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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
It seems a fairy tail chapter can be better explained from the perspectives of the characters involved, so:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
But consistency doesn't equate gr8 work.
At least not always.
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.
So I can’t help but make comparisons between Btooom and SAO, for the specific reason that SAO could possibly be one of the most overrated anime shows that I have ever come across.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed SAO, it was a fairy decent anime, no more. And I find it rather irritating that some otaku our their would go so far as to term this series as a classic among anime.
Not only do I deny that fact, but I would go so far as to say that SAO is far from the perfect anime that so many fans out there are attempting to make it out to be.
I mean, sure it was awesome, but i couldn’t score it higher than a 7/10, primarily because the second part of the show tanked. And unlike so many otaku, I don’t think that had anything to do with a change in the game. That was fine, and I might go so far as to say that I actually enjoyed and even preferred the fairy thing to SAO.
But what the hell does this have to do with Btooom. Simple. I think Btooom is the perfect example in showcasing just how good a game based anime can be when done right. I also think that this show could benefit a lot from the meretricious praise being dished out towards SAO.
Now if I haven’t mentioned this before, I shall say it now; I am no fan of RPGs of any type, form or nature. I have never understood the allure, primarily because every RPG concept game I have ever come across comes off as slow. The idea of freezing mid battle to access some menu just to utilize some magical attack just infuriate me.
And that assumption isn’t jut a matter of me simply lacking finer education in this concept and that if I just gave it a chance, I would receive enlightenmet. I have given this concept a fair shot, going so far as to purchase Dragon Age a year or so ago, with the idea of forcefully attempting to see just what made RPGs so awesome. It didn’t help. I still hate the idea.
I mention that because some people have assumed that my dislike for the concept would have a negative effect on my enjoyment of SAO. Of course he was wrong, as I saw SAO as an education in the idea of this complicated concept of gaming.
My point is, my assertion that Btooom is a superior series to SAO is in no way biased by any prior irritations I might posses; I don’t hate SAO, but I will genuinely say that if any anime fan gave Btooom a fair shake, they would quickly admit it to be a much more impressive series than SAO.
Ryouta is what you call a NEET, which refers to ‘not in education, employment or training’. So basically he is a dead beat 16 year old, with a crap life that spends his days and nights, locked in his room, in a misguided attempt to escape all the pain and misery that has become his life.
The only place that Ryouta can find any meaning is Btooom, an online game that pits teams against players from all around the world in a struggle of survival, where the weapons of choice aren’t swords or guns, but bombs, explosives of all types and forms with which players must annihilate their opponents.
In Btooom, Ryouta is the tenth ranked player in the world. Within this virtual world, Ryouta is a hero, an unstoppable force leading his team to countless victories against the world. In Btooom, Ryouta has adoring friends and even a wife that loves him. IN this world, Ryouta has a life, a bright and optimistic future, with limitless possibilities; a stark contrast from his true world.
Then one day after a nasty fight with his lugubrious mother, Ryouta wakes up on an island in the middle of an empty sea. He soon learns that he has been chosen to partake in a real world adaption of Btooom, in which contestants are infused with a green crystal on the back of their hands that acts like a sonar, and a back pack of explosives, tuned to the the user’s specific signature.
The rules are simple. All a contestant needs to do is acquire eight green crystals from the other contestants, seven exogenous crystals along with the individuals own, to summon a chopper that will fly the lucky contestant off the island back to civilization.
However the crystals are fused to the contestants and only come loose when a contestant dies. What’s more, the only explosives available on the island are in the hands of the other contestants, and it is only possible to use another combatants bombs once they are dead.
So anyway you look at it, survival is only possible through murder, and when all the chips are on the table, and death can come in an instant, it all comes down to how strong your will is to survive VS the deep seated urge of humanity to ‘do the right thing’. What will it take for you to break, and more importantly, just how much do the lives and futures of other people matter, when you own existence is on the line?
All these questions Ryouta must answer before he can begin his quest to win the game, and more than that, he must ask himself if the notion of survival is really worth it? What does he have really to go back to, that he would take the lives of other more equally deserving combatants to achieve his objectives?
Btooom! tries to answer all this questions while also putting the viewer into the shoes of an average Joe forced into an extraordinary situation of survival and death.
I am not going to lie, I was intrigued with the idea of Btooom even before I watched it. Firstly was the name. A title is supposed to convey a sense of the anime that it represents. And when I first read that word, I never could picture the anime it was referring to. Then I read the synopsis and it not only finally clicked, but only further intrigue me, the idea of a game with no guns, lasers or swords; only bombs, explosives with varying ranges and abilities. Now that was the kind of idea that had the potential to work if executed creatively.
But why it worked for me, even after only 13 episodes, I can explain in three forms.
Because I began by comparing this series to SAO, I shall continue down that path. Simply put, there is something about a real place in a real world that makes the whole Btooom experience so much more thrilling to me. I get the idea of SAO, that death in the game is linked to death in the real world, but something about watching someone disappear into tiny little sparks of light that never really hit home for me, that someone had just perished from the world.
With Btooom, we have flying heads, exploding bodies, pools of blood; basically real people in a real world putting their lives on the line to survive. More than that though are the stakes. People will say that death is death, be it virtual as in SAO, or real like in Btooom; either way you are gone and the means doesn’t matter.
But I think it does. Sure, having your body chewed off in SAO might hurt, but there is something about seeing your own blood and guts that makes the situation so much more visceral. There are no magic healing potion or extra lives or even power ups. You have men and women with frail bodies pitying their skills against each other.
A wrong step will result in one less limb, and once that happens, chances are the game will be over for you; or at the very least the scales tip against your favor. The fact is Kirito in SAO stood a much better chance of survival than Ryouta does in Btooom (I say ‘does’, because the story isn’t finished yet and I still don’t know if he survives. So for me, the game continues).
The difference between having a virtual body that can be healed VS having a few bandages and drugs will make all the difference in a battle. If Kirito knew that charging in against that monster would lose him an arm permanently, you have to wonder if he would really have the guts to take on the challenge.
That is what Btooom does to its characters. It puts them in a real world environment, where death is merely the easier way out, with the worst scenario being that you finally make it to the mainland, victorious, as a limbless torso.
That added sense of danger adds a level of excitement to the battles in Btooom, more exciting than anything I ever felt while watching SAO. You just can’t help but get the feeling that this is real, or it could be real. Somewhere is some unknown part of the world, a few dozen civilians could be fighting for their lives in a brutal survival game. SAO on the other hand simply manages to be cool, but nothing more than a shallow fantasy.
I will leave it at that before I start sounding like a sadistic maniac that loves watching people explode and bleed.
By mechanisms I am referring to the mode of battle, which in this case refers to the game. Here you are free to assume bias on my part, though it wouldn’t be entirely true. AS far as plots go, SAO was simple enough, and that was fine. What irked me (specifically after watching Btooom) was the convoluted nature of the game SAO.
Sure any serious gamer out their will have a concrete understanding of all the weaponry that was utilized in SAO, be it metal or magic. But their were times certain concepts would go over my head, what with all those potions, crystals and principles of magic.
Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t understand the idea behind the result. I could easily tell that the reason Kirito had somehow survived fatal injury was because of some potion he happen to have at that time, that either healed or teleported him to safety. It wasn’t that I simply couldn’t make heads or tails of what was happening. it was the why factor
I am one otaku that doesn’t just watch anime, I like to think about it as I watch it; and when I am watching a battle, I like to work it out in my head as to what exactly is happening or could happen. So when one robot in water can suddenly shoot fire, I start to get concerned, because it suddenly sounds like some silly tool forced into the story to get things moving to where the writer wants them to get; this especially when said robot hasn’t displayed fire abilities in the past 20 episodes (this is a hypothetical postulation, there is no anime that I have seen with swimming robots that shoot fire)
Anyway, this same idea applies to SAO in that, I would find myself wondering what had happened when and why. Sure ,I get it that Kirito’s life points are so high that he is able to allow himself to get cut repeatedly without serious worry, but I would like to know when this happened and how. Is his sudden hike in points a result of Kirito completing so may quests or it due to some object or magical artifact. Now I don’t doubt that that particular fact was explained at some point, but I was probably so busy remembering (or rather assuming) so many other rules to notice.
Point is, for me as a novice in that type of gaming,there were so many things that I wanted answered but which made little sense to me, and even though most of them didn’t matter beyond seeing Kirito kick some ass, I would have still liked to know some of them, such as how many of those teleportation crystals can he carry at a time and what is the range and so on…I could go on with this for a while, so I will stop and get to the point.
Btooom is simple. Here are some grenades, find out what they do and how they work, as well as who can use them. Now find out how to take out that guy a mile away that can lock onto your signal and send his bombs flying towards you.
It is so simple, yet it allows for so much creativity. Rather than spend an episode of a fight learning what secret magic which opponent has been hiding, and if the hero can counter it (never mind where he got it if it is a main character), how about we spend a good 24 minutes figuring out how two people with basic grenades are going to stretch a normally two second battle into a 20 minute brawl.
Better yet, when we are talking about explosive devices that can kill in an instant, how about we spend that time figuring how two combatants that can kill each other in mere seconds will manage to last entire minutes in battle, when they are no more than a few feet apart.
These are the kind of battles that keep me entertained. Chances are as Kirito is fighting, you will expect him to pull out some new sword or magic that neither you nor his opponent knew he had to gain an advantage. And while that is fine, seeing new unexpected things and all, I would still prefer knowing what is on the table, that way, I can enjoy having my expectations blown right out of the water.
I am all for complex fighting systems and mechanisms, heck I am not bashing SAO with that argument either; it actually didn’t bother me and it kept things fresh (kind of), but sometimes simplicity does it best.
Think about it this way, a series about magical assassins that can summon monsters. In that sentence you have all the tools and elements that you could ever require as a writer to make a kick ass anime/manga. I won’t say it is almost too easy, but it is…almost anyway.
Now consider another series, a gambling addicted Japanese man must win a game of cards to earn his freedom (I am thinking about kaiji there). That isn’t the kind of plot that screams awesome. Rather you are thinking of dull dimly lit rooms with old men throwing cards down in mundane and sleep inducing ways.
Yet you know that a show like that is categorized as shonen and clearly by the time the writer authored this work, he expected it to strike at some one out their in the world. That is the kind of plot that piques my interest, because you have a simple as they come concept in a card gambling game. So I can’t help but wonder how this Japanese managka will go about making this idea interesting, and that will keep me going at least to episode five; because I am curious to know why and how such a mundane concept can be adapted into an action packed 24 episodes. And of course a series like kaiji that is pretty much about gambling manages to keep me at the very edge of my seat, heart pounding, and wondering frantically what is going to happen next; where as an explosive action filled series like Kamisama dolls doesn’t even get me out of my sit (actually I couldn’t even finish it).
Anyway, that is what gets me with Btooom. yeah, I know that seeing Kirito get cool wings or whatever other magical weapons he acquired in SAO, will blow my mind, especially against an equally powerful enemy, but there is something about watching a bunch of guys with bombs, good old explosives, that just gets me, because I am interested in seeing how they can get it and keep it interesting. Of course I do not assume that a mundane concept will always evolve into something much more interesting, but when it does, like in Btooom, it is usually impressive.
So let’s get to the one factor that truly sets Btooom and SAO apart. Of course I am referring to the characters: There is no denying that SAO had a rich set of characters; well actually I should say that SAO tried to have a rich set of characters, as it fails to fulfill its potential in this case.
It sort of reminds of bleach, which early on introduced us to an amazing set of characters, most of whom where a more impressive gem than even the primary protagonist, but many of which saw their star fade because of a lack of…something to do in the presence of Ichigo.
Now SAO isn’t exactly like that, but it clearly suffers from a similar ailment, in that it will introduce interesting characters, even attempt to include them in the main plot, and then completely discard them, or rather forget them. Many of these characters will make a very brief appearance in the story, during which time they will play some important part, but are eventually forgotten, and will almost never appear again, besides a flash back or some random mention of their name, by which you will have forgotten them.
I get the idea, that SAO was primarily about Kirito and Asuna, but…Why? I don’t get it. SAO is based on an MMO, so we are talking about a myriad of complex and interesting stories following several equally interesting characters in separate plots that will occasionally intertwine.
How they decided to focus the entire series around one character baffles me. At the very least they could have expounded on the story of that guy that Kirito left behind and still feels so guilty about. Several other writers out their could have done a much better job with that wasted potential.
Anyway, I think you can all tell where I am heading with this. I don’t really have problem with the wasted potential in all those characters they introduced and forgot. My problem is with Asuna. I think she single handedly ruined the second half of SAO. Most people likely to point to that pseudo sister of Kirito’s when criticizing SAO, but I disagree.
Despite the fact that her character was so forgettable that I have even forgotten her name, I think she added a new and interesting twist to SAO. ASuna ruined it all, when it all became about her, and after a while, her characterization began to irritate me.
This came back to me as I watched ryouta and Himiko, his love interest. The relationship was interesting without overwhelming the entire plot mostly because Himiko was unique, and that was the same thing with all the characters on the island.
The idea of Btooom is that someone out their voted that you disappear from existence and are never found. Of course these people think it is a joke and only hope it is true, but none the less, that changes the entire dynamic of the story.
Ryouta wants to leave the hell he has been forced into, but to return to what? First he gets irritating. He knows his mom has to be the one that voted him to the island. And his imprecatory attitude towards her, his scathing words about the evil and selfishness of adults and how all they do is think about infuriates the hell out you about him. Because you saw the first episodes and the flash backs,and even as the primary protagonist, you know that this asinine irritation of a teenager deserved it, what with the way he treated his mother and his disgusting mannerisms towards his stepfather.
But then there are other times, when it dawns onto him, who he is and what he did during his life as a free man and the regrets he had in life. And he gets down right pitiful as his will to survive is challenged by dark thoughts of what awaits him beyond the island. After all, if he accepts that he deserved what happened to him, then what else is Btooom but a punishment.
This doubts extend to the rest of the cast, many of whom have enjoyed happy and fulfilling lives, and can’t help but wonder who among their loved ones could have betrayed them; which Judas had been hiding among those smiling faces, and what if it was someone so much closer to them than they realize? Like a father, a wife, a daughter. What then? Against whom do they fight for, to unleash their feelings of vengeance for the sufferings that they will face.
The relationship between Himiko and Ryouta dances around their respective failings in their home lives and their guilt over their actions that they believe make them deserving of their punishments. These events color the relationship, especially in the case of Himiko and the physical and psychological damage that she had and does suffer on the island at the hands of over powering men, before she meets Ryouta.
The manner in which these male figures treat her darkly colors her view of this young man, especially in the light of both of their ignorance, over what there avatars meant to each other in the virtual world.
Even beyond this fact of who or why any of these combatants is on the island, is the fact of their humanity. What is bad? Who is evil in this setting? It is a matter of survival, so what right does Ryouta have to survive anymore than the rest of these individuals do?
Each and everyone of these combatants is a precious life, probably with people waiting for them back home. So if Ryouta must kill any of them to survive, doesn’t that make him the villain in this case?
Even the idea of villain here is cloudy. After all this is a game of survival for the fittest, the the sometimes cowardly, underhanded and down right evil acts that are committed by some of these characters are merely the weapon they use to get by. Where Ryouta reaches out to his gaming experience for advantage, they utilize the basic instinct of man to survive at any cost. As such it is hard to term their actions as evil or bad.
At the end of the day, Btooom brings the choice down to sticking to ones morals and dying, or casting those morals aside momentarily and taking the initiative to kill, even those that don’t deserve it; because on the the island those are the only two questions.
Kindness will kill you, and ruthlessness will save, and I like the idea that btooom is willing to put our heroes into that situation, where they might have to go down a path that will make them deserving of death.
There is no clean way to do survive,no justice to control the rules of the game, only those that will kill and those that won’t.
if I haven’t convinced you in the above paragraphs that Btooom is a much better show than SAO, then…I don’t know.
I will say that there is no doubt about how less fulfilling SAO’s conclusions are. I am obviously referring to how Kirito and the rest of them finally escaped SAO. I was looking forward to that final boss battle more than anything in SAO, and for them to wrap it up in the form of some very basic sword fight against a less than impressive villain was…IRRITATING.
If that was what was awaiting Kirito after defeating a hundred floors, I am happy they got it out of the way. But really, what the heck kind of final villain was that.
Anyway, I think I will stick to bad guys with bombs, because you can’t even begin to guess who the final boss will be and which player are yet to be revealed on the island, that will turn Ryouta’s world around.
As most 2012 anime were, Btooom has pretty impressive animation, especially since it was done by madhouse but nothing that will blow your mind,so basically nothing like SAO. The music…well I didn’t even really notice it, so again nothing like SAO’s powerful scores.
What I will give Btooom are the characters, action and the plot. From another point of view, this anime can be quite sad, especially when characters that you are routing for face tragic circumstances.
The events that befall Himiko are quite…disturbing, and even when she comes off as the most irritating character in the show ( her irrationality in the beginning annoyed me), you can sort of understand where she is coming. Which is probably why prefer her as a character to Asuna; minus all the home drama, you know that Himiko needs ryouta to save her, not physically but emotionally.
Actually by the end of the show, you know that they are both damaged souls that have and need to save each other once again. Whereas Kirito in SAO simply chose to reject everything important in his life due to some bumps along the way (realizing that he is adopted and all), you know that Ryouta has nothing (the NEET term kind of says it all).
Both he and Himiko have suffered, and truth be told, while I couldn’t care less about Kirito and Asuna’s so called problems, I couldn’t help but be touched by these two suffering souls (though I think we all agree that if Ryouta’s mom voted for him, he really did deserve it.)
Seriously, what is wrong everyone; and by everyone I am talking about the myriad of nonplussed manga fans that have been throwing a fit over the fate of saber tooth's almighty Ogre.
This chapter was awesome, and incase that wasn’t clear, THIS CHAPTER WAS AWESOME.
But maybe I should fist break this down.
The Plot: We get a shot of Arcadios making his way to the princess in the white lily armor; but who cares really.
Gray, juvia, chelia and are duking it out in what seemed like a tag team but now seems more like a four way battle. Considering that I have only been following this arc closely for only a couple of chapters, I am not too sure about Chelia, but she seems to possess water manipulation abilities, seeing as she manipulates a water attack from Juvia and uses it to deflect a ‘shotgun blast’ from Gray. Lyon then puts down gray with an ice dragon.
Elsewhere Minerva is absolutely destroying Erza. In the few shots we get of the fight, we see Erza fall foul of Minerva’s magic, with which she snags Erza’s foot and begins to violently introduce her to the pillars. She seems more or less down for the count, and Minerva begins to speak of an execution for Titania.
Natsu and wendy are making light work of the Garou knights, again. That isn’t even worth commenting on.
And then to the main event; Laxus vs. Jura vs. Orga. I can’t say I went into this battle expecting a lot. The only thing I knew about Orga, rather than the fact that Hiro had spent several chapters hyping his capabilities, was that he was from saber tooth, and could possibly redeem their ridiculously disappointing record.
He didn’t though.
Ogre immediately turned his attentions to Jura, and knowing so little about this saber tooth behemoth, I spent several seconds reading in anticipation as ogre began to charge up what seemed like black lighting, then watched in awe striking shock as Jura took him out in one explosive strike.
Soon Laxus were facing each other, with fairy tail in possession of greater understanding as to the monster that was facing them.
Else where, sting was watching with a crest fallen countenance, clearly something was eating at him. And that was fairy tail chapter 320
Review: So this chapter revealed a little more information regarding the changes that had occurred in the past 7 years while fairy tail slept. Jura wasn’t merely a member of the wizard saints anymore, he had risen to number five.
For anyone unaware, the ten wizard saints are the ten most powerful mages in Fiore. Unlike the magic council, the position of wizard saint isn’t really an official one.
In fact calling them the most powerful might not be too accurate, seeing as Jura once pointed out that it was more a matter of stature and influence and that he, at that time, was far from one of the ten most powerful.
Clearly things have changed. Among the saints has arisen the four gods of Ishval, apparently four saints whose power has surpassed the norm, so much so that they are not considered human anymore. Clearly they will play a role in the future, though whether insidious or propitious, that remains to be seen.
Anyway, as the fifth ranked saint in the group, Jura is considered to be the most powerful human mage, making him a true force to be reckoned with. What is interesting is how easily he took Ogre down. We know how powerful god slayer magic is, but if it was no where near a match for the mighty saint, so it is interesting to wonder what chance dragon slayer magic stands.
But then again it is also a question of whether god slayer is superior to dragon slayer.
More importantly though, I have realized that the biggest factor attracting hate towards this chapter is how easily ogre went down. Apparently this is what they call a troll. I disagree, because if Hiro doesn’t mess this up (chances are he will), we should be in for one heck of a fight.
We all know that Laxus is strong; as Makarov’s son, fairy tail’s current master, Laxus isn’t ,merely gifted with talent in magic, he is a dragon slayer, second generation, and a sick one at that. We saw that when he not only took on both Gajeel and Natsu during his little coup in fairy tail, but he down right beat them. Not even there combined powers could bring him down.
And it was Laxus that made an actual difference against Hades, fairy tail’s previous master. But more than that, Laxus has fairy law, one of fairy tail’s three greatest magics. Add to what he did to raven tail, and there is no denying that Laxus is a monster.
But now we know that Jura is one as well. That act, rather than slaughter saber tooth’s credit, portended what it was that we were in for, a true fight, probably equal to or surpassing the Erza and Minerva business. With Ogre vs Laxus, all we were going to get was another dragon slayer vs. god slayer magic battle; and I think we have had enough of those.
I cannot state enough how awesome that moment was, when Jura took Ogre down. I didn’t see it coming. And Makarov’s reaction was hilarious, as he basically went white and said that they were done for. You know things are serious when even fairy tail’s master can recognize that challenge in beating Jura.
As far as the tournament is concerned, Ogre’s defeat only thickens the plot. We know that wITH Ogre’s defeat, saber tooth has more or less lost the race. But really, Sting wouldn’t just be sitting back, watching as his team gets slaughtered, not after his conversation with Minerva. Clearly he is up to something and the only question is how Sting’s actions will allow saber tooth to overcome their incredible lag in the race. because with Gajeel’s victory, either fairy tail or lamia scale will be taking the trophy.
As far as Natsu and Wendy are concerned, I couldn’t care less about the Garou knights. Truth be told I had some hope that Hiro would try to redeem them, that the moment in the tunnels was the reason for which they had lost sorely before. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. We can only hope that Natsu kills them this time.
What I will mention is Arcadios. With the way things are going, we are going to see a clash between Arcadios and Mira jane. She seems keen on protecting the princess, and I have read comments that it all has to do with Lisanna.
Minerva and Erza isn’t worth mentioning until the Jura Laxus fights ends, because that was merely a snapshot of what was happening. We don’t really know the state of things, especially if Erza is actually hurt. Clearly Hiro intends to keep it for last.
As far the four way is concerned, it is interesting to note that Lyon wouldn’t help Chelia attack Juvia, even after Chelia helped him against Gray. Maybe he has the same issue that Juvia does with gray. Maybe Lyon can’t bring himself to fight Juvia.
Overall I give this chapter a solid 5/5, for the heart racing non stop action it has delivered.
The one thing this arc has achieved so superbly is the mystery and I hope they keep piling it on, especially the business with the shadow. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is somehow connected to Sting and MInerva. But I also hope we get some more answers soon.
The Daimatou Enbu is coming to an end, keep reading as will i.
On a side note, I thought that I would talk about the one and only Gajeel today.
Gajeel Redfox is fairy tail’s red eyed sour mannered rion dragon slayer. We first come across Gajeel during the phantom lord arc. It is Gajeel that initiates the war with fairy tail by bringing the guild’s HQ down, and pinning Jet, Dro and Levy, fairy tail’s shadow gear, onto a tree crucification style.
This initiates an all out war between phantom lord and fairy tail, lead by Makarov, and which stalls when phantom lord’s Aria dissociates Makarov’s magic, but which then resumes when phantom lord in their moving HQ of a building launch an all out attack against fairy tail.
Gajeel eventually goes head to head with Natsu and in his defeat, eventually joins fairy tail, specifically sparred on by Makarov, who initially states that he would never forgive Gajeel for what he did to his ‘children; but promises to put the past behind, allow Gajeel into the guild and show him a better path as a dragon slayer mage, a path free of the darkness and violence that phantom lord was marred with.
Gajeel begins as an enemy and their after transforms into one of fairy tail’s most powerful weapons, slowly winning the trust of the very guild he once attempted to destroy, fighting to acquire the respect of its people and putting his life on the line to defend the pride of the symbol on his arm.
Gajeel was trained in the arts by Metallicana the iron dragon that adopted and treated Gajeel like his own son. On x777, Metallicana, along with every other dragon, vanished off the face of the map.
Gajeel’s partner is panther Lily, a giant warrior cat from the Edolas world that wielded a giant sword for the royal family against the Edolas people. Gajeel defeats the feline in battle, reveals its misgivings over the events that had taken and would take place over the coming days, and convinces it back into fairy tail's original world where it shrinks into a little average sized cat. it now walks by Gajeel’s side and guides him in his journey as a member of fairy tail.
Review: Gajeel is as mean looking, as any villainous character would be. And more than that, he is also cold. We saw this when he would merciless beat and attack his own team mates, members of phantom lord for little infractions like interrupting him during his meal, even when the member in question was complimenting Gajeel’s incredible power.
More telling were the events of the attack on fairy tail. Gajeel kidnaps Lucy on Phantom’s orders, phantom lord’s master and fellow wizard saint along with Makarov. The idea was to use Lucy to their advantage, in the case that the attack of phantom' lord’s element four’ the guild’s strongest members, of which Juvia was a part, failed.
Phantom’s orders were for Gajeel to simply watch Lucy. Gajeel however quickly grows bored and begins to torture Lucy. In fact he would have killed Lucy at one point if not for Natsu’s intervention. Obviously Natsu is more than infuriated and unleashes his fury against the iron dragon slayer.
Add to that the malicious manner with which he attacked fairy tail, the single handed distraction of their HQ and the cruel manner in which he crucified shadow gear, and there is no denying the fact that Gajeel is a bad seed.
But do you know what Gajeel isn’t? He is not evil. What I have realized after watching and reading fairy tail fervently all these years is that all of Gajeel’s actions can be rounded up to dedication.
That is all Gajeel is, dedicated whole heartedly to the guild that he had chosen to serve. With Phantom lord, he was surrounded and molded by an atmosphere of fear and hate, and he perpetrated that ethos, believing it to be the true nature of his guild and most likely wishing to glorify it to the best of his abilities.
Clearly Gajeel wished to see the true potential of his guild fulfilled. Fairy tail was the most notorious guild around Fiore at that time. Surely it isn’t so irrational that Gajeel would wish to taste the power of phantom lord against fairyail, as destroying fairy tail would prove phantom lord to be the most powerful guild around. Basically all Gajeel was, was a child trying to show that his guardian was the best and strongest thing there was. He simply needed to gourd fairy tail into attacking phantom lord, in order not to defy council rules against fighting amongst guilds by attacking fairy tail all out.
When Gajeel joined fairy tail, a place that breathed and operated under a light of camaraderie and hope, he too changed accordingly, demonstrating his loyalty for the tattoo by putting his all into seeing fairy tail rise.
We see this during Gajeel’s initial days at the guild. He encounters shadow gear, three mages that are more than a little ticked off about his mistreatment of them. But rather that fight, Gajeel gives his body to the three mages, who unleash a beating upon him to their hearts desire; until even they begin to see the true nature of Gajeel.
But that is when Laxus returns, angry at what Gajeel’s attack and eventual joining of fairy tail has done to his inheritance’s reputation. Laxux’s beating, due to his power, is much less forgiving and soon shadow gear has to intervene to save Gajeel, who steal wont fight back.
But this is wild laxus, he won’t be having any of it, and proceeds to attack the bunch with a lighting bolt. Gajeel takes it, proving that he is willing to protect his comrades, even when then hate him, before slinking off to his mission, handed down by Makarov to infiltrate his son, Ivan Dreyar’s dark guild ‘Raven Tai’. Apparently Ivan was up to no good, so Gajeel was to approach him as an agent of raven tail, spying on fairy tail and intent on seeking revenge. For a moment I actually bought it, until I saw him speak to Makarov and realized the truth. So for a bad fellow, we see that Gajeel is more than willing to make amends for the evil he had done. He doesn’t even hesitate to aid Natsu in combat against mad Laxus.
Further on we see him engage in battle against other dark guilds like grimoire heart, and some times going so far as to break his body to protect the likes of levy and Cana. So for intent and purpose, we see Gajeel prove himself to be a more righteous mage than he first presented himself.
And while he comes off as moody and unpleasant, unwilling to form links and connections to the members of fairy tail, even when fighting to protect them, we see several members of the guild begin to gravitate around his star as a fairy tail member.
Gajeel comes off kind of like Hei from Yu Yu Hakusho; dark, fearsome and dangerous, but choosing to aim his darkness for the good of his comrades and the rest of mankind. Like Hei, Gajeel is powerful; as a dragon dragon slayer of iron, able to engulf his body in powerful iron scales that even Natsu couldn’t penetrate during their battle, along with his iron dragon roar, generated iron swords and a variety of other attacks.
As the iron dragon slayer, Gajeel’s power deals with iron manipulation, and his jaws and teeth are strengthened in order to be able to gnaw through and eat iron, from which Gajeel gains strength like all other slayers that eat their own element for power.
Most of Gajeel’s attacks involve generation of multi sized rods and morphing parts of his body into blades, saws and any other iron weapons he might require. Gajeel also possess greater strength, durability and speed as a dragon slayer, which along with his impressive hand to hand combat skills, make him a deadly foe.
There has been an argument who is the superior mage between him and Natsu. We know that they fought to a stalemate during the first battle, with Gajeel temporarily triumphing until Lucy generated some flames for Natsu to eat. So personally I would say that they are just about equal. With his recent iron shadow power up, he should be a suitable match for Natsu’s lighting flame powers.
The pair still possess a healthy rivalry and have promised to continue their match to decide who is the better slayer. Both have been shown to enjoy the thrill of battle and will sulk when forced to distance themselves from a fight.
Gajeel has been shown to have a light side, first with his singing. During the fairy tail festival, he went so far as to tie MiraJane up in chains just so he could steal her spot and sing during the festival. Unfortunately he is rather bad at it.
Second area that shows Gajeel’s light side is his cat. Gajeel displays depression when Wendy joins the guild, over the idea that he is the only dragon slayer without a cat. He goes so far as to comb the streets in search for stray cats to join his side. Unfortunately none of them could talk. Gajeel eventually finds solace in panther Lily. When he engages the giant cat in battle in Edolas, it is on condition that the exceed become his cat if he wins.
Gajeel is a proud member of fairy tail, and recently joined the games as a member of fairy tail team B. He is particularly close to Levy.
On a scale of A-E, I would rate Gajeel as a B rate character. He is quite the intriguing fellow to watch, especially as he struggles to balance his violent ways with fairy tail’s gentler side, and unlike Lucy, who I would rate a paltry E, brings a new spark to the fairy tail line up