katmic (Level 10)

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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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I can’t believe i hesitated so long to read stealth symphony; because if I had only paid some heed to the manga’s description, specifically its authors, I would have approached it with increasing eagerness.

I LOVE AMANO YOUICHI. Okay, fine, I had no idea who he was until a few day ago; But do you know what I do love? Akaboshi-Ibun Suikoden. If it was within my power, I would have some very unpleasant words with whichever shonen jump executive chose to cancel what was quickly proving to be one brilliant shonen series.

With only 24 chapters in the manga, I still can’t believe someone failed to see the potential in Akaboshi, and Amano Youichi was that masterful artist that brought it to life.

SO, that most important question: should you bother with stealth Symphony? Well, if dropping Youichi’s name didn’t convince you to at the very least give this manga a few minutes of your time, then how about Ryohgo Narita, stealth symphony’s writer.

Yes, that Ryohgo Narita, author of Baccano! and Durarara!. Admittedly I never really got into Bacanno, but Durarara was one brilliantly written anime; bringing these two geniuses under a single roof seems to portend greatness in Stealth Symphony’s future. Not that that translates into immediate results at the present.

THE PLOT:

In a world where elves, dwarves, and invisible dragons live in harmony inside a metropolitan city, Sieg Kumonuma sets out to find someone or something that can remove the curse that he carries on his back. As he attempts to survive in Jinbou-chou, a city filled with fantastic secrets and organizations, he encounters many powerful individuals who quickly determine to either destroy or save him. Will Sieg be able to discover the true secret of his curse, or will it lead him to his own demise?

MY REVIEW:

Stealth symphony doesn’t have the greatest of starts; not that it is bad per say, but really it doesn’t provide any meat for me to sink my teeth into. Then again it is only 12 chapters in, and I can remember my first impression of Naruto. And while I considered dumping it for its juvenile plot during its initial run, it now ranks as my favorite anime and manga.

So yes, Stealth symphony still has the space to try and impress me. The plot may not be the most original (and really, what is these days?) but it is unique in its own way. You have a boy who, through circumstances early on in his life, was cursed with a tool that, in protecting him, endangered the lives of all those around him.

And in trying to locate a solution to his predicament, Sieg hones in on Jinbou-chou, a city that once stood at the center of a great battle that saw the tyrannical race of dragons banished to the moon, not only saving earth but leaving behind a city infused with magic and magical creatures, from elves to dwarves and the like.

There are clear attempts at creating a sensible goal in introducing to Sieg the true nature of his curse/wings, these being a class B legacy, legacies being objects of power left behind by the dragons and which, whether bought or found, granted their wielders great power.

So where does that leave us? Sieg learning that an A class legacy has the power to release him of his wings; only they cost a fortune, more than a fortune, more like enough money to buy a country (the exact terms used in the manga).

Not terrible setting, giving us a hero with a simple goal, using his none existent skills (but great power) to find work in a magical city well paying enough to earn him an A class legacy, along the way meeting all manner of wacky creatures, from the security organization V&V to the assassins guild.

Again, fairly interesting yet simple plot to follow. SO the problem? The characters. They are all pretty dull, and I can’t even call that a complaint because it is too early in the manga for any of them to acquire any worth while development.

Yet, something’s missing. Certainly it is a little too early to judge; but I love reading manga whose characters draw me in week in and week out; and at this point in time where an intriguing plot is none existent, these characters are doing little to interest me.

The cast is fairly…basic, from mysterious director to cool ninja guy, awesome assassin dude, young kid that isn’t really young and who harbors great power and a sadistic persona and so on and so forth; nothing interesting that it can draw me back each week.

The characters would be forgivable if the various plots and mini arcs weren’t so banal and somewhat typical.

But again, this manga is only 12 chapters in; and I can remember despising the idiocy of Soul Eater the first time I watched. Only later did it occur to me the effort being injected into first introducing the characters during those initial episodes, then allowing the real story to kick into gear several episodes later.

That doesn’t excuse Stealth symphony’s unimaginative means of introducing its cast. I will probably stick around for another 10 or 15 chapters to better gauge the quality of the manga before thinking of giving up. Knowing the names behind it does encourage me to persevere.

RATING: So far this is mostly a 4/10, though with the hint that the dragons will be returning after their 100 year exile, there is hope for better chapters.

And the art is pretty amazing, clear and coherent.

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I don’t know what it is about manga this week and story progression; because while everything I am encountering so far has delivered in the action arena, I find myself unsatisfied by the stories told so far; truth be told this has less to do with this week’s particular chapters and more with the previous chapters of Noblesse and Nanatsu no Taizai, each of which has spent quite a while prioritizing action over story progression.

And it can become difficult to complain about Noblesse’ failings, especially with the quality of its art it consistently presents in its action packed panels, though I am finally at place where I must protest.

+THE CHAPTER:

The Lord collides with the elders, while M21 tries his hand out at contending with a true werewolf.

+MY THOUGHTS:

It is certainly true that these days I try to keep the chapter descriptions as brief and spoiler free as possible; yet it does astound me when a chapter description fits into a single line, without any attempts on my part to summarize the plot in question.

That is literally all that happened; and unlike with Nanatsu no Taizai I am not complaining, because this Manhwa is simply superbly drawn, so much so that every new chapter of little more than action always finds a way to entertain me.

But that doesn’t say anything about the story, which, I wish, would start rapidly progressing; because it feels like we have stagnated since Rai and crew clashed with Muzaka and left the island. I get it, there is only so much that can be done in a single chapter, but Noblesse isn’t allowing me to experience the same level of satisfaction I encountered when I first read the Manhwa.

I don’t even remember when RK4 first went into battle, it can’t be last chapter because that was all about Karias; but I have seen this too many times in the past to care, the group entering training to achieve greater power, to prove themselves useful to Rai, encountering a strong opponent, showing what they have learnt and getting their asses royally kicked.

Kind of reminds of Dragon Ball Z in which the Z warriors would spend the year training to defeat a foe that would wipe the floor with them almost instantly.

I am calling this the Fairy Tail syndrome, what Noblesse has been doing in the past 100 chapters, basically teasing some actual development for RK-4 but having them contribute almost nothing; and to think each of them were considered true threats when they first emerged in the beginning of the manga.

On the plus side, and I have already said this, I cannot get enough of this art, and the way the battles are arranged, choreographed and presented, allowing the speed and impact to come through, simply awesome.

+RATING: 6/10, this was little better than Nanatsu no Taizai, merely a tad bit more exciting.

+HIGHLIGHTS: RASKREA

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