katmic (Level 10)

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I really tried hard to like Nobunagun and it did nothing to justify that hard work; I find anime in this vein a little irritating, those series that think they can pretty much sail through to success while doing very little to stand out.

I cannot tell if Nobunagun didn’t try hard enough or it simply tried too hard.
THE PLOT
Shio Ogura is a Japanese high school student who is visiting Taiwan on a school trip when she is suddenly attacked by monsters. Agents known as "E-Gene Holders" from the government agency DOGOO arrive, wielding weapons infused with the spirits of historical figures. Shio is revealed to be an E-Gene Holder when the soul of Oda Nobunaga awakens after she tries to rescue a friend.
MY REVIEW:

I really, REALLY, wanted to like Nobunagun, mostly because the anime presented itself as something that could be different if I only persevered through the first few episodes. And I am starting to realize how annoying that is, those anime series that simply refuse to put their best foot forward and expect viewers to slog through several episodes of substandard material just to get to the good stuff. 

And I don’t even think that that description categorizes Nobunagun.

+The Good
The first episode was great. Nobunagun tries hard to stand out and, aesthetically it does just that, with its rich saturated colors and slightly strange character designs that, to an extent, reminded me of Soul Eater. 
 
And maybe i expected a similar gem in Nobunagun. There are enough pieces already in their proper place by the third episode to make for a decent anime. The Alien invasion storyline actually provides enough potential for what could have been an interesting season, the clash between invading forces from outer space and history’s greatest names. 
 
The animation was decent enough to warranty some enjoyment, specifically regarding the action spectacle, primarily the use of special alien weapons. 
 
All in all, a lot of potential to produce a unique series with a fairly captivating story, with the primary attraction being the different characters and their interactions.

+The Bad
Take away the visual appeal and the answer would be: everything. Here’s the thing about the word ‘potential’. It doesn’t actually mean anything, not as far as the real world is concerned. 
 
Potential speaks of the possibility or promise of something coming into being; and in entertainment promises do not mean much. 

Nobunagun pretty much wastes any potential it might have boasted in the first episode. 
 
The characters are pretty bland. Shio Ogura is nothing special as far as main characters are concerned and could be the worst of the series’ entire cast, falling behind less important characters that receive considerably less screen time. 
 
The humor falls flat most of the time and the primary plot is mostly wasted; Nobunagun promises a series in which young heroes are summoned to take upon themselves the strength of powerful historical figures with the aim of contending with an alien invasion.
 
A fairly attractive premise. 
 
Except that these historical figures are rarely present and their influence is not only absent but mostly irrelevant; this reduces the series to just another ‘teens with special powers fighting alien invaders’ anime.

+Verdict:
Nabunagun isn’t really worth the bother; chances are, with the right viewer, it could entertain. However do not expect anything noteworthy. Nobunaga the Fool manages to come out slightly ahead in this year’s Nobunaga related anime race.
RATING: 4/10, one can see the effort that went into creating Nobunagun, effort wasted on a pointless plot and bland cast of characters. So much wasted potential, especially regarding the historical elements.
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Episode 5 of Nanatsu no Taizai introduced a slight discrepancy in the story. The first time we meet Ban, in Episode 4, he is quick to show off the scar on his neck, an anomaly considering the fact that Ban is an immortal warrior that regenerates.

Episode 5 acts to prop Meliodas up as the only man to have permanently scarred Ban; which means he dealt the man a blow he couldn’t heal from; the episode went so far as to suggest that this effect was due to Meliodas’ Demon abilities.

Which is somewhat odd considering the beating Ban received from the God-like Hendrickson in the recent arc, who was also channeling demonic energy; heck Hendy went so far as to split Ban into two.

One would have expected that to be the end of Ban; except he survived to tell the tale. Plot Hole?

THE CHAPTERS:
With the kingdom saved, the rebuilding begins; the heroes reunite and big decisions are made

MY THOUGHTS:
It was a good idea on the mangaka’s part to release these two chapters in one go; because I don’t know how entertaining this material would have been when read over a period of two weeks.

+What Mattered
-Ban is leaving the Seven Deadly Sins. The sentence was a little overly dramatized at the end of the chapter, mostly because, before that last panel, all Ban said was that he was taking some time off, sort of like how Merlin said she would join Meliodas and take a break from Arthur for a little while.

I don’t know if it was necessary to end the chapter like that. But if Ban is really seeking to leave his old team mates, that decision might become a real cause for worry. After all we know Ban’s conflict with Meliodas isn’t over.

He promised to offer his captain’s life to the Goddess clan for the supposed resurrection of his dead girlfriend; which means this might be his way of declaring war, or something like it. Maybe he cannot stomach turning against his own captain for the sake of reviving his girlfriend, and quitting the sins and facing Meliodas as an outsider relieves him of his guilt.

Or maybe Ban is just taking time off after the recent battle.

-On a more positive note, could Gilthunder be on his way to joining the Seven Deadly Sins? Considering what he said about atoning for his sins, and the Seven Deadly sins having been named for sins they committed in the past and wholly regret, this could be Gil’ chance to make it the Eight Deadly Sins.

It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but it would be awesome if he joined the group.

-That smile near the end of chapter 101 was a little creepy; we still have no idea what the hell Gowther is and what exactly drives him. It might be too early to call him a hero.

+What didn’t matter
Diana and King; these two didn’t really affect the plot in any major way over the two chapters. And in that regard there panels weren’t really relevant. Yet it was nice watching their relationship develop, especially since Diana has her memories about King back.

I am interested in seeing where they go next.

+Predictions:
-There is more to Hawk than meets the eye, especially the fact that he resurrected in a smaller form; and if that business about him having been Meliodas’ parrot is to be taken seriously, and Hawk has some sort of reincarnation ability, his character probably ties back into Meliodas’ past. Surprisingly enough, Hawk is my favorite character from the Nanatsu no Taizai anime.

-Ban is taking time off; I don’t think he’s actually leaving the sins and I doubt he will attempt to kill Meliodas. Rather he will most likely attempt to find a way to resurrect his girlfriend, now that the Goddess clan have hinted to him that it is indeed possible.

-We are probably going to find out at some point in time who exactly named the sins, and it is probably going to matter.

-Gilthunder is going to join the sins.

RATING: 7/10.
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When Noblesse slows down, it REALY slows down. And I normally do not mind slow paced manga series; except the approach Noblesse is using is a little odd.

They are basically dragging out a lot of irrelevant scenes and plots. This arc is yet to catch its stride.

THE CHAPTER:
Regis begins training. Team wolf make their move.

MY THOUGHTS:

One of the things that make Noblesse so enjoyable is how long the chapters can seem, even though the manga produces, on average, the same number of pages as any other weekly series.

The length didn’t help Noblesse this week; because, as the moments went by, and as I kept scrolling down the page, I kept waiting for something worthwhile to happen, all in vain.

+The Good
Really? Was there anything good in this chapter? No, I don’t think so. 

Well, there is something to be said about Regis finally getting some training, but the intrigue of that plot is largely dependent upon how it actually pays off; in other words we have seen RK4 (or is it 5?) undergo vicious training sessions over a period of time, only to get their asses kicked.

So, really, how relevant this material is will be determined in a few weeks time. We didn’t even see Rai this time, who tends to be the highlight of most chapters.

Oh, and KSA is back, so that is something to celebrate. They were a decent cast of characters, albeit a little useless.

+The Bad
You remember Grui and Gaitan? The new villains? Well, they are kind of lame. No, very lame. Really, what was the point of wasting page upon page of these guys basically boasting about just how bad they were?

I mean, really, it’s like the authors are finding it pretty difficult to convey to their audience just how villainous their new characters are. So, rather that try something new, they are basically choosing to throw all the basic tropes at us, which I wouldn’t mind if the dialogue wasn’t so wooden and repetitive.

Chapter 344 was basically four werewolves saying the same thing to each other over and over again, but with different words; basically no different from last week’s chapter.

RATING: 2/10, I don’t know what is going on with Noblesse this month.
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This chapter reminded me of the good old days of Bleach, before Aizen got tiresome, back when he was still the enigmatic villain the exact nature of whose goals and interests were shrouded in mystery.

All you needed to know about Aizen back then was that he wasn’t completely evil, merely focused upon achieving his goal. A better example might be Fate/Zero, where the exact nature of every conflict chose to ignore the good vs. evil cliché, instead presenting an amoral cast driven by there own personal interests.

My point, Magi is doing everything right in presenting the perfect villain for the series’ heroes.

THE CHAPTERS:
Judar and Hakuryuu embark upon the journey to kill Gyokuen.

MY THOUGHTS:

So we are most definitely in the past; this has to be a flashback of sorts, showing us the events that took place while Aladdin and group partook in their summit; I guess it makes sense, showing us exactly what happened and how Hakuryuu gained the power the defeat his mother rather than allowing speculation to thrive.

+The Good
I wrote a Blog Post a short while ago, giving my take on what it took to create a great villain; and I explained my disinterest in the complex villains of today, the excess of whiny child like antagonists with what had become cliché sad back stories, most of which where intended to attract sympathy to characters that were completely undeserving of pity.

Basically I lamented about the lack of true villains in the anime and manga, those bad guys that were truly bad, and who could truly pose a threat without the risk of them breaking down at the end of the arc; except that Magi, in these two chapters, showed that it is actually possible to create dark villains that are as sympathetic as they are threatening and engaging. 

Hakuryuu and Judar combine two facets of the common villain, coming off as both tragic and sympathetic even while operating in a dark persona driven only by evil.

Having fallen into depravity, Hakuryuu falls into the category of villains that are more or less evil for the sake of being evil.

Because, with a mind driven by dark rukh, Hakuryuu is now acting on instinct, and will commit evil with no remorse or thought, no different from the typical mindlessly evil villain.

Except this is a path that Hakuryuu chose to follow, having counted the cost, realized what he would lose by falling into depravity and choosing to take the plunge.

And that is what makes Hakuryuu and Judar better  than almost any other pair of villains in shonen; they are aware. They are not driven by an uncontrollable lust for blood or vengeance. There are no dark forces deceiving them into following their dark path, or at least there weren’t.

There is a cleverness in the manga’s choice of Djinn in this situation, with Belial allowing both young men an opportunity to fully scrutinize their souls, during which they saw the dark path before them, understood what it offered, admitted that the path of light indeed offered true hope and peace, and still chose to sink into the shadows of their dreams.

They will destroy the world not because they are misguided or unknowing; rather they understand the big picture, better than even Aladdin, and yet they choose to continue in their depravity. These are the sorts of villains I like, the type that are not likely to get talked off the ledge by the heroes when the final battle comes.

+The Bad.
This isn’t bad per say, merely a less flattering consideration, at least with regards to Alibaba; as the primary protagonist of the series, Alibaba is quickly becoming irrelevant and obsolete, far too quick and willing to follow anyone that will promise to save his friends and his home rather than taking any actual definitive action.

And considering the fact that Hakuryuu ranked far below Alibaba as far as interesting characters go in the past, he has come a long way in the time it has taken Alibaba to shift alliances haphazardly.

But maybe that is simply great story telling on the mangaka’s part, showing Alibaba’s failures before finally allowing him to rise.

+RATING: 8/10, both of these chapters were great and provided some insight into the minds of Hakuryuu and Judar, especially the hate they carry and unwillingness to forgive Al-tharmen for the role the group played in creating their miserable lives.

It makes you wonder whether Judar spent so much time pursuing Sinbad because he was simply lonely and wished to share his depravity with someone; because now that he has his king vessel, he no longer shows any interest in Sinbad.

I can’t figure out how Aladdin and his group are going to figure into the coming conflict; as a dark king vessel, Hakuryuu’s only interest is still destroying Al-Tharmen and all they stand for. Which means that the big villains of the story are about to fight. Not a very bad thing for the rest of the world.
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Episode 4 of Nanatsu No Taizai was all about Ban; the Diana stuff was cool, specifically getting to learn about her relationship with Meliodas, but the antagonists were lame. And then Ban appeared and stole the show at the end, just as the episode came to a close.

THE CHAPTER:
With Hendricksen defeated, the kingdom begins to rebuild.

MY THOUGHTS:

Chapter 100; it’s been quite the journey, or at least it feels like it, when you consider how far the story has come, from Meliodas’ arrival in the first chapter to the subsequent appearance of the rest of the sins and the adventures that followed.

This is quite a milestone in any manga, the one hundredth chapter of the series. And as far as finales go, it wasn’t entirely unimpressive, if only in doing what most series do when they bring their heroes together to look back at their triumphs and losses.

-Hawk
I want to say that I don’t know how to feel about Hawk’s revival; but, truth be told, I don’t think it even matters that much. The impact of Hawk’s death emerged from the fact that Hawk was so unimportant a character that his elevation to sacrificial hero was surprising.

And to that extent, his return from the grave did little more than return him to the same old unimportant role.

That being said, his revival makes no sense whatsoever; the last few panels seem to suggest that Elizabeth is responsible for bringing the tiny pig back to life, the same Elizabeth who declared, mere chapters back, that she didn’t have the power to return what was already dead, merely heal existing life. 

So what happened here? This might be foreshadowing on the manga’s part, possibly regarding Hawk’s role as one of the sins; chances are there is a crucial reason behind his revival, either that or Elizabeth is going to have to pay a price for his revival.

-The Holy knights
It is difficult to believe that the knights would receive redemption so immediately; powerful as Hendricksen was, it is unlikely that he alone drove the Holy war agenda. After a decade of planning, there has to be remnants of his seeds among the holy knights, those that either whole heartedly supported his goals or spent so much time steeped in his madness that they can see no way back.

I doubt this conflict within the kingdom is over, especially taking into account the role the demon clan must have played in Hendricksen’s turn to the dark.

-Elizabeth
I don’t know what to make of Elizabeth; at this point she could play one of many roles in the series. Right now, i am leaning towards Elizabeth becoming some unstoppable evil in the coming chapters.

Which is believable if you take into account her role as the so called Apostle of the Goddess Clan, the same clan whose voices ordered Ban to kill Meliodas; these two primary protagonists are heading towards an interesting collision course.

And Merlin’s back, which makes you wonder if she has left Arthur’s side permanently.

Every few chapters we learn a little bit more about Gowther, just enough to wet our appetites and make us want to know more. This chapter seemed to hint at some kind of close relationship between him and Merlin.

+Thinking on it, no, I don’t think bringing Hawk back was a good idea. It ruined the mood of the chapter, especially following Ban’s speech about how every one he knows eventually leaves him. Then again I have been hearing rumors about Hawk’s ability to reincarnate, something about a side chapter.

I am grateful that the mangaka didn’t resort to nakama power to bring this arc to an end; considering how powerful Hendrickson was, I was momentarily afraid that we might have to go down that route.

RATING: 7/10, basically what you would expect from the end of an arc. Something tells me that this will be the last time we see Elizabeth, at least in any major capacity; those last words spoke of the end of a story.

And that is what happened in this chapter; the story that began in the first chapter, when Elizabeth ventured out to find the sins has come to an end; which means she will soon be parting ways with the group in order to focus on her duties as princess.

Which isn’t a bad thing as it will allow the series to explore new territory.
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