Birdy the Mighty, Nyan Koi and more One Piece
December 2010 Edition by Todd
Douglass, John Sinnott, and Wen-Tsai
by Todd Douglass, John Sinnott, and Wen-Tsai
Hello and welcome to the December Anime Talk column! I don't think we need to mention that the Holidays are just around the corner and winter is pretty much here to stay for the next couple of months. What does all this mean? Well, I'm sure your wallets are taking a hit like ours are, but it also means that hopefully there's some downtime as well. I think you can figure out how we're going to spend our downtime: watching anime!
A few titles have come our way over the past month or so and we've tackled as many as possible. We also have some manga reviewed this time around and a figure review has been included as well. WTK has been keeping an eye on bargains aplenty as well, and though most of the Black Friday deals have come and gone, there are still some sweet savings out there.
On a business note, if you're reading this and are interested in joining DVDTalk's staff as a reviewer, now's the time! We're looking for a person to join our Anime Talk panel and review team. Feel free to head over to the Anime forum for more details! Without further ado, let's get on with the column!
The Straw Hat Pirates go looking for a fabled city of gold and end up fighting a god in FUNimation's One Piece Season Three Voyage Three. Their time in Skypeia has been interesting, to say the least, but when Luffy's crew has to face down the god of the cloud islands, it's unclear whether they'll be able to defeat the immensely powerful being... even though they have a god on their side too. It's another fun and wacky set of show that are sure to please fans.
Birdy the Mighty: Decode has come out, and it's downright awesome by many standards. The show takes place on Earth, but features aliens living among us. A super powerful weapon has been brought to our world and it threatens to destroy every living thing on Earth. The only thing standing in the way is Birdy, an intergalactic agent sent to recover the weapon. Unfortunately she accidentally kills a teenage boy while on the job, and in an effort to save his life, she takes his consciousness into her body. What happens after that point is an action oriented romp that is kind of a sci-fi version of Ranma 1/2. The first part is better than the second, but the franchise as a whole is pretty damn good.
Sekirei, however, isn't nearly as good as Birdy. This show also has sci-fi elements and features lots of action, but the show focuses more on breasts than anything else. That's right, Sekirei is yet another girls fighting girls kind of show where breasts are bared and panties are shot. Fan-service is the name of the game, and this one has it in spades. The show basically follows a young boy who can't find a girlfriend, but one day a busty lady happens to fall into his lap. The rest is generic history as they fall for each other. The show is dry, and sparsely entertaining.
And speaking of fan-service being used to a degree that it is actually detrimental to a show, we also looked at Girls Bravo. This one has been around the block a few times, but FUNimation has gotten their hands on the franchise and released a collection. Yay. This show is just plain and simply not good. It's about a guy whose bathtub is a portal to a world populated by 90% women. He accidentally visits it and they all want him. The only problem is he's allergic to the fairer sex. Fortunately for him one girl in particular, who isn't afraid to bare herself, takes a liking to him AND he's not allergic to her. What could go wrong with that?
Along those lines Nyan Koi is a show that's rather perplexing in its execution. On one hand the series is about a guy that is allergic to cats, and finds himself being cursed by a cat spirit. This means he can hear cats talk and has to do odd-jobs for them. On the other hand the show is a harem comedy with fan-service in the form of boobs and panty shots. The two concepts don't really jive well, but somehow it squeaks by. This one was far more entertaining than Sekirei and Girls Bravo put together.
For more anime bargains, please check out the monthly Official- ANIME Bargains! - Thread, updated by yours truly!
*Please Note: Product Availability & Prices are Subjected to Change! Updated on 12/14/2010!
by Todd Douglass
Nabari no Ou Volume 5
Emo ninjas and bromance await those who check out Nabari no Ou, but then again if you've been reading the manga or have watched the show then you already know that. Yen Press has been releasing the book and I just so happen to have the fifth installment sitting right next to me. What's going on in this volume?
The back of the manga reads the following:
"Stripped of her sword Kurogamon by her traitorous elder brother, the hospitalized Raimei is forced to face up to the demons brought on by the battle with Raikou. Still, Raimei is not one to take life's blows lying down, and she decides to confront her brother once more. Standing in her way, however, is another member of the Grey Wolves! But instead of instigating another fight, this enemy has a story to tell...a story that will shatter the truth to which Raimei has been clinging for all these years..."
This installment is pretty slick for several reasons, though the most prominent is what happens at the beginning. Yoite decides to visit Miharu, but he chooses a rather inopportune time. Tobari is in the middle of scolding Miharu about the Shinra Banshou powers when Hanai interrupts them to tell them there's a boy collapsed at the street. Naturally Yoite's dangerous atmosphere plays into effect here, but he and Miharu have some quiet time to hang out and they are spoken to about happiness in life by Hanai. It puts an interesting twist on their relationship and the snippet of conversation fleshes out Yoite in a lot of ways.
Raimei spends some time recovering from her confrontation with her brother, and this volume brings the two back together again, though that happens much later on in the book. The stuff that fills the middle mostly focuses on Raikou and his past. Needless to say things aren't exactly the way Raimei's perspective remembered them and Raikou isn't as much a bad guy as he's played up to be. He's still a badass, don't get me wrong, but he's a little misunderstood. I did appreciate the focus on the Grey Wolves ninja this time around as well. If I remember correctly this should be the turning point in their involvement with Miharu, but I'm sure the anime differs largely from the manga.
The thing I like about this volume of Nabari no Ou is the direction is sends the storyline and characters. Events turn things around on their head and what was established up to this point is totally flipped. The last line of the book also leaves the door open for some crazy stuff in the next volume, and I'm sure it will leave fans on the edge of their seats.
If you're new to the franchise Nabari no Ou is a satisfying and cool ninja manga that really pushes the envelope. This installment brings about a lot of change and really sets up the path of things to come.
The sixth installment of Sumomomo, Momomo has hit store shelves. Fans of the series will want to check it out, but by this point newcomers will most likely pass the title over. Is the series worth going back to the original five volumes to check it out?
Sumomomo, Momomo features a story that takes place in a kind of fantasy world that's not too dissimilar from our own in some ways. It revolves around the life of a young girl named Momoko, who is a fierce warrior from the Kuzuryuu clan. She's got some crazy skill, but her sexist father feels that a woman can never reach a man's potential. The only way Momoko will become relevant is by marrying a guy who can help sire the future generations of the Kuzuryuu bloodline. Nice, huh? Well, Momoko winds up betrothed to Koushi from the Inuzuka clan, but the kink in this plan is that Koushi is definitely not the warrior type. He's apathetic and weak, which probably goes against what Momoko's father had in mind.
It's entertaining enough of a concept to keep a series going in my opinion, but this is the first volume I've read so I can't speak to the quality of the other volumes. One of the most difficult things about reviewing manga is coming into a series late in the game. As I haven't read the other installments, I naturally only gleaned so much from this book.
The details on the back of this volume are as follows:
"With three of the four antidote compounds in hand, Momoko and Koushi move on to face their most fearsome opponent yet -- Tenga Koganei! As the poison creeps ever closer to her heart, Momoko falls to the fierce leader of the Tiger Clan. Recognizing that there is little glory in defeating a weakened warrior, Tenga willingly hands over the final ingredient of the concoction that will save Koushi and Momoko. But there's a catch: There is only enough antidote to save one of them!"
The volume begins in the middle of some argument between Momoko and a girl in a Chinese dress. Apparently the girl took it upon herself to trash Momoko's relationship and generally speaking that doesn't go over too well with those of the fairer persuasion. Eventually some giant jackass named Tenga shows up and challenges Momoko. She's put to the test in this fight and to be perfectly honest their confrontation lasts for most of this installment. It's a little drawn out and over-the-top, but then again most big scale anime battles are like that and it hammers home some of Momoko's strengths (and Koushi's weaknesses).
Throughout the volume there's a plotline revolving around Koushi being poisoned in some fashion and there's an antidote out there that could save him. I'm not entirely clear on the details, but this plotline does play into effect in the latter parts of the volume. The Tenga storyline gets resolved by the volume's end, and the book sets up the next leg of the journey.
At the end of the day I enjoyed reading this installment of Sumomomo, Momomo, though much of it was lost on me since I haven't read the rest of the series. The characters seem lively enough and the plot is intriguing, so from my one volume examination the manga is good enough to warrant a recommendation. However, I do have to say that the sexist undertones don't really do the book justice. But then again maybe I'm just reading too much into that aspect.
I freaking LOVE Yotsuba&!! This manga has been a little slice of joy and I borderline get giddy every time a new volume comes out. The ninth has hit store shelves, so what's in store for everyone's favorite five year old this time?
For some information on the series and a recap of the last volume, please check out my review for the eighth installment.
This time around Yotsuba's adventures through childhood continue with some exciting adventures. For starters there's a new addition to the family...Juralumin! Koiwai takes Yotsuba to a teddy bear shop and buys her a new friend. The bear tags along with Yotsuba basically wherever she goes for a while and it's quite entertaining to see her play with her new friend.
Other stuff in this volume includes Koiwai getting a new coffee maker, Yotsuba and her father's friends going out to dinner, and Yotsuba learning what a schedule is and how to make one. Towards the end of the volume Koiwai, Yotsuba, and their neighbors go to see hot air balloons in action. There are little things inside such as Yotsuba learning what a yoga ball is and the neighbors getting a grand tour of Koiwai's house, but that's pretty much it.
I realize that the above description doesn't exactly sound thrilling, but it's so ridiculously charming it's not even funny. This slice of life manga has more personality than you can shake a teddy bear at and Yotsuba is arguably one of the cutest characters ever put into print. Every panel has something to smile about and the book does a marvelous job of getting the childlike sense of wonder through to you as you read. If you've read the book then you know what I'm talking about.
This is a book for everyone, though really I think adults will appreciate its content more. There's something that strikes a cord within you while you read the book. It's funny, charming, and reminiscent of what it means to be a child. The world is a big place full of exciting things, and experiencing them through the eyes of Yotsuba makes everything feel special. This series is an instant classic and is an absolute must buy. I would start with the first volume, however, so that none of Yotsuba's antics are missed.
A Must Buy
by Todd Douglass
A few months ago I reviewed a Kotobukiya Bakemonogatari figure. The figure was nicely designed, as are most Kotobukiya efforts, and really brought a lot of personality to the table. The publisher's follow-up release for the series keeps the charm going with loads of detailing and quirkiness.
Kotobukiya's Hachikuji Mayoi from Bakemonogatari was recently released just this past month. For those of you that haven't seen the show and don't know who Mayoi is, I think it's pretty clear from the pictures I've taken that she's got the kawaii thing down pat. Much like Hitagi was the embodiment of the spirit of the crab, Mayoi's spirit is that of a snail. With the dynamic pose and liveliness of the figure, one wouldn't presume such a thing.
From top to bottom Mayoi is loaded with detail. Her hair is designed in such a way that the pigtails look as though they are whipping through the air. They are connected by some sharp green ribbons and the part in her hair, as is typically a fault in PVC figures, is covered by a white headband. Her bangs also have the same feeling of movement and it remains instep with the rest of the figure. Her face is quite charming with bright red colored eyes and a mischievous smile.
Moving down the figure her arms are positioned in such a way to show strength as she's carrying a large backpack off of junk. Her posture is bent slightly under its weight, but she's hardly skipping a beat. In fact she's positioned on one leg and seems to be hopping along without a care in the world. Her skirt is creased nicely and comes complete with buttons and a cherry design on the front. Her right foot is jutting out to the side as though she's about to come in for a landing, while her left (which features a bandage on the knee) is firmly attached to part of the base.
The base is clear plastic and comes with a removable snail design. Fans of the series will appreciate the subtle character accent to the figure, though the design aesthetic works well whether it's there or not. The build of the base and fact that her foot is screwed into an attachment means Mayoi isn't going anywhere. She's perfectly balanced and firmly rooted. It's too bad because I like displaying my characters without bases whenever possible, though that simply wouldn't work with this kind of pose; and I love the pose!
Now, to the backpack there's a lot going on. For starters it's designed to look like a big, fat, pink bird. The right side of the pack has a grey teddy bear with a tear stuck in the pock, while the left features a rabbit, heart-covered pouch, and label with some kanji on it. Jutting out of the top of the backpack is a giant claw, which adds an air of mystery. Just what is Mayoi hiding inside this thing!?
I'm sure you can see most of these details in the pictures I took of her. I can't stress enough how whimsical this character is in person. There's a certain charm to Mayoi that comes from the design by Koei Matsumoto. The details are flawless on this figure and there's nary a missed opportunity with coloring and production.
My verdict: Highly Recommended
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