katmic (Level 10)

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Is there really anything to Noblesse beyond its gorgeous art?

Yes, there is a lot more to Noblesse than the impressive looking panels, chief amongst which are the great characters. But here’s the thing; if the art was all Noblesse had to offer, I would probably still read it.

Chapter 341 was just, wow. I don’t know what the heck the authors have going for them that no one else does, but Manhwa shouldn’t look this good. With the way the action scenes played out in the latest chapter of Noblesse I might as well have been watching the anime, one page at a time.

Lunark and Keitan face off against the newcomers as both teams gear up to undertake their mission to capture Muzaka. RK4 continues its grueling training, that much more determined to protect their master from his own power.

I love shonen manga, especially action oriented shonen manga, and Noblesse is like an overdose of shonen battle manga. The action sequences just get better with each new chapter and arc. Thinking on it, if Noblesse ever gets animated it just might end up losing this quality of art.
+The Good
Noblesse is great when its goofy, especially when it is smattering these funny elements in between the serious moments. Truth be told that is one area where the series can get campy, whenever the story gets too serious and rather clumsily attempts to display the suffering of its characters, especially for one another that results.

The last two chapters, these two chapters and the next few chapters are most likely going stick with the training; and I don’t mind, shonen gets good when allowing us to see just what our heroes must go through to get stronger.

IN Noblesse’ case its mind crushing pain as Takeo and group expose themselves to the dark spear and its soul and body consuming abilities, even as M21 confronts Karius in a fight to the death.

Where the scenes in the lab with Frankenstein managed to remain light, allowing our heroes’ personalities to shine through their anguish, M-21’s material took a more serious tone, specifically regarding M-21’s willingness to suffer for the sake of his comrades.
Again, typical shonen tropes that I none the less love reading within the Noblesse context.
+The Great
Okay I can’t emphasize enough just how great chapter 341 looked; the Noblesse secret lies, not in its crisp clean lines and backgrounds, but the way it infuses atmosphere into its scenes through subtle yet dramatic elements.

It makes for a more animated result, and Noblesse felt like it was running on all cylinders with that last chapter, especially the way it represented fluidity and motion.
+What mattered?
Well, nothing. And that is my problem. Chapter 340 was a whole load of unnecessary and very circular conversations; with characters wasting several panels saying absolutely nothing. This was most ostensible with the werewolves, with several their boisterous words and egotistical replies.

If not for Takeo’s funny scenes chapter 340 would have been a total waste; and actually it was, because the chapter felt long and yet nothing whatsoever happened, or at least not anything of note.

Chapter 341 was an action fest, so that’s something. The panels tried to remain relevant to the training theme, so much so that none of the 24 pages felt wasted, which is good. As far as story progression is concerned, M-21 has finally transformed, which means we might be done with this training business very soon.

And he looks a lot like Muzaka.

RATING: 6/10, I could have done without chapter 340; even as a means of introducing new villains, that was a lot of wasted words.
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So, that’s it then, Clamore is done. Having waited for more than a week, putting off reading this manga for as long as possible, I don’t know if the finale was quite what I expected. 

And I doubt an extra two or three chapters would have changed the outcome by much. Whatever the case, this is the end of an era, what with so many series coming to an end so close to one another.

With Priscilla defeated, Teresa and Clare share their final words. With the organization now fallen, the remnants of the silver eyed warriors raise their claymore to cleanse the land of Yoma once and for all, in hopes of finding some piece after.

But is it really? The end of an Era? Considering the number of cancellation news we have received in the last two months, most of which has been almost immediately rebuffed by rumors of sequels and continuations for popular titles like Tokyo Ghoul and Kuroko’s Basket, can we really truly presume this to be the end of Claymore?

Because it wouldn’t surprise me to hear of a continuation to the series in the works a month or two from now, even though the final page of the chapter clearly suggested that fans of Claymore should start looking forward to the mangaka’s next work.

After a decade or so of Claymore, I can understand the fatigue that comes with drawing the same manga day in, day out for so long, and whatever need might arise to seek out something new. But then again this is claymore. 155 chapters in early a decade is a drop in the ocean compared to most other shonen manga series.

And even if he chose to pour another 155 chapters out for us fans, we could hardly accuse the mangaka of stretching the story.
Satisfying? Not quite. This is how stories in manga end, with friends, family and even enemies exchanging final words of goodbye. I certainly wouldn’t compare Claymore chapter 155 to Beelzebub’s weird final chapter (although considering the series, it was sort of appropriate).

None the less chapter 155 wasn’t the most exciting or entertaining chapter of the series and frankly I expected more. I guess every manga finale aims to produce some sort of heart warming conclusion, which chapter 155 more or less tried to provide.

But…whether it was simply rushed, whether Priscilla’s end wasn’t given the consideration it deserved, whether the series could have taken the time to show us the impact the death of Priscilla and the organization has had on the island, chapter 155 will not go down in history as a noteworthy finale, not in comparison to rivals like Deadman Wonderland.
After the events of this chapter, my answer isn’t quite a resounding ‘NO’. Certainly there is so much story that Claymore could explore with just as much thrill and excitement; however the presence of entertaining plots doesn’t mean Claymore must explore them.

The young claymore in the final panels made a point I hadn’t quite given much thought; they told the man with the dark glasses that the war with the dragons wasn’t their fight, and they had no obligations to fight and die for people and lands they didn’t know.

In which case, yes, it must end; an all out battle against the so called dragons wouldn’t be Claymore in the sense that we know it, but something else all together. As such, maybe it would be asking too much to expect the mangaka to delve into a brand new story.

Because that is exactly what would happen if we ventured across the water; it would be the equivalent of Claymore making a brand new start.

Not that I would complain; but this is more than a fair place for the series to end.

It would be fun exploring the claymore world in a short prologue, a few chapters to just lay out the future as it might progress, the status of the various characters and whatnot.

Two or three chapters is all it would take to satisfactorily conclude the series. And I am still holding out hope for an anime adaptation.

RATING: 6/10, as far as manga finales go, I am really not going to remember this one.
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  The one thing you have to say about kills in Ubel Blatt is that they are never simple; it’s rarely enough to lose a limb or take a strike to the chest. No, the task isn’t complete until one has been lopped into several bloody pieces.

Manga and comics are sort of like novels, in that it takes skill to represent fights, small or large; just like most novel authors simply cannot master the art of writing fights (most of which progress much too slowly when imagined using the words put on paper or simply result in a mass of confusion), it takes a truly skilled mangaka to make battle on paper as close to entertaining as would be experienced in animated format.

In that regard Etorouji Shiono is a master at drawing fights.

Dessida and Ascherit clash, while Ato considers crossing blades with Gunnido to get to her master’s side.

It is telling that Ubel Blatt chapters almost always sneak up on me; that means I do not look so intensely forward to them as to keep a close eye on Manga sites for their appearance.

Action wise, this battle oriented chapter rocked. Story wise, well, I wasn’t bored, merely not as engaged. And that had less to do with the focus on action as it did with who was actually doing the fighting. In other words I didn’t really care for these Order of Gungnir members.

That doesn’t make this chapter a complete waste though.
-What actually Mattered?
Gurye and Koinzel; any follower of the series knew that these two would eventually meet, and that makes this chapter sort of momentous. The last two chapters hinted as much.

Just as important was the story behind the present and coming conflicts, which this chapter chose to elaborate upon; Ubel Blatt is often rarely about good and evil in its purest sense, instead choosing to emphasize the loyalties involved within each plot, typically devoid of any ties to morality. One need only look at the seven lances, that they knew of the evils of the heroes they served and still chose to maintain their allegiance because of their personal ties with their lords.

Similarly Dessida in this chapter is quick to speak of her loyalty to Glenn, showing a clear disinterest in Ascherit’s cause and whether or not it merits any consideration; she doesn’t care about who Glenn is and how righteous his goals might be, not in the face of what he did for her and the loyalty she believes she owes him.

Corruption, murder, chaos and careless disinterest in the justice of things; the Ubel Blatt story seems to hinge heavily upon these concepts in cementing the difficulty of Ascherit’s objective; even in defeating and, well, murdering the heroes of the kingdom, what does he actually expect to accomplish outside attracting the ire of their admirers?

That more or less sets the young hybrid apart; Koinzel is no hero because he doesn’t actually expect or even intend to bring about a positive change, beyond simply exacting his revenge and moving on. That makes you wonder just what he intends to do after achieving his goals. Disappear into the myth, never to be heard of again?

That would be a waste of his talents.
-What sort of Mattered?
Okay it was kind of awesome watching Ascherit cross swords with Dessida, primarily because it looked so good; each sword stroke was easy to follow, some strikes coming close enough to causing harm that they actually added tension to each panel with regards to the outcome.

That being said it was never in question that Ascherit would win this; powerful as Dessida’s body might be, that typical Ascherit expression we have come to know, lazy eyed with a hint of boredom, told all, that eventually the black blades would be loosed and Dessida would lose several body parts within the flash of a moment.

The presence of Gurye only acted to accentuate the story and elevate the stakes of the drama playing out with regards to master and teacher finally coming face to face. Not that the certainty of the outcome didn’t leave some room for doubt with regards to some hidden surprises on Dessida’s part.
-What almost mattered?
Ato. I like Ato and have enjoyed watching her grow from a truly irritating and whiny individual to Ascherit’s right hand man. I have always taken a keen interest in watching master and student relationships that actually grow, with the student finally throwing off the training wheels to stand on her own two feet.

That being said, it will suck if Ato’s conflict with Gunnido is interrupted by Gurye’s actions. Then again this is Ascherit we are talking about; he’s just as likely to walk away and leave her be, if only to allow her the opportunity to prove herself.

This Ubel Batt chapter was long; even for 29 pages, I was surprised by how much material their was; I kept scrolling and there was always more, which I cannot complain about.

But even with the quality of chapter 127, I am not exactly screaming in anticipation for chapter 128; that doesn’t say anything about this chapter but rather arises from the fact that this chapter was sort of set up, even with the fight.

On a weekly basis, this would have been a great chapter; on a monthly schedule, these should have been two chapters.

RATING: 6.5/10

HIGHLIGHTS: Ascherit and Gurye meeting.
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I had forgotten just how humble Nanatsu no Taizai's beginnings were; because, thinking on it, that Mead story was rather cliché’, playing out at some point in most shonen series. 

That didn’t make Nanatsu no Taizai episode 2 any less entertaining, specifically in showcasing just how evil the holy knights are and the true strength hidden behind Meliodas’s small body. 

That little game of catch with Gilthunder was also quite something to see; and I can almost appreciate Elizabeth’s presence now, not because of the events in the manga currently but the role she has had to play, in her own way a hero to the kingdom, if only as the bridge between the Deadly Sins and her people’s plight. 

The battle against Hendricksen continues and he proves to be every bit the invincible demon he boasted of; just as the holy knights start losing against Hendy in the second bout, Meliodas launches a secret strategy. 

I can’t determine what makes a good fictional strategy in anime and manga; I guess utter ignorance makes for a bigger surprise later on but I would have liked a hint or two at the exact game Meliodas was playing in this chapter, if only to enjoy the tension of trying to figure out if the plan would succeed. 

Chapter 98 was as battle oriented a chapter as they come, with the entirety of Holy knight remnants and the sins assaulting Hendy and Meliodas; not that we expected them to actually succeed against Hendricksen, not when even Diana’s Gideon proved ineffective. 

That being said, the action, while not particularly engaging, was entertaining stuff, specifically the actual choreography of the fight; I don’t know when Nanatsu no Taizai became this good to look at.

Certainly the art has never been anything to scoff at, but it is easy to forget with the less than flattering chapters of this arc. Chapter 98 however, while not quite Bleach level, was impressive to drink it, especially in displaying the rapidly evolving battle between Meliodas and Hendricksen. 

Speaking of Sins, what happened to Gowther? I feel like I should have noticed him losing his head; then again maybe it wasn’t the most prominent scene of its chapter. And the fact that the man (woman?) survived says so much about the mysterious world of the sins. 

Thinking about, that mini arc with King has to be the first and only exploration of depth we have had for any sin, that including Ban, whose own side story did little more than tell us about his love life.
With most of the sins finally assembled, there is still so much we don’t know about our heroes.
RATING: 7/10, great action, just not as engaging as the previous four or so chapters.

So far, we know that Gowther’s choice of weapon is a bow; he’s super strong, utilizes some sort of telekinesis using light and he just might be as immortal as Ban; first they punched a hole through his chest, then he got decapitated, and he’s still standing.
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This chapter was one large flashback; and I actually expected to hate it. Because all chapter 242 did was basically tell us what we already knew and had known for several dozen to a hundred chapters.

However it would be accurate to say that all this served as a great reminder and somewhat placed things into perspective.

The Kou empire stands at the edge of war. As Alibaba makes for Balbad in an attempt to protect his home from the oncoming chaos, Hakuryu acquires the means to wage war on his brother and mother.

Thinking about it, I have no idea what the hell I even read in this chapter; parts of chapter 242 were flashbacks. But there were parts I am not quite certain about, especially when taking into account what we learnt at the end of the summit about Hakuryuu’s actions thus far.

+The Good
So, Hakuryuu is making plans to kill Gyokuen? Because I thought she was already dead. And is Gyokuen even Hakuryuu’s mother. Because everything that we learnt in this chapter suggests that Gyokuen appeared on the scene rather mysteriously and long after Hakuryuu was born.

So, what the hell is going on here? I might be confusing my Magi facts.

On the one hand, Hakuryuu could have lied about killing Gyokuen in an effort to further his rebellion, and now he plans to turn that particular lie into truth. On the other hand, chapter 242 was largely about Hakuryuu telling us what happened, in which case that last panel could have been the moment, entire days to weeks ago, when Hakuryuu took Judar’s power and ended Gyokuen’s life.

I don’t exactly understand what I was reading. And maybe I am reading way too much into the chapter. Whatever the case, the information was somewhat educational.

Considering how long it has been since we first encountered Hakuryuu and his family, I think I can proceed with a clearer picture about the Kou empire, its origins and a fair portion of information about Hakuryuu’s siblings, most of whom I can barely remember, save for Kouen and his sister.

+The bad
If my memory wasn’t so vague about the Kou empire history, this chapter would have been more or less pointless, with several pages outlining what Hakuryuu told us a long time ago. As it was, very little story progression actually took place, save for that last bit with Judar.

Maybe we needed to get a clear picture about what was happening at the heart of the empire, but the chapter could have done that in two or three pages; more importantly, without clear knowledge of who is dead and who is alive, I don’t how much of this picture we actually got, outside of Hakuryuu’s reminiscing.
+What mattered?
I guess we now understand Hakuryuu a little better; hearing the news about his actions during the summit, it was easy to jump to conclusions that Hakuryuu had gone dark and whatnot.

The character we met in this chapter was subdued, less dark and more determined; which makes you wonder if there is really any point to the upcoming clash with Alibaba. Hakuryuu is bathed in dark rukh, but really he’s no more depraved than Sinbad, merely a king that will do what it takes to bring about his vision.

And it isn’t even a bad vision. The question now comes down to where Judar falls in the grand scheme of things and what his plans for the young king might be; if it simply comes down to Judar having chosen his king vessel, then Magi is going to climax towards a fight between all the kings.

And truth be told, I want Sinbad to come out on top. Whatever Aladdin has to say, he and Alibaba are idealists whose visions of the future are largely unattainable and unrealistic; rationally speaking, Sinbad stands the greatest chance of not only winning any battle that might arise, even against Hakuryuu and Judar, but as emperor he can actually bring about peace.

+Predictions: Whatever Judar says, Al-Tharmen is no one’s puppet; and clearly they are using Hakuryuu for a new agenda; whatever his original intentions, Hakuryuu will lose himself to the black rukh and I suspect Alibaba will be forced to put him down; or at least he will try until Aladdin stops him.

RATING: 6/10, I am a little divided on this one; at a glance it was engaging, but the more I think about it, the less substance I actually see
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