Monday, September 27, 2010

Anime Reviews: Fairy Tail Episode 48 - Fantasia

Well, this is it, the end of the arc and of season one. It's been a fun ride, initially I had my doubts about the quality of the anime, but those were quickly settled, otherwise I wouldn't be writing these reviews.

At the start of the episode Laxus is left wondering why Fairy Law didn't work. Freed shows up and explains that deep down Laxus never considered any of them his enemies, no matter how much he tried to tell himself that. The first time I read this in the manga I was a little iffy about the whole idea of redeeming him like this, since he has been an unmitigated jackass the entire arc and in every appearance before this, but if there's one thing Mashima is good at it's tugging at your emotional heartstrings, while at the same time distracting you from the fact that his plot development and characterization could use some work in some areas.

Laxus, like many of the viewers, doesn't buy this and keeps fighting.

Thunder Punch vs. Falcon Punch

And eventually the fight is down to Natsu vs Laxus again. In true shonen protagonist form, no matter how many times Laxus tries to beat Natsu, he just won't stay down. Laxus finally uses an attack that Freed says will kill Natsu as weakened as he is now.

The attack misses, as Gajeel diverts it using his iron as a lightning rod.

Natsu's ass-kicking music starts playing and it's all over for Laxus.

What follows is basically an encyclopedia of all Natsu's attacks, which though they haven't done any good in the fight before, finally take Laxus out.

The scene changes and we get our first real glimpse of Igneel, who seems to be hiding somewhere in a volcanic land. he is visited by a blue orb, and though it is not explained, from what I can tell, Dragons for some reason are no longer allowed to interfere with human events. If this had of been the end of the series I would have been furious at them for ending with such major new information. I've still got several theories about Natsu and the Dragonslayers, most of which come back to him being a dragon in human form. Though I admit that the basic interpretation that they are humans given the powers of dragons so mankind can continue without the dragons is also a possibility.

Back at the guild Makarov's life was saved by Polyushka (however you spell her name). While it's good that he's not dead, it still is a bit of a copout that his impending death was used as a big threat, and then was resolved so easily. Personally it feels a bit cheap, but again, Fairy Tail is a very safe series, so you don't generally need to worry about too much major drama involving death. Your mileage may vary, but personally it doesn't bug me too much. But still, it's a bit disappointing how this plot thread was resolved.

The entire guild is talking about how they are still going ahead with the Phantasia Parade, even after all the fighting and injuries. Natsu and Gajeel are the most injured after taking on Laxus, Natsu's face is so bandaged up that nobody can understand what he's saying. Except for Gajeel.

Dragonslayer telepathy, or fangirl fodder. You take your pick.

Laxus comes in to see the master, but the rest of the guild isn't about to let him through after what he did. But Erza tells them to back off and let him through. Natsu challenges Laxus to a rematch, saying that two on one didn't count. Laxus doesn't say anything in response, but wordlessly accepts the challenge. This works for Natsu.


Makarov explains why Laxus could never have the guild, that they are more than just a place where wizards can get work, that for many of them it's their home. Laxus says that he just wanted to make the guild stronger. A touching moment is shared between grandfather and grandson, before Makaro expels Laxus from the guild.

This was...sudden.

Laxus takes his expulsion pretty well, and somehow we feel sorry for him, despite the fact that he's been a pretty big jerk. Though perhaps it's really Makarov we're feeling sorry for.

The Raijinshu are pretty pissed when they find out that Laxus is the only one who was expelled, despite all of them being equally as guilty (Fried was the only one who showed any remorse). They all say they're going to quit in protest over the expulsion, but Laxus convinces them to stay with the guild.

At this point we get another one of those scenes that would have infuriated me if the anime were ending with this episode. Ultear is standing on a mountain top...

No reason, she's just standing on a mountain.

Talking to someone in her crystal ball. She reveals that Jellal wasn't being controlled by the spirit of Zeref, he was in fact under Ultear's spell. Apparently Ultear has been evil since childhood. She calls the person she is talking to Master Hades, so we know he must run the local homeless shelter. Thanks to Jellal they acquired one of the keys needed to unlock the seal. The scene switches to Jellal floating someplace blue, and I hear waves. It kind of reminds me of Erza's near death experience, so it seems to be foreshadowing a return for him? We'll see where the anime goes with this.

And now, what we've all been waiting for. What we've been slogging through the boring fights for. The Freaking Parade!

Laxus is watching the Fantasia Parade from the sidelines, along with several supporting characters from previous arcs spread through the crowd. The entire guild has several floats set up. The girls are doing a cheerleader routine.

"Help! They used up all the animation budget on Natsu's fight!"

Mira disappoints her fans with another one of her transformations.

Furries: Mira is doing it wrong.

Gray and Juvia have an ice and water palace together.

And Erza's doing a sexy sword dance. A beautiful woman and swords. I had no idea someone was pandering to my very specific fetish.

Natsu is doing fire tricks, despite being injured.

Somehow I...forgot to take a screenshot of Natsu.

Gajeel gives Makarov the information on Ivan's location he'd been able to find, revealing himself as Makarov's double agent, tasked with tracking down Ivan. While Gajeel continuing to be a villain would have been a great source of drama, I have to admit that I was relieved when I discovered that he's really one of the good guys. I think I know what happened here. Mashima liked the character so much that he couldn't bear to keep him as a villain, and made him a good guy. I can sympathize with that, having done it myself a few times.

Makarov does a weird dance, and we get another flashback to Laxus as a kid, inventing a sign that he'll hold up to show that no matter where he'll be, he'll always be watching his grandfather.

Just as Laxus is about to leave he turns around and sees his grandfather, and the entire guild raising the symbol he had thought up all those years ago high into the sky as his send off.

Tears in 3...2...1...

There we go.

The whole thing ends on an emotional high note, and with a small monologue from Lucy, once again reminding us that she's the main character. That portrayal of her makes me think of her as a slightly more subtle version of another character.

And there's a preview for the next episode, confirming that the series will continue past this. It's from a filler chapter I mentioned before where Gajeel wears the weird getup, and it seems to be combined with an extra chapter that is fairly shippy, so you may or may not enjoy this episode that much more.

Like I've said, this would have been a good place to stop. While not everything was resolved, it still would have ended the series on a high point, and I've seen series where the ending is an even bigger cock tease than this one would have been.

I'm glad Fairy Tail is continuing, though the question is how they plan to continue after this. So far, according to the next episode preview, the filler route seems to be the most likely. There are only two arcs left after this, with a third one starting, and a short two chapter mini arc in between this arc and the next. I can easily see them giving us a breather after the action packed climax of the first season, and have some fun with filler. It's not like Mashima doesn't have plenty of omake chapters and extras that could be adapted into filler. As long as the filler is fun, I won't complain about it. So we'll see where the anime's worth lies in the filler.

Even if the series gets ruined with excessive, non-Mashima filler, this first season will remain one of the most faithful anime adaptations of a popular manga. And after what I've heard of the Rave manga, I'm glad that Mashima got such a great anime made from his work.

So, as we end season one let us look back in retrospect, is Fairy Tail a perfect series? No, it is not. There are plenty of issues one could have with it, issues that could keep someone from enjoying it. But if you know how to relax and have fun then you'll enjoy this series. I highly recommend it to people who like shows like Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach, as it's action packed, with one of the best soundtracks I've heard before, and is fairly light hearted overall. If you only like seinen series, you probably won't like this, in fact I'll guarantee that you won't like it, so don't bother with it. Everyone else, just have fun and you'll like Fairy Tail.

If you liked my review, Watch the Episode Here!

Disclaimer: You will need to purchase a membership at Crunchyroll to watch this series. They do have a two week trial you can sign up for, and at least this is a legal way to watch the show.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Anime Reviews: Fairy Tail Episode 47 - Triple Dragon

Gray continues to look for Warren, while Erza continues to summon up to two hundred blades. It's quite obvious that she's reaching her limit, but is still one hundred blades short from being able to destroy all the lachryma.

Gray manages to find Warren, who uses his telepathy to wake everyone up. Surprisingly everyone is able to come back to consciousness despite having been knocked out and worn each other out fighting. But it's shonen, what do you expect?

Erza reveals that the girls are alright, leading to the relief of many of the guild members. Of course there is some left over bitterness because of the fight, and the guild starts arguing amongst each other and fighting about who would have won in better circumstances. Either way, things aren't looking good on the cooperation front.

That is until Lucy gives her cheesy friendship speech that is not present in the original manga. Now in the manga the group gets over their differences themselves, and destroy the Thunder Hall as one. In the anime they don't start cooperating until Lucy's heartfelt speech brings them back to their senses.

Cheese is cheesy, but I can't blame the anime team for doing it that way. In some storylines in the manga it is pretty easy to forget that Lucy is in fact the main character alongside Natsu. Her bringing everyone back to their senses makes sense narratively, bringing the focus back on her as main character.

Considering that this storyline was originally going to be the finale of the series, it makes sense to give Lucy's character a stronger climax than the manga allowed for. It makes sense, though it will be pretty painful for manga purists, and for anyone that hates cheesy friendship speeches.

With Lucy's appeal to their reason the guild gets their act together and attack the lachryma as one. Lucy has Happy fly her up to the lachryma, attacking one directly with her whip. This was a pretty cool sequence, as the manga doesn't really show how she attacked the lachryma.'re her only way of getting down safe. Maybe you shouldn't be attacking those?

The attack on the lachryma is pretty epic, accompanied by the epic music that the soundtrack is. Good scene, and then everyone is struck down by lightning. Now if this were a series that was more serious in tone there would have been deaths here. I was thinking about this while writing this article, and considering that Fairy Tail is one of those series where no matter what, you don't have to be afraid for the characters' lives. But I can imagine that this scene would play out a lot differently in several other anime. And realistically it should have ended in death, especially with Erza dealing two hundred times more damage than anyone else. But the issue of death has already been treated in the past arc, and it would have been in bad taste to kill her off now. As such, everyone getting struck down by lightning comes off much more comically than I imagine was Mashima's intention.

Natsu chews Laxus out for trying to be master, even though he never tried to approach any of them as a friend. Laxus, ignoring what Natsu is saying, decides that since his plan failed he's just going to take over the guild by force, like he should have in the first place.

Natsu is quickly overwhelmed by Laxus, who just about kills him, but for Gajeel's last minute intervention on Natsu's behalf. I'll admit, hearing Gajeel talk about how messed up Laxus is for being happy at apparently having killed his guild member sounds a bit hypocritical considering how Gajeel treated his own guild members.

Natsu and Gajeel team up, despite Natsu's protests, realizing that the personal satisfaction gained from beating Laxus one on one is unimportant compared to stopping him. This team up is something I've been waiting for ever since Gajeel joined the guild, so I really haven't been waiting for very long, but it starts off with one of the best lines ever. And I won't tell you what it is, you're going to have to watch the episode yourself. It's worth it though.

If there's one thing I can say for Fairy Tail it's that badass music makes for some badass fights. Nothing like the classic theme to set the mood for a high powered magic fight. Natsu and Gajeel give Laxus a beating initially, but it's not enough to put him down. And then, in the spirit of all great shonen series, Laxus reveals a hidden power up. He too is a Dragonslayer!


Laxus uses his dragonslayer magic to beat Natsu and Gajeel to the point where they can't move, the electricity of his attacks numbing their nerves and practically paralyzing them. Laxus starts to use his final attack, Makarov's own Fairy Law, the spell that targets all the caster sees as an enemy for massive damage.

Levy shows up at the last minute, yelling for Laxus to stop because his grandfather is dying. This seems to shock Laxus back into sanity, it certainly shakes Natsu. Laxus is however too far gone to care, and is actually glad that his chances of becoming master have gone up. The episode ends with him casting Fairy Law.

Instead of a preview of next week's episode, there is an add at the end for a manga and OP and ED CD giveaway that makes me wish I lived in Japan. Oh well.

This episode was a strange one for me, because while it had some awesome moments, the destruction of the Thunder Hall, and Natsu and Gajeel tag teaming Laxus, it also had that corny speech Lucy gives which, while I understand why they did it, still comes across as far too cheesy and overall detracts from the episode. Though, I'll be fair, this is only if you prefer the manga over the anime and hate every little change. Like I said, the spirit is to focus on her as a main character, something Mashima seems to forget about in certain arcs. So in the end it doesn't detract from the episode, even if it is corny as all heck.

If you liked my review, Watch the Episode Here!

Disclaimer: You will need to purchase a membership at Crunchyroll to watch this series. They do have a two week trial you can sign up for, and at least this is a legal way to watch the show.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Anime Reviews: One Piece Episode 465 - Justice for the Winners! Sengoku's Strategy in Action!

I just recently managed to catch up on the One Piece anime. Granted I did so by skipping the Impel Down arc, aka/ the arc that made me stop watching for a while in the first place. Not that it's bad, I just didn't enjoy it as much. But since it's been a while that I've regularly watched One Piece I'd forgotten exactly how good this show is. I love the manga, and am generally more a manga than anime fan. But One Piece is a lot better than I remember. In fact, it manages to improve upon the emotions that Oda first put to pen. Especially in this episode. I went from bawling my eyes out, literally crying harder than I ever have for any sad scene in any movie, TV show, or anime, to busting my gut laughing by the end of the episode. Darnit Oda, stop putting me on these emotional roller coasters! I literally had tears running down my face, and it was because of a character that has only been around for one other episode than this one! I had more tears running down my face than any of the characters ever have!

This was me, but with less dignity.

So yeah, One Piece makes me cry and laugh at the same time. Go figure.

I'm considering starting doing weekly reviews for One Piece, though with how behind I'm on my Fairy Tail reviews, I think it might still be a while before I do so. If I don't do weekly reviews, then you can at least expect a few more detailed reviews of the FUNimation DVD sets. But I'm pretty sure I'll start doing weekly reviews. I know this one doesn't look like much, but that's mostly because I just felt like pointing out how this episode made me sob like a baby. It's not the start of the reviews, mainly because by the time I'd get around to starting this set of reviews I'd be so far behind I'd once again be struggling to catch up. So for the sake of not making this any more difficult than necessary I won't start weekly reviews of the One Piece anime until I'm certain that I can keep on top of my already existing Fairy Tail reviews. By then I'll most likely be doing Bakuman weekly as well, mostly because I want to have a complete set of reviews for that series starting with the first episode. So if I start doing One Piece I'd have three series. Not to mention Beelzebub when that one starts.

Maybe I should consider just enjoying some of these series instead of trying to write reviews for each and every one of them? I'm not even sure where I'm leaving myself time for book reviews and manga reviews. I've already mostly dropped reviewing Graphic Novels. Oh well, eventually I'll start zeroing in on a specific genre to review. Though if I can find a way to streamline the reviewing process, I could easily handle several series. I just need to start forcing myself into a schedule, something I have to confess I suck at.

Sorry this review doesn't look as nice as my more recent anime reviews. It's more just a blurb on my part, I promise that when I do start reviewing One Piece (if I start, I'm tempted to just watch this one for the enjoyment of it) it will look much nicer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Reviews: Fool Moon

When I get books recommended to me it usually takes forever for me to get around to them. When my Dad recommended A Wrinkle in Time all those many years ago, it took me several months to get around to reading it. I loved it (need to read it again). A few years later he recommended Ray Bradbury. It took me even longer to get around to reading those. I'll confess, I didn't like them, but I really am more of a fantasy than sci-fi fan, and who knows what I'd think of them if I reread them.

When my buddy Nathan recommended the Dresden Files I petered around a bit, before finding Fool Moon, the second book in the series (he recommended I skip the first one), in the Library. After getting it I still waited a few weeks before starting it. As soon as I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.


The Author of this article would like to state that this previous statement is in fact erroneous. He was indeed physically capable of putting the book down. It was just so good he didn't want to.

Okay, so I didn't breeze through the book like other books I've loved in the past. I do have things I do during the day, so this took me a little longer to read than perhaps I would have taken if I'd focused just on the book. But I didn't put it down for weeks on end, and then pick it up later, when I remembered that I had an unfinished book.

Fool Moon, according to Nathan, is not the best book of the series, in fact apparently it's only slightly better than the first book. Which is why I have such high hopes for the series. I absolutely love Fool Moon, and have a hard time imagining how the series could possibly get any better than this. Okay, so I can imagine it, I've since started Grave Peril and it really is even better, but at the time it was hard for me to imagine enjoying the other books more.

Perhaps it's because I'm such a big fan of werewolves (don't worry, I didn't spoil anything, it's not like Butcher tries very hard to hide it). But the story itself was fun, and a good example how the beginning of a series should be. Harry Dresden is a very sympathetic character, with a past that is touched on just enough to make me curious about what happened to him, but not enough to spoil it. That alone is a good example of the kind of hook a series needs to keep readers coming back. As you continue reading, you just get more and more hooks caught on yourself that you can't move without digging the hooks deeper in. The more you read, the more you'll want to read. And with every dollar you spend on the series, Jim Butcher realizes that maybe, just maybe, some ideas aren't as stupid as they sound.

It can be a temptation to compare a series about a wizard in the modern world to Harry Potter. And you would not be wrong to do so. He's a wizard, and his name is Harry. And he uses a wand, except it's called a blasting rod. Oh, and both fight werewolves at one point.'d be stretching for comparisons at best. Please people, just because a series maybe be about a wizard in modern times, doesn't mean it's a ripoff of Harry Potter. I love the Harry Potter series, but just because they are the best known, doesn't mean originality, or the basic concept stops there.

Besides, when Harry Potter fights a werewolf in the middle of a police station, then we can talk.

I try to keep my book reviews spoiler free, so I won't go into detail about the plot. Fool Moon is a fast paced, action thriller that knows how to keep you glued to your La-Z-Boy (do they still make those?) until you reach the last page. Then you'll only get up to either get the next book, or if you already have it, to run to the kitchen for a snack.

The Dresden Files have my support, and I'll definitely be continuing this series. Do yourself a favor, get your hands on Fool Moon and start this series now. Even if it is the second book, there is no real background information that you need in the first book. From what I've been told the main plot doesn't start until book three or four. So this is a good place to start, and well worth your time.

If you liked my review, buy the book:
Fool Moon (Paperback)
Fool Moon (Kindle Edition)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Anime Reviews: Fairy Tail Episode 46 - Clash at Kardia Cathedral

With the Raijinshu taken out, all that remains to be taken care of is Laxus and the Thunder Hall. Poluchka comes to take a look at Makarov, and tells Levi, who has remained behind to take care of the Master and Bisca, to bring Laxus, as Makarov doesn't have long left to live. Suddenly things seem even more serious. Enjoy it while it lasts, and don't forget what I've said about Fairy Tail being a safe series.

A flashback reveals part of why Laxus is so angry at his grandfather. Makarov expelled his son, Laxus' dad, from the guild for reasons not explained. His son's name happens to be Ivan, which means that the person Gajeel was talking to is possibly Makarov's son.

Mystogan manages to find Laxus, who reveals that he knows Mystogan's real name, almost calling him by that name. Mystogan attacks him before Laxus can reveal his real name.

You will not spoil this for the viewers!

Mystogan unleashes a powerful spell...

That turns out to be an illusion he cast to distract Laxus from his real attack, what looks like a powerful sleeping spell. I'll be honest, the first time around sleeping magic doesn't seem like it's as potent as lightning or fire magic. But you know, if all you want is to incapacitate your enemies, not kill them, you can't get much better than sleep magic. If you put your enemy to sleep, and keep them down long enough, you've won. So really this is a good strategy.

Laxus of course manages to break free and the two of them fight.

Natsu and Erza show up on the scene, having been able to find Laxus' location by the noise the fight was making. Mystogan is distracted by seeing Erza, and if you didn't already see what's coming next you're an idiot. Laxus uses Mystogan's distraction to blast off Mystogan's mask, revealing his real identity. Jellal!

Only not, according to him at least, and he leaves before explaining why he looks exactly like their old enemy. So instead of three against one, which would give them better odds, it leaves Erza and Natsu to fight Laxus. Lame.

Erza shoves Natsu out of the way and attacks Laxus, but after discovering what the things floating in the sky are she leaves the fight to Natsu and goes to destroy the thunder lachryma. So soon after she sacrificed herself to save her friends, Natsu makes her promise that she'll come back alive.

While Erza is trying to summon enough blades to destroy all the thunder lachryma, in her heart she asks her friends to lend her their strength. Somehow Gray and Lucy hear this.

You're watching a show about magic. Try not to ask too many questions.

Gray, realizing what is going on goes to find Warren, in order to contact everyone else. See? Told you he'd be important.

Laxus beats up on Natsu, while at the same time dropping hints that he doesn't really want to see the town destroyed, as he wonders how long Makarov will take to surrender, and that there is little time left. Natsu tells him that he realizes Laxus doesn't really want to destroy the town, and because this is most likely true, it just serves to piss Laxus off all that much more.

The episode ends with Erza continuing to summon blades, and surprisingly the ending theme is still the most appropriate they've ever had, adding a slightly melancholy, yet upbeat feeling to the end of the episode.

This is a fairly fast paced episode, that really doesn't stand out much otherwise. It starts to move us into the final confrontation, so the climax should be in the next episode, with the finale and wind down in episode 48. There really isn't much to say about this episode, other than that it's a good episode, but doesn't stand out to me as much as the previous episode. It moves the plot along to the climax which I am looking forward to.

If you liked my review, Watch the Episode Here!

Disclaimer: You will need to purchase a membership at Crunchyroll to watch this series. They do have a two week trial you can sign up for, and at least this is a legal way to watch the show.