Seven Coloured Compass

Beneath the starry sky, we'll meet once again.


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Bleach: The Bount・Assault on Soul Society arc

The Bounts have entered Soul Society… what’s going to happen?! And how will they be stopped?!

Bleach season 3 logo

Name: Bleach: The Bount・Assault on Soul Society arc (season 5)

Japanese Name: ブリーチ: バウント・尸魂界強襲篇

Air Date: August 8 2006 – January 4 2007

Studio: Pierrot+

Episodes: 18

PLOT

The Bounts arrive in the Soul Society and find themselves battling two shinigami lieutenants, but the abundance of reishi in Soul Society gives the Bounts a ready source of power, rendering them formidable opponents. Meanwhile, it is discovered that Maki Ichinose, the banished shinigami helping the Bounts, has infiltrated Seireitei and has been secretly manipulating their data. What strategies will play out, and how can Ichigo and his allies stop them?

Well since seasons 4 and 5 were meant to be fillers so that Tite Kubo could come up with more material, this anime exclusive arc isn’t as strong as its predecessors. But I gotta hand it to them, they know how to make me loathe an antagonist. Jin actually grinds my nerves and he is a complete and utter BASTARD. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel sorry for him… WHAT ARE THESE CONFLICTED FEELINGS I AM HAVING?!

I’ve finished Free! so it’s about time I caught up with Bleach. I am also watching Kuroko’s Basketball 2, Diabolik Lovers, and BlazBlue: Alter Memory, so there’s a lot going on for me. A review for Brothers Conflict and Bleach season 6 is also in the works, so keep an eye out for it when they’re posted!

First Impressions

Ever since the Bounts infiltrated Soul Society, the Head Commander and First Division captian – Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto – holds a meeting with all the division captains to discuss the new threat. Toshirou Hitsugaya is tasked with defeating the Bount, and all captains are ordered to kill any intruders without hesitation. The mission to hunt down the Bounts has begun. At the same time, Ichigo and friends enter Soul Society to assist in the hunt for the Bounts. Meanwhile, it is discovered by Yoruichi that Maki Ichinose – the shinigami turned traitor assisting the Bounts – manipulated Twelfth Divison captain, Mayuri into opening the gate of Soul Society. Why is a shinigami assisting the enemy? I mean, there has to be some sort of logical explanation right? Even if this was explained in the last season, I still can’t get my head around this. Maki, Jin has been manipulating you from the start! Turn back now before it’s too late… or so I’d like to say, but he needs to stop following someone else and create his own path on his own. Did I just get deep there? That’s so unlike me O_o

The Bounts were created accidentally through an experiment in Soul Society involving eternal life. The experiment went disastrously wrong which affected a large portion of souls in the cycle of rebirth, thus a mutated strain of humans with abnormal abilities was born known as Bounts. The shinigami behind the research was called Rantao and to atone for their sin, they was banished from Seireitei. I don’t know Rantao’s gender so I’m referring to them as ‘they’ etc. For those who don’t know (well I never explained this), Seireitei is where the thirteen squads and shinigami reside, and is the centre of Soul Society. So if it is dominated by the Bounts… then that is a VERY bad thing, because all the shinigami will be annihilated. Wow. That was a nice way of putting it ^^;

Rukia faces off against the Bount, Yoshi, in Rukongai. Because Rukia’s Spirit Pressure hasn’t fully recovered yet, she is at a disadvantage; especially since Yoshi has absorbed a fair dosage of souls from living humans, thus she easily overwhelms Rukia’s kido. Yoshi takes a girl hostage and demands Rukia to drop her sword, otherwise the girl will be harmed. Rukia complies and Yoshi is about to deliver the final blow until Byakuya comes to the rescue (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧. you can always count on Byakuya for an effective entrance! I often wonder if he stands by and waits for that golden opportunity because he always arrives at the perfect moment… it’s kinda… hot, in a strange sort of way (¬‿¬) *ahem* putting aside the über hotness of Byakuya, his relationship with Rukia is rather adorable. That evening after saving Rukia and tending to her injuries, Byakuya goes out to fight Jin alone. Jin taunts Byakuya saying that he is fighting to avenge Rukia however, Byakuya responds coolly that he only needs to destroy enemies of Soul Society… you lie man! You’re so doing it for Rukia! Every little action he does, there’s always a hidden meaning behind it and that’s what makes me love him all the more ゚+.(*ノωヾ*)ャン♪+゚ Byakuya, LET ME LOVE YOU BABY.

Byakuya catches RukiaI squealed so loud when this happened… BYAKUYA!! >////<

Midway Impressions

Soi Fon – captain of the second division – finds herself against one of the Bounts, Mabashi (voiced by OnoD asdfghjkl). Mabashi uses his doll, Ritz, to possess and control a person’s mind and body, so as part of Jin’s plan, Mabashi possesses the majority of shinigami in Seireitei and uses them to attack one another causing infighting amongst the shinigami. Of course Soi Fon catches onto this very quickly, and deduces that if she defeats the controller, the shinigami would return to normal. She’s so smart! Eurgh I’m so jealous (╥_╥) and she’s pretty and strong so I’m even more jealous! Soi Fon possesses a mind that allows her to think quickly in dire situations – a trait needed by all captains of the Thirteen Court Divisions. So when she is struck with a poison, she heals herself using her zanpakuto’s Shikai, Suzumebachi. Earlier on, Soi Fon left a journey’s crest on Mabashi using Suzumebachi and releasing it through the command “Jinteki Shakusetsu”. Mabashi taunts her and says she’s going to die soon, but Soi Fon acts as if she is still poisoned. When Mabashi’s guard is down, Soi Fon strikes him again on the hornet’s crest left before with Suzumebachi and he dies. Well played. Well played Soi Fon…

Mabashi and Soi FonMabashi, you’re just going to jinx yourself if you carry on mocking her…

Now it’s Mayuri turn to face off against the Bounts! Mayuri (twelfth division captain if you can’t remember) goes head to head with Sawatari – the oldest of the Bounts. Sawatari’s doll is Baura who has a whale-like appearance which Sawatari sits upon. Baura has a dimension in its stomach where anyone that is swallowed by Baura will die if they stay in him too long. So these two exchange a lot of big-headed remarks and how they overpower one another, but we all know who’s going to win in the end. I mean, it’s fairly obvious. No? *Sigh*so Mayuri uses his zanpakuto in its shikai form to paralyse Sawatari’s right arm – even if he absorbs reishi, his arm will not recover from paralysis. Sawatari and Baura withdraw but Mayuri manages to track down where they are headed. However in a fit of rage, Sawatari orders to Baura attack causing severe damage to Mayuri’s body. Angered, Mayuri releases his Bankai which emits a poison made of his own blood. In retaliation, Sawatari transfers his Spirit Pressure to Baura, however Mayuri’s Bankai critically stabs Baura. When a doll is killed, it’s owner does so as well. So Sawatari dies \(^o^)/ I never thought I’d say this, but you go Mayuri!

God I am so sorry for the spoiler fest! I didn’t realise I wrote that much, but I think it comes from the fact that I really dislike the Bounts, and also the character growth is quite decent plus, I saw some action which I’m content with. I think it’s also because I’m WAY into this. Bleach has officially taken over my life, and I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not… no serious! I’m starting to plaster my room with Bleach decorations, I’ve got loads of key-rings dangling from one key (what is the point of that anyway?), and my phone and iPod wallpapers all have something to do with Bleach. What am I doing with my life? I have this unhealthy obsession with Byakuya, Gin, Toshirou, and Grimmjow and it just won’t stop m’kay?! Don’t tell me otherwise! xD

Overall Opinion

The Bount arc has been brought to an end. Did it end on a high, or low? This season, like the previous one, wasn’t adapted from the Bleach manga as the first three seasons were, and it shows. This story line didn’t have the punch or kick that the earlier ones did. Yes, the Bount’s doll’s were fun weapons for them to wield, but the Bounts themselves weren’t really all that unique, as far as villains go. They possessed neither the creativity of the Hollows nor the personalities of the Captains. They were rather bland, and uninteresting, so they were difficult to sympathize with. I found it hard to feel sorry for them, and the only Bount who managed to gain my sympathy was Jin… and he had so much of my hatred at the start.

Added to that was the plot: a group of people invading Soul Society in order to receive something or someone. Wait a minute… isn’t this what happened in seasons two and three? The Bounts even fight the same Captains that Ichigo and friends faced in the previous two seasons. It was more than a coincidence, I’m sure. This whole season had a feeling of been-there-done-that which never really faded, and constantly repeated itself. It was nothing new or fresh. There was no spark, or excitement – except from the occasional action-packed battle. Reliving the previous three seasons wasn’t exactly what I was asking for, but it’ll have to do I guess.

Episode108StoppingMesserByakuya’s Senbonzakura Kageyoshi stopping Messer’s full power.

That’s not to say that this season was bad or worthless, it’s not. There are some exciting battles and some cool moments. The problem is that the show is just retreading old stories, but those stories were good, so you could do worse. That’s not to say this season was exceptional either. There wasn’t much in terms of development for the villains; there was plenty for Ichigo etc. but not for the Bounts. Sure there was a bit here and there for Jin Kariya and Go Koga… but what about the others? What were their reasons for joining Jin in the first place? Power? Glory? Revenge? Nothing was ever made clear for the other Bounts, so they basically sat around doing nothing unless needed. I was thinking to myself “do they even need to be there?” for the majority of this season, but I bet that’s what most people thought as well… please say I wasn’t the only one!

The soundtrack, as said for the previous season, doesn’t reach the bold, rich sound it achieves for its best scenes. Other than that, the rest of the soundtrack is still the same as always.  There is a change in opening and ending themes: the opening changes from ‘Tonight, Tonight, Tonight’ by Beat Crusaders, to ‘Rolling Star’ by Yui whilst the ending changes from ‘MOVIN!!’ by Takacha to ‘Baby It’s You’ by June. Yui’s song used for the opening had me laughing at points… because when she said “rolling” I thought she said “lolling” which I found rather amusing. But it was either the pronunciation, or just my hearing. Did anyone else notice this? Or was it just me, as usual? The soundtrack turns in a typical quality effort, though it never quite reaches the bold, rich sound it achieves for the best scenes. The Bount-specific themes, with their ominously-whispered words, set a good mood for the content but lack the dramatic punch of heavier themes used in other arcs (yes, I just copied and pasted that part from my last Bleach review, because c’mon it was technically the same).

Everybody gets at least some attention in these episodes – Byakuya’s affection for Rukia, Ichigo’s wavering determination, and the ever-manic Zaraki gets to wipe the floor (both physically and philosophically/mentally) with the whiny, hypocritical Maki Ichinose. And an extra episode at the end of the season provides flashbacks of Rukia’s first solo assignment, Renji’s promotion, and Ichigo’s ‘ordinary’ life prior to receiving the powers of a shinigami which included comforting the soul of a young girl who died in a car crash prior to the series start. Although season 5 was primarily focused on the Bounts and their objectives, the spotlight lent more towards the shinigami of Soul Society, and Uryuu Ishida. At least, that’s what I think.

SPOILER: With the defeat of the Bounts and their leader,  Ichigo, Rukia, and Renji lament on their pasts whilst they’re in the Kuchiki household. Soul Society finally recognises the existence of the Bounts, but Ichigo states that even though Jin wanted to erase the Bounts’ existence, he ironically left a stronger impression. Both Ichigo and Renji are later scolded by Byakuya for creating a ruckus with their arguing (seriously I could ship Ichigo and Renji right now). Later on when Ichigo and the others return to the Human World, a mysterious figure approaches Karakura Town thus setting the base for season 6.

The Bount arcs served as decent fillers, and I’m glad to see that things were resolved, and also the Bounts got the recognition they deserved. It was after all, Soul Society, who created them so they have to take responsibility. That’s it from me, now I better get some college work done before I panic and do it last minute ^^;


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Free!

It’s summer and you know what that means… it’s time to get in the pool and feel Free! (haha, do you get it? No? Rude.)

Free! logo

Name: Free!

Japanese Name: Free!

Air Date: July 3 2013 – September 26 2013

Studio: Kyoto Animation, Animation Do

Episodes: 12

PLOT

The story revolves around Haruka Nanase, a boy who has always loved to be immersed in water and to swim in it. Before graduating from elementary school, he participated in a swimming tournament along with his fellow swimming club members, Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki, and Rin Matsuoka. After achieving victory, each of the boys went their separate ways.

Time passed, and in the middle of their uneventful high school lives Rin appears and challenges Haruka to a match, showing Haruka his overwhelming power. Not wanting it to end like this, Haruka gathers together Makoto and Nagisa once again, and brings a new member named Rei Ryugazaki to create the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club in order to defeat Rin.

[via ANN]

When the first episode aired, I pushed aside all other anime I was watching (yes, including Bleach) and dived straight for this! All those PVs, key visuals and fan art finally got to me and I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to watch something summery and get my stubby little hands on those boys… (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ hehe, shirtless boys in speedos, here I come!

I had my eyes particularly on Rin… because he’s voiced by my precious Mamoru Miyano! He is my god, and I hope that there will one day be an official religion dedicated to him. If not, I plan to take the world by storm with this religion… if anyone wants to join, then feel free – haha, OMG I just said ‘free’ and this review is about Free! LOL… am I the only one finding this funny? (-__-)

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much recently. I’ve been trying to catch up with episodes from Polar Bear’s Cafe, plus I’ve been trying to settle into college… I’M A COLLEGE GIRL. So I do apologise, but posts are going to be late every so often due to excessive amounts of homework I’d be getting and my busy schedule. I AM SO SO SORRY TT^TT

First Impressions

NAKED NAKED NAKED NAKED (。♥‿♥。) … oh. What a disappointment. I thought I was going to get at least some fanservice from the first episode but nope. They crushed my dreams. The main character – Haruka Nanase – was in the bath when his best friend Makoto Tachibana came to pick him up for school. So… Makoto walks directly into the bathroom while Haru is still in it. Whoa, that’s a bit straightforward isn’t it? O_o anyways, Makoto helps Haru out of the bath and the camera slowly films Haru… the chest, the abs, nearly there and… wait. He’s wearing his trunks in the bath (-___-) goddammit! Kyoto Animation, what kind of people are you to ruin my wild fantasies?! It has gotten to the point where I’m actually visualising the whole scene again just to fulfill my fangirl heart. Oh the agony! Haru also apparently cooks shirtless with only an apron covering his trunks (´⊙ω⊙`) I really thought he was naked then. Who knew my mind could be like this?! STOP PERVERTED BRAIN, JUST STAHP. I’m sure I’m not the only female who feels this way… raise your hands if you are part of the guilty party *raises hand up sheepishly*, if you raised your hand, I applaud you. Give yourself a round of applause, even if you’re reading this in public *claps* I dare you.

Episode 1*makes inhuman sounds*

MAKOTOOO!~❤ why are you such a little cutie? D’aw, why do you have to make it so easy for me to love you? He resembles the caring, older brother type which I now have a thing for… apparently. He really is such a precious little thing (maybe not little because this guy is TALL) and I adore him to pieces. His friendship and closeness with Haru is beautiful and I love how he knows what the latter is feeling without him saying so. There’s something about Makoto that really attracts me to him; his smile is somehow refreshing and his feeble attempts at stopping Haru from stripping (yes, stripping!) really make me smile with him and of course, I get a good laugh out of it. But I wasn’t joking about the stripping. Haru always has a compulsive need to strip every time he sees water or hears the word ‘pool’… I’m not complaining, it’s just something important that needs to be said (¬‿¬)

Someone’s a cocky, arrogant laddie… it’s my beloved Rin-chan (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧. y’know every time I watch a new anime, Mamo-chan always voices a character in it. I swear he’s stalking me… I like it, keep it up! After elementary school, Rin moved to Australia to attend a swimming competition. He has recently returned to Japan and visits his old swimming club where he bumps into Haru, Makoto and Nagisa. A tense situation arises as all three notice how much Rin has changed; personality wise and appearance. He’s no longer the bubbly child they remember from childhood, but rather cold, arrogant and egotistic. Does Mamo-chan always end up voicing these sorts of characters? Yes he does it very well, but seriously I swear he mostly goes for the arrogant characters… as well as the out-going and frivolous characters! Mamo-chan has the perfect voice (*´ω`*) it’s no wonder I love him so much!

Rin MatsuokaSQUEEEEEE!! >////<

Plot wise, nothing much has been offered however, it does gets the chance to show off some bromance and fierce rivalry within the first episode. I hope Kyoto Animation plan to develop the rivalry between Haru and Rin because… they ended the episode on a cliffhanger. A CLIFFHANGER. But this also gives Kyoto Animation something to build tension upon and raises questions that can only be answered by the characters themselves. How did this rivalry begin between Haru and Rin? Why did Haru quit swimming competitively? Why do all the characters love swimming so much? These are questions that most fans would be pondering on and hopefully, they will be answered in future episodes. Gimme more, MORE I SAY (屮゚Д゚)屮!!!

Midway Impressions

I’ve had a little look around to see what people’s views on Free! are, and I was really disappointed to see some people poking fun at their bodies and how they behave around one another. Some say the bodies look strange and inhuman… I beg to differ. A few of you may know that I am a competitive swimmer, but I was also at national standard ranked in the top 20 for the 100 metre freestyle before my health began to deteriorate – I caught viruses and infections so obviously it affected my training. Look at me rambling about myself… shut it Jimmy! If you look at Olympic swimmers such as Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte etc., you can see that their bodies are of similar appearance. Nothing to complain about here.

ASDFGJKLASHDSHGKLFDABHJ *HEAVY BREATHING* I CANNOT FATHOM THE FEELS I AM FEELING RIGHT NOW. The Iwatobi boys are off on a training camp in order to prepare for prefecturals, so they’re training… in open water! Obviously since Rei is a beginner, he starts off doing kick whilst the other three swim ahead. At this point, Rei feels guilty because he feels like he is going to let the team down at the rate he is going, so at night he goes out and trains more. Bad choice. A sudden storm takes Rei by surprise, and he starts to drown whilst yelling for help. Upon hearing his cries, Makoto frantically leaves his tent and dives after Rei. Both Haru and Nagisa hear the commotion and dive in after them. Once Makoto reaches Rei, he’s overcome with fear and is rescued by Haru; Rei is rescued by Nagisa. A while later, Haru manages to drag Makoto onto a nearby island to find that he is unconscious and his breathing weak. Worried, Haru contemplates on what to do, and is about to perform CPR (mouth to mouth) until Makoto awakens. Now this is where i must point out something. For those who ship Haru and Makoto together and were looking forward to some lip-to-lip action, you should notice how much Haru is shaking, and how worried he looks. His best friend is before him; unconscious, and barely breathing. He could have lost him. So imagine all the conflict Haru is feeling inside him. Think about it.

CPRWe all know what happens next…

Episode 7 marks the beginning of the prefectural tournament Iwatobi were preparing for in previous episodes. Rin and Haru are placed in the final heat (heat four) for the 100 metre freestyle (my best event yay!) and the top eight who have the quickest times qualify for finals. Now this is where is gets confusing… Rin and Haru are placed in lanes four and five; Rin won whilst Haru placed second, but Haru still didn’t qualify even though he got the second quickest time. In swimming, heats are determined by seed times with the first heat having the slowest competitors, and the last heat having the quickest. The lanes are organised in spearhead formation with the slowest (in the heat) on the outside lanes, and the fastest on the inside. Watch the Olympics and you can see how this works. But. Haru was in the last heat, seeded as one of the fastest, came second, got a time a few milliseconds off Rin’s, and yet HE STILL DOESN’T QUALIFY which is bugging me to no end! Unless there were seven other competitors in previous heats who went quicker, I am not content with this result. NOT AT ALL. What makes it worse it is that after the race, Rin says to Haru: “I win. This means I’ll never swim with you again. Never.” Haru looks so distraught, and lost after that. My heart twisted in knots, and it was painful to see Haru so upset TT^TT

The competition beginsSide by side, but not together.

Overall Opinion

Free! was one of the most anticipated anime series of the summer season, and has accumulated a whole horde of fangirls. But has it REALLY lived up to its expectations?

The plot isn’t a complicated one, or anything special for that matter, but it’s refreshing and simplistic. It’s about friendship, being able to move forward with the help of others and following YOUR own dreams instead of living out someone else’s. Haruka Nanase, the main character, only cared about feeling the water since he first started swimming as a child. He thought that was all that mattered, until a transfer student by the name of Rin Matsuoka shows up and gets him to swim on a relay with him, and two other teammates, Makoto Tachibana and Nagisa Hazuki. After the sensational experience of swimming with the best teammates you could ask for, the four youngsters felt something that would change their lives; the feeling of being a team, and being one with them. However, they were not completely aware of this, so when Rin goes to Australia to follow his dad’s dream and become an Olympic swimmer , his confidence is shaken when he realizes that something isn’t right. Swimming isn’t as important for him if he doesn’t do it with his best friends, so he assumes he’s just weak and gives up on swimming, and so does Haruka.

Several years later, the boys have grown up with Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa attending the same high school – the former two being sophomores, and the latter being a freshman. Unbeknownst to them, Rin has returned to Japan, and demands a race against Haruka with the result of his victory. Rin thought this victory would make him free from the feeling of weakness and pain that surrounded him, but it simply didn’t work. Beating Haruka wasn’t what he needed to become ‘free’. He needed to swim with him again. As a team. So, seeing his old teammates forming a swimming club all over again, he feels lonely, and left out, and he doesn’t know how to move on. However, in the final episode – which was by far the best one of them all – friendship saves Rin from the dark and endless abyss he was in, and in the process, Haruka finally feels whole.

The animation is by no means, flawless. Half assed anime to please the fans, you say? I’d like to see you stuck in a studio trying to make the animation as realistic as possible. The swimming strokes, when they swim through the water and turn on the wall, the moment when they dive in… everything was realistic, and they took the work to animate it the best they could. The movements of the swimming styles follow the rules of FINA (the governing association for swimming), and everything is carefully taken care of. As a swimmer myself, KyoAni depicted the different techniques and strokes well.

What makes Free! stand out above all overs, is that the story is VERY much character-driven. The swimming itself is merely a by-product of the characters’ desires and interests, so the passion for the sport is clearly there. The boys development and progress is down to the fact that they lean on each other, and this makes this a rollarcoaster for your emotions. I genuinely care for each, and every character in this series, so the feels and angst where all over the place. The characters are intensely loveable, despite the flaws that make them human, and they’re not the typical stereotypes at all either. Rei and Haru displayed particularly rattling progress, and most of the other characters also showed signs of growth by the end. In the end, all characters got equal development, and KyoAni certainly deserves praise for this.

ReunionAnd they’re whole again! THE FEELS MAN ;____;

The opening song ‘Rage On’ by OLDCODEX is a rock number, and is probably one of my favourite songs ever. It’s intense, which arguably suits this particular type of series; since swimming is one of the more difficult sports to commit to, and also it is indeed intense. The lead singer – Tatsuhisa Suzuki – just so happens to be the seiyuu for Makoto Tachibana, which was a nice little fact to figure out about halfway through the series (unless you knew beforehand, as to which I applaud you). The ending song ‘SPLASH FREE’ by STYLE FIVE consisting of the five main seiyuus for the lead characters, is an incredibly catchy tune that will have you singing in no time. Trust me, I was up and dancing before I could even comprehend what was happening. But the voice acting, oh man. It was the best. It felt as if the seiyuus literally poured out their feelings for this one, and the feels got to me very well. As for the soundtrack, it consisted of calm, uplifting tracks that fitted the moods/atmospheres completely.

Free! is a prime example of why you should NOT underestimate a show’s potential based on what it is. Yes, it may have started as a commercial which stole the hearts of millions of fangirls everywhere, but it became so much more than the original ‘fanservice’ image. It became one heck of a series with the greatest animation, character development, and story development ever. It doesn’t lack substance! This is the highest praise I can give a series, and Free! truly deserves it. Free! is officially my favourite anime series ever, and I have high hopes for a season 2! If you judged this as a ‘gay swimming anime’, here is my challenge to you. WATCH IT AND SEE FOR YOURSELF THAT IT IS NOT JUST SHIRTLESS BOYS CONSTANTLY STRIPPING DOWN. Then let me know your thoughts. And that my friends, is my rant for the day.

PhotoMy darling, precious swimming boys…


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Bleach: The Bount arc

Ichigo and gang go back to their normal, everyday lives! Or so they think…

Bleach season 4 logo

Name: Bleach: The Bount arc

Japanese Name: ブリーチ: バウント篇

Air Date: January 17 2006 – August 1 2006

Studio: Pierrot+

Episodes: 28

PLOT

Ichigo and his friends return from the Soul Society to the World of the Living and try to resume their normal lives. But when strange abductions start happening, it’s up to them to solve the riddle. More Soul Reapers arrive to help uncover the truth behind a mysterious clan known as Bounts. Will these allies be strong enough to stop the Bount leader from stealing human souls and feeding his dangerous ambition?

So how’s everyone’s summer going? Mine’s been so-so, but it’s starting to get REALLY stressful now! I had results day today and I finally found out what grades I got for my GCSEs… I shat a brick when I walked into school but, I’m really chuffed with my result! I’ve also got enrolment day on the 27th for college AND I have to find myself a job because according to my mother, being highly motivated to do nothing doesn’t count unfortunately (-__-) so yeah, I have been quite busy!

First Impressions

After successfully rescuing Rukia, Ichigo and his friends go back to their ordinary everyday lives. Until one day, Renji appears at their school! Turns out he’s been assigned to Karakura town and Ichigo jokingly says Renji has been demoted aww, I’ve missed their banters! They sound like an old married couple (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧. oi you two, is there something you’re not telling us? xD god it’s so much fun to tease them, give it a try! Renji and Ichigo’s relationship kinda reminds me of Ichigo’s relationship with his dad… they’re always goofing around in some way!

Breakast with the Kurosaki'sLike father… like son?

Orihime vanishes which was caused by three unknown people (YES) and when she was taken as a hostage, she went through an ominous gate which Renji refers to as the ‘Gate of Hell’. Ichigo, Ishida, Chad and Renji attempt to locate her and try to get her back when Renji receives a call from a mysterious girl. The girl then challenges the group to play a game where if they win, she will return Orihime and if they lose, she will harm Orihime. However, things take a turn for the worse when Chad vanishes too. The perpetrators are then introduced as Noba, Kurodo and Lirin. And Lirin’s laugh is the most annoying thing I’ve heard in years. Ichigo, Renji and Ishida are left to play the game and Lirin brings them to a museum. They are caught in a room which appears to be a labyrinth going in an infinite loop; if they escape, then Orihime and Chad will be returned. After many traps and dead-ends, Renji and Ichigo get into an argument and start to go their separate ways. This is when Ishida notices a slight warp and manages to solve the problem. He stops Renji and Ichigo in their tracks and whispers the solution to them; he also asks Ichigo for his subsitute combat pass.The building is in a 9×9 square structure and to exit, you could either walk straight horizontally or vertically. Whenever they came near the exit, Lirin would stir up trouble through illusions. Yes, all the traps were illusions and all they had to do was run straight. It was that simple. Ishida then continues to explain to an unsatisfied Lirin about how he figured it out and Noba grabs him from behind. With his quick thinking, Ishida hits Noba with Ichigo’s subsitute combat pass and a small pill pops out of his mouth revealing that Noba, Kurodo and Lirin are indeed modified souls like Kon. Clever thinking my boy! How did he figure this out? Spirit Pressure. Ishida noticed that when the gate appeared, when Chad and Orihime disappeared and when they entered the museum, the Spirit Pressure felt similar to Kon’s and with deduction, the perpetrators are modified souls.

I have a feeling that I know who’s orchestrating the events happening concerning Ichigo and the modified souls. Kisuke Urahara invented modified souls so he should be the only person who has possession of them. Therefore my conclusion is that Urahara-san is testing them… I AM A GENIUS. Well, not really but at least I figured it out? I don’t know my intelligence anymore but I have noticed that I have a real soft spot for Noba. There’s something about that quiet and serious personality which attracts me, and I definitely think it’s my fetish for these types of characters \(^o^)/

Midway Impressions

The Bounts are a tribe of humans with special abilities who live eternally and began to eat the souls of human beings to gain more power; according to Urahara, they’ve been known historically as vampires. Like shinigami, they each have unique weapons known as a doll, a familiar equivalent to the shinigami zanpakuto. Like a zanpakuto, a doll is its creator’s power given physical form. However, instead of taking the form of actual weapons, dolls are mostly self-sufficient creatures when released, although they tend to be used as weapons in various ways such as a large battleaxe or a snake, as a sword and whip. Their leader – Jin Kariya – has hidden ulterior motives which appear to involve a Quincy and the linking of Hueco Mundo and the World of the Living. I’m not too sure if those are Jin’s true motives or something Soul Society assumed. In any case, the Bounts prove to be a threat and three lieutenants (Rangiku Matsumoto of the tenth division, Shuhei Hisagi of the ninth division, and Izuru Kira of the third division) are dispatched to the World of the Living and ordered to put a stop to their plans. I am keyboarding smashing as I type this because my keyboard is VERY old, and you have to press each key really hard to make them work. It is very frustrating indeed ( ಠ益ಠ )

Depressed atmosphereEnough with the dark aura… it’s spreading out here.

Maki Ichinose was a shinigami in the eleventh division until his former captain was killed by the hands of Kenpachi – now the new captain. Maki looked up to his captain and was devastated when he was killed; he couldn’t find it in his heart to follow someone who is blood-thirsty and seeks battle. Therefore he left Soul Society and travelled in the World of the Living before finding a village being attacked by a Hollow. Before he knew it, he attacked the Hollow and was about to lose… until Jin appeared and asked Maki to follow him. Since then, Maki has been with Jin and plans to avenge his captain by defeating Kenpachi. Maki is a traitor because he has sided with the Bounts. I personally don’t mind Maki, but he’s the type of character who follows and doesn’t do anything for himself. If there’s no one to lead, he’s lost and doesn’t know what to do. At least, that’s how I see it. But he is strong, so I’ll give him that!

My fondness for Noba has increased tenfold! How could one person be so cool, and yet so cute at the same time?! When Noba is in his gigai (human body), his attire is like a ninja’s and has a mask which covers up most of his face with the exception of his eyes – which are a beautiful aqua colour. What really made me go “aww!~” is that when he gets shy and flustered, he zips up his mask to hide his embarrassment (๑´ლ`๑) ain’t he a little cutie pie? He’s just so precious that I can’t ignore him! Noba darling, you really are too presh so don’t hide behind your mask! Imagine if I saw him actually blushing… I would die internally and cry a river out of happiness… *sings ‘Cry Me a River’ at the top of my voice*

Noba and RangikuOMG NOBA YOU ARE TOO PRESH.

Overall Opinion

Season 4, alongside season 5, are filler arcs intended to give Tite Kubo more time to publish more material for the manga. Of course with every arc, new characters are introduced; the first half focuses on a group of modified souls whilst the second focuses on the predominant antagonists – the Bounts.

Let’s talk about the first half; it was messed up and presented a badly portrayed, typical villainy game of cat-and-mouse. It didn’t help that one of them had the most annoying laugh ever. That really set of the fumes. What really shone though, was Ishida’s intelligence and his ability to piece together the answers in a short amount of time. I praise that. But there wasn’t much action, and mostly focused on the banter between the mod souls, and Ichigo’s decreasing confidence eventually leading to a short lived depression. The second half was considerably weaker than the first; we finally get to see the Bounts in action and discover Jin’s true objective and the Bounts’ origins (the two are related). But for me, it still felt as if it wasn’t enough which is strange.

What really lacks here in season 4, is the sense of excitement which characterises pretty much the entire series. Though the battles often try to be creative and flashy, they tend to slack and seems as though they’re just going through the motions. Bleach is a series that primarily focuses on on-on-one battles or several combatants simultaneously going head-to-head, and its minimal familiarity with how to stage battles shows in the (sometimes) weak fight choreography. This is not a constant problem, to be sure; the fight Chad, Rangiku, Noba, and Ururu have against Sawatari actually displays a level of teamwork, coordination, and use of skill rather than just relying on raw power to plow through the opposition. Season 4 didn’t have the intensity the earlier seasons had. That’s not to say the show has lost its way or it’s gotten bad, it’s not.  There are still some exciting action scenes and the series expands nicely with the introduction of the Bounts. This race has so much history, and it’s amazing how much backstory was included for this season… I’m in awe.

So much for the main storyline. As ever with Bleach, though, there are little diversions along the way – further training for Ichigo who loses his confidence, courtesy of Urahara; a strange little sideline with Ganju and Hanataro spending some time in the World of the Living, working in a convenience store; and a few other distractions that provide little comedy breaks. These are generally a good thing, as they get away from the relentless macho posing and exposition that’s a rather annoying feature of pretty much every shounen series – Bleach would be a lot less enjoyable and entertaining without them. When Bleach puts its mind to it, it can produce some really good stories that go beyond just fighting and give you characters – even on the fringes – that you can connect to and stories that have a real sense of going there.

Season 4 represents one of the series’ artistic does not help matters. Bleach has always had at least a bit of trouble with consistency in its character designs, but here the rendering quality fluctuates widely, resulting in an unusually high number of poorly-drawn scenes. Rangiku Matsumoto is a particular example, as the animators and artists don’t seem to know how to handle her when she makes combat moves. Animation is an irregular mix of cuts and complex moves and certainly is not consistently good enough to cover for other artistic flaws. In English, not as good as previous seasons.

The soundtrack turns in a typical quality effort, though it never quite reaches the bold, rich sound it achieves for the best scenes. The Bount-specific themes, with their ominously-whispered words, set a good mood for the content but lack the dramatic punch of heavier themes used in other arcs.  Other than that, the soundtrack still sounds the same… or is it just me? The opening song ‘Tonight, Tonight, Tonight’ by Beat Crusaders which is used throughout this season, is another solid rock number for the series and one of my favourite openings alongside UVERworld’s ‘D-TecnoLife’. The ending song changes from ‘Hanabi’ by Ikimonogakari to ‘MOVIN!!’ by Takacha starting from episode 87 – which is arguably an upgrade.

SPOILER: Ishida is needed by the Bounts to open a gate which allows them to travel to Soul Society – since he is the last Quincy. In the end, Ishida opens the gate and when Jin thanks him, Ishida replies that it wasn’t for the Bounts; he simply wants to finish things in Soul Society.

Baka!“Kono BAKA!!!” is what I imagined for a caption…

Obviously season 4 would have its merits alongside the previous seasons. The end segments, the ‘Illustrated Guide to Soul Reapers’, are a riot and they’re so funny that when I watch episodes late at night, I accidentally laugh too loud and give away the hint that I’m still awake xD but the downsides outweigh the ups. Bleach: The Bount was indeed a worthy filler season, but the Bounts aren’t exactly very good ‘bad guys’ however, they are decent plot devices to help develop the characters further. Hopefully I will see some well-deserved action in season 5… I really am craving for it. For all Bleach fans, season 4 is a must watch even if it steers of from the original works by Kube-san. I know I’ve said this many times (and I’ll probably start counting), but even though this season is not as great as the previous ones, it is still good for character development and backstories – maybe there’s too many of them…


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Karneval

Run away with the circus… literally!

Karneval logo

Name: Karneval

Japanese Name: カーニヴァル

Air Date: April 3 2013 – June 26 2013

Studio: Manglobe

Episodes: 13

PLOT

Nai searches for someone important to him, with only an abandoned bracelet as a clue. Gareki steals and pick-pockets to get by from day to day. The two meet in a strange mansion where they are set-up, and soon become wanted criminals by military security operatives. When Nai and Gareki find themselves desperate in a hopeless predicament, they encounter none other than the country’s most powerful defence organisation – ‘Circus’!!

via [OneManga]

How long has it been since I wanted to watch Karneval? Probably a few weeks by now, but the animation and cast list really tempted me so here I am with the circus!

I’ve had a bit of an obsession with Tomoaki Maeno and Hiroshi Kamiya recently. I don’t know how it started, but it hit me hard on the face. I think the Maeno-san obsession began shortly after UtaPri where he voiced Camus… that voice was enough to make me faint on the spot! So when I found out Maeno-san is in Karneval… let’s just say I may have died and then reincarnated *nervous laugh*. As with Kamiya-san, I think it was because of the horde of handsome characters he’s been voicing this year: there was Erec in Ixion Saga DT, Rio in Hakkenden and now Gareki in Karneval!

First Impressions

Is this woman some sexual predator or… ?! Honestly what is it with people and wanting to fulfil their desires through physical contact? It’s crude and plain disgusting if you ask me. This woman was holding Nai captive and they’re in… bed. She starts teasing him and touching him but Nai, being the innocent little boy he is, says that she’s making him feel “nauseous” best thing I’ve ever heard. You keep on telling her that Nai! Obviously the woman gets pissed off and turns out, she’s some creepy puppet monster thing O_o where did that come from?! And wait, what was Nai doing at her house/mansion in the first place? Is it because he was searching for clues concerning this ‘Karoku’ person? Well Gareki is Nai’s knight in shining armour, and saves him from the woman. He seemed to be quite interested about Nai’s bracelet… but he is adept at disarming bombs as well as using them!

Nai and MineGET AWAY FROM HIM YOU SLUT!

Nai, the protagonist, is a white haired boy with drooping ears rested on his head. He is saved from the evil woman mentioned above by Gareki. I can see why so many fans dote on Nai… he really is adorable. Those big, round eyes, and the animal like ears are enough to send a girl into paradise. What makes him even more adorable is that he’s voiced by Hiro Shimono! This man is amazing. The entire voice cast is one of the main reasons why I started watching Karneval. There are a lot of big names I recognise including Daisuke Ono, Kouji Yusa, Junichi Suwabe and many more. Plus, my bias towards Mamoru Miyano keeps on growing… it cannot be degraded and will only continue to increase so try all you might, Mamo-chan will always be number one in my heart! So when the precious being named Yogi (Circus’ Second Ship fighter) appeared… I squealed like a 5 year old girl receiving a Barbie doll for the first time. Everything about Yogi is so kawaii! Mamo-chan uses his cutesy, playful voice too which was awfully adorable; I can’t stop going “awww” at everything he does. Whether it’s wearing Circus’ mascot suit or when he’s complaining about Hirato’s authoritative tone, he really is charming which becomes more and more impossible to hate him (*´ω`*) it’s hard to believe that he’s 21 years old… yes, 21! He hates fighting because it always makes him nervous, but will fight if the situation calls for it. If you hate Yogi despite all this, get lost right now. I mean it.

Yogi!~~“T-this many hot guys?! Sooo against the rules of anime!”

At first, I was rather confused but I’m glad that Hirato – the Second Ship captain of Circus – has started to clear things up. The woman from the first episode was called Mine and she was a species called ‘Varuga’ – beings were once human or animal, but a cell-modifying medicine given to them by a group called Kafka slowly took over their bodies until they were fully transformed, at which point they became monsters. Circus is currently trying to bring down the group who are in charge of making the monstrous beings. If Varuga blood comes into contact with a human body, than the human’s body will involuntarily transform into one of a Varuga. Because both Nai and Gareki came into contact with Mine, Hirato explains that the two must be examined for precaution… they have no right to refuse. Turns out, Gareki didn’t kill Mine – and here I thought he did, so I was having a party to celebrate. Also, regarding the bracelet Nai carries, it is an older model of Circus ID which was meant to be destroyed. Tsukumo (another fighter for the Second Ship) and Yogi are entrusted with the task of guarding Nai and Gareki, as they are being targeted. Speaking of Nai and Gareki, their relarionship has moved on pretty quick for only two episodes. Though Gareki claims that they’re not friends, it’s obvious that they’re indeed close. No matter how you look at it, he has a soft spot for Nai.

Midway Impressions

Oh god, why is this so sad?! Urgh, this ugly sobbing has got to stop. JUST STAHP ALREADY. Gareki, Nai and Yogi visit Karakuna – the town Gareki used to live in. While there, Gareki’s past is revealed; he was sold by his parents at a young age and one day, the ship that he was on gets ruined and he is found by a woman named Tsubaki. She took him home and he is introduced to her younger siblings Tsubame and Yotoka who are twins. Tsubaki starts giving the three a drug to help an unknown man with his experiment, but only the twins take the drugs; Gareki refuses to take them. Later, Tsubaki is murdered much to the grief of Gareki and the twins. Turns out, both Tsubame and Yotoka became test subjects for a drug to turn people into Varugas, and Yotoka becomes a Varuga having taken most of Tsubame’s portions. The man behind this appears before them (Meiga) and controls Yotoka – he fights Yogi while Gareki stays. Tsubame is able to restore some consciousness to Yotoka but Meiga commands him to kill Tsubame. As Yotoka begins to choke Tsubame, he begs Gareki to kill him… but is killed by Hirato instead. Gareki is grief-stricken and remains depressed for several days… I’ve been hit full-on with feels (ಥ_ಥ)

GarekiGareki… are you seriously tempting an older woman like me by wearing that top? *Drools*

I’m just going to waste this paragraph by expressing my love for Yogi, Gareki, Hirato, Akari, Tsukitachi (First Ship Captain), and Uro. I’ve already proved my adoration for Yogi simply for Mamo-chan; there’s not enough words to describe him! Gareki… oh Gareki! He’s just so hot and he’s FIFTEEN. It should be a crime to be that age and look so smexy, hurhur (¬‿¬) and he’s a tsundere! Hirato is perfect as always… as expected from the voicing talent of OnoD, he really is the ideal gentleman; polite, good-mannered and he takes things seriously (๑´ლ`๑) Akari-sensei is reserved and stoic but like Hirato, he’s serious about his work and he is actually a very gentle person who cares for living beings. Yogi seems to be scared of him for some reason, but that is what’s lovable about Yogi! I took an instant liking to Tsukitachi because… it’s Kouji Yusa! Although he’s a captain, he’s very easygoing and can be rude… but that’s only because he is being straightforward with his observations. And finally, Uro. What can I say? First off, he’s voiced by Junichi Suwabe which is a win. Second? He’s a villain… a hot one at that! He hasn’t appeared much though, which makes me sad TT^TT

This is my honest opinion, but I feel like there’s a lot that we’re not being told. It doesn’t help that there has been barely any progress concerning Kafka and Varuga. Perhaps both parties are hiding something? I dunno, it’s only an assumption so I hope everything gets cleared up soon. Maybe I should read the manga? There’s something that’s really off though. And it involves Karoku. The Karoku who is in Nai’s memories is much colder, and distant. His words are more harsh. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has picked this up…

Overall Opinion

The show must go on! No seriously!

Karneval started off on the wrong foot. It seemed more concerned on introducing characters rather than establishing the plot, which can obviously lead to later confusion. Most anime spend roughly around two or three episodes to lay the groundwork for the plot, and let it build up over the course of the series. Karneval’s approach was indeed different and progression did feel somewhat imbalanced. There is a large cast in this show, and the majority of them played pivotal roles so the plot was too thin as the series focuses more on each character and their relation to the overall plot. It’s still the same in the end, so nothing new is explained. However, I can say that Karneval has two plots to give it direction: the first being Nai and Gareki’s relationship. The relationship of a simple minded, innocent boy and a cold-hearted, common thief was one of the deeper plots. It was more like a personal journey for both of them as they experience different things and sometimes, their relationship is the shoulder they lean on. Nai loves Karoku, but he is also attached to Gareki albeit a little too much. It comes to the point where Nai is conflicted about staying with Gareki because someone threatned to harm his companion. Gareki is also troubled because of his changing feelings, but he can’t seem to leave Nai. Despite the personal conflicts, they always seem to worry over the other and their relationship blossoms. The second concerns Circus and their pursuit of the organisation, Kafka. This second plot does get a decent build-up but it is done in vain, as the ending wasn’t too climatic; there is however enough to keep viewers intrigued and watching.

ReunionThis reunion = PRICELESS.

What irked me was the lack of explanation about Circus and Kafka. Bits and pieces regarding them are slowly introduced as you keep watching the anime. Circus fail to explain that they are actually a secret organisation working for the government that hunts down criminals and they all possess the ability to fly. Their base is a flying spaceship and to avoid being detected by the public, they are in the guise of a circus. Yup.The secret crime fighting organisation known as Circus plans to keep their secret intact by ingenuously being a circus. They also seem to answer to some mysterious council that barks criticism at them behind the scenes and have ranks within the organisation. Circus is crucial to the series’ plot yet the anime didn’t explain exactly what they are. It’s really annoying and it does ruin the experience as bit since you’re piecing together information regarding this group. All of this, you figure out yourself.

Seeing as Karneval is more of a character driven series, there really wasn’t much character development asides to the fact that there was rarely any plot development either. Karneval focused on its characters most of the time yet nothing new occurs aside from the odd bit of information they decide to throw at us. With this much focus, nothing was actually accomplished. Nai and Gareki don’t really get their deserved character development. There are scenes where they have their monologues but it doesn’t get them anywhere. Nai will forever be the cute boy with a naive personality while Gareki will always be the tsundere with a handsome face. To be fair, their personalities are good enough to make them interesting in the story but there is potential that was clearly not met.

The animation was where Karneval truly shined. You have the overly feminine design of the characters while sporting the bishounen look and this is the main hook of the anime. The male characters have slender, yet sexy, builds and they’re dressed in bright and stylish attires which is the perfect combination to attract girls – it definitely worked for me! The body builds and expressions were a great way to make the characters stand out – you can tell what Gareki and others are like because their personalities were weak. The bright outfits and the great use of single colours make the characters even more appealing and the use of these colours also captured the circus theme of the anime. You won’t get tired looking at the characters because of how great and how flashy they look at almost every scene they are in. Really, the animation is fantastic; the playful banter between characters was nicely captured and the subtle shounen-ai elements were translated well. Fight sequences were awesome; the clever use of camera angles and smooth transitions made them thrilling.

HiratoHirato, darling!~❤

Now for sound… the opening is ‘Henai no Rondo’ by GRANRODEO. We all know I absolutely love GRANRODEO, so this song certainly did it for me. The beginning had a little tune going on and really sounded something from a circus! Henai no Rondo is a gorgeous rock song and the guitar instrumentals give the song that extra oomph. Throw in the dreamy voice of KISHOW (Kisho Taniyama) and some masculine – yet romantic – lyrics and there you have a good tune. The OP sequence features all the characters, both good and bad, plus a montage of the events of the anime. The ending is ‘REASON’ by KAmiYU and… it’s sugary sweet and awfully catchy. The ED sequence features all the characters in their visually appealing glory in still shots while the camera moves upwards.

Despite all this, I loved Karvneval to pieces! And it’s mainly because of my precious Yogi (づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ the ending left a lot to be asked and a lot to be desired. A lot of questions were left unanswered and that normally leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It doesn’t help that a second season won’t be announced unless sales of the DVDs were good… I DEMAND A SEASON 2!! QUESTIONS NEED TO BE ANSWERED!


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Bleach: Soul Society・The Rescue arc

The mission continues to save Rukia… will Ichigo actually rescue her this time?

Bleach season 3 logo

Name: Bleach: Soul Society・The Rescue arc (season 3)

Japanese Name: ブリーチ: 尸魂界・救出篇

Air Date: July 26 2005 – January 10 2006

Studio: Pierrot+

Episodes: 22

PLOT

After the unsuccessful rescue attempt which resulted in Ichigo’s rescue from Byakuya, Yoruichi promises Ichigo that she will teach him how to master the second stage of zanpakuto (Bankai) within three days. The challenge proves difficult because at the last minute, the higher-ups decide to bring forth Rukia’s execution even closer. As Rukia’s execution date dawns upon them, Ichigo and his allies are fast running out of time and will have to make their move… will they save Rukia on time? Or will she be punished for her crimes through death?

Season 2 was epic. Words can’t describe how dumbfounded I was when I watched Ichigo beat the consciousness out of Kenpachi Zaraki. That man was hench. And a sadistic battle maniac too. It was unbelievable how much Ichigo had improved in such a short amount of time… that boy can do anything when he puts his mind to it! He’s going to be one of the strongest shinigamis ever, I can feel it in my bones! When that day (or episode in this case) comes, I’ll be celebrating alongside Ichigo and crew because I will be overjoyed… how sad. I’ll just… sit in the corner where no one can see me.

My brain is overflowing with names that I’m trying to remember. Season 2 introduced a whole horde of new characters and my head is attempting to cram it all in. Man does my head hurt! I’ve never been good with names… let this be a warning to you all, if you ever plan on watching Bleach, be prepared to memorise around one hundred names. It’s like exams all over again, and that’s the last thing I want. Eurgh. WHY YOU MAKE SO MANY CHARACTERS KUBO-SAN?! But the cast of characters were praised because they were unique so… I’ll accept this for now.

First Impressions

Ishida faces off against a deadly enemy and leaves Orihime in the capable hands of the eleventh division. The twelfth division captain – Mayuri Kurotsuchi – is the Chief of Research and Development, but is also one creepy fellow. We all need at least one crazy scientist/researcher in an anime series! Mayuri has a rather twisted mind when it comes to test subjects… the methods he uses to research actually sickens me. I don’t even think he’s human… more like a monster in terms of appearance and personality. This guy is an absolute bastard and I would love the honour of killing using him as a personal punchbag. He’s an inconsiderate bastard because he kills his own comrades AND critically injures his lieutenant to the point where she’s dying. She’s dying and he doesn’t help her, even though he says she’s “not allowed to die”. Captain bastard, you do realise that she can’t live if YOU DON’T FLIPPING HELP HER. That’s it… LET ME AT HIM ( ಠ益ಠ )!! It’s difficult to refrain myself in those matters; men who injure women are scum. Ishida, you better defeat Mayuri. This is the man who killed and mutilated your grandfather all in the name of ‘research’, so this is your chance for revenge! If you win, I will love you forever man… not that I already do ❤

Ishida vs MayuriTURN HIM INTO SMITHEREENS!!!

Ichigo is now training with Yoruichi in some sort of underground bunker… where the hell do they have room for these things?! Anyway, Ichigo is training to summon his Bankai and how does he do it? He fights against his zanpakuto’s manifestation! His zanpakuto – Zangetsu – tells Ichigo that he must find the true form of the zanpakuto before he gets slain. In the bunker, there are thousands of zanpakuto but the true form is hidden amongst them so Ichigo has to come up with some sort of method to find it. Serious stuff going on, but will Ichigo be able to use Bankai within three days? There’s a lot of pressure riding on his shoulders so I can’t help but wonder… but of course he’ll do it! Stop being so pessimistic and be optimistic Jimmy!

This rescue mission is turning out to be a flunk. Chad, Ishida and Ganju have been captured and treated for their wounds. Surprised the shinigamis haven’t killed them yet? I’m not. I haven’t mentioned this but maybe I should have since this is a key point. In season 2, the captain of the fifth division – Sousuke Aizen – was brutally murdered inside the Court of Pure Souls. His lieutenant Momo Hinamori discovered his corpse (she was late for a meeting) as it was left hanging from a tower, stabbed by his own zanpakuto. Overwhelmed by shock and grief, Momo fought against fellow lieutenant Izuru Kira believing Gin was behind the murder. Both Momo and Izuru were arrested. Ichigo’s group have been accused of murdering Aizen so the shinigamis want to investigate and interrogate them. I do have my suspicions however… I have the feeling that it’s a set-up. I mean, Gin always has that smile plastered on his face when everyone else is anxious and on edge. But maybe it isn’t Gin at the same time. What if Gin was forced to play along? Hmm…

Midway Impressions

There are an awful load of plot twists in this season, I actually wonder if Pierrot+ and Tite Kubo did this on purpose. First of all, the higher-ups decided to troll us and go “hey, why not bring the execution to the next morning?” and they did just that. Now Renji is fighting against his captain, Byakuya Kuchiki?! Isn’t that like treason going against your superior? More like betrayal I guess, because Renji is going against his captain in order to save a traitor. There are so many complications and conflict for going on inside Renji, and I just want to reach out and cuddle him. I can totally relate to how he feels; he doesn’t want the most important person in his life to lose theirs. I’m actually crying watching him fight Byakuya. There’s no way he’s going to win, but I don’t want to give up hope that one day, Renji will surpass him. The fight was visually stunning and I’m sitting on the edge of my seat in suspense. With the revelation of Renji’s ability to summon Bankai, Byakuya was in a state of shock. Bet you didn’t expect that boy (¬‿¬) Byakuya turned the tide however and summoned his Bankai; defeating Renji after telling him that normally, shinigami train for ten years after being able to use Bankai. Renji is left for dead and Byakuya begins to leave… but Renji is not done yet and unleashes a surprise attack \(^o^)/

Renji and ByakuyaCaptain vs Lieutenant.

As usual, Pierrot+’s credibility goes towards the animation for it’s dynamic and elaborate battle sequences. Each and every one is unique and no two appear the same. Of course, if battles were the same and constantly repeated in a loop, it would get boring and people would lose interest. They have to be eye-catching, bold and challenging. Something that will always have me biting my nails in anxiety. And Bleach always provides that little kick I want… and shorter nails as a side dish.

It has occurred to me that many characters either fear or despise Gin Ichimaru. Rukia is a prime example. It’s easily noticeable how afraid she is of Gin because fear is distorted on her face. In episode 53, she describes Gin as “a snake slithering around her” and it’s quite obvious that he makes her uncomfortable with his presence. His presence sends her mind and heart into turmoil, and that alone seems unnatural. What is it about Gin that makes everyone around him feel at edge? He is a very mysterious man, since his almost constant smile and slitted eyes, combined with his heavy use of sarcasm and mocking politeness, make it very difficult to know his thoughts. I kinda feel pity towards the guy but at the same time, I feel unsettled about him. Maybe it’s instinct, but there’s a siren is going off in my head warning me to be wary. I have my suspicions… but on the plus side, I heard that Gin’s character was received very well in Japan. Tite Kubo remarked that Gin’s popularity, especially among women, was a great surprise to him, as he had attempted to make Gin creepy and off-putting in appearance… I plead guilty, because I like Gin too xD why do I like you so much?! (ಥ_ಥ)

Overall Opinion

The plot reaches a typical note; the hero must journey through a foreign location where he faces trials left, right and centre as well as learning new powers and become stronger to face the major villains, and ultimately pull off a heroic rescue. The main point of conflict during this story arc spins off into separate confrontations which are faced and also reveal nice backstory tidbits in the process. Naturally, there is a greater evil pulling the strings behind the scenes, but Bleach scores points for the amount of depth and intricacy of the underlying scheme that is to arise and the for the misdirection pulled off. The identity of the main antagonist comes as no surprise to those who have managed to piece together all the evidence along the way, however the others aiding the main villain comes as a shock. Even though I managed to figure out the answer, the aides to the antagonist both surprised and confused me more than the revelation of the conspirator. Bleach also gets credit for setting up plenty of dramatic moments in this season including Rukia’s rescue at the moment of her execution, and Ichigo achieving Bankai. Topping those events though was the long-awaited and simple apology in the final stages of episode 62.

The plot twists managed to keep my brain functioning, and let me tell you, you’ll really need to use your heads during this arc! It takes pure logic to solve the mysteries surrounding Soul Society’s current state. The majority of these developments arise during Rukia’s execution ritual: the mass murder of Central 46, captains turn against each other, and a conspiracy against Soul Society is revealed – the main antagonist is identified including his aides, and all three are marked as traitors. I am debating on whether I should reveal the perpetrators or not since this is a major spoiler… *whispers* I’ll give you a clue… the traitors are three captains.

What separates Bleach from other shounen series is its art design and animation. The costuming is sharp and the overall visual impression is appealing. The black and white contrasts of the kimono outfits of the shinigamis make for a sharp look, especially those in the captain uniforms. For other characters who don’t the captain uniforms, they seem dull in comparison. All zanpakuto in any forms – whether it be Shikai or Bankai – stand among the best anime sword designs and the vast creativity of their many forms, are superior to any equivalent in other shounen series. Bleach’s ability to keep its cast easily distinguishable without going to overboard deserves several more points. It stands among some of the best action series due to its dynamic and nail-biting fight sequences.

[S^M] Bleach 63 Special RAW 172Ichigo thought it would be more efficient to climb the window ledge…

Character development may have improved slightly from the precious season. Ichigo pulls out all the guns during this season; he puts his life on the line to reach an phenomenal level of spiritual power, and rescue Rukia no matter what consequences lay ahead.  introduces yet more of the ever-growing cast of soul reapers and shows off some frenetic action sequences with more blood and an array of new zanpaktos. We also see some nice characterisation of established characters such as Toshiro Hitsugaya (tenth division captain), Yoruichi and Byakuya Kuchiki. Furthermore a shocking backstory is unveiled about the eccentric handyman Kisuke Urahara and his links to Soul Society; something you’d never expect… unless you’ve read spoilers – oh, cheeky!

Bleach definitely trumps other shounen series when it comes to sound and music. Its themes have different sounds to them, one leaning towards electronic instruments, which makes it sound heavier and slightly darker/edgier tone that works well with the intense fight sequences Bleach has to offer. Its trademark goofy theme also allows the mood to change with a click of your fingers. BGM mostly remains the same throughout this season so no major changes have been made. The only changes in sound are the opening and ending themes around episode 52. ‘Ichirin no Hana’ by High and Mighty Color provides a hard rock upgrade while ‘Life’ by YUI is more wistful and replaces the cheerful ‘Happy People’.

Bleach: Soul Society・The Rescue is the turning point for the entire series – everything has been built up to this point, and everything that occurs in the future will be because of this. Ultimately Bleach works despite its flaws because it provides plenty of backstory, just enough story and characterisation and the occasional humourous outbursts. Season 3 ends on the perfect note of giving a satisfying finale to the Rescue story arc, while at the same time, laying down the foundation for future arcs.


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Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 2000%

1000% isn’t enough for these guys!

Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 2000 logo

Name: Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 2000%

Japanese Name: うたの☆プリンスさまっ♪ マジLOVE 2000%

Air Date: April 3 2013 – June 26 2013

Studio: A-1 Pictures

Episodes: 13

PLOT

Entering her Master’s course, Haruka Nanami is facing an even more difficult time. And she isn’t the only one. The main six members of ST☆RISH are assigned new seniors to watch over them! But the seniors aren’t having the best attitudes about it.

Watch Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 2000% and find yourself completely engaged in a whole new adventure mixed in with comedy and romance!

UTAPRI HAS RETURNED! Oh my life was so bland until you came bouncing back into my life, I’m crying with joy o( ╥﹏╥ )o I can hardly contain my excitement! I love UtaPri so much because of the extremely catchy songs and of course the handsome fellas who pop up! I mean, who doesn’t like to fawn over gorgeous male cartoons? Name one person who doesn’t. UtaPri is my bundle of joy and no one can take it away from me no matter how hard they try!

I can guarantee that I will be singing along to every song that pops up, it’s hard NOT to right? Please excuse the many faces I will pull in this review… it’s so hard not to, but it must be done. If you don’t pull faces like these whilst watching UtaPri, then you my friend have something wrong with you. Oh, and please excuse the excessive amount of photos I post… I really can’t help it.

First Impressions

Haruka and crew are back and this time instead of being students at the prestigious Saotome Academy, they’re budding idols! The first episode just gets back into the swing of things and re-introduces us to our darling guys, who’ve been absent from our lives for nearly two years… come here Tokiya and Ren, come into my arms and give me a BIG kiss (づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ mwuaaaa! Well, our boys have gotten seniors to help them hone their skills as idols. Their seniors are none other than the group seen at the end of season 1. Turns out, they’re a popular group named QUARTET★NIGHT; Reiji Kotobuki is Tokiya’s and Otoya’s mentor, Ranmaru Kurosaki is Ren’s and Masato’s mentor, Ai Mikaze is Syo’s and Natsuki’s mentor and Camus is Cecil’s mentor. Oh, and did I mention that Cecil joined the Master’s Course? Yeah, even I was shocked. I do however, have taken a liking to the fellas of QUARTET★NIGHT; especially Ranmaru and Reiji… Tatsuhisa Suzuki and Showtaro Morikubo FTW. QUARTET★NIGHT’s song (POISON KISS) is really catchy AND the lyrics are kind of sexual if you listen closely and translate them… it doesn’t help that Ranmaru and Camus’ voices are literally in your ears; it’s unbelievably sensual… is it wrong to say I almost had an eargasm listening to this? This is my favourite song now. Done and dusted, no arguments! \(^o^)/

Quartet NightWork it boys!

The opening song by Mamoru Miyano is probably one of the best I’ve ever heard. In fact, I love it so much that I downloaded it the moment it was released! The song is called ‘Kanon’ and I have to say, the lyrics and composition are spectacular. Heck, I even know the lyrics off by heart. I need to get a life. If only I bothered. But you know what really caught my attention? The ending song ‘Maji Love 2000%’ by none other than our ST☆RISH boys. It’s just as catchy (maybe slightly more!) as the season 1 ending however this time, they have some sexy new dance moves to show off! You’ll know what I mean when you watch them do their thing… I want them so bad (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ you don’t believe me? Oh ho my dear friends, watch the ending credits and you shall be taken into a world you’ve always dreamt of. No jokes:

Natsuki: I need you… S…
Tokiya: I feel you… T…
Cecil: I miss you A…
Ren: I kiss you R…
Otoya: I believe you I…
Syo: I hold you S…
Masato: I want you H…
All: ST☆RISH forever!

My favourite episode so far has to be episode 4. Masato Hijirikawa is the main lad in this and he has an audition for the leading role in a historical drama. Problem is, there’s a scene where he passionately embraces the leading female and being…urm, Masato, he gets incredibly flustered about it. So the ST☆RISH boys help Masato practice and the result is… Tokiya dresses up as the female. TOKIYA MY BABY, WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOU?! Their efforts are all wasted since Masato can’t embrace the female, especially because that said female is Tokiya. My poor poor baby got rejected 。・゜・(ノД`)・゜・。on the bright side, Masato manages to pass the audition! All he had to do was imagine that he was embracing Haruka. Oh, you player… you have crawled your way into my heart ❤

Poor Masa-chanThey all had to hold in their laughter… Tokiya wasn’t exactly the best cosplayer プッ(※థэథ)∵.*.∵

Midway Impressions

Otoya is just a big ball of sunshine. He’s so adorable that I could hug him right now! He’s such a pure soul, I personally think we’re related somehow! Otoya was helping out at the orphanage he grew up in because they were having a fundraiser or something and then the children came up with the brilliant idea to host a haunted house! I thought it was super cute when he held hands with Haruka as she was so scared, although now that I look back on it, there was nothing THAT scary. Anyways, the fundraiser wasn’t getting much awareness so Otoya sings. Then the rest of the group turns up… in teddy bear suits ヽ(*´ー`*)ノ how adorable is that?! I just wanted to squeeze them go to sleep whilst cuddling them… wouldn’t that be nice?

Teddy bearsKAWAIIII!~❤

Is it me, or has Ren gotten even SEXIER than the last time I saw him? That man will not stop at any lengths to make me love him even more than I already do. He just oozes sexual pheromones and it doesn’t help that Junichi Suwabe voices him with that low, teasing voice. It’s always Suwabe-san who voices the flirty, playboy types… but it’s not like I don’t enjoy hearing that voice! Honestly, what am I going to do? Seriously episode 6 was just… I can’t even put it into words. And when I re-winded the episode to watch it again, I hear this:

Ren: “I had no idea my songs were making you so hot.”

(O_O) … *nosebleed* \(//∇//)\

Holy crap. I think I just died.

What makes this even better is that Suwabe-san used that REALLY seductive voice. You know the one where he’s practically saying “it’s sexy time!”. It rung in my ears (I was wearing headphones so it was like he whispered to me!), gave me another eargasm \(^o^)/ and it actually made my cheeks flush! My mum thought I had a fever and nearly took my temperature, god bless her… but I can’t exactly tell her that an animated character is seducing me… she’d get slightly worried. Unless I can get her into anime, then she can see why I’m always wetting myself laughing; what a lovely thought! Anyway, this particular scene happened during Ren’s episode where he participates in a fashion show and suddenly, a power-cut happens. All the girls and fans attending whine before Ren decides to sing his song – Orange Rhapsody. Let me tell you now, this type of song suits Ren best. It was incredibly jazzy and I couldn’t help but dance in my seat as I listened. Here’s some advice, to get the most out of this episode (and Ren’s gorgeous voice), watch it with headphones in… it’s much better that way! (๑´ლ`๑)

RenThat wink is a crime against humanity.

The music is even better than the first season! They’re more catchy than before and they’re even more fitting for the characters. Problem is… where’s Tokiya’s? Everyone else has had one so far and he’s the only who hasn’t had the chance to sing… he’s left out. And I was so looking forward to hearing Mamo-chan’s harmonic voice (-_-) if I don’t hear his idol song within the next two episodes, I am going to lose it. I really am. It’s more likely that they put Tokiya’s episode towards the end of the series… because I am totally shipping Tokiya x Haruka. Maybe not TOTALLY because I love him dearly too and I have hope that he’ll one day be mine (highly improbable, but I can dream), but because I think he and Haruka look cute together. Oh, but then she looks good with all the other guys… Otoya x Haruka, Syo x Haruka, Natsuki x Haruka, Masato x Haruka and Ren x Haruka… I CHANGED MY MIND. THEY’RE ALL PERFECTION, SHE SUITS ALL OF THEM. I SHIP THEM ALL.

Overall Opinion

Reiji: “Give in to temptation.”
Ai: “My promise to you.”
Ranmaru: “I rock you hard.”
Camus: “With my deep emotion.”

I gave in to temptation (damn) and watched Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 2000%. And they surely did what they said. Please read my review for the first season if you have not read it yet.

The plot continues from the previous series where Haruka Nanami and ST☆RISH – composing of Tokiya Ichinose, Otoya Ittoki, Masato Hijirikawa, Ren Jinguji, Syo Kurusu and Natsuki Shinomiya – have now become professionals after their successful debut, and must now win the prestigious ‘UtaPri’ award in order to be recognised as true idols. It isn’t going to be easy though, because first of all, they have to train with their new senpais in the Master Course! Plus with the addition of Cecil Aijima, a new and formidable rival for Haruka’s affections appears! This plot was rather lighthearted and simple like the first season, but that is what’s needed in anime nowadays; not too OTT or underrated. However there was indeed more plot in comparison. As like before, the episodes were separated so each one focused on one particular character or the entire group. The way this was carried out was particularly good, as we viewers get to know each individual more and each episode connects to the other to form one, fluid plot. On the downside, the predictability was quite obvious and there was not much tension or suspense in the build-up to the final challenge: rival group, HE★VENS vs ST☆RISH. At this point, we all knew who was going to win. What made up for all of this was possibly the comedy. Humourous scenes were executed well one after the other, and constantly made me laugh non-stop; the jokes and comedy was similar to Ouran High School Host Club.

Animation was pretty much the same as the first season – none of the characters have had any significant changes so it’s all good. The animation maintained its usual splendor and elegance we all loved from season 1, and our ST☆RISH boys haven’t changed a bit! Backgrounds weren’t as visually stunning, but they were still appealing to look at (perhaps stare if they boys were there…) and the buildings looked grand as they should. Architecture is important in anime after all otherwise, where would all the characters live?! xD

TokiyaTokiya, you know you’re my favourite right?

Character development is something I have difficulty reviewing with this series. Haruka may have been the driving force behind ST☆RISH, but it was the guys who pulled through and had the most contribution to this series – I am NOT saying this out of favouritism. With the addition of Cecil into the group, he also brought along the flair and conflict needed… I say conflict because, he is a love rival after all! There is also the senpais from QUARTET★NIGHT: Reiji Kotobuki, Ranmaru Kurosaki, Ai Mikaze and Camus who act as mentors. Admittedly the senpais didn’t really help with ST☆RISH’s progression and development, they were just there for the sake of it and barely interacted with each other let alone ST☆RISH. The only one who made the most effort was Reiji, with the last three slowly warming up to them towards the end of the series. There was also the introduction of rival idol group and favourite to win the UtaPri award, HE★VENS, consisting of Eichi Otori, Kira Sumeragi and Nagi Mikado. Although they acted as the antagonists for ST☆RISH, they just seemed like a bunch of pretty faces thrown in for more fanservice. I really hoped QUARTET★NIGHT and HE★VENS would get more screentime and development, but sadly this wasn’t done.

HEAVENSThat was a… fiery performance?

Being a series about music, it’s fairly obvious that the music had to be… well, amazing. The composition this time round was perhaps even better than the first season, and when left in the hands of Elements Garden – a famous group of Japanese music composers – you get a whole horde of fantastic tunes. The opening theme song Kanon – sung by none other than Mamoru Miyano – features more guitar and piano than the first season opening (Orpheus), and was leaning more towards rock. Nonetheless, it was still a great song to listen to. However the animated sequence left me going “what the actual…?” at certain points: at one stage, Haruka and the ST☆RISH boys fly around underwater covered in sparkly stuff… and then Haruka leaps out the water NAKED. Was that really necessary? Insert songs were actually much better than the ones in season 1. Some may argue with me, but it is my honest opinion. I view it this way because the songs suited the characters more, and reflected their personalities properly. The BGM remained the same as the first season; always matching the mood and atmosphere of the situation. Finally, the cast ensemble is brilliant. Their voices portray the characters well and make them come to life – they really make them their own characters, so it’s no wonder the seiyuus are fond of them!

If you watched and enjoyed the first season, then it’s almost a given that you’ll enjoy the second season too! Sequels are notoriously known for not living up to its predecessor’s standards, but surprisingly, Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 2000% has managed to exceed the greatness of Maji Love 1000%! UtaPri is a series for everyone and is not just limited to females… males can enjoy this too! I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I’m hoping that there will be a season three… because that ending is illegal.

Nisenpaa (Hey!) Saikoo na LOVE (Get you!)
Kimi to dake (Jump!) Yes! Happy PULSE (Syun! Syun!)
Kakumei STARLIGHT
Maji de suki da yo (Yes, we love you)
Eien ni…
Zenryoku zenkai de nisenpaa kimi no koto wo Love you
Ba, Bang! Ja, Jan!! Love you☆

NB: We all knew from the beginning that I am biased towards Mamoru Miyano… so Tokiya is obviously my favourite! He’s just too ASDFGHJKL; I can’t ignore him (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧.


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Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East

Having a demon live inside you sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Hakkenden season 1 logo

Name: Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East

Japanese Name: 八犬伝 -東方八犬異聞-

Air Date: January 5 2013 – March 31 2013

Studio: Studio DEEN

Episodes: 13

PLOT

When their village was wiped out five years ago, only Shino Inuzuka, Sosuke Inukawa, and the girl Hamaji, who was raised as if she were their sister, survived. And both men inexplicably have the same peony-shaped birthmark. Genpachi Inukai and Kobungo Inuta were raised hundreds of miles away as foster brothers, but they too share the same birthmark. When they went north as part of the army three years ago, they went to confront demons and came back forever transformed. Now the Imperial Church has come for Shino and Sosuke and they must find eight mystical gems and their owners or face a fate worse than death at the hands of the Church.

[via Sentai Filmworks]

I’m going to start eliminating series off my backlog because, let’s face it, it’s getting bigger and bigger. If I don’t start now, that list will never get smaller! First off, I shall start with Hakkenden. Why? The animation is pretty to look at and… there’s two blonde haired characters who have caught my eye (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧. my blonde hair fetish has kicked in again. I don’t know who you are, but I will find out soon enough!

I’ve found more time to watch anime! Do you want to know why? Well. The United Kingdom is known for its awful weather and it either constantly rains or it’s extremely cold. Now in July, Mother Nature has decided to not be a bitch and gives us a heat wave that’ll last for two weeks, perhaps more. TWO WEEKS. I can’t stand the humidity and it’s impossible to sleep at night! So… I end up watching anime during late hours. Cheers Mother Nature for giving me this chance!

First Impressions

This… this is just confusing. What on earth is going on? The only parts I understand are *ahem* Shino and Sosuke’s village was destroyed prior to the series’ beginning because there was a disease was spreading. They currently live with two men of the Church and their childhood friend, Hamaji, who turns out to be a terrible cook despite being a health nut (like my mum except she’s not THAT bad at cooking). Finally Shino has a demon sword called ‘Murasame’ living in his body and Sosuke can… transform into a dog called ‘Yoshiro’. And because of this, the Church are after them? Ok, I get the gist of it… for now. There’s also something called the Four Houses of the Sacred Beasts or something like that. The Church takes in children who harbour a sacred beast and takes care or them, probably because they want their powers to themselves. Greedy priests and bishops and… *murmurs* why does everyone always seek power? It doesn’t make the world go round or anything ( ಠ_ಠ) is the Church here corrupt or something?

On the brighter side of things, I’ve discovered their names! I’ve discovered the names of the two blonde haired men! Their names are Rio Satomi and Kaname Osaki; the latter is voiced by Daisuke Namikawa while the former is voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya. Kaname is from the Osaki family and is part of the Four House of the Sacred Beasts. Rio is also part of the Four Houses. But how are these characters involved and what part do they play in the story? At least all the characters are appealing to look at and the animation is stunning. When Shino summons Murasame, the way it comes out of his arm is bloody awesome. An eye appears on his hand (07-Ghost’s Teito Klein uses the same sort of summoning… does that jog your memory?) and then wings sprout out of his arm. The opening sequence, man don’t even get me started. It’s fast paced, smooth and dynamic. Plus I have yet to add two more men onto my list; one has glasses and the other has a birthmark on his cheek… I must find out your identities! Brace yourselves, I am coming for you my pretties!! (I mean this in the most politest way possible)ヽ(*´ー`*)ノ

ShinoThat’s just… awesome and creepy in every way O_O

So let me get this straight. There’s a talking crow AND a talking toad. Is it me, or am I seeing things correctly? IS IT ME, OR AM I GOING MAD?! Let me take my temperature first and see if I’ve got a fever… there’s nothing wrong with me which means… it’s real. It’s real. Right, I’ll get back to it. Both Shino and Sosuke each own a colourful bead with a character written on it i.e. devotion, duty etc. There are others and Rio has assigned a simple mission to Shino and Sosuke; they must find the other six beads and their respective owners. Reason… unknown (-___-) honestly, there’s a lot you guys aren’t telling me here.

Midway Impressions

Oh ho!~❤ so your name is Genpachi, eh? Genpachi has a peony birthmark on his right cheek which is similar to Shino’s on his right arm. I think Sosuke and Kobunga have peony birthmarks too. What is its significance? Does this mark link these characters together? Before I lose it, could someone be kind and perhaps explain what’s going on? Speaking of Genpachi and Kobunga, they’re demons. Well, not they’re not technically pure blood demons, but they can turn into them: Genpachi an transform into a lightning demon who devours supernatural beings and Kobunga can just transform into a demon. Three years ago, there was a war up north where civilians were kidnapped and kept as hostages. Genpachi and Kobunga were dispatched as part of a rescue mission with the military… until they came across human eating demons ∑(;°Д°) everyone was killed and the two were practically dead. Somehow, they managed to survive and came back as changed men… their bodies became immortal. Their lives were never the same. *Sob* they had such tragic pasts, and they share those memories together (ಥ_ಥ)

EEK!I’m pretty sure you’re not meant to feed it, Gen-san… (^_^;)

Actually, I’ve noticed a slight connection between several characters: Shino, Sosuke, Genpachi, Kobunga, Keno, and Dosetsu (the hot megane I was wondering about earlier), all have the word ‘Inu’ at the beginning of their surnames. Coincidence much? I think not. This point can’t be made any clearer because they all have a bead – with the exception of Keno and Dosetsu because it has not been revealed yet if they possess one. It must also be taken into consideration that all of them have experienced near-death experiences but were saved by supernatural beings at a cost. Shino and Sosuke were close to death when they were rescued by Rio, who offered Shino the demon sword Murasame. Shino accepted Murasame but lives with its curse: he is trapped within a child’s body… and Shino is meant to be 18 years old! I’ve mentioned Genpachi and Kobunga’s above. Keno had his heart ripped out (literally) by a mysterious man who has a similar appearance to Sosuke; he was rescued by a demon princess who gave him her heart. Dosetsu was out in the snow and was dying, contemplating about his long lost sister (hinted that it’s Hamaji). He was rescued by Yukihime – lit. snow princess. See, the dots are connecting somehow!

I adore the interactions between the characters; they have a really strong bond which holds them together. Shino and Sosuke’s brotherly banters never fail to make me giggle and it’s amusing to watch Sosuke snap back at Shino bluntly! There is also the bond between Hamaji and Kaname. It’s hinted that he has feelings for her, and it’s fairly obvious to see that through his actions. I hate to admit it, but they look perfect together (-___-) but the best relationship has to be Genpachi’s and Kobunga’s. They’re not related by blood, but these two are unbelievably close, they have so much respect for one another, and they’re like brothers… it’s beautiful ゚+.(*ノωヾ*)ャン♪+゚ at this point, I think the series is more character driven. Studio DEEN are really digging in deep with these characters, and their pasts come to light. It seems that the plot has taken a back seat for now in order for the characters to shine. Because of this, a lot is learnt about each individual and that alone makes me love Hakkenden all the more!

Overall Opinion

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East is a manga series by Miyuki Abe based on the epic novel series Nanso Satomi Hakkenden.

The plot is definitely unique (since I’ve never seen one like it), however there is an absence of a central plot or whenever there is something to work on, it tends to stray from it. What kept me interested were the characters, their backstories and interactions. With the introduction of new characters, there are minor arcs to keep you interested, however it is usually resolved within the following episode. The storyline tends to feel like a collection of stories that are somewhat connected to a central plot, however it feels mostly disconnected because barely anything noteworthy has occurred. But what’s great about the lack of central plot, is that you’re thrown into this series without any understanding and as the series slowly progresses, more intricate details are given to fill in the gaps.

The characters vary and their is variety. Shino, the protagonist, is very childish and loud, however he is sensitive and caring which makes him very lovable and difficult to hate. Sosuke, his childhood friend, maintains a calm and loyal attitude and is seen accompanying Shino almost everywhere he goes. He provides a balance to Shino, who would otherwise be an annoying and bratty protagonist. Hamaji is another childhood friend, but her presence in the story is not as prominent as the two mentioned beforehand. She appears to be immature and demanding but later displays a level of maturity; something a girl her age rarely possesses or lacks. Her maturity is sometimes greater than the older characters! She is refreshing, who although lacks a background story of her own, adds a realistic feel to the story. She is a main character but her role in the series pushes her back to supporting cast. Other characters are gradually introduced into the story and contribute with the plot’s progression (as well as leaving behind slight undertones of shounen-ai). Not only are their personalities in great variety and are incredibly diverse from one another, but their pasts help intertwine them to create a much greater story; setting in motion a second season.

Older ShinoWere you always this hot Shino?

The artwork and animation was definitely refined and delightful to gaze at. In fact, it was the animation which drew me to this series in the first place! The characters all have sharp features that are clearly noticeable and match the multitude of personalities presented. My focus went straight to the character’s eyes; you can always tell what sort of personality lies beyond them. Plus they’re strangely mysterious, yet gorgeous. You could stare at the characters for hours on end without averting your eyes… no seriously, I could not stop staring because they were THAT beautiful. Background settings were captured wonderfully and seemed almost picturesque. Each district, each of the places that the characters visited were like works of art. Masterpieces. Animation was the defining beauty of this series, and it’s easy to understand why so many have praised Hakkenden for being one Studio DEEN’s greatest works. I personally agree with those statements.

SPOILER: Sosuke suffers from amnesia as he doesn’t remember much about his childhood. In actual truth, half his soul is missing which has manifested itself into a lookalike of Sosuke possessing his memories, but can’t be seen by normal humans because he is a ‘shadow’. Sosuke’s shadow was the person responsible for taking Keno’s heart and murdering his family, thus Keno seeks revenge against him. The shadow steals Shino’s devotion bead. At the end of episode 13, the shadow claims that’s one less thing to take from Shino. What is his objective?

The soundtrack was an auditory treat and pleasure to listen to. The opening theme song- God FATE – by Faylan starts off as slow and gentle, but begins to pick up as the accompanying animated sequence features more fast paced shots and flurries of movement. On the other hand, the ending theme song – Strings of Pain – by Tetsuya Kakihara (who voices Shino) showcases his voice well, and I admit I didn’t recognise his voice when I heard it! The BGM was used well the enhance the atmosphere and mood, which comes as no surprise because the sounds are done by Hitomi Kuroishi whose notable works include Code Geass (which I am also watching at this point in time).

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East isn’t for everyone. You either love it or hate it. Love because of the characters, hate because of the plot. I for one, loved Hakkenden and found great joy in watching it. Hakkenden is one of those series where you don’t expect much out of it, yet you find yourself engaged in it… and I did exactly that. In any case, Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East is probably one of the most visually stunning anime I have seen in a while and contained the right amount of humour, fantasy, mystery and adventure but lacked the action it initially presented itself with. Hopefully the plot kicks up a bit since season 2 is now airing; if it does, this will be one heck of a series.


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Togainu no Chi

Would you stake your life for your freedom?

Togainu no Chi logo

Name: Togainu no Chi

Japanese Name: 咎狗の血

Air Date: October 7 2010 – December 23 2010

Studio: A-1 Pictures

Episodes: 12

PLOT

After being devastated in the Third World War (known as The Third Division), Japan was divided in two. Several years after the end of the war, a crime organisation called Vischio has taken control of the destroyed city of Toshima (formerly Tokyo, Japan’s capital city), where they are holding a battle game known as ‘Igura’. The main character, a young man named Akira, is falsely accused of a crime. Once arrested, a mysterious woman appears before him, offering him freedom if he agrees to participate in Igura and defeat Igura’s strongest man: the king, or ‘Il-re’. The story follows Akira’s life in the harsh, lawless Toshima as he fights both to survive and to unravel the mysteries developing around him.

[via Wikipedia]

Togainu no Chi is a Japanese BL visual novel created by Nitro+ChHiRAL and has been published on three platforms: Windows, PS2 and PSP. The game has been adapted into two manga series and a novel as well as an anime adaption and drama CDs. I’ve never played the game but from what I can tell (and reading several game reviews), it’s pretty good. Since I heard that, I hoped that the anime would live up to its high praise.

Previously in my life, I got stuck in a rut and have returned from the depths of Hell (not really but you guys get the gist)! You don’t remember? I thought I mentioned that I was going on an indefinite hiatus… if you can’t remember, then that’s fine. All that matters is… I’M BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER BABY! I’ve finally whipped my brain into shape and I feel like a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders! I am THAT happy \(^o^)/

First Impressions

What initially intrigued me about this series was the concept. It’s similar to The Hunger Games; destroyed cities after a war, a twisted contest introduced, slaughter others to remain the only contestant and receive privileges after becoming the victor. This is survival of the fittest; kill or be killed. These sort of plots always impact me the most as I always feel compelled watching the characters develop as they are thrown into something horrendous against their will. Whether the characters break or grow, it’ll be interesting to see how A-1 Pictures play this out. I mean let’s face it, no-one in their right mind would enter a gruesome competition like this. It just goes to show what could possibly happen if politics went all wrong and if those with authority would take advantage of their sick ideals. Not everyone is like that, but I’m just saying if they were… then we’d be doomed. To be frank, I really hate politics (-___-) turning on the TV every morning to see the headlines constantly talking about government, law, policies etc. gets really tedious and it really annoys me how some politicians can be so… manipulative.

The main protagonist is a young male named Akira – voiced by the wonderful Kousuke Toriumi. He is the undefeated champion of a street fighting tournament called ‘Bl@ster’ and is adept at martial arts as well as being a knife expert; handling a knife with ease. Later on, Akira is falsely accused of murder. Though innocent, he is offered a chance of freedom by a mysterious woman if he participates in the Igura tournament in Toshima and win against the ‘king’. Little does he know that the people he will face are some of the strongest and toughest in the world – or Japan at least. Already he has witnessed the frightening strength of a man with blood-red eyes, covered in black clothing wielding a katana with utmost respect. This guy took on a ton of fighters in Igura and remained unharmed. It was just slash, slash slash… and they were gone in a blink of an eye O_o what Akira witnessed was indeed frightening, but he won’t yield to the mysterious man’s wishes of him begging for his life. Akira has way too much pride. The intimating man’s name is unknown, but I recognise his voice anywhere… it’s Hikaru Midorikawa!

Akira… I like you already.

Igura is a battle game held in Toshima that may result in the murder of participants. To participate, one must meet with Arbitro and tell him their reason for their decision in participating. Participants are given five dog tags, each engraved like a card in a standard deck of playing cards. One tag must hang from the participant’s neck as proof of participation. Participants must then put their lives at stake to collect others’ tags, with the goal to collect a Royal Flush. If a participant collects a Royal Flush, they earn the right to challenge ‘Il Re’. Of course with every game/competition, there are rules to which competitors or players must abide with. The rules of Igura are 1) there must be witnesses to every battle, 2) no firearms are permitted, 3) no sneak attacks are permitted, 4) the battle finishes when one of the competitors’ backs hit the ground or dies, and 5) the victor takes the losers dog tags after the battle. However if someone violates the rules, the Executioners will chase after them. The Executioners uphold the rules and kill those who break them. There are two Executioners who work under Arbitro (the head of the criminal organisation Vischio), and are named Gunji and Kiriwar. The former is voiced by Kisho Taniyama and the latter is voiced by Katsuyuki Konishi respectively.

Midway Impressions

Sometimes I understand what’s happening but for the majority of it, I can barely comprehend what I’m watching. One minute I understand and the next, I find myself whacking my head on the table. And it hurts like hell. I swear they’re not properly explaining what’s going on… how did they expect people to keep up with this?!

Vischio produces a drug called ‘Line’ which enhances a person’s abilities and strengths, at the cost of driving them to insanity. There is no way to save a person who has taken Line. However, Akira’s blood has some sort of effect on Line addicts. When someone who has take the drug drinks or tastes Akira’s blood, they writhe in pain and agony; basically choking on it… it’s almost as if Akira’s blood acts as a neutraliser for Line. Unfortunately when they taste Akira’s blood, their bodies may reject it and causes them to die. That’s for the majority of people. Change of topic here, but you know the mystery man with the blood-red eyes I was talking about earlier? His name is Shiki… I like that name.

Blood tastingWhat the actual… ?!

Keisuke. I know you’re Akira’s best friend and that I never really liked you because you’re too clingy, but what the heck is wrong with you man?! What happened to you to make you like this?! I knew something was going to happen with Keisuke since the moment I started this series, but this is the last thing I ever expected. Have you succumbed to a new low and took Line like the others? Now Keisuke has gone all yandere and psychotic ∑(;°Д°) it’s really starting to scare the heebie jeebies out of me! Before he was like “I want to see Akira smiling” but now that’s turned into “I want to see the face you make when you’re dying” Σ(゚д゚lll)this is the one type of yandere character I do not like! Bring back the old Keisuke, Akira! Save your best friend! As much as I don’t like him, I can’t bear to see you looking so upset!

Overall Opinion

The plot is simple and straightforward: in the not-so-distant future, a third world war has split Japan into two fractions; one which has been civilised and rebuilt, and another which is a lawless wasteland. The main character, Akira, is a professional street fighter in the more civilised region before he is falsely accused of murder. While awaiting trial with the punishment being life imprisonment, a strange woman named Emma, offers him freedom on the condition that he travels to Toshima, the lawless region, and participate in battle tournament. The prize is the opportunity to challenge the current king of a drug company, which Emma wants to take down from the inside.

The plot description may appear rather vague. Mainly because, even after completing the show, I’ve barely had any time to piece together all the events which have occurred. The backstory of how Japan became its current state is never mentioned in the series itself. In retrospect, the opening narration of the first episode – delivered by a slow, monotonous and uninvolved Takumi Yamazaki – was probably describing the war and the proceeding division, but if it is, it’s through a metaphor so thick and incomprehensible that for those who have never heard of the franchise, will get completely and utterly confused. All twelve episodes open with a similar narration, each slathered liberally with metaphors and analogies and other such things that make zero sense. And once the character n – who has been providing these narrations – enters the story, the viewer is treated to the same half-assed pseudo-depth in his dialogue.

Though the show boasts a broad cast of characters, there only appears to be three types of characters. Akira, n, and Shiki share a similar personality; they’re emotionless, silent and dead-pan boring if you ask me. What they also share in common is tragic pasts which are never fully explained. Keisuke, Rin and Motomi also share a similar personality; they’re the ray of light in these dark and gloomy predicaments. Sure they all have those extra quirks to make them different – Shiki having an ominous aura, Rin acting like a 12 year old girl etc. – but what they all lack is real personality and motivation which makes it difficult to sympathise with them. Supporting characters gave no, urm… support for the plot. They didn’t help the main characters and the plot move along; it seemed they were merely for decoration and petty comic-relief. Gunji and Kiriwar were meant to be fearsome and intimidating but they were the exact opposite. I loved the characters personally, but where was the development? Where was the bond in their relationships? All of this was cut out and when their was the slightest bit of character development, it stops. Maybe because this series was only twelve episodes, but I’ve seen shows with the same amount of episodes with better development. At least the scriptwriter could have been more flexible.

Shiki vs AkiraShiki vs Akira…

The series, with its complex writing, appears at first glance to be abiding to the game’s fanbase. Yet, simultaneously, it drives off the fans by stripping the story of all the explicit content for which it is loved. In the anime, explicit homosexuality and eroticism becomes the exclusive property of the antagonists – Arbitro wouldn’t be such a wildly offensive depiction of the ‘depraved homosexual’ if he wasn’t the only character having actual homosexual sex. When stripped of sex appeal, the story is left to fend for itself, and it often does fail in this regard as Togainu no Chi does exactly that.

Togainu no Chi is hugely popular within the BL fandom and one would expect it to receive a lavish treatment. The opening, set to a J-Rock number by GRANRODEO, boasts smooth, dynamic animation with thick, bold lines; the promotional videos were montages of exciting, intense, fast-paced fight scenes. At a passing glance, the animation seems, if not cutting-edge, at least impressive and visually stimulating. Then you start watching the series. The low frame count and complete absence of attention to detail could pass in a slice of life series, but in an action-heavy show where hand-to-hand combat occurs often, it’s inexcusable. Backgrounds are dull; every scene is deeply saturated in grays and greens and, for indoor scenes, browns. It’s one thing for a series or a scene to stick to a limited palette – it can draw attention to certain details or emphasise a mood – but it’s another thing to make every frame so dark that it’s impossible to see what’s happening. A black shadow will often be cast across half the screen; sometimes used as censorship, but more often it covers parts of characters’ faces or even the entire screen. Even if it was to avoid any gory details, it makes the show even more incomprehensible.

The animation can sometimes be inconsistent and this carries on through several episodes – characters often look unrecognisably different between scenes and frames. Togainu no Chi uses a particular anime art style where small facial details such as eyelids are outlined. This style is popular in manga, and doesn’t feature in anime much because faces must be very carefully proportioned – when they’re not, they look distorted, as they often do here. Action scenes are handled clumsily and were rather rigid; when stabbed or grazed, characters spurt excessively large amounts of blood. Shots are sometimes shown from awkward angles and hides what’s really happening. This isn’t the best I’ve seen from A-1 Pictures.

The show’s soundtrack was one of its strong suits. The show swaps ending themes every episode, and the always reliable Kanako Itou provides three of them. Itou’s numbers are upbeat without losing a dark, mournful atmosphere; the other ending themes are mostly forgettable (but not overly bad) J-Rock numbers. The background music, on the other hand, runs from listenable, even pleasant, to absolutely grating.

As much as I wanted to love this series, I couldn’t because the way the series presented itself… I didn’t understand a thing. Even when the case is all cleared up, I’m thrown back into confusion. It was a complete mash-up. Hardcore yaoi fan? I recommend you watch something else. There were barely any yaoi elements, and when there were, it was mainly Arbitro and his freakish hobby of torturing young, and handsome boys. Diehard fans, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed… and I hate letting you guys down.


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Bleach: Soul Society・The Sneak Entry arc

Ichigo is going against the clock in a race to save Rukia… will he accomplish his mission?!

Bleach season 2 logo

Name: Bleach: Soul Society・The Sneak Entry arc (season 2)

Japanese Name: ブリーチ: 尸魂界・潜入篇

Air Date: March 1 2005 – July 19 2005

Studio: Pierrot+

Episodes: 21

PLOT

After the events of the first season, shinigami – Rukia Kuchiki – is sentenced to death in Soul Society after performing the illegal act of transferring her powers to Ichigo Kurosaki. In order to save Rukia from her impending death, Ichigo trains to regain his shinigami powers and rallies his friends. Thus begins a perilous journey into Soul Society. There will be difficulties and many strong enemies to overcome, but nonetheless, that will not stop Ichigo and crew from their mission!

Moving on to season 2! I’m honestly glad I got Ixion Saga DT out of the way… I was THAT close to actually jumping into the series and beating the crap out of Kon. He was probably the most annoying protagonist I’d ever seen, hands down. Even more annoying than Tamaki from Hiiro no Kakera! Who would have thought?! Imagine Tamaki, and then times that by ten… then you’d end up with Kon. I also had enough with the amount of testicle jokes this series had… I don’t even know how I managed to cope. Sexual innuendos are not my thing, so the likely answer would be EREC-SAMA’S PRESENCE!

First Impressions

Ichigo has regained his lost shinigami powers whilst Chad, Ishida and Orihime have trained. All that training with Urahara certainly paid off then! Together, they shall rescue Rukia from her fate! But first off, they have to fight the captain of the third division, Gin Ichimaru. Gin has white hair and his eyes are shut like slits… it’s kinda scary plus he strolls around with that creepy smile on his face. You know that one that screams SADIST. He looks exactly like Hazama from BlazBlue except with white hair… oh my days… the face, the hair, they’re uncannily alike. Sadist, masochistic or whatever Gin is, I don’t know. What I do know is that he looks insanely powerful, and his strength is unimaginable since he’s a captain. Don’t beat up Ichigo too much, m’okay? He is my main comic relief so I kinda do need him… speaking of Ichigo, he’s gotten even funnier than I thought he was. Did you change the way you do things or… ? Actually, if you put him together with Ishida… these two are a comedy duo. They’re so synchronized with their way of thinking, even though they can’t stand each other; it’s hilarious that I’m almost crying. Ah, Ichigo~ I do love you.

Entering Soul SocietyEntering Soul Society… let the mission begin!

I feel so pitiful for Rukia and Byakuya. They’re siblings and yet Byakuya can’t do anything to save his sister from execution, without going against the higher-ups of Soul Society. That would be treason! It doesn’t help that Rukia turned herself in to protect Ichigo… honey, I know you want him to live a normal life but he can’t because he followed you into Soul Society so he can save you! He wants you to be there, standing next to him (ಥ_ಥ)sorry, I’m sounding rather soppy now so I’ll just stop. In all honesty, I could hug these two right now; Byakuya is my baby and Rukia, I just plain love her! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BE SO CRUEL FATE?! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THIS TO THEM?! My tears won’t stop but I know Ichigo will save her in time! Ganbarou, Ichigo!

Orihime is still managing to wind me up. I’m ripping my hair out just watching her ( ಠ益ಠ ) she has these cool spiritual powers (summoning these pixie-like beings who defend, heal or attack enemies) and yet she’s still dependent on people to save her. At this point, the one who saves her most is Ishida (yes, I’m counting) and man, does he have some tricks up his sleeve. Independent training sure pays off; Ishida proves that.

Lieutenant Renji Abarai. He reminds me of Ichigo so much. They don’t bear much resemblance to each other but somehow, I can’t help but see it that way. Renji is a lieutenant of the sixth division, therefore he is Byakuya’s subordinate since the latter is the captain of that respective squad. Well, Renji and Rukia have a bit of history together, however that hasn’t been explained yet… I want to know how these two are connected. I think these two may have been childhood friends or something along those lines, but I am only presuming this as I haven’t read the manga yet. And we all know that I can’t afford to buy every single volume… as much as I want to start reading Bleach, my purse is weeping. I spent all my money on buying a lovely pair of flip-flops from UGG. Nice. My solution? Start reading scans on mangareader or other sites! Back to my original point, Renji is a character I want to see more in the series. He’s only been introduced recently but he intrigues me the most. I wonder why… he’s cocky and arrogant, yet he’s admirable for his determination to save Rukia. That’s it. It’s official, you are by far my favourite Renji.

Midway Impressions

How do these producers think up all these title screens? Oh creative minds, I worship your mighty brains! Each and every episode title screen is unique and of course, differentiate from each other so no two are the same. It’s clever and must have taken a lot of considerable time and effort to come up with new ideas. I’ve never really noticed this until now *facepalms* god Jimmy, you can be quite the idiot sometimes. You really can be. But I guess that’s what my friends love about me… I’m the fool of the group xD *ahem* so yeah, the producers and animators are really imaginative to come up with so many! They had to do this for over three hundred episodes… did they never have artists block?!

Studio Pierrot are whipping out the big guns now, huh? Lieutenants and captains are being introduced one after the other, and prove to be obstacles for Ichigo and crew as time runs out. Rukia’s execution date has been drawn closer and Ichigo needs to pick up the pace, otherwise it’s bye-bye Rukia! I know they’re going to make it in time, but the suspense keeps on building and I’m just a ball of nerves now. GAH, I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE! On the plus side, Izuru Kira makes his appearance! Izuru Kira is the lieutenant of the third division captain, Gin Ichimaru. I’ve been looking forward to seeing you, Kira-kun~ why do you like this loner character Jimmy? Hoho, I shall let you in on a secret my friends… he’s voiced by Takahiro Sakurai. Yes! The man behind so many wonderful characters in our lives such as Yamato Kurosawa and Luka Crosszeria! I am happy. Very happy.

Izuru Kira vs MomoLieutenant vs. Lieutenant… Izuru Kira vs. Momo Hinamori.

The answer to all of my questions surrounding Renji are finally answered in episode 32! Renji and Rukia first met in the same district when they were young. Rukia saved Renji and his friends from being captured by an angry salesman (they stole his water LOL). From then onwards, Renji and Rukia became very close friends. One day, they meet a shinigami from their district and the idea of becoming shinigamis was planted in their minds. When all their other friends passed away, both decided to enroll at the Soul Society academy. Renji was intelligent and did exceptionally well. Rukia on the other hand received a request from the Kuchiki clan; they wanted to adopt her, graduate her from the academy immediately and place her in the thirteen squads. Thinking that would be what’s best for Rukia, Renji regretfully told her to accept the proposal as she would be able to live a better life. My heart feels like it’s been torn and my heartstrings have been pulled constantly throughout this episode. This overwhelming pain in my chest is one of sadness and I can’t help but tear up when I hear his past. When it concerns Rukia, Renji almost loses himself; he even begs Ichigo to save her. He cares for her so much that he begs his enemy to rescue her. That’s deep love… MY FEELINGS HAVE BEEN PLAYED WITH 。・゜・(ノД`)・゜・。

Overall Opinion

Things have really started to pick up in season 2 as it excels in everything which made the first season so great! Ichigo Kurosaki and his friends have infiltrated Soul Society with the intent of rescuing Rukia Kuchiki. After the events of the previous season, Rukia is held captive by her fellow shinigami and is condemned to die. Her crime – transferring her shinigami powers to Ichigo, thus betraying the rules of Soul Society. Unable to let his friend die at the hands of the higher-ups, Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, Ishida and Yoruichi stop at nothing to save their comrade.

For those who are action-loving anime junkies, then Bleach is the series for you. Bleach is a character driven shounen anime, constantly growing in popularity. If you have watched the first season, it should be easy to notice that the second installment to the Bleach universe is more action-packed and intense compared to its predecessor. The fighting scenes are breathtakingly amazing and I was often lost for words or too astonished to comprehend what happened. Sometimes it was difficult for me to comprehend because of the logic behind each and every move; how does Ichigo manage to survive a fatal wound etc. Ichigo defies all odds and manages to be victorious for the majority of battles. He overcomes the obstacles obstructing him and defeats even some of the most well known shinigami in Soul Society. Character development for Ichigo is by far the best… probably because this season was more focused on him than others!

Once again, the animation is still the same high-standard as it was from the previous season. Sill as visually appealing as ever, Bleach continues to grasp my attention and interest in every way possible. The unique Pierrot style is what makes Bleach look as beautiful as it does and my highest praise goes towards the battle sequences. Like its predecessor towards the end of the season, the battle sequences in season two were just as elaborate and dynamic, if not perhaps slightly more. With battles involving Ichigo, the battles clearly demonstrate his growing strength in spirit power and resolve as well as boasting the abilities of the squad leaders. These abilities were unique and animated beautifully so one would not be confused for the other, for example, Byakuya’s zanpakuto’s first form: shikai.

Watch thisWhat’s the bet that Ganju will actually get that into the wall? xD

SPOILER: After his fight with the eleventh division captain – Kenpachi Zaraki – Ichigo’s life is saved by Yoruichi. At the same time, Ganju and Hanatarou (a member of the fourth division) arrive at the location where Rukia is held. Ganju discovers Rukia was the shinigami who murdered his brother Kaien Shiba, and becomes infuriated. Byakuya Kuchiki (Rukia’s adoptive brother), captain of the sixth division appears and Ganju decides to fight him. As Ichigo awakens, Yoruichi reveals that she is actually a woman. Afterwards, Yoruichi shows Ichigo a device that allowed her to fly, and Ichigo uses it to go save Ganju and Hanataro. Meanwhile, Byakuya easily defeats Ganju with his shikai, but is then stopped by the thirteenth division captain, Jushiro Ukitake. Ichigo arrives and fights Byakuya. Before Byakuya can activate his shikai, Yoruichi stops him.

Throughout this season, many of the secondary and tertiary characters we grew to love in the first season did not appear as much in this sequel. Characters such as the grouchy teddy bear Kon, tomboy Tatsuki, Ichigo’s outgoing father and schemer Kisuke Urahara don’t get much screen time at all. In fact, most of the season focuses on Ichigo, Ganju and a bunch of new shinigami. Even primary characters like Chad, Orihime and Ishida aren’t seen as much compared to season 1 so this time round, the limelight is rather limited for them though they do deserve it. Personally, I wasn’t bothered by this at all (though I wish I saw more of Ishida) mainly because I was distracted by the great action, story and suspense as well as the fact that Orihime wasn’t present most of the time. But for those who are fans of these characters, you may not enjoy this season as much as the last one. Their lack of appearances may make you cry.

The soundtrack for season 2 remains the same as season 1, however there is the exception of a new opening theme and two ending themes. Japanese rock band and one of my all time favourites, UVERworld, perform the opening ‘D-Technolife’ and is definitely something I wouldn’t regret having on my iPod. The meaningful lyrics can be related to, the composition is pretty much top-notch and goes hand in hand with the opening animated sequence.

Bleach is a series that needs to be watched by all anime fans. The action and suspense of season 2 will keep you on the edge of your seat and biting your fingernails (not literally, but you know what I mean). The characters really begins to grow on you and ultimately makes Bleach a series you will want to see through to the end. Bleach: Soul Society・The Sneak Entry is where the story really begins to get good and there are no signs of it losing momentum within the next few seasons. I can’t wait to move onto season 3!


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Ixion Saga DT

Taking a break from the world of shinigami’s and spirits, and diving into the world of fantasy!

Ixion Saga DT logo

Name: Ixion Saga DT

Japanese Name: イクシオン サーガ DT

Air Date: October 8 2012 – April 1 2013

Studio: Brain’s Base

Episodes: 25

PLOT

The series follows Kon Hokaze, a boy who embarks on a journey from our world to an alternate world known as Mira, which is full a mysterious energy known as Alma. After saving Princess Ecarlate from attackers, he soon finds himself in the middle of a struggle around Alma.

What drove me to watch this?! Many reasons were taken into consideration but I think one in particular stood out… the white haired man with an awesome seiyuu lured me. Hiroshi Kamiya – who voices the antagonist – is one of my favourite seiyuus and this man is a legend. How could I not love him after he voiced Izaya in Durarara!! and Penguin in Polar Bear’s Café? The former is one of my favourite animes of all time and the latter is just super cute so I can’t not adore it.

I’m taking a break from Bleach because you know… I can’t watch over three hundred episodes at once. One, it’s too much effort and two, I do have other anime series to be watching. I’m speaking the truth here, have you not seen my backlog?! I need to eliminate the majority of it because that thing keeps on building and building! I curse my attentive nature… I always notice anime I’ve never watched before straight away and think “might as well watch that!”. I’ll resume with season 2 of Bleach after I finish Ixion Saga DT… I told myself that I would finish this series first so I have to stick to my word.

First Impressions

Kon… you pervert! Hentai! I could rip my hair out watching this guy! ( ಠ益ಠ ) for a male protagonist, he is pretty useless. AND, he is rather dim-headed. I am not joking, this guy is getting on my nerves. Kon is an avid gamer and that’s when he meets a female online. He says she’s cute and all that but have you seen her?! She’s not beautiful in the slightest! He needs to get his eyes tested… and can I also complain about all the whining he does? He’s sounds like my mum so that’s definitely worth mentioning. But what ticks me off the most is that he fights dirty and uses cheap tactics when he knows he can’t win. No seriously, his solution is always kicking/hitting people in the balls or attack them when their back is turned. He has no honour whatsoever. Unlike my precious Erec-sama who fights clean, Kon isn’t worth mentioning anymore… I’ve had enough of him already so get off my screen!

Giant birdThere will be a day where we ride giant pigeons…

Now Erec… ah!~❤ am I sailing on a dreamboat? This white-haired guy is VERY good looking… the living epitome of perfection perhaps! His full name is Erecpyle Dukakis, but that’s too much of a mouthful so I’ll settle with Erec for now. Because this anime is so… unhealthy (I’ll say for now), I’ve realised that his name is a comedic reference to something I do not wish to mention. It’s quite disturbing but makes sense pretty early on in the series. At the climax of the first episode, Kon and Erec face off and because the former was wearing REALLY insensible footwear (the shoes had frickin’ horns on them!), he goes ahead and kicks Erec IN THE BALLS. And because of this so-called ‘incident’, Erec had to get them removed hence the comedic reference of his name. I for one, do not find this in the least entertaining. In fact, I am gutted! Erec lost the most important thing – his manlihood – because of that stupid idiot! Poor Erec is having a mental breakdown! You can see why I despise Kon so much now. I want to bitch-slap him so much *steam coming out of head* bring it bitch! (ง •̀_•́)ง

H-Hyuuga-kun? Is that you? Oh, my mistake. I apologise Leon-sama. It’s just the long hair and military uniform… Leon is a member of Erec’s military group, Incognito. He is fiercely loyal to Erec and is a massive ドM though he doesn’t admit to it. Denial!~

Mariandale is Princess Ecarlate’s maid and guardian… she/he is also transgender. Seriously, she/he is the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen… she/he can wield a gun, cook delicious meals at large volumes AND look cute all at the same time. Mariandale may look helpless, but she/he is a capable fighter and a superb marksman. In fact, she/he sometimes speaks with her/his manly voice when the situation calls for it… Jun Fukuyama’s low voice is unbelievably sexy. No it’s true! Jun-Jun really voices Mariandale Σ(゚ー゚;) I know… it greatly shocked me too. It shocked me to that extent where I actually fell off my chair. It hurt too. So now it’s really awkward… I always see Panda-kun from Polar Bear’s Café whenever I hear Mariandale’s feminine voice and then I see Hakuren from 07-Ghost whenever I hear her/his masculine voice O_o it’s two in one.

Midway Impressions

What. Is. This? K-Kon… i-is… d-dead?! YAHOO!!! I’ve been waiting for this moment! This the most glorious day of my life! Oh wait, don’t get your hopes up Jimmy, he’s bound to come strolling back into my life again much to my distaste. Speaking of which, I’m not a huge fan of the opening and ending theme songs… I find it unnecessary to chant “DT!” or “ED!” constantly.

Episode 13, introduces a new female character who lives in a town where Kon, Ecarlate, Mariandale and Sainglain are currently staying in. It’s funny and ironic at the same time; she thinks everyone loves her when they clearly don’t like her around xD heck, even her grandmother can’t stand her! Well anyway, she falls in love with Kon at first sight and somehow concludes that he is dying and needs her love to save him… I swear she is delusional. And she is one crazy bitch. Her methods of getting someone to like her? She beats them up… no wonder no one likes you girl (-_-) worst part of it is, that she always fantasises about the situation and it’s always completely off.

Princess Ecarlate is betrothed to the ruler of a kingdom named Jugglaburk. She’s only 8 years old and yet she’s already engaged… of course for political reasons! There’s no way she’d be doing something like this for love, right? Although she’s young, she is very mature and acts a lot older. Her snarky remarks at Kon never fail to make me LOL, she’s got attitude which is what I like most about her; she’s also a good sidekick, she’s a lot better than other female characters I’ve seen lately. The best conversation I’ve seen between her and Kon is probably the one in episode 11 where they are still on their journey to the capital:

Kon: “You can’t get a proper night’s sleep in a place like that. I think I slept on this wrong.”

“Looks like I need a soft bed and a pillow with a nice firm body.”

Ecarlate: “You poor thing.”

Kon: “I know, right?”

Ecarlate: “You can’t calm down unless you talk incessantly. Is that some sort of illness?”

Exactly my point! Tell it to him straight hime-sama! \(^o^)/

Swan LakeIs this some sort of Swan Lake production?

Overall Opinion

Mixed feelings about this series. I’m not sure whether I should praise it for being funny or criticise it for having tons of sexual humour when it’s not always necessary. For a start. we all know what potty humour becomes when it matures… sexual humour. There is plenty of it in Ixion Saga DT for adults or those who are fortunately over the age of twelve. Ixion Saga DT is filled to the brim with raunchy tidbits and jokes and while the show doesn’t really have a plot, the majority of the series pokes fun at recent series where people get plunged into virtual worlds and just getting giggles out of it.

Like with any story of a similar genre, our story begins with Kon – a basic teenager with an abnormal obsession with video games. Before he knows it, he accepts a request from a mysterious yet sexy female resulting in him plummeting from the sky and landing on a group of warriors attacking a small party. At first, its seems as though he has been simply pulled into the game however, upon looking around at his surroundings, it seems more and more surreal; meaning Kon has been deposited there for no particular reason. The group he had inadvertently saved is none other than Princess Ecarlate and her bodyguards Sainglain and Mariandale. These three are travelling to the capital so Ecarlate can be wed thus ensuring a treaty to avert war. Kon finds himself a servant to Ecarlate and travels with the group. Trying to stop them is Erecpyle Dukakis – Erec or ED for short – and his military group, Incognito. Erec controls a weapon named ‘Alma Gear’ which makes him the pride and joy of his group and a respected warrior. Unfortunately he is no match for Kon’s orthodox tactics and thanks to some pointy dragon boots, he lose his manliness… I am still fuming over that by the way. You’d think I’d forget about it but I haven’t. After an episode focused on Erec and his attempts to regain what he had lost, we are left to wonder… is Kon the bad guy and Erec the hero of this tale?

Erecpyle DukakisOh. My. God. JUST STAHP LOOKING SO SMEXY.

Generally speaking, there was balance between the amount of DT and ED episodes. Neither characters change drastically over the course of the series; Kon is still a jerk I want to beat up and Erec is still as heroic as he makes himself. The show never ventured deeper into these characters but for once, I’m alright with that. Why? Because this show is more comedy so these characters only function as props for the jokes and it’s generally fun to watch them. With that being said, there is a feeling of happiness when everything is resolved and things works out meaning that though they are one note characters, attachments can be formed easily; something which contributes to the enjoyment of the show.

SPOILER: The one who is manipulating events from the shadows is none other than the Archbishop from the Ulga sorority (why sorority, I mean… it’s a bunch of men). Kon, Erec and others manage to stop the war between the Empire and Jugglaburk however, the Archbishop releases his secret weapon. Kon manages to subdue it… just by talking. Afterwards, the Archbishop is arrested by Erec and Incognito and is trialed. Mariandale gives her/his testicles to Erec and the latter no longer needs to seek revenge against Kon. Peace is restored and Kon returns back to Japan.

Ixion Saga DT’s approach to humour is something to look out for. Although absurd and plain immature, it is surprisingly hilarious. The absurdity of it all ensured that the show did not get stale, but sometimes lead to unevenness in quality. Notable successes include Ecarlate’s wedding night in episode 19, and Incognito’s beginnings in episode 22. Parody is inherent in both these episodes. Eclarte’s wedding night is straight out abnormality with a karaoke machine, creepy puppets, and some interesting behaviour of both newlyweds. Incognito’s beginnings appear to stem as a buddy cop comedy; this episode used a filter to make the animation appear very 1970’s like and the scenery could have been taking out of a 70’s detective movie. Apart from that, Ixion Saga DT’s humour comes from references to pop culture. References to other anime series (Sailor Moon was particularly good) and at one point, other characters poked fun at Erec for his clichéd lines. The ridiculous rituals are also of worthy mention as they poke fun at traditions within the fantasy genre.

As mentioned beforehand, rapid switches lead to unevenness in terms of both animation and storytelling. What saved the show when it stumbled was the voice acting – notably Jun Fukuyama portraying Mariandale. His voice manipulation was truly astounding and make jokes even funnier! Pet, a furry mascot of some sort, provides some unusual voice opportunities for Yoshimasa Hosoya, and his bird impression in episode six was probably one of the funniest things I’ve heard in years. The rest of the cast were amazing too . Animation sometimes got lazy as with episode 13 where the crazy bitch girl was introduced. Not only it wasn’t relevant to the main plot, the gag wasn’t strong enough to carry through the episode therefore this one dragged for what seemed like over an hour. This was my least favourite episode purely for the fact it wasn’t needed.

Overall, Ixion Saga DT ended nicely with loose ends tied up. Though completely devoid of serious moments, Ixion Saga DT managed to keep me watching which is impressive since there really wasn’t much of a plot. When watching this series, it really isn’t for the plot, it’s more for the laughs and sheer entertainment of it. This is something you should watch if you’ve had a bad day… and if you can tolerate testicle jokes. If it’s not your cup of tea, turn back now.