Wednesday, December 31, 2008

FUNimations New Show A-Go-Go, What's It Mean?

Evangelion 101 from FUNimation

Twelve. Twelve new acquisitions have been rolled out, announced, from FUNimation over the past few weeks and are highlighted on their New Show A-Go-Go site. Most of these shows have been previously released either by ADV or Geneon, but FUNimation getting them is a good thing. See with the collapse of ADV and the withdrawal of Geneon from the states that left mainly FUNimation, Viz and Bandai as the major players in the anime distro business. Anime had hits its peak and was now coming back down to Earth, but not so fast. FUNimation could have messed up big time by acquiring all these titles, flooding the shelves with releases but something happened on the way to ruin, they are succeeding and saving shelf space. ADV began putting out thinpac box sets, neat full series in the space usually taken by 2-3 DVD's. Now what FUNimation has done is take these series, revamp ones needing it and package them up in very thin, eco friendly packaging where you can get 26 episodes in the space it takes for 1 DVD case, neat! The price point is great also, these are not greatest hits, gold, platinum or some such type of collection, they are just great bargains for the price (and shelf space, did I mention that). Anyway back to the Anime 12.

In quick succession we've seen FUNimation hook up older titles from ADV and Geneon, get them back on shelves in complete collections where they fell short in the past, sometimes broken into part 1 and 2 sets. While these have been more than welcome these new titles are just numbingly tasty, one hell of a way to start the new year. So what is to get excited about, let’s see ... and check out the official sites found on New Show A-Go-Go. (No particular order btw.)

  • Samurai Champloo - Love Afro Samurai, this title is legendary, like Cowboy Bebop meets Afro Samurai, HOT!
  • Soul Eater - I've not seen this title before, but hot design and slick action, yeah a must buy for me in 09.
  • Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone - Eva, nuff said, must have.
  • Gungrave - More style, more action and a great anime based on a pretty good video game.
  • Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo - A classic piece of literature gets re-imagined. This title is made for HD, beautiful.
  • Slayers Revolution - My first eBay purchase was the original Slayers box set. I've been waiting for this for years.
  • Oh! Edo Rocket - Zero idea about this, get back to you later.
  • Last Exile - Beauty in motion, a classic movie.
  • Ikki Tousen - Zero idea about this, get back to you later.
  • Nabari No Ou - Zero idea about this, get back to you later.
  • Vandread - Own it, love it. CGI meets anime with catchy opening tunes and the ladies, yes me likes the ladies.
  • Gad Guard - A throw back to the early days of anime, a boy and his robot but just like Galaxy Railways, brought up to speed with crisp animation.

And to top it all off FUNimation also has a new video portal. Some of the titles you can find here included Darker Than Black, Guyver, Black Blood Brothers, Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino, Jyu-Oh-Sei, Negima 2, Ouran High School Host Club, Romeo X Juliet, Shigurui: Death Frenzy and more. What FUNimation has done is tackle anime world from the single DVD (traditional) angle, box set angle and online distro. I am excited because FUNimation is hooking us otaku up, ditto for Viz with their collections of hot titles ... Bandai I'll get back to you on, not sure about them just yet. Take care, Happy New Year and here is to a very hopeful future for the world of anime.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Video Games on The Examiner in December

So this has been a great month, a great year really. To wrap it up on The Examiner here I what I've covered over there around video games and their related properties ...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Warcraft Legends vol. 2 Impression

Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy from Tokyopop took the popular MMORPG and gave it a new avenue to explore the characters and settings of WoW. While this manga was met with mixed reviews this has not dissuaded Tokyopop from continuing the manga march with Warcraft Legends volume 2, a new manga that continues one story from volume 1 while crafting three other short stories in the World of Warcraft.

The cover, by Udon, will grab anyone’s attention with its slender night elf perched in a tree just begging the reader to open the cover. This is the proper approach needed for a franchise such as Warcraft. The Sunwell Trilogy was good, but these short stories hit the mark. Some are good, others not so much, but all of them give a taste of WoW without a series long commitment. Not being a WoW player I cannot speak for you, the true fan, but I do know you are getting stories set in the world you dedicate so much time too so from that standpoint it’s worth the look. If you like, then keep reading, if not you’re only out about $11 and can sell to a friend for a discount (good times). For me, worth it as I love fantasy manga, but let’s takes a look at each story and its art.

Fear (part 2) - Richard A. Knaak and Jae-Hwan Kim return from their work on The Sunwell Trilogy to tell the tale of Trag Highmountain, his downfall since the Sunwell Trilogy and journey to resist and confront the Lich King who calls to him. Knaak’s story telling is again superb as he touches on the inner-workings of the participants, this time the orc Thrall who tries to help Trag. Readers learn more about the orc liberator as well as see a change in Trag, a good story that will continue in volume 3. Kim’s art is great, always has been from King of Hell till now and it’s by far the best in this book. Fear could stand alone as its own manga, but pairing it with other stories in multiple volumes is a great way to expose the manga to many. Book is worth the buy for this story alone.

Warrior: Divided - If Fear is the hot girl at the bar, guess who Warriors: Divided is? Call in the wing man, this story of orphan twins, one raised by dwarves the other elves, is not pretty. Lieren, raised by dwarves, discovers she has a twin sister, Loania, raised by elves and together they learn their human father was killed, as was their mother. They go on a journey to learn about themselves only to confront their dead mother and save her soul. Yeah, the story is rushed, tries to feel sad and noble, but does neither. The art, not good, was this someone who lost rising stars of manga? Not going to mention anymore, names, nada about this story, it’s not good.

Miles to Go - Kova Broadhorn, a tauren shaman is sent on a journey to find an orc seer and return with her to her village. She’s told along her journey she will encounter help, and does … sort of. Kova meets up with the gnome warrior Miles Corebender who envisioned Kova in a dream. The two set off on their journey, encounter a rogue, defeat the rogue and discover themselves along the way, Kova that she can cope with battle, Miles being brought down a few pegs in his quest for an epic tale about himself. Did I leave out the funny? Yeah, this is a very funny story with good, light art to match the mood, a very short and another very cow hero they way the jab at each other is enjoyable and what short stories are all about. Good art, funny story with known characters and settings, this will make WoW fans smile as it does not take itself serious and is like a random quest.

Family Values - Jaruk Bloodfyre an orc torn between his beliefs and the drive of his tribe led by his blood thirsty brother J’argg. Jaruk cannot stand the bloodshed of the draenei and eventually rescues a girl, Leena, and is hunted by his own kind, his own brother. Without revealing too much more the ending of this story is satisfying and everything before also serves the reader well. Not too deep, not too shallow, just right for a side story, background on an impactful characters in WoW. The violence of the world is shown in this story, but the art feels more like a children’s book, Orc’s by the numbers, nobody really memorable except for Leena (you’ll see). Yeah, ok to read but so-so overall.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bleach DVD vol. 12 Impression

Bleach DVD Volume 12
Welcome to the past Bleach fans. Taking a brief respite from present events Bleach volume 12 looks into the past, to better understand the captains and their lieutenants, how they became Soul Reapers and what drives their present day relationships and actions.

He may be deceased, but Captain Aizen still has a profound affect on those among the living especially lieutenant Momo Hinamori. She remembers how they met and recounts the letter Aizen left that caused her to confront his supposed killers, a battle where Bankai are released and cracks begin to form in the hierarchy that is the Soul Society. In the present Ichigo continues to train with Yoruichi to attain Bankai in a short period and is joined by a former foe while Yoruichi’s history with Mr. Hat and Clogs is also touched on. The biggest history point, a set of memories from Rukia back to her days as a child, joining the Soul Society, her adoption, brother and the death of a comrade which begins to bring her acceptance of her fate to light, a fate that has been moved up to the next day. To understand the present the past must be explored.

This volume of Bleach is very interesting for one main point; there is little exposure for the main character Ichigo. This series begins to establish itself as more than a one man show with multiple characters with history to share, four episodes worth. Bleach has long established itself a great action anime with oodles of styles, great character design, superb music … the whole package which is laid on top of a story that is getting better and deeper the more characters are explored. There is a depth to these characters and this volume really takes the time to explore each one. This is a background volume, but if you’re this deep in then it’s worth the purchase, not an entry point for noobs, a reward to fans.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jyu-Oh-Sei DVD Impression

Jyu-Oh-Sei: Planet of the Beast King from FUNimation is a very welcome, 11 episode, surprise action fans will enjoy. As young twins Thor and Rai return home to find their parents murdered they are quickly captured and banished to Chimaera, a planet of brutal, carnivorous plants where only the strong survive. Chimaera is a prison planet, one that nobody seems to know exist and before Thor and Rai can question what happened to their parents and why they have been banished they are thrust into a world of factions based on skin color where each tree, shrub and root could jump up and eat you. The brutality of the planet surfaces very quickly as (SPOILER) Rai is consumed right off the bat leaving Thor to fend for himself and forge a new life. Thor quickly learns that the only way off planet, the only way to get answers to what has happened to him, is to become Beast King, and to do so he must scale the ranks, become a First then follow protocol to become Beast King. With the help of a smart Third (think second in command), Thor becomes a very young First during a fight to the death challenge. Years pass and a new, older Thor with only a few years to live (issue with planet condition) decides to become Beast King through a series of event not of his making. Once the ball gets rolling and he ascends to the orbital platform to confront Odin who is responsible for his banishment and many other issues from Thor’s past, the story hits a fevered pace in a race against time to save the planet and possibly the human race.

Jyu-Oh-Sei really did surprise me. First I’ve not read the manga, have not familiarity with the series and at first the thought of watching the annoying Rai (really annoying) turned me off, but this series quick took good design and voice work and weaved it into a story that was both brutal, savage and satisfying all at the same time. There are some sad points, characters that die, that were not expected, some done in a manner that I questioned ‘why’ but all touching the heart on some level. The stories conclusion, the answers Thor was looking for will tie the entire eleven episodes together very well. The opening song grew on me, but is still kind of weird for the action. Music, can’t even recall if there was any (there was) so I’d say it’s inconsequential. Use of Norse names also did not make sense until some of the end explanations.

Long story short, if you’ve read or are a fan of Jyu-Oh-Sei then get DVD set, good price, good buy. Fans on the fence, there are worse anime out there and do not judge by the cover with all the makeup and stuff, this series will surprise you, it’s good and different form other stories on the market, a nice change of pace anime.

Claymore DVD vol. 2 Impression

Claymore volume 2 from FUNimation continues the story of Clare as she travels with Teresa. The organizations number one fighter, Teresa, becomes attached to the small girl who will not leave her side. Numerous attempts to dissuade her from following have no affect and eventually Teresa names the girl, Clare, and is surprised to hear her speak as Clare has been silent since their first encounter. After another run-in with the bandit whom she removed an arm from, Teresa takes Clare to a small village where she proceeds to wipe out the Yoma only to find that by doing so the local bandits move in to burn and destroy the city, a city where Teresa has left Clare in the care of the locals. As she returns the bandits know she cannot attack them as Claymore are forbidden from killing humans upon penalty of death. The connection Teresa has made with Clare, the girl with the same look in her eyes, goes beyond this mandate as Teresa finishes the one-armed bandit who is about to ravage Clare and then proceeds to obliterate the entire band of bandits. Her fate sealed, Teresa and Clare continue their journey and when Teresa is surrounded by Claymore, seemingly ready to accept her execution she has a change of mind, resist and continues to journey with Clare.

Next, Claymore ranks 2-5 come to confront Teresa and while she does best them the new, young number two goes beyond her limits of power and Awakens, destroying not only (SPOILER) Teresa but the other Claymore leaving only Clare alive. From this point on Clare is determined to become a Claymore to hunt the Awakened who took Teresa’s head. Present day now and an impatient, lowly ranked Clare, finds herself assigned to a team of four on the hunt for a Voracious Eater, a male awakened who is more that a match for the hunters, but not all is what it seems as Clare shows a power perfectly suited for fighting an awakened being. As the fight continues the episodes come to an end in volume 2 of Claymore.

Wow, lots of story points in this, just the second volume of Claymore. First the animation is still solid, not movie quality but well at the top of a series that should have a 24-26 episode run. The voice work is surprising well done and just emphasizes the quality the anime industry is seeing here in the states. FUNimation has a nice stable of voice actors working their titles and the experience really shows here in Claymore. Story wise this DVD spends a generous amount of time on Clare’s past, but it’s very important as it introduces Awakened beings, changes that take affect when a Claymore increase their power output as well as why Clare is who she is, why she became a Claymore. These episodes don’t feel so much as a flashback as a series all their own. The present day hunt and history on male Claymore is also important as well as what this particular Voracious eater says, what he tries to bargain with. Claymore rankings and special abilities are touched on over each episode showing there is more to this group than mindless hunters, there is an organization at work guiding each and keeping them in line, eliminating them when needed.

Overall Claymore on DVD is as solid as the manga (from Viz) with no drop-off in story and plot points. The animation and voice work satisfy with only a few weird audio tracks, background music that don’t quite seem to fit. The pacing of the story is solid and after watching viewers will feel like they’ve have more than just two volumes, I did. Hard to categorize Claymore, so if you like a unique design style, fast-paced sword fighting and monsters then Claymore is a must. Mature, yes. Excellent addition to any anime collection, no doubt.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 Trailer

One of gamings oddest combinations gets the follow-up treatment with Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2. I don't know too much about the plot, but when you take everything Gundam and throw it into a blender mixed with fan-served gameplay then guess there ain't too much to plot about. This game is going to be great fun with great achievements just like the first, just more polished. Good times as anime based video games continue to get better and better ... now we just need Dynasty Warriors Shonen Jump.

Monday, December 15, 2008

HunterxHunter Vol. 21 & 22 Impression

Training time is over for Gon and Killua and now it’s time to get involved in the hunt in HunterxHunter volumes 21 and volume 22 from Viz. With the queen dead and the newborn, very mature, Chimera Ant King born all the former servants have begun to spread into human civilizations looking to claim their own stake in the world and Hunters are the only hope for stopping them. The king is on the move and soon Gon and Killua will be also.

Hunter x Hunter volume 21Hunter x Hunter volume 21
The king if born, and a violent birth it is. Colt, one of the queen’s servants, seeks the help of the Hunters to try to save the queen’s life, but she passes pleased to have birthed such a fine king. Meanwhile the king shows his brutality by killing those who displease him and formulates a plan to Nen-baptize the population, meaning gather them all in one place and farm out the strongest Nen capable then, well eat them to gain their power. Taking control, thanks to the crazy Neferpitou, of a neighboring countries dictator allows the king to gather all the population for his plan, one the hunters must stop or the already insanely powerful king will be unstoppable.

Is it just me or does this seem like Cell the second? The look, feel, absorption, coloring … all very similar to DBZ’s Cell, and near as cool too. First, art, solid, story, getting really good. I’ve touched on the king’s story above which sets the stage for future conflicts, but not touched on is Gon and Killua’s desire to help a (not dead) Kite being controlled by Neferpitou as well as the spread of the Chimera ants with the queens death. Gon and Killua wrap their training and are ready to get into the fight, through their own methods of non-direct confrontation but before that Gon goes on a funny date with Palm, the talk about cougars alone is outstanding, very funny to those in the know. So story is ramping up and there is still much training for Gon and Killua to do, heck they are going to have issues with the generals. Nice to see a story where the main character takes a back seat to much more powerful allies and foes.

Hunter x Hunter volume 22Hunter x Hunter volume 22
Ants spread, the Spiders surface to defend Meteor City. The locally established ants find more than they bargained for as the Spiders show up and squash these ants in some quick and brutal fights. Gon and Killua begin their campaign in the Republic of East Gorteau where the population is slowly disappearing. Killua uses his speed to warn towns while avoiding the ants while Gon gets in bit of trouble with a bat and owl and which push him to his limits.

The story continues as the king does his thing and Gon and Killua get into action. Not much more to add to this volume as it packs in the action and moves the story along but since the stage we really set in volume 21, this one just moves it along, good part of this Chimera King story arc. Overall volume 21 really sets the stage for the next phase of battles, 22 carry it on (just said that) and 23 … well that’s for next time. Fans of HunterxHunter, jump on in, all others not a bad point to join in, good background at the beginning of issue 21, but start there, if not you will be really lost.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hancock DVD Impression

Hancock on DVD
Superman, Batman, Spider-Man … all comic super heroes come to life and the big screen. Hancock is a super hero of another ilk, one created for the screen, one more human than any spandex wearing do-gooder. Hancock tells the story of a drunk, collateral damage wreaking ‘hero’ played by Will Smith. The movie begins with various funny antics, the car chase, shooting his liquor bottle, glasses as well as Hancock’s take-off and landings. No matter the lives Hancock saves the collateral damage associated leaves a very bad taste on the public’s tongues. Enter Ray Embrey, played by Jason Bateman, a down on his luck publicist with a smoking hot wife (Charlize Theron) and son who idolizes Hancock. First order of business to clean-up his image is to serve some jail time, to let the public see they need you, which happens. There is a head and butt incident in jail that just about ends the funny. As he’s released to help out a bank robbery situation the movie takes a more serious turn as Hancock is now the responsible hero and one about to learn a great deal about his missing past and lost love.

Stop, this is where my issues begin. Hancock is a movie that starts very funny and in the blink of an eye gets very serious; it’s like two movies in one with many, many holes any comic fan will see. So Hancock is a hero who sleeps on benches and loves to drink. The damage he causes is understandable due to his who cares approach as is his jail time, but don’t you think the government would take an interest in Hancock? Check out the in-print Rising Stars comic series to see government involvement with super humans. Maybe there is background there, but if the government was involved wouldn’t you see that? Second issue with story, he goes to jail, a regular jail with inmates who want to hurt him that he could kill … are you trying to get them killed? A prisoner like Hancock would get special treatment, so two strikes against the government involvement. Yes, it’s movie, and like Rising Stars the writers could have gone very deep into the seriousness of Hancock, but they kept it comical, which brings the third issue. Why does Hancock get so serious so fast? Leave out the fact the writers create some easy villains who somehow escape to hurt Hancock (hmmmm, escape prison, go after super guy, not smart), but what about the background of Hancock. He explains how old he is, how he lost his memory and as he encounters Theron’s character he starts to get gaps filled in, but who at ‘they’ who is this race of supes that, when they get together, age and become normal? How long have they been around, why are the women stronger? BIG gaps in the story which continues into the ending with new hero in new city, what happens to old city? Point is there is much material here for an enjoyable graphic novel, but the movie will leave viewers wanting more background.

Special features on the single-disc DVD are standard from the making-of features to how a big-screen superhero is created. The behind the scenes with ‘Dirty Pete’ was enjoyable, but not much more here. The points made about the story above could have had a huge impact on the extra features. A full documentary on the history of what and what Hancock is would have been great. Overall this movie is a mixed bag. Good performances by some pretty actors, a funny super-hero movie that turns mega serious in the middle. Hancock is all over the place but there is some very fertile ground for comic follow-ups (like where the hell does he get that eagle?).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gaming with the Girlfriend

Rock Band 2 on Xbox 360
Yes, girls play games too and very well I might add. This is not a Wii-effect, this is not a new trend. Girls are gamers and serious ones at that. Many can hand you your ass in Halo or Call of Duty, others, PMS, can whoop you in some team combat. While these ladies can compete with and be the best not all of the better gender dig shooter, some like jus to have a good time, crank up the guitar, sing a song, get Wii-crazy, and some of these girls, women, ladies, don’t mind dating a gamer. Seeing as how I’m a guy I’m not going to lecture you on what to play with the ladies (Need for Speed and Burnout are winners I can say), so I’ll leave it to this little article sent to me by … wait for it … real live ladies. Nerds Do It Better is a site dating and relationships.

The gaming list, 50 Video Games Your Girlfriend Will Like by Jessica Merritt offers insight guys cannot buy. Games are divided into groups, Group Gaming, Physical Gaming, Simulation, Puzzle & Mini, Familiar and Intelligent gaming. The inclusion of Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Burnout on this list is great to see as this is not just a casual gaming list for dummies. Jessica has some solid titles any hardcore gamer will and does love so gents this is not some fluff list, you will enjoy playing these games.

Word of caution … careful, be very careful how, if, when you break out the very exercise focused games, especially one with a Biggest Loser trainer on the cover.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

All Colour But The Black, The Art of Bleach Impression

The Art of Bleach
Every time I write about a manga I mention, no matter how brief, the art and design style. The reason I do this is because fantastic art can stand on its own even without a strong story. This is one of the reasons you’ll see artist paired with writers, especially in US based comic companies. Tite Kubo is one of those rare exceptions, mostly seen in Japan, who has an art style that melts the eyes and is mixed with a story that is as exceptional as any manga that has come before. I’m referencing Bleach of course, and while Kubo has create other works (Zombie Powder) Ichigo and crew are just the best of what he has to offer.

Like Naurto, One Piece and Fullmetal Alchemist before it, Viz has released a new art book for Bleach titles All Colour But The Black, The Art of Bleach, and it is as beautiful as one expects and then some. This book takes the cover art, promo art and holiday art from the first nineteen volumes of the Bleach manga and offer them up on glossy pages, full color along with creator notes. This is truly a perfect buy for any Bleach fan and more, which I’ll get to in a minute, but first what is this book made of …

  • The Cover – Of note because the slip cover is pretty, but underneath there is a pretty sketch of various characters.

  • Foldout Poster – Double-sided with Soul Reapers on one side and the main ‘crew’ on the other. It’s a shame it’s folded, would look great framed (but that is what the lower priced poster-zine is for).

  • Content – Made up of Prismatics 1, Direct Rays and Prismatics 2, this is the bulk of the art.

  • Storyboard – A quick page that shows the storyboards for a specific chapter, 181.

  • Captains – Not the name of the section, but this shows non-color pics of each captain along with a note. Interesting to see into the mind of each character.

  • Index – The best section as it gives notes from Kubo into each piece of art in the Content sections. Looking into the mind of a master, it’s a rare treat.

Besides fans of Bleach this book truly appealed to the artist in me. The style, clothing, color choices, moods of the art offer great inspiration. I found myself sitting and sketching out many of these images just for fun. Seeing the progression of the characters, you can tell earlier art, is also of note, gives hope to new and aspiring artist that the more you work the better you can get. Overall this book will go perfect on fans shelves and is worth the look, and since it only covers up to volume nineteen there is more sweetness to come.

Naruto The Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom Impression

Naruto the Movie 3
An escort mission of a foreign prince and his son, simple in concept but does anything with Naruto go smoothly? In Naruto The Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom Naruto, Sakura, Rock Lee and Kakashi are assigned to escort prince Michiru Tsuki and his son, Hikaru, back to their island home, the Crescent Moon Kingdom. The journey sees Naruto butt heads with the spoiled younger prince, the round Michiru buying a travelling circus as well as visiting Hikaru’s mother who is discussed at the size of Michiru. As the group boards a ship back to their kingdom a storm is encountered where Hikaru shows his worth, an arguing point with Naruto, while saving the monkey Kikki and tiger Chamu. With new friends in tow, Naruto, Sakura and Lee pledge to be friends, they arrive at the kingdom to find tragedy waiting.

The former advisor, Shadadaba, has recruited three ninja to help overthrow the king, who lies dying, protected by his loyal troops. After a daring escape the fight beings for Michiru and Hikaru to retake their homeland, but only after a failed escape attempt. How will Naruto, Kakashi, Lee and Sakura get through this jam (and in their new summer uniforms)? That is what watching is for.

This third Naruto movie offers up what is the standard big screen Naruto formula. Escort mission, spoiled and/or rich client (both usually) and a fight to retake a homeland, heritage or something of value. The animation is very loosey-goosey. Not in a bad way, but the action reminds of something out of Fooley Cooley, especially Rock Lee’s second fight. Things get fast and furious and a little wacky at times but looks great with crisp animation and the movie quality. The voice acting is above par with all the actors from the series intact. So solid voice work, good musical score, fluid animation, crisp movie-quality look and feel … and a forgettable story.

Yes, the story does not offer the flare of Clash in the Land of Snow or the super powered baddies of Stone of Gelal (spelling). The prince with his fat father and bow skills do not gain any sympathy from the viewer. The brief appearance by King Kakeru Tsuki gets more sympathy. Our heroes do their thing with Rock Lee just thrown in with minimal lines, no real value of him being in this movie. The battles are good, but the bad guys don’t add to much either, they are not memorable from the poisonous Karenbana, strong Kongo and stone glove wearing Ishidate. Even Kikki and Chamu are novelty, not adding to the story besides becoming friends with the prince.

Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom has all the spit and polish expected in an anime movie, but with forgettable characters it’s worth the rental while purchasing the previous two movies.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Inukami! vol. 1 Impression

Inukami! volume 1 manga
Inukami! volume 1 will feel instantly familiar to any fan of InuYasha. Inukami are doglike, tails, mystical being’s that contract with a human tamer to form a team that hunts demons who prey on humans. One such would-be tamer Keita Kawahira, is a shame to his family. He was unable to attract an Inukami when he came of age and went into the mountain where they reside. That was until the Inukami Yoko shows up. She is both attractive and very docile … until the contract is struck. Keita thought he would be getting a maid, servant, submissive servant, instead he has a rowdy and wild Inukami to deal with, one that even makes him wear a collar as a sign of their contract (she waits till his life is on the line to finalize the contract and force him to wear collar). As a new relationship begins one can only wonder how this new pair will do as they begin to take on assignments hunting demons and dealing with each other.

The duo of Mari Matsuzawa (art) and Mamizu Arisawa (story) really clicks in Inukami! The art is beautifully drawn, perfect for poster, pencil boards with an immature hero (loosely used) and a very attractive if not immature mystical creature in Yoko. The style will feel very anime, meaning it looks like what most fans would expect anime/manga to look like, big eyes and all. The lead characters are well drawn but don’t hold nay out of the ordinary traits beyond the collar worn by Keita and Yoko’s large tail. The story of hunting demons in modern Japan does not break new ground but serves well for this story. The duo, besides meeting each other, also deal with some hotel demons a wandering cat demon as well as the assignment of a new Inukami, temporarily, named Nadeshiko, which ends the volume and speaks to more zaniness and possible secret feelings for ones master. The story is fun and really shines thanks to the art.

Earlier I mentioned a comparison to InuYasha, here is why. First you’ve got a school age kid in Keita, and a dog demon. There is a collar worn, they fight demons and there is some kind of feelings going on between the two. It’s a twist as gender is reversed and everything is in modern day but otherwise I feel very safe saying InuYasha fans will enjoy Inukami! and vice-versa. A good manga from a lesser known manga publisher (Tor) but worth the purchase.