Dear Masashi Kishimoto,

18 07 2009

(Massive Naruto manga spoilers!)

Dear Masashi Kishimoto,

I understand that Naruto is an incredibly long manga series, and that it’s incredibly difficult to draw/write a series week after week and keep it new and fresh. My hat goes off to you for creating such a popular series, one that I have enjoyed over the years.

However, you have to know by now that some things about your series have become cliche. For instance, whenever anyone in Naruto covers their eye(s) or for some reason their eye(s) is obscured it is automatically assumed that they have a Sharingan.

The first time, with Kakashi, the Sharingan reveal was a surprise. The Mangekyo Sharingan reveal with Itachi was a surprise because we’d never seen the Mangekyo before. The reveal with Obito wasn’t a surprise, but it wasn’t meant to be – we knew this was where Kakashi would be getting his Sharingan. The reveal with Tobi? Not so much. His mask is a giant spiral with only an eye-hole! Of course there was going to be something up with his eyes!

And so, giving Danzo a Sharingan after having him cover one eye the entire series? NOT A SURPRISE. For a clan that supposedly only had two members left, the Uchiha sure left a bunch of Sharingan eyes floating around.

Just thought I’d give you a heads up, because the internet? Not surprised at your twist.

Cat named cat

Rawr!  Naruto copyright Masashi Kishimoto & Viz

Rawr! Naruto copyright Masashi Kishimoto & Viz


Kuroshitsuji 2nd Season: Yay! Wait, what?

21 06 2009

When it was announced that Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) was getting a second season I squeed in joy, along with the rest of the internet. Then I actually thought about it …

While I’m all for more adventures of Lord Grumpy-Pants and his Über-Butler of doom, how the hell are they going to pull that off with the way the first season ended?

More under the cut – Massive spoilers for the ending of the first season!

How the hell are we going to pull a 2nd season out of our asses?!

How the hell are we going to pull a 2nd season out of our asses?!

Read the rest of this entry »

07-Ghost 1-10 aka The Trend continues

14 06 2009

07-Ghost - copyright Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara, Studio DEEN

07-Ghost - copyright Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara, Studio DEEN

When I started watching 07-Ghost I was pretty excited about it – the military theme was neat, the visuals were shiny, the characters bishounen … and then it got boring.

From episode 2 to around episode 8 nothing happened.

Seriously, nothing happened. There were mermaids for some reason, and that was about it.

Teito is an action!bishounen for two seconds - copyright Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara, Studio DEEN

Teito is an action!bishounen for two seconds - copyright Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara, Studio DEEN

The “daring” escape from the first episode made me think this would be an exciting anime with a unique fighting system, or at the very least a suspenseful cat-and-mouse game with the main bishounen fighting for his life against an all-powerful enemy.

Not so much.

Continued after the cut – contains spoilers! Read the rest of this entry »

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Vol.1 (Manga)

30 05 2009

SZS is a niche manga. Period.

Just the title alone is enough to send casual manga readers packing, with its unapologetic, multi-syllabic Japanese, chock-full of consonants and an abundance of ‘u’s.

Once past the cover, first-time readers will be impressed by the artwork and confused by the dialogue. If they make it through to the daunting 11 pages of translator’s notes at the end, they’ll have gotten a small introduction to the ironic, sardonic, cynical, reference-filled, parodying world of bizarre characters that is Class 2-F, led by Mr. Despair himself.

SZS is bound to have another set of readers, however, and I have the feeling that Del Rey is counting on the hard-earned (or not) cash of the second set: the socially inept yet strangely socially conscious, black-humor loving, translator’s notes reading, anime/manga completionist Otaku. (Yeah, this is definitely where I fit in, I won’t deny it.)

Zetsubou-Sensei & his class - copyright Koji Kumeta, Del Rey

Zetsubou-Sensei & his class - copyright Koji Kumeta, Del Rey

The first volume of SZS sets the stage and introduces the main characters with short vignettes that explain each girl’s background.

Nozomu Itoshiki is an incredibly negative person who constantly despairs and dreams of suicide. Kafuka is an intense and oddly cheerful person who refuses to believe in negative events, even when they are happening before her eyes. Itoshiki ends up being the homeroom teacher in Kafuka’s class, and the story unfolds from there.

Kafuka works as Sensei’s foil, constantly thwarting his suicide attempts and refuting his rants against society. The series focuses on Sensei’s exploits in a classroom full of students as bizarre as he is. Five other characters are introduced in Volume 1, each with a quirk or characteristic that defines them and sets them apart (for instance, Meru, who only communicates through email – her name coming from the Japanese pronunciation of “Mail”).

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Vol 1 - copyright Koji Kumeta, Del Rey

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Vol 1 - copyright Koji Kumeta, Del Rey

Readers like me will have seen seasons 1 & 2 of the anime, as well as the 3 OVA’s that have been released in Japan; For these readers, SZS Volume 1 does not disappoint.

Del Rey’s adaptation preserves the strangely gorgeous full page spreads, as well as the extras such as attendance file inserts for the class members, the mock “sneak preview” that was released before the first chapter, the author’s ramblings in his “paper blogs”, the full text of Meru’s hateful email to Sensei, and more. Fans will recognize most of this material from the anime and appreciate its inclusion.

Japanese-language purists will appreciate Del Rey’s use of honorifics, and the reference-nuts can’t help but be pleased by the translator’s notes at the end (11 pages worth! Though I honestly wonder how much was cut for space …).

Even the cover pleases me as a fan of the series – the simple design with Sensei standing at attention holding his briefcase portable suicide kit is set against a cheerful pale pink, flowery background with lively pink lettering. It’s the perfect way to undercut the black humor of the series with it’s deceptively cute characters and artwork.

For all his craziness and generally dark view of society, Kumeta is also an excellent artist. His style is crisp and clean, with his lines so sharp that the anal-retentive, OCD character would undoubtedly approve. His art is incredibly detailed without becoming cluttered, and his contrast of white space with solid black is striking. First time readers may be put off by the bizarre characters or abundance of in-jokes and references, but they certainly won’t be by the art style.

The manga version of SZS won’t disappoint readers already familiar with the sociopathic 2F classroom, but it is a niche title whose black humor and extreme parodies will not appeal to everyone. Kumeta’s artwork is beautiful and bizarre, as are his characters.

Del Rey’s version certainly did the best it possibly could with this complex source material, but I don’t expect SZS to be a best-seller by any stretch of the imagination.

Our first introduction to Despair-Sensei - copyright Koji Kumeta

Our first introduction to Despair-Sensei - copyright Koji Kumeta

I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly Hetalia reminds me of…

22 05 2009

Hetalia! Copyright Hidekaz Himaruya, Studio DEEN

Hetalia! Copyright Hidekaz Himaruya, Studio DEEN

Hetalia: Axis Powers is like this:

You know that guy you knew in high school that was way into History, specifically WW2?
Maybe he was a teacher, maybe Government or Politics or even History, something like that?

He collected WW2 memorabilia in his garage and talked about the decisions that the US made like he was there – even though he’s only 35. He knew every battle, every concentration camp, every army division’s position, every bombing of London, knew the names of the grandkids of the guy who painted the design on Little Boy.

You know that guy?

Hetalia is what would happen if that guy dropped a bunch of acid and totally spaced out – and Korean animators drew everything he saw on his wacked-out trip through history.

And…uh…he knew Japanese, so the whole thing was in Japanese.

That’s what Hetalia reminds me of.

Youtube has left me in despair!

12 05 2009

Here’s some random Youtubery since I haven’t written anything lately!

People making overly dramatic statements has left Sensei in despair!

From Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, which is a crazy anime that is basically a collection of parodies along with shorts that expand on a theme. Usually a word-play of some sort, or taking a common social experience and turning it on its head …

Bizarre humor is bizarre.

Just one hell of a butler … har har (it’s a pun in Japanese, you see)

26 04 2009

My thoughts on Kuroshitsuji, or Black Butler. I had read the first chapter or two of the manga a while back and thought it was pretty amusing (and the artwork was gorgeous) but there wasn’t quite enough to keep me reading. I feel pretty much the same about the anime, though I did really enjoy parts of it!

Sebastian Michaelis - copyright Yana Toboso, A-1 Pictures

Sebastian Michaelis - copyright Yana Toboso, A-1 Pictures

Kuroshitsuji has all the elements of an anime that I generally like, as if it were tailor-made for fans like me. But even knowing this, it still failed to live up to its potential completely and didn’t grab me as much or as quickly as it should.

I’ve used a lot of pictures in this review, so I’ll cut it … also, obviously contains spoilers for all of the series, so read at your own risk! Read the rest of this entry »