30 Jan 2013

Fullmetal Alchemist

Not many people are going to like how I talk about FMA, better known as Fullmetal Alchemist. Aside from me, almost everyone I know loves it. I don't. The premise is brimming with potential, and yet it's lost through the two lackluster main characters. I just couldn't get into it. But I can understand the value of this anime. Some people have a unrealistic love for this series, and whilst it may be a little misplaced in my mind, there is enough quality behind this show to warrant the hero worship it gets. Just not from me.

The openings are always quite impressive.

On a planet ruled by the advanced magic known as alchemy (which is considered a science), the young Edward and Alphonse Elric use forbidden alchemy techniques to try and resurrect their lost mother. Lacking the correct trade off to bring someone back to life, the spell consumes Alphonse entirely and takes Edward's arm and leg. As a last resort, Edward binds his brother into a giant suit of armor. And so the two brothers begin their quest to restore their bodies.

It's a long journey filled with fights and colorful characters, all to find the philosopher's stone. They should of just asked Dumbledore nicely but I guess that's the easy way. Edward and his brother travel in search of the stone, encountering new friends and enemies along the way.

Edward and Alphonse, trying to resurrect their mother.

If you do like the sound of Fullmetal Alchemist, there are 51 episodes so you will have plenty to watch. There's a lot of food for thought too, you can spend a while thinking about the moral dilemmas and philosophical debates that take place throughout the anime.

So why don't I like this anime? Because the main characters don't do the brilliantly designed fictional world justice. The side characters are all great, with hidden motives and betrayals galore. But I just cannot get past the fact that the two people who get the most screen time bore me. So in other words, everything is fantastic from the artwork to the lore. Except for Edward and Alfie. They are young, immature, and somehow they have more knowledge about alchemy than geniuses who have spent their lives practicing the craft.

The main cast.

The graphics are well done and pleasing to the eye. With vibrant colors and not much lazy animation you would struggle to find a flaw. To back it up is a brilliant soundtrack with music from various well known Japanese artists. Combined, these two features create a great atmosphere from the moment you start watching. It's a very well rounded anime and anyone can see that. I also enjoyed watching the action scenes, which are animated with grace.

Ultimately I cannot call this anime bad just because I hated it. It has too much acclaim for me to be biased. So I'll just say it's not for me. It's well designed, has a wonderful manga to work from- and is probably a wholesome experience for most viewers. If you don't hate the douchebag protagonists like me, that is.

Edward Elric, getting seriousface.

29 Jan 2013

Great Teacher Onizuka

Great Teacher Onizuka, or GTO is an amazing anime. I can't believe I haven't reviewed it yet. Comedy and Slice-of-life is not a combo I like. When it involves a crazy ass kicking ex-mobster however, I can dig it. I spent most of my time smiling whilst watching Onizuka and his antics. There isn't really an overlying arc, or even a particular lesson to be learnt aside from the usual- stay in school. What you will get watching GTO is plenty of amusement, and some really inspiring moments.

The facial expressions are just priceless.

Eikichi Onizuka was a delinquent, but not just any average ruffian. He used to be a biker gang leader- with a terribly fearsome reputation. His dream has always been to become a reputed teacher. Not only does he want to inspire students, he's also perverted and wants to meet some hot schoolgirls. You will find Onizuka a very hyperactive main character with surprising amounts of optimism.

The story begins with Onizuka applying for the teaching job at a private school. Although his initial application is shot down because of his attitude and lack of qualifications, eventually he is hired to teach the unteachable class. His superiors expect him to fail along with the previous attempts to break through to this particular classroom of insolent punks. However, Onizuka begins his own brand of education, and begins to almost literally beat the kids into submission one by one.

People always make the mistake of messing with Onizuka.

It's rare to see such a great premise behind a show, even if it is a little generic. A teacher trying to break through to unruly students using life lessons is something we've all seen before and a very common concept. But an ex-gangster with a short temper, prone to violence and a dirty mind trying to school teenagers? Well, I haven't seen that before. Furthermore, Onizuka actually manages to do a pretty good job at helping the pupils learn practical knowledge in the real world. I'd want him as my teacher, I wish my education had taught me some of Onizuka's lessons instead of me figuring them out the hard way.

The only thing most people have an issue with is the art style. It is a little outdated. It even put me off watching the anime for a week or two. But a little outdated imagery should never stop you watching a good anime. Besides, with facial expressions like this who the hell wouldn't watch it?

This image alone is enough to make me watch GTO.

I spent the majority of the time watching this anime smiling. Onizuka steals the show, in a fantastic way. When one of the little shits does something to try and make him quit or get him fired, you will always wonder what he's going to do. He never lets you down.  And if you think he'll go easy on his class because he's a teacher; you thought wrong.

GTO is a stellar anime. Aside from the graphics, I found the only problem to be that it got a little repetitive towards the very end. Regardless, both of these drawbacks are no reason to avoid watching Great Teacher Onizuka. If you want a good laugh, check it out.

He's also a ninja.

27 Jan 2013

The Ultimate Spider-man

This is a cartoon so it doesn't really fall into the anime category. So why am I reviewing the ultimate Spider-man cartoon? Because I really enjoyed watching it, despite it being tailored to a much younger audience. It's very childish at times and tailors to the attention deficit disorder kids of today. Some of the jokes are really pathetic, but isn't that what Spider-man does? If you want something to watch and aren't particularly averse to cartoons, give it a go.

He's very cocky.

We all know the story of Spiderman. Peter Parker, bitten by a radioactive spider- gains superhuman abilities similar to that of a spider. He has increased strength, incredible agility, and is able to climb walls. His spider sense alerts him to immediate danger, saving him from many surprise attacks. Peter also creates web shooters, which allow him to swing across the city on biodegradable webs.

So what makes this new Spider-man cartoon stand out? It's a reboot using the ultimate Spider-man comic as opposed to the older one. The changes to the franchise in this edition are small but many, which adds overall flavor to the original Spider we know and love. Peter Parker is still in high school in this series, so he's more immature and less experienced than usual. Hence, he joins S.H.I.E.L.D to fight alongside the more established superheroes like Iron Man and Wolverine.

Nick Fury often scolds Spider-Man for collateral damage.

So instead of Peter Parker solo action, the cartoon features many additions to the superhero roster through Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury is essentially a manager, he monitors and trains superheroes to become better at their jobs whilst maintaining ulterior motives dedicated to the greater good. Although his intent is always towards making the world a better place, sometimes he uses questionable actions that make him the bad guy.

One thing that is a little out of place but sometimes works is the abundance of cutaways made famous by Family Guy. The part where it fails is Family Guy often did it ironically, knowingly making you watch pathetic side scenes that weren't even moderately funny. That was the joke. In Spider-man this technique isn't used as effectively and kills off the humor on many jokes.

Since he's a teenager, Peter Parker idolizes the older and more famous heroes.

My favorite part of Spider-man is his talkative side. He spends more time insulting his adversaries than he does fighting them. He always has a quick comeback on hand which make a lot of his encounters more showmanship than anything. This aspect of Spider-man is more prevalent than usual in the cartoon, which is partly why I enjoyed it so much. Out of his many tools his witty banter can prove to be a powerful weapon, saving him from many bad situations.

Among the various changes including S.H.I.E.L.D, Peter joins a team of developing heroes instead of swinging the streets alone. He is joined by Power man, Iron fist, White Tiger and Nova. All of which have pretty weak powers, but hell I'd use them if I had them.

Spider-man and his team. They suck ass, by the way.

Overall the show is a great way to get the younger generation into Marvel, whilst retaining a modest enough approach for the experienced Spider-man enthusiast. Other reviews have labelled the show as bland, but I'd say it's a couple of notches above that. Sure, it's simplified so the target audience doesn't get lost in years of age old Spider-man lore- but with something like this it's hard to cater to everyone like the Simpsons.

If you've read every single comic I wouldn't watch this program. But if you're like me; and you like Spider-man but don't have the money or time to buy and read every edition- I'd catch a couple of episodes of Ultimate Spider-man and you may like what you see.

24 Jan 2013

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is a God-tier anime. If you consider yourself a genuine anime fanboy- you've seen it. If not, you've caught at least a few episodes. I'm not very interested in space travel and Cowboy Bebop never really appealed to me. After watching it though- I understand why it's an iconic franchise worthy of all the praise it has received. It blurs the line between anime and cartoon, with a seemingly mainstream yet retro wild west feel to it. From the jazzy music to the fantastic artwork, Cowboy Bebop is a flawlessly delivered show you won't forget.

Spike, badass pilot, fighter, joker, cigarette smoker.

The setting is in the near future, 2071. After humanity essentially screwed up the earth by damaging the moon-  planet Earth is now spread across the solar system. The majority of the population have moved to Mars, although people have moved to Jupiter and even asteroid belts. With the Earth being all but inhabitable, criminal organizations run rampant across the galaxy. Technology has advanced dramatically, but not as a whole. Firearms and wheeled cars are still common, whereas spaceships have developed incredibly. Gunslinging and space battles, what more could you want?

Jet Black often stays out of the fight, but backs up Spike in other ways.

Spike Siegal is a bounty hunter, or a cowboy. His goal is to make a fat wad of cash. Catching criminals seems to be the easiest way to accomplish his objective. He travels space with his companions aboard the Bebop. Among his motley crew is Jet Black, a grumpy former police officer, Faye Valentine the unpredictable eye candy and debt riddled bounty hunter. Edward is the tech specialist, and female despite her name. Finally, my favorite member is Ein, a genetically enhanced super Corgi. Although the crew is mismatched and often at odds- they make a lethal team.

Faye often gets dragged into Spike's past.

As the group explore space and cause destruction everywhere they go- you will learn about their regular lives and past. Spike is a great fighter and pilot, his experience gained through years of working for the Red Dragon syndicate. Although his past is traumatic, Spike always maintains a happy and carefree attitude. He maintains a cool demeanor in the face of danger, and is a damn awesome character.

I struggle to find something wrong with Cowboy Bebop. The animation is attentive as opposed to lazy. The plot masterfully weaves episodes together in an arc whilst the individual installment is captivating and understandable to the passerby. The battles are tension filled and a pleasure to watch. The characters are convincing and believable. In fact, the only flaw I can find is I ran out of episodes to watch.

The swordfish II, Spike's precious fighter.

A staple food of any avid anime fan, Cowboy Bebop is a must watch. I've yet to meet someone who didn't love it. There is an incredible blend of genres that just can't be done by any artist. If you haven't seen it already, I'm telling you now that you have to watch it. You don't even have to like anime It's in my top 5, and I don't even like the setting.

I don't really know how else to praise this gunslinging space adventure without spoiling it, so just check it out yourself, okay? Make sure you leave a comment if you didn't like it, because you will be the first I've met!

22 Jan 2013

Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf, or Ookami to Koushinryou is an anime about a merchant, trying to make his way in the world and earn a tidy profit. Lawrence is nothing special, except for his incredible business sense. One night in a quiet town, a beautiful girl appears in his cart. She is Holo (or Horo); a wolf god. Her role is to ensure a good harvest for the villagers. With her job completed, she commandeers Lawrence to travel home with her. Despite how uninteresting this anime may sound, it's actually pretty good if you can wrap your head around the first few episodes and get into it.

Probably the only time you will see her without clothes.

Lawrence is a smart peddler, and his goal is to earn enough to start his own shop. While Holo doesn't know much about trading, she's incredibly intelligent and often provides advice and thinks of solutions nobody else could. Learning about the intricacies of buying and selling goods for a tidy profit can be fascinating at times, and the bond between Holo and Lawrence makes their conversations easy to listen to.

For a god, Holo is surprisingly childish at times. On the other hand, she has a tail, wolf ears and also transforms into a giant doggy. I like her character, she's not much of a tsundere. She picks up everything Lawrence throws at her without trouble, and is incredibly loyal. Oh, and she eats enough apples to kill a whale.

Lawrence, just your average guy.

Lawrence is nothing special. But that's part of his charm. He's spent years traveling and mastering his craft. He knows how to make money, although he has the worst luck and ends up losing his profit due to unforeseen circumstances. With Holo at his side, they make a great team. With the church after Holo for unspecified reasons, you can see the dangers they encounter slowly taking a toll on Lawrence.

As their journey continues, you will find yourself more ensorcelled by the plot. Lawrence encounters endless amounts of setbacks on his journey, yet he struggles onward and always has a solution to make the most out of his losses. Holo gives him the strength to carry on, and pulls them out of a bind or two herself.

Holo enjoys disguising herself in fancy clothes.

I know stocks, insider trading, loans and every kind of economic you can imagine sounds boring. But if there was ever a time it was bearable; Spice and Wolf is that time. You might start watching it for the adorable Wolf girl, but you'll be starved from fan service- and fed with knowledge and witty profiteering. Fuck fan service anyway, it kills good anime.

The anime is painfully short, even with the second season. It's a shame, because for once it's very original. However, the plot did dip at times and the only reason I continued was because I knew it would pick up again. That, and I'm a sucker for romance which seems to be budding between the couple. That aside, I felt really smart when I finally grasped some of the trading concepts and tricks employed by Lawrence after listening to his explanation a few times. Just don't bother watching this anime if you don't like the sound of it. Because it's nothing more than what I've explained so far.

21 Jan 2013


The first thing you'll notice about this brilliant anime is the strange art style. The eyes are certainly minimalist. I initially refused to watch it because I didn't like the visuals. It just seemed unnatural and put it to the bottom of my list. However, as you might have guessed- I eventually got to it and boy, was I surprised. The concept behind the episodes appeals to me more than most of the anime I've ever seen.

Shichika and Togame, our dynamic duo.

Katanagatari is about one overpowered motherfucker without a sword kicking the shit out of people who have swords. That and a lot of talking about stuff. You won't really know what I mean about the talking until you watch it. Each episode is 40 minutes long, twice the length of what you normally watch. at least 30 of those 40 minutes is all conversation. Boring, right? Wrong. Sure, it takes a certain kind of person to enjoy this anime- you have to be entertained by the discussions that often revolve around morality and Japanese culture.

Although this anime isn't a comedy, I laughed and smiled quite frequently. Now that I think about it, I don't really know what genre Katanagatari falls under. Sure, it has action. Adventure and Romance? Check. Martial arts, Slice of life or un-life and fantasy. It's an epic story with a slow build up culminating to the explosive ending.

Shichika Yasuri lives with his sister Nanami on a small island off the coast of feudal Japan. They have never had contact with the outside world. Brought up by their late father, the two have continued to live a peaceful life. Shichika was taught Kyotoryuu by his father, a sword fighting technique dedicated to combat without a sword.

Shichika, making yet another person look like a fool wielding a stick.

Togame is a Japanese general. She travels a long distance from the Shogunate to find the head of Kyotoryuu. Strong in mind yet feeble of body, Togame needs an unrivaled warrior to help her collect the 12 cursed swords from the possession of formidable ninja throughout the country. After recruiting Shichika to her cause, the couple return to the mainland.

The 12 deviant swords were crafted by Kiki Shikizaki, a renowned swordsmith. He used all manner of unearthly means to create them, giving each weapon a special ability. Most of the swords corrupt the user, with varying effects. Shichika and Togame aren't the only ones who seek the swords. They are competing with the Maniwa corporation, ninja who were once employed under the Shogunate. The devious princess Hitei is also trying to gain control of the swords to win favor against Togame in the royal court.

I don't even remember this bit.

So the main emphasis of Katanagatari is the plot, which is mostly depicted by conversation. The graphics and animation are lackluster, the fights are nothing special. It's set to appeal to the kind of audience that can get hooked on the witticisms that are conveyed through Shichika and Togame. All it will take is one episode for you to see whether you enjoy the style. I was captured by the charm of the characters, and even though I missed a fair amount of the nuances related to Japanese culture- I still found myself intrigued by the philosophical debates and life lessons.

What I noticed about Katanagatari is how the story grows on you, which in turn makes the fighting more climactic, and the artwork more bearable. While there are still boring bits and not so great episodes- I still couldn't stop watching it. I am a sucker for romance though, which is why I was so addicted.
Yep, she can't decide on her favorite sword.

The fight scenes are also cemented with dialogue, and Shichika often undergoes epiphanies whilst battling for the swords. The plot couldn't be considered original, but I can't really say I've ever experienced an anime quite like it. Shichika is a brilliant character, his almost blind devotion to Togame admirable; whilst his naivety and lack of knowledge makes him seem inhuman at times. Despite this, it's very easy to sympathize with him. Togame is the strategist and the mastermind, and somewhat tsundere. Although she isn't that useful in a lot of episodes, she can be very charming and certainly has a brain. Most characters are only in a single episode, save a few exceptions. So expect to see a lot of Shichika and Togame; which is fine because they have a brilliant rapport.

What I really enjoy about this anime is the little bits. It's hard to explain. How Togame orders Shichika about and he follows her orders without a blink. How Shichika doesn't understand anything of human culture, and struggles to come to terms with the many idiosyncrasies that we go through every day. He can't even pick up a sword without hurting himself.

He's like Goku without magical beams of death.

I'm a sucker for a badass main character- it is no secret. And Shichika is way up there on the list. He leaves his island of isolation with no knowledge of the world, and proceeds to tear it up with no equal. Despite how overpowered Shichika is, he still finds time to learn, grow, and become more powerful on his journey. He truly made the anime for me.

I did love this anime, it's very unique and has flamboyance and flair. I do understand however, that the majority of people may be bored by it. Therefore I do not suggest attempting to watch it unless this review has somewhat piqued your interest. As I mentioned earlier- one episode should be sufficient enough to hook you. If it doesn't, I can promise it does get more interesting. Just remember, it's not about action or graphics, just plot. Maybe my review is a little biased, chalk that up to enthusiasm for Katanagatari.