Waver steals the artifact Kayneth was intended to use to summon his servant, Rider, for the holy grail war. Instead he has to settle for Lancer, while the somewhat less deserving Waver finds himself in possession of a ridiculously powerful servant.

Granted, that in itself could have been one of the best things to happen in the series. As the absolutely best servant that I have encountered in both the stay night and fate zero series, cheerful rider tied down to a stern Kayneth would have been a disaster.

But that in itself isn’t really enough to make Kayneth such a sympathetic villain; rather what it does is introduce to us the bane of Kayneth’s existence, whether he knows it or not. I am speaking of Sola-Ui, Kayneth’s wife, who is quick to berate him over the loss of such a powerful servant.

The tragedy of Kayneth can be seen from two angles. We know that Sola-Ui and Kayneth’s marriage was one of convenience, arranged by their families for the greater good of both. Kayneth doesn’t merely say it, he shows it over and over again that he loves his wife to death.

More than not reciprocating that love however, Sola-Ui has shown herself to loath her husband. And she doesn’t seem to to really struggle with hiding it, whether Kayneth doesn’t see it or simply chooses to ignore it, I will choke it up to stupidity.

Sola-Ui plays an increasingly negative role in Kayneth’s attempts to win the war. She enervates his attempts by constantly berating him over the smallest failures, and more than that, she fawns over kayneth’s servant Lancer, even going so far as to coerce her convalescing husband out of his contract seal with Lancer, and eventually acquiring control over the servant while Kayneth is recovering from Kiritsugu’s attack, with the intention of finally taking up with Lancer while Kayneth rots away in some basement.

Basically Kayneth got the raw end of the deal. The one person he should have trusted was working again his better interests. The only other person he could have trusted, he hated and distrusted because of his wife’s infatuation over him. So Kayneth couldn’t trust his wife or his servant, and in the end he was reduced to a desperate and paranoid lunatic of a mage.

In the end, Kayneth’s fate was decided when Kiritsugu decided he was the easiest target to eliminate. I whole heartedly concur with what Maiya did to Sola-ui on the roof top, to break her link and control over Lancer. But the final plan that the magus killer eventually executed in order to destroy both Kayneth and Sola-Ui was, without a doubt, too cruel.

Sure, Kayneth was the last person you could have wanted to see gaining the holy grail, but to kill him as he did, along with his wife, like some dog that needed putting down was excessive to say the least.

I will admit that even considering what Irisviel eventually suffered at Kirei’s hands, this was the single saddest moment in Fate/Zero, in watching kayneth cradling his wife’s frail body, seconds before Maiya killed her, then him. Sure, she hated him, but whether he knew that or not, what he meant to her wasn’t in dispute.

Kiritsugu didn’t kill Kayneth; he destroyed kayneth, both physically and mentally, gave him a couple of minutes to agonize over his life, and then killed him. If Kiritsugu could have sent a message to the magus world as to who it was they were facing, this would have been it.

I wasn’t surprised at by this event, I was downright shocked, blown straight out of my mind, and not in a positive way. I was left asking my self who Kiritsugu Emiya was. Because the one thing I was certain of was, he was no hero. It would be a difficult task to argue that Kayneth deserved death, it would be impossible to argue that he actually deserved what he got (though with the hate I held for Sola-Ui, it is hard to feel sorry for her).

I have seen pitiable villains, the kind that leave you thinking after they pass. But I have yet to see a villain death that created such an aura of sadness, the kind reserved for the hero and his comrades.

And even if you could forgive what was done to Kayneth, there is Lancer; poor, poor lancer. Who in the otaku world didn’t like Lancer? That would be a crazy anime fan (then again, it is Fate/Zero’s blessing/curse that besides Gilgamesh and Caster, it was difficult to really dislike anyone.)

Lancer hadn’t had the easiest life. There is no arguing that he and saber were the most honorable servants (and characters) in the war. Lancer hadn’t had the easiest history and he had hopped to make up for his past mistakes through his service to Kayneth. Yet because he couldn’t see beyond his past, all Lancer received from Kayneth was abuse and accusations of disloyalty, all because of some crazy lady.

For such a noble servant to be reduced to the vengeful state he was seen in seconds before dying, it was sad as it was a shame. I would have loved to see he and saber finish their match, to determine who the superior servant was.

I had originally written Lancer off as fodder for Saber to prove her ability, and but he grew on me over time, while proving his worth as a true warrior. Certainly I couldn’t help but struggle to support Kiritsugu and his quest after this incident (though seeing his past helped alleviate some of my distaste for him).

We had known and felt the uneasy tension between Saber and Kiritsugu since the beginning of the series. We could even understand the comments Saber had made to Shirou in Fate Stay night regarding his adopted father, but in this episodes, we saw the relationship between Kiritsugu and Saber completely shatter.

And as much as I tried to see Kiritsugu reasoning in the matter, I couldn’t help but agree with her when Saber called Kiritsugu a monster. As his servant, you would expect her to better understand her master, but clearly even she didn’t see his move coming, certainly not when he had consented to her engaging Lancer in battle.

Poor Irisviel was stuck between these two obstinate pseudo-enemies. Logically, there is no way a saber Kiritsugu team up could work.

At the end of the day, that scene stood out as the most outstanding moment in fate Zero. More than that, it could be one of the most shocking and awe striking moments I have ever seen or read in anime.In my mind, as it watched it, all I kept thinking was ‘this shouldn’t be happening’, because it was that…crazy.

If you have watched Fatezero, then none of these words matter, because you will already know and understand just how impactful this moment was. If you haven’t seen fateZero, this one scene is more than enough for you to sit through 25 or so episodes.

I would go so far as to call Kayneth the most pitiful character in Fate/Zero…though I would be lying. That title goes to Kariya, the very personification of misery. Seriously, that fellow should have never been born.

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SO by the title above, it should be obvious to any reader that what I am saying is that this anime, Jormungand, is the closest thing to black lagoon that I have watched in anime. Now whether that comparison only applies to my own personal watch list or anime in general, that is up to more informed minds.

So let’s get to my review.

First, THE PLOT:>

I have always found it tricky to determine through which eyes the Jormungand story is played out. The primary conflict here is between Koko and Jonah's characters. Mind you I get the idea that a series will have a male and female protagonist, but I always thought that with Jormungand , there was always one primary story that took the first and most prominent position over the rest.

I would personally prefer Jonah’s character to take the lead in this case, but as the over all plot of the show has developed over 20 something episodes, it’s pretty safe to say that Koko runs the show.

Anyway, that’s me arguing with myself, ignore those first two paragraphs.

In Jormungand, we have the story of Koko Hekmatya (I know I spelt that wrong), daughter of Floyd Hekaetya, president of the HCLI company, an organization that deals primarily in arms.

Koko runs the company’s European and African division with her specially selected team of eight current and ex service men (service men here meaning that they once partook in fighting of one form or another but not particularly in the army.)

Koko is white haired, pale skinned and quite girly, but what none that have ever come up against her can deny is her ruthless cunning and unmatched thirst to succeed in her goal as HCLI’s operative.

Koko could better be compared with Nicholas cage in the old movie, ‘the lord of war’. She facilitates war and conflict where she can, and she will not hesitate to sell anything and everything to the highest bidder.

Like any arms dealer, Koko sees her self as nothing more than a middle man in man’s race to destroy himself. Her work will se her traversing Europe and sometimes Africa, primarily visiting war ravaged countries where different rebels and factions are more than willing to empty their nation’s coffers in an effort to acquire the latest guided missiles or machine gun.

And Koko complies, she never misses a deadline and no road untaken or land unmapped is too difficult or dangerous for her that she would fail to deliver her demanded goods.

At any one time she will meet with clients ranging from black listed rebel leaders hiding in their caves in an attempt to stave off the scent of international forces, to notorious dictators determined to slaughter their own people for the sake of achieving delusional ambitions, to powerful heads of states in powerful western countries determine to support one warring faction over another in some poor war torn state, without the knowledge and support of their people.

And through all these missions, Koko is guided and guarded by a rag tag team of elite vagabonds, more blood thirsty than any savage, more skilled than any force and incredibly loyal to their equally doting and capable master, Koko.

Under the auspices of the HCLI and her own personal guard, Koko goes about spreading the name Hekmetyar to all corners of the earth and making as many enemies as she lives dead.

The series picks up only months after Jonathan Mar joins the team. As a dark skinned white haired boy of Arabic origin, Jonah is a former child soldier who, through the events shrouding his past in the mountain infantry and subsequent assignment to a military base following the death of his parents and total destruction of his village, Jonah was forced into Koko’s care via her brother’s canning game.

From the start, Jonah states his total and utter hate for guns and the arms dealers that deal with them. And that acts as the puzzle that occupies his disturbing days as part of Koko’s team. Because if he hates guns and hates arms dealers, why is he travelling with one. In fact, not only is Koko an arms dealer, but she is one of the biggest in the world.

As Jonah tries to work this conundrum out, he finds himself a home among the crazy men and women of HCLI. He learns of the true nature of the arms industry and through that, begins to develop an understanding of Koko, the woman whose side he’s sworn to protect even if it cost him his life.

Koko is a conundrum to Jonah’s little mind. Yes she is an arms dealer, but she claims that the reason she sells guns is to bring peace in the world. Koko is a fun and playful girl, that much Jonah can say, especially the way she will tease him, and the little games she engages in with the killers and murders of the team, killers and murders that would die for her.

But underneath it all, Jonah knows that there is more to it. He has felt it from time to time, that beneath her never ending smile, Koko hides a monstrous secret, a dark side of her that she has chosen to hide and protect Jonah from.

Equally puzzling are the men that follow her. Jonah has seen them kill enmass without so much as blinking. The very men that will take him aside during breaks in missions to teach him Math and English and every other subject he never got to learn due to the war, the very same men that will carry him to the beach on one hot summer day, the men ad women that will share a light coffee with Kasper, Koko’s brother, in an airport, minutes before riddling a disembarking passenger with bullets.

Jonah can’t help but puzzle at this anomalies. More than that though is his sense of duty to protect Koko and the attachment he develops to her over time. Jonah hates guns, but he travels with an arms dealer. But maybe this one is different, maybe this one isn’t like all the other murderous lunatics ready to spread war to every corner of the world.

And maybe, because she saved him, he can saver her as well.

On her part Koko holds Jonah in a much more sacred place within her than even he knows. More than merely the little brother he never has and dotes over, Jonah plays a greater role in Koko’s life, beyond his impressive combat and tracking skills.

To Koko, the description of a successful mission isn’t merely completing the delivery and getting paid. To Koko Hekmatyar, a successful mission and making a delivery,getting paid, and getting every single one of her nine man team out alive.

To Koko, these eight men and women are more than hired guns. She single handedly picked every single one of them through the past 7-12 years, at a point in their history when the future was bleak and uncertain. She knew them intimately, before they ever saw her face, and she trusts them not only with her life, but with the life of her family and her company, HCLI. And she will not hesitate to react excessively violently when their lives are threatened.

This of course only goes to show Koko’s resourcefulness, because even without any combat capabilities, Koko has shown herself more than capable of unleashing unknown hell down upon those that unnecessarily threaten her people.

Here in enter one of Jormungand strongest elements, the villains. IN the world of arms dealer and guns, there are no good guys. But even then, there are men and women that will prove themselves more ruthless and vile than the job requires. These are elements that are in it for more than the money , and will usually target the HCLI team for a variety of reasons, chief among which is revenge.

The most impressive elements of this anime will be the wacky collection of hit men and assassins assigned to eliminate the competition, with the employers varying, from competitive arms dealers, to revenge fueled elements, to the CIA and all other security agencies that eventually ran out of patience when it comes to the legal game of apprehending Koko and her people, and instead decide to eliminate them entirely.

Whatever the driving purpose, these team of assassins will have to make use of outlandish and unique tactics in order to contend with a group as dangerous as Koko’s; most times the series expands on the characters behind the assassins, and it isn’t out of the ordinary to find the interactions between these killers more entertaining that their duels with Koko. More often than not, you as the viewer routes for Koko to emerge victorious, but when done right, it isn’t so out of the ordinary that you will hope that the assassins themselves survive the battle with their lives.

At the end of the day, Jormungand is about guns, big guns and even bigger guns. We are given an insight into the democratic processing littering the arms business and that not every deal is settled with explosions. More often than not there is more talking, marketing and blackmailing and threatening.

Even fickle elements like beauty and popularity matter when it comes to convincing an African dictator that your company will enable him to annihilate the rebel factions much faster and more brutally than the other 20 companies vying for the same contracts.

The series isn’t shy in tackling boring elements like technology and how it has changed the face of arms dealing. And the show does its best to make episodes less about endless lectures and statistics, and more about explosions even while it educates you. Even as a young arms dealer, Koko finds herself learning more and more every day, specifically when it comes to modern war fair and the idea than she might have to adapt to the changing landscape of war before the HCLI is left behind.

REVIEW:>

So I find it difficult to properly review this series without giving away all the little bits and pieces of information that makes it one of my top 5 anime of 2012. Yes, it is all about big guns, and smuggling operations through dangerous territories, but more than that are the stories that puncture the notorious gun battles that Jormungand is known for.

As far as the comparison with black lagoon is concerned, It was hard to watch Koko and her team operate without regurgitating memories of Revy and that Asian guy travelling the high seas of Japan.

True, Jormungand operates on a much bigger scale that Black lagoon, with their individual purchases and sales having serious consequences on whole nations, and in time, the world as a whole.

But it is more than Koko’s team being a bigger whale than Black lagoon’s fish that endears me to the show. It is the light heartedness that the series presents in the darker moods of the arcs.

I always thought that black lagoon was a little bit too depressing, not in the way it told the stories or presented the characters; but that was the basic idea they tried to lay out for the viewers, of a very dark group of characters in a very dark and ugly world.

Even at the most light hearted moments, the show always managed to create a sense that this, the life that Revy lived, was more hell than anything.

This is in comparison to Jormungand, whose characters make light of the business they are partaking in. Wait, that is it, the deciding factor that separates Jormungand from black lagoon. I was going to waste several paragraphs trying to explain this, but I think it all comes down to fun.

When i watch Koko’s team out in the field, taking on dictator presidents or rebel armies, the one thing that you will almost always pick up on is how much fan they are having. Of course I am not saying that the black lagoon company were a gloomy bunch. The writers make an effort to show us those scenes during which the team seems to revel in what they do, but that, more often than not, comes off as more like a display of blood lust, like savage warriors in the wild thirsty to kill and maim; and that only impels Revy and her people into the realm of psychopathy.

What Jormungand shows us and what the characters themselves state on multiple occasions is that working for Koko, even in the most savage of circumstances where they raid complexes and kill on a large scale, all that is merely a job, a career with good pay and some interesting perks.

There is none of that speech found in black lagoon about how you were chosen by a certain life and are doomed to follow some dark thuggish path to hell and what not. basically Koko and her people do no make light of what in the end is a villainous task, but more than that, they don’t let it consume them.

Anyone of them could just as easily leave HCLI, ran off to some farm somewhere and start a life and family; and that is only possible because work as an arms dealer is merely a career; there is no fatalistic talk about death and how all that tread that path are doomed or whatever that scarred woman said to the asian guy in an attempt to convince him to head back home in black lagoon.

Because of this mind set, you find that Koko and her people are able to craft a little world of happiness in the midst of all the blood shed. And I am not merely speaking of the occasional hours spent at the beach to relax before a mission, or the strange hikes into the mountains to the watch butterflies…though all these can be weird activities in the light of the actions that they eventually have to take later on…

It is the little moments they have during the gun fights, the funny jokes, chats with old friends that happen to be shooting at them and who they know they will have to kill once their little reminiscing ends, that make all the difference, especially how genuine all this interactions sounds.

It don’t want to be so corny as to call this small group of ten a family, but in battle, that is what they are. Funnily enough, black lagoon will have such light moments in the midst of battle, but you can sort of tell that they aren’t nearly as genuine as they are meant to sound like. Most times, the scenes play out rather tragically.

With the description i have given above, it isn’t hard to guess that Jormungand is a primarily character driven show. You would be right, as Koko’s group is an intriguing group of characters to watch. While the writers haven’t exactly done a perfect job in juggling all ten characters, it has been a treat to watch in the instances where this juggling act has been done right.

At the start, we are introduced to Koko and her people as ready made men and women. It is only in later episodes that we begin to understand a little more about them. Revealed knowledge about these characters, through episode long flashbacks, only makes them more intriguing with time.

So far I have been fondly impressed with Lehm, the oldest member and Koko’s deputy, ex delta force operative with impeccable leadership skills. So far all we know of him is that he used to work for Kasper as his bodyguard, along side his wife, now ex wife..

Then there is Valmet, an ex major with the Finnish Rapid Response unit, whose incursion into African territories led her down a revenge fueled path under the guidance of Koko.

It is really hard to make mention of these characters and detail what it is that makes them so interesting to watch without giving away their secrets and how they eventually join the team, because that is the fun part of the series. Even Ugo, former professional gate away driver for the mafia has an interesting story to tell about how he met Koko and under which circumstances he made the jump to HCLI.

But clearly the most interesting of these is Jonah. The young Arabic boy is as expressionless as he is quite, well known for going through entire hours of transit without saying a single word. Clearly his young burgeoning mind has been scarred by events that transpired during his days as a child soldier. But it is amusing to watch him in those rare moments, when his stony façade breaks, to reveal a joyous smile and the excitement of a child watching a rocket launch or a rare butterfly hover.

While he tries to hides this side of him, it is more interesting that it sounds to watch Koko try to break that cold casing he has entrenched himself behind. On his part, Jonah will spend most missions, not questioning or even trying to understand the logic or morality behind an assassination or kill, but attempting to reason out the logic behind Koko’s decisions, and the mask she screws on for everyone in the form of the smile that will creep upon her face in times of trial.

Little is revealed about Koko’s true nature through out the episodes that I have watched. Sure we get some sense of who she really is, especially during the business with one of her people, Renato (big surprise there, if you haven’t seen it), but it is hinted upon on more than one occasion that there is more to Koko than meets the eye. Some have referred to her as a dragon, and Jonah believes this to revolve around the grand master plan she has been plotting with Doctor Minami for the past year, a plan which only she and Koko are aware of, and which Koko has promised to kill everyone that finds out this secret (even Jonah, who she warns against snooping in that part of her life.)

It has been hinted upon by a certain CIA agent (scarecrow) that to Koko, Jonah is a wall, not protecting Koko from the world but the defending the world from Koko. If Koko is the dragon she has been said to be, then bringing in Jonah created a buffer, to restrict the part of her she fears loosing to the world, a part we catch a glimpse of when an assassin with a grudge, Hex, makes a fatal attempt against the group.

While only hinted at, I will assume that there really is more to Koko that meets the eye; after all even with Hex acting as a CIA operative, scare crow was quick to point out that they couldn’t allow her to take down her target, Jonah, because only he could keep a lid on Koko.

No doubt it is intriguing to watch these two, as well as the miscellany of characters that make an appearance in Koko’s life. I am thinking of Scarecrow, the CIA agent that, rather than interrogate Koko, thought it better to beat her up instead in a police station, surrounded by astounded police officers, to make it known that he could do what he wanted, when he wanted, so long as he captured her.

Despite there rather disturbing introduction, Scarecrow and his partner schocolade prove to be as hilarious a set of characters as Koko and her people.

Kasper and Jonah meet during his days as a child soldier.
Kasper and Jonah meet during his days as a child soldier.

Kasper’s brother, head of the Asian branch will make an occasional appearance, with his visits marred by Jonah’s constant attempts to kill him. Koko will try to assuage Jonah’s hate for her brother, but she is seldom successful, with Jonah’s hate stemming from Kasper’s involvement in the destruction of Jonah’s home-he sold the rebels the weapons they used to burn the village down.

Like Koko, Kasper is white haired and pale skinned, and has an uncanny resemblance to Koko, even though they aren’t twins. While they have agreed to stick to their separate businesses and will not hesitate to put their respective businesses over each other, the siblings have one rule that governs there lives as arms dealers; if any of them ever needs a hand, the other can never refuse a request of assistance.

I haven’t watched a show like this since Hyouka, another top 5 favorite of 2012; if you read my review of the series, I mention that the anime’s greatest factor is its ability to create a group of characters who, by themselves, are pretty interesting to watch. I doesn’t matter if they are spending an afternoon preparing for their high school festival or fighting ghosts; basically it doesn’t matter what kind of plot or story the characters were placed it, I was simply content watching them. And that is a rare attribute in an a anime.

Jormungand seems to capture the same spirit, in that I would be just as content watching Koko’s team talking to their assassins as I would be seeing them do battle. They are all simply too fun to watch, and that goes some way into making this a much more impressive show than Black lagoon.

Don’t get me wrong, Revy was a fun female character to watch in action; but in truth I had more fun watching Koko, in her neat white suite, seating at a table and verbally dueling with a widow, a former model that, rather than work, decided to take over her husband’s business and,even at forty had a way of charming the competition into submitting to her supposedly nocuous demands.

VERDICT:>

This show is a must watch for all black lagoon fans. I can guarantee (maybe 70%) that you will get a kick out of its 22 episodes. If you were not fan of black lagoon, then this show will taste even better for you. It’s got as much action, adventure and comedy as you would want, with all the tales and warnings of war and its consequences that you would expect from a series about arms dealing. If you aren’t watching it, then I hope I have convinced you to give it a try.

Animation and Music: I usually don’t bother mentioning this unless it matters; in the case of Jormungand, the animation is clean and crisp, with superb sound tracks and scores accompanying the madness.

Ugo's first run in with Koko, that would be his brother and mafia guards dead on the floor
Ugo's first run in with Koko, that would be his brother and mafia guards dead on the floor

Jormungand is adapted from a 2006-2012 manga by Keitaro Takahashi, serialized in the monthly Sunday Gene X magazine. With eleven volumes in the manga, the anime has been released in two seasons, Jormungand and Jormungand: perfect order, totaling 22 episodes all together, with the second season ending its run in December 2012.

The animation studio, White Fox, has done shows like Katanagatari, Steins;gate and Mobile suite Gundam 00.

MY RATING:> 4/5

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Whoa, what a chapter. It is hard to say more than that, because this chapter was…I can’t find another word for not really good and not really bad, without making it sound average, because this chapter, 321, was anything but average.

THE PLOT:>

It seems a fairy tail chapter can be better explained from the perspectives of the characters involved, so:

1. Natsu- Still kicking Garou knights ass, but seriously; why even bother wasting a panel on this crap.

2. Grey and Juvia- So these two water based mages are getting their asses kicked, but for some reason they think that lyon and Chelia’s team work is somewhat off. Clearly they are in denial because even with Lyon unwilling to bring Juvia down, they are losing, badly. Gray and Juvia are however preparing to make some sort of play.

3. Erza and Minerva- Now this is the battle to watch, and all I can say is WOW, WOW…second origin, Armor of Nakagami…Why Hiro? Why are you going to mess this up again? You have everything you need to make this the number one fight of the tournament.

4. Laxus and Jura- the former potential number one fight of the Daimatou Enbu; so this was a real tassel. We saw both Jura and Laxus literally go all out in a sick brawl, throwing earth and lightning magic, and completely wrecking the battle ground in their attempts to prove that they were ‘men’.

With so much punch on face contact, I was worried for a moment that Laxus would go down; but instead he rose to the challenge, did a Natsu (in speech and technique) and took down Jura with an all new secret dragon slayer technique, roaring thunder. All I can say is, EPIC, seriously EPIC.

One shot, that is all it took to bring Jura down, though saying it like that makes the K.O seem easier than it was. Laxus pulled some serious moves in this battle, and I didn’t even know that he could move that fast with his lightning. Even Makarov was blown away by the level of strength and power that his son displayed.

By the end of this chapter, the obvious has happened; fairy tail is in the lead, with saber tooth and Lamia scale trailing. And with that many players left to play, there is no way they are losing the game to saber tooth, especially not when the only card saber tooth has to play is Sting.

Next week is a double chapter, 36 pages, with a color page (strange how that isn’t all that exciting). Hiro is closing the Daimatou enbu, so something has to happen next week, something that changes the face of fairy tail completely, even more than Acnologia and the seven year time skip event.

I would be mad not to keep on reading.

REVIEW:>

This chapter was infuriating on the whole, in that I can’t really make my mind up about it. On the whole, it was very predictable, Erza finally gaining an advantage over Minerva and Jura finally falling to Laxus’ power; for all intent and purpose, Hiro didn’t try to surprise us with the verdicts. Hell, I already know that Grey and Juvia are going to beat the hell out of Lyon and Chelia.

Fairy tail will win this thing, and there will be no dispute as to what the number one guild in Fiore is. So if I am so decidedly irritated by the predictability of the chapter, where exactly is the problem with making up my mind?

Well it is simple, I am not actually irritated with the predictability, more like mildly annoyed. Because this chapter was awesome. Yes I knew Laxus would beat Jura, but even when it played out so directly, it was fun and entertaining to watch. The battle, though displayed over only 6-8 pages, managed to portray a sense of difficulty and intensity.

We could see that both of these giants among mages were throwing there all into this battle, so contrary to what I thought initially, this battle didn’t feel rushed; though maybe another chapter would have helped. We saw Laxus do more than rely on the same old tricks and moves we saw him display against Natsu, Gajeel and Hades.

This was a laxus on fire, releasing earth shattering lightning against an opponent who wouldn’t go down. So strangely enough, while a part of me was disappointed by how the fight ended, especially so quickly, another part of me really enjoyed that showdown.

Same thing goes for the Erza Minerva fight. I couldn’t believe just how brutally battered Erza looked, and for a moment I didn’t think she had the power to keep on fighting. I am gaining more and more respect for Minerva with each passing chapter. Truly, she is a monster.

But while we all knew Erza would triumph, I personally didn’t see the second origin thing coming. I assumed, like Ultear said, that Erza had already mastered her second origin, which is why she was so strong. But I guess she was wrong, Erza is simply beastly, and now she is going to show Minerva hell.

And even if we know it is coming, Hiro is managing to execute it awesomely, with crazy new armor and hopefully a new power to go with it. And besides, there is no way this fight is going to turn out like the Jura Laxus battle. Even if Hiro fails to surprise us, we all want to see Minerva get her eyes clawed out, so as far as that battle is concerned, I expect to be satisfied either way.

There better be more to Natsu’s fight than the Garou knights. Clearly Hiro is simply trying to keep him busy. I am quite anxious to see what Juvia and Gray will do. I don’t think Gray has ever acquired a power up before, so this should be interesting. Clearly Lyon and Chelia are the superior team; though it is interesting to see that Lyon won’t harm Juvia, but has now qualms with seeing her hurt. Juvia on the other hand would go crazy against anyone trying to harm gray.

I really can’t complain about fairy tail, or maybe I am beginning to understand it a little better. With fairy tail, the aim is for you wrap up the chapter and sigh in satisfaction that you were entertained.

And that is what fairy tail is, a pith less fluffy manga, designed to get your adrenaline pumping through cheap thrills like new attacks and armor. Unfortunately for me (or maybe fortunately), I like it.

I can’t wait to see the climax of the games.

MY HIGHLIGHT:>

I thought it would be Laxus’ roaring thunder moment, or Erza’s armor of Nakagami moment. But it is actually a tie between Erza going second origin (just that scene was epic), and Laxus going in for the kill, only for Jura to counter with a barrage of earth columns exploding from below. That was amazingly done, with the trail line, showing the path Laxus dah followed in his speedy retreat before immediately curving round and following with another attack.

I have to point out one silly thing Hiro said in the chapter: ‘A man’s dignity in his fists. Laxus’ soul is on fire’ Every time I tried to think about this line, I couldn’t help but laugh, because it sounds so nonsensical.

Laxus saying that Natsu line (‘I am fired up’) was too corny, too corny. He is literally too cool for that, especially as a future master of Fairy tail.

Either Erza or Jura take this chapter.

MY RATING:> 5/5 (or 2/5) I can’t decide.

On a side note, in case you haven’t heard, fairy tail the anime has been bleached; in other words it has been cancelled as of march 30th. If you loved this anime, then this is bad news for you; if you hated it, then I guess I just gave you some good news.

Auspiciously however, shortly after this news broke, Hiro Mashima, Fairy tail’s Mangaka tweeted that he had some really good news but which he couldn’t reveal on the studio’s orders.

Here’s to hoping that they are firing the entire fairy tail animation team, and bringing in people that can provide fatezero level quality, if the good news here is that fairy tail will return, that is.

DAY BREAK ARC.

THE PLOT:>

This arc picks off where the Macau arc left off, and it is equally as short, but that is to expected in this early stage.

So Lucy walks into her room to find that Natsu and Happy had broken in and were currently going through her stuff. Finding her keys, and after the temper tantrum, Lucy explains to the pair that a celestial mage forms bonds with celestial spirits before utilizing them. She displays this with her new key (that she bought from the shop the day she met Natsu), from which she summons the tiny white (useless ) spirit and forms a contract with it.

Natsu and happy are less than impressed, but Natsu, seemingly capable of understanding the white spirit’s intelligible speech, reveals the creature’s wish, that the two join forces and become a fairy tail team.

Lucy is all for it (being weak, having a mage like Natsu by her side increases her chances of success in tasks); she regrets it minutes later when it is revealed that natsu and happy already took a job before coming over. The target has a thing for beautiful blonde maids and Natsu needed Lucy to worm her way past the target’s defenses by preying upon his lusts. Lucy is less than happy to have fallen for Natsu’s trap.

The team meets kaby, the client, who not only reveals the simplicity of the mission, to retrieve a very precious book from a bad man, but that he had increased the reward money, ten fold.

Lucy is ecstatic and quickly dons her maid’s dress before the team heads to the target, Everlue.

At the gate, Everlue comes running at the sound of Lucy’s voice, but then slams the gates shut at the sight of Lucy, rejecting her for her ugliness. Lucy is livid, while Natsu determines that the stealth plan had failed and that now they would resort to brute force.

They enter through the window where encounter Everlue,and his guard, a giant overweight brutish maid with super strength and the ability to burrow through the earth.

After a short melee, Natsu acquires the book, daybreak and he prepares to burn it, when Lucy Knocks him over and takes it. She recognizes the author, Zekua Melon, a famous writer. As a fan she was surprised that she had never heard of the book before. Natsu is determined to burn the book as this was the order that Kaby gave them, to acquire the book and then burn it, and then they would get paid.

But Lucy, on perusing through it, believes that it might hold a secret, one that would force kaby to want to destroy it, and Everlue to fight for it so passionately.

Everlue summons the Vanish brothers, supposedly powerful warriors with anti fire mage capabilities. Lucy begs Natsu to hold them off while she tries to decode the book. She does this using her Gale force reading glasses, which I assume allow her to read and decipher the book’s contents are superhuman speeds.

Unfortunately for her, Everlue corners her but not before Lucy decodes the message in its pages. Everlue admits the reason that he fights for the book; apparently he paid a great deal of money to Zekua Melon to write the book and make it about him. In other words, it was his property, not Kaby’s and they were actually stealing not reclaiming it.

But Lucy tells him that there was a message hidden within daybreak, one that even Everlue didn’t know about. Now Everlue is determined to reclaim the book. However the vanish brothers, who initially troubled natsu, have been beaten. So Everlue summons his giant of a maid, Virgo, with Natsu in tow(hanging onto her leg). Virgo is Everlue’s spirit as it turns out. He is a celestial mage.

Unfortunately for him, Natsu, having gotten over his shock at the sight of the ‘gorrila maid’ takes her down with a dragon slayer move. Lucy summons cancer and they take down Everlue.

The team returns to Kaby, victorious. But to there shock and Natsu’s chagrin, Kaby attempts to burn the book. He tells the story of his father returning home after three years, but rather than rejoicing in his return, Zekua melon took a an axe and cut his own arm off.

Apparently Everlue located him during his darker days and offered him money to write a hideous story about him, that flew in the face of some kind of ethical code that he lived by as a writer.

Kaby lost faith in the integrity and pride of his father, and days later, Zekua Melon committed suicide in shame.

Kaby wanted to take the book back to destroy it and erase his father’s shame. But Lucy reveals the code, within which is located a message from Zekua to his son, relieving him of any fault in the old man’s suicide. Kaby breaks down.

Natsu and happy forfeit their reward as they didn’t destroy the book. Lucy is livid, but takes consolation in her prize Virgo, her new celestial spirit who, as per Lucy’s request transforms into a slimmer body.

REVIEW:>

This chapter provided a few highs and lows. First I am thinking of the vanish brothers, who, despite their introduction, proved to be a little to. silly for my taste, specifically the bit about how their anti mage weapon was basically a large frying pan.

BUt on the other hand, it introduced to me the quirky side of fairy tail, and set a precedence for what the series of fairy tail would be like. Clearly the story doesn’t take itself seriously, especially seeing that Natsu himself was caught off guard by the stupidity behind some of Everlue’s defenses. But then again this is a show that’s most comparable with one piece.

Virgo, as far as I am concerned was the highlight of the arc. As Everlue’s spirit, the object of his desire and lust and his primary weapon, the large women provided a lot of laughs, with regards to her interactions with the stunned fairy tail mage and the means with which she kept trying to destroy them. So quirky and silly, that is the message this arc was meant to set out.

In Kaby’s plight and eventual redemption, we saw a little bit of the heart of fairy tail, that gooey part that deals with nakama and love and the connections we have with the people we meet.

Hiro also adds a hint of darkness, in dealing with Kaby’s history and the pride that led his father to eventually commit suicide. Seldom do you find children targeted shows that would make a mention of a topic like suicide and the effect it has on those left behind. A much more serious show would have given Kaby’s life more exposition, specifically the path that his life had taken as a result of his father’s tragic decision.

But this is the kind of task that separates one piece from fairy tail, which quickly and briefly resolves that plot; with Kaby resolving his dark feelings through the final words of his father.

VERDICT:>

I wasn’t sure what I thought of this arc the first time I read it, but when I look back on it now, it wasn’t so bad. It had a perfect balance of action (Natsu VS the vanish brothers was actually awesome despite the silliness), comedy (everything from Natsu treating Lucy as an object to entice Everlue, Lucy’s so called ugliness , Virgo and the vanish brothers), and tragedy (Kaby’s life has been consumed by the decisions of his father, so much so that he embraces poverty in his attempts to right past wrongs).

My rating for this arc the first time I read it was a 2.5/5. It is currently a little different. I recommend this arc for any first time fairy tail fan, even without checking out the first arc.

MVP of the arc- Virgo (funny lady0, Everlue (crazy, pervert, determined)

MY RATING: 3.5/5.

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Ever since I became more intimately acquainted with manga and its workings, this subject about comics has irked me; especially with my recent foray into the world of comics. So I thought I would touch on it briefly, from my perspective as an ardent manga fan.

My earliest memories of comic books relate primarily to Xmen, as theirs were the titles that more frequently caught my eye. I was always fascinated to enter the comic book store and find so many differently titled books with the words ‘xmen’ written on them.

Basically I couldn’t figure out which was the real XMEN and which where the copy cats; because at that age I couldn’t see it any other way. There could only be one XMEN in one book and everything else was merely a cheap copy; so I always assumed the reason there were all these books with different authors and artists was because persons out their, probably located in some Asian country, were attempting to reproduce the success that was XMEN.

The variations differed, some with the phrase ‘uncanny’, others entirely renamed, such as ‘X-force’, but all primarily concerning the lives of mutants and their respective challenges.

AS I grew older, I began to notice that not only did the titles of XMEN books on the shelf change fairy regularly, but even the names of the authors would vary with time. Again this perplexed me, but made sense as I would traverse the pages and realize that the story that I had been reading in the last couple of months wasn’t the story that was continuing in the current book; and even more than that, there were as many missing characters from the old story as there were new characters.

Sufficing to say, I finally caught on, on the idea of how comics really operate, with regularly changing writers, artist and the directions. Funny enough, up to 2004, I was certain that not only had Stan Lee created spider man, but that he had been writing the comic for the several decades it has been in circulation.

Anyway, what I am saying is that while I have gained some understanding about the serialization of comics, I am still…disturbed by this one element…well actually there are quite a number of elements about comics that irritate me.

I watch anime, a lot of it in fact, and I will read manga on a regular basis (if I can find a good one), so when I am confronted by the ways of comics, I can’t help but cringe at the idea. Whose story is it, why change writers so often and how is the overall quality of the book affected?

These are all factors that I have a predetermined notion about; but before I delve into what I see as a critical failure in comics, I am going to first try and understand comics.

So as far as comics a concerned, I believe that they find themselves having to change artist and writers every so often primarily because of three negative factors.

ONE:> The length- I will save the bulk of this argument for another post, but comics are excessively long. We otaku have had Naruto, One Piece and Bleach for the better half of a decade; other manga like Jojo’s Bizarre adventure and Detective Conan might even be hitting the two decade mark; but none of those or for that matter any manga or manhwa work (that I can think of) is capable of standing up the decades upon decades of time that many of DC and Marvel’s most popular works have spent on the shelf.

Comics are general ridiculously long. Chances are many of DC and Marvel’s titles will be in print by the time I meet my demise. And since comics are infinite, it seems necessary to keep them fresh. Every new writer that signs onto a project is expected to breath some life into the title. Even with decades of life, fans have to be able to pick up a title of XMEN and find something new to read.

More than that, new writers appeal to new fans. With each passing generation, the heroes and villains are evolved to match the challenges of the day. Captain America started off fighting Nazis (movie knowledge) but that was ages ago. A new writer is expected to bring such an iconic character to 2013 and it’s unique set of challenges, be it Al-Qaida or global warming.

AS such Comics, in their infinite nature, have created for themselves an obstacle that they must overcome to stay relevant with the new crowd. Sometimes even the creators of characters can fail to adapt with the times, especially when unable to distance themselves from the original purpose behind the creation of their characters.

TWO:> Here we have ratings. SO comics mostly work like TV. You make a comic, publish it and people read it. If too few people take the time to read the title, it is either taken off the shelf or changes are made. From what I have seen, editors can choose to redefine the concept, such as making drastic changes to characters, titles and genres. So you have a book about batman fighting crime. But that isn’t working, so they can take batman to new Transylvania and have him fight vampires. That usually requires a whole new team of writers with a better grasp of the concept than the original.

It is unfortunate but true that comics are slaves to the ratings, as displayed by Kenny, a friend of mine that put up a petition for signatures on face book to force marvel into re-commissioning the hero Blue Marvel.

I would say that this sounds silly, but I will admit that a portion of manga titles are controlled by ratings, but unlike you average comics, I doubt that manga artists and writers would ever be asked to make changes to stories and characters merely to satisfy ratings. Most likely, if a manga fails, rather than tweak his story, a mangaka will be asked to go somewhere else to publish his work, and because of the way the manga market works, it is easier to move from one publishing company to another than it is for a comic to get dropped by one company and get picked up by another company.

More importantly the chances of a mangaka striking out on his own and creating and publishing an independent manga are higher in terms of success than they are for a comic book writer that gets dropped by DC and decides that they will self publish and market. I believe this to be a result of the tastes of otaku out their that are willing to diversify and try any new thing out there. Many comic book fans on the other hand are so dedicated to the books the love, mainly mainstream stuff like superman or spider man, that they wouldn’t give some unknown self published book the time of day. So I guess this goes to comic book fans and their fickle tastes VS manga fans and there search for new untapped talent in writing and art.

THREE:>So this point is probably the one that I find most irksome, mostly because it was the one that most confounded my early comic life back in school. So basically you have a hero playing different roles in multiple books. For instance, you have wolverine as a member if an elite mutant team in one book, the leader of a school of mutants in another book, a member of the avenger in one part of the country, a member of another avengers team in another part of the country….and so on.

It get’s confusing because basically I am left wondering whether everything I am reading is occurring in the same universe and around the exact time, and usually that isn’t the case.

So you have this one character taking part in adventures from all over the world, and what I have seen happening is that writers are moved from one book to another depending on their ability to write the story and their interests. So you can trace someone’s style of art through out the journey of a character in different dimensions of his life in different comics.

More interesting is when authors are working on more than one book at a time, or rather when they show an ability to write a book that they are not writing better than the book that they are writing…it gets confusing, at least for me, especially when I am reading news of transfers, like it’s a football game and we are exchanging players.

SO let’s forget why the comic world chooses to rely on multiple authors, be it artists or writers to create books and stick to why I hate it. Personally when I look at it from the stand point of an otaku, it seems to destroy the quality and standard of a comic.

This is what I love about manga and why I think they have mastered a superior art in comic creation, that even comic book authors and companies should emulate.

We have a mangaka that, most of the times, comes up with a concept, develops a story, creates characters, and begins to narrate the plot through his own art, conveying his own mind through these images and telling us a story from beginning to end.

The author knows what he wants to say and only he can tell the story from start to end, SO when I hear all this business about comic books and varying writers, this is what I think and imagine.

I see INCONSISTENT CHARACTERS. So we have an artist coming up and creating a unique character with unique abilities to play a specific role. Such a character will most likely mirror a part of the artist. So what happens when you introduce ten, twenty artist and writers throughout a period of 20 to 30 years?

Clearly there will be changes. Every writer will come to the table with a different view of the character that they will impose on the reader, and nothing can help that fact. Now, is that bad? No, there have been several reincarnations of these famous heroes that have been downright brilliant (I assume, I don’t know, basing on comments from a source), that have taken the character to new levels and heights, and have allowed the stories to evolve impressively.

But how many times have I read comments of how the batman of book x or superman of book Y was off, that even with a new ‘this’ and a new ‘that’, it simply wasn’t right. I hear this more and more from the rantings of my source of comics, mostly about how his beloved black panther has been ruined in this book or that book, be it a strange wedding or an uncharacteristic action.

The point is, no matter how great a character's changes are, someone out there turned to and began to follow that character because of a special something that they showed, be it attitude, speech, swagger; and even the most attractive changes for some will be an aversion to these people, because for all intent and purpose the character they began following isn’t the character they are reading.

It can’t be helped, but this is why the manga method of doing things is so attractive. Only Oda knows what the true nature of Luffy is, how he laughs, what he would say in a certain situation, and the path he will follow in his evolution. Even if you could bring in a second or third assistant ten years down the line when Oda is burnt out, who has known Oda during his work and knows the mindset he had in creating a character, what happens with a fourth and fifth replacement, mostly originating from outside Oda’s assistant pool?

You will have a Luffy that no One piece fan knows or understands. And that is just one of very many reasons that Manga is so awesome. But enough of that.

To my second point, I also envision INCONSISTENT STORIES. This is a worse element for a comic to befall than even the character bit; because while characters are important, some times a story is brilliant enough to carry the excess weight. But just like characters, every book or concept created by an author has a specific and distinct…element to it, a pathos that defines and rules it, and that distinctly mirrors a specific mindset, dependent on the author.

And like the characters, different writers have different ideas of how a story should progress; more than that, different writers have different takes on entire concepts.

IN other words, Frank Castle can still be Frank Castle ten years from now, except that he will be a space pirate killing evil aliens. Yes, the character is the same, but you took up the comic book to watch a normal man take on normal crime plaguing normal streets. Now a new writer has chosen to change the very reason you took up the book from an action genre to a sci-fi genre. That changes everything.

Every time a new writer takes on a new book, there is every chance that they will alter everything that endeared that character to you, never mind the fact that others might enjoy the changes.

Of course this is one of manga’s prominently driving elements, that even if you took a story spanning several hundred chapters over more than 20 years, you would still have a single consistent story continuing throughout this run. That is the beauty, that even with drastic changes, it is usually something that you saw coming in someway form or manner, especially if you have been following a title long enough. Even the most unexpected and drastic surprises and alterations will most likely be welcome.

There is no point touching on the whole multiple books for single characters bit; clearly I have already mentioned that it is confusing for me to read a book with superman doing one thing and then turn to another book with superman doing a whole other thing.

My problem with it of course is that the purpose behind it is money. So superman has proven to be popular in a given time period, so why not give him an extra two books; let’s throw him out their and into every face that comes into the store. I have always though that the point of writing a manga was to tell a story. If it was necessary to create two or even three titles of the same story, then fine, if it is to tell a specific story.

With that said, it is clear that I think comics could learn quite a lot from manga. Sure, stan lee couldn’t have written spider man for all these decades; but how about keeping up with the story for ten years, then passing on the mantle of the idea and mindset on to the next chosen writer for the book.

Sure, he could be old, too old to understand what the current generation wants, possibly even incapable of adapting to the needs and wants of the current readers; but that doesn’t rule him out of an advisory role, in which he could lead the new generation along the path he had originally wanted for spider man, but with alterations to speak to new minds.

The way I see comics work is that you create a character, write a couple of stories for him for about a year or two, then let the company take the rights and use the hero as they wish; heck it’s like every writer is free to do with a character as they wish.

If Kishimoto released Naruto to his publishers for a year, and returned to find the young hero with long spiky hair and wings, he would have a fit; more than that, he wouldn’t stand for it, because that isn’t the Naruto he created.

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But maybe fans are fine with writers ruining their favorite concepts and characters.

Anyway, so I took the time to consider the opposite of this argument. I am mostly a manga and anime fan, and I am only starting to get into comics. My first adventure into the world of comics was ages ago, when I was around 10 or 11 years of age, and a year or so later, I lost interest.

SO it could be possible that I am behind the times, and the comics method of doing things is the future. I mean, maybe it is manga that has something to learn. I considered this question for a day or so (maybe a few hours…or minutes) and decided that minus the coloring, that wasn’t the case and here is why.

Manga works for me because it is finite. It has a beginning, middle and end. So first of all, you will not be having multiple books of the same title, and even if you did, it would play out in a totally different way from what comics normally portray.

If Oda suddenly announced the release of two more One piece books, what you will have is two new stories, contributing to the major story. In other words, two books will eventually fuse with the first book and disappear, because the only reason a mangaka would consider having multiple books is to help tell the same story better.

You definitely not see the straw hat crew off on other adventures in other books while the main book focused on the main story, not unless they somehow added to the story. Most mangaka would see it as a waste of time.

Secondly, with a finite book, what would be the purpose of multiple writers exactly. If the mangaka knows the story’s trajectory from start to end, newly conscripted writers wouldn’t as much be creating new material as they would script already determined stuff.

Besides, one could say that manga’s counterpart, anime has already proven how flawed the idea would be in the form of fillers. Because that is what they are; a predetermined concept, is handed to fresh hands to do what they will with it, and they will usually create the most atrocious staff.

Just look at Bleach. If Kubo had truly intended Bleach’s ran to end at Rukia’s rescue and Aizen’s departure, the bount arc would have been an official manga saga, written by Kubo’s successor. More than that, we would have had several more hundred chapters of it; and I still can’t remember the bount arc without thinking ‘Oh that was crap’.

Basically by looking at fillers I have determined that mangaka cannot operate using the comic book methodology of hiring different authors to carry on the story (Though I could be swayed with DBZ, Toriyama should have given up the reigns after dragon ball).

Lastly in considering how the application of western comic methods to manga would work is the length. Basically I am wondering whether, if a series like one piece were to last more than fifty years, it would require and benefit from changing writers. Well it is clear that even if the story had the ability to last that long, Oda wouldn’t. But even if he did give up the reigns, it doesn’t change the fact that he has a specific vision for his story and anyone taking over would have to follow a predetermined route to a predetermined result.

At the end of the day, it is a matter of adaptability. Is manga too stiff and unwilling to change. Are mangaka too attached to their characters? I don’t think so. It is more like comic developers are too money absorbed and easily willing to relinquish control. It might be the way of the world today, but I think it affects the quality. Plus maybe comics writers are a little greedy.

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SO if I am a comic novice and I am only beginning to read comics, why should any of my opinions matter? I know some one is asking that question, and I took that into consideration, so I asked Kenny, my source of comics and crazy comic book fan, and anime novice, a few questions about what irks me about this topic.

Ignore any bad spelling or punctuation in the answers, I asked these questions and got replies via face book.So to save time I just copied and pasted.

ME: What is your take on this matter. Is changing writers in comics good or bad?

Kenny Muts: Well, it depends on the writers. where the new writer is better or worse than the previous one...there have been some comics that have been on the brink of cancellation only to be saved by a new writer with a fresh perspective on the lead characters & perhaps different writing style while in other cases the reverse is also true.

Also what should b taken into consideration is that the same can b said about the change of artists

ME: SO what if the same thing was applied to manga?

Kenny Muts: The thing with anime & manga is that most of them are independently created & personally attached to the creators(individual people...writers & artists) who prefer to handle the creativity, progression & illustrations of their own creations which is mostly different from comics(at least from Marvel & DC) were any character or book a writer or artist creates is owned by the company who can change artists & writers on those books & characters as they see fit.

ME: I still think that changing a writer messes with consistency and all that

Kenny Muts: Not really...especially if the new writer chooses to follow the writing style of the earlier writer & continues the pre-established storyline/plots especially if the earlier writer was doing a great job(astonishing reviews & acclaim from critics & readers/audience). Of course there are other writers who would prefer to do their own thing with new plotlines but bouncing off & relating to past stories while others just start fresh plots, fresh personalities without due regard to earlier work.

ME: Still sounds kind of…crazy to me

Kenny Muts: In my opinion, a change in artist is a lot more harsh than a change in writer.

ME: Does length play a role in making changes to authors, writer/artist?

Kenny Muts: Well...i dunno much about that in relation to anime but it kind of matters in comics especially if it is an ongoing comic because some writers’ contracts may come to an end or a writer is doing commendable work on the book or suddenly gets pre-occupied with something(illness, marriage, etc.) or simply requests to leave the book especially if the writer has wrangles with the editor of that book.

Added comment: Given what was said above...if regular changes in writers & artists where made in a manga or anime it may have an uneven &/or haphazard effect on the consumers(audience & readers) most particularly with the change in artists than writers because if the previous writer was doing a great job then the new writer might probably choose to imitate the writing style & continue the pre-established plots/storylines instead of just starting a brand new plot ignoring the previous writers work. Given the long standing tradition of a majority of anime where creators tend to stay with & closely develop their creations from beginning to end which to a certain extent maintains consistency.

Added Comment:

But consistency doesn't equate gr8 work.

At least not always.

END

All I am hearing is get rid of big evil greedy comic book companies and everything will be fine. Or maybe it is the fans who do not appreciate there comics, the way manga fans appreciate their manga.

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