Aesthetica of a Rogue hero complete series
Avalible on DVD and Bluray from Manga entertainment
Aesthetica of a Rogue hero tells the story of Akatsuki Ousawa who after successfully defeating the Demon King of Alyzard (an alternative world). is now on his way back to his home world with the title of “true hero” to his name. With him he has brought Miu the daughter of the Demon King to fulfil a promise he made with the Demon King. After arriving back they both enrol in a school that accepts people with special powers called
This is yet another fan service anime like the deluge of other that have arrived recently although this one does have a bit better thought out plot that most, animation is of a great quality and both English and Japanese dubs are pretty good. Recommended for fans who want some fan service as well a serviceable plot.
3 out 5 JP
Bleach Season 13
Out now on DVD from Manga Entertainment
Having put aside yet another time-buying filler story arc, Bleach takes another stab at pulling through its main Arrancar storyline for season 13. Being one of several small showers before our big stormy showdown, these episodes prelude with more one-on-one fights and a few sharp developments that will hopefully make a grand plunge in future stories.
After a massive absence of main character Ichigo last time, we immediately cut back to his long built-up fight with Espada #4 Ulquiorra – who is revealed to have a skill unique even among his brethren. In trying to take him down, Ichigo gets his essential Super Saiyan 3 moment, but unfortunately it comes with its own expected hollow animosity. Meanwhile in fake-Karakura town, the remaining high ranked Espada take on their Soul Reaper counterparts, whose increased desperation is rewarded by the arrival of the Visoreds; old acquaintances of lead villain Aizen with a score that needs immediate settling.
As was the case with the last main-story season, there’s not too much to say that would surprise you. The highlight of these episodes is pretty much anything revolving around Ichigo, but the duels starring pink-haori wearing Shunsui Ky?raku, the reveal of Aisen’s monstrous Wonderweiss and the more fast-paced and dramatic second half do their part to atone for the overused, fumbling humour with the bumbling Omaeda character early on.
We seem to say this in every Bleach review, but now that the ultimate battle with Aizen seems to actually be looming, you’ll definitely not want to miss the next season. Though a lot of patience has been spent thus far on play-it-safe storytelling, we’re confident the finale may contain a dose of satisfaction – perhaps lethal to some main characters.
3.5 out of 5 GA
Blood C: The Last Dark
Director: Naoyoshi Shiotani
Studio: Production I.G.
Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray from Manga Entertainment
With a sex-changed Blade premise, silent yet sexy schoolgirl lead and character design from CLAMP, Blood-C was a near guaranteed success when spawned off of Production I.G.’s 2000 cult classic movie. After a bloody, ballsy but ultimately botched finale, Saya Kisaragi’s call for revenge is finally answered in this new feature length continuation. It’s accessible enough for non-fans, fills its requisite action count, but sadly bleeds a rather different blood type to its predecessors.
Left alive but without a single memory by the series’ massacre ending, Furukimono monster hunter Saya Kisaragi finds herself roped into her old duties when she bumps into a small anti-government group known as SIRRUT. Consisting of skilled hackers, one pissed off driver and the cousin of series villain Fumito Nanahara, they task Saya with finally bringing her merciless foe to justice, whilst teaching her lessons of friendship and reliance along the way.
As mercilessly violent as ever, Blood C: The Last Dark’s opening tense train encounter is made suitably scary thanks to clever character POV shots, as is a later dream sequence and two giant monster battles (one with tentacles; always frightening). Other than that, there isn’t much of the original spirit of Blood C living in this story. Show survivor Yuka Amino and xxxHolic character Kimihiro Watanuki make cameo appearances, so whilst there isn’t much to alienate newcomers, neither they nor fans will have much to invest in.
The cast of minimally developed characters still dwarf the now emotionally dull Saya, particularly the divinely skilled hacker Mana Hiiragi, who ends up having more personal investment in the action than our mostly silent main character. Though the fights are grand and gruesome, they seem to get a lot easier for Saya when the opponents grow to gargantuan size, something you’d think would go the other way around.
The film’s main problem is it sets up too many story threads that, like the original anime’s ending, don’t feel well addressed. Fumito’s ultimate goal, along with that of Mana (and her somewhat homoerotic relationship with Saya) end up with lukewarm outcomes, and the ending of the film pretty much takes us back to square one. Still, with nicely animated swordplay, fanservice and a lively (but one…) cast it’s a serviceable slice to the Blood franchise.
3 out of 5 GA
Blue Exorcist: The Movie
Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray from Manga Entertainment
With a plethora of clichés and inspiration taken not only from the Bible but other works that have likewise done so, Blue Exorcist was guaranteed to be a modest hit, but its monster success is still quite surprising. The boosted popularity of the anime has now summoned up a feature length adventure for Satan’s son and his entourage, and whilst you shouldn’t expect a sudden conversion, this is undoubtedly the franchise at its most righteous.
Fledgling exorcist and half-devil spawn Rin Okumura is just scraping by under the tutelage of his accomplished brother Yukio when a mysterious demon boy is placed under his watch. Found during an important town festival, it doesn’t take long for the little one to bond with Rin and his friends, who naively revel in his odd magical side-effects. When a visiting Taiwanese exorcist named Cheng-Long Liu begins to piece together the boy’s background, he realizes the entire town may be in danger if they don’t snap out of their demonically induced stupor and right the wrongs of his ancestors.
Immediately shown by the uniquely drawn storybook legend that bookends the movie, commendable effort has gone into making this longer instalment worth its gravitas. Fight scenes (the anime’s major merit) look swell, and the True Cross Academy Town setting looks particularly more livened than before.
Though it only has the weight of a two-part episode of the show, as a standalone instalment this is rather easy to engage in. It lacks an actual villain as such and is completely removed from the central storyline, but the emotional moments between Rin and the boy and a compelling theme on the subject of ‘memory’ give Blue Exorcist: The Movie that storytelling edge actually worth recommending.
3.5 out of 5 GA
Dragonball collection 1 and 2
Avalible on two box sets from Manga entertainment
After Z finally arrived in the UK Manga followed it with the divisive follow up series GT now that series has finished it’s time to take it back to where it all began with the original Dragonball series.
Dragonball follows Goku’s early years on earth living in the forest at his deceased Grandfather’s hut until a girl named Bulma finds him (the first girl Goku has ever seen) while tracking the mystical Dragonballs one of which is in Goku’s possession as a keep sake left by his grandfather.
The original series is something of a different show to the latter series although it’s still a martial arts show there is less of the trademark stalling for time that often plagued Dragonball Z were battles would take the better part of an episode charging an attack that an enemy would then shrug off, in a few ways Dragonball is actually a better show for it’s relative lack of action and world ending peril giving it a more chilled vibe at least for the earlier seasons.
Recommended for all fans of martial arts series this is were the most famous of all anime series began a perfect jump on point for newcomers and a great series for collectors.
5 out of 5 JP
Eureka Seven AO part 2
Avalible on DVD from Manga Entertainment
The long awaited sequel to Eureka Seven continues in part 2 the story focuses on Ao a teenage boy caught in an attack on earth that leaves the planet devastated he is forced to flee in a giant humanoid fighter craft to save himself while a shape shifting enemy seeks revenge on his mother who vanished two years after Ao’s birth now the shape shifter wants him, now Ao must learn how his machine is tied to his mother and the mysterious enemy that pursues him.
Like the first part of this series visually it’s quite a treat but fails to capture the spirit of the original in the storytelling department.
Although it is respectful of it’s heritage and even bares a lot of the same hallmarks it never quite achieves the same impact of it’s forbearer one for the hardcore fans only
2 out of 5 JP
Fairy Tail the movie: Phoenix Priestess
Avalible now on DVD and Bluray from Manga Entertainment
The Fairy Tail series has always made for pleasant viewing so it will come as good news to anime fans that Fairy Tail is making it’s debut in a feature film format.
Phoenix Priestess follow Fairy Tail’s team of Natsu, Gray, Erza, Lucy, Wendy, Happy, and Carla as they lend a helping hand to a girl with little memory except a grudge against wizards. As they uncover clues about her mysterious past, a lunatic prince plots to sacrifice her in exchange for immortality. When he unleashes an ancient force, a raging war becomes the fiercest inferno Fairy Tail has ever faced.
Feature outing are often disappointing affairs that’s not the case here however the extra budget in clear in the improved visual quality that trumps the original TV series, the director has crafted a well written heart felt story combined with the already well fleshed out character we all know and love it’s a sure fire winning formula.
As an extra bonus we in the UK get an extra mini film, included on the disc is an extra prologue chapter leading into the events of the film previously only available in Japan.
A must see film for Fairy Tail fan that bring all the charm of the show with the extra budget that a film brings.
5 out of 5 JP
Fairy Tail part 7
Avalible on DVD and Bluray now
Fairy Tail is back with a bang, an unstoppable evil force descends upon Magnolia and Fairy Tail, transporting the entire town to Edolas, a world that is not suited to our heroes as magic is in short supply. The power-hungry kingdom plans on draining every last drop of magic from the newly captured guild. As Natsu and the few left behind search for their friends, they discover a parallel world where a bad ass version of Lucy runs a version of Fairy Tail, and Erza is a ruthless enemy who hunts down rogue wizards. Meanwhile, Carla and Happy stumble upon a cat-filled land were their origins are revealed.
Fairy Tail fans will know the drill by now (this set contains episodes 73-84 so we are really in deep right now) a well developed cast of characters on their latest outing the good new is there isn’t too much filler here and the episode that are filler are pretty good the bad news is the main story arc the (Edolas arc) is a bit of a slow burner taking a few episode to find it’s feet but it’s looking better from here on in.
Fans will want to snap this up instantly another worth entry on the Fairy Tail collection
4.5 out 5 JP
K – The Complete TV Series
Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray through Manga Entertainment
If one thing sets K apart from every other anime series out there, it’s the sheer amount of characters with hands hanging out their pockets; all attempting to bolster the shows swag count. A mostly sci-fi crime drama with smatterings of the supernatural and even a bit of gang warfare, it’s an adventurous, involving and surprisingly funny series that is sadly a little tiring to slog through, and not as engaging as it could be.
In your typical futuristic Japanese city, Yashiro Isana is just another polite, clumsy and overall normal high school student, one who’s just gotten himself wanted for murder. After a video surfaces of him gunning down a member of an infamous clan of warriors known as HOMRA, all the sword, fire and even skateboard wielding clansmen from around the city are on his tail, with the first being a no nonsense swordsman that Yashiro may be able to find an unlikely ally In if he can prove his innocence.
With a convoluted plot that’s still not nearly as confusing as the series’s mythology and power set, you’re best nodding through the exposition till you get to K’s astoundingly well choreographed (and soundtracked) fight scenes. Whilst the maudlin high school comedy in between is a mess, there’s genuine laugh-out-loud comedy that could be mistaken as unintentional if it wasn’t so specific; such as one gang member crying over a dent in his mail ordered English pub, or the strange cleaning robots who’s dialogue changes rapidly from “you’re too kind” to “die!”.
These robots, or just about any of the other strange tokens of the show, kind of just exist without explanation. Some tropes (like the vestiphobic cat-girl literally called ‘Cat’…) we’ve seen so many times they feel more factory lined than borrowed, and that’s pretty much what K is. If it’d tried to put its turf war and inventive action at the forefront faster, we would have a bit more than this mediocre crowd pleaser.
2.5 out of 5 GA
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Parts 1 & 2
Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray through Manga Entertainment
Because the Disney-fication of foreign cultures during the nineties was so thorough, The Book of One Thousand and One Nights and Robin Williams have equal importance to most of us. There’s always another way to re-engineer a folk tale however, as demonstrated by Shinobu Ohtaka’s Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic. This anime spin on Arabian Nights is by no means the best take on the Islamic Golden Age epic, but it’s a solid shonen which stands tall on its own merit.
In a fictional reimagining of the old world, one poor, hungry yet royally endowed merchant named Alibaba dreams of conquering his city’s native dungeon; a deadly treasure trove that rewards its conqueror with a powerful Djinn companion. His wish comes true in the most typical of ways when he bumps into little Aladdin, who not only possesses his own magic being, but has a good heart that wishes to join Alibaba on a series of magical, supernatural and even slightly political adventures.
With its own brand of dungeons, sorcery and summoned beings, Magi’s setting will feel familiar to any avid RPG player, but the faux Middle-Eastern look gives it a unique edge. Changing Aladdin into a kid and the genie into a muscle-bound, shy Doctor Manhattan may feel gimmicky, but the core essence of most characters from the original tale have a strong balance between their contemporary and classic grounding. For example, the clever freed-slave girl Morgiana is now super strong; whilst Sinbad the Sailor was so popular he got his own spin-off.
Divided into multiple storylines, the pacing in Magi is great, with fine mystery and mutual respect for each character amidst plenty of shakes up to the status quo. It’s not only well animated, but colourful too, and whilst the class structure of Merlin/King Arthur style hierarchies is a fine example of how dumbed down everything feels, its many kingdoms are realized and well explored. To top it off, Japanese rock band Porno Graffiti are back doing another fantastic opening theme, which is almost worth recommending alone.
4 out of 5 GA
Naruto Shippuden box set 17 and 18
both avalible now on dvd from Manga entertainment
The Naruto epsode producing machine marched ever onwards with 2 more box sets in set 17
Madara has declared war on the shinobi world. The Kage responde by uniting to form the Allied Shinobi Forces with the Raikage as their leader. While the villages prepare for battle, Sakura forms a team to go after Sasuke, secretly planning to take him out herself. Sasuke however has his own plans, and his confrontation with Danzo unveils the truth about the destruction of the Uchiha Clan. Where once he plotted revenge against his brother, Sasuke now turns his anger toward the Leaf Village.
Meanwhile in set 18, Naruto declares his intention to take on Sasuke by himself, while the Elders of the Leaf make a serious decision about who will fill the vacant seat of Hokage left by Kakashi, In Mount Myoboku, Gerotora, Fukasaku and the Great Lord Elder debate whether or not to give Naruto the key to the Tetragram Seal that Gerotora holds, an act that could potentially unleash Nine Tails. Meanwhile, Tsunade recovers from her coma and readies for war.
What more can be said this far in, the good news for fans is this story arc continues to deliver strong episodes as the stakes ramp up and the new twist works pretty well considering the gravity of it.
Recommended for fans of the series without hesitation as always new comers will be way out of their depth and should start with at least on Shippuden if not the original series.
3.5 out of 5 JP
Naruto Shippuden the movie 4: The lost tower
Avalible on dvd and bluray now from Manga entertainment
The fourth film in the Naruto Shippuden franchise brings you a time travelling yarn, as the Rogue Ninja Mukade is about to be caught by Naruto and co, when he summons forth the power of the Ley Line an ancient underground channel of chakra. Naruto gets caught up in the chakra and is sent back in time to the city of Loran, known for its thousand towers. There he encounters the future Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, on a top secret mission and the Queen of Loran, Sara, whose rule is threatened by Mukade. Naruto must battle to be able to return to his own time, and save the future with a little help from the past.
Although by it’s very nature it not going to contain any ground breaking story advancements that doesn’t matter as this is a fairly well told side story but the real joy is getting a glimpse of the Leaf Village as it was in Minato’s time adding a new little chunk to the Naruto back story
Plus an animated short in which Naruto and his friends come across a magical genie in a bottle of course just like the other shorts in most anime series it played for laughs and is genuinely quite funny.
3.5 out of 5 JP
Nura – Rise Of The Yokai Clan Series 2
Avalible in 2 half seasons on DVD from Manga Entertainment
Nura Rise of the Yokai clan has a familiar premise of a normal teen who lives an extraordinary life, Rikuo Nura lives in Ukiyoe Town and looks like your typical junior high student, but unlike his classmates, he lives in an old, Japanese-style house full of yokai (a type of demon) that serve him. Unbeknownst to many, Rikuo is the grandson of Nurarihyon, who is the leader of all yokai.
The first season was a fairly strong outing and the good news for fans is that it continues to put on a fairly good showing the new direction of the storyline is interesting if a little uneven in pacing sometimes.
The downside of the plot moving so fast is that all the new characters are not getting the chance to develop properly the older characters have the benefit of the last season but you can’t help but feel they should have focused a little more of fleshing them out.
Recommended for fans of the first who want a bit more non fans will want to start from season 1.
2.5 out of 5 JP
One Piece Collection 7
Avalible on DVD from Manga Entertainment
The crew on the One Piece is in full sail in the UK now after a late start this release makes it seven sets available now and that accounts for over 180 episodes now.
You’d wonder how they can keep it interesting consistently for that amount of time a certain percentage of it is your investment in the characters so far but even so credit really has to go to the writers for the effort in creating new and exciting adventures.
The extremely long Alabastor arc is now ending and it’s time for a new story as they head into a forest to battle with what is said to be gods.
The animation and picture quality still holds up well considering this is far from a new anime One Piece was made in the 90’s which is around twenty years ago now give or take (I know, feeling old). At this point in the series it’s recommended for fans only that being said it’s a great show so make sure to pick up the first season if you haven’t already
4 out of 5 JP
One Piece Movie: Strong World
Avalible on DVD and Blu Ray now
The Straw hat pirate crew get their first feature length outing much like many Shouen series do with Strong World.
The problem with movies is often they are general devoid of purpose not wanting to distub the main line story it will be unreleated to any events and at the end of the day everything ends much how it began, but we accept them because of the higer animation budget and as long as it’s good story who cares if the main plot doesn’t advance? So which category does Strong World fall into you’ll be happy to hear it’s the latter.
The Straw Hats are forced turn back while sailing the East Blue in due to violent attacks and villages disappearances in the area, just before the turn their sails, Luffy’s crew meets Gold Lion Shiki, an old age pirate who can affect the gravity of objects. After First offering his assistance in guiding the Straw Hats toward East Blue, he kidnaps Nami for her navigational skills and scatters the remaining group across several floating islands.
As already mentioned the main benefit of a movie is the increased animation budget and it’s put to good use here with a better look than it’s TV counterpart and while the plot doesn’t affext the main show it is a well constructed story.
Fans of the show should grab this right away a great addition to the One Piece world.
4.5 out 5 JP
Sword Art online part 4
available on DVD and bluray from manga entertainment volumes 1,2,3 also avalible
Some series seems to pass by so quickly especially in a world where shows like Naruto run for an almost unlimited amount of episodes Sword Art Online is one of those series, much was made of it’s release and now it’s over after it seems like it just began.
Kirito and Leafa have finally reached thir destination Central Arun, the largest city in Alfheim by the foot of the World Tree. Kirito is determined to face the dangers of the Grand Quest to rescue Asuna. With the support of the Sylphs and the Cat Sídhes, Kirito prepares to face his most dangerous challenge yet.
Sword Art Online is a show that is more than the sum of it’s parts the setting is unoriginal the themes are cliched the character aren’t particulary memorable and the story isn’t a deep as it thinks it is but some despite all of these points you still watch and more than that you enjoy watching.
Definitely a series worth checking out, this release is the last in the first season so now is a good time to catch up if you missed out when it first launched.
3 out 5 JP
Words > Graham Ashton and Jason Potter