Sesho's Anime And Manga Reviews
My main focus is reviewing manga and anime, but I also review Japanese literature, movies, and videogames. Basically, if it has anything to do with Japan, I'll talk about it, along with a dash of Korea and China.

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  • VAMPYBIT.ME - The official Linda Le Weblog

    Free To View Anime

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  • Funimation Needs Comments on Sgt. Frog Episode 1

    Funimation needs your comments about its working print of Sgt. Frog Episode 1. They have the first episode up on Youtube.com. Here's the link (the click here picture to the right doesn't work):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ5mQPVQmZ8

    I don't like dubs so I didn't even watch it. I simply posted the comment that they should also put up the subtitled version as well. It seems like this show has been languishing in the dark and disgusting depths of ADV for years now.

    Direct download: sgt._frog.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 11:36am CDT

    Anime DVD Review-- Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy Volume 5

    Anime dvd review of Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy Volume 5: "That Old Black Magic". Directed and written by Hiroaki Gohda. Published by ADV Films. Episodes 17-20, Running Time: 100 minutes, Rated 13+, List Price: 29.98.

    Last volume, Marller suceeded in seprating Urd into her two composite halves, demon and goddess. The two bodies were rejoined into one but there are still some imbalance problems between the two personalities. Because her soul is out of sync, one of the personalities will be lost...unless Belldandy and company can find a higher power than themselves to help Urd. They rule out asking the "Almighty", or God, because Belldandy is afraid that he will get rid of her demon side entirely. That leaves only one other entity with the required power...Hilda, the queen of Hell, and the ruler of all demonkind!  She also happens to be Urd's mother.  She and Urd don't really talk much because Urd fears her corrupting influence. Of course, Hilda would like nothing more than for Urd to give up her Goddess life and come live with her. Hilda tells Urd that she will help her in exchange for a unknown favor. Urd agrees as long as the future favor will not conflict with her role as a goddess. Hilda becomes a new character that goads on the ever ineffectual Marller to continue to get out of her depth in an effort to strike a blow for demons everywhere. Marller even sends a magical ninja to take out the goody-two-shoe band of friends. Ironically, as befits Marller's small mind, the ninja is the size of a mouse.

    It was cool to see Urd's mom, who seems to have been married to the Almighty at some point. Now, that's weird... the queen of Hell sleeping around with God? Does that mean that the Almighty is Urd's dad? Ah My Goddess is a series that is at its least when it tries to get too serious, for instance, when Urd or Belldandy lose control of their powers or are possessed. It is at its best when it moves the story along with lightheartedness, humor, and a mood that almost strikes one as langorous. If you've gotten this far into the second season you should know the characters pretty well so they almost seem like old friends. The show is good at adding new twists and new characters like Hilda, which keep the story fresh and funny. Highly recommended.

    My Grade: A

    The six individual volumes of this series were published by ADV Films and you can pick them up at www.Rightstuf.com for $5 each.

    Funimation has the license now and just came out with the box set this week. Here's the official website:

     http://www.funimation.com/ahmygoddess/

     

    Direct download: ah_my_goddess5.jpg
    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 10:18am CDT

    Podcast Episode 141: Hayate Cross Blade Volume 1

    Podcast manga review of Hayate Cross Blade Volume 1 by Shizuru Hayashiya. Translated by Adrienne Beck. Adapted by Ed Chavez. Originally published by Media Works in Japan. Published in US by Tor/Seven Seas, $9.99, Rated OT 16+.

    The all-girls boarding school Tenchi Academy isn't just known for its quality academics--it's also known for training the top sword fighters in the country. Students in the special "Sword Bearer" program compete in a school-wide battle known as the Star Stealing, striving to win both money and fame.

    Enter Kurogane Hayate. With her sister Nagi recovering from a lingering injury, the spunky and cheerful Hayate must take her place at the Academy until Nagi is well enough to return. When Hayate learns of the mountain of debt her old orphanage, the Dandelion Garden, owes to Yakuza loan sharks, she decides to become a sword-bearer and win the Star Stealing.

    There's just one problem...she needs a partner to compete and the one girl Hayate has her eye on wants nothing to do with her!

    My Grade: B+

    You can view a free manga preview of Hayate Cross Blade at:

    http://www.gomanga.com/manga/hayatexblade.php

    Direct download: Episode_141--Hayate_Cross_Blade_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:02am CDT

    Manga Review: Negima! Volume 4

    Manga review of Negima Volume 4 by Ken Akamatsu. Translated by Douglas Varenas. Adapted by Peter and Kathleen O'Shea David. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Del Rey, $10.95, Rated OT Ages 16+ for Mature Audiences.

    Most of the third volume of Negima was taken up with Negi's battle with Evangeline McDowell, a vampire who had been cursed by Negi's dad, the Southern Master, and trapped in the body of a young girl. Evangeline believed that his father was dead but Negi tells her the story of how the Southern Master was the one who gave Negi his staff. Negi wants to find him but has no idea of where to look. Evangeline suggests he look in Kyoto, where his dad used to live. In a bit of a selfish act, mixing business with pleasure, Negi proposes that his class go on a field trip there. That way, he won't have to miss work. The headmaster of the school agrees to let them go to Kyoto but he also has a task for Negi to perform. Apparently, Kyoto falls under the territory of the Kansai Magic Association, which has a running dispute with Negi's Kanto branch. In an effort to smooth out the relationship between the two organizations, the headmaster appoints Negi as an ambassador of sorts and gives him a letter to be delivered only into the hands of the leader of the Kansai wizards. Unfortunately, there are elements of the Kansai group that do not want peace with Kanto and want to keep Negi from fulfilling his mission.

    As always, the first thing that jumps out at you with Negima is the excellent art in which Ken Akamatsu cleverly combines cuteness, comedy, realism, sexiness, and and great layout to create a very unique style. The story is where this book could get a bit muddled. I mean how many times can we stomach someone's clothes getting blown off at least once a volume, if not more, without it becoming a cheap parlor trick? Well, the answer for now is...a lot more! This series hasn't worn out its welcome yet, seeing as how we know so little about the 31 girls in Negi's class. In this volume the spotlight focuses on Miyazaki, who is pining to declare her love to Negi, and Setsuna, a sword bearing student  who is a bit of an enigma. She seems to be obsessed with Konoka, but Negi has to figure out whether she's trying to protect Konoka, or working for the Kansai faction.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: negima4.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 12:24pm CDT

    Well, hopefully, my feed is running smoothly again. I was having a bit of trouble getting Itunes to upload my newest podcast, #140.  As I mentioned in the blog a little bit ago, Feedburner was migrating its accounts over to Google without the permission of its users and somehow mine was getting lost in the shuffle. It pissed me off that they were mucking about with my feed. So I just took Feedburner out of the equation. And now it seems that my latest show has finally appeared on Itunes. It shouldn't affect your feed if you subscribe to my show, but if it does, again, my feed is:

    http://sesho.libsyn.com/rss

    I would say steer clear of Feedburner if you're looking for a site to get stats about your downloads, because those faceless phantoms could care less about the people that use its services.

    Oh yeah, I guess it's about time that I came up with an illustration to put up for my show on Itunes. Right now its that oddly disturbing upside down ice cream cone with a ball on top of it. I've gone for over a year now without putting up a picture for my show. So maybe it's something I can work on during the holidays.

    Category:general -- posted at: 8:45pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 140: Inukami! Volume 1

    Podcast manga review of Inukami! Volume 1. Story by Mamizu Arisawa. Art by Mari Matsuzawa. Character design by Kanna Wakatsuki. Translated by Rhys Moses. Adapted by Lorelei Laird. Originally published in Japan by Media Works. Published in US by Seven Seas/Tor, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    A wacky love comedy about a boy and his dog-goddess.

    Inukami: a sacred being with a dog-like appearance that forges a contract with a powerful human tamer to help them eliminate evil monsters and demons.

    Though Kawahira Keita is the descendent of a long line of Inukami-tamers, he seems to lack the necessary ability and has been forsaken by his family. One day, he meets a cute Inukami named Yoko, who, at first glance, looks graceful, obedient, and beautiful...but upon forging a contract with her, Keita discovers that Yoko is a wild and mischievous Inukami that no one has ever been able to control.

    My Grade: A

    Here's the opening of the anime version:

    Direct download: Episode_140--Inukami_volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:08pm CDT

    Anime DVD Review: Project Blue Earth SOS Volume 1

    Anime DVD review of Project Blue Earth SOS Volume 1: Invasion. Directed by Tensai Okamura (Wolf's Rain, Darker than Black). Series Composition by Ryota Yamaguchi (Cowboy Bebop, One Piece, Escaflowne). Published by ADV Films (license has been picked up by Funimation),  Running Time: 90 minutes, Episodes 1-2, Rated 15+.

    Something strange happened on the boundaries of space far above the USA in 1995. A pilot named James was testing out the new G-Reaction jet engine, which would allow a plane to circle the Earth in one hour, when a strange sight confronted him. James' last report was that he saw rainbow colored lights, then a flying saucer, and then ground control lost touch with him. Especially hardhit was his friend and commander, Captain Clayton. Now, five years later, strange occurences around G-Reaction powered vehicles have been more and more frequent. Planes, vehicles, and even aircraft carriers have been disappearing. One such incident introuduces us to most of the cast of the show. It is the maiden route of a new G-Reaction train that brings out most of the movers and shakers of Metropolitan, the capital of Earth. That's right, the capital of Earth. Apparently, in this world, all world governments have given up their sovereignty to the United Nations, one consequence being that the world's military is also controlled by the UN. Any weapons which could be seen as other than defensive have been discontinued. Among the important people at the train ceremony is Billy Kimura, the child prodigy and billionaire heir of Kimura Industries, the company responsible for the design of the G-Reactor. Meeting him there is Lotta Brest (what an unfortunate name!), daughter of a famous scientist, and her tutor, the stunning Emely. Just as they are about to board the train, another boy genius named Penny Carter rushes through the crowd with his faithful dog, named Washington, to warn them that something bad is going to happen to the train. At about this moment, cue the rainbow lights, the train is lifted into the air, and disappears in a blink! Billy and Penny reluctantly decide to join forces to figure out exactly what is going on. Little do they know that they are putting themselves into the middle of an alien invasion. On their side is a secret organization named the Labyrinth Alliance which is devoted to protecting humanity from this threat, and a mysterious pilot named Sky Knight, who appears to have the only weapon that can fight the invaders.

     What little I had read about this series before viewing it was that it was a retro style anime with roots in 1950s pulp sci-fi magazines. I would say yes to that in theory. Back in the old days of sci-fi you could just name things like "black hole transponder" or "anti-matter gun" without having to explain how it worked and the readers let you get away with it. It almost seemed as if everything worked off of magic because there wasn't any scientific elaboration. Now, readers and viewers are a bit more demanding. While some of the plot devices seemed rooted in the 50's, I felt more reminded of 60's and 70's anime or even some of the old kid-friendly Godzilla movies where the little smug kid knew more of how to solve world threatening problems than the adults could ever dream of. Also, SOS kinda reminded me of Gatchaman and, surprisingly, Scooby Doo. So, I guess that whatever era you think SOS is a homage to, you have to accept it as a nostalgic trip. Almost as if it were written in another era. I enjoyed this show, especially its sometimes flagrant use of goofiness and whimsy. For example, cats and dogs help out our heroes at different times during the show.  The animation is definitely not retro though, and uses the latest cutting edge CG, and doesn't skimp during the action sequences. I thought it was cool that we don't even see a proper alien in these first two episodes (running 40 minutes each), except for a lone female preaching apocalyptic prophecies. Besides her, we see ships and robots for now. In fact, we don't even know if these aliens are FROM another world. So I liked the mystery of it. I also like shows with ensemble casts....as long as the characters are interesting and memorable. And the characters of Project Blue ARE interesting. I especially enjoyed the tug of war between Penny and Billy as they alternated between feelings of rivalry and respect. This is a really good start to a 3 volume series, but don't go in expecting hard sci-fi a la Ghost in the Shell. Just have fun.

    My Grade: A-

    Direct download: project_blue_earth.jpg
    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 3:00pm CDT

    Manga Review: Gon Volume 4

    Manga Review of Gon Volume 4 by Masashi Tanaka. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by CMX, $5.99, Rated T for Teen due to violence.

    Well, Gon doesn't stay in any one place for long. He's already stomped across most of the world's continents, meeting and beating up animals all along the way. But besides taking bites, giving them super headbutts and kicking them in the face, he's also there to take up for the little guy, or more accurately, Gon is a little guy who takes up for animals that usually serve only as meals for vicious predators. In this fourth volume he inserts himself in a turtle shell, and sees the "survival of the fittest" concept in full bloom as he makes his perilous way to the seashore along with thousands of newly hatched sea turtles. He finds that just making it into the water is only the beginning of these fledgling's fight for life. Then he has to make it across a brutal desert after being thrown there by a powerful tornado along with an ostrich, a monkey, and an impala who show all the selfishness and selflessness of humanity. Lastly, we get to see Gon's posse of various big cat kittens as they strut about the plains of Africa, taking on any bully that gets in their way!

    Wow, I'm a little behind in this series (it's currently on Volume 6) but it's one of my favorites. First, the drawings of Masashi Tanaka are almost divine. The dude uses no screen tone whatsoever. Even when he colors in shadows, most of it is just crosshatched linework. There is an incredible amount of work that is going into every page of this manga. Sometimes, you just turn a page and you just sit there, awestruck, thinking "Man, just look at this! It's insane!". The artwork is just that damn good. Even though the animals sometimes have anthropomorphic expressions, Tanaka is still able to retain their otherness even as he uses them as metaphors for the human condition. The animals that are dangerous SEEM dangerous, not because they are super villains, but simply because it is in their nature to kill. A scene in which Gon confronts a giant squid is a bit creepy, that is, until Gon kicks the crap out of him. This is masterful storytelling and panel layout that is lightyears beyond most other manga artists. Eden or Akira are two titles I would say are on the same level. And imagine this, Tanaka does this level of work without any dialogue or sound effects at all, only art. A great title. Not to be missed.

    My Grade: A+

     

     

    Direct download: gon4.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 4:27pm CDT

    If you haven't seen the most recent episode of my podcast on Itunes, episode 140, in which I reviewed the first volume of Inukami, there is a good reason. The feed for my show goes through Feedburner.com because it tells you how many people subscribe to your show. Starting this week, I stopped getting those stats, and also how many downloads I get from Libsyn. Upon further investigation, I found out that Google bought Feedburner and that they are forcing Feedburner users to sign up with Google accounts and change URL's and stuff. They seem to think this is a minor footnote as evidenced by hardly a mention on the Feedburner website. So I've decided to take them out of the loop. So there might be a delay in Itunes updates while it redirects, but there might not. My feed is:

    http://sesho.libsyn.com/rss

    I'm basically computer illiterate so that is what really pisses me off. Everything that I do on here is through hard work and lots of scratching my head, so when a greedy company devouring entity like Google, or Gobble, throws a wrench into my fragile thread, it gets my goat.

    Category:News -- posted at: 8:54am CDT

    Anime DVD Review: Black Blood Brothers Volume 2

    Anime DVD Review of Black Blood Brothers Volume 2: Emergence. Directed by Hiroaki Yoshikawa. Series composition by Yuu Sugitani. Episodes 5-8, Running Time: 100 minutes. Published by Funimation, $29.98, Rated 15+.

    Jiro and Kotaro have made it inside the Special Zone, with the help of Mimiko, professional compromiser. We still don't know exactly why Jiro has travelled to the Special Zone, but he seems to have come at the worst possible time. A Kowloon Child has infiltrated the Special Zone somehow and it appears it is the work of Jiro's old enemy, Cassandra Warlock, whose very presence nearly sends Jiro into a murderous rage. She seems to have something to do with Jiro's lost love, a girl named Alice who he was assigned to protect long ago. Not all is peace and harmony in the Special Zone, where a very delicate balance exists between human and vampire and even between vampire and vampire. Along with Company, three vampire families control everything in the city. All of them are concerned about whose faction Jiro will join, because they know how powerful this legendary hero is. Whoever he casts his lot with will be the main power broker of the Special Zone. Surprisingly, the majority opinion seems to be that the Zone would be better without Jiro in town. Only Zelman Clock, leader of one of the vampire clans, is willing to take Jiro and his brother in. His main goal is not to acquire power, but simply to stave off boredom. But one of his underlings has a different agenda that could start a vampire civil war.

    Black Blood Brothers is a show that succeeds in spite of the fact that you can tell the creators didn't have a lot of money to spend on character design or animation. The costumes are mostly dreadful and there are quite a bit of static battles with action lines in place of animation. But the director makes up for this by staging the fight scenes with some interesting shots, dramatic effects, and close ups which convey the action quite well, and give you the illusion of more motion than is actually happening. One of the things I like about the show is the humor. Even though Kotaro is an idiotic pain in the butt, he still makes me laugh as he clumsily makes his way through the life and death stakes of the Black Blood world. Mimiko is also quite funny, but her goofiness is tempered by her extreme dedication to helping Jiro and Kotaro. She might even have a "thing" for Jiro, even though she won't admit it to herself. One criticism I have of the show is that it is two thirds over and there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the characters and the plot. I doubt that there are enough episodes left to get through the backstory in anything less than a quick flashback or exposition. Still, this is a series definitely worth watching.

    My Grade: B+

    Funimation just released the box set of this series for $49.98. Best Buy has it for $35.99, but be careful because I picked it up in store and saw it was missing a disc. So check to make sure it's all there before you purchase it.

    You can also watch the first three episodes for free at Hulu.com. Here is episode 1. Just push the play button.

    You can also download the series at Funimation.com

    Direct download: black_blood_brothers.jpg
    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 7:12pm CDT