Anime Review: “Fairy Tail”

[At long last! After many months of episodes and putting off other series, the review that you have all been waiting for is here!]

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Natsu meets the con-man “Salamander” who claims the be a talented mage.

Magic has long been a synonym for something that is not quite understood by science yet. However, in other contexts, magic is special powers that range from transformation, conjuration, and even summoning. In the world of Fairy Tail, there is no limit to what people use magic for – even powering lights in the cities.

While it is the main theme for the anime, the 275-episode series (not including the final 175 episode season that was just announced) centers around the adventures of Lucy and her friends of the Fairy Tail guild. Each arc, or plot, spans from 2 episodes to almost 40 episodes in some cases. Some arcs are exciting, others slow, but each arc Lucy changes and grows as a person and a mage.

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Natsu comforts younger member Wendy during the Grand Magic Games.

When the series starts out, Lucy meets Natsu, a fire mage, and his friend Happy who happens to be a cat that can talk. The trio take on a job where a rich man hires them to find a book. As with most adventures that are to come, it’s much more than going to the library. They have to “rescue” to book from another wealthy man who also happens to have a celestial key that Lucy can use for her magic.

From putting on plays for clients to fighting demons and dragons, the Fairy Tail guild sure does see it all. They even gain unexpected allies in the form of Gajeel, a former member of a dark guild, and Panther Lilly, an exceed (what Happy is actually called) who served as a royal guard in an alternate world. The characters are unique, intelligent, and all have their own wants and desires. All of these things do end up making for a great story and help each other improve in various ways.

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After being missing for seven long years, the core members of Fairy Tail make a triumphant return!

The only arc that introduces a completely new cast is the special Zero arc. This details the founding of the guild with a history of Mavis’ childhood and her companions. This is actually my most favorite arc, despite the sad ending. It does also detail why Mavis never ages as well and the origin of the special spell “Fairy Law,” which Makarov uses during the Phantom Lord arc.

I think the best part about this series, though, is all the different magical powers. Each person has their own style and type of magic, some practiced since very early childhood. In Lucy’s case, her magic was literally passed to her through her mother. She is a celestial wizard, which means she can summon spirits from the spirit realm, and unlike other magics, she must also cultivate a strong relationship with her spirits.

Thinking back on this review, it may have been easier and more effective to do a review of each arc, but I don’t plan to indulge on any other multi-arc series. Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece will have to be done by some other schlub.

Final Words:

All in all, it’s a solid series. The characters are interesting and complex; there’s hinted pairings and enough shipping material for just about any level of fan. The main character grows and changes, even revealing secrets she wanted to forget (Phantom Lord Arc) and gaining a friend she’d always had (Key of the Starry Sky arc). I have my favorites (namely Virgo and her desire to be punished all the time). But the overall arcs are not something I’d come back to. It’s a favorite of a lot of otakus and a staple in the anime community, but I don’t think it’s an actual classic. It may be a good place to start for someone new to anime, but warn them that it’s close to 300 episodes first.

I would give this anime a…7/10 (my rating system)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Tokyo Ravens, K, Little Witch Academia

Anime Review: “Wakfu” Season 3

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The friends stand before the tower, determined to save Evangeline and Flopin.

Netflix recently purchased exclusive rights to the popular Ankama series Wakfu. They completely redid the voice cast, changing even the pronunciations of some words that people have come to know and love in the first two seasons and the three episode transitional series. It also seems a lot of writers deemed to only stay on for the first two seasons and the special, which may be the reason for the major story style change. However, these changes may not have negatively effected the series. In fact, the third season is quite a bit more enjoyable that one might expect.

The plot picks up right after the three episode Ogrest special, where Dally and Evangeline have made a home for themselves. Their two children, Elely and Flopin, are just like their parents, always eager to protect each other. A third child is on the way. The family is just about to sit down for dinner, when a knock on the door brings an unfamilar Pandawa to the table.

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The mysterious Echo acts as an ally to Oropo and the Brotherhood of the Tofu in unexpected ways.

He seems kind enough, but quickly changes his demeanor when it’s revealed he’s trying to capture the two children. The house is destroyed thanks to an older Adamai in order to flush the family out. After beating up Dally, Adamai mind-links with Yugo to inform him of the happenings. Elely manages to defeat the Pandawa, but another ally of Adamai captures Evangenline and Flopin.

Yugo races to the Sadida kingdom to meet up with Ruel and Amalia to tell them the news. They make the trip to where Dally lives and arrive just in time for Elely to finish off the Pandawa. Dally is recovering in the audience, but the group must find out why Adamai has changed his tune after being their ally for so long.

The Pandawa had been carrying recall potions, which they use to find out where he’d come from, and find they’ve arrived at a strange tower. Someone named Oropo has allied himself with Adamai to carry out a plan he has to replace the current gods with ones that actually care. Yugo and his friends disagree with the plan, but the only way to stop Oropo and rescue Evangeline and Flopin is to race up the tower, meeting all the future gods along the way.

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I’m still not sure about that smile, Adamai.

The plot is much more complex than the original two seasons, and that, I think, is partially due to the Netflix acquisition, as well as the writers. I don’t like that the voice cast changed, but I’m willing to sacrifice voice consistency for plot. The first two seasons were good, but this next season just packs a punch the other two didn’t. Also the twist ending did really make a nice closer. I do also want to point out that Adamai’s new design was probably heavily inspired by Cell, of Dragonball Z.

Final words:

I feel this season was almost a completely new show. It was more serious and more story-driven than the other two seasons, which definitively made me rethink the possibilities for the series. It also didn’t feel quite so cheesy as some of the episodes in previous seasons did. Sometimes jokes are good, and I’m not saying they were badly placed in the previous seasons, but this season just made me want to keep watching, hooking me with every episode.

I would give this anime a…9/10 (my rating system)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Pokemon Generations, Persona 4: The Animation, Dragon Drive

Anime Review: “LEGO Elves: Secrets of Elvendale”

[I’m still working on Fairy Tail! Here’s something to tide you over until then!]

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Emily and Sophie’s entrance into Elvendale.

Fairies, magic, and fantasy have been coming more and more to the forefront in the last several years. It’s no secret that not just kids are into fantasy adventures with elves and dragons, and while this anime is not created in Japan, it can be considered one.

The plot is exciting, even if it’s a bit simplistic. There are five guardians of the elf realm, each with the own element: fire, water, earth, and air. Emily Johnson is the fifth element of Love. She inherited it from her grandmother, who became a human to guard the gate to Earth. She uses a special amulet to travel to Elvendale to protect it and the gate with the help of her guardian friends.

This time, however, her younger sister Sophie tags along unexpectedly. She introduces Sophie to her friends, but things start to get strange with a mysterious new elf called Cronan shows up out of nowhere. He saves Farran, the earth elf, from some trouble and attempts to gain the gang’s trust. Instead, he soon reveals that he is out to get Emily’s special amulet, which is a source of immense power.

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Colorful dragons for colorful girls.

Working with the local goblin tribes, Cronan soon climbs to power in the forest, calling himself the Goblin King. It’s revealed that he’s tricked the queen Rosalyn into giving up her throne to him with the use of magic and deception. He begins to harvest crystals from the forest, slowly killing the flora and causing the fauna to behave strangely. His end goal is to try and revive his mother, who was consumed by dark magic after she lost control of it.

But reviving his mother requires the employment of Darkness creatures – the only creatures in Elvendale that cannot live without taking the life force of others. They were once banished to another realm due to their power, and working with them is hard on Cronan. When things don’t go right, he tries to send them away, but they seek revenge due to his unfulfilled promise of release. Cronan must decide – will he let his goal get in the way of keeping Elvendale safe?

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Sophie begging her sister to be able to spend the night, while the others toast marshmallows on a candle.

When I first began to watch this show, I was very skeptical. I was worried it might be similar to card game anime I’ve seen – a collection of 25-minute advertisements for a product. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but it didn’t quite turn out fabulously either. It could use some improvement, and if there is a second season coming, I’m hoping it will be better.

Final Words

Throughout the whole series, I felt there was just something missing throughout. I’m not quite sure what. The voice acting was decent and emotional. The animation was alright. The story wasn’t flat or boring. The subliminal messages transmitted by a strategically placed LEGO within each episode wasn’t so bad. However, I just felt there was something it could have done just a bit better, but I can’t quite figure out what that was. Perhaps it was the beginning? The animation was a bit on the low quality side as for frame rate, but what anime hasn’t cut that back to save money? Maybe someday I’ll figure it out, but for now, I’d just say it was missing just a little spark of something.

I would give this anime a…6.75/10 (my rating system)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Ixion Saga DT, Wakfu, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Anime Review – “The Seven Deadly Sins”

[ Between the episodes of the ever-growing anime that is Fairy Tail, I managed to squeeze in another. So, please enjoy this newest review of the Netflix exclusive, The Seven Deadly Sins! ]

1When you mix a group of people that have special powers together, often times they are given a collective name. Just look at the X-men, Powerpuff Girls, or Crystal Gems, for example. This rule tends to also apply in the anime world, specifically the Kingdom of Leones. The Seven Deadly Sins in their world are a group of seven people with special powers as well.

While the story is simplistic, it’s the characters that really make it stand out. A young girl, introduced as simply Elizabeth, is seeking out the Sins to save her family. She comes across a quaint tavern and meets the owner, Meliodas, and his talking pig named Hawk. Events unfold quickly as the pair are forced to face down a strong opponent who claims to be a Holy Knight. Elizabeth is revealed to be the third princess of the kingdom, and Meliodas the leader of the Sins.

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Promising to help her on her quest, Meliodas travels with her using his moving tavern pig-vehicle. They quickly meet up with Diane, one of the Sins who also happens to be of the giant race. They rescue another Sin, Ban, from prison. Well, Ban actually rescues himself, due to his inability to feel pain and heal extremely fast. It’s revealed that there is a new generation of Holy Knights that, instead of training for many years, can drink a potion to give them power. Ban’s actions cause a Holy Knight in training, Jericho, to take on these new powers.

2As the group gathers the other Sins, it becomes apparent that these new Holy Knights are connected to a rather sinister plot by those that have overthrown the kingdom. This was the original reason for Elizabeth seeking the sins – her father and family are in danger due to the Holy Knights coup. Besides the coup, the usurpers seek to bring demons into the world to use as tools. But the new Holy Knights cannot control their powers well, and some become strange human-demon abominations.

Facing a number of these before racing into the capital, Elizabeth and the sins eventually3 have to face the leader of the Holy Nights, Hendrickson. This opponent is coursing with demon power, having become something more than human. The Sins gather forces, even combining with previous enemies to defeat this opponent.

At first I thought a lot of the characters were going to be cliche, especially Elizabeth. But, she reveals a hidden strength that redeems her early on. Hawk can be seen as an unnecessary character, but as true to form, he turned out to be one of my favorite, especially in the end, making a huge sacrifice for the good of his friends. It was also nice to see the Seven Deadly Sins show in a new way instead of how they tend to always be (see Fullmetal Alchemist for an example).

Final Words

While it was somewhat cliche, it was a very decently put-together anime. There were all the classic characters: the perv, the shy boy that doesn’t want to reveal his true feelings, the sap that pretends to be tough, the tsundere, and the delicate female. But they were presented in a way that didn’t make them boring. I was also glad that the giant girl didn’t have a skirt that everyone could see up when she walked around. I would have liked to see the characters have a bit more depth, though, as Elizabeth is the only one that seemed to have any of it.

I would give this anime a…7.5/10 (my rating system)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Slayers, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Temporary Hiatus

Short post today. Thank you everyone for continuing to follow! I hope you enjoy my posts!

As the title says, I’ll be going on a temporary hiatus, not because of anything going on in my life, but actually because I started finally watching Fairy Tail. As many of you know, it has over 400 episodes, and I want to make sure I watch all of them to provide you all with a proper, in depth review. So, reviews will be postpones until I finish all these episodes!

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned!

V3 Takes Falsehood to Another Level

1Memories are what make a person. They include important information that makes the essense of who someone is – personality, likes, dislikes, habits, etc. But what if memories someone has are not even their own? What if they were implanted? How would someone know what is a lie and what is truth?

These questions are the very core of Spike Chunsoft’s newest installment in the Danganronpa series, and the third Killing School Semester plot line, V3: Killing Harmony. Sixteen specially talented students are placed in a strange school where they are trapped, and the only way to escape is to kill one of their fellow classmates and get away with it. It’s the same basic concept as Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair, but something is a little different this time. Instead of the main theme being escaping despair, there’s a new focus on truth and lies.

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This is important to keep in mind as the students struggle to not only “graduate,” but also find out what is happening in the world. As they gather clues about this, everyone’s favorite evil bear Monokuma establishes motives. The first murder takes place under the pretense that Kaede Akamatsu, the main character and player controlled, wishes to end the Killing Game as early as possible. In her haste, she ends up killing the innocent Rantaro Amami, and doesn’t end the killing game after all.

This is where the idea of falsehood is introduced. Right before Kaede’s execution, the perspective jumps for her to her new friend Shuichi Saihara. This has never happened before in any other Danganronpa game, to immediately, the player might sense something is different. This isn’t the last time it happens either, as in the final trial, the perspective shifts to each surviving classmate. This is right in tune with the final mind-blowing reveal: that this is actually the fifty-third killing game (hence the “v” disguised to stand for “version”), and you are actually the audience controlling the characters.

3Truth and lies rears it’s ugly head especially with the character Kokichi Oma. He is a pathological liar, and it’s never actually revealed what parts of what he says is truth or lies. He acts as the antagonistic character in this story, much like Nagito Komaeda did in Goodbye Despair. He continually uses his trickery to convince people of facts that are not quite true, especially when he convinces Gonta Gokuhara to outright kill his classmate, Miu Iruma. He even convinces all the students that he is the mastermind. Later, it’s revealed that he wasn’t actually, but this is only after he plots his own death with the help of Kaito Mamota.

Even the true antagonist plays into this theme. Tsumugi Shirogane, the Ultimate Cosplayer, is revealed to be the true mastermind, masquerading as Junko Enoshima. She is quoted saying “Why is it Junko Enoshima? It’s always Junko Enoshima.” She is actually the 53rd Junko in this game show, and it’s unclear whether or not there were “other” Junkos to host the show, but he disguise reveals the truth of the characters she cosplays – they are all fictional.

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The first major reveal happens toward the end of the game after Kokichi supplies the group with special electro-hammers. Up to this point, no one is sure whether or not to believe him since he is so adept at lying. But, having no other options, the remaining students take up the new weapons and use them to arrive at the exit door. Here, the “truth” is revealed that the world is dead, cooked by meteors. The first layer of truth is removed, making the students believe that they are on a dead Earth.

The second major reveal, and removal of all falsities, happens at the end. Nothing said previously is truth, and all of this is actually a game show for the amusement of the viewers. In this universe, Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair never actually happened. In this universe, a special game show has been created to keep the Killing Games going. And, the ultimate reveal: that Shuichi and all his classmates are actually fictional characters.

 

tumblr_inline_oxnu03xSPZ1trwr4z_540Now, this isn’t as fourth-wall breaking as one might think – let me clarify. Shuichi and his classmates, while they are actually fictional characters in our universe, they are also in their universe. A special machine has erased all of their previous memories of their old life, and replaced them with new ones of them being the last survivors of humanity, sent to find a new planet to salvage their species. The truth is that they are not even Ultimate students. They are just normal students chosen through a series of auditions and fed false memories to make them think they were Ultimates. Even their childhoods are fake, and everything about their personality is based on false memories.

What do you do after you find out the very core of your being is not even real? The final reveal throws the students into various existential crises in the middle of a class trial. But, despite this difficulty, the audience (you) help the characters push forward, even though they literally have no family to look forward to. The final lesson here reveals that6 even after all the lies they endure, there is still cause to live in this “new world” that they are now world famous in. The games end, thankfully, and after 53 seasons, the killing games are no more.

Is this the end of the Danganronpa killing games? Rumor has it that Spike Chunsoft has recently hired a bunch of new artists for a possible new game, but there’s no telling what type of game it will be. Personally, I’m hoping that they continue the mind-blowing style, but perhaps in another way. One can only handle watching their favorite characters die every game.

What do you think? How else is truth and lies used in the game? What did you think of the theme of this game? Tell me in the comments below!

Anime Review: “Pokemon Generations”

4Pokemon has been a much beloved series since the late 90’s when the first games came out in America. As a child in middle school I was completely obsessed. I played all the games, bought a ton of the merchandise, and even to this day, get excited when I see some new Pokemon collectible on the shelves at Walmart. What originally started as a collecting adventure based on the creator’s love of collecting bugs, blossomed into a world-wide sensation, spawning tons of main series games and countless side games even to this day.

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However, one thing about the franchise always seemed to fall short: the anime. When it was localized by the infamous 4kids Entertainment, known for its awful name localization and cutting out of full episodes (case and point: Yu-Gi-Oh! Series 1), Ash Ketchum (awful name, as expected) was made the most annoying and stupid character I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching in an anime. He made dumb choices, had a predictably obstinate nature, and the most annoying voice, second only to Naruto.

1Thankfully in recent years, The Pokemon Company released a short “mini-anime” called Pokemon Generations that delivers a much more serious and slightly darker take on the anime. Each episode spans less than five minutes and highlights various story arcs of the portable games up to Generation VI (Kalos Region). From the first episode showing Giovanni’s disappearance after being defeated by Red and Blue (Gen I) to the two teams of Generation III, Team Aqua and Team Magma, plotting to use the legendary Kyogre and Groudon to change the world to their liking. The final episodes even shed3 light on the fabled Pokemon War that may have happened before the games began.

This anime seems to have been made to be enjoyed by older fans, such as those that were children during the first games’ releases. It’s much darker and down to earth than the original anime. If it were expanded on, it could bring back older fans who have grown tired of the still-child-geared canon games and anime.

Final Words

The animation has been greatly improved, as has the voice acting, but I am disappointed that it was not expanded on. I would have liked to have seen much more of this, as it seems to be a kind of continuation of the mini-series made just before entitled Pokemon Origins. I feel like The Pokemon Company misses a huge opportunity when they just produced this as short highlights and not full episodes. I found myself wanting much more after each episode was finished.

I would give this anime…8.75/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Cardfight!! Vanguard, Digimon Adventure, Monster Rancher

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