Saturday, July 30, 2016

Magika Swordsman and Summoner Vol. #01

Magika Swordsman and Summoner Vol. 1Magika Swordsman and Summoner Vol. 1 by Mitsuki Mihara
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Before I get into this review, I want to state that Magika Swordsman and Summoner is a harem manga. If you dislike fanservice, nudity, and one dude surrounded by a bunch of females for no apparent reason, this manga isn't going to be for you. That said, if you're curious to know what this series is all about, please continue on.

Magika Swordsman and Summoner is the story of a bland main protagonist named Hayashizaki Kazuki. The story begins with our harem protagonist waking up his older sister, who, oddly enough, acts more like she's his younger sister. Also, and maybe it's just me, but I feel like our protagonist's sister has a bit of a brother complex. Just a small possibility. I suppose it's a good thing she and Ka-chan aren't actually related.

Continuing on, we learn that Ka-chan is going to attend the Caryatid National Knight Academy. This is a magical academy, which is divided into two sections, Kengika and Magika, or swordsmanship and summoning. Ka-chan is a summoner while his Kanae, his sister, is a swordsman. That said, we learn early on that Ka-chan is actually an able swordsman and only became a summoner because he received an enigma, which is like a mark on a person's hand that tells everyone they've been contracted to a diva. We also learn that Ka-chan is the only male summoner.

Upon their arrival at the academy, Kanae separates from Ka-chan to settle a dispute between a swordsman and a summoner. I'm guessing there's tension between the two groups. Ka-chan is then introduced to Kaguya Otonashi, the student council president of the magika side, and a woman whose breasts are about the size of her head. You think I'm joking? No, I am not joking. Dem boobs are huge.

After the orientation, in which Otonashi displays a summoner's power and we're given a long lecture that stands as one of this manga's info-dumps, Ka-chan attends his first class. Here, we are introduced to two other members of the harem: Amasaki Mio and Hiakari Koyuki. We also discover that Ka-chan's teacher is a loli who goes by the name Lizlisa Westwood. It's unknown whether she is going to become a part of Ka-chan's harem, but given the nature of manga like this, the chances are pretty high.

After class, everyone in attendance tries to enter the astral plane and contact their diva. Now, here's a little info dump for you. The astral plane is basically a magical realm where all the divas are located, and when a summoner completes the contract between them and their diva, their enigma changes into a stigmata.

Naturally, Mio and Kyouki are ably to not only make contact with their diva, but they also manage to summon their battle armor. Yes, their armor is skimpy as fuck and I don't know if I'd call it battle armor. I think click bait might be a more effective term. That said, I can't deny the aesthetic appeal. Say what you will about the story, the artwork, at least on the females, is top quality.

Of course, while Ka-chan can't summon his battle armor, which I think is a good thing, he does manage to summon his Diva. I call her jail bait. Pedobears would love her. Her name is Leme, and she apparently has amnesia. She can't remember a single thing about herself. I guess this is the “I'd like to hide what threadbare story I have behind a curtain of mystery” plot. Nothing too exciting.

After the summoning is complete, Ka-chan is taken to the place where he'll be staying. Known as the Witch's Manor, this all-girls dorm has now become Ka-chan's private playpen. I mean, what else can it be when you're the main protagonist of an explicit harem series?

Naturally, we're introduced to another member of the cast, and we learn a few new secrets. For example, Mio apparently knows Ka-chan from somewhere. Given what she's told us about growing up in an orphanage, and the fact that Ka-chan is a former orphan himself, we can make some logical assumptions here. Aside from learning that Mio and Ka-chan have shared history, we also learn that Leme's true name is Lemegeton, and that she is the Lesser Key of Solomon.

Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Isn't she supposed to have amnesia?

Well, in either event, Leme tells Ka-chan that he is going to become a harem king. I find it rather refreshing that we're told this in the first volume. Now no one can actually complain about reading a harem series, and if they do, well, they only have themselves to blame.

Some things happen after that, none of them too important. We're left on a bit of a cliff hanger ending, and that's about the short of it.

Now, in spite of how I've poked fun of the series, I don't actually dislike this manga. I'm a huge fan of the harem genre. The fanservice has nothing to do with it. I'm serious. That said, while I'm a fan, I understand that manga like this are a highly acquired taste. It really isn't for everyone. If you don't like harems, fanservice, bland main protagonists, and a plot that's so thin you can see through it from several miles away, then this probably won't be for you. That said, anyone who is a fan of the harem genre will definitely enjoy the series. It's not going to win any Best Manga of the Year awards, but it's a series that stays within the confines of a successful genre and manages to give you some of the loveliest artwork I've seen in a while.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why KonoSuba is Hilarious

Why KonoSuba is the Funniest Anime in Years

Hell everyone! It's Brandon, and today, I am going to talk about a very serious topic...

Actually, that's a lie. What I have to talk about isn't serious at all. So, then, what am I going to talk today, you may ask? Today, I am going to tell you why KonoSuba is the funniest anime to have ever been produced in recent years. So sit your ass down and listen—listen and be amazed by this harrowing tale of the most dysfunctional D&D party to have ever formed.

KonoSuba God's Blessing from Another World takes your average Hikkikomori NEET, and transports him to another world.

Oh. For those who don't know the term, a hikkikomori is basically a shut-in who shuns all forms of social interaction because they're afraid of being around people, and a NEET stands for Not Employed, in Education, or Training.

Anyway, the story starts off during one of those rare occasions where our hikkikomori NEET, who goes by the name Kazama something or other, comes out of his small room. Of course, his only reason for leaving is because he wants a new limited edition video game, which I believe comes with a figurine or something. While he's traveling back home, he comes across a girl who is about to get hit by a moving vehicle. In an out of character display of kindess, Kazama pushes the girl out of the way to protect her and then dies.

He wakes up to find himself sitting in a chair. In front of the chair is a cute girl with blue hair and blue eyes. Known as Aqua, this cute girl is actually a goddess. She tells Kazama that he has unfortunately become one of the dearly departed. Kazama is depressed, but then he asks about the girl he saved. Aqua, of course, tells him that the girl is fine, to which Kazama expresses his relief. Sadly, his relief is short-lived when Aqua, being the kind goddess that she is, informs Kazama that even if he hadn't pushed her out of the way, the girl would have still been fine. She then goes on to explain that not only would the girl not have been hit because the tractor—yes, tractor—would have stopped, but that Kazama didn't even die because he was run over. He died from shock. She is also kind enough to tell him that his death was so absurd that his family laughed when they heard about it.

Even in death, poor NEETS and hikkikomoris are made fun of.

Aqua offers him a new chance at life. He can be reincarnated in another world with all of his memories intact, and he will be given a special ability that no one in that other world will have. All he has to do in return is slay the demon king. Now, Kazama is a mature and intelligent young man, and being a person of such intelligence, such maturity, he makes the only reasonable request a man of his stature can—he demands that Aqua comes with him, and that, my friends, is the start of what has quickly become one of the most hilarious parodies I've ever seen in my life.

One thing that I really loved about this series is how it takes a completely overused concept that's been done to death in anime, and remakes it into something that is not only watchable, but also so funny I nearly pissed myself watching it. Every episode had me holding my gut with laughter. The characters were hilarious. Everything felt fresh and new simply because of how absurd each episode was. Even the obligatory perverted episode that comes in towards the end felt original because of how the characters acted.

What made this anime really shine wasn't the story—because let's face it, this anime doesn't have a story. It's the myriad of exaggeratedly preposterous scenarios that our dysfunctional characters find themselves in, which brings me to another factor that made this anime so interesting: the characters. Oh, god, the characters.

Kazama is not what I would call your typical hero. The main protagonist of an anime of this nature is generally a kind-hearted, slightly bumbling, and a completely dense person who, despite not realizing it, has a magnetic force known as Every Girl Likes Nice Guys...

Excuse me while I laugh. Okay. I'm done.

Kazama is, to put it in the most blunt manner possible, a complete jerk. Sure, he sometimes displays kindness, but that's usually in between moments when he's either having an internal monologue that insults one of his party members, insulting a certain goddess out loud, or generally being a stuck up prick. And you know what? I like that. Sure, I'd never be this guy's friend, but for a parody series about a guy being sent to another world, this dude's personality is grade-a awesome.

I could go on about what makes Kazama so funny, but I'd be remiss not to discuss the other characters. First off, you have Aqua, a goddess who's as useless as she is stupid, and no, I'm not insulting just because the main character does. Aqua is, quite literally, the dumbest character in the series. She's arrogant, self absorbed, is always getting into debt and trying to get Kazama to bail her out of it with some outrageous quest, or is telling Kazama that he should worship the very ground she walks on because she's a goddess.

The personality that these two have opens up a whole new dynamic for this genre of anime. I would even go so far as to say that KonoSuba has reinvented the “stuck in another world” genre. Every time these two interact, I'm bound to bust a gut from laughing too damn hard.

And let's not forget the other two characters; Megumi and Darkness. Megumi is a Chuunibyo, pure and simple.

Oh, right. A Chuunibyo is someone who believes they have special powers, like, legitimately, honestly believes that they have powers. The term is roughly translated into Middle School Second Year Syndrome in English. I know. It's a really long translation for a single word. (webcam)

Anyway, Megumi is an arch wizard with a love for explosions. She can't do anything other than explosion magic, which makes her essentially useless for most of the series. It's a damn good thing they don't do much where a good arch wizard would be useful. It's also nice that the plot throws her an occasional bone where she can fire off some explosions...

Like a castle. Or a duluhan. Or a giant machine of mass destruction.

After Megumi comes Darkness. At first glance, she seems like your typical swordswoman. She's a gorgeous blonde with traditional female fantasy armor and a mysterious demeanor—at least until you find out that she's so clumsy she never hits her target, even when they're stationary. What's more, Darkness is a masochist. She literally gets off on being beaten by her enemies, like, she really, really, really gets off on it.

What I really love about these characters is how their original archetypes are twisted. Aqua is an arch priest, Megumi is an arch wizard, Darkness is a crusader, and Kazama is an adventurer. When you think of these archetypes, you generally have a set of standard tropes that are used to define certain personality traits. Generally, the characters are noble, compassionate, and chivalrous.

KonoSuba takes those archetypes, shoves them in the incinerate, and then pisses on them for kicks.

I feel like I should be clear on this, though I think everyone is already aware of this point. KonoSuba does not actually have a plot—not in the way a traditional story might. It's a parody. Everything within the series revolves around the comedy. I would even go so far as to say that the deliverance of said comedy is the plot. If you're looking for an epic story, you'll want to go somewhere else. That said, if you want to laugh until you cough up your liver, this is the only show to watch.

I would like to thank everyone for watching this video. If you liked it, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel. Also, if you want to help me out, then be sure to share this video on twitter, facebook, and other social media sites. Now, then, it's been awesome listening to myself pontificate, but I have to trim my armpit hairs. I'll see you all later.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Re Zero, Volume 1

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-, Vol. 1Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-, Vol. 1 by Tappei Nagatsuki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For those who'd prefer to watch instead of read:

I just finished reading volume 1 of the Re Zero – Starting Life in Another World light novel series, and I can I just say holy shit? While I was slightly disappointed with certain aspects of the light novel, it was overall one of the more satisfying reads.

For those of you who've watched the anime, you'll know the basics. Natsuki Subaru is a NEET, which stands for Not in Education, Employment or Training. One day while he's coming home from the grocery store, he gets sent to another world, one that looks like it came straight from the Dungeon Master's Guide.

What I really love about the light novel is how, in the prologue of the series, we don't start off with highly detailed world building. Instead, we're introduced to our main character just as he dies. Yes, dies. He dies in the freaking prologue. How intense is that? I'm not one for violence, but the sheer audacity of having the main character die within the prologue is just awesome. My hats off to the author—at least it would be if I had a hat.

After the prologue, we follow our main protagonist as he struggles to deal with being sent to a fantasy world. Subaru is a pretty self-aware and genre-savvy character. He immediately figures out what's going on, that he's been transported to another world, and that he has some kickass super power that will come out at the appropriate time... (insert laughter here) Yeah, no. Subaru has no power, which I actually found kind of refreshing. It's clear from the onset that despite knowing he was sent to another world, Subaru is in way over his head. He's basically a regular teenager with no special traits and few good qualities. That said, despite how slow he can sometimes be, I was rather impressed with how developed he was as a character. His personality is very clear; he's somewhat abrasive and kind of rude, but he's genuinely a decent person who, upon being thrust into an unfamiliar world, is forced to face several hard truths. I think he did a pretty decent job, all things considered.

Going back to the concept of super powers, Subaru actually does have one power, but it only activates when he dies. Called Return by Death by Subaru, it basically acts as a form of reset. Whenever he dies, Subaru is sent back to a specific point in time. Now, I've heard so many theories about this: Subaru's stuck in a time loop, Subaru's not going back in time but creating a completely new dimension, blah, blah, blah. I've got some theories of my own, but until I have some solid evidence that one of them are correct, I'm not going into them. I don't want to embarrass myself.

One of the other characters who we're introduced to is a half elf who calls herself Satella. Satella is a gorgeous girl who looks to be around Subaru's age with silver hair and purple eyes. Looking at the front cover and illustrations of her, I can agree with Subaru's assessment. Men would probably die for her smile. I really have to give props on her design. While she does look like a classical example of a heroine, she's probably one the prettiest heroines I've seen by now.

What I like the most about Satella has nothing to do with her beauty, however, but with her kindness. We learn from the onset that Satella is a very kind person; she helps people even when it means getting further away from her goal, she allows Subaru to help her despite the fact that he's actually dragging her down, and she has an earnest disposition that suits someone with the heroine status. Sort of like how Subaru fell in love with her at first sight, I found her character to be very endearing right from the beginning.

We're also introduced to Puck, a spirit who's been contracted to Satella. Puck's personality is playful and open, but also somewhat mysterious. I don't know much about Puck other than that. I guess it was done on purpose. The author doesn't want us knowing too much yet.

There are four other characters of interest that will become more important later in the story: Felt, who is a little blond girl that steals Satella's insignia, Old Man Rom, who owns the loot house, and Reinhard, a master swordsman who comes from a powerful master swordsman lineage. He's like the ultimate badass, and he's usually the kind of hero that stories are often told about. The last character of interest is Elsa, who goes by the name Bowel Hunter because, well, I guess she likes to open up people's stomachs and spill their insides all over the floor. She's kinda creepy, but I think that's what makes her such an interesting villain.

While reading this volume was a delight, the one thing I have an issue with is the English. Now, I know this was translated from Japanese, but with all the hype surrounding this series, one would think that Yen Press would do the best job they can to ensure that they have as few mistakes as possible. However, when reading this volume, I found several of mistakes. Grammar mistakes, syntax errors. The biggest issue was definitely the syntax. There were a number of times where I'd have to reread a sentence because it didn't sound right, and then I'd realize it was because a word got mixed up or the sentence didn't make sense due to how it was written. These parts would tear me right out of the story.

"As a popular male, it really is tough on me. I can never put the girls to sleep." ~ Puck, a mischievous cat spirit.

That said, I still had a lot of fun reading this light novel, which is why I'm giving it 4-stars. If the grammar had been a bit better, I would've given it a five, and even with the few mistakes, I'm still going to recommend this light novel to anyone who's looking for a story with an interesting plot twists that's been placed in a story that has a somewhat overused concept.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why I Like Chivalry of a Failed Knight

Here is my Youtube review for Chivalry of a Failed Knight. Please be sure to let me know how I'm doing. Also, if you liked my video, be sure to subscribe to my youtube channel and give this video a thumbs up. The more people who subscribe, the more likely I am to keep making these.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Shokugeki no Soma Video Review!

I've decided to do something new by creating a video review for anime that I like... or hate. This is my first video review, so please let me know how I'm doing. Also, please like the video and subscribe to my channel. The more subscribers I have, the more likely I am to keep doing this. Thanks everyone!

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Monday, July 11, 2016

12 Beast, Volume 1!

12 Beast Vol. 112 Beast Vol. 1 by OKAYADO
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

12 Beast is the second series created by OKAYADO, the man who created the NYC best seller, Monster Musume. And just like Monster Musume, 12 Beast is chalk full of fan service and gorgeous monster girls, but this time it all takes place in a fantasy setting.

The series is about Eita Touga, a young man who loves playing video games a little too much. He also happens to be a ninja who's been trained in ninjutsu techniques by his grandfather. Yes, a gamer has become a ninja. What has this world come to?

During the first volume, we're introduced to Aero, a harpy who has a request for Eita. She wants him to help save her world, Re-verse, which is like a fantasy world that you can only get to by going through a dimensional gate. Her world is under attack by machines known as Gigas. Sadly, Eita only cares about video games and doesn't want to get involved. It's too bad for him Aero has no intention of listening and drags him into her world anyway.

This series has a lot of action. While Monster Musume was pure fanservice-y fluff, this one appears to have something resembling a plot--even if it is kind of a cliche'd plotline. The story still isn't that serious, however. I have a feeling the plot is mostly there to deliver interesting bits of humor and titillation. Since OKAYADO is the one making this, I have a feeling we're going to get a lot more fetishy soon.

Overall, I'd have to say this series isn't bad, but it lacks the charm of Monster Musume, which is oddly cute despite the fetish fueled fanservice. I did enjoy reading this, and I bought the other two volumes that have come out. I'll probably finish those two volumes and make a decision on whether or not I'll continue reading this from that.

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Reason Twin Star Exorcist is Just an Okay Anime

Last season saw a number of entertaining anime, including the likes of My Hero Academia and RE Zero - Starting Life in Another World, which I feel were the two best anime to have come out this season. However, not every anime that came out was amazing. Some were mediocre, and some were just okay.

Twin Star Exorcist is an anime that was just okay. It wasn't bad by any means, but it didn't have anything that made it stand out in the crowd. I guess it wouldn't be inaccurate to say that this series was an example of an average shonen. It had all of the standard shonen tropes, some of which it used well and others that fell flat. As interesting as the concept was, and as good as I think this anime could have been, I believe that it failed to live up to its full potential.

The first issue lay within the two main characters. Rokuro and Benio are the most typical example of a shonen couple. Rokuro is rash, reckless, and idiotic. Benio is calm and collected... until someone tries to steel her sweets. From the moment they meet, they hate each other. Despite this, everyone who sees them comments on how they, "act like a married couple." Clearly, these idiots have never seen a real married couple before. I don't think this would have been as big of a problem if the animators had done this right, but the problem is that they try too hard. When I watched this, I felt less like Benio and Rokuro's dislike of each other was justified, and more like the two were simply created this way for the sake of adding "couple humor." The fact that even after 12 episodes they are no closer to liking each other only adds evidence to prove my point. This sort of trope is only entertaining for a few episodes before it becomes contrite and dull. For something like this to work, something needs to happen. The characters need to progress. When they don't, the humor loses its appeal.

My second issue with this anime was the filler episodes. Filler episodes in anime are generally used to "fill in the space" between plots after the anime has caught up with the manga. Sadly for Twin Star Exorcist, there's no need for filler here. While the manga may only be around 8 volumes, each volume is comprised of, I believe, 4 or 5 chapters. If each episode of the anime used 2 chapters of the manga--chapters in Twin Star are generally around 30 to 50 pages, so this is perfectly viable--then they should easily be able to keep up with the manga. Now, if they actually DID run out of content, then they could have gone the filler route, but since there's no need, the filler is even more useless than the filler episodes in Naruto. Seeing several episodes worth of pointless filler that introduces characters who I don't even remember seeing in the manga bored me to tears. This is especially true because none of those episodes did anything. They didn't develop the characters, they didn't help the characters grow stronger, and they didn't give us any background information to help us understand the characters. I know filler is done to fill in the blank space between the actual story, but I really wish they had at least been done to serve a purpose.

And now for the biggest failure from this anime: This guy. Right here. This little mascot guy. I hate this creature. I hate him so much. Not only was he not in the manga, but his entire purpose is pointless and he annoys me to no end. One thing that I've always disliked about certain shonen anime are the annoying mascot characters. They're so hard to do right. Everyone seems to think that by making this cute little creature spew insults at the male protagonist while glorifying the female protagonist is funny, but it isn't. It really isn't. It's annoying. It's even worse than the "guy accidentally sees the female protagonist naked, and then gets his butt kicked by said furious female, even though she should have locked the door, which would have prevent this entire situation from happening." Perhaps not so surprisingly, this trope is also used in the anime. Heck, it even throws in the, "let's get angry at the male protagonist for having porn even though the female isn't dating the male protagonist" trope.

All that said, I don't think this was a terrible anime. Not very good, perhaps. But not terrible. I ascribe to the belief that an anime doesn't need to be excellent in order to be entertaining, and Twin Star Exorcist fits this. It's not amazing, but it still does a decent job of entertaining me.

If you're into the shonen/action/romantic comedy genre, then you'll enjoy this, just like I did. And hey! This anime is supposed to have 50 episodes and only 13 are out, so if you do like this series, you'll have a good amount of episodes to enjoy it.