Arakawa Under the Bridge: Manga on a Monday.

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Recently I’ve gotten into quite of a manga buying kick, and in order to feel like there was a reason that I was spending all of this money, I decided to start a new series. “Manga on a Monday” is well… Manga reviews on Monday, starting weekly although it may become bi-weekly. This week we’ll be looking at the first omnibus volume of the gag-manga Arakawa Under the Bride, from Verticle Comics.

I decided to pick up Arakawa Under the Bridge after taking a trip to my local Indigo Books and seeing it in the manga section. I have wanted to watch the anime for a while now so I thought, okay, I guess I’m buying this. The volume itself is a rather nice edition (of course it is, it’s published by Vertical). It has a really nice cover, and two separate colour short manga one for each volume in the omnibus, it also has a bunch of really interesting extras such as character concept designs.

The art in the volume is good in general, although I feel the artist’s style looks much more interesting and unique in the color pages (especially the colour outlines). The characters in the manga all have very distinct designs, except its horribly bland looking MC, of course, that makes sense seeing as it’s supposed to be a normal guy in an extreme situation. Not only do the characters look distinct though, they are also very distinct character trait wise.

We have such extreme personalities as, a businessman who gets asthma attacks if he doesn’t repay back his debts. A girl who thinks she’s from Venus (although maybe she is?), a musician who wears a full face- star mask on his head, a gun-obsessed crossdressing nun. A guy in a Kappa suit, a little loli girl who tries to turn the community under the bridge into something of a mafia organization, and more. As you can see all of the characters are very distinct, and probably not something you’ve ever seen in any manga or anime before.

As for the humor itself, as it is a gag manga, I thought it was hit and miss. There were some absolutely hilarious jokes and puns that had me rolling on the floor (figuratively), but it also had jokes that just weren’t very funny. Of course, there weren’t any jokes so bad that they outright offended me, but there were certainly some “meh” moments. This being a gag manga, the storyline isn’t really important, but it did get me to care about the main two’s relationship and had me wanting to see it prosper.

With all that said, I must say that overall I had a good time with this manga and will certainly be buying the next omnibus volume whenever Vertical releases it. So, if you’re a gag manga fan, or just looking for something wholly unique to add to you’re manga collection I definitely recommend checking this one out.

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Lucky☆Star, a Review.

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Ah, Lucky Star. This series was one of the first anime that I began to watch (yet I didn’t finish it until I was well into the 100s of completed anime). Although it took me about a year to complete, I still consider it one of my favorite shows of all time (within the top 9). The reason I love this series as I do is a combination of the animation style, the characters (so many waifu candidates!), the atmosphere, and the overall comedy. In this post, I am going to be breaking down all of these elements (and more) while trying to convince you to check it out.

The series can crudely be defined as a “four girls moe-comedy” show (but it is most certainly more than that. The series is incredibly laid back but knows how to get the blood pumping at certain points (Ala the Legendary Girl A segments or the Initial D parody scene), or how to have you rolling on the floor laughing. Although it does tend to lean more towards comedy than just being purely laid back (after the first director leaves) unlike some other very relaxed shows such as Aria.

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There are four main characters in Lucky Star: Konata Izumi, Kagami Hiiragi, Tsukasa Hiiragi, and Miyuki Takara. Konata is a hardcore otaku, which is where much of the comedy in the series is derived from. Kagami is an average tsundere, and tsukkomi, she’s the “smart one” of the group and is basically the straight man. Tsukaa, unlike her twin sister Kagami is somewhat dimwitted and the most innocent one of the group, really the only thing she’s good at is cooking. The final of the four, Miyuki is an almost saintly, moe girl she is the main character with the least screen time, and developed character. While reading those descriptions, the characters seem quite simple, but the chemistry between the different characters, and how they react to each other in different combinations.

The animation is Lucky Star is incredibly varied and interesting. It can go from having mediocre people standing around talking animation to an insane Initial D parody to using the exact style of the “Anime Tenchou” short in seconds. This ability to shift styles so quickly while still distinctly being Lucky Star. During most of the show the animation is relatively fluid, but where I feel the show really shines within the realm of visuals (outside of the parody animations) is the art design. First of all in the department of art, is the character designs. The mark of a good character design is whether or not you can tell who they are simply through their silhouette and Konata as well as the rest of her friends pass this test with about a 94 percent average (that’s pretty freaking good!). Konata is the obvious example, what with that iconic face shape and sticking up hair, although the others can be recognized as well. Along with the great character designs I also really just like the overall look of the series.

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Lucky Star is at its heart a comedy series. As much as it’s incredibly soothing to watch the comedy is still ever present. The series can be incredibly spastic at times, but it can also be very dry. The dry and sarcastic humor is probably my favorite part of the series, much more so than the spastic moments, although I do enjoy both. Much of the comedy in the series is references to otaku culture, (including the Anime Tenhou scenes, and the Initial D parody). This can make the series very hard to get into if you aren’t deeply versed in anime culture, specifically anything before the year 2007. Being someone who’s in pretty deep when it comes to anime, I enjoyed the references deeply, although people who believe that “reference is the lowest form of comedy” idea is true may have a hard time with the comedy.

With all that said, I hope that this post has convinced you to watch this series. Sorry that I’ve been gone so long, but I’m glad to be back. Anyway, with that I shall bid you adieu.

 

 

The Reflection: Drop or Watch Summer 2017 #2

refrectionimage505px I just watched the first episode of Stan Lee’s The Reflection, and boy was it ever interesting. This series is Stan Lee’s ninth time stepping into the world of anime production, and the second time he’s making a series not adapted from a Marvel comic. Lee co-created the series with DMC (Detroit Metal City) director Hiroshi Nagahama, who also did the character designs. The show is produced by Studio Deen (KonoSuba, Sakura Trick).

Well, I suppose first I shall talk about the art and animation. The art in this series is my favourite so far this season. I love the dark shadows and flat colouring on all the characters. The art really reminds me of David Aja’s pencils and Matt Hollingsworth’s colours on the 2012 Hawkeye comic book series, which had a fantastic minimalistic style. As much as I love the art, I must say the designs don’t animate great. The only time we get incredibly fluid animation within the first episode is when the characters are in silhouette. As well as this, there are a lot of frame skips in the series, which when used as a stylistic statement (the Baccano OP) I think looks great, but in this series, it appears to be more of a cost cutting measure.

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The first episode follows 3 different characters, Eleanor Evans, Exon, and Ian Izzet (although I have heard that later episodes have another main character). Elenor is a reporter (?) with the ability to teleport short distances. Exon is a guy in a Marvel Now Cyclopse costume who has the ability to copy other’s powers, and Ian Izzet is Ironman. None of the characters has any characterization in this episode as it mostly focused on fights. Here’s hoping the characters will stop being nonentities in the next episode.

The premise of the series is that after an event called The Reflection some of the population begin to gain superpowers. Then these people either become heroes or villains. The first episode had no story whatsoever and worked as more of a setup to the world episode. Really it just consisted of a bunch of hardly interconnected fight scenes between two different heroes and multiple different villains taking place in different places.

So after watching the first episode, I must say that I am greatly intrigued with this series. While the plot and characters weren’t great the animation and art are interesting enough for me to continue watching the show for at least one more episode. So to answer the question of which this series is a namesake, this is a watch (for now).

 

Made In Abyss – Drop Or Watch Summer 2017 #1

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I wasn’t planning on finishing continuing this series after last season, but I just finished watching the first 4 episodes of Made in Abyss and I have a lot (relatively) to say. First, a preface: Made in Abyss is a Summer 2017 anime based on a monthly web manga created by Akihito Tsukushi. The series is being made by Kinema Citrus who made the amazing Is The Order A Rabbit?? and the equally spectacular Barakamon. The show is directed by Masayuki Kojima (Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai, Black Bullet).

So now that that preface is over with I suppose I shall begin my first impressions proper. The animation in this series is amazing. The art style really lends itself to fluid and dynamic motion. The art and animation for the monsters are different and rougher,  even to the point that they look like they’re out of a different series entirely. Which gives them a very unsettling feeling.

Made in Abyss has two main characters. Those being, Regu (the robot boy) and Riku (a normal human). From what we’ve seen so far, the characters appear to be pretty interesting Although I will admit at the beginning of the series I was slightly worried about the character of Regu as when he was introduced he had amnesia, which lead me to believe he was quite a blank slate. Luckily the series used an absolutely fantastic montage scene and when we come back down from this montage Regu has a personality and is a fully formed character, which I thought was absolutely genius. Riku is very much so a driven-shounen protagonist, except she’s a girl. That’s the only difference. But that’s fine as I enjoy the character archetype.Plot:

The series has a pretty simple premise. The two main characters live in a world where there is an island where a city of adventurers popped up because on an abyss there, which is filled with expensive artefacts which they sell to the outside world. Regu and Riku are both apprentices in abyss diving at an orphanage. After Riku’s mom’s possessions are found at the bottom of a letter Regu decides to help Riku get to the bottom of the abyss and find her mother. This idea of an abyss makes me incredibly intrigued and I’m just dying to know more about what secrets it holds.

In the end, after watching these four amazing episodes I have decided that no, I will not be dropping this series, I’ll watch it all the way through and hopefully have a great time doing it.

 

 

DESCENDER: A MASTERPIECE OF TIN.

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I just finished reading Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars. It collects the first 6 issues of the currently running Image series written by Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Essex Country), wih art by the amazing Dustin Nguyen (Li’l Gotham), and it was extraordinary. Merely 20 years ago you would be hard pressed to find an Image book which was considered a masterful work of fiction (excluding The Maxx, and mabye Spawn). But in recent years, when Image started moving away from 90’s superheroes (with pouches and belts galore) and started to focus on more interesting indie esque series, they became a comapny constantly ringing out 10s (ie. Invincible, East to West, and Paper Girls).

Alot of the appeal of Descender (at least for me) is the spectacular art by Dustin Nguyen. I’ve followed him for an incredibly long time, and he may very well be my favourtie current comic book artist. He can really bring the spectacular alien worlds, scenery, and characters to life using his incredibly interesting, and cartoon esque water colour paint style. The amount of white used in both the character designs of the UGC characters, and much of the background makes the use of color look even more stunning and stand out. This is one of the few comics where I actually stop to admire the art regularly, and that’s something special.

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Of course as we all know art is only half of a comic book, the writing is just as important. Jeff Lemire is one of my favourtie comic book writers ever, meaning that him and Dustin Nguyen teaming up for this book makes it an absolute dream for me. He has the profound ability to flesh out a world and it’s characters equally, and at the same time. Each of the few planets that we visit in Descender all feel intersting and origional. They all have their own destinct popuations, from one that only has robots left alive, to one popualted completely by robot hating pig esque alien things. The universe obviously has a deep hirstory and lore that I’m excited tofind out more about when I inevitabley buy  “Descender Volume 2: Machine Moon”.

Descender is interesting in the fact tha it is one of the few, truly great science fiction comics of the 2010s. Where as back in the 1950s and 60s so much of comics were space operas like Adam Strange, Star Wars, and Jak Kirby’s The Fourth World, but today we don’t have much of that. Of course we do have Thanos, Gaurdians of The Galaxy, and all of the Star Wars comics, but all of those are in an interconnected web which can, at best can kind of stand alone, and at worst are so bogged down in continuity that they drown under the weight of their own history. Descendeer isn’t like that, it’s new, fresh, and exremely exhilerating, the art is stunning, the writing is interesting, and the universe is spectaular. This comic is truly beautiful, and you should all go out and pick it up.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return, is seriously hilarious!

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Merely seven days ago the cult classic series MST3K got a brand new series on the streaming service Netflix. The series is 14 episodes long and is considered the eleventh season of the original series. Although in tone the series are very similar, the premise for this show is slightly different from the original 1980’s series. To quote the intro:

“In a not too distant future next Sunday AD. There was a guy named Jonah not too different from you or me. He worked at Gizmonic Institute just another mug in a yellow jumpsuit. A distress call came in for him at half-past noon. Now an evil organization trapped him on the dark side of the moon.” So now they make him watch cheesy old movies, and with the help of his robot friends, they make comedy commentaries on the aforementioned movies.

Even though the show is now backed by Netflix it doesn’t have huge production values. Only 6 million dollars for the whole 14 episode season. Because of this (relatively) low-budget, the show has a “hey kids lets put on a show” feel which is incredibly reminiscent of the original series.

Unfortunately, this season does not have any of the original actors, but it is helmed by Joel Hodgson (the original creator and host). The robots voices will take a bit for me to get used to, but they’re fine. The new host Jonah is pretty great though. Of course where this series truly shines is in the riffs. In the first episode (Reptilicus) there were quite a few gut laugh moments. But it gets turned up to eleven in episode two. There are hard laughs every few seconds, and sometimes the riffs get incredibly intricate.

But that’s really the joy of MST3K isn’t it? The feeling of sitting down with a few friends and watching a horribly amazing movie while cracking jokes, laughing and just having a grand old time. That’s truly what this show is about… I love it and I’m sure you will too.

MST3K is right here: http://www.club-mst3k.com/episodes/1-invaders-from-the-deep

Boku no Hero Academia Season 2 Episode 14 (First Reaction)

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Last year in the spring season an incredible show was released. This was one of the few new shounen series to really focus on the characters and their journey, not subverting shounen tropes (I.e. One Punch Man). This series was entitled Boku no Hero Academia, or as it’s known by most people, My Hero Academia. This season just under one year later the first episode of the second season was released.

I was HYPED for this new season of one of my favorite shows of last year. But oh boy, was this first episode a disappointment. the first ten minutes of this episode was expositional recap. But they were so incredibly lazy with it that they didn’t even make new animation cuts for this exposition. No, it was a One Piece style recap, way too long, and REALLY BORING. Although this section did have an important reveal. What appears to be the real name of All-Might (I don’t remember it right now).

The second half of the episode consisted of weird, fast-paced jokes and was almost consistently was set in one classroom. Eventually, they left and All Might told Izuku about a FUCKING SPORTS TOURNAMENT! Now back when I thought it was a battle tournament I was excited about that but know that I know what it really is, I’m not that excited anymore. Of course, I’m hoping that the writing still shines but I don’t know. Now that I’m guessing it’ll be more focused on the fights and the powers, not the characters.

Overall, the art is still just as spectacular and the writing is… fine. Even if most of it was summarizing the past season. I’m not going to be dropping yet it but if it stays at this quality consistently I’m going to be jumping ship. Well if you enjoyed this post please check out some of my other posts and if you have any comments or criticism leave it in the comments. I’ll see you in the next one.

Spider-man Season 1

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In 2012 Marvel had an idea to take some of their most popular characters (and Ant-man) and give them the Batman: Year One Treatment (the Year One line is trademark DC Comics). Edit: They decided to give them the season one of a TV show treatment (doesn’t sound as good but whatever). So of course with Spider-man being their most popular character they decided to give him one of these graphic novels, and it’s pretty mediocre.

Most of this graphic novel adapts Amazing Fantasy #15 (The Wall Crawler’s first appearance) but the remaining amount of the graphic novel adapts Amazing Spider-man #2(the first appearance of The Vulture). For some reason, they decided to skip issue 1 of The Amazing Spider-man which introduced the reoccurring character The Chameleon. Being a graphic novel the artist had more time to work on it and as such. Unfortunately, the writer DID NOT take this time to work on perfecting the script.

Spiderman Season One turns Uncle Ben (the almost mythical, inspirational character of Peter’s past) into a get-rich-quick scheme concocting old fool, much like Phoney Bone. Even though he is incredibly kind and is still the reason why Peter begins his quest on crime (that makes him sound like Batman but whatever). In fact, I would say ALL of the characterization in this book is off, other than Aunt May. The art is good, but not GOD TIER (of course, my god-tier when it comes to comic art is Alex Ross so…).

Neither Mary Jane or Gwen Stacey appear, instead, Peter Parkers love interest (for one dream sequence) is Sally Arvil, a character who is one again NOT characterised properly, being best friends with Flash Thompson, when in actuality she should be Peter’s friend. It takes half of the graphic novel for Uncle Ben to die and that makes the pacing of this comic so slow, especially when it only has around 160 pages to tell its story. Ultimate Spider-man was able to get away with this because it was an ongoing series. The only really worthwhile part of this graphic novel is when they do the “where are they now?” section and they show off issue one of the spectacular Avenging Spider-man, which is very sad.

overall score: 53/100

Hidamari Sketch Review

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Hidamari Sketch is, for lack of a better word, stylish. This show is just seeping with style from its core.But being a Shaft show, of course, that would be the case. But don’t let that intro trick you, Hidamari Sketch not only is full of style but also full of substance! The premise of this series centers around four girls living in the Hidamari Apartment building while attending an Art School just across the street. I know it’s a pretty simple premise but a lot of fun comes out of it.

Hidamari Sketch has some of the most likable characters of any anime I have ever seen. The four main girls in the series are probably the best characters (other than the principle). These four girls being Sae, Miyako, Yuno, and Hiro. I’ll start with Sae because she’s my favorite. She is a 16-year-old upper classman to Yuno and Miyako, as well as an established author. She is a workaholic, who is always up to the wire on finishing the chapters of her novel, through this she has a lot of really funny moments and her relationship with Hiro is amazing to watch. Hiro is 16-year-old and is Sae’s best friend and (possibly), girlfriend.She is obsessed with her weight and is on a different diet in every episode of the show. She is a constant supporter of Sae and is the one who helps her through her writing problems.

Miyako is a 15-year-old classmate to Yuno (the main character). She is an incredibly poor student who came from a family where they couldn’t afford much (hence why she lives in a completely run-down apartment). She has a really eccentric personality and is very silly always making a fool of herself. She is great at impressions as we see when she try to impersonate the principle. Yuno (or Yunocchi) is the main character of Hidamari Sketch. She is a 15-year-old playful girl who loves to have fun. She wishes to one day be a great artist and loves to be around her friends. She considers herself to be a painter and sculptor more than anything else.

The shows animation is really spectacular and is incredibly experimental. They will randomly use clipart in the place of food and have one of the most unique  Super Deformed styles (when they use it). They use harsh shading and incredibly sudden palette swaps to give it a very eerie feel, that I’m a big fan of. This (as far as I know) is because of the directorial work of Akiyuki Shinbou. Shinbou is a director who has an incredibly unique visual style, he once said that he dos what he does so the audience will have a good time visually, and holy hell does this deliver. The backgrounds are very isometric, and the character designs are so unique and absolutely spectacular.

I was incredibly surprised that I wasn’t bored during this show because I hardly ever complete these 4-girls shows. The comedy is frantic and incredibly funny, and the writing is never less than interesting. I love this show and the reason why I love this show is because you get to experience the conversations of friends. Conversations between friends are one of the most amazing things to witness, with all the weird places they can go, and Hidamari Sketch exemplifies it.

Final Rating 10/10

 

 

Lupin III (2015) Review.

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I’m a huge Lupin III fan having consumed most of the franchise (other than part III) and am one of the few people to have gone through the trouble of tracking down the Tokyo Pop volumes of the manga. As such when I heard that there would be a new Lupin anime I was absolutely ecstatic… and I didn’t watch it until two years later.

Like always Lupin has a new jacket color, this time he is donning the color blue. Up until watching this series I never really though that any of the jackets worked well other than green. The red looked kind of weird and the pink was an absolute monstrosity, but the blue really fits.

All of your favorite Lupin characters have returned for this series. Like always Zenigata is absolutely hilarious, but we also get a taste of the rarely seen serious Zenigata, which is always amazing (although it was only in one episode). Lupin is just as great as ever, chasing Fujiko and stealing treasure. But this time Lupin also takes up more of a hero role than he has in the previous series with him taking down an “evil” team rocket esque organization and a clone of Leonardo Davinci.

Goemon is in this series a little less than normal which is kind of unfortunate, but whenever he appears is an absolute joy. Fujiko is here again and like always is being a total dick to Lupin. Jiggen takes a bigger role in the series as a whole yet he is unfortunately overshadowed by a brand new character. This character is Rebecca, Lupin’s wife. yes you heard me right Lupin has a wife now, well kind of, she never handed in the documentation to the judge.She takes a front seat in the series, having multiple arcs and episodes devoted to her, but she feels like a rehash of Fujiko, as she is also a rival thief. It seems like she’s going to become a part of the normal cast so I hope she gets expanded on in the future.

This is by far the best looking, and the best-animated thing in the Lupin III franchise, other than the film “Castle of Cagliostro”. Like most Lupin III series most of the animation is focused on subtle character movements with small spurts of sakuga that look ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, such as the Nix fight in the second half. There are a few episodes where the animation suffers, but the show overall flows beautifully.

Lupin III (2015) is beautiful to look at. It has a rough sketchy style which makes the sakuga moments look even better. The back round looks hand painted (I’m not sure if it is) and that makes it look absolutely amazing. The series is completely seeping with that classic Lupin III style and combines it with the sketchiness of The Woman Called Fujiko Mine making it look so distinct and stand out.

The story in Lupin III (2015) is incredibly basic, or at least the story throughout most of the series is. The show has two major two episode arcs, those being the DaVinci arc and the MI6 arc. The MI6 arc is by far the better of the two, with it making a bit more sense than the DaVinci arc but it’s still pretty weird. The best episodes of the show are by far the one-offs, which luckily take up most of it. these episodes follow the normal Lupin formula but that formula and the characters are the reason why people love Lupin III.

Overall Score= 9.74/10