Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bleach Manga vol. 19-20, vol. 6 DVD Impression

Bleach on DVD and the Bleach Manga ... what a great series. Oh, so this is what all the hype is about. Bleach, the anime and manga being distributed by Viz Media in the United States, is the story of Ichigo Kurosaki an almost normal high school boy who just happens to have strawberry colored hair … and he can see ghost. Long story short, Ichigo encounter Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper, inherits her power and begins to fight Hollows. See Hollows are evil sprits that feed on souls and also the living if they have a high enough concentration of spiritual energy. The Soul Reapers, part of the Soul Society, are charged with defeating these Hollows. Ichigo continues to use his borrowed powers while Rukia recovers, battling Hollows, learning about himself, his past, death of his mother, as well as awakening the dormant powers in friends of his. After various Hollow battling adventures Ichigo and Rukia attract the attention of the Soul Society. See Rukia broke some rules giving her power to Ichigo, and they’ve come to punish her.

This storyline is followed pretty much to the T in both the anime and manga. There are six volumes of the anime on DVD and twenty volumes of the manga out. The story arc in volume six of the DVD sees Bleach and his team entering the Soul Society, a story arc that was just wrapped up in volume 20 of the manga. I’ve read and seen both, and trust me it does not get old, it just gets better. So let me tell you a little about Bleach, on DVD and manga from Viz.

Bleach DVD vol. 6
Mr. Hat and Clogs has just completed his training of Ichigo to allow the unleashing of his own Soul Reaper powers while Orihime and Chad have completed their training with Yoruichi (talking cat). Joined by the Quincy Uryu they are about to enter the Soul Society to save Rukia from execution. This volume of Bleach serves as the transition story. Everyone wraps up their training, an episode is spend with friends saying goodbye before a new journey, one which they are not all guaranteed to return from. The humor you’ve come to expect form Bleach is here, even with the seriousness of the story. The animation is bleach never blew me away, but the style, the unique characters and settings, that’s got me hooked. As a stand alone DVD, volume six will confuse newbie’s, but it’s not a stand alone, it serves it’s purpose very well to carry on the story and set the stage for one sweet story arc taking place in the Soul Society. Now if only I could get me some uncut action, with red blood.

Bleach Manga vol. 19

Bleach Manga vol. 19
This is the near end of the Soul Society story arc I’ve touched on above, and I’m not going to recap what’s happened to this point, would ruin some great story twist for you, BUT I must warn if you read beyond this point I am going to reveal some story twist, so you’ve been warned.

Ichigo and Byakuya Kuchiki face off; Ichigo unleashes his bankai, a skill someone of his level and training should not be able to fathom. Besides this great face-off we begin to see who’s been manipulating the Soul Society Council of 46 … or should I say who killed them and acted under their guise. Meanwhile during his battle with Byakuya, Ichigo is ‘interrupted’ by another force, another personality who takes over his body and fights for him, a very Hollow-ish type of personality. The action found in volume 19 mixed with the story and mystery is outstanding. On one hand here’s Ichigo revealing powers that are unheard of, taking on a Captain who killed him weeks earlier, showing signs of a dual personality while the Soul Society is being manipulated by a few of it’s own most trusted. Oh the intrigue, oh the action, oh dang this is one hot series. Now while 19 was good, 20 is great …

Bleach vol. 20 Manga Impression

Bleach Manga vol. 20
Ah, the end of a story-arc. It’s always bittersweet in that the story you’ve been following ends while (hopefully) a new one begins. The one time captains who’ve betrayed the Soul Society explain why they’ve gone to such measures to turn on those who most trusted in them. Could it be that a Soul Reaper, Hollow hybrid can exist, a being so powerful they would eclipse anything either side has seen, or is it just a pipe dream? Is Ichigo the first successful recipient of the Hollowfication process created by Kisuke Uraharu (Hat and Clogs) that breaks down the barrier between Reapers and Hollows? The entire execution of Rukia was to gain the Breakdown Sphere (Hogyoku) hidden inside her body, placed there in the Gigai she used while recovering way back in the beginning of the series. So many things click, so may ‘oh my god’ moments appear in this issue. Friends are no longer so, those you most trusted were just using you, and it feels like we are just beginning. Gin Ichimaru, Kaname Tosen and Sosuke Aizen all ascent to a plane full of Menos Grande … and something stronger.

Twenty volumes. That’s a lot of manga, a lot of money to put out for a series, but well worth it. See when I get this far into a series and it throws me a curve ball, story twist that just make me say ‘hot damn’ and want more, well hell, that’s a series I just have to keep reading and telling others to read. I cannot begin to explain how excited I am for more Bleach. Is Ichigo a Reaper/Hollow hybrid? How will the Hollows react now that the three betraying captains have joined them, and they are not the mindless beast we’ve come to know? How will Rukia, Ichigo and the rest of our cast work with those left in the Soul Society? What is Uraharu’s game? The next issue of Bleach sees our new friends back in school, trying to assimilate into regular life, when a new student, carrying a Gigai and a Hollow mask appears. OH THE MYESTERY! Really, I’ve not anticipated a series like this since the days of Dragon Ball Z. Bleach is good times, don’t walk, run to start your journey, a journey any fan of action anime needs to jump into right now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

.hack//G.U. vol. 3//Redemption Trailers

Ok, I'm going to keep this short and sweet. If you have played .hack// before you know what to expect. An engaging RPG made to feel like an MMORPG with some sweet character design, great music and an anime, manga tie-in unlike any other game before it. I for one cannot wait for vol. 3 to hit, so to tide myself, and you, over check out these trailers for the Skeith Battle, Final Battle, Forrest and Net Slum. .hack//G.U. rocks and so do these trailers

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Red Garden: Live to Kill vol 1 Impression

ADV’s latest thriller anime, Red Garden, is both enthralling and perplexing. Set in New York, Red Garden cranks up the mystery and action but breaks frequently for the needed story components. I know that a good anime needs story to go with the action, but Red Garden is different. The pacing is so extreme where one episode sees the girls fighting for the lives while the next shows them sifting through emotions of being dead, kinda like 28 Days Later meets Dawson Creek with a visit for Buffy. Let’s take a step back to the beginning.

Red Garden is brought to us by studio Gonzo, responsible for such great anime as Afro Samurai and Chrono Crusade. The director, Kou Matsuo, is new to me sans Rozen Maiden which he directed. Set in modern day New York, Red Garden right away distances itself from many anime which take place in Japan and adds in a private high school setting most anyone in the states can relate to. So, we’ve got our setting, and we’ve also got our stars, Kate, Rachel, Claire and Rose.

Our young ladies all come from various clicks from preppy snob to withdrawn wussy. Their private school is shocked by the death of a classmate and the same evening this is announced our four heroines are drawn to Central Park by red butterflies only they can see. Once gathered a blond chic appears and tells them they’re dead, that they must fight to stay alive (borrowed bodies and all) and eventually they’ll learn the mystery of their own deaths. Volume 1 of Red Garden, Live to Kill, does a great job of introducing the story, setting and characters mixed in with story snippets to tantalize the taste buds of even the most hardened mystery fan.

So you ask why would I talk about this series being perplexing? Art design and animation quality. I love me a good mystery, and the pacing of the series is pretty good, some of the story segments could be sped up a little; I really don’t need the Dawson Creek-ish inner-reflections from each girl, but hell if it gets the mystery rolling, sweet. The art, oh the art is just not that high a quality. It takes a different design angle as these girls are not your typical anime hotties, they each look like a girl you could know, from bad noses to unique dress styles to just plain Jane ness. I took the DVD for a spin on an HD LCD and it just seemed grainy to me, which really took away from the overall experience.

So, how would I rate this series on a scale of 10? It’s an easy 8. As I said the story is great and leaves the viewer wanting more. I’ve seen plenty of beautiful anime that just suck story wise, this one does not so hook it up. If you’ve EVER been interested in Buffy, Angel, X-Files … anything of that vain then pick up Red Garden and enjoy, you will like it. I was a doubter at first, but having seen volume 1 I’ll follow these red butterflies till story end.