katmic (Level 10)

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I cannot be the only one starting to lose some patience with Magi. I understand what the author is trying to do, but these are some seriously long flashbacks. We might as well forget about Aladdin and group for the next few weeks to months, with the step by step process in which this manga is approaching its Alma Toran Arc.

THE CHAPTERS:

With war raging among the various freed species across the lands, Solomon must make his sacrifices in finally taking the title of King, if only to bring about a momentary peace. The final battle against King David begins to take shape.

MY THOUGHTS:

Here is the thing with these flash backs; there is some merit to them. Rather than catching a very brief very uninformed glimpse of Solomon, Magi has spent the past few weeks allowing us the opportunity to get to know this particular character and his collection of crazy friends.

Not a bad thing, especially when you consider the level of world building that has been achieved in that time, the revelation of what the Rukh are, the secrets behind the various Djinn transformations and even the formation of the world as it is known.

The problems comes with the execution. On the one hand, as I have said several times before, this story is taking its merry time in reaching a satisfactory conclusion. But even if I was to step back from that criticism, accept that we might be in this arc for a while and learn to appreciate all that we are learning, the Manga is doing an odd job of telling its story.

While certainly slow in comparison to ordinary flash backs, the Alma Toran Arc is also quite erratic, jumping from weeks to months and even years sometimes within a single chapter. Not the most impressive means of telling Solomon’s story, what with the way the panels will move from one random scene to another…Magi might be better off if this entire story was simply narrated within the space of a chapter or two.

I wish it would determine a pace and stick to it, because watching Solomon go from hero to King to the very gates of David’s palace within the space of a few panels just didn’t work for me. It’s possible the author is trying to say too much too quickly, seemingly being hurried either by her own intentions or some meddling editor.

Magi has potential, and still ranks as a pretty impressive manga; the message of chapters such as 226 and 227 are deep and philosophical and intriguing to contemplate, of the nature of freedom and what it takes to achieve true peace; however it would help the author took a different route to telling her story, away from the current, erratic and rather random nature of her approach.

RATING: 3/10, it is disturbing that I would fail to enjoy Magi to such an extent. But this arc needs to either end quickly or step up its game.

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Nanatsu No Taizai hasn’t been nearly as interesting since King’s flashback; expectedly so, considering how intense that entire Dreyfus/Gowther/King/Helbrum/Diana situation was, with the favor of battle swinging back and forth from one party to another.

An interesting dynamic that the Meliodas situation is failing to mirror.

THE CHAPTERS:

Ban pierces through the castle’s defenses and encounters an ancient relic of the goddess clan, using the opportunity to make a grave appeal. Gil finds Meliodas’ strength a worthy challenge, even as Arthur’s companion rises to his aid.

MY THOUGHTS:

The biggest thing that occurred in the last two chapters was that ominous wish Ban made, to have Elaine revived, only for the goddess clan to not only spare his life but make a promise to revive Ban’s beloved, for a completely different price, Meliodas’ life.

Admittedly I didn’t see that coming. I have been looking for a little bit more story progression in Deadly Sins ever since King’s story ended. I can’t say with certainty what about that story I enjoyed, but the entire situation was written to evolve in a rather dynamic fashion, transforming with each new chapter even while providing new revelations.

Meliodas’ encounter with Arthur hasn’t lived up to my expectations. And that is probably because how much anticipation the manga built in portending this meeting, only to spend the next several weeks in King’s corner. So maybe they chose to come back too late, because I simply cannot feel the excitement behind these particular battles.

It is a curious thing that Gll is owning Meliodas so easily; we can presume that there is something more to his claim of strength over Meliodas, something that changed since they last fought in the forest. And Meliodas didn’t stay in his demon form for long, which is odd.

Again, not particularly interesting stuff. At this point, the Ban stuff might prove to be more entertaining, especially with Threader entering the equation. I had actually forgotten about him and his quest. At this rate everything Hendricksen has worked for is going to go down the drain even as he starts to believe in the prospect of victory.

With each passing chapter, new Holy knights keep joining the Sins’ cause, and with Dreyfus now backing their power, the next few chapters might make for an interesting clash of abilities and ideologies.

RATING: 5/10, chapter 78.5 provided a pretty interesting glimpse into Ban’s past, more interesting than what we learnt during his conflict with King earlier on.

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Truthfully it feels like its been a bloody long age, since Noblesse finally began progressing; not that that is what happened in these chapters. 324 was more cliffhanger than full blown story development, and 323 was all about action, not bad combinations for a Manhwa chapter.

But I am starting to get impatient.

THE CHAPTERS:

M-21’s battle with the elder is short lived, his new powers quickly fading at a crucial moment. The Lord makes her intentions for visiting known.

MY REVIEW:

That was almost annoying, watching M-21 go down almost easily, after coming so close to finally achieving a modicum of victory for his group. Well, he didn’t really go down easily, and truth be told it was fun finally watching a member of Rai’s knights finally go toe to toe (or as close to it as possible) with a powerful foe.

But that ended too quickly. It is quite odd, that Noblesse has a tendency to remind me of Bleach. Few other series that I have come across waste as much time as Bleach, whose chapters feel so short as to never have mattered. And it wouldn’t be completely accurate to compare Bleach and Noblesse.

Because Noblesse does have considerably more content per chapter; only it would help if more happened. M-21 more or less loses his battle with the elder, only to be saved by Gegutel. The Lord makes what might seem like a threatening move against Rai.

Not a whole lot. Not for two whole chapters. Admittedly, Noblesse does more to feel out its chapters than Bleach, with chapter 323 using a good chunk of its pages to allow the M21 battle to play out in full; and it was mildly entertaining, watching the two werewolves go at it.

But we have spent so many chapters without actual story progression that I am literally on the edge of my seat, waiting for something interesting to happen, something more than great fights.

RATING: 6/10, as would be expected both chapter still entertain, just not on the same level I was expecting. And there is little suspense in the way the last chapter ended. Most people will agree that The Lord’s visit is purposed to assist rather than harm Rai

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ANIME AND MANGA THIS WEEK: 25/05/2014, APOCALYPSE NO TORIDE, HELLSING, HAJIME NO IPPO

It’s been a while since I did one of these posts; you could say I have been on an anime and manga break for sometime now, not necessarily separating myself from the medium altogether, simply restricting myself to the weekly titles I was already reading, and even then not regularly following them.

It’s odd; it didn’t think it was possible to watch too much anime and read too much manga. Not that I got sick of it at one point. Rather I just found myself bored with everything. Anyway, I have been watching a few things this week, reading some new manga, so I thought I would pick these posts up again.

This is my week in anime and manga. I am interested in hearing what your week has been like, what you’ve been watching or reading, if you have encountered any of these titles, whether they are worth pursuing or better off dropped.

ANIME

Anime has always been my problem, for a few months at least. I am looking for something to simply blow me away, and that has yet to happen.

+Hajime No Ippo- Following the story of a young high school kid who, after several years under the thumb of his local bullies, learns to box, Hajime No Ippo has simply made my last two weeks.

My first taste of Ippo was New Challenger, the second part of the anime; and only now have I finally returned to the beginning, to watch how the story started. And wow, I have said this before (at least I think I did), I am not a fan of sports. I just don’t get the appeal, yet if real sports was anything like anime sports, I would probably become the biggest fan.

Because I have never thought of the exciting aspects of what I always thought of as the boring sport of boxing until I watched Hajime no Ippo, a ridiculous thrill in displaying matches round by round, up close, in the ring, availing a glimpse into the minds of two individuals seeking to put each other down within a limited time period.

Oh, and Takamura is simply awesome. Seriously, something about these matches can keep me glued to the screen for several hours on end, at the edge of my seat, trying to figure out who will finally win a match that my mind recognizes as fiction.

RATING: 10/10, not even a question. My anime week has been made because of Hajime no Ippo, especially Ippo Vs. Sendo. Hajime no Ippo: The fighting is a must watch.

+Blast of the Tempest- Its strange; this is one of the first anime I ever watched in 2013, and only now have I gotten down to wrapping up with its second part. Following the story of Hakaze, the most powerful mage of the Kusaribe clan, stranded on an island in the past, attempting to prevent her clan, now gone rogue, from reviving the murderous tree of Exodus, which would prove detrimental to the source of her power, the tree of Genesis, I remember initially picking interest in this show because of crazy Mahiro and his friend Yoshino, two kids chosen by Hakaze to save her and prevent the revival of the Exodus tree.

Mahiro was crazy and would have destroyed the world if he felt it necessary.Yoshino was calm and kept his best friend in check, as they tried to save earth from the fruits of Exodus. Both only cared about solving the murder of Mahiro’s sister (and Yoshino’s secret girlfriend) Aika.

It was an intriguing working formula. The second part of this series is proving to be anything but intriguing, a little too convoluted for my liking, and with oddly dumb characters. Seriously, I liked Hakaze, why did they have to ruin her. I remember someone writing a post about how romance can kill the plot of some anime.

Blast of the Tempest is an example, with the way it is progressing.

RATING: 4/10, more meh than anything.

+Hellsing Ultimate OVA- Here is what you need to know about Hellsing. Dracula is now called Alucard and he works for Van Helsing’s daughter to destroy vampires and other such monsters.

The original Hellsing anime was okay. Two episodes in, this OVA is starting to annoy me; there is way too much drama preceding the action or twists in the story, too many minutes wasted on everyone telling use how dark and evil they are, especially Alucard; too much damn time wasted on Alucard laughing manically.

Too much waste at this point.

RATING: 2/10, there are more monologues than there is dialogue in this series, too many people taking too much time talking to themselves, usually about themselves. Very little character development.

All in all, not the most interesting week in anime; not with irritating disappointments like Tempest and Hellsing. Of course Hajime managed to keep me entertained.

MANGA

+Noblesse- Noblesse has a lot of these chapters, especially after a great arc, random villains sent to the city to investigate recent defeats, only to encounter the less impressive portion of the heroes, who must take a beating and either ran back to Frank, or wait for Rai’s appearance.

I was starting to tire of the werewolves, until The Lord made his appearance last week. This week, it was M-23 finally flexing his muscles that allowed the chapter to take on a more exciting form. Finally someone in the RK4 is rising to become something more than a punching bag.

RATING: 7/10

+Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic- As someone who was initially ecstatic about learning of Alma Toran’s history, these flash back chapters are starting to irritate me. I get the need, learning intimate details about Solomon and all the djinn when they were still human, but I am losing patience with the dragging pace of the chapters.

This week simply solidified the pace at which the darkness was spreading across the land, with all those species that Solomon and company had saved from the Orthodox magicians now turning and starting to fight each other.

I guess there is a message somewhere there, about the belligerent nature of all living things, that former slaves would now turn against each other and even Solomon. But I don’t have nearly as much interest in Sheba and group, despite the fact that this week’s chapter probably set her up to be Aladdin’s mother, with Solomon as his father.

RATING: 3/10

+Nanatsu no Taizai- An intriguing chapter; I wish other manga would do this more, give me something to think about at the end; The Seven Deadly Sins this week brought Diana, King, Gowther, Hauser, Geera and Dreyfus together, the holy knights and sins combining forces after determining the threat of the demon clan and choosing to enter a truce to stop its revival

Gowther keeps surprising me; one can never tell what his limits are, considering the nonchalant way in which he shrugged off his previous injuries. Because I don’t like Elizabeth that much, there is little tension in the question of whether they will save her in time.

More intriguing is the goddess clan relic. Ban, offering his life for Elaine’s return? Well, I guess it isn’t much of a surprise, considering what we know of him. But that brings into question just how powerful the goddess clan are to bring about such an occurrence, and why Ban’s so desperate to resurrect. Because even King found a way to exonerate him of fault regarding her death.

Further chapters need to devote some time to Meliodas’ conflict; with two powerful sides clashing, it does require that some focus.

RATING: 6/10, decent, not mind blowing.

+Fairy Tail- These days I don’t have too many great things to say about Fairy Tail, mostly because the manga makes it too easy to root for the bad guys, because the good guys a way too strong.

None the less Chapter 385 was kind of entertaining; Hades and the spirit king began their battle and it seems like they know each other, which is another interesting mystery.

Lucy got a power up but one I could accept. The idea that she was going to use Urano Metria to obliterate her enemies always infuriated me, especially after the savage beating she had taken. Hiro took the time to replenish her magic in a way that I can accept, which makes her use of Urano Metria alright.

It wish she could quit the whining about her bloody spirits, which are perfectly alive and which she can visit anytime. Hiro’s attempt to spin a tragedy out of last week’s chapter is annoying.

RATING: 7/10, strangely decent chapter. This arc has had way too many irritations, that good chapters such as this really surprise me. And the action was pretty cool.

+Until Death Do US Part- A young girl with psychic powers, on her way to a life of incarceration, in the hands of criminals intent on using her powers for profit, runs into the arms of a random blind man with a cane.

A blind man that she dreamt of as her only salvation.

It’s been a day or so since I picked this manga up. Following a blind swordsman fighting crime with his hacker partner, there are two things I can say about it after only ten chapters.

The art is awesome, the fights displayed in surprisingly fluid and easy to interpret ways.

Watching Mamuro (I think that is his name) cutting gangsters down on the streets using his futuristic samurai sword has proven entertaining enough to keep me glued to the manga, especially his clashes with gun wielding thugs.

However that isn’t going to last long. I still don’t know what the manga is about, what direction its main plot will follow, and whether or not I will like it will depend on how the story take shape.

RATING: 7/10, a decent start to a manga, focusing largely around the action.

+Apocalypse no Toride- Meada is thrown into a juvenile academy, with other vile and sometimes murderous delinquents for a crime he didn’t commit. A virus turns everyone in the city (and possibly the world) into zombie like mutations. Meada and his friends struggle to survive in the new world.

I am only 12 chapters in, and truth be told, all I can see is High school of the dead, but with no fan service or female characters. There is this one naked fellow with three pupils who likes to sit at the peak of towers made up of zombies, using them as his personal chariot as they wreath about like one giant monster.

RATING: 3/10, still not convinced.

All in all, not a terrible week in anime and manga for me, not horribly exciting either, but acceptable. That was my week, how was yours? Read anything new? Anything interesting? Or have you encountered one of these titles in the past or present?

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The thing about shonen battle manga is the fact that, well, they revolve largely around fighting, gaining new power ups and defeating stronger opponents with each new conflict.

Not a bad thing; but without some diversity it can get quite tiresome, this being the reason why I struggle to appreciate manga that fail to diversify in their concepts, rarely ever introducing actual stories, instead favoring relentless battles.

Good thing this is a Manhwa rather than a manga, because Noblesse seems to have finally found its stride after three or so largely boring chapters.

THE CHAPTER:

Tao, Takeo and M-21 struggle to overcome the advantage possessed by the elder wolf, soon finding themselves struggling for survival against impossible odds.

MY THOUGHTS:

SO, clearly I enjoyed this chapter more than the last one, even though both were largely the same, focused around fighting. But I guess it would be a fallacy to compare this chapter to last week’s, not when you consider the simple fact that there was some attempt at executing character development in chapter 322.

Admittedly, I like M-21 more than most, and it was an interesting experience, being reminded of the character’s less than rosy past, those sad moments that saw him lose everything he ever cared for around him, from friends to colleagues.

RK4 is a fairly weak force and it is nothing new, watching them take quite the beating; what was interesting was watching Tao and Takeo basically sacrifice themselves for allow M-21 an opportunity to escape. Clearly an ostensible sign of how deep rooted there bonds have become, from a frosty relationship resulting from previous violent encounters, to a brotherhood of heroes determined to give their lives for Rai’s well being.

If there is one thing nearly as commendable about Noblesse as the art is the well paced character development it always finds the time to perform in transforming the darkness of some of its villains into some of the better protagonists of the series.

And who hasn’t been waiting for this moment, when M-21 and crew finally come into their own, no longer desperate for Rai’s assistance in dealing with their various conflicts.

RATING: 6/10, surprisingly entertaining.

HIGHLIGHTS: M-21’s final transformation.

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