katmic (Level 10)

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I have never understood the point of comparing Full metal Alchemist and brotherhood, mostly because for me it has always been rather obvious that Brotherhood is miles ahead of Alchemist. Then again that shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering that a part of me was somewhat disappointed by Alchemist.

There are so many amazing moments in Brotherhood, both story and action wise that it is seems hard to pick out any one specific epic incident. Yet there is no doubt that this one is indeed worth mentioning above all the rest.

The context:>

So we are introduced to Mayes Hughes early in the series. Mayes is Mustang’s best friend and biggest supporter in his quest to reach the top of government. However the arrival of the Elric brothers portends several mysterious events in the capital, mostly involving secret labs and experiments and a large conspiracy that threatens the very existence of the nation. Mayes is quick to sniff out the details and zeroes in on the culprits; but unknown to him, in his search for justice, he has attracted the attention of a new enemy, a party that has joined forces with the corrupt of the government and will stop at nothing to eliminate anything and anyone that may pose a threat to the glorious plans of its head.

Mayes falls to the hands of the homunculus Envy just he prepares to pass on his newly discovered secrets to Mustang.

As expected all are distraught; Hughes was much loved. While the Elric brothers distract themselves with business of the philosopher’s stone and their lost bodies, Mustang begins work on finding out exactly what his best friend was involved in and why he had to die for it. But mostly he wants to find who it was that killed Hughes and murder them. And he gets this chance near the end of the series, first taking out Lust in earlier episodes before realizing, while saving Ed from an army of homunculi, that it was envy, the large dragon like creature that was responsible for Hughes’ death.

When you consider Hughes's death from the point of view of Brotherhood, it may seem a little premature, to see the character killed off so soon after introduction. But if you watched the original Alchemist and fill in those gaps of time with that previous knowledge (considering that some material was skipped over so as not to repeat every event from the first series) then it doesn’t seem that rushed. Either way, probably because of the prematurity of it, Hughes’ death was indeed tragic. I can think of two primary reasons why it was so impactful

First, Hughes was an easily lovable and likable character. He was simply bright and cheerful and he seemed to bring a spark of life to all those that knew him. This is best seen with his relationship with Roy. Hughes was probably Roy’s most loyal supporter in his quest to rule the country and would have done anything to see his friend’s dreams come true. It is easy to recognize Roy’s attitude towards Hughes as disdain, with the way he would drop in to the office unannounced, calling a busy Roy several times a day to recount nonsensical bits of information, and being an all round irritation to Mustang and his work.

But Hughes was more of a counter to Roy’s gloomy countenance. It is his actions and quirks that would swing Roy out of his down cast attitude and energize him to do what needed to be done. He was the friend that Roy wanted to be by his side when he finally rose to the top of nation. So it is easy to see the hole that Hughes left in Mustang’s heart and the hearts of Riza, Ross and all the others that knew him. Something was taken from the show with Hughes’ premature departure, something that could be felt through out the rest of the series.

Second, his family. You could say that Hughes and his family were one person. Barely a minute went by without Hughes making mention of his wife and child. Even in the most serious life and death conversation, Hughes couldn’t help but bring up the joys that were in his life. AS such when he died it felt like a part of his wife and daughter had died with him. You could feel for them, especially during the burial scene[ Elysia: Mommy? Why are they putting all that dirt on Daddy? Gracia: They're burying him, dear. Elysia: But if Daddy gets buried, then he won't be able to do all his work.Gracia: [crying] Elysia!Elysia: Daddy said he has a bunch of work he needs to do! No, stop it! Stop putting dirt on him! Daddy!]; Hughes wasn’t merely the best friend that Roy would never see again but the father and husband that they would never be with, and the friend that Ed and Al would never meet again.

Anime being what it is these days there is no shortage of death and any otaku could probably mention a few dozen deaths off cuff and the impact they had to the story of their respective series. But whenever any conversation regarding death in anime comes up among otaku, there is no doubt that Mayes Hughes death is one of the first five deaths to be mentioned; it is simply one of those that so easily floats to the top of your head. It was that impactful; and even thought wrath is still one of my favorite anime characters, he did lose some points with those remarks he made regarding Hughes’ death [Why must everyone make such a fuss over the death of a single soldier...? The moment a soldier dons his uniform, he accepts the reality that he might be buried in it. And about my hands... Hughes' child screeched throughout the entirety of his funeral. My hands were trembling with anger.]

But besides the death, there is its impact, specifically the revenge fueled path that it propelled Roy Mustang down. Sure Mustang had every intention of helping the Elric brothers find their answers and sure he wanted to stop father and save the nation, but there was never any doubt that Mustang held one goal above all those, one wish that he swore to fulfill the day he buried Hughes even if it cost him his life, to locate and destroy the person that killed his friend. And for a moment i feared that my favorite character had lost himself in his hate when he seemingly killed Maria Ross; but it turned out he was smarter than that. But there is no doubt that when he allowed his servants to kill Hughes, Father put all his plans for the nation in jeopardy; because inciting the fury of an individual to seek revenge is one thing, when that individual is as powerful as mustang, then you have a whole other problem.

We saw a glimpse of Roy’s fury when he went up against lust. But when he finally came up against Envy…let’s just say that that one episode took the series to a whole new level for me. The Roy Mustang that went up against Envy was cool, calm and collected. What he did was let his flames speak for him.

We have seen all those heroes out for revenge and eventually they seem to get it but i, as a fan am rarely ever satisfied. Because usually the main villain is also the subject of revenge so the hero has to defeat him and eventually kill him. What Roy did to Envy was more of a punishment that anything. He unleashed an eternity’s worth of wrath on Envy’s previously impressing self. What made that moment work was the satisfaction. Because i was so enraged and impacted by Hughes’ death, i, like Roy, wanted to see the culprit suffer to the full extent that all those affected by Hughes’ death had suffered.

And Roy did just that. He fried Envy over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. To the point that it became pitiful. Here were two individuals that had once faced each other as combatants, ready to tear each other apart. Now Envy was the helpless rabbit, fighting to survive the savage wolf that was Roy. And that was another poignant element of this moment. BY the end of it all, Envy wasn’t trying to kill Roy. He was fighting with everything he had to ran away, to save his life and more importantly, escape the endless pain that Roy was dishing out against him.

It was a piteous moment for the mighty dragon turned little lizard. You felt Roy’s pain, and anguish that he was satisfying in destroying Envy again and again. You also saw his power and ability, that he was truly an alchemist to be feared; because no matter what Envy did, no matter which strategy he executed, or ambush, or attack; nothing worked, he simply couldn’t overcome Roy’s presence [That’s enough. You were stupid enough to confess, and even more stupid to boast! Everything you said is fuel on your funeral pyre. So then, I think I’ll begin by burning out your tongue!].

At the end of it all, Riza wouldn’t let him kill envy, but it didn’t matter. because he had more or less already got his revenge. These events go hand in hand, each epic for its own reason but both impacting on one another. Hughes was that important a person in FMA:Brotherhood and he deserved this kind of retribution, or maybe i just wanted to see Envy reap some of what he had sowed.

I will admit, the one fight i wanted to see was Roy Vs Wrath, but this was just as satisfying.

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My view of anime and manga varies and will degrade with the passing of time. Anime that i once thought of so highly will be debased in my eyes as i mature and experience more anime and manga. There will be those anime that will endure with time though. Even after more than five years since i last watched it, i can still say that soul eater is a really good anime. And blood+ is still one of the best series i have ever watched.

I watched trust and betrayal nearly two years ago and up to now, i can say confidently that it is the best anime i have ever watched, even with all the stuff i have watched in the past 12 months. That is saying something when you consider that the OVA was released 13 years ago when technology was nowhere nearly as advanced as it is today. Even with the top quality shows i have seen these past few years, trust and betrayal still sits far above them.

THE PLOT:>

Shinta is a small boy travelling with his adopted family in a train when they are ambushed by bandits. All are killed protecting Shinta, going so far as to shield him, a boy they never birthed, with their bodies in hopes of saving his life. Shinta would have died except for the skilled swordsman Hiko Seijuro who happens to pass by. He saves Shinta, butchers the bandits and, unable to do anything for the little traumatized boy, leaves.

He returns a long while later out of curiosity, expecting to find the boy long dead, only to find him hard at work, having buried all those that had died, including the bandits. Hiko, impressed by his spirit and strength, then takes him into his apprenticeship and changes his name to Kenshin (which means sword…something, i don’t remember) a more appropriate name for a swordsman. Hiko is master of the Hiten Mitsurugi ryu, the most dangerous swords style in the land.

Years later, Kenshin, still so young, is unable to ignore the cries of the weak, suffering under the Tokugawa shogunate and hopes to use his power to end its reign. Hiko is against this, mostly because the sword skill is of such power that whichever side kenshin supports, that side will win and he doesn’t believe Kenshin is old and wise enough to make the right decisions just yet. Mid training Kenshin leaves against Hiko’s will, joins the chosu clan and soon works for their leader Katsura Kogoro.

There Kenshin, through his opposition against the shogunate learns that it requires more pain that he anticipated to change the world and if he wishes to see lives saved, he will have to bathe in the blood of their enemies and bring more evil and suffering to those that he deems responsible than even they can achieve. In this quest he becomes the renown hitokiri Batousai, and in meeting Kiyosati Akira and eventually his wife Yikushiro Tomoe, learns what it truly means to live a meaningful life and make a true bloodless difference.

MY REVIEW:>

Undeniably the primary reason for this OVA’s success is Kenshin himself. I was a fan of the original samurai X TV series and during conversations regarding Kenshin’s past, usually brought up by his enemies, i always thought how awesome it would be to see what really happened back then. And this OVA reveals it to me, the story behind Kenshin, who he was as a child and the murderer he became as Battosai. And it is every bit as satisfying as i could have ever expected.

If all you did was watch the TV series and think you know who and what Battosai was, chances are you have no idea what you are talking about unless you have watched his OVA. Merciless doesn’t even begin to described Kenshin in this OVA. This Kenshin doesn’t afford precious seconds to his victims for forgiveness or grace; there are no negotiations. Once you encounter him, you are dead and that is that. In fact this Kenshin will not speak to you nor listen to what you have to say. He is basically terminator whose only objective is to kill when ordered and he does it well.

The Hiten Mitsurugi style of samurai X Kenshin is demonically fast, agile, stealthy and accurate. The Hiten Mitsurugi style of OVA Kenshin is demonically fast, agile, stealthy, accurate and demonically strong. Samurai X Kenshin was known for cutting men down before they could draw their swords or even complete a strike. In fact many of Kenshin’s enemies were down before they even knew it. It was merciful.

OVA Kenshin didn’t waste time with such mercies or stealthy kills unless necessary. If he struck and you blocked, he would cut right through the sword, cut through flesh and muscle and then sliced right through the bone like meat cleaver. Then he would walk away as blood spurting out of your exposed insides and you died a horrible death. This Kenshin wasn’t stealthily slicing enemies down, he was hacking through them, the way someone slashes weeds with a machete. When he went off, limbs went flying. You were lucky if you lost a head, it was that much faster a death. His style was brutal as it was vicious.

This Kenshin was perfect killing machine that wouldn’t have wasted times with the likes of Aoshi or Jenei. This Kenshin rarely wasted precious time jumping and skipping around, or letting his enemies cut into him while he tried to reason with them. You would be lucky to get your blade within a foot of him.

And with that description, you would be quick to label him a demon, which he was not. When you looked at him, all you would have felt was pity. There was a blindness, an unseeing in his eyes; there was no blood lust, or battle thirst. He wasn’t killing because he wanted to, or needed to, or because he liked it, or didn’t like it. There simply wasn’t any emotion in him, whether positive or negative with regards to killing. He wasn’t a killing machine, but a child trying to make a difference the best way he knew.

Katsura, his boss, once spoke of him as being in a dream, unable to fully comprehend and understand his actions for the past several months and years; but that one day, soon, the walls he had built around him would crumble, and he would finally comprehend his actions, what it is he had done all those years, what it actually meant to take a life; one day he would leave his innocence behind and, attaining maturity, and he would realize what he had done and that would destroy him.

Hiko had warned him, that he was too young, that he didn’t understand what it meant to fight in war. The OVA shows just how far Kenshin went in his attempts to save his nation. He could best be described as an infant with a nuclear weapon. He wants to save the world, to do good but he doesn’t understand what it means to take less capable lives this weapon, not until he matures, and realizes what he had done.

There were scenes were this happened, when Kenshin seemed to be ‘waking up’. During this scenes you realized why Kenshin acted as such during the TV series, why he swore off killing, because you now understand what he did. Kenshin wasn’t afraid that if he killed he would awaken some deep seated blood lust. That was never an issue for him. It was the mindlessness of the violence he meted out that made him so dangerous and which he feared to awaken, to lose himself for a so called right cause.

Tomoe is a big part of why this OVA works. She approaches Kenshin for revenge, intent on seducing him and then slaying the monster that is battosai; but as she comes to know him she sees, not a demon, but innocence, and how she reacts to that shapes Kenshin’s future.

I won’t deny it, seeing Hiko again in all his glory was a big draw for me; the way he destroyed that one bandit in the beginning was just…crazy. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the nine dragon… something attack shown from a realistic perspective.

ANIMATION:>

Superb. Again i point out how long ago this OVA was released, yet its animation is better than most series i saw last year. It’s almost pathetic. The fight scenes in this OVA are in my top three fight scenes that i have ever seen. They are fluid and sinuous that you just want to keep watching them. In most anime fights these days, there is so much laziness where they try to make it seem like characters are moving really fast, but they are just rolling and twisting around each other; it gets confusing.. The fights in this OVA were animated satisfactorily, to the point that you could follow every strike and move. PERFECT 5/5

ART:> Another win for this OVA. Of course i was a bit shocked the first time. Everyone (that i knew from the series) looked quite different. But i soon got over that. The art in this OVA is perfect, and not just the fight scenes, but moments of calm, especially between Kenshin and Tomoe, are done so well, and convey a lot of detail with regards to atmosphere and mood. PERFECT 5/5

MUSIC:> Elements like music i rarely mention because i rarely notice them, and that’s because they don’t always matter, probably because they are lacking. The scores in this OVA were perfect, again especially in creating the mood for the scenes before and after an event. But i will admit that some of the best moments were the ones that should have and normally would have had music but where instead executed in complete silence. The best were the actions scenes, were the only sound punctuating the silence was the rain and the clash of swords. It worked perfectly in creating that atmosphere of…death. Sometimes it was necessary to follow a death with soft violins. Sometimes it was better to silently listen to the last breaths of a character, giving the death more impact. PERFECT 5/5

ACTION:> 7/5, in that they exceeded my expectations. I was happy when they eliminated all those annoying and lazy elements, such as the streaks cutting across a dark screen to show a really fast attack, or dashing lines followed by a character disappearing to show how fast Kenshin moved. They tried to make each attack clear and visible in the OVA. Even the moments were Kenshin moved at superhuman speeds were executed well and could be easily followed. Usually i dislike anime with gore. It isn’t that i have a problem with gory scenes. I don’t really care how bloody an anime is either way. What i hate is unnecessarily gory anime, where the point of the blood and guts is to shock. There was gore in this OVA but it was necessary to show Kenshin as Battosai. It was balanced.

The Japanese voice acting here was a masterpiece and portrayed the emotion within each character; definitely the crowning achievement of the OVA.

This OVA is the samurai show of all samurai shows, if that makes sense. It was powerful as it was sad, evocative and ultimately tragic. It showcased a tragic hero in a tragic world trying to set things right as best as he could. I would more than recommend this show for everyone everywhere no matter your interests.

MY RATING:> 10/5 twice better than i thought it would be. But who wouldn’t enjoy such a moving story. If this OVA was released now, it would compete with anything and everything out their.

Rourini Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal, also Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen, is a six episode OVA, the prequel to the rourini kenshin TVseries. It was released in 1999, written by Masashi Sogo and directed by Kazuhiro Furahasi. The OVA was based off of chapters 165-179 of the Rourini Kenshin manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki. It chronicles the story of Himura Kenshin as the hitokiri battosai during the years of the Meiji restoration while also revealing the origins of his famous cross shaped scar. It was later collected into a two hours feature length picture with new animated scenes. It has received near universal critical acclaim.

NB- I absolutely do not, and i repeat, DO NOT RECOMMEND ROURINI KENSHIN: REFLECTIONS. IT WAS TOTAL AND UTTER CRAP, probably the worst OVA (possibly anime) i have ever seen.

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it is times like this where i wish fairy tail was a few pages longer so i could get a little more of it each week. Unsurprisingly the battle in this chapter was a little too short for my liking, which is a surprising thing for me to say as an anime fan. Most otaku out there will admit to having wished and hoped on several occasions that a fight in an anime or manga would cut down to at least half of its multi episode excessively long size. Yet here in fairy tail, i am actually wishing for the opposite, that the fights would last just a little bit longer. And it isn’t like we are talking about something Hiro hasn’t done before; there was a time during the S class arc were the fights just wouldn’t end. I guess someone out there complained and Hiro is listening, but at the wrong time.

THE PLOT:>

The long awaited day is here, July 7th, the very day 14years ago that the dragons disappeared. Makarov and other masters are going about organizing the guilds in preparation for the attack. Fairy tail will take center stage defending the central square, while the other guilds wait in the outskirts. Clearly even the tougher mages, the likes of Laxus and Erza, are far from peak fighting condition, but it is fairy tail, so maybe they are hoping to depend on more Nakama power.

Rogue and Natsu are engaged in battle. The have barely began to even taste each other’s strengths when Natsu suddenly decides to take it to the next level by activating his Lightning flame mode and decimating the tunnels with an awe striking attack. But while mildly amused, Rogue is far from impressed as he too decides to bring the battle to an end even before it truly began, by activating his white shadow dragon mode and bringing Natsu to his knees with a multi directional attack that doesn’t allow him to retaliate or defend.

Natsu is down for the count mostly, bleeding all over and barely able to stand. Rogue, clearly superior prepares to take him out when he is assaulted by crystal balls (sort of) that devastate the area he should have been standing in. By the time Ultear arrives at the scene, Rogue is gone.But rather than chase after him, her and Meredy have to deal with a more pressing matter. Natsu is depleted physically and is unable to to fight against a pool of shadows that begins to drag him down.

Elsewhere the great gates of the eclipse have began to open and as they all marvel at the light coming from within, Lucy moves forth to close the gates and stop eclipse…

MY REVIEW:>

It is easy to see why i would call this a pretty good chapter.

1. ROGUE KILLED STING?! WHY? This was a pretty shocking revelation for Rogue to make. Last time we saw him, Rogue had lost to Gajeel and was suddenly reciting the fairy tail mantra about friendship and all that. What in the world could happen in seven years to turn him into a murderer? Well, that is obvious i guess. The dragons attacked; the place rogue comes from is probably more hell than anything and living in such an existence can change people. None the less it was a shocking revelation. But i don’t know how much of it should be believed.

We have heard this before, with sting and rogue claiming they killed their dragons, which is silly if you think about it; they couldn’t have been more than infants by the time the dragons disappeared; how in the world could they have acquired the strength to kill their dragons. It is more than possible that Rogue is jesting, or maybe sting willingly gave up his life to empower rogue. Who knows? But clearly not everything that rogue says should be taken as it is.

2. NATSU VS ROGUE. Admittedly i thought it would be appropriate for Natsu to lose, but i didn’t think he would lose so brutally, so quickly and for rogue to be so bad ass. That (fusion) dragon transformation, with one part dark and the other part light, is truly formidable. I have been waiting to see more of Natsu’s lightning flame mode in this arc for a while, but i was surprised by how ineffective it was. I want to complain that this fight was too short, but really, we all know it is far from over. Chances are Natsu will find another opportunity to even the score. But i can’t complain for now; it was satisfying.

3.EVIL LUCY? I doubt anyone is going to believe that Lucy has gone bad. Either that isn’t the real Lucy, or she is being brainwashed. What would make this plot better is if Lucy was actually acting on her own volition, rather than some external force, because then it doesn’t just become a matter of defeating this unseen force and everything returns back to normal. Hiro has a chance right here to make something more of Lucy. Let’s face it, even the future Lucy plot was a waste as Lucy would have been of absolutely no use in saving the future. Another reason her death meant nothing.

If anything, now we know that Rogue was right, and whatever his actions so far, it would be a stretch to call him evil. He came back to save the future and he has the power to do it, unlike Lucy. But that last scene did surprise me, that Rogue was right and Lucy would close the door. I can only imagine the anxiety felt by those watching as the gate opens, knowing that it took seven years to collect the necessary magic to empower it and one small mistake will not only throw away all their efforts but doom humanity; and then Lucy starts speaking of closing the gate. I can see Arcadios killing Lucy instantly, and he wouldn’t be wrong. The dragons have to be stopped at all costs; whether or not Lucy is under nefarious control makes no difference.

MY RATING:> 4/5, this was a good chapter. Now with Hiro being who he is, i can only hope he doesn’t mess things up next week because that would be within his character.

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Even when you put them together, it still doesn't work
Even when you put them together, it still doesn't work

It is difficult to separate comics and costumes. Most comics are all about superheroes that save the world in flashy suits. But i will not deny that i have quite a number of problems with the idea, and more so now, with the amount of anime that i watch. I just don’t get the idea behind it; okay, i get it and sometimes i just don’t think it is necessary.

When i think about costumes, the first think that comes to mind is necessity; and admittedly i don’t always see the necessity. But that in itself is secondary. Costumes, at least as afar as i and other novice comic book reader are concerned can make or break a title, in that it will decide whether or not i decide to read a book. It is like the welcoming mat to every story; before you read the summary or synopsis of a new title, first thing most novice comic book readers like me will do is stop and look at the cover, at the world portrayed in that short image and more importantly the heroes and their suits. I will try to describe the two factors as briefly as possible:

THE LOOK:>

I don’t mind superheroes, i believe i have gotten over the whole idea of colored heroes of justice that save the world and all that. But all in all, with the few titles i have read recently, i can appreciate the amount of effort put into creating decent stories beyond caped heroes saving the world from asteroids. But i will admit that i reached a point as a child where i would go to the only store that sold comics (and ice cream) and i couldn’t find anything that i thought was worth reading. It wasn’t that the synopsis didn’t impress me; it was the fact that most of the heroes my eyes came across just looked ugly in suits. It would take me a few years later to realize while i had began to dislike heroes such as superman and batman, characters that i was fascinated with at a younger age. They were starting to look very silly and campy to me. i just couldn’t get over the cheesiness of superman with his cape and underway and batman’s entire unappealing look.

Let’s face it, someone more ignorant might say that superhero suits are all about protecting one’s identity and allowing one to perform their superhero duties without interference. But that would be a lie. Superheroes mostly wear suits to look cool or appealing or even to make a statement. If it was all about protecting one’s identity and all that, then a colored ski mask along with a basic shirt, jeans and sneakers could do the job. There is no need for Spiderman to don an entire full body suit if all he cares about is keeping his identity secret.

Same thing goes for superman. The fact that all he needs to change his identity is remove his eye wear means that his costume is unnecessary to keep his identity. So superheroes wear suits because they care how they look. And we as readers care that they look good doing what they do. But the problem is at least half of the superhero costumes i come across just look silly. This is probably why the XMEN where my favorite comic book characters as a child, and i was obsessed wit XMEN Evolution. There was some effort put into designing their suits. But with everything else that i saw, i just couldn’t bring my self to take it seriously (which is probably why i was so into power rangers as a kid, they simply looked cool to my simple mind).

I didn’t watch the first season of young justice because of how silly the suits looked. I tried to give it a fair shot, but three episodes in, the shallow part of me just couldn’t take it seriously. That changed with the second season. I am now a young justice fan mostly because i was impressed by the story and depth of the characters, and its this show that got me to take comics a little more seriously as i got to know some of these characters. But i only got that far because the suits attracted me to the show. I don’t know what they did, but for some reason everyone looked like they had undergone some sort of make over. Maybe the colors were darker, i don’t know, but i knew i had to know these characters. Suddenly characters that i couldn’t stand like the Martian girl were more appealing. Somehow even batman and superman looked more impressive. As someone trying to follow some of the new 52 titles in DC and as someone that has just never understood the point of superman (outside of smallville), i am happy that the suit looks more like armor than cloth. Because suddenly i am seeing it in a whole new light. Why else would you stitch an entire full body suit if it wasn’t going to provide some sort of protection.

MANGA-

I point out the bit about costumes because i rarely see any such element in manga. Sure, there are characters with costumes, but that is usually armor or mecha of some sort. And even outside of these, most anime characters of the superhero nature that i have watched will try to incorporate what could be called a costume into their ordinary clothes, in that what they are wearing would fit in out in space, fighting aliens, as well as on an ordinary street, socializing. Basically i feel that anime gets the point of costumes. If hiding your face is the point, then put on a smart trousers, jacket, and a simple mask. There is no need for some elaborately designed outfit with a logo and everything.

I am reminded of the first XMEN movies. I was grateful that they kept most of the costumes uniform (black) rather than adapting the exact multi colored designs from the comics. While they worked on paper, i think they would have looked awful in real life. Which is another issue i take with costumes. I remember watching Dragon Ball Evolution and thinking that most of the characters looked natural in the mostly perfect replicas of the anime clothing. It couldn’t have taken much work designing them, where as i expect i takes a lot more work that is seems to dress the superheroes of recent blockbuster superhero movies.

NECESSITY:>

But really, i have to ask, are costumes even necessary? Yes i have heard the reason, to protect loved ones and all that. But ironman gets by without a costume, and i don’t see him complaining. Heroes like batman and captain America have costumes, but that hasn’t stopped people they know from dying. I remember watching a TV show called charmed years back. All i will say about it is that it focused around three powerful witches. One of them has a baby and as he grows up, a few demons make attempts to harm and/ kidnap the child. Now can you guess what the three witches do? They don’t hide the child, if that’s what you are thinking. They walk into the underworld and unleash untold death and havoc upon a portion of the demon world for an hour or so. They were sending a message, there enemies could what they wanted to them, but their families, unless direct threats, were off limits. And with who knows how many corpses of demons and warlocks, they got the message across.

Now who doesn’t know that Bruce Banner is hulk, but i don’t think he needs to worry about such trivial matters. The point is if you are a hero that has proven over and over again to be stronger than your enemies, it should clear where the line lays and what you will not tolerate. I don’t think masks matter. Fine, there might be a joker or two, but if you are a hero, it can’t be too difficult to restrain one mad man permanently, even without killing them, unless these heroes aren’t as smart as they make it seem.

Anime and manga works in a different way. Most times the heroes of any show are usually fighting some sort of secret war, so the public doesn’t even know the existence of these heroes. I just watched code Breaker where these super powered people would kill there assigned enemies in cold blood, sometimes in public, and not once did they have to wear some suit. Most of them use fear with regards to family. I mean, what kind of villain, crazy or not, would attempt to harm lelouch’s innocent school friends; they know that lelouch would give them hell. It seems much simpler.

Costumes only encourage heroes to indulge in secret identities, which are bad for business. If they have to call you to a crime scene, that might have began while you were off doing ‘normal stuff’, people will die. Most anime heroes i have seen are usually on standby, waiting to jump in action when needed. It’s efficient and avoids silly arguments about having a normal life and all that nonsense which only serves to show that one doesn’t the hero title. Anime heroes don’t lose precious seconds trying to escape from an engagement just so someone around them doesn’t become suspicious about there true identities. The real heroes in anime, not the few teenagers that happen to find power, rarely have to worry about snooping friends that place themselves in danger to find out what they happened to be hiding. Most of the time when the loved one’s of a hero in anime face danger, it is within the line of duty, in that, most heroes in anime find a circle of friends in the same field. The most obvious example here is Goku, 99% of whose entire family and friends list is filled with powerful martial artists and aliens that are more than capable of defending themselves.

So you could say that heroes in anime will choose there social circle carefully in relation to the needs of the job. So i guess that would make batman an anime class hero; he lives his job day and night, even if he doesn’t have have the coolest part of being a superhero, powers. Then there is that guy with a horrible name, power man i think, who doesn’t even have a costume (or so i have been told, i can’t tell what is a costume and what is normal clothing with some of these characters); oh, and punisher. These guys get the job done without having to worry about little things like costumes.

For that matter most of anime gets by without needing masks and costumes. How many times does a hero allow a dangerous situation to escalate just because he can’t take action until he is in costume. So my conclusion is costumes are not necessary. But even when they occur in anime, there is some thought put into beauty ad most of them will manage to look good; and the few times they don’t, it is intentional,. based on the genre. So maybe it is time comics caught to the non costumed age.

Or maybe it is the fear of humans that drives them. It is clear to the population in anime that they need the heroes. Most populations in comics seem convinced that they have no need of their heroes, which makes the masks necessary, which seems stupid to me. Takascichea advised me to keep these posts short, so i will leave this topic at that

Now this is what a hero should wear, if they have to
Now this is what a hero should wear, if they have to
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I haven’t come across many series that are as under appreciated as this one. Most shows that i watch, however detestable will have some niche crowd somewhere that can’t get enough of them and is as passionate about them as those that completely detest the show. The most obvious example here would be fairy tail. Sure, i have come across otaku that hold an abnormal hate for the series, but equally, i have come across fans with a scary obsession for fairy tail. No, that is too popular, and i am biased in its favor. A better example would be school days, which i dislike vehemently, but which has considerable fans out there.

This show doesn’t fall into this category in that very few people actually know about it, at least as far as i have seen. So maybe underappreciated isn’t the word.

This was the series that first pulled me out of my little box of action crazy insanely graphical animation, into a much simpler, deeper world of anime. There was a time when i didn’t watch anime that didn’t have any mind blowing action scenes, insane characters, or magical weapons. Overall, my anime watch list was all about battle shonen series. Then i watched this show and realized that beyond the martial arts, maybe there was more that i could enjoy from an anime, like good story and interesting and deep characters.

And i will not deny that this is one of the very best shows that i have ever watched, ranking in my top five.

THE PLOT:>

The story takes place in Europa, a place loosely based on Europe in the 1930s, during world war 2. This continent is divided into two main powers, the imperial Empire, a monarchy in the east, and an alliance of democratic countries called the Federation. In this world, the most important mineral is called ragnite, usable in a variety of fields, from fueling weapons of war to medicine; and because of its importance these two forces are constantly in battle over it.

Gallia is a small neutral independent state that happens to be rich with ragnite, which eventually attracts the attention of the Empire, which decides to invade. Alicia Melchiot is a member of the Bruhl town watch. While somewhat capable of combat and hopeful of joining the battle front to defend her nation, she is assigned with the evacuation, protection and management of the civilian members of her small town. And it is during one of her patrols that she meets Welkin, a lazy good for nothing idler, that she later realizes is the son of the legendary General, Gunther, a leader of great strategic ability.

It isn’t long before war finds Alicia, and Welkin, having ran away from school abroad, finds it necessary to take charge, proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and that he is indeed just as intelligent and cunning as his father. With her sister Isara in tow, the only one capable of piloting the mysterious blue tank Edelweis and its fascinating array of abilities, and Alicia, the group are thrust to the front line as part of squad 7. Welkin finds that not only must he prove his worth to the power hungry and conniving generals of Gallia, but he must prove his worth to the very men and women that he leads, whilst also endeavoring to see them safely return from each carelessly assigned mission, designed by those above to see Welkin’s rising star fall.

But Welkin soon learns that there enemy is more than meets the eye. Maximillian, the younger prince of the Empire isn’t only in possession of powerful technology and a handful of hand picked battle tested generals to lead his men, but by his side is the mysterious silver haired Sevelia Bles, rumored to be one of ancient and lost Valkyria, powerful god like creatures from the old days, and a bigger threat than the empire could pose.

The hope of the people lies in their silver haired princess and ruler, Cordelia gi Randgriz, said to be of the blood of the valkyria as well; except that she holds a dark secret that might be the end of her nation.

This is a war that will shape the future.

MY REVIEW:>

This show’s strength lies in its characters and the stories that surround them. Welkin is as lovable as he is a formidable leader. His bright smiles, incessant jokes and lazy attitude hide a brilliant mind. But this isn’t Lelouch hiding within a weak seemingly unworthy body. Welkin is a very simple character, with little to no ambition and seemingly no interest in the world besides protecting his friends. Even when assigned to the position of captain of squad 7, there is no doubt that Welkin is more bookworm than soldier. And in meeting the challenges of ending a bloody war as bloodlessly as possible, protecting his friends proves to be much harder that taking on assignments meant for greater better armed numbers with his little squad of less than 20.

Welkin is no soldier and it is his goal to shape the soldier like objectives and attitudes of his men into something less grim. They hold little to no prospects for the future due to their roles as men and men and women of war. They would gladly give their lives in battle serving their nation or even the weak leader that they dislike, Welkin. They have no qualms with making the ultimate sacrifice anytime it is needed to get the job done, and it is this attitude that Welkin fights to oppose in them. His goal in each mission is to see to it that they never need to be put in unnecessary harm-which is easier said than done with them being soldiers that are sent to fight in wars- and he will be the first to oppose any attempts to risk one’s life to complete a mission; Welkin isn’t beyond tackling life threatening situations himself with nothing but his wit if only to prevent his battle crazy comrades from taking the risky chances they always have to complete missions. IN this he makes both enemies and friends, as his actions can interpreted as either a strength or weakness.

Alicia first comes off as an unimportant character with no more purpose that being a love interest, maybe to cause conflict between Welkin and his best friend Faldio. But she later comes into her own, matching Welkin’s importance in the series and proving to be a great crutch for him when things go bad. The way her character played out at the end was much better than the beginning, and her life, past and future had some truly unexpected surprises.

Faldio was one of my favorite characters in the whole show. I didn’t really think much of him in the beginning. He acted as a shield between squad 7 and his own squad, who held hostility towards squad 7, not only for personal reasons but because of how Welkin’s star was threatening their captain’s own. it was impressive to see how well Faldio took it all; being friends with Welkin since their university days and understanding that he was mostly a book worm, not once does he feel threatened by Welkin and in most cases it isn’t out of the ordinary to see some in his squad vying for the kind of attention and camaraderie their captain shares with Welkin, and when they don’t receive it, to turn that into hostility towards squad 7.

Interestingly, especially during scenes of violence between these two squads, it isn’t hard to see that what looks like hate between them is actually dedication, to their captains and their personal wishes to see him succeed.

Admittedly Faldio was always just an okay character, until the last couple of episodes. I don’t want to spoil it but to what happens to Faldio in the last episodes, i can only say WOW. So much shock and disbelief.

At the end of the day, this story is about war and the consequences of it. We see what can come from war in the racial hatred aimed towards the darcsenns, who are generally the villains of the last war of the land. It isn’t difficult to understand the reason and logic for the hate, until you begin to understand what really happened so long ago, at which point you come to understand the saying that it is the victor of war that tells the story and that in most wars, there is no right side and all parties will commit evils for the sake of victory.

No one understands this more than Welkin. One reason he struggles to control his team is Isara, who turns out to be his adopted sister,and more importantly a Darcseen. Welkin clearly doesn’t understand the animosity probably because he grew up with Isara (and that’s just him being clueless), but it takes all his cunning and restraint to both command missions and protect his sister from the waves of hate from all those around her. He understands where everybody, especially his squad, is coming from, but he will do all he can to defend her. But in tackling this issue of discrimination, this show also speaks of the message of transformation, and the ability of shared experiences to morph hate into love; it is in this regard that Stark Brigitte stood out as one of the very best characters to watch in this show.

There is so much to see and think about in this show, both on the hero and villain side. Even Sevelia who doesn’t get as much screen time is a character worth pondering, in the way she, as a powerful being, worships and crawls after maximillian, who can be said to be a little more than cruel but in subtle ways. Her story speaks more to the issue of slavery than anything.

Then their are the members of Faldio and Welkin’s squads, most of whom are well developed and properly utilized throughout each episode; but of course it is a few like Isara, Ramal, Stark and Ealonor that stand out. While this show occurs in a futuristic setting, there isn’t any of the elements i would normally expect, like giant mechs, powerful ships and the like.

Most of the advanced technology is rather low key, like super tanks with mostly practical and realistic capabilities, laser lances and the like. There are a few tanks that are so large they might as well be mechs, but even that doesn’t affect your overall understanding of the setting of the series. We still have horse and carts and lousy rifles and the lot.

This show will surprise you. Being based off of a tactical role playing game for PS3, you might expect crazy wars with a whole lot of fighting, explosions and Michael bay style set ups. But that is far from the case. Valkyria chronicles is a story about characters in a war. Yes, there are two or three supernatural beings but those don’t take up much of the plot. In fact this series’ actions scenes with regards to the valkyria are very bad, to the point that i would have rather they hadn’t taken place.

There is technically little to look at as the animation mostly average, and even the music is barely memorable except for some specific moments. But none of that matters because this is a beautiful story that everyone should watch. This is how anime should be done, with depth and focus and a plot that, at the end, leave you sitting back and sighing in satisfaction, that you have just seen something good, something that you will be thinking about tomorrow, next week and next month. This is Valkyria chronicles is.

There are some set backs of course. The show has an unfortunately lousy start; unfortunate in that many people might not bother to pick it up again after two or three episodes. You see a blue tank rolling around, talk of war, a few battles and you start making assumptions about what’s coming up ahead. And i did the same thing. I dumped this show and only picked it up six months later when i was bored and there was no other anime in sight so i decided to revisit all the crap anime i discarded.

I was disturbed that i had almost missed this gem.

MY RATING:> 5/5,

though after a thought i would be more like 8/5, it exceeded my expectations and delivered an amazing story of war, rebuilding and transformation. I would recommend this show to each and everyone that loves anime.

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