Monday, July 26, 2010

Anime Reviews: Fairy Tail Episode 39 - A Prayer Under The Holy Light

It's great that I don't have large amounts of active readers, because it lets me get away with posting a review several weeks late, and still have it posted under the right date. That aside, I really need to get on the ball and figure out a proper schedule for writing these anime reviews that are meant to be a weekly thing. If I could get myself to write these regularly I'd be satisfied even if they are the only reviews I do all week. That would still put me at a better track record than what I have now.

For the sake of catching up and getting on top of my work load, the next few Fairy Tail reviews will all be a bit shorter than the past ones have been. I'll probably also use fewer screenshots.

Erza and Jellal continue their confrontation, with Erza deciding that she still can't kill him, even after everything he's done, and she decides to hold him there until Etherion fires and kills both of them. Erza reveals that she's done some research into the R-System, and reveals that Jellal has not yet completed the magic, that he needs an insane amount of magical energy to power the spell. Magical energy that he does not have.

The Council finishes preparing Etherion, with three minutes left until it is fired. Jellal says that now, at the very end, he's been freed from Zeref's control, and now all that is left for them is to die together.


Of course this isn't the end, and once Etherion hits the tower reveals its true form, as a giant Lachryma crystal, designed to store all the energy from Etherion, and giving Jellal all the power he needs to fuel the R-System.

This is Erza's Punk'd face.

Jellal reveals that he and Siegrain are the same person, and not twin brothers like everyone thought.

Jellal prepares Erza as his sacrifice, but she is saved at the last minute by Natsu, and the final confrontation begins. Of course Natsu's bedside manner still needs some work.

Not me you idiot! Punch the guy with blue hair!

Jeez, you know you aren't treating your friends right when even the enemy is shocked.

The theme used during this fight is new, and just shows how much the series music has been improving. Yasuharu Takanashi has made music better than the show it was written for before, but in this case it's the union of great music and a great show. I wasn't looking forward to this arc quite as much, but have been finding myself enjoying it mostly thanks to the great music that has been introduced this time around.

Jellal manages to beat Natsu in the first round, but makes the mistake of revealing how important the tower not being damaged is. Unfortunately for Jellal, property damage is Fairy Tail's specialty.

Just one Fairy Tail Wizard is like five Tim Taylors.

Overall, a great episode, and as the ending music plays I have to admit, they've finally found a song that doesn't sound out of place for the ending, no matter how dramatic it gets.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Comic-Con 2010

Wow. What an experience. As a first time Comic-con goer I wasn't sure what to expect. I was thinking I'd probably spend a bit of money, get some free stuff. What I didn't realize that with so much stuff to geek out over I would never have enough money, ever. I didn't even find everything that I wanted in the first place.

When I first got to the con, I checked the schedule and saw that there was a panel with Stan Lee in it. If nothing else I wanted to see the man in the flesh at least once, that was one of my main goals for this convention. It was a pretty decent panel, though I wasn't too interested in the project they were talking about, it was a series of animated graphic novels about the Holocaust, but at least it was fun to see him in real life. I got a few pictures, though most of them are horribly blurry.

Unfortunately this was the clearest photo I managed to get of Stan Lee.

After that first panel I made my way down to the floor to look around at the booths, and wait for Raven. It took him a while to show up, but once he did we met at the Funimation booth and I bought one of the Con exclusive Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood T-Shirts, and a thirty dollar grab bag. I got the first twelve episodes of Romeo x Juliet which I don't really care about so much, but it's still nothing I hate. I also got the first volume of the second season of One Piece, definitely loving that, and most importantly, the entire series box set of Samurai 7. Doesn't get much better than that, unless of course they had replaced Romeo x Juliet with the second volume of season one of One Piece, and maybe replace the One Piece DVDs I did get with the third volume of season one, just to keep things in order.

After that we made our way down to the Viz booth, to see if they had early copies of Bakuman available. They did. However, they also didn't have any copies in the booth, instead we had to look all over the place for the book store booth that was selling the Shonen Jump material. Both me and Raven were able to get our hands on a copy of the manga, so be expecting a review of that soon. I was planning on writing the review the first week of August, when Bakuman is coming out. But since I got my hands on a copy early I'm going to write the review a bit sooner. Maybe. I've got a few books I need to get through as well.

We stopped by the Girl Genius booth, which was a thrill for me, since I'm a big fan of the webcomic. I bought their second volume and got it signed. Saved myself three dollars that way.

After we got some lunch we tried to go to some panels, but the lines were so insane, and by then Raven had to head home, so I wandered around the floor for a while, and got some more pictures.

And then I was hugged...

Around six I got into the line for conference room twenty. I wasn't about to miss what was happening in that room at eight. The line, while long, didn't take as long to get through, and I sat through a panel with previews for several new shows coming out, two of which looked interesting, The Cape (?) was one that looked interesting because it was a superhero drama, there was another one that was a superhero drama, and a vampire one that looked uninteresting, and then another that I can't remember the name of, but had decent acting. Look, don't blame me for not having details, I was reading my copy of Bakuman by that point.

I don't know if there was a midget, or a kid inside it, or if it was remote controlled. But it was moving.

Finally eight rolled around and we got to see what I'd stuck around so late for, the world premier of Batman: Under the Red Hood. First off, it was strange, seeing an animated Joker that didn't have Mark Hamill's voice. However, after the initial strangeness of it, John DiMaggio really owned the role, definitely living up to the actors that have portrayed the role before him.

While there really wasn't any surprise as far as the plot goes for me, since I already knew what happens before hand, this movie's strength was definitely the heart. The characters were treated with the dignity they deserved, and the performances by the voice actors enforced this. Visually the movie was spectacular, and there were several moments worthy of applause.

I won't go into depth, as the movie is not out until Tuesday, and I want to avoid spoilers. However, it is available for rent, and I highly recommend that anyone reading this who likes Batman go out and buy the movie. They're relying on DVD sales to continue producing such quality animated movies.

Well, that's about all, except for the last little bit of news, the upcoming direct-to-DVD animated movies from DC:
  1. Batman/Superman: Apocalypse - The origin story for the modern Supergirl.
  2. Emerald Knights: A Green Lanter Anthology, like Gotham Knight, and the Animatrix, with each entry focusing on individual members of the Green Lantern Corps.
  3. All-Star Superman
  4. Batman Year One
The last one is especially thrilling for me, because it was the first Batman comic that I really read, and what hooked me on Batman.

Well, I guess that's it.

Oh yeah, I talked to the Funimation booth about the status of Strong World. One of the booth workers said that they do not have the movie but it was only a matter of time, since it's One Piece after all. And according to Funimation President and Founder Gen Fukunaga they are currently in the middle of negotiating the rights to the movie with Toei. Negotiations are going back and forth, said Fukunaga, and Toei aren't the fastest of negotiators, so there is no clear answer to when we can expect a DVD release of Strong World. But with active negotiations occurring I think it is quite obvious that it is indeed only a matter of time before we have our own copy of Strong World.

Now I wish I'd had the presence of mind to ask them if they were going to be releasing any of the other One Piece movies within the near future, or if there are any plans for this. I wish even more that I'd realized who exactly I was talking to at the time. When I saw his name I remembered that he was someone high up in the company, but I didn't realize he was not only the President, but also the founder! Oh well, if we don't see any One Piece movie releases by next years Comic-Con I'll be sure to approach President Fukunaga with these questions.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my post, and I'm definitely looking forward to going again next year. And now to end this with the most epic thing ever.

Bobba Fly and Pimp Vader.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Reviews: Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians

Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians is actually the second book of Brandon's that I've read. I first read his very first novel Elantris, before I knew who he was. I'll review Elantris at a later date, but needless to say after reading it, and figuring out that it was Brandon who was going to finish The Wheel of Time, and that he teaches a creative writing class at my school, I decided that I wanted to try out the rest of his books. I already knew that he could do Epic Fantasy, so I decided I'd find out if his YA books were any good (or is it middlegrade?).

Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians is about Alcatraz Smedry, and how he's suddenly thrown into a world shaking conflict against a society of evil librarians. The premise is silly enough to make a good comedy, but what really sells this book is the fact that Sanderson actually manages to have it make sense. What really makes it click for me is the big plot twist of the book, where we realize that the series is set in the real world, but it's unlike our world in a major way.

Obviously the tone is very different from Elantris, Alcatraz is written in first person, a trend that I've been noticing is very common in YA literature. While I'm not a huge fan of the viewpoint, I can see why it would be very effective for the genre. In Alcatraz's case it is perfect for conveying Alcatraz's personality, which in my opinion is both a positive and a negative thing.

For one, we get a good understanding of who Alcatraz is, which is a necessary strength of the book, as a lot of what makes it so good is the fact that Alcatraz is in a typical young adult story, where the stranger comes and tells you about your magical heritage, but he's too sensible to do the stupid, and common thing, that most YA characters do, which is follow the obviously deranged person.

The downside is, and this is something that really bugged me, I don't know how much it would bug other people, throughout the book Alcatraz repeatedly alludes to a tragic ending, which works for some, but not so much for me. Personally I'm not a huge fan of depressing story telling, and the overall sense in Alcatraz is that no matter how big the victory, there is still a dark underbelly, waiting to be found. I will admit though, that it is pretty good character development, the way Alcatraz continually repeats that he is not a good person, which adds to the overall dark presence in the book.

I apologize for this review being a little lack-luster. It's been a few months since I read this book, and I guess I'm once again learning that writing a review of something I didn't just finish reading is not a good idea. Well, I hope my review for the next book is better, which it should be, since I just got my hands on a copy of it and plan to read and finish it soon.

If you liked my review, buy the book here: Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Comic-Con Preview

Well, tomorrow I'm going to Comic-con. I have two goals. Getting my hands on that Dr. Manhattan Statue, in hopes that I can get early copies of not only Mr. Monster, but also, I Don't Want to Kill You.

My other main goal, besides getting the Viz media bag, is stopping by Funimation and asking them a question or two about their anime line up, especially what the status is on Strong World, whether the rumor that they have a subbed copy, and if yes, when will it be coming out, whether online or on DVD.

I want to try and get this on film, so I can post my first video to my blog. With any luck they won't be too busy and I won't be too shy. So I'll let you know how things go.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Anime Reviews: Fairy Tail Episode 38 - Destiny

I remember loving the second OP for this series the most. However, somehow I find myself watching the new OP every time I start one of these reviews. While actively thinking, "This isn't my favorite opening." Guess it's just that catchy. Bizarre.

Also, in case I haven't mentioned it before, but the music really has been improving in the last few episodes. I loved the music starting with episode eleven, but as of recent even that great soundtrack has been improved on. I can't wait to see where the soundtrack for this series goes after this.

I'm going to try and make this review a little different, and keep it brief. I do enjoy writing the longer reviews, with plenty of screen shots, but it does get to be a bit much to write, and I imagine read, ever week. So I'm going to go for brevity here and try a new format.

Erza faces off against Ikaruga, the last of the Trinity Raven assassins. This is another battle where the protagonist seems mismatched, as Ikaruga effectively cuts any armor Erza dons to pieces.

Personally I'd go for chain-mail under my plate armor, but whatever.

At first Erza's attacks are meaningless, and even her strongest armor is defeated. Until she admits to herself that the reason she was always wearing armor was to hide her heart behind it, once she realizes this she removes her armor, and defeats Ikaruga.

I really do like the symbolism behind this. The main theme of Fairy Tail is the heart, and the connection between families. In this case it's not a biological family, but the ties between the guild are the same as those between families. The overall message of the series is the importance of family, and sticking up for said family, as was shown in the previous Phantom Lord arc. In this arc the main theme is emotional closeness between family. Erza doesn't defeat her enemy until after she accepts the fact that her heart has been closed to others for too long. By opening herself to others she begins the path to overcoming her demons.

On another note, the scene where she confesses her weakness is beautifully orchestrated, the music continues to impress me for this series. I'll cover the music in more detail in another review, but for now, just know that it is great.

A weak point of this episode happens right after Erza's fight, where Simon spends a good several minutes explaining what just happened to Natsu. I know that the guy needs to know what's been going on, but that's a lot of time to spend explaining something we've just seen happen.

Erza goes after Jellal with the intent, as Simon reveals, to stall him long enough so that Etherion can take out both of them. Which she thinks is the only way to atone for her failure in the past, and because she can't take his life, as she still cares about him, or at least who he used to be. Now, is it only me, or doesn't this sound oddly like how Gray tried to sacrifice himself to stop Lyon. Or how Lucy was willing to give herself in to Phantom Lord, to save the guild. I'm noticing a trend in storytelling here. I'm kind of scared of the same thing happening in a Natsu-centric arc.

Erza faces off against Jellal, and at the end of the episode has gotten the better of him. What makes this ending even stranger is that for once the ending theme that starts during the last few minutes of the actual episode does not sound out of place for once.

Pictured: Strangely appropriate music.

Nothing quite like cheery music when it's murderin' time.

Off to Comic-Con

Well, I'm heading down to Comic-Con this weekend. I'm cheap, so I'm only going on Friday. I have one goal this time, well two, get a Viz media bag, and find out when Strong World is coming out in the States finally. Or at least when a subbed copy will be released. If Funimation can release a sub of the movie before the fan subbers can, then that will be a definite victory for them.

We'll be traveling down to St George tomorrow, staying the night at a friend's, and then traveling the rest of the way to California on Tuesday. This will be my first time at Comic-Con, so I'm excited. I'll try to post a summary of my experience when I get back home. Until then, I'll try to get the reviews I am behind on posted sometime tomorrow.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Write Like...

This is a sad, sad day for me. I checked out this website that I found on Nathan's blog. If you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to go kill myself.

Avalon Locke (Whole Manuscript):

I write like
Stephenie Meyer

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

And it's the same for chapter 1. But for chapter 2:

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

For chapter 3:

I write like
Kurt Vonnegut

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

So I'm thinking...that it only counts the first chapter, or first few thousand words? Either way, I can't get this foul taste out of my mouth.

I wonder what it says for the last chapter?

I write like

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


I have decided, this website hates me.

For Morpher:

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

So in case anyone was wonder, I refuse to believe this website is accurate.

PS: Nathan I hate you for posting a link to this site.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Anime Reviews: Fairy Tail Episode 37 - Heart's Armor

Last episode Lucy was in deep Doo-Doo, as she found herself not only facing Vidaldus Taka, but a brainwashed Juvia as well.

This fight is one of the most surprising ones out of the entire series. Lucy's been able to hold her own in most of her fights, usually with great effort, but this time it's amazing how well she handles the fight against Juvia.

Her previous fights have belied the proficiency with which she...

So yeah, she kinda takes a beating during this fight, up until Lucy manages to make contact with Juvia's heart, underneath all the mind control. The scene is pretty touching, and again the music helps a great deal to set the mood. I really can't emphasize how much I love the soundtrack for this series enough.

What happens next really is actually pretty bad-ass by Lucy standards. She uses the water of Juvia's body to summon Aquarius, accompanied by a new theme that promises the second soundtrack will be even better than the first.

After Lucy frees Juvia from the mind control, via Aquarius trying to kill both of them for summoning her, the two girls grab onto each others' hands and inadvertently fuse their magic together in a Unison Raid, overpowering Taka's water absorbing ability and knocking him out for the count.

As far as I know, the Unison Raid is never brought up again. I guess Mashima later decided he didn't want to use it again after already bringing it up. I wonder why Manga-ka always seem to do that?

Lucy and Juvia share a completely heterosexual moment...

And congratulations are shared for a battle well fought. Though it seems like I'm forgetting something...

R.I.P. Lucy and Juvia

I actually always enjoy watching Lucy's fights, because like Nami from One Piece her fights are never won by brute force. In Lucy's case her magic relies on the strength of her heart, and this battle emphasized that. She didn't win because she was stronger, but because of the bond she'd managed to form with Juvia already as friends. This theme caries throughout the series, and while Lucy isn't the strongest character out there, I find it refreshing that she has her own brand of strength that doesn't necessarily rely on battle prowess.

Back with the council, Sieg convinces them to fire the cannon Etherion by revealing who exactly Jellal is trying to resurrect.

This puts the council into a panic, and they agree to fire Etherion, as the danger of Zeref, who we don't know much about besides that he was a Dark Wizard, is greater than the damage firing Etherion would cause and the lives it would take.

Natsu continues his fight against Fukuro, but it doesn't go well for him.

Om Nom Nom?

Gray shows up, and finishes the fight, freeing Natsu, much to Natsu's later chagrin. And the episode ends with the council re-voting and agreeing to use Etherion.

I liked this episode, between the two good fights, and the flashbacks to Gray remembering when Erza first came to the guild, as well as a stunning soundtrack, this episode manages to not only tug at the heart string, but also provide plenty of action and great animation. Fairy Tail only continues to improve, the animation keeps getting better and better, the music is phenomenal, and the story remains filler free for the most part, focusing on Mashima's original writing more.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

TV Reviews: Futurama S06E04

This review won't be very long, but it should be longer than the last one, as I have a little bit more to say about it. I'll be honest, I did not like this episode. The issue brought up is exactly the same as back in season three, episode fifteen, "I Dated a Robot."

The major difference is that while there the message was subtle, the message in this episode is not only pretty much the same thing, the story takes the back seat to it. The episode starts off with Kif breaking up with Amy, because she flirts with bad boys too much. Amy ends up with Bender, there's a whole ruckus caused by their relationship, over an issue that had already been brought up three seasons ago, they fight to legalize "robosexual Marriage," and the episode ends with Amy and Bender breaking up because Bender didn't want to be monogamous. Amy gets back with Kif at the end, thus reestablishing the status quo that I praised Futurama for not really relying on.

Overall it was a poorly written episode, with a few jokes, but a terrible story that serves as nothing but a vehicle for the bandwagon political views that Futurama seems to have adopted. I'm not going to complain about them taking a stance for gay marriage, they're perfectly within their rights to do so. The problem is that this episode was written like a Family Guy episode, where it's all about the shock value, and the story is tertiary.

Fiction can be used to convey a message, but when the message is the important thing, the fiction suffers. The plot is terrible, but what makes it worse is that the characters are twisted to meet the demands of the plot, rather than the plot flowing around the actions of the characters. Heck, the entire Bender/Amy relationship, the entire purpose of this episode, feels horribly awkward because of how out of character it is, especially when Bender actually acts like he really loves her. Of course this all comes to naught as Bender dumps her in true Bender fashion. But that only makes the whole thing feel cheaper. If you're going to undo an entire episode like that, then you might as well not write the episode at all.

The entire thing reeks of hamfisted execution, and badly written social commentary. I can only hope that the episodes don't get any worse than this, and that the creative team remembers what made Futurama superior to it's contemporaries. So far the characters have been ignored, and their overall personal development hasn't seen much light beyond the first episode. I can only hope that the next episode is an improvement, but who knows. I'll be sorely disappointed if the one animated comedy airing on TV that I actually enjoy follows the same path as The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Anime Reviews: Fairy Tail Episode 36 - Heaven's Game

Episode thirty six starts with Natsu in the same predicament that he found himself in at the end of the last episode.

Just roll with it.

Oh yeah, and he's about to get shot.

Somehow I can't tell what's sillier.

I should probably mention that this episode features a new opening theme, complete with footage showing the Raijinshu, meaning that the anime is safe past the Tower of Heaven arc. And since I mentioned before that if they were going to stop rather than continue the anime, then this would be a good place to stop because of that sense of finality that it has, then I don't think they are going to stop any time soon, since after this there really isn't any other good stopping point. Though we're fast catching up to the manga, which worries me a little, since after this there really are only three more story lines. The Raijinshu arc, the Oracion Seis Arc, and then the Edolas arc. It always surprises me how few story lines Fairy Tail actually has.

I don't know if they'll add in a filler arc or so, but I figure that there should be plenty of opportunities for this. I only hope that the anime doesn't go its own route and end on filler. Either way, if it does end badly, at least we had a good run up to now. I don't want the anime to end too soon, but I don't want it ruined by terrible filler. I guess the best we can hope for is that they add in a filler arc to allow the manga to get ahead by more, and that the filler is actually well written.

Anyway, back to the episode, as Erza and her group run up the stairs on the outside of the tower Simon explains how he brought them there with the hopes that Natsu would take down Jellal, explaining that Natsu's true power is greater than any of them realize.


Of course this begs the question, how does Simon know this?

Wally tries to shoot Natsu in the back of the head, but Millianna, the psychotic cat girl, knocks his aim off target, yelling at Wally that he shouldn't bully kitties. Wally of course tries to explain that Natsu isn't a cat, he's just wearing a cat shaped mask. The lack of effort Natsu puts into his "meow," or "nya," as the Japanese say, is incredibly hilarious. This of course works, but only for a little while as Wally is able to convince Millianna that Natsu isn't a cat, just pretending to be one. This pisses her off, as she exclaims "How dare he impersonate a cat?" Completely ignoring that's what she herself is doing.

Things don't look to good for Natsu, as Millianna joins the fight and disables his magic. With no options left he has to resort to his final attack.

Surprisingly...this works.

One thing about this episode that I wasn't too fond of was when Jellal's hired assassins were introduced. It was corny, and over the top, and the fact that he's introducing characters that he himself should already know show bad story telling. The fourth wall is subtly broken, but since there is no one else there it's quite obvious that he's talking to the audience when he introduces the three assassins. Personally I would have skipped that and just had them introduce themselves when they appeared before the people they were going to fight. It would have saved time, and been better writing.

It's amazing how anime and manga can take the most ridiculous characters and make them credible threats. And don't be fooled by the goofy looking owl man, his special ability is absolutely terrifying.

Jellal uses his magic to announce a game across the entire tower. Obviously called "Heaven's Game." The entire purpose of the game is that they have to beat his three champions before Etherion is fired at the building. If they lose, he'll use Erza as a living sacrifice to activate the R-System. Sho flips out and traps Erza in one of his cards to keep her safe, and goes off to fight Jellal himself. Meanwhile Natsu and Happy take the short cut to reach Jellal at the top, but they are intercepted by...the Owl with jet packs. Like I said, ridiculous characters.

Natsu and the Owl, Fukuro, fight, and Simon, who found them, tries to help by using his darkness magic. Of course that does nothing, seeing as Fukuro is in fact an Owl.

Common sense could have prevented this. But it wouldn't have done anything about the drugs that caused this little flash of inspiration.

Simon explains about the Assassins guild that Fukuro comes from, once again causing me to wonder, how does he know all this that Natsu, who hasn't been stuck in a tower most of his life, doesn't know? My best explanation is that Simon was allowed some sense of freedom and movement through the rest of the world?

Natsu gets pissed at the thought of a guild being used to do such dirty jobs like assassinations.

The last part of the episode is Lucy and Juvia encountering Vidaldus Taka, a heavy metal rocker parody, while looking for Natsu. When they are attacked by a wicked guitar solo, that has Lucy covering her ears up, Juvia once again proves why she's one of my favorite characters.

At first it looks like Juvia has the advantage, as her liquid body absorbs all of the attacks and comes out unharmed. But when it turns out that Taka's hair can absorb any liquid their advantage is lost. Hmm...It's almost like there's some kind of higher power that's pairing the fighters off with people they are at a disadvantage against.

Praise be unto Mashima!

Of course in Lucy's case that really doesn't take much effort. As is proven by the fact that she's pretty much boned when Taka takes over Juvia's mind and turns her into his Succubus.

Jellal: The voice of the audience.

Also, I think Juvia's voice actress, who still isn't listed on wikipedia for some reason, deserves some credit for the range of voices she puts into the character, as not only does Juvia have her regular voice, but also her cute voice, and now her mind controlled Heavy Metal Succubus voice.

Lastly, there is a new ending theme, and it's pretty good. It's not my favorite, but it's pretty decent. It also reminds me that I need to update my list of OP and ED songs for Fairy Tail, and check if any of the singles are available yet.

This episode was very excellent, despite the bad writing around the time that the assassins were introduced, it had some great action, which is really one of the main reasons I watch anime, is to see the fight scenes animated. This series definitely continues to show promise.