2015
08.21

I was not surprised by this announcement. Yu-Gi-Oh! has been a permanent fixture of the english Shonen Jump since the very beginning. Viz replacing ZeXal with Arc-V was a foregone conclusion. It’s the fact that we’re getting it before a Straighten Up! or Best Blue announcement, much less Assassination Classroom, that rather irks me. Sure, it isn’t like Arc-V is taking up a weekly spot; it’s only taking over ZeXal’s former place as a monthly series. But I really want to see those former series added in because of their potential and promise, and in AC’s case proven quality and popularity. Yes, there’s already 8 regular series in the magazine, but would one or two more really hurt that much? The spot left open by Gakkyu Hotei’s cancellation has yet to be filled, and I continue to be baffled every week why it’s taking them so long to replace it.

This week of Jump was another long one, and that combined with the fact I was on vacation for most of the week and I had a lot of work I needed to do for my internship is the reason this is up now instead of last Friday. Though, that’s not too much of an issue this time, since there will not be a new Jump this week because of the Obon Festival, which was a lucky break. Though writing these reviews take inordinate amounts of time, I quite enjoy writing them and comments I’ve gotten from people I’ve shared them with have been encouraging. I was hoping to get this out earlier and maybe do a bonus review this week if I had time, but I don’t think I’ll be able to now. But you never know, maybe I can get something extra out before Monday.

For now though I’ve got twelve series I need to plow through, so let’s get right to it. In this week of Jump, Yu tries to make his half-vampire brother turn into a monster against his will, Yukio gets existential, and Yuda has a sobering backstory about how he learned to treasure the value of a human life…and then he goes and kills a guy. …Huh. All this and more, After the Jump!

Weekly Shonen Jump: 2015, Issue No. 37/38

One Piece chapter #796 – “Soldier’s Conviction”

After the blast of excitement the series put out last week, this chapter feels like a big step down. It’s necessary, of course, since we do need to see closure on some of the subplots brought up in Dressrosa before we can move on to some new storylines. Unfortunately, the way the chapter plays out these events feels way too similar to what happened at the end of the Alabaster arc with only minute changes and variations. It’s not distracting enough to take away from some of the story told here, but it still rings as rather repetitive.

Sengoku’s appearance in this chapter was surprising, but it seems he’s taken his demotion pretty well. He’s a lot more relaxed and friendly, sort of like Garp, and with less responsibilities on his shoulder’s he’s able to take the time and see the humor in things and enjoy life a little more. It’s a bit weird that his hair has turned white only after being demoted, but maybe he just let out all his pent-up stress all at once and that physically affected him. One thing’s for sure – he really rocking that afro. Not sure if being made into a Vice Admiral is a demotion for Tsuru as well, but it’s interesting to see she’s still in a position of authority, moreso than Sengoku. The fact that it’s said that she escorted Sengoku to Dressrosa, however, indicates that he might have been brought there to fight with the Straw Hats. I doubt they could handle a fight against both Sengoku and Fujitora, but I’m still expecting them to get away by the seat of their pants like they’ve done in Alabasta and Enies Lobby, and I’m not expecting anyone to pull a Bon Clay to make that happen this time either. What’ll let them get away is probably going to end up being that Sengoku donated too much blood to Mansherry and gets woozy right at a critical moment. I’m calling it.

Considering his honorable and duty-driven character, I understand why Kyros felt the need to protect the prestige of the royal family of Dressrosa and prevent a scandal by keeping his identity as Rebecca’s father under wraps. And because of his unfavorable upbringing and criminal past, he feels she’d be better off not associating with him; he doesn’t think he’s worthy of being her father. He forgets that in Rebecca’s eyes, he’s been a pillar of support and strength for her; a loyal guardian that has always looked out for her and protected her in times of need. She may not have knew he was her father back then, but she loved him like one all the same. It doesn’t matter what past he has; that doesn’t define the person he is now, or affect what he means to her. He’s still her father, and she wants him to stay by her side like he always has.

Luffy gets this too, and he’s probably going to announce Rebecca’s true lineage to all of Dressrosa and tell her that she doesn’t need to be ashamed of her father, and that he in turn doesn’t need to be ashamed at himself. Whether that’ll make Kyros stay in Dressrosa or if he’ll stick with the Luffy/Law Pirate Alliance for a while remains to be seen. Personally, I feel that the character’s story has been developed thoroughly enough with not too much to expand upon, so while I like him, I wouldn’t be surprised or against him departing from the series here. Considering the way things seem to be set up in this chapter, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the people of Dressrosa accept him as Riku’s next successor for the throne instead of Rebecca. That would feel a little convenient, but I could totally buy that happening with the way Oda’s written these characters’ stories in this arc. As if he’ll let Rebecca actually have to follow through on her responsibilities now that she’s got her daddy back, lol.

I feel like I’m coming across rather harsh on this chapter, when really, I actually rather enjoyed it. There are various bits of character interaction here that were fun and nice to see, from Sengoku donating his blood to Mansherry and Riku’s conversation with to Bartholomeo freaking out seeing five of his idols in one place and his leading role in the escape plan, and Bellamy’s irritation at having his life saved by Law, now having to deal with an annoying situation of being hounded by marines and having no master to serve when before he had found the perfect place to die. It’d be interesting if he ended up joining Law’s crew, considering Law himself was also a former subordinate of Doflamingo’s. Really, it’s just nice to see bits of development from all these various characters and hints at what role they’ll play as part of the Pirate Alliance and in future arcs. The story that connects all these little exchanges is something that doesn’t really interest me to much; I kind of feel like I know how the escape is going and what Luffy is planning to do. I like what we get in this chapter, but going through this right now feels more obligatory from the series rather than it does necessary, and that puts a damper on my enjoyment of it. As I’ve said before, I’m excited by the potential of the conflict with Kaido and the turmoil facing the Pirate Alliance, and I’d appreciate it if the series can finally break from Dressrosa and just move on to that. Of course, this arc only needs three more chapters until it’s 100 chapters long, and I have a feeling that Oda’s going to go for that, so I’m guessing that I’ll just have to bear with this stuff for at least another month. Eh, it is what it is, and so long as it can be fun to read like this chapter was, I can deal with it.

Blue Exorcist chapter #70 – “Ambition”

I still haven’t caught up with Blue Exorcist; I’ve only got 20 chapters in. Since every chapter is around 40 pages long, it takes a while to read the thing, and time I couldn’t allot. But I’ve read enough of the series to get a sense of the main characters and their motivations, and that allowed me to appreciate this chapter quite well even though I don’t know the full details of what’s going on. Unlike the anime version, Yukio isn’t a spawn of Satan like his older brother, but it seems that there’s something in his blood, and a fire in his eyes, that he can’t discern the origin of. He isn’t a demon, nor is he possessed by one, so he’s troubled by what this means in terms of who he is, and the consequences this power might have in the future. Yukio’s goal is to be a strong and reliable exorcist that can protect the people around him, especially his brother. The fact that he can’t control this power in his eyes willingly could prove detrimental to those around him in a tight situation. Yukio is not one to ask for help; he doesn’t want people to worry about him or burden them. So he’s taking it upon himself to study the power, figure out why it manifests, and see if he can control it. He’s already figured out in what circumstances the power is most likely to come out; when he experiences a deep fear, a fear for his life.

So Yukio decides to train by bringing himself to the brink of death multiple times until he can understand and appropriate the power. But as can be seen by his brooding attitude and cold slaughtering of lurking demons, it seems the real danger might not be the power itself, but Yukio’s obsession over it. He’s letting his self-doubts a about who he is and his ambition consume him, willing to risk his life repeatedly in pursuit of strength. Strength he hopes to use nobly, perhaps, but his mindset is nonetheless self-destructive, and a manner of thinking that could lead him down a dark path, his goals and morals eschewed, ultimately becoming the anti-thesis of what he wanted to be. This aspect of his story immediately reminds me of Ida’s character arc from recent MHA chapters, and while I feel the resolution of this subplot will be resolved in a similar manner to that, the steps there should be fairly different since the circumstances between the two aren’t the same, and the consequences this development may have in the future of the story and relationships between the characters, particularly Rin and Yukio, are intriguing.

This chapter isn’t ostensibly focused on Yukio’s subplot, however. Rather, it’s about Ryuji learning to accept that the goal he’s been working towards might be gone, but that he doesn’t need an ambition or goal to do the right thing. Ryuji’s entire motivation for becoming an exorcist was to avenge his family’s sullied name and restore his temple’s prestige by defeating Satan. However, so much time has passed that everyone has moved on, and his temple is no more. With the goal he has worked nearly his entire life towards no longer attainable, he’s conflicted about whether he still wants to be an exorcist, whether it’s still worth it for him. His life has been defined by his goal to restore his temple, and with that gone, he feels he needs something new to work toward, a new ambition, in order to continue on.

He confides this to Lewin because he feels that someone with his power and experience could tell him what he can do in order to move forward. He wanted him to share his dream, so as to inspire his own. Lewin, however, tells him quite simply that having an ambition is unnecessary. You don’t need an ambition to live life and do all sorts of daily tasks; those are things you just do because you want to. Similarly, Lewin doesn’t have a dark, brooding past and desire for vengeance, nor does he have a dream he’s pursuing, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming an exorcist, and one of the best in the business at that. He just likes his work, and the results of his work, and is satisfied with that alone. He isn’t using his career as an exorcist to satisfy his own desires or even to save the world, necessarily, but because it’s something he’s good at and he knows he’s making a difference by doing so. There’s no big origin story for this guy, no specific reason he’s as strong as he is. He’s just a guy who happens to be good at what he does and likes what he does, and that’s all he needs to do it.

Lewin makes a great impression in this chapter with his chill and witty personality. He has a great sense of humor, very quickly impresses with how effortlessly and casually eliminates a horde of hobgobilns with a high-level spirit, as well as his friendly bluntless and relaxed, but confident attitude. Despite his status, he’s very down to earth and communicates his points to the students in terms they can understand very well. Simply put, he’s an excellent teacher and should be a great mentor for Ryuji, who presumably hopes to better himself by following Lewin’s example. Ryuji has defined himself by his goal, and by studying under Lewin, he wants to be able to understand himself, and grow as both a person and as an exorcist now that he has nothing deeper to motivate him.

This chapter provides a crisis of identity for both Ryuji and Yukio, and the way they deal with their problems. Without a purpose, Ryuji feels empty and directionless, and doesn’t know what to make of himself now that he hasn’t something to work towards. He reacts to this by reaching out to other for help, and to give him advice on what he should do. In doing so, he finds a perspective that challenges his belief in what he needs, and in becoming Lewin’s apprentice, he renews purpose to his life and starts moving on. Yukio, in contrast, feels like he’d burden others by telling them his problems; he thinks of what he’s going through as a nuisance, and himself as useless. He’s too prideful to confide his problems in someone else, and decides to deal with it himself. While he don’t yet know what answer he’ll find, we can see consequences to his personality already; he’s become darker, colder, and self-destructive. Both Ryuji and Yukio are, in some way, driven by their ambitions, both of which were to protect people they care about. Both used their ambition to push themselves along the path of the exorcist, and defined the people they became. Unlike Ryuji, Yukio’s ambition has become burdening to him, something he feels he must do alone, and his obsession with it is changing him in subtle ways he doesn’t yet recognize. And if he continues to keep his secrets and problems to himself, rather than working through his problems with people he can trust, he might find a way to control the fire in his eyes, but he’ll lose sight of why he wanted to do so in the first place.

Bleach chapter #638 – “Seething Malice the Height of Absurdity”

Mayuri casually mentioning Soken Ishida in this chapter when he replicates a Quincy technique just reminds me of how awful a person this guy is. Do you remember Soken? I assume most people don’t, but he was Uryu’s grandfather. Mayuri murdered him by sending a bunch of Hollows after him and preventing any Soul Reapers from coming to his aid, just so that he can study his soul. Soken was a kind man who used his powers to help others, and his example inspired Uryu to follow in his footsteps. Mayuri is a psychopath who kills and mutilates people to use as research subjects for twisted experiments. Somehow we’ve gotten to a point where we’re supposed to accept that Uryu is a villain, despite us never seeing him to anything villainous except for the fact he’s allied with Ywach, and we’re to consider Mayuri one of the good guys, when everything he’s ever done in the series has at best been selfish and at worst been horribly villainous. The things Mayuri’s done and said to have done in this series are far more evil than anything any of the actual villains in this series, Aizen included, have ever done.

So why should we care that Mayuri survives his fight with Pernida? He’s not fighting for the sake of the Soul Society, but so that he can make Pernida his test subject. Even if Pernida is a “bad guy,” that’s not an admirable goal that a normal human being with morals and ethics can or should get behind. Time and again, Kubo fails to give a reason for the readers to care about or like Mayuri other than the fact that he’s quirky and audacious and that’s apparently supposed to be funny. It’s not. Mayuri taunting Pernida about his name at the beginning of the chapter, and telling him he’s just a test subject and he’ll allow him to name himself but he’ll decide the spelling isn’t funny, it’s sick. Even if Pernida is a giant fucking hand, it’s still a sentient creature with feelings and emotions. Mayuri has no right to essentially enslave it, and he doesn’t want to study Pernida to help others; he’ll basically treat it as a living toy for him to hack up as he pleases. That’s awful. Mayuri is an awful character. This is an awful chapter.

The best I can say about this chapter is that I like Pernida’s ability of using it’s nerves to shape the ground into giant hands and attack Mayrui. There is some choice action in this that is rather cool. It’s a bit interesting that Pernida’s fingers can somehow gain sentience when they’re detached from it. But again, there is nothing to get invested in here. There’s no one to root for in this fight, and the point to it remains to be seen. Instead, there’s a lot of infuriating aspects to it derived from Mayuri’s terrible, always one step ahead character, and the awful comedy Kubo tries to do with him. Every chapter with Mayuri as the focus feels uncomfortable and surreal, and while in some ways it’s a refreshing detour from the other inanity in Bleach‘s story, it’s still not fun to read in the slightest. Like Mayuri, modern Bleach lacks any soul or heart, and I don’t know why I should care about it when it consistently gives me nothing to care about.

Black Clover chapter #25 – “March of the Dead”

I like what this chapter is going for, and as usual with the series I quite appreciated a lot of the imagery in this chapter. The beginning few pages especially, showing the Necromancer attack and slaughter several guards with his zombies, has a lot of disturbing elements to it, and Asta’s charge through the zombies in that two-page spread at the end of the chapter is extremely cool. In general, I also like the Necromancer’s unhinged, crazy personality, which while over-the-top, is the kind of fun over-the-top that’s infectious in a battle-shonen villain, and that scene where he asks a little girl a leading question and then proceeds to wildy rant at her was enjoyably ludicrous. It’s unfortunate, though, that his character and this plot development feels so shallow. There was no set-up to this guy showing up before last chapter, and we still don’t learn anything about who he is and why he’s doing what he’s doing in this one. I mean, yeah, he hates the Kingdom because people ignored him or some shit, fine, but we still don’t know why that is. I’m not asking for a full backstory for this guy just two chapter in, but I’m asking for a reason to care about him as a threat. In MHA, Stain’s attack on Ingenium was built up through multiple chapters; we learned about him and saw him in action long before the protagonists were forced to fight him. This guy didn’t need as much build-up with Stain, especially since I’m sure he won’t be as important in the grand scheme of things, but something as big as a Necromancer attacking the capital city should have been given more foreshadowing, and this character more build up to show exactly why he’s so dangerous and a credible threat.

As it stands, I don’t really grasp the danger Asta’s facing in going up against the guy. Sure, he’s got a zombie hoarde, but Asta blasted through a bunch of those pretty easily, so who’s to say he can’t take him on all by himself? There isn’t enough tension to this conflict, and it’s hard to really get invested in it because of that. Instead, it’s easier to observe that the purpose of this character and his zombies are just to show off all the new rival characters and their abilities, and build them up. I get the purpose of these events of the narrative in a distant sense, but I don’t care about them in the personal. Similarly, I still don’t know what to make of Leo’s sudden rivalry with Asta because I don’t really know who Leo is as a person or character, and I don’t really care about Charmy will do in this arc because all I know about her is that she really likes food. The series needs to do a better job of establishing it’s secondary characters and developing them in a way so that the audience can be invested in them before they are flung into situations where we’re supposed to feel concerned for them.

This isn’t a bad chapter, but I don’t think it’s a very effective one either. It doesn’t give me a legitimate reason to find the fight with the Necromancer interesting outside of some personal, shallow reasons like liking his craziness and some of the morbid imagery in the chapter, and I don’t really care how Asta and the rest of the knights will beat him because I don’t understand how much of a threat he actually posses and how he compares in strength and ability to Asta himself. There’s a lot of good ideas in this chapter, as there are in this series in general. But as has been a consistent weakness of BC so far, the execution here feels misguided and lacking, and strong artwork and pacing can’t make up for a storyline that doesn’t quite work. Maybe this can be rectified as this arc goes on, but I feel that in the end this fight will serve it’s purpose in the overall story and only that, weightless and forgettable in the long run. And when you’re having your characters go up against freakin’ zombies, that’s the last thing it should be.

One-Punch Man chapter #48 – “I’ve Got Free Time, So…”

Garo claims he’s a monster, and he is in terms of both his strength and ambitions. However, he isn’t a pure monster; there is humanity to him. As demonstrated in his conversation with the little kid, he has a childish fascination with monsters, and though their interests don’t align, the shared interest both he and the little kid have for the topic of heroes allows them to bond. Garo befriends the kid. He shows very human interests in socializing and talking about what he likes with other people. In some respect, Garo’s idolization of monsters is no different than any kid’s idolization of heroes. His backstory is in many respect a variation on a typical “kid inspired to become a hero by watching heroes in action” story, like Midoriya in MHA, just switching out heroes for monsters. Yes, Garo is strong, but it’s not that strength that makes him so dangerous, and what really makes him a monster. It’s the very fact that he’s also human that makes him dangerous; he knows how human beings tick, and unlike a normal monster blindly rampaging and causing destruction, he very specifically and carefully targets and takes down heroes. Garo and MHA’s Stain share this parallel; they are both killers that specialize in killing heroes, and do so because they want to correct an injustice. Garo has less idealistic motives than Stain does, but like him, the sense of purpose in what he does, and the human emotions and desires that drive him, are what make him a true monster, and a more dangerous threat to both heroes and human society than a biological monster like the Sea King could ever be.

Whether he’s actually a threat to Saitama is questionable, of course. Saitama seems excited by the possibility of facing a strong opponent, but as strong as Garo is, it’s doubtful he’d be able to push the titular one punch man more than Boros did. For the moment, Saitama seems to want to satisfy his itch for a good fight, which he might find entering the martial arts tournament in Charanko’s place. Though, it seems that his desire to win the reward money overrules his interest in finding a prospective rival. A tournament in OPM with Saitama involved will be quite interesting to see, especially if Garo somehow ends up involved in it too. How these plotlines converge, and the inevitable meeting between Saitama and Garo occurs remains to be seen, but this story arc continues to move in an interesting direction that I’m keen on seeing explored.

Toriko chapter #334 – “One Millimeter Yuda!!”

A big concern I’ve had regarding the series focusing on a group of secondary characters in this cooking competition is their lack of development compared to the main cast, making it harder to invest in them and the contest as a whole. This chapter presents a way for the series to get around that, by using these matches as means to reveal more about these characters, their motivations, and set them up as important players in the future of the story. And the story given to Yuda here is just excellent. Within just a few pages, we learn his past, how his life experiences have shaped him as a cook and as a person, and how he’s applied the lessons he’s learned to his cooking and having him apply them to how he wins his battle with Condor. His story shows him learning how being careful and precise makes a difference, how fragile a human life is and how to value even the simplest things in life, because those simple things often matter the most. His story is compelling, characterizes him very well, and gives us a better understanding of who he is than we had going into this fight.

Unfortunately, the series undermines his story by not having Yuda show off how his precision makes a difference in his cooking, but rather having him basically cheat and send his opponent falling to his death so he can have more time to prepare his dish. I like the concept of the balance scale match; it’s a cool gimmick that could have made for some interesting tension with a back and forth kind of match, and in another situation it would have been a lot of fun to see implemented. But it just doesn’t fit here; the rules of it work counter to how Yuda’s style of cooking operates. And while that could have been used to put more pressure on Yuda if his opponent cooked the same way as him, Condor’s style of cooking is too fast and immediately puts Yuda in a losing position, so the only option the series has for Yuda to win the match is to basically incapacitate Condor through external means. After a backstory about Yuda learning to value life, it feels like a tonal disconnect to have him pretty much murder his opponent. While I’m sure the next chapter will reveal that Yuda sliced the gravity barrier in a way that protected Condor from the furnace somehow and he’s not actually dead, it’s unsatisfying and counter-productive to building up the character to have him not win because he’s the better chef, but because he stopped his opponent from even competing with him. Sure, circumstances basically forced him to, and he has more of an obligation to help his team win than he does to his opponent’s safety, but Condor, while a jerk, wasn’t a bad person, and it feels wrong that Yuda doesn’t seem to bat an eye about sending the man to a fiery death.

It’s hard for me to get too upset at the chapter, because I really do think Yuda’s story is really effective, and honestly did think his final speech to Condor while he drops to his doom was a bit badass. But the execution of it as a whole just doesn’t sit right with me, and that’s especially disappointing to me because I was really excited to finally see a real cooking competition in Toriko, not a match where a protagonist only wins because he takes out his opponent first. I’m fine with having the matches rest on gimmicky obstacles and stuff like that, but only if they compliment the story of the protagonist involved and add to the tension in a meaningful way, and not detract and inhibit it like was done here. I hope the remaining matches prove better constructed, because as it stands, I felt Yuda’s match with Condor was a wasted opportunity, and a rather unsatisfying beginning to a subplot I felt had a lot of potential.

World Trigger chapter #112 – “Haruki Azuma: Part 2”

I wasn’t expecting Osamu’s training to suddenly make him on par with the other competitors. On the contrary. He’s only had a few weeks of training at best, and he’s up against opponents who have years of experience over him. It would have cheapened his character and his arc if he was suddenly on their level after just a few crash-course training sessions. Of course, I was expecting him to put up a little more of a fight and contribute something to his team’s victory in this battle. Never did I expect he’d the first to bail out.

But really, that makes perfect sense. Of course he would be the first to go; he’s the weakest one there, and his opponents know how to exploit his weaknesses and are more used to close combat than Osamu is. To hit the point home, the only person who’s surprised that Osamu was defeated is Chika; Arashiyama, Kitora, and even Yuma and Jin of all people aren’t fazed by it at all. Even earlier, when Azuma squad and Ninomiya squad engaged each other in a two-on-two, they all ignored Osamu completely; no one saw him as a threat at all. It sucks, but it really feels that no one was expecting much from him in this match, and that’s not a condemnation of Osamu as a person, but a harsh reflection of how much lower his ability and capabilities are compared to those his better.

Osamu’s loss in the match can be attributed to not relying on his own strengths as a tactician and focusing too much on getting points in a close-combat situation. That wasn’t his area, and while improving his ability to get hits off his opponent was a worthy endeavor, he still was only a mediocre fighter at best. Remember, his record in his training was 1 win out of every 4. There was a way higher chance he’d lose in a direct fight than he would have won, but he continued to pursue that option stubbornly. In the end, he was completely on the defensive the entire time in his fight with Inukai, and as soon as he dropped his guard, he was immediately picked off by Azuma. Osamu needed to play this match a lot safer, and focus on tactical strategy over direct combat, but he overestimated what he was capable of, nor recognized his vulnerability, and ultimately, his negligence to caution cost him the game.

Whether Tamakoma can still win this match remains to be seen, but I’m expecting that they’re do for a loss. While I’m sure we’ll see that both Yuma and Chika have improved themselves since the semi-finals in their own ways, like Osamu, I expect that won’t be enough for them to pull off a victory against opponents with years more experience. Nonetheless, I’m keen on seeing how Yuma’s fight with Kagegura plays out, Chika’s role in this match now that Osamu’s out, and which team will ultimately turn the tide in the battle. If Tamakoma does lose, that begs the question of whether Jin predicted that, and his deal with Hyuse to give him back his Trigger is something that would end up being to his benefit. Unfortunately, we won’t get to follow up on any of this until the issue after next, which is a bummer. Chapters like this show the series at it’s most inventive and unpredictable, and are a promising sign of even greater things to come as the final match of the Rank Wars continues on.

Nisekoi chapter #181 – “Limit”


Out of all the characters in Nisekoi, Marika has always been the most blunt about her feelings. She didn’t hide how she felt, or what she felt, and had always tried sincerely and earnestly to get Raku to give her the time of day. It’s a unique character analysis for someone of this archetype; she’s so proactive and open with her feelings because, in a way, she’s the most true to herself. She understands herself better than anyone else in the series does about themselves. Only now does Raku get that. He realizes that her feelings shouldn’t be ignored, and that he can’t use his false relationship with Chitoge as a crutch to constantly wave her away. He needs to clearly and firmly lay down how he feels about her, and make her understand that a relationship between them just isn’t meant to be. For someone who genuinely, sincerely loves him with all her heart and soul, and for someone he truly considers a friend, it’s the only right thing to do. If the consequence of it means that they can’t be around each other, then he’ll have to live with that. It’s time for both of them to move on.

It’s a little frustrating that we have to delay that confession for a while yet, but Marika’s story arc with her mother shows a lot of promise. It seems that Marika isn’t dying from an illness, but rather, suffers from anemia. Of course, Honda could be obscuring the truth, but it’s clear that whatever ails Marika, it’s been exacerbated by stress and her lifestyle. Living on her own is becoming too much for her to handle, and she needs to be in the company of family members who can be there for he in case her symptoms worsen and she needs immediate treatment. Marika’s desperation to get Raku to commit to a relationship with her was likely driven by the inevitably of her being sent home for treatment and kept there by her family for the rest of her high school years. By the time she could see Raku again, he might have already committed to a relationship with someone else, and she might not have had another opportunity to be with him.

This is all speculation, of course, but I think it’s in-line with what we’ve seen from Marika in the past few chapters. There’s also the added family problems, specifically her contention with her mother, that also factors into her reluctance to return home. The fact that Honda states Raku and the rest wouldn’t see Marika again implies that her mother might try to confine her to home or a hospital, or otherwise arrange a marriage for her and otherwise control her life the way she wants, as opposed to giving Marika autonomy. If that’s the case, it would certainly explain Marika’s bitterness towards her mother, and explain her carefree and blunt nature as a way of rebelling against the strict lifestyle she’s led for years, and embracing an ephemeral freedom that she knows could be taken away from her at any moment. That might be too bold and preemptive an analysis for the moment, but I feel the direction the story is leaning towards it.

The next chapter will be an interesting one, that’s for sure. No doubt it’ll feature Mikage elaborating on Marika’s family background and circumstances, expanding both the characters’ and our understanding of her situation. Whether this leads to a rescue-style arc for her or something else remains to be seen, but as someone who’s spent most of his time reading Nisekoi not being particularly fond of Marika, I think she’s quickly become one of the most interesting and compelling in the entire series, and I can’t wait to see where her story goes next.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma chapter #130 – “A Pride of Young Lions”

This chapter provides a wonderful demonstration of how each of the characters involved has grown since the Fall Classic. Mimasaka has opened up to collaborative cooking and in the process taken his tracing cooking style to a new level. Tadokoro has taken the service skills she’s honed to heart and uses them to keep customers satisfied to the best of her ability. In the process, she’s become more outgoing and comfortable around people, quickly able to understand their needs and make them feel at ease with a newfound confidence in her self and her abilities. No longer does she easily feel stressed under pressure, but is able to keep a level head and prioritize what’s important and what needs to be done in order to finish the job. Nikumi has become able to better recognize when a meat dish is best prepared from the experience of listening to sounds and paying attention to specific details and patterns, making her even more efficient than before. Finally, Takumi has made a comeback since his loss to Mimasaka, and better rounded himself as a cook to adapt to dishes outside his signature Italian cooking, and is now more confident in himself than before, finally rivaling Soma as an equal again. While each character only gets a brief moment to themselves, the chapter nonetheless provides a great showcase of their growth and development, and how their rivalries with each other have made them mature both as people and as chefs.

But I think the most brilliant thing about the chapter is that, essentially, Soma outdoes Kuga’s connections with those of his own. Kuga’s got sponsors, vast resources, a years-built reputation, and a whole crew of skilled chefs on his side, none of which Soma has. What he does have, though, is people who believe in him, and will come to his aid in his time of need, and that was enough to make a difference. Essentially, Soma won with the power of friendship, but the chapter doesn’t present it in such saccharine terms. It feels a lot more natural and believable; Soma’s built relationships with these people over a long period in time, and he owes a lot of his development to them and they to him, and trusts in them as vice-versa. This is a tight-nit group of peers and rivals who are competing with each other to get to the top, but still will band together to help each other take down even bigger obstacles on the way to the top. Everyone coming together in the chapter makes the payoff both a great moment of camaraderie and a testament to what can be accomplished when great minds with different skill sets band together to make something bigger than themselves.

Of course, let’s not sell Soma’s individual efforts short here. While there was a lot of factors to his victory that came from luck, he still carefully evaluated his opponent and evolved his booth deliberately, slowly perfecting it and building it up across the entire duration of the Culture Festival. Kuga recognizes this, and realizes that Soma isn’t just a promising cook, but a damn smart one who’ll continue to grow, and whose ambition and challenge can’t be ignored. Kuga’s finally gotten angry enough to give Soma exactly what he wants; a shokugeki with his seat on the council on the line. Whether Soma wins and moves closer to the top or loses and has ambitions squashed is up in the air, but with that much on the line, I’m certainly expecting it to live up to the ferocity a clash of lions would suggest.

My Hero Academia chapter #54 – “Re-Ingenium”

Looks like Todoroki’s words have woke Ida up just like I thought they would. He recognizes how narrow-minded he’s been and how his feverish desire for revenge has made him lose sight of what makes a hero, and the kind of hero Ingenium was and he wanted to be. Ingenium’s motivation seems a lot similar to Lewin’s from this chapter of BE; he doesn’t have a grim backstory or a dream driving him, but he believes in the value of the work, and thinks using his powers to help people is the right thing to do. He may not have been a perfect human being; obviously, we only see him through Ida’s eyes in the chapter, and don’t know him throughly as a person. But his intentions in being a hero were noble and selfless; he didn’t want to use his powers to save the world or be a champion of justice, necessarily, but to help people who need it.

Ida wasn’t helping anyone but himself through his crusade against Stain. On the contrary, he was ignoring the plight of people he should’ve been helping, put himself at risk, and dragged his friends into danger as a consequence. His cause wasn’t noble, it was selfish, and he lost sight of what exactly he admired in Ingenium as a hero and role model as a consequence. Ida might not naturally think and act the same way Midoriya and Todoroki do in a situation, and has a ways to go before he can meet the standards he set for himself, but he’s recognized that he needs to change. He shouldn’t be a hero for the sake of following his brother’s footsteps, but because he wants to be one; someone who helps people because it’s right thing to do, and not because he has something to prove.

So Ida takes responsibility for dragging his friends into a battle with Stain by standing up and taking him head on once again. Stain’s words won’t deter him. He doesn’t deny his claims, but he won’t let them distract him from the values he’s upheld from his brother’s example. Ingenium may not have been infallible or invincible, but he still serves as his inspiration, and Ida’s ideal image of a hero. Now it’s time for him to try and live up to that image once again, but in his own way, and on his own terms.

The action in this chapter is just pitch-perfect; visceral and intense, selling both the desperate moments and the triumphant ones with beautifully raw imagery. The highlight definitely being the sequence at the chapters’ conclusion, where Todoroki freezes the regulator on Ida’s leg, Ida pulls a knife stabbed through his arm with his teeth, and he and Midoriya proceed to hit Stain simultaneously with a kick to the gut and a punch to the face. It closes the chapter, and presumably the battle, off on a high note, delivering complete satisfaction to Ida’s character arc and the clash of philosophies between the heroes and Stain. I don’t know what’s next for the characters, but I think it’s safe to say that Stain’s role in this story isn’t done just yet. Todoroki notes that he’s a deliberate, smart killer who relies on tactics rather than sheer power and quirk to get the job done, with a tenacity and drive to win that makes him more dangerous than your run of the mill murderer. Stain’s clearly being set up for a bigger role in the ongoing story past this, perhaps as a recurring anti-villain, or maybe even a recurring anti-hero after maybe a redemptive arc. Who knows what’s in store for the character, but so long as the series keeps the kick-ass momentum it’s had these past few weeks, I just know I’ll enjoy the ride.

Seraph of the End chapter #36 – “Yu & Mika”

…Bullshit.

No, seriously, that’s fucking bullshit. What kind of saccharine, idealized logic is that? This might be a shonen series, but good lord, this defies all matter of common sense. Mika tried to attack Yu earlier in his vampiric bloodlust-induced rage. How does he not get that once Mika acquires the taste for human blood, he might not retain the sense of humanity he’s only barely clinging to right now, and become a monstrous, murderous sociopath who sees humans as fodder like the rest of the vampires he’s been up against? Mika’s even telling him that it’s a bad idea, that he won’t be the same again and there’s no going back once he steps over the line. But no, Yu thinks that friendship and family will conquer all. Yeah, that’s a smart way to live. Love and family will conquer all just like how it helped your entire orphanage clique esca-oh wait, no, they were all slaughtered except for you and Mika. Remember that? Maybe the world doesn’t work in such a convenient way.

I mean, for fuck’s sake, Yu doesn’t even take Mika’s pain and torment seriously; well, neither does the series, it seems. The entire discussion between them is undermined by poor and misplaced attempts at humor that make light of Mika’s soul-crushing moral conflict between saving his life at the cost of his humanity, and his choice to not drink blood, not become a monster, for all these years enduring intense and violent physical and emotional pain, just so he can reunite with Yu. Yu basically ignores everything Mika says except for the fact that he won’t die if he drinks human blood, and then proceeds to call him an idiot and tells him to suck it up and become a monster so he won’t cry. He basically says to forgo everything he’s worked years for; that his personal sacrifice and his suffering was meaningless. He refuses to listen to potentially important information and basically tempts and forces him to give in to his urges and drink his blood. The series presents this as the right thing to do and Yu as in the right. He’s not. That was a stupid and risky thing to do with potentially dangerous ramifications. I’m sure it will all work out because shonen, but wholly shit, the tonal disconnect between the depiction of Mika’s struggle and the resolution is one of the most baffling and infuriating things I’ve read in a while.

Yu just continues to be an awfully constructed protagonist. If the way he deals with Mika’s problem wasn’t enough to illustrate that, the conversation he has with Asuramaru hammers it home. His dialogue is so vapid and his way of thinking so stereotypically shonen action hero; unfazed by anything, overconfident in himself, and spouting typical jargon about how friends are great, how he’ll protect his friends, how he wants to be with his friends, blah blah blah. Yu’s entire character is just defined by how shonen his outlook on life seems to be, but the series presents that as the right philosophy to have in a post-apocolyptic war with vampires that have enslaved humanity and use them as cattle. I liked him better back when he was an asshole; he still was a terrible character, but at least he fit the tone of the world and the series better. I don’t know how a guy like this could survive and think the way he does based on his experiences and environment; it’s not believable in the slightest, and that just adds to my irritation. I feel that this chapter was intended to be a big, emotional turning point for the series, but the series’ inability to balance the tone it’s going for, and it’s absolutely baffling logic and poor character writing, make it fall completely flat. Maybe the series will show that Yu’s decision was wrong and he gets fucked over in the next chapter for being so stupid, but considering Seraph‘s track record, I doubt we’ll see much if any consequences pop up as a result of this, at least not any that won’t just be effortlessly brushed away later.

D. Gray-Man chapter #2 – “A Full Moon Night”

My memory of early DGM must lean more towards what I recall from the anime, because I seemed to forget that Allen’s backstory chapters happened sooner in the manga than they did there. Next week’s chapter will actually be the first chapter I ever read of the series, and my first exposure to it as well. That, combined with this week’s, would have made for a way better pilot chapter than the one we were given. Really, this chapter repeats basically all valuable information the first chapter told us about the world, the main character, and the plot, and does it in a more natural-feeling way, and with a less stupid story to tell them with. Not to say John’s story is remarkable, necessarily, but he has more of a character, a more interesting relationship to his friend, which makes the revelation that he’s an akuma hit harder. His story also doesn’t rely on forced and unbelievable drama and character’s making stupid decisions like that nun akuma story did, which is a definite plus. Allen also comes across as a much better character here; we’re given a better sense of his personality, introduced to his relationship with his master, more hints as to his tragic backstory, and he’s given a more personal investment to John’s story than he did with the last character-of-the-week.

I find I don’t have much to say about this chapter, except that it was what the pilot chapter was trying to do done much better, and done in a way that feels less like a rip-off of other manga and a bit more unique. There’s much more personality in the character interactions, the humor, and the pacing of the story, and while a basic plot to do with this premise, it’s executed effectively. My only complaint might be that the Earl’s first appearance isn’t really given much build-up and doesn’t feel like a big enough moment, but the series does still get to the jist of his personality and threatening nature before the chapter leaves off. Part of the reason why I don’t find much to say about this is that I went over a lot about what works and doesn’t work about early DGM last week, and this chapter just feels like a retry of what the pilot chapter for this series should’ve been. Next week, though, we’ll learn a lot more about the world of DGM and Allen’s past and character, which should offer a lot more of substance to analyze.

Final Thoughts:

There was some amazing chapters in this issue, but there were also a lot of mediocre, and a couple bad ones. I think what’s ultimately unsatisfying for me about the issue is those mediocre chapters, because they really could have been so much better. OP could have just gotten through all this obligatory stuff with Kyros and Rebecca in one chapter and we could’ve focused on the more interesting plotlines awaiting us. Toriko had such a good thing going with Yuda’s backstory and the cooking competition, but then undermined the character’s development and the message of the chapter with a tonally dissonant ending. Black Clover continues to have cool ideas and concepts, but didn’t give enough character and weight behind it’s plot development for me to really get into it. One-Punch Man was solidly written, but felt more like a transitional chapter and was a little unsatisfying as a consequence. I’d call them all good chapters, mostly effective in what they were trying to do, but they felt a little disappointing to me, especially in comparison to the top class of the issue.

But as for themes, family and friends were the name of the game this time. Most of the chapters involved characters facing issues stemming from their relationships to their family, from Ryuji trying to figure out what to do with his life now that he can’t bring them back together, Ida reevaluating his relationship with his brother and why he inspired him, Marika being called back home because of her mother’s orders, to Yu guilt-tripping Mika to become a blood-sucking monster because he’ll make him cry if he doesn’t. On the friends side, we saw Soma’s come to his aid to help him take down Kuga,  Ida getting back into the fight with Stain to protect his friends, the pirates Luffy’s allied with in the Dressrosa arc repaying their debt for him defeating Doflamingo by helping him escape, and Yuda learning to appreciate the value of a human life when someone he cares about dies because of a simple mistake he made. There was also a lot about learning from your mistakes and growing from them in the issue, with Ida, Yuda, and most of the Soma gang showing how they’ve taken their former weaknesses to heart and have become better people because of it.

As a whole, this was a good issue, but some of the less satisfying chapters here and the awfulness that were those Bleach and Seraph chapters bring it down a bit compared to the previous few weeks. Hopefully the next issue sees everything back at the top of their game, because boy howdy, there sure is a lot to look forward to in a whole lot of them.

Best Manga of the Week:

1. My Hero Academia – Both MHA and Food Wars! had extremely satisfying climaxes to their arcs, but ultimately, I found the way Ida’s character arc was resolved and the epic combo attack on Stain to put it over the edge as my chapter of the week. The series has had  so much great character, intensity, and action in these last few weeks, and the fact that the series somehow continues to push it’s level of excellence higher and higher each week with unrelenting momentum is a beauty to behold.

2. World Trigger – A surprising but logical development for Osamu’s role in the finals as well as another great showing of impressive action scenes and increasing the tension placed on Tamakoma’s success in the match. If it wasn’t uncertain before, the outcome of this match has become even more unpredictable now, and it’s clear that no one, especially not our main protagonists, can afford to drop their guards for even a second.

3. Food Wars! – A completely satisfying resolution to Soma’s contest with Kuga, managing to show off the development of a whole slew of secondary characters while making their role in the chapter feel natural and earned. With Soma’s bet won, next up is for him to challenge Kuga to a shokugeki, one that promises to be the most high-stakes and exciting in the series yet.

4. Blue Exorcist – Even though I still have a lot of the series to catch up on, I can’t deny that I found the character development and ideas in this chapter incredibly well-written and executed. Lewin’s outlook on why he does what he does is not a characterization that hasn’t been done before, but it feels so atypical of a shonen action series to convey the message that you don’t need to have extenuating circumstances or have a big goal you’re working towards to motivate you to do what’s right. While having an ambition is great, you can do something just because you like doing it and you’re good at it, and if what you can do can help other people, then it’s a worthy endeavor. Lewin is just a good person who happens to be very skilled, and his example should help Ryuji find what he needs to in order to move on in his life and find renewed appreciation for his craft. Lewin makes a great impression in this chapter, and both Ryuji’s and Yukio’s character arcs are moving in fascinating directions. Maybe I’m overestimating the series, but the more I read it, the more I find to appreciate and look forward to in BE, and I’ll be sure to be fully caught up with it by the time the next chapter is run.

Line(s) of the Week:

Mephisto: “Requests for exorcisms have increased…to the point that people have to make reservations and wait for cancellations, like trying to get tickets for a performance by some pop star! And that’s a serious problem!!”

Blue Exorcist

Panel(s) of the Week:

Page(s) of the Week:

And that does it for this issue! Again, sorry for the lateness, but thankfully the break made it work out, and kept me from missing this and being an issue behind. So until next time, watch your back for stray snipers, don’t make even a millimeter of a mistake in anything you do, and if someone tries to force you to drink their blood, punch them in the face and run far, far way, and I’ll see you again after the jump!

2015
08.11

Last time on Animation Revelation…okay, no one on this site actually reviewed Battle of Gods. But Lord Dalek went over why Toei sucks as a studio in detailed fashion around the same time it was released in the U.S. last year, which sorta counts! And now, three fanboys stand to face the challenge of reviewing the franchise’s latest installment, “Resurrection ‘F'”! But is it a feature worthy of the franchise, or just a cheap cash-in to trick die-hard fans out of their cold-hard cash? Find out today, on ANIMATION REVELATION’S ANIMATION BLOG!! DA DA DA DA, DA DADA DA. DA DA DA DA. DA DADA DADA DADADA DA!!!

Dragon Ball Z is easily the most massively popular (and notoriously polarizing) property that has ever come out of the Japanese animation industry. Anyone who knows anything about anime has at least heard of it, and with a massive phenomenon of course comes numerous attempts to cash in on it. So despite being relatively dormant for most of the past two decades in terms of new content (outside of video games and some merchandise), it came as little surprise when 2013’s Battle of Gods rolled around in a very (financially) successful attempt to revitalize the franchise. Just a mere two years later, and we have a direct sequel in Resurrection ‘F’, which each of the three of us will be sharing our opinions on.

So then, let’s get one thing perfectly clear right away; all three of us are massive Dragon Ball fans, and have been since childhood. We thus feel obligated to make note of this, so as any incoming readers may be aware that there is more than a little bit of bias for us going into the movie. Being that this is a film made for diehard fans of the franchise first and foremost, we chose to judge the feature as enthusiasts of Dragon Ball rather than just as critics. This does not mean that we are blind to any flaws of the picture, but rather that our opinions are based more so on what we feel makes the movie work as a product within the franchise, rather than how it would stand on its own to complete newcomer (hint: this is a terrible jumping on point for any newcomers to the series). Keeping that in mind, the following reviews collect each of our individual thoughts on the latest Dragon Ball Z feature-length film to be released, as presented by FUNimation in North American theaters.

So, it has just occurred to me that at this point in my life, I have witnessed a brand new Dragon Ball Z feature-length film for the first time ever, and a good twelve years since the series finished its initial run on Toonami. If I were still 10-years old, I’d probably enter a hyper-manic episode from sheer excitement. Luckily I’m just a fully grown man who happens to have an unhealthy, fond love of cartoons. Of course, this also keeps me level-headed enough to actually have a sense of taste for what I watch. Putting nostalgic bias aside, I can tell when something is merely just pandering to an audience, when no effort is put into it, or when a movie is just flat-out bad in every regard.

Thus, when I watched this series’ first attempt (unfortunately, not in theaters) at jumping back toward being a relevant title among modern anime fans, the suitably titled Battle of Gods, I had a good time with it like most fans. Yet, I was not at all blind to its numerous problems, how it was a poor stand-alone film, and that it was not even necessarily a great Dragon Ball Z product given the franchise’s much higher pedigree during its peak. While I appreciated that film’s attempt to not only relive the glory days of DBZ, but to also hearken back to the charming, witty, and humorous nature of the earlier half of Akira Toriyama’s much acclaimed original manga, the fact remains that the bulk of that humor felt forced. It did not quite feel like something that Toriyama himself would write, and from an action standpoint it felt woefully anticlimactic.

In a sense, this all new sequel makes many of those same mistakes on a surface level, what with playing it rather safe and going for a similar tone to BOG. Yet, strangely enough I can’t help but feel that the film that I just watched was unquestionably a much more enjoyable product than the previous entry, at least from the standpoint of a long-time fan. Perhaps this may just be the enhanced effect of experiencing this picture on the big screen with a three-quarters full (to my honest surprise) auditorium of screaming DBZ fans surrounding me. However, the more that I think about the movie that I saw, I’m not quite so sure that’s the case.

First, let’s be clear that this is once again a film that’s clearly geared towards fans, and it does not work as a stand-alone piece for newcomers any better than Battle of Gods did. Even then, as a narrative of its own, it has numerous problems, some of which I’ll delve into a few paragraphs down. Keeping that in mind, what pleased me as I watched this movie is that when viewing it as a supplementary continuation to Dragon Ball Z as a series, it came off feeling like a much more rewarding experience. Whereas Toriyama’s involvement in BOG was more story-related, he had full hands-on involvement with the writing and screenplay of Resurrection F, and in many aspects that shows.

The plot, in essence, works as both a sequel to Battle of Gods, but also as a direct continuation of the most iconic story-line in all of Dragon Ball’s original 11-year run: the Namek arc (therwise known as the Freeza Saga). The story at hand deals with the revival of this iconic villain (by a new, but ultimately forgettable pair of minions, Sorbet and Tagoma), much as the title suitably suggests, and his plot for revenge against Son Goku and all of his friends and allies who helped to put him away in the first place. Yet, with Toriyama clearly wanting to pay loving tribute to Dragon Ball’s early comedic routes, it must be noted that this follow-up is not meant to be a super serious and dark battle of epic proportions akin to how the original Namek arc ended up. Rather, the very start of this feature perfectly sets up the tone for the entire story. This is Freeza’s Saga continued in the charming, fun-loving style of classic Dragon Ball. Thus, while there’s plenty of action to go around, you can be sure to see a slew of great wit injected into the dialogue and fights appearing on screen.

The opening shot in particular already had me and the auditorium chuckling with genuine delight as we witnessed a very Toriyama-esque depiction of Hell. Freeza was featured bound up, humiliatingly trapped in a cocoon while being surrounded by a swarm of colorful, fluffy, teddy-bear like creatures singing a harmonious tune to the torture of his sanity. This becomes one of a few great running gags throughout the film as the mighty Lord Freeza recounts about how those freaking things drove him insane. This is clearly Toriyama’s sense of humor at work, as if he were continuing the manga once more, as opposed to the forced nature of the comedy in BOG. The rest of the film is also full of great auditory and visual gags. I obviously don’t want to spoil them all, but one moment that particularly stood out to me was Piccolo toying with some of Freeza’s soldiers by casually asking them to catch his weighted training clothes only to see an entire group of them collapse under the mass of just his cape. Vegeta’s mocking comment Goku’s intelligence (or lack thereof) got a particularly huge laugh from the crowd. And of course there were a ton of loving, as well as hilarious callbacks to previously-established Dragon Ball lore, most notably pertaining to Freeza. Additionally, Jaco (making his anime debut, and first appearing in the Dragon Ball spin-off comic Jaco the Galactic Patrolman) was an absolute blast, being extremely well-received by the fans, especially when he had his numerous quips with familiar characters.

One of the wise things that this film did, once again as opposed to BOG, was to actually cut out a fair chunk of the cast so as to give a bit more focus to a core group of characters. We didn’t see Yamcha, Oolong, Goten, or various other familiar faces because there really was no need for them. That said, I consider it a bit of a missed opportunity for Freeza to not at least encounter present-day Trunks, just for the pleasure of witnessing his reaction to the youthful version of the character who officially killed him off in the classic series. Majin Buu would have made for an interesting appearance as well, with Freeza clearly aware that he was one of the few beings in the Universe that he was warned to never mess with by his own father. To be fair, though, while those would have been fun gags to see, I can understand that it wasn’t worth adding in those characters to the film for just that purpose alone.

What’s possibly even better than the humor of the film is that we finally get to see many of the supporting characters who appear on screen actually do some good old-fashioned fighting of their own. Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Ten-Shinhan, newcomer Jaco, and good god yes, even Master Roshi (for the first glorious time in decades), get a series of pretty great and very well-animated action scenes where they take on the full force of Freeza’s army. It’s both great fan-service and a great moment. However, it does bring up one of my minor gripes with both the movie and Toriyama’s work in general, which is that there is practically no sense of logic to the ability of the characters in here. What I mean is that Toriyama and/or the people involved with making this film clearly somehow seem to forget that both Gohan and Piccolo are well above the level of an average Super Saiyan. Taking on Freeza’s men should have been relatively trivial for just either of the two of them alone, whereas it at least made sense for the other characters to struggle against that kind of manpower, somewhat. Furthermore, why does Gohan even go into his Super-Saiyan form when it was already established that he had achieved another form of power that had surpassed the use of that transformation way back in the Majin Buu arc of DBZ? It’s little things like that which irk me somewhat as a fan, but admittedly it’s a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things. After all, paying that small price comes with the benefit of getting to see some of my favorite supporting characters from early Dragon Ball get their time in the spotlight again after so many years (as brief as that may be).

All of this fun stuff is just a warm-up, of course, before transitioning into the second half of the film where Goku (along with Vegeta) arrives fashionably late to the party to bail the other characters out, as is series tradition. And while there are tons of great moments in this half of the movie as well, it bares noting that this is also where many of my issues with the film come into fruition. On the positive side of things, seeing Goku and Vegeta further act out their rivalry is a ton of fun, and having Goku face off against Freeza one more time is amazing to behold. Granted that you can’t expect to receive the same kind of spine-tingling chill that you got from their epic encounter on Namek in the span of just a single film, and given the tone of this movie, they wisely don’t choose to play up the fight that way. Rather, this is presented more as an appropriate grudge match between the two, with each being on a similar level and having a well-balanced, evenly-sided battle. That said, while the 2D animation of this film (admittedly being far from some of the best out there) is very fluid and a treat to behold, the film’s use of CG animation intercut with the traditional hand-drawn style is honestly pretty bad. This is nothing new, given how BOG had the same problem, but it’s disappointing that in the sequel they still haven’t managed to fix this problem at all. It’s one of those few things that reminds me that this is still a Toei Animation production, and that company just loves to cut corners, even with an event film such as this. Whether it was time or budget-constraints, or both, the poorly done CG effects really took me out of the experience briefly, each time that they came up in a noticeable way.

Adding to the spectrum of issues, while most of mine are minor, the whole Goku vs. Freeza conflict brings up one of my few major problems with the picture, which is its narrative theme. Even as a continuation to the series, any good film should have a distinguishable stand-alone theme to its narrative to set it apart as its own piece of the story. The problem is that what this movie does is essentially just ripped directly from BOG, making it feel like Goku never learns anything. In the previous installment, we appropriately got to see an old aspect of the series come back into relevancy with Goku taking on Lord Beerus and learning that he was still far from the strongest in the Universe. It hearkens back to a lesson that Master Roshi taught Goku way back when the series’ was still in its initial year of publication: that no matter how strong you get, there is always someone better than you to overcome. It’s not that I have an issue with this film continuing that theme, with Goku realizing that it’s not right to underestimate Freeza. Rather, the problem is that the way it is executed in the film feels both like Goku didn’t learn anything from his previous encounter with Beerus, and also that this whole message of Goku’s overconfidence comes in the form of a very abrupt and rushed final ending that I honestly did not like at all. I will, however, refrain from delving into it to avoid spoilers for those who have not watched the film. It’s a brilliant concept for what it could have been if handled better, at least, so I’ll give it that much.

We also get to see new forms for Goku and Freeza, of course (which isn’t a spoiler seeing as how it’s one of the main advertising points of this movie). I’m sure most people interested in this feature have already seen images of the strangely named “Supersaiyan God Supersaiyan” form of Goku (so, basically just a Super Saiyan with blue hair), as well as the “Golden Freeza” form (so, basically just a color palette swap of Freeza’s final form). They are honestly rather underwhelming and unimaginative, but they suit their need in the story just fine. Beerus and Whis also make their returns in this film, but disappointingly aren’t given anything of real significance to do outside of just one scene that I once again must avoid talking about for spoiler reasons.

Finally, one other major point of contention that I have with this picture is the same one that I had with BOG: it just plays things way too safe. I don’t mind so much that most of the movie feels rather anti-climactic and devoid of tension, because once again that’s just the tone that they were going for, and by nature this was a series that was designed for longer story arcs. I realize that a single film can’t possibly capture the same feel of the actual series. Even so, it still could be a bit more experimental and try to help evolve the franchise for modern fans, what with aspects of character growth or finding a way to make the battles more than just power struggles. On the one hand, it doesn’t directly hurt the film in and of itself, but in another regard, it does harm the potential for this series to continue to grow and stay relevant as time goes on. This will be even more important once older fans start to diminish and it’s only left with a newer audience to try and appeal to.

But, to close out this review on a more positive point, let’s lastly look at the titular villain and true star of the film, Freeza himself. I’m happy to say that he’s fully realized in this movie and easily my favorite character in the entire piece. His callbacks to previous events of the Namek arc throughout the feature, as well as tying him in with the extended Dragon Ball mythos (including his awareness of Lord Beerus), really helps to re-establish him as a very core part of the many great things about Dragon Ball. It also further cements him as the most memorable villain in the series. I really must give Chris Ayres props for reprising his excellent portrayal of the character, who he took the role of ever since Dragaon Ball Z Kai. The entire dub in general is fantastic, and it’s so great to hear many of the voices that I grew up with in my childhood still playing these same characters. Although, this is no surprise given how great they were in BOG last year. However, Chris Ayres steals the show with his return as Lord Freeza, and this alone made the movie worth the price of admission for me (but the great, humorous writing from Toriyama didn’t hurt either, of course).

Despite all of my complaints and issues, I must once again go back to what I said earlier about viewing this film as a DBZ fan rather than as a critic. I won’t lie, this is far from a perfect or great piece of cinema in any regard, but nevertheless, I walked out of the theater amidst other DBZ fans with a huge grin on my face. On a base level, I was very pleased with the experience that I had. Toriyama and Toei Animation set out to make a new movie that would make long-time fans happy, and on that level they certainly accomplished their task. The humor of the film felt fun and genuine, the action (aside from the bad CG) felt spectacular and larger than life, and the overall package had me thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

Now, putting my personal love for the series aside, if you are a more casual fan of Dragon Ball who is curious about viewing this film, I would still recommend it, but do expect to have some of the problems with it bother you more than they did for me. If you are by some chance a complete newcomer to the franchise, then this movie is definitely NOT the place for you to jump into it. – Dr. Ensatsu-ken

Second Opinion!

Akira Toriyama has returned to his hit series Dragonball in a sequel to 2013 hit Battle of Gods in his new film Resurrection ‘F’.

During the era of peace after the Buu saga Freeza’s men, dubbed the “Freeza Force” has had their hands full trying to maintain their iron grip on the galaxy without their master, and in desperation went to earth and risk and encounter with Goku to revive their old master. They encounter Pilaf on his quest for the Dragonballs and get his help to collect the Dragonballs. Wishes are made, and Freeza (with an awesome metal track by Maximum Hormone) is revived. He then travels to Earth to get his revenge, but not before a four month training session to fill the gap between his powers and theirs.

The movie is really good at establishing his (admittedly simple) motivation. He was beaten by the Saiyans, the ‘monkeys’ he looks down upon, he will not, nor never, let that go. He is both too arrogant and too childish to let that go. It reminds me of when he came back right before the Android saga with his father King Cold (who gets an amusing mention several times) where the frosty king was practically holding him back. I like Freeza as an antagonist to this film. It feels like an interesting call back, and a nice what-if, to back then. There are a lot of allusions to other moments to Dragonball. Not just Freezas aformentioned first return, but to Pilaf’s service to a far larger villain ala King Piccolo, to the climaxes repeat of a certain scene in Namek, albeit with differing results. Call backs like these do well on their own, but to someone who picks them up that makes it all the more rewarding.

But call backs alone don’t make a movie, characters do. Practically everyone who ever had a role in Dragonball, barring Chiaotzu and Yamcha and several others, make a grand return in what might be one of the greatest sequences I have ever seen put into Dragonball. But wait, there’s more. Has anyone ever read a short tale called ‘Jaco: The Galactic Patrolman’? It was a 2013 serialization, of Toriyamas latest, and presumably FINAL work. In it there’s an amusing alien named Jaco, who has come to Earth to do, something. I won’t say what, but go read it, it’s alot of fun. But disregarding that Jacos appearance is not anymore shoehorned in than any of the other cast. He feels like he should belong there. And he has such great chemistry with the cast especially Krillin (who has become a cop himself). Speaking of Krillin there was a nice short scene with 18 that made my heart aflutter. It really shows how in love these two are, and how much they care for another. Like I said short, but sweet.

The two main stars of course are Goku and Vegeta. After the events of Battle of Gods they have spent their time on Whis’ planet training to master God form (presumably Vegeta got it off screen). It is highly amusing seeing Beerus and Whis, they are a perfect addition to the Dragonball mythos. And one of the things I appreciated most was the time devoted to Whis’ power. You see while Beerus is a god, Whis is something far more powerful. His training session with the two Saiyans shows just how far Goku (and Vegeta) has to climb if he can ever reach that summit.

Dragonball has this reputation of not being a deep series. I can see it, but disagree entirely. Battle of Gods had a theme that Goku has a long road to travel to be the strongest, and that even if he becomes the strongest in one place, he’ll never truly be the strongest. It was truly something that needed to be said after accusations of the misconception of Gokus seemingly unlimited power. But I digress. Weakness is the name of the game this movie. Not just physical weakness, but weakness in character. After the training session with Whis we get a moment to analyze what their fighting forms lack. But what stood out to me was that even Beerus has weakness in his form. And this is a thing throughout the movie. Everyone whether stated or otherwise has their weakness’ revealed, including and especially Freeza. And that is what makes this movie great. We analyzed where these characters lack. We see what makes them tick. Goku even has what has been a long time complaint of his character brought forth. Having these movies be after the end, AND written by Toriyama himself gives these characters development. For what has been a movie after the end these chracters have grown, and I really love that. I won’t spoil Freeza’s weakness, but I will say that a little patience, or heck even maturity goes a long way.

What went wrong in this movie rests solely in who kills Freeza. The build up and the poetry of who should kill Freeza, versus who actually kills him can leave a little bitter taste in the mouth. Again I won’t spoil, but it’s something I feel could be corrected in Super. Another point of contention is what some would call a Deus ex Machina. I personally wouldn’t say that, for it did have build up, but it would leave you dumbfounded. And to be honest one could actually see it, with the right perspective, as an outright parody of a Deus ex Machina, especially considering who does it.

So is Resurrection ‘F’ good? It is beyond my expectations. The marketing really played up the action, which the movie has alot of, but the humor and the character development felt equally as important. Right now this sits at a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and I wouldn’t mind if it stayed that way. It is also on it’s way to cracking the top 10 of theatrically released films, including Miyazaki films. Funimation believes that this can make people take the anime market more seriously, and I do too. This movie is a delight, and to me equals Battle of Gods in its brilliance, and come time I WILL buy it on Bluray.

‘Resurrection F’ is in theaters until August 12 so get your tickets soon.  Final Score: 9/10 – LordGoku

Third Opinion!

Before I begin my review of the latest theatrical feature in the seemingly immortal Dragon Ball franchise, I feel obligated to mention and discuss the “pre-show” FUNimation so curiously decided to attach to it’s start. Not just the pre-show itself, but the experience of being in the theater with other people listening to, nay, enduring the damn thing in all it’s glorious and bizarre frivolousness. And yes, it is worth talking about. It was a part of my movie experience just as much as the film itself, and a moment of zen that I won’t soon forget. So think of this as a “pre-review” of sorts. Hey, at least you have the freedom to skip ahead to the actual review, and don’t have to sit there slogging through this for 15 minutes.

Now, I saw this film in an AMC theatre, and usually in an AMC theatre they have a pre-showtime feature called “First Look” where they show behind-the-scenes looks at upcoming films and television shows. Also the same old Coke and Android commercials again and again. None of that this time. I guess because this is a Fathom Events showing, idk, I’ve never been to one in my local hometown AMC theatre before. Last year I drove an hour for what was the nearest theatre to my house to see Battle of Gods. So hey, I could deal with just staring at a graphics loop of various theatre platitudes over and over again until the movie started. But then, when that stopped, they told us “we hope you enjoyed these previews!” (paraphrasing here). Uh, what previews? You didn’t show anything! I literally yelled that out loud in the theater. A woman sitting behind me also agreed with my sentiments. Though she used more colorful language than I. After waiting 15 minutes for the movie to start, everyone was excited to finally see the film…until they all realized that they still had to wait another 15 minutes for it to start. Only a couple of people besides myself knew the pre-show was coming before-hand; most were just scratching their heads at what they were seeing on the screen.

So what, exactly, was the pre-show? Basically a hodgepodge of things that no one wanted to see or hear. To be fair, it begins kinda interesting. We see a recording session with Chris Ayres doing some of Freeza’s lines from the film. Now, I have no clue why they chose to show him doing some of his funniest and spoilerific lines in particular, but it’s still rather cool to see. But then it moves on to showing every fucking voice actor for the dub, including Sean Schemel, Chris Sabat, Ian Sinclair, Jason Douglas, Sonny Strait, & Monica Rial, all voice their thoughts on Freeza as a character, and then their thoughts on the film. This segment was just embarrassing. All the actors just give basic, shallow opinions about what makes Freeza a good villain and what’s cool about his return in the film, and the segment goes on so long that it gets annoying to listen to.

You think after that’s done they’d move on from trying to hype up Freeza, but no. Instead they dive into an elaborate graphics sequence that essentially details the entire history of the character in the series in painstaking detail. I’m not sure why FUNimation thought this necessary. Everybody going to see the film was surely already a Dragon Ball fan and knew the character, and didn’t need a history lesson to remind them. It’s made even worse when they immediately spoil the movie by showing scenes of Freeza from the film, including ones with him in his Golden Freeza form, while re-iterating yet again how awesome sugoi Freeza is and why it’s such a big deal that he’s been brought back to life and how this movie would be epic and shit. This entire segment of the pre-show felt extremely desperate to hype up Freeza and the film for the theater audience that it had the opposite effect. All it did was deflate everyone’s enthusiasm for the film by spoiling cool scenes and making Freeza out to be a big deal, despite every DB fan everywhere being skeptical that Freeza could really be much of a threat. Bottom line was that no one going to see the movie needed to be made more excited to see the film, especially with such a artificial and overenthusiastic, redundant and long video that feels didactic rather than entertaining.

But then comes the most surreal part of the entire thing. Yep, even after going so far as to spoil the film they were trying to hype, FUNimation apparently thought they needed something more to “have fun and interact” with the fans. So we are treated to a long, long quiz-show segment done, complete with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?-style graphics, as Justin Rojas asks every core DBZ VA in the film about 8 Dragon Ball-related trivia questions. Remember how I said that the interviews from the previous segment were embarrassing. Well scratch that; this is the motherload of awkwardness and bewilderment. The questions themselves are absolute jokes; anyone with even a basic knowledge of DB could answer them in a second, that’s how easy they are. So the fact that so many of the actors, including people working on DB for almost 20 years, seemed to have no clue how to answer any of them was incredibly amusing to everyone in the theater. To go over each of the questions would take too long, but to give you an idea, one of the questions was “What animal is Gregory?” Yes, seriously. No one answered correctly. Yes, seriously. Monica Rial thought he was the turtle. It’s not just the fact that they struggled with these, but how exaggerated and quirky their thought processes were. Of note was how Monica Rial would always answer the questions in a extremely squeaky, unsure tone. People found this very amusing. It was only at the end, with the last question, did the audience’s amusement and eye-rolls stop and go “huh, wait a minute?” That question being “How many planets has Freeza conquered?” There were aa bunch of hard-core DB fans in the audience, and I don’t think anyone guessed it right. The fact it was an actually challenging question made it a good capper for the whole spiel, and got people to start to pay attention again.

Unfortunately, the pre-show was still going, to everybody’s surprise. Yes, now was the moment everyone expected to happen; trailers for FUNimation products. Though, honestly, this was the best part of the entire thing. FUNi previewed four films they were planning to give limited theatrical screenings later this year and in early 2016; Psycho-Pass the movie, the Ghost in the Shell: Arise movie, Mamoru Hosada’s The Boy and the Beast, and of course, the live-action Attack on Titan movie. They did a good job of making them all look awesome, and made me extremely excited about seeing them when they come out, hopefully in theaters. This was the shortest part of the entire pre-show, but it was unarguably the most effective part.

After sitting through it, I have no idea why FUNimation even made a pre-show in the first place. I guess they wanted to hype the movie before the movie, but they really didn’t need to do that. The Freeza-hyping section of the thing worked to deflate the patience and interest of everyone in the audience. The way it went so overboard in describing Freeza and his history while spoiling scenes from the movie made it confusing as to who FUNi was making this for, since the only people who’d go and see this film would already be DB fans who, again, don’t need to be told any of this. Everyone tuned out the quiz show segment completely, those who didn’t only watching it to make fun of it. Only the trailers portion actually got people to pay attention to the screen and get people excited about something. In short, the whole thing just felt gimmicky and frivolous; something annoying you had to sit through to get to what you came to see. While it was amusing for how woefully misguided and awkward it was, FUNi really shouldn’t bother doing something like this ever again. Resurrection ‘F’ was easy enough to understand without needing a whole history on who Freeza was, and enough to get excited about that there didn’t need to be what was essentially a 15-minute trailer for the movie before the movie. Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad FUNimation is so eager to engage with and connect with their audience and make all these features and stuff. But next time I hope they limit this stuff to their youtube page, and don’t put it on the big screen.

On that subject, with this “pre-review” out of the way, let’s get on to what you actually wanted to read – the review of the film itself!


When Resurrection ‘F’ was first announced last summer, Akira Toriyama stated that the film was going to be “utterly funny.” Sure enough, the first scene of the film, showing Freeza’s “torture” in hell, reflects those sentiments exactly, and perfectly sets the tone of the rest of the film. I think the difference in intention is critical in understanding this film and Battle of Gods in contrast to previous DBZ theatrical-outings. In the original 13-movies, Toei emphasized fighting and cool villains to be fought, with a mostly serious tone with some sprinkles of humor through the presence of designated comic relief characters. The goal was to please the fans who loved the series for it’s visceral, exciting action; hence why so much of them were comprised of a string of fight scenes with only a thin plot to tie them all together into a semi-coherent narrative. With the exception of maybe the first Broly movie, these films weren’t meant to explore characters, concepts, or the world of DB, and were mostly churned out as cash-in products in the same manner as most shonen franchise movies tend to be nowadays.

Battle of Gods, made to roughly coincide with the franchise 30th anniversary, could’ve been another frivolous outing along these lines. However, the overwhelming financial and critical success of One Piece’s 10th film, “Strong World,” which was written by the series’ own mangaka, seemed to have got Toei thinking. If an Oda-written OP film could be so successful, then surely a Toriyama-written DB film would do as well if not better. Ultimately, they didn’t get Toriyama to actually write the film, but he did outline the story and draw the character designs for Beerus and Whis, and had some involvement in the early screenwriting stages. BOG was a success, and Toriyama, inspired with a new idea for the series after listening to a Maximum the Hormone concert, decided to write the script for a follow-up film himself. Which brings us to Resurrection ‘F’, and why, out of all the DBZ films made so far, including Battle of Gods, it feels the most true to the spirit, humor, and characters of Toriyama’s epic.

Don’t get me wrong; Battle of Gods was a brilliant and funny film, and of that there’s no question. I re-watched the movie right before I left to see ROF, and I still got plenty of belly laughs from it even though it had to be the fourth or fifth time I’d seen it in it’s entirety. Still, as strong and well-written as the humor in the movie was, it wasn’t quite Toriyama humor. It was lacking in the quirkiness, the exaggerated silliness, and the casualty of the character interactions that characterizes Toriyama’s comedy. There’s a certain feel of spontaneity and randomness to Toriyama’s work. Not in the sense that something totally bizarre just happens out of nowhere, but in the way gags play out, characters talk to each other, conversations begin and end, and how scenes flow one to another. Toryiama has a distinct style of writing and comedic timing that pervades his manga, and is frankly, inimitable by other writers no matter how much they try to mimic it. Battle of Gods has a lot of humor and character interactions that hearkened back to the early days of Dragon Ball, but it felt like it was trying to do that. The moments were enjoyable, but they didn’t feel natural. A representative of Shueshia once told former Viz editor and esteemed manga critic Jason Thompson that the only man that could draw Dragon Ball – the real Dragon Ball – was Akira Toriyama. Battle of Gods was the best damn attempt I’ve seen for someone to try to create a new DB story that genuinely felt like it, and it worked in large part because of the fact that Toriyama thought up the premise and the writers put in a lot of effort to make it a celebratory film. It came close, but at the end of the day, that Shueshia representative couldn’t have been more right. The only man that can truly make more Dragon Ball is the man who made it in the first place.

Resurrection ‘F’ was directly written by Toriyama, and it shows. As someone who has versed himself in every manga the manga has drawn he could find, and having re-read both Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball a half a dozen times each, I will tell you that there is no Dragon Ball film that more closely captures the spirit and tone of the original manga and Toriyama’s work more than this one. From that brilliant first scene to the last, this movie flows like one of Toriyama’s manga would; fluid, directionless, witty, and creative. Not every joke in the movie works, mind you. There’s some bits with the Pilaf Gang at the beginning in particular that honestly kinda grate, which is a shame since Toriyama seems to love the character well. But even with the jokes that don’t work, all of the humor still feels like it’s something Toriyama wrote, right down to including a Toriyama staple, a poop joke (admittedly more of a fixture of Dr. Slump, but the execution was more DB-ish). And that works to the film’s advantage; it’s as clever, witty, sharp, creative, and inspired as a Toriyama story is and should be. It doesn’t just feel reminiscent of early Dragon Ball; it feels reminiscent of Toriyama at his peak of his creativity – which include the later years of Dr. Slump AND the early years of DB. Moreso than it is a DB product, it’s a Toriyama one. The fact that it’s so creatively driven, instead of most franchise movies being profit-minded, is what makes it feel so fresh, funny, and just fun compared to all those DB movie outings from the 90s, and the way the beats of the story flow so naturally from one to the next in the way distinctly Toriyama is what gives it a leg up on BOG as a sequel. If you’re going into the movie expecting to laugh and as a fan of Toriyama’s sense of humor, you won’t be disappointed.

Humor, however, is only one aspect to this movie, and beyond it the film has a few more strengths, but also a fair amount of weaknesses. One aspect the movie absolutely shines in, though, is the presentation of all the characters involved. Though BOG featured most of the recurring characters in some fashion, ROF keeps the cast small. This works to it’s favor, as it gives each one of the protagonists in the film a chance to shine and show off. For the supporting characters, this mostly comes in the form of the fight scene between the Z-fighters and the Freeza forces, which features Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Tenshinhan, Master Roshi, and newcomer Jaco (the titular protagonist from a manga Toriyama published in Weekly Shonen Jump back in 2013) take on multiple enemies all at once in a series of fight scenes that are not the most inspired to ever be shown in a Dragon Ball film, but also some of the best executed in any animated adaption of the franchise to date.

Each one of the characters get a moment to be awesome, and participate in the film’s humor in a way that feels natural to their characters and doesn’t portray them in a joking light. In particular, Master Roshi gets wonderful treatment in the movie, taking out lots of Freeza’s soldiers by himself in a badass way, whereas a Z-movie written by anyone else might have just made him a comic relief joke character in this situation, like he was in The Return of Cooler. The biggest scene-stealer of the movie was Jaco himself, who seamlessly become a natural, welcome member of the cast within minutes of his introduction, with excellent character interactions with Bulma and Krillin in particular. The audience I was with quickly went from being confused about who he was to loving the hell out of him. Safe to say, this movie is going to make Jaco a fan-favorite among DB fans the world over, and the character is sure to get more prominent appearances in future DB stories, including the currently-airing Super.

But the real star of the movie, naturally, is Freeza himself. The film is aware that neither the audience or the characters can genuinely take Freeza seriously as a threat after the power-ups everyone has gotten since his defeat, so the movie intentionally walks the line with his character. Despite what some might have feared, Freeza’s character is true to his previous appearances in the series. He’s as vain, sadistic, calculating, narcissistic, and confident as he was before. The difference is, while in the Namek arc these aspects of Freeza’s character complimented the enigma and threat of his power, here it makes light of what a spoiled daddy’s boy he really was. Throughout the film the fun of Freeza’s character comes in he still thinks he’s the best and he’s in control, basically Freeza being Freeza, and how that overconfidence leads him to get made fun of without him even knowing it and, ultimately, humiliatingly defeated once again. Chris Ayres absolutely nails Freeza’s character in the film and executes every line of dialogue to maximum comedic effect. If you’re a fan of Freeza as a character, this film manages to reflect what makes him such a great villain while still find ways to take the piss out of him, carefully balanced in a way I don’t think could’ve been done better.

Not everything about the character writing is perfect, though, Obviously, there’s the issue of power levels, what with everyone except Roshi and Jaco supposed to be leagues stronger than the average Freeza soldier. Roshi has the opposite problem, since presumably he should be weaker than one considering he lost against King Piccolo, making it kinda strange they thought to bring him along and not Yamcha. Then again, Master Roshi has actually won fights in the series before, so in that sense it’s honestly more believable that he’d put up more of a fight against Freeza’s grunts than the latter no matter how strong he is relatively. There is no satisfying answer to these continuity problems, so I think it’s best not to think too hard about them. Power levels were always loosely defined anyway.

The only criticism about power levels in the film that I think is invalid would be about Gohan. It’s clearly stated in the film that he hasn’t trained at all since the fight with Buu and as a result he lost the ability to tap into the full potential the Old Kai unlocked for him. It doesn’t matter how strong Gohan was before; if he didn’t keep up his training, he would lose it after a long period of time. It is a little strange he became so out of shape to the point that he could only barely go Super Saiyan in the film, but I guess great power like that is much quicker to lose than it is otherwise. This would also explain why Piccolo and Krillin were having so much of a hard time in their fights too, since they presumably haven’t been training, whereas Tenshinhan and Master Roshi never stop, even though they don’t do it as regularly or as hard as Goku and Vegeta do. In any case, if you’re a Gohan fan, you might not like how he’s basically treated like a joke in the film (Freeza, in his base form, one-shots him with a sucker punch so bad that he would’ve died if he hadn’t been given a senzu bean), but I kinda enjoyed seeing him portrayed the way he was. Besides Gohan, Beerus also doesn’t get nearly enough to do, and most of the humor involving him revolves around his love of food, which gets played out a bit past welcome. Other than that, the lack of certain characters like Mr. Satan, Buu, etc. is disappointing, but that’s honestly more of a fanboy-ish nitpick than a genuine weakness of the film.

Of course, this is a DBZ film, and what is DBZ without the fights (well, it’s a lot of things, but people most associate it with fighting because memes). If you were disappointed in the scant amont of action in BOG, you’ll be happy to know that this movie has a lot more of it. Each fight scene in the film is extremely creative, fun, and engaging. In fact, my favorite scene of the movie is the battle between the Z-Warriors and the Freeza soldiers. However, they suffer from some of Toei’s weaker animation and directing in spots, and a hideous use of CG in many shots of Freeza soldiers and complicated shots during Freeza and Goku’s fight. Seriously, the CG looks like something out of some mediocre PS2 DBZ game from a decade ago. It’s blatant and terribly integrated into the film, and can really be distracting at times, which is a shame. But he biggest weakness of the fighting, and the narrative in general, is the utter lack of tension. Again, it feels like the film is aware of this, which is why it focuses more on the comedy aspects than the action, but makes the fights seem less satisfying than they should. If you’re expecting Goku and Freeza’s battle in this film to recapture the tension and raw emotion pervading their epic clash in the Namek arc, you’ll be disappointed.

This is also a weakness compared to BOG. While there wasn’t a whole lot of fighting in that film, the final battle between Goku and Beerus is a huge rush of adrenaline where you really feel the desperation and emotion Goku is going through throughout the entire battle, and everything from the moment Goku bursts out of the ground to them going to space and Goku pushing back Beerus’ destroyer ball never fails to keep me on the edge of my seat every time I’ve watched it. In ROF, you never get a sense that any of the characters are in danger or are in a pinch. You spend the film wondering whether Freeza can even put up a fight rather than you worry about whether the heroes will win, and by rolling with that sentiment rather than trying to subvert it, the film weakens the punch and potency of both the fighting and the plot.

And on the subject of the plot comes the burning question; is this a better film than Battle of Gods? Short answer: It’s not. Now, as a Dragon Ball fan and a Toriyama fan, I enjoyed it more, but therein lies part of the problem. I know I spent a good chunk of this review praising Toriyama and commenting that ROF is the most genuine-feeling Dragon Ball film precisely because he wrote it. But while Toriyama is great with humor, he isn’t always the best storyteller, and that’s where ROF fails compared to BOG. It boils down to the different purposes of each film. BOG opened new horizons for the world of the series in introducing the concept of Gods, other universes, and the idea of even greater challenges that could be faced by Goku and co. in the future. It served to broaden the possibilities and expand the world of the series, taking it to a new level and allow for more exploration and stories to be told in a vaster universe with unlimited potential. But ROF doesn’t take advantage of what BOG brought to the table. It feels safer, more confined, and less ambitious. And in returning to an older foe and plot line rather than moving on to new ones, it feels like a step back for the series, which seems wasteful considering BOG was such a huge step forward.

Toriyama clearly didn’t write this film with moving the story of DB and it’s characters forward as a priority. He wanted to have fun with a concept, and he did that well. But it the lack of purpose and ambition in this movie that makes it a weaker piece compared to BOG in what it does with and for the franchise. The film doesn’t really add anything to the world of the series. No, not even with Freeza’s Golden form or in the new version of Super Saiyan god, the latter of which is introduced with a lot less fanfare than you might expect. At best, the film hints at some things that could be further explored, namely in the mystique behind Whis’ existence and Goku and Vegeta having to embrace teamwork (a lesson they intentionally decided not to learn at the end of the film), but whether the promises offered in BOG will truly followed up upon is left to a potential third film or Super to explore. This movie is a fun romp and one hell of a good time, but it’s also a shallow one. Which isn’t to say it’s bad; far from it, I loved this movie and enjoyed it even more than BOG. But for all the Toriyama flavor pervading the film, it feels just as inconsequential as the DBZ films from the 90’s do, and even the basic storyline is something that Toei could have come up with on their own, though I’m sure their version would have been way less entertaining.

The movie does try to offer some bit of character growth for Goku, to mixed results. The reason being that their are two aspects of his character tackled in the film, and the weakest developed one is made note of more blatantly. That one being Goku’s overconfidence in his strength and his tendency to underestimate his enemies. This is a lesson Master Roshi thought Goku years ago in early DB, and it seemed to stick for most of the manga right up to the end. BOG saw Goku, having freshly beat Majin Buu, think he’s at the top of the power scale and be skeptical there’s anyone left that could be his better. Fighting Beerus makes him remember that there’s always someone stronger, a point hammered in when Beerus drops the bombshell that Whis is even stronger than him (Toriyama stated in an interview that on a scale from 1-10, Super Saiyan God Goku would be a 6, Beerus would be a 10, and Whis would be a15. Yeah…). In this respect, ROF sees him make the same mistake of underestimating his enemy again, which feels like a step backward. However, I felt the moment was really addressing a couple of different aspects of Goku’s character; namely his irresponsibility when it comes to his priorities and his responsibilities towards protecting people and those around him.

FUNi once got backlash for characterizing the reason Goku let Vegeta escape from earth at the end of the Saiyan arc as “mercy.” They got that flak because that was not why Goku did that. Goku did that because he liked the challenge Vegeta offered and wanted the change to fight him again. It was a purely selfish reason, and while it was ultimately justified when Vegeta became an essential ally for the heroes during the Namek arc, at the time he did it just because he wanted to, ignoring the dangerous ramifications letting him go could have later on. Goku does this time and again throughout the course of DB. He didn’t let people like Recoome, Burter, and even Freeza live because he thought it was wrong to take their lives on principle or because he thought they could reform, but because he no longer saw them as threats. And what happened as a consequence? Freeza survived Namek’s explosion and tried to destroy earth. In the Cell arc, he led everyone on in order to fight Cell, leaving his teenage son to be his ace in the hole in case he wasn’t strong enough to beat him, without bothering to tell anyone his plan. Yeah, great plan Goku; it only cost you your life. Then in the Buu arc, Goku was perfectly capable of destroying the fat Buu then and there with his level of strength, but he chose to leave it to two little kids far weaker than him and let Buu continue murdering millions of people until they perfected an intricate technique. And because he did that, everyone except for Mr. Satan and Dende were eventually killed and Buu blew up the earth.

Time and again, Goku has let the fate of the earth be threatened because of his selfish whims and prioritizing testing his strength over protecting the people around him. And it’s only in this film that he’s made to realize just how dangerous and irresponsible that behavior is, when both Vegeta and Whis chastise him when Freeza manages to get the better of him, to grave results. This is a much deeper and omnipresent aspect of Goku’s character that followed him throughout the course of the series, and to see him finally get called out on it and seemingly learn a lesson about makes for a surprising and interesting deconstruction of his character. Whether it sticks is another matter. After all, Piccolo chastised his plan with Gohan in the Cell Games before, but that criticism was more circumstantial, especially since Piccolo showed no outrage whatsoever when Goku told him he could’ve easily killed Buu as an SSJ3 a mere arc later.

I wish that the movie did more to delve into this character exploration more thoroughly. Unlike BOG, Resurrection ‘F’ has a lot that Super could potentially flesh out and expand upon. Showing Freeza’s training, Goku and Vegeta’s under Whis, an extended search for the Dragon Balls, getting in more characters into the fight against the Freeza forces; there’s just a whole lot in this film that I could see expanded upon to great effect. Not that I’d expect Toei to add anything meaningful to the story as already presented, but I can’t help but feel that there’s a lot of potential for thematic and character exploration the film could have played with if it had the same amount of time to play out as a short arc of a television anime would. I’m not expecting Super to do anything to make the contents of the film even better. Especially with it’s god-awful quality control. I mean, did you see the crap they pulled in episode #5? Toei really has no shame, seriously.

But ultimately, these criticisms don’t get in the way of what makes the film work. Resurrection ‘F’ isn’t a film about thematic messages or deep character exploration. It’s not as ambitious and additive for the franchise as Battle of Gods. This was a fun, light-hearted tribute to one of Dragon Ball’s most well-loved villains, executed with the expert comedic timing and sensibilities that are solely, wholly Toriyama. As a film, it doesn’t stack up narratively to it’s predecessor or the best of anime franchise films. But it succeeds in capturing the spirit of the original Dragon Ball manga better than any anime installment of the series ever has. If you aren’t a big DB fan and are unfamiliar with Toriyama’s work, then you probably won’t get much out of this film. If you’re a casual DB fan, you’d probably enjoy it, but may not be very impressed. But if you’re a longtime fan of the series and Akira Toriyama, it’s a satisfying, enjoyable romp. It captures what I love about the series and the man so well, and even with all it’s shortcomings, I’d firmly call it my favorite Dragon Ball movie to date. At the time of this writing, there’s still at least two days left to see it in theaters. If you can, please go. The experience of watching this film with a theater full of people who love this franchise is too great to miss, and is worth the price of admission just as much as film itself is. Feel free to skip the pre-show, though. That’s a worse torture than what Freeza’s enduring in hell. – Cartoon X

And with that, the film was reviewed! But what new horizons face the indestructible Dragon Ball franchise and it’s intrepid fans? There’s only one way to find out! Tune in next time for a review of DRAGON. BALL. SU-

….yeah, no, fuck that shit. Go to hell, Toei.

2015
08.07

Last week I quipped that I might shank someone if they added D. Gray-Man into Jump. And take a wild guess at what happened this week?!

…No, I wasn’t arrested for shanking someone. I didn’t shank anyone. That was a joke.

But yeah, D. Gray-Man is this month’s Jump Back. I don’t really have anything against early D. Gray-Man; I didn’t start to particularly dislike it until after the Noah’s Ark arc when the series just started becoming convoluted and incomprehensible, and (sighs) Johnny became one of the fucking main characters for some fucking reason. Even so, there were other series I would rather them run as Jump Backs first, and I just know this is going to lead to the series’ new chapters being run once this is over. Though, since they will only come out four times a year, it’s presence wouldn’t be noticed much. Certainly not as much as Seraph of the End, which I still have to get fully caught up on before next week so I can start reviewing it properly. Going from reading Nana to that is not going to be an easy transition, much less a pleasant one, that’s for sure.

Well, we’ll talk more about D. Gray-Man later, so let’s get on with the issue review! In this week of Jump, Food Wars! gets political, things get out of hand in Bleach, and the most powerful man in the world of One Piece…tries to commit suicide!?! All this and more, After the Jump!

Weekly Shonen Jump: 2015, Issue No. 36

Black Clover chapter #24 – “Capital Riot”

Last week I lauded Asta’s impassioned anger towards the Silva siblings’ horrible abuse of Noelle and his declaration that he’ll shut their jeering mouths up once he became the Wizard King. I found the scene well-done, with a great use of build-up and expanding on Asta’s character in a subtle way, establishing him as thick-skulled about being looked down upon but having no tolerance when it comes to his friends being mistreated. I enjoyed the moment of triumph at the end of the chapter where Asta had essentially given a big “fuck you” to the nobles and showed them he would not be silenced. I don’t think we needed to see more after that, which is my big problem with BC this week. Asta deflecting the attacks of the Silva siblings and knocking one of them off his feet isn’t nearly as effective as the pacing and emotional tension made the last chapter. It feels redundant and draws attention to the more annoying cliches at play, like stuck-up, vain elite antagonists, Asta coming out on top no matter what they throw at him, a higher-up character stopping the fight, etc. more annoying whereas last time I could buy into them because of the way they were presented.

A big problem with it is that we just don’t know these new characters very well. While some of their connections to previously established characters indicates these guys will be important and pop up again in important roles, we don’t know anything about them yet besides their names, rank, and a very surface-level understanding of their personalities. As such, details like Fegoleon and Nozel being incredibly powerful and Leopold declaring Asta’s his rival don’t leave much impact. Especially the latter, which comes across just bizarre since Leopold hasn’t had much screen time, much less interacted with Asta, at all, and we haven’t seen his capabilities or have much of a sense of his character. Because there isn’t much to these characters right now, the series just hasn’t given us much reason to be invested in these revelations and rivalries.

On top of it all, the attack on the capital by a necromancer is introduced much too suddenly. We haven’t seen this character before, and though I can assume he’s part of that cult that showed up a long time ago, just having this guy come in and start attacking people out of the blue is a jarring interruption of a story that was fine on it’s own. If the series had built up this character and attack in a previous chapter or two, it would have been a more effective change of pace. Instead it was only set up within this chapter itself, which just wasn’t enough time to make this feel like a big deal. Not to mention that I think that the reveal of a necromancer feels like it should have been saved for later or made a bigger deal of than it is presented here. Like, there’s plenty of horror and surprises that you could do with the concept, but just shoving it out there kinda lessens the cool factor of it. My biggest concern about this is that this attack will be just a throwaway event that serves to get the noble knights to respect Asta, which would be a boring retread of how the battle with Mars endeared Klaus and Mimosa to him. Instead of that, I’d rather this battle with a legion of zombies be primarily used to show off all of these characters and establish what their powers are and what specifically makes them dangerous and formidable rivals for Asta and Yuno. Because expanding upon these characters is really what Black Clover needs to do right now. Otherwise, it’s hard to care that Asta is even standing up to them.

As a side note, this chapter reveals that Asta can use both his anti-magic swords at the same time. My problem with that is…why? The sleek, slender sword hasn’t been shown to have any additional powers or capabilities than his previous sword, beyond being lighter and more easy to handle. The original sword itself seemed to be a bit too strong for it’s own good, and so having two of the same sword, both with the power to cancel out the magic of most other characters in this series, seems like a really bad move in terms of power-balancing. Tabata really needs to establish limitations and restrictions for Asta’s swords so that he doesn’t get too overpowered and he can give him stronger weapons without driving the power levels in this series too over the top too quickly.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma chapter #129 – “Lion vs. Lion”

Soma is as crafty as he is creative, and his observational skills and long-time experience has paid off in a formidable dish that’s about to give Kuga a run for his money. When the question of what Kuga’s restaurant’s weakness was came up, I had thought it had something to do with his ability to satisfy customers. Sure enough, it is. His cuisine is in such high demand that he has more customers than he can serve in a timely manner, even with all of the chefs he has working under him. Customers have to wait so long in line that they often get frustrated and leave, or don’t even bother to try it to begin with. Even after the food’s been served, he’s rushing customers out the door in order to get those waiting in. His restaurant offers a high-quality meal, but does it offer a satisfying customer experience? Not really. And that’s exactly what Soma decides to exploit. We know he’s capable of doing so too; this situation ties back into the first challenge he faced during Stagiare Week, where he noticed that the restaurant he was working for was too overcrowded for it’s own good, and suggested a regulatory reservation system that maximized both customer satisfaction AND profits. Soma knows how to make his customers happy and give ’em what they want; Kuga pushes the product over the experience, but Soma takes both into account.

The reveal of Mimasaka was fucking brilliant. For the last few week’s we’ve been left wondering who Soma was meeting with and how he or she would come into play, and the results show a foresight to both Soma and the series that adds a new layer on top of the arc as it does to the sheer greatness of the moment. Soma had been preparing a contingency to deal with the high demand that a product that could rival Kuga’s might bring, and who better a partner to choose than someone who can mimic his style of cooking flawlessly? Mimasaka is a method cook who’s quick to learn his target’s style of cooking and his recipes and replicate them at quick and efficient rates, which will double Soma’s ability to serve customers if not do even better. This is a brilliant moment; it makes sense for Soma to have thought about this ahead of time, it makes sense that he’d choose to bring in Mimasaka to serve his needs, and it feels perfectly planned out by the mangaka ahead of time, making the moment feel natural development rather than a mere twist. The way it’s revealed, the build-up to it and image itself, is perfectly paced and knows just the right beats to hit to convey the information gradually to maximize the punchline and the excitement the reader gets from it. When I first read this chapter, I went hysterical over this scene. I clapped my hands and was laughing “yes, yes!” for about an entire minute straight. Sure, part of it is that I really like Mimasaka and find his character incredibly amusing, but the execution here just nails the triumph and excitement of the reveal, and then the chapter just keeps going with enough steam to support an awesome closer. This entire chapter was a non-stop string of great moment after great moment, making it a thrill ride from beginning to end.

More to the point, the chapter establishes that the prospects of Soma making a comeback aren’t so unlikely after all. Kuga’s system is too large, and requires too many people performing specialized tasks at breakneck speed and efficiency to not crash in on itself. It’s too big for it’s own good. Soma is operating with only a small number of people and a small space to work in, but all three can make the dish on their own, which allows them to work fast enough to satisfy his customers while still maintaining quality control. This combined with the fact he’s offering a product with a unique hook to get people’s interests; a curry-infused meatball that transforms the mappo tofu noodle dish into a curry dish, similar to the transforming rice bowl from the very early chapters of the series. He’s competing with Kuga with a dish that he’s not really offering; a distinctly Yukihara-style creation, taking different inspirations and a basic concept and then going one step beyond to make something only he could create. Kuga underestimated Soma, seeing him as a mere kid in over his head. Now, however, he finally sees Soma is not only a worthy rival, but a dangerous one he has to keep his eyes on, lest his position at the top be usurped like a young lion ousting an old pride leader.

In case you’re wondering why the series uses the lion comparison, it’s because the look of Kuga’s restaurant is modeled on a chinese buddhist temple, a detail also reflected in how his chefs are all bald-headed and depicted practicing their cooking in the same manner monks are often depicted practicing martial arts. At the front of a chinese buddhist temple normally lies a statue of a lion, a symbol of wealth and strength. On the flipside, Soma’s dishes are heavily influenced by taiwanese cuisine, and Taiwan is often associated with three other countries and territories that lie outside of China but within it’s sphere of influence. Together, they are referred to as the Four Asian Tigers. So fact, the lion-symbolism at the end of the chapter is actually a slight political commentary; a clash between the big and industrious China and the smaller but firmly independent Taiwan and their cultural integrity. Soma’s depiction as a lion instead of a tiger was probably to avoid controversy from having an overt political reference, and considering Chinese-Taiwanese relations recently, that could’ve cause some. But it’s a neat way to characterize the conflict between Kuga and Soma and show exactly how big a deal this is. Considering the japanese-chinese rivalry and the general opinion of China in japanese pop culture, this also gives more of a nationalistic flavor to Soma’s comeback that’s probably very appealing and “fuck-yeah” in the same way an american character beating a russian would be in western popular media in the cold war days.

I’m glad I decided to do some research about this; Food Wars! is chock full of great character and story that it’s easy to miss some of it’s more subversive references and details. Every week it gives me a chapter that is both a satisfying read and a substantial, filling one to think and write about, and it always leaves me wanting more.

Bleach chapter #637 – “Baby, Hold Your Hand”

I think one of the most annoying things about Mayuri, besides his bizarre speeches and dialogue, is that he seems to always come out on top. Everything he does is calculated in a way that will best benefit him and make him victorious. His actions and motivations are often detached from the rest of the Soul Society and focused on his own morbid curiosity and freaky research. Instead of being part of the Gotei 13, he feels like he’s more like an ally of convenience. But he’s not a cool, anti-hero or anti-villain character you like and want to root for, because he hasn’t a shred of humanity or emotion that isn’t sick glee to him. He’s a maniacal madman and solely thus, but he doesn’t have any weaknesses or flaws that take the piss out of his character. Instead, time and again, Mayuri is shown to be in his own world, and always in control of it. There hasn’t been a single enemy since he was first defeated by Uryu that has bested him, much less make him sweat and work for a victory. He’s not likable because he doesn’t care about anyone besides himself, and doesn’t care about the same goal the rest of the characters do. In this way, he feels detached from the rest of the cast, and any part of the series focused on him feels unrewarding and a waste of time in the overall scheme of things.

This chapter is pure Mayuri, and as a result, the entire chapter carries a surreal sensation, making one repeatedly ask oneself “why is this happening?” or “why do I care?” Now, Bleach has been detached from it’s own reality and humanity for a while now; Kubo writes some of the most constructed, emotionless, and robotic dialogue that’s ever graced the generally hot-blooded and passionate genre of battle-shonen. But focusing on the most inhuman character in the cast of Bleach fighting a literally inhuman monster takes it to a whole new level. Right from the very first page, when Mayuri goes over in detail how he used Kenpachi as a test subject and pawn, through when he starts acting melodramatic and theatrical in front of the quincy, there is this cold, empty feeling to the chapter. Mayuri is playing around, joking around, because he has nothing to fear. And because he has nothing to fear, and his opponent can’t even emote, there’s no tension or even stakes to the conflict. So at the point where Pernida starts to show it’s true form, I felt detached and melancholy, unable to care a smidgen about what’s going on. And then I saw this on the next page:

…What?

….WHAT?

….WHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTT????

I don’t eve-Kubo? Are you serious? You…you’re serious? A hand? Pernida is a…hand? A GIANT FUCKING HAND??? Really? You want us to take an opponent that is nothing but a HAND seriously? And not just a hand either, but one with stupid chain-links on it’s fingertips and a nonsensical eye in the center of it’s palm, with two pupils??? No. That’s a stupid design. This is a stupid twist. This is a stupid villain. This is a stupid fight. It’s…dare I say it. Oh god, I can’t believe it, but it is. This is a more nonsensical, baffling, and insulting revelation than Gremmy turning out to be a BRAIN IN A JAR. And this fight, dear lord…at least Kenpachi has some shred of likability and humanity to him. Mayuri? He’s bizarre, eccentric, and inhuman. Like most of the quincies were, now that I think about it. Remember when they were supposed to be human beings? Well, nope! Turns out they were a bunch of freaks in monsters, their ranks including a BRAIN IN A JAR and A GIANT HAND. Because of course the villains need to be as despicable and unhumanlike as possible so we can feel satisfied when the heroes take them out like the freaks they are. Mayuri should have been a quincy. He’d have fit right in.

I want to write something more substantial about this chapter instead of just this hate-spew, but god, how can I? This is too surreal, too strange, out-of-nowhere, and head-scratchingly, “wtf?”-askingly, bizarre that words fail me and all I can do is rant in disbelief. Though, unlike Gremmy, this twist did have some set-up to it. There was no indication that Pernida was a giant hand at any point before this chapter, mind you, but the whole Reio’s hands and Mimihagi business did sort of leave open the question of whether Reio’s left arm was also some sort of supernatural creature with a will of it’s own. It’s sorta worth speculating why it’s allied itself with the Quincies, and what this implies about Reio’s existence and Ywach’s intentions for the Soul Society and world of the living. The chapter doesn’t give any hints as to what that might be, and instead just focuses on Mayuri being cray-cray happy-happy about having a new test subject to toy with, but this could potentially add a new layer to the events of this ar-…

…Is…is Pernida talking now? In broken english? Like it’s Frankenstein’s monster or something?

…No. No, this is too much for me. I can’t deal with this. Just…just do whatever Kubo. I’d rather spend my time writing about series from mangaka that have a purpose and method to their writing than trying to find anything salvageable in the random trash you toss out.

My Hero Academia chapter #53 – “From Todoroki to Ida”

I noticed and discussed the parallels between Todoroki and Ida’s situations and desires for revenge last time, positing that the former’s arrival and changed behavior would positively influence the latter. Sure enough, Todoroki’s intervention in the fight with Stain is purposefully done, to give the two interaction and have Ida learn the same lesson about not letting revenge cloud the kind of person he is and wants to be. In actively trying to rebel against his father, Todoroki’s pent-up frustration and self-loathing was leading him down a self-destructive path that would have made him as dark and power-hungry as the very person he hates. Likewise, Ida’s single-minded desire for vengeance is corrupting his sense of justice and his actions and priorities have been less than heroic, and instead of becoming a noble hero like his brother, he’s become the anti-thesis. Both characters’ desire for revenge have an opposite effect on their relationship to the person influencing them; Todorki was becoming more like Endeavor, while Ida is becoming less like Ingenium. However, the similarity lies in how their focus on revenge lead them astray from the kind of people and heroes they wanted to be.

Todoroki’s issues lied in his resentment of his father and guilt towards his mother. His initial goal of becoming a better hero than his father without using his inherited power was not going to heal these wounds, even if he had succeeded. That’s why Midoriya forcing him to use the fire powers in their fight was so important to helping him change; it made him forget about his revenge and embrace what he wanted and what he could do in the moment, allowing him to be himself without baggage. In the aftermath, he realized that using those powers didn’t mean he was accepting Endeavor, but rather, embracing a part of himself. He realized that he his grudge had been negatively influencing his personality, behavior, and thoughts, and that was driving him apart from the kind of person he wanted to be growing up. Doing some soul-searching, he realized that in order to quell his demons and find his own identity, he need to face both his mother and his father and understand them. Meeting with his mother turned out to be a more positive, forgiving experience than he had though. Interning under his father allowed him to see what kind of hero he truly was, and why he’s looked up to and respected as the second best in the industry. As a result, he was able to form more positive and healthy relationships with them, even if he won’t ever be able to forget and forgive what his father’s done, and was able to move on. When revenge and regret was on his mind, Todoroki wasn’t able to think properly about what was best for him and the people around him, and made decisions that while sounding righteous at the same were going to be self-destructive in the long run. Now, having finally let go, he realizes that the solution to his problems and understanding who he was as a person was rather simple all along. The fire powers he inherited from Endeavor are not symbolic of his father’s legacy, his family’s troubles, or responsibility for his mother’s unhappy life. They are just part of who he is, and rejecting them is the same as rejecting himself, which no one, including his father and his mother, wants him to do.

Ida’s desire to avenge his brother has similarly prevented him to act in his best interests. He ignored helping others and assisting in damage control in the Nomu attacks to go after Stain. He dove head-first into fighting Stain without alerting anyone to help him or trying to save the man he was about to kill. He tells both Midoriya and Todoroki, his friends, to butt-out and not help him even though he is paralyzed, immobile, and helpless because the fight “has nothing to do with them.” Having only revenge on his mind is causing Ida to reject and push people away like Todoroki once did, and has made him overly-emotional and irrational in his decision-making to the detriment of the safety of himself and those around him. Ida thinks that he has to avenge his brother; it’s his responsibility and his right as his younger brother to bring Stain to justice. But that should not be his priority as a hero. That’s not something he’s capable of doing by himself. That’s not something that his brother or anyone else wants him to do. And that won’t make him happy. That won’t soothe the frustrations, and the anger Ida holds towards himself over what happened to his brother. His desire for revenge is misplaced; he’s more angry at himself about his inability to help his brother recover than he is at Stain, and is projecting those feelings onto a task that sounds satisfying to him. He thinks that if he can get rid of Stain, that will solve his problems. It won’t.

Ida’s always wanted to be just like his brother. He’s idolized him as the kind of hero he should aspire to be. Stain crippling him has shattered the illusion Ida had about his brother’s invincibility and perfection; it showed him a side of weakness to his brother that changed the way he thought of him and the hero business. That’s why he’s taken his situation so hard and personally; on a subconcious level he wants revenge more for himself than he does for himself. Which is why he seems to consider his brother such a martyr and Stain a personal nemesis that only he should be allowed to defeat. It’s actually a very comic-booky way of thinking, but MHA points out that this is not how the world works. Stain is not just Ida’s problem, nor should defeating him be Ida sole reason to be a hero, much like how Todoroki realized he shouldn’t be a hero just for the sake of showing up his dad. Todoroki knows this better than anyone, and he knows that the path Ida’s traveling won’t end happily. Like what Midoriya did for him, Todoroki wants to make Ida remember why he wanted to become a hero, and what kind of hero he wanted to become. We know that Ida wants to be like his brother, but the way he’s been acting, he’s certainly not been living up to his example. And unless he realizes that and let’s go of his grudge, that will remain out of reach for him.

The action in this chapter was just superb. I find it hard to put into words everything that makes it compliment the emotional intensity of the character and thematic concepts explored in the chapter, but it’s intense and carries a wicked sense of danger and desperation to it that makes you legitimately worried about the fates of the protagonists while still selling their triumphant moments as just that. I think what accentuates the danger-factor to the whole thing is how Stain is presented; often shadowed, his face contorted in many panels to be monstrous-looking, insane, and creepy. The way Stain can be depicted so sinisterly while still maintaining the integrity of his multi-layered character is just fantastic, and a testament to his great and versatile character design. Moreover, I love the limits and details shown about his blood-controlling powers and the way they’re implemented, as I do Midoriya and Todoroki’s teamwork and the fact they still manage to be on the losing end of the fight, not because Stain pulls out a secret technique or is just unreasonably strong, but because he’s making purposeful and calculated attacks that reflect more on his experiences in these kinds of fights and situations and their lack of. Leaving the chapter off on Stain preparing to strike down an immobilized Todoroki, at the height of both the battle’s intensity and the emotional intensity of the characters, is just such a perfect cliffhanger to boot. My Hero Academia has been an extremely well put-together series on pretty much every level in recent months, and this chapter shows it at it’s absolute best. I don’t know how this fight will end, but I’m confident that it will be a well-thought out and satisfying conclusion to an phenomenal string of chapters.

World Trigger chapter #111 – “Yuichi Jin: Part 8”

Azuma Squad’s strategy to use a snow battlefield capitalizes more on surprising and slowing down their enemies rather than it augmenting their own versatility and capabilities. Their advantage lies in having prepared to fight in snow before the match and in exploiting the delays and confusion of their opponents trying to figure out what their game plan is. The snow isn’t a vital part of their actual strategy, but it’s usage enhances their strategic advantage, and a head start on rushing to the goal. Combined with the unreliable radar and impaired mobility and firing range the other teams have to deal with thanks to the cityscape, they’ve made it easier for them to proceed with their strategy of picking off their enemies one at a time.

Consequently, though, the other teams are combating this by trying to meet up with each other and open up a battle royale in the center of the field, while a few one on one scuffles like Ninomiya going after Kitazoe happen off to the side. The main goal on every team’s mind is reducing the number of opponents on the battlefield to increase the advantage in their favor. And, though for different reasons, they are all choosing to target the weakest team on the field, Tamakoma, prioritizing taking out it’s weakest member, which is, of course, Osamu. In the previous match, Tamakoma was up against better opponents, but the strategy of their opposing teams was not concentrated in taking out Tamakoma right from the start, and instead on other priorities. Now, however, Tamakoma has to defend itself against all three enemy squads at the same time, and not only fend them off, but find ways to score more points off of their stronger, more experienced opponents as well. And considering the firepower guys like Kitazoe, Kagegura, and Ninomiya are packing, that’s going to be a tough job even for Kuga.

If that wasn’t intriguing enough, Jin has gone and made a bet with Hyuse over the outcome of the whole shebang. Jin’s side-effect only selectively allows him to see potential futures, so he’s unlikely to know the outcome of this match, so his confidence in Tamakoma’s victory is likely based more on his belief in their luck. Hyuse, thinking pragmatically, feels that the odds aren’t in Tamakoma’s favor and that their lack of skill and experience makes their defeat inevitable. Jin’s taking a bet where he’s at a disadvantage, but considering Tamakoma’s track record, the high risk may be worth the reward. Especially if the reward is valuable knowledge and cooperation from Hyuse, who has everything to gain from getting his trigger back while Border would presumably have none. The potential consequences of the bet adds another layer of tension and intrigue to this fight, and with Osamu tracked down and having to engage in a solo battle, I’m curious to see how Tamakoma will possibly emerge victorious, and whether Jin’s bet is one that he won’t soon regret.

Toriko chapter #333 – “Round One!!”

This cooking competition is giving us what the Cooking Festival arc wasn’t able to give us; a true cooking battle between two chefs of equal caliber. I really appreciate that despite being the opponents of the protagonists, the 10-shell chefs are neither evil or over-powered, or even the opposite. Even with their stated thousand years of experience, they aren’t intangible, other-worldy beings but still recognizably human and flawed characters. For instance, Asardy recognizes that the Human World chefs are opponents they shouldn’t take lightly and advises his team to take caution of them. Condor isprobably the most cocky and overconfident of their group shows, but he shows enthusiasm towards cooking, surprise and trouble when trying to prepare the Leafish at first, and seems to recognize Yuda’s skill and show interest in what he can do to give him a good match. They feel like fully-realized characters rather than stock antagonists for the chefs to defeat, and the even level of skill helps bring an unpredictable and suspenseful vibe to this competition so far that feels refreshing in contrast to the beat-em-up power brawls the series is famous for.

Considering his prominence and de-facto leader status of the chefs in the absence of Chiyo and Chin Chin, I’m surprised that Yuda is the first up to fight. The fact that he’s been very prominent recently works to the series’ advantage is starting this competition off on a strong note, and the chapter does a lot to make Yuda out to be a pretty cool dude. From the effortless way he knocks out the Leafish, to his comebacks to Condor, Yuda’s been established with a lot of presence and charisma and I’m excited to see what he’s about to do. The decision to focus on the secondary protagonists is curious, but so far, I’m finding it well done, and I’m really interested in seeing how these cooking matches continue to develop, and how the upstart 124 year-old Yuda will stack up to the more experienced 3,000-year old Condor.

Nisekoi chapter #180 – “Seen”

As I hoped, this chapter continues the forward momentum of the story and directly follows up on Raku coming clean to Marika and Marika continuing to deal with her health issues. The first three pages of this chapter, showing her take a bunch of pills, and her painful gasps for breath afterwards managed to be pretty intense for how quick and downplayed the scene was. It also established that, yeah, Marika has a serious medical problem that she needs to get treatment for ASAP. Which further leans against the series leaning back on it’s standard harem antics anytime soon. Marika doesn’t have time to deal with that, and neither does Nisekoi.

Raku has learned a good lesson about being honest with one’s feelings from Yui. It was awkward for them at first, but they’ve since been able to restablish a friendly relationship. So now he knows that he owes Marika a real, honest discussion about how he feels about her and who he really likes, and that won’t necessarily endanger or destroy their friendship, but instead allow her to move on and find someone else. Just saying that he already has a girlfriend isn’t enough; he has to make it clear to her that he is not, and won’t ever be, romantically interested in her. A situation complicated by the fact that Marika already knows that Raku and Chitoge’s relationship is a facade and that he has a crush on Onodera. Telling her those things was supposed to be Raku’s lead in to letting her down gently, but she’s known this for a while, and has still pursued him. The question is no longer how Marika will react to being let down, but what she might have to do afterwards.

One factor that will no doubt come into play is the role that Marika’s mother will play. It’s clear Marika has an antagonistic, distrustful relationship with her, and it’s implied she’s been pushing for her to move to Kyushu to stay with her and seek treatment for her illness. Marika’s relationship with her mother, and the prospect of her having to leave her friends behind lest she endanger her life, is likely to be the focus of the next set of chapters, and it’ll be interesting to see what Raku and the rest will do to help her, if they even can, and how the relationships between the group are affected. Because while Raku’s wised up about being upfront on his feelings, he still doesn’t know who he really likes, and all of the girls except Marika are oblivious to how the others feel about Raku and how he feels about them. Marika’s situation could potentially force everything out into the open in a heated, inappropriate moment, and the ramifications of that would be a lot harder to solve civilly than Yui confession was.

One Piece chapter #795 – “Suicide”

Holy shit. This chapter was BIG. Where to start? How ’bout the very beginning with confirmation that Issho will indeed be going after Luffy, but is respectful enough to give them time to rest before he begins his pursuit. Issho’s role will be what Smoker’s used to; a powerful marine adversary that will act as both enemy and ally to the Straw Hats on various locations. That’s interesting. Rebecca is going to have to deal with the transition of becoming a princess. That’s interesting. But both of those things are small potatoes compared to what happens next. After over a year and a half, and literally 65 chapters, the second half of the Straw Hat crew that has been absent for so long has finally reappeared. And they haven’t been doing nothing during those 65 chapters. Oh no, they’ve gotten themselves into a whole new mess of trouble. They’ve gotten away from Big Mom, but they’ve landed themselves straight into Kaido’s territory and are dealing with a whole other conspiracy involving zoan warriors, test subjects, and a hunt for samurai that will no doubt tie into why Kine’mon’s wanted to travel to Zo. They’ve already gotten a head start in dealing with Kaido’s crew than the rest of the Straw Hats, and what they’ll do buying time for the return of their captain is going to be an interesting thread to follow. We haven’t seen these characters in so long, and the fact that they are already dealing with issues that will be the focus of the next arc is extremely tantalizing and exciting. This alone would have made the chapter so incredibly satisfying. But then Oda goes and gives us something even bigger. He gives us our next foe. The man who’s been built up as Law and Luffy’s goal for over a hundred chapters; the last of the Yonkou whose face had yet to be revealed. He gives us Kaido.

The mystique of Kaido has been built up for years now. Ever since we first heard of him as the man responsible for wiping out Gecko Moria’s entire crew, we’ve know this guy was someone who was not to be messed with. This fact made even more apparent when we learned of his dealings with Doflamingo and the monstrous zoan army he has at his disposal, and the fear, the genuine fear, Doflamingo showed at the prospect of facing his wrath without the ability to produce more SAD. When Doflamingo is afraid of someone, you know he must be a man of terrifying stature and power. So throughout this course of this arc, at the back of every OP fan’s mind was the nagging question of “when will we see Kaido?” And now, the last of the Yonkou has shown himself. We know what he looks like. We know what his personality is like. We know what his goal is. And my god, he lives up to expectations and exceeds them. You can see why they call him the “king of the beasts;” he literally is one. A physique to match Whitebeard’s, with a presence and intimidating stature to match. Bulging muscles, wild hair, a whip-like mustache, giant horns, a scale-patterned tattoo, and the dress of a samurai. He looks like a man who was a rival to Whitebeard, and someone to be feared. His reputation reflects his appearence. He’s endured numerous tortures, captures, and battles and was on the brink of death dozens of times, and has come out alive. His hobby is trying to commit suicide… by jumping off of sky islands. Forget the fact that only three people in OP have ever died outside of flashbacks; everything about the description building up to his reveal absolutely sells him as an A-grade badass.

Now the biggest, baddest man in OP world has shown himself. He’s been characterized as indomitable, and seemingly invincible, and he looks the part. And what is his goal? War. Kaido wants to start a war to end all wars; an epic, world-encompassing battle that will allow him to die in a blaze of glory just like Whitebeard did. And if the world around him is destroyed in the process, so be it. And now this war-hungry conqueror has been dropped right in front of the Kid-Apoo-Hawkins alliance. Even with all three of their crews, they don’t stand a hell of a chance, and their only hope of getting past him alive is to ally with him, which means fighting against the Luffy-Law alliance directly.

Or not. Who knows what exactly will happen to Kid and co. and how their encounter with Kaido will affect their plan to take out Shanks. The point is that OP is building up another big, far-reaching and world-changing war arc that has the potential to draw in every single faction in the OP war in one long, deadly battle for power and survival. Considering the sheer amount of tensions between the Yonkou, the Shichibukai, the World Government, their member countries, and all sorts of pirates and outliers, and you have the potential for an event to end all in a shonen manga. There is so much potential in the upcoming Kaido storyline and what it’s possible ramifications will mean not just for the future of the Straw Hats, but the future of the world of OP itself, and that’s insanely exciting. Fishman Island, Punk Hazard, and even Dressarosa, despite how big it was, all felt like a step down from the intensity and game-changing events of the Summit War. But these smaller arcs now look to be paying off as deliberate and necessary set-up for an even larger conflict, one that promises to take new heights as a series with potential to surpass the Summit War if Oda’s plays his cards right. This is the next, truly big story that I’ve been waiting to see from OP for over four years and nearly 200 chapters, and thinking about the possibilities and potential it has reignites an excitement I haven’t felt for this series in a long time. It still might be a rocky road ahead; Oda’s writing might still suffer from some of it’s focus and character problems he’s been having since the timeskip. But for the moment, this chapter has pumped and excited for what’s to come, and I can’t wait to see how the series gets there.

D. Gray-Man chapter #1 – “Opening”

Looking back at Jump’s lineup in 2004, it’s not hard to see why D. Gray-Man stood out. Well, okay, maybe it’s a little hard. After all, Jump was overrun by battle shonen back in those days. For good reason; this was the era where the so-called “Big 3” were all equally big. One Piece was entering Water 7, Naruto the Sasuke Retrieval arc, and Bleach was still in Soul Society. These series were reaching new peaks of popularity and quality during this time, and Jump was making a lot of bank out of them. So they probably thought that having even more battle manga like these series would be a logical way to increase the magazine’s circulation and profits even more. To their credit, a good chunk of the series they put out during this time were quite popular in their own rights, but there was also a sort of same-y feel to all of them in both themes, concepts, and art. Looking at the Jump lineup a decade ago and looking at it now, and it’s astonishing at how much more variety and diversity there is between every series in the magazine, and how much better in quality they all are. We have six series that could be considered battle-shonen in today’s Jump, and they are all vastly different from each other in concept, art, and themes. But back in 2004, there was double that amount, and there was a lot of crossover in genre and styles between them. So what is it, exactly, that allowed D. Gray-Man to survive in Jump, and become as popular as it did?

Part of it is it’s tone. D. Gray-Man is dark. Much darker than it’s supernatural battle-shonen sempai Bleach was, and that was and still is an extremely violent, gory series. In the first chapter, pretty much every character we meet, even the cat, is mercilessly and cruelly killed off. There’s a horror element to the series in both the appearance and raison d’etre of the akuma; the graphic and disturbing way they are brought to life and the human tragedy of their existence. The artstyle reflects it’s somber tone with a clean and gothic artsyle, and is complimented by a very dark sense of humor, and more subdued, human character interactions and dialogue that stood out against the usual passionate, gung-ho battle shonen sentimentality. Both the protagonist and the villain are enigmas, and despite not appearing, the Earl is established as a sick but quirky Joker-esque figure, a curious contrast to the more serious tone of the manga. All in all, it feels more like a shojo horror manga than a Jump battle series, and the features that set it apart were both capitalized and expanded upon as the series evolved it’s world, grew it’s cast of characters, and developed it’s story. It wasn’t exciting enough to make it an instant hit, but had enough of interest to Jump readers to let it survive through the years and earn it a dedicated, loyal following.

So I see what worked about D. Gray-Man for readers in the long run. But if you look at the ranking the first chapter got, you’ll see that it’s debut was incredibly low. Not just in the double digits, but right in the bottom five of that week’s lineup. That sounds shocking for a series that would become so popular and well-regarded among anime/manga fans, but reading this first chapter again, is it really such a surprise? The first chapter of D. Gray-Man is a mediocre, if not downright bad pilot. Allen is a bland as shit protagonist; he has one or two scenes of typical shonen protagonist goofiness, and then otherwise just exists in the chapter to spout exposition and defeat the monster. There is barely any character or depth to him, nothing that makes him endearing, interesting, or someone whose story you want to see more of. The chapter features a female character, deep into a conspiracy without her knowing, who just happens to befriend the main character, and learns about his career and craft and has her life saved from the bad guy. Said main character just so happens to have learned the consequences of trying to bringing a person back to life from a first-hand attempt, when he tried to bring back his dead parent, with negative repercussions that cost him an arm, and led him to replace it with a new one made from the very power he utilized in his resurrection attempt. Essentially, it reads like an extremely blatant and cheap rip-off of the first chapter of Full Metal Alchemist. And beyond that, it also suffers from one-shot syndrome. It’s a self-contained first chapter that only barely establishes the world and main character but provides nothing else, with supporting characters that won’t show up again, a situation that won’t be referenced again, and feels detached and different from the direction the rest of the series. There have been many battle-manga before and after DGM that have suffered from this approach (Noragami being one of the most memorable modern examples for me), and they are never good ways to start a series. Don’t hold back from showing us what you want and are going to do; jump right into it! A first chapter for a serialized manga should not feel like a mere self-contained one-shot, which DGM’s, unfortunately, does.

Beyond that, for a battle manga the fighting is just lame and underdone, with nothing cool or unique about it at all. That’s bad enough for a battle series, but an even bigger problem lies in it’s writing. It’s painfully basic. Every moment in the chapter feels typical, cliched, and forced; the backstory of the nun who died because a giant cross just happened to fall on top of her right after a meaningful conversation and in the presence of the two other relevant characters in the chapter being possibly the most obvious and egregious example. It’s so forced and unbelievable, as is the drama the boyfriend felt and the rationale behind why he decided to revive his fallen love as an Akuma. Again, the Akuma themselves are a great concept, but the scene of one being created shown in this chapter is as emotionally forced and tastelessly dark as an episode of Hell Girl. The frustrating part about it is that a much more well-done depiction of an Akuma being born would be shown in a later chapter during Allen’s backstory, which is much more genuinely heart-breaking and rung emotionally true because we know Allen, we understood his relationship with his father better, and were given enough character and reason to care about him. I have no clue why the series didn’t just lead with that story arc and chapter and start with this pointless, frivolous one-off that just does a disservice to it’s concept and potential. Many years ago, when I was just getting into manga, I happened to buy the issue of the original print version of the english Jump that featured a special preview chapter of D. Gray-Man, and that chapter was Allen’s backstory. You better believe that chapter got me interested in checking out more of the series back then. In fact, as a kid I thought it was the first chapter because it carried the feel of one. But if Viz had chose to run the actual first chapter instead, I likely would have dismissed it right then and there and not touched the series for years, if ever. First impressions are important, and as the series’ early rankings show, readers were hardly impressed with what DGM had to offer.

I don’t like D. Gray-Man. In fact, I hate it about as much as I do Bleach and Fairy Tail. But the reason I hate all three of those series is lies not just in their bad writing, but also because each wasted their early potential and betrayed the investment I had put into them for a long period of time. Even though I loathe them now, I can go back to both Bleach and Fairy Tail‘s early chapters and see they had genuine potential, effort, and good to them like I remembered them. They may have became shit later on, but they started well. DGM doesn’t even do that. It does not hold up. The first chapter is a total failure of a debut that doesn’t work on any level. If I didn’t have a good impression of the series from the chapter I had read in the english Jump and the anime then I likely would have had a lot less enthusiasm for reading it back in the day, and it certainly doesn’t give me any re-reading it now. I’m not sure if I can still appreciate the good parts of DGM, like how I can’t appreciate the decent parts of Fairy Tail anymore.  But this first chapter is certainly not one of those. It is exemplary of a battle-shonen manga at it’s least inspired and most generic, and a very bad start to a series that I am not looking forward to re-visiting in future weeks.

Final Thoughts:

Damn, this was one hell of an issue! Sure, it wasn’t a perfect one. The D. Gray-Man Jump Back sucked, Black Clover was kind of lame, and Bleach reached a new depth of stupidity that was so surreal that I still can’t really fathom it. But everything else was insanely exciting, memorable, and well-written and left me more than excited to see what’s in store for next week. I don’t think I can piece together any general theme for this issue, but this wasn’t an issue of themes so much it was about characters and action, and damn did so many series do insanely well on those fronts.

Best Manga of the Week:

1. Food Wars! – All four of the series I’ve ranked for this week were so, so great. But even so, FW! wins out as my #1 without any contest for me. Every single moment in this chapter kept building on the last, making it an entire chapter full of satisfying, awesome moments that were awesome because of how deliberate and carefully planned the writing for this arc and these characters have been. Mimasaka’s reveal got the biggest and most involved physical reaction from me and was easily my favorite moment in the entire issue, hence why it earns this week’s Panel of the Week. Top it all off with the satisfaction in seeing Soma make the overconfident and smug Kuga sweat and interesting thematic concepts and comparisons to enhance the rivalry, and you get one of the greatest chapters of FW! this year in a year of consistently incredible chapters week after week.

2. My Hero Academia – But MHA was no slacker, no siree. The action, character development, and themes of this chapter were just flawlessly executed and made for one hell of an exciting and emotional rush. MHA’s hot-streak of phenomenal chapters continues and looks to round off this arc by the end of the summer in what is sure to be one hell of a high note.

3. One Piece – The return of the second half of the Straw Hats and the revelation of Kaido made for one of the most exciting and interesting chapters OP has offered all year, and set up an incredible amount to look forward to and be excited about in the future of the series. There’s so much promise in what Oda can do with the series and where he can take it with everything he’s developed through the course of the last few arcs, and I really hope to see OP return to consistency and form, especially with it’s 800 chapter milestone soon approaching.

4. World Trigger – Tamakoma is in their most desperate battle yet, and they’ve got a lot to prove with not a lot of factors in their favor. Jin’s bet with Hyuse moves that subplot along nicely as well, and adds an extra bit of tension to an already tense situation for our protagonists. With everyone gunning for Osamu right off the bat, I’m curious to see how his improved combat skills will allow him to survive, get points, and help clinch his team’s victory.

Line(s) of the Week:

Chitoge: “Marika, pull any fast moves and you’re dead meat!”
Marika: “Isn’t that what you normally say to a guy?”
Chitoge: “No. You’re special!!”

Nisekoi

Panel(s) of the Week:

Page(s) of the Week:

And that’s that for this week! So until next time, go online, look up showtimes for The Resurrection of ‘F’, buy tickets, and go see it ASAP. Then come back over the weekend to read our thoughts on the film, and I’ll see you again after the jump!

2015
08.01

Man, this show sucks. *Big Bang Theory laugh track*

I honestly can’t even believe this OVA was produced.

That’s right! Diabolik Lovers (that horrible rape-ridden vampire show from 2013) is back, to the applause of literally no-one! The only response the OVA announcement yielded was the s̶͡oun͝d҉͘ ͝o͢f̵͜͡ ͜me̷͢ ̡̡͠vi̸̕c̢̛͟i̢͢o̡u̸͢͝s͜l͝y̸̛ c͠r͟y͏i̢̢͡n̶ǵ̢͢,́ k̡͘ņo̧̡̕c͜͝k͠in̢͞g̨ m͡y͢͢͞s͡e͞l͠f̶ ͠ba̢c͠͝͠k͢͠ ҉̷a̸͘ńd̶ ̧f̨̀҉o͞͡r̛̕t͟ḩ͘͡ ̧i̵n ͢a͡͝ ͜d́͠u̧ś̨̨t̷̨y͘,́ ͘f͟ilt͟͠͡h́y ̶c̷o҉͜r̶̢̢ne͟r̡̛ trying to forget this media franchise existed in the first place. You don’t even want to imagine my reaction to the second season announcement, because lots of bad things happened, like the destruction of my house and various destroyed cars burning in other houses. It really was like the fallout from an apocalypse.

Speaking of apocalypses, the only people I imagine enjoying Dialovers are Immortan Joe’s henchmen of the Mad Max universe, because it really fits right in with their misogynistic views on women.

What happens in this OVA? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Considering how plotless the first season was, it is a great continuation because it does nothing to further any sub-plot. You see, the only reason this OVA exists in the first place is to advertise the second Diabolik Lovers game called MORE,BLOOD. MORE,BLOOD is the source material for Dialovers’ second season, which will air during the very fitting period of Halloween, where I can cover myself in virgin blood and exorcise the show from airing. I will try everything to erase this from existence.

MORE,BLOOD is the fan-disc sequel to Haunted Dark Bridal, the aborted foetus that paved the way for the first season, but the game this OVA was packaged with is Dark Fate, which is apparently the actual canonical sequel to Haunted Dark Bridal or some shit like that? I honestly forgot to care while researching this. The only way Zexcs is getting MORE,BLOOD is if I ̡sli҉̶͜t́ m͘y͘͠ ̴̸͠w̸r̛͡i͏̷sts͏ ̷͞͠o̴p͜e̛n̛͢ ̢͜҉w̕̕͞įt͟h̶ m͘y̨ n̴͟ai̷̸l̸͘͞s ͜͞w̸̨h̡iļ̶̨e ̴́͘w͠at̕͢c͢͠h͏ín̷g̛͝ ̶͞͡t̨̡h͡is̡ anyway, the second season is based off MORE,BLOOD, which will contain the riveting plotline of Yui getting abused by the Sakamaki vampire brothers again but with a twist: you’ve got new vampires now! Yes, more douchebags are in for the ride of dehumanising Yui – the Mukami brothers, named Ruki, Kou, Azusa and Yuma. I found the names on the Dialovers Wiki, because they only mention the names once in the OVA briefly and I just forgot they actually had names apart from ‘dick #1, #2’ and so on.

There is no plot in this nameless OVA. I don’t know if this is just a bridge between the first and second season to quickly introduce the Mukami brothers, or pointless official wank animated by Zexcs for some shitty bonus item to come with the Dark Fate PSVita game that has no impact on anything related to the anime sides of the field. It’s just wank all around; 11 minutes of pure nothingness. The Mukami brothers magically pop up in the Resident Evil mansion looking for Yui, and making the Sakamaki brothers quake in their boots because masculinity or something. Ayato is still desperately controlling of Yui, slamming her against walls and wailing ‘you’re mine!’ and other excrement. I’m also sure he calls her ‘pancake’ again. Laito does call her ‘little bitch’, too. It’s like I’ve reunited with old acquaintances I desperately want to murder every second. The Mukami brothers discuss Yui with the Sakamaki brothers in various places around the house. Ruki (probably the main guy for the second season) gets to suck Yui’s blood when she finally appears, 7 minutes in! Naturally, he does it in a creepy and non-consensual way, because who f̝̭u҉̝͇̬̘̳͖͍̫͚ç̸͇̥͍̹ḳ̵͔̫̦̼̯͓̮͉i̡̩͚̜̙̱̭n̛̳͈g̷͞͏̻ ̦͇̳͕k̛͇͎͕̣͎̖̹̦n̛̛͓̦̰̲̳̣̬͟o̵͝҉͈̫̞͙̥͕ẃ̴͉̖͓̼̠s͏͕ ҉̱͔͕͞I̝͓͔͉̘͢’̧͖̥͍͔̕ḿ̝͚ ̷̺̪̳̻s̟̫̪͙̬͉̩̻͡ͅo҉̛҉̫ ҉͍͕̫͉̯̜͔̤̀ͅd̷́͏̳̣o̴͈̳͖̞n̷̯e̷͈ͅ ̻̲̮̳̫̘̭̀p҉̮͈̟̳̗̥l̬̺͇̰͝͞e̶̥̱͕͖̬̲͈͖̰͘͟a̖̰̯̻̙͘s̢̡̭̩̙͙̹̻͕͝e͎̫͕̱̤̤͟ ̮̱̟͚̙̱̝͔͝͝s̡̗a̸̜̘̻̰̻̜̠͠v̶̞̞̜͕̮͘͜ę̵̛̳̯͇͙ ̵̨̝̫̱̪͔̠̗̟ͅm̶͔̺͟͞e̫̬͎̻̝͈̼͕ ̶̪̻̯̟̹͝ͅḩ҉̼͇͚̳̼e͔̬͙̝l̴͢҉̱̤͍p̧͉̙̭̪͔̯̤̙̭͝ ͖̲m̶̱̬͔͇̀̕e҉̡͔̪̱̣̫ ̫̜͘͝ͅà͔̻̰̦̫͙n̵͔̤͖̪͕͚͙̼y̷̗͔̼͇͕̟o̧̘͉ǹ̹͈̳͖̝̼̯é̥͢ͅ

Why is Yui still hanging around with Ayato and his fuck-crew? I mean, she isn’t possessed by Cordelia any more, she can get away whenever she wants to. Unless she has Stockholm syndrome. Which is probably true because f҉҉̢u̕͘ck̀ ̧͝ȩ͘v́͘e̡͜r̸͟yt̢͠h̨̧i̶n̨҉̀g̶ a̶͜͡b̀o̵͏ut͏̀ ̧́t̛́̕hi̛͏s̶̛͞ s͏̢h͜ò̶w̷̡͞  Ayato still treats Yui like his property, and so does every other Sakamaki brother. Kanato is still a little creepy shit and all the brothers hate each other. Like how this show makes me ̛h͢at͜e̵̢ ̧m͡y͟͝sè̡l̵f ͝e͡v̶́e̴͠r̨̧̕y̵̕҉ s͘e̴c̸̡o̕nd̶̕͟ ͜Į͜͡ ͞p̀a̧y̡͟ ̨̀a͡͡͡t͞͏͜t̴e̕͢n̵t͟͠i͢o͢ń ̛t̢̛o҉̀ it͏́

So! This OVA was a complete waste of 11 minutes, life is terrible, I’ve seen Unfriended four times in the space of four months and Amagi Brilliant Park hasn’t been confirmed for a second season yet. Wake me up when I̖̤͎ ̮͉̞̪̺͡c̸̱͚̟͉a͍̖̠̥̩ͅn̺̪͉͕̯̠ ̖͚ṣ̪̗̪t͙̣a͏̳̙̱̳ͅi̱͔̙̱n͟ ̘̱͜m̷̺̮̭ͅy̢̖̜̖̻̬͓ e̖̥̦n̼̟̤̫̗̪̬e̺̘̤͖ͅm̤i̧̦̜͎͚̣ẹ̷͚̰̺s̷͙͍͓ ̼̻w̹͎̖͎͜ͅi͕͔͇t̨͈͚̠̺͎̦h͔͉͍ ̷̯t̯̲̤͔͡ḫ̨͓̗͍̜̰ȩ͔̳ ̞̖̩̝̣̯͢b͏̫̭͔̖͔̩ͅl͎oo̩̫d̤̯ ̶̭̠̳̯ͅof͚̜̦̥͎ ̴̤d̨͍̻̭̟̲e̜̦͙͜a̺̼͍̞̟͘ͅd̜͔͇̞͓ ̼͡m̦̤̤̯̮̦̪e̗̠̘̞͚̘n ̢̼à̮͇̦̰͉ṉ̷̖̗d͖ͅ ̰͖̗͈͝h̵͉̭̪͈a̻̖̮̞͝ͅn̢͇̱̱̱͍̼̝g̼͖̬̼̘͙̣ ̗͡ṭ͇͎̯̭͞h̻̣̝̗ẹ̛̖̖̻͇i͕̰̭͖̺̱̺r̦ ̶̱̺͉c͚̥̮̩̣o̷̼̮̝͍r̫̘͍̗̩̟p̵͉̟̖̩̻͚͚s̞̪̹̘̞̥̭e̶ś ̬͖͇͉̻͡o͚̰̦̭͔̖͇͜f̪̀f̬̼͞ ̪̤͔̜͘r̷o̥͎̮͔̤o̜̠̣͡f̧̯͎̤̦t̯̭̘̲̥o҉͚̜͕̟͙̥ͅp̷̝̳͓̳̟̺s͉̲͈͉̬̯͘ͅ

MORE,BLOOD starts airing in October. The emotional trauma never ends.