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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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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Quickie: Diabolik Lovers Première Date Revealed!

A couple of months ago back in February, I told you guys that an anime adaption for the otome game Diabolik Lovers was approved. I can now say that the date it will air has been announced.

According to the official website, Diabolik Lovers will air September 2013 on AT-X, then distributed on Niconico Douga.

Diabolik Lovers will be animated by Zexcs, the studio behind Cuticle Detective Inaba and Suki-tte Ii na yo.


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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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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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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.


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Bleach: Agent of the Shinigami arc

The introduction to the Bleach universe begins now…

Bleach logo season 1

Name: Bleach: Agent of the Shinigami arc (season 1)

Japanese Name: ブリーチ: 死神代行篇

Air Date: October 5 2004 – February 22 2005

Studio: Pierrot+

Episodes: 20

PLOT

15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki is not your everyday high school student. He has from as far he can remember always had the ability to see ghosts and spirits. A fateful day arrives as Ichigo encounters the shinigami Rukia Kuchiki, who saves him and his family from a Hollow at the cost of injuring herself. During this encounter, with Rukia unable to defeat the Hollow she transfers her shinigami powers into Ichigo. In the aftermath, unable to continue with her job, Rukia allows Ichigo to take on the role of a shinigami in her place as they together defeat the Hollows plaguing Ichigo’s town.

PHEW! Exams are finally over! Yesterday marked the end of five years at secondary school and it has been an incredible journey filled with plenty of ups and downs. But I’m extremely grateful for the many friends I have made during those long years. They have been with me through this perilous journey and were always the ones who picked me off my feet to push me forward. They made me who I am today. So as the curtains are drawn to a close on secondary school life, preparations for college are underway. Phase four of my life begins in September!

After exams, I fell into a bit of a slump and I frankly had no idea what to watch next. I gave up on Mobile Suit Gundam SEED because I wasn’t motivated enough, plus the amount of depth it goes into put me off… and then I remembered that I always wanted to watch Bleach. It just suddenly occurred to me as if it were the most natural thing in the world. So here I am, watching the first season. And I absolutely love it!

Bleach had a long-running history; it spanned 366 episodes from 2004 until 2012, had four successful movies and the manga is still ongoing. It is one of the most popular shounen series in Japan and worldwide… honestly, I’m not surprised at all. Not at all. The attention Bleach has garnered over the last few years has been increasing and it’s easy to see why. The pure, shounen action. I have to thank my friend for introducing me to Bleach because I had no idea what it was. I thought it was the stuff you use to clean (^_^;) feel free to beat me up.

First Impressions

There’s a lot of terminology that I’m not familiar with since I haven’t read the manga yet. I want to, and then I remember how many volumes there are. FIFTY EIGHT. I can’t afford all that! Plus my shelves are overflowing with manga, so my parents are banning me from buying anymore *pouts* I mean that’s not fair. I pay for all of them myself, no thanks to them. I think the only word I understand is shinigami! Enough about me, I shall enlighten all those who have never watched/read Bleach and have magically stumble across this post:

Soul Society – the afterlife realm where all souls go; in other words, it’s like heaven.

Shinigami – the Japanese word for Death God or soul reaper. They take away souls and bring them to their rightful place (Soul Society).

Hollows – formerly human spirits that were not sent to Soul Society in due time after death. This makes them lose their sense of being and gives them a craving for human souls. Their main characteristics are a white mask completely covering their face and a hole near their heart.

Zanpakuto – this is a shinigami’s Soul Slayer (a weapon which reflects aspects of their soul and personality).

Ichigo Kurosaki is the main protagonist of the series. He’s quite agitated most of the time but he is a kind older brother – as he should be! He’s really reliable and always keeps to his promises but he’s also a bit straightforward. That being said, I wouldn’t mind having Ichigo as an older brother… he can protect me whenever someone picks on me (¬‿¬) that’s a nice thought. When Ichigo recieves shinigami powers from Rukia, he nearly consumes all of it, making him an exceptionally strong shinigami (he hasn’t even received training!). He is very passionate about justice which is shown clearly in episode 5 when he discovers the Hollow’s past crimes (the one that he’s currently fighting). These Hollows are very cruel… and rather disturbing too…

Ichigo KurosakiErm… Ichigo? Are you sure that’s yours?

Rukia is the shinigami who gave Ichigo her powers. She kinda resembles me in some ways, instantly making her one of my favourite characters. She’s level-headed and balances out Ichigo’s recklessness so she has some sort of influence over him. Rukia is actually a cool character and she’s ironically funny; she enrolls at Ichigo’s school and sort of gives him hell! But the one character who REALLY gets on my nerves is Orihime Inoue. I bet she’s the damsel in distress character of the cast… I detest those types. I really detest them.

Midway Impressions

I think it’s become a running gag that Rukia demonstrates or explains complicated things by drawing diagrams… bad ones at that. In fact, the drawings are so bad that even Ichigo is ashamed of them! Making the slightest comment is rewarded with a punch or kick… I love this girl xD I think she deserves the reward for most awesome female! Rukia is such an amazing character though; she’s unfazed by things the majority of the time and when she does get anxious, she’s also calm about it. We are so similar. She may just be my long lost twin… moving on, she really is the perfect deuteragonist for Ichigo. They compliment each other – Ichigo being brash and impulsive while Rukia is calm and collected; the perfect combination!

A new character has been introduced to join the cast! Uryuu Ishida is a classmate of Ichigo’s and also has a high spiritual power – he can see ghosts and spirits. However he is not a soul reaper… he’s a ‘Quincy’. I know it sounds confusing and you may be thinking “what the hell does that mean?!” so I shall make things easier by explaining. Quincies are a clan of humans who are descended from Ywhach (no idea what this is?) who are spiritually aware of the blood running through them, and are able to re-shape spiritual particles into various types of bow and arrows, swords or explosives to defeat Hollows. They were considerably more successful than soul reapers however, they were unable to purify the Hollows unlike soul reapers. Quincies completely destroy the soul and thus create an imbalance between the life and death that would threaten to destroy the world. As a last resort to prevent further imbalance, the soul reapers exterminated most of the Quincies with only a few remaining were allowed to live, hence Uryuu’s hostility and bitterness towards Ichigo.

Uryuu IshidaYou always know you have a pervert when their glasses shine…

I’m not overly fond of the selected theme songs for the opening and ending; the opening I’m not too bothered with, but the ending… I better shut up before I complain too much. I don’t know really, it doesn’t click with my tastes. But what annoys me even more is the fact that it’s STUCK IN MY HEAD. I’m actually walking around the house humming it (-__-) not really the ideal way to spend my afternoons. However, the selected music has a distinctive taste and is rather unique.

Overall Opinion

Bleach is a popular shounen manga written and drawn by Tite Kubo. It is now a worldwide phenomenon alongside other titles such as Naruto, One Piece etc. and is loved by many anime fans for its fast paced action, humorous characters and epic battles. It’s easy to see why Bleach has garnered so much attention and popularity over the last couple of years.

The plot isn’t entirely original. Take a boy in his mid-teens, bestow supernatural abilities upon him and send him off to fight big and mighty monsters. This happens for the majority of episodes through hack and slash methods; sprinkling a bit of comedy here and there for good measure. Boring much? Yeah, it tends to get tedious but that’s when things start to pick up. Introduce the protagonist to potential allies (in the form of classmates) with Hollow exterminating capabilities and voilà! It doesn’t stop there though. The real challenge kicks in, and man does it literally kick. Soul Society infiltrate the human world to stir things up and suddenly, Ichigo embarks on a mission to rescue Rukia. This where most of the action is and it’s left up until the last few episodes; which is the right way to approach this. It hits you full on with the adrenaline pumping battles and that is very effective. The beginning introduces everything while the climax gets serious. Absolute perfection. The fact is, Ichigo is no longer fighting minor Hollows a few blocks away from his house… oh no, he’s facing trained warriors who could kill him with only few friends as allies, in the underworld! This is the real deal.

Byakuya KuchikiOoo… I like you VERY much (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧.

Seems pretty basic, but Bleach manages to set itself apart from other shounen series through its wide variety of characters which could not exist anywhere else. Imagine your usual stereotypes and throw in a few strange traits to give them that extra edge: this is what makes them special and easily recognisable. Ichigo isn’t just an excitable and brash lad – he’s a hero with a smart mouth. Rukia’s equally strong personality compliments that and together, these two exchange some of the most snarkiest dialogues in the show. Ichigo’s allies are just as intriguing: Ishida is cool in everything ranging from his attacks to his demeanour, Orihime discovers her abilities through accessories and Chad proves that the only thing bigger than his muscles is his compassion. I’m not one to forget the supporting characters who help the protagonists on their missions; you have the stuffed toy sidekick Kon, the eccentric shop-keeper Urahara, the thirteen squad leaders of Soul Society, Ichigo’s contrasting sisters and the wonderful example of modern parenting, Ichigo’s dad. All of these characters intertwine to make one of the best casts I’ve ever seen.

Studio Pierrot (or Pierrot+ by me) makes Bleach a visually appealing show with a bold, mainstream style which would make anyone appreciate it. It becomes apparent when the animation picks up, just like the story itself. It takes until the later episodes to notice the transition the animation makes; the fight scenes become more elaborate and dynamic while the second opening sequence is a flurry of shots. The animation is done in a way so that you can tell exactly what is happening, and who’s doing what. If someone swings their sword, then you know who did it – the storytelling is very clear. There are still plenty of shounen clichés like speedlines, special effects and time-dilated multi-episode fights, but the look of the show is one that can’t be reproduced easily. How could one forget the amusing logos on Ichigo’s t-shirts, Rukia’s single bang over her face, Ishida’s rectangular glasses, Orihime’s hair clips (and large bosom), Chad’s scraggly features, Urahara’s green and white striped hat, Renji’s visor that looks like a sleeping mask etc. Studio Pierrot has clearly done the manga justice.

SPOILER: Rukia faces the death penalty for transferring her shinigami powers to Ichigo. Her death sentence has been moved forward and she only has twenty five days left. Ichigo has his powers stripped from him but is determined to save Rukia, thus he trains with Urahara to gain his powers back. During the second stage of his training, Ichigo’s soul is cut from his body and thrown into a pit. He must reclaim his shinigami powers within three days, otherwise he is at risk of becoming a Hollow. In the pit, Ichigo emerges with his shinigami uniform on and a Hollow mask. He breaks off the mask and continues on to the final stage: to fight Urahara. After discovering the name of his zanpakuto, it tranforms into a more powerful version and he defeats Urahara. Ichigo, Chad, Ishida and Orihime then progress through a portal to Soul Society to rescue Rukia.

The unique characters and look of Bleach guarantee that it will, at the very least, rise above the muddle of shounen series and carry on with its own unique vision of the afterlife. There are many plots where Death Gods can be vanquished and spirit worlds to be conquered or explore, but there is only one Ichigo Kurosaki, there is only one Soul Society and there is only one entertaining series that will massively amuse you to no end. If you want a real, adrenaline pumping series with an extraordinary cast of characters, then Bleach is the series for you. I loved it thoroughly and I’m sure that many others will join me with my sudden love of Bleach!

I highly recommend the subbed version rather than the dubbed. Why? Because I think anime should be watched in the language they are originally intended to be. In this case, Japanese. Plus the original seiyuus did an amazing job voicing the characters, I mean most of them are pretty big names in the industry… so watch it with Japanese audio! Not that I have anything against the English dub…


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The first time I felt the warmth of your hand… was on that day.

Note: This short story contains religious content and references. Please do not feel offended as this is only pure fiction.

When was the last time I ever saw you smiling? When was the last time I ever held you in my arms? When was the last time… I ever told you that I loved you?

Who would have thought you were the one? The one who released me from the shackles chaining me to Hell; the one who gave me my freedom. Isolation and confinement were my punishment for the sins I have committed, and you bailed me out. I am forever in your debt… and I am eternally grateful. Ha, it’s strange isn’t it? Being a creature of darkness, it was a taboo to come into contact with someone of holy grounds. One touch would have sent you into the abyss… but you found me. You extended your hand to me, and offered salvation. Redemption. A chance to make myself worthy again in the eyes of God.

Fallen angels aren’t worthy of entering the kingdom of Heaven. You knew that very well, but you still helped me. Anyone would be out of their minds to come within breathing distance and yet you, with your radiance and pureness, braved the disapproval and stares of the others and guided me. Courage emitted from you and I admired that. Something I knew I could never possess, was standing right in front of me. With that, I reached out for your hand instinctively and held it. The first time I felt the warmth of your hand… was on that day.

Time flew by after that day. After our first meeting, we managed to see each other while avoiding God’s gaze. But… one day, you stopped visiting. It was peculiar and rather ominous; I feared the worst. Days, months, years went by without us meeting. The place we always met, I still stand there everyday. I always wondered when I would see you next. I still do to this very day. However, I can hear your voice; I think of it repeatedly. Can you hear my voice? I am here, thinking of you. Thinking of what could have possibly happened. Did God decide your punishment? No, that can’t be right… I should be the one receiving divine retribution for escaping. By then, my feelings have grown but they must be restrained; they are forbidden emotions.

If God has wrongly punished you, I – Lucifer – swear to you that I’ll always be there to protect you from His wrath. I don’t care if you spite me or blame me for all the misfortune that has been bestowed upon you. I don’t want you to fall from grace so I won’t go back on my word. A promise is a promise. Rest assured, I love you with all my being and I will love only you. The laws of God forbid us from seeing each other, because of our ranks. But I will find a way to break this pointless law. Rankings do not matter in love. Worthless words written on scribes can’t restrict me so I ask you, to believe me.

My guardian angel, thank you for saving me from drowning in my own heart. I will find you again, just wait for me. If my wishes are granted, I would want to see you. I want to see you, if only once. That would be enough to keep my sanity.

Thank you… for existing.