Monday, August 31, 2009

Blade of the Phantom Master: Shin Angyo Onshi DVD Impression

Blade of the Phantom Master
A big ol’ tease, that is exactly what Blade of the Phantom Master from FUNimation is, just one big ol’ tease. Like any good tease there is also much to be attracted too in this bloody and graphic story so let’s take a look at what makes a good tease.

The Amen Osa are mystical warriors who command spiritual armies and are marked by a medallion with three horses. They protect and serve the Jushin Empire, that is until its demise and with it their order. Moving into the realm of myth only one Amen Osa remains and he moves with the wind exacting his own brand of justice. He is no savior and an encounter with a young boy out to become an Amen Osa to aid in his recovery of his true love proves just how brutal he can be. Disguised in a very disturbing manner he enters the village where the boys love, Chun Young, is being held and controlled by a miserable little noble dictator. He lets the villagers dispose of the dictator while he fights with the controlled Chun Young who only stops by seeing a familiar headband. From this time on she sticks by as the Sando, the protector servant of an Amen Osa. As they journey they are sucked into aiding a young boy found on a beach. His island has its own issues and the seemingly peaceful lord is not all he seems to be. As the truth is revealed, a truth that is bleak and disgusting. A brief look into the Amen Osa’s past reveals an epic enemy just waiting to be found. Who is this foe from the past and why does exhaustion set in so quickly? Questions and answers for another time.

What’s in a tease, something attractive that whets an appetite and leaves you wanting more. Blade of the Phantom Master does just that in spades as it reveals a world that is gritty, a combination of Fist of the North Star mixed with Jean Claude’s Cyborg but with animation and style on part with Fullmetal Alchemist. The animation is top notch, sharp and detailed but will not break molds as it holds true to the apocalyptic style seen in the above mentioned features. The action is crazy good, but limited as is the background story. This is where the tease comes in as the story sets the stage with a very hard hitting, violent story, protagonist who really does not care and an enigmatic protector. The first encounter shows what power is all about, shapes the journey and the second builds on this relationship, shows hints of a much more epic clash to come then … it ends? Yeah, this is the tease part. Just when you’re hitting ‘next’ to see more you get credits.

Overall Blade of the Phantom Master is a bloody, violent good time that, while limited, should be seen by mature anime fans. Take on the anime then look for more stories because like many an anime of the 80’s and 90’s it’s just the tip of a much bigger berg to explore.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bleach DVD vol. 14 & 15 Impression

The Soul Society saga heads into the home stretch as Ichigo and team move to rescue Rukia while the murder of Aizen still has every court guard looking over their shoulders. Volume 14 and 15 of Bleach on DVD from Viz kicks into that anime sweet spot where action and story strike a perfect balance.

Bleach DVD volume 14Bleach DVD volume 14
Its execution day, time to bid farewell to Rukia. Almost. Ichigo shows up with zero time to spare and shows a power unheard of in one with years of training let alone having just come into his power. As Ichigo steps in to save Rukia more battles rage as Captains take on one another and Youroichi continues her fight with an old ally. As the power of a million zanpakuto stare Rukia in the face it’s an unexpectedly strong Ichigo who’s about to change the game.

Fights, it’s all about the fights. Ichigo shows up with some crazy powers, enough to stop the Sokyoku, which is pretty freaking amazing. The story continues to expand beyond Ichigo as we learn more about Youroichi as well as a few current captains. The thirteen court guards show their divisions and loyalties while the head man takes on his two main pupils. It’s just crazy action with the most powerful fighters to date. Now that Ichigo has stopped the execution can a face-off with Rukia’s brother be far off? (Nope, it starts here also, whoops, did I miss that tidbit?)

Bleach DVD volume 15Bleach DVD volume 15
Ichigo and Kuchiki go all out against one another as the power of each fighter Bankai is unleashed. A new level of power is reached when Ichigo’s inner Hollow takes over for a bit, but he’s quickly put back in his place. As their battle makes everyone in the Soul Society take notice a much deadlier plot is revealed as a certain dead captain shows up alive. Aizen has been alive this entire time and he reveals his ultimate plot, one which goes back to Ichigo and Rukia’s first encounter. Aizen was using Rukia and his plot has ripped apart the Soul Society like never before. As he reveals his plan his co-conspirators show themselves and move beyond the reach of the Soul Society. In the face of larger plots enemies become friends and Ichigo is made a deputy Soul Reaper. Byakuya reveals to Rukia his past with her sister and Rukia apologizes for a post wrong. All is well except for the little Aizen issue.

The finale to the Ichigo vs. Kuchiki fight is everything that it’s supposed to be and it’s only interrupted by an even larger plot thanks to Aizen. The story is awesome and there is even more history to be revealed with Rukia and her brother as well as Aizen’s plot. The rescue is over and it’s time to head back to Earth for Ichigo and his group. The story wraps up with so much more to come, thanks to Aizen, but viewers are really treated to one hell of a fight, tons of great action and a twisting story with tons of players.

Overall these two volumes of Bleach crank up the action to obscene levels while moving along a plot that hides enough mystery to satisfy even the most seasoned anime fanatic. The animation loses zero quality this deep into the series run and it keeps pace with the manga in story points. The sprinkling of background story does not slow the story one bit. The entire rescue storyline wraps up just perfect. Bleach is a solid anime, worthy of any fans collection, it’s just good times, nuff said.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Interview with Yoshitaka Amano

Thanks to the folks over at NEW PEOPLE I was able to have the legendary artist Yoshitaka Amano answer a handful of questions about his work with titles such as Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D as well as his overall impression of what is going on with NEW PEOPLE in San Francisco and what the SUPERFROG Gallery means to him, country and culture. Posted on The Examiner, this interview is one of my favorites as Amano is not only a brilliant artist but one who gets it, the crossing of cultures. Read thefull SUPERFROG Amano interview now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gaming Images: Fate/unlimited codes and The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces

I usually don’t callout too many gaming images but here are two exceptions to the rule, both posted on The Examiner. Why, because they both appeal to niche anime/manga titles. The first, Fate/unlimited codes, is where it all begins for Fate/stay night, the anime (Geneon, FUNimation) and manga (Tokyopop) that is based on the long running gaming franchise in Japan. It’s coming out on PSP and it’s about dang time US gamers got a taste of the sweet Holy Grail war. The pics show off characters from the game, of course not in actual pixel form, but still fun to look at. The second game is based on The Sky Crawlers which saw DVD and Blu-ray release by Sony earlier this year. The movie was ok and could have used more action and this is where the game looks to head with aerial combat but a different, future, storyline. Odd title for the Wii to pickup but one fans of the anime should dig.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Claymore DVD vol. 6 Impression

Claymore DVD Volume 6
The best action is saved for last in this sixth volume of Claymore from FUNimation. The battle with Rigaldo reveals there is more to Claire, much more than the lowest ranking Claymore should have to hide.

Claire steps up and pusher her limits to take on Rigaldo, a level of power even her secret sharing Claymore are worried about. Her body undergoes rapid transformations as she awakens her lower body to gain more speed. As she battles Raki arrives and sees exactly what Claire is. Well past her limits Claire finally bests Rigaldo, a feat shocking to everyone, even the young Pricilla. Upon seeing Claire’s power the adolescent Pricilla reverts to her awakened state and takes on Claire as she mistakes her for Teresa. As she grows Isley revels what occurred with Pricilla, why she is young, why she repressed her memory. The remaining Claymore pursues this new battle as they realize Claire is not capable of winning alone even with her secret revealed. Claire consumed not the flesh of a Yoma but Teresa, in order to become a Claymore. A little test by the Organization that begins to show why Claire possesses such power. As the battle wages Pricilla fully awakens, a terrifying proposition as the power she possessed before was enough to wipe out a team of high number Claymore. Claire makes the choice to go beyond her limit to fight and the battle turns in her favor with a price. A sacrifice is made, a friend confronts Claire and she is brought back from beyond her limits all the while Isley watches on. The battle over, neither for good or bad, it’s time for Claire and Raki to go their way with a promise to unite with their fellow Claymore later and take on the Organization.

This battle was not in the manga. This parting of ways, reuniting of Claire and Raki was not in the manga. It’s different, way different but that can happen with a manga and anime for the same story. The art is same as ever, unique but not as good as the manga. The action is crazy fast in this volume with these two final battles, Rigaldo and Pricilla. It is by far the best volume and offers up action not seen to this point, superb to say the least. While the action, character development, sacrifice is all top notch the parting of ways, the overall ending leaves a WTF feeling. If, (big if) there is a second season of Claymore then the fight with the other Creatures of the Abyss and confrontation with the Organization will all come to a head but that is not the feeling one gets at the end of this volume. More like a nod to fans enjoy the anime but get the full story in the manga.

Overall a really good series that fans of the manga will enjoy, but like me, say huh at the very end. For fans jumping into Claymore I suggest picking up the manga with volume 12. It’s a bit different from the anime but continues the story, quite good.

Q2 2009 gaming report

Each quarter I take a look back at the best games to hit each system for that three month window. This started on Comics Alliacne, carried over to AnimeSentinel and has shifted to The Examiner. The latest version is for Q2 of this year, April, May and June. This is not a financial calendar, it’s just regular ol’ three months snippets. Each system is graded, not on it’s overall power, not on it’s past library but only on retail, on the shelf games released that quarter. How did each system fare in what is truly the dog days of … Spring for gamers? Lets just say that Prototype and inFAMOUS alone were not enough to prop up the next-gen’s while the DS and Wii did not do too bad with a nice mixture. Read each review below.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium OVA Collection DVD Impression

Ed and Al are back, but in a slightly more comical, shorter manner with Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium OVA Collection from FUNimation. Like a short visit with an old friend, the adventures are not as long, the tales shorter and more comical but the feeling of nostalgia is ever present. Familiar voices, characters and settings will have more than one FMA fan pressing play on the Elrich’s adventures again. What’s so magical about this 35+ minute DVD, let us count the ways.

1) Live Action – Funny, but please don’t expect a true FMA come to life, more like a group of animators with too much time on their hands.

2) Chibi Wrap Party – Worth the purchase by itself. This super-deformed look at a cast party where all powers of alchemy are still present is hilarious. The voice work is outstanding and seeing characters walking around like best buds after 50+ episodes and a movie trying to kill each other, classic.

3) Kids Short – A very interesting what-if look at some very familiar looking kids running around the city looking for their great uncle.

4) Interactive Experience – Outstanding and chock full of action. This first-person, first day on the job look through the eyes of a new recruit recaps a lot of the series high-points and ends in an epic battle full of new animation. It’s worth a few views since this battle did not happen, really, really good.

Original cast – Having all kinds of familiar voices, that alone brings this viewer back to what was not only an excellently animated, well told story but also one of the better voice cast put together. What I’m getting at is all the originals are here, pretty sweet.

Closing Song & Commercials – Closing song, not catchy. Dancing armor, creepy. Commercials … they are commercials. Nuff said.

From FMA to Brotherhood, this collection bridges the gap, gets fans excited again for a series that’s seen two different levels of box sets on top of the original DVD run. Fullmetal Alchemist belongs in every anime fans collection and is easily one of the best series of all time.

Monday, August 10, 2009

InuYasha Season 7 DVD Box Set Impression

Is that it? Is it really over? InuYasha Season 7 DVD set from Viz will leave viewers and fans wondering this as it’s a bittersweet ending to a great animated run, one that just feels as if it comes up a bit short.

The actions of the present come into focus as a different version of InuYasha’s and Kikyo’s history is told, the one where Naraku intervened to turn the two against each other to obtain the sacred jewel. He’s been at the root of all issues since the beginning. As the action heats up Naraku continues to work his schemes, this time against the bird queen, Princess Abbi to expose their path to the land of the dead. Seems there is a jewel shard in that land, one that present issues to InuYasha, causes a confrontation with Naraku as well as the arrival of his brother Sheshomeru. As the battles end InuYasha is left with a new skil, the Adamant Barrage, and for the battles to come he will need the power. As they return to the land of the living Kohaku continues to hide his awareness and carries out the will of Naruku, unleashing a plague of rats on the land. Confrontations resolved Kagome heads back to school and InuYasha follows only to confront his toughest opponent yet, Kagome’s bicycle. The bad-boy boyfriend is finally revealed and Kagome is mortified for the experience. More encounters wait including a betrothal to a lake demon, Shippo possession and encounter with a very old demon posing as a mountain. And it ends … what? The final fight with Naruka takes place but something is missing.

Yeah, it ends; the series is over as far as the animated version goes. Seven seasons is a long time and through it all InuYasha never lost any of its charm, signature animation or humor. This was a great series but the ending sucks. Yes the manga ties things up much better but this is one InuYasha fan feeling a bit empty. Seven seasons, a few movies, and a feeling of something incomplete. Actually the movies did a great job of killing Naraku or some other major story point a tied up right at the beginning but that feeling is missing from this final volume. Dang, just not much more to add here, really good series, very memorable but just a feeling of WTF at the end. Sometimes the journey is better than the destination. Such is the case with InuYasha where the destination is my local Borders to get the manga.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Darker Than Black vol. 6 Impression

As the final confrontation draws near the truth of the past is revealed and a new future set in motion in FUNimations’s Darker Than Black volume 6. Seems BK201 is not what he’s always appeared to be.

South America was a battlefield for contractors. The target was Heaven’s Gate and where that conflict failed and the area was sealed off the past is a lesson learned as the Contractors led by Amber now target Hell’s Gate. Hei (NAME) was in South America but it’s his sister who was designated as BK201 while he was known as the mercenary the Black Reaper. As the past is revealed so do the events of the present move along as the group is marked for elimination by the syndicate. The danger lies with Hei as the syndicate fears his repeating the past as his sister, Pie, did. The government has their own agenda and in Tokyo the battle between military and Contractors begins. The ultimate weapon is the Saturn System which will essentially eliminate all Contractors. Created by Dr. Schrader the workings of the device are revealed to Chief Kirihara as well as her role in a much larger plot. The team falls apart around Hei as he enters the gate to make the final decision. In the end those who thought they were in control are toppled but its BK201’s choice as a not fully human, not fully contractor that forces the world to deal with new truths and changes things forever. For good or bad, the decision has been made.

So much more, SO MUCH MORE, to this volume but it’s a great ending. The art is still crisp, animation fluid and the action really hot, especially in this final volume. The story really comes together in this final volume. Three of the last four episodes string together all the lingering plot points, fill in each gap and offer a resolution to past confrontations. There is a great revelation about BK201 and an open ended-ness to the second to last episode which could lead to more action if the studio so desires. The final episode will leave fans with a smile as it’s a side-story in the whole adventure with all characters alive again (yes, there are deaths and plenty of them). This story is funny and reminds viewers there was more to Darker Than Black than action.

Overall Darker Than Black was a very enjoyable series with good animation, great action, good story and characters and a nice wrapping of all events. Not too cerebral or thought provoking, just a good series to sit down with and enjoy. Pick up the single volumes if given the chance but know that FUNimation will hook up a full box set soon at a better price.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Naruto Uncut Box Set 10 Impression

The best and true end to Naruto’s childhood. This is the story viewers get with Viz’s Naruto Uncut Box Set 10. Yes it’s been out for a bit now and there are a handful more sets to follow but anyone who follows the Naruto manga is well aware the story, confrontation with Sasuke in this collection is where one story ends and another begins with Shippuden. So just what happened and why is this a must have for Naruto fanatics … lets see.

As the hunt for Sasuke continues its Rock Lee’s turn to take on a freakish opponent in the twisted and sick Kimimaro. Meanwhile Shikamaru continues his fight and looks to be on the wrong end of this battle as a little assistance arrives in the form of the former enemies turned allies Sand Shinobi. Shikamaru is saved and just as Rock Lee’s power is running out Gaara steps in and learns of Kimimaro’s true power and history. His abandonment, encounter with Zabuza as well as why he helps, will give his life for Orochimaru. This pain is the same pain Gaara has but the encounter with Naruto was the difference and is why Gaara now fights with the Leaf ninja. Kimimaro unleashes a dangerous move, the Bracken Dance, but the power is too much and Kimimaro’s wish is granted.

As one fight ends another begins. Naruto catches Sasuke but his friend is gone and only vengeance remains. As they try to reason with each other Sasuke reveals his past and looks to separate his present by destroying Naruto. The battle that ensues takes place in the Final Valley on the border with the Land of Fire and it’s a fight worthy of the valley as Naruto releases and is saved by the power of the Nine Tails while Sasuke unleashes the power of the curse mark and the power of his Sharingan, even revealing in his family history the power of the Mangekyo Sharingan and what must be done to reach this power. The battle concludes and no clear winner stands as Sasuke slinks into the darkness of vengeance while Naruto lays broken, broken body and broken promise. The future is bleak, it’s time to heal.

The story is epic, not just the fight with Gaara and Kimimaro but the clash of Naruto and Sasuke. This fight has been building since episode 1 and their friendship makes the downfall all the more bittersweet. It’s actually the level of this story that makes everything after pale until Shippuden starts. Not to knock the ‘filler’ content too much but it just does not live up to what Naruto fans have come to love. Finally learning about Sasuke and seeing the power these two former team mates unleash is worth a few watches. The animation is unlike anything seen so far with a speed and fluidity seen in series like FLCL. It feels as if the best, most over the top sequences were saved for this one epic battle which makes all the non-Shippuden fights to follow just feel watered down. It’s rare that an epic battle really lives up to it’s billing but this is one bout that will make any shonen anime aficionado salivate, the fight is that good. Enjoy the filler, it’s almost time for Shippuden to hit in box set form … or just watch online.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Oishinbo: A la Carte – Fish, Sushi & Sashimi Impression

I don’t like fish, I don’t eat fish. I’ve never tried sushi let alone sashimi. Add this up and my reading Oishinbo: A la Carte – Fish, Sushi & Sashimi from Viz was purely for the manga aspect but it did not end that way. This greatest hits collection of Tetsu Kariya story and Akira Hanasaki illustration truly is a must have for manga fans to not only understand one of manga’s legends but to see how a story can change perspective, in this case for a food that this reader is proud to say he’s tried.

Shoro Yamaoka is a journalist tasked with creating The Ultimate Menu to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Tozai News. He’s young, brash but has an excellent pallet and culinary understanding. His father, Kaibara Yuzan, is also his biggest critic and competition creating a similar menu for a rival paper. His criticism of his son is both harsh and at times fair and just part of the somewhat lazy Yamaoka’s challenges as he travels and samples those rare and ordinary Japanese cuisine to create the ultimate menu. These stories are just a part of his journey and show the challenges faced when tasked with creating The Ultimate Menu.

Oishinbo is a manga that goes back to 1983 and its character art looks to have more in common with a Lupin than Evangelion. It’s not a bad look by any stretch but shows just how far art has come in much the same way American comics have evolved in their realism and detail. While the characters are pretty plain they do get the job done of showing emotion and surprise, love and hate. The food is another story. The fish in this volume really show detail, almost like they were scanned in black and white to show their realism. Kariya seems to have a scientific eye for the fish, not so much the humans. This is beside the point because a legendary manga does not live just by its art, it’s about the story. The points above are vague because this is a greatest hits collection all targeted at fish, sushi and sashimi. There are story points, marriage for example, skipped over in great detail because the focus is on gathering the best fish stories. Think of this like a greatest hits CD. The bands music can change drastically over a 10 year period but in a collection it’s all mashed together with no evolution, just a jump from one type of music to the next. What the A la Carte collection does is focus on that one food type and really drives how the detail and descriptions of the story. The utter joy the character gathers from eating and talking about fish both educates and wets the appetite of the reader. As I stated I tried three … four types of seafood after reading this collection and I am not a fish, seafood eater. A true feat that a manga, an older one at that, can describe and talk about a food I don’t like and peak my interest enough to try, and like, that food.

Overall anyone who considers themselves a manga aficionado needs to get this collection and the others to follow. Fans of food manga should also check it out. The larger format, slipcase and glossy, colored, sashimi preparation pages are all elegant touches. There is an index explaining pieces of the story but it’s the story that will sell this collection. Never have I read a story that has peaked such an interest in a subject I just did not follow. All I can say to Oishinbo is ‘wow’ and I’ve been reading manga for a long time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Naruto Manga vol. 35-37 Impression

Ah Shippuden, no filler, no fluffy stories just a continuation of the Naruto we love, 2-1/2 years older and a bit more powerful. While the anime is the one which added the Shippuden name it’s the manga that keeps on with the same title and carries the story as it should be told. For subscribers of Shonen Jump the Akatsuki storyline began right after Naruto’s encounter with Sasuke. In order to catch-up the story Viz did something very against the grain. They rolled out 3-4 volumes of Naruto a month for a few months earlier in 2009 to sync up the US storyline with the current Japanese storyline. The same story at the same time for such a hot franchise … outstanding! In order to do this Naruto left the pages of Shonen Jump for a few volumes, and while he’s back now what happened in between? Recaps in Shonen Jump hit the high level but what about missing volumes? Starting now I’m going to take a look back at these volumes beginning with 35, 36 and 37 of Masashi Kishimoto epic.

Naruto Manga volume 35Naruto Manga volume 35
After their first encounter with Sasuke in years and the realization he is not coming back it’s time for Naruto and team to regroup. In order to take his training to the next level Kakashi introduces a new method in which Naruto utilizes his shadow clones to double, triple and more his training. In order to master his craft Naruto must discover his elemental power and how best to utilize it. The Akatsuki have other plans as they continue their hunt for the tailed beast and it’s Hidan and Kakuzu who now hunt taking down the two-tailed. A bounty is revealed and the quiet Asuma delves into his past and ties to the Guardian Shinobi twelve from the land of fire. This bounty and the love of money Kakuzu has leads to an epic clash having nothing to do with tailed beast.

As the revelations of what Sasuke has become settles in, its training time. Unlike most manga of this type just because Naruto starts new training the overall action does not halt as the large, secondary cast, take center stage. This time it’s Asuma who’s always been in the background and his back story. The story just keeps moving along at a splendid clip and it’s amazing how far Naruto has come in his training. Great story continues and the art, damn it’s great.

Naruto Manga volume 36Naruto Manga volume 36
Training continues for Naruto under the watchful eye of Kakashi as he works on element form change in combination with his Rasengan technique. It’s tough going but Naruto is determined to say the least. Asuma and cell number ten, including Shikamaru, hunt for the Akatsuki but Hidan is more dangerous dead than alive while the bounty on Asuma’s head is too much for Kakuzu to pass on. Will Shikamaru be able to save his mentor or will the Akatsuki collect a bounty to go with their tailed beast collection. The answer is tough to swallow.

Sad, this is a sad volume. Why? Somoene dies and it’s no super secret, fans of the series should have checked in by now so this is a spoiler for those slow readers. Seeing Asuma killed right after readers for a connection is a bold action this manga franhise has done in the past, Third Hokage, and will do in the future. This is why this series is so great. The action and art is rock solid but readers will get sad when a so-called secondary character such as Asuma gets his. Readers can guess what’s next, a bit of revenge but having seen what these Akatsuki are capable of is vengeance even an option? (Yeah it is, don’t get upset, damn this is a great series).

Naruto Manga volume 37Naruto Manga volume 37
A funeral and a fight. As Asuma is laid to rest his closest allies take it upon themselves to take down his killer. A fresh from training Naruto joins the hunt and utilizes his new Wind Style Rasen-Shuriken. Even this powerful attack has it’s limits in use and the fight with both Hidan and Kakuzu takes many turns before Shikamaru shows the level of his planning. The fights are intense but in the end vengeance is served and the Akatsuki are now two members short.

Wow, Naruto is a beast in this fight. He shows what training and crazy chakra levels can do while Shikamaru is just genius level, a truly masterful plan which will have the reader guessing right till the end. Even with these two defeated the hunt for the tailed beast continue and Naruto is on that list. With great art the real star is the story.

Overall these three volumes show the evolution of Kishimoto, his style is so fluid and detailed. Backgrounds are a much a part of the story as any character and he’s not afraid of tragedy and suffering. It actually makes his characters seem real even with their fantastical abilities and surroundings. It’s amazing to see how much Naruto has grown, how powerful he can become, that even 35+ volumes in it feels like things are just getting started. The best part about the quick releases was reading volume after volume. Speaking of this, next up will be a look at volumes 38, 39 and 40.

Darker Than Black vol. 5 Impression

More history revealed in volume 5 of Darker Than Black from FUNimation. The crisp animation and fast-paced action loses no steam What’s next for Hei, let’s find out.

When normal humans encounter a Contractor in action, and survive, they usually have their memories erased. This is not the case for Huang who was allowed to retain his memory and eventually joins the syndicate. His first encounter and it’s surfacing in the present come to a head in a story of betrayal and double-crossing. A series of bombings rock the city and investigators seem to think the American embassy is next, but they refuse the help of local police. Old enemies resurface, ones where blood is more deadly than weapons and Amber reveals more of her team, involvement with Dr. Schrader and that Contractors can have feelings and regret. More story is revealed but the final confrontation is still cloudy.

So already touched on animation, hey its volume 5 folks, not a lot new here. The story is also more of the same, four episodes, two two-part stories, good stuff. History revealed all characters and players known so now the clock starts on the final volume. Surprising that for a fifth volume more of the final plan is not revealed but we know it will involve Amber and Hei but what happened in South America … volume 6 will tell.