Archive for September, 2013

100th Post Special Part 2: Top 10 Anime Heroes

Last week, I gave you my favorite anime villains. So it only makes sense to turn things around and discuss my favorite heroes.

10) Naruto Uzemaki (Naruto and Naruto Shippuden) Whether you’ve given up on Naruto like me or you’re still watching, one thing is certain: Naruto is a kid you can’t keep down. Back when I actually liked the show, I loved watching Naruto beat seemingly impossible odds. Just make him the Hokage already!

9. Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop) Spike is just pure unfiltered awesome. I love how he just accepts things as they are, and yet still wants to catch criminals and protect the enigmatic Julia. Whether he died at the end or not, he is still a great hero.

8. Inuyasha (Inuyasha) Stop laughing at me and saying how bad this show is.  I liked Inuyasha, really! And the hero was the main reason. I liked watching him wrestle with his demonic side and embrace his humanity.

7. Alex Row (Last Exile) Alex is basically a steampunk version of Captain Harlock (who’s that? Keep reading). He fights to free the skies from the control of The Guild. You want to know the short version of why Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing sucks? Alex is nowhere to be seen.

6. Saya (the Blood+ version) Blood+ was such a great series mainly because of its heroine is constantly struggling with her two selves. I love how she must deal with her own inner dichotomy between monster and humanity and risks her life to defend her family.

5. Captain Harlock (Space Pirate Captain Harlock) Leiji Matsumoto’s most famous character is a classic example of the anti-hero model. He is an outlaw who goes about his own methods, yet he has not completely forsaken the planet Earth and believes it is worth saving from the Mazone.

4. Major Matoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell franchise) Major Matoko is downright awesome. She is a policewoman of the future who puts her life on the line for others, so by definition, she is a hero. Ghost in the Shell is quite near the top in my favorite anime of all time list, if not right at the top, and she is why.

3. Kenshin Himora (Rurouni Kenshin) Kenshin is an inspiration. I love how he wishes to atone for all the deaths he has caused by reversing the blade on his sword and attempting to solve problems without using the methods he once used as the battosai. I so wish I could review this series for you folks, but it’s out of print.

2. Vash the Stampede (Trigun) Vash is the hero of Trigun because he attempts to change others around him through his kindness. His comical persona is used to cope with the harsh reality he faces daily, and yet he attempts to change it. I find it impossible not to like this guy.

1. Edward Elric (FullMetal Alchemist, FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) Why do I like this guy so much? Because he has lost so much and yet he still fights. He lost his brother and his arm in a failed attempt to resurrect his mother.  Yet he still fights. He loses his independence and joins the military. Yet he still fights. That is the mark of a hero: you lose, yet you continue.

Next week: I return to my anime reviews.

 

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100th Post Special: Part 1–Top 10 Best Villains

“When the Devil is too busy
And Death’s a bit too much
They call on me by name you see,
For my special touch.
To the Gentlemen I’m Miss Fortune
To the Ladies I’m Sir Prize
But call me by any name
Any way it’s all the same”

–“When You’re Evil”–Voltaire

Ah, villains. Without them, our heroes would lead boring, mundane lives.  Everyone has favorites, and here are some of mine.

10) Shishio Makoto (Rurouni Kenshin) I’ve always felt the best villains are those who are a dark reflection of the hero.  When Kenshin decided to no longer be an assassin, Shishio was employed in his stead.  He is a ruthless, crafty man who is nothing like Kenshin, a kind-hearted, funny man who just wants to help others without violence.

9. Hellmaster Phibrizzo (Slayers Next) Hoo boy, is this kid scary! Don’t let his innocent looks fool you. He can control the dead and can kill people by popping marbles that represent their life force.

8. Delphine Eraclea (Last Exile) Head of the guild, Delphine will do anything to control the skies. She has turned the Guild into a hive mind, which explains why Dio is so afraid of her: he does not want to lose himself.

7. King Hamdo (Now and Then, Here and There) King Hamdo is basically Hitler. He has kidnapped and brainwashed children into his army. That this has actually happened in today’s world makes him all the more frightening.

6. Kushana (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind) This ruthless woman is my favorite Miyazaki villain.  She foolishly believes she can control the monsters who once wiped out humanity and feels justified in her actions that threaten both humanity and the decaying environment.

5. Pride (Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood) Phibrizzo has nothing on this kid. He appears innocent, but uses this form to fool everyone expertly.  He even goes so far as to eat his own minions!

4. Aion (Chrono Crusade) Aion a demon. He can not even say God’s name because he must kneel before God’s name.  He is a heartless man who constantly puts innocent people in harm’s way to break Rosette.

3. Legato (Trigun) This villain doesn’t just want to kill Vash, that’s too easy.  He wants to break him and force him to go against everything he stands for.

2. Kira (Death Note) Kira seems to have good intentions: he wants to eliminate evil from the world by killing criminals. But he soon goes beyond that and kills anyone who threatens his twisted order.  And he plots every move like a gifted chess player.

1. Johann Liebert (Monster) Satan would be proud to call this man his son.  He can trick anyone into doing as he wishes based on his charisma and does not possess one fiber of goodness. He is the perfect villain.

 

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Anime Review: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

ttgl

Genre: Sci-fi/Mech

Studio: Gainax

Distributor: Manga Entertainment

No. of Episodes: 27

Suggested Age: 13+

My Rating: 7/10

Summary: Simon and Kamina are two comrades-in-arms living in an underground city.  One day, a giant robot’s head crashes into their city, followed by a beautiful gun-toting woman named Yoko. They join her in the fight against the Spirals.

Review: Gainax and I don’t have a good history.  Neon Genesis Evangelion was excellent, but End of Evangelion didn’t measure up.  As for FLCL, I don’t like it…at all.  So what about this? Well, it was…slightly above average.

Kamina is a great character. I like his devotion to Simon. He’s almost like Simon’s big brother, guiding and encouraging him to look beyond himself and see his true potential “Don’t believe in me. Believe in the you that believes in me.”

Simon, is well how should I put it? He’s not the person you expect to be the hero.  He’s cowardly and small.  And yet, he becomes the hero due to Kamina’s influence.  And you root for him all the way.

Then there’s Yoko.  At first, she seems like nothing more than T and A.  But as I got to know her, I saw that she had a good personality.  She didn’t take Kamina’s chauvinism and yet is tolerant enough to like him in spite of this flaw.  She is very nurturing toward Simon and her other allies she gains as the story progresses.

The story is not badly animated, however, I am not a fan of the mech designs.  They seemed crude and not nearly as good as I’ve seen in mech anime like Evangelion or Gundam. I guess you could say I’ve been somewhat spoiled.  This was the show’s biggest flaw to me.

To sum it up, I have to say the overall story was good.  It was well-paced and had great characters.  The animation wasn’t the best, but it was still watchable.  I would still say give it a shot, but it’s certainly not the next Gundam or Evangelion.

Sub/Dub: I only watched the dub, which had some good work.

Music/Score: Not bad. It was a stirring score that worked well.

Violence: (7/10)–Mostly mech-style violence.

Language: (5/10)–It’s pretty heavy on the bad language, mostly d- and s-words.

Nudity: (4/10) There is a hot springs episode that’s almost skippable.  And there’s Yoko’s attire of course.

Sexuality: (4/10)–Some crude sexual humor and a rather crude mech design that looks like a talking, er, vagina. Yes, I typed that.

Religion: (1/10) One character belongs to a cult who worships a giant robot head, but is actually atheist.

Related Media: There are movies that summarize the series.

 

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Anime Review: Blood+

blood

Genre: Action/Horror

Studio: Production I.G.

Distributor: This title is available from Sony, but is out of print.  However, it can still be viewed on Netflix.

No of Episodes: 50

Suggested Age: 17+

My Rating: 10/10

Summary: Saya is a half-human, half-vampire (or Chiropteran, as the series calls them), who has recently awoken from her hibernation. Although she has been alive for centuries, she appears to be only sixteen years old. She has an adoptive family in Japan and everything seems perfect. An organization called Red Shield has employed her to kill a powerful Chiropteran named Diva.  But what is the connection between them?

Review: You may be wondering why I’m reviewing an anime that’s out of print.  Well, I have two reasons.  First, I reviewed Blood the Last Vampire last year, and I felt this would be necessary, since the movie is sort of a “back-door pilot” for the series.  Second, FUNimation has recently released a reboot of it called Blood-C.  I plan on reviewing it next year, so I figured I should review the original TV version first.  Besides, FUNimation has been reviving several out-of-print titles lately, so they might revive this one as well.

The animation is some of the best I’ve seen from Production I.G.  I have yet to disappointed by them, and I doubt I ever will be.

Saya is one of my favorite heroines in anime.  She is teetering between being a human and a monster. Because of the love she has received from her friends and family, she has no connection with her monstrous side.  She has people to fight for, and that keeps her going.

Haji, her Chevalier (think a cross between a servant and a lover), is extremely devoted to her.  I love their relationship. He does not attempt to associate with Saya’s family at first. This is because he is nearly immortal (the only that can kill a Chiropteran is their own blood) and does not wish to grieve the inevitable loss of mortal relationships.

Saya’s family is her foundation.  I love how her brothers have accepted her as a person and do not care about her monstrous side.  Neither of them even acknowledges her dark half and encourage her to fight. I liked both her brothers, especially Kai.

Diva, the villain, is an interesting parallel to her foe.  It is intriguing how similar the two are despite their different allegiances.  She is a great villain because she helps define her enemy. We can see in her everything Saya is not–bloodthirsty, psychotic, and hateful.

I highly recommend checking this series out on Netflix (back in the good old days, it was a hit on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block).  I do not wish to see it disappear.

Sub/Dub: The dub features lots of great voice actors and is one of my favorites. Crispin Freeman is the highlight as Haji and Kari Wahlgren does great work as both Saya AND Diva.

Music/Score: I like the first and second openings best.  The closings are too short to enjoy.

Violence: (8/10) The show is extremely graphic and not for the squeamish.

Language: (3/10)

Sexuality: (4/10) SPOILER! Saya’s youngest brother is raped by Diva offscreen.

Nudity: 2/10 I saw a couple shower scenes.

Religion: (0/10)

Related Media: As I mentioned above, Blood+ is a reimagining of Blood: The Last Vampire. There is also a manga and a reboot called Blood-C is available from FUNimation.

 

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