FMA: Brotherhood, Kaleido Star, and Black Butler
January 2011 Edition by Todd
Douglass, John Sinnott, Neil Lumbard and Wen-Tsai
by Todd Douglass, John Sinnott, Neil Lumbard and Wen-Tsai
Welcome to the new year! 2010 was a blast and there was tons of fantastic anime that hit Japanese airwaves and US DVD shelves. 2011 promises to be a good year as well with upcoming Stateside releases such as Red Line, Summer Wars, and Evangelion 2.0. As far as what's come through within the past month we've yet again wrapped up our reviews for your convenience in this column. Before we get going too far ahead, let's introduce Neil! He's the latest member of our Anime Talk panel and will be joining us for reviews and columns. Welcome sir!
Some great stuff pass through our hands this month such as Black Butler, another installment of Fullmetal Alchemist, and Kaleido Star. There was also some not-so-great stuff, but that's the same every month it seems. This time around we also have a figure review from Dance in the Vampire Bund courtesy of folks at Kotobukiya, and there's a selection of manga reviews here as well! As always WTK provides some great bargains for all you thrifty otaku. It may be cold outside, but there's plenty to do indoors!
The third installment of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has arrived on Blu-ray. There are few shows where each volume cranks the intensity up a notch. With climaxes aplenty, Fullmetal Alchemist continues to impress and it has kept me on the edge of the seat since the story arc diverged from the original series. In this latest installment Ed and Al head north to a wintery fortress, an interesting new character is introduced, events with Scar take an unexpected turn, and two new homunculi are featured. This is a show that is constantly packed with action and awesome storytelling and I absolutely can't wait until part four comes out!
Speaking of continuing volumes of shows on Blu-ray, Dragon Ball Z: Kai's third installment came out recently as well. If you've seen Dragon Ball Z then you already know what's going on in Kai. This reimagining of the original sees Frieza and his cronies launching an attack on Planet Namek. The difference this time around is the storytelling is more streamline and the action sequences feel sharper as a result. Fans of Dragon Ball will definitely want to invest in Kai if they haven't already.
Tsubasa: The OVA Collection is an enticing release for fans of the show. This single disc release features five OVA episodes that offer two different storylines. The nice thing about these episodes is that canon in the sense that they feature main villains of the show and continue to offer adventures with Syaoran and the gang. It's nothing groundbreaking by any means, but if you're looking for more CLAMP and more Tsubasa, you simply can't go wrong here!
Romance of the Three Kingdoms and boobs go together like...well, nothing really. Koihime Musou has been released by Sentai Filmworks/Section23 and it's not exactly what you'd call a great success. The show features a bevy of busty babes traveling the countryside in China defeating bandits and whatnot. There's plenty of opportunities for fan-service, since this is an ecchi show based on an eroge PC title, after all. Ultimately it's episodic and slightly charming at points, but hardly anything to get super excited about.
One show that is worth getting at least a little excited over is Black Butler. Though episodic in its own right, Black Butler provides plenty of dark mystery, supernatural action, and fun storylines. The show takes place in Victorian era London and features a young boy who just so happens to be the head of a major estate. He's joined by a mysterious and deadly butler that may or may not be a devil in disguise. This first installment was good enough to keep me intrigued until the last episode!
Gravitation is a surprisingly enjoyable show. It's primarily a shounen-ai romance and yet that doesn't prevent it from having a number of humorous moments spread throughout. It's quirky characters keep things interesting while it's entertaining writing and direction help it to succeed at a unique level for the genre. It's newly released DVD thin-pack may be light on extras, but the show itself is worth taking a chance on.
Have you ever had a dream that you wished to pursue? We will assume that the answer is a resounding 'YES!'. As long as that is indeed correct (and how could it not be?!) Kaleido Star: Season One would make an excellent addition to the growing library of any anime fan. The series found within Funimation's newly released DVD box-set reveals to audiences one of the most optimistic and uplifting stories ever told in the art form. It will also have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. If your anime collection does not contain this season set you surely overlooked the series in the past. Now would be the perfect time to introduce yourself to Kaleido Star. Highly Recommended!
Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies would be an important title for any Dragon Ball fan to have. This DVD release represents the realization of what longtime Dragon Ball fans have hoped to see happen for years. Funimation at last presents the first Dragon Ball feature film UNCUT and with a brand spankin' new English Dub. Don't miss your opportunity to revisit this fun and entertaining classic entry in the Dragon Ball saga.
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 1/16/2011!
by Todd Douglass
I bet you've never seen a vampire that looks like this before. Mina Tepes from Dance in the Vampire Bund is one of Kotobukiya's latest figures and it stands out for several reasons. Not the least of which is the loli design of the character.
Dance in the Vampire Bund has made headlines here in the States even though the series has yet to be released on DVD (though you can catch it online via streaming if you want to check it out). The series is controversial in a way since little Miss Mina is decidedly young in appearance. Those who have seen the show know that's nowhere near the case, since she's actually a princess in the vampire world and is hundreds of years old, but I digress. Mina has a naughty streak and her prepubescent appearance is pretty much just a mask.
Kotobukiya's version of Mina isn't shy about exploiting both sides of the character. For starters the figure is decidedly loli by design, but the naughty bits come into focus thanks to a seductive pose and lingerie. This is one vampire you might not mind being bitten by; loli fan or not (and for the record I'm not; I just happen to like the character in the show).
For starters, this Mina Tepes is different from most other anime figures out there thanks to her pose. She's lounging on a chair and not standing up, which is definitely a nice change of pace, even though it presents some problems. There is a chair that acts as a base and a piece of red velvet-textured cloth that sits on top. Once that's set up Mina rests on the chair as one might expect, however, the material of the cloth and the PVC of the figure don't exactly work well together. While they may be visually appealing as an aesthetic, in practicality the figure slides off too easily. It can be frustrating getting the figure to sit correctly because of this and it requires lots of experimenting. Just hope your figure shelf doesn't shake too much or you'll find yourself placing Mina back on her perch. This isn't a crippling flaw, but until you get the figure set correctly you should expect some frustration.
As far as the design is concerned, from top to bottom Mina is packed with details that outshine the display technicalities.
Her hair is long, flowing and golden with lots of details, curves, and spot on color control. There's no real split at the top of the head, which is a common figure problem, and her lengthy pigtails are tied off via ribbons on each side of her head. As you can tell from the photos, her face is rather whimsical and seductive. She's looking ever so slightly to the side with her red-tinted eyes and licking her white gloved hand in the process. It's a nice look that really captures the soul of the character.
Moving down the character there's a lace collar around her neck, which matches the details on the rest of her outfit. Her bodice, which is a deep red/purple is trimmed with ribbons and white lace, her leggings are trimmed with the same lace and elastic band, and there's a latex-like shine to the nylons and gloves. I liked the way the paint captured surrounding light and reflected it with a glossy texture.
Contrasting the stark red base, richly colored lingerie, and pure white accessories is Mina's pale complexion. You can tell his character is a vampire just from the "I haven't seen the sun in a couple hundred years" skin tone. It adds to the allure of the figure and definitely tips the scale in the quality control department. The pain job as a whole on this figure is fantastic and there really wasn't a flaw to speak of on my copy.
This figure will look stunning in anyone's collection, but it will be something Dance in the Vampire Bund fans will appreciate most. If you don't know the character you're probably going to be turned off by the loli with sex appeal kind of thing, but it's a look that works for Mina and Mina alone. Consider this figure strongly recommended for anyone interested in the show. I can't wait for FUNimation to release the DVDs, and just hope they come uncensored whenever that happens. For larger resolution images, please check out the original review for this figure here.
Mina Tepes from Kotobukiya is made of high quality PVC and measures 1/6 in scale, which is roughly 7 inches from head to toe. Sitting on the base I'd say she's roughly 4 inches to the top. The figure is currently available, as she was released in November 2010, and can be found at the following retailers:
by Todd Douglass
Manhwa is a popular sub-section in the graphic novel industry. These books from Korean creators have the properties of manga, but often view the subject matter and cultural references differently. In my opinion they totally stand apart from manga, for good and bad reason. Yen Press is the main purveyor of manhwa here in the States and over the past couple of months they've released several titles. Link to Article.
Zany kendo comedy goodness awaits readers in the latest installment of Bamboo Blade. The release from Yen Press continues to move forward and at this point the manga is really starts to heat up. I just put down the seventh volume of the Bamboo Blade manga, and I dare say I really like where things are headed. Link to Article.
Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning is a long-running manga series that has been turned into an anime. 15 volumes of the book have been released in Japan, and in the States Yen Press has had the license for a while. Volume 13 showed up recently and I just finished going through the book cover to cover. Link to Article.
Ever heard of GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class? Well, maybe you have, but I haven't. The series, created by Satoko Kiyuduki, was originally released in 2004. Yen Press sent over the third volume of this yonkoma and I just gave it a shot today. What did I think? Link to Article.
One thing I've discovered from the deluge of manga titles every month is that invariably there's a great amount of exposure to a gamut of titles. Some first volumes come out, but for the most part we're looking at continuations of ongoing series. As a review it's rather difficult to just jump in feet first into a show already a decent click into its run, but it's kind of fun as well. With that in mind I jump into Black God's eleventh volume. Link to Article.
I don't know about you, but I'm kind of burnt out on the zombie. I mean, I love a good zombie story just like everyone else, but the motif is getting so long in tooth it's not even funny. Games, comics, books, TV, movies, and anime; they all have tackled the living dead at some point or another. The latest attempt, at least in the animated sense, was High School of the Dead. Link to Article.
Not long ago I had a manhwa review wrap-up, but for some reason Jack Frost volume four didn't make its way there. I just checked out this book by Jinho Ko. What's it all about? Link to Article.
Hey, what do you know? It's another volume of Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning! This long running release licensed in the States by Yen Press continues to pump out the volumes. Only one volume remains, and I still don't really know 100% what's going on....Link to Article.
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January 2015 Edition
2013 Q4 Top Anime Titles from RightStuf.com, Part 1
Crunchy Roll, Lupin, and Bunny Drop